From Russia with love (or, the coming of The Beast)

I’ve pointed you to Moscow’s hilariously biting alternative newspaper, the eXile before — once for their delightfully scornful reviews of Moscow clubs, and another time for the basty-but-true article about what Europeans think of each other. Written by expat Americans now living in the Socialist Workers Paradise™, it reads like a bitter NOW magazine (people not in Accordion City should imagine their local alternative weekly paper, or the Village Voice if there isn’t one in your burg) written by people who loathe Moscow only slightly less than they loathe the monotony back home amd who might drink more than my online buddy Stavros the Wonder Chicken.

Now let me point you to Buffalo. Back in the 1950’s when Toronto was the Protestant-gripped city known as Toronto the Good — a bastion of stultifying WASPish goody-two-shoesness with no movies, newspapers or even playing football in the park on Sunday, anglophilia was the order of the day, and all food had mayonnaise on it (perhaps a little parprika on special occasions, but only for colour). One of the factors that turned Accordion City around was the influx of immigrants, who brought with them a labour force that built up the city, the sea of multicoloured faces that you see on our streets every day (my handsome mug included), and even more importantly, some dceent recipes. Buffalo, Albany and other cities in upstate New York suffered the exact reverse — a mass exodus from their cities that started in the late seventies as both slid into American mid-sized city urban blight. American TV channels here are fed to us by Buffalo-based affiliates, and from watching their local news, one would think that that happened in Buffalo were fires, liquor store robberies, and snowstorms. The image of Buffalo in the popular imagination — I’m going by conversatiosn with friends as well as a helluva lot of stand-up comics’ jokes — is that it’s cold and permanently covered in snow, bleak and overridden with crime, dull with nothing to do for kicks.

Kind of like Moscow, eh?

This brings me to The Beast, a new alternative paper in Buffalo. Currently on their fourteenth issue, The Beast is run by former eXile editors. While they’re not sure what their mission is, they seem to be quite sure that there are a lot of reasons to complain about Buffalo. In the current issue, there’s a story about “Peegate”, in which Buffalo transit bus drivers have erm, no place to go and another about how the Buffalo police have dossiers on people who have appeared at protests. They’ve also got a very eXile-like piece titled The Beast 50: The Most Loathsome People in America 2002 and some pretty odd “person on the street” interviews.

I’m not sure what it’ll do for the city’s image, but it should be an interesting read from time to time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *