"Totally coup, yo."

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By Slidell Montgomery

Barry Bower is proud of every detail of the Muckdogs. As he was showing the BEAST around Dwyer Stadium in Batavia during a rain delay prior to the scheduled start of last Thursday’s game. Bower, who is Chairman of Batavia Regional Recreation Corporation, spoke of them being a community-owned and operated team. He spoke of the Muckdogs being featured in a Hollywood motion picture last summer, and he also spoke with equal pride of Batavia being–as far as he knew–the third smallest market in professional sports.

Who are the two smaller markets?

Cocking his head over his shoulder towards the visitor’s dugout, Bower said, “Oneonta’s one of them. I don’t know who the other one is.”

The Onenonta single-A Tigers stalked into Batavia last week on a season-opening tear. They were 8-1, had shutout the ‘Dogs the previous night 2-0 and were now waiting for a field-flooding, thunder storm to pass so they could resume their dominance of The Pinckney Division of the New York-Penn League.

After the abrupt but brief deluge–one that was accompanied by violent and very nearby electrical activity–moved east, the fans came out from under Rain Delay
Players and fans stuck in ‘Dogs dugout during rain delaythe shelter of the aluminum grandstand and milled around the puddled-over concession area waiting for an announcement that play would begin as soon as the tarp was cleared from the infield.

Over at the visitors bullpen Tiger pitchers skipped stones across the pools of rainwater in right field that would land in the gaps, alleys, and various batting lanes of everywhere from right-center over to straight-away left field. They left their jetsam there to likely be found later by unwitting outfielders.

‘Dogs first baseman Rob Calfiero from Long Island watched from the home team’s bullpen as the grounds crew (which includes the ‘Dogs ubiquitous media/radio guy Jonathan Meyer) tried to unclog drains and find places to push the flood waters.

“The main difference between college ball and playing up here is getting used to wood bats,” said Calfiero, who graduated with a degree in management from Villanova this year. He is being platooned with left-handed hitting first baseman Ryan Barthelemy. Calfiero bats right but says he sees a lot of right-handed pitching. “They don’t platoon us because of pitching. It’s pretty much two games on, two games off.”

At this level, coaches certainly cannot be hiding hitters from challenging situations. Calfiero also said that, more difficult than facing right-handed pitching or the adjustment of switching from the lethally explosive aluminum bats, so pervasive in amateur baseball, to the more pitcher-friendly ash and maple bats of the pros, is the fact that in A-ball “You never get a pitch to hit. You see nothing out over the plate. It’s all in tight (he gestures with both fists as though they are hand-cuffed to his sternum) or way outside. Nothing’s over the plate.”

In this early stage of the season it must seem that way for a few of the ‘Dogs. As a team they are hitting .251. The two first basemen are hitting a combined .200, with 1 HR, 7 RBI, and 17 strikeouts between them in the first 15 games.

On the upside, catcher and Californian Mark McRoberts, back after hitting .350 in 6 games for the ‘Dogs last season, is hitting at a .419 clip so far, with a pair of doubles and a team-leading 3 homers. Shortstop Carlos Rodriguez of Dominican Republic is hitting .339 and leads the squad in both hits (20) and stolen bases (7).

On the mound, Venezuelan Erick Arteaga has given up only 4 runs in 21.2 innings but has yet to gain a decision. Carlos Cabrera, also of Dominican Republic, is 2-0 with an ERA of 0.95.

Playing the rest of their 76-game schedule with only three days off between now and September 4 won’t leave a lot of time for individual instruction. And the road can be tough. Six times over the course of the season the Dogs play a home-and-home series with the Jamestown Jammers where they alternate successive nights at each other’s stadiums, for up to three games. When the ‘Dogs play in Jamestown though they drive back to Batavia after the game.

“We get in about 1 or 2 in the morning,” says Cafiero.

All the players on the Muckdogs are housed with someone from the community to whom the player pays a modest fee from his modest salary.

The ‘Dogs have been on both sides of a three-game streak this year but went into Wednesday night’s game, the last of a five game road trip, against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers of Niles, OH (a city near Youngstown), having won four of their last five. They were 8-7 overall and one game back of the Pinckney Division-leading Jammers.

“They’ve got a real nice park down there,” Calfiero said of the Scrappers, “Some guy with a shoe store or factory or something gave them a bunch of money to build a park. It’s right by the mall.” He grinned and said, “At least they’ve got a mall. Here, you have to drive a half-an-hour for,” he paused, searching the infield with his gaze, “for anything.”

About an hour and forty minutes after the scheduled start of the game, the PA announcer declared that the game would be postponed until the next day and played as part of a doubleheader. When asked what the young ‘Dogs would do with their night off, pitching coach Warren Brusstar said, “I don’t know. It’s their first one.” Then he looked out into the storm-traced twilight sky, over the right-center field wall, perhaps remembering a night off from his playing days, and said, “There’s not much to do around here.”

Next night, the ‘Dogs dropped the first game of the doubleheader to Oneonta 6-2 but came back to win the late game 4-3, setting them off on their recent winning campaign.

Upcoming Muckdogs Home Games:

16-18 TUE-THU vs. Mahoning Valley

MON-SAT games begin at 7:05 PM/ SUN games start at 4:05PM. For directions and info visit www.muckdogs.com.

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There is probably no more ubiquitous and memorable image in Buffalo than that of the bald head of Steve Barnes, the more solar-reflective half of the famed personal-injury legal duo Cellino and Barnes. Like a satellite orbiting the city, the head is everywhere; perching on billboards above the highways, floating across your television screen with a legal pad in its hand, leaping off the page as you turn the pages of your local newspaper. It’s effective self-salesmanship, no doubt; you only need to be in Buffalo for about 22 hours to know exactly where to go for help once you contract your inevitable case of mesothelioma, or find yourself the victim of a dog bite following an accident involving an asbestos-laden watercraft that rams into your construction site, toppling you from your scaffold onto a malpracticing physician pedestrian. When life deals you a bad hand in Buffalo, fear not: the Head is there to defend you.

But is there enough Hero-Head to go around? The Beast decided to investigate. With little more than a ruler and a copy of our local phone book, we were able to generate a solid estimate of the minimum area of Steve Barnes’s bald spot in Erie County. You can follow along with our math if you like; here’s what we came up with.

