Artvoice: Buffalo's #1 Newsweekly
Home Blogs Web Features Calendar Listings Artvoice TV Real Estate Classifieds Contact

QCRG to Close off 2015 with Charity Bout for the Family Justice Center

12369189_10203832622935335_8075258676771467944_n

The Queen City Roller Girls will cap off 2015 with a Charity Bout for the Family Justice Center. The Family Justice Center covers Western New York and provides vital and free services for domestic violence victims and their children through an extensive collaboration with 13 partner agencies, all located at one secured, comfortable location, where victims can get all the services they need to safely escape abuse. You can see a PSA for the Family Justice Center here.

Doors will open at 6:30pm on Wednesday December 16th at Riverworks with first whistle at 7pm. The league has also announced a BOGO/Two-Fer deal for fans who purchase tickets online. The bout will have a holiday theme and we have heard rumours of Santa and Mrs. Clause making an appearance! 

League Executive Director Cathy Pedro-Garrison is happy to cap off the year supporting an organization that provides such important services in our community, “The Family Justice Center relies on support to operate and we are more than happy to do what we can to support their mission. Breaking the cycle of domestic violence and removing barriers to access are so important and the Family Justice Center is at the front line of fighting for a community where safety is respected as a basic human right.” 

You can find tickets and ticket packages at http://www.qcrg.net/tickets/.

Lake Effect Furies Announce 2016 Rosters; 4th Annual “We All Brawl” Expo A Success

Credit: CK Photographic Systems (Chris Kalisiak)

Rosi vs. Bricks. 4th Annual “We All Brawl” Expo 2015. Credit: CK Photographic Systems (Chris Kalisiak)

The Queen City Roller Girls 10th anniversary season unofficially kicked off with a bang last Saturday at Buffalo Riverworks with the 4th Annual “We All Brawl” Expo Bout. A mix of rookies, home league skaters and Lake Effect Furies – the bout is always a great coming out party for new skaters and a great experience for skaters who get to test their comfort zones and skate with people they have never played with before. 

I was lucky enough to get to coach Team Black in the Expo bout, but unlucky to be up against longtime league veteran Vajenna Warrior as my counterpart on Team White. After a see saw bout that saw many lead changes Team White pulled away in the last 5 minutes to skate to a 194-161 victory. Fans at Riverworks had lots to cheer about. This bout was the first time fans of the league saw rookie skaters Rosi, MegaLO-MEINia, Chet UpStandUp, Double Baryl, McCreadie, May Bringdowndahouse, Percipahatin and Raspoutine. Rosi led the charge for Team Black – putting up a 35-o jam in the second half to keep the bout close. MegaLO also impressed using a hard hitting and aggressive jamming style up against Team White’s size advantage in the blocking core. For Team White, rookie jammers Double Baryl and McCreadie also had stand out games and looked solid up against league veterans. 

The central focus of the bout quickly became Team White blocker and Furies skater Bricks Hit-House. A rookie transfer last season, Bricks is coming into her own entering her 2nd season with the Furies and is poised for a massive year. Her blocking wore down Team Black jammers and although she ran up 4 penalties in the first half she was able to adjust in the 2nd and play clean. Blocking alongside veterans Lip Service, Wrecks Kitten and Midnyt Maniac the Team White blocking core was too much for Team Black. 

The next Expo bout will take place on Saturday November 28th at Riverworks. You can find tickets and ticket packages at http://www.qcrg.net/tickets/

Following the Expo Bout rosters for the 2016 Lake Effect Furies have been announced. After a year without a B Team the Furies have announced a return to their A/B set up. Their B Team will be anchored by three Furies veterans and alternatives last year – Celery Stalk-HER, Wrecks Kitten and Her Heiny Grainger – while also featuring 5 Queen’s Court skaters from last year. The full roster is – Brutali-Tease, Celery STALK-her, Chet UpStandUp, Chickadeemolish, Double Baryl, HerHeiny Grainger, Jules Burn, June CleaveHer, May Bringdowndahouse, McCreadie, Molly Malign, NicNugget, SlamUWell Jackson, Wailing Wench, Wrecks Kitten.

