Dying Cities and Tacos

14 Aug

There are a lot of blog posts and happytweets about a Buffalo-born chef saying he really likes Ted’s and Might Taco in a national magazine. Renaissance!

A few months ago, Forbes Magazine added Buffalo to a list of the 10 Fastest-Dying American Cities.

Lost amidst the back-patting about our local hot doggeries and taquerias, is the news of a summit held in Dayton, OH yesterday where representatives from the governments of 9 out of 10 of those dying cities attended to discuss strategies to make them less dying-ish.

Take a wild guess which city’s government sent no one from a governmental position.

Buffalo sent non-profit wunderkind from Buffalo ReUse, Michael Gainer.  No one from city government or county government appeared.  Kudos to Michael, but Buffalo’s roster should have been longer.

I don’t care that it’s an election year, that is utterly and fundamentally disgraceful.

After hearing him speak about the Pittsburgh area’s recent successes, I think it would be far more valuable to invite this gentleman to come and speak to business and political leaders in Erie County than, for instance, former mayors who come to advocate for the removal of highways and whatnot.  Pittsburgh will be hosting the G-20.  Buffalo touts tacos and events featuring deep-fried items.

17 Responses to “Dying Cities and Tacos”

  1. Jon Splett August 14, 2009 at 4:47 pm #

    Hey now, don’t steal Mighty’s moment in the sun just because Buffalo is full of fail.

    Once you live in a city where the only thing open after midnight is Taco Bell, you learn to appreciate just how amazing a Super Mighty Pack really is.

  2. STEEL August 14, 2009 at 5:33 pm #

    First Mighty Taco is inedible compared to Elmwood Taco

    Second “In the past decade, Erie County has undergone a dramatic renaissance. Today, our County boasts burgeoning technology and medical industries, a premier airport, a world-renowned cultural district and a renewed commitment to the environment, including reclaiming and redeveloping former industrial sites to return them to active economic and recreational uses.”
    See how I just dropped in Erie County in that statement from Alegehney Co? I have heard it all. Go down to Cleveland to hear the same thing. Pitt is a great city but it still has major major problems.

    Third – As for the G8 – To be fair the Pit metro is more than 2 times the size of Buffalo and has many more F500 companies

    Fith – Saddly Buffalo and WNY leadership is missing from almost all of these urban and environmental think tank organizations. Perhaps that is because the area has no leadership.

  3. Brian Castner August 14, 2009 at 6:30 pm #

    STEEL is right – Buffalo has the most maddening mix of cultures. On one hand, the grass is greener everywhere else. But on the other hand, Buffalo’s idea of incorporating ideas from the outside the region is to ask what Batavia is doing. The insulation is sufficating. All of Buffalo’s leadership has either moved away, or isn’t in politics.

  4. Starbuck August 14, 2009 at 6:56 pm #

    Outside ideas can be good but I’m skeptical about having leaders of the 10 most troubled of anything meet up and exchange ideas.

    It sounds too much like having managers from the 10 filthiest hospitals meet to share cleaning strategies, or the 10 worst-reviewed restaurants meet to trade recipes. The shared bad ideas could make all 10 even worse and how would anyone know?

    What would sound more likely to be useful is if each of these 10 cities would have a much more economically successful city start mentoring it – similar to the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Forbes could pair them up using one of their more positive lists about cities.

  5. Chris Smith August 14, 2009 at 7:22 pm #

    Steel, yes you dropped Erie County into that, but only 50% of it is even partially true. I think you need to visit Pittsburgh to see what’s happening here. As someone who was last in Pittsburgh 10 years ago, I am shocked by the complete 180 on urban planning, design, development, environmental improvements, and economic growth. Cleveland is hardly a model and anyone advocating for Buffalo to copy their plans is a bit misguided.

  6. Eisenbart August 14, 2009 at 11:03 pm #

    I never really considered Mighty Taco and Teds to be Buffalo inclusive. In Fact I always thought of them as a WNY thing. Does Teds even have a location in city limits any longer?

    I think a lot of it has to do with perception. When I was last in Pittsburgh I was staying with a friend and people were shot down the street in a McDonalds parking lot. He said me “Well since you live in Buffalo you are probably used to this.” I told him that yes it happens but usually not so close. Other than that it had it’s good parts and bad parts like any other city. Like Steele said it is very very similar to Buffalo in a lot of ways. Pittsburghs economy seemed a lot better than Buffalos but in Buffalos defense Pittsburgh is in PA and Buffalo is in NY and there is nothing we can do about that. While I’m sure Philadelphia has more clout than Pittsburgh I’m sure they aren’t strangulated in their state like Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse is.

