Arts

Driving Through Buffalo

A Parody of Sailing to Byzantium

 

By Glenn Young

THAT is a country for old men. The young

In one another's arms, anyone who can, flees

- Those dying generations – in homes outgrown

The Niagara-falls, the once-ship crowded seas,

Bills, Sabers, Bison catastrophe all season long

Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.

Stays caught in the senseless city of neglect

A monument to almost no intellect.

 

An aged city is but a paltry thing

With tattered streets with holes, useless

Few use their mind to think,  to deeply think

For most only chatter about their mortal mess,

Nor are there ringing schools for studying

Monuments of their own incompetence;

And somehow I have sailed many seas and come

To this moldy city of Buffalo.

 

O churches standing in Buffalo’s sky

As if a gold reminder of the past bold,

rose from its initial fires, now stuck in the lie,

And the politicians desire to keep control.

Which consumes the city’s heart away; sick with desire

And fastened to a dying industrial base

It knows not what its future is; and leads itself

Into the being stuck to a failure of economic destiny.

The people’s nature I can never take

They seem stuck in thought of just hateful things,

But such forms endless industrial smiths make

Of hammered iron and steel enamelling

That once keep a drowsy population at work;

Now set upon the workers brow to sting

and keeps the men and ladies of Buffalo from talking

Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

 

Howard & the White Boys

Pete Galanis – Guitar
Rocco Calipari – Guitar
Howard McCullum – Bass, Vocals
Jim Christopulos - Drums

In their hometown of Chicago, a city steeped in blues history, Howard & the White Boys have established a reputation as one of the city’s favorite attractions. Regular appearances at Buddy Guy’s Legends has afforded them an opportunity to display their wares before locals and out-of-towners who come to Legends to hear the best the city has to offer in blues entertainment. Indeed, Buddy Guy has been their unofficial mentor. Guy’s support for the band has been instrumental in exposing them to a wider audience. In 1995, he took them on a tour of ten midwestern cities as his opening act, and he often jumps onstage to jam with them when they appear at Legends. He also gave them the ultimate endorsement by making a rare guest appearance on their 1999 release The Big $core. He plays some scorching guitar and sings a duet with Howard on a remake of the Sam & Dave classic “I ThankYou.”

The members of Howard & the White Boys first met at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb where they were all students pursuing different academic disciplines. They started jamming together in 1988 just for fun, but their fast-growing popularity soon convinced them they could make a career of it. After only a few months, they got their first big break by opening for B.B. King. After their opening set, King took the time to pass on some words of encouragement to the fledgling group – a gesture that made a lasting impression. The band soon made the move to Chicago and began performing with the biggest names in blues: Koko Taylor, Albert King, Junior Wells, Lonnie Brooks, Luther Allison, Bo Diddley, and Chuck Berry.

Between 1994 and 1997, the group made two highly acclaimed recordings, Strung Out On The Blues and Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?, for Los Angeles based Mighty Tiger Records. During this period, the band won a “National Blues Talent Search” where they competed against hundreds of blues bands across the U.S. and Canada. The finals were held at the famed House of Blues in Los Angeles and the event was sponsored by Southern California radio station KLON. As a result, they returned to Los Angeles to perform at the 16th Annual KLON / Long Beach Blues Festival with such legends as Dr. John, Booker T. & the MGs, Buddy Guy, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Mavis Staples, and many others.

The band began traveling extensively across the United States and their growing popularity captured the attention of Philadelphia based Evidence Records. The Big $core was the first of two successful discs released by Evidence, and the band wasted no time in promoting it via the first of many trips to European countries such as Belgium, France, Italy, Holland, Switzerland, Norway, Germany, Luxembourg, and England. Riding the ever-growing wave of popularity both at home and abroad, the group then released a well-received live CD for Evidence entitled Live At Chord On Blues in 2001.

Long time band members Howard McCullum, Rocco Calipari, and Jim Christopulos have recently been joined by 26 year old guitarist Pete Galanis. Galanis’ tight blues chops—coupled with his natural versatility at handling the funk, R & B, and rock styles that have become Howard & the White Boys trademarks—have magnificently slotted right in with the group’s signature sound and has also lent it an exciting, youthful exuberance. The band is now focusing on touring and working on material for their next CD.

Booking: Rocco Calipari @ (219) 916-5445 Evidence Records: (610) 832-0844
Publicity: Doug Deutsch @ (213) 924-4901 Mighty Tiger Records: (800) 724-2730

Glass House Refractions (GHR), an invitational, site-responsive art exhibition, to be shown at the South Park Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens. GHR is open to submissions from professional and amateur artists, and aims to give pictorial representation to the cultural diversity of the greater Buffalo region. All selected imagery will be printed on translucent vellum (with an adhesive back), and will be displayed on the inside walls of the Botanical Garden’s glass conservatory. Lighting will consist of the natural light of the conservatory. The original media of each image need not be digital or photographic, but all imagery must be submitted in digital form.

