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Meryl Streep's neck, Andrew Cuomo's quietude and one heck of a cocktail

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tops Rolling Stone magazine’s list of a dozen leaders -- both in and out of government -- who are moving and shaking while Washington stands frozen in gridlock.  However, I’m not sure the headline (“The Quiet Ones”) quite describes our schmoozer-in-chief.  Though admiring overall, the story also gives Cuomo a slap on the wrist for “lack of transparency,” noting that last month he gave lawmakers “only a day to consider a 19,000-word bill revamping the state’s income tax code” and quotes former governor Eliot “Client 9” Spitzer, calling him “the dirtiest, nastiest political player out there.”


The late, great photographer Patricia Layman Bazelon’s gritty and soulful images of Buffalo’s grain elevators are on view at Allen Street’s Hart Gallery through January.  Curated by her longtime colleague and photo assistant, Lauren Tent, the exhibit reminds us of how beautifully Bazelon captured her adopted city’s faded glories.   In one, a red armchair sits abandoned in the foreground of a wintry field, with the Cargill elevator looming behind it.   While you’re there, take a peek at gallery owner Barbara Hart’s “little wood people” -- amusingly hand-painted figures, from a nun to a pothead to country-western singer.  The tiniest are $10.


And if looking at art makes you hungry, Hart is connected by a pass-through to Café 59.  That connection made me think of other favorite Buffalo places with open passageways to neighboring businesses. There’s Caffé Aroma next to Talking Leaves at Elmwood and Bidwell, Rust Belt Books next to LaTeDa on Allen, and, never to be forgotten, New World Record and Spot Coffee at Elmwood and Cleveland.   Readers, am I missing any others?


Photography fans also will want to check out the display in Sunday’s New York Times of Abe Frajndlich’s work.  Cindy Sherman of Buffalo’s Hallwalls fame is one of the subjects from his book, “Penelope’s Hungry Eyes: Photographs of Photographers.”


Nora Ephron, famously, felt bad about her neck.  But how does Meryl Streep feel about Margaret Thatcher’s neck?  In the biopic, “The Iron Lady,” Streep’s throat goes from youthfully firm to saggily middle-aged to downright billowy in old age.  Although Streep won a best-actress Golden Globe award last night for the role, and surely is the greatest actress on the planet, the film itself lacks a plot.  So, if you go, watching the prime minister’s neck evolution will give you a way to amuse yourself.


Charles Dickens’ 200th birthday has brought out the talents of two big-name writers of today’s era.  The late Christopher Hitchens’ last piece for Vanity Fair explores “Charles Dickens’ Inner Child,” while Verlyn Klinkenborg’s Sunday Observer tunes in to “The Whirling Sound of Planet Dickens.”   The birthday is coming up on Feb. 7 should you want to find a way to celebrate, whether by clanking your chains, throwing in a DVD of “Oliver!” or filing an extremely complex lawsuit.       


At Vera, a new bar and gourmet-pizza joint on Lexington Avenue near Ashland, the mixed drinks are described as “love potions, pain killers, truth serums and courage builders.”  Made from fresh, local ingredients and priced at $10 each, they rise above the ordinary, as the drink menu’s charmingly superior attitude makes clear: “Should you be in the mood for an Apple-tini or Slippery Nipple shots,” perhaps this isn’t the bar for you.”  What you can get, though, is a Black Witch -- “dark, mysterious, with big bold flavors.  Under her spell, time seems to disappear.  Rye whiskey, Apple Jack, Strega, Benedictine, black walnut bitters and a dash of absinthe.”  Makes you want to pull up a bar stool, but good luck with that.  On weekends, Vera is deservedly mobbed.


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