The CCM property may be part of the “Rochester burial area,” where the University of Rochester had buried animal carcasses that had been used for testing the effects of radiation. Although the DOE is reported to have excavated the University of Rochester burial area in 1972 to a depth of 10 feet and to have removed 512 cubic yards of soil, drums, and debris from the site, the results from the Corps of Engineers testing would indicate that this area is far from decontaminated.

The Corps of Engineers report indicated that, in the testing, a total of eight samples contained measurable plutonium. Other radionuclides detected include strontium-90 and radium. These samples included an animal bone, laboratory debris, and subsurface soil samples. The plutonium and strontium contamination is assumed to be from the University of Rochester radiation experiments, while the radium would have come from the storage of uranium refining waste, known as K-65 residue. The findings by the Corps indicate that this waste is not a potential danger to the public because the surface soil “exhibited near background levels” and because the site is currently “inaccessible to the public.” On the other hand, excavation of the site, as Chemical Waste Management proposed, would bring to the surface contaminated subsurface soil. This would expose both workers and the public to soil contaminated with some of the most carcinogenic substances known to human.

The issue of contamination at the Chemical Waste Management property was brought up at a press conference, called by Residents for Responsible Government, on September 17, at a cemetery just a mile west of the hazardous landfill. On the same day, Chemical Waste Management hosted an open house for the local residents. Vince Agnello, president of Residents for Responsible Government, asked Gov. George Pataki for his intervention concerning Chemical Waste Management’s request to obtain an excavation permit to dig on the site, despite New York State Department of Health orders prohibiting digging on this radiologically contaminated site. Flanking Agnello at the press conference were local officials, union representative Roger Cook, and two state representatives, Senator George Maziarz and Francine DelMonte.

This fight pits some weighty state and federal agencies against each other. The opposing forces include the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation against the Residents for Responsible Government, the Niagara County Legislature, and the New York State Department of Health. The disputed site is part of the original Lake Ontario Ordnance Works, which the federal government, during and after World War II, used to store “Manhattan Project” wastes. In 1972, the state department of health prohibited the release of this land into private hands for unrestricted use. Chemical Waste Management began operating this landfill site in 1988. The Department if Energy decommissioned the site and released it for unrestricted use.

A letter from the state department of health, dated August 19, stated, “Based on the documentation provided by Chemical Waste Management to date, as well as our review of available data, we are unable to substantiate the Department of Energy’s conclusion that the affected properties can be released for unrestricted use.” It further requests that, “since there is a potential for residual soil contamination and potential ground water contamination, the department of health must evaluate current site conditions before we can approve earth moving activities. Therefore (the department of health) requests that Chemical Waste Management submit a plan for monitoring ground water for radioactive contaminants for developed areas and a plan for air monitoring for currently active areas.”

Chemical Waste Management has agreed to submit soil and water samples for radiological testing to a lab in St. Louis, Mo. The EPA has refused to review the Department of Energy surveys of the site, and it has complimented the state’s department of environmental conservation for the fine job that it is doing in managing the site. The Niagara County legislature passed a resolution on September 7 requesting that a full State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process, including public hearings, be used regarding the expansion of the Chemical Waste Management site.

Maziarz is planning to make personal contact with the governor to persuade him to intervene on behalf of the local residents. If this does not work, Agnello is prepared to start local petition drives and rallies to block the proposed Chemical Waste Management expansion.

I Can’t Remember Anything is the first production presented by the new Gerald Fried Theatre Company. The company was founded this year by brothers Manny and Gerald Fried, actress Rosalind Cramer, and playwright Rebecca Ritchie. Directed by Sheila McCarthy, the play features Manny Fried in the role of Leo and Rosalind Cramer in the role of Leonora.

Leonora is a beautifully dressed social butterfly who is frustrated by her memory lapses and discouraged by the knowledge that her husband and all of her friends except for Leo are deceased. At one point, Leonora says in frustration, “Sometimes I think I remembered something... I wonder if I’m imaginary.” Leo is more of an analytical person, who wants and seems to need time alone. He has very little tolerance for small talk or conversation that he perceives to be mindless chatter. “I like women. I just don’t like dumb women,” Leo tells Leonora, who wonders if perhaps he just doesn’t like women. As an old man, Leo needs his solitude more than ever. Leo also is very conscious of his physical limitations. He talks about suffering from “gas disease” and stress, and about the possibility of stroke.

