“We’ve given the production an entirely new flavor,” says Victoria Chatfield, executive director of Colloquial Theater. “There’s more intellectual thought behind the kitsch. Our version has the appeal of the original – but there’s an actual social statement to be made.”

Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show runs July 2nd through 10th, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 PM at the Flickinger Performing Arts Center (at the Nichols School). Tickets are $15 general admission and $10 for students and seniors. A prop kit is included with each ticket purchase – outside props will not be allowed in the theater. Audience participation is encouraged.

Now entering its third season, Colloquial Theater is completely managed by students under the age of twenty-one. The company strives to generate new interest for the arts and provide opportunities for upcoming thespians, designers, and arts administrators.
Of course, notoriety sells and despite the disappointing numbers of Blair’s book, it's pretty much assured that he will outsell Mr. Light. While we’d all like to see hard work rewarded, life isn’t fair. Light’s work is pretty much the literal opposite of “Burning Down My Master’s House,” and that may be one of its biggest problems to those who are politically opposed to the editorial direction The Buffalo News has taken.

However, Light’s scrupulous adherence to the dictates of objective reporting style deserves a considered analysis. Light combines a brief history of the newspaper itself with what, in later chapters, becomes a personal accounting of his time with The News. While someone unfamiliar with Buffalo and its newspaper might find the history interesting, it seems to me that in detailing his own personal stories, Light and his readers would have been better served by a separate memoir.

In writing their own stories, newspaper reporters may take advantage of this unfamiliar freedom to reveal deeply personal narratives as in Pete Hamill’s “A Drinking Life,” or they may attempt to give their readers a front row seat in the corridors of power as in “The Times of My life and My Life With the Times,” by Max Frankel, but Light is perhaps too self-effacing, and diplomatic to reveal enough of himself to carry this book as a personal narrative. At the same time he is too much the company man to reveal the inner workings of the wheelhouse.

On the personal side, both Light’s generation, and certainly, the culture of the Buffalo News encourage a taciturn approach. Many of his forebears at The News that are portrayed here also possess exteriors of leather. Still, Light’s tightly controlled, “just the facts ma’am delivery” sometimes obscures his characters’ humanity. After recounting the tale of Managing Editor Paul Neville’s untimely death at age forty nine, and Light’s own promotion as a result, we’re introduced to Light’s staff. Four paragraphs after his arrival in Light’s narrative, and after thirty years on the job at The News, a key assistant, Foster Spencer, is dead. When News editor Bill Malley comes on to the scene in the next paragraph, you want to warn him. Sure enough, he dies in a car crash four paragraphs later.

It’s not that Light doesn’t care about these people. He praises their work as he does with that of most of his colleagues and therein lies another problem. Light even takes time to acknowledge a pack mule like Marcia Harasack who we’re told was a, “…very capable part-time assistant.” The point is that the book is more of a farewell to the troops than a personal memoir. Which brings us to conclude that this is a book with a very specific audience.

This book is clearly intended for the longtime Buffalo News reader and Light makes no attempt to vary the writing style he has employed during his lengthy career there. Many people who grew up reading The News will enjoy this book. The chapters dealing with the early history of the paper are especially interesting. However, a book about The Buffalo News could certainly be written that would appeal to a much wider audience.

For those who want the lowdown on political influence and the shaping of public opinion, Light offers very few modern examples. True, there are some behind-the-scenes details such as when Warren Buffett faced down Courier Express Attorney Fredrick Furth in court, but you can read about that and other Buffett stories in greater detail in biographies of Buffett by Andrew Kilpatrick and Roger Lowenstein's “Warren Buffett, The Making of an American Capitalist,” (which I prefer).

Stanford Lipsy's elite “Group of Eighteen”- the power brokers who have had the greatest influence on Buffalo's planning and policy in the last quarter century– make an almost comic appearance on page 222 and after a breezy synopsis, promptly disappear.

Perhaps, the most telling vignette to me was in an exchange Light had with the late Kate Robinson Butler when she served as the Publisher of The News. She demanded that Mr. Light pull a planned serialization of “My Life With Jacqueline Kennedy” because it was written by Jackie's secretary. Light tells us, “...she (Butler) would never want any of her hired help to write a book about her private affairs and that it was reprehensible to publish such a book.”

As the former Managing Editor of The Buffalo News, Light was among the most knowledgeable of the hired help. In this book though, he hasn't revealed any “private affairs” concerning the brokering of power by current Publisher Stanford Lipsey and heirs apparent Warren Colville, and Gerald Goldberg. “Burning Down My Master's House” this ain't. Then again, Jayson Blair didn't light any great bonfire of knowledge about the powers that be, either.

This book is a good contribution for the time capsule The News seems to be creating for itself in this, its 125th year. Whether The News or Buffalo will exist for another one hundred and twenty five years will depend largely on whether The News chooses to maintain its current, destructive and reactionary editorial course or not - after all, TV news propaganda is far more cost effective.

Critics are concerned, however that micromanagement of the bonding is the real reason the Control Board and its leader, M&T Bank CEO Bob Wilmers are interested in the Construction Board.

Who Controls What?

A document made available to Alt by Nancy Brock, an M&T bank employee and public relations person for the Control Board showed that as of January 21st of this year, the Construction Board and several other City agencies are “covered organizations.”

The document pointed out that although these various agencies were exempt from Control Board oversight, the Control Board retained the right to “…terminate any such exemption or exemptions…”

If the Control board deemed that any of these covered organizations did in fact, “materially affect the ability of the City to adopt and maintain a budget,” those organizations could be subjected to their oversight.

For some reason, the Buffalo Sewer Authority is still exempt from Control Board oversight. Alt asked Ms. Brock why the Control Board had maintained the exemption of the Buffalo Sewer Authority, especially in light of its serious maintenance problems (see “Smell of a Dying City on opposite page), Ms. Brock sent us a recent Control Board document which stated that, “It was found that the Buffalo Sewer Authority does not materially affect the ability of the City to adopt or maintain a balanced budget.”

In addition, the note read that, “The Sewer Authority has been cooperating with the BFSA in keeping us informed about budgetary issues.” While it’s nice to know that the Control Board is on friendly terms with the Sewer Authority, the simple fact of the matter is that the BSA does have an impact on the budget.

Squaw Island Situation: Out of Control

Much of the digester equipment that breaks down sludge at The Buffalo Sewer Authority has been in a state of disrepair for a number of years, but BSA officials haven't addressed the problem, which has resulted in the current stench that periodically wafts over the City's West Side.

The Control Board apparently seems content to hold their noses over the issue of mismanagement at the BSA.

This fresh show of support for the BSA by the Control Board begs several questions: Why do certain politically connected Sewer Authority officials continue to enjoy raises and special perks like brand new SUV’s on the City’s dime while other City employees such as the teachers must submit to the BFSA’s wage freezes and job cuts?

Why have allegations of no-show jobs and other corrupt practices at the BSA never been investigated? And is there any truth to the rumor that BSA Chief Anthony Hazzan threw Control Board President Thomas E. Baker out of his office in City Hall after a heated debate? Mr. Baker has not responded to our requests for an interview.

All the digester equipment at the Bird Island Treatment Facility is in a state of complete disrepair, despite the fact that millions of dollars have been invested in the facility. Could this be due to the mismanagement of Tony Masiello’s boyhood chum and BSA Chief, “Tough” Tony Hazzan, as many have alleged? The Control Board apparently doesn’t want to find out. Where will the money come from to make repairs, if not from the taxpayers?

Is it the contention of the Control Board that the money necessary to repair this equipment will not come out of the City’s budget? Is the City not liable for the very real possibility of another environmental disaster, courtesy of Mr. Hazzan and his crew?

By going after the Construction Board, the Control Board seems to be attracted to a pot of gold. The Sewer Authority is the complete opposite of a pot of gold, and yet it will undoubtedly continue to require large expenditures that will come out of the city’s coffers. Concerns over mismanagement even made the front page of The Buffalo News, recently. How is it that the Control Board can look the other way?

Male Bonding

Tony Masiello has taken care of boyhood friends like Mr. Hazzan and a host of others. Of course, political patronage of this nature is a tradition in Buffalo politics. By zeroing in on the Construction Board, the Control Board, may simply be honoring another tradition in New York State politics, namely, the manipulation of bonding agreements between State Authorities and the financial institutions that float the bonds.

Since the days of Robert Moses, Public Authorities in New York State have often shaped bonding agreements that would be extremely favorable to the bankers who controlled the boards of these Authorities. While M&T is not underwriting the billion dollar Construction Board bond itself, it's important to note that M&T board member and former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt, Jr. is a lifelong friend of Sandy Weill, the CEO of Citibank whose investment banking arm, Salomon Smith Barney is handling the bond.

By cutting back on the original construction plans, the offering becomes more attractive to buyers while also reducing the risk to the seller. Slowing down the construction schedule can also be seen as way of buying time for the formation of more charter schools, which in turn, may reduce the workload of the Construction Board further.

Delays have also hurt the Building & Trades Union's minority training center, which lost money by planning its coursework around the original construction schedule. This, of course, plays into the flagrant anti-union animus of Mr. Wilmers and his cronies.

The school construction scandal that took place in New York City in the seventies stands out as one of the greatest wastes of taxpayer dollars. At its root was a political-business-criminal nexus that was above the law and accountable to no one. Perhaps history is about to repeat itself. Between M&T's Control Board agenda and the Buffalo Sewer Authority's stench it's beginning to look like a case of the old boy network meets the goodfellas, all over again.

What should have been clear from the Alt Press article entitled, “Buffalo Sewer Authority: Burnin’ Down The Shithouse,” is that these latest troubles involving non-functioning “digesters” are part of a long-running pattern of institutional incompetence fostered by political patronage.

During the Masiello Administration’s term in office, millions of dollars have been invested in the Squaw Island headquarters of the BSA (which is known officially as the Bird Island Treatment Plant). The current, dire condition of the facility lends credence to allegations of malfeasance reported to Alt by sources on condition of anonymity over the past eight years .

