Local tales From our current issue:

WHL-Duh!
Local AM station bans BEAST after severe panty-bunching incident

Of BANANAs & Bonobos
BEAST scores watery blow against acronym proliferation

(more to come...)

Issue 103:


Paper of Wreckage
NYT reporters caught red-handed reporting.
Allan Uthman

Gay Marriage Threatens Gay Happiness
A Fabulous BEAST Editorial
Ian Murphy

Flag Football
How illegal should it be?
Rich Herschlag

Eternal Sunshine of the Heartless Brain
Fox News launches Santorum's Weapon of Mass Delusion.
Christopher Famighetti

Sinking the Ship
Let's impeach him already.
Stan Goff

Ask Ann Coulter
Completely original advice from the world's foremost dumbass.

Starving for Attention
Exclusive celebrity fasting diary excerpts.

Authorities reveal failed plot to kill everyone
in New York City with motherfucking behemoth
laser-guided remote controlled killer bees

What Would Tom Bosley Do?
You may regret asking.
N. Sorrenti

Man Makes Clever Joke about France Surrendering World Cup
Josh Righter

Page 3 Falsified Death

Kino Korner: Movies
Supterman, Pirates of the Carribean, Click, Devil Wears Prada.

Music review: Knife Crazy
Jacob Drun

BEAST-O-Scopes
Your cosmic fortune in insult form.

[sic] - Letters
Coulter-bashing, progeny tallies, the Bauerle conspiracy, & vacationing down under.


Pointless
Feeding the ultimate troll.
Al Uthman

Bananarama
Belafonte can't shake tally-man past.
Christopher Famighetti

A Small Rabbit out of a Big Hat
Pentagon media moguls cancel Zarqawi.
Stan Goff

Al Qaeda Idol
Vote for the next #2!

The BEAST Conservative Q&A
Answering questions that plague Republicans.

Five Questions...
for WGRZ anchor Ron Plants!

Coping with Road Rage
What can you do?
Scott Borchert

Hammer Hits Hollywood
The Big Buy: Tom DeLay’s Stolen Congress
Movie Review by Matt Cale

Stormtrooping for Dollars
Blog by boys in blue bodes badly for Buffalo

Power Tool
Brian Higgins, the enemy within

 

Of BANANAs & Bonobos
BEAST scores watery blow against acronym proliferation
by Allan Uthman

Sadly, for a lesson on how to properly take a joke, we must turn to the politically moderate, business-friendly bloggers of what they call “New Buffalo.”

We have some differences with a lot of the local bloggers, especially their seeming conviction that starry-eyed boosterism is the answer to Buffalo’s bleak prospects. Seriously, if I read another cheery post that lists light traffic and low rents (classic signs of an economically depressed city) as two of the things that make Buffalo great, I’m going to...leave a nasty comment.

Another tenet of the New Buffalo manifesto, apparently, is that opposing new construction proposals is something only “old Buffalo” people do. Of course, there’s no question that Buffalo needs economic reinvigoration desperately, but we’ve also been sold down the river repeatedly. Despite this, many local bloggers react angrily to doubters as “anti-progress.”

The latest controversy of this type revolves around the proposed Elmwood Village Hotel, a 72-room, 4-story affair which would replace 5 small businesses at Elmwood and Forest avenues. Recently, a group of business owners and nearby residents filed suit against the city, claiming the approval process for the hotel was rushed and the hotel didn’t obey zoning laws. Savarino Companies, the firm behind the hotel plan, responded by withdrawing its application and resubmitting it for approval.

The bloggers were beside themselves. BuffaloGeek used the acronym BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything), coined back in 1990, along with the old standby NIMBY. Bloggers love a catchy meme, so it immediately became a mantra with the group. Soon they were planning a pro-hotel protest, spearheaded by Marc Odien—known as Buffalo Watchdog on WNYMedia.net—dubbed “The Great BANANA Blackout,” in front of Don Apparel, one of the businesses targeted for demolition, whose proprietor has been one of the most vocal opponents of the proposed hotel.

BEAST publisher Paul Fallon was rubbed the wrong way. The outrage expressed at the anti-hotel faction for pursuing their rightful legal recourse, the smug dismissal of them as BANANAs, and the general consensus among the “New Buffalonians” that unquestioning support for any and all new commercial developments was the remedy for Buffalo’s woes all irked Fallon, and he was not content to simply ignore it. Besides, the whole thing smelled more like a pep rally or a social mixer than political activism. He called me.

“We’ve got to do something to these people,” he said.

I got nervous. Paul has some pretty insane ideas sometimes. “I don’t know man. A lot of these guys like us, and they link to our website, and maybe we shouldn’t—”

“Fuck ‘em,” said Fallon. Fortunately, his idea was fairly benign—a drive-by supersoaking of the protestors. Resigning myself to burning what few bridges I had left in local media, I committed to the plan, and added a suggestion of my own: “We should get some bananas and throw them at them.” Paul loved it.

Over the next few days, Paul secured a van and a few young volunteers for the mission. The afternoon of the protest, Fallon and his minions assembled at my apartment, all donning official BEAST T-shirts. A BEAST banner was suspended from the van’s ceiling. There would be no mystery as to who was responsible for the attack. The triggermen obscured their faces with bandanas. They looked hilarious.

