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Off Main Street / The offbeat side of the news

Best friends forever

The Buffalo Sabres medallions offered as part of a Buffalo News promotion have been exceedingly popular since they went on sale last month.

But who knew they'd also bring people together, like a bottle of Coke in that old commercial?

Jacqui Piskor is part of a group of about 30 strangers who have gotten pretty close since they started meeting at the same grocery store each morning to pick up their medallions.

The group gathers by about 5:30 a.m. at a suburban supermarket to begin their wait until the customer service desk opens at 7. Piskor begged Off Main Street not to identify the supermarket, fearing Johnny-come-lately interlopers.

She said the store graciously allows the group to wait inside, and employees gave them free coffee one day last weekend.

Piskor said group members know they can just clip each day's coupon and order the set by mail, but the camaraderie brings them back.

They've shared stories, she said, and even celebrated one member's birthday.

As Wednesday's end of the promotion looms, people are exchanging contact information.

"The group is kind of already going through withdrawal. We're talking about having a post-medallion meeting," said Piskor, a registered nurse from Lancaster, who is collecting the medallions for her kids Jacob, 12, and Jennifer, 8.

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Voting violence

Politics can be a contact sport, but it's not known for grisly mayhem and bloodletting.

That would change if one Buffalo News reader gets his way.

On Tuesday, an item posted on the Inside the News blog noted that people are selling T-shirts with an intriguing pairing for the 2008 presidential race.

The "Gore-Obama '08" shirts envision a ticket of former Vice President Al Gore and Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.

A Medina lawyer, Dave Allen, offered a better idea.

"Frankly, my top ticket would be Big Al with Louise [Slaughter, a Fairport Democrat and member of Congress] as his running mate," Allen wrote. "I'd pay good money to get my hands on a 'Gore & Slaughter in 2008' T-shirt."

A Slaughter rep did not return messages seeking comment.

But another Web visitor got into the spirit of Allen's tongue-in-cheek suggestion: "Gore & Slaughter in '08? 'Kill' me now."

***

Heart to heart

Richard M. Tobe was inspecting a North Buffalo property a couple of weeks ago when he had to be rushed by ambulance to a hospital after experiencing a rapid heartbeat.

It turned out to be minor, and Tobe went home the same day.

"The news is that they found a heart," Tobe quipped.

First Deputy Mayor Steven M. Casey, viewed by some as City Hall's Tin Man, couldn't resist.

"Yeah, they found the heart in Casey," the deputy mayor said, making a joke of his own hard-nosed style.

Even Mayor Byron W. Brown had to chuckle over that one.

***

Next week will be easier

New Erie County Clerk Kathleen C. Hochul underwent a baptism by fire when smoke damage shut down the West Seneca satellite auto bureau during her first day on the job.

Hochul was picked by Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer to succeed David J. Swarts, the state's new motor vehicle commissioner.

She said she hopes to get the West Seneca bureau back in operation within two weeks and expressed gratitude that everyone got out unharmed.

In addition, Hochul also had to endure a Buffalo News gaffe.

The paper mistakenly put Hochul's age at 46 in several editions Monday.

The 48-year-old was teased by State Police officials at the Boston barracks when she showed up for the background check required of all gubernatorial appointees.

Always a diplomat, Hochul said she was grateful The News didn't err the other way and claim she's 50.

Written by Stephen T. Watson with contributions from Brian Meyer and Matt Gryta.

-mail: offmain@buffnews.com

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