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The City of Light lives up to its name


A beautiful nighttime shot of a couple taking in the view of Canalside from across the water.  Photographer Glenn Murray captures the beauty of Buffalo.  See more of his work at

Old News: Hospital Implosion Kills 12-year-old Girl

As Artvoice reported on September 22, the implosion of the former Kaleida Gates Circle hospital tower is not the sort of event the local media should be promoting as a wholesome spectacle—yet the Buffalo News continues to pump up the hype machine.

Click here to read about the 1997 implosion of the Royal Canberra Hospital in Australia.

However, the implosion of the Royal Canberra Hospital was a terrible failure. The main building did not fully disintegrate and had to be later manually demolished. But far worse, the explosion was not contained on the site and large pieces of debris were projected towards spectators situated 500 metres away on the opposite side of the Lake, in a location that nobody considered unsafe or inappropriate. A twelve-year-old girl, Katie Bender, was killed instantly, and nine other people were injured. Large fragments of masonry and metal were found 650 metres from the demolition site.

Read the comments on YouTube.


500 feet should be good. Nevermind if 650 meters wasn't enough in Canberra.

500 feet should be good. Never mind if 500 meters wasn’t enough in Canberra.

AV Podcast: Episode 6

podcast_squarePodcast Episode 6: September 23, 2015


In this week’s show Pete talks with comedian and HBO talk show host Bill Maher, who’s performing at Shea’s Performing Arts Center this weekend. Maher talks about his roots in standup comedy, and the politically correct culture we live in. We also have a ticket give away to his show! Also in the show Cindy Batista talks about her project to bring a hospitality house to families with loved ones staying at Mercy Hospital, Willard Brooks talks about the Buffalo craft beer bubble, and Artvoice BOOM Winners, Uncle Ben’s Remedy is in our music spotlight.


Listen to Episode 6:

Local College Students Connect with their Surroundings

By Kellie Coppola

Everyone knows that no matter where you come from, when college begins your campus easily becomes the center of your universe.  However, what many Buffalo area college students may not know is that their school is just a single jewel in Buffalo’s treasure trove of local shops, restaurants and attractions. Luckily, colleges such as Daemen College, Canisus College and University at Buffalo ensure students are in the know by providing programs to introduce students to Buffalo’s ecosystems such as Elmwood village, Hertel Ave, Williamsville and the downtown area.  These programs open up students’ eyes to hang out spots, adventures and opportunities beyond campus grounds, and while affirming steadfast connections between the educational institutions and their surrounding communities.

As a part of Daemen Day on September 19th, Daemen College students will take the streets to explore the many businesses of Main St. and Williamsville.

According to Dr. Greg Nayor , Vice President of Student Affairs & Dean of Students at Daemen College, Daemen Day will “provide an opportunity for faculty and students to reach out and explore the village of Williamsville.”

“We’ve always referred to ourselves as an Amherst college,” he said. “We’ve gotten a lot of support and are really excited about this partnership.”

The partnership Nayor is referring to is with the Williamsville business association, with whom they’ve been collaborating to coordinate participants.

“I think its great that they [Daemen] realize the resurgence in this area and are willing to showcase it” Tara Cadmus, head of the Williamsville Business Association Committee collaborating with Daemen.

Business participants will have the Daemen mascot, a wildcat, decorating their storefront and will offer discounts with the presentation of a student ID.

One particularly excited participant is Syd Hoffman, owner of Tea Leaves, 5416 Main St.

Hoffman said that when the Williamsville Business Association was approached by Daemen to participate, it was a “no brainer.”

“Williamsville is all locally owned and we all work together,” Hoffman said. “We were ready to do whatever they wanted us to do.”

Tea Leaves will be offering a 20 percent discount on to-go mugs with a student ID.

According to Nayor, besides store discounts, there will be live music at the Irishmen, and a shuttle service to take student between campus and Main St. He said that the night will culminate with a 9:30 p.m. showing of the Avengers on the Daemen campus lawn that the whole community can attend.

“The heart and soul of this partnership is the community and businesses,” Nayor said. “This is going to be a great way to reach out and show we care.”

