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Sean Kirst

Sean Kirst is a columnist for The Buffalo News. Raised in Dunkirk, he has been an Upstate journalist for more than 40 years.


Columns

The photographs are flying around Twitter. There is George H.W. Bush, in his wheelchair, a pensive figure near the casket of his wife, Barbara, in a Houston church. There are the Secret Service agents with that casket, agents assigned for years to protect the former First Lady, who even now are staying at her side. You would need a heart of stone to be unmoved by …

Columns

Andrew Krzesinski cannot make it to a dinner Saturday honoring Bob Scott for his impending retirement, a dinner so big the organizers had to move it from the gymnasium at St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute to the downtown Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. Yet Krzesinski, 42, already said what he needed to say to Scott. He caught up with him at an event a few months ago …

Columns

Based on the calendar, we are almost a month into spring. By any notion of Western New York reality, that is a laugh. The winter jackets still hang on their hooks, above the boots near the door. The dogs need toweling off after walks in the woods, layers of ice and mud caught in their fur. We open the door in the early morning, searching for some hint of warmth, and …

Buffalo

In a separate column, we report today on how Robbie Hausmann, a cellist with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, lost his great-grandmother, Toni Marcus, at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. Last month, while on a BPO tour of Poland, Hausmann visited Auschwitz and played the mourner's Kaddish for Marcus, and all those killed at Auschwitz. He returned…

Columns

The original idea, the way Robbie Hausmann always pictured the moment, was to perform outdoors at Auschwitz. He wanted his music to drift toward every barbed and jagged corner of the place. Last month, once he arrived, that was impossible. The air was bitter enough to numb his hands, and a cellist needs his fingers to perform. Hausmann, a member of the Buffalo Philha…

Bisons and Baseball

For this anniversary, Gabriel's Gate was the right place to talk baseball. On a quiet Tuesday, Paul Battaglia showed up at the same Allen Street restaurant where he and an informal group of young architects and dreamers used to gather in Buffalo 40 years ago. Battaglia was joined by fellow architects Brian Brady and Peter Flynn, and by Tim Tielman, a longtime preserv…

Columns

In life, sooner or later, the gleam wears off anything new. Paul McCarthy Jr. knows the almost mystical feeling he is routinely experiencing whenever he drives onto Grand Island will not last forever. Each trip involves this strange and beautiful gut-level moment when many decades worth of now-it's-time-to-brake-for-the-state instincts go out the window. However fleetin…

Buffalo

Amid the first wave of grief, Samuel L. Woodard remembers being unable to make the call. Fifty years ago Wednesday, he wept helplessly in his room in Philadelphia. Once the sobbing ended, once he regained composure, he took a breath and forced himself back to the perspective that had carried him since childhood, the only way he could ever make sense of a hard world. …

Colleges

The circle came around on Easter morning in San Antonio. The Rev. Mike Rozier, a Jesuit buddy of John Beilein's, presided over a sprawling family Mass in a hotel conference room. An army of relatives showed up, including the coach's wife, Kathleen, most of their kids and grandchildren, and maybe 60 others from the larger family. On specific request, the priest made a po…

Columns

Michael Feldman makes a compelling case. Despite what might look like tremendous proof to the contrary, the last two years have been among the best of his life. He will tell you of the day not so long ago when an Amish farmer to the far north of Watertown handed him Duncan, a then-tiny border collie. The dog has grown into a role as Michael's comfort and companion, his …

Local News

The Major League Baseball season is underway. Roads in Buffalo are dry and clear. Everywhere you look, there are signs of spring. That is good news – unless you want to see a new seasonal snowfall record for Erie, Pa. Buffalo's 199.4 inch snowfall of 1976-77 long went without serious challenge as most for any city beyond 100,000 population. For a little perspective, …

Columns

Jonpaul Okal and Robert Swierat have never met. They grew up in separate parts of Western New York, and their lives took different turns. But they share the same wounds. Both say they were sexually abused as children by Catholic priests in their communities, accounts supported by their families. One says he was assaulted in the basement recreation room in his home, t…

Columns

It wasn't really worry. That would be too strong a word for what Sheila O'Brien was feeling Saturday regarding Craig Donatelli, who was about to take part in SABAH's annual Celebration on Ice at KeyBank Center. She knows him too well. She knows nothing keeps him down. She just wishes that a young man of such accomplishment never had to endure cruelty. O'Brien is e…

Local News

The 170th anniversary of the seemingly impossible is in a few days. In 1848, there was a moment when Niagara Falls basically stopped. It was not due to manmade dams but to a freak act of nature, a transformed vista almost impossible to envision today. Paul Gromosiak, the great student of Niagara history, is still the guy to best help you to see it. Sit with Gromosiak…

Books

This weekend, around the world, readers who love JRR Tolkien's work – especially The Lord of the Rings – will celebrate a Tolkien Reading Day, in Tolkien's honor. In one of the more unlikely episodes in my life, the England-based international Tolkien Society credits me with being the founder of the event. It's kind of a wonderful and surprising story, but this is absol…