Through the dialogue and the realistic acting by both performers, the two characters come to life. Both Leo and Leonora wonder about the point of their own existence. Leo comments, “All we are is a lot of talking nitrogen.” Leonora, who no longer receives party invitations, says, “I can’t for the life of me figure out why I haven’t died.” Their sadness at losing valuable parts of their lives weighs on them. In one poignant exchange, Leonora relates that she has forgotten about the spices that she used for cooking and, in fact, hardly remembers that she did cook. Leo gently reminds her about the rosemary that she used, sharing with her how tender her lamb and string beans were.

Kurt Schneiderman describes Mother Dis-Courage as “just another absurdist, neo-Brechtian, anti-imperialist extravaganza.” He created this one-act play as a loose takeoff of Bertold Brecht’s play, Mother Courage, about a woman who doesn’t want her sons to die in war while, at the same time, making her living from the continuation of that war. In Mother Dis-Courage, the characters are types, rather than realistic portrayals of people. At times, it seems that they are aware of the fact that they are characters in a play. The types include Mr. Moneybags (Donald Gallo), an employer who is focused on the bottom line to the detriment of his workers, Mother Dis-Courage (Kate Olena), a woman who doesn’t want her own son to die but who doesn’t seem to care if other people’s sons die, and Son Dis-Courage (Rich Kraemer), a confused young man who joined the military because Mr. Moneybags told him that he had to participate in “killing other people” and in “stealing their natural resources.”

“America is great because of money and killing!”

Mother Dis-Courage is a literary play, incorporating elements of Mother Courage and of Charles Dickens’ classic story, A Christmas Carol. Berthold Brecht (Keith Elkins) and Britney Spears (Jeannine Giftear) appear as narrator of the tale. Brecht’s obscure poetic recitations clash with Spear’s “narration” for the radio program, “All Things Belabored.” Later in the play, Brecht, carrying his chains, appears as a Jacob Marley type, warning Mother Dis-Courage of both her and her son’s potential fate. Brecht tells Mother Dis-Courage that she will be visited by the Ghosts of Imperialist Invasions of the past, present, and future. The ghosts turn out to be George Orwell (Emanuel Fried), John Lennon (Kevin Costa), and Paul McCartney (Ron Leonardi).

The dialogue in Mother Dis-Courage is pointed and topical. The issues brought up occupy the news headlines of today, and they include pre-emptive war, the abuse of prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, video games, George W. Bush, prejudice against Arabs, and attitudes toward China. Despite the unpleasant reality of the issues brought up, the play never becomes tedious or tasteless. It always stays in the realm of political satire, and, as such, makes for far better entertainment than the daily newspaper.

The Toronto Film Festival, a cinematic playpen for the rich and famous as well as for the true blue devoted film fan, is underway, having opened Thursday, September 9. It runs through Saturday, Sept. 18. If you juggle your schedule just right, you might be able to catch seven movies a day. It’s been done. Many of the movie-crazy see five or six films a day, and average guys and gals are mightily pleased with three or four choices. The most I’ve ever seen in a single day is six features.

In spite of special passes and advance sales, it is absolutely possible to drive up to Toronto and enjoy the festival. Anyone who goes should be able to see at least 3 movies with no hassle. The secret is to be open to anything and everything. Don’t discriminate. Sure you might want to hang-out in the same theater space as some of this year’s stars like Annette Bening, Jeremy Irons, Danny Glover, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Peter Sarsgaard, Dustin Hoffman, Hilary Swank, Colin Firth, Sigourney Weaver, Charlize Theron, Andy Garcia, Joan Allen, Jamie Foxx, Laura Linney, Liam Neeson, Kevin Spacey, Sean Penn, Sandra Bullock, Joseph Fiennes, Orlando Bloom, Susan Sarandon, Lily Tomlin, Helen Hunt, Nick Nolte or Al Pacino; and you just might get lucky, but most movies have the director and a star or two in tow to introduce the film in the theater.

