Entertainment Overload at Seneca Niagara Casino (by Craig Avery)

IMG_2550 Well, the Isley Brothers delivered the second blow of the one-two weekend punch to complete a Vegas-style entertainment package to the Niagara Community.  The R&B, soul, rock, doo-wop  and gospel group started belting it out in 1954. Yes, 63 years ago.  Lucky for them, younger brothers kept joining in, keeping their sound smooth and nostalgic.  Ronald and Ernie Isley headed up the performance at the Casino’s Seneca Niagara Events Center that brought the crowd to their feet several times.  I wasn’t too sure if they understood the significance of playing their signature song “Shout”  to a crowd of Western New York football fans, but it certainly garnered an enthusiastic response.  The crowd may have been football fans, but they sure didn’t look like the tailgating Bills fans we are used to seeing on Sundays. It was great to see an appreciative group of concert goers actually getting dressed up for an evening out.  Wornout Jim Kelly jerseys and T-shirts that say “I’m with stupid,” were replaced with furs, sequins, and leather in a fashion statement only longtime Isley Brothers fans could display.   Most of the audience stuck around to enjoy the Casino’s ambiance after the show. An hour and a half of great music was followed by a large gathering at the Hotel’s Lobby Bar and of course a little gambling.  People, I’m telling you, take advantage of what the Casino has to offer. It’s like going on vacation and sleeping in your own bed.

IMG_2551Ernie Isley belts it out for a packed house.

 

Confessions of a Bear’s Den Junkie (by Craig Avery)

IMG_2545

When you think about going to a Vegas style show for an evening of entertainment, the vision of a guy dressed in a dragon costume holding a chihuahua isn’t the first thing that pops into your mind. With show tickets in hand, I’m thinking of Cher on a swing singing “Believe” or Paul McCartney describing strawberry fields.  But last night it was the great venue of the Bear’s Den in the Seneca Niagara Casino that got top honors when Piff the Magic Dragon took the stage. Having never seen this nationally recognized comedian/magician I was comforted by what seemed to be over half the crowd who had seen him before.  One couple I met drove from Jamestown, NY to spend the night just for a chance to see the Dragon once again.  They had been to his show in Las Vegas, and the woman got to hold his dog for a half-hour. (So she’s got that going for her!)  His opening act featured a Monty Python type assistant who perked the interest of those like me waiting to be roasted by the Dragon.  I was sitting in the absolute last row of the theatre in the seat closest to the back of the stage, yet I felt as though I was front and center.  I’m telling you, each time I go to that place I am more and more impressed that it is here for us to take advantage of.  The seats are comfortable, the sound is great, and even the ushers talk to you and seem to care about your level of enjoyment with the evening.  So the dragon was a funny kind of guy, did some pretty cool card tricks and kept his dog under control. I was waiting for a great magic trick, but even with the upclose venue of the Bear’s Den, if he had tried to cut the dog in half, you couldn’t have seen it cause he was so small.  Dragon fans flocked to the photo-op after the show, and bought t-shirts and decks of dragon cards. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and had plenty of time to take advantage of the remainder of a cold, cold, night within the confines of the Seneca Niagara Casino.

Next up for the Bear’s Den?  Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, a phenomenal Springsteen-esque band that will bring the house down.  That’s on St. Patty’s day, so plan your day accordingly.  Then Dan Hill on March 25, followed by the fabulous Scintas on April 1.  You’ve got to take advantage of some great entertainment in your own backyard. Go to www.senecaniagarcasino.com for ticket information.  

IMG_2544Dragon helper selling the goods!

Image of the Day – February 9, 2017

IMG_2391

Do yourself a favor and plan an evening at Gallo.
800 Center St. Lewiston, New York 14092
Find them on Facebook – HERE  or on their website – HERE

Friends don’t let friends miss Gallo [by Craig Avery]

I lived in Lewiston for 22 years and loved all the great places to eat. Of course, each meal ended with a trip to Hibbard’s custard. But now that I’m hanging in the big city of Niagara Falls, I rarely head 10 minutes north to eat anymore. So enter my buddy, Michael Hibbard, a new restaurateur with a trendy idea.

Gallo Coal Fire Kitchen on Center Street has fresh salads with greens I can’t pronounce, meatballs, hot pretzels, chicken dishes, pasta to kill for, and that’s just the start. The featured item is the coal fired thin crust pizza with a huge variety of toppings fit for all tastes. A full bar and tremendous wine list keeps patrons comfortable to hang out and chill with friends and neighbors. I counted 12 folks who needed a “how ya doing?” when I walked in with my daughter and a friend of hers. Of course I got the eye roll from my daughter because I talk to too many people.

The staff is welcoming and efficient, the place is comfortable and clean, and it smells great. We had salads and a pesto pizza, I really didn’t want to stop eating, but after Super Bowl weekend, I can’t take it anymore! Cheers to Michael and his family on a great operation, I’m truly sorry it took me so long to get there.

