Long Story Short: Angry attorneys and Ecuadorean wings aside, things are looking up

8/14/17




illustration by J.P. Thimot

 

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The law firm fight of the century continues

 

While Cellino and Barnes’ advertisements continue to flood every known form of media, the two warring partners are duking it out in court. Barnes, it should be noted, fights without the inconvenience of actually appearing at the hearings.

 

The details:

Three weeks ago, Cellino came out strong, charging in court papers that Barnes is a big bully who created a “toxic environment” in the firm. Barnes countered with the self-evident claim that Cellino is hurting the business with his attempt to split it up. Barnes might have landed a blow there, if his lawyer hadn’t observed that the firm is “functioning as a well-oiled, multimillion-dollar machine.” Cellino claims Barnes is pressuring the firm’s lawyers to side with him; one was berated, another fired for not cooperating. According to Cellino, attorneys have complained they were pressured to sign affidavits. Barnes is on the ropes as round one ends.

 

But the next week, Barnes enters swinging. A couple dozen lawyers from the firm submit affidavits saying Cellino is about as engaged as a paperweight. The firm's attorney, Robert J. Schreck, testifies that he hasn’t heard of anyone being pressured to speak against Cellino, who is made to look like a paranoid conspiracy nut, imagining Barnes is scheming to force him out. He fights back by claiming he’s the guy who thought up having actors play clients on TV. Cellino looks stunned.

 

Ultimately, the judge gives the round to Cellino, as she rules against Barnes's request for a preliminary injunction prohibiting Cellino from luring staff away with his seductive surname.

 

Two letters to the Buffalo News last Sunday questioned whether this topic is front-page worthy. Really? Rich people locked in an ugly legal brawl not newsworthy? That’s like saying the Spice Girls reunion isn’t front-page news. As if to make it clear, the News had another page one story last Monday about Cellino wanting “custody” of the 888-8888 phone number.

 

The takeaway:

This is a major prizefight, with a big purse at stake. Cellino and Barnes both pocketed $40 million dollars over the past four years alone. When it comes to wealthy public figures, we plebes enjoy a good public slugfest. Next round, September.

 

 

Look, up in the sky…

 

No doubt you’ve been asking yourself where all the great skywriting artists have gone. No? You can’t actually think of any artists who've ever used skywriting as their  medium? Well, get ready, because one is coming to Buffalo.

 

The details:

It's part of the exhibition, Wanderlust: Actions, Traces, Journeys 1967-2017, which opens at both UB Art Galleries, September 7.  The show features artists that step outside the gallery environment to do their work in the real world. (A preview for the exhibition appears in the September Spree.)

 

Kim Beck is an artist currently living in Pittsburgh where she is Associate Professor in the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University. On Saturday, August 19, between 6  and 7 p.m., Beck will execute a work titled Herethere, as part of her ongoing Sky Is the Limit skywriting project. (She will be assisted by an experienced pilot.) The best view of the ephemeral work will be between Canalside and the Peace Bridge. The skywriting will consist of arrows, which “draw attention to the physical and psychological space held by the border, and relationships between the United States and Canada,” says Beck. The arrows also reference the Seneca Nation, Buffalo as a migratory and economic gateway, and the Underground Railroad. You get the point.

 

Images of the actual skywriting—possibly some taken by the public—will go on billboards throughout Buffalo (If you post an image, use the hashtag #ubskywriting).

 

Exhibition curator, Rachel Adams, explains that Beck and many others in the show address political or environmental issues in their work. But skywriting? “It’s such a great project,” she says, “creating this work for the public, encouraging them to participate by photographing the event, and then sprinkling photographs throughout the city on billboards as well as in the gallery.” In this way, “the project has many lives,” Adams says, “and I’m especially excited that the skywriting will be arrows, specifically pointing to our northern neighbor in a time when borders seem ever more present.”

 

The takeaway:

Better get down there and cross skywriting artist off your bucket list.

 

 

Facebook post of the week

 

Former Tonawanda City resident Matthew Meinzer posts that he is happy to introduce Buffalo chicken wings to folks in Ecuador.

 

The details:

Meinzer, who has duel careers as a cook and carpenter, went down to Puerto Lopez on the advice of a friend, with only his tools and $400 dollars. He still has $380 dollars left. He lives on about twenty-five dollars a week from his carpentry, which is in demand. Most expats, he says, live on twenty dollars a day, which covers housing, food, and drinks. “So far, I have a workshop and a house, and I'm opening my own restaurant with just about nothing,” he reports. That’s where the chicken wings come in. Meinzer is trying out various recipes as he readies his new kitchen.  Wings will be on the menu, and maybe, down the line, beef on ’weck.  

 

The getaway:

Meinzer describes his life now as paradise, with perfect weather year-round, in a place where “you can kiss a seed and throw it, and it will grow.” He doesn’t plan on coming back, but if you’re visiting Puerto Lopez, look him up.

 

 

It didn’t bleed, so it didn’t lead.

 

My Brother’s Keeper is an initiative, new to Buffalo, in which African American and Hispanic male role models, mentor young men of color through their high school years. The program is a partnership with Medgar Evers College, a predominantly black Brooklyn institution. The jubilant kick off happened August 7. So where were the news cameras?

 

The details:

There was no stabbing or shooting, no drug bust, no assault, so maybe it doesn’t fit TV’s idea of a news story. But this was an affirmative event, spotlighting accomplished people of color taking on extra responsibility to support their community’s youth. The launch was attended by about 150 boys, who enter high school this fall. As the students exited the bus that brought them to the McKinley High School celebration, they were greeted with cheers, handshakes, and pats. You’d think that would be worth 30 seconds of TV airtime.

The program will include an after school academy one day a week and two Saturdays a month. Young men will receive guidance, encouragement, and life skills instruction throughout their high school years. Medgar Evers professors and students will do long distance mentoring. The program is funded by an $800,000 dollar state grant to help cover the cost of college-readiness programs, family outreach, and minority classroom teacher training. The national program was initiated by President Obama in 2014, to set young people on course toward a better future.

 

The takeaway:

Great things (that you don’t see on TV) happen every day. You can learn more about the national and state My Brother’s Keeper program here.

 

 

Arts = Business

 

Arts Services Initiative of Western New York, along with Americans for the Arts, just released Arts and Economic Prosperity, a customized data analysis of the impact of the arts in Western New York (which they define as Allegany, Cattauraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, and Niagara Counties).

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The details:

Long Story Short is really going to earn its moniker here, because the report is thirty pages of data, explanations, charts, and annotations. Here are the crib notes:

The arts generate $352.1 million in total economic activity annually.

Nonprofit arts and cultural organizations spend $156 million annually.

Their audiences spend $196.1 million annually.

The arts provide 10,160 full-time equivalent jobs.

They generate $208.2 million in household income to local residents.

They generate $27.9 million in local government revenue

They generate $12.8 million in state government revenue.

 

Favorite stat: Arts event dollars spent, EXCLUDING the cost of the event:

$148.3 million by residents

$47.8 million by non-residents

 

This is money coming into our community, spent on such things as refreshments, meals, souvenirs, transportation, lodging, and so on. Sixty-seven percent of non-residents attending arts events, say they came here primarily for the art.  

 

The takeaway:

Next time someone complains about tax dollars going to the arts, whip out these stats and tell them about the bang they get for their taxpayer buck.  Here's the full survey:

 

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Artist and educator Bruce Adams is a longtime contributor to Spree.

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