Construction Watch: The Monocle

A former synagogue at 1235 Hertel is being transformed into a multi-tenant retail space. Michael Poczkalski, owner and principal designer of michael P. design and room, and David Brugh, owner and principal barber at Crockett & Co., will be relocating their businesses to the property they are calling “The Monocle.” See back-story here.

Besides michael P. design, room, and Crockett & Co., additional gift, retail, and social experiences will be incorporated into the 9,268 sq.ft. structure.

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Book Talk: Secret Places of WNY | 25 Scenic Hikes

On Thursday, May 19 (at 6pm), co-authors Jennifer Hillman and William McKeever will offer up a presentation on their new book release titled Secret Places of Western New York: 25 Scenic Hikes. The two authors worked with author and preservationist Bruce Kershner’s literary estate, to encourage the next generation of WNY hikers to explore the natural wonders of the region. It was Bruce Kershner who first published Secret Places: Scenic Treasure of Western New York and Southern Ontario in 1994. The book talk will be held at Fitz Books.

The forward of this new edition book is written by Libby Kershner, Bruce Kershner’s daughter, who recounts how her father helped to save old growth trees at Zoar Valley, Reinstein Woods, DeVeaux Woods, and College Lodge. Bruce Kershner was considered one of the nation’s leading experts on old-growth forests, while concentrating his efforts on saving these majestic forested lands in the northeast.

Now, as an ode to the original book, Hillman and Mckeever have released this latest version of Bruce Kershner’s masterful resource – an updated edition, richly photographed and illustrated.

Hike to grottos where the only sound is the trickle of water, crawl through hidden caves, commune with nature in ancient forests, stumble upon tucked away treasures like lonely graves, splash on secluded beaches and creeks, admire towering waterfalls, and if you dare, step under the cascade yourself. Find historical carvings on rocks and trees that many walk past but never see, and be awestruck when ice volcanoes erupt on the shores of Lake Erie.

Fitz Books & Waffles | 433 Ellicott Street | Buffalo NY | (716) 249-0523 | Facebook | Instagram

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The district lines have been drawn. Now what?

In Memoriam

We as a community are overwhelmed by the terrible tragedy that was visited on us last Saturday. We honor the lives of the victims and pray for and reach out to help their families and friends in this time of overwhelming grief.

We search for answers to questions about the madman’s evil deeds; some we can figure out and some we never will. Our politics have given rise to the kind of falsehoods and hatred that lead to such events. As horrible as this is, we must not be afraid to speak the truth and to hold those who encourage such behavior accountable.


How comforting to know that someone we have never heard of has now given us the boundaries of politics in New York State for the next ten years.

Jonathan Cervas was appointed special master last month by State Supreme Justice Patrick McAllister to draw those lines.  Six months from now, no one will remember those names until ten years from now, when it comes time again for the state’s congressional and state legislative districts to be redrawn.

McAllister set Cervas to his task after the Justice, followed by Appellate Division and the Court of Appeals decisions, concluded that the Legislature’s redrawing of districts was unconstitutional and a gerrymander of the process.  The courts substituted the knowledge, experience, and personal inclinations of Cervas for that of the 213 elected members of the Legislature.

Cervas’ decisions, if finalized later this week, will give New York congressional and state Senate districts that will help Republican candidates considerably. His decisions are nearly final and probably cannot be successfully challenged.

Here is Cervas’ version of a gerrymander:

