Tonawanda News — How one got through the days we’ve recently endured in Kenmore, indeed all of Western New York, is a matter of personal experience but likely involves staying indoors, cabin fever, perhaps forgetting resolutions and reverting to New Year’s Eve form and monitoring whatever mass media gets in (amazingly, the post office delivered through the storm, so congratulations and many thanks).
Unlike, say, the notorious Blizzard of ‘77, a five-day, relatively no-warning incident in local history in which 23 people died and sustained winds of nearly 70 mph were experienced, a weather enthusiast could sit by the television or computer, never venturing outside, and monitor this one nicely.
So, enduring that curiously modern hybrid of isolation and connectivity got me thinking about things like the concept of “the show must go on.”
Events were canceled, canceled like crazy. Jury duty, dog grooming clinics, dance classes, some employers, bingo, schools of course, shopping malls, all met some upheaval in scheduling. It’s a signal that we, out here, actually do things in winter; we plan and go and work out or whatever, and then return home. That crawl at the bottom of the television screen is a testimony to all those who do more than watch television under normal circumstances.
What I miss, though, is the stentorian radio voice reading these lists. On and on they’d go, way back when — each item punctuated with a “closed!” or “canceled!” laced with seriousness and finality (e.g., “Tonawanda meeting of the veterans of The Who’s Melody Fair concert” – heavy pause -- “canceled!”). These days the radio refers the listener to the Internet.
A Sabres game was canceled, and a friend who’ll spend the next two weeks in the orchestra pit of “Wicked,” the Shea’s Buffalo Theater road show, told me opening night was something of a crisis; it takes fourteen tractor-trailers full of props, costumes, equipment, etc., to put this Broadway show on, and only 10 made it. Four more were stuck somewhere on the closed Thruway (yeah, the show must go on) and it was a crapshoot if they’d make it in time.
It got me pondering the nature of “putting on a show,” whether involving hockey players or singing witches or The Who, and the risks and costs involved. You look at a capacity crowd in a theater or arena and mentally calculate its number, then the cost of the tickets: man, they’re making a lot of money on this one.
Then you think about the think about the paychecks to everyone involved, not just the principals but the drivers, the skilled tradesmen, the army of people behind the glamour. The rent, the insurance, the fees, the security. The list goes on, like those cancelation announcements on the radio. Man, how can they possibly turn a profit?
My hometown of Kenmore instituted a brief driving ban. I wasn’t going anywhere so it had no effect on me. No deaths or serious injuries were reported in Western New York, which is more than some municipalities can say. I checked in on neighbors, they checked in on me, just as we learned to do in previous snow emergencies.
Mr. Al Roker, television’s prototypical jokester-meteorologist, succinctly explained the “polar vortex” we endured: North Pole weather, coming south and parking over the Great Lakes, although he did not explain why it occurred, or predict the next one.
I checked MSNBC to see if they could blame this weather phenomenon on the Republicans, and yes, briefly, they did (it was a function of global warning, they told me, and you know who’s responsible for that. If you do not, watch MSNBC for the details).
After a while all the news simply looked and sounded the same (blustery whiteness, with an outdoor reporter), so having the television on and the audio off was the way to go, and I learned I could enjoy Fox News if only I turn to volume to zero. The women look attractive and I am fascinated by all their commercials aimed at the ailing elderly.
By Wednesday afternoon the commotion stopped, the temperature went up, the sun began shining again and I half-expected the trill of songbirds as I ventured outbound to see how much of my property was still on my property. A story of survival, such as this, makes a person feel tough, strong, in control — troubadours will sing songs of praise about us in future centuries and if Americans ever write their own bible a book or two will explain our resilience.
You get this way when you see it all on television.Ed Adamczyk is a Kenmore resident whose column appears Fridays in the Tonawanda News. Contact him at EdinKenmore@gmail.com.