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Issue #65

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Features:

HThe Disaster is 20 Years Young! - Matt Taibbi

Sleeping With the Fishes: Fear Not, Buffalo--Corporate Welfare Will Save You! - Chris Abbey

No Moore Dissent: DLC Targets Populism, Man-Boobs- Matt Taibbi

Drowning the Scorpion: Debating a Neocon- Stan Goff

Condoleezza Rice is Going to Lick Your Beaver- Matt Taibbi


Faux-tures:

Bush Refuses to Pardon Turkey, Execution Proceeds as Scheduled

Kmart, Sears Merge to Create One Big Failure - Josh Righter



Departments:

Buffalo in Briefs

BEAST-O-Scopes

Page 3

Separated at Birth?

[sic] - Letters

The Straight Dope w/ Dr Rotten




Entertainment:

Movie Reviews:

Kino Korner

Music Reviews :

Arcade Fire

MF Doom - Ketchup Samurai

BEASTIVITIES

Sports:

Wide Right: Bills Still Have a Shot at 5th Super Bowl Loss - Ronnie Roscoe



Comix:

I Witless News - I. Gonzalez

Deep Fried - Jason Yungbluth

Bob the Angry Flower - Stephen Notley





Issue #64

Download Entire issue (31mb PDF)

 

Features:

Happy Bhopal to You: The Disaster is 20 Years Young! - Matt Taibbi

Sleeping With the Fishes: Fear Not, Buffalo--Corporate Welfare Will Save You! - Chris Abbey

No Moore Dissent: DLC Targets Populism, Man-Boobs- Matt Taibbi

Drowning the Scorpion: Debating a Neocon- Stan Goff

Condoleezza Rice is Going to Lick Your Beaver- Matt Taibbi


Faux-tures:

Bush Refuses to Pardon Turkey, Execution Proceeds as Scheduled

Kmart, Sears Merge to Create One Big Failure - Josh Righter



Departments:

Buffalo in Briefs

BEAST-O-Scopes

Page 3

Separated at Birth?

[sic] - Letters

The Straight Dope w/ Dr Rotten




Entertainment:

Movie Reviews:

Kino Korner

Music Reviews :

Arcade Fire

MF Doom - Ketchup Samurai

BEASTIVITIES

Sports:

Wide Right: Bills Still Have a Shot at 5th Super Bowl Loss - Ronnie Roscoe



Comix:

I Witless News - I. Gonzalez

Deep Fried - Jason Yungbluth

Bob the Angry Flower - Stephen Notley





Issue #63

Download Entire issue (18mb PDF)

Features:

Top Ten Hacks of 2004 Election - Matt Taibbi

MEMRI Problems: Was Kerry's Election Bid Lost in Translation?- Chris Riordan

Pick of the Litter: Bottom-Feeding all the Way to the Top

Redwoods Evil, Must Be Destroyed: Bush Wants Some Wood- Kit Smith

Too Cool for School: City Honors Censorship - Al Uthman

Tortures - R - Us - Christopher Lord


Faux-tures:

New Hotel on Baltic Ave: Boon or Burden? - Ian Murphy

10 Tips For Coping with your Dysfunctional Family this Thanksgiving

A Word From Our Sponsors



Departments:

Buffalo in Briefs

BEAST-O-Scopes

Page 3

Separated at Birth?

[sic] - Letters

The Straight Dope w/ Dr Rotten




Entertainment:

Movie Reviews:

Kino Korner

Music Reviews :

Matchbook Romance/Midtown Show - Chris Meister

Goo Goo Dolls DVD - Seamus Gallivan

Elliot Smith CD- Michael Gildea

Odd Couple CD - Ketchup Samurai

BEASTIVITIES

Sports:

Wide Right: Bills could Make Playoffs--in the NFC - Ronnie Roscoe



Comix:

Beast Comix - Ian Murphy

I Witless News - I. Gonzalez

Deep Fried - Jason Yungbluth

Bob the Angry Flower - Stephen Notley







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© 2004 The Beast

BEAST-O-SCOPES

Sleeping With the Fishes

Fear Not, Buffalo—Corporate Welfare Will Save You!

