Fifteen Minutes: Bamboozled in Buffalo

Are we allowed to scrutinize public art, even if the public doesn’t pay for it? It only took the city of Buffalo 15 minutes to shut it off and five days for Mayor Jimmy Griffin to tear down Billie Lawless’ sculpture "Green Lightning" in 1984.

It may have had something to do with dancing neon figures that resembled Mr. Peanut. But, to this day it’s unclear if the artist tricked the city or the city acted hastily.

For the first time, through interviews, court documents, and press clippings, the story of "Green Lightning" is told.

The story of "Green Lightning" is a cautionary tale about the importance of public art education. If the public is not aware of the different meanings and interpretations of art, they are more likely to react to it in a negative way. It is important for people to understand that art is subjective, and that what one person finds offensive, another person may find beautiful.

Gangsters and Organized Crime in Buffalo

Stories abound about legendary New York City gangsters like "Lucky" Luciano, but Buffalo has housed its fair share of thugs and mobsters too. While many were nothing more than common criminals or bank robbers, a powerful crime family headed by local boss Stefano Magaddino emerged in the 1920s. Close to Canada, Niagara Falls and Buffalo were perfect avenues through which to transport booze, and Magaddino and his Mafiosi maintained a stranglehold on the city until his death in 1974. Local mob expert Michael Rizzo takes a tour of Buffalo's mafia exploits everything from these brutal gangsters' favorite hangouts to secret underground tunnels to murder.

Washington Beer

Brewing history touches every corner of Washington. When it was a territory, homesteader operations like Colville Brewery helped establish towns. In 1865, Joseph Meeker planted the state's first hops in Steilacoom. Within a few years, that modest crop became a five-hundred-acre empire, and Washington led the nation in hops production by the turn of the century. Enterprising pioneers like Emil Sick and City Brewery's Catherine Stahl galvanized early Pacific Northwest brewing. In 1982, Bert Grant's Yakima Brewing and Malting Company opened the first brewpub in the country since Prohibition. Soon, Seattle's Independent Ale Brewing Company led a statewide craft tap takeover, and today, nearly three hundred breweries and brewpubs call the Evergreen State home. Author Michael F. Rizzo unveils the epic story of brewing in Washington.

Buffalo Beer

Buffalo's appreciation for a frosty pint stretches back more than a century before anyone enjoyed a cold one with a basket of wings. By the middle of the 1800s, the industrial hub counted malt and beer among its most vital and satisfying products. Operations like Simon Pure Beer, Iroquois Beverage and the Magnus Beck Brewing Company brought Buffalo's world-class ales to the rest of the country. Prohibition saw a thriving business in black market hooch, though it all but killed the city's historic breweries. A few survivors struggled to recover. Today, a new batch of breweries like Community Beer Works and Big Ditch Brewing Company are crafting a beer revolution in the Queen City. Historian Michael Rizzo and brewer Ethan Cox explore the sudsy story of Buffalo beer.

Also available as a paperback.

The Glory Days of Buffalo Shopping

Buffalo boasts many attractions, from sports teams to unique culinary offerings. The city also once was a shopper's paradise, and those fond memories live on today for generations of locals. Buffalo native Seymour Knox helped his cousin Frank Woolworth open his famous chain of stores nationwide, and Cresbury Clothes remained a multigenerational family business for most of the twentieth century. Well-recognized national chains, like the A&P, and local department stores like AM&A's and Sattler's were among the great retailers that dotted the main streets of the Queen City. Others, like Tops Markets, were bought out by larger corporations. In this new, updated edition, join Buffalo native Michael Rizzo as he revisits the days when Buffalo's streets were lined with stores and its sidewalks crowded with shoppers.

They Call Me Korney

Set during Prohibition this is one of Buffalo, New York's most blood-soaked crime tales. This is the story of the bloody reign of Polish gangster John "Korney" Kwiatkowski, which ended with one of his friends in the electric chair. Before the end came, Korney masterminded robberies all over the city, leading a gang of violent thugs, dubbed the Korney Gang, while he maintained a facade of gentility. With names like Ziggy, Bolly, and Smithy, these bootleggers, murderers, and robbers introduced Buffalo to violent crime with the introduction of the machine gun. No one was safe, including law enforcement, as the Korney Gang blasted their way out of every incident. Through careful research of newspapers, court transcripts, and genealogy, the story of this gang slowly emerges.

Also available as a paperback.

Buffalo Legacy of Power and Might

This book is Buffalo with photographs and history. It is a glimpse into the past through the architecture of factories, banks and more. You may have passed many of these buildings on the way to work. Perhaps you grew up in proximity to one and never thought to notice it. Maybe you wondered what the company that occupied the building actually did. Companies that once were proud to be part of Buffalo's landscape, Queen-O pop, Curtiss-Wright, Wonder Bread, form the basis for the book. Although there are many beautiful public, religious and residential structures, only commercial buildings were chosen for this work. Many are abandoned today, a handful not. Some will never be occupied again, bringing us back to that time when buildings mattered, and companies cared about their appearance as much as their bottom line.

Through The Mayors' Eyes

A unique look at the history of Buffalo, New York as told by the 54 men who have governed the city, from its early Erie Canal days to modern times. Over 100 photos, including the official portraits, never before published, and extensive references.

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