What is perhaps most troubling is the fact that all of the early warning signs of gross mismanagement and/or incompetence were clear at least seven years ago after two serious and preventable accidents were made public.

The News article quotes Daniel R. David, regional engineer for environmental quality for the state DEC, as saying "The city and the sewer authority are probably not in the best financial straits for a number of years and they've probably let maintenance go at times."

Of course, it is the Department of Environmental Conservation’s responsibility to make sure that these probable lapses in maintenance do not result in a threat to the public health. Clearly the DEC like the Mayor’s office and the EPA failed to make sure that political patronage appointees like Mr. Hazzan (who, by the way, had no engineering qualifications for his position) let things get to the point that they are at now.

As a result of these failures, an entire section of the City is facing a summer of stench that would make a garbage strike in New York seem like a bed of roses by comparison.

As we said in our April 16th issue: “The Buffalo Sewer Authority is a pretty good metaphor for Buffalo politics, in general – up to its eyeballs in feces and sinking fast. A political patronage haven from way back, the Buffalo Sewer Authority is headquartered on Squaw Island – a fitting location for a public authority with a license from New York State to borrow and spend to its heart's content.”

Buffalo Sewer Authority: An Abridged Timeline

The following articles from Alt Press are provided to give readers some background on the history of the BSA under the Masiello Administration:

December 23, 1996 Untreated waste water released into the Niagara River between 6:50 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. Approximately 50 million to 75 million gallons of partially treated and untreated waste water was released into the Niagara River from the Bird Island sewage treatment plant. The reason for the alleged incident was that the BSA failed to order chlorine, resulting in the authority temporarily running out of chlorine.

February 24, 1997 Another major spill was discovered; more than three to four million gallons of untreated raw and industrial sewage was pumped into the canal and into the Buffalo River from the Kelly substation. The official cause of the accident as reported in The Buffalo News was that the electrical pumps at Kelly Station shorted out and a bleeder line broke under the pressure.

According to information Alt received from a source within the BSA is that the real cause of the accident was a $25 bleeder valve and leaking sump discharge line. A request for replacement or repair of the bleeder valve and line was placed on January 24, 1997, a month before the accident.

The Buffalo Sewer Authority Maintenance Department reported a break-in to the Buffalo Police. They reported a computer as having been stolen. The stolen computer was not a new computer but was instead an older model. Information contained in the missing computer includes all maintenance department work orders.

June 4, 1997 After the February accident sources told Alt thatlogbooks (composition notebooks) at the South Buffalo, Hamburg Street, and X station were reported to have been removed and were replaced with new ones.

In April of '97 the BSA Maintenance Department reported a break-in to the Buffalo Police. They reported a computer as having been stolen. The stolen computer was not a new computer but was instead an older model. Information contained in the missing computer includes all maintenance department work orders.

September 8, 1998 As of this date, our sources tell us that the sludge pump, settled waste pumps, aeration and final effluent pumps, sludge de-watering pumps, digester pumps are all labeled as OOS (out of service).

The incinerators are not fulfilling their design specifications and there is some question as to the effectiveness of the scrubbers. Scrubbers are used to remove large amounts of pollutants from the burned waste before it is released into the air.

The South Buffalo pumping station is unmanned on weekends and has serious maintenance problems. The autom atic switch to the power transfer lines is labeled OOS, and one of the pumps can only be operated manually. Sump pumps located in the (Megastructure sub-basement) of the Administration building are not functional. The (west) hypochlorite system, also located in the administration building is labeled OOS. Hypochlorite is used to treat effluents before they are discharged into the river.

June 21, 1999 The Squaw Island digesters, those concrete tanks with brick facades, are now bubbling over like witches’ cauldrons on a daily basis. The contents of these tanks are toxic and could be a source for E-coli bacterium, among other environmental contaminants. Sources on the island confirmed that this waste is being treated with sodium hypochloride, and ever increasing amounts are being ordered to treat the contents bubbling out of the digesters.

It is further alleged that “Tough Tony Hazzan” has been the recipient of free golf lessons, golf trips, tickets for sporting events, and “kick backs.” Information from some of the employees of the BSA related that Hazzan, along with Jim Naples (Sewer Authority Board Member), in company with Vito and Michael Masiello (the mayor’s brothers) were treated to several outings at Saratoga Racetrack and the Sagamore Resort free of charge. All of this is courtesy of a vendor and two representatives of the company having extensive business dealings with the BSA. Our informants have indicated that other board members have been included in some of the largess bestowed by the vendors.

Mr. Hazzan is alleged to have used a carpenter hired on a temporary basis to perform work on his home, using materials purchased with Sewer Authority funds. It is further alleged that a local exterminating firm took care of the pigeon problems at Hazzan’s home free of charge. It has been further alleged that special employees receive compensation for time not worked and that intimidation and threats are used routinely to force compliance.

