The Long Way Home


I <3 Buffalo
November 8, 2012, 8:16 PM
Filed under: New York | Tags: , , , , ,

cold, windy sunday

Curious about our northern sister-city, we drove to Buffalo: sprawling, flat land running east-west like a city should (unlike Pittsburgh, land of winding hills and one-way mazes – I still love you). We stayed at the Lord Amherst Motor Hotel in a tiny room that smelled like smoke and Charlie perfume, and Jeff and I got into a little tiff because I forgot the toothpaste and deodorant. What happens when you haphazardly throw the first things you see into a suitcase and bolt out the door after a long work week? Inevitably you forget things and end up at a local Wal-Mart around 1 A.M. in unfamiliar territory, getting a taste of local culture while shopping for Crest. We never got to eat ‘real’ Buffalo-wings, but we did eat sponge candy which Buffalonians claim as theirs: a chocolate confection with an airy middle like Cadbury Crunchies, but fancier and beef on weck: salty roll flecked with caraway seeds, stuffed with tender, rare roast beef and horseradish. I still dream about that sandwich. Like most rust belt towns, it felt like time stopped in the 70s; it rained most of the weekend, the sky so intensely overcast it turned the world around us blue.

prudential guaranty building, 1894

central terminal

church and pearl streets

allentown neighborhood

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12 Comments so far
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Love “smelled like smoke and Charlie perfume.” I just watched Vincent Gallo’s Buffalo ’66 yesterday and was thinking about how similar Buffalo must be to PGH. Really nice read.

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Comment by motherallie

Thank you for the nice comments :).
I thought a lot about the Gallo movie when we were there – the one scene where he goes to visit his parents looks a lot like Polonia – a working-class historically-Polish neighborhood. The symmetrical houses really stayed with me and I tried to look for them when we were there.

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Comment by Lisa

Photos are great, capturing Buffalo nicely. Its a curious place left behind since the 70s but trying to reinvent itself as an architectural haven and artistic hotspot. You show how much of a challenge this will be. And always nice to see you with your umbrella!

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Comment by Michael Williamson

thanks, michael! i think that’s what draws me to these towns – they remind me a lot of pittsburgh when i was a kid. i’m always curious too how rust belt towns have survived/evolved since our last recession. i try to be careful and not romanticize them, but living in one most of my life keeps my perspective in check.

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Comment by Lisa

I do love those rust-belt William Kennedy cities. “But after awhile you stand up, wipe the frost out of your ear, go someplace to get warm, bum a nickel for coffee, and then start walkin’ toward somewheres else that ain’t near no bridge.”

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Comment by greg

Buffalo definitely has that “Ironweed” feel to it as you go through each neighborhood – and the added bonus of having a buffalo as a city mascot, which is pretty f*cking cool.

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Comment by Lisa

OOoh Charlie. That takes me back. I love your whole rainy day ensemble as well.

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Comment by motherblue212

thanks, kimmy – poor charlie has something of a bad rep with its cloying licoricey (sp?) smell. i think they even still make it – check your nearest big lots!

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Comment by Lisa

Gotta go back for thrifting and Charlie the Butcher!

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Comment by Jeff

we’ll be back in the spring!

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Comment by Lisa

Adore “Cold, windy Sunday” pic. It has a lovely resonance of nostalgia for me.

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Comment by Photobooth Journal

thanks, katherine! i’m glad that the nostalgic feel is coming through in the photo. buffalo has that kind of feel to it for sure.

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Comment by Lisa




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