Tropical Buffalo: A Rainforest Blooms at the Zoo

BUFFALO, N.Y. — In the shade of snakewood and trumpet trees, a new day is beginning in the indoor rainforest at the Buffalo Zoo. Newly freed from the holding cage where he spends the night, Machado, a black howler monkey and father of two, is perched on a branch in a corner exhibit. His head raised, […]

read more
The Dark Side of Music: Clarinets, Woodwinds and the Mpingo Tree

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Even if you know nothing about the oboe or the clarinet, about how these instruments are made or how they make their music, you would know that the heartwood of the African blackwood tree is something special. The material is dense and dark: black like coffee or molasses or the armor of […]

read more
Entomologist/Exterminator: Two Bug Lovers’ Curious Destiny

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Marc Potzler and Jacob Wickham met in 1988, two young boys in a children’s bug club south of Buffalo. Each was an insectophile, having grown up with a fondness for the creeping critters that other people dismissed as pests. Marc grew up in West Falls, outside of East Aurora, on a […]

read more
Palmyra’s Pageant: The Book of Mormon, Like You’ve Never Seen it Before

PALMYRA, N.Y. — The Hill Cumorah Pageant, held yearly on a grassy slope outside of Rochester, may be the only place you’ll ever see a Mormon dad in clip-on earrings and a shoulder-length wig. On warm July nights beneath the stars, the production unfolds on eight connected stages, with actors braving fireballs and artificial rain […]

read more
Hunting Monsters, Chasing Ghosts: The Marvelous Life of Detective Joe Nickell

BUFFALO, N.Y. — On July 13, 2003, several UFOs appeared above Buffalo. The objects, five or six bright lights, hung weirdly in the summer sky. Each was a luminous disc, strange but unmistakable. The man who spied the UFOs was a 29-year-old carpenter named Jack Szeglowski, who was playing with his daughter outside of their […]

read more
The Stickmaker: The Soul of Lacrosse

ONONDAGA NATION — In the hands of craftsman Alf Jacques, wood bends and changes in ways it won’t for other men. From logs of pale, white hickory, he conjures beauty, grace. He splits, steams and shapes the timber until something exquisite emerges–something that gleams. Jacques, 63, is a famed maker of wooden lacrosse sticks. He […]

read more
Life After Death: In the Wake of Murder, Learning to Live Again

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Bleeding from the chest and stomach, where the knife had ripped her open, 15-year-old Zayra Pagan called the police. She had been stabbed maybe 10 times—so many that she had lost count. 9-1-1, she dialed. A recording told her to stay on hold. The line was busy. Frantic, Zayra hung up and […]

read more
Still That Bitch! Why Buffalo’s ‘Top Model’ All-Star Won’t Quit on Her Dream

BUFFALO, N.Y. — “I know how to conduct myself. Bitch, I worked at a bank. I worked at a bank. You think I would talk like this at a bank?” That was Buffalo native Angelea Preston’s pointed defense of why she did not show more attitude during a conversation with a celebrity interviewer earlier this […]

read more
Carnivory: Meat-Eating Plants and Their Enthusiasts

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Fatal attraction. No two words better describe the bond between carnivorous plants and the insects they seduce and then devour. For centuries, these plants have attracted the attentions not only of their prey, but also of humans fascinated by the concept of flora feasting on fauna. In the 1800s, Charles Darwin, the eminent […]

read more

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Curious shoppers may notice a peculiar new offering at certain Wegmans seafood counters this summer: fillets of the cownose ray, a square-snouted species of stingray. Tender and surprisingly beefy, cuts of the rose-hued meat can be strung onto kabobs bejewelled with pineapple chunks, or cooked Creole-style, swimming in tomato sauce and a […]

read more