At Canisus College in the city of Buffalo, familiarization with the local community is a part of the curriculum. Griff 101 is a freshman class that allows first year students to get acquainted with Buffalo outside of the classroom. In the last couple years, Kathleen Brucato, Director of the International Student program, added a course section titled Nickel City.

This class allowed international students and out of state students to “get out and explore Buffalo” for a couple hours on a Friday.

“I was born and raised in Buffalo” Brucato said. “It wasn’t until I finished school that I really got to explore and see how great the city is.”

To prevent students from making her mistake, she takes her students on adventures such as a three hour bike tour through the Old First Ward. Brucato also said that she constantly updates the class’s Facebook page with hangout place ideas and an event schedule.

Brucato said that there will be two sections of this course as well as other buffalo related sections.

According to Anne- Marie Dobies, Assistant Vice President/Director of the GRIFF Center for Academic Engagement, new this year is a section revolving around the subway system, where students will participate in activities that will force them to learn the subway system. Dobies said that the metro pass has been integrated into student fees for the past 6-8 years by student demand.

Of course, they didn’t forget about Buffalo’s amazing food. Order out Buffalo is another Griff 101 section that allows students to sample from take-out eateries.

“This isn’t supposed to be just another class with assignments” Dobies said. “ We want to get them out to Hertel and Elmwood so they can figure out what its like on a typical Tuesday night at Spot coffee or the North Park theatre. We want to make Buffalo as much of a normal part of their routine as possible.”

Lastly, University at Buffalo lets their honors students explore the ins and outs of Buffalo as a part of their Honors Colloquium, a 2 credit Fall semester class that allows students to learn about the city and get involved.

“We have three goals in this program,” Jessica Seabury, Senior Assistant Director of the UB Honors College, said. “The first is to let students learn about Buffalo and its challenges.”

Cathleen Draper, now a junior Communications major at UB, entered the Honors program thinking she knew all there is to know about the city she called home for the past 18 years.   

“The first night they took us on a bus tour all over Buffalo” the Amherst native said, “I’ve lived here all my life and we did things that I never would’ve thought to do, like see silo city. It was my favorite part.”

Seabury added that the point of this 2.5 hour bus tour was to acquaint the students with not only the developments in Buffalo, but the challenges as well.

She explained that the next part of the Colloquium kick off took place at the Statler Hotel, “an emblem of Buffalo’s resurgence.”

Seabury said that students dine and hear a moving speech by Drew Kahn, a Buffalo State professor who works with the Anne Frank Project, about “being a change in the world.”

“We usually have over 300 students and this year we will have over 400,” Seabury said. “And every year they all fall completely silent. His speech is so moving.”

This speech initiates the second goal of the program, which according to Seabury is community service.  Each student is required to complete 25 hours of community service during the semester at an assigned venue.  For Draper, it was the Friends of the Night Organization on 394 Hudson St. Buffalo.

“I would go for a few hours every week,” Draper said. “It was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had.”

Students also are required to attend an event of their choice and write a blog post about it. Seabury said that the aim of this component is to get students out to places on Elmwood, Hertel and Downtown to have fun, in hopes that attending these events will become a regular activity.

The last, and perhaps the most important goal of this program according to Seabury is to get students to “think about how they can strengthen engagement in Buffalo.”

“Ultimately we want these bright students to join the Buffalo work force and engage effectively. To do that, they need to be aware of the challenges and opportunities and this program is a great way to engage in the community.” Seabury said.

Ultimately, these universities, in their own way, provide students with the tools to enjoy Buffalo in a way that will not only enrich their lives, but the community and the future of the city itself.

Steam Donkeys Return to Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts This Saturday

The Steam Donkeys

The Steam Donkeys

Sixteen years ago, as things were winding down at the first Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts (EAFA), you may have noticed a grizzled group of veteran road dog musicians hanging out on the sidewalk around the now-defunct Quill’s Apothecary—drinking beer, picking guitars, banjos and mandolins, while a manic fiddler was sawing the horse hair off of his bow. That band was the Buffalo-based music act and global think tank known as the Steam Donkeys. And that impromptu hootenanny was what passed for the “after party” at the fledgling event. This year, the Steam Donkeys return with special, surprise guests to close Saturday’s festivities with a 7pm—8:30pm “After Party” performance on the Saint James Stage.

