Bring your questions and comments to the conversation, which starts at 2 p.m.
In case you missed the earlier invite, here it is.
August 16, 2012 - 12:17 PM
Bring your questions and comments to the conversation, which starts at 2 p.m.
In case you missed the earlier invite, here it is.
August 15, 2012 - 11:02 PM
This is what I mean.
You drive five, or possibly six, minutes from your home. When you pull up on Amherst Street, only feet from the Sportsmen's Tavern, that quintessential Buffalo thing awaits: the perfect parking spot. You take it.
You go to the door of the Sportsmen's, and one of the wonderful Hall family members waves you in. The place is full, but magically, there are two bar stools right in front of the stage. You order a beer. It's cheap and cold. Your friends arrive. Geoff takes the other stool. Donn is in the balcony. Anna and Cheryl show up eventually.
A few minutes later, one of the great rock songwriters of all time takes the stage. No, Marshall Crenshaw is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but that has nothing to do with his talent or output. It has to do with the craven nature of American pop music, perhaps a larger subject than we have time for right now.
His back-up band is the Bottle Rockets and they are sounding fantastic on this night -- crisp and soulful alike. The set is tight, full of Crenshaw's best tunes: "Marianne," "Someday, Someway," "There She Goes," and many more. He even covers Jimi Hendrix's "Manic Depression" with considerable verve. We're waiting for "Cynical Girl," and it arrives, making the show perfect.
All is right with the world, until you go out to your car again (carrying a beautiful flower arrangement but that, too, is a story for another day). And, oh, no! Aaargh! Damn! Stuck under a windshield wiper is one of those hideous and omnipresent blazing-orange envelopes -- a City of Buffalo parking ticket.
But wait. When you open it, no ticket lurks inside, just a handwritten note from the ticked-off homeowner whose driveway you may have intruded upon.
Understood. It won't happen again.
And here is "Cynical Girl" by Marshall Crenshaw at the Sportsmen's Tavern on August 15, 2012, a very Buffalo night:
(This video is dedicated to Keith McShea)
August 15, 2012 - 5:13 PM
I am heading into my last couple of days at The News, after 32 years at the paper and nearly 13 years as editor. On Sept. 4, I start as public editor of the New York Times. In between, there's some packing -- and the beach.
I've been occupied, in part, with writing a retrospective piece for The News' August 26th Spotlight section. I've also been cleaning out files and reluctantly parting with stacks of newspapers, notebooks, and memorabila of all sorts.
I've even given away my old Royal typewriter on which -- for a year or two after I arrived here in 1980, before we moved to a more modern system -- I tapped out reviews and news stories.
These days, of course, I'm all about being digital. So on Thursday, I'll host the last of my monthly live web chats with News readers. So I invite you to participate with questions, comments and last-minute complaints.
It should be an active day for local news with the buzzed-about sentencing of James Corasanti in the morning. And much to take up on the national news front with Mitt Romney's choice of running mate Paul Ryan. So I hope we'll have a mix of new and old to discuss.
Please come by the home page of BuffaloNews.com for the chat at 2 p.m.
August 13, 2012 - 1:45 AM
Talk about good timing. The August 6 issue of the New Yorker magazine featured Ryan Lizza's profile of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, appearing just before Mitt Romney tapped him as his running mate. The story's standout paragraph: "To envisage what the Republicans would do if they win in November, the person to understand is not necessarily Romney, who has been a policy cipher all his public life. The person to understand is Paul Ryan." Lizza is one of the best political writers on the scene. Here's his piece, "Fussbudget: How Paul Ryan captured the G.O.P."
Also of interest on the subject of Ryan is The Buffalo News' Washington Bureau Chief Jerry Zremski's takeout from Sunday's paper on the link between the would-be veep and Jack Kemp, the late Republican Congressman from Hamburg. That story was part of a two-fer front page for Zremski on Sunday. His strong look at the Buffalo ties to Super PACs on both sides of the aisle -- in the form of Bill Burton and Carl Forti -- was in the works before the Ryan story broke this past weekend.
Meanwhile, on an absurd note, in the Washington Post's political blog, "The Fix," be sure to read what Paul Ryan and the word "shirtless" have in common in the wonderful world of Google.
