Archive | July, 2006

The Flying Spaghetti Monster

31 Jul

By now, most of you have heard of the flying spaghetti monster. If not, click here to read what it’s all about.

The Flying Spaghetti Monster is a deity of a parody religion founded by Bobby Henderson in 2005 to protest the decision by the Kansas State Board of Education to require the teaching of intelligent design creationism as an alternative to biological evolution. In an open letter on his website, Henderson professes belief in a supernatural Creator entity that resembles spaghetti and meatballs called the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and calls for Pastafarianism to be taught in science classrooms, essentially invoking a reductio ad absurdum argument against the teaching of Intelligent Design

Why am I bringing up this tired meme of days gone by on the internets? Well, I stumbled upon the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s blog today and I was impressed with the amount of hate mail he receives. A selection of tasty bromides from the religious right:

If I was your creator and you mocked me in this manner I couldn’t think of a hell hot enough for you. It is really sad to think that at Judgement you will be standing in front of God Almighty and he will look at you and say “Depart from me ye worker of iniquity, I never knew you”

Why doesn’t anyone ever call ME a worker of iniquity? It’s a goal to strive for I guess…

I know that science, a religion in and of itself, is NOT the worlds answer to all of our questions. In truth, the scientific method taught in our schools is NOT the true scientific method.

O RLY?

I do believe you are a fucking retard and I hope you burn in hell. Fuck you and the flying spaghetti monster. You obviously think life is just a big damn joke. Its all for humor and entertainment. I look forward to the day it fucks you right in the ass.

That’s not very nice.

ust wait till you are standing in front of the gates of heaven. when god asks you “Why should I let you into Heaven?” what are you going to say? “let me in because i mocked you my entire pathetic life, said there was a god better than you, made of spaghetti and meatballs. let me in.” right. thats the point you go to hell. you are a stupid little guy with no girlfriend, so you’re depressed. writing about your fake, gay loving man whore god. to get attention. all its gonna get you is a foot so far up your a** your gonna have ingrown toenails growin out your ears.

Who knew that God had ingrown toenails?

BANANAs and Beasts

31 Jul

Pundit already tackled the solid points made by Allan Uhtman in this week’s edition of the Buffalo Beast but, I thought I’d throw my two cents in as well.

First of all, I think the Beast is an awesome publication, they are the media enema this town has needed for a long time. They’re irreverent, sarcastic, and funny…essentially, everything that Artvoice should be, but isn’t. I look forward to every issue to see which group of self important douchebags they’ve targeted for ridicule.

Surprise, surprise…the self important douchebags of the week are Odien, Newell, Geek, Pundit, and the BANANA brigade. I’m honored.

The latest controversy of this type revolves around the proposed Elmwood Village Hotel, a 72-room, 4-story affair which would replace 5 small businesses at Elmwood and Forest avenues. Recently, a group of business owners and nearby residents filed suit against the city, claiming the approval process for the hotel was rushed and the hotel didn’t obey zoning laws. Savarino Companies, the firm behind the hotel plan, responded by withdrawing its application and resubmitting it for approval.

The bloggers were beside themselves. BuffaloGeek used the acronym BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything), coined back in 1990, along with the old standby NIMBY. Bloggers love a catchy meme, so it immediately became a mantra with the group. Soon they were planning a pro-hotel protest, spearheaded by Marc Odien—known as Buffalo Watchdog on WNYMedia.net—dubbed “The Great BANANA Blackout,” in front of Don Apparel, one of the businesses targeted for demolition, whose proprietor has been one of the most vocal opponents of the proposed hotel.

You’re god damned right we love a catchy meme or clever lawn sign. What kind of political movement worth its salt is complete without a catchy slogan?

I’d like to address a few of his points in order to clarify my position.

…it seems to me that crummy little shops that cater to bohemians and college kids are a big part of the reason the bourgeoisie started encroaching in the first place, so I wonder what happens to the appeal of the neighborhood when they’re priced out of existence.

What happens? They quit bitching and move over to Grant Street where they can hipsterfy a new neighborhood. I’m tired of pretending that Elmwood hasn’t gentrified, it has and this hotel is the finishing touch. Let’s call Elmwood finished and move on to making another neighborhood cool.

It wasn’t opposition to the hotel that brought us out to water the crowd that day. What we’re really against is intentionally mischaracterizing one’s opposition. “Build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything” doesn’t accurately describe the viewpoint of anyone, and everyone knows it. It’s a ludicrous characterization, and a rejection of reasonable discourse. It’s every lame buzzword appellation you’ve ever been saddled with. It’s “cut and run,” “moonbat,” “kool-aid drinker” and every other baseless label that demeans the political process.

It absolutely is a ludicrous characterization and it is indeed a rejection of reasonable discourse. My use of it was intended to draw attention to a worthy cause; sustainable and transparent development practices. Every product or movement needs to have a brand, logo, slogan, etc. BANANA is catchy, different, and its use brought the news media out in force…which was the ultimate goal. NIMBY is the correct term, however, it’s overused and boring.

If the hotel gets built, it gets built. At least now it’ll be done by the book, and I don’t really see how anyone can object to that. It’s easy to call someone a “NIMBY” when a proposed project isn’t actually in your backyard.

It was done by the book the first time. The city waived the requirement for an EIS based on the fact that the nature of the business wasn’t all that different than the existing collection of businesses. Savarino held community hearings, solicited feedback, and adapted the project to the desires of the neighbors. It’s a good project.

No, it’s not in my backyard…however, I didn’t buy a house that has a backyard that butts up to a commercial shopping and business district…which the NIMBYs on Granger did.

The conventional wisdom among the community calling itself New Buffalo seems to be that it’s backwards, defeatist thinking for people to be against any new development in the city. But aren’t poorly conceived construction projects a big part of the problem? The convention center, the subway, the Main Place mall, “Buffalo Place”—would the New Buffalo people have blindly supported these mega-blunders and called their opponents BANANAs?

No, each project is judged on its own merits. If the developer is as agreeable as Savarino has been through this process, the city wins. That’s why our support for this effort was crucial, to let developers know that there are individuals in this city that support transparent and sustainable development.

Should citizen lawsuits be condemned as the dirty tricks of obstructionists, or recognized as the peaceful recourse of the weak against the powerful, an essential element to an equitable civilization?

Yes, they should be condemned when they are baseless in nature and motivated by selfish concerns.

If the lawsuit had no merit, why would Savarino have been so quick to restart the process?

Because its cheaper and faster to go through the full EIS than get caught up in court with a bunch of selfish NIMBYs for months on end.

This isn’t abortion or gay rights; it’s a hotel. It’s something to argue about rationally. To reduce the people who oppose it to BANANAs is only to make a monkey of yourself.

Perhaps. However, we drew attention to a quality project and our support for the project was covered by all three TV stations, four radio stations, the Buffalo News and now The Beast. I’d say it was pretty successful.

In any event, the Beast contributed to the discourse on the issue and helped us make it an even more successful rally. Thanks for the driveby, the laughs, and the article. Just as an FYI, we’re all part of New Buffalo, whether you like it or not.

Rise of the Creative Class: The other Florida

31 Jul

The Landmark Society and Preservation Coalition will be hosting an upcoming community dialogue based on Richard Florida’s book, “Rise of the Creative Class”? The conversation seeks to apply the research and boservations from this book (about the intersection of thriving communities and the active presence of
creative people) to our own community. Perhaps the conversation will lead to an eventual community strategy to attract and retain creative class employees as a catalyst for economic growth.

There will be three conversations scheduled between noon and 1:00 at the Buffalo Architecture Center, Market Arcade, 617 Main Street, Buffalo.

August 1
Panel discussion on “The Rise of the Creative Class,” by Richard Florida

Panelists: Jade Chen, Production Manager, Buffalo Spree; Harvey Garrett, Community activist; Matt Steinberg, Creative Services Manager, Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau

August 15
Panelists to be announced

August 29
Panelists to be announced

The War Tapes

31 Jul

Three New Hampshire National Guard soldiers were given video cameras prior to their deployment to Iraq. Their mission was to capture the entire war experience so we could see it through a soldier’s eyes.