Coached by Librawlian and Vile Love It the focus for the B Team this year will be increasing internal competition and pushing the A team forward. From Coach Librawlian, “Cultivating a strong B Team is essential to the Furies continued growth and competitiveness within the WFTDA. Having a solid B Team, means that the Furies will become a more internally competitive team as skaters are moved between the B Team and Furies. Thus allowing the Furies to be more competitive externally. We plan to transform every member of the B Team’s game. There’s a lot of potential and excitement within the ranks, and it will be a matter of people rising to the challenges set before them.” 

The A Team returns this year with two new faces – Niagara Roller Girls transfer Dana Scullkrusher and Queen’s Court graduate Rosi. Dana becomes the third Canuck on the team and the third transfer from NRG in the last two years (joining Ashes t’Ashes and Murphy). Longtime veteran B’Kini Whacks is taking the year off, and three alternates have shifted to the B Team, but outside of that the Furies core returns as a whole. Captain Tabrina Schreier is excited to get started on the 2016 season, “The Furies are looking to return with most of our core. We have added a couple new faces who will strengthen us and we’re going to have to fight for every ranking point this year to get back into D1. We had a couple of weeks off to heal physically and mentally prepare. Now we work to tighten up our defense and improve our offense. Personally I can’t wait to see how we do this season because we improve every time we practice, watch game footage or just hang out together.” 

With two solid travel teams, three competitive home leagues, a Queen’s Court that is graduating skaters direct to the Furies and a solid Jr. program fans have lots of to cheer for in this 2016 season. With 30 more bouts to come this season, fans also get to look forward to a finished Riverworks facility with a 27′ scoreboard for games, an open mezzanine, and an overall amazing atmosphere for women’s flat track roller derby. Let’s Roll Buffalo! 


Canalside Summer Concerts… Time To Think Big

concert_image
This past week the Buffalo Common Council passed a non binding resolution recommending that the highly popular concert series at Canalside be relocated from the Central Wharf to another venue. Cited points surrounding the resolution include increased traffic, noise and complaints from the nearby Marine Drive apartment tenants.

The public backlash to posted news stories from major media outlets, and threads on social media posts, has been shrill, and in some cases very nasty. Common Council members have been derided, name calling towards the tenants at Marine Drive, as if their lower social and economic status somehow diminishes their rights. Most commenters think that the location, configuration and substance of the current concert series is just fine and should remain as is.

It is convoluted thinking.

First of all, Canalside is not a park. Let me repeat this… Canalside IS NOT A PARK. Every blade of grass down there is a development parcel. As is that massive crater in the north Aud block immediately adjacent to the faux historically-aligned canals. This is all codified in the Canalside Modified General Project Plan (MGPP) which was hammered together by many diverse stakeholders and the public and took years to achieve. The MGPP envisions a dense, vibrant setting of mixed use structures reminiscent of the old canal era. There are some projects in the pipeline, including the Explore and More Children’s Museum and Hofbrauhaus USA, although, following the typical ECHDC playbook, these structures’ development timelines are being stretched further into the future again and again.

But the sad consequence of this “lighter, quicker, cheaper” way of thinking, the snake oil which was sold to the public for a hefty six figure consulting fee, has been the evolution of Canalside into a space of flexible lawns, colorful chairs, kanjam and ping pong, and sandy play spaces. The actual “development” of permanent structures by the ECH Development C has consisted of a snack shack and nothing more.

The concerts have become so popular that they are now straining the space. Think about it – the stage brought in is a temporary one; the sound system is temporary. The port a potties are temporary. The food trucks roll in, and then they leave. And when summer turns to fall, everything is put away for the cold weather. This past summer the lawns have been wrecked repeatedly, the infrastructure is suffering damage from the strain of too many people converging on too small a space which was not initially configured as a pure concert venue. The Canalside concert series has become a victim of its own success.

So what do do?

Time to think big.

