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Her name is Judy Smith. Judy Who? you ask. How quickly we forget. Judy Smith was the Special Counsel and deputy press secretary to George H. W. Bush who was the original inspiration and model for Kerry Washington's Olivia Pope on the enormous Thursday night hit ABC TV show "Scandal." The final episode hits us this coming Thursday. Judging from last week's trailers fo…

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 …

Columns

WASHINGTON — Paul Ryan, the spineless, now lame-duck, speaker of the House, says he wants to spend more time with his wife and three children in Wisconsin. Ryan is worried about them, the Republican indicated. OK. My late wife and I raised three children who produced 10 grandchildren in all. I am worried about their physical welfare. You should worry about your kids, to…

Columns

Somewhere deep in the recesses of the Department of Political Jargon, a semi-learned person of the past invented the term “mid-term elections,” destined to dominate biannual discussions for all time. The wordsmith theorized contests staged outside the quadrennial elections for president somehow ranked less in importance, relegating them to minor status. But the mid-t…

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…

Business

If customer service is so important, why do companies have such a hard time getting it right? I just had an awesome customer service experience at the Boulevard Mall when I took my kids to get sneakers. We went to Journeys and were taken care of by a rock star fireball named Nicole. She mesmerized both of my daughters, who were thrilled that this cool, friendly, big …

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

While "opt-out" proponents continue urging that kids skip the state tests all public schools must give starting this week, it’s noteworthy that one impoverished school that doesn’t have to administer the English and math exams is doing so anyway. At Our Lady of Black Rock, a small Catholic school on Peter Street, they give the dreaded tests even though they are not requir…

Columns

Dear Cheap Trick: We have to stop meeting like this. I just can’t bear watching as you crush the competition for 30 minutes in front of a half-interested crowd, before some washed-up hair-band takes the stage as the headliner. The announcement this week that you would be handling the warm-up duties for Poison at Darien Lake this summer felt cruel. The flame flickers,…

Weather

A major point in my article written Monday is the struggle warm air can have making a northward move in Western New York, even when computer guidance is more optimistic. As recently as early Monday evening, some National Weather Service headquarter ensemble output was still pushing for highs of 60-plus degrees near Buffalo this weekend. As of midday Tuesday's guidance, …

He was 7 feet, 4 inches tall and weighed close to 500 pounds. That's what the wrestling promoters always claimed about Andre the Giant. Just a quick look at him and you weren't inclined to argue. He was a freak of nature – of disease really (acromegaly) –  for whom the word "giant" was no hyperbole. It's notable that for all the renown of his wrestling career before his…

Columns

WASHINGTON - A long time ago, a Republican sage from the upstate village of Alexander, Rep. Barber B. Conable, told me the "genius" of the founders of our republic was to create a government that made it difficult to do anything radical. Conable was of another day: A Marine veteran of the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, a legal scholar, reformer, who was able to lead…

Columns

When local Republicans invited three gubernatorial hopefuls to debate at Daemen College back on Feb. 10, they felt they had scored a minor coup. The candidates then seeking to challenge incumbent Andrew Cuomo had not yet appeared together or really become serious about their intentions. But Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy for the first time convened former Erie…

Columns

The Buffalo Evening News named its first Outstanding Citizens in 1949. First-year honorees included Walter J. Mahoney, who went on to be State Senate majority leader for 10 years; Joseph Mruk, just elected Buffalo’s mayor; and the novelist Taylor Caldwell. That’s 68 years of honoring the people who help make Western New York great. We like to spotlight a wide range o…