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Howard B. Owens's blog

August 17, 2008 - 10:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Daily News, Charlie Mallow, Bill Cox, Bob Bialkowski, mall, Scott DeSmit.

The Saturday/Sunday edition of the Daily News contains a rather odd, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi fantasy narrative by Scott DeSmit in which he puts himself in a benighted Batavia. How far hence, we are not told.

A man is peering out from behind his door. I see the glistening barrel of his gun and I keep walking, keeping tight to what is left of the sidewalk.

A newspaper. Almost intact.

I reach down and scoop it up. A rat skitters away.

"Last of City Council Disbands" the headline reads.

Ahhh. I remember that. Three of them, as I recall. Mallow, Bialkowski and Cox.

Ahhh. So lurking within the vitriol and sniping that is what passes for dialogue between these three men is a Batavia of buckled sidewalks, parks gone to seed, creek water that will melt skin and a Sheriff who has barricaded the city's borders.

A little over the top, don't you think, Scott?

While the animosity and bitter words over what amount to rather trivial issues (when compared to the big question of the final resolution of the mall) might impede progress. It's takes a pretty active imagination -- which Scott clearly has -- to expect their bickering to lead to walled off Batavia.

That said, point taken, Scott -- and one we don't disagree with: These men need to stop arguing and get down to business. The mall has got to go, and they should busy themselves generating a plan and public support to make it happen.


August 17, 2008 - 10:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs.

Batavia resident Donald Weyer writes in the Daily News that WBTA's broadcast of Muckdog games helps reduce attendance.

I disagree.

I bet Mel Allen would, too. And Harry Caray. And Jack Buck. And Red Barber. And Vin Scully.

My point is, baseball and radio have a pretty long, rich and memorable love affair.  WBTA has a pretty fair announcer, to put it mildly,  in Wayne Fuller.

Good baseball radio does more to sell the team than detract from it. If that were not the case, wouldn't MLB franchises have stopped broadcasting their games decades ago? In fact, today, every MLB puts every single home and away game on television (which is even a closer substitute for actually being their than radio). Why? Because it helps sell tickets.

Game broadcasts do as much to put people in the stands than any other marketing a team could do. Broadcasts help generate interest in individual players, allow people who can't attended every day to keep up with the running story line that is a baseball season, act as a regular reminder -- this is your team, support it.

I thought about responding to Mr. Weyer in a letter to the editor, but since it is allegedly an offense punishable by firing to even acknowledge the existence of The Batavian in the pages of the Daily News, I figure the letter's editor wouldn't publish it.  So if somebody could let Mr. Weyer know -- in case he doesn't know about the site yet -- that somebody did attempt to "disabuse" him of is "erroneous reasoning," as he requested.

In his letter, Mr. Weyer offers four other suggestions. If you've read the letter and have thoughts about any of those other ideas, feel free to post a comment below.

Previous post: Daily News: Muckdog attendence lagging

August 16, 2008 - 7:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in video, Summer in the City.

We're having a great time at Summer in the City.  It's fun to meet so many fans of The Batavian, and we're also finding lots of people who haven't heard of the site yet but say it's a great idea and long over due for Genesee County.

Yesterday, we did a video asking people "What do you like about your home town?"  Here's the video:

August 14, 2008 - 5:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian.

Since we launched The Batavian in May, we've heard a recurring question: What about advertising?

The question has come from two quarters: Business people interested in advertising, and people wondering how the heck we're going to make this adventure into a paying business.

Starting this week, we get serious about the business side of the business.  The traffic is now strong enough, we have an engaged audience, the name of the site is spreading fast -- we now  have a good, fair value to offer the businesses of Genesee County.

We have two sales reps who start calling on area businesses this week.

They're going to offer the standard banner ads, of course, but what we're really excited about are the text ads we will offer. 

Ten percent of the revenue from these text ads will go to The Batavia Players, Inc.,  Summer Youth Theater Program.  On top of that, we are sending $500 to the program.

As we've said from the start, the goal of The Batavian is to be more than a news enterprise. We want The Batavian to help our communities grow stronger and enhance an area that is already a great place to live and work.

To that end, we're concentrating our sales efforts on local businesses (the big chains, not so much) so we can help those businesses thrive, and we're giving back to the community through donations and sponsorships.

Meanwhile, here's something you can do to support the youth of Genesee County, and more specifically, the Youth Theater -- go see Jesus Christ Superstar.  It opens tonight and runs through Saturday.  Patrick Burk tells us ticket sales have done well, but there's still plenty of seats left.  You should go. 

