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I Will Follow

September 5, 2017 Leave a comment

So, a few buddhas of my youth have been touring on their laurels a bit. Both Bruce Springsteen and U2 celebrated or are celebrating albums from 30+ years ago. Initially I was of mixed emotions about this. Both are quite capable of putting out worthy brand new music and have new records in the can, but chose victory laps for highly regarded records from sometime in their past.

While initially I was in the “but the new record…” camp in both places, I’m shutting up. If a band can play like they mean it, I guess we should sit back and enjoy that. If the passion is there, it remains a sight to be seen. It’s our classical music. I mean nobody is upset that there isn’t any new Beethoven floating around.

When Bruce announced a tour to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the release of “The River,” I thought fine. The companion album of outtakes from one of the prolific periods of Bruce and E Street Band was a nice treasure and musically the band hasn’t lost a step. The steeple chasing spectaculars are definitely a bygone era for understandable reasons but these cats can play. The show wound up being a top to bottom playing of the River, an introductory outake and a mix of other stuff. I was fine with that. They were great. Treated myself to another show, and it was more historical as Springsteen released his autobiography. It’s a good book and again, hearing songs that don’t get much airplay get well played was great.

But….you get a little further away from new music.

I guess that is okay, as the group owes its fans nothing, having given their all for decades. Bruce’s upcoming Broadway (and likely West End) solo offering makes you think the end is in site, but you know he’s got more to say. The selfish fan hates to admit it, witness everybody calling into E Street radio to grouse. You hate to see the fear that the mass audience of the 80s might not be there be the reason. As the man himself said “what’s to be afraid about playing the new stuff? They’re not going to clap as much?”

I remember thinking, watching a show in Pittsburgh on this tour as Bruce and the band started “Incident on 57th Street,” that there was a noticeable increase in beer aisle activity. I thought if those philistines leave during “Incident” to get overpriced beer, they deserve to be stuck in line for the “Rosalita” that followed.

Stevie Nicks was quoted in Rolling Stone as not being interested in making a new Fleetwood Mac record because she is afraid nobody would buy it. I say if you have the muse, turn it loose.

This brings me to U2. I first saw them in 1983 on their tour for the “War” album. I “blame” their current tour on the success of the River tour. They are also celebrating a record I’ve purchased in many formats with “The Joshua Tree.” It is a great work. There is part of me that wants to go see them just so I can hear “One Tree Hill,” a long time favorite song of mine. They have always taken a long time between albums, so it was a little maddening that this victory lap was undertaken, but ever was it thus. A new record is coming. While I’m still deciding what I think of “The Blackout,” I’m happy they got a new record ready and when it is released, I’m sure I’ll snag a copy.

When Bruce puts out any of the finished records fans have heard about, I’d snarf that up as well.

People talk of nostalgia or greatest hits shows like they are bad things and I guess the shows shouldn’t be seen that way. Billy Joel tours regularly but hasn’t put out a new record in 20 years. Because he has such a vast catalog and plays like he means it, folks go to the show and have a grand time. I guess that would kind of be the point, wouldn’t it.

It’s our classical music to be sure. The seemingly endless supply of music related deaths over the past year or so makes a rock fan feel his mortality a little bit, that some of things that have always been there from when you first started looking in the racks at Twin Fair, National Record Mart, Cavages and the mighty Record Theatre are always going to be there in the mass quantities that they were. Even the music stores are going by the way side.

You feel your own musical mortality a bit as a rock fan when one of your heroes takes up a 12 week Broadway residency so he can go home each night. I can’t blame him. I just hope we meet again along E Street as Broadway is a little too pricey for this working stiff.

So hopefully U2 has a great show tomorrow, I’ll look forward to the bootleg, er, the download.

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Train in Vain

April 10, 2017 1 comment

I’ve been following the kerfluffle about a proposed new train station for Buffalo for sometime. I don’t have a real strong opinion about it as improvements are almost always good things and well, I finally have a good car. The current station is such a shack that it needs the Property Brothers to come to its aid or be replaced. There is a large amount of rail around the region that has been abandoned and forgotten about that you almost wonder if the fixings were possible to make the Metro rail more than the semi-straight line if we were fine with it going above ground more, but I digress. To call the current station a Fixer Upper would charitable.

