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Wrecking Buffalo: Carney OKs Demo of Cobblestone Buildings

Neglect and City incompetence may pay off.  Ineffective Housing Court Judge Patrick Carney approved an emergency demolition of 110 and 118 South Park Avenue today saying the properties were a danger to the public.  The City has said it will appeal the decision. The two properties, owned by Daryll Carr since 2003 and 2008, have been in and out of housing court for years.  Late last year the City took the first steps to eminent domain the buildings in order to get them secured and eventually redeveloped.

An end-of-year storm caused portions of the rear of the buildings to collapse, kicking-off a new set of hearings to decide the future of the two properties.  From The Buffalo News:

Carney said he was swayed by recent photographs showing new damage to the properties, heightening his concern of further collapses of portions of the structures. 

“I spent 14 years trying to salvage these buildings, and could not find an avenue to do it,” Carney said.  

“It’s a relief to actually get a judgment and be able to move on in some type of way with this process,” Carr said. 

In September, Mayor Byron W. Brown invoked eminent domain powers in an effort to obtain and save the two historic properties.  Carr reportedly wants the buildings demolished to construct a high-rise hotel on the site. Many people believe he is only interested in adding parking to the already parking-saturated district. Carr has continuously snubbed his nose at the City, the public, and Judge Carney.

The properties are the most iconic and most historically significant structures in the Cobblestone Historic District which was established in 1993 by the Buffalo Preservation Board and certified by the Secretary of the Interior as meeting the federal standards for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. 110 South Park originally housed Muggeridge’s Steam Bakery which made hardtack for the Union army during the civil war. As late as the mid-nineties, 118 South Park was home to Rudnicki’s blacksmith shop.

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Storefront Revitalization Program: Charlie’s Food Market at 927 Broadway

It was back in 2017 when the organization Fillmore Forward conducted its first Storefront Makeover Project at 1474 Fillmore Avenue Buffalo State, with the help of Buffalo State interior design students.

Now, the organization is looking to do it all over again, but this time the group has teamed up with Masters of Urban Planning Students at the University at Buffalo to tackle a storefront renovation of Charlie’s Food Market at 927 Broadway. The students worked with the owner of the market, Yasri Alabaddi, to obtain a $40,000 revitalization grant from Eric County Storefront Program. They worked under the guidance of Emmanuel Frimpong Boamah, PhD Department of Urban and Regional Planning School of Architecture and Planning, as well as members of Fillmore Forward.

Ultimately, the project will see the restoration of the storefront, such as brick veneer, paint, new shatter-resistant windows, lighting, and signage. Other neighborhood -friendly amenities will a bike rack and a bench. The goal is to create a neighborhood hub that will demonstrate the power of such revitalization efforts, by creating a more walkable neighborhood (with more reasons to walk and bike).

Volunteer students Andrea Harder, Silvi Patel, and Shameeq Willis worked directly with Alabaddi to envision what the storefront might one day look like.

It was Alabaddi’s father who, according to Fillmore Forward, started as a cashier at the market, before purchasing the business, and eventually the building. Today the family lives upstairs and works the market, which means that they have a vested interest in seeing the transformation of the building… and the street.

It is interesting to note that the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood was once considered Buffalo’s second downtown. Hopefully, projects such as this will inspire others to jump on the restoration bandwagon, while contributing towards framing the bigger picture.

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A Big Fan of Casey’s Black Rock

T-shirts, sweatpants, sneakers. Blazers, ties, dress shoes. Turtlenecks, trousers, heels. It’s what you’ll see when you walk through the corner door of Casey’s Black Rock on Amherst Street – a gaggle of humans dressed for every occasion looking to take a load off.

This crowd is exactly what new owner Vincent Garofolo envisioned when he bought the place.

I remember the old Casey’s – consider it Volume 1. It was a casual place dimmed dark enough to hide your sins and just light enough to remind you to get where you’re going; either back home or back to work. It was a“come as you are” place for a neighborhood of blue-collar workers. It was also a place that now-owner, Vinny, worked in, saw firsthand, and emulated with a plot twist when offered the serendipitous opportunity.

Casey’s classic Buffalo corner bar exterior

Fast-forward five plus years, a few updates, and a pandemic, it’s a place where people want to be – all over again. With thousands of choices to make every day, the joy of holding a one-page menu in your hands will be more euphoric than your adult self would like to admit. Better yet, the drink selection is the perfect mix of canned pilsners and secretly great cocktails. (Translation: You don’t have to pretend to like Negronis here for street cred, though Casey’s would certainly make you a great one if that’s your actual vibe).

Hunger-wise, you can consider Casey’s menu “bar fare” that feeds your local soul. You’ve got beef burgers and veggie burgers, wings and fingers, logs and nachos, plus a few outliers like “Wenzel’s Winter Chili” and a special Friday fish fry. This is not summer-body food. Menu hacks? No – and I asked. But here’s my order as a solid (now-insider) tip: Nashville Hot chicken fingers, on the pit, accompanied with a Miller High Life. I will not be taking rebuttals at this time.

So, if this place is so great, what’s the catch? Well, it’s not small. And you’ll need to be seated for this one. Casey’s is…KC fan club. Yes, Josh Allen, you read that right: This is a Kansas City Chiefs bar. Photos of Mahomes may or may not be behind you as you eat wings from the pit, and Joe Montana’s spirit will probably watch you devour their pork nachos. But even so, gamedays – including the big ones like Buffalo vs Kansas City – are still the owner’s favorite moments behind the pine: “The energy is wild. Game days let you really enjoy the fruits of the labor.”

Go to Casey’s if and when: you’re on your way back from work, you’re looking for a nightcap, you want a fun brunch, you’re ready to have adult conversations with a bartender (who probably is the owner).

Casey’s owners Joelle Zielin Garofalo & Vincent Garofalo

Don’t go to Casey’s if and when: you’re taking a group of kids out for dinner, you don’t want to strike up a conversation, you’re planning to cause a ruckus – you’ll probably end up in their Penalty Box (for at least two to five minutes).

• • •

Casey’s Black Rock
484 Amherst Street, Buffalo, NY 14207
caseysblackrock.com / Instagram

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2023 Black History Month Celebration at The Broadway Market

Want to support Black owned and operated businesses during the 2023 Black History Month? It’s as easy as attending The Broadway Market every Saturday throughout the month of February, beginning Saturday, February 4. The month-long celebration is being hosted and coordinated by Mayor Byron W. Brown, in partnership with Buy Black Buffalo, The Bills Foundation, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York, and The Broadway Market.

Mayor Brown stated, “Supporting Buffalo’s Black entrepreneurs during Black History Month, and throughout the year, is a pathway to wealth creation for our community that sets the foundation for a new, stronger economy for the City. In partnership with Buy Black Buffalo, I thank The Bills Foundation and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York for supporting this initiative at the Broadway Market. These types of investments in minority-owned businesses are important to Buffalo’s future prosperity and builds on the progress we’ve made to create a more equitable, inclusive, and just community for all City residents.”

Visitors to the market on Saturdays in February will be find over 20 Buy Black Buffalo retail vendors set up at the market, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Vendors include Unapologetic Coffee, Margie’s Soul Food, Sunshine Vegan Eats, and Second Chapter Bookstore.

As an added incentive to support the vendors, shoppers will receive a $25 Gift Certificate* every time they make a purchase at a participating Buy Black Buffalo retail vendor. The gift Certificates can be used at any participating Buy Black Buffalo retailer from February 4 until April 30.

For a complete list of Buy Black Buffalo retailers, go to www.buffalony.gov, BroadwayMarket.org, or Facebook/BroadwayMarketBuffalo.

Throughout the month of February at the Broadway Market, shoppers will also be treated to:

Live music on Saturdays, beginning at noon, featuring some of Buffalo’s best African American Musicians.

On Saturday, February 25, the Bills will host a special Buffalo Bills Giveaway from noon until 2:00 PM. There will also be

Free activities on February 25 for children and families, presented by Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York, from noon until 2:00 PM.

The Broadway Market is located at 999 Broadway, Buffalo, NY 14212

*The Gift Certificates will be issued on a first come, first serve basis, while supplies last, and can be used at any participating Buy Black Buffalo business, including those located at their permanent business addresses in neighborhoods citywide. The certificates will only be valid until Sunday, April 30, 2023. No change will be given.

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Order in: For the big game, Buffalo food scores with expats  

Duff’s Wings delivers / Photo: Julianne Hobbs

In the two years since Buffalo expat Julianne Hobbs discovered that she could get FedEx deliveries of the Duff’s chicken wings she loves for that signature crispy tangy heat, they’ve been arriving in batches of 50, or the occasional 100. At her home in Naples, Florida, they’re the highlight of celebrations like her father’s birthday, Christmas, Bills games and soon… the Super Bowl.  

With or without the Bills, for Buffalonians, the annual football championship, and the parties featuring local food, are tied to football and Buffalo love. Expats, and locals, have key sources: For some it may be wings from Anchor Bar or pizza from Picasso’s, Imperial Pizza, La Nova Pizza or Bocce Club Pizza

Duff’s wings are a hit at Hobbs family parties / Photo: Julianne Hobbs

Duff’s wings shipped and sauced at the Hobbs’ Florida home / Photo: Julianne Hobbs

For Hobbs, who moved to Florida for work and now lives there with her family and expat parents, Duff’s wings embody that cheering Buffalo-home-food feeling.  

“Now they’ve become a fan favorite whenever we’ve ordered them,” she said. A $155 mail order of 50 authentic Buffalo wings cooked, frozen and ready to reheat is, she said, worth the price. “Down here in Florida, you get a lot of breaded chicken wings, which we always joke, are like chicken fingers with bones,” said Hobbs. 

As the Super Bowl approaches February 12, Hobbs and other expats are gearing up for parties that, even without the Bills, must include Buffalo food and, perhaps, a batch of homemade chicken wing dip. The national Goldbelly delivery service offers Duff’s wings among its Buffalo options of wings and pizza.  

Bocce Club Pizza deliveries awaiting transport / Photo: Bocce Club Pizza

At Bocce Club Pizza on Bailey Avenue in Amherst, staff ships direct from their website with UPS. Demand is steady for their half-baked, oven-ready frozen pies made of homemade dough and traditional sweet sauce.  

Once the pizza cooks, the hand-cut pepperoni bakes into little cup-like curves that are crunchy and charred at the rims. Mark Daniels, Bocce’s general manager, calls it the “pepperoni that everybody loves, that curls up for you.” 

Every week, Bocce staff ships about 100 pizzas all over the U.S., including Hawaii and Alaska, said Daniels. While Bocce’s has been sending its pizzas outside Western New York for about three decades, the mail-order business took off about a decade ago when the pizzeria’s online system got going. One of the more notable deliveries went to soldiers in Iraq who warmed up the pizzas in the desert on their military Hummers.  

The days leading up to the big game are their busiest. On a morning early this week, 15 pies were heading to the UPS truck and then on to addresses in Florida, California, Washington, Nevada and Arizona.  

Orders for the Super Bowl LVII will close on Thursday, Feb. 9 at 1 p.m. For one $27 pepperoni pie, it costs an extra $50 to mail. For each additional order after that, it costs another $10 per pie to ship. “We tell people to order early,” said Daniels. That advice goes for locals, too. “We don’t want people stuck waiting in the lobby.” 

Daniels plans to spend game day helping everyone navigate “the madness.” “It’s the busiest day,” he said.  

Picasso’s Pizza delivers to your door on Goldbelly / Click to watch

At Duff’s, Kirk Feather, owner of the Depew location on Dick Road, will take Super Bowl requests until a week before the big game. He caps out-of-town shipping to 25 orders of wings a day. “That’s the max. Otherwise it disrupts,” he said. “I have to limit it because I have to support our indoor business.” 

Feather thinks Duff’s wings win hearts because the sauce is hotter than most. A wedding reception that served 600 wings was the biggest mail order he can remember. It has been nice to read all the fond notes, congratulations and birthday wishes on the cards sent out with the wings. “There’s always little greetings to people when they’re sending them as gifts,” he said. “It’s kind of interesting.”  

For Hobbs, her father’s birthday was the motivation for that first Duff’s mail order. Too often her dad, who says he has everything he needs, would return his presents. “He’s very hard to buy for,” Hobbs said. “So, I thought, ‘You know what, he’s never going to turn down chicken wings.’ My family and I chipped in … That really made his birthday special and different … It makes him feel a little more at home.” 

Now she buys about four times a year. Duff’s wings have become a great Florida tradition. Even though she wishes the Bills were playing in the Super Bowl this year, with wings on hand, her game day party will have that feeling she misses of football and home. 

“It’s not cheap by any means,” said Hobbs. “But it’s well worth it.” 

For details and ordering instructions for all Buffalo pizza and wing hotspots that deliver around the country, visit: Buffalo Pizza & Wing Joints Delivering Nationwide

• • •

As a bonus, Julianne asked for us to share her chicken wing dip recipe. Enjoy!

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Justice Talking: What Does Literature, Philosophy, and Religion Have To Say About Serving Our Community?

A Humanities New York Reading & Discussion Program

February 22 to March 15, 2023 – Four Wednesdays– 6:00 to 8:00pm

Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center and C.S.1 Curatorial Projects are organizing their fifth Humanities New York Reading & Discussion Program entitled “Justice Talking: What Does Literature, Philosophy, and Religion Have To Say About Serving Our Community?” for four sessions from February 22 to March 15, 2020, on Wednesday evenings from 6:00 to 8:00pm at various locations. Sharon Holley, esteemed community leader, storyteller, owner of Zawadi Books, and President of the Michigan Street Preservation Corp, and Stacy Hubbard, UB English Professor, will be co-facilitating this discussion. 

Why and how do we choose to serve others? What is the nature of the relationship between those who serve and those who are served? If we serve, what sustains and renews us? How does our service impact our communities? The readings in this series — drawn from literature, philosophy, and religion — invite reflection on these and other questions.

Readings will include selections from:
The Civically Engaged Reader: A Diverse Collection of Short Provocative Readings on Civic Activity    Edited by Adam Davis and Elizabeth Lynn

This anthology includes more than forty short readings that invite reflection on all kinds of civic-minded activities–from giving and serving to leading and associating–and on the vital connections between thought and service. Authors range from Aristotle to Kafka, Langston Hughes to Jane Addams, Andrew Carnegie to Pablo Neruda. 

This group grows out of four previous HNY discussion groups held in Buffalo in 2019 & 2020 on: James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, American Politics and Community Today/Ralph Ellison, and Lucille Clifton and Black Buffalo Writers.

To give a better sense of what will be involved, Claire Schneider, President, C.S.1 Curatorial Projects spoke with co-facilitator Stacy Hubbard. 

Claire Schneider: I’m excited that you both will be co-facilitating this reading and discussion group, our fifth. You have both been participants. What compelled you to join in the past and what did you most enjoy about the groups?

Stacy Hubbard: I joined initially because I was concerned about the rise in uncivil discourse in American society and looking for ways to engage in genuine discussion across differences of race, class, belief, and experience. I’m a strong believer in the role that public humanities can play in opening up greater understanding between members of a community and in promoting the thoughtful and productive exchange of ideas. The HNY groups I’ve participated in during the past few years have taught me a lot about both the divisions and connections within the Buffalo community, and I’ve really appreciated the generosity, openness, and depth of conversation among the participants. Plus, I’ve made  new friends!  

Claire: What made them stand out in your mind vs. other spaces that you are engaged in? Stacy, you teach literature in the university setting. Sharon, you have run other reading groups and own Zawadi books. Another way to answer might be – why did you each want to co-lead this group about this topic?

Stacy: While I enjoy teaching young people in the university, there is something special about a community-based reading group that includes people of various ages, occupations, backgrounds, and purposes. Nobody is there to get credit or credential themselves for a job. People come because they want to read, learn, discuss, debate, and meet new people. It’s really an ideal setting for engaging with texts and ideas and for expanding one’s conversational circle. 

Buffalo is the “city of good neighbors”; it’s also one of the most segregated cities in the nation. This past year Buffalo has experienced the tragedies of a racially-motivated mass shooting and a deadly blizzard, on top of more ongoing and systemic forms of inequality and injustice. Buffalonians know we need to work on making Buffalo better—more equal, more just, more sustainable. But these are difficult things to discuss. In a reading group, everyone has to get outside their own immediate experience and belief system in order to engage with an author’s words and ideas, and that can be a great first step towards really hearing the ideas of others around the table. It’s an opportunity to listen, respond, consider alternative perspectives, and find, if not common ground, then at least a basis for engaging and challenging one another with openness and respect.   

Claire: Normally “serving your community,” volunteering at a food bank, donating money to a cause, or being on a board of directors is not something that one reads literature, philosophy and religion before engaging in. Why do you think these readings are important?

Stacy: That’s such a good question. People who are involved actively in serving the community—whether as organizers, volunteers, teachers, or activists–are by necessity doers. This reading and discussion group offers those people an opportunity to step back and reflect on the motivations and methods of community engagement and the impact of what they do by serving, giving, leading. It’s a chance to explore different ideas about what the individual can contribute to the community as these have been expressed in different time periods and by different kinds of writers—religious thinkers, fiction writers, poets, philosophers, and social reformers. We hope the discussions will enrich the work that people are already doing, and inspire those who may be looking to take on more active roles. 

Claire: Can you describe how the four sessions will unfold? We will be using The Civically Engaged Reader: A Diverse Collection of Short Provocative Readings on Civic Activity, which  is divided into four sections: associating, serving, giving, and leading. These are related but different ideas. How do they build on each other? 

Stacy: Well, the question of how those things—associating, serving, giving, and leading—relate to one another is really what we want to explore together. Sharon and I aren’t starting out with all the answers—we’re inviting participants to explore these questions and others through reading and discussion and to see where these conversations take us. How it all unfolds and where we get to remains to be seen! (Join us to find out.)

Claire: Stacy, you started to describe a series of readings around associating that begins with a unique aspect of the US, our love of founding non-government groups and volunteering, unlike some countries, as well as W.E.B. Du Bois’ selection from The Souls of Black Folk. Could you use this as an example of how things might unfold.

Stacy: One of the early readings we’ll do is a selection from Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America from 1840 in which he famously argues that American society is characterized by a tendency to voluntarily “associate” in order to improve our  communities. That idea has persisted in American culture for both good and ill; it has sometimes been used to argue against the role of government in providing infrastructure and a social safety net, and it obviously has great relevance to our interest in “serving.” However, if we read a very different view of American character such as W.E.B. DuBois’s The Souls of Black Folk from 1903, we see something that cuts across de Tocqueville’s idealistic view: racial inequality and segregation. DuBois argues that “only a union of intelligence and sympathy across the color line”—a commitment to a different kind of “association,” one not historically rooted in American culture–will enable American society to progress. Reading these texts together, we might discuss where they intersect and diverge, what they say about their own historical moments, and how they relate to our present moment. Throughout the four weeks of readings, we hope to put diverse readings into conversation in this way in order to highlight different perspectives and open up a wide range of interpretations and responses. What comes of these combinations really depends on the participants, however—the sessions will be genuine discussions, not lectures.  

Claire: Can you discuss any readings that have stuck out in your planning and why they will be compelling to possible participants who are active in serving their communities or want to?

Stacy: Well, the anthology we are using is full of wonderful selections, so that’s difficult to answer! One selection that stands out for me is Jane Addams’s “The Subjective Necessity of Social Settlements” from 1892. In it, she discusses the way that social service—in her case, helping new immigrants to acclimate to the United States—helps the one serving as much as the one served. She addresses a problem that informs many meditations on service: who has power in a serving/served relationship? What does the served community bring to the equation? Where does respect and understanding—or the lack of these qualities—enter into these relations? Gwendolyn Brooks’s scathing poem, “The Lovers of the Poor,” takes up this question from a different angle, indicting those who disdain contact with the objects of their charity. These are difficult questions, but important ones for people interested in service, giving, and leading to explore.  

Claire: Why would a Buffalo Rising reader what to attend one of these sessions?

Stacy: If you like to read, think, learn, talk, and meet new people and want to broaden or deepen your engagement with the Buffalo community, please join us. Participants of all ages, backgrounds, educational levels, neighborhoods, affiliations, etc. are welcome.

Stacy Hubbard is Associate Professor of English at the University of Buffalo. Her research and teaching focus on American literature and culture, women’s writing, and reform writing. She is a recipient of the Florence Howe Award for Feminist Scholarship  and a SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. She has participated in a number of previous Humanities New York Reading and Discussion Groups in Buffalo and run workshops and reading groups at Just Buffalo Literary Center.

Justice Talking: 

What Does Literature, Philosophy, and Religion Have To Say About Serving Our Community?

Wednesdays from 6:00 pm to 8:00pm

Feb.  15 – Merriweather Library, 1324 Jefferson Ave., Buffalo, NY 14208

Mar. 1 – TBD – service organization 

Mar. 8 – TBD – service organization  

Mar. 15 – Hallwalls – 341 Delaware Ave, Buffalo, NY 14202

The group is purposely meet in different Buffalo locations / neighborhoods as a means to know the city better.

The program is FREE and emailed reading materials will be provided. Organizers can also help facilitate rides as needed.

Funded by Humanities New York this program encourages friends, colleagues, and strangers to “make time for thinking deeply about a single idea from a variety of perspectives, allowing texts to become catalysts for civic engagement, cultural understanding, and personal reflection.” 

This group grows out of four previous HNY discussion groups held in Buffalo in 2019 & 2020 on: James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, American Politics and Community Today/Ralph Ellison, and Lucille Clifton and Black Buffalo Writers.

For more information on Humanities New York’s Reading & Discussion Groups.

More information on Hallwalls: here & C.S.1 Curatorial Projects: here.

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Stellar cast presents THE MAI at Irish Classical but it’s up for only a few more shows.

THE BASICS:  THE MAI, a play by Marina Carr, directed by Josephine Hogan, presented by the Irish Classical Theatre Company, starring Kate LoConti Alcocer in a cast of eight, runs only through February 5, Thursdays – Saturdays at 7:30, also Saturdays at 3:00, Sundays at 2:00, 625 Main Street Buffalo NY 14203 716-853-4282 irishclassical.com

Runtime: Two hours fifteen minutes with one intermission

THUMBNAIL SKETCH:  The Mai (say “May”) is an accomplished, savvy, middle-aged woman, who has been successfully navigating after her husband abandoned her and her children.  But now he has returned.  That might seem like a good thing, but it opens wounds and leads to revelations among four generations of women.  

THE PLAYERS, THE PLAY, AND THE PRODUCTION:

Playwright Marina Carr is steeped in Greek myth and has long been fascinated by the homecomings of men after the Trojan War.  She spoke at Canisius College last fall and read from another play about that awkward moment when Agamemnon, who had sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia in order to gain favorable winds for his fleet to set off to Troy, now returns to his wife, Clytemnestra.  And was it all lollipops and roses when Odysseus returned to Penelope, especially after sleeping with Circe and then spending seven passionate years with Calypso?  Carr thinks not. 

Photo by Mark Duggan/Nickel City Headshots

The title character, “The Mai” (Kate Alcocer) presents as the buttoned-up “I’ve got this” woman who, as Clytemnestra and Penelope did before her, has thrived and run an efficient household after her husband Robert (Chris Avery) deserted the family.  The Mai’s deep infatuation with Robert and her apparent immediate forgiveness of his transgressions upon his sudden return seemed quite authentic, but this is The Irish Classical Theatre folks, not The Hallmark Channel.  Soon enough The Mai tells her sister “You don’t know what it’s like, the humiliation of it.  The ground is gone from under me. I’m forty years of age, Connie, I’m on the downward slope.” 

L-R Cassie Cameron and Kate LoConti | Photo by Mark Duggan/Nickel City Headshots

We are distracted from these thoughts, however, by the comings and goings of a variety of relatives, and what a noisy group they are!  They include The Mai’s two sisters – Cassie Cameron as the “problem child” Beck and Megan Callahan as the more even-keeled Connie.  Then, for comic relief, there are The Mai’s two opinionated aunts – Mary Moebius as Julie and Lisa Ludwig as Agnes; reminding me of the hyper-critical aunts in the Geico commercial.  Moebius and Ludwig are a hoot.  But some great comic lines go to Grandma Fraochlán played here by Pamela Rose Mangus who has portrayed “tough broad” comic roles many times in the past.  Grandma enjoys her mulberry wine and her pipe and often drifts off to speak with ghosts, including the Sultan of Spain. “Now Sultan! You give me one good reason why women can’t own harems full of men when it is quite obvious that men owns harems full of women! G’wan! I’m listenin’!”

