Paczki dreams and other strange things


For lent, this lapsed catholic is giving up mortal combat, being nice to stupid people and any pretense of saving the Mets bullpen. I don’t take the lenten season like gospel (pun intended), but it does sort of feel like a nice karmic rewind, kind of like new year’s resolutions with some actual gravitas. My own contribution was to go to Wegman’s on Fat Tuesday morning and load up on enough Paczkis for everybody in the office. For $10.00 I think I improved my office karma. There is a drop dead gorgeous woman who works in the accounting office, who never seems to be having the best of days, who appeared in my office doorway with as close to a delighted look on her face as I’ve ever seen her. (I know what you are thinking but remember the axiom of “Fishing off the company pier.”)

Had a tough time keeping a straight face through a couple of meetings yesterday. I love the show Entourage on HBO and last season Martin Landau was on, playing an aging out of touch producer. His reoccuring phrase was always something along the lines of “If___________, would that be something you would be interested in?” One of our new ads reps is that guy. He spent the first 30 minutes of a meeting pontificating about wines and what scotches are best, eventually moving on to direct mail. As he is talking, I had already mentally cast in him Martin Landau’s role. It was uncanny. The other person in the meeting is an Entourage fan and thinking the same thing. It was like watching a doppleganger in action. She handed me a note and I could feel my face forming a tell-tale stupid smirk. He was a very nice man, but then he said it: “if I can get that price, would that be something you would be interested in?” My colleague had to excuse herself. It was too on the money, and I took the deal. Moral of the story is that Mr. Landau does his homework. And that I kept it together as my silly grin went no further until he left. The guy brought me a bottle of wine, so I got to work with some respect.

After that moment of high comedy, I got dragged into a presentation from an ad agency who is trolling for business and offered to do something for free. Never mind that we have an agency for media stuff and for creative things we have well, me. Good soldier that I am, I went along with the uberboss and my boss to listen to the high shenanigans. The agency creative director was already in my dog house. It is our second meeting and both times he has crapped all over concepts whose biggest sins were that he didn’t think of them. They worked so there. The uberboss brings her dog to the office which is cool because the dog is a border collie and say hello to everybody, but spends her time behind a gate in the boss’s office. That’s where we met with these guys. Woman’s best friend wanders the table during the meeting. I’m doing my best to be polite as the bosses ask some questions of the presentation. The creative director says something unkind toward our campaign from last fall (which worked). I hear something sounding like growling. It was coming from the dog. Turned out she was playing with a toy and trying to free it from the table, but she was snarling right under the director type, which scared the pompous right out of him. I couldn’t help it, I laughed. Seeing a guy taller than me jump rather,well girlishly, from a dog that was paying him no mind at all, was comedy.

Finally, one last little vignette for you. In the aftermath of cleaning up the convention center from last week’s benefit, one of the restaurants was headed out with one of the signs we printed up for them. To keep costs down, we recycle. The benefit in theory is put on by this board. The board men complain about the board women (who work) and none would do anything without the actual staff leading the way. Anyway this board member comes running up to me saying this restaurant was taking their sign. Keep in mind, this same dithering soul was stuffing his face all night long. I simply told him, ask for it back. Their staff wasn’t anything to be afraid of. That didn’t stop him from sounding alarmingly like Barney Fife at the prospect of actually talking to people. Annoyed, I went over and recovered the sign. Flash to last night and the review of the event. I earned more laughs, but probably his anger when talking about vendors, I took out the two stainless steel balls that a friend bought for me two christmases ago and told the nebbish “You might need these more than I do for talking to vendors.”

Reactions in the room were the perfect cherry on the cake that was my day.

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Wanderlust


Indulged in a little localized pointless travel on Saturday. The famous number one son and I schlepped up to Niagara Falls to play tourist before the tourists come back. Great day for a wander. There is a spot on Three Sisters Island where some maintainence has made another island for water pressure relief. That’s resulted in some great, finely buffed skipping stones, but if you hit it right, a well skipped rock goes quite a ways thanks to the velocity of the water putting potential back spins. A nice day capped off by boston coolers (ginger ale over ice cream) at a ice cream place in the falls.