By Chris Abbey

What do dying urban centers need to keep them afloat when everything and everyone has long since moved out to the suburbs? A gimmick, of course, like the Arch in St. Louis or, even cooler, a Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of fame like Cleveland has! Too bad those ideas were already taken, and the only thing our leaders could think of is resurrecting the long dead Aud and turning it into a massive Bass Pro outdoor shop, along with a hotel and restaurant.

Sounds insane, but it’s completely true. I only know one person who thinks it’s a good idea, and she’s a complete dingbat. Besides that, everyone else seems to agree something smells extremely fishy, starting with the politicians absconding with $66 million in taxpayer funds and distributing it who knows how without any public debate about the idea. All we’ve been told is how great it will be to get Bass Pro in here, because it’ll solve the city’s problems in one fell swoop.

If you listened to the press conference announcing the culmination of three and half years of ball-sack massaging, you heard all the giddy players pontificating and congratulating each other like the Bills won the Superbowl. They were disturbingly drunk on dollars, knowing their construction and developer friends will make a bundle and, of course, kickback generously at campaign time, and offer great, high-paying jobs to those whose political careers may soon be over. There they were, festering pustules of corruption like Joel Giambra and George Pataki, but only Mayor Masiello was doofus enough to don the Bass Pro baseball cap and camo jacket, helping to cement his image as an unserious goofball and a cheerleader for bad ideas. It was almost as funny as hearing Jack Quinn try to justify spending 12 or 13 million dollars in federal transportation funds on an Erie Canal museum, because the canal was once a form of transportation. I was surprised he didn’t burst out laughing; I certainly did.

Everybody in this circle of connected buffoons wins, while places like Dick’s, Gander Mountain and every mom-and-pop bait and tackle shop along Niagara Street (who certainly weren’t bribed from across the country with vast sums of money to open up in the area) see the writing on the wall. People throw up their arms when Wal-Mart comes calling, they fight that shit tooth and nail and sometimes they win, but this is a completely different situation. We’re begging these mysterious southerners up here to turn downtown Buffalo into some ugly NASCAR tailgate party, complete with RV’s, hillbillies, rednecks, and mild-mannered-yet-psychotic gun and knife freaks. How metropolitan. It’ll go great with our historic architecture.

The Bait

You might be wondering how this nightmare got started. Now that it’s a done deal and every politician even remotely connected to Buffalo got to make a speech about how happy they are to gamble our future on a glorified shopping center, the story is out. Seems local multi-millionaire Bob Rich Jr., an avid sport fisherman, prattled on and on about a Bass Pro Shop he visited down South, where his winter home just happens to be next door to Bass Pro’s owner. In fact, he talked so much about Bass Pro and everyone got so goddamn excited about the place he flew Masiello and a bunch of their mutual friends down on his private jet so they could see it for themselves, a typical backslappers write-off vacation. Introductions were made and Bob Rich faded into the background…apparently. Remember, this is the same guy who got the city to build Pilot Field, now Dunn Tire Park, because he was “very serious” about bringing major league baseball to Buffalo, then walked away after we built it when the price for a team was too high. We’re still paying for that fucking place. It consistently loses money year after year, even when the Bisons win whatever the hell they call the AAA championship trophy.

Here’s why I’m extremely skeptical about this project: it’s a flea flicker. The flea flicker is the most dangerous offensive play in football—brilliant when it works, but a despicable blunder when it fails. Now look at the point men: Tony Masiello is no visionary, neither is Joel Giambra or George Pataki. They’re certifiable greedheads who’ve proven irrefutably that they can’t be trusted with the public trust or public funds. Christ, Pataki was investigated for recommending early parole for prisoners who gave enough cash to his election campaigns. These guys aren’t just going to drop the ball; they’re going to spike it.

How many agreeable, worthy businesses were lost over the last three and a half years it took Bass Pro executives to wrangle all the money and favorable concessions out of our desperate leaders? Countless. Even problem gamblers know it’s better to play ten small bets than one big one, let alone competent investors. That’s what hayseeds who’ve never sat down at a blackjack table do.

Reeling in the Catch

Money, after all, is all any business is interested in. But that’s the thing: if Bass Pro really thought Buffalo was a viable market, they wouldn’t need $66 million in enticements to come. They would have paid rent. And it wouldn’t have taken years for the deal to come this far; the place would have sprung up in months.