Take the Steve Barnes photo in the center spread of the phone book and measure the diameter of Barnes’s bald forehead. Measuring the width of the head at 3.75 cm, and using the calculation ßr2, we can determine, rounding to three places, that the area of the bald spot in this picture is .011 m2.

We called Verizon to ask how many copies of the Yellow Pages were distributed in Erie County this year. They told us that this year’s circulation was 514,251. We multiplied that number by the above bald-spot area number–as well as the areas of the same bald spot on other Cellino and Barnes ads on pages 43, 459, 472, 488, 494, the outside cover, and the flip side of the insert–and, along with a few calculations about total width and height, came up with some interesting results:


To date, the total area of the Steve Barnes bald spot is 2152 square meters. While this is smaller area than some notably large areas, it is still MUCH LARGER than an NBA basketball court!


DID YOU KNOW?barnes2.jpg

If you laid out all the Steve Barnes bald heads in all the Erie County phone books end to end, they would stretch an incredible 88.194 kilometers–more than enough to reach from one end of Manhattan Island to the other AND BACK!

DID YOU KNOW?barnes3.jpg

If Cellino and Barnes place the same ads in the yellow pages next year, that will mean the Barnes bald spot will be growing at a faster rate than the hole in the ozone layer!

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If this letter to the Artvoice editor seemed unbelievable to you, that’s because it was. We wrote it. Seems some folks believe there really are people out there who would vote for Jamie Moses for Mayor. Anyway, check it out: “Mnyama” means “Beast” in Swahili…


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Dressing the Part




Dressing the PartWide Right
by James R. Miller

One of the oft-overlooked keys to success in any field of endeavor is dressing the part of the winner. It is a sad but true reflection on the superficiality of much of human interaction that the competitor who has the look of a champion will often be treated like one–even if he lacks the accompanying abilities that make a true champion. By the same token, the competitor with a losing appearance will be treated with less respect by his fellow competitors, a situation with the potential to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

With that in mind, it is at the very least heartening that the Buffalo Bills have chosen to introduce new uniforms at this time. The old uniforms had come to be associated not with the four straight trips to the Super Bowl back in the franchise’s glory years, but rather with the four straight losses in those games–and even worse, with the team’s gradual decline thereafter into the lower realms of the NFL power structures.

As was hinted in last issue’s column, the arrival here in Buffalo of a rejuvenated Drew Bledsoe at quarterback makes this an opportune time to change other aspects of the team’s fortunes, and the uniforms would certainly fall into that category. Of course, with the NFL’s strict guidelines, the new uniforms were in the works long before the Bledsoe trade was even a dot on the radar. Even so, the timing must be viewed as a fortuitous coincidence: an extremely successful off-season (not only owing to the Bledsoe trade) has given the team the renewed confidence of a winner. The right uniforms could possibly give them the confidence of a champion.

But we mustn’t get ahead of ourselves here. Note that I said “right” uniforms. For if history has taught us anything, there is a right and wrong way to change. Whereas the freewheeling liberal changes haphazardly, often simply following whatever is the latest fad, the pragmatic conservative changes naturally–that is, gradually and logically, in just the same way that our planet and all life upon it have been evolving over these many eons.

It is this self-evident knowledge that causes me some degree of concern when I consider the Bills’ new uniforms. On the one hand, the new home uniforms do seem to reflect the sensible path of pragmatic conservative change referred to above. The overall look remains the same, with the changes being subtle ones that have a sound logical basis (such as the more fearsome deep blue color chosen for the jerseys’ primary color). Overall, they recall the past without dwelling unnecessarily on it and seem to represent a more efficient and modern costume suited to performing on the modern field of battle.

The same cannot be said, however, of the new away uniforms, which it pains me to say reflect a certain base element of pandering to the latest fads. As has been much commented on in the media, these new uniforms are reminiscent of the Tennessee Titans’ uniforms, the team from which Head Coach Gregg Williams arrived here in Buffalo. Coach Williams achieved a great deal as a coordinator in Nashville, they say, so it is only natural that he should wish to bring certain elements of that winning tradition with him here.

But what I have not heard commented on is the fact that the Titans’ championship run two years ago came up just a bit short. In fact, just like the Bills back in the their first Super Bowl, Tennessee came up just a yard short (a yard right in the Bills’ case, of course) on the game’s final play against the NFC opponent.

It is a universally held view in the world of business–and indeed, in all competitive fields–that when copying one’s competitors, one should emulate those who have achieved the greatest successes. Thus, it does concern me somewhat that the Bills appear to be following in the footsteps of a team whose near-triumph mirrors its own. Furthermore, the Titans’ decline following that Super Bowl heartbreak has been far more swift than the Bills’ a decade earlier. Thus, as the season approaches, we should take pains to remain rational and not succumb to overly optimistic giddiness.

But that does not mean that we cannot still revel somewhat in what is certainly an exciting time in Buffalo sports history. After all, it is not as if we are fans of the Cincinnati Bengals. Unlike that woeful franchise, ours is a team that–despite its many setbacks–I believe still possesses the heart of a champion.

Soccer: The “Other” Football?

What with the mild case of soccer fever that is now sweeping the country in conjunction with the American team’s unprecedented success in the current World Cup tournament, I think this would be a good time to say a few words about that piteous sport that dares to share a name throughout much of the world with our beloved American game.

Why, even some of my self-proclaimed “conservative” colleagues have of late taken an inappropriate interest in soccer. In their defense, they argue that it makes good conservative sense for a dedicated football fan to learn to enjoy the game from which our American football derived. This is pure nonsense, of course. Far from representing a conservative approach, this fashionable obsession with soccer stinks of the worst kind of reactionaryism. And certainly the tumultuous events of the 20th century have clearly demonstrated the hell to which that kind of reactionary mindset leads. Those who now find themselves indulging their atavistic interest in a game forbidding the use of the hands would do just as well to cease walking upright and return to the miserable level of dumb beasts.

The civilized majority, on the other hand, will be attending to personal matters and waiting patiently for that glorious day when the football season begins anew.

Born and raised in Hamburg, James R. Miller is currently completing post-doctoral work at London School of Economics.

