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Long Story Short: When life gives you lemons, eat doughnuts


illustration by JP Thimot


Doughnut discovery

I just discovered a new variety of doughnut. Well, discovered might be too strong a word; I came across it in a mixed dozen box of Paula’s Donuts that our friends brought with them when they came to visit. They always do that. There are four of us, including my wife, and they bring a dozen doughnuts. Like any of us needs to be eating doughnuts, much less three each. And frankly, not everyone keeps up their end of the implied bargain. They’ll eat one, maybe two, leaving me to pick up the slack. The things I do for friends.


I never buy the things myself. And by never, I mean regularly, whenever I drive by one of Paula’s three locations. Fortunately for my arteries, that doesn’t happen often. If a Paula’s branch ever opens within three miles of my home, my life expectancy will drop by five years.


For the uninformed—if there are any left in the region—Paula’s Donuts are the best you will find anywhere on earth. They are deep-fried heaven. Sex for the taste buds. When the Weightwatchers point system assigns a nine to doughnuts, Paula’s is not what they have in mind. Those would come in at closer to twenty-seven points each, and I’m not even talking about the apple fritters, which you need a forklift to haul up to your mouth.



You may have noticed that I am switching between the more conventional spelling of doughnut, and the brand name, Paula’s Donut, which uses an upper-case shortened variation. The last time I wrote “donut” when referring to the generic ring-shaped cake made of dough fried in fat, my editor changed it to doughnut. So, I’m saving her some work by using the dictionary-approved spelling, except when referring to the specific brand. But for the record, the shortened “donut” has been around since the nineteenth century, gaining popularity in the mid-twentieth century when Dunkin’ Donuts came along. (As it turns out, Dunkin’ just announced that it’s dropping Donut from its name altogether.) 


In the early 1800s, the accepted spelling was dough-nut, with a hyphen to separate the two parts of the word. I suppose when writers first started dropping the hyphen, editors of the day dutifully put it back in. Today, “donut” appears about one third of the time in published American writing. But on the internet, “donut” creams “doughnut” in popular usage. The word “donut” is more often searched-for online than doughnut too. So, donut has entered the lexicon, and it’s just a matter of time before writers are free to use it with impunity. 


I’ve never been partial to jelly doughnuts

I suppose strawberry or apple doughnuts have the redeeming quality of containing trace amounts of fruit somewhere down their ingredient list, which nudges them a smidge closer to health food status. But if you ask me, malic acid clashes with the essence of doughnutness, which is sugar-loaded fried carbohydrate cake, sweet and rich—not tart. When I open a box of mixed doughnuts, I study the holes to make sure I don’t accidently select jelly. Recently, I chose one that looked like a powdered cream, judging from the white emulsion oozing from its cavity. But when I took a bite, I hit jelly.


Doughnut physics

I need to digress here again for a moment. I didn’t actually take a bite in the conventional sense of the word, where you lift the donut to your mouth and chomp down. Paula’s Donuts are so large, and so loaded with filling, that eating them this way is just begging for a doughnut malfunction. Filling will burst from the bottom and land in your hand or blow out the opposite end. Either one results in imminent structural failure. That’s why I eat Paula’s Donuts with a knife and fork, something that I’m sure Miss Manners would approve.


To resume, when I cut into my carefully selected doughnut, I was disheartened to see jelly, but as I began (grudgingly) to eat it, I discovered that the jelly was mixed with cream. I wondered if this was the result of some sort of freak accident. Maybe an overworked doughnut laborer had improperly cleaned the filling injector before changing flavors. Was this a Frankendonut?


If that was the case, it wasn’t bad. No, it was actually quite good.


Later I learned that this is a new variety called strawberry shortcake. The R&D department at Paula’s is always thinking up novel flavors to keep you coming back. Along with my discovery, I acquired a new truism which can be applied to many situations in life.


There’s nothing wrong with a jelly doughnut that a little white cream can’t fix.



Local Ripperologist makes good

What are the odds that one of the preeminent Jack the Ripper experts in the world would happen to live in Western New York? Better question: what are the odds that one of Scotland Yard’s key Jack the Ripper suspects would be from Western New York? Well both of these unlikely scenarios happen to be true, and local author/researcher Michael L. Hawley will speak at the Buffalo Historical Museum on Wednesday, October 17, at 6:00 PM on a treasure trove of recent discoveries about Rochester’s own Dr. Francis Tumblety.


The details:

According to the 1850 United States census, Tumblety, along with parents and ten brothers and sisters, emigrated from Ireland to Rochester, New York, a few years after his birth. By the age of seventeen he was selling books along the Erie Canal between Rochester and Buffalo. Oh, and they might have been pornographic. Trumblety went on to become a successful medical conman, and outspoken misogynist. He was also a temporary resident in a boarding house in the Whitechapel district in London during the period of the murder rampage of Jack the Ripper.