The best advice for those of you simply driving up is to get an early start and make the rounds of the theaters showing festival films. Look at the big board, and then the lobby standee for which showings actually have tickets available. Buy what you need, at around $16.00 Canadian. Theaters showing movies include the Cumberland, Varsity, Paramount, Elgin, Art Gallery Of Ontario Auditorium, Royal Ontario Museum Auditorium, the Ryerson Theatre, and Roy Thompson Hall where the star-packed Galas are shown. If screenings are sold out, there’s always the possibility of standing in line for a Rush Seat, but that’s a time-waster and your getting in depends on the length of the line. Additionally, the movie might have already started by the time you make it into the auditorium. Rush Seats for the Galas are usually available, but you will sit way up high in the third balcony. You can also go to the festival box offices at the ManuLife Centre on Bloor near Bay Street or the College Park location on Yonge near College. Or call 416-968-FILM and ask “what’d’ya got?” for your chosen day.

Some of the movies slated to play the festival this year include Head In The Clouds, The Assassination Of Richard Nixon, Beyond The Sea, The Libertine, Return To Sender, The Merchant Of Venice, Modigliani, Ray, The Motorcycle Diaries, A Good Woman, Stage Beauty, I Heart Huckabee, The Woodsman, Haven, Crash, Due South, Imaginary Heroes, Red Dust, Trauma, Wilby Wonderful, Siblings, Being Julia, P.S., Kinsey, Clean, Hotel Rwanda, Childstar, and so much more. But, let’s face it, a lot of you are cinephiles of the highest order, so how about this for your schedule; yep, you can go to the festival and hopefully see new works such as: Catherine Breillat’s Anatomie de L’enfer, Jean-Luc Godard’s Notre Musique, Pedro Almodovar’s Bad Education, Wim Wenders’ Land Of Plenty, John Waters’ A Dirty Shame, Todd Solondz’s Palindromes, Carlo Mazzacurati’s An Italian Romance, John Sayles’ Silver City, Gregg Araki’s Mysterious Skin, and top it off with an anthology picture entitled Eros, with segments by Michelangelo Antonioni, Steven Soderbergh, and Wong Kar Wai.

If it’s autographs you seek, hanging out around the Four Seasons Hotel or Roy Thomson Hall will satisfy your craving for movie stars, but they can be spotted anywhere. At Roy Thomson, where the Galas are held, the stars stroll the red carpet. There are true blue autograph hounds everywhere, some of them from Buffalo. In fact, years ago I promised never to reveal his identity, but one of the world’s – that’s world’s – greatest autograph collectors lives in Buffalo. He’s always at the Toronto Festival. How many signatures has he collected in his 40-plus years? Try more than 20,000. A tip of my hat to him.

If you can’t make it to Toronto, there’s always new material for home viewing. From Strand Releasing, which holds the gold standard for unique features, comes the DVD releases of Swoon and A Thousand Clouds Of Peace. Swoon is the exceptional, award-winning 1992 drama, stunningly photographed in black and white by Ellen Kuras, that tells the infamous true story of Leopold and Loeb, two very bright young Jewish men who, in 1920s Chicago, kidnapped and murdered a boy named Bobby Franks. In the film, the idea for the murder rises out of a desire to simply see if it could be done. The movie is chilling in its reality and sense of thrill-seeking, a cautionary take for today. It’s superbly written and directed by Tom Kalin. The DVD is a newly remastered version of the movie and is loaded with extras including commentary track, the original theatrical trailer, photo galleries of the filmmakers and the actual Leopold and Loeb trial, movie stills, and posters. Twelve years after its initial acclaimed release, the well-acted Swoon continues to have the power to overwhelm and merit discussion. A Thousand Clouds Of Peace is from Mexico and is written and directed by Julian Hernandez. Its full Mexican title is Mil Nubes de Paz Cercan el Cielo, Amor, Jamás Acabarás de Ser Amor. The 2003 movie has wowed audiences at film festivals, including Sundance. At the highly-competitive Berlin International Film Festival, it won the prestigious Teddy Award for Best Film, and was subsequently nominated for seven Mexican Oscars.