This extraordinarily important film is the first documentary to chronicle the war through the eyes of those Soldiers who lived it. Director Deborah Scranton and Producer Chuck Lacy gave video cameras to a group of Soldiers from the New Hampshire National Guard prior to their deployment, and this film is the result. Awarded “Best Documentary” at the Tribeca Film Festival last month, this film is a must-see for anyone who seeks to better understand the war, and its impact on the men and women sent to fight it.

The trailer for the movie is incredibly powerful.

This groundbreaking documentary film is opening in Buffalo this Friday at the Dipson Theaters at the Market Arcade.

The most powerful thing in the world is truth. See this movie.

Juxtaposition (UPDATED)

31 Jul

The newest issue of the Buffalo Beast is on the rack, and there are two articles that you ought to check out.

UPDATE: Evil Ed posted the links to the two articles via comments, so the whole post is being moved up.

beast.jpg

In the first story, it seems the Beast has been banned from WHLD because of a stunt they pulled during the “Peace without Borders” event a couple of months ago. Some Beast staffers got a hold of Channel 2 guy Ron Plants and asked him some goofy questions. Pretty harmless, very funny, but I guess Plants wasn’t at all amused.

According to Uthman, the Beast’s pranksters told Plants they were from WHLD, and this pissed the station off something fierce.

One recent week, Uthman was set to be a guest on a WHLD community access show, but before his appearance he received an email from its producer informing him that the Beast was banned from WHLD. Uthman makes the point that WHLD overreacted to a joke that wasn’t even at its own expense, and that part of the reason lefties don’t make electoral headway nowadays is that they can’t take a joke.

There’s a dangerous tendency for politically committed people to lose their sense of humor. This is a crappy way to live your life, but taking yourself too seriously has negative political repercussions as well. Nobody likes a killjoy, and people are likely to associate whatever ideology you’re pimping with your own pomposity. In fact, this largely explains the left wing’s current image problem. Bragging about how little gas your car burns or how infrequently you watch television does not endear you to anyone. Instead of focusing on the big picture, lefties are constantly engaged in a game of self-righteous backbiting, always castigating those one perceived moral increment behind them.

But if liberal politics are ever going to gain the upper hand anywhere, they have to work for the majority of people, who rarely read anything longer than a record review in People magazine and are never going to stop laughing at gay jokes, no matter how sternly you stare at them. If all those people hear from liberals is humorless scoldings, they’re not likely to join the gang, let alone be entertained.

Compare WHLD’s fit with the Beast’s behind-the-scenes look at its super-squirting and banana-hucking at the BANANA rally a couple of weeks ago. I guess Fallon didn’t like our idea, and cajoled Uthman into participating into the guerrilla/banana drive-by.

My account gets a mention:

At one point, a black van drove by honking like crazy, which got us all pretty psyched. The sliding side doors suddenly opened up revealing a “Buffalo Beast” banner, which was then lifted by two guys in full Sandinista gear shooting our crowd with super-squirters, and hucking bananas at the crowd. Good God, that was funny.

Uthman goes on to give us kudos for taking ourselves not at all seriously and our ability to laugh even when we’re the butt of the joke:

In addition to Buffalopundit, The amusingly named “Brisket for Chucklehead” said that “Everybody agreed that that was pretty goddamned funny.” Other bloggers echoed the assessment. Not a single poor sport among them.

It probably helped that July 17th was a classic hot, humid Buffalo summer day, and being blasted with cool water was undoubtedly a pleasant sensation for the sweltering carpal tunnel syndrome candidates. But it was more than that. Unlike the orthodox lefties at WHLD, these mushy middlers had a sense of humor. They weren’t afraid to laugh, even when the joke was on them. I may not agree with them about everything, but I’d surely rather have a beer with them than the soreheads at WHLD.

My favorite comment came from Newell Nussbaumer at Buffalo Rising Online: “Someone next to me asked if they were for the hotel or against it and someone else answered, ‘I think they just like throwing things.’” Well, yes we do. But there was a message behind the madness.