There is much more damning evidence, including 900 pages of sworn eyewitness testimony previously unknown to Scotland Yard. Hawley spells out the evidence in his latest two books, Jack the Ripper Suspect Dr. Francis Tumblety and The Ripper’s Haunts. Hawley presented his findings at the Whitechapel Murders Conference in Liverpool, England, in 2017. He’s also made numerous TV and radio appearances, including a radio interview with Judge Penny Wolfgang. Two upcoming documentaries, both scheduled to begin shooting in 2019 have requested the author’s involvement.


Ripper joke (It’s a thing)

Why did jack the Ripper like the snow in Rochester? He needed it to go slaying.


Too soon?



We’re having a heatwave

What should you do when climate change causes heatwaves, hurricanes, and massive flooding? Where will you be able to settle comfortably? Let me give you a hint: it’s inland, away from the ocean, and close to a reliable source of water that’s not affected by sea rise. Harvard University climate adaption expert, Jesse Keenan, has two best picks in the US. And you live in one.


The details:   

In an article in The Guardian, Keenan, whose focus is on the built environment, including design, engineering, financing and planning, chooses Duluth, Minnesota and—wait for it—Buffalo, as future best places to live. “Their sources of energy production are stable, they have cooler climates, and they have access to plenty of fresh water,” he says in the article. Plus, Buffalo is less vulnerable to forest fires and  has “a legacy of excess infrastructural capacity that allows them to diversify their economy in the future. Land prices are cheap and they have a relatively well-educated and skilled labor force.”


Who needs LA beaches; we’ve got excess infrastructure.


Not only that, but…

An article in the Buffalo News reports that a recent University of Michigan study finds that cleaning up the Great Lakes is paying off financially, bigtime. What’s more, Buffalo is experiencing one of the greatest economic gains among Great Lakes cities. And it’s only going to get better. The “benefits come not just from the cleanup work but on the tourism, recreation and waterfront development that follows,” says the article.


It’s all resulting from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a federal program initiated by the Bush administration and launched by Obama. For every dollar that’s spent cleaning the lakes, Buffalo experiences as $4.09 dollar economic boost.


Among the study’s revelations:

·      Buffalo has a “ten-fold increase in waterfront events just in 2016.

·      Millennials are drawn to Buffalo; for the first time in forty years the city’s younger population is rising, not falling.

·      Eighty-nine new apartments have been added on the waterfront.

·      Development, tourism, and increased land values have occurred in spots that were once depressed.

·      Things are going to get even better over the next couple decades.


The takeaway:

If you’re here, stay put. Grab some property if you can before the hordes arrive. You’re living in the new Miami.



Don’t miss PLAY/GROUND!

Buffalo has a history of super-cool art-centered happenings, including the legendary Artists and Models Affair, Peepshow, Trimania, City of Night, and many more. And now another extraordinary “immersive art experience meant to engage your senses, expand your mind, and inspire your imagination” is about to take place. And you won’t want to miss it.


What is it?

It’s called PLAY/GROUND, presented by Resource:Art in partnership with Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, and Rochester Contemporary Arts Center (RoCo). The weekend-long event takes place in the former Medina High School at 324 Catherine Street, Medina NY 14103. Every room—from the gym to the auditorium to the science lab—will be filled with site-specific installations by contemporary artists with a focus on “the experiential, immersive, and ambitious.” Twenty-nine artists and artistic collaborations from the United States and Canada, with many familiar local names, will be represented.


Tell me more!

Emily Tucker, from Resource:Art (R:A) offers these thoughts: “The title PLAY/GROUND is an homage to the former school site, as well as a suggestion of the metaphorical ground the event will cover, embracing experimentation and creative freedom. The installations range from works that depend on today’s technology, to artists embracing and reimagining things you might find in a classroom.” Just one example:  Yvette Granata’s “Hey Evie” is an immersive sound sculpture that creates a multi-layered conversation between Siri, Alexa, and a fictional being named ‘Evie.’ Evie speaks from a video monitor to a group of ‘digital performers’—Siri and Alexa speaking through multiple Amazon devices and old iPhones.


When and how much?

PLAY/GROUND takes place October 12-14. Single tickets to attend both Saturday and Sunday are available for $10 dollars, or $5 dollars for Hallwalls or RoCo members (to be purchased at the door). A portion of the proceeds from all ticket sales will benefit the Orleans Renaissance Group, Inc. You can get tickets by clicking here.


What’s the best way to experience PLAY/GROUND?

Friday evening is a special over-21 preview, which includes a ride to and from the site, plus readmission Saturday and Sunday, to experience PLAY/GROUND with the entire family. 


General admission for this event is $35 dollars. If you don’t want to drive, there are two great options: a limo ride with beer and wine ($75 dollars), and a nostalgic school bus ride ($50 dollars). Each allows you to sit back and let someone else do the driving, while you mingle with other totally cool people. Both start from Hotel Henry and include a complementary drink there. The Friday night preview will include complimentary food and a cash bar. Plus, there will be music and installations that will only be on view that evening. For the extra cost, this is the way to go. Be the first to tell less-fortunate friends: “You should have been there.” 


Long Story Short is an opinion column by artist and educator Bruce Adams, a longtime contributor to Buffalo Spree.


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