Our ad reps are Melissa McIntyre and Vanessa Haar. They, along with me and Philip, will be at Summer in the City on Friday and Saturday. We'll have balloons, water bottle kozies and bumper stickers.  If you come by and say, "hi," we may even put you in a video.  Look for us on Jackson Street on Friday and Main Street on Saturday.

August 14, 2008 - 7:05am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, Joe Gerace.

HarnessLink reports that local barber Joe Gerace will be honored August 23 at Batavia Downs as "Italian-American of the Year."

This is the first such award given by Batavia Downs, and HarnessLink says the gaming facility and race track is planning other ethic awards this year.

The life-long Batavia native is the 2008 Humanitarian of the Year for United Memorial Medical Center and the Jerome Foundation, 2006 City of Batavia Volunteer of the Year, Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Genesian of the Year in 1993 and was honored for his community service by the Paolo Busti Foundation Scholarship Committee.

The active 72-year-old grandfather of six is the former president of the Batavia Youth Bureau, co-chair of the Genesee County Cancer Society's Festival of Hope, a director of the Batavia Muckdogs (where he is also on the team's Wall of Fame), member of the Batavia Rotary Club and St Nick's Social Club and sat on the City of Batavia zoning board of appeals for 12 years.

Also a licensed realtor and military veteran, Gerace and his wife, Lois, have been married 48 years and are the parents of three grown children.

That's an impressive resume.

August 13, 2008 - 1:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs.

The Rochester Red Wings have done everything that the team was told was needed to improve attendence at Batavia Muckdogs games, General Manager Dave Wellenzohn tells David Hibbard of the Daily News, and the team is drawing no better this year than last.

Fireworks don't help. A better field doesn't help. More marketing hasn't helped. Even a winning record and exciting pennant race aren't putting more people in more seats.

In May, Wellenzohn predicted that 60,000 people would pay to see the Muckdogs this year. At the current rate, only about 45,000 people will come through the gates.

"They've kept their word. They've invested a lot of money into the franchise," Wellenzohn said. "Rochester's (Red Wings) kept their promise 100 percent, even more. They're spending more money than I thought they would -- an maybe even should. Because they're thinking, 'Well, maybe if we do this, this will trigger more attendance.' It hasn't."

Wellenzohn says the team is likely to stay in Batavia next season, but if attendance doesn't improve, he isn't sure how long the Red Wings will keep investing in the team.

So here's the thing: Batavia is damn fortunate to have a minor league baseball team. In fact, having lived in major league cities, I'm not sure Batavians realize how fortunate they are to have a minor league baseball team.  It's a hell of a lot of fun to watch these developing players in a small venue with your friends and neighbors.

So what will it take to get Batavians to support their home town team?

We've been trying to do our part -- The Batavian is a team sponsor and we carry as much team coverage as we can -- because we believe sports teams serve a civic purpose of promoting community and local pride. 

In an era of high gas prices and higher and higher costs of everything, isn't a $5 general admission ticket quite a bargain for such great entertainment?

So what else can we do, what can we all to do, get more people at the games?

And, FWIW, kudos to Hibbard for a fine article.

August 13, 2008 - 12:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in downtown, history, pacino.

In February, Present Tense Books, hosted a talk by Josh on Patti Pacino centered around old photographs Patti's father either took or collected of old Batavia.

The collection of photos is posted here.

It contains a number of photos related to the destruction of the north side of Main Street to make room for the mall many people, including City Council President Charlie Mallow, call an eyesore.

Here is a video slide show I put together of from those old photos:

I haven't found anybody so far -- long-time resident or not -- who has good things about the mall.  Even Mitchell Chess, president of the Mall Merchant's Association, doesn't come across as a particular fan. With all of the conversation about the mall on The Batavian this week, not a single commenter has come forward to say it should be saved.

In a back-and-forth with Mallow over whether we were hyping his statement that parts of the mall (which, frankly, I too quickly turned into "all of the mall") should be razed, I quipped, "Mr. Mallow, tear down that mall," which was good for some comic relief.

But it can also serve as a rallying cry. 

Not everybody is pleased that there is so much heated discussion over the mall, but sometimes in such discussions a vibrancy can be found for finding new solutions to old problems.

