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Building Blocks : Anthony Caferro

You may not know it but you’ve definitely seen this man around town. Whether it’s riding his bike through a snowstorm, managing the booking of a hip hop show, or simply having a dark beer at the end of the bar… Anthony “Tone” Caferro is very much around.

Born in Mercy Hospital, Anthony is a local man of the world. “I collect passport stamps and tattoos,” he told me.

From managing music tours through Europe,  leading youth adventure tours stateside, and riding his bike cross-country Anthony’s passport is full, and he certainly has the tattoos to prove it.

But his travels have always seemed to take a back seat to his work in the area in what he says is currently a five job spread.

  1. He is an eight year career firefighter for the City of Lackawanna.  A job he clearly loves and takes pride in as he smiles and says “our job is to be nice to people and help solve problems, we don’t carry guns, we are who you call when you are in a car accident or your fuckin’ house is on fire.”
  2. He runs a small property investment company.  He owns and manages 6 properties in the region, two of which are currently being renovated in the Fruit Belt on the East side. A project that he is stoked about and is hoping to finish up this year.
  3. He is the founder and director of “Slow Roll Buffalo” – a volunteer position.  This is a  project that has had a huge positive impact on Buffalo and the cycling community. The idea came from his buddies in Detroit when they were visiting the area, and has since brought hundreds of people out on any given day to ride and explore the city together.
  4. Founding Director of Deep Thinka Records. Currently working as a booking agent, Anthony has been with Deep Thinka since 97. He manages a team of people that are currently booking around 10 acts and close to 400 dates around the world.
  5. President of the Board at Hostel Buffalo Niagara (also unpaid). This project is clearly what he is most passionate about right now. Located at the 600 block of Main, the hostel is fighting to keep that prime location and not get “priced out” of downtown Buffalo. It is currently one of the highest ranking hostels in the country and is, as he puts it, “A cultural asset,” explaining how important it is to bring young travelers through Buffalo who want stay where the action is.

Anthony and I had a quick sit down at The Tabernacle

What are some longterm visions for the region? What would you like to see out of Buffalo in the future?

I’d love to see Buffalo become a cycling-centered city, # 1 in the US,  take Portland out! I look at Buffalo as a city that missed the Rust Belt rebound. We are behind cities like Cleveland, Pittsburg, and even Detroit in the whole rebound thing, and I think it’s to our advantage because they rushed to do these cookie cutter things that all ended up the same. We are behind on it because New York is such a NYC-centered state, we are sort of forgotten at the other end. In Michigan of course people are looking to Detroit, in Pennsylvania, Pittsburg and Philadelphia kinda get equal status. NYC and Buffalo do not get equal status, at all. In terms of notoriety, recognition, and funding etc. But that has given us the opportunity to see those other cities replicate each other and allow us to do something different. So Buffalo needs to get an identity based on something that I think could be completely unique. If they made it the top cycling city in the nation people would come. 

Another thing that I’d like to see Buffalo really get right, given its history of the Underground Railroad, is wealth distribution. We should be advocating to bury the 33, to recreate wealth on Humboldt Parkway – something drastic like that. I’m not saying that’s the answer but I’m saying when you hear about progress in Buffalo, economic recovery, renaissance, all these words, they are just words, because really what we need is to put wealth back into the inner city, and not just into little pockets on the West Side and suburban style North Buffalo. We need to have a better understanding of racial wealth. I’d love for it be the first city in the country to practice a sort of restitution.  The land trust formation on the East Side is a great start. There’s enough space on the East Side. It doesn’t take much to stop the bleeding,  we could be known for that.

So, we need to do something. We could be known for cycling , green energy,  even cannabis,  it smells like weed everywhere in the city anyways, we have the bars everywhere.  We need to do something,  something drastic in this city to put us on the national map.  Why not? Where is the vision in city leadership and private enterprise? Hopefully we’ll see something, but… I remain patiently skeptical.

What can people do to get involved in the region, and push Buffalo in the right direction?

You just got to step up. There are so many opportunities out there. If you want to get into any kind of action, community based movement you gotta step up and you got to want it. Put your boots on. Be proactive. If this is what you want to get into, go at it like you’re fourteen years old – remember when you were fourteen you would just dive into something and be passionate and figure it out as you go. There is enough going on in the city, in every lane, that you can get in with other individuals or groups, or you can see what they did and go at it your way. Inspiration is a huge key but your inspiration will only carry you so far and then you’re gonna run into a road block. It is key that you stick with it and find a way around that road block. Keep pushing towards your objective. There are so many times I can think of, running an independent record company for 22 years, when I was ready to quit and put on a shirt and tie and go do the 9-5 thing, but that’s when you have to look at all the lanes and all of your resources and find a way to keep moving forward. Use your tools and resources and keep going. If you don’t quit, you can’t lose.