Rather than gnashing our collective teeth about the mere thought of moving those concerts away from its current stop gap venue, we need to be rethinking about Canalside and laying out its overdue development future. As for the concerts, it’s time to build a permanent concert facility and amphitheater elsewhere on the waterfront. It should be a facility with some fixed seating and standing areas, resplendent views of our water, permanent concession facilities, lighting and sound systems, and permanent washroom facilities.RiverloopAmphitheater_WaterlooCVB

Where to locate it? I am not a planner, so it’s not my call. LaSalle Park seems woefully underutilized and could be reconstituted for just such a concert configuration if laid out right. The Outer Harbor offers a myriad of opportunities, although access is still an issue, and we have yet move as a community to plan, fund and build even one bridge to move people and cars out there. The Broderick Park alternative mentioned in the Common Council resolution seems ill conceived. Simply returning it to Lafayette Square? Hmm.tuscaloosa-amphitheater

Nonetheless, with the success of the Canalside concert series, and more and more people discovering the entertainment and recreation opportunities that access to our waterfront offers, this is exactly the right time to start discussions for a top of the line and permanent outdoor stage and concert facility that will house and present summer concert programming for the long term.

Canalside and the Central Wharf is not the answer for summer concerts. Time to get plans laid out, developers lined up, and shovels in the ground for all the Canalside parcels. That is Buffalo’s future, not to settle for “lighter, quicker, cheaper” along with the voodoo of flexible lawns, triangulation and the Power of 10.


The Buffalist: Sep 28 – Oct 4

 TheBuffalist

“I always say, if you are homophobic, you better be positive you’re right. Because is it going to blow [that] all these kids are killing themselves, and … that in 20 years … you get to write a book about how wrong you were. They’re dead. So why don’t you have a soul-searching moment now? Go into your house, shut the door, and make sure you’re positive that you’re making kids feel like crap for no good goddamn reason.”

  WTF With Marc Maron -Todd Glass

 

 

 

 5.  Buffalo Beer Week: San Diego Burger and Tap Night @ Allen Burger Venture (Sep 29)i-can-has-cheezburger

Still haven’t been to ABV?  What the hell are you waiting for?  Allen Burger Venture has a bevy of unique burgers and beers with an awesome rock ambiance that keeps snootier types at bay.  With vinyl records on the wall, heavily tattooed bartenders and absurdly delicious burgers on the menu this dive will certainly continue to do very well on the Allen St. strip.  This week they’ll be holding a San Diego Burger and Tap night as a part of Buffalo Beer Week.  San Diego has some of the best beers in the country, and I’m pumped to see what sort of burger concoctions they come up with.  ABV is open M-W 11AM-Midnight, Th-Sat 11AM-2AM.

Owner Mike Shatzel must have big plans for Allen as he also purchased a few other buildings along the street for future projects.  It is a very exciting time for those who enjoy the edgier part of Buffalo that exists on Allen St.

 

4. Doug Benson @ Helium Comedy Club (Oct 4)

3. Todd Glass @ Helium Comedy Club (Oct 1-3)

 

What a week for comedy in Buffalo as stoner hero Doug Benson and one of America’s most insightful comedians Todd Glass will be coming to Helium.  Just watch the above video and you’ll get a great taste of what to expect from both comedians.  Both are podcast staples, with Benson running the always hilarious Doug Loves Movies  and Glass putting out The Todd Glass Show.  Todd Glass was also on one of my favorite podcast episodes ever, where he comes out as gay on WTF with Marc Maron and gives a lot of insight into what his experience has been like and reflections on life and society.  Benson will be here Sunday after the Bills game and Glass will be here from Thursday to Saturday, so don’t miss them.

 

2.  Allentown Fall Festival @ Allen St (Oct 3)

 Allentown-Fall-Fest-logo

Allen St. will be closed off and filled with musicians, vendors, an artisan market and fun activities for children as the Allentown Art Festival kicks off for the second straight year.  The event starts at 11 and goes to around 7 with the band PA Line closing things out.  In addition to the festivities, there is a casual 25 mile bike ride to the Olmstead parks throughout the city that starts at 9 AM (sign up is here).  If you have never been on one of these rides I highly recommend it.  Buffalo is a great city to see on a bike and the weather looks to be pretty decent still.  Once you are done over there, you can just hop back on your bike and head over to…. 

1. Buffalo Porchfest (Oct 3)

 Porchfest-Buffalo-NY-2014-Richmond

 Ah yes my favorite event of the year.  If you haven’t been before, Porchfest is an absolute blast.  The premise is simple- a dozen or so residents in the West Side open up their porches and lawns to musicians and spectators and Buffalo Police look the other way when it comes to drinking in public.  Get your bike out of the garage one last time and spend the day going from site to site checking out some of the best music Buffalo has to offer.  For my money (okay it’s all free) I’ll be hanging out around the corner of Elmwood and Lafayette where the bands usually end up going the latest and the party seems to be the wildest.  Keep your eyes open for the official schedule later this week, I’ll post it on the Facebook page when it comes out. 

