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Off Main Street / The offbeat side of the news

Got bass?

The headlines and newscasts this week said it all: The city reeled in Bass Pro. Planners landed their trophy fish.

We at Off Main Street have been skeptical as weeks of negotiating with Bass Pro turned into months and years. So forgive us if we hold our applause until the day the store really opens.

But seeing the catalog for the Bass Pro Shops women's clothing collection gives us reason to cheer. For those who think Bass Pro is all about guns and ammo and fishing gear, think again.

Most of the collection looks like it could have come straight from a Lands' End catalog. However, a few pages feature camouflage bikinis and evening wear -- in "feminine camo patterns."

More daring customers can order underwear or sleepwear featuring the phrase "Kiss My Bass."

Let's hope they're more successful than they are creative.

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Booze cruise

The U.S. government bought the land under his duty-free store at Detroit's Ambassador Bridge five years ago, but that didn't take Paul Montgomery out of the cheap booze business.

In a novel approach to bringing the bargain shopper to the bargain, Montgomery started Monty's Booze Bus a few years ago.

The Booze Bus starts in Guelph, Ont., and picks up passengers before crossing into the United States.

From there, the bus heads straight to Lackawanna, where passengers' orders are packed on the bus. They then head back to Canada, stopping to pay duty.

Even with the duty, shoppers willing to buy in bulk can realize substantial savings, Montgomery said. For instance, a bottle that would cost $50 in Canada only costs $30, after duty, on the bus.

"It's very, very unique and we're happy to accommodate the people so they can beat the liquor system," he said in a phone interview.

Customers are giddy from saving the money, but not from drinking: Montgomery doesn't allow any of those bottles to be cracked open on the drive back.

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So sharp

Two of the greatest men in funk music history are native Buffalonians buried in Forest Lawn. Everyone knows about Rick James. Not as many know about Arlester "Dyke" Christian.

Christian was the force behind Dyke and the Blazers and the man who wrote "Funky Broadway," a dance ode not only to our Broadway, but to the Broadways located in cities throughout the country.

Dyke and the Blazers borrowed liberally from James Brown's early funk formula, but they also brought their own groove to the music, a fact pointed out by noted rock historian David Fricke in this month's Rolling Stone.

Their output from 1966-70 is "as rough and hot as the Godfather's (Brown's) best sides at the time," Fricke wrote in his very favorable review of "We Got More Soul: The Ultimate Broadway Funk," a new compilation.

***

Gotcha!

Monday's edition of the Spectrum, the University at Buffalo student newspaper, carried some eyebrow-raising articles:

"Huge" auto dealer Billy Fuccillo is participating in a leadership exchange program with the Dalai Lama.

The Sundowner strip club in Niagara Falls, Ont., will let students pay for lap dances with their Campus Cash debit cards.

And UB is replacing Al Gore, the environmental activist and former vice president, as a speaker later this month in response to student protests.

Those articles, and every other story in Monday's Spectrum, are fake. It's the paper's annual April Fool's issue.

Writers and editors tried to make the headlines and the portions of stories that ran on the front page seem realistic, Editor in Chief Robert Pape said.

Inside the paper, the jokes became more apparent. A graphic for the Fuccillo program -- mimicking posters that advertised the Dalai Lama's UB visit last fall -- said he was "Promoting Savings Across Borders through Shouting."

And the Gore story stated that, in place of hosting the eco-friendly former veep, UB would burn used tires.

Not everyone got the joke. "The lecture cannot be canceled based on the opinion of a bunch of students," one reader e-mailed the Spectrum.

e-mail: citydesk@buffnews.com

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