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Sports Crimewatch
June just wouldn’t be June without a Sebastian Janikowski DUI incident, and this year was no different. After his disastrous foray into the world of GHB and unwilling dates, the Foul Pole decided to go back to the bread and butter pleasures of vodka mixed with German performance cars and immediately hit paydirt.
Wide Right
One of the oft-overlooked keys to success in any field of endeavor is dressing the part of the winner. It is a sad but true reflection on the superficiality of much of human interaction that the competitor who has the look of a champion will often be treated like one—even if he lacks the accompanying abilities that make a true champion. By the same token, the competitor with a losing appearance will be treated with less respect by his fellow competitors, a situation with the potential to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. 
Baseball Like It Oughta Be
The BEAST will be keeping a full-season diary throughout the summer of the Batavia Muckdogs, a single-A farm club in the Philadelphia Phillies organization. Forget the big leagues. Forget the upcoming strike. This is sports the way it should be. 

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Dear [sic],
My name is Elizabeth Lavis, graduate of St. Bonaventure University (class 2001). I majored in Journalism/Mass Communication and minored in Political Science. I was the Associate Editor of the Buffalo Gazette for about 8 months after college and have free-lanced in various newspapers/magazines in Buffalo and the surrounding area. Basically I am looking for more experience in my field and would be interested in doing writing, editing and layout for your publication. I would be happy to submit a resume detailing my experience if needed. Additionally, I would be happy to meet in person to discuss the possibility of working for your publication.

Elizabeth Lavis

Dear Elizabeth,
Send a photo of your college-educated snapper to sic@buffalobeast.com. Jpegs are best. Pay close attention to lighting and pixel size. Thank you.



Dear Beast,
The Bar-Dak key couldn’t be more accurate. The only jeer I have is that you blocked out the bar revue under Liar’s and Queen City lounge….. and I am sure those revues were as funny as the rest. If your going to block the revue atleast block it with something good to look at, like a nice set of breasts, not an asshole.

Blizak Jizak

Dear Blizak,
Tom Sartori isn’t an asshole. He’s Buffalo’s best solo artist, two years running. Don’t you read the newspapers?



nice start guys, all of you are just what we need, hang in there and as soon as I get organized I am at your service.

Steve, or “Dick” (my alter ego)

Dear Dick or Steve,
Whose service do we get once you’re organized? Dick’s, or Steve’s? Whoever we get, we’ll take him! U sound like R kind of guy! Not that we don’t appreciate it, but can’t a guy get some decent hate mail in this town? What do we have to do, fuck an altar boy in a confessional? Oh, wait–that gig’s taken!



Dear Beast.
I read your publication for the first time last night. I thought I was the only one who: did not deify Jamie Moses, continues to be appalled at the decimation of the incredibly priceless waterfront of a “great lake” by a highway (wouldn’t it be nice if city children could actually swim in the lake?), at the ( Hannah Arendt defined evil as “a lack of imagination”) lunar landscape designed to inhibit human interaction of the so-called North Campus, believes that The Mohawk and The Pink are the only bars in Buffalo with soul (I’m regrettably not familiar with east side establishments, being a white woman of a certain age), can’t bear the ineptitude of the old boy’s club of the Masiello administration, etc. Having come to regard myself as a hopelessly misanthropic cynic prone to choosing books over company I was so gratified to read your paper.

But I love Buffalo. Tried living in the northwest. Seattle is way too mellow, and the northeast, there are hardly any native Vermonters left, having been dispossessed by wealthy Bostonians. I came back. I love the people here. We know we’re screwed and there’s some sort of psychoanalytically complex reason why we enjoy it. Being Irish Catholic helps me approximate understanding and tolerance of the Buffalo psyche. One thing is for sure. It is perverse, and certain cultures thrive on perversity. Anyway, welcome, truly welcome to the fray.


Dear sh,
Boing-g-g! We’ve got major wood! You could house a pack of Sherpas in this tent! Mount Everest, here we come!



Hey, [sic],
Holy jesus mother of god, you bastards are fucking hilarious. You MUST do a prank about the Sabres…the entire goddamn town is scared shitless that the team will be leaving town now that the Rigases have fucked Adelphia dry, so the timing would be perfect. In addition, the prank would play perfectly into Buffalonians’ need for paranoia as well as self-pity. Oh, please, I implore you…fuck with these people some more. Buffalo’s a great town filled with provincial assholes (as I can see you’re already finding), so any more pranks that play on those traits would be most welcomed.

A pseudo-realistic prank that would have the Sabres moving to Rochester, Toronto, or even to Darien Lake would be believed here (these fucks really are paranoid…you have a lot of material to play with). You could maybe play the parts of the potential ownership team. Make up some fake rich assholes and borrow some decent suits (you fucking slackers). It would be grand. I don’t know why you sent us this rag of yours, but I love it. Keep it coming, and if you guys ever need any help, any help at all, I would wipe your asses and sweep your floors without pay for the chance to work with a bunch of spiteful, bitter dickheads like you!

Fabio Escobar, Amherst

Dear Fabio,
We’re working on a Sabres prank, believe us, but the problem is, the team itself is setting comedy standards that we’re frankly intimidated by. Thank God for the Bills, huh? Go Drew!

One thing, though. Is a provincial asshole worse than a Manhattan asshole? We don’t think so. We’ll take Buffalo’s assholes any day of the week. Assholes in this town talk about hockey. Assholes in New York talk about their book deals. It’s no contest. Buffalo has the best assholes in America!



To the Editors, I’m writing to ask if you’d be interested in running a parody piece (“France Inaugurates First ‘Museum of Collaboration’). I could provide (bogus) photographs, etc. along with the copy. Needless to say, I’m not asking for any compensation: it’s the internet, after all.

Alma Marceau
Author of “Lofting,” a novel: wit; urbanity; filth.

Dear Alma,
We admit it; we’re impressed. You actually had us going for a while. Your resume, posted on the web, was a masterpiece of bullshit: nobody, we thought, could be this funny. A modern-day wannabe Anais Nin, authoress of what reviewers call “erudite erotic literature” (one reviewer even apparently called you the “Melville of the money shot”), who in her youth studied at a series of improbable, nonexistent academic institutions, each of which challenged our mental archive of pretentious literary allusions more than the last… Seriously, high school at the “Errico Malatesta Preparatory Academy” in Salt Lake City, Utah? Doctoral study in “fungal systematics” at “Svevo University, Trieste?” A Ph.D. thesis entitled “”On the Genealogy of Morels: The Evolution and Classification of the Ascomycetes, with Special Attention to the Genus Morchella?” Are you shitting us? Post-graduate work at the “Institute of Fern Relations” in Berne? Get outta here, you nut!