Other notable Events:  Cages @ Sugar City (Oct 2), Apocalypse of the Undead @ Central Terminal (Oct 3).

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next week!

You can follow me on Twitter and Facebook as well for Buffalo event updates.

 


The Buffalist: Aug 3-9

TheBuffalist“Getting older makes it harder to remember,
We are our only saviors,
We’re gonna build something this summer”

-The Hold Steady “Constructive Summer” 

 

Hi, I’m Chris and I’m new here.  The above quote is from one of my favorite songs and I think it sums up what my goal is with this blog.  We’re all getting older and busier but that doesn’t mean we can’t get out and help be a part of continuing to build up this Buffalo community that is currently flowering into a renaissance.  I’ll try and help by putting together a list of 5 things to do this week.  We’re busy, but I think we can handle that.  It’s also a good list for when you have people coming in from out of town and you need to throw together a quick list of things to do.  I’ll be publishing this weekly so check back every Sunday/Monday-ish for updates.  You can follow me on Twitter and Facebook as well if you are into that sort of thing.

5.  Buffalo Vaggie Fest VI (Aug 8)

10463803_927987360555515_7230561450651351476_o

This Saturday, punks from as far as Montreal and Philly will descend upon Buffalo to partake in the 6th annual Vaggie Fest.  First off, let’s talk about the venue.  Buffalo’s Adam Mickiewicz Library and Dramatic Circle was founded in 1895 and is the oldest surviving Polish library in Buffalo.  According to the website, the library holds 12,000 volumes with over 400 hand copied plays.  I’ll be honest, I had never heard of the place until now.  Checking out this interesting piece of Buffalo history ought to be worth the price of admission even if their wasn’t any music involved.  Vaggie Fest itself (a play on words that recalls Veggie Fest and the fact that this is an event that celebrates women in punk rock/ hardcore) will consist of 9 straight hours of a full frontal assault on your ear drums and your face from 17 different bands.  The lineup is impressive, with bands like VCR from Toronto, Pretty Boys from Montreal and local rockers Blobs.  If you have an interest in punk rock or feminism or both this ought to be a fun and exhausting way to spend your afternoon and evening.

4. Slow Roll: Buffalo (Every Monday)

Let’s just get this out of the way early.  Yes, the Buffalo Slow Roll is slow.  I know it’s in the name, but they really aren’t kidding.  If you are a hardcore cyclist or an impatient person this is not the event for you.  However, if you don’t mind a relaxing cruise through the nooks and crannies of Buffalo’s urban landscape with upwards of 300 people then you won’t be disappointed. The Slow Roll movement started in Detroit as a way to explore the city’s unique neighborhoods and grow biking culture and has expanded to 8 other cities so far.  Buffalo is a perfect location for an event like this as it gets people into areas of the city they would not normally see and gives Buffalonians yet another fun thing to do during the summer.  The concept is simple and perfect- meet at a bar, go for the ride, end at a bar for drinks.  This Monday (Aug 3rd) they will be meeting at Larkin Square, but check the website hyperlinked above as they change venues every week.

3. Tour the Colored Musician’s Club Museum (Wed-Sat 11-3)

colored musicians club

What often gets lost in the rich history of Buffalo is that the city used to be a major hotspot for Jazz (and its offspring) in the US.  At one point there were upwards of 30 different Jazz clubs with frequent acts like Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald who followed the “chitlin circuit” from New Orleans to NYC.  I was lucky enough to get a tour of the Buffalo Colored Musicians Club Museum where local African American musicians based out of (they weren’t allowed in the white-only Buffalo Musician’s Union so they started their own) and it was a phenomenal experience.  Don’t be intimidated if you don’t know much about Jazz/Blues etc as the museum is designed for both experts and newbies alike.  There are stations where you can privately listen to full tunes from important historical figures from Scott Joplin to Aretha Franklin to Miles Davis (seriously if you haven’t listened to Kind of Blue you are missing out, just click the link).  There are also fun things for kids to do, as they can test out different instruments and see how they interact with the band as a whole using little mixing stations tuned to hits like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “Take the A Train.” The staff is incredibly friendly, passionate and knowledgeable and very welcoming.  I highly recommend this great museum.

