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The only shocking thing about the Buffalo grain elevator currently masquerading as a Labatt Blue six-pack in the emerging RiverWorks entertainment complex is that it didn’t happen sooner. From atop the Skyway, the blue tall-boys stick out like six shiny missiles ready to blast off from a desolate and otherwise monochromatic moonscape. The contrast between the blue silos a…

An open letter to the American publishing industry: I have a not-so-modest proposal for you. Someone desperately needs to write a history of cocaine’s influence on the last 50 years of American popular culture. The book I envision is a work of serious journalism and historical scholarship requiring several years of endeavor by a formidably gifted historian, researcher an…

Pretty much from the moment he was old enough to command a car seat, I had a ritual I shared with my son. Every Saturday morning, as soon as he woke up, we’d get dressed, get in the car and go for a ride. Not just to catch some scenery, although that was a nice bonus. No, our trips provided us the opportunity to listen to music together. I’d play anything and everything I…

Columns

For the past eight years, Road Less Traveled Productions has held down the fort in downtown’s struggling Market Arcade Film and Arts Center. At first, the company drew a small trickle of patrons to its intimate 90-seat playhouse, housed in one of the complex’s poorly attended movie theaters. As word of its productions spread, that trickle became a steady stream. Over the …

In every interview he has granted since 2007, Robert Plant is asked the same question: Will Led Zeppelin reunite for a world tour? The one-off show Plant agreed to do with the surviving members of Zeppelin, at London’s O2 Arena in 2007, was a great artistic success, yielded the high-charting, Grammy-winning “Celebration Day” film and disc, and only seemed to whet the publ…

Columns

When Tom Dudzick was growing up above his parents’ tavern on Seneca Street in the late 1950s, his mother often sent him scurrying down the block to the Swan Lounge to size up the competition. Young Dudzick would peer into the bar, count the heads of neighborhood characters knocking back bottles of Simon Pure and report back to his mother. Then he’d retreat upstairs and se…

Columns

Bam. There it was, just waiting for you to grab it. In fact, if you were an iTunes subscriber, it was already in your collection, awaiting your mouse click. During Tuesday’s news conference held to launch the Apple iPhone 6 and Apple Watch, U2 made a surprise appearance, and even more surprisingly, announced that its long-delayed new album was ready for release right ther…

Art

On Dec. 5, 1904, the City of North Tonawanda opened its first public library, a handsome neoclassical building standing proudly among the leafy maples and manicured lawns of Goundry Street. Its construction was funded by the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who intended the building to serve as a free public resource to the citizens of North Tonawanda and the surrounding a…

Art

Well, that was fast. It took a grand total of 90 minutes after the debut of Casey Riordan Millard’s popular “Shark Girl” sculpture on Buffalo’s waterfront Tuesday for the first naysaying politician to chime in with a searing critique. “You paid for this statue folks,” Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy wrote on Twitter, invoking the common refrain of conserv…

Columns

Whenever you’re asked to list off the biggest musical names to have emerged from Buffalo, the odds are, you spit out a few of the usual suspects – Rick James, the Goo Goo Dolls, Ani DiFranco, maybe Grover Washington Jr., Brian McKnight or Billy Sheehan. Oddly enough, most folks I encounter don’t include moe. in that list. And yet, moe. – the jam/rock/groove ensemble that …

Columns

On the blacktopped roof of Silo City’s American Warehouse, a bombed-out husk of a building filled with crumbling concrete, twisted metal and broken-down machinery, a percussionist dressed in a smart black suit sent a single drum-beat echoing off the surrounding grain elevators. Two boxers emerged on cue from the twilight. They wore white T-shirts, one printed with the i…

Gusto

It wouldn’t surprise anyone who’s ever seen the great Irish actor Brendan Gleeson in a film that his laugh is a big, long, deep, chesty sound that bursts out of him. Gleeson is a big man. Everything about him is big – his physical size, his ears and his talent, which has a way of dominating every movie he’s in, no matter what he’s playing. While talking about his brillia…

When the original Woodstock took place, I was barely 2 years old. My parents, not being hippies, music freaks or risk-taking parental types, didn’t take me. I’m OK with that. This past weekend, I thought it would be interesting to take the temperature of the summer concert festival scene, as it sits comfortably at middle age. So I grabbed my son, threw a tent, a few backpa…

Art

On Thursday afternoon, the Burchfield Penney Art Center’s gargantuan east gallery echoed with the sound of hammers and jigsaws as staff and volunteers scrambled to put the finishing touches on the center’s newest exhibition. The awe-inspiring centerpiece of “Displacement: Barge Prototype,” which opened Friday and runs through Oct. 19, features a hulking model of an Erie C…

Columns

Bruno Mars fans don’t mess around. The fallout from my review of Mars’ July 1 show in the First Niagara Center came fast and furious, and I suppose I should have seen it coming. That I didn’t primarily came down to the fact that I’d given Mars a middling review, not a wholly negative one. I found his show to be solid, if not particularly inspired. I noted his talent, but …