Tag Archives: Buffalo News

Backyard Pizza in the Buffalo News

14 Aug

I’ve been sort of obsessed with pizza for many years, and Neapolitan is my thing. I love it, I seek it out, and I’ve finally gotten around to try and do my best impression of it in my backyard. It’s not quite there yet, because the dough and the fire always tend to vary in consistency and quality. But part of the fun is trying stuff out and seeing what works and what doesn’t. 

Andrew Galarneau, food editor for the Buffalo News, and photographer Bob Kirkham came over to try some of my pies and he did a great piece on my efforts to make great pizza in my backyard. You can check it out here

I use a 22.5″ Weber kettle grill, with the KettlePizza attachment (with the optional tombstone pizza stone), and the Kenji Alt-Lopez Baking Steel hack, found here. One chimney of charcoal and a quarter of a log to get the fire nice and hot, and you’ll be ready to bake in about an hour. 

Here are some of my winners: 

Clarence School Enrichment Fund : Fixing What We Broke

13 Aug

presentationGifft11Last week, the Clarence School Enrichment Fund presented a check for almost $40,000 to restore certain clubs and sports that had been cut in the wake of the Spring’s budget fiasco. That sum was paid to the Board of Education in order to enable those Fall semester activities to be able to prepare for a school year that begins in just a few weeks. The check was presented to the board by the CSEF board and by two little girls who raised money for CSEF with a lemonade stand. 

Unfortunately, an article in the Buffalo News that appeared the next day caused the CSEF some problems

More than 100 donors pieced together nearly $40,000 to give to the School Board on Wednesday night – enough to restore modified and freshman sports for the fall season.

At the time the check was presented, the CSEF had actually raised over $70,000. Only a part of that was paid to the district to ensure that certain sports and clubs would be restored. In fact, four clubs – science, foreign language, Latin, and technology – were funded with that money. All the Fall sports that had been cut were restored.  At last check, 250 families had joined the “1000 families challenge” where folks were asked to donate the difference between their actual tax bill, and what their school tax bill would have been had the 9% budget increase been passed in May. 

But [the CSEF cautions] that they won’t be around every year to close the gap between the programs that students want and funds the school is able to provide. “This is a one-year deal,” Cerza warned. “We’re going to have to find a way to get these things back into the budget.”

After this year, the organization will likely exist as a booster club to buy minor items like soccer balls and uniforms, but as for the teams themselves, “it’s going to be up to the school to reinstate them in the future,” he said.

Everything I’ve heard about the CSEF is that it was originally constituted not to fund picayune things like balls and uniforms, but big-ticket capital projects that the district can’t – or won’t – fund. The Foundation accelerated its fundraising efforts to expedite private funding – for only one year – of programs cut from the budget. It has consistently stated that it expects the district to restore these sports, clubs, teams, courses, and activities on its own next year. 

As of today, the CSEF has raised over $76,000 in just about 6 weeks, and people can now help just by dining at Brennan’s any Monday night – the restaurant will be donating 10% of the take every week to the CSEF

That will be the big danger – that the tea party forces that manufactured last Spring’s crisis will use the CSEF to argue that the district needs to divest itself of even more people and programs because the private sector can do it on its own. This is a battle for which the school supporters will be prepared. Business as usual isn’t. 

Nation Is In Decline Because of Morons

8 Aug

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The Buffalo News gets letters. Every single sentence of this letter, written by a James Costa of Elma, Erie County, New York, USA, is a symphony of stupidity.

Mr. Costa is a retired teacher living in Elma, who once enjoyed hitchhiking, accepting handouts from hardworking Americans while he and his friend hoboed it across the country. He also used to troll the Topix Forum using colorful pen names such as “MILFMan”, and “Brillo Pad Headwhere he enjoyed tearing into librulz. (His posts are deleted, but you can see many of them in others’ blockquotes.) But the person who posted as “Brillo Pad Head” also has fond memories of teaching – in the public school system – and the joy he got from that calling. Weird dichotomy.

Here is the letter from this leech retired hypocrite public pension-receiving teacher:

To fulfill its promise of social and economic justice, liberalism must transfer power from the people to government.

What is the government? What is the government but us – people? We live in a representative democracy, where we are given the franchise to elect people to do what they believe to be in our best interests. If the people do not think the politician is doing this, they are free to elect someone else. The power is the people’s. Always. We just don’t wield it as often as we might.

