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Long Story Short: Fightin' words


Illustration by JP Thimot


Where art thou, Buffalo?

I’ve mentioned the blog called Only in Buffalo previously. It’s part of a nationally-syndicated website called Only in Your State. I enjoy the fun facts and tips on local attractions, but now and then something will make me stop and wonder who writes these things. A recent post was titled, Here Are The 8 Best Places To Live In Buffalo And Why. Given that title, it struck me as odd that only two of the eight neighborhoods listed are actually in Buffalo.


Here’s the list:   

1. Downtown
2. Amherst
3. Orchard Park
4. Williamsville
5. East Aurora
6. Clarence
7. Hamburg
8. Elmwood Village      


Why not throw in Fort Erie? Apparently relative proximity is all that counts where it comes to places to live in a city.


Buffalo should have annexed much of what now exists as suburbs years ago. Like Toronto—which currently stands at 243 square miles of consolidated municipalities—we could have amalgamized our way into a giant megalopolis, which would have included a large inland island, a sports stadium, and a major university all within its borders. But we didn’t. So, when you use the phrase “places to live in Buffalo,” I actually think about places in BUFFALO.


So, here’s my list of best places to live in Buffalo. In alphabetical order:

Albright Neighborhood
Cobblestone District
Elmwood Village
Larkin (Hydraulics) District
North Park


Readers are encouraged to suggest their own additions to the list.



Where art thou, Buffalo? Part II

Where is Upstate New York? Wrong.

Is Buffalo in Upstate New York? Wrong.


It doesn’t matter how you answer these questions, you’re wrong according to some faction with really strong feelings on the matter. Check out this Twitterbate where opposing views clash on the upstate debate.


Captain Kirk went where no man has gone before, but William Shatner (who played Kirk on Star Trek) only went to Schenectady, where he tweeted the following: “I’m in Upstate New York.” This triggered a photon Twitterstorm.


New York State gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon stepped in a steaming pile of upstate boundary controversy, when she opined in a recent interview, "I don't think the Hudson Valley is upstate. Once you get to Ithaca, by around there, you're starting to get upstate."


To a lot of people, them’s fightin’ words.  


Then there’s the folks at NYUP.com, who try to settle the dispute with a feel-good public service announcement set to stirring orchestral music; something like an Ad Council “I am an American” video, but for upstate New Yorkers.   


But finally, the debate has been settled. New York turned to the Washington Post for the definitive answer. The Post used polling data asking New York State residents where upstate begins and ends. I will paraphrase their conclusion as follows: Upstate is a state of mind.


Twenty-five percent of New Yorkers think it starts the moment you leave New York City heading north. Twenty-nine percent think you get as far as Westchester before you hit Upstate. Twenty-two percent think it begins at Poughkeepsie. And then there’s the seven percent who think Upstate is north of Poughkeepsie, but not including Buffalo! So, where are we then?



Where art thou, Buffalo? Part III

The following is a bit of actual dialogue I have inadvertently had on several occasions with students at Buffalo State College.


Student: I live in the city.

Me: So do I. I’m in the Elmwood Village; where are you?

Student: Brooklyn.


To people living in one of the five boroughs of New York, that is the only city in New York State. Everything else is Upstate.  



More fightin’ words

Food Network show creator and commentator Alton Brown prides himself on being outspoken and controversial. That’s how TV personalities who eat for their livings hold onto their jobs. You can now add Buffalo to the list of Brown’s snark-targets.


While sampling hot sauces on a recent show, the Iron Chef America host defamed the sacred cow of Western New York cuisine. “Once a region believes that it’s got a lock on something,” he proclaims with chili-induced fire-breath, “the quality almost immediately starts to go downhill.” Then he literally coughs out the words “chicken wings,” and goes on to say, “I’m sorry; if you really want great Buffalo chicken wings, you don’t go to frickin’ Buffalo.”  After which, he looks straight onto the camera and smiles.


Take a moment to compose yourself.


Now, if Brown wants to argue that “Buffalo-style” is not the best way to prepare wings, we can discuss that. But he didn’t say that. He implied that we have become complacent, and there are places outside Buffalo making our signature poultry appendage better than we do. It’s three ingredients for crying out loud. To make it “better” you would have to change something—and then it’s no longer Buffalo chicken wings. 


Having said this, not every chicken wing that’s deep-fried and slathered in butter and hot sauce within the greater Buffalo metropolitan area is equally good. So to make sure you are eating the real deal, refer to the lists that have been compiled by local experts (in the News, Buffalo Eats, and Spree, among others). And if you happen to run into Alton Brown, send him to Pizza Hut for wings. That should leave a foul taste in his mouth.



Shell shock

You never know what you might find when you clean out a closet. Buffalo Museum of Science collections manager Paige Langle recently discovered a twelve-inch-tall egg tucked away in a storage cabinet. (It was right after Easter—just sayin.’)


The huge cream-colored ova was labeled as a model egg from the extinct Elephant Bird of Madagascar. Langle thought it looked too real to be a cast model, so she packed it up and drove it to (where else?) Buffalo State College’s art conservation department, where radiology images confirmed her suspicions.


There may have been five or more species of Elephant Bird once living in Madagascar. They looked something like ostriches, but way bigger. One of them, Aepyornis, was twelve feet tall and weighed eight hundred pounds. No one is sure why they died out, but one likely explanation is that humans ate their eggs. Just one could make the equivalent of eighty (two-egg) omelets. And the shells made nice bowls.


There are less than forty of these things in public institutions today, leading Langle to describe ours as “priceless.” That’s not exactly true. In 2013, one sold at Christie's in London for £66,675 ($92,750). So, let’s just call it very expensive.


The egg is scheduled to make its public debut starting tomorrow.



Thou art #1, Buffalo

Most Buffalonians hate being known nationally for snow. Most years the winters here are not even the worst in the state, much less the nation.


Yeah, we hate that reputation, but don’t let anyone try to take away our record for the most snowfall in a winter! That was set in 1976 - 77, which included the infamous Blizzard of 77. That year we topped out at 199.4 inches of the white stuff. And dammit, that record is a source of civic pride. We don’t come in at number one in sports, but we nailed this.


For a while, it looked like our record was going to fall to our neighbors to the south, Erie Pennsylvania. And the citizens of Erie wanted it. Oh, they wanted it bad. The excitement built over the course of one heck of a miserable winter, until they were within an inch of taking the record. Everyone was talking about how they were going to beat Buffalo. And it was a real nail-biter, with snow in the Erie forecast as late as April 20. Weather pundits were predicting a Buffalo upset. Erie could almost taste victory (literally, by sticking their tongues out as it snowed). But they choked. The weather forecast went wide right. No goal.


We are the champions.


One caveat: it ain’t over ‘till it’s over. The national Weather Service doesn’t blow the winter-ending whistle until June 30, so there’s still a chance for some crazy last-minute freak snowfall. Which would be just our luck.



Artist and educator Bruce Adams is a longtime contributor to Buffalo Spree.



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