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Posts Tagged ‘north tonawanda’

Tales of the Seedless Rye

Posted by crowbiz on June 11, 2009

Thanks to Mr Crow’s encouragement, I’ve decided to somehow squish some disparate experiences into one post.  A couple weekends ago, our friends urged us to attended a roller derby match (meet?  I dunno, I’m a philistine in the roller derby world) with them at the Rainbow Rink in infamous North Tonawanda…

Queen City Roller Girls

Now then, the roller derby could be a couple posts in and of itself, and that’s where I thought I was starting.  It all turned left somewhere, but you can’t casually mention “roller derby” then just glaze over it.  I’ll put my most important statement first:  If you haven’t gone to see a roller derby, you really should.  We caught the Queen City Roller Girls (Team QCRG) versus the Philly Roller Girls (Broad Street Butchers team).  Knowing less about the derby than I do about particle physics proved to be no handicap to a night of fun.

Before arriving, I had jaded expectations that the scene would be plagued by hipsters in search of blog-worthy irony (you know that type – lord, how we detest them!) There may have been a few, but the mix of subcultures was vast and interesting.  Campsters, kitschsters, lots of supportive friends and relatives of the teams, and a goodly portion of local Chevy-plant types.  Refreshments were cheap tap beer and various Jack Daniels malt liquor products such as the imitation jack-and-cola concoction that I couldn’t pass up (warning:  sticky-sweet and headache inducing).  After further thought, I determined that it’s really rather hard to be all that ironic in Buffalo, and the ones busting their guts and congratulating themselves on enjoying the local “irony” are typically college sophmores from out of town. 

As someone who cannot even execute a passable cross-over on skates, I found a lot to admire in the roller teams as they made their way around the flat-track.  Mostly, I loved the player names, like “Leggs Benedict” (who wears a bloodied apron), “Stormie Weather,” “Mexicali Bruise,” and “Tara Newone,” so much so that I was often dreamily distracted from the action while trying to come up with my own handle.  I decided I’d go the sweet route (a la “Lamb Chop”) and become “Sunnyside Up” and my short-shorts would have an appliqued fried egg on each butt cheek.

During the halftime break, a rockabilly band provided a musical interlude while helpers rolled out pallets stacked with loaves of Al Cohen’s seedless rye bread to throw to the crowd. Here’s where the night’s meaning began to crystallize.  Not knowing the protocol, Mr Crow and I half-heartedly stuck out our arms to catch a loaf – we like rye, after all – but we couldn’t hold an elbow to the regulars as they jockeyed and jostled to pluck a loaf from mid-air.  Some were high lobs, some were low grounders, and suddenly, a loaf came whizzing so fast past Mr Crow that his grabbing it was a lucky afterthought.  By this time we had drinks in hand, jackets to hold and now the bread, so the logical thing to do would be to get a 25-cent rink locker for our loose belongings – if only every bar or concert venue had this amenity!  Mr Crow selected Locker 52, and we were free to watch the second half.


Makes great toast

Makes great toast

The match ended too soon for me, but alas, we had to go.  As we retrieved our things and turned to join the departing stream, a woman cried out in panic, “My bread! Someone stole my bread!”  The next half minute turned into one of those slo-mo episodes in which you can sort of see what’s coming, but are doubting it too much to do anything.  Some big guy, the type who must insert himself at the slightest whiff of dissention, probably hoping for fisticuffs or at least shoving, stepped in to assist with an assertive, “Who took it?!”  The woman’s wild eyes flashed at Mr Crow and his legitimately-obtained loaf as she shrieked with certitude, “Him!”  All surrounding heads turned toward the action and people actually – actually! – stepped back to form a small open circle, the kind where the two playground contestants are expected to settle their business.


The big dude was about to rev up his “alright buddy…” routine on behalf of the breadless woman, but Mr Crow protected his loaf like a running back cradles a football, while strangers hands made their way toward him for a bread-tugging contest.  With a perfectly staged, outraged near-falsetto, he stopped everyone dead with, “This is my bread – I just got it out of my locker!”  His arm shot up to identify trusty Number 52, with its key probably still warm from his pocket.  

It seemed likely that everyone involved wanted to laugh from the get-go, but the need to serve justice superceded any leeway for outright yuks.  Just saying “mine” really proves nothing, but I guess the idea of a middle-aged man indignantly referencing a roller rink locker was enough evidence for the crowd.  A guy wouldn’t lie about that kind of thing.

Turns out, the errant loaf had been picked up by our friend, who rightly recognized it as a stray on the bench in front of us – we’d all seen it sitting alone.  When he turned around to see the near rye-scuffle, he offered it up with apologies to the woman, who gathered it to herself like a lost toddler.  Later he commented in his sanguine way, “The bread was left unattended; I wasn’t going to just leave it there.”  Which is really all there is to say.

Of this episode, one could quip, “Only in North Tonawanda!” but that would be way off.  That scene could have played out in Cheektowaga, the other Tonawanda,  Sloan, anywhere in Buffalo, and most of the Southtowns…well, most of Western New York.  I’d except East Amherst from this, but then, I’d except East Amherst from a whole lot of things – and that’s another post for when I feel a suburb-slam coming on.

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