By selling the concept of redistribution of wealth as “fairness,” social programs are created and expanded to capture new classes of dependents.

Well, any system that taxes people to pay for public things is redistributing wealth. Which is to say, every functioning state taxes people to pay for public things. Social programs? Assuming the retiree here is a Medicare and Social Security recipient, he is directly benefitting from our social safety net. Not only that, but as a retiree from the public school system in New York, he receives a public pension that is completely free from state income taxation. You can’t sit there on top of a pile of public cash and whine about redistributive policies.

Under the pretext of ensuring “clean” air and water, government further enhances its power by destroying industries through crushing environmental regulations, thus swelling unemployment and welfare rolls.

Got that? Potable water and breathable air are no longer goals for which we should aim. It is not the right of the individual to breathe clean air or drink clean water that is paramount – it is the right of “industries” to ruin the air and poison the water that is of primary importance in this person’s addled mind.

Its “man-made” global warming claim is a ploy to boost taxes on all energy.

I think that’s a swipe at “cap and trade” – a conservative-invented, market-based system of reducing emissions and pollution which the conservatives abandoned when Obama decided he thought it was a good idea, too.

When Obamacare is fully implemented, costs will skyrocket, services will be rationed, quality care will nosedive and meddling bureaucrats will gain unprecedented control of our lives.

Says the guy receiving free or massively discounted, taxpayer-provided single-payer public socialized medicine.

Recently the formerly great city of Detroit has declared bankruptcy. This tragedy is a microcosm of a national trend.

Hm. Not really.

Having intentionally created these proliferating economic time bombs, heroic liberalism will magically appear deus ex machina to save the country with loads of fiat money and new regulations.

Someone intentionally created a 60 year decline in the city of Detroit, whereby its population plummeted, abandoning it to move to the suburbs? Also, Mr. Costa seems to be a fan of the gold standard, which we abandoned two generations ago.

For decades liberals have been laying the foundation for a socialist America: They’ve demonized religion, polluted the airwaves, corrupted childhood innocence, sabotaged education and aborted millions of babies.

Polluting the airwaves is bad, but polluting the air is good. I don’t know how liberals have “demonized religion” or “corrupted childhood innocence” or “sabotaged education”, and I’m pretty sure people of all political persuasions have aborted all those babies. I’m guessing this guy has a problem with Hollywood, and maybe some other things perhaps reflected by his “Brillo Pad Head” pseudonym used in other fora.

They’ve weakened and demoralized the military with mixed genders.

Where is the evidence of that? What does he mean “mixed genders”? Women in the military? Gays in the military?

They (with complicit Republicans) have opened our borders to illegal aliens, further burdening our economy.

Immigrants – documented and undocumented – are not as massive a drain on the economy as people suspect.

They’ve promoted class envy and fomented racial hatred.

Says “Brillo Pad Head”.

They’ve smothered free speech with PC, and targeted the Second Amendment.

PC is political correctness – the notion that, e.g., if you say or write something that’s racist, you should be humiliated and criticized for it. PC is the notion that you should be accountable and responsible for what you write – for instance, Mr. Costa enjoyed referring to autistic kids as “retards” in the Topix exchange linked-to, above.

Welcome to the Utopia of “fundamental change.”

James Costa

Elma

You should immediately return your next Social Security check to the government, reject your next pension payment, pay the state taxes on what you’ve already received (that tax benefit is a direct subsidy from the taxpayers of New York), and forevermore pay every medical bill in cash and never submit to Medicare again.

Chris Collins Plays Dress-Up & Other Things

6 Aug

Welcome to Buffalo: Read it in the style of Droopy Dog

1. I visited the Depew Amshack for the first time yesterday, and was struck by how utilitarian and pedestrian it all seems. Taking Amtrak from Buffalo to New York is time-consuming, given that freight takes precedence over passenger service, but there are definite advantages to taking the train. If we are someday lucky enough to join the 21st century and introduce high-speed rail service, it could feasibly take 2 – 4 hours to get from here to Manhattan at speeds of 150 – 200 MPH, instead of 8 – 9. It’s a crime that the gorgeous Central Terminal hasn’t seen a rail passenger since 1979, and instead we have a dumpy shack unceremoniously plopped off Dick Rd between Broadway and Walden.

Correction: I wrote it was utilitarian. But it’s not.