July 19,1999 Sources tell Alt of a breakdown of the scum removal apparatus at the BSA They said that the scum was vacuumed up with a super-sucker apparatus and that it was then de-watered and put into a waste hauler trailer; C.I.D. No. 20-402. Alt found trailer C.I.D. No. 20-402 on July 7, at 6 p.m. at an open lot owned by the BSA on Hamburg St. It appeared to be filled with toxic material. The material appeared to have a white foaminess, indicating a mixture of oil and water. It also had a noxious, sweet chemical odor. The gate was left open, and children were playing nearby. Alt took photos of the site. The aforementioned trailer was leaking water and oils onto the ground. The contents were consistent with the allegations. After Alt held a press conference at the site attended by Channels 4 and 7, Hazzan denied the allegations, but could not explain the contents of the dumpster. The dumpster then disappeared overnight.

February 20, 2000 According to multiple sources, Malcolm Pirnie (the consulting engineer contracted to work with the BSA) provided Hazzan with a complimentary package of free hotel accommodations, air fare, and tickets to Super Bowl XXXIV in Atlanta, Georgia.

After 70 minutes, I began looking at my watch. By 90 minutes, I was antsy. As the film rolled on to its conclusion, I grew bored. The movie is a propagandist’s dream. It’s very good; at times it’s terrific, but the only people who will gain anything from it are undecided voters, and the key question is this: are undecided voters going to go see Fahrenheit 9/11? It’s not going to change determined Democrat (or anti-Bush) minds; why would it, they’re not voting for Bush. And it will certainly not change any hidebound Republican (or pro-Bush) minds; they will vote for Bush even if he asked them to pay $5.00 a gallon for gasoline.

The next obvious question is this: what about it just being a good movie worth seeing? Of course, the critical standards for all films should be the same, whether it’s film as entertainment, film as art, film as educational tool, or film as propaganda. Fahrenheit 9/11 is informative and enjoyable, but it’s hardly engrossing. If you enjoy seeing a doofy, churlish, snot-nosed, rich boy frat punk getting his comeuppance, you will find the movie wildly entertaining.

The truth of the matter is that I found the movie markedly sad.

What struck me as sad is not Moore or his work – he’s very good at what he does and he deserves a lot of credit for sticking to his anti-Bush guns. He’s got guts that’s for sure. I like Moore and am glad he’s making movies. What’s sad is the film’s subtext. It’s underpinnings. The very reason for its existence.

Moore implies that George W. Bush and his henchmen (and henchwomen) stole the 2000 election. Like some banana republic, the United States Of America lost its soul. George, his brother Jeb, and others “knew” they were going to win Florida.

Moore also implies that on September 11, 2001, George W. Bush and his henchmen (and henchwomen) were clueless as to how to react. The White House has long stated that Bush stayed less than 30 seconds in the Florida grade school classroom where he was reading a book entitled My Pet Goat to children. Moore has footage that shows Bush sitting and sitting and sitting in front of the class, a dumb look on his face. What Moore also does is to plop a clock in the corner of the screen and you see time go by. Then Moore sticks in the knife. He asks, “what was the president thinking?” Moore then answers his own question. His answer? That Bush was worried about his family’s ties to the Bin Laden family, and whether he could go on vacation again. There are points made, points still in contention, as to whether or not the Bushies allowed the Bin Laden clan and other Saudis (142 people in all) to flee America after 9-11 without having been questioned by the FBI. Of course, a possible answer is that Bush couldn’t have been thinking about the Bin Ladens because at that point in time, he didn’t know who flew the jetliners into the Twin Towers or the Pentagon. Or, did he? And, it seems that Bush had been on vacation 42 % of the time during the first eight months of his term. By the way, the events of September 11th are heard not shown. The screen goes to black and you hear the roar of the jet engines, explosions, and people screaming. It’s very dramatic.

All of this saddened me. I was also struck by the chaos in Iraq. Moore has tough footage of shattered and maimed children. He also lobs in lots of footage of killed and injured American military personnel in Iraq. And he tosses in a Saudi beheading to stress his point that a police state like Saudi Arabia was more dangerous than Iraq under Saddam Hussein. You can’t help but watch all of this and start thinking about the fact that a year ago so many innocent citizens of Iraq and so many young Americans were alive, and now they are dead. And why? For what? Is it because, as George II says in the movie, “Saddam tried to kill my daddy.” Sad, sad, sad.

Moore plays the oil card a lot during Fahrenheit 9/11, and this is where he starts to get bogged down. He wallows into conspiracy theory terrain a bit too much. The connections between Papa Bush (George I) and Vice President Dick Cheney and the Saudis and President Harmid Karzai of Afghanistan and Halliburton and the Defense Industry are thrown at the audience like darts at a bulls-eye in a bar. It’s all too glib, too slick. Maybe it’s all true, but more facts are needed than are revealed in the film. Moore’s point is that Bush The Second is nothing more than putty in the hands of these folks, a mere puppet, and a not very bright one at that. I’ve got news for Moore; Bush is bright enough to get the war he wanted. Never underestimate the village idiot.

Moore also takes on the Patriot Act and makes mincemeat of Attorney General John Ashcroft. If Ashcroft had any self-respect, he’d crawl into a hole and pull a cover over it. Moore chastises the gullible mainstream media (both print and broadcast) for swallowing the Bushies’ own propaganda about Iraq hook, line, and sinker. He looks at Bush’s National Guard record. Do any of you know who James Bath is, and why he’s important? You will after seeing the movie. And Moore also tries to get Congressmen to enroll their children in the military. The sight of members of the House Of Representatives scurrying like rats away from Moore is hilarious.