Festival movies are often a world unto themselves and many never receive theatrical release in the United States. DVD and VHS offer movie fanatics the opportunity to catch unusual films they might never get to see. A Thousand Clouds Of Peace is worth finding. The movie follows a young gay teenager in the big city, which is almost a Golden Age Of Hollywood cliché. Director Hernandez fully understands the empty heart the gay teen carries wherever he goes. He’s just broken up with his older, male lover, and wanders crowded streets quite lonely and in despair. The movie might be rooted in homosexual relationships, but its theme is universal. It’s about longing and desire and needs. Hernandez has delivered a frank and complex work that is a fascinating to look at visually, as it is to listen to its message of hope.

When lazing by the swimming pool in a pool of blood, do you ever think about how your family’s gene pool is kind of a cesspool?

Until I get a social life, I’ve been rewatching my Alias season one DVDs. In that season, Sydney Bristow is a double agent, so she’s always getting missions from an evil, fake CIA and then going back to the virtuous, actual CIA with this question: “What’s my countermission?” I kind of like the word “countermission.” Maybe because it would be fun to lie constantly, betray my colleagues, and destroy my employer from within. That would really pass the time.

The redundancy of the week: “alcohol-induced hangover.” As opposed to what, an alcohol-induced pregnancy? Or a sledgehammer-induced hangover?

Two of my favorite euphemisms for taking a shit are “laying an egg” and “dropping the bomb.” I guess I like that sweet, motherly feeling of giving life, and also that God-like, fatherly feeling of snuffing it out. Both are cool.

I always wanted goons, but I’d settle for minions.

Rage seems to be all the rage these days, as various folks have seriously used the terms “zoo rage,” “tax rage,” “Bible rage,” “golf rage,” “sidewalk rage,” and “salad bar rage.” I hope that this trend continues and we’ll soon read about or experience “bunny rage,” “cheese grater rage,” “altar boy rage,” “panda rage,” “bowling shoe rage,” “tranquilizer dart rage,” “liquefied chicken manure rage,” and maybe even “sponge bath rage.”

I wonder how many “people who take the short bus to school” (stupid people) “drive the porcelain bus” (vomit) while “riding the magic bus” (tripping on acid or ‘shrooms). More than few, I expect.

While talking with my friend Tina in a coffee shop, I heard a barista shout, “Tall virgin on wheels!” Though I soon learned that these words referred to a medium decaf coffee to go, I had two immediate thoughts: 1) Hello to the imagery! and 2) our more barbaric ancestors would surely have appreciated a tall virgin on wheels; you could just wheel her right up to the volcano and — ploop — drop her in.

Outside of limericks, very little English literature contains the words “Nantucket” or “Lewinsky.”

Next time you’re trying to describe something that’s neither horrific nor terrific, try one of these real words I found with Google: spider-iffic, hair-iffic, sitar-iffic, horror-iffic, lobster-iffic, scooter-iffic, allergy-iffic, prankster-iffic, cholesterol-iffic, birdcage-iffic, monster-iffic, terror-iffic, gore-iffic, Hitler-iffic, ogre-iffic, toddler-iffic, boner-iffic, blister-iffic, poseur-iffic, weather-iffic, scare-iffic, Cher-iffic, odor-iffic, mediocre-iffic, dinosaur-iffic, wanker-iffic, squid-er-iffic, mosher-iffic, twister-iffic, clunker-iffic, murder-iffic, whore-iffic, terrier-iffic, and vampire-iffic.

How did the waffle get associated with waffling? Is it somehow less steadfast and true than a pancake?

You can say, “The new Star Wars movies suck” around more people than you can say “The new Star Wars movies blow,” even though “suck” and “blow” have about the same meaning. I guess “suck,” because it’s so popular, has been more thoroughly rehabilitated and drained of filth. It also doesn’t help that “blow” is one half of “blow job”; that’s just a little too reminiscent of what the phrase actually means.

I worked in a nursing home as a maintenance man one summer, and one of my colleagues uttered these words, which I still live by: “Medical waste… it’s not good to taste.”

If a bleeding heart liberal and a compassionate conservative saw a five-hanky chick flick in the nosebleed seats together, would they drown in their own tears and blood?

The words of the week:

10) Smurf

9) Buttmunch

8) Piggy

7) Smegma-free

6) Skankspionage

5) Ninny

4) Dweebitude

3) Phlegm

2) Vulva-savvy

1) Diddle

A great moment: While walking between work and a sushi place, I overheard three batshit-loony-looking dudes on the street having a debate over whether “paranoid” and “schizophrenic” meant the same thing. God bless America.

