Local Music News from Alternate Universe

Being the worst writer at a mediocrity-exalting daily like the Buffalo News is some kind of special, an anti-achievement requiring the sort of anti-genius that just can’t be faked. Mary Kunz Goldman, the News’ own monstrous creation with a style so dreadful it hurts to read, is just too bad to not be true. We haven’t written about her in quite a while, because we’ve been trying to block her existence and continued publication from our psyches, but this we just couldn’t let slide.

On February 21st, the News’ “Gusto” section featured a piece by Goldman, “Ivory League,” a sentimentalist cheese log about meeting her hubby in a piano bar. But it was the article’s companion sidebar, a listing of places to go to get a taste of that old-fashioned live piano atmosphere titled “A string thing,” also penned by Goldman, that caught our eye. The very first establishment on the list? Amy’s Place, the funky college diner on Main Street. Which doesn’t have, never had, and is physically incapable of accommodating a piano.

“Remember that cute old upright that used to sit in the old Coffee Bean Cafe, and, more recently, Shango?” Kunz asks. “One snowy recent afternoon, it was wheeled down the block to this well-known diner. The pianist on duty? You! Give people some Ellington with their eggs, over easy.”

The mind reels, pondering how such a detailed, oblivious untruth found its way into Buffalo’s paper of record. Apparently, an Amy’s Place owner also owned the piano at the sadly defunct Coffee Bean. When told he had “taken it back,” Goldman obviously assumed “back” meant the beloved greasy spoon. Of course, she could have called the diner to confirm this, but hey, what is this, the New York Times or something?

It’s not just the sloppy journalism, though, that aggrieves us. It’s the inevitable conclusion one must draw from this error, that Mary Kunz Goldman, the closest thing the Buffalo News has to a young, hip, urbanite-on-the-scene reporter, has clearly never been to Amy’s Place. Never even once. Maybe she’s scared of lesbians. If she had, she would have to have known, as anyone who’s ever been there would, that you couldn’t fit a piano into that joint sideways with a chainsaw. It’s a nice joint, despite their non-BEAST-advertising ways, but seating is tight. You couldn’t even find space for a Casio in there.

So—Goldman is not only writing about things that don’t exist in places she’s never been, but adding special details about how the non-existent thing was wheeled down the block on a snowy day, and how you, the customer, get to play the non-existent thing, and what kind of music—Ellington—you might hear there. What do you call an embellishment when the story being embellished is already bullshit? To be fair, though, Goldman got one thing right—they do serve eggs.

Keep in mind that the bosses at the News, particularly editor Margaret Sullivan, feel that this woman has the gravitas to merit regular opinion columns in addition to her cheerfully provincial “Buzz” and surprisingly adequate classical music coverage. In the face of unprecedented public revulsion at her work, they seem to delight in giving her ever more responsibility, and this article will surely not dissuade them in the least. What hope is left for us? We can only look forward to the day that her unique awfulness is recognized and rewarded by the national media, so she can be recruited off to the Washington Post. Sure, she’d still get printed here, but at least her trite inaccuracies wouldn’t be about Buffalo anymore. If they had to take Toles, the least they could do is rid us of Goldman.

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