Instead, Bass Pro is supposedly kicking in $57 million of their own money, less than half. Even if that turns out to be true, it’s a drop in the bucket for a chain whose estimated sales topped $1.3 billion last year.

Isn’t it amazing how much our politicians love out of town businessmen? They bend over backwards for The Right People, the kind who set up shop, take out publicly sponsored loans, then declare bankruptcy and skip town with all the cash. This time it isn’t Adelphia or some stupid brewpub, this is $66 million plus the untold millions more in “cost overruns” and graft we’ll be forced to cough up. That’s how HSBC went, and it’s in the same boat as Dunn Tire Park, another publicly funded endeavor we still owe money on many years after it was built. Now recall the ever-present horror of the Rapid Transit System and Main Street’s mile-long eyesore that is “Buffalo Place,” and you can see where I’m going. They’re spending money to spend money, so their friends can make money and then give them money.

Bass Pro is being sold to us as some Magic Cure-All, which will simultaneously bring tourists downtown and spur further development along the waterfront, despite the fact that the real problem with the waterfront is that the NFTA owns it all and refuses to give any of it up. The last time a glorified shopping center was THE major tourist destination I was living in Huntsville, Alabama and that’s why this feels culturally wrong. This is Buffalo—we’re just not that outdoorsy. Don’t try and force us to be something we aren’t, because Buffalo natives are nothing if not genuine. They’re also broke: most residents can’t afford to buy RV’s, exotic fishing boats or even a Swiss Army Knife keychain.

Pure Desperation

Calling this a crapshoot is an understatement. The potential loss here could mean the difference between living and dying as a city. Will 10,000 people a day actually flock to downtown Buffalo, New York to go see a gigantic hillbilly gear store? They might, especially in mid-February when bitter winds whistle across frozen Lake Erie and it’s a brisk minus 25 degrees. Buffalo could displace Minnesota as the ice fishing capital of America, especially if we make a deal to sell part of the lake to Bass Pro—or we could just give it to them.

Remember when they tried forcing the Senecas into locating a casino at the Aud last year? The Senecas told them to fuck off and aren’t ever going to build shit in Buffalo. The Senecas and these Southerners are very similar: they’re good businessmen; they know how to turn a profit, and there’s no way in hell either is going to take on refurbishing the Aud without tons of taxpayer money. Whether or not you liked the idea, the Senecas would have been downtown running that casino forever if given the chance, it wouldn’t have cost taxpayers half as much as Bass Pro will, and the odds it might succeed and generate funds for the city were very good. Bass Pro, on the other hand, is a completely unknown quantity. Sure, they’ve got shops in Syracuse and Auburn and all over the country, mostly small, normal-type outlet stores, not bizarre behemoths like they’re envisioning here. Bass Pro has no incentive whatsoever to stay in Buffalo if its profit margins go south, and the only guarantee Buffalo has is that we’ll make almost fifty bucks leasing the Aud for 49 years at a dollar a year. Good deal!

Squirming On The Hook

Sorry, I just can’t get onto this bandwagon, not when Masiello, Giambra, and the rest are whipping the horses and riding off with our money for another dubious project. Those two cash-junkies have already helped ruin our chances more than enough, and I don’t trust either of them to perform any basic functions requiring pure logic. It’s hard not to be negative, knowing our past, and obviously that’s something we need to take into account, but this feels like just another snowjob in a sorry string of stupid scams which have moved hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars into the war chests and personal bank accounts of politicians, bankers, developers, and construction companies. I hope this works. I hope there’s such an insane regional jones for fishing and camping gear that people from all over will come in unending droves to spend their money, see the sights and enjoy the beauty which is Buffalo. But, frankly, something tells me it won’t.

The stakes are high and the odds are long, but our leaders aren’t afraid to wager it all on a single roll of the dice. Then again, it’s not their money on the table.



 

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Sleeping With the Fishes

Chris Abbey

What do dying urban centers need to keep them afloat when everything and everyone has long since moved out to the suburbs? A gimmick, of course, like the Arch in St. Louis or, even cooler, a Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of fame like Cleveland has! Too bad those ideas were already taken, and the only thing our leaders could think of is resurrecting the long dead Aud and turning it into a massive Bass Pro outdoor shop, along with a hotel and restaurant.


