it came and went so fast, like a CIA-trained paramilitary death squad.
So much has changed, yet it all seems somehow the same. We've faced
adversity, shared in witnessing the joy and horror around us and now
again we hunker down for winter, muttering bitterly to ourselves that
we're not going to be here next year. But before we move too far into
2005, we should reflect on the year and all that's happened-the good,
the bad, and the traumatically hideous.
year started under a state mandated control board in the city of Buffalo
and many gunshots rang out near Sensation'z Nightclub, an ominous foreshadowing
of more shootings, gang fights, and violence across the political, social,
and economic spectra. In March the city rejoiced as Warren Buffet and
the Buffalo News handed down a "New" Buffalo News, which was
actually just the same old crap in a slightly smaller package. Baby
Joe Mesi kicked some serious Russian ass in a stellar fight where his
head got used as a pinata during the final two rounds, jeopardizing
his future as a crowd-drawing punching bag. March also saw Buffalo Schools
go to war with Charter Schools, doggedly protecting funding for their
corrupt failure of a system. Meanwhile, Buffalo children regularly scored
slightly higher on scholastic tests than rocks.
came in a still-cold flurry, with plenty of folly and fun for the month.
First, a fat cop sued Kenmore for making him lose 100 pounds and slim
down to 300 before slapping on a badge and patrolling the streets again.
A minor story barely touched on by local media happened when HSBC announced
they were moving their corporate headquarters from Buffalo to Delaware,
a minor loss unlamented by any of Bob Wilmers' "friends" in
key leadership positions throughout the city and county. The NCAA tournament
passed through town and thousands of visitors were amazed to find only
one restaurant near the HSBC to accommodate a lucky few. George Bush
came to town and Mayor Masiello snubbed him good, reaffirming that he
couldn't choose the right ass to kiss if it brushed up bare naked against
his face. "American Idol" fever kicked into high gear as Amherst
geek John Stevens' sorry warbling worked some sort of strange magic
over America, or at least a dozen East Amherst girls with multiple phone
lines and speed dial. The month ended with the unraveling of a Seneca
Casino in downtown Buffalo when the Indians flatly refused to be forced
into an unsightly, ancient building (the Aud) that needs many millions
in refurbishing, especially when the guy who's suing them (Carl Paladino)
stands to benefit heavily with the increased revenue his parking lots
and buildings will make.
was a quiet but still infamous month with the "sale" of ECMC.
It wasn't so much a purchase as a reshuffling of legal designations
which allowed Giambra to mortgage the hospital in order to cover gaping
county budget holes and saddle taxpayers with a humongous debt. At state
budget deadline time, surprise, surprise, no state budget was even close
to being ready! It would be a record number of months before the yearly
farce played out in typical crooked Albany style. In the most bizarre
local story of the year, UB Professor Steve Kurtz became the target
of a federal terrorism investigation after his wife died at home and
authorities found suspicious containers full of germs. Kurtz wound up
getting charged with mail fraud, but the Critical Arts Ensemble made
out like bandits, scarfing up donations from around the world in a true
victory for the arts.
started heating up in June, and that's not counting all the gang murders
and street wars all over Chippewa and the East side. Taxpayers were
treated to County Comptroller Nancy Naples' report detailing how Joel
Giambra's buddy Jim Spanos and Buffalo Office Interiors ripped off the
county to the tune of $500,000 on overpriced furniture. This bombshell
came during the criminal prosecution phase of the Aurora Highway Department,
run in typical shoddy, illegal fashion by Giambra cronies. Buffalo capped
off the month by dumping the entire Olmstead Park System into the county's
lap in a mega-budget slashing move that ended over a 100 years of city
history and tradition.
was a Court TV lover's delight. The Rigas boys were convicted of being
piggish with corporate money and were sent off to jail. In their prime,
they spent more money in a single month than you, your family, friends,
and co-workers combined will spend in a lifetime, flying Christmas trees
around the country, building family-only golf courses, and wooing hot
actresses. July also saw some places finally get smoking ban waivers,
even Jimmy Mac's, though it only lasted a week. Owner Rick Naylon took
a vocal, in-your-face approach to fighting the Smoke Nazis, and it cost
him his business.
