Buffalo vs. NYC

Buffalo is better than NYC because you can work PT and make like $12k and live frugally and it’s totally ok. You won’t die, or starve, or be evicted. You can live, if uncomfortably, on much less money. Because you have to work less, you have more time to play.

Buffalo takes less time to cross, so a “long commute” means 20 minutes by car, not 1 hr by subway. Because you work less and commute less, you have more time to play with friends. And you’re not too exhausted to do it. And it takes less time to meet up. You can say to your friend, “I’ll meet you at the bar in 10 minutes,” and that’s totally feasible. You don’t have to plan hours in advance if you want to meet someone who lives in a different borough.

NYC is better than Buffalo because of MOMA. The Albright-Knox is great but who’re we kidding? Similarly, the Buffalo Philharmonic ain’t exactly the New York Philharmonic.

Getting out of Buffalo isn’t an event in itself like getting out of NYC. Wanna go hiking or go on a wine tour? It doesn’t require “getting away for the weekend” or “going to the Poconos.” It doesn’t require hotel reservations or battling traffic. You just go. You go hiking. You come back. It’s not a Big Deal.

Conclusion: nothing in Buffalo is a Big Deal. Everything in NYC is a Big Deal. For my time and money it’s much nicer to swim in a smaller pond.


About Jessica Smith

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3 Responses to Buffalo vs. NYC

  1. Gelsinger says:

    Though I think you terribly undersell Buffalo and its people mad with innocence, I’ll say something, vis a vis literature, for NY.

    There’s more language in NY. I mean it in the sense of Brodsky’s autobiography, wherein he goes through the stages of his life with monomaniac focus saying: didn’t go to law school: my main regret is missing out on all the wonderful terminology; oh then I went to prison, which wasn’t so bad because I got to learn the way they talked there; I worked in a morgue, where I got to assimilate medical jargon, and so on through all his various jobs and geographies.

    The waters are more various and deeper here, for those inclined to plumb them. (though in my current pool, I’m not sure how much longer I can hold my breath . . . .)

  2. Hm. That is a good argument.

    Also: the street food. No good street food in Buffalo.

  3. cf says:

    Location does have a profound effect on the candid vernacular; in NYC you can overhear a hundred different conversations in a hundred different languages, you can find niche employment with its own compressed Esperanto, you can fall headlong into the swirl of copy and graffiti that surrounds you at every moment – and this can be a rich, fertile reservoir of source material.

    But is it what you want to DO? It comes down to whether or not you want to be a content producer or a content consumer. And sure, we’re all both, and the degree to which changes, but it’s possible that your environment can cause you to lose control of that proportion. Let me explain what I mean: I see plenty of artists and poets go to NYC to “soak in” all the language, music, art, diversity, etc. But often, I see those same people stop producing work of their own – or worse, I see them produce a series of poorly developed and disconnected concepts as they flit from one influence to the next.

    It all comes down to the question: Do you want to be (only) a filter and a foil for language and art? Or do you want to focus your time on honing YOUR style, delving deeper into YOUR interests and influences, and follow a path you determine?

    To me, the conversation isn’t really about which city is better, but about which city is better for a particular person. NYC, for the weak-willed, is a city of spectacular distractions, and can be seriously detrimental. Buffalo, for the weak-willed, can be a lonesome place where the protracted winters take their toll, which can also be seriously detrimental.

    So I feel like the question shouldn’t be NYC or Buffalo, it should be: “Where can YOU get something done?”

    For me, the choice has always been Buffalo. The logistical concerns in NYC (travel, cost, etc) are overwhelming to the degree that I think they would overshadow many of the benefits of being in a large metropolis. As I’ve said before, it would affect everything from my circadian rhythms to the scale of my work, and it would definitely distract me and fracture my current path. In Buffalo, logistics are simple, costs are low, in short, I can DO the things I want to DO (buy a house, build a studio, have a garden) without the ancillary struggle of fighting the city.

    This may be part of the cachet of NYC – actually, I’m certain it is – that the people who can do the things they want to do there AND navigate the city are somehow tougher…and I don’t think this is always true. I think sometimes they’re dumber, more delusional, luckier, or simply desperate to the point of obligatory success.

    If I want to pursue certain pieces of the flotsam and jetsam of language, I will, remotely – but for a poet/writer of people/conversation, the seat in the middle of the biggest conversation in the world might be just where he needs to be.

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