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Off Main Street / The offbeat side of the news

Call him Axl

It might not be in our best interest to poke fun at the owner of The Buffalo News, but . . .

Did you see the Geico ad featuring Warren Buffett? (on our Web site at

The two-minute video, made for the annual meeting of the company owned by Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, is an ode to the insurer's customer service.

It features an original song that has a Bon Jovi's "I'll Be There for You" kind of vibe and shows the Oracle of Omaha looking like an older version of Guns N' Roses front man Axl Rose, complete with long-haired wig and purple bandanna.

Phil Ovuka, director of creative media services at Geico, told Time magazine that Buffett has taken part in the production the past four years.

After previous appearances as a DJ and a hobo, Ovuka wanted to get him into "the most ridiculous getup we could think up."

Buffett seems to have a sense of humor to match his bank account.

Asked why he agreed to go all late-'80s rocker -- the decade, not his age -- he told Time: "I'm having trouble finding an agent that will take me on."


Portable excitement

The work of town government isn't glamorous.

At a Town of Amherst department heads meeting this month, Purchasing Director Larry Graner updated the group on his department's work.

"We've received bids for portable toilets," he said. "That's an exciting one."


Ego kept in check

When Kyle R. Andrews of Wilson was appointed Niagara County treasurer by Gov. David A. Paterson this week, many in local politics and government were impressed.

One of those less impressed, it seems, was his new wife, Jamie.

According to Andrews, when he called Jamie to report the news, she replied, "Congratulations, honey. You need to get home, because my tire's low."

Thus, on the day he was sworn in as a countywide officeholder, Andrews spent some time at a local garage.

"She did ask about the appointment, though," the new treasurer pointed out.


No offense taken

Chicago may be the city of big shoulders, but Buffalo is the city of thick skins.

How else could we possibly survive another appearance on the NCAA national stage and, with it, another round of punishing and predictable shots by out-of-town media types.

Our favorite so far?

The Spokane Spokesman-Review, hometown paper for the visiting Gonzaga Zags, questioned "why Buffalo?"

"What, there was no room in the Krasnoyarsk pod?" the paper wondered aloud. "Did the Niagara Falls Visitors and Convention Bureau lobby for the Zags as a tourist attraction because the Maid of the Mist boat is in for repairs?"

Of course, Zags coach Mark Few didn't help matters any by suggesting his team should be happy just going to the NCAAs.

"We should be giddy wherever we get sent," Few said, "whether it's Timbuktu or Siberia -- not to compare Buffalo to that."

Yeah, especially when home is Spokane.


Take my capital, please

A new state regulation requires all members of industrial development agency boards to sign a document by May 1 stating that they understand their financial responsibilities.

"I don't know if anybody in Albany has signed one of these," Henry M. Sloma, chairman of the Niagara County IDA, cracked at a recent board meeting.

The Niagara County IDA and its peers also are fighting a state fee for "cost recovery of central government services" that the IDAs are calling a tax.

Sloma, at the same meeting, reported on an e-mail someone sent him on this topic.

He said the e-mailer commented, "Due to budget difficulties, the folks in Albany are extinguishing the light at the end of the tunnel."

Written by Stephen T. Watson with contributions from Bruce Andriatch, Sandra Tan, Thomas J. Prohaska and Phil Fairbanks.


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