but lowlights for August, starting with National Fuel being exonerated
by state watchdogs for freezing a poor old woman to death like the heartless
bastards they truly are. The Control Board clamped down on public employees,
forcing them to agree to a single health insurance carrier. The horror
of saving taxpayer funds was too much for some, especially teachers
who got their wages frozen and firefighters facing massive layoffs and
station closings. Bob Wilmers showed a briefcase full of money to the
Buffalo School Board and they happily agreed to let him bankroll the
search for a new school superintendent, proving just how handy piles
of cash can be and assuring everyone this man will install a puppet
to rule over our children for him. A state budget was finally passed,
and citizens retched in the streets, sickened by the awful stench of
the inept, bloated pigs who "represent" us in Albany. If that
wasn't bad enough, Rick James up and died, bitch! The only light moments
of the month were provided by Spencer Tunick's Traveling Nudie Revue
holding court in the carcass of the old train station and the start
of a mammoth, multi-billion dollar hurricane season in Florida.
beginning of September saw the final passing of Sensation'z, finished
for good after a record-breaking shooting season. If that wasn't tragic
enough, La Nova burned down, leaving lazy, starving city dwellers high
and dry for their favorite gut bombs for way too long. There was a brief
chuckle when the state legislature decided to take the millions in fine
money municipalities collect on speeding tickets, only to turn around
and repeal the measure lightning fast when they realized there would
no longer be any incentive for local cops to ever write speeding tickets
again. Pano's tried to expand, only to be stymied by feverish preservation
ninnies who somehow managed to block the restaurant from bulldozing
a beaten building. Across town, Jacobi's Restaurant owners were rounded
up for running a massive methamphetamine operation, proving again that
all Italians are criminals.
sports news came in October: The Bills went 0 and 4 and looked like
the most pitiful bunch in the league, despite losing by slim margins
and awful officiating. Even worse was the brutal reality of an NHL lockout;
there will be no season at all. It'll really hurt when football season
ends and there's nothing to watch but predictable, tedious basketball
games. In school affairs, "custodial engineers" were outed
for stealing up to $35,000 cash apiece on top of their high salaries
by cheaping out school maintenance and pocketing the budget surplus.
They've been making out like bandits since the Civil War and defended
the practice as being "historical", making them the only city
department turning a profit. Two favorites also burned to the ground
before our very eyes, Chick's Barber Shop and Coffee &. No charges
filed as of yet.
just pissed us off in general, right from the get go. We had this thing
going describing misdeed after misdeed committed by our crooked politicians,
but nobody listened. When it counted, nobody cared, and 99% of the incumbents
were re-elected. It was shameful, a horrible waking nightmare which
never goes away and only gets worse and worse, just like the time you
and your buddies all agreed to streak through the quad and you were
the only dipshit who actually showed up and followed through. There's
really no talking to you people.
a final fitting month to serve as a preface for the inevitable ebb and
flow of 2005, where hopes and dreams will come true for some, wither
and die for others. Bass Pro became a fishy reality, at least the announcement
of a preposterous deal, beyond that, we'll have to see what happens
but it should prove to be a predictable black hole for taxpayer dollars.
The county budget was no piece of cake either, passed at the last possible
second without any logical thought in a mad scramble to raise the sales
tax to almost a dime and protect valuable perks and patronage positions.
The only bright spot in the whole month, our suddenly-decent football
team, turned to dust before our eyes as they choked in their traditional
manner against Pittsburgh's second string. At least we didn't get hit
with a tsunami.
we say goodbye to 2004, one more horrid year in the life of Buffalo
and the rest of the planet. Look forward to new horrors in 2005, punctuated
by the wicked deeds of kings and tyrants, crooked politicians, civil
wars, gang wars, labor strife, fiscal irresponsibility, crazy people
committing crazy crimes, and lots of head shaking as you contemplate
what a twisted place we live in. It just goes to show there's only one
person you can count on in this world: Mother Nature. We're counting
on her to once again terrify us through the coming year with earthquakes,
volcanos, hurricanes, tornados, tsunami's, wildfires, mudslides and
any other cataclysms she can throw at us where the damage is huge and
the bodies pile up like cordwood.
New Year from the Beast!!