“Free The Press Canada” Could Have Called

Sweet mother of God, it’s not every day I get accused of being a defender of that certain website, or that I’m somehow in league with Roger Stone, but there’s a first time for everything.

If you have a solid hour to spare, go read this blog post that purports to link – in excruciating detail – a local purveyor of fake news with Roger Stone, and name-checks me as somehow nefariously involved. Amy MacPherson of “Free the Press Canada” did quite a thorough job, except for the part where she didn’t reach out to me to ask me about certain details about which she writes.

In the absence of Ms. MacPherson’s message, I’ll address her “reporting” and conclusions here.

Although Alan Bedenko plays a bit part in this saga, it is an important role because he appeared on CBC News to represent Matthew Ricchiazzi and the Buffalo Chronicle.

I did not appear on the CBC to “represent” them; I appeared to indict them – to offer a WNY perspective into a matter of apparent Canadian media urgency.

Bendenko portrayed himself as an enemy of Ricchiazzi, backed by a blog entry he posted about Parlato’s apprentice. In it he embedded the full segment by Adrienne Arsenault, even though it’s not readily available for Canadians to find on the CBC website (original with video / archive without video).

(All is [sic], by the way). I’m not an “enemy” of his, per se – I am an enemy of lies and harassment and fake scandal.

In the short interview he did not disclose that he had been a lawyer for Erie County and known Ricchiazzi for several years in the course of municipal and state politics. He didn’t disclose that he engaged with Ricchiazzi at Parlato’s sister website ArtVoice, where the latter two regularly published along with Roger Stone (original / archive). He didn’t allude to knowing anything about Matthew Ricchiazzi’s agenda, or that his attack on the Canadian election was a concerted effort as opposed to a one-off fake news specimen.

The interview took almost an hour, but a very small portion of it was aired. To say I was a “lawyer for Erie County” is somewhat misleading – until June 2018, I worked for a firm that represented the county, defending it in lawsuits; I was not a county employee.

Here’s where this goes off the rails, though.

I left Artvoice on November 10, 2014. At that time, it was still owned by Jamie Moses. At no time during my tenure at Artvoice did I “engage with Ricchiazzi”, nor did I ever write for Artvoice after Parlato bought it. I never published – not once, nor “regularly” with Roger Stone at Artvoice or anywhere else.

As for that website’s motive for inserting itself into – or creating – controversies in Canadian politics, I have absolutely no knowledge of that. Anything I suggest would be speculative.

Alan Bedenko has been involved with Matthew Ricchiazzi since at least 2012, when he participated in the uproar about the Seneca casino for a Buzzfeed article and the subsequent banter about it on Twitter (original / archive). Bedenko’s handle is @BuffaloPundit and he curiously tagged two bystanders into the conversation. One of those accounts belongs to a Russian who doesn’t follow or interact with anyone. It’s a suspicious account to say the least (original / archive). As Bedenko didn’t provide his full disclosure for the CBC News broadcast, it leaves much to the imagination why a strange Russian account was deemed important to the exchange about Ricchiazzi.

Actually, I have been “involved” with him since I first became aware of him during his failed mayoral run in 2009. As for that 2012 set of Tweets relating to that person’s use of a still from a gay porn movie, I “tagged two bystanders” because it was Paul Dub who originally asked about it on Twitter.

At that time, in 2012, @ChrisSmithAV (which is now a Russian account) was run by Chris Smith. At the time, Chris was a colleague at Artvoice, and before 2011 at WNYMedia.net.

I’m not sure why a Twitter exchange with Chris Smith in 2012, together with the fact that Chris’ then-account is now hijacked by some Russian, should have been disclosed in the 2019 CBC report.

Furthermore, Alan Bedenko, as a qualified lawyer, suggested that Ricchiazzi may have a relationship with the Maggadinos, Todaros, and “Butchie Bifocals”. Free The Press Canada is aware the first two are part of the Buffalo Italian Mafia and that includes the Musitano crime bosses who were murdered in Hamilton, Ontario due to the ongoing turf wars. They are all part of the same organized crime family network.

