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Cover Story

Curtain Up!

by Anthony Chase

The annual Curtain Up! celebration in Buffalo reminds us that our city boasts more abundant and diverse theater offerings than almost any other city of its size. Indeed, live theater is one of the great things about our town and something well worth celebrating.

Letters to Artvoice

Marketers, public relation directors, advertising executives, spin doctors. All have become so adept at honing their crafts to sell the most to the audience they have elected as their target.

Free Will Astrology

by Rob Brezsny

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): When big egos bluster and bounce off the walls, you’re a master at cleaning up the messes. When glory hogs get careless about the details, you’re good at patching up the resulting holes. And when people with stunted emotional intelligence try to assert their control-freak fantasies without acknowledging anyone’s feelings, you can be the savior who steps in to prevent full-blown chaos from breaking out. I admire these skills of yours, Virgo, and I hope that you invoke them if necessary in the coming week. But I also want to make sure you know that you’ve been granted a poetic license to have a bigger ego than usual, and to flirt with being a benevolent glory hog, and to maybe even play around lightheartedly with your own control-freak fantasies.

The News, Briefly

Working Overtime

by Geoff Kelly

On Labor Day, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown told the Buffalo News he supported the living wage ordinance he helped to write and get passed in 1999, when he was Masten District’s representative on the Common Council. He told News reporter Mark Sommer that the control board’s wage freeze had prevented him from granting wage increases that the law demanded, and, now that the wage freeze has been lifted, that the city’s budget was too tight to pay a living wage to seasonal workers—who, he added, are not covered by the ordinance anyway.

It Works There

On Board with Bikes

by Peter Koch

This installment of It Works There could easily be called It Works Everywhere…Except Buffalo. I’m talking about integrating bicycle travel with mass transit systems. While it’s true that cyclists can bring their bikes onto the Metro Rail trains, still fewer than 50 percent of NFTA’s 325 buses are equipped with bicycle racks. And though 157 buses with bike racks sounds like, and is, a positive step forward, in the NFTA’s case it undermines the very purpose of such integration.

News of the Weird

by Chuck Shepherd

■ Until a July Florida appeals court ruling, Mark O’Hara, 45, had been in prison for two years of a 25-year mandatory-minimum for trafficking in hydrocodone, based solely on the 58 tablets found in his possession in 2004, even though his supply had been lawfully prescribed by a physician. The state attorney in Tampa had pointed out that Florida law did not mention a “prescription” defense to trafficking, and even though O’Hara had lined up a doctor and a pharmacist to testify, the jury wasn’t allowed to consider the issue. After the appeals court called the case “absurd” and ordered a new trial with the prescription evidence allowed, the state attorney still refused to drop the case.


Just One of the Guys: Mike Birbiglia

by Caitlin DeRose

Most comedians know they’re funny, and they know you know they’re funny, so their ego and perception of self becomes inflated to the point that the ground on which their feet were once so firmly rooted soon drifts farther and farther out of their sight—and they look down and laugh at you. But not Mike Birbiglia; he’s a stand-up guy who’s a stand-up comedian, and he’s not in it to make you feel bad about yourself by pointing out your physical flaws or unspoken insecurities. He would rather turn the spotlight on his awkward life experiences and lay his own imperfections on the line—an offering of sorts—to tease your palate and see if you like what he’s got. A native of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts and a Georgetown University graduate, 29-year-old Birbiglia is not an overnight success but has seen his star rise faster than most since he won the “Funniest Man on Campus” competition in his sophomore year at college. From there, he spent three years at the D.C. Improv before moving to New York City and getting tracked down by David Letterman and Comedy Central. He has appeared on Comedy Central’s Premium Blend, was featured in the prestigious Just For Laughs comedy festival in Montreal and performed two half-hour specials for Comedy Central Presents in two years. In 2006, Birbiglia released his second CD, Two Drink Mike (Comedy Central), and stormed college campuses everywhere on the “Medium Man on Campus” tour. He shares his lifelong passion for writing with his fans through his weekly-updated blog, My Secret Public Journal, a now wildly popular diary that recently caught the eye of NBC headhunters and is being transformed into a nationally syndicated sitcom as we speak. He’s got a lot on his plate at the moment—between the approaching release (September 25) of his third CD, My Secret Public Journal Live, and overseeing the production of his fourth, Sleepwalk with Me, he’s barely got time to breathe. He’s currently making his way around the country on his 30-city “My Secret Public Tour,” and last week we were able to catch up with him and get a feel for what’s in store at the Town Ballroom on Saturday night (September 8) when he makes a not-so-secret stop here in Buffalo.

You Auto Know

Working the Gremlins out of Small-Car Styling

by Jim Corbran

Some of you probably remember the AMC Hornet of 1970—a rather dull, yet purposeful little sedan built by American Motors to do battle with Detroit’s Big Three automakers in the compact car segment. Then the Big Three moved on to fight the imports with smaller models, such as Ford’s Pinto and Chevy’s Vega, which both did nothing more than steal sales from larger Fords and Chevys. Poor little AMC didn’t have the cash to tool up another new car, so they simply took the Hornet, lopped off the back end and christened it the Gremlin. Ugly, but it served its purpose.

In the Margins


by Peter Koch

J ust Buffalo Literary Center has turned a corner this year with Babel, a dramatic upgrade to the previous If All of Buffalo Read the Same Book reading series. With four internationally prominent authors on the bill—Orhan Pamuk, Ariel Dorfman, Derek Walcott and Kiran Desai—including two Nobel Prize winners (Pamuk and Walcott), Babel promises to vault Just Buffaloto the level with UB’s Distinguished Speaker Series.


Estranged Culture

by Geoff Kelly

This week Artvoice spoke with University at Buffalo professor and Critical Art Ensemble co-founder Steve Kurtz as he was awaiting a return flight to Buffalo, having just attended a biotechnology conference in Denmark. It’s just the sort of trip he might have been taking before things unraveled for him in 2004, when his wife and artistic partner, Hope, died suddenly of heart failure, setting in motion a series of events that have made Kurtz a poster boy for Bush administration paranoia and prosecutorial overreach.

Film Reviews

Who Will Punch His Ticket?: 3:10 to Yuma

by George Sax

Shoot 'Em Up

by M. Faust


Miracle Man

by Donny Kutzbach

You’re a rock-and-roll icon who is also respected in country, jazz, opera and classical music circles. Some of the greatest living songwriters call you to co-author tracks. You’re a totem to music hipsters but populist enough to guest on TV sitcoms. You can only be one person: Elvis Costello.

See You There

Ani DiFranco

by K. O'Day

New York New Music Ensemble

by Jan Jezioro

Heavy Trash with Powersolo

by Buck Quigley


by Greg Gannon

Calendar Spotlight

Bang Camaro

Marissa Nadler

Three Bands Trash-A-Billy Extravaganza


Monte Montgomery

Absolute Monster Gentlemen

Ask Anyone

I was wasted on Chippewa a few years back and I went to the ATM. Before I’d even found my debit card, I started drunkenly punching buttons and $200 popped out. Shocked into lucidity, I realized that the money belonged to the guy, also wasted, who’d been using the ATM before me. I stepped out into the street to look for him, but he was long gone. I kept the money. What could I have done differently? —Money for Nothing