Holiday Leftovers

So, I passed on Black Friday nonsense, and on Thankgiving? I celebrated with a couple of stops laden with good food and laughs that are more valuable than any flat screen sale.

I heard the argument made that since movie theaters and restaurants opened on the holiday, why couldn’t retail stores? It was the big box folk who did? And one depressing watch of the news saw people fighting, pushing, shooting, brawling over stuff we don’t really need. One talking head from one of the major chains said something that 15,000 people came to his place over 11,000 who showed at midnight the year before, so that justifies it. Bizarre. If they are open, people will go, even though tv deals are probably a little better closer to the Super Bowl. One day, you’d hope people would realize that being the first to get something doesn’t really come with a prize. Preferred the good times of my non retail laden Thanksgiving.

Elsewhere, fanmageddon (Leaf fans visiting the Sabres) occurred to highlight Black Friday. Neither team is going much of anyplace this season, but there is always atmosphere when the two meet up. The Sabres prevailed with a good game, and mostly because they dressed better (normal jerseys). I worked as an usher for the affair in the Student Surge section where a few students were surrounding by an affable section of chemically serene Leaf fans. One of whom spent the latter portion of the third period talking to me. I sort of like that as you are just talking, it’s okay to be a bit of a hockey nerd. Even though he went home disappointed, we fistbumped in our brilliance as we discovered what the Buffalo Bills need to do in Toronto. If we are going to play there, let’s open that roof. The stadium up there has a retractable dome, so retract it, and let’s get some football weather in the room. Might feel more like Bills home game with some Bills wind chill up in that joint. Genius, right?

Anybody notice, a big box credit card is the sponsoring entity of Small Business Saturday?

Going out to one establishment, but bringing my cash as I’m thorough like that.

Might stop by the real job on the way back because two valued colleagues are celebrating a special occasion.


They’re one!


As the Snow Flies

So, there might be snow in Buffalo. This really shouldn’t be news at this time of year or reason for much of anything other than trying to remember where you put your good winter gloves when you last needed them, May probably. I saw a little snow while out for a ride and the weatherdudes correctly noted that it was going to get cold (30 outside while I write this), and none of that should really be earth shattering at this time of the year. Our former mayor offered his “grab a six pack” advice and practically seems a sage now, as when the weather forecasts have “lake effect” featured in them prominently, that is apparently code for “get to the grocery store and buy as much milk as you possibly can.” I don’t believe there has been a driving ban longer than a day or two since the Blizzard of ’77. So, I’m not sure where the “Better stock up” strategy came from. Sunday could be ugly, but we all got to go to work Monday.

It’s mostly amusing as the snow is fine at this time of the year. We had a couple of whacko storms and everybody gets a little edgy. Facebook fills up either with “hey, where’s ours” complaints if we don’t get any, and grumblings if “it is really accumulating.” I promise not to take a picture  out my window as you all know what snow on ground looks like.

A cashier at the grocery store (I actually needed stuff, don’t judge) said something about it being the holy trinity of busy days: a saturday, the saturday before thanksgiving, and the saturday when the weather guys said lake effect a lot.”

It’s winter, let’s relax, breathe regular. You stay warmer that way.


This was the storm that made me a cell phone user.

Remember that big fun? Storms like that I think make me a little blase toward the sea of first snow photos that dot facebook, instagram and the like. That day started out fairly dry and snow started to fall as my then two and half year old departed to drive across town to get his sisters and meet up with his mom for teachers conferences at school.

By the time we finished, the storm was in full blast. The usual 15 minute travel time was clogged down by the full weight of the storm and we found actual parking spaces and abandoned ship until the storm finished, five hours later. Our daughters still laugh about being able to walk among the abandoned cars on Elmwood Ave.

Streets were clogged all through the Elmwood Village as the snow fell continuously. After getting home late, I decided there was no sense in rushing. The next morning, I got a shovel and went to rescue the cars. The moaning about snow, too much or lack thereof now, is amusing to this observer. Without social media, we all just went about our business at hand, helped out whoever was stuck and so on. I got down to where we parked the cars and went to work and turned them back to cars from the blobs they became overnight.

I’m reminded that if it wasn’t for the teacher meetings, we would have been in a variety of places, as some school kids wound up getting squared away for the night at a grocery store.

As I freed the ugly sedan first, I noticed that the army corp of engineers was in clearing streets. So, I followed him in my beat up old Marquis and had no trouble taking a slightly longer route home, but got there in short order, past a handful of Explorers and Blazers that were having trouble with the very thing you are supposed to buy them for, guess the drivers needed to study up. Good to have four wheel drive, better to actually know how to use it.

Stay or “Leaf”

Here’s a reason why some folks don’t like going to the stadium for a Bills game. If ever there was a reason to prove that it is sometimes better to be lucky than good, it’s this jamoke. Never understood the drink out of your skull mentality some folks seem to favor.

Don’t get me wrong, I like beer. It’s a good friend of mine, but when it shuts your brainpan down so far you do something so incredibly dumb like this flying wallenda wannabe, you might have sampled a few too many.

And speaking of high quaffing rates, the downtown hockey palace was aglow

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in anticipation of the return of a former star, a former coach to chart a new direction and the Toronto Maple Leafs. For a place that has been fairly quiet during a disappointing season, we’re lucky the joint didn’t achieve lift off as we got closer to puck drop. The place does get criticized for being atmosphere challenged at times and I think that reflects when things aren’t going ideally on the ice, because atmosphere was spilling out the door Friday eve. Had a largely entertaining time with the busloads of Leaf fans in my area of the rink.