But through it all is the cloak of darkness that Moore depicts as having spread across the country. Moore wants Bush’s term to seem a like a bad dream. A sad part about the dream is the number of young Americans who went to war for a Texas ego and are returning maimed or won’t return at all. Moore wants Americans to wake up this November 3rd having sent Bush back to his Crawford ranch the day before. His mission, which he has accepted, is to help make that happen. Fahrenheit 9/11 is one point-of-view. Fortunately, despite bumps in the road, the American way is to allow that point-of-view to be heard. How the undecided reacts is their inalienable right to choose.

The Notebook is told using parallel story-lines. The tale of young love is read aloud by a sharp-witted senior citizen (James Garner) to a fellow nursing home resident who suffers from the early stages of Alzheimer’s (Gena Rowlands). Both of these performers are superb. The two stories are bound together. Garner is the aging Noah and Rowlands is the dying Allie. Are you weeping yet? Garner is reading from notebooks he kept of his life and love. The movie crosscuts between the past and the present. I guess there’s good and bad news in all of this. This is a classically-styled melodrama. It’s written by Jeremy Leven from an adaptation by Jan Sardi, from the novel by Nicholas Sparks. If you haven’t read Sparks’ books, he’s a male romance writer. His works are sometimes cloying, often hard-to-swallow, but always about love and romance and the warm runny feelings they imbue. Message In A Bottle, The Rescue, The Wedding are three of his published novels. Neither Sparks, nor the writers, nor director Nick Cassavetes (son of the legendary John Cassavetes and Ms. Rowlands) are afraid of emotion, and I admire them for that. I refuse to sneer at romance novels. I may never read them, but I’d rather people read them than read nothing at all. The movie suffers a touch from overstatement; there’s an obviousness that actually impedes the film’s flow. I enjoyed this movie for the acting, for its simplicity, and for its daring in thinking we haven’t become so cynical a nation that greeting card movies don’t matter any more.

On the other hand, cynical manipulation is awash in The Terminal, a melodrama of a different stripe. The movie is played for laughs, thanks to Tom Hanks galumphing performance, as if he’s discovered the milk of human kindness, when in fact he’s only discovered how to be a ham. But the premise is serious, even if it’s a premise that’s hard to swallow. An Eastern European fellow named Viktor (Hanks) is on a jet winging its way to New York’s JFK Airport when a coup overthrows his country’s leaders, seals the borders, and make him stateless. Supposedly, this is all based on a true story, but I’m not buying any of the cloying Hollywood embellishments. Is he the only person from his country to whom this is happening? Nobody else from Krakozia on the plane? Or any other plane? Viktor ends up being rejected by Customs, told he can’t enter America by an officious Homeland Security bureaucrat (Stanley Tucci), and lives for a time at the terminal. He washes up in the rest room, sleeps on benches, and becomes smitten with a flight attendant (Catherine Zeta-Jones). He also keeps a peanut can as a fetish object, not unlike Wilson the volleyball in Hanks’ other man-alone effort, Cast Away. The movie can only be as interesting as the actor playing the part because he’s on screen virtually all of the time. Unfortunately, Hanks acting tour-de-force is more like a tour-de-narcolepsy.

The Terminal is boring because it’s not that well-acted and it’s utterly and patently ludicrous. There are no surprises. The comedy is featherweight. Sometimes Hanks seems to think he’s doing Jacques Tati, the great French comic actor from the 1940s and 1950s, who virtually mimed his way through his films. News flash for Hanks. You’re no Jacque Tati. In this day and age, no person is going to be treated like the Viktor character is treated in the film. Not in this era of terrorism alerts. And the movie is absolutely set in the here and now. Where’s the Red Cross? Where’s the U.N.? Where’s the Immigration Halfway House? Where’s any beady-eyed, greedy shark of a lawyer who sees a millions bucks in publicity to be made? As for director Steven Spielberg, his one saving grace is the set of the JFK terminal, which was actually erected piece by piece in Palmdale, California in the desert area north of Los Angeles. Spielberg thinks he’s making one of those slice-of-life comedies the way the Czechs did in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but he isn’t. Not when his movie is a non-stop commercial for products galore. Something can’t be cluttered with garish signs and advertising and then claim it’s honoring simplicity and human experience. Not a chance. This is one dumb, misguided movie that might have been interesting if a little thought had gone into the screenplay and if Viktor had left the building.

Sue gave us a tour of the place as she explained the basic services she offered. She said, beside doggy daycare as daycare, doggy daycare is also socialization. Folks bring their dogs three to four times a week. Some folks bring them once a week or once a month. Sue says many of her customers bring their dog to daycare to become better doggy citizens.

“The dog owner may feel that their dog does not get along with other dogs. So they bring them to daycare and in a few days we can size them up and see it they need problem training. Must of the time the dogs do fine,” she said.