A sense of humor is a terrible thing to waste.

Uthman’s piece goes on to explain the “message behind the madness”, but I think the Beast missed part of our rally’s point. It wasn’t primarily to blast the hotel protesters; instead, the reason why we yupsters chose this particular corner and that particular project is that the developer hadn’t just come in with a monster plan and imposed it on anyone. Savarino had taken public comment and criticism and actually amended its plans to allay those concerns.

We were rewarding, supporting, and promoting good civic behavior.

There’s much hand-wringing going on in some corners about the whole “New Buffalo” thing. In a nutshell, I think it has to do with merit versus machine. In other words, we value hard work, experience, and ideas; we do not value patronage, knee-jerk reaction, and doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result.

When courts have to adjudicate issues on a case-by-case basis, they usually set up a test or set of criteria into which they’ll plug the facts of each particular case. A three or four-prong set of questions usually does the trick. For instance, for a building development:

1. Is the proposal going to enhance the neighborhood?
2. Is the proposal’s design in keeping with the architecture in the area, and done in an urbanist, pedestrian-friendly manner?
3. Have traffic, noise, and parking issues been properly addressed?
4. Has the proposal been vetted by the neighborhood, and the design been adjusted to allay any material concerns?

That’s quick and dirty, but it’s an example. Feel free to amend it. Looking at what I just wrote from a legal standpoint, I already want a definition of “enhance the neighborhood”. Whoo, boy there’d be hella litigation over that. Perhaps the first question could instead be, “does the project do material harm to the neighborhood”.

Those of us who demonstrated in front of the hotel aren’t going to just willy-nilly demo in support of any development. We’ll look at projects on a case-by-case basis, and support those that deserve it and oppose those that don’t. There’s no hard and fast rule.

Had the Beast guys come by Mister Goodbar’s afterwards, we would have bought them a pint. Each.

Although Uthman misunderstood part of the rationale for the BANANA demo, I’m proud to be part of the BANANA article, and not in the Plants one.

Scared in Buffalo

31 Jul

No joking around – that should be the new name for MKG’s column, given the amount of times she imparts to us how “scared” she is, or how “scary” something is. Witness:

Last week was the Feast of St. Ann, so a bunch of us volunteered to climb up the tower of the church, which looms over Broadway on the East Side, and ring the bells. It’s scary. You’re told to bring ear plugs and prepare to get dirty.

Mother effer. Why is that line there? Was it needed to bring the word count up?

The rest of it is a sad tale of an East Side neighborhood changed, a parish diminished in size, plucky die-hards who are determined to maintain a glorious past in a troubled present.

But seldom do Donn Esmonde or Rod Watson make their columns about them and their experiences. They will make a political or social point, and sometimes use the experiences of others to illustrate that point. By contrast, Goldman is often part of, if not the protagonist in, her pieces.

As we sweated amid the cacophony, I glanced down at the East Side streets, dotted with vacant lots, like missing teeth. A distant pedestrian looked up.

And sometimes the writing is nasty, too.

This bad boy’s an 8.89.

Working For Downtown

31 Jul

The number of groups that are banding together to make Buffalo a better place is truly astounding. Meet Richard Serra, President of both All Pro Parking and the non-profit group “Working For Downtown“.

Working for Downtown sponsors a number of ongoing events in Buffalo. The most popular has been “Thursday in the City,” a weekly social from 5 to 8 p.m. held most recently in Bacchus Wine Bar & Restaurant. It resumes in September, with the goal of bringing together residents and people who work in the city to “enhance the quality of living, working and playing downtown.”

The organization also sponsors Buffalo Walks tours of downtown and the waterfront; encourages discussion of city issues through its Brown Bag Lunch Series, Buffalo Forum and Buffalo Talks; gets involved in beautification efforts and initiated Bricks for Buffalo, located by the D&L Terminal.

Smells like progress to me…

SmartCode

31 Jul

I was unable to attend the SmartCode conference on Saturday, but wrapups can be had at Buffalo Rising and the WNY Progress Report.

