What we talk about when we talk about immigrants

Girls with Bubbles
One of these girls may create the next Google or Yahoo! But in the summertime, they’re just going to be children and play with bubbles in Buffalo, NY.

Migrant to some Americans conjures up a mental image of Jacob Riis’ How The Other Half Lives and that 10th grade English teacher who was passionate about Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men to a mental soundtrack of Woody Guthrie songs and a dry mouth in sympathy for the Dust Bowl. In the 1930s, economic and environmental conditions drove many farmers, tenant and independent, from the plains states to California in hopes that the arable land and mild climate there would provide work. Across the country at that time, unemployment hovered at 30 percent. Continue reading “What we talk about when we talk about immigrants”

If There Is a Snow Storm in Buffalo . . .

a “local area” politician is saying something not very erudite to the press. (Local area, yep – this is the place where a shopping center is referred to as the Galleria Mall. Redundancy abounds in the vernacular.)

Lake Effect Snow, courtesy of Imgur (http://imgur.com/a/VDmZx#hOjH1yU)
Lake Effect Snow, courtesy of Imgur (http://imgur.com/a/VDmZx#hOjH1yU)

Previously, the record was held by the Honorable Jimmy Griffin, famous for two gaffs.  Interviewed during a snow storm while in Buffalo, Griffin went on tv to tell people to wait it out in style.  His advice: “Wait it out with a six-pack of beer and a football game.”  ‘Cause all good storms come to an end.

A separate storm had him on NPR, from Florida, talking about how Buffalonians are prepared for snowstorms and ready to wait it out.  This time, his suggestion was that the good people of Buffalo would be fine, since they could stay inside and “drink a bottle of chabliss.”  Yes, two syllables, chab and bliss. Continue reading “If There Is a Snow Storm in Buffalo . . .”

A new twist on locative gastronomy

fieldtripFor the last year, I’ve been working with the International Institute of Buffalo,whose mission is twofold: to provide critical services to refugees and immigrants and promote global understanding and connections in Western New York, on creating a map of restaurants in the city.  At first, we were creating a map of restaurants started by those emigres/immigrants with connections to The Institute.   But then, the list of international food providers and restaurants serving foods from many different cultures grew to be even more inclusive.  Continue reading “A new twist on locative gastronomy”

10,000 Sonic Tragically Barenaked Dolls vs One Spice Queen Madness

The first of a two part series examining the concept of a bi-national Olympic bid between the Western New York region and Southeast Ontario was recently published by Saving Cities. This first segment looks at the attractiveness of the region as hosts for the Summer Olympics, as well as the affordances a bid could offer the region.  The second part looks at why this bi-national bid may not work out.  As one security expert phrased it – “it’s an effing logistical nightmare.”  Another expert estimates that there are no less than 7 agencies on each side working on security and border regulation, let alone the other logistics to be worked out.  (Spoiler, it would still be a huge economic boost for the area to at least put the bid in.) Continue reading “10,000 Sonic Tragically Barenaked Dolls vs One Spice Queen Madness”

The Drink Needs a New Name

On St Patrick’s Day, a group of friends and I were listening to the most insipid set I’d ever heard, at a bar in Allentown, Buffalo- no toes were tapping, and even the rowdiest Poques song was done in a mournful, off-key wail –  when suddenly, a group of five people walked in, setting everyone else on alert.  It wasn’t just the two incredibly drunk men wearing red t-shirts bearing the Polish Orzeł Biały – the white eagle on the crest of Poland – or the two women wearing green t-shirts that asked they be kissed because they weren’t Irish; mostly it was the fifth person.  This guy wore a green shirt with a simple math equation done in symbols and the words “craic agus ceol” (translated from the Irish – craic and music, which essentially means a good time) on it.

The composition of the equation was: an outline of a stout glass with a shamrock in it + an outline of a jigger with, yep, a shamrock in it = an exploding car, with craic agus ceol immediately below it.   At least the designer put only three leafs on each clover. Continue reading “The Drink Needs a New Name”