Taking a Ride in Buffalo and Beyond: Looking Back – Politics

We continue the series on walking Buffalo, from the intrepid couple who walked every day, whatever the weather, in the first 30 months of Covid. They think (without being systematic) that they walked every street in Buffalo, and many other cities and towns, taking some 20,000 photos, some of which are shared in this series. While they are not itineraries, we hope to encourage others to “walk the path” – to see, observe and appreciate Buffalo – and beyond. William Graebner and Dianne Bennett are also film critics for 5 Cent Cinema, here.

Today’s photo essay: Looking Back: Politics

We’ve touched on politics before in this series, in photo essays on Black Lives Matter, Flying the Flag, Coping with Covid, and Street Humor, among others. Here we take politics as our own subject. Since we weren’t touring the city (and beyond) in 2016 or 2018, our coverage focuses on the 2020 election (though not exclusively), as well as the issues that dominated the political scene between 2020 and early 2023. Warning: some of the images and language are quite explicit.

We’ll start with a couple of “blasts from the past.” Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard served 17 years, beginning in 2005. The sign we found at the edge of Kaisertown appears to date from that time. The Beverly Gray ad, on a wall on Jefferson Avenue, likely dates from 1995, when she was elected Buffalo city councilor at large.

Andrew Cuomo was a fixture in New York state politics until 2022, when he was forced to resign amid allegations that he covered up Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes and engaged in sexual misconduct. Some called for his impeachment, others were just glad to see him go (Hertel Avenue).

During our walks, the political sphere was dominated by the 2020 presidential election. Biden’s age was an issue, but so was Trump’s, in a different way.

The Trumpers were especially active with their signage. One Larkinville home had a standard Trump sign and another, “Vote Freedom 1791,” referencing the year the Bill of Rights went into effect. One of the Halloween figures wears a patriotic ribbon.

A standard claim from the Trump camp was that their candidate “tells it like it is,” a sentiment expressed somewhat primitively at this Middle Ebenezer (West Seneca) property. They were right about how liberals would feel.

Although unrecognized by the candidate, Trump’s defeat in 2020 did not lessen the ardor of his supporters. The “Take America Back” sign is from the Ashley/Krupp neighborhood on the East Side. North Tonawanda is the source of the anti-Biden Halloween “horror show.”

At Lovejoy, we discover that politics can be vicious and poignant at the same time. Neighbors next door, one avidly pro-Trump, the other equally staunchly anti-Trump, put up prominent signs displaying their views. However, when we asked one of the men if he got along with his neighbor, he said: “Of course. We’re good friends.” He reminded us of the lyrics to a song from the 1943 Broadway musical, “Oklahoma!”: “Oh, the farmer and the cowboy should be friends.” Maybe they should be, but usually they’re not. .

“Culture wars” have been a staple of politics for decades. The best expression we found, a populist version, was posted on the front porch of a house in Black Rock:

Abortion has also been central to American politics for decades; in fact, long before Roe v. Wade (1973). As a group, evangelicals have opposed abortion, as this photo, taken on Niagara Street, suggests:

When the US Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade in June 2022, an Elmwood Village homeowner offered this intense personal response:

There was a time when the mailbox was sacrosanct, defined as separate from politics. No more. We found the pro-abortion mailbox in Woodlawn; “Give me freedom” (usually a right-wing trope) in Tonawanda; and the flag (appropriated for the last two decades by the Republican Party) in Riverside.

As mass shootings have become common, the gun problem has intensified. We came across two different versions of the guns, both on Genesee Street and both on the same day in August 2020.

A Larkinville resident took issue with Byron Brown for raising taxes during the pandemic. We are not sure if he did it or not, or if, if he did, it was wrong to do it.

Several issues, some broader than others, woke up the citizens of the area. On the “broader” side, a mural on Elmwood Avenue found fault with the rather abstract notion of “neoliberalism” (on the arm), a term that usually means “too much globalization” or runaway capitalism. Neoliberalism is often identified with the policies of the Republican Party, but also with Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Covid wore everyone out and made some of us feel lonely or in need of affection, producing this template from the West Side:

A crisis in the US Postal Service, the result of changes made in 2020 by Republican-appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, produced this postage-stamp-inspired sign in the Babcock/ Valley:

“All Politics is Local” was shown on two disparate, but intensely local themes, sparking protest posters in a small town and an urban center. The global problem of climate change accelerated, and with it the need for carbon-neutral ways of generating electricity, and led to an attack on wind farms in Grandview Bay, Angola. On Buffalo’s East Side, tenants threatened with eviction, a growing problem in the US, posted a rent strike notice.

Others, exasperated by a political system that seemed increasingly dysfunctional, turned in on themselves. “Presidents are temporary,” read a yard sign with a hint of irony, “Wu-Tang is Forever,” a reference to a legendary Staten Island hip-hop band. The sign suggests that no matter how you vote, Americans are Americans, and especially Staten Islanders are Staten Islanders. Tribalism and unity came together somehow.

A similar sense of frustration, expressed in a child’s drawing on a wall near Larkinville:

Taking a Ride in Buffalo and Beyond: Trucks and Vans

How to Take a Walk in Buffalo: “Read” the City Signs

How to Take a Ride in Buffalo: Look Up! Roofs and Roofers

How to Take a Ride in Buffalo: Buffalo’s Mini-Marts

How to Take a Hike in Buffalo: Remembering 9/11

How to take a walk – in Buffalo: street humor

How to Take a Walk – in Buffalo: The Courtyard as Spectacle

How to take a walk – in Buffalo: Beware of (the) dog

How to Take a Ride in Buffalo: Halloween

How to Take a Ride in Buffalo: Little Known Trails and Byways

How to Take a Walk – in Buffalo: Tips from the Church Board

Taking a walk in Buffalo: Coping with Covid

Taking a Walk—In Buffalo: Planters

How to Take a Ride in Buffalo: Holiday News

How to take a walk in Buffalo: murals…off the beaten path

How to Take a Ride in Buffalo: Scajaquada Creek

How to Take a Ride in Buffalo: Block Clubs

How to Take a Walk in Buffalo: Black Lives Matter

How to Take a Walk in Buffalo: Once a Bar

How to Take a Walk in Buffalo: Queen City Sculpture

Taking a Walk—In Buffalo: Waving the Flag – Education 101

How to Take a Walk in Buffalo: (Alternative) Places to Hang Out

How to take a walk in Buffalo: Those long buildings, on the corner

©William Graebner