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The offbeat side of the news

Falling off key

There’s something a bit out of tune in a new YouTube video that features Chicago Blackhawks rightwinger and Buffalo native Patrick Kane at a karaoke bar.

It’s his singing.

Kane, his head covered with a red handkerchief, belted out Tom Petty’s 1989 hit “Free Falling,” with gusto and verve but no apparent talent for staying on key. Of course, bad singing is what karaoke is all about, right? After all, anyone who possesses the amazing skills that Kane does on the ice doesn’t need to worry about singing well, too.

Still, sources on the Internet reveal that Kane had plenty of practice singing “Free Falling.” Supposedly, it’s a karaoke staple for the three-time Stanley Cup winning champion. So one would think Kane might, at least, be familiar with the point where instrumental break in the song comes in and not attempt to sing it as part of the lyrics of the song when the words show up on the teleprompter.

Eichel makes the rounds

Speaking of off-the-ice pursuits by enormously talented hockey players captured on video, there’s a new Vine of newly-signed Sabres center Jack Eichel showing off his hula hoop skills in Larkin Square.

It was defintely a different take on making the rounds in Buffalo, but Eichel looked comfortable with the swivel.

Too cold for a cool dip

As part of the city pool openings this past Wednesday, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown put out a news release announcing plans to take a dip in the Riverside pool, “weather permitting.”

Alas, when time came for the official pool openings, the temperature was a less-than-balmy 64 degrees, with cloudy skies. Apparently, that did not qualify as weather permitting.

“Did you jump in?” Brown was asked when he returned to City Hall from Riverside pool.

“It was too cold,” Brown responded. “Even the kids who went in came right back out.”

Double duty

Still back at City Hall, Parking Enforcement Commissioner Kevin Helfer is temporarily taking on extra duties as head of the city’s new traffic violations agency.

It opened this week. So Helfer has charge of wayward motorists, whether they’re parking or driving. Anyone seeking to challenge a traffic ticket in Buffalo must now report to City Hall Room 115 instead of going to the State Department of Motor Vehicles office.

So far, Helfer reported, things were running smoothly for him as he does double duty. But taking on the new role as head of traffic violations does not mean there will be any extra pay in it for Helfer. It will just be extra work until the mayor taps someone else to permanently fill the city’s top traffic violations administrator post, and the parking enforcement commissioner can finally park it.

Borderline attack

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump this week took a swipe at Macy’s, after the retail giant cut business ties with the outspoken billionaire businessman and TV celebrity for offensive remarks he made about Mexican immigrants. Trump recently announced his candidacy.

As he has done with a few former business partners this week, Trump took to Twitter to exact verbal revenge. Curiously, in one tweet, Trump accused Macy’s of being “weak on border security,” as if sealing international borders was anywhere in the purview of a department store chain. Correct us if we’re wrong here, but isn’t it the role of large retail shops located at the Galleria and the Niagara Falls Outlet Mall to lure customers across our international border in order to contribute to our local economy?

Off Main Street is written by Harold McNeil, with contributions by Susan Schulman. email: