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"Bringing Back America's Cities"

I’m writing this for my column, 
but I’ll probably send a copy to the Buffalo forums. 
They have an ongoing discussion 
about how to rejuvenate my hometown. 

American cities started downhill 
about when the corporations deserted them. 
We don’t make much here any more. 
The manufacturing jobs were moved overseas. 

Some of the suggestions for rebuilding 
include restoring classic houses and other buildings, 
cheap or free public transportation, 
encouraging corner stores, 
better schools, 
and more other good ideas than I have room for here. 
I admire these people, and I hope it all works out. 
This is a city that’s too good to lose. 

I wouldn’t recommend gambling casinos. . 
They import their own staffs, instead of creating local jobs. 
They export their profits, 
much of which is drained from the local money pool. 
The taxes, real estate, and rent go sky high, 
and the local people can’t afford to stay. 
Casinos alter the character of a community, 
and Buffalo’s best feature is its character. 

The arts, history, good food, buildings, 
good music and entertainment, 
and the “Buffalo feeling” 
are well worth the time and effort it takes to go there. 

Somebody suggested getting rid of the bars, 
adult book stores, 
and having more churches and prayer. 

As a musician, 
I wouldn’t have survived all these years 
without bars and nightclubs. 
Not everybody can start at concert halls. 
Some of the best music I’ve ever heard was played in bars. 

Buffalo’s taverns have always struck me 
as homey places for folks to get together, 
not to mention the good food. 
Not everybody in a bar is an alcoholic. 

I think they should have some places for smokers, 
and places for non-smokers... 
A choice, 
and they don’t bother each other. 

I’m not a member of organized religion, 
but I have nothing against more churches. 

Prayer is something else. 
It’s personal, 
and each of us should decide if we want to do more of it. 

Mark Twain’s stuffy Heaven “where every day is Sunday” 
wouldn’t be a big attraction. 
Tourists, businesses, and new population 
are not usually drawn to a place for its piety. 

I don’t like adult bookstores any more than strip malls, 
but I wouldn’t impose my moral priorities on others, 
unless violence is involved. 
Cruelty and violence are worse sins than tacky sex, 
or the general bad taste that’s everywhere today. 

Education is important to a community, 
but I’m not sure class size is the main problem, 
unless there is a shortage of books and desks. 
There were always over 30 kids in a class when I went to school, 
and an eighth grader was as educated as today’s college graduate. 
Maybe more. 

Good teachers are needed, 
but student peer pressure is a big factor. 
If it’s not cool to get good grades, they won’t try to get them, 
and you can’t teach anything to a closed mind. 
I’m open to suggestions on this one. 

I’d like to see corner stores come back, 
but how do they compete with Wal-Mart 
when budgets are tight?. 

Let’s not forget crooked politicians. 
Like termites, 
it’s tough to keep them out. 

I sympathize with world’s downtrodden people, 
but I believe this: 
AFTER all Americans have at least the bare necessities, 
our states and cities are doing okay, 
and our country is reasonably out of debt, 
THEN send our help elsewhere. 

This tirade will generate some mail. 
I’m going into hiding. 

© September 2, 2003 Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved.


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