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Of this year’s 150 elections for seats in the New York State Assembly, none may prove more compelling than the rematch between Erik Bohen and Pat Burke in the South Buffalo-based 142nd. It involves an element of family feud in clannish South Buffalo and its suburbs. Both men have deep roots in the community, and both count legions of friends all over. So arguments are b…

Columns

When Brian Murphy was a teenager, hunting on family land in Forestville, he was accidentally shot by another hunter. It was a freak event, Murphy said, a lot of factors going wrong at once, except for one thing that saved his life by going right. Murphy was holding his own shotgun in exactly the right position so that the slug struck the butt of the gun, changing the im…

Buffalo

Just an everyday moment, observed the other night from the back of the line at a Valero convenience store in Allentown ... An older man was buying a few New York Lottery tickets, and he apologized to another customer behind him, who was waiting. That customer, a younger guy, responded in a cheerful no-big-deal way. The conversation went on, the older guy talking about h…

Gusto

The late '90s were a strange time for rock music. Grunge had morphed into mostly horrible rap-metal. The mainstream was littered with over-singing divas like Celine Dion. Hip-hop was healthy, thanks to the likes of the Wu Tang Clan, though it was still reeling from the death of Tupac. Brit-pop was big, and some of it was pretty great, though much of it was far from inve…

Business

Sears is probably about to file for bankruptcy. It’s mind-boggling to think about, considering what a juggernaut the department store once was. At the same time, considering Sears’ poor performance over the years, it’s easy to ask, “What took so long?” J.C. Penney is another stalwart department store that has been notoriously sputtering along over the years. And, …

Bisons and Baseball

Ted Wyatt, in one sentence, defined the problem the Buffalo Bisons hope they finally solved. Wyatt was there, more than 30 years ago, on the day Bisons owner Robert Rich Jr. joined such public officials as Mayor Jimmy Griffin and Gov. Mario Cuomo in breaking ground for a ballpark that touched off a national trend in throwback style. Wyatt recalled that moment by tele…

Columns

What is commonly thought of as a climate “tipping point” is the mean global temperature increase at which impacts from warming begin a slow runaway. It is somewhat ill-defined, but a crude analogy has been made with a comparison to a tipped-over wine glass: the wine spills out and can’t be put back in the glass. This week, a report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on C…

Columns

Graduation rates and state test scores are up at Rochester’s East High School while suspensions are down. This improvement occurred at a school that, just a few years ago, was performing so poorly that the University of Rochester had to step in under a state provision that allows an "educational partnership organization" to take over a school that otherwise would be close…

Gusto

Every year, I grind my teeth, perform a series of face-palms, and insist “Never again.” Yet, here I sit, contemplating the announcement of this year’s nominees for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and failing to quell my desire to throw my hat into the ring one more time. “Anger is an energy,” as John Lydon once opined, and for what feels like the umpteenth year in a r…

I like Conan O'Brien. I always have. I know I'm not alone, too. It's just that I never watched his show. Few people I know did -- not regularly. His hourlong late-night TBS stint was officially over Thursday. His show will return in January as a half-hour show sans band. I used to dip into his TBS show two or three times a year or to see this interview or that. Or ma…

Columns

There may be no busier Western New Yorker these days than East Aurora’s Michael Caputo. His “occupations” include owner of public relations firm, radio host, TV contributor, book author, podcast commentator, member of the speaking circuit, campaign manager for Assemblyman David DiPietro, testifier before Senate Intelligence Committee and subject of questioning by specia…

Buffalo

Valentino Dixon suddenly has a crazy schedule. After he was freed 17 days ago from the state prison system, he received a chauffeured ride to New York City, just before he appeared on the "Today Show." He stays busy with his drawing. He holds long conversations with journalists. He is talking to agents about big plans for books and art projects. Yet he set aside this…

Gusto

The music playing on the fellow's boom box came from Keith Jarrett's "The Koln Concert." I didn't recognize it 15 seconds after entering his shop. The two-record set hadn't yet become the best-selling solo record in jazz history and the all-time best-selling piano record (3.5 million records). It wasn't yet one of those rare jazz records - like Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" …