“Mmmm, that’s great Bass!”


So, Bass Pro isn’t coming to Buffalo.

As my idea of roughing it is Room Service closing early, I didn’t really have a vested interest in the outcome per se. The Canalside development is making positive inroads along the water with the Central Wharf and the surrounding area. Things are showing signs of progress. I don’t think Bass Pro was a deciding factor in well much of anything, but is indicative of a seemingly endless quest on the regional leadership for the “If we can get (fill in name of fictional attraction here), everything will be great, good beer will flow from hydrants, Crystal Beach lollipops will sprout from the trees” and so on.

It would pretty obvious that Buffalo was going to be dropped like the blind date with the nice personality for some time now, even before Congressman Higgins drew his politically motivated line in the sand. While it was long past time for B.P. to shit or get off the pot, the announcement was tantamount to telling us what we already knew. The complaint about toxic attitudes about Bass Pro among the populace rings a little hollow to me. They were offered 35+ million dollars from an area that really can’t afford it, choices of locations, etc. About all we didn’t promise was to still respect them in the morning. Given that ludicrous press conference to celebrate the memorandum to begin to consider to start thinking about possibly contemplating a potential store in 2001 and 9 years of nothing else publicly, while all the while building a number of stores including in Toronto and Auburn, can they really be surprised that the rank and file population was a little full for the shenanigans?

I mean, if I am running Dick’s Sporting Goods or Gander Mountain and have to watch verbal tap dancing, I couldn’t help but wonder “what the hell? Nobody’s subsidizing me, shooooot”

If you take a walk down the marina, and get close to the water, and are generally unplugged from everything, one of the most universally soothing, peace inducing sounds is that of the water lapping up to the land. If you look at the genial populace doing their level best to make the best out of what water access there is, that solves what needs to happen there. One of the truisms to the success stories in and around the city, is that the best regions like Elmwood, Hertel and now sections of Grant become what they are through lots of little things, not because Joel Giambra wanted Waterworld, or Joel Rose doesn’t want anything, Anthony Masiello donning Camos, and Bryan Brown wants to cast aspersions on anything.

The canalside folks are on the right track and turn Benderson’s savviest recruiters loose by all means, but some things seem be slipping under the radar a little bit. Think of the folks squeezing themselves onto the Marina. Can you imagine the populace if they could actually touch the water? Grant Park in Chicago doesn’t have an anchor tenant, but the citizens can get their toes wet and when dry, they want to buy stuff. A city beach be the anchor? That’s crazy talk. Walk through Waverly, Crystal, Sherkston and some of the Canadian beaches and count the New York license plates.

If you build it, they will come, even if the it is a sand castle.

Shops would multiply like rabbits, which could inspire growth of the great programming already taking place at the Central Wharf. Take some of that BP incentives and lock a loyal Buffalo firm like Phillips Lytle or HSBC into some of the new space and you have an instant year round populace to go along with the potential merchants and residents. It’s a crazy thought, but could be a thing.

For years, my dad goes to the attic for the Christmas decorations, some of which are wrapped in a newspaper headline from the Buffalo Evening News, with the line about “Buffalo’s Waterfront ready to take off!” The exclamation point commemorates the 1967 construction of the marina. So, let’s quit mourning the decade long dalliance with B.P. and move on.

There is progress happening and I think will continue be, even without the city lifting it’s collective skirt, asking national chains if “they like to party.”

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Please, Please, Me


I thought momentarily that Ticketmaster and I were going to have words, but I came home from a long day at work to find concert tickets awaiting to see the man in Toronto soon.

As a long time McCartney, it’s going to be a hoot. He is not killing himself touring so the shows are getting great reviews and I have the added bonus of dragging my son along who has been a little Beatle crazy too. Somehow I don’t think Buffalo is on Paulie’s rout but this is close enough, else we’d all be like Chris below:

It will be awesome!

Marketing/Public Relations School


If you ever wind up working events of any kind, you start to get an idea as to some holes in certain academic disciplines.

We had one of our biggest benefits last night. A couple days worth of prep work left me feeling all my years this morning after a couple of 15 hour days as a quasi-crew chief, foreman, fix-it dude, bouncer, drill seargant and over all wing man. The scholars at the marketing academies don’t brace you on how to get what needs be done from people who really have no real reason to listen. But he or she with the big voice wins.

In readying for 2600 guests, 3 stages of entertainment, 56 vendors, you find yourself in some odd situations. I’ve been sifting through some of the email feedback we got this morning and it makes me tired all over again.

I spent the day dragging stuff, doing laps over the property getting tables set up, spreading table clothes & skirts, vendor supplies and generally becoming a hot mess. The event kicked off at 5 with VIP ticket holders coming through. Another gentleman who also acted as a prep monkey/mule and I had to greet them with goody bags, champagne and catch their tickets.

Never got home to clean up so you do the best you can. After a day of cajoling. berating and apparently scaring the members of our volunteer board, I got ready only to continue melting to the point where my name badge and property keys were outlined on my shirt.

It was a whole day to make you wonder. The party ended with myself joining our security team in breaking up a fight amongst some youngins and immediately thought they never told me about that in marketing & public relations school. The true cherry on the cake of my day as it is little odd as to what could cause you to forget the ailments of the moment.

We had to lower some of the tents that were put up, and of course, after all the rain it was only a matter of time before one tent had some fun with somebody. Just wish it would have been somebody else. If I made a lion smile, I guess the impromptu flashdance recreation was worth it.

Yelled at a disc jockey who wouldn’t shut up at closing time. Apparently explaining that if the music is still going, we can’t get rid of anybody.

Yelled at a chain smoker to take that stuff out from the animals, after he yelled first.

Yelled at a banker, because, well, he needed yelling at.

Not grousing, just some of the things they don’t teach you in marketing/public relations school.

Chairman of the Bored


So, the church that I semi-regularly attend decided to put me on its board. I like to think that was intended to be a honor, but I’m thinking currently that my name was 17th on a list with 16 crossed out names proceeding mine.

That alone shows you where the bar is set administratively speaking.

For a congregation that publicly prides itself on openess, welcoming, anything is possible, tolerance, etc., we got issues.

One congregant didn’t get his way during the budgeting process last year and couldn’t even get a cohort, so he has resorted to tantrums so infantile, he has become his own greatest liability. The constant stream of inaccuracies and inconsistencies in his complaints make me spend meeting time looking for a trap door to leap out of, but to no avail.

The budget process hasn’t changed one iota since I’ve been attending and he was alledging that it was closed to members. He didn’t take into account that anything is closed to members if said members can’t get their heads out of their asses to care.

There is an audit committee working there as well. It’s three guys who don’t necessarily work as in concert as they should. I got a very well thought out memo about it, and my reaction was “Now, it’s a problem?” The hell were you waiting for??

And apparently, gossip mills move quick and none of us are ever too far from trying to find a seat at the cool kids table at our seventh grade cafeteria.

People gossip, but don’t have the intellectual inertia to go find anything out. There should be a separate treasurer from book keeper but nobody is stepping up. The out sick office manager should say what is going on, instead of the board looking like they are trying to fire her, which is not the case, just want her healthy enough to work.
Somehow, that turned into the board looking to cut bait.

Makes me think peoples attention spans have gone to hell. Two thirds of a fact is better than none I suppose.

I can’t afford to donate as much as I would like and that typically renders you voiceless except in avenues such as this venue where the names have been omitted to protect the criminally petulant and immature.

The one thing that has been accomplished is the removal of a desire to go. That mental refresher of the service hour is temporarily lost. If I could come up with a better excuse than “I don’t wanna,” I would be out of there.

But I soldier on.

People are Funny


Took a couple spins of the property as guests came to see us a decent day for doing such things. The people watching, when you can afford the time in this or any other large gathering of a few thousand people, is a hoot. A few observations did come to mind as the golf cart I was driving was pleading for its electric day to end.

— A road test for folks with doublewide strollers probably wouldn’t be the worst idea ever.

— Apparently a lot of people followed Bill Cosby’s family tree as many visitors today had kids named “Jesus Christ,” “Lookitdammit” and “Comeherecomeherecomehere.”

— Public spaces breed lots of little worlds. Three men with cameras, taking photos of people, all backed into one another. In Driver’s Ed, they teach you to turn around and look, but nobody does that either. But that is a rant of a different color.

— Saw two different folk who decided where they were headed by walking in circles.

— Asked a guy to put his cigarette as he was lighting up under a no smoking sign.

ah, show biz

Whale of a bad day


I had other thoughts: about Bass Pro shenanigans (read buffalogeek‘s latest post, I agree with option #1), Gary Bettman suddenly remembering he in charge of the NHL and other things, but a few misfires at work, a stupid fight with my daughter which was pretty much my fault, an overly full yoga class (which threw me off even more than usual and left me good and dizzy), it was tantamount to a bad day, but at least this didn’t happen.

Although, I will take it easy going through Gates Circle this morning, never know what could come out of that fountain.

Kovalchuk!


Don’t suppose you can say that like Seinfeld used to hiss “Newman” on his old show.

Illya Kovalchuk is a talented hockey player and the New Jersey Devils since settling in the swamps have been one of the better organizations in the National Hockey League, but somebody is slipping something into their water cooler. A 17 year contract? for a guy who thinks defense is that thing in his yard by degarden. That isn’t getting evading the rules I suppose, but it is giving them a stern talking too.

It was harsh to look at the lockout a few years ago, but it appears nobody learned anything, except the fans. It is a graphic reminder that we are looking at a business first and foremost, and everything else second. I’m a died-in-the-wool Sabres fan, still got lineups I cut out of the paper as a kid. The thing that catches me most is just how badly the organization reacts to changes around the league. I’m not anti-Darcy Regier. I believe he does know his stuff, but I don’t think he has a free a hand to operate. I mean he did have the wherewithal to get people like Doug Gilmour, J.P. Dumont, Joe Juneau, and two guys named Briere and Drury to come to Buffalo.