Then there’s your actual erotic literary work, which you describe in an interview with yourself [!] from your “compound” in Costa Rica:

“I think that plausibility in erotica depends on the same sorts of things that impart plausibility to any other sort of story. Are the characters consistent in action? (I mean, unless experiencing a psychotic break or under duress.) Is there continuity to their logic of ratiocination? Do their emotional reactions jibe with their personalities? What I want from erotica isn’t a Freudian analysis of causation, but a story that unfolds in believable ways, that’s populated by human beings whose ways of being in the world are recognizable to me.”

Your book, “Lofting,” appears to be on sale on amazon.com, which means that someone is buying all of this at face value. If your whole personality is a joke–and we’re pretty sure that, far from being a sinewy Euro sex-goddess, you’re really a frustrated fat male professor in some place like Cleveland–then you’re a genius, and we salute you.

Unfortunately, no one in Buffalo would give a shit about a parody of a “French Collaboration museum.” Even we wouldn’t. Write something about the Bills, and we’ll take it. We’re in America now–why do you think we left Europe in the first place?

However, if this is not a joke, and you’re really who you say you are, you make us sick; fuck off. As for your article, try “the Onion.” They ran out of material four years ago.

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Colin Powell

Last week, Artvoice publisher Jamie Moses sent a letter to General Colin Powell to “warn” him about the BEAST. Concerned that he may not have gotten a response, we decided to call up the Department of State in Washington (202-647-4000) on his behalf:


DOS:   Department of State.

BEAST:   This is Jamie Moses from Artvoice in Buffalo. I sent the Secretary of State a letter last week, and I wanted to know if he’d gotten a chance to respond to it.

DOS:   I’d have to give you the Public Affairs line…

BEAST:   They already told me that they can’t help me. I’m a little concerned. I sent him this letter about these people who write for the Nation, and are part of the ACLU, and he doesn’t seem to be taking it seriously, and I wanted to know when he could respond to it.

DOS:   Uh…Okay, is it dealing with overseas issues and countries, sir?

BEAST:   Well, not exactly, it’s dealing with my competitor in Buffalo. They’re a small new newspaper, they have a circulation of about 10,000, and I think it’s an urgent issue…

DOS:   (baffled) Are you calling the U.S. Department of State, or your state State Department?

BEAST:   The U.S. Department of State. Colin Powell.

DOS:   Well, he wouldn’t have anything to do with that, sir!

BEAST:   Why not?

DOS:   But that’s in your state!

BEAST:   But these people write for the Nation! They’re part of the ACLU!

DOS:   No, but we deal with overseas issues and countries!

BEAST:   Exactly!

DOS:   Uh… well, uh, Public Affairs will have to help you, sir.

BEAST:   (bitterly) Thanks.

DOS:   Yeah. Thank you.

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(Mis)Representin’ Moses




(Mis)Representin' Moses

Can you determine which of the following quotes from Artvoice publisher Jamie Moses is NOT taken out of context?

  1. “Buffalo women are sluts, pigs and whores.”
  2. “All the music [in Buffalo] sucks.”
  3. “Everyone [in Buffalo] is fat and poorly dressed.”
  4. “The editor [of The Beast] regularly posts intelligently written essays.”
  5. “[Buffalo] City Hall is only good for playing pranks on.”
  6. “I was in a rage [when I brandished that pool cue] and only wanted to ‘connect’ “
  7. “The people and institutions [of Buffalo]…are responsible for the downward spiral of this community.”
  8. “If your [Beast] strategy for success is to diminish our [Artvoice] efforts, that kind of strategey is typical of the kind of the Buffalo mentality that’s poisoned this city for too long.”
  9. “I’m crazy, like an Indian sometimes.”
  10. “I don’t have to tell you what I’m doing here.”

If you ascertained that quotes #4, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 (7-10, and especially quote #7, having broad, liberal standards concerning the parameters defining a quote) are correct you must have a Bible scholar’s knowledge of Moses.

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Artvoice publisher Jamie Moses barged into our office waving a pool cue. And that was just the beginning.

By Matt Taibbi

It BreaksWe’re from out of town, so maybe we don’t know. Maybe Artvoice publisher Jamie Moses has actually done some good things for this city, and maybe he’s actually well-liked in some circles. If that’s the case, we apologize for not seeing the forest for the trees; our bad. We really don’t have any way of knowing better.

But our experience so far with one of Buffalo’s most prominent citizens has been so bizarre and improbable, and so bubbling over with sordid high comedy, that we felt that there was no way we could not go public with it. If you’re a loyal Artvoice reader, good luck and good health to you; you might want to skip this story.

But if you want to hear one of the weirdest tales of small-town megalomania since the Clintons left Little Rock, read on. This one is a doozie.

It all started exactly three Fridays ago, on the afternoon of May 30, on the QEW just east of Brantford. After three mostly sleepless and ultimately very drunken days, the BEAST staff had put the finishing touches on its first issue, and sent it to be printed. Three of us–Kevin McElwee, Masha Hedberg, and I–were on our way to Brantford’s Ricter Web publishing house to cut our new Canadian partners a check, and inspect the proofs.

We were about a half-hour away when Kevin’s cell phone rang. On the other end of the line was Scott Russell, the Ricter Web sales rep we’d dealt with throughout the week.

Scott had bad news.

Ricter Web, he explained, was also the printer for Buffalo’s Artvoice. And because they worked with Artvoice, he said, his company would be unable to publish our paper, if we were going to run material that was critical of their client. Specifically, he was referring to two articles on page 6 of our inaugural issue: “Artvoice Death Toll at 7,” which lampooned Artvoice for spending money on a color cover instead of on starving children abroad, and “Minor Celebrity Math,” which compared the gruesome face of publisher Jamie Moses to that of Nosferatu and Ivan Lendl, among others.

Just take out those articles, Scott said cheerily, and Ricter Web will be happy to print the BEAST.