I didn’t suggest it; the other guy did. He specifically set forth in his “contract” of demands to the CBC that questions about the mob would be off-limits. I found this curious and worthy of mention.

The suggestion of mafia is especially unsettling, given that Frank Parlato defended a biker gang accused of making pipe bombs and in the process he cited Angelo Musitano, who was the top boss until he was murdered in Waterdown, Ontario. These hotspots are all around the area where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was required to wear a bulletproof vest to be able to give campaign speeches. This disturbing reference was made by Parlato on Ricchiazzi’s Buffalo Chronicle (original / archive).

Again: I never worked with or published alongside Parlato or Ricchiazzi. Indeed, a quick Google search would reveal that I have been massively critical of Parlato in the past. A similar Google search (or a phone call, email, or Tweet) would reveal years’ worth of Tweets and posts critical of that other guy.

As a side note, I will add that the article in question borrows heavily from matters written about this topic that are found at the “BuffaloRecord” WordPress site. What the author doesn’t realize – because she didn’t ask – is that “BuffaloRecord” is the archive of Chris Smith’s and my articles from WNYMedia.net and Artvoice from about 2007 until November 2014, when we left Artvoice. So in one instance, Ms. MacPherson cites my work, and in the next she accuses me of being in cahoots with Ricchiazzi, Parlato, and Roger Stone.

From the Vault: Bob McCarthy At Work

Here is something I did probably around 2011, which satirizes Bob McCarthy at work.

A Chronicle Told By An Idiot

I have a general policy to not name the owner of the Buffalo Chronicle, to link to its stories, or otherwise to promote it in any meaningful way. This is, in part, why I am not even going to bother to publish this at the Daily Public.

About a week or so ago, the little-known local bullshit artist who runs the fake-news-before-it-was-a-thing rag published a half-true piece about legal work that I did for Erie County at my former job. The article itself seemed written by an illiterate, and had more than a few inaccuracies.

I debunked a bunch of the information in two tweets – here and here. His insinuation was that the average $75,000 per year of legal work my former firm billed to Erie County at bargain rates was the quid for the pro quo of me supporting County Executive Mark Poloncarz. That is, of course, idiotic. I had supported Poloncarz before I did work for the county, during, and after. I have not touched a county case in almost a year at my current employment, nor do I derive any benefit – monetary or otherwise – relating to the former work that I did.

Interestingly, a few years ago, just after Frank Parlato bought out ArtVoice, local shit-stirrer and former Democratic County Executive candidate Peter Reese sniffed around to try and write this story. Reese called me at the time and I referred him to my boss for comment. Nothing ever came of it.

But Reese has a new toy – the owner of the Buffalo Chronicle. How do we know this?

Looks like the owner of the Buffalo Chronicle went on Reese’s payroll on or about April 14, 2019. The “Better with Reese” BOE campaign filings show that Reese directly paid this individual $3,500 in the four weeks from mid-April to mid-May in order to fund attacks in his rag against me, Mark Poloncarz, Legislative candidates Lisa Chimera and Howard Johnson, Nate McMurray, Judge Burns (who presided over Reese’s BOE case and whom the Chronicle accused of corruption), and Judge Sue Maxwell Barnes, whom he accused of “bribery.” All of this is to fuel some sort of anti-Democratic HQ vendetta by Reese and other Pigeon stan accounts.

The whole thing is projection. The Chronicle accuses me of being on the take in exchange for biting commentary against dummies like Kathy alt-right Weppner and noted local convicted criminals Kristy Mazurek and Steve Pigeon, while a candidate is paying the Chronicle’s owner a handsome sum for “consulting” fees. And what happens? All of a sudden, the Chronicle miraculously finds itself slamming people with whom Reese has some beef. I was a vocal Poloncarz supporter before I did legal work for the county, during, and after. Nothing about what I did changed, except that when I wrote about county issues, I added a disclaimer about that work. If anything, during the time that I did legal work for the County, I regularly withheld comment about county government goings-on.

