Esmonde’s Conceit Bucket

4 Aug

Donn Esmonde wrote a very nice story about how people are moving into dilapidated buildings in rough parts of the West Side and gentrifying them; they’re taking an interest in their properties, fixing them up, keeping them up, and otherwise reversing blight. This is a great thing, and there’s no need to cast aspersions against anyone, right?  No need to call anyone out, except perhaps for the formerly negligent property owners.

But Esmonde can always find a villain – he has to, because it’s easy. It’s funny because it’s usually a personal conceit, packed with poignant irony (how many typical Esmondian anti-parking screeds has he penned against the News’ fugly surface lot on Scott St.?), so he writes this:

They are not yuppies looking to gentrify. They are working-class folks eager to stabilize a multicultural neighborhood. The light of true believers is in their eyes. The energy and commitment are typical of the new-homeowner posse.

So what if they were “yuppies looking to gentrify”? People with cash who drive BMWs  installing Poggenpohl kitchens would be a bad thing in a rough, abandoned city neighborhood? If the gentrifiers were suburban folks looking to return to the city, would that be okay?

It’s like Esmonde’s writing is always just a facile bundle of conceits wrapped around a story that shouldn’t have been controversial at all.  Oh, this gentrification is okay because they’re “working-class” people.  Are they? One is a massage therapist, which is an allied health profession, and the other is a teacher, who gets great benefits and has a distinctly white-collar job. Neither of them works the third shift at Carborundum or the Tonawanda engine plant.

Did you also notice that the owners of the dilapidated homes all “fled to the suburbs”? Did he poll the neighborhood? Did he look it up at the clerk’s office? Is he sure they didn’t possibly move away from the area altogether? Or to a different part of the city? Yet another Esmonde conceit, clumsily hurled without factual basis.

I’ll tell you what – when a neighborhood is characterized as “hot” because the average home price is $80,000, then there’s still a lot of work to do.  We can start by not hurling invective at phantoms.

94 Responses to “Esmonde’s Conceit Bucket”

  1. Jeff Dolina August 4, 2011 at 8:29 am #

    Right on,don’t get me started on Rod Watson.

  2. William August 4, 2011 at 9:09 am #

    Dam hipsters.

  3. MJC August 4, 2011 at 9:23 am #

    When is this asshole taking his buyout?

  4. JSmith August 4, 2011 at 9:59 am #

    I think he is trying to make a preemptive defense against two different arguments:

    1) “All these yuppies are going to come in and gentrify the neighborhood and force all of the working-class people out of the homes that they grew up in!” This is a rare argument in Buffalo because we are so far away from it being a real issue, but I have heard it made.

    2) “Well, it’s all right for those yuppies. They are young and don’t have children to think about. It’s just a bunch of DINKs – wake me up when families start moving in.” This argument is a sort of weird anti-snob snobbiness. And the fact is that it’s not just yuppie DINKs who are moving into the West Side. I frequently hear of families moving into this area, which is something I never heard much about even just a few years ago.

    And I really don’t think I would call either teaching or massage therapy a job that is conducive to a yuppie lifestyle.

  5. kbecker August 4, 2011 at 10:45 am #

    One day someone who lives on the West Side should  make a statement regarding the state of said neighborhood.. I was born on Normal, and now live on Lafayette. (with time away in between, but have an accurate feel of the West) It’s cute the way a couple of white guys with health insurance are bickering over the coolness/affordability/gentrification of a place they only know of because Sweetness_7 became “best place to be seen meeting with a politician”.

    if they WERE yuppies, they would drive UP the current property values at an unsustainable rate for those that live there now- thereby making the teacher/massage therapist who works for themselves (insert comedian for therapist if you like) unable to purchase in the hood. 

    I’m not sure I understand what your the beef is with the article? And I don’t really understand what the 80k house price has to do with it. you can get 80k homes in ALOT of neighborhoods/suburbs around Buffalo. Considering that most homes were between 40-50k a few years ago. That seems like reasonable steady growth in the area. Not too fast, not too slow.

    It is also possible that your time in the private/suburban school district has convinced you that teaching in the city is a “white collar job” I assure you it is not. If having a knife held to your throat happens in “white collar” jobs, than maybe.

    I do believe you are a very smart man Alan, I just don’t know why this would bug you so much, its an opinion piece about an area neither that neither of you live in or seem to  have first hand experience in (I’m guessing , I could be wrong)

    In regards to the “what if they WERE yuppies” question. That answer is simple, it wouldn’t be. I still don’t walk around after dark in my neighborhood.Yuppies don’t ever show up to improve things. They get there right after we fix it up and before prices go up. Its the yuppie way. 

    for a more in depth analysis of the changing west side. i would hope pastor Drew would pipe in, as he knows and works with people in that neighborhood, and I just fix up my yard the best i can.

    • Alan Bedenko August 4, 2011 at 11:04 am #

      One day someone who lives on the West Side should make a statement regarding the state of said neighborhood.. I was born on Normal, and now live on Lafayette. (with time away in between, but have an accurate feel of the West) It’s cute the way a couple of white guys with health insurance are bickering over the coolness/affordability/gentrification of a place they only know of because Sweetness_7 became “best place to be seen meeting with a politician”.

      What the fuckedy fuck does my health insurance have to do with anything? My health insurance is a motherfucking $4,000/year high deductible plan. Yay for me! And, although I can’t believe I have to defend myself in this way, I’ve been on the west side plenty of times, and know of the hard work and challenges that go into improving a neighborhood in decline. (And I’ve been to Sweetness_7 exactly once, not that it’s relevant to anything). Apparently, you wrote that to (a) piss me off; and (b) establish your working class bona fides against my suburban yuppiness. Score two for you, then.

      if they WERE yuppies, they would drive UP the current property values at an unsustainable rate for those that live there now- thereby making the teacher/massage therapist who works for themselves (insert comedian for therapist if you like) unable to purchase in the hood.