“Oh, it’ll be special, alright,” says Steam Donkeys front man and spokesperson Buck Quigley. “So special, and so surprising, that it would be unfair to even give a hint as to what we have planned. Let’s put it this way: We rarely plan anything—which makes the fact that in this case…where we actually have a plan…see, that’s special and surprising in and of itself.”

EAFA has grown steadily over the years to include a dizzying array of artists displaying their wares in several disciplines: ceramics, ditigal art, domestic crafts, fiber, glass, jewelry, leather, metal, mixed media, painting/drawing, paper, photography, printmaking, sculpture, toys, and woodwork.

The ever-popular Kidsfest , between Auburn and Lancaster, will provide an outlet for the youngest artists in the crowd—where they can get busy enjoying the thrill of making stuff and getting their faces painted while taking in some fine entertainment to boot. There will be cultural row, on Breckenridge, where you can stop by and learn about…the culturals. Food truck alley will be on Auburn to the west of Elmwood. Environmental row is just south of Lafayette, while to the north of Lafayette will sit the Festival Cafe—featuring a long list of vendors to please everyone from the healthiest vegan to the happiest carnivore. At Lafayette and Auburn, local and regional brewers will be selling their artisanal beers. Community Beer Works has even cooked up a “festival only” brew.

And of course, there’s the music. Starting at the south end of the festival near West Ferry you’ll find the Dance Tent, which is an intimate space to catch a variety of acts starting at 10am Saturday and Sunday. Same goes for the 7-11 Stage (formerly the Wilson Farms Stage in those early years) and the Saint James Stage at the north end of the strip. Every hour on the hour a new act appears on each of the three stages—while on Sunday a cavalcade of dance troupes takes over the Saint James Stage.

The weekend is going to be a sight and sound extravaganza—fitting for an event that has grown to showcase the craftspeople, artists, musicians, businesses, families, friends and neighbors that make the Elmwood Village one of the most vibrant sections of town. Don’t miss it.

Download the entire performance schedule by clicking here.



Is Amanda’s Day Coming?

Filed under: Local Interest

Sign in front of Leslie Brill Miserole's front lawn

Sign on Leslie Brill Meserole’s front lawn

Will tomorrow be the first day for Amanda Wienckowski? Since Amanda’s highly publicized and tragic death in 2009, her mother, Leslie Brill Meserole, has been seeking answers and information. This arduous journey may take a sharp turn tomorrow morning at 9:30am in the Supreme Court chambers of Judge Deborah A.Chimes. Artvoice has learned that Leslie’s Pro Se (on behalf of herself) efforts to obtain access to government records will be augment by the FOIL/FOIA dream team of attorneys Michael Kuzma and Peter A. Reese. Kuzma and Reese teach classes on Freedom of Information and openness in government. They have successfully litigated numerous such cases through the years.  

Reese gave Artvoice the following statement: “In past four decades I have been involved in hundreds of FOIL/FOIAs and have litigated or assisted in dozens of suits. I have never seen a case with such emotional impact. They say the worst thing that can happen to a mother is to bury a child. Leslie lost her child first to drugs and the streets, then later to an unspeakably tragic death. Please give me a worse fate which could befall anyone. Now it appears that the government, which exists solely to serve us all, has compounded her pain by years of needless delays and foot dragging. We need some of the disinfecting warmth of sunshine to clean up this matter.”

Academic Portraits – His Own Grand Academy of Lagado: An Imagined and Documentary Memoir

by Howard R. Wolf (aka Ludwig Fried and Hemmy Zimmer)

For many years, he wanted to cry out in the halls of the department – where one screw-ball article could put you at the top of the totem and taboo pole – that his alias would make him a celebrity in Brighton Beach, North Miami, and Ben-Gurion’s old neighborhood in Tel Aviv.