2.  Psychedelic Furs @ Town Ballroom (Aug 8)

Legendary British art rock band The Psychedelic Furs will be in Buffalo Saturday night.  Many I’m sure would recognize their big hit “Love My Way” (produced by Todd Lundgren who was just in Buffalo a few months ago) off their 1982 album Forever Now.  They also wrote the title track to one of America’s most beloved 80’s movies.  Although the original version of “Pretty in Pink” was written on their 1982 album Talk Talk Talk, it of course later brought them major fame in the States for being the inspiration for the movie of the same name starring the perfect Molly Ringwald in 1986.  Should be a great show, dig into a few of their albums this week and see if it is your thing.

1.  Buffalo Brewfest @ Buffalo Ironworks (Aug 7)

(Don’t let this be you)

Another beer festival?  Sure, why not?  Bonus- this one supports the Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center Foundation so you can get hammered and do your good deed for the day at the same time.  At the Buffalo Brewfest, expect over 100+ different beers to sample from 10 different breweries both local and from out of town.  Should be an awesome event as the people over at Buffalo Ironworks always do a great job.  In addition, if you haven’t been down to the greatly-improved-but-still-work-in-progress Cobblestone district this is as good an excuse as any.  

Other notable Events:  KMFDM @ Ironworks (Aug 6), Mohawk’s Punk & Ska Extravaganza @ Mohawk Place (Aug 7)

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next week!

 


Nickel City Knockouts Look to Push Win Streak to 20 Against the Alley Kats

Credit: Chris Kalisiak (CK Photographic Systems)

Credit: Chris Kalisiak (CK Photographic Systems)

Since losing to the Devil Dollies by 19 in the QCRG Championship in 2011, the Nickel City Knockouts have not lost a home league game. That’s three straight championships, massive point differentials, and only one game in that stretch where anyone has come within 20 points. That is pure domination.

The Alley Kats on the other hand, haven’t won a game since January of 2012. The team comes out on the track to Drake’s “Started from the Bottom” – and although they have played closer games this year, they are still kinda at the bottom. The playoff matchups are already set and this means at least two more games against the KO’s and one home league bout against the Saucies. Full disclosure: I am a huge Kat fan and I love this underdog team that doesn’t quit – but getting a win this season is going to be tough. The Kats are going to have to steal a game. If they play a complete game, play with discipline, and get lucky with some injuries and/or penalty trouble for opposing teams they can do it. They will have the crowd support if they get the chance to swing momentum.

Hardcore fans shouldn’t hesitate to represent and cheer for their teams – QCRG has been scouring the crowd and moving fans up to front row seats all season. If you are looking to bring props though, leave the cat litter at home. Roller Derby and actual cat litter would be a disaster.

Doors open at Riverworks (359 Ganson St. Buffalo) at 7pm and the bout starts at 7:30. Front row seating is $20, general admission is $15 and kids under 12 are $10 (at the door only). You can purchase tickets at http://www.qcrg.net/event/nickel-city-knockouts-vs-alley-kats-3/

Storylines to Watch

The Litter Box: The Alley Kats are so known for their penalties that the penalty box is now referred to as a the “litter box.” If they tighten up their blocking, communicate and run some three walls they will cut down on a lot of those penalties. Just like your favourite cat in real life though, these Kats struggle with the “rules.” Maybe next year they should change their logo to include a circle “A.”

Jammer Battles: LiBrawlian and InSINerator are the two most dominate jammers in the league and watching them go head to head is always fun. Sin has improved so much over the span of a year and has really closed the gap on this match up. I am also going to be watching for smaller jammers Bang GRRang and Toots McGee in this bout. Toots is coming off of her best bout of the season and Bang GRRang had a great game earlier in the season against the Saucies. 

Evil-Lyn Cognito: Evil-lyn, who plays for the Kats, is the QCRG featured skater of the month. Children of the 80’s should appreciate that the derby name is a He-Man reference. Less a “storyline” – more another reason why the Alley Kats are pretty much the coolest team in the league (even if they don’t win). For those who need a refresher – here is a youtube video for “50 Things about Evil-Lyn Cognito”

*If someone shows up in full Skeletor (or any other He-Man costume) I will ensure you get a front row seat. 