Among the 26 congressional seats, there will be 15 districts that are strong or leaning Democratic, five that are strong or leaning Republican, and six that can be considered “toss-ups.” Registered Democratic voters outnumber registered Republicans in the state by a margin of more that 3.6 million, so it is not easy to make things come out that way.Two Democratic House members are put in the same districts in several downstate instances.Erie County is divided into three House districts. Brian Higgins will continue as Buffalo’s representative in a district that also includes Amherst, the Town and City of Tonawanda, Grand Island, the northern half of Cheektowaga, plus Niagara County.The new 23rd district includes much of current southern tier district plus the these towns in Erie County: Boston, Colden, Collins, Concord, Eden, Hamburg, North Collins, Orchard Park, West Seneca, the City of Lackawanna, the southern portion of Cheektowaga, and a small part of Clarence.At the moment both Higgins and Chris Jacobs live in the same district. Higgins is about 200 feet outside of the 26th district.The new 24th District includes Alden, Holland, Marilla, Newstead, Sardinia, Wales and most of Clarence. The district stretches up to Watertown.There will be 38 Senate seats that are strong or leaning Democratic, 10 that strong or leaning Republican, and 15 that can be considered toss-ups.The Senate districts in Erie County have been considerably redrawn. It looks like there could be a need for some candidates to consider changing their residences.Senator Sean Ryan’s district is located exclusively in Erie County with a portion of south and west Buffalo, plus Lackawanna and the towns south and east of Buffalo. The district is slightly Republican by enrollment.Senator Tim Kennedy’s district now will include north and east portions of the City of Buffalo plus Grand Island and the Town and City of Tonawanda.Senator Ed Rath’s district includes Alden, Amherst, Cheektowaga, Clarence, Newstead and West Seneca. Enrollment is marginally Democratic.Senator Pat Gallivan’s district is now outside of Erie County and includes Senator George Borrello’s current territory, although Gallivan could run in Ryan’s new district.

Justice McAllister ruled last week that any congressional and Senate candidates who previously filed petitions do not need to re-circulate petitions regardless of whether or not the signatures on such petitions were from the new district that the candidates choose to run in; they have until May 31 to file a document indicating which district they will run in.  Additional candidates may now circulate petitions that must be submitted by June 10. That’s a scheme that any political boss would be proud of.

When we left off on the subject in April (it seems so long ago), it appeared that Congressman Brian Higgins might face a primary once again from Eddie Egriu; Congressman Chris Jacobs saw any potential primary opponents eliminated; and Senator Sean Ryan would be challenged by Ben Carlisle.  We should know soon if those challenges continue or if there will be any more.  Senator Ed Rath has gone from the circulation of petitions to run for re-election; to deciding not to run against Senator Tim Kennedy; to again being a candidate for re-election in a newly formed district.

Congresswoman Claudia Tenney from New Hartford had decided to poach into a Legislature-drawn district that somewhat resembled the former 23rd district along the southern tier, abandoning a run in the central part of the state she lives in.  She will need to decide which district to run in. Jacobs lives in the new 23rd district.

The congressional and Senate primaries will occur on August 23rd.

Tom Reed’s parting gift to the state and the Republican Party

Congressman Tom Reed announced earlier this year that he would not run for re-election, regardless of how the district lines would be drawn.  His departure from public life, related to scandal, was the third by a Western New York Republican House member in the past twelve years; there was also one Democratic resignation due to scandal in 2010.  On May 10th Reid suddenly announced his resignation, effective immediately.

It used to be that the governor would have sole discretion for determining when or if there would be a special election to fill a vacant congressional or state legislative seat.  That did not sit well with state legislators, who subsequently passed a law setting up a strict schedule for special elections.  That law requires that when a vacancy occurs the governor must within ten days announce the date for a special election to fill the vacancy.  The election must be scheduled no sooner than 70 nor no more than 80 days from the date when the governor issues her special election proclamation.

The practical effect of Reed’s May 10th announcement was to set this schedule in motion:  proclamation of the special election date by May 20th; a special election to be held on a date between late July and early August.  That could be just about three weeks away from the court-ordered August 23 primary date for congressional and Senate seats.

Therefore, to the extent that Reed’s former 23rd district and a new 23rd district overlap, the voters in that part of the state will be faced with a special election and a primary election about 25 days apart.  The county Boards of Election in that overlapping area will need to go through the time and expense of setting up for those two elections, in addition, of course, to the June 28th primary and the November 8th general election.

If Congressman Reed had factored any of this into his personal planning he could have saved the voters and the Boards some time and money.  He could have also saved his Republican Party a lot of grief if the special election and the August primary were coordinated.  There will be a Democratic challenger in whatever election is being held in the old and new districts, but party registration in that part of the state will favor the Republicans.  Apparently Congressman Reed did not bother to inform party leadership of his plans before his resignation announcement.  There could be different individuals elected to complete Reed’s term and to be elected in the new district.