Well, it is insofar as there exists a platform from which you can access the train, and a person who will sell you a ticket, and even a restroom. But there’s not even so much as a newspaper box at the station to pick up the Buffalo News or USA Today. Older passengers have a tough time climbing up into the train – the platform isn’t at door-level.

You know, Rail travel doesn’t have to suck any more than going through toll booths has to suck

2. Apparently, when it comes to this year’s election for Mayor of Buffalo, people are less concerned with the color of the candidates’ skin, and more interested in what they want to do as candidates. The Buffalo News is ON IT. 

3. While not gleefully voting to withhold health insurance from millions of Americans, millionaire Chris Collins played dress-up on Monday, donning the brown uniform of a UPS deliveryperson, and pretended to be a common working man. No word on whether he added a “Six Sigma” logo to the uniform, as he did when he sold county merch for employees to wear. The picture shown below might even be considered offensive, given the fact that Collins is a consistent defender of the millionaire class, and acting against the interests of anyone who has to wear a nametag to work.  

Donny And The Great Concrete Elevator

7 Jun

Donn Esmonde just loves the grain elevators, and he loves people who love what he loves. Those crumbling concrete gravestones to a long-gone industrial time might be big and ugly, but by gosh they tell a story

waterfront wasteland

Something about it. Photo by Chris Smith via Flickr

These things matter. 

Esmonde skips through his paean to placemaking, extolling the wondrous things that nostalgia can bring – a buyer for a peeling behemoth on Lake Erie an outfit called FFZ Holdings bought at auction June 7th for just $475,000.

True, they are more beast than beauty, comparatively closer to mastodons than to mermaids. Yet to this Buffalo transplant, they always seemed like concrete dinosaurs, rising from the scrub brush along the Buffalo River plain like frozen-in-time fossils. Their inert mass stamped Buffalo’s broad-shouldered identity and shouted “sense of place” in an increasingly homogenized world. What was not to like?

For decades, [grain elevator aficionado Lorraine] Pierro has been their fiercest champion. “This is our history,” she said. “It seems like there is a new appreciation and recognition of them.”

FFZ Holdings is located at the same 26 Mississippi Avenue address as Savarino Companies, and it was named as a co-developer of some apartments on Ohio Street in the remnants of the “Erie Freight House”. Remember how receptive Esmonde’s friends in the preservation community were to the Savarino-proposed demolition of the freight house? I wonder how much taxpayers will be on the hook with various and sundry incentives and corporate welfare schemes to renovate Mr. Esmonde’s beloved concrete monstrosities. 

Is there a similar preservation movement in Europe to preserve Soviet-era concrete apartment blocks because “sense of place” and historical significance? 

Maybe more people could learn about the historic freight houses of the Erie Canal and the reasons why grain elevators are important if schools weren’t being starved into oblivion by alleged school reformer tea party hacks such as the ones Donn Esmonde now promotes

This is part of a new, ongoing AV Daily series, Donn Esmonde is an Ass.  Email us ways Donn Esmonde is an ass here

What Constitutes “Real Media” and Who Decides?

14 May
I’m not at all a sports guy, so although I follow a few people on Twitter who focus almost exclusively on sports, I don’t generally engage in discussions about it. As British satirist Charlie Brooker suggests, watching sporting events on TV is, “marginally less interesting than watching cardboard exist.”
 
But over the last few months, I had been paying a bit of attention out on the fringe of the interplay between the Buffalo News’ Mike Harrington and other people who blog/Tweet about sports.  The pattern seems to be: someone takes an opposing viewpoint, Harrington writes something dismissive to bait them, they curse at him, and he blocks them. So, although I can get rather hot-headed on Twitter, and although Harrington tried to bait me a few times, I ignored it and kept pushing, respectfully.
 
I do not mean to insinuate that the Buffalo News (or any other established, professional medium) is irrelevant – others push that line, but it’s not completely accurate. Relevance is determined by the reader. The News serves a completely different purpose from Trending Buffalo or what I do, as do radio and TV. But just because Artvoice is free and public radio solicits for donations doesn’t make either one any more or less “real” than the Buffalo News.  I see the whole thing as a mosaic of information, which people are free to assemble however they want. 

The backstory begins with this exchange a bit over a week ago, 

That was it. I asked Harrington to define “real media”, but he ignored me. 

