Our neighbor to the North


Sometimes provides a great view of the south

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Niagara


It is pretty easy to get a little blase about anything that you are too familiar with, that you see too frequent. I don’t have much stomach for the busy tourism influx when it does hit Niagara Falls. In the preseason like we are in now, when the chaos is a few weeks away, you can let the quiet allow you to be refreshed by the actual magic.

Only A River…


It seems every commercial these days seems to start out with “In these challenging times” and each restaurant and car dealer wants me to know the steps they are taking to stay clean along with every news outlet tells me I’m getting the facts (when you think about it, it isnt the best disclaimer.).

While staying home is something my introverted side has trained for forever, occasionally, you need to sooth your soul while avoiding anyplace too “peoplely.” To paraphrase 80s favorites Simple Minds or one of my favorite singers, Billie Holiday, I like to cover the waterfront. The sounds and sites are soothing. You can be out and breathe without having to circle City Hall.

Richard Avedon has nothing to fear from me. I think I have an eye, maybe not talent but an eye. The Unity Island is a great spot to watch the sun check out, international waters rip by, trains overhead and traveling canadians on the horizons, but mostly a good spot to stop and be.

I have come three straight days and got this one. I was thinking about on the first visit and seized the moment this eve.

Happy places are where you make em in this socially distant world. A little further down river and mother nature shows off against the industrial background. Wander but stay 6 feet away.

I Found My Bike!


Bicycles. I like to ride mine. It’s fun, centering, gets the blood flowing, exercise inducing and revelatory. There is peace on them thar pedals

I don’t get overly serious about it, so not to spoil my fun. I mean some things look just swell in lycra, but I’m not one of those things. I was very proud that I recently conquered a height fear and rode across a bridge into Canada. A few close friends do it all the time, but for me, a big deal.

Celebrated with coffee and a doughnut on the other side, but I digress. A meeting that I missed about planning on Buffalo’s east side ignited a thread on Facebook about bikes, bike helmets as well as who owns the road. The meeting was talking about a highway that was shoved and divided a neighborhood that didn’t have the political muscle a couple generations ago to be afforded consideration.

The discussion thread on Facebook started in discussing the differences about helmets, bike cultures in other countries and the like. One of the things the thread revealed to me was the existing biases about road traffic.

The thread resonated as over the summer I was out riding, in a bike lane, to meet two close friends who have deepened my love of pedal power through encouragement. I was in the bike lane, not sneaking through traffic, and a yahoo traveling in a car heading in the other direction cowardly yelled at me to “get on the sidewalk!” For the uninformed, that’s not where bikes ought to be with regularity. I sneak here and there, but I don’t make a habit of it as walkers and strollers get the sidewalks and prolonged bike existence there is a huge hazard.

I don’t know why said yahoo had an issue as I was traveling in the right direction in the proper lane. It’s funny to think that the painted white lines are the only things preventing bumper cars is painted white lines, but everybody is sure possessive about their share.

We can all be better. I think on that point, everybody can agree. I’m not so sure most motorists could pass a road test if they had to on given day. Red lights get run all the time. Stop signs get ignored or get a token slowing down, and for some people, keeping your car full of juice to run the turn signals is a tall order. Don’t get me started on the various definitions of “yield” I see on a daily basis.We are guilty (myself, included) of being the people George Carlin talked about: “There’s nobody going my speed!”

We seem to be a vortex that our own chosen path is the sole consideration, but it’s not a video game. I see the warnings to remember the motorcyclists when the weather improves. I also see if you stand at a busy street corner, you can see a number of drivers looking at their phones waiting for the light to change. Not all bike riders are pure either. Just like motorists, foolish selfish chances can get taken, but also just like motorists, the majority do attempt to follow the rules of the road. But we pedalers are allowed to proceed at the red traffic light if nothing is going on. Don’t be a hater as you burn fossil fuels in your Excursion. Hell, some pedestrians can’t cross the street without completing a phone conversation or updating their Facebook status.

And none of us are supposed to what we want. We are not supposed to be in a hierarchy of who gets to do what. Bike riders have been sold a bill of good about helmets. While the helmets help for certain injury situations, we have drunk the Kool-Aid so hard that folks are shamed about their use. In full disclosure, I wear one. I hate it.

It’s uncomfortable and makes me look like the Great Gazoo, but putting it on was my choice. It’s not a good look, making my cheeks look like a rain gutter for the bags under my eyes. I’d much rather let what’s left of my locks feel the breeze, but I’m on my own journey, NOT YOURS.

A friend reported on that on a trip to Europe, Holland specifically, that bikes are more numerous, and helmets aren’t as abundant, because there isn’t an automotive hierarchy. It’s not cars first. It’s a road and we all need to share and contribute and be aware that we are not the only people inhabiting it.

It’s a big road and there is room for everybody.

A Good Walk Unspoiled


A late summer day after the tourist season has closed can renew you, especially if you pick the right spot. For me, it was a hike across Goat Island in Niagara Falls. It is a lovely area and takes a lot of guff that it doesn’t deserve because of comparisons to all the building across the border, but I like it as is. Maybe its me

The walk on the three sisters island removes you from all the hub bub.

 

and It was refreshing too.

Niagara Falls has some fun parts, just have to look as there is nothing like a sudden 90 degree day to make the hurricane deck  at the Cave in the Winds feel forcefully invigorating, a truly fun day off.

You won’t even mind the flip flops.

