Archives For niagara falls

Keeping with tradition, I stayed in the city for Thanksgiving and worked, however I took a lengthy vacation around Christmas. By lengthy, we’re talking nine days. Almost a week-and-a-half. I love my family, but it was a bit much.

Nonetheless, it is always nice to return back to Niagara Falls and visit with family and friends that still live in Western New York. I flew out on Sunday the 20 and snapped this shot as the sun was rising over the RFK Bridge.


Rarely does returning back to WNY solely consist of resting, especially around the holidays. But it’s nice when I’m home for events that normally I would have to see on Instagram or hear about after the fact. Example: My very talented niece Taylor had an art showing at a local wine bar in Niagara Falls the night I landed. She is ridiculously talented (you’ll see later) and the place was packed. It was great to be able to not only join family there but support her.


On Monday we had a family dinner with my Mom’s side and on Tuesday my Dad’s favorite bar, DeFazio’s Stadium Grill, had its annual Christmas Party. Here’s me and my cousin Mike.


Yeah, it was a good night! Attending with my Dad has turned in to an annual tradition that hope doesn’t end anytime soon.


Had a chance to spend some quality time with my cousin Anthony on Wednesday. I ran a few errands with him and we grabbed lunch in Lockport – home of course of the Erie Canal.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


V ARTSY as the kids say. Thursday was Christmas Eve aka my favorite meal of the year: The Feast of the Seven Fishes. It’s an Italian thing, and I love it because I want all of the seafood.


Then Santa stopped by. We opened gifts as a family on Friday and then went to my brother’s house for brunch. That’s where my niece, the aforementioned Taylor, gave me this!


How amazing is that?! Her and I both share a love for Coldplay. All-in-all, Santa treated me well.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


It was just great to be able to hang with all of my nieces and nephews.


Saturday was a blur of a day, spent mostly visiting with friends from high school and grade school. Then on Sunday, I headed off to the Carrier Dome to see Syracuse play Texas Southern.


‘Cuse won and I got to see one of my old college roommates and my family that lives there, so it was a solid trip back to Central New York. I kept with the sports scene Monday night, heading to Buffalo to see my Sabres play the Caps. Sadly they lost but it was still nice to get back to the First Niagara Center and see all of the great development happening in downtown Buffalo.


Of course it’s not a trip back to Western New York in December if you don’t have inclement weather.


But soon enough I was back in the air and en route to the city.


Definitely a trip home for the books and a solid way to end my 2015 travels.

How did I spend my #LaborDayWeekend2015? Well, given that it’s the last time before Christmas I’ll get to visit my family in Niagara Falls, I traveled back to Western New York. This trip was a bit different from past years; my colleague in Scranton Danny had NEVER BEEN to Buffalo before. So Saturday I hopped on a bus from Port Authority headed towards Scranton. He picked me up at the bus stop in the Electric City, and we drove up I-81, across 690 and the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse (Go Orange!) and over to I-90 where we drove to Niagara Falls.

After dropping off our bags on Saturday night we headed to downtown Buffalo for a few drinks and so Danny could experience the piece of Heaven that is a Jim’s Steakout Chicken Finger Sub (medium, lettuce, tomato, blue cheese on wheat).

On Sunday, we went for a jog from my house to the scenic campus of Niagara University, spent some time at the pool and then drove back to Buffalo for the National Buffalo Wing Festival.
wing
It is everything we thought it would be, and then some. We tried wings from WNY’s big three: Duff’s, Anchor Bar and La Nova. There were pubs serving up the deep fried (or in some cases, dry rubbed) delicacies from across the country and even from across the pond – a wing spot from England was there!

Duff’s is without question my go-to.


After a few hours of stuffing our faces, we were off to see THE Niagara Falls. I grew up about 10 minutes away from the rapids.


Still pretty gorgeous. We followed up our visit with a trip to Hard Rock Cafe in Niagara Falls. My buddy Vinnie is the OM there so we said hello to him and partook in our first Oktoberfest (Samuel Adams) of the season.

Then we returned to my house, where my Mother had prepared my favorite meal: Chicken Francese with a side of my Mom’s patent homemade pilaf. YAS.


Labor Day, sans a run, was rather Labor-Less.


For the most part, the same could be said for Tuesday (I took an extra day, sue me!)


Another highlight of the trip: Tuesday night. My Dad and I went to one of his favorite watering holes, Stadium Grill on Hyde Park Blvd. We downed a few beers and watched the Yankees game together.

I flew back early Wednesday morning so I could interview a one Justin Bieber.

The trip home was everything I wanted it to be and then some. Next up on the #RalphieOTRA itinerary: Scranton for Mohegan Sun Pocono’s Oktoberfest and Atlantic City for Miss America – all in the same weekend.

