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BPO Pianist's Rachmaninoff Above Par At Golf Resort

Bianconi2By Mary Kunz Goldman

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra is returning from its Florida tour with lots of dramatic stories to tell. The stories are extra epic considering that the orchestra and JoAnn Falletta have been touring with French virtuoso Philippe Bianconi, who has been playing the tumultuous Rachmaninoff Third. 

Bianconi rocked Kleinhans Music Hall with the Rachmaninoff almost a fortnight ago and Florida audiences, too, have been thrilled by him.

Perhaps most thrilling of all was his solo piano performance at a PGA golf resort 20 minutes outside St. Augustine. We would assume that to be the World Golf Village.

As Buzz understands it, the resort was the only place that could accommodate the orchestra for its Daytona and St. Augustine concerts. Plus, they had a piano where Bianconi could keep his chops up. As board member Cindy Letro reports, the hotel's rooms tower over a central atrium with a piano bar in the center. The focal point of the cocktail bar is a baby grand piano with a flat lucite cover and a tip jar in the corner. The sound of the piano wafts up to rooms high above it.

It was at this piano that Bianconi seated himself to run through his Rachmaninoff.

"Imagine this elegant, self-effacing world-renowned pianist pounding out the Rach 3 for hours on end with the chords resonating to the floors above," Letro marvels. "One couple seated at the bar stayed for the entire session."

Later, the couple commented to a BPO musicians that they had thought Philippe was the hotel's scheduled entertainment. Ha, ha!

Letro recognized the glory of the occasion.

"A great moment!" she marveled.

Where the Buffalo Bills Reign Supreme


By Mary Kunz Goldman

There is one place in the world where the Buffalo Bills are the Super Bowl champs! Unfortunately it is in the Third World which is kind of far from here. But still, better than nowhere.

A friend hips us to this story about what happens to the merchandise made in case a certain team wins. It turns up in developing countries! You cannot legally resell it here, and so it goes there.

Quoth our friend: "I see this stuff all the time when I am in Africa or parts of Asia. It is no blunder, it is all planned and factored into championship clothing costs.  There are places in Africa that I have been where they still swear that the Bills are FOUR TIME SUPER BOWL CHAMPS!!"

Hmmm, maybe we should take a trip there.

Just for that feeling!

Buffalo's Secret Weapon


By Mary Kunz Goldman

The real winner of Saturday's Metropolitan Opera auditions is not even a singer.

It is Buffalo!

Organizer Dianne Rubin forwarded to Buzz an email from a Toronto couple, Ellen Richardson and Bruce Little, who were there to cheer on some of the many Canadian singers in the auditions.

The Torontonians wrote: "We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves -- a lovely day of singing, bracketed by two nights at a splendid B&B (the Parkside) and excellent meal at Hutch's and Ristorante Lombardo.  Buffalo is on our list of long weekend getaways now."

With which Buzz found ourself gawking at the Parkside House, pictured above, which has a friendly dog and a claw-foot bathtub and a music room complete with a baby grand piano. We want to go there! We want to stay in the Jewett Room.

Anyway, let's make a note of this Toronto twosome's comments, and make it a high note, while we're at it. We are always looking for that silver bullet here in Buffalo.

Opera could be it!

New York State Dominates List of Haunting Abandoned Places


At last, a list in which New York State may excel!

Our state makes quite the showing in "The 38 Most Haunting Abandoned Places On Earth."

There is a roofless Seneca Lake farmhouse that sits by a yard full of abandoned cars. And an asylum built in 1869 in Willard. Got to have an asylum in there, you know? People are always picking on asylums, especially writers who cannot use apostrophes correctly. (As we say here in Buffalo, we are just saying.)

There is Bannerman Castle in Pollepel Island, N.Y. How can we not have heard of this place?

City Hall Station in New York City is beautiful.


So is an abandoned Domino Sugar factory in Brooklyn.


Other sites include Pripyat, Ukraine, abandoned after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and a scary-looking hotel in North Korea, just so you see what we are up against here.

The competition is keen.

We are world class!


Christmas Time in Buffalo Is ....

Elmwood 012

Being picked up by the No. 20 Elmwood bus, its sign flashing "Happy Holidays," in front of Voelker's Bowling!

That was what Buzz did this morning after our car went into the shop for the second time this week. Which is fine with us. Who wanted to be driving in that rush hour this morning? The mechanic was trying to see if he could fix it on the spot and Buzz was edging out of the garage, murmuring things about work and deadlines.