Could have kept Drury, Briere, Campbell & McKee here for the inflated rates that Connolly, Vanek, Roy and Hecht are now receiving and they all would have been cheaper. But hindsight is a beautiful thing. Just makes the whole building a winner rhetoric ring a little hollow.

Now, deals like Kovalchuk’s or the one Marion Hossa got from Chicago are kind of dumb and I am glad to see the Sabres sitting that silliness out, because the salary cap will dictate some dealing. The role guys that have been picked up have been good ones, but this fan would like them to take an aggressive step, go out on that limb and get serious about a Tomas Kaberle.

The 17, 15, 10 year deals do seem weird for guys who will never fulfill them, but it does make the Sabres (i.e. LQ) seem a little petty for going no longer than 2 or 3 for a guy who could help. Going to a fourth might have kept Campbell here at a reasonable rate.

But alas, it’s not the blue and gold were bad, it’s just that with a little less muddled thought process, they could have been better.

Troubled Bridge over Indifferent Water


There is something about the South Grand Island bridge that makes my chest tighten and fear a little for the vehicle I’m driving across. Perhaps it’s the inescapable feeling that it seems like they have never finished building it. No road sissy I, I’ve taken on the Beltway, I95, the Henry Hudson Parkway and even the 401, going into Toronto, in my father’s car, with him helpless trapped in the car ahead of me (If that doesn’t prove your manhood, I don’t know what will). Maybe it is the see through gate in the driving lane, but tonight it was the repaving project that bore the bridge’s surface raw, exposing every nook, cranny, industrial stapler that may me question the wisdom of my journey.

My initial plan for tonight was simple enough. On the relative spur of the moment, head up to the falls. Avail myself of free parking at the casino and stroll down Old Falls Street for the Hard Rock Cafe Show.

I encountered that fixture of Western New York Summers, the construction induced traffic jam. Where the I90 and the 190 became one traffic was a stand still. Nearly threw in the towel, almost wish I did as I passed through a booth stuck on go, to trek out on to the Bridge. Six lanes of heavy traffic trying to distill itself to two. I look to my left and see some space, which is a good thing as I look to my right and see a semi within inches of my door. The road of the bridge is a collection of mismatched segments designed to make you suck in your breath each time you had the bad fortune to cross a seam.
You reach the Apex where the construction ends and the Civic in front of me rides the break down the entire second half of the Bridge. Your brakes, moron, but are you FRIGGIN KIDDIN ME???

Doesn’t anybody know how to coast anymore.

I was halfway across Grand Island before I was breathing normally again.

Thanksfully, the Hard Rock, Old Falls Street, the Scott Celani Band and the Philharmonic threw a nice block party. That street proved to be a nice impromptu ampitheater. Only sour note was the BPO should have advertised a night of Progressive Rock as the advertised Pink Floyd only amounted to a few songs. As an advertiser myself, I like a little more truth in my advertising, but I really liked the plentiful refreshment vendors.

Nice night, didn’t even mind the bridge on the return/

Mental Rummage Sale


Cleaning out what fell into my mental pockets during the week that was:

Went over to the first night of the Italian Festival to see a few folks manning booth and cheer on a friend in a contest. Snacked my way back to my car and the folks at LaNova accomplished the impossible: My pizza slice seemingly got hotter as I had it. I mean I know it was warm out, but this was a culinary treat worthy of Mythbusters. It was great as Lanova never disappoints, but I think I could have used a defibulator by the time I finished.

Larry Quinn is worried Bass Pro might get offended and leave us. In testifying to the Common Council, Quinn told press that the city is too negative. Not me, I’m not at all negative. I think Bass Pro is great, Bass Pro is swell, but Bass Pro will not be the silver bullet that city leaders are always so prone to looking for. I think we are bending over backwards for a chain that understandably wants some guarantees, but the price tag seems bloody enormous for something that I don’t believe will redefine Buffalo. Canalside is a great project, and with all the improving numbers of city dwellers, I can’t help but wonder if we might not been better off pursuing an Ikea and polishing their behind to a fine sheen. If anything, the people who have a legitimate claim to be offended might be the folks at Dicks and Gander Mountain.

Larry’s boss, Tom Golisano, has spent alright with the Sabres in my mind, just spent it on a few of the wrong guys. The NHL didn’t seem to retain much from the lockout. I’m reading about Soku Koivu getting a 47 million dollar contract. Given he has some miles on him, you got to wonder what some of the GMs are thinking. It’s a business alright, and a poorly run one once again.

Yeah, it’s hot, but at least we ain’t shoveling. Although on behalf of my employer, I would like to put in a request for a few weeks of typical Buffalo summer weather, 78-80, low humidity, that could cure many ills.

So, BP finally got the lid closed for the moment. Setting aside the inevitable blown seal jokes, this is a long overdue first step. The Gulf has been feeling fate’s wrath for too long and before BP signs off with the Libyans, the Capones, whoever, here’s hoping serious work gets done to clean up and repair the damage.

One thing occured to me in the hullabaloo in Lebron James‘ flipping of the fiscal bird to the good folks in Cleveland. If the Clippers were still here as the Buffalo Braves, none of us could afford to go.

On that note: