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Off Main Street / The offbeat side of the news

>Feeling blue

Tampa has "Malfunction Junction." Cleveland -- and other cities -- have "Dead Man's Curve." Phoenix has "The Stack." And until it was fixed several years ago, Rochester had the "Can of Worms."

What clever name do we have for our award-winning I-90/I-290 bottleneck?

"The Big Blue Water Tower."

This appalling lack of originality came to light last week in a Buffalo News article on a study prepared for the Federal Highway Administration that showed truckers ranked the exchange as the worst such clog in the country.

With the worst nickname, we might add.

It's true that our region has more pressing issues, but if we're going to have a traffic mess that warrants national recognition, surely it should be worthy of a name other than the visual description of the nearest municipal water tank.

So how about it? Can you come up with something better?

Send your ideas by email to Write "9 0/2 90 nickname" in the subject line. Please include your name and phone number so we can confirm the information and give you proper credit.

Or, if you prefer, mail your suggestion to the attention of Bruce Andriatch, The Buffalo News, 1 News Plaza, Buffalo, N.Y. 14203.

We will list the best ones in a subsequent Off Main column.


>Patience is a virtue

Sometimes in the middle of a government meeting, moments of surprising clarity emerge.

Consider West Seneca Councilman Vince Graber's response to critics of a soccer park at Monday's Town Board meeting.

"It took six years to completely drive you guys batty. It's not going to be fixed in six months," he told them.


>The meaning of Buffalo defines itself as "a slang dictionary with your definitions."

One thing's for sure after looking up "Buffalo": It means many things to many people.

There are 22 definitions, nearly all relating to the city. Most of those are not really flattering.

"A city so much in decline that not even a light-rail line could save it," reads one, signed by "Omega Death," who then goes on to use the word in a sentence. "At their rate of decline, Buffalo's population would soon be smaller than the population of Peekskill."

"Buffalo is the definition of 'used to,' " reads another. "Buffalo used to be cool. It used to be semi-prosperous. It used to be respectable. It used to be inhabitable."

The city does have a couple of defenders. One posting said Buffalo "is WAY WAY WAY better than Rochester."

And someone named "Medea" defined Buffalo as "a city in upstate New York that has something for everyone," including shopping, entertainment and architectural treasures.

But even Medea sounded defensive.

"We have our share of crooked politicians, but, hey, tell me some place that does not?"


>Bon appetit

It pays to be a regular -- at least at Chef's Restaurant.

In honor of one of its most frequent diners, the popular eatery on Seneca Street has introduced a new dish featuring veal, eggplant and mozzarella cheese.

Called Veal Sciortino, it's named for Frank Sciortino, who's been eating at Chef's for more than 40 years and usually goes two to three times per week, or "as much as I can." The Buffalo native even has his own table and regular dish: cheese ravioli.

The 72-year-old director of the Small Business Administration's Buffalo district office suggested the new idea to the restaurant "sometime after the holidays," based on something Sciortino enjoys at another restaurant he did not identify.

"I feel honored to have a meal named after me. You should try it!" he said in an e-mail.

But choose your day carefully. It's only available, as a special, on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.

Written by Bruce Andriatch with contributions from John F. Bonfatti, Elmer Ploetz and Jonathan Epstein.

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