      Esmonde’s piece claims that the market there is “hot” because the values have tripled to $80,000. That means they had been $26k-ish. What’s the threshold for a LMT’s housing affordability? Where do you get the information that the teacher works for herself?

      I’m not sure I understand what your the beef is with the article? And I don’t really understand what the 80k house price has to do with it. you can get 80k homes in ALOT of neighborhoods/suburbs around Buffalo. Considering that most homes were between 40-50k a few years ago. That seems like reasonable steady growth in the area. Not too fast, not too slow.

      Did you read what I wrote? Perhaps you should re-read it? I distinctly said that it’s a great thing that’s happening, and I take specific issue with Esmonde’s unnecessary insertion of class into the equation, and his unneeded “us vs. them” mentality.

      It is also possible that your time in the private/suburban school district has convinced you that teaching in the city is a “white collar job” I assure you it is not. If having a knife held to your throat happens in “white collar” jobs, than maybe.

      Where does it say that the woman who is a teacher teaches in the city? Or in the city school system? Unless you know these people personally, which you’re not disclosing, there is no information to reach that conclusion in Esmonde’s article. As to your deeply idiotic supposition about me and my background, go fuck yourself.

      I do believe you are a very smart man Alan, I just don’t know why this would bug you so much, its an opinion piece about an area neither that neither of you live in or seem to have first hand experience in (I’m guessing , I could be wrong)

      Like I said, I’m not criticizing the area, and I’m not criticizing either of these women, and I’m quite pleased that this is happening. Your poor reading comprehension doesn’t give you license to impute a classist or elitist motive to me. What I have done here is criticize Esmonde’s classism, because it’s completely unnecessary. Again, as to what I do and don’t have first hand experience in is something you’re admittedly ignorant about, and therefore something you shouldn’t “guess” about.

      In regards to the “what if they WERE yuppies” question. That answer is simple, it wouldn’t be. I still don’t walk around after dark in my neighborhood.Yuppies don’t ever show up to improve things. They get there right after we fix it up and before prices go up. Its the yuppie way.

      for a more in depth analysis of the changing west side. i would hope pastor Drew would pipe in, as he knows and works with people in that neighborhood, and I just fix up my yard the best i can.

      Thank you for attacking me personally for something I didn’t fucking write, based on shit you have no fucking clue about, commenting on a blog post you read with a glaring prejudice against me and completely misunderstood.

  6. Mike August 4, 2011 at 10:56 am #

    Alan…Please wipe the spittle up from your rant and calm down. Don’t mistake the messenger for the message. Just like your waterfront rants. Things are progressing on the waterfront, perhaps not as fast as wanted but surely more quickly in a year than the last 50 combined. Now on the west side any signs of improvement at all are very welcome indeed, as you pointed out before being sidetracked by your head exploding.

  7. Good Grief August 4, 2011 at 10:58 am #

    Thought your comment on the news site yesterday was juvenile and immature, trying to derail an otherwise great story because you have a stick up your ass for folks who stick their nose in major city issues and fight for what they believe in. You seem to resent anyone, other than yourself, who speaks out like this (Goldman, Esmond, Tielman, etc..), so like a lawyer, you find the one poorly worded point in the entire article and try to blow it up as best you can. Its silly.

    • Alan Bedenko August 4, 2011 at 11:05 am #

      Thought your comment on the news site yesterday was juvenile and immature, trying to derail an otherwise great story because you have a stick up your ass for folks who stick their nose in major city issues and fight for what they believe in. You seem to resent anyone, other than yourself, who speaks out like this (Goldman, Esmond, Tielman, etc..), so like a lawyer, you find the one poorly worded point in the entire article and try to blow it up as best you can. Its silly.

      How dare anyone point out when Mayor Esmonde writes what you yourself term a “poorly worded point”, but which I term a prejudice and a conceit?!

  8. kbecker August 4, 2011 at 11:15 am #

    if you teach in the city, you live in the city, yes?

  9. Good Grief August 4, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    I didn’t make any claims to whether you were right or wrong. Any change to a neighborhood’s population where values go up, is typically some degree of gentrification, and the term yuppies is loaded and subjective. Yeah, I would have said it differently.

    My point is that you’re choosing to attempt to blow it up and shift the focus of the article from something great, to a stupid point motivated by the resentful stick up your ass.

    The general theme of the article is that some pretty great things are happening on the west side. I happen to think that its absolutely true (my wife an I are living in and renovating a house off of Baynes that we bought a year ago, ourselves). But you are attempting to completely shift the focus of a nice story into a slander attempt on someone you can’t stand for reasons other than his poor choice of words in this article.

  10. kbecker August 4, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    ps. your tone makes you classist and elitist Alan, that has always been my point.  not what anyone else says .and you re affirm it by NEVER acknowledging it.

  11. Alan Bedenko August 4, 2011 at 11:20 am #

    @Good Grief: my blog post is about Esmonde. Not about denigrating what’s happening on the West Side. For fuck’s sake. 

  12. Alan Bedenko August 4, 2011 at 11:22 am #

    ps. your tone makes you classist and elitist Alan, that has always been my point.  not what anyone else says .and you re affirm it by NEVER acknowledging it.

    “always been [your] point”? Oh, ok. Thanks for that. That’s totally relevant to a media criticism piece. 

  13. Alan Bedenko August 4, 2011 at 11:24 am #

    if you teach in the city, you live in the city, yes?

