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.

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Golden Slumbers


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.

 

 

Biker Gang


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“Sometimes it is good to a part of something bigger than you, it’s good for the soul.” That popped into my brain as i dove into the growing Slow Roll movement for a cruise through Buffalo‘s Elmwood Village and West Side. The Slow Roll has been a weekly growing event all summer long, but it was my first chance to partake. When you just like a nice cruise, but lycra purchases are bad notions this is ideal.

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This proved to be the biggest turn out for the slow roll yet, with nearly 1400 riders wheeling through the streets.

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If you are a serious rider, you should probably stay home. I think the top speed according to my map my ride app was about 8 miles per hour. You are getting some exercise, but the Tour De France doesn’t need to hold a space. It is an awesome spirit jaunt. You connect with some folks whose sole agenda is to take a good night for ride and go for one. It’s a trip to see the amount of people on steps and porches watching the spectacle (and it is that) go rolling past.

imageI’m not going to lie. I enjoyed having a police escort. Between the generosity of the Buffalo Police and the thorough organizing done by the Slow Roll volunteers (the “Squad”), it’s tough not to ride with increasingly silly grin as you wind through the streets and the only real thing to watch out is other riders. Everybody does a good job of giving each other space to minimalize chances of spills. A few have happened, but the general cluster of folks I was a part of did a good job of looking out for one another and unlike so many other public forums these days, realized that there were other folks in those spaces.

imageSo, it was all good for me. In the intervening couple of days, there was the seemingly inevitable bitching on facebook about the size of the group versus some smaller streets. One writer mused “I couldn’t get out of my street if I needed to.” It read to me like she was panicking over a problem that didn’t exist. There was an urgency earlier in the ride and Slow Roll Organizers moved swiftly to accomodate whatever the issue that might have been. I was a little further in the back so I didn’t see the details.

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I will be off to the next run on Monday evening. I think this time, I’ll drive to the take off spot and get the bike out of the car. As the trouble with biking to a biking event, you still have to ride home.image

Indecision 2016


I’m already sick of the 2016 Presidential Election.

If there was a way to make it all go away until 2016, I’d be fine with that.

There was a line in one of the episodes of the West Wing that was something along the lines of voters get stupid during election years. And the president’s aide replied that “No, people get treated like they are stupid in election years.” I’m not sure who is right except a staggering amount of money will be spent as if both things are true.

I don’t know who I like yet, but I want to vote for them for what they will do in office, not because they aren’t somebody else. Hillary’s listening, Christie wants to gamble but not smoke, Rubio and Cruz are well against Hillary, Huckabee is in a favor of microphones, pointed at him, Rand Paul doesn’t want to answer questions on the Today Show and Jeb Bush is testing waters with press conferences. None of it will make any difference at all to folks voting. You can’t read a facebook feed without somebody posting “Benghazi” with a tourette’s like fervor like that should trigger something (for me, it’s where were all you self righteous knuckleheads during the embassy attacks or did ya notice security budgets were cut bipartisan like.).

There’s enough good and bad for everybody on all sides. Don’t trust, candidate X? Good, you shouldn’t.

My main point isn’t your candidate is bad or mine is good (especially since I ain’t got one). It’s that we should be picking them for them. Living in New York State, we are almost a moot point as far as the presidential election is concerned. It was fascinating to walk a few blocks to work in Wisconsin in 2008 as the real thing was being fought out there. We were into the general campaign at that point, but actual positions were being discussed in Milwaukee.

Voters were selecting who they wanted to win, which strikes me as the whole point of the process.

The parties need each other, desperately. In the meantime, anybody who is running = tell me this, why should I vote for you.

I’d like that answer, but not until 2016.

The Mets are on.

Niagara


This is a pretty amazing look over Niagara Falls. As its creator notes in on youtube, only folks to get this look were anybody who went over or Nik Wallenda. Only decent pics I have ever seen from a helicopter were ones my brother took on tourist rides. This chopper couldn’t accommodate passengers.

It is deeply cool

Good job, questpact

The Big Bang


Social Media statuses are apparently like assholes and opinions in everybody has em. I try to think of something clever or funny to pop into mine, when I remember to say, well, anything. As the Vice-President speaks with a variety of publics and Governor Cuomo got a new set of laws on the books today, there has been an awful lot of shouting from the digital soapboxes. That actually is fine. That is kind of the point, to be able say what you are thinking, but I sometimes wonder if we are all thinking hard enough.

I had a discussion about all of this with my best childhood bud not too long ago and despite being on different sides of the issue, we’re able to agree that it is pretty complex. There are an awful lot of folks having fits about their second amendment rights being impeded, but many of these same folks don’t read past the word “arms.” The amendment does go on for a few words beyond that. The hard reality is that this is only part of the problem, but it is the easiest one to seize on. With the law today in New York State, I’m not sure what the difference is between 10 bullets and 7, but it would be good for the purchase process to be the same  all the way through. I don’t want your gun. But it should be the same process to get one.