Do yourself a favor and plan an evening at Gallo. 800 Center St. Lewiston, NY 14092.

Find them on Facebook – HERE  or on their website – HERE

Image of the Day – January 10, 2017


Wanna get away? To book your own kayak fishing adventure, go to deepbluekayakfishing.com tell them you saw this video!

Barracuda wins tug-of-war (by Craig Avery)

My nephew and his son decided to do a little deep sea fishing in kayaks just off Del Ray Beach, Florida.

The guide had roots in Western New York, so you know they were well taken care of. I’m not gonna write much about this, the video says it all.What I think is exceptional is how calm everybody was when a guy falls out of a boat surrounded by big fish with big teeth!

The three amigos in this episode seem to handle things rather routinely.

Here’s the screen play:

Scene 1: Guy gets pulled out of boat by big fish, guide says, “you’re ok.”
Scene 2: Son paddles over to get fishing pole from dad in water.
Scene 3: Son lands fish while dad gets back in boat.
Scene 4: They take a picture of the fish.

They live in the South, and I guess things just don’t rattle them as much as us Yankees.

  Wanna get away?  To book your own kayak fishing adventure, go to deepbluekayakfishing.com tell them you saw this video!

Introducing “The HamCam” – Celebrating Development Progress

Introducing NiagaraHub’s “HamCam,” celebrating progress weekly on the Hamister project. Check in next Friday to help us measure success!

HamCam1

Avery: Resume writing workshop – City Administrator – City of Niagara Falls

So, let’s follow our fantasies.  What if someone actually measured the performance of our City Administrator and caused said Administrator to vacate the office. Then what?  What or who do we need to lead the City? What are the qualifications required for the job?  Who should be involved in the hiring process?  Please don’t say national search, that’s how we got in this mess.  For our own entertainment, I am asking for fun seeking Niagara Hub participants to send in ideas related to running this City efficiently.

City employees: Please chime in on how things should be managed, what you want your boss to do, what you want your boss to stay away from.

City residents: What personality traits should a City Administrator master to communicate effectively to the voters and taxpayers of Niagara Falls?

Businesses: What qualifications should someone controlling the direction of this City embody?  How should this person deal with developers, business owners, and investors?

So just for sh**s and giggles, lets create the perfect resume that should be submitted by a candidate for City Administrator.  We can compare it to the resume of the current City Administrator (By the way has anyone seen that document? I’d like to call a few references, or confirm the experiences paragraph, but I’ve already spent too much time trying to disqualify an obvious stellar professional.)  More importantly, perhaps we could submit it to someone at City Hall for their consideration, should someday, somehow, a replacement be needed to fill the most important job in the City.

Submit your ideas in the comment section below. Be anonymous or wave your own flag, but please participate.

Account manager resume. Blue tint.

Avery: Think Like a Tourist, Act Like a Host

I walked to the brink of the Falls Sunday night at sunset. It’s our backyard, and it truly is beautiful. Most of us locals see potholes, construction cones, litter, and we bitch about it. The tourists have the ability to look past the things that upset us, because they are about to see something magnificent. Most folks are glued to their cameras or phones grabbing selfies by the dozen. Everyone is smiling. Kids are running, skipping, laughing. Dads are in protection mode, and Moms are studying the maps. The words that are spoken amongst families and tour groups are irrelevant. They are barely audible over the roar of the water, and mostly spoken in foreign tongues that we wouldn’t understand if they were speaking directly into our ear buds. But just watch these people when they discover our backyard. If you position yourself in an area where you can see a person’s reaction when he first sets his eyes on this natural wonder, you just might start to look at what we have a bit differently. Let’s learn from our visitors.

One family was trudging along the rapids, kids hanging and sliding their hands on the railing along the bank of the mighty Niagara River, while the mother was trying to tie sneaker laces on a moving target. The Dad was watching the crowd for kidnappers or wild dogs. The first little tyke tourist saw the water going over the edge and let out a scream that caught many off guard. As the family caught up, they were overcome with delight; probably as close to a religious experience they will ever personally witness. I laughed to myself and wanted to offer to autograph their bus schedule cause I lived here.

Married couples holding hands were truly moved as evidenced by the decreasing distance between their bodies as they walked close to the brink. Groups of Asians? Well they’re just a happy lot anyway, so you can imagine how many pictures were being taken back to the bus. Even the dogs looked happy. Then there was the young man dressed in full Boston Red Sox support group clothing.  He shuffled his way past a family from the Ukraine and stood for a moment at the apex of Prospect Point.  He turned and walked away and said to his friends, “Dude, we’ve gotta find some popcorn.” Go Sox.

So why are so many of us down on the whole Niagara Falls experience? City Hall is dysfunctional, Albany is corrupt, 400 people want to get methadone at the tourist center, so what? Suck it up Niagarains. Be a tourist or be a host once in a while and restart your attitude. I did.