Nobody has a plan yet, and the city and the MMA are spending way too much time on signs, bird poop and whether Bob Bialkowski has a conflict of interest, but the community needs to move beyond these trivial matters and focus on a long-term solution to the eyesore of a mall. 

A good plan will improve downtown, not waste taxpayer money, help the current merchants find new Main Street-facing shops and create jobs.

Mr. Mallow, tear down that mall.


August 13, 2008 - 7:05am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs.

Brian Walton, writing for Scout.com, reports that six Muckdogs have made the NY-Penn League All Star roster

They are:

  • Arquimedes Nieto
  • Adam Reifer,
  • Colt Sedbrook
  • Jermaine Curtis
  • Frederick Parejo
  • Shane Peterson.

Click the link above for details on each player's season and photos.

Last year, the Muckdogs had only three all stars. 

The game will be played in Troy on Aug. 19.

August 13, 2008 - 6:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in farmers market, locavore.

A friend introduced me to the term "locavore" a couple of weeks ago. It stuck with me because being a bit of "locavore" was something my wife and I were already mostly doing without knowing there was a word for it or that it was a trend. The furthest thing from our mind was the environmental benefits. We just think locally produced bread, meat, milk and veggies taste better and last longer.

This week, McClatchy/Tribune news service has a story out on locavores. You can read it here.

Last month, Lenae Weichel embarked on an ambitious dietary experiment: to feed her family for a year with food produced within 100 miles of her Rockford, Ill., home.

Inspired by a Vancouver couple who wrote a book on their ‘‘100-mile diet,’’ she joined a community-supported agriculture program, visited her local farmers market and started growing fruits and vegetables in her backyard.

Weichel, 33, is an extreme example of a vibrant movement of ‘‘locavores,’’ or consumers who try to shorten the distance between their food and its origin, largely from a desire to eat fresher produce, support their local farmers and reduce the carbon pollution associated with transporting goods. Only a few set 100 miles as a strict limit; others might just seek produce from the Midwest. But eating locally grown food, an idea once limited to hard-core environmentalists, is gaining traction among mainstream consumers. Already the movement has inspired a slew of books, prompted restaurants to use local food as a selling point and established ‘‘locavore’’ as the Word of the Year for 2007, according to the Oxford American Dictionary.

So, if you're a locavore in Genesee County, where do you go for produce, milk, bread and meat?  The Batavian would like to find out more about these businesses.  What other locally produced goods and crafts do you prefer to buy from local merchants?

August 12, 2008 - 10:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian.

Employers -- you can post free Help Wanted ads -- here.

Everybody else, got something to buy, sell or trade -- post your FREE ad here.

August 11, 2008 - 8:14am
posted by Howard B. Owens in bill kauffman.

Another YouTube discovery this morning -- a two-part radio interview with Bill Kauffman. The primary theme of the interview is anti-war conservativism.

The interview was broadcast on July 22, 2008 on 1250 AM WTMA talk radio in Charleston, South Carolina.

August 11, 2008 - 7:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs.

Just found on YouTube, a video of the July 31 Weiner Dog race at Batavia Downs.

August 11, 2008 - 7:24am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Adriana Slutzky, sculptor.

The Democrat & Chronicle profiles LeRoy resident and sculptor Adriana Slutzky.

Slutzky's work has been featured in museums and galleries of the region, but it sounds like the best place to see her work is in her and her husband Jack's wooded backyard along Oatka Creek.

This Dutch-American artist had always relied on her high energy level — a necessity for anyone building large-scale sculptures that weigh several hundred pounds. In the past four years, she and Jack created a four-acre sculpture garden around their home. Open to the public, it features more than 40 of her highly accomplished pieces.

Much of that art celebrates female vitality. After her Jan. 24 stroke, Slutzky feared losing her own resilience. She's often fatigued and her blood pressure rises sharply at times.

"It's not the same for me," she says. "I understand I'm walking on the edge."

Now 65, she brings that heightened sense of urgency to her most recent garden sculpture. Full Moon will feature 28 female figures circling around a pool of blue glass.

"Maybe we'll have a ceremony when it's finished," she says. "We'll invite our friends to have a beer and howl at the moon."

The Slutzkys began the garden as an unorthodox open-air showcase for her work. Their heavily wooded property slopes from Oatka Trail to the trout-filled Oatka Creek — an arcadian setting with sculptures atop flower beds and patios.

"I try to fit in the art so it's a natural extension of the environment," says Jack, 71, a painter and writer.