    Perhaps yes. But if you live in the city, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you teach in the Buffalo Public Schools. For all I know, she teaches at Nardin. Or Ken-Ton. It’s not disclosed in Esmonde’s piece, and either way it’s not a blue-collar gig, in that it’s not an hourly manual labor job. 

  14. Good Grief August 4, 2011 at 11:25 am #

    But that is exactly what you’re doing, For Fuck’s sake. You made the same comment on the bnews site yesterday. If it was another writer you wouldn’t say a thing about it, but since you resent Esmonde’s (and other’s) insistence on sticking their nose in major issues in Buffalo (despite the fact that folks like him have made the difference in Buffalo in recent years), you choose to find any reason you can to blow him up. This was a small trivial part of the article, yet you act like he’s writing articles how yuppies and well-to-do’s are terrible people.

    • Alan Bedenko August 4, 2011 at 11:29 am #

      No, I’m not denigrating what’s happening on the West Side. I am criticizing a media commentator who has made a value judgment (pre-judgment, in this case) that one type of gentrification is good, and another is bad, and he then backs up that conclusion with carefully chosen buzzwords.

      Esmonde indicates that yuppie gentrification in a depressed area is bad. My argument is that there is no such thing as a “bad” way to improve a neighborhood. (That it is “good”, as opposed to “bad” is implied in the word “improve”.)

  15. kbecker August 4, 2011 at 11:30 am #

    I can honestly say that  THIS TIME I really wasn’t worked up or angry, just not sure of your intent. Your response was beyond fucking abusive and full of name calling. I’m slightly shocked even. I promise if I was trying to take shots at you, you would know. It’s clear your opinion is the ONLY opinion that holds validity. No one attacked you. I don’t believe there was name calling on my part, nor demands for you to go fuck yourself.

    • Alan Bedenko August 4, 2011 at 11:37 am #

      Yes, it’s perfectly reasonable to bring up my (a) health insurance, (b) residence, (c) non-existent patronizing of a trendy coffee shop; (d) where you think I went to school; (e) where I send my kids to school; (f) the living conditions that I have “first hand experience” with. Clearly, because I don’t have _your_ life experience, I am unqualified to criticize what a commentator for the Buffalo News writes, and am to be critiqued for denigrating something I did not. If you don’t think what you wrote was an attack on me, we have a deep difference of opinion.

      If you weren’t sure of my intent, you could have just asked me to clarify it. Instead, I’m happy to defend for you my entire life, since it’s all silver spoons and rose petals.

  16. Good Grief August 4, 2011 at 11:33 am #

    Orrrr, you just can’t stand Esmonde and those like him who speak out and actually make a difference.

    I’m not arguing with your points, I’m arguing with your immature motivations. Thats why you’re sensationalizing something so stupid.

  17. kbecker August 4, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    oh and i happen to live with a teacher, so  think I know SOMETHING about it,but the working for themselves part was in reference to the LMT  that would be possibly self employed. Maybe, people who are living in the neighborhood and play the “was that fireworks or gunshots?” game are allowed to pipe in on a discussion regarding their neighborhood.

    • Alan Bedenko August 4, 2011 at 11:41 am #

      Maybe, people who are living in the neighborhood and play the “was that fireworks or gunshots?” game are allowed to pipe in on a discussion regarding their neighborhood.

      That’s not what you said. Your entire comment centered around the idea that I have no right to criticize what a news columnist wrote because I don’t live in your neighborhood.

      Now that we’ve boiled down what your major issue is with me to: (a) I don’t live there so I don’t know; and (b) teaching isn’t a white-collar profession, I’ll ask this: why didn’t you just SAY THAT instead of bringing up what you perceive my life to be?

  18. kbecker August 4, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    @goodgrief. that was kind of my point, i think.

  19. kbecker August 4, 2011 at 11:44 am #

    I said you were white, and had health insurance HOW DARE I INSULT YOU LIKE THAT? oh, i believe I said Esmonde was also insured. ohhhhhhhh….man. I’m a dick.

    • Alan Bedenko August 4, 2011 at 11:55 am #

      Kristen, you’re deliberately missing my point, and accuse me of shit that’s (a) untrue; and/or (b) beside any reasonable or relevant point. Thanks for the chat.

  20. kbecker August 4, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    people write things “just to piss you off” = condescending to believe that ANYONE’S sole purpose in forming opinions has anything to do with you. 

    • Alan Bedenko August 4, 2011 at 11:55 am #

      The opinion you proffered was surrounded by ad hominem attacks against me, personally. You also seem to think I have no right to comment on anything that isn’t directly relevant to what you perceive to be my contemporary life experience.

      Sorry about that. Maybe your complaints about my arrogance and EGO are mere projection.

  21. Good Grief August 4, 2011 at 11:58 am #

    “Maybe your complaints about my arrogance and EGO are mere projection.”

    Well, frankly, their as accurate as your complaints about others.

    • Alan Bedenko August 4, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

      Well, frankly, their as accurate as your complaints about others.

      No, if I was truly arrogant, I’d point out your misuse of “their”. But I didn’t.

  22. kbecker August 4, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

    you’re the only one who thinks your  own status in this world is an insult. You should move to the west side. Clearly your upper middle class status offends you. This to me just read like a reason to be mad at esmonde, more than anything else. 

    • Alan Bedenko August 4, 2011 at 1:07 pm #

      This to me just read like a reason to be mad at esmonde, more than anything else.

      That must explain why you personalized it to me.

  23. kbecker August 4, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

    disagreeing with point=deliberately missing point?

  24. kbecker August 4, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    well this was fun. I gotta run. I have some “fucking myself” to tend to

  25. Pauldub August 4, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

    I am no fan of Uncle Donn. But this was a pretty decent piece on his part about a very positive thing. Fine. Now if Alan wants to do an anti – Donn screed, and others want to piss in his coffee about it, Then a good thing is wasted. Sometimes it seems that it isn’t a case of nothing good happening about in Buffalo, it’s more that we are too busy bitching about those responsible, or those who are talking about it.

