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Long Story Short: Shh!

10/28/19



 

Lottery winner?

Admit it, you’ve thought about it: what would you do if you won the lottery? Not a small one, but a really big one, like the $80 million David Yax of North Evans just won. So many things to consider. Would you live where you do now, or would you be too rich for the neighborhood? Would you need security? Would you go into hiding? Change your phone number? How much of your prize would you give to family, friends, or charity, and where does the giving end? Would you travel, invest, go on a shopping spree?

 

These are the questions Yax must be considering, since he won the September 4 Powerball drawing. He’s the only winner of the biggest Western New York jackpot in history, by more than double the previous top prize. He took a lump sum, which is almost always the best deal, so he will pocket $38,498,567 after taxes.

 

A dollar and a dream

I have certainly pondered what I would do if I won a big lottery prize, which is interesting because I’ve never purchased a lottery ticket. Why? Well for one thing there’s zero chance of winning. The odds, one in 292,201,338, are so astronomically small that in practical terms there’s zero chance. You actually have nearly four times greater chance of being killed by an asteroid in a given year (1 in 74,817,414) than to be struck by lottery luck. So why waste money on lottery tickets? It’s a sucker bet.

 

Yay for Yax

Then there’s data that shows that one third of lottery winners declare bankruptcy within a fairly short time after winning. And there are many tragic stories about people who won the lottery and lost everything. Did you know that you can’t win a New York State lottery anonymously? (Although there is a little-known loophole.) You have to accept it publicly, so lottery officials can use you as publicity to attract more suckers. Everyone knows you are rich, and freeloaders start arriving at your doorstep like a heard of money-sucking zombies. Anyway, good luck to David Yax.

 

 

Hollywood to Buffalo pipeline

In the wake of Western New York’s starring role in A Quiet Place 2 this past summer, another big budget film is coming to town. Word is, Guillermo del Toro will film parts of Nightmare Alley here next summer. The Buffalo News is announcing it as virtual fact, citing inside sources reporting on a recent visit by Buffalo Niagara Film Commissioner Tim Clark to Mayor Byron Brown’s office, where logistics were discussed.

 

The movie stars Bradley Cooper, along with Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Toni Collette, and Willem Dafoe. The film’s also rumored to include Ron Perlman, David Strathairn, Richard Jenkins, and Mark Povinelli. Talk of the movie being partly shot here started circulating back in June, when del Toro stopped by Chef’s Restaurant for dinner. No word on what he ate, but del Toro has the girth of a man who could down a couple servings of spaghetti parm. 

 

Back in August, WGRZ reported flat out that Nightmare Alley’s Buffalo location was all a rumor. The Buffalo News was more circumspect, until last week, when they finally confirmed it. But the media source you really want to be watching for this sort of info is Cosmic Book News. Matt McGloin is the editor/publisher of the website covering entertainment news, including movies, comics, tv, video games, and more. He’s originally from Buffalo but is now very connected to Hollywood insiders. He reported with certainty that Nightmare Alley would be filmed in Buffalo way back in July.

 

 

Sweetness for sale

Fans of the Grant Street café Sweet_ness 7—and there are many out there—were shocked by the news last week that founder/owner Prish Moran is selling the business. Moran purchased the dilapidated building at the corner of Grant and Lafayette at a time when properties in that area were not considered good investments. The restoration involved seven apartments, five storefronts, and the café. Last year, Moran opened the Tabernacle, which features one of the most striking interiors found anywhere.  

 

According to a story in Buffalo Rising, Moran says the business has grown too big for her skills, and she now believes she is “out of [her] league.”

 

 

Keeping Buffalo secret—and talking

Buffalo just got a new piece of conceptual mural art, but opinions on its merit vary. Several respected local artists and art enthusiasts are not impressed, while others are. A new downtown mural by Ian de Beer (with help from Jake The Sign Guy) at 812 Main Street is challenging viewers and prompting dialogue regarding its ambiguous message. As a plus, it’s probably the easiest mural in town to describe: a big white wall with bold blue block letters spelling out KEEP BUFFALO A SECRET. It was completed in twelve hours from 9 p.m  to 9 a.m. on October 24.

 

What are people saying?

On the Facebook page artBUFF.club, architect David Steele wasted no time appropriating the art message for his own political purposes. “Won’t be too hard to do as long as parking lots like this dominate downtown,” he states, referring to the large lot the mural borders. Artist Peter Stevens more directly—and bluntly—addresses the art itself: “It’s stupid, it’s negative, and it’s ugly.” A few others “liked” Stevens’ comment, and several more commenters expressed gentler disapproval. But Stephanie Argentine has a different take: “I read it as somewhat tongue in cheek and a bit of reverse psychology on out of towners.” Frits Abell agrees: “me too....like Buffalo Hates You Too from WNYBAC.” Martin McGee points out that “…maybe the secret is already out,” to which Jinxie Tucker (AKA curator Emily Tucker) responds, “I think that’s the joke right?”

 

Rachel Adams Miller, the recent past curator of UB Galleries, who is now Chief Curator and Director of Programs at Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, responds with this observation: “San Antonio’s hometown slogan is ‘keep San Antonio lame’ which I love (after keep Austin weird) and also I feel it points to a deeper issue of quick gentrification and rising housing prices. Obviously, I don’t think that this was the intention here (San Antonio’s is always seen on bumper stickers and such) but this does make me think of that and as a former Buffalo resident who misses it very much, it’s best to talk about major issues like that, which seems to be happening.” Her comment has as many “likes” as Peter Stevens,’ making it something of an even for-and-against split.

 

“You don’t put a billboard up like [this] about a secret and mean it” says Artist/set designer Dave Butler, “It's totally tongue in cheek.” But Kathleen Rooney believes, “If you have to explain a joke, it doesn’t work.” Writer and photographer, Elizabeth Meg feels the slogan “speaks to the new emerging creative class flocking here.” She believes cheap rent and strong support for the arts is drawing creative types to town. “Those of us who found this place in the past 5 years would like to keep it a secret,” she says, “---you know, with gentrification and all.“

 

So, what does this critic think?

Thanks for asking.

 

First, it’s based on a tee shirt by Oxford Pennant, a Buffalo-based company that designs and manufactures wool felt pennants, and related items. So, de Beer is appropriating a slogan that is already circulating around town. It strikes me as in the spirit of Michael Morgullis’ popular, “Buffalo, City of no illusions.” And its controversial nature is reminiscent of the provocative public works of Jeff Koons.  

 

I take the saying to reflect a fear that many have expressed, that the good things we take for granted—low cost housing and food, quick commutes, available artist studio space, and so on—could evaporate as word continues to spread about how much our city has to offer, contrary to its rapidly fading dreary public image. I’ve often heard people jokingly say they prefer our secret doesn’t get out. Painting a public billboard-size message expressing this sentiment, like a public service message, is indeed ironic. And irony has played a huge role in art since the 1960s. Structurally, and conceptually, this is in the vein of work by artists like Ed Ruscha, who has also used  billboards, or Christopher Wood.

 

 

Long Story Short is an opinion column by artist and educator Bruce Adams, a longtime contributor to Buffalo Spree.

 

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