Wordluster Mark Peters wants to hear your thoughts, jokes, and questions about language, including favorite words, memorable goofs, trenchant observations, and other word-ish material. Email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In fact, from the moment that more than 500,000 people stepped off at Seventh Avenue and West 15th Street on Sunday afternoon through the arrest of the last sixteen anarcho-kids at 30th Street and Eighth Avenue shortly after midnight on Friday, September 3, the anti-Bush, anti-war, anti-corporate, and anti-capitalist demonstrators who came together for more than four days to express their displeasure with the direction the world is heading cemented a bond that had been forming since before the infamous 1999 demonstrations in Seattle. In and about lower Manhattan all day and night last week, tens of thousands roamed with purpose, entirely sincere, and willing to prove it. Take Father Simon Harak, Jesuit priest and anti-militarism coordinator with the War Resisters League. As 4 p.m. approached on August 31, designated a day of direct action by many groups involved in the week’s events, members of the War Resisters League, the School of the Americas Watch, the Latin American Solidarity Movement, and others lined-up two-by-two in front of Ground Zero, prepared to take an unpermitted march as close to Madison Square Garden as the police would let them. Many intended to participate in a “die-in” to protest U.S. military policy, at Madison Square Garden if possible, but, more likely, when the police officers decided the march had proceeded long enough. And Harak was ready to make a physical stand against war profiteering as well. “There used to be a war, and some people profited off of them,” said Harak, moments before the march was to begin. “Now, especially under the Bush administration, these same people are making war for profit. What they’ve done in effect is commandeered our military to take over an entire nation. The economic cost is huge, and the human cost astounding. By staging a die-in, what we want to do is bring the idea of the human cost as close to the convention as possible.” Harak is a co-founder of Voices in the Wilderness and has been a priest for 24 years. Currently he serves the St. Vincent Parish in Flatbush, Brooklyn, on the weekends and works with peace activists during the week, he said.

Unfortunately, the march from Ground Zero to Madison Square Garden didn’t go quite as expected. Shortly after a police commander, who remains unidentified, announced to the assembled demonstrators that, as long as they stayed on the sidewalk, walked two-by-two, crossed with the lights, and didn’t block pedestrian or automobile traffic, there would be no problem, the group began crossing Church Street and headed up Fulton, toward a line of police who had closed off Fulton to traffic.

But, just as the sidewalk on Fulton began filling up, officers moved to the front and halted the march’s progress, forcing several people who were expecting to step onto the sidewalk before the Church Street light changed to be momentarily stranded in the street, thereby blocking traffic and giving the NYPD “causes belie.” What proceeded from there was incredible as several men and women were lined up on their knees and handcuffed. About 200 people on Fulton were surrounded by orange netting. Reporters were told not to move or they were “fair game,” and the police proceeded to arrest the whole crew before the march had even had a chance to start.

The arrests didn’t halt the protest from going forward, though, as about 220 people opted to march along the sidewalk up Church Street, toward the Garden via Washington Square Park. They were a quiet, solemn crew, who nevertheless managed to snake their way to Broadway and 28th Street, where 54 members of the group left the line to perform a die-in after dozens of police on bikes, cars, and vans halted the procession.

Eric LeCompte, SOAWatch events and outreach coordinator, estimated the Ground Zero crowd at 2,000 and said the decision to break away and march despite the arrests and heavy police presence was heartening. “I really feel that the action turned out well,” LeCompte said as police attempted to close off the intersection where the 54 “dead” marchers lay. “It was terrible the way this started, with the police illegally arresting more than 200 people. But we intended, and did, let the Bush administration know what its foreign policy is doing to the world.” Other events throughout the week followed a similar path, with police promptly moving to shut down entire blocks as protest sprang up, and demonstrators cropping up elsewhere. Sunday, August 30, is a perfect case in point. Loosely affiliated groups participated in an event known as ‘Mousebloc,” a series of confrontations aimed at RNC delegates and their hangers-on attending dinner and performances near Times Square, the heart of the city’s theater district. Police, as if foreshadowing how they would handle the A31 day of direct action, moved in quickly and shut down streets, intersections, and corners each time a group of protesters moved to block an entrance, occupy a corner, or confront the Republican revelers.