This Old Geek


Ladies and Gentleman, boys and girls, Geeks got to explore. There is stuff that geeks gotta do. There are some worthy rambles to be taken.  That’s doesn’t immediately mean Comic-Con (not that there is anything wrong with that), but there other worlds to conquer.

There is a vast world of geekihood out there, that calls out to step away from your screens, and come look at ours. One of the things that music geeks (you know who you are, current downloaders, former gawkers at Carly Simon album covers while you listened to Zep or AC/DC over the record store sound system, thrift store rummagers,  the t shirts in your wardrobe that aren’t superhero laden) and make the pilgrimage to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

I mean the place is literally calling to one’s inner and outer geek. We are all collectors in some fashion, be it comics, dvds, blue rays, what have you and if you schlep around the first few floors of the Hall of Fame, you can’t help but think you got in on somebody else’s treasures. You did.

Journey forth and be one with the music geeks, some of us, hell most of us are playing in these multiple dimensions. Okay, so you might not be a Springsteen acolyte, a Deadhead, but as that seer, sage, soothsayer Ice Cube notes: “Rock and Roll is a spirit.” There is so much to move the spirit inside these walls, even beyond the gift shop.(Photo: Author)

Regardless of your dispensation, part of your record collection is lurking in there, along the way, you will find some things that ought to be. You might a few bands that made you change the radio dial with manic like lightspeed, but there is also bands that you stayed in the car waiting for their song to finish on the radio. This was my second spin through the Hall, and just like rummaging through found comics or album covers, there is good stuff waiting to be checked out.

(Photo: Author)

(Photo: Author)

Prince wore this ensemble when he literally made his guitar gently weep in a tribute to George Harrison some years ago.

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Elvis’ chopper, presumably for leaving the building

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This is the B-3 organ that Gregg Allman played on stage for many years with the Allman Brothers.

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Springsteen, a longtime presence for me.

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This piece of history literally speaks for itself(Photo: Author)

This is a pretty awesome site to see. Most of the artifacts can be found on the first two levels, the next two are lot of video and audio offerings including the Sirius Radio home and numerous theaters, all worth checking out. The main theater was dedicated to “The Power of Rock” an exhibit that runs into the fall. That show was a compilation of the best bits from performances of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction dinner, but there are some amazing legends to that voodoo we love em to do. The featured exhibit does change with some frequency so it is worth heading to the Hall’s site to have some heads up knowledge ahead of time (and to buy tickets ahead of time).

(Photo: Author)

(Photo: Author)

Lest you think geek worlds don’t collide, as my son and I walked passed the AC/DC exhibit, a young voice yelled out “Hey, the Iron Man song.” No, it didn’t come from either of us.

(Photo: Author)

Gotta go, I mean, what other museum will have action figures….Go, now.

Train in Vain


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.

Travelin’ Band


My work related travel took a big increase with my current posting and that is a good thing to get that kind of experience. It can a bit of stretch at times however, but you try to find some fun along with the myriad of long security lines and barely made connections.

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You have to be amused a little at the human condition, but especially at the times of air travel. The announcement of boarding makes everybody mill about like we are Black Friday shoppers waiting for Walmart to open. I’ve noticed a big of a swagger among some travelers.

There is no greater locale for people watching as all sorts come through airports. My most recent travels took me from Buffalo to Boston to Philadelphia in what might have been the longest 30 hours in recent memory. It was a pretty convoluted itinerary, but it’s what you do when you are told on Monday that you have to be someplace on a Friday morning, and that someplace is across the next state.

And the next thing you know, you are watching four women in full berkas cueing up at Checkers for some quick take out (or one going up many times quickly).

But, it’s not without its moments where you can’t help by laugh a little, like the Boston security guard watching me make my late arriving connection from Philadelphia to the other end of the c terminal to get to the Buffalo bound plane on time. His cheer of “Go, OJ, go” was pretty funny. Their placement of gate c29 away from c21 was not, but lesson learned: 35 minutes between flights is shaving it pretty close.

And never count on the booking site to be accurate with telling you where you’ll actually stop

 

Drive, he said


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There was an article published recently that talked of how lousy western New York drivers take to the roads.

That came into my mind over a recent errand into Canada for work. It’s a different world for border crossings in recent years obviously enough and the worst thing to do is get unnecessarily worked up as that solves little. In returning from the errand via the rainbow bridge, a predictably long line filled the bridge and the near by side streets. It was a nice day and little to do but roll down the windows and be patient. Most folk took that in spirit, people let each other in, except one grouch in a Lexus, who cut people off, changed lanes like it was important that he and he alone make it to America with his purchases. For his trouble, he got an extended chat with the good folks in customs,

This popped back into my mind this morning negotiating the highways that envelope Toronto. This is not for the squeamish. A lot of things happen, all at 75 to 90 miles an hour. There’s a reason the Canadians go slower on Buffalo roadways as the pressure is off. My gps couldn’t draw the directions quick enough to keep up with the vicissitudes of the 401 to 400 to 427 highway exchange,

That said, driving isn’t the mad max movie that is Wny highways. While walking from my hotel just now, I did see the aftermath of an accident where the participants said a rare thing to each other

“Soory”

Ride, Captain, Ride


I was sitting in O’hare Airport when I laid eyes upon the ride home. It was one of those smaller planes that my dad and brother could quote the model on sight. I walked down a seemingly very long jet way to see a door way that required I fold my six foot two frame to fit in without inducing head trauma. Once in, I didn’t mind as there were two seats on one side of the aisle and singles to the other. That mean a window seat and I had a camera. I liked little planes…for the moment.

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And then we landed…was too busy watching the brakes work to get a picture of that.