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John Slenker has seen a lot of changes in the Buffalo Niagara job market over the last three decades – most of them for the better. As the state Labor Department's regional economist in Buffalo, Slenker's job has been to regularly take the pulse of the local job market. When he started, back in 1992, that pulse was weak – and getting weaker – with rising unemployment…

Columns

What you see is less than what most meteorologists get. On television, we generally can only show you satellite imagery from geostationary satellites which stay in place and look down on the planet from the same location. They are in an orbit about 22,000 miles high, synchronized with the rotation of the planet. They supply increasingly sophisticated and multi-layered i…

Books

Too soon? Well, not really. Hannukah, after all, is less than a month away, after sundown Dec. 2. So forgive, if you will, the genuine excitement of someone who loves books as much as I do for listing some books that really got my juices flowing. Many are literary, admittedly, and all but one are currently available online and in bookstores. "Tailspin: The People and…

Columns

The big, red-brick fire-damaged building at 238 Carlton St., just off the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, represents both the best and worst of what the near East Side could become amid the city’s resurgence. At its best, it could be the home of the African Heritage Food Co-Op, a 2-year-old venture grounded in community commitment and control that has made its name throug…

Gusto

Intention. Music is about intention. It’s not just about the notes. It’s about what the singer is trying to do with those notes. The caged bird doesn’t sing because it wants to be famous. The caged bird sings because it longs to be free. “With Curtis, you get the impression that her innermost feelings are churning into melodies, harmonies and poems that build up unti…

Buffalo

Viola Hill was going door to door maybe 65 years ago, carrying political petitions near Hickory and William streets and looking for signatures from registered voters, when an older woman answered her knock and quietly said she was unable to help. The woman explained that she had been alive in the years before women had the legal right to vote in New York. Even after tha…

Columns

When weather models start to look like this, it’s time for a refresher on lake-effect snow. That image, by the way, is a depiction of lake-effect snow in place for early this coming Saturday, which I and other meteorologists have been talking about for a few days. First, I’ll offer some perspective on this coming event. As of this writing, I’m confident in saying “no bi…

News and notes on the last weekend before Election Day: • To New York’s Democratic politicians, Buffalo in this election season resembles the “unexplored territory” portions of those old maps of the 1600s. Or maybe Saul Steinberg’s classic 1976 New Yorker cover — "A New Yorker’s View of the World" — depicting Manhattan as the center of the universe. The candidates ju…

Bisons and Baseball

Thomas Abernathy would not describe himself as a baseball fan. He was aware of the way the World Series ended this week, with the Boston Red Sox defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he had no particular interest in the outcome. To him, it was little more than another sign of transition between the seasons. His distance from baseball is part of an epic – yet almost for…

"It's about my son," David Sheff says to the drug therapist. That's why "Beautiful Boy" is a rarity for a whole new age of addiction movies. It was about fathers and sons, too, back in 1957 when Lloyd Nolan, the father in "A Hatful of Rain" told his addicted war veteran son Don Murray that he loved him. This is different. This is about a boy coming of age as an addic…

Business

After four years of trying to do good and trying to do what other technology companies can't – building laptops and computers in the United States – time ran out Thursday on Bak USA. The Buffalo company was a valiant venture, but good intentions weren't enough to overcome the realities of the business world. In the end, Bak USA simply ran out of money and ran headfirst …

Columns

The first 11 days of October (remember?) featured three 80-plus degree days. The rest of the month has been wet and chilly, with below average temperatures on all but three days. The chilly temperatures weren’t extraordinary or record-tying, like those three very warm days. But the warmth in Alaska’s largest metro area, Anchorage, was extraordinary. Anchorage had its la…

Columns

The 900,000 texts sent by Buffalo activists Monday night urging Democrats and Independents to vote next week and to reject the Trump agenda was an impressive effort a week before Election Day, especially with such efforts being replicated elsewhere. But reaching out to potential voters is one thing. Having a message compelling enough to overcome more than 5,000 documente…

Business

There are two kinds of people in this world: people who look at ice cubes as a way to cool their drinks, and people who look at ice cubes as a food group. There is no more discerning consumer than an ice chewer. Once we’ve tracked down good ice, we will drive miles daily to secure it. The true ice aficionados will know what I mean. Good ice is cloudy and white. It’s …

Columns

“Many of the images in the following pages have become iconic to a small subculture of punks and pioneers who were riding a wave of excitement in music and culture that started in the 70s and continued through the 80s and 90s in Buffalo, NY,” writes Robby Takac in the introduction to the new book, “Underground Buffalo Rock Posters: The Continental and Beyond.” It's a proje…