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BUZZ

"I had the courage to fall apart and put the pieces together again. I didn't believe my phobias could go away, but I chewed up my demons, and spat them out with the help of an outstanding guide and healer."

- Joan Baez, lost in her metaphors, quoted by the wire services"

R-E-S-T-S-T-O-P...

... Tell you what it means to me! To most of us, a rest stop means McDonald's. Not to Aretha Franklin. Last week, Franklin was passing Buffalo on her way to a gig in the Hampton's when, feeling peaked, she told her companions on the bus "There's Adam's Mark. The bathrooms are clean." OK, we're kidding. We don't know for sure what she said. What we do know is she did turn up at Adam's Mark, where she ate a chicken dinner and introduced herself to pianist Joe Brancato, who was playing the Tiffany Rose Lounge. Brancato asked Franklin if she'd like to play a number. She said, "No, thank you." But she made appropriately stately requests: "Lara's Theme" from "Dr. Zhivago," "The More I See You" and "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing." Brancato was impressed by Franklin's presence. "She said, "I'm Aretha Franklin,'" he said. "I said, "You certainly are.'"

Once more unto the breach

When we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we are comforted by one thought: At least we don't have to go to gym class anymore. How lucky, then, that we weren't at a recent parents' meeting at the Aurora Waldorf School. There, a Waldorf mom told us, the gym teacher forced parents into that most dreaded of activities, an organized game. The only rule was "Don't hurt each other," and they had to get the ball from one end of the classroom to the other. Oh, sure, the parents laughed, but . . . what stress! After all these years! We sympathize with one parent who asked, afterward, "How do I prepare my child for gym class?" The teacher shrugged, "Remember when you were a kid? People would come by your house and you'd go out to play? There aren't too many rules." Looking back, it just seems like there were.

Choice pickings

On the one hand, there is Pizza Plant, with a crammed menu that, a friend of Buzz's groused, it takes H&R Block to understand. On the other, there is Swiston's Beef and Keg on Young Street in Tonawanda. Walking into Swiston's, adjusting our eyes to the darkness, we asked for a menu. "Beef or chili," we were told. Huh? "That's all we've got," shrugged the waitress - who, incidentally, was up to her elbows in the biggest vat of gravy we'd ever seen. Once you decided on beef or chili, you aren't asked "Small, medium or large?" or "Cup or crock?" You were simply given either a good beef on weck or a big bowl of chili. How simple! Even the drinkers at the bar had it easy. "Do you remember what I ordered before?" asked one gentleman as he bellied up. "How could I forget?" the waitress barked. "You were just here three hours ago."

The harp of the matter

Judging from the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra's opening gala, this is going to be one great season. There was that thrilling "Star-Spangled Banner," just like at a Sabres game. And Cuban tenor Raul Melo - dark, rakish, with just a hint of tenor tummy. Most dramatically, though . . . just the first concert, and already, we've broken a harp string! Luckily, there were no injuries. "I wouldn't want to be hit with that thing," quailed one BPO Chorus member. Listen up, rock guitarists! You're playing in the kiddie pool.

The buzz

And next, a sonata by Barry Manilow: After recently playing "Children's Prayer" from "Hansel and Gretel," a WNED-FM host announced its 18th century German composer, Engelbert Humperdinck. He paused, then said, "That always generates a call or two." ... Buzz has it on good authority that when the teachers' strike was finally settled, an art teacher requested the picket signs so his students could use the backs of them for projects. ... Musician's nightmare! Last week, when teen drummer Aaron Staebell's quartet opened for pianist Benny Green at the Tralf, Staebell was selling CDs he had recorded months ago - but by mistake, sold an original CD taped that very night! Please, Staebell fans, check your CDs, and if you have this item, call a very grateful Aaron at 662-7602.

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