    • Alan Bedenko August 4, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

      I don’t think a good thing is at all wasted.

      Donn Esmonde completely misses the point that Elmwood gentrification by the moneyed is precisely what fuels and enables the gentrification he likes further West. Apparently, I am not permitted to point this out because of my arrogant egotistical suburban elitism.

  26. kbecker August 4, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    I dont think your arrogance or the elitism have anything to do with your class or suburban home.
    I’m sure those are just a result of your deep rooted insecurities, which is readily displayed by your inability to take criticism, in any form.

    • Alan Bedenko August 4, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

      I take criticism every day, all the time. It is your perception that I can’t take criticism, because it’s what you’ve chosen to believe. You also clearly have a very “deep rooted” problem with me, as evidenced by the comment of yours on the Kia post that Marc or Chris deleted. I think that’s great. I think everyone should criticize me all they want.

      The problem? The problem is that when I argue back, people complain that I have an “inability to take criticism, in any form”. (If that were true, BTW, we wouldn’t have a comment section at all).

      So, in the future I’ll be sure to just say “thanks!” when you retort with something palpably inflammatory, incorrect, and packed with some sort of issues you obviously have with me. (By your own rule, you have no business criticizing suburban living, since you live on the West Side). Then, don’t forget to fall back on “I’m a comedian, don’t take me too seriously!”

      At least Good Grief just came right out and criticized my point and the way I said it before he decided to pile on with what an arrogant motherfucker I am for my “inability to take criticism”, which is blog-commenter-shorthand for “arguing with me about that point I made”.

  27. kbecker August 4, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

    the best part is, I’m a comedian, so take me seriously and get all steamed, and I just laugh and laugh. its my cross . i must bear it.

  28. Good Grief August 4, 2011 at 1:32 pm #

    I could care less if you live in clarence. I would think your an arrogant ass no matter where you lived. There are plenty of people in the city who spend just as much time bitching about those are “doing” rather than “doing” themselves. THEY’RE arrogant assholes as well.

    • Alan Bedenko August 4, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

      I could care less if you live in clarence. I would think your an arrogant ass no matter where you lived. There are plenty of people in the city who spend just as much time bitching about those are “doing” rather than “doing” themselves. THEY’RE arrogant assholes as well.

      What exactly is Donn Esmonde “doing”?

  29. Good Grief August 4, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    I never mentioned your inability to take criticism. I’m not sure where that came from. (I would probably suggest that you actually love criticism so you can use your fancy blogger quote tool that no one else has access to to piece by piece rip apart others’ points of your choosing)

    My point this entire time is regarding your motives for blasting a writer – which I’m contending really have little to do with 1 poorly written sentence in an entire article and more to do with your resent for an overarching culture of activists that are actually making a difference in the city (despite being labeled by folks such as yourself as “obstructionists”).

    To answer your question – Don Esmonde wrote a very positive article about some great things that are happening on the west side. I don’t think there is much more to read into it than that.

  30. Leo Wilson August 4, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

    You guys are a riot.

    I suspect Desmond was padding the content a bit to reach some (probably contracted) word length for the article. I don’t think I’d have allowed the phrase to register at all, had Alan not pointed it out.

    Lots of great phrases here… I’m imressed with the “was that fireworks or gunshots” game. This game drove me to move amongst the Amish, where I know that it is gunshots every time and that I have nothing to worry about. 🙂

    Great news that folks are caring for and investing in their homes and properties on the West Side. Too many excellent homes built by artisans go to seed there.

  31. Alan Bedenko August 4, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

    It’s the blockquote HTML tag. Anyone can use it. 

    Your point then, as is Becker’s, is completely wrong. My point is that Esmonde has a conceit against a certain type of gentrification; a conceit that is in my opinion ridiculous. I don’t even know if you agree or disagree, since you’ve concentrated instead on saying I’m a juvenile and arrogant ass. 

    And as I’ve now established through these comments, your opinion that I “resent…an overarching culture of activists” is an over-generalization which is, in this instance, dead wrong. 

    You should be happy. By linking to that piece and discussing it here, I have given it more attention. 

    In the future I’ll be more careful before I criticize Mr. Esmonde. Whom else shall I not criticize? 

  32. Leo Wilson August 4, 2011 at 1:52 pm #

    If only the city would do the jobs we pay them to do, too… snow plowing, street sweeping, law enforcement beyond parking tickets… who knows, the West Side might even become a pleasant place to love again.

  33. Good Grief August 4, 2011 at 1:52 pm #

    Sorry i read your question wrong, about don esmonde, you were referring to the “doing” i used previously.

    Don Esmonde often brings a public light to major issues of concern in the city. When folks such as ECHDC are ramming a poorly conceived plan down the public throat, (or the PBA, or the DOT, etc..), or misguidedly spending public dollars or carrying out a questionable RFP process, he puts the issue in the paper and tells the other side. In my opinion, he was a major player in generating public support for an “other than bass pro” option for canalside, which led to the development of a new master plan that is world’s better than what was previously proposed and (in my opinion) destined to fail. He’s not lifting a hammer, but that voice of the other side has been a tremendous amount of “doing” for this city.

  34. Alan Bedenko August 4, 2011 at 1:55 pm #

    Got it.

    So when Esmonde writes about things you agree with, he’s “doing”.  When I write in disagreement of him, I’m an “arrogant” and “juvenile” “ass”. 

  35. Tom Beecher August 4, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

    I think the point Alan was trying to make is pretty clear. 