What is something that you would change about the region?

I really hate the car centric attitude of Buffalo.  People always say, ‘You need a car in Buffalo’  and that’s bullshit.  I own two automobiles, and I still choose to bicycle through the winter.  It’s completely doable, Buffalo is flat and small.  Obviously you dress for the weather, but it is looked at as a necessity to own a car, and it absolutely isn’t. The motorists mentality needs to change, and the effort to improve transportation infrastructure needs to gain speed because there has not been any effort given by residents, private businesses, or the city to improve the infrastructure. Public transportation, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure sucks, and the mentality sucks. There are some cities that get it, WE should get it! We should have a kick ass transportation system. If you put a rail line on the 33 from the airport to the city that would be a step in the right direction because as any traveler knows, the first thing you do when you land in a new city is say “how do I get to the city center?”  In most cities you just hop a line from the airport to the center, and it is completely doable in Buffalo. Cars are a status symbol in the US , so motorists tend to look at cyclists as hobos, as if we have no other means  of transportation or simply just do it for recreation. This is how I get around – it’s a mode of transportation.  Buffalo has been too slow in realizing this. 

Everyone seems to have a “Buffalo Moment” something where you walk away and you’re like “only in Buffalo” what is a favorite Buffalo moment of yours?

Well there are so many… but this one… and this actually didn’t even happen in Buffalo, it’s just one of those Buffalo things. What I love about Buffalo is there is a 1.3 degrees of separation. And that’s as far as it will get. There is no one that you will find that is living here or from here that doesn’t know someone that you know. It’s the smallest big city that you will find. So, I am in Glacier National Park Montana, pretty remote part of the country – I’m at a trail head and all the sudden someone’s callin’ my name and it’s friends from Buffalo and it’s like… we go way back and here we are in the middle of remote-ass Montana, one of the most remote places you could be outside of Alaska. It was wild.

Another great example is, I’m in Budapest Hungary and I find the Budapest Buffalo Bills backers. You know, crazy. Middle of Budapest there’s a UB based Buffalo Bills Backer group.  That’s Buffalo.

Who can you recommend for us as an inspiration and a Building Block of the community.

My friend Edreys is probably the most inspirational person I know. Edreys Wajed – he’s a musician and an artist. He’s also teaching now, he was one of the artists on The Freedom Wall at West Ferry and Michigan.  I remember a time when I was ready to drop and quit the label, and then Edreys comes along and was like “I’m trying to put a record out,” and he inspired me to keep going, and we’ve done a lot of work since then. You need people like that around.

Man, there are so many. Definitely Dr. Kush K. Bhardwaj. He’s a professor at UB. I was one of the subjects of his PHD dissertation, he’s a really inspiring dude.  Also India Walton, India is a  Fruit Belt community activist.

About Building Blocks:

A renaissance is not built solely on the shoulders of the big and powerful, it is the workings of the commoners of society, coming together and pushing small blocks up against the big ones to set a solid foundation for change. In the midst of the new, vibrant and ever-expanding Buffalo, we find ourselves needing to know more about it! Who are we missing? Who is behind it? Who are the unsung heroes responsible for the rebirth of our great city.

Who do you know that has made a difference?  We are calling on you to send us candidates for our upcoming series of interviews titled “Building Blocks”.

What we are looking for:

  • Individuals or organizations that have withstood the test of time. The ones who have stayed true to their values in the slow times and have now pushed forth and flourished in the new.
  • People who have initiated successful start ups in the areas of business, energy, arts or education.
  • People who have given their free time to the betterment of our community.
  • People who have created better situations for their fellow Buffalonians.
  • Basically, anyone that you think deserves a mention in the progress of our great city.

Please email us at subject line “Building Blocks” with any recommendations along with any contact information you might have.

It’s time that the foundation of our rebirth, big or little, be recognized and appreciated for their efforts.

Written by Evan Thompson

Evan Thompson

Evan Thompson moved from Melbourne, Australia to Buffalo, New York when he was 13 years old. After consistently relocating to different countries around the world, his family fell in love with the charm of the City of Buffalo and the people who call it home.

After high school, Evan attended Indiana University and studied politics. Upon returning to Buffalo he became an Adult Education Instructor for BOCES before teaching ESL to refugees in the Buffalo Public Schools. Evan then taught and volunteered abroad living in South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam.

He currently works in adventure tourism and plays music in local bands.

View All Articles by Evan Thompson
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