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Listening to music in days of yore


This is floating around facebook, and it dates me a little, like I need help in that department. Well, dear reader, there used to be a thing called record stores, not just the music department at Target, sometimes two to three per mall. Back when Tower Records was a destination, you could really lose yourself in the realm of album covers and what not. I still pile up lots of tunes, I or otherwise, but it isn’t the same. This little exercise came through a friend of mine from our mutual days in college radio. He has a couple of years on me, but it is funny about shared experiences. There were certain albums that everybody had. The Cd era eroded this a little. The Itunes era squashed it for good.

“Think of 25 albums that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life or the way you looked at it. They sucked you in and took you over for days, weeks, months, years. These are the albums that you can use to identify time, places, people, emotions. These are the albums that no matter what they were thought of musically shaped your world.” It’s funny because these are a few that transcend the medium, meaning I’m a sap and bought em on cd.

1) Rumours – Everybody we knew had it. It was like it got slipped through everybody’s mail slot, standard suburban issue. It’s timing seem to signal the beginning of a little musical maturation.

2) Tattoo You- another one that everybody had. It was the last Stones album to matter, despite the fact they keep churning them out.

3) Tommy (first the movie, then the original album) – Elton John’s version of Pinball Wizard showed the waye to the Who, and another favorite was born.

4) Who’s Next – the album that started me on the Who for serious.

5) Quadrophenia – This one took me the longest to get into, but it remains my favorite.

6) Born to Run – the title song defines that period of my life, giving rise to life-long Bruce fanaticism. Yeah, I got a ticket for his show in Toronto

7) The Wild the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle – “Rosie” introduced us but it became the deepest Boss listen and shows an E Street Band side that I wish would pop up more often.

8) Sgt. Pepper’s – probably the first album I listened to end-to-end, Come back to it periodically ever since.

9) Abbey Road – I remember running the side 2 opus periodically on my college radio show, one of those pieces of music that everybody agrees to its awesomeness. The Golden Slumbers medley always makes me turn the volume up.

10) Dark Side of the Moon – Almost an afterthought now, but another one everybody had and it is just great enough that periodic revisits can be a revelation. Watching a concert on VH-1 recently made me listen to the cd as whole and remember that aside from all the Billboard Chart topping notes, it is a damn fine record.

11) All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes – makes me wish Pete Townshend would record more.

12) My Ever Changing Moods – The Style Council: defines a college period for me. Under-rated, and made me a big fan of everything Paul Weller (the Jam) attempts. I loved tracing this into understanding the Jam and all the genres Mr. Weller incorporated in the Council

13) The Joshua Tree – my first great album on CD.

14) Achtung Baby – The follow-up is probably the last album I would play from beginning to end on that turntable thingy.

15) The River – Rare double album that actually merits a double album — still have the mental picture of my Mom standing in line at National Record Mart in Eastern Hills looking for Bruce tickets for me.

16) Hotel California — Title song made me want to learn how to play guitar

17) Moondance: Van Morrison, I’m not a fan of the title song, but the record as a whole grabs your soul like everything matters. It helps that Van gives a damn through the whole thing.

18) The Last Waltz: The Band did more than just back up Bob Dylan, they could play a little bit of anything from Blues to Country to Rock and do it with enough panache that you had to be impressed..

19) Give the People What they Want: Given when it showed up, it was a great primer on the Kinks and got them back into the limelight a little bit.

20) Kiss Alive I: as Dave Marsh once said, “It’s great, f**k you!” (Not my original sentiment, but I can’t improve on that)

21) Physical Graffiti – nothing like listening to Led Zep, in this case through a beat up tape deck in my high-school media center.

22) Led Zeppelin IV – Still don’t know what a “bushel in the hedgerow” means, still don’t care. It’s a great record.

