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"It's lonely at the top, but God, I love that lonely feeling."

Elvis Presley, quoted in "The Quotable King" (Cumberland House, Nashville, Tenn., $8.95)
All he wrote

For one duh-ll view of Buffalo, check out "America at 10 Miles an Hour: A 17,300-Mile Bicycle Journey," a wan odyssey by John W. Triggs (Mid-Continent Publishing, Kansas City, Kansas, $15.95). The two paragraphs on Buffalo reveal that Triggs, a chubby 53-year-old Kansas cyclist, wheezed cheerlessly through the Queen City, catching all the wrong sights. "I found myself in a park by the river but was right in the midst of a rough neighborhood," he begins. "I rode right through as if I knew where I was going, not stopping to look at a map." Brrrr! Then, incongruously: "Best Street turned into Walden and continued east through Buffalo, so I stuck with it. There were virtually no stores beyond the urban fringe, just warehouses, working or derelict factories and the Penn Central tracks. ... A sign said it was 16 miles to Batavia, exactly where I was headed! Sometimes guessing works better than planning." Not for you. Loser.

Dough, re, mi
Stop in the name of cash! That's the song to sing at Mexican Joe's, on North Forest in Williamsville. The bar sports a sign hyping a karaoke contest with -- this is no dream! -- a $5,000 prize. (Imagine, $5,000 for belting "Islands in the Stream." Are these wonderful times we live in or what?) Contestants begin at the bar's karaoke nights: Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. A sing-off takes place Aug. 2, and the winner then proceeds to the Big Ring -- the championships in New York City. Act quickly -- the contest's first level closes this week, so Saturday could be your last chance, says bartender Lou Pazderski. "We've been getting pretty decent singers in here," Pazderski warns. Though not nationally ambitious, he sings the occasional karaoke. "After a few cocktails," he laughs.

Mad about you
Burchfield's paintings and Wright's houses are just the beginning of the debt the art world owes to Buffalo. Recently, Buffalo native Frank Sprada decorated an envelope with a loopy scene drawn from "Star Wars" -- and sent it to MAD magazine, which ran it on the June letters-to-the-editor page, calling it "Envelope of the Month." Sprada depicts Han Solo saying, "What, me frozen in carbonite?" Comments MAD, with typical rancor: "The up side? It may be 20 more years before George Lucas releases an 'updated' Star Wars Trilogy, and we have to even entertain the idea of printing another one of Frank's goofy envelopes!"

Out with the old
Worried for a while about Woolworth's, we've tried to throw business its way -- eating fried chicken at the lunch counter, buying shampoo, cards, radish seeds, whatever. (Everything's in there, somewhere.) Now that the ax has fallen and the store is closing, the future looks grim. There will be no place downtown where we'll be able to buy flower pots, rain bonnets or $2.99 videos. No more stockings and shampoos with brand names you don't see anywhere else. No more tweeting parakeets. Finally, and most depressingly, there's the matter of those print housecoats. How will we grow old without them?

The buzz
No Roger Hodgson at Darien Lake's Supertramp show! Instead there was that kid singer who, while whiny, wasn't the real McCoy. Sacrilege! Superhoax! ... Would Channel 2 please let Victoria Hong be pregnant without talking about it all the time? Making her cover the Italian Festival "through the eyes and stomach of a pregnant woman." Zzzzzz.

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