It doesn’t exactly scream “Welcome to Buffalo.” It is such a hole that folks tend to wait in their cars and that was even before part of the ceiling gave way. The debate is interesting because there are positives and negatives to all sides in this. It leaves this semi-interested citizen hoping that reason wins the day. After watching Niagara Falls build a station and apparently then talk to Amtrak, I hope my city thinks thoroughly about where to drop much monies. I wasn’t really cognizant of the Exchange Street station until my daughter used Amtrak to get back and forth to school for a couple of years. When it was open, not many folks went in.

I don’t have any real strong opinions or preferences in that it doesn’t feel like we are looking to build the next Union Station or anything but you hope the folks who are signing off do what is actually best for the region, not just what is in vogue, popular or nostalgic or all of the above.

The popular talk centers on the old Central Terminal. I sort of liked that idea as it does reuse a building made for that very purpose and trains actually do still go by it. It might be a bit misnamed now as it isn’t central. My admittedly bleeding heart liberal inner-preservationist self would like to see it come to life and maybe give an economic engine to an area of the city that hasn’t one in years. But my pragmatic self thinks that it would need by in from our local transportation authority as a transportation center to make a go of it and I don’t think they are feeling it.

Other folks want to shove it into Canalside as that is an area enjoying on-going success. While I can appreciate that notion, I’m of a mindset that not everything needs to be shoved into the canalside area. It’s a recreation area, access to water, and generally working pretty well. The planned stage, merry-go-round, all good things. There is a museum going up soon as that is fine, leaving another plot of land to develop and somehow having the trains schlep on through there doesn’t work for me, not that it is up to me. You hope the area stays to true to experiences, letting Canalside be the spot for the good times (sort of makes it sounds like a casino). After all it wasn’t long ago that a youtube video taught folks how to find the place.

Again, not like Buffalo has a Grand Central Station coming, but you hope the committee is thinking ahead not just for right now. Let there be connections to taxi, buses, ride sharing with some place to park to pick up folks or drop off and things that get people to all parts of the city. Maybe a new facility should be put right where it currently stands, where all the taxi, buses, cars can get at them.

Wherever the landing place, it going to take some effort to get most local folks to not catch the train….in Depew.

Shenanigans

December 1, 2016 Leave a comment

Can’t swing the proverbial dead cat without hitting some.

-The President Elect didn’t save jobs from Carrier. The state bribed them with tax breaks to not take them all. This is a strategy that worked out really well for Carrier in New York State where the only thing still functioning with the name Carrier on it is the dome.

-Saying you are “Draining the swamp” doesn’t preclude from the fact that you might just fool around and refill it.

-Coal jobs aren’t coming back. With wind and solar getting to be cheaper, it’s one of those industries that won’t dominate as it once did and for somebody to magically promise, without substantiation that the jobs are coming back is both exploitive and sad. But then again, so is believing that somebody.

-Did anybody ever take a more pained dinnertime photo than Mitt Romney? Whoever lit that table was editorializing in their own way. You can almost watch his soul leave.

-New York Times contributor Paul Krugman noted on Twitter that “Another metric: Trump would have to do one Carrier-sized deal a week for 30 years to save as many jobs as Obama’s auto bailout.”

-So the NFL decided to bust the Bills’ Offensive Lineman Seantrel Henderson for using medical marijuana…to treat Crohn’s Disease. First, just legalize it already. Look at the revenue that Colorado is reaping. Second, NFL? Really? Seriously? It’s not a performance enhancing drug, it’s a medical regimen. Good thing he isn’t beating anybody up. Oh, wait, you’re cool with that.

-The Affordable Care Act is a noble idea, but a flawed law. I think Congress wasted all those votes on repeal because they didn’t have to actually deal with the consequences of “what’s next?” Well, guess what, time to shine, obstructionists!

-Cutting Social Security and Medicaid, this confuses me a little, as they are things that we pay into, why would payouts need reduced? Oh yeah, because that pot of money keeps getting borrowed for other things.

-I’m not certain that Bernie Sanders would have won, but I’m glad the grumpy old man isn’t going gently into the good night.

