Juxtaposition (UPDATED)

31 Jul

The newest issue of the Buffalo Beast is on the rack, and there are two articles that you ought to check out.

UPDATE: Evil Ed posted the links to the two articles via comments, so the whole post is being moved up.


In the first story, it seems the Beast has been banned from WHLD because of a stunt they pulled during the “Peace without Borders” event a couple of months ago. Some Beast staffers got a hold of Channel 2 guy Ron Plants and asked him some goofy questions. Pretty harmless, very funny, but I guess Plants wasn’t at all amused.

According to Uthman, the Beast’s pranksters told Plants they were from WHLD, and this pissed the station off something fierce.

One recent week, Uthman was set to be a guest on a WHLD community access show, but before his appearance he received an email from its producer informing him that the Beast was banned from WHLD. Uthman makes the point that WHLD overreacted to a joke that wasn’t even at its own expense, and that part of the reason lefties don’t make electoral headway nowadays is that they can’t take a joke.

There’s a dangerous tendency for politically committed people to lose their sense of humor. This is a crappy way to live your life, but taking yourself too seriously has negative political repercussions as well. Nobody likes a killjoy, and people are likely to associate whatever ideology you’re pimping with your own pomposity. In fact, this largely explains the left wing’s current image problem. Bragging about how little gas your car burns or how infrequently you watch television does not endear you to anyone. Instead of focusing on the big picture, lefties are constantly engaged in a game of self-righteous backbiting, always castigating those one perceived moral increment behind them.

But if liberal politics are ever going to gain the upper hand anywhere, they have to work for the majority of people, who rarely read anything longer than a record review in People magazine and are never going to stop laughing at gay jokes, no matter how sternly you stare at them. If all those people hear from liberals is humorless scoldings, they’re not likely to join the gang, let alone be entertained.

Compare WHLD’s fit with the Beast’s behind-the-scenes look at its super-squirting and banana-hucking at the BANANA rally a couple of weeks ago. I guess Fallon didn’t like our idea, and cajoled Uthman into participating into the guerrilla/banana drive-by.

My account gets a mention:

At one point, a black van drove by honking like crazy, which got us all pretty psyched. The sliding side doors suddenly opened up revealing a “Buffalo Beast” banner, which was then lifted by two guys in full Sandinista gear shooting our crowd with super-squirters, and hucking bananas at the crowd. Good God, that was funny.

Uthman goes on to give us kudos for taking ourselves not at all seriously and our ability to laugh even when we’re the butt of the joke:

In addition to Buffalopundit, The amusingly named “Brisket for Chucklehead” said that “Everybody agreed that that was pretty goddamned funny.” Other bloggers echoed the assessment. Not a single poor sport among them.

It probably helped that July 17th was a classic hot, humid Buffalo summer day, and being blasted with cool water was undoubtedly a pleasant sensation for the sweltering carpal tunnel syndrome candidates. But it was more than that. Unlike the orthodox lefties at WHLD, these mushy middlers had a sense of humor. They weren’t afraid to laugh, even when the joke was on them. I may not agree with them about everything, but I’d surely rather have a beer with them than the soreheads at WHLD.

My favorite comment came from Newell Nussbaumer at Buffalo Rising Online: “Someone next to me asked if they were for the hotel or against it and someone else answered, ‘I think they just like throwing things.’” Well, yes we do. But there was a message behind the madness.

A sense of humor is a terrible thing to waste.

Uthman’s piece goes on to explain the “message behind the madness”, but I think the Beast missed part of our rally’s point. It wasn’t primarily to blast the hotel protesters; instead, the reason why we yupsters chose this particular corner and that particular project is that the developer hadn’t just come in with a monster plan and imposed it on anyone. Savarino had taken public comment and criticism and actually amended its plans to allay those concerns.

We were rewarding, supporting, and promoting good civic behavior.

There’s much hand-wringing going on in some corners about the whole “New Buffalo” thing. In a nutshell, I think it has to do with merit versus machine. In other words, we value hard work, experience, and ideas; we do not value patronage, knee-jerk reaction, and doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result.

When courts have to adjudicate issues on a case-by-case basis, they usually set up a test or set of criteria into which they’ll plug the facts of each particular case. A three or four-prong set of questions usually does the trick. For instance, for a building development:

1. Is the proposal going to enhance the neighborhood?
2. Is the proposal’s design in keeping with the architecture in the area, and done in an urbanist, pedestrian-friendly manner?
3. Have traffic, noise, and parking issues been properly addressed?
4. Has the proposal been vetted by the neighborhood, and the design been adjusted to allay any material concerns?

That’s quick and dirty, but it’s an example. Feel free to amend it. Looking at what I just wrote from a legal standpoint, I already want a definition of “enhance the neighborhood”. Whoo, boy there’d be hella litigation over that. Perhaps the first question could instead be, “does the project do material harm to the neighborhood”.

Those of us who demonstrated in front of the hotel aren’t going to just willy-nilly demo in support of any development. We’ll look at projects on a case-by-case basis, and support those that deserve it and oppose those that don’t. There’s no hard and fast rule.

Had the Beast guys come by Mister Goodbar’s afterwards, we would have bought them a pint. Each.

Although Uthman misunderstood part of the rationale for the BANANA demo, I’m proud to be part of the BANANA article, and not in the Plants one.

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