Tchya, right. We at the BEAST may not be the best businesspeople, but we felt pretty sure that choosing a censor for a printer was probably not the soundest business strategy for a new newspaper. We told Scott that we’d take our business elsewhere, thank you very much.

A few minutes after turning around to go home, an unpleasant thought occurred to us, and I pulled over again to call Scott back with one final request.

“Listen,” I said, “I know I don’t need to tell you this, but we would like some assurances from you that you will not be distributing the proofs to our paper to anyone else. For a variety of reasons, we’d really rather that no one saw it until it was out on the streets. We particularly don’t want Artvoice to see it. You understand.”

Scott, who sounded on the phone like a standard-issue cubicle sales weasel, and later proved to be one, said he understood. “Of course, Matt, of course,” he said. “We follow strict confidentiality around here. Nothing to worry about. You can rely on us!”

I hung up. Ten minutes later, we got another call. It was our publisher Paul Fallon, back in Buffalo. Jamie Moses was in his office, waving a fax copy of our unpublished article in one hand, and in the other–a pool cue!

“Where’s the guy who wrote this?!” he was screaming. “I’m going to bash his head in!”

Welcome to Buffalo

A quick note: when we first arrived in Buffalo, friends warned us about Jamie Moses. “Jamie is going to fucking freak if you so much as mention him in print,” came a typical warning. “In fact, he’s going to freak even if you don’t mention him. You’d better be careful.”

Whatever, we thought. We’d just come from running a newspaper in the mafia capital of the world–Moscow–and as such had some experience in dealing with touchy characters. When you come from a place where assassinations of troublesome journalists are routine, it seems absurd to worry about the threat posed by a touchy-feely American publisher of an alternative newspaper called Artvoice–particularly one who spends his Wednesday evenings decked out in faded denim, playing covers of Dire Straits songs to single-digit bar audiences.

Besides, we thought. This is America, a free country. We have civilization and laws and stuff. If trouble comes, it’s not going to be from a guy with a name like “Ivan the Fork.” The worst thing that can happen here, we thought, is a letter from a lawyer–and we were willing to take our chances there.

In any case, if Monsieur Moses was going to go bonkers whether we went after him or not, we decided quickly that in that case, we might as well fire a shot across his bow. After all, it’s not as if there was no reason to. Even a brief exposure to Artvoice was sufficient to conclude that Moses’s paper represented more or less everything that’s wrong with what is called “alternative” journalism in America.

Most big American cities these days follow the Buffalo format when it comes to print news: on the one hand, you have a humorless and virulently conservative corporate daily, often owned by an out-of-towner (The Buffalo News), and on the other, you have an effete weekly tabloid with a funky color cover design that’s filled with all the film and music reviews you could ever want, a few desperate sex ads, and… not much else.

If you want to control the flow of information to the public while still maintaining the illusion of a free press, this is certainly the best way to do it: you make a staid, grossly biased corporate monster the only source of “hard” information, and then you identify as “alternative” one lonely well-written column by Michael Niman, surrounded by 100 pages of nightlife listings.

After ten or fifteen years of this arrangement, no one seems to think it’s strange anymore that the “alternative” newspaper appears to be aimed at some mystical personage who spends most of his time drinking gourmet coffees while fretting over new developments in the Oregon underground music scene, and who thinks performance art naturally deserves more ink space than NFL football. That person, of course, is none of us, but this just seems normal after a while.

The alternative publisher usually starts out as a right-thinking guy. He recycles, votes Democratic usually, pronounces “Nicaragua” with a close approximation of a Spanish accent. When he starts his paper, he usually does so with some vague idea of helping out “the cause,” whatever that is. But before you know it, he starts selling ads and making money. He’s standing at his cash machine one night with four hundred whole dollars in his hand, and he thinks to himself, “Hey, I can buy a lot of vintage clothing with this stuff.”

Next thing you know, he’s beefing up the money-making sections of his paper (i.e., the listings), thinning out the front parts, toning down his reviews a little here and there.

By the time he starts working stories about Yoga and Botox into his news cycle, the process is over, and Mr. Good Cause Recycler doesn’t stand for anything anymore but a market share. In a country where people are called human resources and what is called culture is really commerce , a newspaper that expresses nothing but a sales demographic is… meaningless.

We have enough meaninglessness in our lives. And if meaninglessness happens to look like a cross between Ivan Lendl and Nosferatu, you might as well say so. Why not? You’ve got to take your shots in this life when you can; it’s the only way to stay sane in an absurd world.

All the same, I was shocked to hear that Moses was in our office. This was something I was not prepared for, not even close. When Kevin handed me the phone, and I heard Paul Fallon on the other end of the line telling me he was handing the phone to Jamie, I experienced one of those rare moments when reality appears to dissolve at the edges. It was an utterly surreal scene, driving on a Canadian highway, awaiting the dread voice of an alternative tabloid assailant.

“Where are you?” came the voice on the other end of the line. It was an even, emotionless hiss.

“On my way back to Buffalo!” I blurted out.

There was a long pause. “When are you coming back?” Moses said, finally.

I make a mistake here in putting a question mark in the Moses quote. There was no verbal upturn at the end of his sentence. He was speaking in a completely even, psychotic monotone.

“When am I coming back to Buffalo? Later!” I said. Then, recovering myself, I added, “What the hell are you doing in our office?”

Moses said nothing for about eight seconds. Then, ignoring me, he repeated: “When exactly are you coming back to Buffalo?”

“Jesus Christ!” I said. “Listen, get out of our office or I’ll call the police!” No answer. Finally I told Moses to put Paul back on the line. He did. Paul and I agreed to call the police. From Paul’s description, Moses–who previously had been issuing Scooby-Doo villain threats like “I’m going to get you guys,” and, “You’re not going to get away with this,”–suddenly changed his attitude when police were called. He turned around and, pool cue in hand, quietly crept back down the corridor.

Significantly, in a literarily accurate act of foreshadowing, he lingered a little in the hallway before he left. This troubled Paul enough that he ended up walking down to the lobby of the Statler Towers a few minutes later, just to make sure Moses had left.

Injun JamieHe asked the Statler security guard–who incidentally had directed the weapon-wielding Moses directly to our office–if Moses had left. She said he hadn’t. Finally, after five minutes or so, Moses reached the first floor via the stairwell (our office, it is worth noting, is on the 16th floor). He lingered in the lobby for a minute, then went out the door. Paul followed after him, just to make sure he had left. When he spotted Paul, he turned around and approached him again.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m crazy like an Indian sometimes.”