23) Tug of War – McCartney’s work after John died was moving and some of the best stuff he ever did.

24) Live Bullet – kicked off the concert going years in earnest with this perpetually stuck in the tape deck.

25) Darkness on the Edge of Town — Found a copy about a week after seeing Bruce for the first time, pretty sure there is a 12 step program for people like me.

No clash or ramones, because I’d find out about those later. Looking at the list, I guess I’m an audio dork, but there was something liberating about putting the big old KOSS headphones and dreaming.

Deconstruction of the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium


It’s funny how something can be lionized even after falling dormant. You could mount a pretty easy argument how the city screwed up Memorial Auditorium after the Arena was built. It and the surrounding land has sat there for 12 years doing nothing, just another abandoned property not generating anything, not unlike our city leaders. The Artvoice article about how Montreal smartly reused their Forum was never far from my mind, especially since I wonder about how real the Bass Pro shenanigans really are. But the sale of the Aud insides and the removal of the property sparked romantic notions. You remember and dream in “living color”. The place was a dump on its best of days. The long darkened ramps introduced you to your neighbor rather closely whether you wanted you to or not, especially during the intimate exits after events. The steps leading down to the seats into the oranges were vertigo inducing and the hand rails were a metal fabricator’s practical joke. Aud club food was sort of on the vile side but you liked it anyway because of the private clubhouse feel. 

I was walking downtown the other night and saw the gaping hole where the desconstruction had opened the building. Like I said, the structure was nothing special, but what it could contain was sometimes amazing: bunches of Sabres games, a few Braves games (as I am old), seeing Bob Seger, Rush, The Kinks, the Who, U2, Springsteen and many other legends for the first time. The acoustics were usually pretty awful, but hey, when your heroes are right in front of you sound quality is not always omnipresent. Okay, so I was curious to go back and have a look. I didn’t want a seat from the place or anything (what can you do with a chair coated in 13 years of yuck), but seeing the joint fall back into itself for the Bass Pro store that is never going to come was a curiousity I couldn’t resist. I took a stroll tonight to look into the abyss and could see into where my Dad and I walked under the rink one night by taking the wrong turn after a playoff game or the night I was part of the post game press corps with Ch.2 (where I covered up my college radio logo from Scotty Bowman’s prying eyes with the Ch. 2 mic flag ( for a little guy, he scared the crap out of me)) to hearing my mom (my Mom?) wish a particularly offensive member of the Philadelphia Flyers a colorful good evening. I was only there for a few minutes tonight, but there was a steady stream of lookers and quasi-photographers like myself

My little sister’s first contact high, skipping the Senior prom with a van load of friends to see Eric Clapton, having Gil Perreault sign my jersey, getting a seat in the press box for part of a hockey game, having some classmates eye me a little more highly after exchanging a quick hello with Ed Kilgore were just a few instances that I can recall in crystal clear detail. This isn’t a knock on the Arena by any means. Hell, I just got to a Suite for the first time a few weeks ago and living wealthy is great fun. I admire a hostess who took pains to show me where the Molson Canadian was. I guess it is like remembering the good quality of your first car. You’d never buy it now, you probably should have thought twice about it then, but it had its moments. I don’t remember Monday’s dinner, but I still can see the black and white monitors the folks in the blues needed to see the scoreboard. 

When the place was full and the asbestos was hiding quietly in the ceiling, it really didn’t look much better or dramatically different, but what could happen inside fueled the imagination. During particularly good Sabres games or raucus E Street Band shows, the feeling is the place was palpable. There was a feeling in the beginnings of a French Connection power play or Clarence Clemons sax solo that you could feel in your chest. Like I said the place wasn’t attractive, but it was unique. That is the beauty of old joints like that, the shared experience.¬† I can still remember the peanut vendor/huckster who worked the events. He would sit outside and bark “Before you go in the door! Stop at the Peanut Store!!

It was a dump, but it was our dump.