Buffalo BEAST - Buffalo's New Best Fiend

Issue #70    Buffalo's New Best Fiend       March 9th - March 23, 2005
Tumors for Sale
by Allan Uthman
ABOUT WHAT'S ON PAGE 7 - I'm Not Sorry
by Matt Taibbi
About the Upcoming Death of the Pope
by Matt Taibbi
by Gabe Armstrong
SPOILER - AV Publisher Ruins Movie for WNY
MIDDLE AMERICA - Out of Step with Hollywood Values
BEAST Home Page
Buffalo in Briefs
Separated At Birth
Straight Dope w/ Dr. Rotten
Bardak & Eats
Kino Corner
Toons & Puzzles
[SIC] - Your Letters
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BEAST Merchandise
ArtVoice Publisher Ruins Movie for WNY
Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby is one of those movies that your friends won't tell you much about, because they don't want to ruin it for you. It's a daring movie that takes chances, delivering a stunning, unexpected turn of events that takes its plot into uncharted emotional territory. Even when a flurry of news stories hinted at political controversy due to what conservatives view as the film's endorsement of assisted suicide, they were deliberately obtuse, so as not to reveal too much about the story.

When Roger Ebert reviewed the film in the Chicago Sun-Times in January, he put it this way:

What else it is, all it is, how deep it goes, what emotional power it contains, I cannot suggest in this review, because I will not spoil the experience of following this story into the deepest secrets of life and death. This is the best film of the year.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences agreed with Ebert, awarding Baby Oscars for best picture, director, actress and supporting actor. Certainly this success will prod many more to see it, as it is still in area theatres today.

But anyone who checked out the cover story in last week's Artvoice, titled "Buffalo: Our Million Dollar Baby," doesn't need to bother. The tepid alt-weekly's publisher, Jamie Moses, completely reveals the movie's pivotal secrets in the very first paragraph of the piece, in order to set up a shaky parallel between the movie and Buffalo's post-industrial woe.

The appropriate way to do this would have been to preface his article with a passage like this one, from a recent Ellen Goodman column: "Spoiler alert: Anyone who doesn't want to know how the movie ends should read no further…"

But Moses has bigger things on his mind, like preserving empty buildings and installing economically unfeasible lift systems in parking lots. Moses justifies the lift solution by saying that "while the machinery may be expensive," Moses says, "I doubt it's more expensive than the cost of building a 10-story parking ramp." But it's apples and oranges. A 10-story ramp would obviously hold more cars than the lifts.

Then he adds a detail that is totally pointless, except as a way to let us all know that he often spend time in NYC: "Even many of the indoor garages in New York triple their capabilities by using the lifts, like the 86th St. garage I use when I'm there." How impressive.

All of this is not very important, because Moses is right about the fact that tearing down buildings for parking is a myopic, greed-driven error. But the annoyingly common practice in local media of comparing Buffalo to New York City is, again, a case of apples and oranges. The lifts make sense in NYC, because property is so insanely expensive that they are a relatively cheaper option. But property in downtown Buffalo is cheaper by the yard than low grade carpet. No businessman in his right mind would spring for such a device here.

Moses makes the same mistake again in an inset, displaying proposed demolition sites downtown. "These are exactly the type of buildings that proved so successful in redeveloping NYC's SoHo District," he tells us. "SoHo, once a desolate neighborhood of empty buildings, is today a bustling hub of loft apartments, condos and retail that includes clothing stores, restaurants, a Bloomingdale's, galleries, antique and jewelry stores, and a premier two-story Apple Computer store." All of these consumer delights can be ours, Moses implies, if we play our cards right and save the buildings.

But SoHo is in New York City. Any empty section of New York will inevitably fill up-because everybody wants to live in New York City. There's people everywhere; you can hardly walk around. But the entire city of Batavia could move into Buffalo and we'd still have plenty of room for Jamestown. Apples and oranges.

That's not to say that they should tear down the AM&A's building, or that Uniland isn't a crooked, lying developer. But we all need to recognize that expecting Buffalo to behave like New York is akin to expecting a dachshund to pull a sled-not gonna happen.

And ruining a great movie to advance such fallacious arguments is a serious injustice.

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