Who needs the car? After the last few days?

You can keep it, buddy!

The bus was big and safe and warm. Someone got in our way and the bus driver gave him the horn. Unchallenged, we trundled down Elmwood. Buzz took pictures of the snowy cityscape. That is one of our masterpieces up above. Inside the bus, a poster advertised the Irish Festival ...

Elmwood 015

... that took place on the waterfront in August.

Life on the Metro Bus, it is like a parallel universe.

Merrily we roll along!


A Big Buffalo Welcome

Buzz's cousin was in Orlando, Fla., where it was 87 degrees and she flew back to Buffalo last night with no boots and no coat, just a cape.

This is how the Buffalo airport greeted her.

LOL, it looks like the moon!

Welcome home!


A Ride on the Happy Metro Bus


Remember the Metro Bus driver Buzz loved, who announced all the stops? We got her again this morning. This time she outdid herself!

"Happy Friday," she told us when we boarded in the howling winds. 

As we made our way down the bus aisle another passenger repeated the greeting. "Happy Friday!" he told us.

So there we are, beaming and telling people "Happy Friday!" Our morning was looking up!

The bus driver's good cheer continued as we rolled down Delaware Avenue. "Whoooo!" she would wail when the bus shook in the wind. "The wind is strong if it blows the bus around!" She added: "I'm going to get some overtime tonight. New drivers don't know how to deal with winds like this. Fine with me!"

The clouds gathered. "We're going to have a snowstorm," the driver predicted.

She cheerily gave another driver the horn when the driver cut her off.

"What kind of person in a little car would cut off a bus?" she said.

Then she went on to philosophize: "People who drive little two-seater cars are selfish. They don't want to give anyone a ride! They don't want to take you grocery shopping. Oh, no, they don't!"

The passengers all laughed, Buzz joining in.

The driver added: "And God forbid you got a friend that weighs 180 pounds."

More laughter. This was like Helium!

"Anyone remember Mr. Bean?" the driver asked. When no one answered she persisted. "Come on. Anyone on this bus remember Mr. Bean?"

Buzz spoke up from our seat in the back of the bus. "I do, yes."

"Remember Mr. Bean and his little car? He would get into that little car."

Hahahaha! That shows what the driver was talking about. It is one funny clip. Especially the end.

But not as funny as our ride on the Metro Bus!


Lidia Bastianich, Opera Woman


In conversation with The Buffalo News, super-chef Lidia Bastianich mentioned she liked classical music.

What classical music? Buzz, nerd that we are, had to ask.

Lidia had answers! 

“I go regularly to the Met," she told Buzz. “My favorite conductor is Valery Gergiev. I met him. We’re somewhat friends now. I followed him to the White Nights festival in St. Petersburg. They have a festival of classical music. It’s magnificent. That got me into the Russian music. ‘War and Peace.' ‘Prince Igor.' "

Those are some impressive Russian operas! "War and Peace" is by Serge Prokofiev. "Prince Igor" is by Alexander Borodin. 

In this gorgeous video you may watch Lidia's friend Maestro Gergiev in action.


Wow. Sort of makes you hungry, doesn't it? We can see where Lidia gets her inspiration.

If music be the food of love, cook on!

Brown Booby Frustrated In Efforts To Spot Rare Human


From the Brown Booby's human-watching journal:

Awk! Awk! I really must be as stupid as they say.

I make my once-in-a-lifetime human-ing trip up to Buffalo and all I see is the same darn people I've been seeing back home in Florida!

Buffalo Bills fans! They are down in Florida too. I added the Buffalo Bills Fan to my life list when I was still a chick. You can't fly 10 feet without running into one of those.

The Tufted Backwards-Baseball-Cap-Wearing Youth, he is so common!

It's my first time this year for the Tweedy UB Professor. But it's not as if he's exotic or anything. As a matter of fact that professor quoted in the story about me in The Buffalo News, I saw that exact same guy in Florida, looking right at me.

No goal! That is a quaint expression I hear in this Great Lakes town. 

Why are rare humans so hard to spot??

Charleston, S.C., Pays Bubbly Tribute To Buffalo

Buzz's cousin Gretchen is on vacation in Charleston, S.C. and took this picture at the Charleston City Market. 

Buffalo wing soda

No Goal, we say. You know how you can tell it's not authentic?

It should be Buffalo Wing Pop!

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