So the accusation that I was paid off for my commentary is stupid and preposterous. Here, we have Lorigo Democrat Peter Reese shoving $3,500 at this person who can barely scrape two coherent sentences together, and for what – “consulting”? Consulting? I’m at a loss to recall a candidate whom this person has consulted or advised – Egriu? Martin? Mascia? Giambra? Al Coppola? – who has made any significant electoral headway. I mean, that sort of consulting is what he does when he isn’t being outed in Canadian media for his fake stories. Or that time he claimed that Preet Bharara would indict Andrew Cuomo on a Saturday after a holiday.

Joe Illuzzi was savvier, more talented a huckster, and had a genuine knack for running that horrible site of his. Illuzzi was also a better writer, which isn’t saying much.

Stay tuned.

2015: The Year in Verse

December in Buffalo: snowless and mild.

Politically, this year was especially wild.

We rang in the New Year somewhat aghast,

as we learned that Mario Cuomo had passed.

One loss that cut deeply is one you all know;

Entertainer Lance Diamond was the next one to go.

Our icon of funk had no imitation,

And Buffalo gave him a worthy ovation.

 

Dave DiPietro, needing something to do,

learned of a library book—maybe two,

which told kids to read and to learn—that’s all right,

but these books involved Muslims, so he picked a fight,

and, pretending to be so concerned that he asked,

whether both of these books should be banished at last!

But these volumes explained that in Afghanistan,

kids can’t do what ours do, thanks to the Taliban.

 

In Albany, meanwhile, something awesome occurred.

An indictment! Shelly Silver was charged, so we heard.

The Skeloses, too, were found on the hot seat,

courtesy of an attorney named Preet.

They all were convicted, Shelly, Dean, and his kid.

They’re going to jail thanks to quos pro that quid.

Nevertheless, these wins seem awfully pyrrhic,

and the Albany culture seems downright satiric.

 

Quickly thereafter, we heard—more than a smidgen,

That agents were sniffing ’round G. Stephen Pigeon.

In late May, you’ll recall, a series of raids,

caught Pigeon and Casey and one or two aides,

but the Preetsmas Day massacre tale is still pending;

nothing new to report, and no news of its ending.

 

While here, we found that we’ve really been blessed.

For hipsters, a kingdom became manifest.

The listicle writers in Brooklyn and Queens,

know that five-borough living isn’t all that it seems.

For Wegmans and cheap housing rates, we get envied,

and economists say our job market’s quite frenzied.

 

In Lancaster, the school board humbly proposed,

to change the team’s name, but were harshly opposed,

by some who thought “Redskins” a suitable name,

for kids to play sports in, without any shame.

But Native Americans quickly caught on,

and argued that “Redskin” needs to be gone.

They turned to the kids, after much agitation,

who came up with “Legends,” after due contemplation.

But to this very day, you can go to a game,

and find people still angry over a racist team name.

 

Carl Paladino characteristically fought,

against logic and reason, and thickened the plot,

as he bullied a guy here to track civil rights,

Carl turned the board into a joke on most nights.

One thing’s for sure, as the district descends,

into receivership, Carl and his friends,

must work better with others, just as we’d expect,

a young student to do, and to have self-respect.

 

In the BMHA, a commissioner said,

some unspeakable words, and when caught, quickly pled

that he never would say the “n” word—not at night or in morning,

but the problem for him was the cell phone recording.

Joe Mascia was running for Franczyk’s position,

in an effort that honestly needed magicians.

You won’t win in Fillmore—it’d be quite absurd,

if you casually pepper your speech with that word.

 

Now Donald Trump’s surging, unemployment is down,

Musk’s Solar City’s the new game in town.

The Green Code is here, and the billion gets spent,

Investigative Post tells us what it all meant.

 

When election time came, it was really a snooze,

Poloncarz re-elected, but there was some news,

Fudoli was gone, but legislature incumbents,

all won, and it all seemed a bit too redundant,

turnout was low and the races were boring,

hell, Democrats didn’t even deign to be warring.

 

In August, our town went a little insane,

after a woman alleged Patrick Kane,

had raped her—she went to the cops right away,

and some blamed the victim within a few days.

In the end, Tom Eoannou had showed off a bag,

that purported to be the rape kit—a red flag.