He had wanted to cry out until he was tallith-blue in the face that he was a winner in the Borscht Belt, at least the notches that were left, one of a handful of intellectual lite-porn writers with a challah twist, like the lemon rind in espresso. He had a few literary rivals, but he was the best at what he did and the most successful, but his success had been hidden, invisible.

He had wanted to toot his own horn for many years, but they might have laughed at him and, worse, the Chair could have assigned him night classes of composition, three hour sessions, the meeting place of the comma and comatose. The department, always fighting for funds, competing with sexy areas (but not real sex) – neuro-science, informatics, Diasporas – wouldn’t have allowed Ludwig Fried, a.k.a. “Hemmy Zimmer,” to go public without some form of professional punishment for having embarrassed them. In the academic world, faux decorum was the last firmament of theoretical minds.

And now, on the verge of breaking free from the burdens of the past, he had learned from the mailman that his arch-rival, William “Bull” Horn, popular culture maven, had moved into a unit on the posher side of the pond. It was the kind of improbable coincidence that you only came across in an O. Henry short story, but there it was, a factoid. Maybe Bull had seen the same ad that he had seen in the travel section of the Daily Racing Form.

Whatever, there he was across the pond. Ludwig hadn’t seen Bull yet, but he had heard his music waft and wail across the pond at night — King Creole, Count Basie, Duke Ellington. The music was too loud, but Ludwig had to admit that Bull had some taste and that he had been successful. Bull had made it Big Time in a small-time place: department chair, endowed chair, local celebrity: a minor figure with major PR.

He was the War and Peace man, Conflict Resolution from Homer to Hanoi. One year at the Brookings Institute, he was the proverbial big gefilte fish in a small pond. If these were your shallows, he was the shark. Bull wasn’t politically correct, but he was famous in acceptable, if egomaniacal ways, and so the college had given him everything, even though he sometimes taught in armor and brought a cross-bow to class. Most colleges had one Bull, one performance-artist, who could fling the higher dung Frisbees, who caught the imagination of undergraduates and opened the wallets of alumni.

Bull’s coup de grace at the end of the term was to shoot an arrow across the lecture hall at a poster of Hitler that dropped from the ceiling at just the right moment. It never failed to bring the students to their feet, clapping and cheering. Ludwig had seen him do it once, and he was reminded, with some envy, of the audience’s response to Clifford Odets’s Waiting for Lefty when the audience had joined in shouting, “Strike! Strike!” Bull was no Odets, but he had his fan-base.

And there he was now across the pond. Bull never had taken any notice of Ludwig really, so even if Bull saw him now, he would continue doubtless to ignore Ludwig. Bull had assumed, if he assumed anything about Ludwig, that Fried was just another stump of academic deadwood.

When Ludwig published a small volume of travel essays with a small press, Immigrant Review, Bull said to him in the elevator, one of the few places they ever met, “Nice going, Lud, as with women, so with writing, one likes to be between covers. But remember, you want to do it more than once, and with a major press next time, good luck shmuck.”

At least it rhymed. The door opened, and he was gone: exit, no exit.

It humiliated him now to think that he had taken such an insult from Bull without fighting back. Bull had kicked him in the psychological balls, and he had limped back to his office, a momentary stay against contusion. The time had come to retaliate, to catch him off guard, to mount a “counter-attack.” The word hit him between the eyes like one of Hemingway’s big game shots. Without his cross-bow and his character armor, Bull would be vulnerable. Ludwig would bring him down off his self-appointed high-horse. Without his cuirass, Bull would be vulnerable to Ludwig’s cutlass.

The time for action had come. He had, in his own way, in his subterranean idiom, written about rebellions, uprisings (plenty of those), and revolts – how could you not if you had written in the 20th century? But he had stayed in the shadows. No Hemingway, only a semi-Hemingway, a “Hemmy,” but not, happily, suffering from hemorrhoids, he had hunted in his imagination. Like a lord of the jungle he had hunted at night, but no one had known that he was a hunter.