    1950: 676, 806
    2000: 334,563
    EST 2006: 312,819

    1950: 580,132
    2000: 292;648
    EST 2008: 276,059

    I am cheering for Pittsburgh and hopes it can stand up against the media downer and labeling of a tired rust belt city. Chris maybe you can do a post about what Pittsburgh is doing right and how it can be good to follow by example in Buffalo. I would read it. =]

    • Alan Bedenko August 14, 2009 at 11:08 pm #

      I think generally Pittsburgh is at least talking about the right things and trying to come up with a strategic way to rise up.

  7. STEEL August 14, 2009 at 11:19 pm #

    I am with you on Pittsburgh but I take the “we are coming back talk” by poiticos with a grain of salt. The stats on Pittsburgh are pretty much on par with Buffalo as far as urban disfunction goes. I hear the same negative chatter and complaints about suffocating blue collar culture from Pittsburgh as I hear from Buffalo. Pittsburgh has a leg up in corporate clout, not being in the same state with NYC, and in population. 2 Mill metro pop gives a certain critical mass that makes some things possible in Pit that Buffalo will not be able to do.

  8. Silence Dogood August 15, 2009 at 11:23 am #

    Buffalo is TALKIN’ PROUD and TALKIN’ FAT!

    I smell a press conference or ribbon cutting coming soon ! Mighty Taco and Ted’s are good comfort food but is it a reason to beat your chest? Save the chest pounding for the day Byron Brown is gone.

  9. buffaloshark August 16, 2009 at 4:04 pm #

    I still say Johnny’s Lunch in Lakewood is superior to Ted’s

  10. wnywatercooler August 16, 2009 at 11:34 pm #

    shocking, something “positive” and we piss on it and are negative. hooray!

    • Alan Bedenko August 17, 2009 at 6:17 am #

      If our culinary legacy is the shittiest tacos in the world and char-grilled hot dogs, then we have no culinary legacy. If shit tacos and char-grilled hot dogs is what Buffalo needs to be oh-so proud of, then we have to find some new things about which to be proud.

  11. Christopher Smith August 17, 2009 at 12:12 am #

    @wnywatercooler Oh, for fucks sake. Yeah, this is a big fucking deal. A chef makes a throwaway statement in a magazine and the morons of this town get a fucking Buffito hard-on. The point, my dear optimist, is that we need to stop acting like the fat girl in the corner waiting for someone to ask us to dance. When we overreact to minuscule bullshit like this, it makes us look small, parochial backwoods hicks happy to have a scrap of attention thrown our way. We humiliate ourselves with this overreaction and for what? Because some guy who doesn’t live here anymore likes our hot dogs and mediocre tacos? As Chad Johnson likes to say…”Child, please”

  12. eliz. August 17, 2009 at 3:57 pm #

    Well, Michael is smarter than any of those guys anyway and he does actually get things done. I’d rather have Michael alone than someone from City Hall alone, though the ideal would be to have both.
    There is nothing wrong with being known for having good local chains, like MT, Ted’s, and Anderson’s.

    • Alan Bedenko August 17, 2009 at 4:05 pm #

      There is nothing wrong with being known for good chains. But whenever they get mentioned, however obscurely, it’d be swell if we didn’t turn that into news stories. It’s desperate and pitiful.

  13. eliz. August 17, 2009 at 5:04 pm #

    Well, not to be picky, but it is news. It is not big news, but it qualifies as something to be at least noted in press. I’d think maybe in the food section would be the appropriate place. The pendulum may swing too far in the enthusiastic direction in some of our online outlets, but that does not mean things shouldn’t be reported at all. It is a credible item for the lifestyle section.

  14. Hank August 18, 2009 at 11:57 am #

    When I flew to PHX to drive to Flagstaff—on the way out of the Airport and the way back in, I stopped at Ted’s in Tempe, AZ to eat. When I got back to NC, I sent the store a St. Joe’s Pennant at their request–to put up with the other Buffalo school pennants they have on the walls. On every trip to buffalo I get a dozen Bean and Cheese Mighty Taco Burritos and freeze them to bring back with me. When I start missing home I nuke one up and have a diet loganberry with it. Taco bell is garbage, so Splett and I just might have something in common after all. I’ve been around the world twice, and been on every continent except Antarctica. I always delve into local cuisine/beer wherever I was sent. But none of it comes up to home in my eyes. Definitely agree that Buffalo needs to look at SUCCESSFUL areas and see what they’re doing right and compare/contrast to what Buffalo does wrong. Alan and I agree that Public sector Unions are holding back progress—Lots of prosperous areas in the south that have no idea what a Public Sector Union is—-Not a bad place to start.

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