Unrelated to politics, but in the same issue of the New Yorker is one of the weirdest tales I've read in a while: Mark Singer's "Marathon Man," the story of a Michigan dentist who apparently faked his way into blazing-fast running times in marathons all over the U.S., until the running blogosphere sniffed a rat. Here's a summary; you'll have to buy the print magazine or be a subscriber to see the full story.
It's a fascinating read, even if the only kind of marathon you're involved in is the metaphorical kind, like that described by Lewis Carroll's Alice: "Here, you see, it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place." I know the feeling.
August 3, 2012 - 2:12 PM
Starting with last Saturday's spectacular front page covering the Olympics opening ceremonies, several Buffalo News page designs have earned national notice over the past week. News Design Director Vincent Chiaramonte and designer Andrea Zagata are largely behind the pages, with other designers joining in.
Scroll to the bottom of this one from the Society of News Design. Do this same with this one, to see a page designed by graphic artist Christina Wilemski, also recognized by SND. Meanwhile, the Washington, D.C.-based Newseum recognized two Buffalo News front pages this week in its daily Top Ten.
Says Chiaramonte: "We're really reaching for a broader audience than just sports, and using these dramatic photos for compelling storytelling."
Meanwhile, former News reporter Juan Forero -- now South America correspondent for the Washington Post and NPR -- was recognized this week by Columbia University with its Moors Cabot award, which has been given for 74 years to journalists across the Americas for coverage of regional issues. Here's the link: http://news.columbia.edu/oncampus/2841
Forero, born in Bogota, Colombia, came to the United States at age 5. His stint at The News -- mostly as a police reporter -- began in 1988, shortly after he graduated from Columbia University's graduate school of journalism, and lasted until 1992. In an email, he recalled today that he got his first taste of foreign reporting here:
"My very first foreign assignment was for the Buffalo News. In 1989, Pablo Escobar's hit men assassinated the the front-running, reformist presidential candidate in Colombia, Luis Carlos Galan. And I was doing a stint on the Sunday magazine at the time. The editor decided to send me to Colombia to do a first-person story about my return to Colombia during a time of tumult (I hadn't been to Colombia since 1981, when I was still a kid). And if memory serves, I also did four articles for the news pages. Very exciting and got me hooked on foreign reporting and Latin America! When I left the News, I went to LA and Mexico City to do a year-long fellowship that focused on Latin American affairs."
Congratulations to all.
August 1, 2012 - 12:13 PM
I caught up by phone with Buffalo News Senior Sports Columnist Jerry Sullivan in London today, just after he had interviewed his favorite female athlete -- Serena Williams -- and made his first visit to the legendary tennis courts at Wimbledon.
He said the tennis star sounded thrilled to be there, "almost giddy," and I can say the same for Sully. The veteran sportswriter is covering his seventh Olympics, but he's far from jaded.
"I always feel as if I'm in the greatest place on earth," he said. How do these Games differ from those he has covered in China, France, Spain and elsewhere?
"This is the women's Olympics," he said. "In sports generally, women often get relegated to the back of the bus. But this time around, the women are often a better story. Their stories are more engaging, and it gives everything a fresh, new feeling."
Editors here in Buffalo have been displaying Sullivan's columns prominently each day, believing that readers will be keenly interested in their focus on local athletes, the effect of Title IX, the exciting women's gymnastics gold medal, and more.
Look for Sullivan's interview with Serena Williams in Thursday's paper and online -- and for a preview of that interview, see his Sully on Sports blog today.
With the changing economics of newspapers and other media outlets, many metropolitan papers and television stations have decided not to staff the Olympics this year or to reduce their staff presence significantly. Jerry Sullivan is the only member of the Buffalo media at the Games this year, at least to my knowlege.
As you can tell from the front-page display his columns are getting, we're very happy to have him there.
July 30, 2012 - 4:31 PM
The title of science writer Jonah Lehrer's most recent bestselling book is "Imagine: How Creativity Works." As it turns out, Lehrer took his own advice. He imagined -- fabricated -- quotes from Bob Dylan in the book that was published last March.
When questioned about it during an investigation by journalist Michael C. Moynihan, he lied.
Lehrer's horrifying fall from grace, rife with irony, came to its inevitable conclusion Monday as Lehrer issued a statement, accompanying his resignation from the New Yorker. He joined the magazine as a staff writer, in part to write his Frontal Cortex blog (formerly written for Wired) only weeks ago. Very quickly, he was embroiled in charges of self-plagiarism, which -- largely through the forbearance of editor David Remnick -- he managed to survive. But only briefly.
