Say you belong to a cooking club. (Who isn't, these days?) You're supposed to cook up something on the theme "Fresh." (We had to, last weekend.) That means: nothing frozen, nothing smoked, canned, nothing prepared. You decide to soar like an eagle and prepare French mussel soup. You go to La Marina, on Hertel Avenue, to procure fresh mussels. And fish bones for the stock. That's what a friend of ours did last weekend. She was aghast when the clerk leaned over the counter and whispered: "Pssst. We have wonderful fish stock. Use it. Trust me, they'll never know." (OK, maybe the clerk didn't actually say, "Pssst." We editorialize somewhat. But she said the rest of it.) What do you do? Buzz would have slipped them a fiver for the stock. But our friend shrank back, righteously. "I can't do that," she said. "I'm supposed to make the stock myself!" She might have earned a C for cooking. But she gets an A for ethics.
Chicken of the See
Distraught as you are, there comes a moment when you have to come back down to Earth. Remember when the media did round-the-clock coverage of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but all of a sudden had to return to paid programming? Something similar happened last weekend after the death of Pope John Paul II. Buzz, grieved over the pontiff's passing, tuned in to WBEN-AM and listened to Cardinal Egan, at New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral, giving a sermon on the pope's passing. And all at once, Egan's sermon faded out. What would come next? An announcement from the Vatican? A station identification? No. In faded: "Van Miller for the Grapevine Restaurant... Where chicken is king, and will make your heart sing!" Oh, dear. This isn't the holy land, that's for sure.
Joe Beard, the Rochester bluesman who played the Lafayette Tap Room last Friday night, is a bluesman we love. He's tall, thin, austere and a little off-putting. He wears the best old-fashioned suits and hats. And while his sidemen are all tremendous talents (you've got Annie Philippone on piano), they all keep a low profile, laying down unobtrusive, even dull, accompaniment. What makes it all work is Beard's intensity. He goes from one three-minute song into another -- no banter, no fooling. We love his stark lyrics: "Lord, when I get drunk/Who's gonna carry me home? Well, I'm sober now, but I won't be sober long!" In the audience, as luck would have it, was George K. Arthur, political voice and force behind the annual Pine Grill Reunion. Can we get Beard for the Pine Grill Reunion this year? Please? He's got the kind of karma we need.
In Williamsville last weekend, Buzz was delighted to see that Goodwill, which closed its Transitowne store a couple of years ago, had reopened. The new store is down the mall a bit, near Dots. But it hadn't lost a bit of its charm. Actually, it gained charm. The store is doing its best to look like an ordinary store. (Goodwills, try as they might, never quite achieve that goal.) The housewares department was especially elegant, occupying illuminated shelves in the front. In accordance with Goodwill tradition, the goods were sorted according to color -- you had yellow dishes and doodads over here, blue dishes and doodads over there. In the green department, we spotted, front and center, an M&T Bank coffee cup. Wait. Shouldn't that be free?
Spotted on Delaware Avenue: a car sporting all kinds of tree-hugging bumper stickers, including one reading: "I Support a Fresh-Water Great Lakes Fish Hatchery." And the driver leaned out of the window and dropped, purposefully, a crumpled pile of paper on the road. Great environmentalist there. ... He's hip. He's hip! Mozart veers into the new millennium with the "Lacrymosa" from his Requiem Mass pressed into service for an Xbox video game commercial. ... Overheard at Cecilia's Martini Bar, someone telling the bartender: "Hey, Gino. We need a $20 buyout for Rob, the dishwasher." Not sure what that means, but hey, it's atmosphere.
"Ninety-nine percent of Canadians describe themselves as happy. Well, sure. They've got all those cheap prescription drugs up there. No wonder they're happy."
-- Jay Leno