Credit: Galia

Credit: Galia


The Ice at Canalside: Why did this take so long to complete?

canal2595

If you were one of the lucky ones who attended yesterday’s opening of the new canals on the former Aud Block at Canalside, then you know what a fabulous and magnificent event this was here in the City of Buffalo. The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation and their event management partner, Global Spectrum, absolutely nailed it. Buffalonians gathered and celebrated and gawked at what has instantly become one of the unique and distinct urban placemaking sites in the country. We can look to the future with boundless optimism as we also look to the past and cherish our history as the terminus of the Erie Canal and the gateway to the west, and our place in sports as we commemorate the former Memorial Auditorium and the magical memories of that great place.

Mark the calendar – December 18, 2014, but in reality, this very event should have taken place two years ago, in December of 2012. So what happened?

In December of 2011, the board of the ECHDC signed a $21-million contract with Dipizio Construction to erect the replica canals which are what you see today. The money came from a pot of funds made available from a relicensing agreement with the New York Power Authority. Essentially, there are dollars in place to fund pretty much all the public infrastructure improvements to the Inner and Outer Harbors, which, in theory, will encourage private investment and economic development in those long ignored yet prime real estate pieces of our city.

So with a contractor in place, work should have immediately begun on what was an eight month project, right? Wrong. Enter Sheldon Silver. The iron fisted Speaker of the Assembly at that point held things up, saying HE wanted to review the agreement and bestow his blessings. So there sat the project, languishing on the Speaker’s desk. Meanwhile, we were in the midst of one of the mildest winters in a generation. The lake never froze that year. Valuable construction time was being lost.

What was needed then was a strong and powerful rebuke from our local Assembly and Senate delegation. Our senator and our assemblyman representing downtown should have been having meltdowns and throwing a few chairs over in Albany. But amidst all this was a special election for an open assembly seat in South Buffalo and West Seneca, and the Speaker was pouring huge dollars into that campaign on behalf of the Democratic candidate. Our local politicians certainly didn’t want to upset the Speaker or rock the boat, so everyone remained silent, until Silver finally relented and gave his green light to the project.

Work on the site finally began in May of 2012. With the calendar flipped on its head, the master contractor, Dipizio Construction, ran into the following fall’s cold weather. Concrete couldn’t be poured, timetables started slipping, and it grew into a major kerfuffle with the ECHDC, who started micromanaging everything from selection of the color of the sandstone walls to all sorts of change orders to the project. By June of 2013, with the project roughly halfway finished, the ECHDC ordered Dipizio off the job site. (Dipizio is suing the Empire State Development Corporation, parent of the ECHDC, for tens of millions. We taxpayers may be on the hook big time when all this shakes out through the courts).

canal0363Throughout the entire summer of 2013, the project site sat empty and barren, while the ECHDC sought a new master contractor to finish the job. Pike Contracting out of Rochester was awarded the job in September. The rest of 2013 was devoted to erecting blue tarp fencing and pretty logos of the state and NYPA and plastering the governors name all over those fences, but little actual work took place on the canals.

Of course, we all remember the winter of 2013-14… two blizzards, one of the coldest and most miserable winter cycles in recent memory, and real work on the canals finally resumed in the spring of 2014. And that got us to the finish line. Shazzam!… An eight month project gets done in three years, with two contractors, selfish politicians, and an over-bureaucratic ECHDC serving as the major foils.

So here we are, and Canalside is a major hit with the public. Throngs of visitors partake in events and the waterfront in the summer, and it looks now that this will be the new happening winter destination as well. Yet consider this – the ECHDC has yet to erect even one permanent structure anywhere in the Inner Harbor footprint. OK, OK, one structure… the snack shack on the Central Wharf, which, by the way, is a hugely successful summer enterprise. But otherwise, Canalside is a convergence of temporary amenities – they cart in portable toilets, food trucks, stages and sound systems, vending carts, card tables and canopies, and those famed adirondack chairs, for which Fred Kent and his Project for Public Spaces crowd extorted the taxpayers for a hefty six figure consulting fee. Then when the events season ends, everything is carted away.

