November 2009

by Carolyn Batt

Want to see 25 of Western New York’s greatest attractions—literally from A to Z in two hours? On Tuesday, December 1st, at 8pm on WNED, it will be possible as this special spotlights more than two dozen local cultural attractions, one corresponding to each letter of the alphabet. From the Albright-Knox Art Gallery to the Buffalo Zoo, get ready to be taken on a journey across Erie, Chautauqua, Niagara, Cattaraugus and Wyoming Counties.

Highlighted through a series of “video postcards,” viewers will be able to experience unique nearby places, including attractions that house pop art by Andy Warhol and original manuscripts by Mark Twain.

Best of all, for all you Buffalo fans out there, 17 of the 25 attractions are located right in the Queen City!

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by Karen Huefner

Pano’s Restaurant on Elmwood Avenue has been a Buffalo icon for over 30 years so I stopped in the other night for a bite to eat. Parking isn’t the easiest thing to come by on Elmwood Ave so I was thankful Pano’s had a lot. The restaurant is pretty big which means my stomach and I were thankful there was no wait. We got a seat right by the windows (which open up during the summertime to treat guests to some coveted patio dining). The menu at Pano’s is quite extensive and my options all sounded tasty. After seeing entrée after entrée pass me by, I knew I would not be disappointed no matter what words came out of my mouth. I went with the greek pasta. It was penne with artichokes, feta, goat cheese (my new favorite ingredient of all time), roasted red peppers and olives. The meal was steamy hot and so scrumptious. The portion they give you was bigger than my tummy could handle and I’m happy to report I got two meals out of it later in the week! Pano’s atmosphere is warm and inviting. Located in the Elmwood Village it has that neighborhood feel that for some reason just makes your food taste that much cozier. This successful business has continued to evolve from its original concept to the dynamic restaurant it is today and it’s worth a visit. Open to 1am daily it’s ideal for that late night snack after a show or to satisfy your hunger after a couple adult beverages on Elmwood. Eat Up Elmwood today!

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by Susan Braun

If you’re looking for an evening of laughter and intrigue, may we suggest The 39 Steps currently running at the Kavinoky Theater?

Originally a book by John Buchan, and later adapted for a 1935 film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, The 39 Steps is a mystery complete with a handsome hero, a beautiful spy and a chase through the countryside!

The Kavinoky Theater is the first in the nation to obtain the rights to produce this play following its run on Broadway and the national tour. And it is quite a production! The cast of 4 actors assume all of the many roles in the play, sometimes changing from one character to another seamlessly right in front of the audience by a mere change of hat!

Chris Corporandy does a masterful job in the role of Richard Hannay, the debonair leading man. Jenn Stafford shines as three “femmes fatale” including a German spy and a Scottish housewife. And David Lundy and Robert Rutland make quite the team as they play “a cast of characters” ranging from hotel owners to policemen to vaudeville actors to a married couple.

The very clever and imaginative use of simple stage props, special effects and music literally steals the show. A shadow puppet scene set in the countryside in the dark of night includes an airplane swooping down a la North by Northwest. It’s one of a number of references to other Hitchcock films. And of course, everyone knows Mr. Hitchcock makes an appearance in all of his films. Look carefully and you may find him lurking in the shadows!!

The 39 Steps will be on stage at the Kavinoky Theater until December 6th. For more information about the show and tickets, visit

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by Ed Healy

For those of you who may still subscribe to the notion that Buffalo is a sleepy, snowbound city with little to recommend it and even less to do, let’s take a look at the weekend just past and put this nasty and dated (if it was ever remotely true) little stereotype to rest once and for all. Buffalo rocks and most weekends it rocks pretty hard with something for every taste and disposition.

If you happened to be in Buffalo this past Friday you would have done well to make your way to the always engaging and entertaining Gusto at the Gallery. That the Albright-Knox Art Gallery is one of the world’s (yes, world’s) greatest museums of modern and contemporary art is almost beside the point on Friday nights. Yes, the art provides a spectacular, stunning backdrop, but the real action is in Gusto’s provocative programming and party-like atmosphere as the Gallery opens its doors for free programs and events. On Friday night you would have been able to hear acclaimed photographer Gregory Crewdson discuss his amazing images that merge the craft of set design and film lighting with the artistry of still photography. Crewdson spoke about his groundbreaking and hugely influential approach to photography in a conversation with curator Heather Pesanti.

On Saturday night, the Albright’s Art of Jazz series got its groove on with the hard bop blues of legendary alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson. At age 83, Donaldson can still rain a sheet of staggering sound on his listeners in an amazing display of technique or pour his heart into a funky rendering of a soul jazz classic like “Alligator Boogaloo.” This jazz master’s between song patter and charming vocals made this a concert to remember in a series that continues to provide Buffalo’s jazz fans with amazing musical memories.

Across the street, the new Burchfield Penney Art Center was celebrating its first anniversary with Rendezblue, a four-day festival of free art and music. In its brief time in its new home, the Burchfield Penney has established itself as a vibrant center for the arts, presenting multi-disciplinary programs featuring concerts, lectures, performance and installations. The Gwathmey Siegel & Associates-designed space is warm and inviting and the crowds have been prolific, complementing, rather than competing with, the action at the Albright. Elmwood Avenue and Rockwell Road is now the nexus of Buffalo’s vibrant and ambitious art scene – one that any city would be thrilled to call its own.