-The recount efforts won’t change anything, but there is no harm in letting the process play out. I mean, unless you think it might not go your way, then panic on twitter.

-Nobody, and I mean, nobody ever gets everything they want or promise done once they get into office. That said, despite not being the most natural campaigner, Secretary Clinton was a pretty capable Senator.

-It would be good for our current President to take some action on Standing Rock, any action. And place his nominee on the court as a recess appointment. The court would be fully stocked for a year, while the obstructionists in congress publicly obfuscate, squirm and talking point their way around a nominee who actually meets their criteria.

-Steven Colbert was right, we are overpoliticked with the election. One of the worst mediums ever is the public comment sections of newspaper and tv websites. Laden with digital ninjas whose sole human contact is their moms yelling from upstairs to come up for breakfast, that style of uninformed, meme-posting, if you don’t agree with me, you must be a moron discourse is all over social media. I suppose this essay falls into that category, but it’s okay to disagree with me and I don’t live with mom.

-That said, everybody’s history has some poison in it. Every race, creed, color has a list of do-overs and we haven’t always come to grips with that. The naysayers who have issues with Black Lives Matter miss the point. All lives do matter and should matter, but the central point to me is that some lives haven’t mattered as much and correcting that takes time, time and recognition that a lengthy history of abuses, misconceptions and prejudice affects all involved and doesn’t magically go away. So, standing up for that is a good thing and that reminder very good.

So, another transition.

-The Buffalo Bills have me concerned. They had trouble with the 2-8 Jaguars at home and are going to play the Raiders, in Oakland, and the Raiders are pretty good again.

-It’s great that Jack is back, but should one guy….

It’s that time of the year where we act, mostly, like we should all year long. Let’s strive for less idiocy and realize that differing views don’t make the opposing parties morons. We can learn beyond facebook bickering.

 

 

A Good Night for a Ride

February 28, 2016 Leave a comment

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When Bruce Springsteen’s current tour was announced earlier in the winter, I had a little anxiety. Our live relationship goes back to 1978 and I was a little concerned. At the time, I was between fulltime gigs and spending precious dollars on a show seemtwo hoed too much of a stretch. I’ve been ushering at the downtown arena for sometime and hoped to get the call. An vet of a number of Boss groups and collectives, I knew there might be a ticket drop of some kind, but the worry was alleviated when I got my usher assignment lists a few  weeks ago and it consisted of two hockey games and Bruce Springsteen

This seemed like nice karmic payback for sitting through cartoon characters on ice and faux-metal Christmas rock. I was a hired gun for my favorite. Like most folks with this affliction, I’ve been following the tour online and listening to a few shows. When it is your favorite, you pay more attention to everything when you report to work. When I checked in, the band was onstage soundchecking songs that hadn’t been played yet on the tour. All I could think was “wait until the gang on RMAS rebooted on facebook hears this,” momentarily forgetting that many of said group were going to be in the building.

I was curious where I would be watching the show, er, helping patrons from and the gods were smiling upon my pathetic fanboy self, with a good assignment, close enough and the corridor for the folks who were going to be standing closest to the stage got to enter. Seeing their joy and trading high fives, etc. was a lift, as was seeing my oldest pal – who 36 years earlier was my partner in crime in securing our tickets to the Buffalo date on the original River Tour. I got caught up with some other familiar faces and folks from my parents neighborhood, even bonding with a fellow usher type joking about our mutual plans to see the street businessmen about discounted concert shirts.

About an hour before the show began, a couple appeared in my corridor to survey their seats. He took a look then disappeared to get the obligatory $9.00 beer. She surveryed a little bit more and looked a little weepy. Me, being part bartender and usher, inquired if everything was okay. She asked if I was a fan. I said, of course, couldn’t wait for this assignment, and told what made it extra special on top of the band playing in great form, that of last year’s uncertain employment status, that it nearly amounted to me missing see Bruce and the E Streeters once more. She told me that it was her first show after the passing of her son, who had journeyed to a few shows with her and her husband.

She heard my story and that made her smile and she said “see, our faith got rewarded.” I replied yes, indeed, it was going to be a good night for a ride.

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I wanted to get the above poster to commemorate the experience. Like all concert merchandise, they were overpriced and scarce, and by the time I was finished for the night, they were gone to ebay.