Does that stop the wrong people from getting ahold of one? Not entirely, of course not. That’s silly, too. But as much as I like some action being taken, the state did fast track the new law rather quickly. We need to see the whole board.

Armour piercing bullets for some hunters? Hmm, I don’t know. Ak=17’s that can tear body parts apart.

There has been too much happening lately to not at least talk, and park the rhetoric.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
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There’s an awful lot to consider and no internet meme will ever sufficiently sum up.

Wonderin’


So, a New York State legislator from Niagara County wants to double the 911 on cell phone bills because the fees collected aren’t being used for that service. While I applaud his desire to make sure 911 service is working and financed and so forth, the rationale troubles me. Here’s a thought, how about looking at spending to be sure the existing fee is properly applied and living within means instead of hitting us again. A crazy thought, I know. This reminds me of the logic of attempting a toll increase because people aren’t driving on the Thruway enough. Only in New York State are we practiced in disincentives like that.

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With milk prices about to double, and actual tax relief for working folk about to disappear, you’d hope that both presidential campaigns would quit releasing/caring/obfuscating about data video and use their influence to get actual things done.

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The grain elevator illumination experiment was pretty awesome. See some cool pictures over here.

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While the NHL lockout continues, the owners and players being equally at fault and fighting over a huge pot of money, a couple games have slipped out of my pocket. I probably wouldn’t gotten the call beyond maybe a preseason game or two, but every little bit helps. Let’s make the networks not talk about them until they can say “we’ve come to an agreement.” Till then, bugger off. Actually till then, check out John Vogl’s blog on the Buffalo News website. Vogl has been posting about who is really hurt in the paycheck by no-hockey. Big hint, it’s not the squabbling millionaires at the bargaining tables. Check out the latest post

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A lifelong baseball fan, I’ve been a little soured on the game of late. That might be the fault of being a Mets fan, but even the Grinch’s heart would have to melt a little at the fact that the Yankees have to hold off the Orioles….the freakin’ Orioles, who haven’t contended in forever. This is a happy thing. The Yankees and the now breathtakingly bad Boston Red Sox inspire devotion or hatred, but you just can’t hate on the Orioles. I think it would be a great thing for the Orioles and Expos, excuse me, Washington Nationals to go deep into the postseason. Although, anything is possible

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Will the presidential debate really inspire anything other than drinking games?

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Live from New York


I’m borrowing this from crookedtimber.org blog, but I don’t think they will mind. We’re all thinking 9/11 thoughts today and this was a particular eloquent one.  For the original post, visit http://crookedtimber.org/2003/09/11/live-from-new-york/

 

This is the monologue from the Late Show with David Letterman on September 17, 2001, his first night back on the air after September 11th.

 

(cold opening and applause)

Thank you very much.

Welcome to the Late Show. This is our first show on the air since New York and Washington were attacked, and I need to ask your patience and indulgence here because I want to say a few things, and believe me, sadly, I’m not going to be saying anything new, and in the past week others have said what I will be saying here tonight far more eloquently than I’m equipped to do.

But, if we are going to continue to do shows, I just need to hear myself talk for a couple of minutes, and so that’s what I’m going to do here.

It’s terribly sad here in New York City. We’ve lost five thousand fellow New Yorkers, and you can feel it. You can feel it. You can see it. It’s terribly sad. Terribly, terribly sad. And watching all of this, I wasn’t sure that I should be doing a television show, because for twenty years we’ve been in the city, making fun of everything, making fun of the city, making fun of my hair, making fun of Paul… well…

So, to come to this circumstance that is so desperately sad, I don’t trust my judgment in matters like this, but I’ll tell you the reason that I am doing a show and the reason I am back to work is because of Mayor Giuliani.

Very early on, after the attack, and how strange does it sound to invoke that phrase, “after the attack?”, Mayor Giuliani encouraged us—and here lately implored us—to go back to our lives, go on living, continue trying to make New York City the place that it should be. And because of him, I’m here tonight.

And I just want to say one other thing about Mayor Giuliani: As this began, and if you were like me, and in many respects, God, I hope you’re not. But in this one small measure, if you’re like me, and you’re watching and you’re confused and depressed and irritated and angry and full of grief, and you don’t know how to behave and you’re not sure what to do and you don’t really… because we’ve never been through this before… all you had to do at any moment was watch the Mayor. Watch how this guy behaved. Watch how this guy conducted himself. Watch what this guy did. Listen to what this guy said. Rudolph Giuliani is the personification of courage.