I was dispatched to the protest on my bike, to get pictures and report back on the reaction of the clean-cut demonstrators. I rode up and started taking pictures of the crowd—about 20-25 pro-hotel people, and maybe 5 anti-hotel counter-protestors. The local media was out in full force—the tiny event would be covered by all three local news channels and the Buffalo News (the News article was laughably inaccurate and incomplete, as all of their stories about subjects I’m familiar with seem to be). I had brief, inattentive conversations with a couple of people, including former BEAST staffer Gabe Armstrong, who had joined the anti-BANANA people. “Even if the hotel winds up going out of business,” he reasoned, “it’ll just become more apartments for poor hipsters.” I vaguely expressed my ambivalence on the subject, keeping an eye out for the approaching mock terror cell.

Sadly, I was unable get a decent picture of the water-cannon/banana fusillade. It happened fast, and The BEAST’s meager budget has yet to afford us a digital camera that doesn’t take a few seconds to actually snap a pic. But I can tell you, it was a thing of beauty.

Buffalopundit, probably the city’s dominant blogger and a big booster of the Savarino project, described the scene:

“A black van drove by honking like crazy, which got us all pretty psyched. The sliding side doors suddenly opened up revealing a “Buffalo Beast” banner, which was then lifted by two guys in full Sandinista gear shooting our crowd with super-squirters, and hucking bananas at the crowd. Good God, that was funny.”

Indeed, it was funny. The high-powered squirt guns were most effective, fairly drenching some of the well-meaning yuppie flock. The bananas, deftly tossed so as not to blind anyone, were the perfect punctuation mark. The van sped off, mission accomplished. It had come and gone in maybe five seconds.

The targets of our attack were fully aware of what and who had happened to them, if a little bewildered. “Hey those were the BEAST guys!” one of them shouted. And then something beautiful happened: they all laughed and cheered. I had assumed a full “go” stance on my bike, ready to bolt for my life, but instead Marc Odien was shaking my hand and laughing his ass off.

In addition to Buffalopundit, The amusingly named “Brisket for Chucklehead” said that “Everybody agreed that that was pretty goddamned funny.” Other bloggers echoed the assessment. Not a single poor sport among them.

It probably helped that July 17th was a classic hot, humid Buffalo summer day, and being blasted with cool water was undoubtedly a pleasant sensation for the sweltering carpal tunnel syndrome candidates. But it was more than that. Unlike the orthodox lefties at WHLD, these mushy middlers had a sense of humor. They weren’t afraid to laugh, even when the joke was on them. I may not agree with them about everything, but I’d surely rather have a beer with them than the soreheads at WHLD.

My favorite comment came from Newell Nussbaumer at Buffalo Rising Online: “Someone next to me asked if they were for the hotel or against it and someone else answered, ‘I think they just like throwing things.’” Well, yes we do. But there was a message behind the madness.

I won’t lie; I’ve loved this little stretch of Elmwood since I bought my first punk rock T-shirt (“We’re the Meatmen and You Suck”) at Home of the Hits when I was 14. And it seems to me that crummy little shops that cater to bohemians and college kids are a big part of the reason the bourgeoisie started encroaching in the first place, so I wonder what happens to the appeal of the neighborhood when they’re priced out of existence. But that’s how gentrification works. I admit, I’d advise anyone visiting Buffalo to get a room at this location rather than our embarrassingly vacant downtown. So, like I said, I’m ambivalent. What I do know is that it’s not “bananas” to be wary of a large new development in a neighborhood that ain’t broke.

It wasn’t opposition to the hotel that brought us out to water the crowd that day. What we’re really against is intentionally mischaracterizing one’s opposition. “Build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything” doesn’t accurately describe the viewpoint of anyone, and everyone knows it. It’s a ludicrous characterization, and a rejection of reasonable discourse. It’s every lame buzzword appellation you’ve ever been saddled with. It’s “cut and run,” “moonbat,” “kool-aid drinker” and every other baseless label that demeans the political process.

If the hotel gets built, it gets built. At least now it’ll be done by the book, and I don’t really see how anyone can object to that. It’s easy to call someone a “NIMBY” when a proposed project isn’t actually in your backyard.

The conventional wisdom among the community calling itself New Buffalo seems to be that it’s backwards, defeatist thinking for people to be against any new development in the city. But aren’t poorly conceived construction projects a big part of the problem? The convention center, the subway, the Main Place mall, “Buffalo Place”—would the New Buffalo people have blindly supported these mega-blunders and called their opponents BANANAs? I’d say, after so many huge and costly screw-ups that benefited only those who built (and bilked) them, Buffalonians would have to be idiots not to be extremely suspicious of any new large-scale projects.

The Elmwood hotel may not be such a mistake, and at least won’t be a taxpayer-funded one. But what about Bass Pro? The Seneca Casino? Are new projects to be swallowed whole, without reservation, in the name of progress, or should they be intensely scrutinized so as to avoid similar blunders? Should citizen lawsuits be condemned as the dirty tricks of obstructionists, or recognized as the peaceful recourse of the weak against the powerful, an essential element to an equitable civilization? What does it mean to protest the filing of a lawsuit? After all, if it had no merit, why would Savarino have been so quick to restart the process?

In essence, our water/fruit assault was a nutritious stand against the demonization of people who are simply fighting within the prescribed rules for a cause they find legitimate. Their lawsuit scored them a temporary victory—that’s all. In other words, the message is: calm down. This isn’t abortion or gay rights; it’s a hotel. It’s something to argue about rationally. To reduce the people who oppose it to BANANAs is only to make a monkey of yourself.

 

BEAST Blog

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