In the role of the returning Odysseus, we have Chris Avery as the wandering cellist/husband Robert who has returned after five years.  The acting was excellent and so it was particularly delicious at the final curtain when there were loud “boos” from the audience, not for the actor of course, but for the character.  It’s always fun when the audience is fully engaged like that.

Photo by Mark Duggan/Nickel City Headshots

Speaking of actors, when you go this final weekend keep your eyes on Christine Turturro as the Mai’s daughter Millie who is constantly on stage, sometimes acting in the present time, but also providing narration of the past, most poignantly when she was 16 and her father left.  We have been following Turturro’s career since she was at Niagara University and she has wowed audiences and critics in roles at Road Less Traveled Productions (Artie nominated), Shakespeare in Delaware Park, The Alleyway Theatre, and previously at Irish Classical.  

Each of those actors listed has graced a number of stages here in Western New York and it was a great joy to see them all work together so seamlessly in this ensemble play.  The direction by ICTC co-founder Josephine Hogan was solid and consistent and very much believable.  She also made the play softer and gentler and more of the “lilting” Irish than how it seemed to me reading the published script, where it came across as more of the finger-in-your-eye Irish.  I don’t know how she accomplished that trick but I appreciated it immensely.

Kudos to Production Stage Manager Leyla Gentil and her assistant Ryan Wilke because there are a lot, and I mean a lot of cues.  The Sound Design by Tom Makar matched the mood set by Director Hogan to a tee, avoiding the stereotypical Irish music we get at St. Patrick’s Day and instead discovering music that enhanced the performances.  Also a quick shout-out to Dialect and Speech Coach Megan Callahan who was able to get some very consistent performances.  Much appreciated.

For an interview with Marina Carr, click here.  

Rating:  Four Buffalos

*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!

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How to Take a Walk—in Buffalo, and Beyond: 3 Abandoned Buildings

We continue the series on walking Buffalo, from the intrepid couple who walked every day—no matter the weather—in the first 30 months of Covid. They think (without being systematic) they walked every street in Buffalo, and many in other cities and towns, taking some 20,000 photos, some of which are shared in this series. While not itineraries, we hope to encourage others to “walk the walk,” to see, observe and appreciate Buffalo—and beyond. William Graebner and Dianne Bennett are also 5 Cent Cine’s film critics, here.

Today’s Photo-Essay: Abandoned Buildings: Sacred Heart Church, the King Sewing Machine Factory, Central Terminal 

We don’t make it a point to go into abandoned buildings. Most of our walking is of the on-the-sidewalk (or maybe down-the-alley) variety. We poked our heads inside one of the wide-open apartments of the derelict Perry Projects, but didn’t go in. And just the other day, we turned down a mostly roofless abandoned building on E. Balcolm Street, just steps from Main Street—not a significant structure, not worth whatever risk there might be.

Nor do we recommend going into abandoned buildings.

These are not itineraries; this photo-essay simply describes walks we took. We are not recommending these walks to anyone, and we disclaim any responsibility of any kind for anyone who takes a walk based on this article.

Sacred Heart Church

That said, we have found our way inside a few abandoned, and special, places. Our first example—the Sacred Heart Church at 198 Emslie on the East Side–may be familiar to Buffalo Rising readers; it was profiled on the website by Phillip Szal in January 2021. As Szal notes, the church was built in 1912 and abandoned in 2008. Like many of Buffalo’s more than 300 churches, it was the victim of suburbanization, inner-city population decline, and an increasingly secular society. 

We came upon it just days after Szal’s article was published, and not having read the piece. A basement door was open on the north side, and Dianne posed as if she were exiting, but we don’t do basements. Around the back, a doorless opening beckoned, and we couldn’t resist. 

Like many abandoned buildings, Sacred Heart Church inevitably invokes nostalgia for what was, a sense of tragic loss. But the space remains spectacular in its own way, combining a once-glorious past with a messy, trashed, looted, graffitied present. 

A magnificent, wooden, buttress-like Romanesque ceiling, intact

Dianne, examining the remnants of the main altar

The apse

A side altar – evidence that the church has become a dumping ground

Once a place of confession

The King Sewing Machine Factory

Douglas Jemal has done some great things for Buffalo, including purchasing and renovating abandoned buildings and renovating them. Unfortunately (for us, anyway), his purchase of the historic King Sewing Machine Factory on Crowley Avenue in Riverside has not only produced significant (if inevitable) demolitions on the site, but has made what remains of the complex inaccessible. We used to crawl in through a hole in the fence on Crowley or enter through a sloping “road” off the Lackawanna Belt Line, just to the east. No more. 

The King Factory opened in circa 1910, making low-cost sewing machines for consumers. When factory-made clothes dried up that market, the company (under a different name) made radios for sale through Sears, Roebuck, employing over 1500 people in 1940, then turned to the production of Sylvania television sets. The plant remained viable into the 1970s, but it has been vacant for at least 15 years. 

Despite the demolitions, it appears that the administration tower of the complex, with the KSMCO initials, will be spared. 

There’s a functional stairway in the tower, and the more intrepid of us (Dianne and a photographer/friend) went up to have a look.