Elsewhere in the city music, art and theater lovers were able to enjoy a program of Schubert and Strauss by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in the spectacular surroundings of Kleinhans Music Hall, the Viva Vivaldi Festival at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, an opening at the new Vault Gallery, a lecture by documentary photographer Brendan Bannon at Studio Hart, even an incredible performance by Liza (with a “Z”) Minnelli at the University at Buffalo’s Center for the Arts.

Oh, and one more thing: the Boss was in town. That’s right, Bruce Springsteen and the legendary E Street Band capped off the weekend with a tour-ending concert at HSBC Arena on the city’s waterfront.

What’s going on in Buffalo? More than you could possibly do in a single weekend!

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by Carolyn Batt

The life story of one of the most influential and controversial American (or shall we say Buffalo) figures will air on Monday, November 23rd at 10pm. Elbert Hubbard: An American Original will be broadcast on WNED-TV in Buffalo and nationwide on PBS.

The documentary, narrated by actor Liev Schreiber, with Adam Arkin providing Hubbard’s voice, will chronicle the life of the founder of the Roycroft artisan community in East Aurora.

The ultimate non-conformist, Elbert Hubbard rose from anonymity to become an influential author, publisher, lecturer and entrepreneur. He influenced popular culture at the turn of the twentieth century, and led the Roycroft community to be at the forefront of the Arts & Crafts movement, which rejected industrialization and emphasized the hand-crafting of everyday objects.

WNED Producer Paul Lamont, who also produced Frank Lloyd Wright’s Buffalo for PBS, describes his latest film as “a story of love, art, passion and controversy set against the backdrop of the Arts and Crafts Movement.”

The Roycroft Campus Corporation is still flourishing today, currently restoring its original multi-building complex– a national historic landmark and the nation’s only authentic Arts and Crafts community.

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by Carolyn Batt

Growing up in the Buffalo suburb of Williamsville, and having relocated to the city after graduating college, I find myself returning to my roots (if 15 minutes from the city is what you want to call it) often.

The Village of Williamsville has one of the most charming Main Streets in the area that is quickly becoming reminiscent of Elmwood Avenue. New shops, restaurants and cafes are popping up what seems like daily to line the streets of this quaint area.

It’s not hard to spend an entire day along Main Street. Begin with picking up a freshly baked pastry at DiCamillo’s, a Western New York bakery-staple for more than a century, and head across the street to the brand-new Spot Coffee for a unique twist on coffee.

If you’re looking for a great salon, Williamsville is chocked full of at least a dozen hair and spa locations. Capello, voted “Best Salon in Western New York” by Buffalo Spree is right in the heart of Main Street, along with Leon’s, Chez Ann Salon and Excuria, offering a complete spa experience.

For high-end shopping, Tony Walker offers the latest fall fashion with Citizens of Humanity jeans, North Face jackets and Juicy Couture purses. Pizza Plant—home of the pod, is right next door. Try the Wingy Dingy pod, a mix of chicken, ricotta, mozzarella, marinara wing sauce, cayenne and blue cheese for that wing fix if you’re tired of plain old chicken wings.

For dinner, it’s a toss up for two of the best restaurants in the area. Overlook Ellicott Creek and enjoy a gourmet dinner at Creekview, or head to the Eagle House, open since 1827 and a stop along the Underground Railroad.

The Village of Williamsville offers so much to see, eat and shop at, that you may find yourself returning frequently as I do to spend more than a day here.

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by Kathy Benzel

ExtremeMakeoverThe last week in my neighborhood has been one of the best ever! What began as a TV project to build a new house is turning into the transformation of a whole neighborhood.

On Saturday, November 7th, the Extreme Makeover Home Edition bus pulled in front of 228 Massachusetts, just two blocks from my home on Buffalo’s West side. Although I wasn’t there for Ty Pennington to yell “Good Morning Powell Family,” I was there shortly afterwards and stuck around for the better of the first day, watching as 1,000 of the more than 4,500 volunteers arrived to start the demolition and renovation.

Delores Powell is a Jamaican immigrant and community activist whose home was barely livable despite the work and repairs she had poured into it over the past five and a half years. She lives with four of her seven children, and is instrumental in helping ensure our neighborhood gets better. This very deserving woman was about to see incredible things happen for her family and the neighborhood.

I was amazed on day four, because the house was already up with work being done on the inside, and many other homes had exterior renovations well underway. Volunteers and spectators filled the neighborhood, and the enthusiasm was everywhere.

I can’t even convey how thrilling it was to see the culmination of all the efforts on Saturday, November 14th. When that bus came back and blocked the home from the Powell Family’s view as they returned from their vacation in Disney World, the crowd was roaring “MOVE THAT BUS” and the community’s pride was palpable. To see this spirit of cooperation, and the great results of this immense project, brought tears of joy to my eyes, and to many others who were fortunate enough to be there.

From the very start, I could tell that this was going to be a catalyst for change in my neighborhood. I’m a lifelong resident of Buffalo and proud of it. Signs of tough times have fallen on many urban areas of the country, and we are no exception. This project has been so beneficial – not just for the Powell Family – but for many, many more on Buffalo’s West side. Click here to view a short slideshow of the process.

Special thanks to all the volunteers and organizations involved in this project. Some among them were David Homes, WNY AmeriCorps, PUSH, Buffalo Re-Tree, Buffalo ReUse, D’Youville College Upward Bound, and others we may never be aware of. Corporate sponsorships were also amazing.

I echo Mayor Brown’s comments I heard on TV this morning: “Let’s keep this going in the entire City of Buffalo!”

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