The curators are specifically interested in images that communicate past, present and future visions concerning the greater Buffalo region (pertaining, but not limited to: social, architectural and geological subjects). Since the windowpanes will double as frames and lighting devices, GHR will function as a two-dimensional menagerie. The curators therefore prefer isolated image-statements (ie. floating objects/ environments) to carefully resolved compositions. All imagery must be appropriate for the entire viewing public.

GHR is scheduled to run from May 13 to May 27, 2005, with an opening reception to be held on Friday, May 13, from 5:30 to 7:30 PM.

Submission Info:

Preliminary versions of artwork should be emailed in JPEG form (72 ppi--no larger than 450 X 300 points) by April 18, 4 PM. Include the title and original medium of the work, along with the intended scale for the final print (using a preferred minimum print resolution of 140 dpi) and send to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please include a phone number where you may be reached. Call for work info as well as images of the conservatory are viewable at www.glasshousewny.blogspot.com

The selected artists will then be notified and asked to send 1) the full sized digital files (on CD), and 2) a check or money order in the amount of the calculated print and processing cost for their artwork. The cost for printing will reflect the size of the printed imagery. Minimum printing cost (for an image with a short side of up to 11 inches) will be $15, which will cover materials and processing costs.

*Glass House Refractions is curated by four co-directors of the Formula art collective.

**Images and historic background about the conservatory can be accessed at www.buffalogardens.com.

Reeling from shock and grief, Rich barely clung to his own life after wife Lisa died from cancer. The pain and suffering that ensued was almost intolerable. Only his love for his five- and six-year-old sons kept him from surrendering to the pain and collapsing in a hopeless heap.

Rich’s poignant and heartfelt story of love, love lost, all-consuming grief and pain, visitations from Lisa after her death, and his triumphant recovery is told in his new book, Life Without Lisa: A Widowed Father’s Compelling Journey Through the Rough Seas of Grief.

Thanks to the author’s professional status as a freelance writer, Rich’s instincts were to record his feelings and day-to-day existence on paper in the aftermath of his monumental loss. His journal later served as the basis for the book.

Life Without Lisa gives the reader a rare and intimate view of how a man faces loss that defies words and comes out the other side whole, happy and enjoying life again despite his certitude that he would never smile again.

Few men, if any, have publicly revealed their innermost thoughts, feelings and fears in the compelling way Rich Ballo has. Most men, instead, present a stoic face to the outside world and reject expression of their personal grief and experience. But Rich Ballo simultaneously shows his courageous and vulnerable side in his book that offers hope and understanding to all who suffer a cataclysmic loss. And since death touches all, chances are exceedingly high that all who read Life Without Lisa will benefit from the reassurances the book offers.

The book opens on the day of Lisa’s death, with the author saying he thinks the only thing that will save him are his two little boys. Chapter one ends with a memorable scene in which Rich puts little Nick and Victor to bed, and the three of them hug, clinging together, not wanting to let go. Rich writes that they are like “...three weary swimmers adrift in a sea of shock and grief.”

Life Without Lisa enables readers to walk a mile in Rich’s shoes for five years following Lisa’s death. Readers are allowed glimpses of Rich’s utter despair and aching loneliness as he puts his new life together day by day following his monumental loss. The pages of Life Without Lisa reveal Rich’s painstaking recovery. Readers sob when he sobs and cheers him on when hope glimmers on the horizon. But most of all, readers see him or herself in his journey because ultimately love and loss unite us all.

Moments of humor punctuate the true story and bring us to the other side where the impossible has happened: Rich is once again happy and fulfilled! This up-close-and-personal story offers hope and healing for every reader who finds him or herself lost in a sea of grief and affirms the eternal nature of the soul.

Life Without Lisa confirms that life goes on both on the earth plane for the one left behind as well as in the spirit realm for the one who has gone on.

Published by Quality of Life Publishing Co. (1-877-513-0099) • ISBN: 0-9675532-4-5 Distributed to North American bookstores by Biblio Distribution

Fast forward to the Great Erie County Budget Chaos of 2005. Deep cuts are occurring in seemingly every facet of County government. The Buffalo News continues to spread the Gospel of Austerity and Shared Pain For All. As a result, the recent news that over forty not-for profit organizations will also have their County funding slashed didn’t come as a big surprise.

