Why Buffalo Is Cooler Than NYC And My Town, Too


I don’t need to live in New York City and put up with a bathroom with no windows and people who yell at me on the streets and the stench of a subway station in summer and a million other insults just to feel that I am someone. I’ve never been insecure about places. I don’t need to be where the action is. I always feel that wherever I am, there is plenty of action by definition.

Other people feel differently about their relationship with locales. I had a boss for years who grew up in Utica, NY. Utica is not a beautiful city like Buffalo. This is a city that’s been hollowed out by urban renewal and the retreat of industry, into nothing much besides a bunch of parking lots. I suspect that this boss has given a lot of money to various good causes in Utica. But live there? Never again. And when I bought my house in Saratoga Springs after years of dithering about where we should live, he shook his head, gently censorious and said, “Well, you’re a real upstater now, Michele.”

Damned straight.

But I live in Saratoga Springs, which is only (ONLY) three and a half hours from both New York and Boston. Not so far out of New York that my husband can’t have a career there and fell connected to it. We’ve been married a long time, and he knows very well when I’m in throes of some illicit passion. Ever since I returned from my first trip to Buffalo four years ago on fire about the city, he never sends me back there without a slight look of horror. “You’re not going to try to make me move to Buffalo,” he says.

I’m not. But if he ever visited, he’d love it, I know.

Buffalonians are the Italians of the Northeast: The art is the life.