His Monday statement included these devastating lines:
"The lies are over now. I understand the gravity of my position. I want to apologize to everyone I have let down, especially my editors and readers."
The situation is more than unfortunate; it's closer to sickening. And just so stupidly unnecessary. Lehrer is an prolific and enaging writer with a great deal of talent. At barely 31, he had decades of great work left to produce.
"Why do writers DO this?" moaned one of his fans in a Twitter post Monday afternoon.
Why, indeed? Without a team of psychologists -- the very same people Lehrer might have interviewed -- it's hard to know. Is it the unending pressure to produce? Is it a kind of high-level laziness? Is it arrogance -- the normal rules don't apply to me?
Hard to say. What we do know is that it's happened before and that it will happen again. But not with impunity. In journalism, a field that values integrity above all, or ought to, and where credibility is what we're selling, lying to your readers is the unforgivable sin.
From the online magazine Tablet, here is Michael C. Moynihan's piece on Lehrer.
Steve Myers offers this wrapup piece on Poynter.org.
And here is a Jessica Holland piece from The National from last April, summarizing Lehrer's advice on how to be more creative.
Two of his tips resonate differently now: "Make up rules" and "Ignore convention." Another, sadly, may come in handy: "Take long walks."
July 30, 2012 - 2:01 PM
Those of us who love Buffalo are sometimes frustrated by how the city is seen by the outside world. We know it's a great place but it suffers from bad press, most of which centers on a long-ago blizzard and the vagaries of our professional sports teams.
That's why this editorial blog from the Syracuse Post-Standard, focusing on waterfront redevelopment -- including a now-obligatory mention of those colorful Adirondack chairs that dot the harbor -- is so welcome.
It's a far cry from Bette Midler's famously sarcastic line about Buffalo's lack of waterfront development during her HSBC Arena concert here in 2004: "I haven't been here since 1978. I love what you've done with the waterfront."
Her quip drew boisterous applause at the time from a frustrated populace. But now, it seems, waterfront fans have something more substantial to cheer about.
Here's the piece:
By The Post-Standard Editorial Board
One hundred eighty-seven years after it opened — and decades after it was filled in — the Erie Canal once again is becoming an economic engine for Upstate New York.
It’s happening in Buffalo, where the once-derelict downtown waterfront is being transformed through strategic public investments that are attracting private developers to the party.
The first phase of the Canalside project, Erie Canal Harbor, opened in 2008. Back in 1825, water dipped from the harbor was poured into the Hudson River by Gov. DeWitt Clinton, a “wedding of the waters” meant to symbolize the connection of Lake Erie to the sea made possible by “Clinton’s big ditch.”
Today, Erie Canal Harbor has public amenities such as a boardwalk, a pedestrian bridge, a “re-watered” commercial slip, picnic tables, Adirondack chairs and the excavated foundations of several canal-era buildings. More important, it has people — brought there by more than 400 events and activities scheduled throughout the summer, from music and theater performances to archaeological digs and group Zumba classes.
The next phase of Canalside is under construction on the site of the torn-down Memorial Auditorium. With $23 million in state money, the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. is “recreating” canals, towpaths and bridges from the heyday of the Erie Canal. To make sure there’s ice for skating in winter — though that’s usually not a problem in Buffalo — the canals will be refrigerated.
The Aud site sat fallow for years while Buffalo courted Bass Pro Shops to be the retail anchor of the Canalside development. After nine years of to-and-fro — echoes of our own dance with Destiny USA — Bass Pro withdrew in 2010 and a new plan was hatched.
The burst of public activity on Buffalo’s waterfront has ignited the interest of private developers. Two are vying to build on a large parking lot near First Niagara Center, the home of the Buffalo Sabres. Nearby, a former state office building has been stripped to its steel foundation in the process of being turned into a hotel and office complex. Buffalo’s miles of waterfront in the outer harbor and stretching south along Lake Erie — once home to grain elevators and steel mills — are being viewed with new eyes.
Good for Buffalo, a city struggling with population decline, poverty and vast swaths of abandoned property. A billion dollars in state aid sure helps. Even so, Buffalo has plenty of lessons for Syracuse and other Upstate cities fighting to survive and thrive:
• Don’t turn your back on the water, no matter how small (or polluted) it is.
• When the goal is to spur development, the best use of public money is to create public amenities. Once the people come to use those amenities, you’ll have to beat back the private developers with a stick.
