"We teminded our friend -- knowing his age -- that there isn't a chance in a million he will be on earth to blow a horn on the perilous night of Dec. 31, 1999, since he would have to live to be 104 to do so. He assured us he wasn't thinking about himself but about his little daughter, who will be only 69 in 2000 ... We tried to cheer him up by telling him our mother's aunt Ida had written us to say the world is coming to an end in 1944, but he refused to be consoled."
-- James Thurber, writing about a millennium-wary friend on Dec. 30, 1939, reprinted in the New Yorker
Testosterone attack, part 1
He wears the same white suit, the same top hat. And he still teases the crowd by yelling, "I can't sing this one. It's too dirty." But now John Valby ("Dr. Dirty") isn't a skinny kid any more, and his songs sound even dirtier coming out of the mouth of a paunchy, Dickensian middle-aged man. Last week, when he serenaded a huge crowd at the Funhouse, the guys-to-gals ratio was about 10-1. Misogyny reigned; when Valby asked if we wanted to hear a joke that would make women mad, people bellowed, "Yeaaaaah!" Valby's charm is that he bawls his time-worn songs with such relish, pausing mid-lyric to burst into nasty laughter. But he had updated his old anthems. One verse began, "My name is Johnnie Cochran, and tonight I'm gettin' drunk/'Cause I just found my latest client hiding in the trunk..." Interestingly, some of the night's biggest laughs came from lines like that -- jokes that were, well clean. What's the world coming to?
Testosterone attack, part 2
OK, so Buffalo didn't make it into Conde Nast Traveler's "2000 Gold List: Best Places to Stay in the World." We did make it into the magazine Exercise for Men Only. Quite a magazine this is. It's got ads for steroids, beefcake photos that serve no apparent Phys Ed purpose, and information about "Endo-Stak," described as "The Most Complete Testosterone Booster and Endocrine System Potentiator Available!" (Imagine that stuff at the Funhouse.) And -- glory to Buffalo -- in the December issue, a story on weight lifting quotes Canisius athletic chief Chuck Pelitera pontificating on lacrosse. More importantly, the fine print accompanying the usual glossy photos of shirtless, brooding guys reads "Photographed at Canisius College, Buffalo, N.Y." Today, Exercise for Men Only -- tomorrow, Conde Nast Traveler. Like the big Helluva Good Cheese Metro Bus, we are rolling.
Switchin' in the kitchen
What business are you in, anyway? The John & Mary's sub shop on Abbott Road can't decide. Tacked over the counter, among all their various soups and subs and deep-fried delicacies, is a Magic-Markered list of household items: "Loveseat, plaid, $30. Electric dryer, like new, $60. Small drop leaf table with two chairs, maple. $40." This could make for unique short orders. "Uh, yes. I'd like an A-bomb, a medium diet Pepsi, a cup of chili, and a small drop leaf table with two chairs, maple." We can't get that at Anderson's!
You can run...
... but you can't hide, as a buddy of Buzz's discovered when, seeking relief in the middle of the night from those nagging fears tugging at everyone's heart as the calendar turns, she turned for solace to a BBC broadcast of the Top 10 Christmas carols of the United Kingdom. Suddenly, inexplicably, in the middle of Carol No. 2, off went the Christmas music. And on came a discussion of the dispute between Israel and Lebanon over the Golen Heights. Worry, worry, worry! There's no getting away from it.
Fie on Larry Hunter, for devoting a whopping three-hour show to a psychic. Who wants to waste a whole evening listening to Hamburg men seeking advice on their hopeless love lives? What happened to open talk forum? ... Steal of the week: Buzz bought workout bicycle shorts at Target marked down to $1.90 a pair. (All the best '80s colors: lime green, bright teal, hot pink and screaming gold.) ... Y2K comes to Hertel Avenue! A week ago, Kostas was out of tuna fish. ... It says something about Buffalo that on Christmas day, practically every restaurant we passed was closed -- but the Grand Buffet, on Transit, was open.