That is hopefully about to change, as the ECHDC promises that work will soon begin on a set of buildings on the south side of the Aud block right alongside those new canals. Three new buildings are supposedly in the final design phase – the new Explore and More Museum, which will be on the northwest corner of Main and Scott Streets (sorry Tim Horton, but your statue might have to be moved), a new restaurant situated roughly on the spot where the canal corners and jogs southward, and not to be overlooked… a comfort station and information center on the north side of Scott St. The mere concept of permanent rest rooms, and obviating the need to constantly truck in and out port-a-potties, makes this a no brainer.

But will it happen? The ECHDC’s performance record is a sketchy one. Since taking charge of the buildout of Canalside, on more than one occasion they have rolled out announcements and unveilings, only to delay the timetable, scale down the original vision, cancel plans, or a combination of these. Here are the projects in the pipeline in the coming year. Will all of these come to fruition?

1) Designs are being finalized for three buildings on the Aud Block – the Explore and More museum, a restaurant with balconies and sweeping views of the canals, and an information center/comfort station. A late spring construction start has been targeted.

2) The ECHDC has indicated that its time to issue a request for proposals for the available land parcel on the East Canal block, which is the patch of grass across from the HarborCenter and fronting the new pocket park dubbed the East Canal. Hofbrauhaus USA has indicated their interest in locating in Buffalo and has indicated that their new themed restaurant will be near Canalside. Could this location be a more perfect match? This deal needs to get finalized, and work needs to begin.

3) A contract to light up the Connecting Terminal Elevator across the Buffalo River with a kinetic light show has been issued. ECHDC President Tom Dee has stated that a July 4, 2015 unveiling is planned. This is not a simple floodlighting of this iconic structure, but an elaborate sight and sound presentation. As of now we have yet to see any actual onsite work going on over at the elevator. When will construction begin?

This rendering shows what the East Canal will look like once the buildout of the adjacent parcel is completed. Imagine patio dining along that water feature and what a great place that could become.

This rendering shows what the East Canal will look like once the buildout of the adjacent parcel is completed. Imagine patio dining along that water feature and what a great place that could become.

There is, of course, a great deal more that needs to happen… In October Buffalo was delivered the crushing news that a new grant to continue the Cars Sharing Main Street project was rejected. Phase 4 is intended to reconstruct the 400 block of Main Street as well as the lower portion of Main Street at Canalside. Let’s face it – Main Street down there is a pockmarked mess. The Erie Canal Metrorail station, even with the downsizing and a fresh coat of paint, is an ugly eyesore. Senator Charles Schumer has promised to find the federal dollars needed to make this happen. This needs to get done.

Then there is the rest of Canalside – HarborCenter John Koelmel stated in a recent Artvoice interview that “every blade of grass down here is a development parcel.” Koelmel is right. Canalside was not intended to be another waterside park, but rather, a confluence of buildings recreating the era when the Erie Canal was in its heyday. Juxtapose the glacial pace of the ECHDC project hopper next to the private sector development of HarborCenter – an incredibly complex project went from approval to design to construction to opening in 20 months. Why not issue RFP’s for every development parcel in the Inner Harbor? And another thing.. with the Ice at Canalside becoming an instant hit with the public after just one day, are we really to accept that the muddy crater on the north side of the Aud Block is to remain that way for the foreseeable future???

The team running the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation is to be commended for the progress to date. But the pace of development activity has to be picked up, and right now. They have an enormous source of funds to bring projects to fruition; they have a willing private sector partner in the Buffalo Sabres and HarborCenter. Koelmel and Development Officer Cliff Benson bring a wealth of experience to the table in getting things done, and the ECHDC needs to tap into this. And we’re not even taking into account the other stakeholders in the district who have already contributed and could be doing much, much more. The Buffalo News, Savarino Construction, The Seneca Nation, the NFTA, Ellicott Development, Uniland. Anybody being left out?

We’re finally getting the Waterfront We Deserve. But let’s not get too giddy just yet because much remains to be done. 2015 looks to be a watershed year for Canalside. And we need the ECHDC to step up their game. Right now.


The Western New York Tea Party: Rebuked

Western New York’s Tea Party is as horrible electorally as it is with respect to policy. They lost yesterday, and they lost big. 