    Had Esmonde just written about the influx of people moving into the west side, it’s a nice story. But he went farther. He wrote that if it was people from Group A buying these houses, it would be a non-story and bad for the area, but because it’s Group B, it’s a wonderful story. 

    I think that’s disingenuous. Why the need to classify the type of person moving in? That shouldn’t matter in the discussion. If people are buying homes and investing in the community, it’s good no matter what their social class might be. 

    • Alan Bedenko August 4, 2011 at 2:00 pm #

      Thanks, Tom Beecher. You read & understood what I was trying to do.

  36. Greg August 4, 2011 at 2:01 pm #

    I would probably suggest that you actually love criticism so you can use your fancy blogger quote tool that no one else has access to to piece by piece rip apart others’ points of your choosing

    Fight … fight …. FIGHT …. FIGHT!  …. FIIIIGHT!!!!

  37. Good Grief August 4, 2011 at 2:03 pm #

    Hardly. In this instance, you’re criticizing a writer because you don’t like him (for reasons that, yes, I am surmising, myself, to be true).

    What I’m referencing above with regard to canalside, is a very important role that I feel Esmonde played in changing the scope of a landmark project for the City of Buffalo. His purpose in criticizing the players in that project were to lead to a better public good. Your purpose to to rail on somebody you don’t like.

    • Alan Bedenko August 4, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

      Thank you, Good Grief for disagreeing with my conclusion and then paraphrasing it.

  38. pirate's code August 4, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    Things I’ve learned while reading this internet pillow fight:1.  Esmonde is most often a tool.  (Wait…that’s my opinion.)2.  The column in question, however, was less tool-y (tool-ish?) than normal.3.  Alan does not live on the West side.4.  That does not automatically disqualify him from having an opinion about the West side.  Or gentrification.  Or yuppies.  Or Esmonde.  Or, does it?5.  Kristen says (questions?) that Buffalo teachers live in Buffalo, and that the job may not always be shiny apples and unicorn bookbags.  No and yes, I think.6.  There were many f-bombs and references to urination and body parts.
    7.  Mr. Pundit might be a bit thin-skinned.  Or not.
    8.  We learn from a late entrant that the Amish apparently refrain from using fireworks.
    And the horn sounds to the end the period. 
    (Apologies to all involved, including more serious readers of this site, but the escalation of hostilities just seemed so…I don’t know…over the top?  Sort of funny, but over the top.)

  39. Good Grief August 4, 2011 at 2:08 pm #

    @Tom

    Honestly, this was an extremely minor point in his article. Yeah, I disagree with it, too. But Alan’s point is to blow it up and an opportunity to label Esmonde as a classist rather than respecting the spirit of the entire article (which we all agree is very good).

    • Alan Bedenko August 4, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

      So, we’re 54 comments into a discussion about what a motherfucking asshole I am, even though we agree on all the relevant points I made. (Also, I’m an asshole because I can’t “accept criticism” or “other opinions”, when I’ve done both in this very thread.)

      Wow. Unbelievable.

    • Alan Bedenko August 4, 2011 at 2:18 pm #

      Sunshine is happy.

      That Byron Brown is a great guy. He’s just getting his sea-legs as Mayor. He’s really trying!

      That Donn Esmonde piece was really great. I disagree with that one little thing he wrote about yuppies, but gosh he’s just awesome.

      Rain is great, too. It makes the flowers grow!

      Cancer makes me sad.

      I think that Chris Collins really has the poor people’s best interests at heart.

      Carl Paladino may have sent out horribly racist and sexist emails, but he’s done a lot for the city.

      You guys are right! It’s much more interesting to have no opinion!

  40. Tom Beecher August 4, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

    A minor point maybe, but still something Esmonde felt necessary to include, and still something worthy of criticism. 

    We should be happy for ANY investment in distressed areas of the city, if it’s a trust fund baby who has never worked a day in their life, or a single mother who works two jobs to take care of her kids. 

    If Esmonde didn’t think the point was that important, he wouldn’t have brought it up. 

  41. Good Grief August 4, 2011 at 2:17 pm #

    @Greg

    HA! That made me laugh out loud.

    Alright, I’m not going to bother any more with the pillow fight, so I’ll issue my closing.

    I guess I think Alan is often an arrogant jerk, though sometimes I do agree with him.

    I think Alan’s motives in blasting Esmonde have little to do with this article, but it was an opportunity to light him up generally because he doesn’t like him.

    I think its too bad, because Alan is missing the real point of the article, and is drawing attention to a stupid, yet minor, issue within it.

    And finally, apparently we all can use the backquote feature, but I’m just too stupid to figure it out. I still can’t.

  42. Good Grief August 4, 2011 at 2:21 pm #

    backquote blockquote, whats the difference…

  43. Mike August 4, 2011 at 2:21 pm #

    Hey Guys…What’s up?? Did I miss anything??

    -Donn Esmonde

  44. Leo Wilson August 4, 2011 at 2:22 pm #

    One day someone who lives on the West Side should make a statement regarding the state of said neighborhood..

    Born at MF Gates, raised on Danforth Street, moved to more peaceful neighbors but still rent a place and sleep most nights on West Delavan, and the best I can do is steal someone else’s description: “Charlie owns the night.”

  45. Drew Ludwig August 4, 2011 at 2:26 pm #

    A few thoguhts. I read Esmonde’s piece and re-posted it because I was happy the story was told. I totally missed his anti-yuppie dig, but I get Alan’s point. I think the West Side is a great place to lived and I invite all my friends, even the yuppies.

