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The offbeat side of the news

Feting Cambria

The guest list was eclectic, including top lawyers, several judges, local TV news anchors, a few biker gang leaders in full biker colors, some Seneca Nation tobacco millionaires and Larry Flynt, the publisher of Hustler magazine and producer of X-rated films.

All 250 were present to honor Paul J. Cambria, one of Buffalo’s highest profile attorneys, who celebrated his 69th birthday at the Seneca Niagara Casino. The recent bash was arranged as a surprise by the attorney’s wife, Paula.

“It was the third time she has fooled me with a surprise party,” Cambria said. “She told me we were going to a wedding reception.”

One of Cambria’s clients, hockey star Patrick Kane, almost ruined the surprise.

“I was with him a few weeks ago, and he said, ‘So, you have a birthday coming up,’ ” Cambria said. “I thought, ‘Why would he be asking about my birthday?’ ”

Barbing buddies

They’re old buddies who have served as mayors of medium-sized cities.

So when U.S. Sen. Cory Booker came to Buffalo on Monday to stump for Hillary Clinton for president, he and Mayor Byron Brown traded compliments, with the former Newark, N.J., mayor calling Brown “one of the greatest mayors I’ve ever met.”

But after buttering up Brown, Booker started busting his chops, first kidding the Buffalo mayor about being a Bills fan, then recalling how aghast he was to learn that Brown liked former Jets quarterback Joe Namath.

Heck, Booker wasn’t even alive for Namath’s greatest triumph, the huge Super Bowl III upset victory in January 1969. The future U.S. senator wasn’t born for another 3½ months. Booker recalled questioning Brown about his age.

“Then he just busted out that he’s like 40 years older than me,” Booker said.

“He looks good for 80. He’s an octogenarian mayor. I didn’t know that.”

Actually, Brown is only about 10½ years older. He’s 57, while Booker turns 47 later this month.

Hillary pillories

Hillary Clinton spoke about her intention to dramatically increase alternative energy use during last week’s campaign stop at the Pierce Arrow/Buffalo Transportation Museum.

“This is a big difference between me and the Republicans,” Clinton said. “You ask them about climate change, and they all say the same thing: ‘Well, I don’t know, I’m not a scientist.’ And I have been going around and saying – I don’t think they’re actually listening – ‘Well, then go talk to a scientist, like here at the University of Buffalo,’ ” Clinton said, as chuckles turned into cheers.

Clinton said she also was bothered by the missed economic opportunity.

“Some nation is going to be the 21st century clean energy superpower,” she said. “The way things stand right now, it will probably be China, Germany or us, and I want it to be us.”

Voice in the crowd

Ken-Ton School Board meeting was so crowded Tuesday that President Jill O’Malley had to summon School Resource Officer Scott Zenosky to determine if the room was over capacity.

“We were just wondering if you had counted as people were coming in and are we at …” said O’Malley, who was then interrupted by the officer.

“Who’s talking?” asked Zenosky, whose view of the board was obstructed by the crowd.

“I am,” she said, raising her hand as laughter erupted.

“Right here.”

The meeting was recessed and moved to the auditorium next door.

Off Main Street is written by Harold McNeil, with contributions by Dan Herbeck, Gene Warner, Mark Sommer and Joseph Popiolkowski. email: