Nooks and Crannies

I’m not talking about muffins in this case, gentle reader. This is an ode to our humble market place of Buffalo.

I went to a talk inappropriately labeled “Journalism on the Brink” last week at the Burchfield Penny. It got me thinking about advertising (which I buy for my employer) in this area and in these mediums as we as a people are kind of provincial. The Buffalo area is very unique in that everything is 20 mins or so away. There are a few exceptions to that, of course. But tell a Los Angeles native how long it takes you to get to work and I guarantee that since you won’t use the word “hours” they will be snow white with envy.

I grew up in Clarence and my folks still reside there. I moved into the city in 1988 and no more than a few month go by ever since that I hear somebody say the phrase “All the way from the City” or some variation on that theme, like you have to stop off in Cheektowaga to load up on provisions to complete your journey.

I want to advocate a little localized wanderlust. C’mon into the big city for something other than the Allentown Art Festival.

Santisero’s on Niagara Street has spaghetti parm that is just as good as Chef’s without the hype, the wait or the care that there is something at the Arena that night.

Did you know the marina has a beach? It’s probably covered up now, but you can get some actual sand in your shoes at the Erie Basin Marina. With a little more grooming, it could be something. When the tide is right, Woodlawn has great little pile of sand to play in as well.

The small boat harbor actually has a beach nearby it, where you can fall in the water appropriately. LaSalle Park is a pretty nice park and its abandoned boat launch is sitting in the shadows of the lakefront condos, crying out as a place for you to launch your kayak from. Imagine, take it off your car, walk a 100 feet and you are in the water. I’ve often maintained that the things are succeeding are doing so inspite of city hall instead of because of it. That might be overly cynical, which would not be an inaccurate assessment. The trick lies in convincing a soul who doesn’t live on Broadway that you can go to Parisonns (I know I didn’t spell that right) and snag a polish platter for lunch and all is right with your world, even when it isn’t easter.

The aforementioned LaSalle Park hosted a concert series a bunch of years ago that brought Tito Puente (how cool was that), America, Dixie Chicks, Natalie Cole, and Ramsay Lewis in one summer. How insanely cool is that? If you took a poll on those nights, I’d wager that all of my fellow attendees were all within the city limits.

Discovery is a joyful thing, even on a primal level. Ted’s makes a pretty good burger, but holy crap, the Sterling Place fed my soul with theirs a few weeks ago, and they will again. Sure, it is easy to snicker at the 15 year old Artvoice banner on the AM&A’s building or wonder if the Main Place Mall ever gets a customer, but there is some stuff down here if you are willing to look. I got a glaring reminder about Cazenovia Park over Halloween. Hadn’t been in ages, but never have you. Have you?

I used to work at Main and Tupper in the evenings and around 10 pm, you could look and see the Studio Arena crowds breaking up and folks would be walking to their cars. Inevitably, some looking over their shoulders at some unseen entity. Never thought about it beyond that, talking the walk to Ulrichs for potato pancakes. Every once in awhile, that is still a stroll worth taking.

Slowly but surely, tides are turning. Guercios and Frontier have company on Grant Street. Guercios, by the way, could kick the butt out of all the produce sections every grocery store, but stay out on Maple Rd where it’s “safe.” I’ll think about you while I’m partaking of a jaunt out the pier at the foot of Ferry.

There are good things everywhere, sometimes you just have to want to look.

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