Paul looked at him, thinking: An Indian? What the fuck is he talking about?

“You know,” Moses added, “I took on a bunch of bikers once.”

Paul said nothing, silently thinking to himself: “This small person is not entirely sane.”

The conversation petered out shortly after that. Moses zipped up his battle regalia (a leather biker jacket), hopped on his BMW bike, and zoomed off. Police arrived later, but Moses was long gone. We filed a complaint later that night.

Even with Moses out of the office, we still suddenly had a serious problem: no printer. The inaugural issue of the BEAST was in the can and ready to print, but we had no place to go–and more importantly, no place to go right away. You can’t just go to a Kinko’s to print a newspaper; the process takes time. And if one printer could be influenced to turn us away, so could others.

After five years of freely publishing in the Jeffersonian paradise of formerly communist Russia, we suddenly had to face the proposition that in First-Amendment-protected America, we might not be able to publish at all.

We thought we had the problem solved when we called Buffalo Newspress, the outfit that publishes Alt Press, among other things. A Newspress rep told us that Friday that he didn’t anticipate any problems, and that if we came in the following Monday afternoon, they could probably print the thing by Tuesday or Wednesday.

No such luck. At exactly nine a.m. on that Monday morning, a different Newspress rep, Todd Spalti, called us at home. He told Kevin that Newspress had “obtained some information” about us, and as such could not print our newspaper. I leave it to the reader to judge for himself exactly what happened there.

Personally, I was livid. I called Spalti back and demanded to know what had happened, and where this “information” had come from–not that I didn’t have a pretty good idea. A coward in the way that all business peons are, Spalti said that he couldn’t help me, that the decision came from the president of the company, etc. Naturally, the president of the company was not available to speak with me. When I asked what the name of this president was, Spalti hung up.

On our third try, we found a printer with no ties to Buffalo who took our business. I think it goes without saying that if that’s what it takes to put out a newspaper in this country–finding a printer geographically distant from your competitors–something is fairly twisted in Denmark.

On that same Monday that Newspress rejected us, a letter spilled out of Paul’s fax machine. It was from Jamie. Regarding the incident the previous Friday, he explained himself by saying that “I was in a rage and wanted only to ‘connect’ with the author of your Artvoice article.” Then he went on to threaten us with a lawsuit before moving on to the bizarre heart of his letter:

“Also, while we have nothing to do with the poetry appearing in Artvoice but merely donate that space to the Buffalo Literary Center, your writer is far from qualified to offer a critical opinion of anyone’s writing. Offering space to aspiring writers is meant to encourage their activity, and while your writer may think he’s being funny, he’s not. He’s just being mean.”

It was hard to imagine how a person last seen making an armed foray into an office shared by the NYCLU could believably call anyone “mean,” but whatever. Incidentally, I submit that anyone who reads poetry is qualified to criticize it, and that one does not need to have the literature degrees that we in fact have to see that the stuff in Artvoice makes Suzanne Somers seem like Lord Byron.

Jamie went on to complain that we had gone after him when there were more important issues in the city to worry about. “I suggest your employees actually do some research work and shake up the people and institutions who are responsible for the downward spiral this community is experiencing… You’re close enough to City Hall to spit on the building,” he wrote. “Why doesn’t your writer get off his large ass and waddle across the street for material?”

Note: a week and a half later, Jamie would send a mass e-mail to City Hall officials (as well as to the FBI and the State Department; more on this later) complaining about the BEAST. Among his complaints was our disrespectful treatment of those same people who were responsible for the proverbial “downward spiral this community is experiencing.” The BEAST, Moses complained to (among others) Mayor Masiello and Matt Brown, “thinks City Hall is only good for playing pranks on.”

After chiding Paul to keep an eye on who his “dogies” bite (Moses is apparently unaware that a “dogie” is a cow, not a dog), Jamie wrapped up his letter: “As far as I’m concerned, I’m happy to have another publication on the street, and I would even be happy to help. But not if your strategy is to diminish our efforts. That kind of strategy is typical of the Buffalo mentality that’s poisoned this city for too long.”

Again, a strange comment coming from someone who just bought out his last competitor, Blue Dog. And… “diminish our efforts”? What, is Artvoice a polio vaccination drive? Very weird stuff. We laughed and threw the letter aside, thinking the incident was over.

Three days later, the BEAST was printed and we began to distribute. On the way back from a distribution run, Kevin and one of the interns spotted Jamie angrily reading the BEAST in a pizza place just a half-block from my house.

Upon going inside to get a slice and observe the scene, the intern also noticed that the rest of the copies of our paper were in the restaurant’s trash can.

I walked to the pizza place to photograph this scene. Jamie was sitting by the window with a man who we later determined was his lawyer, LeRoi Johnson.

I took a few pictures of the two as they examined our paper before Jamie came outside, walked up to me, and knocked my camera to the ground.

“Don’t take my fucking picture!” he shouted.

I picked up the camera. “Let me try this again,” I said.

I raised the camera again for a close-up shot, and pressed the shoot button, but it was a no go; Jamie had knocked the battery out the first time.

Nonetheless, he knocked it out of my hand again.

“Don’t take my picture, you fucking asshole!” he shouted.

I picked up the camera again and regarded our competitor. Moses is about half my size, but for a variety of compelling reasons, I was very reluctant to get into a fight with him. I’ll say this for him, though. One look at that face saved me $4.25 I might have later spent at Blockbuster renting a Wes Craven movie. His is truly a face for the ages.

We exchanged a few more pleasantries before Jamie stormed back into the pizza place, ending that scene.

Fast forward about a week. It’s midnight on a Tuesday. I’m returning home from a funeral in Long Island. I drop my girlfriend off at the house, then drive off to park the car. Walking back I encounter, standing in the shadows very near to my house, Jamie Moses.

It occurs to me that this might be a coincidence. He might be visiting someone here; I’d heard from friends that there are Artvoice staffers among my neighbors. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, I thought. Just to be sure, though, I walk up to him and ask: “What are you doing here?”

He stares at me. “I don’t have to tell you what I’m doing here,” he says.