The City’s current code dates to 1951, and has proven woefully inadequate for today’s needs. The City Court building, which glowers over Niagara Square, was raised as an example of zoning gone awry; the building’s use is appropriate for the area, but its design is at best an eyesore, and at worst a disaster.

Right on the cover of the SmartCode (8.0) is the point of it all:

Cities have to move to a new system. They should look at the streets they like and the public spaces they like and then write the rules to get more of what they like and less of what they don’t. Conventional zoning doesn’t do that. It just gives a use and a density and then you hope for the best. – Peter Katz

Preservation and development in Buffalo are often at odds, and the rules aren’t set, but are instead made up as we go along, usually through costly and sometimes embarassing litigation. This is a way out of that rut.

In Vino Veritas

31 Jul

Mel Gibson. Movie Star. Anti-Semite.

There were questions raised during the ruckus surrounding “Passion of the Christ”. The Anti-Defamation League never came out and said it though Gibson was an anti-Semite, but it didn’t like the way Jews were portrayed in Gibson’s film.

Maybe the apple fell closer to the tree than we were led to believe (Gibson’s father is an anti-Semitic Holocaust denier, and proud of it.)

One account of Gibson’s arrest for DWI:

Once inside the car, a source directly connected with the case says Gibson began banging himself against the seat. The report says Gibson told the deputy, “You mother f****r. I’m going to f*** you.” The report also says “Gibson almost continually [sic] threatened me saying he ‘owns Malibu’ and will spend all of his money to ‘get even’ with me.”

The report says Gibson then launched into a barrage of anti-Semitic statements: “F*****g Jews… The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.” Gibson then asked the deputy, “Are you a Jew?”

The deputy became alarmed as Gibson’s tirade escalated, and called ahead for a sergeant to meet them when they arrived at the station. When they arrived, a sergeant began videotaping Gibson, who noticed the camera and then said, “What the f*** do you think you’re doing?”

A law enforcement source says Gibson then noticed another female sergeant and yelled, “What do you think you’re looking at, sugar tits?”

We’re told Gibson took two blood alcohol tests, which were videotaped, and continued saying how “f****d” he was and how he was going to “f***” Deputy Mee.

Deputy Mee wrote up a report, which is viewable here in .pdf.

Then:

Sources say the sergeant on duty felt it was too “inflammatory.” A lieutenant and captain then got involved and calls were made to Sheriff’s headquarters. Sources say Mee was told Gibson’s comments would incite a lot of “Jewish hatred,” that the situation in Israel was “way too inflammatory.” It was mentioned several times that Gibson, who wrote, directed, and produced 2004’s “The Passion of the Christ,” had incited “anti-Jewish sentiment” and “For a drunk driving arrest, is this really worth all that?”

We’re told Deputy Mee was then ordered to write another report, leaving out the incendiary comments and conduct. Sources say Deputy Mee was told the sanitized report would eventually end up in the media and that he could write a supplemental report that contained the redacted information — a report that would be locked in the watch commander’s safe.

Gibson apologized for both the drunk driving, and his anti-Semitic outburst:

I acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested, and said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable. I am deeply ashamed of everything I said. Also, I take this opportunity to apologize to the deputies involved for my belligerent behavior. They have always been there for me in my community and indeed probably saved me from myself. I disgraced myself and my family with my behavior and for that I am truly sorry

Piece of dreck.

A look behind the curtain…

31 Jul

Cindy Locklear has an insider’s account of the current battle over redefining the role of the Deputy County Executive into a professional county manager.

Once a Local Law is clocked in, it has to “sit on the table” for 8 days before it can be moved for a vote. After the 8 days of aging ’”on the Table” expire, it’s within the discretion of the Chairman of the Legislature, whether or not to move the proposed law for a vote. If the Chair wants to leave it on the table the only way for a legislator to move it, is to “challenge the chair”. Apparently this is “political suicide” if the challenger and the Chair are of the same party (something I didnt know, til after the first time I did it).

You want to know how politics are played in the legislature? Cindy is giving you a blow-by-blow accounting at her new blog. Make sure you stop in to check it out.