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Off Main Street / The offbeat side of the news

Seriously, does it work? . . .

A government seizure case involving a substance known as Pygeum Africanum touched off quite a discussion in the court of U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara the other day.

Federal prosecutor Richard D. Kaufman said federal agents in Lewiston last August seized 1,000 bottles of a product containing Pygeum Africanum.

The substance can't be legally imported here because it's made from an endangered plant on Madagascar.

When Arcara asked what it's used for, Kaufman said it supposedly helps to enhance "certain parts of the male body."

"Does it work?" Arcara asked?

"We don't know," Kaufman responded. "But of all the cases I've ever had, we've had more inquiries about this from the senior staff members of the U.S. Attorney's office than any other case."


Combining work and play . . .

There has not been much to laugh about during Buffalo cold case detective Dennis Delano's disciplinary hearing.

But spectators recently got a chuckle as the gruff, rumpled Delano talked about paying his own way to attend out-of-town forensics seminars.

He and his wife, Cheryl, combined work and play on the trips, including one to Maryland.

"I went to the seminar," he said, "and my wife went shopping."


Final resting place? . . .

Poor St. Marguerite d'Youville can't seem to rest in peace.

It's moving time again for the bones of the bootlegger's widow who founded the Grey Nuns of Montreal in the 18th century and who is the namesake of D'Youville College here.

Sadly, the sprawling Grey Nuns Motherhouse in downtown Montreal, where she lies beneath a mahogany altar in the chapel, has been sold and St. Marguerite has to go. It will be the sixth time that the first sainted Canadian has been moved since her death in 1771. She was interred at the Grey Nuns' original headquarters until 1871, when they moved uptown to escape flooding.

Her body has been moved in the motherhouse over the years, before finding a home in the chapel in 1996. Next year, the nuns will transfer her to her birthplace in a Montreal suburb.


Take that, Forbes! . . .

Forbes magazine may have put Buffalo on its dubious list of most "miserable" cities, but try telling that to musician Charles Z. Bornstein.

Bornstein, a Buffalo native and the Leonard Bernstein Scholar at the New York Philharmonic from 2005 to 2008, was in town this month for a panel discussion and concert at the Burchfield Penney Art Center on the late musical giant Lukas Foss. Bornstein said he travels extensively, and Buffalo stands out for its arts and culture.

"Somehow, people in Buffalo may take this for granted because it's all over," he said. "But when you're going to 200 other cities of equal proportion in America, you find they don't have anything like this."

Arts? Culture? They weren't even considered by Forbes.


Lord Stanley's Grammy . . .

The Buffalo Sabres still haven't won the Stanley Cup, but some in the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra say they gave us the next best thing: Two Grammys.

News that their recording of a version of Bob Dylan's Mr. Tambourine man won for John Corigliano's classical composition and Hila Plitmann's singing, prompted BPO members to joke about having a citywide party.

"When's the parade?" read one Facebook post among orchestra friends.

At least 20 of the 73 BPO members are serious Sabres fans, watching games in the lounge before concerts, said Janz Castelo, a violist. Perhaps, he said, BPO members could gather and lift up a Grammy as an antidote to Stanley Cup losses.

Problem: The composer would have to loan his trophy. Instead, to Castelo's delight, Mayor Byron Brown gave the orchestra a key to the city Thursday.

"It wasn't a ticker tape parade," he said, "but I think this may do."

Written by Stephen T. Watson with contributions from Michelle Kearns, Donn Esmonde, Dan Herbeck, Dale Anderson and Mark Sommer.


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