Monday, September 26, 2011

The Bloviator's Assistant.

My man Carl, "The Assistant" to your Bloviator can do anything from pouring a good beer at BigBlue, to feats of arcane musicology for The Wife.
For a while I have been looking around for another person to help in writing classical music reviews. There is just so much going on and I have trouble covering everything that needs to be covered. The reviewers to whom I am grateful for assisting m
 ·  ·  · a few seconds ago near Buffalo

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Shane, Brother Shane Recalls Being Your Pilot-In-Command At Buffalo's Club 747

My Facebook friend, Steve Cichon, posted this great video of Make It Or Break It - a disco-era dance show taped at Buffalo's (Cheektowaga) Club 747

Shane, (left) explaining how he partied Club 747 to an eager BuffaloBloviator.

This awesome video reminded me that my friend Shane, Brother Shane has fascinating  recollections of Club 747. I asked Shane to share his memories with our BuffaloBloviator readership:


I worked with Jimmy Cosentino from nearly the beginning of my career in Western New York. Had a great
friendship with his brother, Pat and a wonderful relationship with their father Pat, Sr. This continued throughout:
the double showroom, the Playboy Club, et al.

Jimmy was extremely excited one day. He told me he had gone to an auction wherein he had purchased
the entire interiors of three 747 Jumbo Jets and of his plan to create the most spectacular Disco in the
world. Crated up in a warehouse, some of us were not sure it could be done. Jimmy envisioned it could.

The family created the space and building began. As the building progressed, Pat Cosentino shared with
me stories of the family history. It was a greatly exciting time, being there for the entire construction and
see it rise from a bare concrete floor. Jimmy was adamant the club be authentic in every detail up to and 
including the overhead luggage compartments and drop tray tables. Literally, when the work was complete
we all had a glass and just stood inside and looked at it, astounded ourselves.It truthfully was "Drop Dead

The club was slightly darker than most. The color was deep blue, grey and chrome. The bar itself had to
be seventy feet, gleaming, great sitting stools surrounding it all and all of it in the middle of the
"fuselage." The seating booths were almost private, as a real 747 would have felt like in late evening

I cannot remember exactly how long the project took to completion, but the last thing we did was to design
and build the cockpit and the audio - visual system.  It had to be extremely powerful to make the nightly
takeoff  seem incredibly real to passengers.This was my primary contribution.

As you came into the club, the cockpit was to the left where the true cockpit would have been.  It was about
220 degrees of clear plexiglass so that everyone who purchased a boarding pass could see everything
that went on inside, visible throughout the entire club.

Jimmy fussed a little about how much the background picture cost. His dad liked the idea and the expense
was taken to reproduce the entire control board of a 747 in a picture which filled up the entire back wall.
Truly expensive, but, again, authentic to the end.

We had speakers throughout the club and every night at 9pm, I would in soft voice call all to their seats
to prepare for takeoff. We had 10 to 12 television monitors throughout the club, tied into the cockpit
control panel and  when I informed passengers to hold on, they learned immediately that I meant it!

Then,I'd start up the engines. On every screen was a 747 Jumbo Jet sitting on the tarmac. The jets grew
in sound until everything from bar glasses  to passenger seats began vibrating and as the sound system
filled with the sound of "Higher and Higher" by the Moody Blues, the on screen jet began rolling down the 

I'll never forget Opening Night as everyone saw and felt that jet gathering speed. Some ladies were 
actually screaming by the time the 747 left the ground and began rising into the wild blue yonder.
Lots of guys got tightly held on to that night and for years to come when the Club 747 took off! This
continued as long as I was there.

As the on screen jet lifted up and into the distance, the sound vibrations of the jet lessened and
coming up through that sound was the first dance tune of the night and the place erupted again
as people headed for the gleaming dance floor. If I remember correctly, the dance floor was made
of polished, gleaming steel. 

Later on, a first class bar and cabin were built behind the cockpit and up about a ten step stairway
into a members only even more luxurious space with, I believe, about a 25-30 foot bar. This space
carried an annual membership fee.

When the Club 747 was opened, boarding passes were two dollars. The line of passengers went
all the way down the main connecting passageway and all the way into the Executive Hotel
itself. After a year or two boarding passes were dropped to a dollar. Very few passengers ever
went inside without some wait for others to leave. There was a waiting line for years.

I could be wrong, but I believe the Club 747 was the only nightclub in my life where a cover charge
remained in place for more than five years. And...everybody came to fly: Bills, Sabres, Politicos,
Media figures and countless thousands of great people who wanted to go out, have a great time
and experience something unique, unlike anything they'd ever experienced before.

I was so proud of what Jimmy, Pat Jr. and father Pat Cosentino allowed me to assist in creating.
I remember, too, that Jimmy and Pat's mother, Mrs. Cosentino created the 747 Gift Shop at the
far end of the building. All I could do there was to buy beautiful things for nice people.

Thanks for asking me to remember. Without over coloring, I can honestly state that the stories
which fill the life of Club 747 would make one hell of a television series.

Should I be asked, I'd relate some. However names would have to be changed.