If one were to ask former Bills Coach Marv Levy’s motivational question, “Where would you rather be than right here, right now?” The overwhelming collective response from the people of Erie County might be “Anywhere but here.”

This begs the question: why is all of this chaos happening right here and right now? Nothing can be done about Joel Giambra’s squandering of the tobacco settlement money, except to stop him from blowing the eighty million dollars that remain. Something, can be, and eventually will have to done to reverse deep property tax cuts made by Giambra at the start of his first term. Legal mandates will force the issue and at the end of the day this “tax revolt”, as it is called by The Buffalo News, will probably be over without a single musket shot ever being fired.

Before it’s all said and done, we might also find ourselves raising the sales tax, as well. In the meantime the cuts that have been made, thus far, seem to be fair – some would say almost democratic, because they are across the board. The tax revolt is far from over and it’s far from democratic, because even before a single nickel has been restored to a single budget, it’s abundantly clear that the big losers in all of this will be, if not Democrats, then at least, non-Republicans.

Most of the 2500 people being laid off are unionized workers. Unions don’t traditionally support the GOP and by the way, this is the biggest layoff to hit the community since the closing of Trico. Like Trico, this is not so much about the negative perception of unions (although that’s a big component) as it is about a basic sea change in philosophy. There’s no way we could have been competitive with the wages made by Trico’s new work force in Mexico, and there’s no way that Western New York holds any real value for the Republican Party. What we had to offer the Board of Trico is what we now have to offer Republicans – absolutely nothing.

But surely after new taxes are imposed the budget cuts to all of these not-for-profits will be restored, won’t they? Don’t hold your breath.
We are witnessing a new Hooverism – in place of government services and government support for programs that “merely” effect the quality of life, we will hence forward rely on charity. In case you haven’t noticed, our great local philanthropic institutions tend to be controlled by folks who are, shall we say, right of center?

For example, as we went to press it was announced that Women’s and Children’s Hospital will dole out money for the Charter School revolution, and of course, the Oshei Foundation will continue to be part and parcel of the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority (The Control Board) which is on a long march against the fire, police, and teacher’s unions.

Does anybody believe for a second that a Republican not-for-profit (one of George I’s “thousand points of light”) will step in to shore up the new County funding gaps in the budget of arts organizations such as Hallwalls or Squeaky Wheel?

Although these organizations are not part of the Democratic Party and would, indeed, consider themselves to be non-partisan, let’s look at it another way: What have these organizations done for the Republican Party, lately? Well, if we are to be honest, absolutely nothing. How does reading Michael Niman’s Artvoice columns attacking George Bush and the neocons help expand the GOP power base, locally? It doesn’t.

The arts community has, rightly or wrongly, been identified with forces hostile to the Republican Party. So while they might think that they are not being impacted differently than anybody else, at the end of the day, they are. Rather than the “We’re All In This Together” party line being pushed by The Buffalo News, it might be instructive to think back to the NEA battle during the Reagan years and ask the simple question about the current situation: “Are we under attack?”

How about if we put the shoe on the other foot and ask these people to prove to us that they are not under attack. While they may represent mere targets of convenience, they need to understand what’s going on here, not just in Washington. The culture war is now on their doorstep and they ignore it at their peril.

Directors of the effected organizations need to keep in mind that the services they cut, the people they layoff, the patrons they will turn away, and the artists they can no longer support who will simply throw their hands up and leave Buffalo, all of these things have, at their root, a political prima causa.

Welcome to The Revolution.

What the arts community, in particular, must come to accept is that they are what is meant by the term “bloated government,” and that “running it like a business” means continued support for charitable organizations such as Women’s and Children’s Hospital (read: Kaleida, Inc./Chimilgen is the 501c3) that, while enjoying broad support in the liberal and progressive communities, is now, nonetheless, contributing to the right wing agenda to bankrupt the public school system through the back door of charter schools. Conspiracy theory? It’s important to remember that the former Chief of Kaleida was none other than Tony Gioia, a principal fundraiser for W. who was made Ambassador to Malta for his efforts on behalf of the Party. Remember that you read about that here, in the pages of Alt, not in Artvoice.

Do you think that a similar reward awaits the director of Hallwalls? Let’s see, where’s she from, again? Germany? That’s in old Europe, isn’t it? Yeah, I don’t see their funding being restored any time soon. Sorry.

If Artvoice is to be the representative voice of the Arts community, they must make their readers aware of the depth and complexity of the battle that has now been enjoined right here in our backyard. The occasional essay on local preservation efforts or bicycle rallies won’t cut it. If it helps, maybe they could look at it as their own privatized personal faith-based initiative!

As the old expression goes, you’re not paranoid if they really are out to get you.