This might remind you of another Republican dilemma that also took place in Western New York in recent years.  In 2018, in the midst of the Chris Collins fiasco, party leaders and potential replacement candidates labored mightily to remove Collins from the ballot and substitute someone else.  The scheming failed and Collins ran for and won re-election.  A change in the state Election Law, subsequently approved, would have made that switcheroo easier.  In 2019, following Collins’ guilty plea a special election occurred, nearly eight months after Collins resigned; Governor Andrew Cuomo was responsible for the delay.  The special election, however, was held on the same day as the scheduled June primary for the office, saving some money but leaving Collins’ district without a voting representative for an extended period.

So what might have been a relatively quiet political summer, following the June primary, will instead be filled with political activity right through August 23.  Voters can be forgiven for losing interest as the summer drags on.

Ken Kruly writes about politics and other stuff at

Follow on Twitter @kenkruly

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Event: Community Vigil and Food Distribution Effort

There can only be hope that Buffalo will continue forth as a more united community than ever, in the face of such a horrific tragedy. As neighbors rally to aid those who are suffering, and in need, countless efforts are underway to help to alleviate the pain and anger, and the feeling of sorrow that is consuming all of Buffalo.

Whether it’s the efforts of Buffalo Community Fridge that organized an overwhelming food donation drive at their Resource Center at 347 East Ferry, or Unapologetic Coffee‘s offer to store perishable foods in their fridges, the City of Good Neighbors is living up to its name.

Now, a community vigil and food distribution event is scheduled to be held later today, Tuesday, May 17, on the corner of Jefferson and Riley beginning at 5:30PM. 

There will be local and national speakers, inspirational musical performances, grief counselors on site for those in need, distributing resource guides for those wanting to know how to get involved, and food distribution led by Feed Buffalo for residents in the community. 

Join fellow Buffalonians in love and unity, as we remember and honor those whose lives were taken, while helping to ease the pain of their loved ones. The entire city of Buffalo grieves, and looks for ways to move forward as a stronger, more compassionate, and more engaged “together we stand, as one” community.

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Bike Month: Week 3

The third week of Bike Month not only has loads of community events and fun planned, but it also coincidentally coincides with Bike to Work week! Check out the list of discounts and events below including all of the Bike to Work week promotionals. Be sure to document all your biking adventures using the hashtag #BIKEMONTHBFLO on your public IG and TW posts for a chance to win prizes. 

For all you beer lovers, this week ONLY take advantage of $1 off the lager draft line at Fattey Beer whenever you ride your bike in. Upload a photo (Public IG, TW account) from Fattey with #BikeMonthBFLO that week for a chance to win a $25 gift card to their shop!

For any additional information and updates about each event this week, head to 

Bike Month promotions, discounts, and giveaways!

GO Buffalo Niagara’s Give Transit A Try – $40 off an unlimited 30-day NFTA Metro passGO Buffalo Niagara’s Shop716 Gift Card Giveaway – Use #BikeMonthBFLO on your Instagram and Twitter posts about your ride to be entered to win a Shop716 Gift CardFreelancers! On Tuesday, May 17, Serendipity Labs welcomes you to work for free in their 29th floor co-working space at Seneca One, if you ride in that day.Fatty Beer Co. (Genesee St and Main St) is offering $1 off drafts during Bike to Work week (May 16-21) to those who cycle to their shop. Ride in and ask for it, using “GObike” at checkout–you’ll also be entered to win a raffle at the end of the week.15% discount at Mister Sizzle’s for anyone who bikes to their restaurant, using “GObike” at checkout.Party at Community Beer Works on Friday May 20 with $1 off drafts, merch discounts and BOGO cards when you ride in.Discounts on your SKYRIDE 2022 (August 14) tickets when you purchase them at a GObike event (see below wherever our logo is on a ribbon). Just talk to your staff and we’ll give you the promo code.

Bike to Work @ Seneca One (43North, Serendipity Labs, M&T Tech Hub)

We’re biking to work! Join us for coffee, breakfast, music, and fun! All these good vibes will be stationed outside Seneca One Tower on the north entrance. We’ll see you there!

Date: Wednesday, May 18

Time: 8:00am-11:00am

Location: Seneca One Tower  

Bike to Work @ Larkinville

Larkinville! Bike into work–we’ll have coffee and a boxed breakfast for the first 25 people who bike in!