    In fact, once upon a time, ministers were still considered professionals. So if 33 is young, then maybe I am in fact one of those people Esmonde says isn’t coming. I was wearing a polo shirt yesterday. It doesn’t matter that I bought it at the New to You Shop, it still made me look like a yuppie. At least I didn’t tie a sweater around my neck. Not that it’s anyone’s buisness, but my wife and I are, for the moment DINKs, even if we did move to our street becuase it is a great place for kids.

    I second the sentiment that perhaps Esmonde was simply playing defense pre-emptively. I probably would have let it go, but I’m glad Alan didn’t–the discussion is interesting.

    My unofficial definition of ‘gentrifyer’ is “every white person that moves in after me.” In all seriousness, I don’t begrudge anybody that does exactly what I did; I moved here selfishly. some people think living near crime is stupid, I think driving everywhere, avoiding other cultures, and/or having a mortgage is stupid. To each his or her own.

    That said, we white people should be aware that our mere presence changes things in a whole host of ways. We need to remember that, look out for our neighbors and show respect.

    Finally, while I love that I was invited to comment/report on my new neighborhood, I am new. There are lots of people, even pastors, who have been at this game far longer than I have. They just don’t ( to their credit) spend as much time online.

    • Alan Bedenko August 4, 2011 at 2:28 pm #

      Thank you, Drew.

  46. King Kong August 4, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

    Good Grief and Kbecker – If I were you two, I would just quit while you are ahead, you are trying to argue with someone who is a tremendously superior writer, better researcher and I can infer from the above discussion, smarter than you. He easily defeated your original points and then both of you decided to make the conversation about what an “ass” Alan is. Alan may not always be Mr. Sunshine, but he is always honest about what his intentions are and the point he is trying to make. Like many of his adversaries, you try to make it a personal argument by trying to paint Alan as a snobbish, hyperactive, ego-maniac. He responds in-kind by totally obliterating you with his command of the written word and his, well, facts. I’ve disagreed with Alan before, but I dare not make the mistake of trying to devolve the argument to hyperbole and baseless name calling (with his fancy blockquote tool and all, which you can easily find if you search the web).

    Although, if you are indeed the masochists that you both seem to be, by all means keep going. 62 comments and going of pure hilarity and WIN.

  47. Good Grief August 4, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

    Alan Bedenko wrote:

    Thank you, Drew.

    Agreed!

  48. King Kong August 4, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    I would be considered, by demographic indicators, a ‘Yuppie’, I guess a columnist from the Buffalo News just told me that I am unwelcome to move into a formerly blighted neighborhood and help to rebuild the city by doing horrible things like buying a home or starting a business. Thanks, asshole

  49. Good Grief August 4, 2011 at 2:59 pm #

    Ha! maybe we should have a Brain-off.

  50. West Side Teacher August 4, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    Well I have nothing to say about the previous 66 comments except for -“whew, glad its over.” and I think “Good Grief,” Kristen and Alan are all probably equally talented and intelligent.
    Now, onto the article – funny enough I am a teacher, who bought a house on the West Side in ’06 (the professionals, yuppies, artists and – well – almost everyone in my life said not to).  I don’t even teach in the regular schools – I teach our city’s youth who have dropped out or been removed from public schools. . . and it just so happens this article was our current events story in class yesterday.  Maybe some insight into the children who are living in this neighborhood’s thoughts will aide in all of our opinions.  My students are mostly male, all between the ages of 17-21 and are performing math and reading at anywhere from a first grade to college level.  We read the article, explored first the words that needed clarification, then had student “retells” of the story to ensure comprehension and then we opened the floor for our “real talk,” which consists of the students being able to say whatever they want about the  

  51. Hank August 4, 2011 at 4:06 pm #

    Great jumpin’ gobs of Equine Dung!!! Haven’t see this much of a F-Fest on this blog in quite some time! Being an igorant Polack raised in NW Buffalo, but spent many an hour riding the 3 Grant ST bus through the West Side to get downtown, I feel the need to retort.

    Again, I am in ignorant Sinner who OFTEN disagrees with El Pundito, All I read from the post was there was no need to “Classify” the people who are moving into these Artisan built homes on the west side to renovate them.

    Does it REALLY MATTER what socio-economic class a person belongs to if they’re going to put their cash and sweat into reviving a home in a bad neighborhood? I sure wouldn’t think so, and that I believe is all Alan was trying to say. Many would say I’d be the FIRST to contrive some shitbag response to impune Alan’s comments due to his current socioeconomic status vis a vis his area of residence. I don’t even believe that Alan thinks Esmonde is an Asshole, though if he did, he certainly wouldn’t be alone, depending on the column your reading that day.

    I’ve been in and around houses on the west side of town that have the clapboards attached to the house with wooden pegs, not nails. Inside, many still have the gas jets for gas lighting installed. Electrical switches are not switches, but push buttons, very common in the 30’s and 40’s. When Alan goes home tonight, he really should ask his wife to look down the back of his trou and see if he’s got any ass cells left at all. Just like most of you I’ll argue with anyone about just about anything, but I think the Pundit got hosed on this one.

  52. Dan August 4, 2011 at 4:11 pm #

    THEY’RE TAKING AWAY OUR AUTHENTICITY!

  53. West Side Teacher August 4, 2011 at 4:16 pm #

    (continued) topic.  I have watched the changes occurring on the West Side step by step (I lived on the West prior to purchasing my house) but am one of those that still pricks my ears up to determine “gunshots or fireworks?” because the gunshots are still frequent.  And that is the story my students tell.  We see the facades of houses being transformed – and we see the increase in gardens, and quite honestly this is the first year children have been playing outside on the front lawns since I moved to my current location. . .but the underbelly of what is happening is still painful.  My students felt as if the article was pleasant but didn’t represent a large portion of those living on the West; they felt like the turmoil they are facing every day was completely ignored “to convince white people to move there,” and that the reality of gang violence and poverty is present enough that unless they have a ride many of them cannot walk safely though their respective neighborhoods to get to class.  