That would change now. The action, his, would begin now. “Now was the time for the Now,” as he recently had written elsewhere in one his philosophically erotic romps. It was late in the day to be taking action, and it soon might be too late. If he waited much longer, his epitaph would read: For Whom the Bell Never Tolled or The Postman Never Rang.

Academic Portraits is a weekly multi-part series by Howard R. Wolf. Please check back next week for the next installment. Click here to view all the parts in the series, as they are added.

Howard R. Wolf is Emeritus Professor and Senior Fellow in The Department of English at SUNY-Buffalo. He is the author of The Education of a Teacher and Far-Away Places: Lessons in Exile. Some of his recent work has appeared in Colere, George Orwell Newsletter, Moment (online), Evening Street Review, Prosopisa (India)and The Buffalo News.  


Looking Back at the 1960’s: Academic Portraits – Part 4, Return of the Expressed

By 1970, I had made the leap from “class consciousness to experience,” a simple, but radical, step for those days and perhaps even now. I came to believe that, whatever else was true, students and I were “persons,” real and complex people. Our destination might be objective, but the journey was, in many ways, subjective.

In fact, they were related. There were plenty of facts in the world, but they needed to put in a context of reference and association before they became meaningful. Points, with or without   power, were useful, often crucial, but they were most useful – other than dotting I’s – when they were given literary texture. Rewrite the Gettysburg Address as a Fox news report and see how it sounds.

In one sense, it felt natural to come to this awareness because it emerged, as I’ve mentioned, during the counter-cultural period of the 1960’s – the period of what was called “campus unrest” and opposition to the war in Viet Nam when so many of the received assumptions of the previous period, to say nothing of Western Civilization itself, were being called into question.

I never was a Nietzschean – “the revaluation of values” — but all values were on the table, especially those that derived from the precincts of AUTHORITY. In America, it didn’t seem to matter to students whether those authorities were located in one’s home (father/father figures), in the Pentagon, Wall Street, or university administration buildings. Even Chairs of Departments were viewed with suspicion.

Almost a century after Matthew Arnold first stated his concern about the survival of “good literature” (“The Study of Poetry,” 1880), its future became dramatically uncertain. Literature with a capital L came under attack after Mai, 1968 by “theory”-minded critics who called into question every kind of authority and hierarchy, including the Classics — texts which, in my generation, were considered sacred cows. But the “Frenchies” were not cowed by Hindu prohibitions.

So embedded were these Books in our consciousness as pillars of the academic pantheon that it never occurred to us that the world had been or could be different. To see a bust of Plato, Michelangelo’s David, or Shakespeare on a teacher’s desk seemed as natural as using an Esterbrook fountain pen.

There are traces of serious history and literature on TV – PBS’s “Masterpiece Theatre,” the History Channel – but it’s only a trace, the tail-end of a what may be a burnt-out cultural comet, but it’s too early to tell.

There are signs of hope for the likes of me and my contemporaries: the Internet (with access to Wikipedia and other sites of information) has reinvented the Library of Alexandria, as it were, as a source of world knowledge; previously priestly acts of inquiry – the province of scholars – are now available to anyone who can operate a Smart-Phone, Android, or Kindle.

As Luther’s edicts made everyman a priest, so the new technology may make it possible for everyman to become a Renaissance Man, and through texting to become a writer. What has changed, one hopes, is not the quality of words and texts that are being generated, but the modes of distribution.

Great words seem to endure whether they are preserved in Dead Sea Scrolls, stone, vellum, or microfilm. Genius transcends technology – it would seem. But it’s too early to tell; Perhaps it’s always too early to tell until the end of days.


Looking Back at the 1960’s: Academic Portraits is a weekly multi-part series by Howard R. Wolf. Please check back next week for the next installment. Click here to view all the parts in the series, as they are added.

Howard R. Wolf is Emeritus Professor and Senior Fellow in The Department of English at SUNY-Buffalo. He is the author of The Education of a Teacher and Far-Away Places: Lessons in Exile. Some of his recent work has appeared in Colere, George Orwell Newsletter, Moment (online), Evening Street Review, Prosopisa (India)and The Buffalo News.  

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