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Long Story Short: Some get lucky—like Olcott and a Falls surviver

7/15/19



 

A not-so-quiet place

Daily life in Olcott has been disrupted again. Not by more Lake Ontario flooding, but by a deluge of Tinsel Town movie-makers.  They’ve come to the sleepy Niagara County hamlet to film A Quiet Place 2, the highly anticipated sequel to the surprise hit 2018 horror film.

 

A good kind of invasion

This is a major big budget Hollywood movie that's employing over 400 locals and injecting ten-million dollars into the local economy—albeit with about thirty-five days of disruption. Not that anyone minds the inconvenience. Olcott is rolling out the carpet for the production company, led by writer/director (and maybe actor), John Krasinski (The Office, Jack Ryan), and staring his wife, Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns, The Girl on the Train).

 

Residents on Ontario Street were paid not to cut their grass for a few weeks, because the story takes place after a cataclysmic attack by gnarly alien creatures who hunt by sound. So the only people in the story still alive are those who have learned to be very, very quiet. Olcott residents have to do the same. At night, they move their cars off the street, go inside, and turn off their lights, so it looks like a deserted town. And then they keep quiet.

 

Speaking of keeping quiet

Ever since Krasinski was seen scouting locations a couple months back, everyone involved has been tight-lipped. Even now, crew members can’t talk about what they’re up to, having signed non-disclosure forms. Boatyard owner David Hedley knew months ago that his business would become a movie set, but he said nothing.

 

But when limos trucks, lights, and cranes started arriving; they replaced street lights with ones that flicker on command; and Route 93 was shut down (starting today), the secrey ended. (The New York State Department of Transportation is still pretending; they won’t say why Route 93 is closed.) Krasinski and Blunt don’t seem to be laying low; they were in Akron recently, posing with families for pictures.

 

Spoilers ahead

Did you see A Quiet Place? If not, here’s a spoiler: John Krasinski's character dies at the end. So unless he appears in flashbacks, or as an Obi Wan Kenobi-type ghost, Krasinski will only be behind the camera. Cillian Murphy (Dunkirk, Peaky Blinders) will join the family unit (a mom and two kids), but his exact role is unclear. When the film comes out, we’ll get an explanation as to how the aliens took over. Another thing we learn from the first movie—in the final moments of the film—is that the Blunt character’s hearing aid stuns and hurts the aliens when it’s set at a specific frequency. So now the family can leave their house easier … and enjoy Olcott.

 

 

A study in contrasts

Local roofing company owner Todd Cameron has been sentenced to fifty-one months in prison. Why? Because he hired undocumented workers and cheated the IRS out of over a half-million dollars by filing a false tax return. He pled guilty to both.

 

This conviction resulted from an investigation led by the IRS Criminal Investigation Division and Homeland Security. Gotta hand it to those Homeland Security and IRS folks; they are on the ball. We all know that undocumented workers threaten national security. Right? Of course we also depend on them here in WNY and throughout the US.

 

But, but, but …

Fifty-one months seems like a pretty steep penalty for a year of hiring undocumented workers and cheating on your taxes. And you know who else has done both those things for decades? President of the United States, Donald J. Trump.

 

Back in the eighties, Trump hired undocumented Polish workers on his signature Trump Tower project. They worked twelve-hour shifts with inadequate safety equipment at subpar wages that they had trouble collecting. Did the Donald know? Several very credible people say he discussed it with them, and that he used the workers’ undocumented status as leverage to stop them from complaining. More recently, POTUS golf clubs have employed undocumented workers as waiters, groundskeepers, and housekeepers. Last year, Vox found that only one in 144 jobs at three Trump golf courses were filled by American workers. After previously experiencing legal problems with undocumented workers, you’d think Trump would be very cautions, especially in light of his anti-immigrant policies as President. Did he know? Again, there are plenty of former workers, and others who say he did. He, of course, claims he didn’t.

 

 There’s also plenty of well-documented hard evidence that Trump committed numerous tax crimes in the past. And of course, he is doing all he can to make sure his recent tax forms stay hidden. If you’re running for the highest office in the country on your business acumen, you’d make sure your taxes are in order, and open them to public to spotlight your business skills. Any responsible businessman/president would make certain that he was in compliance with the same laws he vehemently espouses. But Trump is playing dumb, claiming he didn’t know.

 

Fairness is not a word you associate with government

Acting Homeland Security secretary Kevin McAleenan has assured the public that “the department won’t play favorites.” Trump will get no special treatment, he says.

 

Tell that to Todd Cameron.

 

 

Beating the odds at Niagara

A few weeks back we ran a story about a Niagara Falls trolley guide, who, among other things, mentioned that every now and then, someone goes over the falls and lives. Some plunge in barrels or other apparatus. Some just plunge. Only very rarely (four previous instances since 1960), does someone survive an unprotected plunge. Number five occurred last Tuesday.

 

The details:

Let’s get the tragic part of the story out of the way: this was a suicide attempt by an unnamed Canadian man, who was likely deeply despondent. Police were alerted that there was a person in crisis near the river, and they arrived just in time to see him scale a stone retaining wall and slide into the river.  About twenty-five people end their lives this way every year. There might even be a biological basis for the perilous allure of the falls. After surviving the plunge, the man was taken to the hospital.  It’s a sad story, but hopefully it will have a happy ending yet. Surviving a 188-foot Canadian Falls drop with almost no injuries is a good start.

 

Pure luck

What makes this more interesting is that this summer’s high lake and river water levels might have saved the man’s life. At 4 a.m., when he went into the river, it was higher than normal, and less water than usual was being diverted for hydropower. So, the water flow over the falls Tuesday was literally twice that of normal. When the man went over, he was likely carried out away from the huge boulders under the falls. He may also have fallen within a sweet spot between hazards.  He was found by police sitting on the rocks along the gorge, disoriented, but largely unharmed.

 

An odd coincidence

This unlikely survival took place exactly fifty-nine years to the day after seven-year-old Roger Woodward became the first person to live through a falls plunge, wearing a life preserver.  At the time, experts also speculated that Woodward was thrown clear of the rocks and crushing force of the falls, because he was so light.  

 

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

 

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