    We were able to have quite a discussion on “gentrification” and the students were very clear in that they do not feel like the whole neighborhood demographic has to change to curb the violence – but their hopelessness regarding the high levels of crack and heroin and how that can ever change was tangible.  There is a higher level of anger and fear and frustration with white people than I have seen in years (and my inner city white kids feel the same as my African American and Latino students – for the most part they have all figured out it is not about race as much as class).  So we discussed how to go about saving up for a home, how buying in our neighborhoods vs. renting could be the first step in non-gentrifying renewal.  We discussed “homesteading” and “squatting,” how to find out if the City owns a property and the success of the “Bird House” crew.  We shared stories of neighbors helping neighbors to keep each other safe and improve the neighborhood.  And we discussed how before even knowing the word “gentrification” they knew changes were coming.  In the words of one of my graduates from years ago “once everything is so bad, the only thing left to do is good.” And although visually the neighborhood is certainly improving, my current students feel like it cannot get worse. . .this all in the midst of our urban revitalization back patting. 

    JOBS JOBS JOBS – that is what was stated over and over – PLEASE HELP US FIND JOBS. By the time my students come to me they have seen enough death, incarceration, drugs, and desperation for money to last a lifetime and they are begging for a different life. . .wanting so badly to have a chance at a future but absolutely feeling alone in how to figure out a path, outside of the streets,  to get there.  They are angry.  They feel ignored unless a news truck is showing up to document yet another shooting.  They feel more abandoned than the boarded up homes.  In essence, the youth of the West Side probably have the most real and rational response to this article. . .they also have suggestions for solutions if adults would just stop being afraid of them long enough to listen.  

    • Alan Bedenko August 4, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

      @West Side Teacher: Thank you for your perspective, and for that of your students. What you are doing is laudable, and awesome. Note that existing residents, like your students, are non-existent in Esmonde’s article. In the past, he’d have highlighted precisely what you describe – the challenges of gentrifying a neighborhood versus improving it for the people who are already there. Perhaps I’ll send a link to him of your comment and ask him if he’s interested in writing about the side of this west side story that was completely ignored in his piece.

  54. kbecker August 4, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    “I think the point Alan was trying to make is pretty clear. Had Esmonde just written about the influx of people moving into the west side, it’s a nice story. But he went farther. He wrote that if it was people from Group A buying these houses, it would be a non-story and bad for the area, but because it’s Group B, it’s a wonderful story. I think that’s disingenuous. Why the need to classify the type of person moving in? That shouldn’t matter in the discussion. If people are buying homes and investing in the community, it’s good no matter what their social class might be. ‘

    and Tom made it cleat that both his and Alan’s point could be made without sounding like, well, Alan.

  55. kbecker August 4, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    go Tom!

  56. kbecker August 4, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

    and Alan, this would be much more fun for me if i actually disliked you, and I don’t. so if you need to think I do, by all means have at it. I am publicly saying I do not. i question your need to be vile when its not necessary, but i don’t dislike you. were probably pretty similar in our overall beliefs. 
    What comment did I make, the one that said “alan is a car expert too?” ( I believe that was the extent of it, no name calling)

     FUCK -learn how to take a joke

  57. King Kong August 4, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

    West Side Teacher – Your story brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing that perspective.

  58. kbecker August 4, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

    So  half the people got your point, and about half of them didn’t it would seem. But that is solely the responsibility of the reader? not the writer to be clear in his POV? of course not, instead i just have no reading comprehension skills, which I know isn’t true because ten years ago I scored a 30 in reading on my SAT (thats almost perfect) insult my math all day long, but reading? guffaw!

    • Alan Bedenko August 4, 2011 at 4:57 pm #

      The title of the post is “Esmonde’s Conceit Bucket”. The post itself is about Donn Esmonde and his conceits. I never for a moment thought my intent could be misconstrued.

      But I’m more interested right now in asking if West Side Teacher would ask her students if any of them would agree to be interviewed for a follow-up piece about the challenges of growing up on the west side, with violence and vice on the one hand, and slow gentrification taking place on the other. I’d like to give those kids an opportunity to be heard in their own words.

  59. Christopher Smith August 4, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    Well, this went well.

  60. Dan August 4, 2011 at 4:55 pm #

    On a serious note: I’ve said this before. In most of the country, gentrification takes place over years. In Buffalo and other Rust Belt cities, it takes decades. Witness Allentown, where artists and progressives starting making their home in the neighborhood in the 1960s. In Elmwood Village, there’s still a lot of rough areas and run-down student housing; it’s far from being a polished, gentrified neighborhood by Portland, Seattle or Denver standards. Allentown, Elmwood Village, Parkside and North Buffalo still have a large minority or small majority of residents that don’t fit the Stuff White People Like demographic, and plenty of old-school businesses that don’t cater to the hipster, upscale and/or urbane crowds.

    Why is the gentrification process so slow in Buffalo? Because housing is still very affordable in the region, even in the dense, compact, pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods preferred by Generations X and Y. Nobody is forced to live in Black Rock or the West Side because every other neighborhood in the region is priced beyond the affordability of the middle class. Hipsters, artists, and young professionals move to Black Rock because they want to, not because they can’t afford to live in a better neighborhood. In Buffalo, one of modest means can still afford to live in a quality urban or suburban neighborhood without breaking the bank. The forces behind gentrification om Buffalo are much different than in growing metropolitan areas, where middle-class homebuyers are forced into once-marginal areas because median home prices are extremely high. Buffalo doesn’t have a situation where the median home price is $300K, bungalows in Kenmore are selling for $500K, and Buffalo Spree isn’t publishing “Top 10 p-and-Coming Neighborhoods You Can Still Afford” articles that include Kaisertown, Lovejoy and Sloan.