I joked that it was a little like working Monday Night Football out at the Ralph with the Patriots in town, but the excitement was contagious and reminded one of why you do such things at times.


Even the press box was shiny.

And everybody stayed at their proper levels.

Leaf Crunchin’

Sometimes you just got to play, disconnect and wander. Some of the most I’ve had lately was an awesome stroll through a largely unspoiled park nestled in the midst of Cheekatowaga.














Fun day in air that could definitely be described as fresh. Cold and rain was threatened but I couldn’t have cared less. There was a lot to see and listen to and my traveling partner and I took our own sweet time. It was pretty jarring to see the occasional goof with headphones on who was there for the sake of leaving as soon as possible.

I mean, got to enjoy the leaf crunch or the sound your shoe makes when yhe mud relents and lets you take it back.

Ready to go again.

Holiday Road


A bunch of years ago, as a young p.r./marketing huckster, I was involved in the promotion of a great book called “The Trouble with Christmas.” The author thoughtfully and respectfully pointed out some issues with the holiday and how and why he came to the point of not being a celebrant. I’m not quite of that ilk as I celebrate that day, but he had very valid point.

While it can be great, there are some pitfalls. For me, the way Christmas decor starts to snake on to the shelves prior to Halloween to this morning’s “Share and Repost” of making sure you say Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays, since the latter was politicially correct. It’s not, it’s been around for generations too. Nobody is assaulting the holiday. Aside from my own nurseable grudges against the tone of most “Share and Repost” things on Facebook, stuff like that imagines controversy where there really isn’t one.

I confessed a little dismay that some stores are opening at whatever o’clock on Thanksgiving Day and was told well, “people will buy.” I guess, I’m of a mind that people can and will buy when things are open, that nobody demanded more time, more excess, to the point where Thanksgiving gets reduced to a carboload for Christmas shopping that could wait until….the next morning.


We are in such an unnecessary hurry and there is no reason for it. Stop and smell the mashed potatoes as you get a second helping. I know I will. All that pushing of the envelope I think helps foster depression as well. I used to fight a sense of have I done enough for my kids, only to realize what a stupid question that was to be torturing myself with.  So, for a few days, it’s all good. I can bypass people acting a certain way for a month, treating their fellow man the way they should the other 11 months, but is midnight on October 31st the time to crank out the carols 24/7 like two radio stations are doing, and to only play a handful of 1000s of Christmas tunes.

It can be a fun time of the year in DECEMBER, but the sprint to get there is a dizzying one.

I know some fool in pursuit of the flat screen he HAD to have will trip in a Black Friday crowd to GET that TV and will wind up part of the flooring for his troubles. Psst, the deals on those are better in January, closer to the big professional football contest.

It’s a nice season in DECEMBER, but the head start has some flaws.

In the City

Got to wander a bit. Set aside your anecdotal memories of a spot and explore. While that is a bit of greeting card wisdom, I’m beginning to think there is a lot of truth to it. Given my pretty cool day job, I get to see a lot but also hear from a pretty nice cross section of perspectives from around Buffalo. A couple of months ago, I represented my employer at an event at the Transit Valley Country Club. It wasn’t exactly tough duty as you can imagine and not exactly what you would call the hood either. It confirmed a suspicion of mine that folks can get a little compartmentalized here. I do some work with a few groups that try to entice more visitors from out of town, but think folks from half an hour might be in for a bit of a surprise.

There isn’t anything really wrong with that. If you live in Snyder, your kids are in WIlliamsville schools, and your job takes you in the Amherst area, it’s natural that your axis tends to form around those points. Again, nothing wrong with that, but it struck me that at the Country Club event, many of the folks participating remarked that they hadn’t been down there (meaning my employer and probably the North Buffalo area) in x amount of years (x being at least five or more). Now, I’m not griping. There are plenty of other folks who sit in the back of the internet throwing spitballs, I’m not that guy.

I’ve been a city resident since 1988 and it’s a kick to be able to see things happening, but also witness little things popping up. It’s a nice change to see major construction cranes working on projects downtown. I’m sure larger cities might think our excitement is “cute,” but it is a nice thing to see stuff happening from the medical campus, Elm-Oak arterial, to the HarborCenter. All good.

But the power of letting yourself meander can reveal what folks are talking about with Larkinville, shopping at Horsefeathers Market on Connecticut Street (yup, the streets with states for names aren’t so scary), eating at some pretty great spots on NIagara and Grant streets.

The old H.H. Richardson complex near Buff State is about to start morphing into a retail and hotel space that always seems like a no-brainer for the Elmwood area. The Hertel Avenue area, especially between Main Street and Elmwood Ave, is doing a pretty good job out “Elmwood-ing” Elmwood. The big projects, like Harborcenter, are awesome. I think the sense of excitement comes from seeing something substantive actually happening, in enough size and scope that you can see it from the thruway even as you are passing through. The fact that you are passing by projects that are happening, that there plenty of “was that always there?” sorts of sites, is a refreshing change.

Some of the folks who like in my parents neighborhood of Clarence think I might as well live on Mars instead of 15 minutes down the road, using phrases like “came all the way out to see the folks?” like I had to stop in Cheektowaga to complete the journey. That always struck me because any other city I’ve ever visited if you can get to someplace cool in 15, you’re not talking about it you’re gone.

Venture out, I know a place you can get a killer egg sandwich.