Well, he’s right about that, I thought. So I walk on and head home. However, it occurs to me suddenly that if this is a coincidence, and he doesn’t know where I live, it might be best not to fill him in. So I walk past my house a ways and turn around to see what he’s doing.

He’s still standing there. He hasn’t moved; he’s standing in the dark, under a tree, watching me.

This is too much. I walk back to him.

“Listen,” I said. “If you’re going to stand there all night, I’m going to assume that you’re surveilling my house, and I’m going to call the police again.”

Moses said nothing, put on his helmet, and walked off. He exited by crossing the street, passing through a gate in a house opposite mine, going through a rear gate in that yard, and jumping on his motorcycle in a back alley.

Another Phantom of the Opera exit. If I ever end up in court with this guy, I thought, he’s going to leave the witness stand through a ventilator shaft behind the judge.

You know the expression, “No one makes a better husband than a reformed rake?” Well, no one makes a meaner capitalist than an ex-hippie.

There are things that even John Ashcroft would be ashamed to try that your average tree-hugging lefty won’t hesitate to resort to. Specifically, he may try to imply that his competitor is a terrorist or a foreign agent, and invite various organs of the state intelligence apparatus to investigate.

On the day after I discovered Moses outside my house, word got back to us that Jamie had circulated an e-mail about our newspaper to a number of government officials in City Hall. It’s a remarkable letter, worth reprinting in its entirety. Incidentally, please excuse me for not correcting Jamie’s grammar: I only have a limited amount of time on this earth. In any case, here it is:

You may find this warning about the Beast publication worth reading. This is the paper who last week published a “prank” they played on Mayor Masiello by fraudulently posing as casting people from the “Sopranos.” Their internet announcement proclaims they intend to be the “meanest newspaper on American soil.” Their sister paper in Moscow, (which the Beast editor has co-edited for several years), eXile, has a front page of a soccer team kicking around the severed head of Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl. They also have photos of the Columbine High murderers lying in a pool of blood with the caption “Klebold and Harris, keeping it real.” The eXile also just had a judgement filed against it for writing a disgusting article about a hockey players wife. Pavel Bure sued. In their Buffalo publication the Beast, the content more or less concludes all Buffalo women are sluts, pigs and whores, all the music sucks, everyone is fat and poorly dressed, Artvoice is boring [!], and City Hall is only good for playing pranks on… basically, their editorial strategy is to make anyone and everyone feel worthless…it’s a free country and I suppose that’s their privilege [eds. Note; note that Moses says "privilege" and not "right"]…however, the e-mail correspondence below suggests there must be something more evil at the root of this publication…the editor regularly posts intelligently written essays to a Russian e-mail newsletter on far ranging topics such as Russian oil exports, corporate fashion, etc.,, and has been published in the Nation. So this is not just some aggressive frat boys being obnoxious [Eds. Note: "This is...boys?" This guy writes for a living?]. They share offices with Alt and the A.C.L.U. in the Statler towers and list their publisher as Paul Fallon, son of Judge Fallon. However, the publisher of Alt phoned Artvoice even before their paper hit the streets trying to distance himself as quickly as possible from the publication and insisting that he wished he had never met Paul Fallon or these two guys from Moscow who are putting out the Beast.

Moses then attached a copy of an internet posting about the eXile written by one Peter Ekman. Ekman was a right-wing columnist in Moscow who is pissed at us because, after receiving a nasty letter from him, we published an ugly story about an incident in which he groped one of our secretaries in a bar.

The married Ekman subsequently tried to have the eXile banned from various newsgroups by describing us as a Neo-nazi organization. Proof of our Nazi sympathies came in the form of a spoof fashion piece we’d once run entitled “The eXile’s Third Reich Uniform of the Week,” in which a fictional gay fashion designer breathlessly reviewed the 1938 version of the Nazi Field Bishop uniform. The Moses letter contained these interesting allegations of neo-Nazism.

Moses was therefore simultaneously accusing us of being Nazis and of being “evil” because we wrote for the Nation and were connected with the ACLU. A Nazi Nation contributor from the ACLU; that’s a pretty tough sell. I can only imagine what reactions this inspired.

Now for the really funny part.

Here is a partial list of the people Moses sent this letter to: Anthony Masiello, Jim Pitts, Joel Giambra, Matt Brown. Local officials who should sympathize; logical choices.

Moses also sent the letter to a local FBI agent (whose name I am omitting), to the Department of State, and to the Justice Department. If we are Americans recently flown in from Russia who hang out with the ACLU and pick on Daniel Pearl, clearly we are terrorists and spies and warrant some attention.

There was one more address I left out. Moses sent the letter to secretary@state.gov. Guess whose e-mail that is?

Mailing List

Colin Powell’s. Moses sent a letter to Colin Powell about the BEAST. All because we said he looked like Nosferatu. I don’t have a better punchline than that. That’s where it stands now; see you next issue, folks. If there is a next issue, that is. We can only hope the Middle East keeps the General busy.


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Charles Longley: Republican for Congress 2002




Charles Longley: Republican for Congress 2002

Charles Longley: Republican for Congress 2002

Charles LongleyYou can’t say the BEAST doesn’t take politics seriously. Truth be told, one of our own is running for Congress. We’ve known Charles Longley for years–he used to date one of the editor’s mothers, before she dumped him for a Belgian poet–and know him to be one of America’s great patriots. He’s a Republican, but we let that slide because he’s so sincere. In fact, we even plan to support him in the next election cycle, because we think America need more men like Chuck: honest, forthright, patriotic, and a little eccentric.

Last week, we let Chuck use our office late one night to do some campaign planning work. As usual, we left the tapes running on all the phones, a precaution we leave in place to keep our employees in line. When we came in the next morning, we found a surprise–Chuck had done some serious work the night before. Immediately we knew we had material for our next issue… But first, we knew we needed a little Q&A with the candidate:

Q:   Charles, you’re known in the Beast family as a kind of tragic hero, a Lone Ranger of Republicanism. You don’t have any backers for your campaign. What makes you think you can win?

A:   My media savvy.

Q:   What’s your strategy, exactly?

A:   In modern American politics, to have a legitimate chance at winning a seat in Congress, a candidate must make a positive impression through the mass media–be it television or print. Some people view this as our process’s greatest flaw, an aspect which necessarily causes each election to be a battle between two hedonistically wealthy talking heads who act as mere shills for their corporate backers.