We hope the main production building will be saved, too, though it’s difficult to imagine how the roof glass could be repaired at a reasonable cost, or whether it would suit a new tenant. On previous visits, we’ve shared the space with young folks from the neighborhood and, most recently, with a couple of guys with hardhats (they didn’t seem to mind our presence).

It may be possible to make “art” out of that back-lit broken-class roof.

The rubble of abandonment. Something along these lines would be compelling as an installation in the new atrium of the AKG—ala the Chinese visual artist Ai Wei Wei.

Looking out onto Crowley Avenue

Demolitions underway, August 2021. The photo was taken through a fence that now surrounds the property. The tower is back right.

An adjacent building, now demolished, with some old-school graffiti.

Slideshow

The Central Terminal

We’re headed now to the Central Terminal, opened in 1929, just about the time when trucks, buses, automobiles and the Great Depression began to cut into the rail business, and active for (only) 50 years. 

But it’s not the iconic tower that’s we’re interested in exploring; it’s not open to the public except on special occasions, and it’s not “abandoned.” Our goal is to have a look inside two structures: a long building that housed what was the Railway Express Agency, where trains would pull in and load and unload goods; and a complex that includes the Train Concourse (until 1982 connected by a second-story walkway over the Belt Line tracks), stairways, and ground-floor platforms, where passengers would board the trains. 

Our routine (we’ve been there several times) begins at Thomas Street (off William Street, to the east of Fillmore Avenue), where we park the car in the first block. Down to William, west under the bridge, then a (cautious) crossing to the north side of the street, where there’s a short, narrow, usually muddy, debris-filled path leading to our first objective: the old Railway Express Agency. This building is owned by the City of Buffalo, which apparently has plans to demolish it. We hoist ourselves up onto one of the platforms—and there we are! Ahead, a couple hundred yards of loading platforms and side rooms, complete with shards of glass and metal, holes to fall into (or break a leg in), lots of graffiti, an old boiler. Gorgeous in its decadence. Once a thriving commercial hub, now an alternative play space for the young and restless. 

Just ahead, the platforms where passengers boarded the trains. Superb modernism.

Emerging from the loading docks building, the terminal tower, and the Mail and Baggage building, ahead. The nearby tracks are still in frequent use.

Our second objective is the second-floor Train Concourse. The ground floor area is littered with huge industrial parts. The stairways leading to the concourse can be intimidating.

A friend, posing with her dog, her hat marking the day of this 2021 visit.

On a recent expedition with our grandson, we were welcomed by two deer (they have ticks).

Here’s what the concourse looked like about a year ago.

A once-elegant entrance to a descending stairway, full of debris but artfully tiled in yellow and black.

In this view, the concourse ends precipitously where, until 30 years ago, a bridge connected it to the tower. The bridge was removed because some freight cars were too tall to pass under it.

Up an exterior stairway, a third-floor deck offers a view of the area, and the downtown beyond.

We returned, after crossing the multiple, live tracks, via a long, straight asphalt road/path, just to the north of the loading docks building.

We returned, after crossing the multiple, live tracks, via a long, straight asphalt road/path, just to the north of the loading docks building. Time for a beer at G & T Inn, across Paderewski Drive. 

Because we’re walkers, we usually park some distance away from whatever our goal is on that day. And when we’re exploring abandoned buildings, we wear boots.

How to Take a Walk in Buffalo – Look Up! Roofs and Roofers

How to Take a Walk in Buffalo – Buffalo’s Mini-Marts

How to Take a Walk in Buffalo – Remembering 9/11

How to Take a Walk in Buffalo – Street Humor

How to Take a Walk in Buffalo – The Yard as Spectacle

How to Take a Walk in Buffalo – Beware of (the) Dog

How to Take a Walk in Buffalo — Halloween

How to Take a Walk in Buffalo: Little-Known Trails and Paths

How to Take a Walk in Buffalo: Church Board Advice

How to Take a Walk—in Buffalo: Coping with Covid

How to Take a Walk—in Buffalo: Planters

How to Take a Walk—in Buffalo: Christmas Tidings

How to Take a Walk—in Buffalo: Murals… Off-the-Beaten Path

How to Take a Walk—in Buffalo: Scajaquada Creek

How to Take a Walk-in Buffalo: Block Clubs

© William Graebner 

The post How to Take a Walk—in Buffalo, and Beyond: 3 <strong>Abandoned Buildings</strong> appeared first on Buffalo Rising.

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February Event Guide | Ewoks, Lantern Walks, Music, Screenings, Lectures, and more

February is upon us.  The days are starting to get longer and brighter, and although the cold and snow are not leaving anytime soon, spring is on its way.  This week’s event calendar features an Ewok parody musical, a romantic Valentine’s Day walk, and events that honor Black History Month, including a must see talk by Sherrilyn Ifill. 

Theater: Wicket: The Untold Story of the Ewoks of Bright Tree Village

O’Connell & Company, Shea’s Smith Theater, 
February 3-19
Evening: 7:30 pm, Matinee 3:00 pm
$38, plus fee
Tickets

O’Connell & Company presents this Regional Premiere! This original parody musical is for the casual and die hard fans of the Star Wars franchise.  See the untold story of the Ewoks of Endor in this soon to be classic musical comedy.  This night promises laughs, cheers, and adults in adorable space bear costumes. 