34 songs and three hours + later and countless people who meandered during the ballads found on the River (some of the best pure musical moments of the show), it was indeed a good night for a ride.

While it is impossible to explain why your favorites are your favorites, they just do it for you. There is that extra bonus that those special moments not only happened, but they continue to still occur. Almost made me want to scramble for a Rochester ticket.

So, before I left the arena Thursday night, I did indeed order the download of the show.

Faith continues to be rewarded.

 

 

 

Ice Road Trucker

February 22, 2016 Leave a comment

So, I got a new gig. It’s a great job surrounded with folks who are concerned with doing great work. This was one of my goals, to be in a good spot. So, it is a really good place to ply my trade. The uniqueness behind it is the location, roughly 45 minutes from my apartment. That’s a pretty normal number, but I think we are a little spoiled with proximity in this area.

I had a similar route time north in my last position, but this is a better. It does take a little getting used to as roughly half of the jaunt is on a highway, the second half is up and down via country roads & valleys that wind up and down through some impressive hills at some high rates of speed and varying weather conditions.

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My first day on the job, it started to snow while I was moving up and down through the mountains and learning the nature of the roads. The downward descent reminded me about the old Elmer Fudd cartoons where Elmer’s car threatens to pass him in adverse conditions. I made it to the office on time after making the ups and downs of the six valleys you pass through. The snow I mentioned turned into the lake effect variety and a vendor appeared at our office to note that the road I took into work was closed.

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“Oh, really?” How am I going to get home I wondered? To google I went, and found an alternative route to get back to Buffalo. It was another jaunt through unfamiliar roads, that wove their way north to Attica, and eventually up to a road that takes one straight to Buffalo. I navigated through the side road through gradually heavier snow, following the lights and ruts in the snow of a car that had the decency to be taking the same route, north and to the west. I found the street that one can basically take into the city, but that was right at the moment was when you were driving straight into the blowing lake effect snow storm.

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I took the same route the next night home only to be greeted by blizzard and white conditions that made me consider my mortality. Made it home safely after about 90 minutes of white knuckle, borderline translucent driving, having navigated myself home and completing an intense upper arm workout at the same time. I took my alternative route during a storm last week and found myself behind tandem snow plows. That’s pretty sweet until the plows turn around you are left to keep going as if they were saying “We got you this far, now finish it, Stupid.”

The same thing happened coming home on 20A where a salt truck decided he was slowing us down. I didn’t mind, it was okay.  I like to think they were confident that we have this, but it was more likely that both were of the “Let’s get rid of these goofs” variety.

I drove the reverse in the next morning and was impressed at the view and some of the inclines that I didn’t manage to wind into a ditch, gulley, set of a horror movie, etc, thinking I’m pretty good behind the wheel. In the intervening weeks, one has to watch about getting too cocky, finding a happy speed, programming what trucks you want or don’t want to get behind. But it’s pretty. An former coworker apologized about the drive. We’re spoiled in Western New York by the twenty minute rule. Many in other cities routinely invest an hour or more getting to work. We got it easy, ignore the 20 minutes and behold what you might see in 35-40. I work in “Northern Exposure” but the route to and fro has some impressive sights

The work is great, but the commute view has me thinking go pro video would be something to see

Racing in the Street

February 7, 2016 Leave a comment

So, I bought a new set of wheels. I think it might have actually the right set this time. But the process one goes through in acquiring your car still astounds and is truly ridiculous. It is no wonder people hate the process as there is nothing good about it. It’s not a savory untaking and upon getting home after figure out what this button or that button does, along with where the hell is the aux port anyway, my first instinct was for a shower. The need for a snack and a nap won out.

I believe I got a good car. The deal was probably okay, but wasn’t “just a great deal” and more than a little patronizing.

People love cars. I know I do, but we are all conditioned to reduce the feeling of being screwed when acquiring one. The bells and whistles that get unnecessarily added have nothing to do with the customer experience. I didn’t give a crap about how big the dealership is. That means nothing….to any sane human being. It doesn’t make my deal better, it just pisses away my time.  Given that much time is wasted lugging between buildings, it wastes staff time. They seem to be okay with that, but me, not so much. It did prevent them from knowing what goes on in their own shop. Apparently many insurance companies demand a photo inspection for your purchase. “No problem” they say, just drive over to the body shop. You drive over to the body shop to find that those pictures get done between 10 am and 2pm? No, not really, helpful.