Q:   But…

A:   But optimists, on the other hand, view the requisite pandering to media conglomerates as a potential positive: a way to communicate one’s vision of the Good Society to the public and, given the effort that must have gone into pre-television campaigns, a relatively easy means of scoring points with unsuspecting voters.

Q:   So which are you?

A:   I am an optimist. I have a vision and a plan for communicating it to the folks out there who don’t have the time to ask questions.

Q:   Anything concrete to that vision yet?

A:   (unnerved) No, not yet.

Yeah, sure you don’t, Chuck. In any case, here’s what our hero was up to in our office after hours. Is this man fit for office, or what? Somebody call James Carville!

8:43 pm, June 16

Receptionist:   Sheer Elegance Massage Parlor.

Charles:   (nervously) Hi, I’m interested in becoming a, uh, a “client.”

R:    Yeah.

C:    Yes, what are your, uh, what are you rates?

R:    It’s thirty for half and sixty for the hour. We’re open from eleven to nine. Our last booking for an appointment is eight-thirty. Ummm…

C:    Thirty dollars… for a half an hour. And that’s the smallest, uh, billing period I get a reservation for. That’s the shortest amount of time I could arrange.

R:    Well, the hour is sixty.

C:    That would be longer.

R:    Right. A half-hour.

C:    So the shortest is thirty.

R:    (straining to think of clearer explanation) Right. The half-hour is thirty, the hour is sixty.

C:    Right, I ask because I’m really only going to need, um, the service of your women for about, uhh… a few… only a couple minutes. Two or three minutes.

R:    Well, we don’t do that. You have to take the half-hour or the hour.

C:    Right, the interesting thing of it is-I don’t know if you’ve heard… of who I am before… (crazily fumbling) I’m, uh… I’m uh… I’m running for, uh, for Congress. (forgetting name) My name’s Charles Langley, um, and the reason I was interested in becoming a client of yours, the reason I would need one of your women, is for, uh, well, uh, a promotional, uh, event I’m trying to arrange.

R:    You mean for an outcall?

C:    Yes, it’s an outcall of sorts.

R:    Well we don’t do outcalls, so… you would have to call probably an escort service or somethin’.

C:    Well… uhh… th- the woman wouldn’t have to appear in any house. It would be on the public streets.

R:    (aghast) Pardon me?

C:    It… well, if I could present to you what I, what I had in mind. With the degradation of the current, uh, state of mind in America and the current “morale situation,” I was thinking that a hero is what people would want to vote for in Congress. America needs a certain heroism. I was hoping to stage an event in which I could, heroically, uh, save the life of one of your women.

R:    (laughing) Well, I don’t think…

C:    Don’t…

R:    …we’d be interested in that.

C:    We’ve arranged for a bus, a Metro NFTA bus, to be coming down Delaware Boulevard, right in front of Niagara square, in front of the city hall. The bus would look like it’s careening out of control. Possibly the bus driver would appear to be inebriated or, uh, drugged–he’s afflicted with one of the problems that affects so many inner-city dwellers these days. Your, uh, your woman would be walking out in front, I would step in front of the bus–the bus driver I’ve already contacted, he’s already in with this plan–I would step out in front and save the life of your woman. And then, um, hopefully a photographer or a media representative will be, uh, around to capture the moment. Really, it will capture what, uh, America needs right now: a sort of symbolic heroism, especially with the on-going War Against Terrorism that President Bush is, is trying to wage. There’s no woman in your, in your program that would be, uh, suitable for this purpose?

R:    Not, not that right now I could tell you, no.

C:    Well, is there any woman in your program that is familiar with the school vouchers, uh, idea? Any woman that could speak with any sort of articularity about welfare reform?

R:    Mmmm… no. Hm-mmm.

C:    (sighing) How much taxable income are your women making in a year? Are they concerned about the astounding rate of high income taxes, uh, in New York?

R:    Oh, everybody is.

C:    Everybody is? Oh, okay! I agree. This is one of my, uh, this is at the fore of my campaign platform. If we could establish a flat-rate tax system and–get a woman, a commoner, to speak about it, uh, to a media representative, after having just been heroically saved by Charles Longley–Chuck Longley, GOP Candidate for Congress from Erie County–if we could get one of these situations to occur, I think it would, I think it would really alter the paradigm of the New York tax system. There’s no woman in your house who could help me out in this situation?

R:    Mmmm… not right now, no.

C:    (hopeful) Tomorrow?

R:    Tomorrow.

C:    Would there be a woman tomorrow?

R:    Maybe you could call back tomorrow.

C:    Would there be, would there be, uh, a woman?

R:    There might be.

C:    There might be. Do you know who that might be?

R:    No, not at… no, not right now.

C:    You don’t have a…

R:    I’d have to talk to people first.

C:    Is there any of your women who attended a private school?

R:    (cluelessly) Uh, for election purposes?

C:    (baffled) For their… for high school. Did any of your women graduate from high school?

R:    (confidently) Yes.

C:    A private high school? A Catholic School? Maybe using a school voucher system?

R:    (actually trying to think of the correct answer) Mmmm… that one, I’d have to ask.

C:    Okay, because, again, the dilapidation of the public schools is something I’m trying to hit at this year. Uh… any of your women unionized? Does a union have a tight, firm hold, uh (realizing the blatant sexual overtone), a grip on, uh, on your industry?

R:    Well those are things that I need… to… talk with everybody here and see who’s… got what, (chuckling at her own ignorance), flexible…

C:    Are there any collective bargaining agreements? A sort of paralysis on the industry led by corrupt union forces?

R:    Mmmm… no.

C:    (condescendingly) None that… none that you would know about. (Deep, prolonged sigh.)

R:    (trying to be helpful) Maybe if you call tomorrow, I’ll have a little bit more to talk to you about.

C:    Okay, if you could just keep in mind, it’s Charles Longley.

R:    Okay.

C:    Republican Party Candidate for 2002. I have the primaries coming up, so if you could please help me out, uh with any woman who, uh, might be able to act as a sort of “damsel in distress.”

R:    Okay.

C:    Thank you.

R:    You’re welcome.

C:    Bye.

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