Wednesday, September 12, 2012

BCC Arts & Entertainment

I often get asked why I love Buffalo so much. Since you've all grown accustomed to reading my litany of reasons why, I'll give you the short: Buffalo is about community and the people. 

Take the BCC Arts & Entertainment Showcase for example. Earlier this year I was contacted by member Amanda Clute to attend one of their Open Mic nights/Showcases when my schedule allowed. After a few months of conflicts, I was finally able to attend one of the Showcase events back in June. 

I literally knew no one that would be attending the event, but decided to give it a shot and see what they were all about. I was a little worried I would feel out of place, but after walking through the doors, I immediately felt like a part of the family. I was pointed in the direction of Amanda and we chatted for a bit and she started introducing me to people. The atmosphere inside was full of energy. People were catching up with others, preparing their acts for the show and looking at the art work around. There were tables of delicious desserts to enjoy throughout the night as well! 

As the show began husband and wife ministers  for The Buffalo Church of Christ (BCC) Daniel and Tracy Macaluso provided some immediate comic relief and then took some time to talk about the Church and the mission of these events. A group of singers took the stage and opened with a few lively worship songs that had everyone up and dancing. As someone who has come from a very Catholic background, it was a fun change of pace to be clapping and dancing around to get the evening started.

As the evening progressed we were treated to a little bit of everything. There were dancers, rappers, singers, comedians, poets, magicians and more, who provided such an eclectic night of laughs and entertainment. As the night wrapped up, I was so happy I decided to come and left the event with so much energy. 

In addition to the Showcase events, which are usually held once every three months or so, BCC offers monthly Open Mic nights. The Open Mic nights are free to the public and the Showcase events typically cost around $5 to get in the doors. 

Ministers Daniel and Tracy both came from very artistic backgrounds: Daniel was a member of Buffalo rock group "White Lies" and Tracy was a dance instructor and choreographer in New York City. Both feel strongly that the arts are a way to bring people and cultures together, and they are a big focus in their Church community. 

All the Open Mic nights and showcases do have a spiritual undertone to them with some worship songs and passages read from Scripture, but I never felt like ideas were forced on me or that I had to believe a certain way. I have been to events where I have felt uncomfortable about how things were presented, but this group makes it impossible to feel anything but comfortable. 

"We want to provide an outlet for artists who want to be positive and also spiritual in their work. We are cultivating a "no hate zone" at all our coffeehouse events and showcases." Amanda told me. "The arts are a way to inspire hope and teamwork!"

Any local artist is welcome to come to their monthly Open Mic nights and take the stage. Acts are then chosen from the Open Mic nights for the Showcase events. You can find out more information about the events and Church by checking out their website. They also have a Facebook page with many pictures from past events. 

The arts are a huge part of the Western New York area. We have such an abundance of talent in the area, and these events are one more outlet for artists to expand their reach in a very positive and encouraging atmosphere. If you are looking to get your artistic message out there and want a platform to do it on, I strongly encourage looking up BCC Arts & Entertainment. I feel so fortunate I did, and can't wait to get to another event soon! 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Are You Ready For Some Football, Buffalo??

There are a lot of great Buffalo sports blogs out there, and I am definitely not one of them. While I feel very confident in my ability to talk sports on a high level, I am a fan first and foremost. I have an allegiance to my teams, win or lose, and while I'm known to rattle off swear words at my television during games, I'll almost always defend my teams in public. 

I very rarely report on local sports even though Buffalo's sporting venues are where much of my free time is spent. As a season ticket holder for both the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres, I invest a lot of my time and money in these two entities.

This Sunday, the Buffalo Bills will kick off the season away against The New York Jets. It's just a "game" people tell me on a daily basis, but the Bills are more than just a team in Buffalo, they are a way of life. 

Like so many people in this area, my love of sports was passed down from previous generations. Both my Grandpas and my Dad were die hard fans, and it didn't take long for me and my brothers to follow suit.  Sundays were always spent in front of the television and the Super Bowl was more than a game, it became a holiday where special food was purchased and we were allowed to stay up late. 

Every season I start out with a pretty high level of what I like to call "reserved optimism". There were years when I honestly thought they wouldn't be good, but my optimism carried me through, at least the first half of the first game. Being a Bills fan is a roller coaster of emotions. Over the past few seasons there have been times when we started out great: 5-0 one year, then beating the New England Patriots to take us to 3-0 early last season, and most of Buffalo had us playoff bound (myself included). Slowly as things started to spiral out of control both of those years, and in other recent years, the "same old Bills" attitude many Buffalonians have came out from hiding. 

This season feels different to me. As I listen to player and coach interviews, I get a different vibe from this team. They sound like they are more comfortable with the system. They talk as though they are more confident in themselves and their teammates. Management has invested in the team and made key acquisitions throughout the off season. During the preseason games there were glimpses (very short ones) of some incredible plays and drives and it leaves me extremely hopeful for this season. Even some nationally known media personalities have picked the Bills to make it to the playoffs this year. 

So while I won't make any bold predictions on the season, here are my Bills expectations for 2012:
I expect them to win more games than last year. 
I expect Fitzpatrick and Stevie to give us more moments where we rewind our television sets to see passes/catches over and over again. 
I expect Freddy to break through tackles and find the holes en route to a Pro Bowl season.
I expect the defense to be top 5 in the league.
I expect the offensive line to continue to drive me crazy.
I expect the cornerbacks to have difficulty.
I expect they will be playing "meaningful" football far into the season. 

As I wake up Sunday morning, my life will feel complete again. For the next 17 weeks (at least), I'll wake up on Sunday and know that I get to spend a few hours watching the team I love, with the people I love. I'll reconnect with friends I haven't seen enough over the summer and won't be able to keep up with the amount of text messages I receive/send. I'll reach out to the ever growing Bills Mafia family and make new friends as I tailgate away at The Ralph and tweet during the games. I'll laugh, I'll cheer and I'll probably cry too!

So here's to another football season in Buffalo! Let's Go Bills!!

Bills Home Opener 2011