Friday, November 19, 2010

My take on: Buffalo Unbound

Sydney, Monaco, Madrid, Dubai, Majorca, and South Africa are just a few of the places I hope to visit in my lifetime. I have always been drawn to the exotic locales. The U.S. is OK, too. I have been to Alaska twice, had a nice one-day layover in Seattle, multiple trips to Florida and Georgia, a two-week sojourn in Lincoln, Nebraska, and a mad dash through O'Hare airport to catch a connecting flight. All of it was in good fun.

So much can be found right in our own backyard, and we don't even realize it. I've lived in New York most of my life, but I have never really felt the desire to explore the state. One city, Buffalo, was never on my list of places to visit, that is until I read Buffalo Unbound by Laura Pedersen.

The possibility of participating in the National Buffalo Wing Festival next Labor Day seems like way too much to pass up. The vivid descriptions of the various food festivals were enough to make me a convert. So what if the weather is bad during the winter when you have the fun of trying to wiggle out of your snowshoes!!

"The universal Buffalo sport, or maybe it's more of a dance step, is the flamingo. This where you stand on one foot while yanking on or off your boots. It's easy to spot Buffalonians and other Snowbelters in airports -- people of all ages, shapes, and sizes deftly removing shoes while holding luggage without needing to sit down or even balance against the metal detector. It's an acquired skill, like thumping bricks of greasy black snow off from underneath the car without getting your shoes or pant legs dirty."

Author Laura Pedersen knows all to well about the wonders of Buffalo, having grown up there. Her love for this city was part of the inspiration for writing Buffalo Unbound. A Forbes magazine article disparaged her hometown, calling Buffalo one of the ten most miserable cities to live in. Those were fighting words, the article also prompted Pedersen to cancel her subscription to Forbes.

When I think of Buffalo several things come to mind: a football team that was 0-8 until Week 10, cold weather, snow, and a horrific plane crash. But that is a very short-sighted view, there is much more to Buffalo. Its citizens are not miserable, they are quite lovely. Everyone came together following the plane crash in February 2009. More than 4,000 volunteers showed up to help build a house for an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. People take pride in shoveling their lawns and driveways following a snowstorm, including those who continue to shovel while the snow is still falling.

The kindness of people isn't just restricted to the modern era. Father Nelson Henry Baker was always thinking ahead in the late 1800s. He helped the local church get out of debt, helped spearhead the discovery of natural gas in the area surrounding the church, and helped unwed mothers with prenatal care and adoption services.

To hear Pedersen describe it, Buffalo is a place where you can take a breath. You can actually enjoy your surroundings, including Forest Lawn Cemetery. Yes, a cemetery. Rick James is buried there, so is a former President -- next to his two wives. It's even a popular backdrop for wedding photos. A bit unorthodox, but it doesn't sound very dreary to me.

There are so many things about Buffalo, it's hard to contain it in a review like this. At the start of this book I had no desire visit, but now I think I will. But I will be sure to bring a flashlight when I visit City Hall (I hear you need one!), and promise not to make jokes about the ever-present snow (I also hear that's a NO-NO!).

Rating: Superb

Notes: I received a copy of the book from Authors on the Web ( in exchange for an honest review. For more information on author Laura Pedersen visit:


  1. Thank you for your kind words about the saintly Father Baker. When planning your trip to Buffalo, please call the Our Lady of Victory PR department at (716)828-9631 and ask for Beth. I would love to give you a personal tour of Fr. Baker's glorious Basilica, as well as the new, state-of-the-art museum dedicated to his life and legacy. The WNY region is a wonderful place to visit and live, and I'm confident you will think so after you spend time here.

  2. Sounds great. The book really brought the city to life for me. I'm going to get there one day.