I didn’t ask for any accessories, but had to listen to the accessory lady give her spiel. Only to have the billing guy deny me the stuff I didn’t want in the first place.

By this point I needed to get something from my current car and had to ask to get my key back. I mean they were done looking for the low ball trade and I did need it to go home that night, it shouldn’t be a gimmick “we got his key, we got him…” The car I want is going to take another day to get prepped, put some value on my time and dignity and let me go home.

All this after waiting 15 minutes on a stormy night for an salesperson to emerge from the back office to give a crap for an appointment I had scheduled for a repair question. When we went for a ride in what I purchased, it took him another 15 minutes to find a license plate.  You’d think on a stormy night, they’d be a little more interested in business. Same thing happened to another woman, waiting for the sales staff to emerge from their backroom flapping.

I got a good car, but their sending me a coffee mug full of jolly ranchers isn’t the way to keep business. It can be simpler and should be.

 

Categories: Buffalo, NY, Cars

Golden Slumbers

October 21, 2015 Leave a comment

It is thrilling that Western New York has been racking up major event level concerts at an increasing rate in recent months. I don’t know if it is the stability of the ownership at our major arena, but it is a good thing, as you can never have too much music. Paul McCartney and his great band are coming to Buffalo for the first time and I believe those who are going are in for a thrill.

I mean, pick your metaphor, Shakespeare the way the author intended, etc. When musical history walks among you or at least drives itself nearby, it would behoove you to do what you can to see the show. I took that in 2010 the last time Sir Paul was near this parts and it was worth the effort of schlepping up to Toronto to see him, at the surprisingly reasonably priced Air Canada Center, excuse me, Centre.

When some body of work has been part of your personal soundtrack for so long, and the guy who created it still has the goods to deliver, it is a pretty amazing experience, enough so that “Let ’em In” was a thrill to hear, and I didn’t think that was possible. He has a great band working with him, so I’m sure attendees are in for a treat as he has made music with this group longer than any other, including those chaps in the 60s.

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You are going to get that picture, proof you were there, something to remember by, something to brag from. I get it and obviously, I am guilty of that too, but stow the phone and savor the moment. The Eagles took some flack for on their recent tour having a no-phone policy, to the point of Glenn Frey even teasing a song introduction with “there is a story about this song, and I’ll tell it as soon as this guy down front finishing texting.” While jerky, he did have a point. It was a good reminder to savor the moment. The memory of hearing songs you’ve heard all your life come to life by the guy who created them will be more long lasting than any crappy video you want to share on youtube.  The above is the one picture worth taking from McCartney’s first night in Toronto in August 2010.

The band was in fine form and for a gentleman with some miles on him, Sir Paul was in fine voice. There were Beatles numbers, Wings tunes, and various McCartney solo hits that gave the audience a nice cross section from an impressive career, something even non-fans have to admit.

My son has a respect for a lot of old school British rock and it meant the world for me to bring him to his first major rock show and have it be a Beatle, I mean, a friggen Beatle. It’s pretty hard to top that. But here’s probably the best souvenir I will ever take away from a show and I’ve been to a bunch.

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He’s a lot taller and I’m a little grayer, but he still talks of the experience and unlike a lot of shows, I still remember it like it happened yesterday. I don’t have any other images, no bootlegs or crappy video. I got a pin and my boy got his first concert shirt. Part of that was the event, part of that was the idea of the event. Much was made when the show was announced for here how fast the tickets disappeared. Concert tickets for as long as I can remember have had a tough battle finding their way to fans. The screams for legislation on ticket distribution were pretty laughable to me. When you got that body of work and amazingly have never been here, there will be some demand.

I watched as a woman nearby stopped to film a few precious moments of the Eagles recent stop in her phone, complete with flash on fullbore. Why risk getting tossed out when the moment is there to enjoy.

McCartney’s appearance at the First Niagara Center is indeed a once-in-a-lifetime appearance.

Enjoy the show. Be in that moment.

 

 

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