    Really, I’ve experienced gentrification first-hand. I was a part of it. I lived in Northwest Denver in the late 1990s. I saw home prices on my street increase by 50% in one year. I saw Hispanic families gladly cash out, selling their tiny brick bungalows to upgrade to 2,000-plus square foot houses in Adams County. When the dot-com bubble burst, home prices continued to rise. The houses on my old block (4000 block of Quitman) that sold in the low $100K range in 1998 are now appraised in the high-$300Ks. The barber shops, thrift stores, diners, plumbers, used book stores, and dive bars that once dominated Tennyson Avenue and 32nd Street have been mostly replaced by boutiques that cater to professional women; cupcake stores, day spas, yoga studios, and foodie-oriented restaurants with prices in full integers. (See http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showthread.php?t=37931) THAT is real gentrification, and Buffalo has nothing like it.

  61. kbecker August 4, 2011 at 5:03 pm #

    oh and Chris. I actually didn’t realize until JUST now that I probably can’t question the spokesperson on the site. so, my bad on that one . CUZ I’m a team player. and Alan thinks we are on different teams.

    • Alan Bedenko August 4, 2011 at 5:23 pm #

      All done.

  62. Hank August 4, 2011 at 5:04 pm #

    Chris–watching liberals thrash each other with pillows is entertaining for everyone.

  63. kbecker August 4, 2011 at 5:05 pm #

    then good, all this arguing got somewhere. but please don’t ask West Side Teacher  to tell me to go fuck myself when she gets back from your nice little visit, k? k.

  64. West Side Teacher August 4, 2011 at 5:15 pm #

    I will talk to them about it. . .it sometimes is hard to get them to talk to others, besides the adults that are in their lives daily, because they have such a deep distrust of adults. For a few of them it could also threaten their credibility in the streets which could result in putting themselves in further danger. Usually I have a couple of students willing to show face and share opinions. . .so we will discuss it as a class and I will let them choose their representatives. . . they do want to be heard, but when no one has EVER really cared to hear their opinions they sometimes distrust those asking. Just the other day we were discussing Dr. Cornel West’s Poverty Tour and the students actually got angry. One of my students said “Don’t come up in our ‘hood asking us how hard our lives are, make a tv show about us and then disappear without helping us.” Like I said earlier – they feel like abandoned houses. I will speak to them and get back to you either through the post or a direct message!

  65. kbecker August 4, 2011 at 5:15 pm #

    “I suspect Desmond was padding the content a bit to reach some (probably contracted) word length for the article. I don’t think I’d have allowed the phrase to register at all, had Alan not pointed it out.”

    YEAH!

  66. Ethan August 4, 2011 at 5:15 pm #

    some kind of mixed metaphor about bringing–or not bringing–a knife to a stone-throwing fight inside a glass house while wearing rose-colored glasses over spilt milk seems to come to mind here, but I am not sure how to construct or apply it exactly.  I feel like I really learned a lot… about Alan’s health insurance policy.

  67. kbecker August 4, 2011 at 5:20 pm #

    Come on Ethan! 85 comments! ITS LIKE PALADINO IS HERE!

  68. Jennifer August 4, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

    West Side Teacher — would love to read your blog, if you have one.

  69. Kevin J. August 4, 2011 at 11:12 pm #

    I just don’t get the uninformed uproar or how anyone misconstrued the meaning of Alan’s post title or words, but I guess being a writer I enjoy that hoity-toity written communication thing.

    I’m a West Side home owner and first moved to the West Side (Potomac Avenue) in college more than 25 years ago; there is and will always be good and bad living here, safe and dangerous and so on. Independence Day, and the days surrounding it, bulldoze any difference between gunfire and fireworks, because there is way too much of each. I also spent much of my childhood at my grandmother Connelly’s house on Hampshire, a street I’d prefer not to spend any time on now.

    I don’t have any magic solution or grand statement to make; I’ve been a crime victim, proposed to my wife and celebrated our return-from-our-Las-Vegas-wedding party in our backyard here. I’ve honored life, death and everything in between here, and will continue to do so. And yes, I’ve been vastly overassessed here.

  70. Good Grief August 5, 2011 at 9:33 am #

    In terms of the stupid fireworks/gunshot nonsense. I live off of Baynes and have never, once, heard a gunshot. I had my car entered once a year ago (but it was because I accidentally left it unlocked – no broken windows or anything) and nothing was stolen (they even left a blank checkbook with no checks missing on the front seat!). But other than that, I have experienced ZERO crime. I’ve heard about a couple things over the years from neighbors, but never anything serious nor life threatening.

    I’m not refuting that people probably do OCCASIONALLY, VERY OCCASIONALLY, hear a gunshot, but the way its talked about is ridiculous. I heard far more gunshots growing up out in Marilla, NY from nearby hunters (who’s stray bullets are just as deadly, mind you).

  71. kbecker August 6, 2011 at 7:10 pm #

    Baynes between niagara and grant? 

  72. john q public August 7, 2011 at 3:25 am #

    Two separate people have referred to themselves as “living off Baynes”. This seems strange as Baynes itself is a side street. I’m not sure why this is bothering me, it just is.

  73. DJC August 7, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    I feel slightly less intelligent for sticking with this comment section and reading all of them. A couple thoughts:

    1) The pundit wrote a rather mild post with his opinion;
    2) A few people with poor reading comprehension did not like it.

    That was fun.

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    […] preservationist. Tight with the Tielmans and Goldmans of Buffalo, he alternates between aging hippie who hates suburbs to aging, reactionary, resentful tea party hack. It was just recently that he […]

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