Carl and the Conservative Fusion Party

This tea party crowd, which accuses everyone who doesn’t think like they of being “sheeple”, circulated a list of Conservative Fusion Party candidates for whom to vote, without explanation or argument. Just a straight “C” ticket. There is no thought there, just blind following and demands of ideological purity. Politics is, at its heart, a game of compromise. When you foreclose that possibility, you’re bad for America, and you’re going to lose, sooner or later.

Astorino’s WBEN-Mentum 

Local delusional hate radio, which was so deep in the tank for Astorino that it became self-parody, spent all afternoon yesterday using callers to its own radio shows as a representative sample of the electorate. It claimed that Cuomo suffered from an enthusiasm gap, and predicted a wild and unexpected win for its chosen candidate. Last week, during what’s supposed to be the straight morning news program, Astorino’s daily schedule was a news item. Cuomo’s schedule was not given equal time.

WBEN is not “NewsTalk” or “News Radio” or, God help us, the “Voice of Buffalo”. It is a right-wing talk radio station; Limbaugh & his clones, all day. It’s not even the official organ – the Komsomolskaya Pravda – of the Republican Party anymore, having firmly aligned itself with Lorigo’s Conservative Fusion Party and the tea party. Everything that this crew falsely accuses the Buffalo News of being, it is

Not only did Cuomo win with ease, Erie County went for Andrew Cuomo for the first time. It was never even close, and people should think about where they get their information. 

Str8t Talk About Weppner

For a year that brought about a nationwide Republican wave, Brian Higgins did quite well, thankyouverymuch. Higgins will return to Congress with yet another mandate – 69% versus 31% for the tea party.

In a what, now?

Kathy Weppner lost, and so far none of her (or her shills’) social media accounts contain anything except venom, vitriol, and victimhood. Don’t be surprised – this is a woman so self-absorbed and obsessed with portraying herself as a victim, she couldn’t even muster a “thank you”, instead denigrating and insulting the students who asked her relevant questions at the St. Joe’s debate.  

The loss left her somewhat speechless, 

Some tea partiers thought that hers was a “brilliant” campaign. I guess, insofar as it was the most popular WNY comedy act in recent memory. But she only just outperformed the last two tea party activists who ran against Higgins, and she ran a campaign based on resentments and urban legends. 

Weppner is the very embodiment of the low-information talk-radio caller / Buffalo News commenter who regurgitates Twitchy and Fox News talking points. Her wealth and shamelessness enabled her to mount what was, in the end, a nasty and whiny vanity campaign. Maybe at least she can now return all of her radio and blog archives back online for everyone to read. 

Panepinto & The Law of Unintended Consequences

Did you need more evidence of how – despite their deep gun fetish – the tea party can’t shoot straight?

It rejected Republican Mark Grisanti and instead backed Kevin Stocker. Stocker rejected the tea party – its titular head Rus Thompson especially. So, the tea party’s own candidate rejected them, they had burned all their bridges with the establishment’s Grisanti, and all of this led to a Panepinto win and a Democratic pickup in the state Senate

Great job, guys!  Congratulations, Marc Panepinto!

Republican Pickup in Cheektowaga

Hah

Paladinocrats Lose

You don’t go from being a Paladino stooge one day to being a Democrat the next. Johnny Destino was a homophobic Paladino stooge a couple of years ago, and ran this year as an endorsed Democrat. The voters rejected him.

In NY-27, Jim O’Donnell was MIA. He complained that he couldn’t raise money, but that didn’t stop others from doing it for him, but he refused. What really irked me was that he was rude or dismissive to people who offered to help him out. He was prone to outbursts of anger, and simply didn’t bother to do even the free, little things that could have earned him some free media – or at least a Facebook share. 

We also learned on Sunday that O’Donnell was an aide for the 2010 Paladino campaign. If you’re going to strike out in politics, and you scan all the races available to help out, and you land on the homophobic promoter of racism and pornography, don’t come asking Democrats for support without disclosure and vocal rejection. I wrote my own name in for NY-27, but perhaps for the first – likely last –  time, I wished Team Collins good luck. At least Collins is honest and consistent about where his loyalties lie. 

Anyhow, thanks for reading. 




Older Posts »