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Long Story Short: Trash talk


Illustration by JP Thimot


Blotto Tales: Episode 3

Drivers around town continue to demonstrate just how dimwitted people become when drinking excessively. Or maybe it’s the dimwitted people who drink excessively, then drive. Here are two more recent (alleged) instances of stupid drunk tricks.


Smoky and the forklift    

So, say you’re shitfaced and want to pick up some groceries, but you need transportation. Why not steal a forklift? That’s what Anthony Young is accused of doing by Buffalo police. Now right off the bat, I’m thinking that if you’re drunk, and don’t want to draw attention to yourself, maybe a tiny truck with eight mile-per-hour top speed is not your best choice of stolen vehicles. The forklift owner says he didn’t give Young permission to take the industrial device meant for moving materials over short distances, making it third-degree unauthorized use of a vehicle. So where was Young going in such a not-hurry? Super Price Choppers, on Genesee Street. Now, if you do happen to be drunk, and decide to hop a stolen forklift for a leisurely trip to the grocery store, maybe the second thing you don’t want to do is hit a police car. That’s what police say Young did as he turned into the Super Price Choppers parking lot, after which he failed field sobriety tests and was arrested. But there is one thing you should do when piloting a pilfered forklift to the grocery store while intoxicated and making a turn into a police car. And that is use proper hand signals. Young was also charged with failing to use a turn signal.


Seven charges: one gear

Imagine your driver’s license has been revoked after eight alcohol related suspensions, and it’s 1 a.m., and—you know—you have to go somewhere. What do you do? According to city of Tonawanda police, Joseph R. Wecker, of Niagara Street, got into his car and backed out of his driveway. It’s likely that Wecker was planning to drive further than the street when he started out, but those plans were interrupted when he almost backed into a police car. (Notice how vehicles with allegedly intoxicated drivers seem to seek out police cars?) Wecker was charged with felony DWI, felony aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle, operating his vehicle without a court-ordered interlock device, and four additional vehicle and traffic charges, which may be a world record for the most charges while going backward no further than thirty feet. At the time of the incident, Wecker also had additional DWI charges pending in Cheektowaga. The experienced court defendant opted out of taking a breathalyzer test this time around and was held for court. Kind-of makes you wonder at what point the courts stop releasing serial drunken-drivers. 



Garbage journalism

A March 31 article on the New Yorker website, titled What Brooklyn Sees in Buffalo, offered another patronizing snob’s-eye-view of our city. It started with a description of what was characterized as a culinary specialty of Western New York—specifically Buffalo—The Garbage Plate.




The details:

In the article, the dish is described as “homemade macaroni salad, homemade fries, hamburger, cheese, hot dog,” all topped with hot sauce. The story was about an event in Brooklyn called the "Buffalo City Fair," intended to promote our city in their borough. After the article was posted, the Twitterverse lit up with irate commentary, and the Buffalo News published a response titled, Hey, New Yorker magazine: Good luck finding a garbage plate in Buffalo. Turns out, Garbage Plates are a real thing, but not in Buffalo; they are a Rochester delicacy. And that city was just as annoyed as Buffalo that we were given credit for their dish.


Then what happened?

The author of the article ate another unfamiliar dish—crow. Elizabeth Barber is a graduate of SUNY Geneseo, which is situated close enough to both Rochester and Buffalo that she should know better. It makes you wonder what they teach in journalism school; didn’t Barber take Identifying Regional Cuisine 100?


Barber followed-up her article with a Twitter apology to…Rochester! What about Buffalo? Don’t we get an apology? Not just for the misplaced gastronomic attribution, but for quoting a pompous “red-lipped lawyer” as saying, “[Buffalo] seems to me like one of those forgotten cities of New York State. I’m from the Upper East Side; to the extent that anyone thinks about Buffalo, they think about Niagara Falls.” Or maybe for describing Western New York as “a region with a culinary ethos that can feel more than a few counties away from what’s au courant in the gentrifying parts of Brooklyn.” Or maybe just for misspelling Labatt’s.


The takeaway

When will these budding New York City writers learn that we are not a city they want to go writing through on training wheels?



Stories from the Albright-Knox files

On a recent Saturday, in my role as art critic for Buffalo Spree, I visited the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (AKAG) to review the exhibition, Introducing Tony Conrad: A Retrospective (look for the review in Spree’s May issue). One moment I was in the grand east gallery viewing the exhibition, and the next—almost magically—stanchions and yellow belt barriers appeared, blocking visitors from portions of the show. I asked a guard what was going on, and received an icily circumspect response. The guard likely knew little himself, but his default position was wariness. I went downstairs to see if I could learn anything, where security staff met me; my status as a tenaciously inquisitive visitor had been radioed ahead. The downstairs staff had no answers either, appearing displeased with my inquiries. Events Coordinator JoAnne Will-Kaminski was warm and friendly, but she also knew nothing.


So, what was going on?

You might be aware that the AKAG is planning a much-discussed major expansion. Less talked-about is that part of the $125 million-dollar project that will address badly needed renovation work on the aging 1905 building. Museum representatives recently revealed that the ceiling above the Conrad exhibition experienced an unspecified “structural problem” requiring emergency repairs. Since my visit, the artwork in that part of the exhibition has been temporarily moved and will be reinstalled by April 15. 


How about those guards?

Ideally, art museum security should be unobtrusive. But lately, the AKAG guards leave little doubt that visitors are under surveillance. (Wouldn’t Tony Conrad find that ironic?) Security is abundant, and art sentinels seem to be constantly on the prowl, like bees in a clover field, following visitors from gallery to gallery and hovering nearby. I’m not the only one who’s noticed this. One recent visitor described the zealous AKAG security presence as “undermining the museum experience.” I’ve visited the Cleveland Museum recently, and security there is more laidback. The last time I was at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, I wasn’t even conscious of the guards, though they are certainly present. You can view the other half of the Tony Conrad exhibition at the UB Art Gallery, and though you are being monitored, there won’t be a guard in sight. But it’s not only guards. A work at the AKAG by Rachel Whiteread has a proximity alarm that goes off even when you stand behind the tape line on the floor. It goes off when you read the wall label.


How to get a closer look

Who doesn’t love Vincent van Gogh’s La maison de La Crau (The Old Mill) at the AKAG? Van Gogh, of course, is known for using bold slashes of thick paint. But if you look close enough, you’ll notice that a surprising amount of this painting’s surface is bare canvas. To do this though, you risk violating museum proximity regulations. What’s the solution? Well, now you can go to Google Arts & Culture, where seventy-six artworks from the AKAG collection—including The Old Mill—are online. You can zoom in to view the works in breathtaking detail without setting off alarms, thanks to the extremely high resolution Gigapixel technology. It’s not the same as the real thing, but, in certain ways, it’s better!


An exciting announcement

Let’s be clear, we at Long Story Short and Buffalo Spree love our AKAG. So, we are happy to report that one of our favorite summer events, Rockin’ at the Knox, will be back again this year. This follows last summer’s successful return of the event, after a long absence. The musical performer this time around is Beck, now on tour to support his latest highly acclaimed thirteenth album, Colors. Tickets go on sale this Thursday for members, and Saturday for the general public. This is a fun musical event in an open-air venue, where concert-goers have access to one of the greatest art collections in the world—all for one low (concert) price. Just don’t stand too close to the art.


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


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