Technically there are two guests in this episode of, “Hey, Really Excited.” The title-guest is the talented and lovely Leona Lewis, who is dropping a new album this September. She talks about the creation of ‘I Am’ and performs the single, “Thunder.”
Hey, Really Excited
The second? Race Taylor, who I teamed with for the Leona interview!

I’ll also update you on my summer travels and I recap my trips home to Niagara Falls and Randall’s Island for Urban Mudder.

This week, I chat with one of my favorite bands, Walk The Moon. You’ll hear Nick, Sean, Eli and Kevin talk about everything from life after a mega-hit to opening for The Rolling Stones. The guys also talk about the next single from Talking Is Hard, “Different Colors,” – and you’ll get to hear that as well.
Hey, Really Excited
Plus – I’m headed back to Niagara Falls this weekend. I explain why and what I’m looking forward to while I spend some time back home with friends and family.

Don’t forget – next weekend I’m participating in Urban Mudder, and all of the money I raise is going to Make-A-Wish. Find out more by clicking here.

It turns out Jimmy Fallon CAN do wrong. On “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” the other night, while interviewing Nicole Kidman, the topic of Niagara Falls came up. Nicole’s husband, Keith Urban, performed on the Canadian side for New Year’s Eve.

“That’s the side. Canada’s side is like lights and it’s almost like Vegas. It’s fun. The New York side looks like a Lemony Snicket book cover. It’s sad. There’s all these trees with no leaves on it. And you go, ‘What happened? Why is that side so much worse?’ Canada’s side, that’s the place to do it. It’s amazing.”

I’m so disappointed that Jimmy, who I am a big fan of, decided to take some digs at my hometown. I’m sure in the heat of the moment he was simply trying to fill time because of how awkward things became during the interview, but that’s no excuse to throw a city under the bus. Besides, with great power comes great responsibility.

Sure we don’t have the abundance of cool wax museums, haunted houses and other tourist traps that Clifton Hill has Jimmy, but seriously when was the last time you visited the area? Have you walked through any of the renovated parks or stopped at some of the superior viewpoints to the Falls itself?

And what about all of the other great things the Niagara region as to offer, whether it be the Lewiston/Youngstown area with Fort Niagara, Art Park, and Center Street – or the other development happening around the casino downtown, with the Culinary Institute and Old Falls Street?

Not to mention all of the glowing press that Buffalo is receiving these days. Development is happening on its waterfront and those outside the area are finally recognizing Western New York as a great place to start a business and raise a family. It’s a part of the same metro.

Let me know when you’d like to take a trip down to Niagara Falls, NY Jimmy. I’d like to think that you would really enjoy it there.

Then again, I thought that a TV host who comes off as a such a relatable, every-day guy would be able to appreciate it anyways, especially since he usually lauds the same quaintness found in the small New England towns that he has heaped praise upon before. My bad! I guess you’re just as oblivious to the endearing traits of the community I grew up in as you were to Nicole’s advances.

Inside the ring, opponents knew Randy Poffo as “Macho Man” Randy Savage, a fierce competitor who could drop a devastating elbow from the top rope. Outside the ring, fans came to know Poffo to be just as “macho” – but not for the reasons you might think.

I had the pleasure of meeting Savage on a couple of occasions. The first instance happened so long ago, that I can barely remember all of the specifics. Here’s what I can scratch out: I was three or four years old at the time. My father, Ralph Sr., was serving his first of two terms as a City Councilman in Niagara Falls, NY, where I grew up. The WWE frequently performed both televised and non-televised events at the old Niagara Falls Civic and Convention Center. At the time, I was obsessed with all things Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (bet you couldn’t guess who my favorite was), New York Yankees, and WWE. So, my dad took me to the matches – my first of many shows. We had great seats for the evening – and I watched with excitement during the main event as “Macho Man” Randy Savage beat “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase.

After the ring had cleared and spectators began exiting, I remember my father bringing me backstage. We walked down a long hallway where a number of WWE officials and a few paramedics were following Dibiase to the dressing room. I’m pretty sure I was trying to yell something at Dibiase, and my father was telling me to zip it or else “The Million Dollar Man” would come over and beat me up. That doesn’t sound too far-fetched, especially if you know Ralph Sr. I also vaguely remember my dad stopping a couple of times to chat with some of the city workers he knew who were at the event.

However, as I would come to find out before the end of the evening, the whole reason my dad brought me back there in the first place was to meet “Macho Man.” A WWE official had told my father that Savage was on his way out of the venue. We quickly walked to the main exit where Savage and “Miss Elizabeth” were in the back of a black limousine that was getting ready to depart.

Now, I don’t remember exactly how this went down because we’re talking like, 1989 here. But my dad and I walked over to the back, driver’s side of the limo so Savage could see us. I was waving at the limo, and I’m almost positive my dad was gesturing for the wrestler to come out of the limo so that I could meet him. Next thing I know, the door opens, the “Macho Man” steps out, hoists me up, and all I see is a flash.

I can specifically recall my dad yelling, “Ralphie, smile! Lift up your face!” But clearly, I look petrified. If anything, you now know that my ability to act cool around celebrities wasn’t a natural gift by any stretch of the imagination.

Randy Poffo died Friday at age 58. While many will memorialize Savage for his great matches in the ring and over-the-top Slim Jim commercials – I’ll remember the “Macho Man” for something far less “macho” – but just as telling of the type of man he was.

Download the interview

Looking to ignite a little spark behind the movement of her second single, Priscilla Renea teamed up with B.o.B. for a remix to “Love Sick.” The track world premiered on “The Ralphie Radio Show.”

Renea said she first linked up with the Atlanta-rapper on Twitter, and later met through a mutual friend at a studio. The original version is on Renea’s debut LP, Jukebox.

The wait is almost over for legions of Goo Goo Dolls fans everywhere: the Buffalo, NY band completed its ninth studio LP, for real this time.

“I’m going to New York tomorrow to do the mastering, so I guess it’s finished,” revealed lead singer John Rzeznik. The front man along with fellow founding band mate Robby Takac sat down on “The Ralphie Radio Show” Sunday afternoon. Takac added that he’s heard a June release is planned, but is unaware of an official date. The LP is entitled, Something for the Rest of Us.

Even though the band has sold over nine million albums in the states alone, the standard for a successful LP hasn’t changed too much.

“I think at this point it’s one of those things where, you just have to be satisfied with the work that you did, and hope that you craft it into something that you’re proud of,” said Rzeznik. He then reaffirmed his first statement, but added, “That’s fine, but it would be really nice if it sold a bunch of copies. That always helps. If it gets on the radio… but, we’ll see what happens.”

Download the interview



Yes, the music landscape has changed quite a bit since the ’96 release of Let Love In. In an interview last September with The Buffalo News, Takac noted that radio isn’t “there the way they were before.” Certainly the influence of the medium has decreased a little, but Rzeznik feels the airplay can still play an instrumental role in the band’s success moving forward.

“Even if you don’t sell a lot of records, getting played on the radio, yunno, keeps your touring business going and then you get out and play, make a living on the road.”

When I caught up with The Goo Goo Dolls, the band was in the midst of doing exactly that. The Goos extended the current tour to over 40 dates, playing mostly smaller, theater-type venues. Rzeznik confirmed that after the LP’s release, summer dates at primarily outdoor venues will be announced.

Coincidentally enough, my third concert ever found me sitting on the lawn of Artpark in Lewiston, NY watching The Goo Goo Dolls – right before Dizzy Up the Girl hit stores, in August of 1998. If I need another reason to head back home and visit the parents, Rzeznik did confirm that the show for the nearby Darien Lake Performing Arts Center is already booked.

The self-proclaimed “Princess of Poughkeepsie” extended her reign upstate over the weekend. Nicole Polizzi, better known as “Snooki” from MTV’s “Jersey Shore”, snagged just under $10,000 for two club appearances on Thursday and Friday in Western New York.

According to three different sources, speaking to “The Ralphie Radio Show” on the condition of anonymity, Snooki appeared early Friday morning at Whiskey River, a night club in Niagara Falls, NY. Patrons were charged up to $25 at the door for admission. The reality show star didn’t arrive until approximately 1:30 a.m., only showing face to the crowd for around 15 minutes. The appearance made her $5,000 richer.

Bars close in Niagara Falls at 2 a.m. on Thursday. Earlier in the evening, Snooki made a guest appearance at a teen night in nearby Rochester. The promoter, who was in charge of making sure Polizzi made the hour and a half commute, blamed the tardiness on inclimate weather.

The following night, Snooki hosted a party at Pure Nightclub, located in downtown Buffalo. Polizzi danced with friends and hosted a “best abs” contest. Although her appearance lasted about two hours, Snooki stayed at the nightclub until 4 a.m., which is last call in Buffalo, dancing and drinking with friends in a V.I.P. area.

Snooki flew cross country later that morning, arriving in Los Angeles to co-host MTV’s red carpet coverage of The Grammy’s on Sunday.

Read this story on a kid from back in Western New York, who was picked up on suspicion of DUI. The article appeared in my hometown newspaper and first media employer, the Niagara Gazette.

Please, don’t drink and drive.