Mounted police rode at a small crowd of about 100 gathered on the island in the Square, which caused a small splinter group of a dozen or so to run off in the direction of the Marriott Hotel. Officers on foot pursued them, blockaded the hotel entrance, and closed down the sidewalk to everyone, even credentialed reporters.

Around the corner a group calling themselves Queer Fist held a “kiss-in,’ in which couples walked slowly along the sidewalk, stopping to kiss soulfully often enough that more than thirty police officers corralled the participants at the corner of 47th and Seventh and arrested them en masse, utilizing the now-familiar orange netting and metal barricades.

Small demonstrations kept popping up at and around Times Square throughout the evening. Police obliged, shutting down sections of the street, rounding up demonstrators and, at times, very few times mind you, getting rough.

One of those instances involved a group called “Food Kitchen,” which brings food to demonstrations across the country. Several members were wondering outside the Palace Theater, where an angry confrontation between demonstrators and presumed RNC attendees leaving the musical Aida broke out, carrying trays of food when several officers moved in, grabbed one, identified by three other members as Mark Randall, knocked his tray of food to the ground and pulled him toward a waiting paddy wagon. As of press time, Alt Press has been unable to discern the whereabouts of Randall.

By the time that Tuesday rolled around, “Mousebloc” seemed a dry run for the protesters and police as lower Manhattan between the Garden and Union Square Park become the scene of untold protests. Marches broke out, seemingly at random. Protesters played cat-and-mouse with the police, allowing them to pursue a group only so long as it took to find a block which hadn’t been shut down and then promptly stop, at times lying in the street until the officers had closed the area off from cars, pedestrians, and media alike. The official arrest count for the evening is more than 1,100, a number that includes many legal observers from both the National Lawyers Guild and the American Civil Liberties Union, reporters, and folks going about their daily business. Both the NLG and the ACLU are considering filing a class action civil lawsuit against the city and its police force for illegal and “pre-emptive” arrests that took place that night and throughout the week.

Other, calmer activities took place all week, including a tent city called “Bushville” in the blasted wasteland of Bedford-Stuyvesant, an American Friends Service Committee memorial for the fallen (military and civilian) in Iraq, a “Fox Shut-Up-a-thon,” a march on the mass media, rallies throughout the day at Union Square (rallies that often resembled activist bazaars), the last of which culminated in a huge, un-permitted march to the Garden during Bush’s acceptance speech, a labor rally attended by tens of thousands, and many similar, largely un-remarked upon events. All of which begs the question why? Why were sustained demonstrations against the sitting leader of this nation largely ignored by the mainstream, and most so-called alternative, media? If the government of another nation, say Iran, or even a democratic nation such as Mexico, faced half the numbers and half the actions that this one did, our daily press and cable news channels would be all over the scene. They’d pick “leaders” out of the crowd, ask them how horrible their government is, release them and pontificate for days on the few sentences anyone paid attention to. Not here, my friends. Instead, as a workplace colleague, Margaret Galambos, said to me the other day, upon returning from the U.S. Open in New York, “there weren’t that many people, were there? I didn’t see much in the papers or on TV.”

And that, not Gitlin’s paranoia or Taibbi’s prodding, is the problem that the active left faces today.

The audience that Get Urban! aims to capture appears to be the wealthy suburban baby boomers to whom new urban real estate development in places such as Buffalo has been geared.

Ezell defines three desirable urban areas or “urbs.” Post-industrial urbs are comprised of factories that have been converted to cool, pseudo-soho loft spaces. Think Elk Terminal. Garden urbs are “quaint, tree-lined areas, often with historical or significant residential and commercial architecture.”

These are not to be confused with eclectic urbs, which are models of diversity and “funkiness.” Elmwood is given as an example of an eclectic urb, although it clearly seems to fit the definition of both. Ezell insists on calling Allentown and the area around the strip “Greater Elmwood Village.” The annoying habit of coming up with new names for urban areas carries throughout the book for a reason: the author’s rigid public relations mindset. (Personally we prefer the title of People’s Republic of Elmwood, but there’s no accounting for taste.)

Finally, all other areas are relegated to the status of “blank canvas urbs.” So outside of the “Greater Elmwood Village urb,” Buffalo apparently has a lot of blank canvas urbs to offer. That’s the bright and optimistic side.