She showed us the indoor daycare area, which was very clean. Sue explained the number of training courses they offered: puppy kindergarten for untrained young dogs, advance kindergarten, and adolescent obedience training. Three courses are for basic family companion training. An absolute “must” advance course is the AKC good citizen, the completion of the course you get a AKC certificate The basic courses last four weeks, advance courses six weeks, and class size is limited to six dogs.

The kennel area for overnight boarding is clean and new. Sue explained that with overnight boarding, they now staff the facility 24/7. They do both short term and long term boarding. Dog Days of Buffalo has six employees who receive vacation pay and medical benefits, three of the staff are certified pet care technicians. Ms. Harris said she believes that quality care can only come from a quality staff.

As we left I commented that this was like a doggy spa. Sue laughed and said, “No in reality this is like a doggy gym.”

If stellar red (Hereford Beef) is a high priority for you, I think that statement is true. If looking for a clientele of the magically diverse, neighborhood, melting pot types, I think that statement is true. If a Big Sky/Montana/Cattle motif is what you hanker for, I think that statement is true. Tucker Curtin, “Proud Owner,” is the difference. With a uniquely specialized background in beef, he makes this saloon a comfortable, exceptional and fun place to eat.

“The meat’s “Great”... Decadent.” “The rare and succulent filet made me feel hedonistic…the Béarnaise was a treat.” “Burger is delicious…it’s a beautiful place.” When I’m in from Chicago, I always get the Double Cut Pork Chops…They always go out of their way.” “Seafood Combo… Perfect


# 1 Hereford Beef –The Real Giddy Up

# 2 Montana Room Capacity -- 200

# 3 Happy Hour, 4-7 Everyday

# 4 35th Anniversary Party - August 1st


Warm garlic bread ** Seafood Combo Platter for Two “Kicked” Salad with Grilled Chicken “Kicked” Salad with Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna

Entrées # Filet Mignon (Hereford Beef) Thick-Cut Rib Eye (Hereford Beef)

Dessert Lemon Raspberry Cheese Cake * Turtle Cake

Libations Pinot Grigio, La Marca, Italy * Cabernet Sauvignon, Robert Mondavi Coastal, Private Stock, California

* - Best of Category # - Best of Show

The Associated Press stories from one day alone seem to prove that point. On June 24th, insurgents launched coordinated attacks across the country, attacking the much-beleaguered police stations and other government facilities. Over 100 civilians were killed, with hundreds more wounded. Three more American G.I.’s were killed as well. Hardly, the kind of daily figures anticipated a year ago.

It is obvious that these so-called insurgents have the initiative, and can roam the country at will, attacking targets at there own choosing. No one can stop them. Allawi’s brave face and tough talk cannot change the fact that his country teeters on the brink of disaster, and he can do nothing to stop it.

Israelis At The Gate

To make matters worse, it has been confirmed that the Israeli’s have operatives in the northern Kurdish areas of Iraq. The New Yorker also reports that Israeli commandos and Mossad agents have crossed the Kurdish frontier with Kurdish commandos onto Iran to install sensors and other intelligence gathering devices to spy on Iranian nuclear facilities. Reports also indicate that the Israeli Air Force is poised to launch its own pre-emptive strike against these same nuclear facilities. The result of an Israeli/Kurdish/Iranian confrontation could trigger a tactical nuclear exchange.

The Kurds want their own homeland, and they may not trust the US or a new government in Iraq to guarantee their own sovereignty. The Kurds’ own military could move on the oil fields around Kirkuk. There is no one to stop them. But this could trigger an invasion from Turkey just to the north. Video of Turkish armored divisions crossing the border is no fantasy. Again, who would stop them? If American intervention occurred, the negative image of Imperial America protecting its colony would then be sent off to the drug store and printed.

As predicted, the new government asked US troops to stay on and help with building security forces for the now fledgling democracy. With the Fourth of July approaching, we can see ourselves as modern day Marquis de La Fayette’s, coming to the aid of our newest Iraqi band of brothers in liberty. One pauses to wonder: will there ever be a Bushville, Iraq?? Meanwhile, On The Eastern Front… As the Bush-Neo con administration whistles past the Iraqi graveyard, the President last week had the gall to use Afghanistan as the model for a new Iraq. As we have reported in Alt and talked about on our radio show The News Room, Afghanistan is a failed state of appalling condition. It has remained in the Dark Ages after the Taliban. Afghan President Hamid Karzai rules only a small part of downtown Kabul.

Last week yet another province was overrun by the warlord/drug lord of the moment, with the accompanying slaughter. The Karzai government inside Kabul has decided not send to troops to retake the provincial capitol until well after the rebels abandoned the city.

Meanwhile, the poppy harvest has reached an all-time record high.

And The Atrocities Continue. Insurgents executed South Korean hostage Kim Sun-il, after Seoul had refused to pull out its 670 soldiers from Iraq and cancel the deployment of an additional 3,000.

This gruesome story came on the heels of the equally gruesome killing of American Paul Johnson, Jr., on Friday in Saudi Arabia. The fact that Johnson’s killers claimed to have had help from renegades inside the Saudi Security services should come as no surprise to anyone.

