Saturday, August 28, 2004

The Blood Feud Between Rochester and Buffalo

I read an article that really bugged me. The columnist, Mary Kunz, wrote what was supposed to be a cutesy little article which said, in essence, "Hey, you think it's bad living in Buffalo? Try living in that cesspool Rochester." If you don't know or live outside of New York State, the entire upstate New York region has been losing jobs left and right over the last 20 years or so. Industries have left and the economy is really suffering. Most of this has to do with the tax laws that drive companies straight out of town and either down south, or worse, out of the country. I was born in Rochester and despite its shortcomings, I love the city itself. Maybe it's nostalgia, since I haven't really lived there in about a decade, but I have great memories of the place. And whenever I go home to visit my family, I always feel like I'm going home for a little while.

Anyway, if you want to read the article, here it is:
Big up to my boy Javen Bohall for hooking me up with the link. He's from Randolph (Jamestown NY area, south of Buffalo I think, home of the Cardinals) and I think he knew it would piss me off.

And here was my response to the writer (and maybe I'm taking the whole thing way too seriously, but it just rubbed me the wrong way):

"I'm glad that you take such delight in what you perceive as Buffalo's superiority to Rochester. Yes, Rochester -- like most cities in New York State -- has been falling on hard economic times. Yes, Rochester is the smaller, minor league brother to Buffalo. But to imply that a reader in Buffalo should somehow feel better about Rochester's supposed dearth of economic and culinary advantages is to take pettiness and schadenfreude to a very unnecessary degree.

Because New York City is sucking all the money out of Upstate, and because we have the most inept state government in the union, all of us -- Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, Albany -- are in the same boat. Jobs and people are leaving. Friends are going to Virginia and North Carolina and Georgia, and not because of the weather. I've lived upstate all my life, and it's already hard to stomach people from "the City" coming upstate with an air of superiority, saying the rest of the state is small-time, or that we have nothing to offer. Now, we're backbiting each other? I don't see what it proves.

I'm sorry you have had bad experiences in Rochester, but you don't live there. It is not a cesspool of depression and homelessness. I'm there at least every couple of months, and while the city might not be Boston or Dallas or even Minneapolis, it's a fine place to be.

We're all going through hard times. Rochester (or any other upstate city for that matter) does not celebrate the demise of the Buffalo area, and one certainly would not expect a friend to the west to do it either. All it does it perpetuate the myth that we all live in an inferior area with no culture, bad weather and a lack of intelligence. That we are all a simple, blue-collar people who decide to stick it out in this region in spite of our best interests.

We are a region, not just a collection of cities, so maybe we should curtail the cute commentaries and start attempting to find out how we can best improve the entire state west of Long Island instead of engaging in futile acts of self-aggrandizement at the expense of people in the same difficult situation, just in a different zip code."

Yeah, I should probably lighten up, I guess. Ah well...


d. dunford said...
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Bill said...
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Bill said...

Incidentally, the writer of this original article wrote a follow-up column on Sept 9 saying basically, "Hey, I was just joking!" While I have no doubt that this article was meant to be lighthearted and that the writer meant well, I still think she's attacking the wrong targets. What fun is it to make fun of Rochester? It's the ripest target there is.

In the follow up article, they talk about going after Syracuse, which is where I live. Well you can go ahead and do that and I won't say a word. I like it here and it's where my entire life is, more or less, but we could use a swift kick in the ass once in a while.