Big Brother Shane

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Friend’s vision helped save Statler

Donn Esmonde Column /  Buffalo News 
Sunday, March 22, 2011

Friend’s vision helped save Statler
The politicians and the principals clustered on the makeshift stage Wednesday in the lobby of the Statler Hotel, celebrating the sale of the endangered downtown landmark to developer/ restaurateur Mark Croce.
At the edge of a gaggle of spectators, a middle-aged man with blond hair softly played the piano, unnoticed. Yet it was Howard Goldman, perhaps more than anyone except Croce, who deserves credit for the rescue of the iconic building in the shadow of City Hall.
Like most big stories, this one has a personal connection at its core. Goldman and Croce have been friends since meeting as struggling businessmen some 20 years ago. Goldman is restoring the old brick mansion just steps from the Statler. His affection for Ellsworth Statler’s 1920s flagship dates to when his late accountant father had an office on the second floor.
After a prospective sale failed to close last year, Goldman—spurred by nightmare visions of wrecking balls— launched a one-man crusade to save the 18-story edifice. With the bankruptcy trustees’ blessing, he created a website -- -- to market the property and gave tours to interested parties. And he bugged his old buddy Croce, now the king of Chippewa District nightlife, to make a bid.
“I told [Croce] even before the [2009] auction that he should get this place,” said Goldman, who runs an e-commerce business and is the husband of News music critic Mary Kunz Goldman. “I knew that the skeptics had it wrong.”
Goldman was arguably the first to understand that the building could be bitten off in small pieces. It was the strategy that saved the Statler.
“I thought you could open the first levels and make them self-sufficient, then build the rest to suit in the future,” Goldman told me, minutes after Croce signed ownership papers. Which is why he kept pounding the plan at Croce— who loved the building, but thought it was too heavy of a lift for him.
“I didn’t think I’d have an interest, it is such a monumental property,” Croce told me. “Howard’s approach made it scaleable . . . He convinced me that the building was savable.”
Goldman knew that the gorgeous ballrooms and lower-floor open space were ripe for moneymaking bars, banquets and weddings—businesses right in Croce’s wheelhouse.
“I know the hospitality business,” Croce said. “It will be easy for me to get this [lower] level going again, to create a lobby bar and a lounge and make it a fun place.”
They are an odd couple. Croce is a plain-spoken, scuffed-edge street guy. The dapper Goldman apologizes when a four-letter word slips out in conversation. But they share a love of business and opportunity. It added up to Statler.
Goldman’s step-by-step plan convinced Croce to lay out $700,000 for the purchase and back taxes. There is a prospective $5 million subsidy to seal a building that would cost taxpayers $20 million to demolish.
“Howard and I had a lot of midnight conversations about the possibilities,” said Croce. “[Eventually] the conversation became not ‘why?’ but ‘why not?’ ”
Croce acknowledged Goldman’s part in the saga Wednesday, giving a shout-out to the unnoticed guy at the piano. The public thanks and the Statler’s survival is all that Goldman will get—or wants—for his efforts. That, and one more thing: He can play the lobby piano whenever he wants.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Buffalo Statler Towers Volunteer Sales Effort Status Report

When I first got involved, the Statler was for sale - but wasn't exactly for sale because nobody knew it was for sale. Sales information was nowhere to be found on the Internet. People naturally assumed that the Statler was not sellable because there were no qualified buyers appearing. The Statler was being scheduled for abandonment. Creating the website and a free Loopnet ad brought in qualified buyers from near and far. This fixed the matter of the sale's secrecy. 

Over the next several weeks, there was a series of arcane seller issues. There were also questionable obstacles: interference, threats, and intimidation from entrenched interests. That has been fixed.

There was an obstacle to the buyers that has also been fixed. A public mindset had been established that the Statler was a 100+ million dollar total restoration project.  I emphasized a much more modest business plan to the buyers. The Statler has potential without necessarily requiring the type of full restoration that owner, Bashar Issa, planned. The Golden Ballroom played host to lavish weddings and parties as recently as several months ago. The Statler has been an uninterrupted going concern since 1923. Businesses occupied the building until several months ago. The Statler can bring back tenants one by one, slowly over time, build to suit according to market demand, and steadily build on the already accomplished restorations.   This modest business plan has been made practical by the city’s lowered tax assessment. 

Fortunately, I did not run out of persistent qualified buyers to help advance the process each time to the next breakdown. We are closer than ever. I am confident that we will arrive soon - but we aren't ready to drive around without the toolbox.

8/2/2010 Update: 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Buffalo Bloviator Sucks-Up To 200 Buffalo Big-Wigs By Preserving Their Barbershop.

This is a BuffaloBloviator Follow-up Report: 
Sam and Nafiza's Retirement Party held last night in the lobby of the Ellicott Square Building.

You can view the original BuffaloBloviator post at

I missed seeing the Ellicott Square Hair Salon story on Channel 7 EYEWITNESS NEWS. I should have had the presence of mind to think of dialing it in on Carl Paladino's huge lobby TV set.

Sam Jafari presenting the new proprietor, Theresa Schwimmer.

Meanwhile elsewhere in the building and unbeknown to the party guests, the volunteers were plotting and scheming to turn Albany up-side down!
A good perspective of Sam's haircuts.
Sam and Nafiza looking regal by the south staircase.

In all likelyhood, no other barber in history has retired with such pageantry.

Sam addresses his clientele of 43 years.

Congressman Tom Reynolds will be the honored recipient of Sam's last hair-cut this Friday.

Bill Savino with The Wife (Mary Kunz Goldman)

I couldn't get anybody to take a picture of me and my Facebook friend and power-elite member, Bill Savino, but I was able to get my glasses in the picture.

The ceremonial passing of the torch from Sam to new proprietor, Theresa.

From left: The Wife, BuffaloBloviator, Theresa, Sam, and Nafiza.

I usually get thrown out of the place when I play that piano so this was a special treat for me.

Meanwhile out in the real world, bedlam was occurring to the traffic cones at the Buffalo Statler

To decompress and to celebrate, the Bloviator took The Wife to visit his favorite bartender at E.B.Green's.

Buffalo Bloviator Classic