(applause)

And it’s very simple… there is only one requirement for any of us, and that is to be courageous, because courage, as you might know, defines all other human behavior. And I believe, because I’ve done a little of this myself, pretending to be courageous is just as good as the real thing. He’s an amazing man, and far, far better than we could have hoped for. To run the city in the midst of this obscene chaos and attack, and also demonstrate human dignity… my God… who can do that? That’s a pretty short list.

The twenty years we’ve been here in New York City, we’ve worked closely with police officers and the fire fighters and…

(applause)

…and fortunately, most of us don’t really have to think too much about what these men and women do on a daily basis, and the phrase New York’s finest and New York’s bravest, you know, did it mean anything to us personally, firsthand? Well, maybe, hopefully, but probably not. But boy, it means something now, doesn’t it? They put themselves in harm’s way to protect people like us, and the men and women, the fire fighters and the police department who are lost are going to be missed by this city for a very, very long time. And I, and my hope for myself and everybody else, not only in New York but everywhere, is that we never, ever take these people for granted… absolutely never take them for granted.

(applause)

I just want to go through this, and again, forgive me if this is more for me than it is for people watching, I’m sorry, but uh, I just, I have to go through this, I’m…

The reason we were attacked, the reason these people are dead, these people are missing and dead, and they weren’t doing anything wrong, they were living their lives, they were going to work, they were traveling, they were doing what they normally do. As I understand it (and my understanding of this is vague at best), another smaller group of people stole some airplanes and crashed them into buildings. And we’re told that they were zealots, fueled by religious fervor… religious fervor. And if you live to be a thousand years old, will that make any sense to you? Will that make any Goddamned sense? Whew.

I’ll tell you about a thing that happened last night. There’s a town in Montana by the name of Choteau. It’s about a hundred miles south of the Canadian border. And I know a little something about this town. It’s 1,600 people. 1,600 people. And it’s an ag-business community, which means farming and ranching. And Montana’s been in the middle of a drought for… I don’t know… three years? And if you’ve got no rain, you can’t grow anything. And if you can’t grow anything, you can’t farm, and if you can’t grow anything, you can’t ranch, because the cattle don’t have anything to eat, and that’s the way life is in a small town. 1,600 people.

Last night at the high school auditorium in Choteau, Montana, they had a rally, home of the Bulldogs, by the way… they had a rally for New York City. And not just a rally for New York City, but a rally to raise money… to raise money for New York City. And if that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about the… the spirit of the United States, then I can’t help you. I’m sorry.

(applause)

And I have one more thing to say, and then, thank God, Regis is here, so we have something to make fun of.

If you didn’t believe it before, and it’s easy to understand how you might have been skeptical on this point, if you didn’t believe it before, you can absolutely believe it now… New York City is the greatest city in the world.

(lengthy applause)

We’re going to try and feel our way through this, and we’ll just see how it goes… take it a day at a time. We’re lucky enough tonight to have two fantastic representatives of this town, Dan Rather and Regis Philbin, and we’ll be right back.

(to commercial)

Hard Not to Fret


I worry.

I worry not that Todd Akin is apparently really dumb, but that apparently dumb polls apparently  okay.  He was mindblowingly stupid in the now famous soundbite, but what is scary is that when even the less than progressive GOP says go away, there are still people who will rationalize his statements and mindblowingly, still vote for him.

I refer you here for more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-maher/todd-akin-republicans_b_1826617.html

Bill can be a jerk, but he is also right in this instance.

Incredible (if ever there was time to vote for anybody but, this is it)

I worry.

With shootings in New York and Chicago of the mass variety within the past 24 hours, what are the odds the NRA admits that we might have a gun problem.

Let’s pause for a moment:

A vicar was booking into a Hotel, he asks the receptionist, “I trust the pornography channel is disabled, young man”
“No, it’s just regular porn, you filthy Bastard!” Replied the receptionist.

Okay, where was I

Oh, yeah, got three different pieces of mail, all by 9 x 12 inch glossy post cards from the same candidate for the state assembly, all rich in detail over his dislike for his opponent. This bothers me because in these days which most cable news having unfettered bias of some type, we have a woefully underinformed group of voters. People aren’t consuming information nearly as fast as they are sucking up rhetoric. And you should be concerned at that. I’d like the presidential and vice presidential candidates and all their minions, talking heads, synchophants and hangers on to forget about who they are running against and consider a question: “You get four years, what are you gonna do with them?” I have this idealized notion that when somebody will run for an office and tell us why we should vote for them, not why we shouldn’t vote for the other guy.

I worry.

Just lock out and get about fixing hockey, please.

Need a sign a progress somewhere.

2011 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,500 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.