Event: 100 Years from Mississippi Documentary Screening and Discussion 

Burchfield-Penny Art Center 
SUNY Buffalo State College, 1300 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo, NY
February 4
2:00 pm – 5:00 pm 
Burchfield Penny

The screening and discussion of 100 Years from Mississippi is presented in conjunction with the LEROI: Living in Color exhibition. The documentary tells the story of Mamie Lang Kirkland, whose life was irrevocably shifted after the violent lynching of her father in 1919. Mamie, in 2015 at 107 years old, was urged by her son to return to Mississippi to confront the past, and begin the healing process. This event features the documentary showing, and a discussion with director Tarabu Betserai Kirkland and artist LeRoi Johnson.

Event: Valentine’s Day Candle Lantern Walk 

DeVeaux Woods State Park, 3180 DeVeaux Woods Drive, Niagara Falls, NY
February 14
6:00 pm – 7:30 pm 
Candle Lantern Walk

Delve into the romance of the holiday by making a lantern and walking the park at night.  Bundle up, and bring a sweetie, and get your steps in. 

Concert: Dan Rodriguez 

Babeville Buffalo, Asbury Hall
341 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, NY
February 15 
Doors: 7:00 pm, Show: 8:00 pm
$25.36 
Tickets

Singer-Songwriter Dan Rodriguez has had his music featured in two Super Bowl ad campaigns.  He self identifies as a “whiskey and beer drinking, fishing and hunting loving, motorcycle riding, quality food eating, hippie sympathizing, people loving, husband and father.” His soulful, heartfelt, and acoustic sound might be the warmth you need on a cold February evening. 

Event: Sherrilyn Ifill

UB Center for the Arts
103 Center for the Arts, Buffalo, NY
February 16
7:00 pm
Tickets 

Sherrilyn Ifill is the Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Keynote Speaker.  Ifill served as the seventh president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) from 2013 to 2022, and currently serves as president and director-counsel emeritus, and was recently named one of TIME magazine’s Women of the Year.  Her voice, vision, and leadership have influenced and affected national dialogue around racial justice issues and continue to do so. 

Event: Say Their Names: Honor Their Legacies 

The Buffalo History Museum 
1 Museum Ct, Buffalo, NY
February 17
6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Buffalo History Museum 

Uncrowned Queens Institute founders, Dr. Barbara A. Seals Nevergold and Dr. Peggy Brooks-Bertram will be spreading awareness about a new program entitled, Say Their Names: Honor Their Legacies.  The program will feature a photographic exhibit and oral history videos that capture stories of a group of Buffalo’s venerable community builders. 

PLUS, tickets are now on sale for Rainbow Kitten Surprise
June 7, 2023 | Artpark Amphitheater

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Infilling: 386 Grant Street

HES Properties III, LLC is proposing a three-story mixed-use building on a pair of vacant lots at 382 and 386 Grant Street.  This will be the development team’s third project along the Grant Street corridor, joining the complete gut rehab of the former Martino Appliance Store located at 368 Grant Street and followed by the award-winning new building located at 363 Grant Street. The new building proposed for 386 Grant will continue HES’s commitment to filling in gaps in the West Side landscape.

The 6,000-square foot, wood-framed new building at 386 Grant will have one commercial space measuring approximately 700 square feet; one accessible apartment unit on the first floor measuring approximately 800 square feet; and four additional residential apartments on the second and third floors, each measuring approximately 950 square feet. The overall building footprint is anticipated to be approximately 2,000 square feet, and its height is anticipated to be approximately 40 feet, matching the buildings in the immediate area.

Continuing HES’s extensive commitment to green, eco-friendly development, 386 Grant will feature complete geothermal heating and cooling, extensive solar panels and two bicycle racks. 386 Grant will also feature six new parking spaces, with three EV car chargers. The site design also calls for new street trees, matching landscape plantings, new sidewalks and new site lighting. 386 Grant’s design will feature masonry brick, composite wood panels, hardie plank siding, stone sills, anodized aluminum frame storefront windows, and extensive apartment windows.

The launch of 386 Grant represents the culmination of over four years of tireless design, planning and adjustment work by HES, during which time HES had to find creative ways to overcome Covid-19, supply chain challenges, interest rate hikes, increased construction costs, and the loss of Section 485-a tax abatements.

“We had to contend with an awful lot to get to this point, but Matt and I were determined to bring this beautiful new building to life no matter what the challenges,” said Christopher Siano, member of HES. “We certainly had to adjust and pivot many things from when we first discussed doing this project, but in the end, Matt and I used all of our talents to put our company in a position to continue to improve Buffalo’s Westside and develop these vacant lots.”

HES will be holding an information session at The Law Office of Stephanie Adams, 363 Grant, at 6 pm to solicit neighborhood input.  The project requires two variances including one for a 2’-6” setback on the first floor and for the commercial storefront entrance not being located on the front façade. The City will start its review of the project later this month.

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