Buffalo Gal
Judi Griggs

I'm a communications professional, writer, cynic, mother, wife and royal pain. The order depends on the day. I returned to my hometown in November 2004 after a couple of decades of heat and hurricanes. I can polish pristine copy, but not here. This is my morning exercise -- 20-minute takes without a net or spellcheck. It's easier than sit ups for me. No guarantee what it will be for you. Clicking on the subscribe link will send you an email notice when each new entry is posted.
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Traditional Logic

Last year my alma mater made national headlines with a basketball recruiting scandal. You may not have paid any attention. It lacked the big money, fast cars and loose women of big school chicanery. A decision was made to call a welding certificate a two-year degree in accepting a transfer from a community college. By all accounts the young welder in question was a very nice young man, but having seen him on the court ... it was a good thing he had a trade to fall back on. Fines were paid. NCAA sanctions and a variety of threatened lawsuits are still pending. The university president, athletic director and b-ball coach all lost their jobs.
An earnest young former assistant coach from Notre Dame has been put in charge of a team with only five men on the bench. Apparently reaching out to corners where last season's "unpleasantness" (or ESPN) did not reach, the roster includes players from Lithuania, London, Cameroon, and The Gambia. There's also a guy from Toronto who may have found out Bonaventure dropped their hockey program after he got here. You know it's bad when you see the assistant coaches eyeing the stands for sober male students who might fit one of the extra uniforms.
Under the PR-packaged slogan of "March Forward Together" it's one of those "building years" (a Division I euphemism for trying to keep the lights on while attempting to figure out how to dig out of the hole the last guy left).
Thus, when I went to the game Saturday night, I was not expecting the Final Four glory of the Bob Lanier years, the NIT-winning spirit of 1977 or any of the ambient insanity available when Sports Illustrated named the RC (Reilly Center) one of the very worst places for visting teams. The drinking age is now 21. The Brown Indian and Brown Squaw mascots have been replaced by a politically correct stuffed wolf. There are corporate sponsor logos cover every still object in the RC and, as I mentioned, the team sucks.
I was caught off guard pre-game when a Friar with a microphone announced the acting university president had ordained the return of the traditional school fight song that had not been used since the 80s.
As a member of the class of 81, I can attest that it wasn't used before the 80s. As confused students and local fans looked on in silence, the spirited Friar led a dirge about snow-capped mountains and brown trees (or possibly brown mountains and snow-capped trees, you see both around here). It appeared to be adapted from a 17th century Lutheran hymn.
The only song I recall singing with ritual and reverence in my four Bona years was Billy Joel's "Piano Man" .. generally with everyone in attendance swaying in a drunken circle, arms around each other's shoulders, splashing and spilling beer. Now THAT was a tradition. If you're ever in an elevator and see someone getting misty-eyed over the Musak version of that tune, you know you're traveling with a Bona grad.
"Unfurl the Brown and White" is a bad idea that didn't work the first time being snuck back in under the cloak of tradition.
On the Buffalo news stations there has been extensive daily play over the past two weeks to "saving the tradition" of a New Years downtown ball drop that started in 1988. To listen to the earnest anchors, one would think the symbolic loss will trigger the Apocalypse if the $40,000 to pull off the event can not be found.
First off, anything that is younger than my daughter is not old enough to be a tradition.
Secondly, have you ever been outside at midnight in Buffalo in December? Sure, it's all fun and games until somebody loses a toe to frostbite.
For several years, my adopted home in Georgia did a New Years Eve drop of a giant shrimp into a bowl of confetti cocktail sauce. While they do have the weather for such a stunt, the trajectory is limited by the fact that the tallest building in town is only four stories. When no one was staying up for the big event, they moved midnight to 10 p.m.. When that didn't hold the crowds, they surrendered the giant shrimp and relegated him to the summer Shrimp Festival. No one mourns the tradition.
Doing a dumb thing over and over doesn't make it a tradition, it makes it a dumb thing done repeatedly.

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