Happy Bhopal to You

Matt Taibbi

THE BHOPAL DISASTER had its 20th anniversary last week, and so was duly (and briefly) commemorated in the inside sections of a few American newspapers.

It is unlikely, however, that any public figures are going to pay tribute to what happened 20 years ago this week. Which is too bad, because as far as America is concerned, the week of Dec. 9 to 16 was the more important week of the Bhopal disaster. That's when we got over Bhopal.


Drowning the Scorpion

Stan Goff

When I was first invited by Dr. Stephen Smith to speak at Winthrop University in South Carolina, I was preparing a trip to Haiti and I didn't give much thought to how I would handle the engagement. I'd just finished being pole-axed by a bout of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and it was everything I could do to just pull the Haiti trip together. So I didn't pay much attention to the person who would appear with me - one Patrick Clawson - to represent "the other side" in a forum/debate billed as "What Next in Iraq? A Post-Election Perspective."


[sic]

Seeing your last rag/magazine complaining about the last Presidential elections made me laugh. You commies have nothing better to do but insult our President, our country and our troops. You all should go back and help your fellows brothers in the Ukraine, where there really was a corrupted and stolen election.


The Top 10 Hacks of the 2004 Election

Matt Taibbi

10 - GEORGE WILL, NEWSWEEK: Will uses big words and pompous literary references to dress up what are basically the brutish and vulgar thinking patterns of a non-union meat-packing plant owner. He is a pig in a lace hat.


MEMRI Problems

Chris Riordan

Stranded from intellect and worthwhile rhetoric in Utica, NY for the last few months, I have made a habit of visiting political discussion boards online for a dose of informed bantering and arguing. I tend to gravitate towards conservative cyber communities because I generally prefer arguing to agreeing.


Pick of the Litter

Pat Ragpicker

It's 4am on a winter night, and I'm parked on a dead end street near Kaisertown. It’s a secluded corner of the city I found by driving around aimlessly. I'm new to town, and penniless after buying my van with $700 I squirreled away the last time I got a paycheck. That was 7 months ago. Over those months, I managed to live off a few hundred bucks while sleeping in a warehouse closet and helping some friends make a TV show to try selling to a network.


Redwoods Evil, Must be Destroyed

Kit Smith

Nature is a bad and inconvenient thing. It must be stopped. That's why so many of us environmental scientists voted for Bush. He recognizes that endangered species are tasty, that Yellowstone is the most awesome place for snowmobiling in the whole world, and that those horrible California Redwoods are home to Satan himself.


Too Cool for School

Al Uthman

In the decomposing cesspool of Buffalo's public schools, City Honors has long been regarded as something of a gem. In fact, it is widely regarded as the best school the city has to offer, with the brightest kids around.


Tortures-R-Us

Christopher Lord

Iraqis wondering what the next phase of the Republicans' invasion of their country will bring should consider El Aguacate airstrip in Honduras. In 2001, 185 bodies were dug up there: the victims were the 'terrorists' and 'enemies of democracy' of the day.




O Buffalo

Al Uthman

It's time to face some unpleasant facts, Buffalo. This country may not be the best place for us anymore. On November 2nd, we all bore witness to a terrible turning point in our history; a bad lifestyle choice, if you will. We had the chance to reject the increasing madness of our nation's leadership, their blind march to pointless war and craven desire to take advantage of us in every manner conceivable, and we blew it. America has spoken, and it said "duh."


Love or 4-Hour Erections

Matt Taibbi

...If history is any guide, the DLC will spend the next four years trying to find a pious bomb-thrower to put up as the nominee- unless, of course, the poll numbers in a few years' time show that Barack Obama is good-looking, black and charming enough to get the party over the hump using the same basic playbook that worked so swimmingly this time.


10 Ultra-cynical Ways to Beat the Republicans

Why did the Democrats lose? At least in part, it's because they thought that being right would actually work in their favor. Let's face it, logic doesn't mean squat in politics. People say there's too much cynicism in politics today, but we think there really isn't enough. Cynicism works. The Republican Party has embraced it, and it has worked wonders for them. The Democrats have made some progress in this area, but they are still lagging badly. If there's any hope for the blue states, they must learn the lessons of Machiavelli and Rove. To help them along, the BEAST offers these suggestions.