House of Saud Tightens Its Grip

The House of Saud is universally hated outside its own palaces, and its corruption noted throughout the Arabian Peninsula. Elements inside the Kingdom are determined to overthrow the Monarchy and replace it with a radical, fundamentalist Islamic Republic.

For decades, the Royal family has survived by executing some of its domestic enemies and bribing the others. But still, the presence of US and British infidels is trying the patience of the militant clerics. They and their political mentor, Osama Bin Laden want the hated westerners out, and the Royal Family with them. And 25% of the world’s oil is hanging in the balance. Militants of various affiliations and loyalties have banned together, much like they have in neighboring Iraq, to target westerners, hoping to destabilize the government. But The Royal family also controls the military in the form of the National Guard. There is also an army, but the family does not trust its officer Corps not to mutiny, so it is never issued any ammunition. The National Guard, however, is armed to the teeth and manned by the Royal family’s numerous relatives and trusted allies.

A blood bath looms for the Kingdom in its immediate future, a civil war no doubt inspired by the one boiling to the surface in Iraq.

Just Another Day

Kidnappings, car bombs, executions, gang warfare, clan revenge, extortion, organized crime, robbery, violence and just plain murder are commonplace in Iraq. The only safe place seems to be inside the Green Zone, where an American appointed puppet cabinet presides over a looking glass government. Two of its officials have been blown to bits right outside the gates. The puppets can’t leave their compound without overwhelming escort, and that seems of lesser value when the insurgents have the offensive initiative and the support of as much of 75% of ordinary Iraqis.

Waiting in the political wings is the Government in Iran. Tehran is patiently waiting for the explosion, along with their new friends the Russians and Chinese.

Unfortunately, American soldiers will likely experience much of the collateral damage.

The party faithful began wandering in. I recognized a number them from other events like the Kerry rally in the Ellicott Square Building this spring. These folks were the big spenders investing in their future. Like good gamblers, many of them cover their bets with Republican Party donations as well.

With the words, “Edward is downstairs” the reporters were took off for the first floor. By the elevator, Edwards was in media press mode - cameras were flashing, Bob McCarthy from The Buffalo News was asking questions, and everyone was trying to get in position for their shot. Oh, the excitement!

Edwards went upstairs and then met the folks. For a price you could get photo-op, a picture with Edward smiling like he is your best friend and shaking your hand. There was a long line of folks awaiting their opportunity to have their picture take with the man.

Edwards is clearly running for Vice-President. He’s been making four stops a day. He was scheduled to be in Buffalo for two hours - max. Lenny Lenihan, the Erie County Democratic chair gave the standard introduction.

What is interesting is Edwards restarted this campaign after getting back from Europe. He said in his speech that he was there to attend a meeting of NATO, but he also made a stop in Italy to attend a meeting of the Bilderbergers, a group comprised of the wealthiest industrialists and bankers in the world.

Edward gave his standard stump speech. He put emotion into it. Trying to uplift the faithful. The faithful listened to his journey from poverty to being a Senator. He spoke of race being an American issue and not just a black issue. He said that poverty is not a poor person’s issue but is a mortal American issue. The ghost of Michael Harrington’s “Other America” and democratic liberalism filled the room.

However, it was obvious from the response he received that the true believers left the building long ago. This audience was about the real politick. They had paid the tribute and an Edwards victory was a return on investment. As hard as Edwards may have tried, youthful idealism and enthusiasm was not on the agenda.

It was the same when Kerry spoke here in the spring – a rally of controlled enthusiasm.

Last year, two buses filled with young people from Buffalo traveled to New Hampshire to campaign for Dean in sub-zero weather. What happened to Howard’s army? What happened to the so-called anger in the speaking of truth to power? It just wasn’t part of this political cast. It remains to seem if it will be part of this Democratic Party.

I left after Edwards and I watched for as a moment the party faithful eating their $1200 lunches.

In the Danbury FPC, as in all federal prisons, prisoners who cannot verify that they have either a high school diploma or a GED are required to attend classes for 240 hours. Aside from their physical presence, nothing more is mandated. It seems that there is no requirement that students be supplied with textbooks or any other kind of materials to facilitate learning. In fact, students were “strongly encouraged” to buy composition books at the commissary at five dollars for a three-book set. This is a large sum for the students, many of whom earn twelve cents an hour at their prison jobs (“this is a working camp”). The staff instructor/correctional officer (co) told the students who suggested that the “school” provide them notebooks, “I am Joe Public. I have to buy notebooks for my children. Why should my tax money go to pay for notebooks for inmates?” His face wrinkled into an expression of distaste as he uttered the word “inmates.”

When the students complained about being forced to attend school after working all day, the instructor shouted. When they argued or failed to pay attention, he shouted. If they expressed discomfort about reading out loud, he shouted. “You are in jail!” “You are an inmate!” Occasionally, the shouts turned into threats. “When the lieutenant sees how many times you’ve refused a direct order, he will say, ‘Oh my! She needs to go to the SHU right away!’”

The SHU (“Special Housing Unit”), also known as “seg,” is nothing like detention in high school. It’s more like a scene from a bad prison movie : three tiers of two-person cages and guards marching orange-clad inmates in handcuffs through the corridors.