In reading this book, which proclaims to be a guide to persons seeking to connect their identity type with one type of vital urban area, one can’t help but think that a sort of colonization project is already under way. Driving demand for better urban living areas would appear to be a laudable goal and, although self-appointed urban cheerleaders such Ezell or various Buffalo News writers can be very annoying indeed, it would seem that most everyone you talk to wants Buffalo to “make a comeback.”

When one considers the fact that federal housing money was pumped into Ciminelli’s Sidway loft conversion project at the rate of about $180,000 per unit, however, optimism should give way to a more healthy skepticism. Ezell points out the need for urban energy in all successful “urban renewal.” Time and again, though, Buffalo’s urban energy has been dissipated, along with federal dollars, on isolated, politically driven projects that have yet to result in the creation of a single new “urb” of any sort.

In addition, the predilection for what Chippewa Strip entrepreneur Mark Goldman called “deathstars” (monolithic public construction projects that punch holes in the fabric of urban neighborhoods) seems to continue with the enormously expensive bioinformatics “signature building,” on Washington Street.

In terms of the success of the Elmwood area’s continued stability in the real estate market, it’s sobering to note that much of the rest of the city’s west side has more or less collapsed. Therefore, people attracted to Elmwood for its “funkiness” must pay a premium for housing that is funky, but a safe distance from crack dens.

The downside that doesn’t appear in this work is that, while disinvestment in urban areas continues to bounce along the bottom, federal aid to cities, long abused by corrupt city governments such as the Masiello administration, appears to be in danger as well. As political power shifts to the sun belt, so will federal dollars needed to prop the bloated infrastructures of ubiquitous sprawl. What our own optimistic regional planners, such as the Giambra administration’s Bruce Fisher, don’t want to talk about is the growing inclination of the federal government to turn its back on such places as Buffalo. While this reached a new level with the sudden postponement of the federal courthouse project by Republicans in power, one can’t expect the Democrats, if brought back into power this fall to keep the gravy train flowing into urban renewal projects that have often done more harm than good in the Northeast.

The Bush debacle aside, if Democrats seek to maintain power, they must build a strong constituency in the so-called “red states.”

Dark, clean, and crisp, yet inviting, Prespa offers the city something unique. Instead of the typical restaurant/bar combination, Prespa is a comfortable bar/lounge that simply happens to have a great menu with a chef to back it up. The ample couches, elegant bar, side rail, fireplace and abstract artwork make a good backdrop for the melting-pot crowd. The offerings from Prespa’s stellar beer list and the more than adequate wine list are other aspects fostering flirtatious conversation. Entrepreneur/restaurateur Alex Michaelidis and his staff should be extremely proud of their first venture.

“There is not a thing on the menu I would not order.” “Relaxing alternative to Allen Street.” “Warm and inviting.”

Menu:

Salads: Mesclun greens, grilled asparagus, tomato, goat cheese

Panini: # Grilled Chicken Breast, fresh mozzarella, roasted red pepper, red onion, avocado aioli on rustic Italian

Wasabi Roast Beef, romaine, tomato on spinach bread

Pizza:Red Pie – tomato, fresh mozzarella, basil with Vidalia onion, and Portabella mushrooms

Dessert: Chocolate Mousse Cake * Chocolate Brownie Cheese Cake with Caramel

Beverages: Sterling Merlot, 2002, Central Coast * Hop Harvest Draft, Custom Brew Crafters