Wednesday, May 18


Larkinville Square, at the Pavilions

Campus Cycling Collective Group Ride 

Date: Wednesday, May 18

Time: 5:45pm

Location: Campus WheelWorks (1330 Niagara Street, Buffalo)

Bike Breakfast @ Hostel Buffalo-Niagara

Stop by for some coffee and breakfast as you bike into work!

Date: Wednesday, May 18

Time: 8am-10am

Location: Hostel Buffalo-Niagara (667 Main Street, Buffalo)

Bike Breakfast @ Co-op- Hertel

Stop by coffee and breakfast! There’ll also be an informal group ride into downtown, leaving at 7:45am.

Date: Thursday, May 19

Time: 7am-10am

Location: Co-op Hertel (1678 Hertel Avenue, Buffalo) 

Bike to Work @ BNMC

Bike on down to the BNMC, even for those early shifts! We’ll have coffee, breakfast and music waiting for you!

Date: Thursday, May 19

Time: 6am-10am

Location: Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (Corner of Ellicott Street and Oak Street)

Bike to Work @ Fountain Plaza (Ciminelli Real Estate, IBM)

Fountain Plaza! Bike into work–we’ll have coffee and a boxed breakfast for the first 25 people who bike in!

Date: Thursday, May 19

Time: am-10am

Location: Fountain Plaza, under the Bank of America awning

Slow Roll Ticket to Roll (Paid)- Queen City Queens

Honoring and exploring some of the most influential women in Buffalo’s past, present, and future; Slow Roll Buffalo invites to join us May 19 for Queen City Queens. Your ticket includes a 15-mile ride led by the ladies of SQUAD, stops to fuel up on calories and history, dinner ( vegan/gluten free options) and a non-alcoholic beverage back at The Garage Bar & Restaurant, a commemorative t-shirt and more. A cash bar is available at the afterparty. and this ride is open to male, female, trans and non binary folks

Date: Thursday, May 19

Time: 6pm

Location: The Garage Bar and Restaurant 

Slow Spokes @ Rusty Nickel- West Seneca Bikes Community Ride

WNY Bikes has teamed up with Rusty Nickel to host our community group bikes rides for 2022! Nothing Better than Bikes, Friends and Brews. Every Thursday Evening Starting May 19th 2022. The rides are open to everyone who enjoys riding bikes no matter where you are from, how old you are or what type of bike you ride as long as you are able to ride 10 miles at 10 mph. 

Date: Thursday, May 19

Time: 6:15pm

Location: Rusty Nickel Brewing 

Bike Party @ Community Beer Works

$1 off beers, 10% off merch to those who ride in

Date:Friday, May 20

Time: All Day/ Night

Location: Community Beer Works (520 7th Street, Buffalo)

Mobile Bike Repair- William L. Gaiter Parkway @ E Delevan

Roll on down to get some light servicing or a tune up for your bike!

Date: Saturday, May 21

Time: 10am- 1pm

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Market Watch: Pendleton Station Market

Markets abound in WNY. Keeping up with all of them has become somewhat of a challenge. One of the newest to hit the scene is the Pendleton Station Market, which has a tremendous backdrop, as you can see.

The 2022 market is thanks to the hard work of Marissa Wroblewski, who is acting chairperson. If it wasn’t for Marissa’s dedication to the market, chances are that it wouldn’t be around today. And that would be unfortunate, considering that this relatively new market – founded in 2021 – has already become so cherished within the community.

“I have been in love with farmer’s markets since my early 20’s,” Marissa. “Something about supporting local businesses and getting fresh produce you know was cultivated with such care truly inspired me. My neighbors informed the town was going to decommission the Pendleton farmer’s market account and told me, ‘I had to save it!’ I took on cold calling hundreds of vendors, and we opened in late May of last year. It’s been an awesome whirlwind and I couldn’t be more excited for the upcoming season.”

The 2022 market features produce from local farms, meat (chicken, beef, pork, eggs, etc.), home decor, flowers, florals and succulents, pet treats and accessories, baked goods, honey, maple syrup, crafts, food trucks, etc.

“We also have some fun events coming up like kids and family days, safety days, and trunk or treat,” added Marissa.