Out of class, the instructor told his English-language tutorial staff of his intentions to send at least three students to the SHU for ninety days before heading off early in June for his vacation. He commented, “I don’t care if they never learn that one plus one equals two. I get paid for eight hours of work.” He also demanded complete loyalty from the three tutors: “Either you’re with me or you’re with them.”

Before my job as an educational aide/tutor ended, the instructor’s comments became increasingly vitriolic. Complaints were lodged about the racial and sexual nature of the commentary, but I cannot go into any more detail as the matter is under investigation.

I decided that it was time for a career change. I had become a tutor to help students develop their writing skills. I did not feel that I could do so in such an oppressive atmosphere. My requests for reassignment or even for firing went nowhere. After hearing the offensive comments, another tutor and I went to speak with various staff members about the teacher’s conduct. I then decided to try to invite a firing by going on “strike.”

Going on strike in prison has more dramatic repercussions than merely a firing. It involved various staff members conferring about me. An incident report was filed, and a lieutenant was summoned from the FCI (the big medium-security prison down the hill). He questioned me and said, “I have to take you to the FCI.”

The lieutenant walked me down the hill into the front entrance of the FCI, across a courtyard, and into the SHU. The place was creepy, yet familiar. When I arrived to begin serving my sentence on April 6, I spent a night in the SHU, as many new inmates do. This time, I was taken to the top tier and was put into a cage, all by myself. My khaki uniform, socks, and shoes were taken from me. I was given an orange t-shirt, orange socks, and a too-large pair of pants. The shoes that I was handed were so orange that they could glow in the dark. They fit like sausage casings. The guard left me to contemplate my new home and fashion statement. Where was Martha Stewart to help me accessorize it?

The next day, I was released from the SHU and was taken back to the camp. I found out that two of three English-language tutors had been fired. A few days later, I started a new job in grounds maintenance. I work outside, with minimal supervision. I’ve seen wild turkeys, chipmunks, cardinals and butterflies.

Today, as I cleared grass from a walkway, I looked at the far off hills, seemingly melting into the pale blue sky. I wondered about the attitude of someone who repeatedly roared, “You are an inmate!” Does identifying people as “inmates” or as an “enemy” or as “terrorists” make them easier to target for poor treatment? The abuse of the prisoners in Iraq is not an aberration nor is the treatment of detainees in Guatanamo Bay, Cuba, denied prisoner of war status.

“Inmate,” “enemy,” and “terrorist” are just words. But words have power and they reinforce the “us vs. them” attitudes, which seem to make abuse and violence almost acceptable. But not quite.

The question looming large points directly to the inescapable fact that we have achieved a position in time where we as a species threaten not only our own existence but all of life as we have come to know it. The evidence of climate change is now readily observable to the naked eye and all the future plans “of mice and men” will be dictated by a power far greater than all the men and women that unlocked the secrets of the atom.

Daily floods of biblical proportions, droughts, plagues and insect infestation along with hellfire and brimstone are captured on film and transmitted in micro seconds as we stand transfixed at the horror of swollen bodies and destroyed dreams. Our attention spans are not much greater than the micro-seconds that brought these images of human suffering and death replaced instantly as our TV clicks to another mindless channel. We grab the keys to our shiny SUV’s and hit the road in a great hurry to grab all of the latest low carb goodies being touted as necessary for a long happy life. Forgotten are the images of millions of starving humans throughout the world and the choking emissions being pumped from our exhaust systems as we unload tons of carbon into an already overloaded atmosphere.

Escaping our very own culpabilities we assess blame to varied agencies and peoples. Government leaders and our ubiquitous media lend substance to mediocrity and promote a mental paucity bereft of rational thought. We hurtle through our existence as if caught on a giant loop ride and we view reality as a theme park akin to Disney World. Gone are the poets, replaced by the vulgarity of Jerry Springer and the value free world of American Idol.

“We have met the enemy and he is us,” said Pogo in that long lost comic strip; but this truth proclaimed by Pogo still haunts the memories of many undead thinkers that appear as nothing more than “voices crying from the wilderness.” Each and every day they become fainter and harder to hear as they are drowned out by the innocuous cacophony of whining narcissism. “Man made climate change isn’t as percussive as nuclear war… yet without international action—a Manhattan Project to develop low impact energy technologies and a revolutionary commitment to global equity—it too promises social and economic collapse. … We are well past the threshold of inevitable change (man made) and on the cusp of climate destabilization.” Verlyn Klinkenborg-The New York Times Book Review - May 30, 2004 edition.

The orange flag is flying. Unlike Ashcroft and Ridge and their Department of Homeland Security the evidence presented to the American public by our most eminent scientists can be directly viewed and felt by Americans from sea to shinning sea.

“To most scientists, global warming is a truly successful hypothesis. The evidence overwhelmingly shows, as predicted, that human behavior is altering the climate, with potentially catastrophic results.” Should we continue to act as “suicide bombers” blithely wandering down the road to our own destruction; or should we pause and change course to provide a viable future for what we hope are many more generations of our children?