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Commentary: Buffalo vs. Denver

By Joe Marren

Buffalo, NY – Our area is like no other ... it's the cream of the crop, top of the list -- uh-oh, I might be infringing on copyright law and ticking off Frank Sinatra's ghost by going that route. So let's just say Buffalo and its environs are one of a kind. Or is that several of a kind? Where's the grammar police when I need them?

I bring this up because we're our own worst enemy struggling through our anxieties. To be blunt, we suffer from an inferiority complex the size of a politician's ego. I know, I know, I'm mixing metaphors, but the grammar police haven't arrived yet.

Want proof that I know the truth? Just look at one fact: We're constantly comparing ourselves to others. And I don't mean to hoity-toity burgs like Paris where cabbies and waiters sneer, or Rome where even the pickpockets disdainfully liberate us from our belongings. No, here in the self-styled City of No Illusions we happily compare ourselves to other Rustbelt cities overdosing on get-illustrious-quick dreams.

We learned the trick from the media. And I'm as guilty as anyone since I worked for several newspapers, have occasionally yawlped on the radio, and taught communication courses at Buff State for several years. Mea culpas aside, let me paint a few scenarios:

Whenever we want to pretend to build a bridge, the media here goes on the Net to find out how they did it in Sault Ste. Marie.

Want to figure out how to revive downtown? Hey, let's junket to Milwaukee for the ol' compare and contrast study.

What are the odds casinos will work here? Who knows? But let's do a sweeps series on the fate of Atlantic City.

Yet comparisons aren't valid because every community is unique and only generalities and clich s need apply for the expose on what Duluth is doing with its grain elevators as compared to what we're doing with ours.

Although I criticize, I'm also part of the media society - and who am I to tilt at the windmill of antiquated editorial thinking on the cusp of the 21st century? Perhaps you picked up the strained metaphor again, but the grammar police are on their way, I hear the sirens in the distance even as I speak. So I'll quickly compare quality of life issues between Buffalo and Denver as observed during my September vacation there.

I have only 10. I know the number is worn out and trite, but first I apologize to God as George Burns, Moses as Charlton Heston, and David Letterman.

Denver has the Rockies, which you can see from their downtown. Buffalo has the Great Lakes, though few of us really know how to get to Lake Erie from our downtown through the maze of off-the-beaten-path streets.

Denver has the Brown Cloud that settled over the city and has blocked much of the clean air. Buffalo has chicken wings with congealed fat that settled into the bloodstream and has blocked off the flow of blood.

Denver has a museum with an exhibit on Egypt and the pharaohs. Buffalo could have a museum on inertia and dysfunctional government, but we're waiting for the studies and focus groups to hold hearings on the proposal.

Denver has the 16th Street Mall that caters to pedestrians busily shopping away and whisking here and there on hybrid-fuel busses. Buffalo has a pedestrian mall on a virtually closed Main Street that we're now thinking of reopening to traffic. Where did we miss the bus on that one?

In the Denver area there is a state university nearby with a distinctive football team called the Buffaloes. In the Buffalo area there is a state university nearby with a distinctive football team that's called lots of nasty names by frustrated fans.

Denver has cowboys and cowboy wannabes. Buffalo has angry football and hockey fans.

Denver has Coors Beer. Buffalo has Canadian beer, though few Canadians can easily get across the perpetually clogged Peace Bridge.

Denver has snow in the mountain year-round. Buffalo can get snow almost any day in three seasons. And in the summer it rains.

Denver had Jack Kerouac writing about it in "On the Road." Buffalo has Vince Gallo dissing it because no one goes to his movies. Earth to Vince: No one cares about narcisstic crybabies. Getovahit!

"Mork and Mindy" was set in Colorado. One of the versions of "The Full Monty" was set in Buffalo. So you can either have all-out comedic genius or a bunch of naked guys. And that's all I'm going to say about that. Oh-my-God! I can't stop this comparison schtick. I just compared Forest Gump to reporters!

The grammar police broke through the door. I'm outta here. See you in Estes Park. And remember, the best thing about Colorado is this: There ain't no ragweed near the treeline.

Listener-Commentator Joe Marren is an assistant professor of communications at Buffalo State College.