The farmer’s market is located at 6570 Campbell Blvd. Pendleton, NY 14094

Visit for further information

Meet the vendors

Sundays: 9 am – 1 pm

Summer June 19 – Fall October 16

See Facebook event page for opening day on Sunday, June 19, 2022

Follow on Instagram @PendletonStation_Market or like on Facebook Pendleton Station Market

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Five Cent Cine: Happening

A Cautionary Tale

Anne Duchesne is a no-nonsense, highly motivated, fiercely independent young woman, studying literature in 1963 France with the goal of becoming a professor. When her instructor, concerned about her poor classroom performance in recent weeks, asks if she has been ill, she replies, “Yes, with the disease that strikes only women…and turns them into housewives.”

It’s a line that one might expect to find in Betty Friedan’s best-seller, “The Feminine Mystique,” published that same year. Like Friedan, Anne (Anamaria Vartolomei) is a feminist in a pre-feminist world, the closing years of the “long 1950s,” when many women married by 22 and looked forward to having babies and being financially supported by their husbands.

Fabrizio Rongione, as a doctor who is sympathetic but tells Anne she must “accept” her pregnancy.

The ”disease” to which Anne refers is, of course, pregnancy, the result, in this case, of a dalliance with a cute guy from Bordeaux who wants nothing to do with a child and is concerned more with his friends’ impression of Anne than with her dilemma. Anne perceives motherhood and her career as incompatible at age 23, and she wants to have an abortion. Abortions are illegal in 1963 France, and the prohibition is far-reaching: anyone—doctor or friend—assisting in the process of securing an abortion is subject to criminal charges.

It’s a prescient film, given the recently leaked draft opinion by United States Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito that, if adopted by the Court, would overturn the 50-year-old abortion protections of the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade. 

“Happening” is not even-handed. As in “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” (2020), the film is not about the ethics of abortion. It’s not a debate between a right-to-life perspective and Anne’s pro-choice views. (Older insightful films on abortion include Cristian Mungiu’s Palme d’Or winner, “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” [2007]), which looks at the attempt to find an abortion in Ceausescu’s Romania, and “Vera Drake” [2004], Mike Leigh’s empathetic take on a back-room abortion provider, starring Imelda Staunton.)

Indeed, to describe Anne’s feelings as “pro-choice” is to project her decision into a later era, when that phrase existed. She’s interested solely in her own life, her own needs, and how having a child would keep her from being the professional woman she intends to be. She wants a child, just not now, Anne tells a physician, “not instead of a life.”

We see only glimpses of the procedures Anne endures, though even then some will turn their heads rather than watch.

“Happening” is Anne’s story, and the story of her isolation in a world of back-alley procedures. Director and co-writer Audrey Diwan, who won The Golden Lion (Best Film) at the Venice Film Festival, has deftly adapted French writer Annie Ernaux’s (born Annie Duchesne) 2000 autobiographical novel, “L’Événement.” Anne’s parents are of another social class (she appears to have only two outfits, both blue), proprietors of a local bar, and well-meaning, but not people who would understand. The doctors she consults are either too afraid to help or are strongly anti-abortion, even as she pleads “Do something”….“Help me.”

Anne has intimate girlfriends (they share chewed gum), who abandon her when it comes to terminating her pregnancy. One of her two close friends, Brigitte (Louise Orry-Diquérois), is out front about exploring her own sexuality; the other, Hélène (Luàna Bajrami, the maid Sophie in “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” [2019]), confesses to having had a serious affair and notes that only luck kept her from becoming pregnant. Neither can, or does, give Anne the assistance she needs. They are too fearful of the consequences, which could include prison. Among the young men who are friends, one treats Anne’s pregnancy as an opportunity to try to have sex with her. 

Her plight—her frustration, her anxiety, her anguish, even an impulse to suicide—is presented in segments that mark her pregnancy: 4 weeks, 5 weeks, 7 weeks, 10 weeks. The clock ticks, and there’s no savior in the wings.

“Happening” is a small, carefully crafted film; it foregoes manipulative music as well as complex discussions of the dilemma facing Anne. It’s about her interior experience; there’s no Hollywood drama, no applause scenes at the end. We see only glimpses of the procedures Anne endures, though even then some will turn their heads rather than watch. Instead, Vartolomei, a young Romanian-French actress, expressively conveys Anne’s physical and emotional trauma. The pregnancy and its termination are interior, personal “happenings.” The era is pre-internet, pre-social media. She’s on her own.

Anne is nothing if not determined, and she finds a way, or ways. Forthright and honest, the film is an unflinching look at what it meant for young women of a certain social class, without resources or support, to obtain an abortion—in an era today often recalled with a misplaced nostalgia. Instead, “Happening” comes at a disquieting moment. The specter of criminalizing abortion—and the chilling, silencing, isolating effect of the laws that would do so—is no longer anachronistic or a decree from an Iron Curtain state. “Happening” is a cautionary tale for our times.

Date: 2021 France; May 6, 2022 United States

Stars: 3.5 (out of 4)

Director: Audrey Diwan

Starring: Anamaria Vartolomei, Louise Orry-Diquérois, Luàna Bajrami, Fabrizio Rongione, Anna Mouglalis

Other Awards: 13 wins, including the Golden Lion (Best Film) at the Venice Film Festival, and 16 nominations to date

Country: France

Languages: French, subtitled in English

Runtime: 100 minutes

Availability: Showing in theaters in major US cities and recently expanded to more  (including Rochester, NY’s Little Theaters); widely available streaming in Europe; see JustWatch here for future streaming availability in the US.

Lead image: Anna Mouglalis as the back-room abortionist, who is neither empathetic nor despicable; she’s simply another step in Anne’s search for a solution.

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2022 ULI Western New York Kevin Hays Scholarship

The WNY Chapter of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) – considered the oldest and largest network of cross-disciplinary real estate and land use experts in the world – has established a scholarship in the memory of Kevin Hays.

Hays was a founding member of ULI Western New York’s Young Leader’s Group, alumnus of the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning, and Director of Development at Savarino Companies in Buffalo, NY. Upon being diagnosed with colon cancer, he became a fervent champion of the fight against the disease. Aside from being on the Buffalo Walk to End Colon Cancer Engagement Committee and the national Never Too Young Advisory Board, Hays founded the nonprofit organization Buffalo Colon Corps.

The scholarship in Hays’ name will be an all-expenses paid opportunity for a UB Real Estate Student to attend the ULI Fall meeting in Dallas, Texas from October 24-27, 2022.

“When Kevin’s colleagues at ULI suggested a scholarship in Kevin’s name, all of us at Savarino were happy to help,” said Sam Savarino, President and Chief Executive Officer of Savarino Companies. “There may be no better way to honor Kevin’s legacy than to provide a deserving student an opportunity to participate in the betterment of their community.”

In 2014, Hays was diagnosed with colorectal cancer at the age of 28. His dream and mission was to help others afflicted with the disease, while helping to ensure that oft-overlooked groups of people were equally considered, informed, diagnosed, and treated. Two groups in particular were disadvantaged communities and those diagnosed under the age of 45. Hays passed away in 2021 at the age of 36, but his legacy is alive and well today thanks to his steadfast determination and commitment to the cause.

To celebrate his cherished colleague and friend, Sam Savarino has announced a $5,000 Challenge Grant on behalf of Savarino Companies, LLC toward an initial scholarship fundraising goal of $10,000. In addition, the First Annual Kevin Hays Scholarship Event will be hosted on May 17, 2022, in the Atrium at 500 Seneca Street in Buffalo, NY. All proceeds from the event will be dedicated to the scholarship fund.

This coming Tuesday, May 17th at 6pm in the Atrium at 500 Seneca, we will be holding the first annual Kevin Hays Memorial Scholarship event, where we will announce this year’s winner of the scholarship. All proceeds from the event will go towards the scholarship.

If you would like to contribute to the Scholarship Fund, please follow these instructions:

Mail: Please make checks payable to the “ULI Foundation”. Please include “Kevin Hays Memorial Scholarship ULI NY” on the “Memo Line” of the check. Gifts can be credited on the date of the USPS postmark.

ULI Foundation | PO Box 418374 | Boston, MA 02241-8374

Online: Donations are accepted online by visiting the Foundation webpage and clicking the “Donate” box.

