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DONN ESMONDE NEWS STAFF REVIEWER


The last bone from the National Wingfest was picked clean days ago, yet Drew Cerza was still smiling Thursday as he walked into a downtown restaurant. Success breeds happiness.Cerza runs the National Buffalo Wingfest. An estimated 66,000 people came over Labor Day weekend. It was the biggest crowd in the Wingfest's three years and confirmed its permanent place on the Buffa…

GEEZ, YOU could have fooled us.And for all we know, you did.There was a panel discussion the other day on where to put the new convention center. A task force, working with consultants, decided it should go near the downtown Hyatt, the Mohawk site. Some people are grumbling about the official choice.Somebody asked why the public didn't get a say before nine possible sites …

A DAY CARE center with her name on it is fine. There's at least $50,000 in seed money coming from the $2.55 million court settlement to build the memorial in the community where she lived.That's not the community that's in danger of forgetting her, though. More than anywhere else, Cynthia Wiggins will remain a household name on Buffalo's East Side.She needs to be memoriali…

Dennis Gorski's promise to keep county taxes running in place for three years is a nice start, a step in the right direction and all those other good things.But it won't make a whole lot of difference to a family with a $130,000 house in Orchard Park.As Gorski -- and every suburban homeowner -- knows, the big chunk of the local tax bill isn't county taxes, it's school taxe…

It was more than a year ago, on the East Side, at the wake of a man who'd been his mentor and guide. Someone asked Romental Ray, then 16, what he wanted."I'd like to live in a nice, quiet neighborhood," he said. "And have the chance to go to college."To most 16-year-olds, such things are a given. He said it wistfully, as if making a wish upon a star. With good reason. Days…

We greeted news of the snowbound ineptitude of Washington, D.C., and Baltimore with profound smugness. We basked in the Big Meltdown this week. And now, respites exhausted, the realization sets in: There are nine more weeks of winter.We put up a front for the world: tough, character-heavy types who barely shrug as snow cakes our eyelids and cold welds our top and bottom li…

It has been kicked around, knocked down, vilified and ignored.Body blow after body blow brought Buffalo to its knees.Post-industrial blight, government-subsidized suburban flight and a lack of creative leadership all conspired against it.It is old, it is poor. It lacks the generous boundaries that ensure massive property tax revenues in newer cities. It has few large compa…

HE STARTED OUT as a young man with the potential to play in the NBA. He ended up as just another reckless fool with a gun. Like other fools with guns, he did more damage and caused more pain than he can ever repair.Ritchie Campbell, who never controlled his life the way he controlled a basketball game, was sentenced Wednesday to 13 1/2 to 26 years in prison. He will pay…

Her youngest biological child is 29 years old. Yet there are two sets of swings in the back yard of her home in Williamsville, and a sandbox, and a pool. And that is just the tangible evidence of the love and care given the past 27 years, from the seemingly bottomless well of compassion in Christa Walser's heart.She died last month at age 60, which means this ought to be a…

ACOUPLE OF Luthers, a pair of Juniors and a Magic. In other words, a fairly typical roll call of blues veterans, gentlemen whose mastery of their craft exceeds their renown (and, in most cases, their bankroll).To the casual blues fan, it's no easy task keeping the preponderance of blues Luthers, Magics and Juniors straight in one's head (and we haven't even gotten into the…

LAST WEEKEND, we got a surprise of sorts. The Democratic presidential candidates got together for a forum at Shea's Buffalo Theater. There was Bill Clinton, Jerry Brown and the old war horse, Gene McCarthy. And seated next to McCarthy, to the puzzlement of many, was another man.Last weekend, Buffalo met Larry Agran. The Invisible Candidate.For much of the national media -…

THE NEWS came as a shock, as sudden death always does. For family and friends, it put everyday concerns in trivial perspective and made daily routine untidy and dumb.Thursday, the day after Bill Hoyt collapsed and died at the Assembly in Albany, his staff members here still answered the phone "Assemblyman Hoyt's office." Among the office paperwork was a letter from him to …

HOW MANY ways can the blues be played? Might as well ask how many stars are in the sky.Although structurally limited, the blues lend themselves to personal interpretation. In fact, the quality of the music depends on the conviction and innovation one brings to it.A flock of new releases, and one noteworthy reissue, give a fair sampling of the variety of approaches to the …

SOME 22 years ago, Texas bluesman Albert Collins got his big break. A veteran of the Southwest bar circuit, the Houston-based Collins was "discovered" by the touring blues band Canned Heat. A contract with Imperial Records followed, and Collins headed to Los Angeles for his first big-label sessions.These days, of course, Albert "Ice Man" Collins is well-known among blues f…

THE IDEA, as the notes on Elektra's American Explorer Series explain, is to celebrate "the varied roots of American music, with pioneering figures from the heartland."Behind the highfalutin language is a concept as simple as it is bold: Give various cult figures, regional stars and obscure but reputable supporting players a chance to show what they've got in the recording…