So, what happens when you ignore the bait and engage in a back-and-forth? Saturday evening, Buffalo.com writer Ben Tsujimoto had sent a couple of live Tweets about a WNY Flash soccer game…

 

 

[View the story “What Constitutes “Real Media”” on Storify]

Bernie Runs, Buffalo Shrugs (& Other Things)

13 May

1. Former head of the FBI’s Buffalo office, Bernie Tolbert, has finally stopped teasing everyone and officially entered the race for Mayor of Buffalo, running as a Democrat.  This means he’ll be primarying incumbent Byron Brown in September, and that he will be defeated. Buffalo Rising has the text of Tolbert’s announcement speech, and it focuses on education and crime, but is the same sort of talk we’re used to – technocracy and incremental improvement of bureaucratic issues. It’s a nice speech, but not one that adds a vision for a future Buffalo to the standard-issue schools-and-crime talk. 

The issues are so stark, one would think we could move beyond pablum and get into something a bit different. 

While Mayor Brown has had two terms already to do something big, he’s had little to do with anything big that’s happened. However, there is one thing he is better at than any of his competitors – building and maintenance of a formidable political machine. With the Erie County Democratic Committee likely to endorse Brown in an effort to promote intraparty peace, Tolbert’s chances are only slightly – and theoretically – above nil. 

2. But one correspondent to Buffalo Rising has identified a novel way to shuttle people to and from the Outer Harbor. Despite high prevailing winds and six months’ worth of inclement weather, he has suggested a cable car system to transport people high above the Skyway corridor from CanalSide to the empty and polluted Outer Harbor. Instead of focusing on bringing to Buffalo a cablecar system that was so popular at Walt Disney World that it was removed 25 years ago, perhaps we could spend that money to clean up the contamination on the Outer Harbor property that precludes any sort of development from happening. People on Twitter had fun with the idea on Friday under the hashtag #BuffaloCableCar.

It also reminded Chris & me of the “Detroit Entrepreneurial Guy” meme (example 1, example 2) – especially this one. Just substitute “Buffalo”. 

3. About a week ago, the Buffalo News’ Mike Harrington dismissively refused to listen to a podcast that Trending Buffalo’s Brad Riter recorded with Artvoice’s Chris Smith, arguing that it wasn’t “real media”. He and I argued about what constitutes “real media” over the weekend, with Harrington insisting that Trending Buffalo isn’t “real media”, and I argued (a) that the internet is a real medium; and (b) Trending Buffalo’s legitimacy as real media is determined by people who consume its content.  If it has relevance and popularity, it’s “real media”. Harrington insisted that blogs are a “wild west” (and I pointed out the wild west was a “real place”), which is an old argument. In the end, query why it is that the Buffalo News has its journalists blog and Tweet with Buffalo News branding if social media and blogging don’t constitute “real media”. 

Journalists can blog, and bloggers can be journalists. Whether an outlet is “real media” is, in the end, wholly up to the person consuming the content. 

I’ll storify up the back-and-forth later this week. 

Follow me on Twitter and send emails and other stuff to here

 

 

Communication Breakdown

2 May

On April 28th, the Buffalo News’ editorial page offered up its recommendations in the upcoming school board races. One of the most intensely watched races is that of developer and tea party gadfly Carl Paladino. While the News expressed support for Paladino’s proposals for fixing the school board – many of which are totally reasonable – it would not endorse him. 

But we won’t endorse Paladino, either. He insists that he is not racist, but he shows no comprehension that the emails he forwarded not only suggest that – and powerfully – but that they would be painful and insulting to thousands of minority families and students in the district he wishes to serve.

While he is, in some ways, the candidate this district has needed, we cannot lend the weight of this page to a candidate who still insists those vile emails were funny. No one is perfect and it is always necessary to allow people their failings, but in life, there are some bright lines. Paladino crossed this one.

Nevertheless, it seems all but certain that Paladino will win this race; the South Buffalo neighborhood supported him overwhelmingly in his 2010 campaign for governor. If he does win, it will be his chance to prove that he is not racist.

He could go a long way toward showing that by acknowledging the despicable nature of those emails.

These emails (NSFW)

To be clear, I read that editorial very carefully – it’s not condemning Paladino for sending the emails, but instead for not acknowledging that they were disgusting, misogynist, and racist. There’s no question he sent them around, but he can’t just say, it was stupid, it was wrong, I’m deeply embarrassed and sorry. He’s like Otto from A Fish Called Wanda

So, what does Paladino do? He blasts some more emails out calling the News and its editorial page writer Dawn Bracely names. 

That’s not enough, though.  Paladino pal Larry Quinn had to chime in, too. 

Both of these guys need to take some remedial reading comprehension classes. Perhaps a lesson in humility wouldn’t hurt, either. It must be nice to be so righteously indignant over a perceived slight. It’s also easy to see all the answers for Buffalo’s failing schools from atop a mountain of white privilege. 

Banality of Small-Town Evil

11 Apr

After a four month absence, the Buffalo News Comments Tumblr is back online, cataloguing the stupid and the overtly racist comments to which regular people have no problem affixing their real names. 

Ranidaphobic Clarence Man Writes Blog

9 Apr

Hi there. 

1. Did you know that, thanks to a petition that more than 3,000 people signed, and thanks to a big turnout and lively speakers at last night’s Amherst Town Board meeting, the town’s ridiculously restrictive proposed food truck regulation has been scrapped and the town is going back to the drawing board. It’s something of a pyrrhic victory because while Amherst’s lawmakers go back to make their sausage, the food trucks will continue to operate under the anachronistic peddling law that’s on the books now. 

While imperfect in many ways, the Buffalo food truck ordinance should be a template. Perhaps different circumstances may require certain towns to make minor tweaks, and perhaps some more business-friendly communities might introduce much smaller licensing fees, but this isn’t brain surgery. From the News’ report,

Board members said they agreed that changes were necessary but were concerned at the timetable required to make changes. Building Commissioner Thomas Ketchum said it would take at least two months to make the needed changes.

Supervisor Barry Weinstein said he doubts the matter will be resolved so quickly.

“Two months is excessively optimistic,” Weinstein said.

 Hm. And here I thought two months is excessively pessimistic.

2. Someone in Governor Cuomo’s office trial ballooned a story to the New York Post’s Fred Dicker about ousting Sheldon Silver as Assembly Speaker. In the wake of new, electoral fusion-related indictments, metaphorically cleaning up Albany has become something of a priority. Not surprisingly, Assembly Democrats wouldn’t dare go on the record to bash Silver. It would be political suicide at this point – you (again, metaphorically) throw Shelly under the bus when the bus is moving.  Dicker writes

Silver’s possible ouster comes as Cuomo — who campaigned for governor in 2010 promising to end “pay-to-play” in Albany — plans to announce broad ethics reforms.

“This is a rare moment for sweeping change,” Cuomo told his aides this weekend.

The overhaul could include a Moreland Act Commission that would put influential lobbyists under oath to testify on how the system of corruption works.

Also under consideration is a ban on the “cross endorsement” of candidates of one political party by another party.

Cuomo is also eyeing a repeal of the “Wilson-Pakula” law, which allows candidates from one party to run on another party’s ticket.

State Sen. Malcolm Smith planned to run for mayor on the GOP ticket but was busted by the feds last week for paying off Republican county chairmen in exchange for endorsements.

There you have it. Wilson-Pakula, electoral fusion, and the open market for cross-endorsements in New York are the manure that fertilizes New York State’s culture of corruption. It is a culture that keeps government bloated, dishonest, and opaque – lawmakers acting in their own best interests, rather than those of their constituents. This corrupt fusion system enables tiny political “parties” and their bosses to wield incredible power and clout. As for the “Independence Party”, it isn’t, and it should be banned simply for the confusion it creates for people who intend to register as “unenrolled” voters. Abolition of electoral fusion and cross-endorsements is the first, critical step to disinfecting Albany. 

3. Monday’s Buffalo News carried a big headline declaring that a “Clarence man with frog phobia wins $1.6 million verdict“. I saw plenty of Tweets and Facebook posts ridiculing the idea that someone could win so much money because he was afraid of frogs, or something. Upon reading the article, however, I discovered that the story was really about a Clarence man, Paul Marinaccio, whose property was rendered unmarketable because an adjacent development diverted water runoff onto it.

The issue of Mr. Marinaccio’s fear of frogs was perhaps a humorous anecdote, but had nothing whatsoever to do with the merits of the case that he won. He won because a developer and the town destroyed his land. This was quite an important result and victory in an area that all but deifies developers. The Buffalo News’ headline was misleading and turned an important issue into a joke. It also falsely left the impression that a ridiculous lawsuit with an outrageous outcome had taken place, and that the legal system is out of control and scumbag lawyers and litigious society, etc.