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Off Main Street: The offbeat side of the news

A line in the snowbank

There weren’t many light moments when Sen. Chuck Schumer recently came to Buffalo to push back against the scourge of opioid addiction. Speaking at Horizon Health Services, Schumer – who failed in his attempt to get $600 million in emergency funds for the anti-heroin fight – said anyone who doesn’t think it’s a crisis “has his head in the sand. Or, here in Buffalo, his head in the snow.”

Anne Constantino, head of the drug treatment clinic, immediately set the ground rules: “No snow jokes.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” a suitably admonished Schumer said. “Sorry, I forgot.”

There are some lines in the snowbank you don’t cross, Senator.

Step away from the den

Have you found a black bear den?

First, back away slowly, or you’ll end up like Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in “The Revenant.”

Then, let the state Department of Environmental Conservation know.

The DEC’s wildlife biologists are seeking the public’s help in learning about black bears and their dens.

Bears are known to hibernate in rock crevices, in tree cavities, under heavy brush or even under a fallen tree.

This time of year, there may be cubs in the dens, so you may hear a high-pitched squeal from the baby bears, officials said.

The DEC doesn’t want people to approach or disturb the dens. But they’d like anyone who comes across one to note the location and “move away from the den.”

Anyone locating a bear den can contact their local DEC wildlife office with specifics about the den location, including GPS coordinates, if possible.

More information about black bears in New York is available at the DEC website.

Up in Buffalo

If you could read Eric J. Greenberg’s mind, you’d know he’s fulfilled a dream of writing a song with his hero, Canadian folk singer Gordon Lightfoot.

Nothing intense like “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” sinking in a storm on the Great Lake they call “gitche gumee,” but one about Greenberg’s college town titled, “Up in Buffalo.”

A New York City resident who has written several pieces on the 77-year-old artist, dating back to Greenberg’s days at Buffalo State College in the late 1970s, Greenberg said he received Lightfoot’s blessing to use another of the star’s songs as the inspiration for the new creation. The inspiration and melody come from the second-half of “Cabaret,” a song on Lightfoot’s album, “The Summer Side of Life.”

Lightfoot liked Greenberg’s wordsmithing and recorded the collaborative effort, now available on iTunes and SoundCloud.

The fast-paced, upbeat melody, Greenberg’s tribute to the Queen City, talks about “the big trucks rolling by,” and “sometimes I just don’t know what passed,” before speeding into a desire to perhaps rekindle a romance of long ago, “and still I like to tell her that I miss her so ... up in Buffalo ...”

Senseless assumptions

We’re not sure what’s worse – a civic mistake, or the assumptions that get attached to it.

For the record: It was a car-centric 1960s sensibility that led to the Scajaquada Expressway, Route 198, cleaving through the heart of Buffalo’s Olmsted park. It wasn’t a park-centric 19th-century sensibility that led to Delaware Park being placed on either side of the Scajaquada.

Bizarre but true, that’s the notion that Stephanie Crockatt has occasionally disabused people of over the years.

The head of the Olmsted Park Conservancy mentioned – to chuckles from the crowd – the got-it-backward conclusion some leaped to at the recent Scajaquada redesign forum at SUNY Buffalo State. DOT officials announced that the 50 mph expressway will soon be downgraded to a 30 mph boulevard, with traffic lights, crosswalks and other safe-and-sane accommodations that will help to reknit the park’s partitions.

“I just want to applaud what’s happening here tonight,” said Crockatt. And not just because it may put an end to wrongheaded assumptions.

Off Main Street is compiled by Tiffany Lankes with contributions with Lou Michel, Donn Esmonde and Maki Becker. Email

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