* -- best of category # -- best of show

Inside this warehouse hung several signs noting these chemicals as well as abspestos and signs clearly stating that protective chemical gear was to be worn in the areas where nearly 1200 people were detained for no less than 12 hrs. and as much as 24 hrs. Behind 15 ft fences with razor wire echoed nearly 1000 people ; "This is what Guantanamo looks like!" To me this place most resembled something you would see on the history channel pertaining to the concentration camps of Hitler's time. I mean can you say Gustapo! The police refused any media or legal counsel admittance to the Pier and actually carpeted the building once all detainees were cleared out and sent to central booking in downtown manhattan, where they attempted to detain somewhere near 2000 protestors until the republican convention was over. Clearly the republican committee did not want this publicity being the largest political protest in America ever! That has to say something about the way things are being done with this country and obviously there is a large amount of people that are unhappy with the system we are forced to take part in. In total I was held by the NYPD for approx. 43 hrs without due process, legal counsel, while violationg my 1st amendment right to free speech, my right to protest, and my right to assemble peacefully in attempt to address the shortcomings of our government. Ya know it's gotta say something when the state of ny supreme court orders the release of prisoners and actually fines the NYPD for the mockery they made of their department and the system. Can you say.....class action....... lawsuit? kiss my ass NYPD, see ya in court!
The Democratic convention was uplifting in its look and attitude, but empty of a concrete plan for America’s future, and too often mired in the swamps of 1970’s Viet Nam. The faces were attractive and bright, the smiles wide and genuine, and the talk was of hope and recovery from the militaristic, isolationist, imperialistic, fear-mongering monarchy America once again suffers under. I admire John Kerry as well, because I was in the service during that Southeast Asian “conflict” LBJ lied us into escalating, and I know my fellow Americans DID commit some heinous crimes over there. I remember being proud of him for coming back and daring to say so out loud. But I wanted to hear the nuggets of future goals an optimistic idealist could latch onto, and had to wait until the Republican convention to hear out of the mouth of George W. Bush, himself. And while I know he will never keep faith with any one of them, they were unarticulated asides of aspirations that should have been coming out of John Kerry’s mouth instead.
The Republican convention was somewhat embarrassing, not just because thousands of protesters from all across the country were being arrested (harkening back to the ‘72 Republican convention) and restrained to the point that a judge had to fine the city for their release, or that it was just a drawn-out homage to a “get over it” event that happened years ago at the expense of issues like the economy, the failed wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the environment, and JOBS, but because speakers like Zell Miller –a Republican with a Democrat label that remains in office because he brings home the bacon whatever clothes he wears, and the ever cartoonish, cracked-lipped caricature of Dick Cheney we are always so creeped-out seeing, just oozed pure mean-spiritedness, pettiness, anger and poor policy defensive braying. Even “Ahnold” (a Republican married to a member of the Democrat’s most influential clan Kennedy), who I am a huge fan of, did a greasy faced, pretentious exhortation of clichés and flat-out falsehoods that made one wonder where even Conan the Terminator’s limited acting skills had disappeared to. I was immensely embarrassed for him and, other than twaddle like “Twins”; I’ve never felt that way before. I applaud his rise (with Franco Columbu, another muscle beach import) from humble immigrant beginnings to world-renowned movie idol and governor of California, one of the most socially progressive states in the nation, but his poorly written, and even more poorly delivered harangue rang raucously empty in the lock-step, Stepford delagates' summer sweat-soaked auditorium.
CNN’s, as well as C-SPAN’s coverage repeatedly panned frowning, brooding and bored faces throughout the convention and the fields of flags and metronomic cheers of “flip-flop” rang as hollow as the phony patriotism which has forever been “the last refuge of a scoundrel”. And when George W. Bush finally spoke, from “No Child Left Behind”-one of his poorest funded programs as anyone who knows a teacher or has a child in school knows all too well, to the “war” in Iraq-both his justification for it: WMD’s, terrorist connections, and his oft touted, but unprovided support for both our troops and a democratic (non-puppet) Iraqi government, he lied. That even just a room full of Americans cheered this Orwellian disinformation (up is down, war is peace, hate is love) diatribe was disheartening to any progressive leaning, late blooming, baby boomer.
What has democracy in America been reduced to when one of your only two electable political parties is an affiliation of selfish and self-serving, bold-faced liars, and the other is a party of high ideals but little expectations of those it exists to help? Where do we go as a nation from here? A massive overhaul of our electoral system has to be engineered before capitalism’s greed-driven engine and ethically corruptive legislative meddling turns American democracy into a corporate theocracy, and every “right” it was founded to provide is restricted or reserved for the “fortunate” few. This is our time. History will look back at us and judge our choices and our character by what we do here today. It will say we either saved that bold experiment our founding forefathers undertook, or failed it. VOTE. It’s not just your “right”; it’s your duty. It is your duty to all those who come after to provide the promise your parents left you, and to honor all those who have gone before that made it possible for you to do so.
-alexander graham