(Ignore the Total Gift Amount grey box at the top) Be sure to click the ‘Designate your donation to a specific program(s) or National/District Council’ button in the top list of checkbox options under the grey box(Ignore the ULI Opportunities Fund amount box) Scroll down. Next to the ‘My District/National Council’ in the option list enter the donation amount then use the dropdown box to select ULI New YorkScroll down. In the Message text box above Your InformationYOU MUST write that your donation is to support ULI Western New York’s Kevin Hays Memorial ScholarshipComplete the rest of the information as instructed on the form 

Lead image: Photo taken on a bucket list trip that Hays and Savarino took together through Europe

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The drama of addiction and recovery, PEOPLE, PLACES, AND THINGS at Kavinoky adds extra shows this final week

THE BASICS:  PEOPLE, PLACES, AND THINGS, a play by Duncan MacMillan, directed by Katie Mallinson, runs through May 22, with the final week of shows Wednesday (new) through Saturday at 7:30, also Saturday at 3:30, closing Sunday, May 22 at 2:00, presented by D’Youville’s Kavinoky Theatre, 320 Porter Ave, Buffalo, NY 14201. 716.829.7668  The added shows include Wednesday, May 18th at 7:30 pm.  Thursday will be alcohol-free and will have a talkback with the cast and representatives from Save The Michaels of the World.  

Runtime: 2hours 45 minutes including one intermission

THUMBNAIL SKETCH:  Emma is an actor and seemed to be having the time of her life both on-stage and off.  It was all wonderful until it wasn’t.  Now she’s in rehab.  This is a dramatic tale of addiction and recovery.

THE PLAYERS, THE PLAY, AND THE PRODUCTION:  Once again the Kavinoky Theatre and actor Aleks Malesj (say “alex malaise”) team up for an intense drama.  You may recall her as “The Pilot” in the one-woman show GROUNDED where her character, an F-16 fighter pilot who loved to break the surly bonds of earth, after being grounded and assigned to a windowless drone hangar, slowly descends into madness.  She won the “Outstanding Actress” Artie Award for her role in GROUNDED (and also won in that category two years later for her role in SIVE at the ICTC).  Yes, she’s that good.

In this current play, her descent happens early in the show, in abbreviated time, aided by drugs and alcohol, landing her in a rehab facility.  Her angry scenes are all throughout the play, but her two disembodied “mad scenes” (mad as in Lady Macbeth) are enhanced by special effects that alone make this a must-see.

When a team of some of Buffalo’s finest come together to do ensemble work, it’s special.

Almost everyone in the play takes on multiple roles and the very able cast of Diane DiBernardo, Afrim Gjonbalaj, Gregory Gjurich, Christopher Guilmet, Gabriella McKinley, Ben Michael Moran, Maureen Anne Porter, Michele Roberts, and Dylan Zalikowski become a variety of characters.  That’s quite a cast and you may have noticed names that in other productions have taken on starring roles.  When a team of some of Buffalo’s finest come together to do ensemble work, it’s special.

L-R Aleks Malejs, Maureen Anne Porter | Photo credit Gene Witkowski

The set by David King is fairly minimal with pieces rolled on and off quickly by actors and stage crew and with projections designed by Nicholas Taboni.  The sound by Geoffrey Tocin is appropriately intense at times, to match the action, but is never intrusive. 

So, what does the title mean?  It’s explained later in the play when Emma says:  “They tell you, in rehab they tell you: avoid people who make you want to relapse. Places you associate with using and objects that might be a trigger. People, places and things. That’s basically, you know, everything. As long as you steer clear of people, places and things you’ll be fine.”  

Although in one scene Emma has been given a copy of “Alcoholics Anonymous” (referred to by AA members as “The Big Book”) it might be worth noting that the “People, Places, and Things” concept as Emma explains it is outside of AA, although popular in the rehab community.  (In one scene, Emma, in a fit, actually rips pages out of the copy of “The Big Book” that she’s been given.  So consider the source.)

But it’s true that Emma does not have the tools necessary to engage with the world.  At one point she complains: “With a play you get instructions. Stage directions. Dialogue. Someone clothes you. Tells you where to be and when. You get to live the most intense moments of a life over and over again, with all the boring bits left out. “

L-R Aleks Malejs on floor, Maureen Anne Porter | Photo credit Gene Witkowski

And it turns out that Emma is not just addicted to pills and alcohol, she’s also an excitement junkie.  At the rehab, when offered meds to help her through detox, she says she doesn’t want the meds, she wants “to feel it.”