A Google search turns up this photo by C.G. Hubbell of Diversity sculpture in Maplewood Park.  Rocwiki has an entry on The Seat of Forgetting and Remembering.

August 10, 2008 - 1:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian.

When we launched the Free Job postings, a couple of people suggested that we have a place for people to sell stuff.

Today, we're launching Buy, Sell, Trade -- free classified ads.  Any person registered with The Batavian can post ads for free. The ads must be posted by private individuals, not businesses, but can be for any physical goods.

So you guys that requested this -- please post some items to get the ball rolling!

UPDATE: Ooops, forgot to enable permissions for logged in users to be able to post a classified.  Done, now.  You can post by clicking here.

August 10, 2008 - 9:36am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs.

Muckdog's manager Mark DeJohn gets a favorable write up from the Centre Daily Times, the newspaper that covers the State College Spikes.

What would the 2008 State College Spikes resemble if Curve Baseball LP decided to extend its Player Development Contract with the St. Louis Cardinals after 2006?

The answer to this question rests in Batavia, N.Y.

For starters, they would have the same manager. Mark DeJohn, whose fiery moments left lasting impressions in State College, manages the Cardinals’ New York-Penn League affiliate for a fourth straight year.


“I think it’s good to be young so you have some time to develop,” DeJohn said. “I prefer the high school guy over the college guy as long as the tools are the same. It gives us a chance to take them for four, possibly three, years that he would have been in college and kind of teach him our way of playing and how to play the game a little bit better than how they are taught in college.

“There are growing pains with it. We make mistakes like everybody else, but that’s what you are here for, to teach them and you have to learn from experience. I like the fact that they are young because then it tells me that you have a future with some of the guys.”

Speaking of player development, Philadelphia Magazine profiles Chase Utley and his wife Jen.

August 8, 2008 - 9:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Daily News, thebatavian.

The Batavian's Philip Anselmo garnered two awards in 2007-08 New York State Associated Press Association writing contest.

He won a first place award for Business/Finance coverage and shared a third-place award in the Continuing Coverage category.

Prior to joining The Batavian, Philip was a staff writer with The Daily Messenger in Canandaigua, where he wrote his award-winning pieces.

The Daily News also made a fine showing in the contest.

  • Spot News -- 3rd Place:  Family of four killed in head-on crash. Paul Mrozek, Scott DeSmit
  • Sports -- 3rd Place:  A lot of guts, a little glory. Tom Rivers
  • Columns -- 2nd Place:  Town supervisors, village mayors, define the working poor. Tom Rivers
  • Arts/Entertainment -- 1st Place:  It’s hip to be a ’Chuck.’ Ben Beagle
  • Arts/Entertainment Criticism -- 3rd Place: Holmes’ plays a lively game at Geva. Ben Beagle

The New York Daily News has published a complete list of awards.

Congratulations to all of the winners.

August 3, 2008 - 1:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs.

My wife and I are going to see one of the hottest teams in professional baseball at 4 p.m. -- the Batavia Muckdogs.

If you attend and want to say hello, I imagine I'll be the only fellow there wearing an old-school San Diego Padres ball cap (brown, with mission gold "SD").

August 3, 2008 - 8:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs.

Centre Daily Times, which covers the State College Spikes, has an article this morning about "brutally competitive" Pinckney Division of the NY-Penn league.

The six-team Pinckney Division, the largest in size and smallest in markets of the New York-Penn League’s three divisions, has turned brutally competitive.

Consistent Jamestown entered Saturday holding a tenuous lead.

Talented Batavia, which includes four players selected in the first five rounds of this year’s draft and five teenagers, trailed the Jammers by a game.

Two games behind Batavia rested Auburn which has won the division every year since 2002.

Two games behind Auburn stood Williamsport.

The Jammers (27-15), Muckdogs (26-16) and Doubledays (24-18) entered this weekend with the league’s best records.

It should be a great race to the wire.  Jamestown, Batavia and Auburn all won yesterday.

Today's game is at 4:05 p.m. against Williamsport. Tickets are only $5 per person for general admiission. 

UPDATE: Here's an article from the Auburn perspective.

August 3, 2008 - 8:10am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jon Powers, Jack Davis.

Via Rochester Turning, we learn that the Powers campaign posted a video two days ago (it appears to be a professionally produced commercial, so might it show up on TV and not just YouTube?) accusing Jack Davis of bribery.

August 2, 2008 - 9:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian.

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