But it wasn’t, and the case simply ended in days,

and Kane skated—his problems have melted away.

 

Joseph Lorigo, as the year drew to a close,

Tweeted some questions he wanted to pose.

Expressing concerns about the criteria,

used to bring refugees over from Syria.

A big demonstration was held here downtown,

and refugee services wouldn’t back down.

The community welcomes the tired, the poor,

who help to make Buffalo better than before.

It wasn’t too long ago Brahmins and such,

hated Irish, Italians, and Poles just as much.

 

It’s 2016, let’s all hoist a craft beer,

wishing all of you peace and a Happy New Year.

The Refugee Process: Bosnia Edition

I’ll have more to say later about this past week’s descent into anti-refugee, anti-immigrant hysteria – from what the Erie County Legislature did on Thursday to Donald Trump’s descent into registration of Muslims already in the country, echoing the Nazi precursor to the Shoah. That’s before we get to the banality of drive-time hate radio callers expressing a desire to send Muslims in the US to camps in “boxcars”.

In the meantime, here is a series of Tweets from a Bosnian refugee explaining the process her family endured when they registered with the UN as refugees.

When they tell you that we don’t know who these people are, or that they have insecure feelings about the vetting process, consider that this was the process 20 years ago for a family from a westernized, modern country. The process for the small handful of refugees from Syria is already much more stringent and, pardon the pun, byzantine.

 

The Safest Space is the First Amendment

This simply amazing video is making the rounds. You need to see it.

That video depicts students and faculty at the University of Missouri harassing and assaulting two journalists, including undergraduate MU photojournalism major Tim Tai, who was freelancing for ESPN. These protesters affirmatively prevented two photographers from doing their jobs. More ominously, towards the end of the video, Assistant Professor of Mass Media Melissa Click called for “muscle” to help physically assault and remove the videographer – MU junior Mark Schierbecker – from the area.

So, we had a faculty member – an employee of a public, government institution – calling out for people to help her assault a student in a public space at a public university for the vicious crime of documenting a news event. Adding to the irony, Click chairs the Student Publications Committee on campus. The blonde woman with the North Face yelling at Tai to, “back off” is Janna Basler, UM’s director of Greek life and leadership.

Click has since apologized and resigned one of her appointments. (Text here). As usual, internet cretins have called in loads of death threats and worse. The chairman of the communications department on campus wrote,

Faculty (and students) have a right to express their views, but they do NOT have the right to intimidate others. This has been an awful time for the university, but that in no way condones intimidation.

The underlying purpose of the protests themselves is laudable – to confront and end systemic racism at the university. The protest organizers, “Concerned Student 1950“, invoke the year that black students were first allowed to attend that school. They use the tactics of the 1950s and 1960s to battle against racist incidents that took place at the school for which its administration had no reaction whatsoever. It wasn’t until the football team threatened to boycott and forfeit a game to spur some sort of positive action from the administration.

But it was charges of persistent racism, particularly complaints of racial epithets hurled at the student body president, who is black, that sparked the strongest reactions, along with complaints that the administration did not take the problem seriously enough.

The video above was shot in the wake of the University president’s resignation. The protesters randomly – and virtually – cordoned off an area of the quad where they were encamped and physically blocked reporters from doing their jobs. If you hold a public protest on a public space at a public university, you don’t have the right to assault a reporter, to touch him in any way, to censor the reporting, or to otherwise use force to remove him from the premises.

In response to the imbroglio, Tai wrote,

As a photojournalist, my job is often intrusive and uncomfortable. I don’t take joy in that. …You take the scene as it presents itself, and you try to make impactful images that tell the story. … And sometimes you have to put down the camera. But national breaking news on a public lawn is not one of those times.

If you show up to a protest in a public place, you don’t get to withhold consent to be photographed or otherwise documented by reporters.

I don’t know why another student with a camera reporting for the NY Times or ESPN renders your “space” “unsafe”, but what those people did to those reporters has absolutely nothing to do with “political correctness”. The 1st Amendment trumps your desire to be left alone if you do it outside in public.