And the doctor, wisely, advises her against that, saying:  “It’s completely natural to want to have the most vivid experience because that’s what you’re used to, that’s what you feel you deserve and that’s what will make you feel more connected with your recovery.  I get that.”

But Emma feels that she needs that excitement, and so she constantly picks fights with the doctor, the rehab staff, and the others in the program.  She has a real chip on her shoulder, which makes her very realistic, and a complex, fully realized person who should be familiar to those who know someone with a problem.  By the way, if you do know someone who needs help, Thursday night will be followed by a (free) talk-back with members of the cast and representatives from the recovery community.  There will also be literature on hand.

Again, because of so many COVID related cancellations, here is the list of remaining shows, taken from the Aleks Malesj’s Facebook page, with the additional dates and showtimes noted as “*new*”:

Wednesday 5/18 @7:30PM *new*
Thursday 5/19 @7:30PM
Friday 5/20 @7:30PM
Saturday 5/21 @3:30PM
Saturday 5/21 @7:30PM
Sunday 5/22 @2PM

As we say in the land of the Four Buffalos:  Both the production and the play are of high caliber. If the genre/content are up your alley (or if you just want to see some fine on-stage acting) I would make a real effort to attend.

*HERD OF BUFFALO (Notes on the Rating System)

ONE BUFFALO: This means trouble. A dreadful play, a highly flawed production, or both. Unless there is some really compelling reason for you to attend (i.e. you are the parent of someone who is in it), give this show a wide berth.

TWO BUFFALOS: Passable, but no great shakes. Either the production is pretty far off base, or the play itself is problematic. Unless you are the sort of person who’s happy just going to the theater, you might look around for something else.

THREE BUFFALOS: I still have my issues, but this is a pretty darn good night at the theater. If you don’t go in with huge expectations, you will probably be pleased.

FOUR BUFFALOS: Both the production and the play are of high caliber. If the genre/content are up your alley, I would make a real effort to attend.

FIVE BUFFALOS: Truly superb–a rare rating. Comedies that leave you weak with laughter, dramas that really touch the heart. Provided that this is the kind of show you like, you’d be a fool to miss it!

The post The drama of addiction and recovery, PEOPLE, PLACES, AND THINGS at Kavinoky adds extra shows this final week appeared first on Buffalo Rising.


How to help a community rocked by tragedy

Buffalo is the City of Good Neighbors and for good reason. Yesterday our community was rocked by an unimaginable act of racially motivated violence. As we struggle to understand, it’s important that we do what we can for the community where this took place. Several organizations have already offered their services or are seeking donations to help. If you know of any organizations or resources that are helping, please contact with their information so we can list it below.

Buffalo Community Fridge

Buffalo Community Fridge is seeking donations of fresh produce, milk, eggs, cheese, formula, baby food, juice, water and labeled cooked meals to stock their fridge located at 257 E. Ferry Street. They will be available today from 11:30am-3pm, giving out food to the community but their fridge is always open for drop off or pick up. You can also make a donation to them via their Venmo account. Search for @bflocommunityfridge under businesses to send a donation, every little bit helps.

Rooted In Love

Rooted in Love was formed for the purpose of aiding the homeless and the less fortunate in disadvantaged communities within the Western New York Area who are in need of fresh produce, nonperishable foods and hygiene products. Their community fridge is located at the Resource Council of WNY, 347 W. Ferry Street. They are seeking some assistance with donations to the fridge so that they will be able to touch more lives in this time. In addition, you can find them on Riley Street on Saturdays if you would like to donate or receive assistance.

Mental Health

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz announced from 9am-9pm today, counselors from Best Self Health, Endeavor Health of WNY, Crisis Services, and Spectrum Health, in association with the Erie County Department of Mental Health will have mental health counselors available at a drop in center at the Johnnie B. Wiley Center, 1100 Jefferson Avenue.

Other Ways You Can Help

One of the easiest ways to help is supporting Black-Owned businesses. This ensures that money not only stays local but injects income into a community that has been devastated from this tragedy. Supporting organizations like Zawadi Books, Ujima, and Freddy Js as well as the businesses linked below will help the community: Restaurants and Black-Owned Businesses

The post How to help a community rocked by tragedy appeared first on Buffalo Rising.