• Preserving public access to the water — and public space near it — is critical. Once the water is walled off with private development, whether it be grain elevators or big retail establishments, it’s no longer a place that belongs to the people — a place where they want to hang out with friends, picnic with their families, take a Zumba class or go for a run.
• There’s no magic bullet for fixing our cities. Small, targeted investments can pay off in the long haul — if you have the foresight to make the right investments and the patience to let them flower.
July 25, 2012 - 10:33 AM
Former Buffalo News columnist and national radio journalist Lauri Githens checks in this morning with the following enthusiastic recommendation:
"Springsteen at 62," by David Remnick. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/07/30/120730fa_fact_remnick?currentPage=all
The piece by New Yorker editor David Remnick is "easily the most fully-realized portrait of Bruce ever done -- and that includes 'Glory Days,' the 400+ page book by Dave Marsh, who I've found genuinely likable as a person and a writer, yet who for all his built-in access to Springsteen never got anywhere near this deep. Started this at 1 a.m. the other morning, read nonstop to the end around 2 a.m." The Marsh book came out in 1986, the same year Githens interviewed both Marsh and the late, great E Street band sax player Clarence Clemons.
Rev your pink Cadillac and get started.
On a different topic altogether, some new Quinnipiac University poll numbers: New York voters gave Gov. Andrew Cuomo a high -- in fact, record-breaking -- approval rating of 73 percent, but they believe Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would make a better president, presumably in 2016. Here's the poll: http://bit.ly/QCteSi
Meanwhile, News Albany Correspondent Tom Precious' story on the subject begins with the words, "Run, Hillary, run" -- his assessment of what many New Yorkers seem to be thinking these days, according to the poll numbers.
Clinton has repeatedly said she's not interested in running for president, but there are those who think she could be persuaded. Anne E. Kornblut took up the question in a Washington Post piece last month, "Will Hillary Clinton run for president in 2016?" In it, her spokesman referred to continued speculation that she would run as nothing but "cable catnip."
July 22, 2012 - 8:46 AM
Sometimes stories make their way into the paper with very little discussion. A reporter goes out to cover an event, writes it up, it goes through the normal editing process and is published within hours (or, on the web, within minutes).
Others -- investigative projects, for example -- get a great deal more consideration. Multiple editors, and sometimes lawyers, read it and consult with each other. Eventually, the story is published and when it finally appears in print we feel as if we've been through a difficult childbirth.
It's a rarity when a feature story -- rather than a hard-news story -- falls into that second category. But that's the case with today's Viewpoints cover story by Emma Sapong, which takes up the history and changing nature of what is commonly known as "the 'n' word."
Emma, a Liberian-American business reporter for The News, was intrigued by recent local news events in which that word spurred controversy. She had also become aware of the word's role in rap music and its slang usage by African-American young people. She worked with Urban Affairs Editor Rod Watson to develop the story, and both did an excellent job.
Here is the Viewpoints story, along with her sidebar explaining her own experiences.
The story had a long gestation period because Emma, Rod and I had different ideas about how to present it. It was originally slated to run in Spotlight but moved to Viewpoints because Rod and I both thought it would have a more natural home there. Someone, along the way, had the idea of Emma's sidebar, which added depth and a personal tone to the piece.
But the biggest point of discussion centered on how to use the various forms of the 'n' word in the story.
Rod strongly favored using the full word throughout the story, without the usual dashes; he thought it was pandering to do otherwise. We ought to give our readers credit for being able to handle seeing the word in print. Emma leaned that way, too.
I disagreed, believing that many News readers would be offended, if not outraged. I knew that I would have that reaction myself. The word is just too fraught with pain, and The News is not part of the inner circle which can use the word freely. (Emma describes this dynamic in her piece.)
One step we took along the way was to discuss the issue with our diversity advisory council, most of whose members are African-American readers of The News. They were unanimous: Use dashes.
I was glad to hear it but, the truth is, I could not have countenanced doing anything else. We did, at Rod's suggestion, differentiate between the two uses of the word by using a final letter of 'r' or 'a,' along with dashes in the middle.
Meanwhile, I'd become involved enough that I worked with Emma on a near-final editing of the story and wrote the headline words myself, something I do only rarely.
As I told Emma, the ending of her personal sidebar brought tears to my eyes. I'm proud to have this work in today's News.