What you see in that video has to do with fascism – pure and simple. Those students and faculty were no different from blackshirts or militia intimidating and assaulting reporters in pre-1975 Spain, Pinochet’s Chile, or pre-war Italy. Harrassment and violence against members of the press, and aggressive hostility against press freedoms is a hallmark of anti-democratic totalitarianism.

The students – they get the benefit of the doubt. It’s neither novel nor surprising that students would be somewhat ignorant of the 1st Amendment and how it works. But the adult members of faculty and administration – their behavior is shocking and inexcusable.

Basler and Click tried to regulate First Amendment activity in a public forum (i.e., the media’s peaceable assembly and newsgathering).* That potentially exposes them and the University of Missouri to liability under 42 USC § 1983, a federal law that allows individuals to sue public agents and entities for deprivations of civil or constitutional rights. Because of the physical contact shown on the video, it’s even possible that they could be liable for assault in the third degree under Missouri law.

Ultimately, that behavior undermines whatever point the protesters are trying to make. The 1st Amendment not only protects the protesters’ right to demonstrate, speak, and assembly, but it also protects the rights of reporters to photograph, video, and report.

Public Secrets: The Hidden Reports on Attica and Guantanamo

attica

The public should have full access to reports on Attica and Guantanamo. We don’t. And even if we did…
Read more

Flatsitter: Beyond Virtual Reality

flatsitter-web

“The basis of Flatsitter is to merge new technologies,” says Jax Deluca, who, with her partner Kyle Marler, have formed the interdisciplinary video, programming, and music collaborative known as Flatsitter. The duo have taken to creating immersive sound and video installations, which they have presented live several times over the last year. Their next performance is at 8pm this Sunday, November 16 at The Wash Project—a laundromat turned electronic noise-music boutique on the West Side of Buffalo—along side San Francisco noise manipulators Sult, and Binghamton-based video and sound artist, Brian Murphy—for only $5.

Their performance is a true multimedia experience. The duo employs the use of as much new and emerging technology as they can get their hands on to create vivid sound textures and immersive video images. On stage, Flatsitter runs originally produced video images through a custom built javascript browser, which randomly chooses from the selection of videos and layers them on top of one another. The human mind has a way of syncing up sound and video automatically, even if both are random, and Flatsitter exploits this idea.

As the performance progresses, the duo cues up specific video installations that they’ve built to accompany their music. The music itself is created by mixing guitars, effects pedals, sound samples, and even iPhone apps. The result is a pulsating organ of sound and video that feels like a living entity.

Deluca, who is Executive Director of the media resource center, Squeaky Wheel, met Marler—an attorney by day—on an Amtrak train heading from Buffalo to New York City. The two discovered their common interest pretty quickly, and Marler soon moved to Buffalo to work on video projects with Deluca. They began residencies at Signal Culture—an experimental media art-space in Owego—and the Institute for Electronic Arts at Alfred University, where they had access to some interesting tools. “[The Institute for Electronic Arts] had all of these really unique analog processing tools for video that you can’t really get anywhere else, so as a result, our video images have all of these highly saturated colors, which kind of create a signature look,” says Deluca.

The pair have also been doing some virtual reality programing; working with the Oculus Rift, an all immersive 3D headset. Think Lawnmower Man, but without the “aggressive factors” or Virtuosity, but better. The device is still in a pre-consumer phase right now, but people who donated to the Oculus Rift KickStarter, like Deluca and Marler, had the opportunity to purchase one ahead of everyone else. Only a few other people in Buffalo have had access to the device, which is intended for gaming, but which Deluca and Marler are also using as a platform to produce virtual reality art installations.

They debuted their Oculus Rift instillation at Artists & Models earlier this year, where guests took turns immersing themselves in the virtual reality environments that Deluca and Marler have created using developer software. “People were blown away, it was a lot of fun,” says Marler.

In order to develop the experiences, the duo has been working with a couple of different gaming engines; Unreal Engine and Unity, which they use to create landscapes and place objects within them. The objects can even emanate sounds as the user passes by or interacts with them.

“We just got a new developer kit, so we’re kind of opening up our house and testing it out on friends,” says Marler. “It’s about taking our artwork and bringing it to a virtual landscape.”