So get out and walk the Gorge, Goat Island, Cruise thru the State Parks, and meander through the crowds downtown. Try some of these tricks and have fun in your own backyard:

  1. Make eye contact with tourists and smile. It’ll either drive them nuts or make them feel welcome. It may also result in some interesting dialog where you can introduce some of the rest of these ideas.
  2. Offer to take a picture for someone, better yet, ask someone to take a picture of you. They feel good about helping you, and when was the last time you got a picture on your phone of you at the falls?
  3. Tell them their dog is cute or beautiful, even tho it smells like a salmon and looks like a bat.(don’t try this with their kids, tho, they’ll know you are lying)
  4. Put a dollar in the hat for they guy playing the guitar and tell him thanks for being here.
  5. Engage in conversation if possible. Tell a tourist about some tradition here. Tell them how to get to the Como or Gadawski’s. Tell them we are really a master race, but are very welcoming and humble. Tell them to stick around, and to tell their friends to come in the Winter.
  6. Don’t honk at the family who stops in the middle of the road cause they are lost, pull up and offer to help. Even if you give them the wrong directions, they’ll think you were nice to try.
  7. If the litter really bugs you, pick up one cup and throw it in the trash. (the green tote) Maybe someone will see you and do the same. If someone sees them… before you know it, not much more will have happened, but you thought you knew where I was going with that.
  8. Breathe the air by the falls. That water that is churning has come from around the world to be right here, just like all the people walking in your presence. Use this to put a new value on the rest of your day, and and restart as an insignificant member of our global community. Then forget about bitching and go do something good.

Any other ideas? Send us a comment, picture, or video of a tourist experience. If the response is the same as documenting the City Administrator’s lack of productivity, there won’t be a follow up.

Avery pens letter for City Hall employees, Department Heads

I have said, “this is not my quest.” I have asked for support of my position to remove the Niagara Falls City Administrator from her job. I have asked for those who are close enough to evaluate her performance to either give credence to my observations, or dispute them with tales of success from the powerful City Hall office. We received a handful of “attaboys” in writing. That’s all.

Yet every day, yes, EVERY day since my last writing, I received verbal support to continue my efforts to seek an end to this waste of taxpayer money, and force the Mayor to find someone capable of running this City as a City Administrator should. Many who approached me are City Hall employees and Department Heads, fearing for their jobs if they say anything. Bullsh*t! If we can’t get someone released from a job they can’t do and won’t do, with proven performances of inadequacies, how are you going to get fired for putting your name on something that everyone is in agreement with?

I am going to say this, ONE…MORE….TIME:

The current City Administrator is unable to conduct the duties of her office. Her temperament, professionalism, and people skills have been questioned by City residents and City employees. Administrative updates given at Council meetings have been mostly handled by the Mayor, perhaps an indication he is not comfortable with her presentation and communications skills. Information to be presented to the City Council is many times lacking or non-existent. (Remember the parking meters?)

Department heads are rarely asked for update reports which she insists she uses to gauge departmental progress. She seldom attends meetings that are pertinent to her office, and more than one employee in more than one department has told us she has NEVER stepped foot in their office. She did decorate City Hall for Christmas, so she’s got that going for her.

I am concerned, not for the salary gone to waste, but the opportunity this City has lost in not running as efficiently as it could under proper leadership. I am concerned that there are several good employees in City Hall whose jobs are effected because a portion of their time is spent on tasks she should be handling. I am concerned as to the trickle-down effect of ineffective leadership. I am concerned our City is in dire straits and can’t afford to have people in charge who are not respected, not productive, and not caring.

I know for a fact that several people in positions of authority have shared similar concerns with the Mayor. I know for a fact this is not just my quest. I’m just the only guy writing about it. So here’s what I’m going to do: I am attaching a letter for any City Hall employee who agrees with these thoughts to sign and present to the Mayor and City Council. Collectively, you will not be fired. If you are fired, think of the fame and fortune you will have when media outlets around the world cover your plight. Remember, all you have to do is have someone back you up by saying you do a good job, and that will be better than the one we are trying to get out of your way. Let’s get a good leader in place, so you can do your job without having to cover up all the blunders of a poorly run organization.

If no one signs this letter, please don’t ask me to continue my “Quest.” If you can’t help yourself, you should all pack it in.

* * *

 

Dear Mayor Dyster and Council Members:

We, the undersigned, respectively request you consider the job performance of the current City Administrator and replace her with someone we could respect in a position of leadership. As each department struggles to provide services that are clearly the City Administrator’s duties, our daily responsibilities are neglected. This City can not function effectively under the leadership of the current City Administrator. We understand you have been made aware of our observations, and this request is made purely in the best interest of the City of Niagara Falls.

Very truly yours;