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Oh, SmAlbany!

Daily posts and occasional longer essays about politics, culture, and life in the Capital Region...updated M-F, midmorning

"I write this not as a booster of Albany, which I am, nor an apologist for the city, which I sometimes am, but rather as a person whose imagination has become fused with a single place, and in that place finds all the elements that a man ever needs..." -W. Kennedy, from O Albany!

Intellectual Roots

The "intellectual" roots of Oh, SmAlbany!: A few readers have asked me how long I had been thinking and writing about Albany prior to the advent of Oh, SmAlbany!. Honestly, I don't really know. However, I was looking through some old emails this weekend, and I came across a few from June, 2001 that might shed some light on the question. A friend of mine said something like, "Isn't having a boat on Lake George the Albany equivalent of a house in the Hampton's?" And thus a game was born. We the began emailing back and forth, making humorous comparisons between New York City and Albany, the goal being to poke fun at each city while also subtly revealing cultural truths about them.

The format of the comparisons was to discuss the difference between "big shots" (something like the equivalent of "Big Man on Campus" for a city) in the two cities - the types of people who have houses in the Hamptons and boats in Lake George, with liberal exemptions that often just describe things average non-big shots do in both cities. Although many of the entries are a bit dated, I think it still comes across as somewhat funny and quite true. Feel free to add your own in the comments section.

Here were some of the entries:

Big Shot-NYC: wears the latest $300 trendy clothing when looking to impress.
Big Shot-ALB: wears some timeless "Saratoga-style" clothing when looking to impress.

BS-NYC: great "connections" to tix at Madison Square Garden.
BS-ALB: great "connections" to tix at Siena basketball.

BS-NYC: high paying job in the "financial district."
BS-ALB: cushy and comfortable job with the state.

BS-NYC: can score you seats at "The Producers."
BS-ALB: can score you a box at Saratoga.

BS-NYC: hangs out with Jeter, Jay-Z, and others at "Bar 89".
BS-ALB: hangs out with McEneny and others at "Jack's."

BS-NYC: has a place in the hamptons.
BS-ALB: has a boat up in Lake George

BS-NYC: Nostalgic for days when baseball was played in Brooklyn.
BS-ALB: Nostalgic for days when baseball was played in Bleeker Stadium.

BS-NYC: May have grown up in NYC, but probably moved there after college.
BS-ALB: Definitely grew up in Albany, and probably has never lived elsewhere.

BS-NYC: Shows off his city by pointing out Brooklyn Bridge to guests.
BS-ALB: Shows off his city by pointing out "Nipper."

BS-NYC: Enjous a power lunch on Wall St. in the summer.
BS-ALB: Spends lunchtime down at OTB in August.

BS-NYC: You reminisce about those great electronics store commercials from years ago, featuring Crazy Eddie.
BS-ALB: You reminisce about those great Armory Showroom commericals from years ago, featuring Geoffrey Holder.
BS-NYC: impresses friends with vast knowledge of pizza joints on every block of Upper East Side.
BS-ALB: impresses friends by offering lengthy explanations of why "Mild Wallys" is better than "I love NY pizza."

BS-NYC: thinks the "in-town" newspapers are so lame. Reads LA TIMES.
BS-ALB: thinks the "in-town" newspapers are so lame. Reads NY POST.

BS-NYC: looking forward to future "Subway Series."
BS-ALB: looking forward to future "Siena-SUNY" basketball matchup.

BS-NYC: pretends to not know the bars on the lower east side.
BS-ALB: pretends to not know the bars on 4th street in Troy.
BS-NYC: Brags of seeing Dave Matthews Band play the Wetlands on band's first NE tour.
BS-ALB: Brags of seeing the Figgs play Bogie's circa 1994.

BS-NYC: Saw Garth Brooks play Central Park.
BS-ALB: Saw the SpinDoctors play 'Tulipfest'.

BS-NYC: High school hangout- Tunnel and Sound Factory.
BS-ALB: High school hangout- Professor Java's and 'On Broadway'.

BS-NYC: trendy shopping day consists of designer clothes on 5th Avenue and lunch at Russian Tea Room.
BS-ALB: trendy shopping day consists of Stuyvesant Plaza and clam chowder at Brueggers.
BS-NYC: Nostalgic for the heyday of "Studio 54" and "CBGB's."
BS-ALB: Nostalgic for the heyday of "Firebird's block parties."

BS-NYC: would never reduce himself to going to a Nets game.
BS-ALB: would never reduce himself to going to a River Rats game.

BS-NYC: thinks a $7 drink is a "a pretty good deal."
BS-ALB: thinks "Sadie Klutz's" is "a pretty good bar."
BS-NYC: takes a limo for a night out in Atlantic City.
BS-ALB: takes the 'Greyhound Express' for a night out at Turning Stone.

BS-NYC: hangs with Carrot Top and DeNiro at the Underbar at the W.
BS-ALB: hangs with SUNY kingpins at Sneaky Pete's.

BS-NYC: discuss/brag about which boarding school he attended.
BS-ALB: discuss/brag about which suburban council school he attended.
BS-NYC: doesn't wait in line at "Limelight" or "Milk andHoney."
BS-ALB: doesn't wait in line at "Studio 64" or "The Lamppost."

BS-NYC: tries to avoid the NYU/college scene in the village.
BS-ALB: Heads right for the SUNY scene at Washington and Quail.

BS-NYC: good seats for "concerts in the park."
BS-ALB: good seats for "Alive at 5."
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At 9:13 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said:

I enjoyed reading through your blog. You have quite some interesting topics. To further expand your content on your blog, try visiting mine at Genealogy Search. Maybe it will help one of your visitors to find a relative from the past or to look up ancestors. Thanks!    

At 3:39 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said:

I'm from NYC and now live in the Capital District -- this was very entertaining ;)


At 11:33 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said:

having grown up in brooklyn and lived in albany from when i was 22-24 i have to say that this list cracked my ass up - goddamn it it's funny to think about how kids are just trying to prove something no matter where they are from - albany kids always acted like nyc was so great - and i was always like - 'i grew up there and albany is alot like it in some ways - except i can ride my bike across town in 15 minutes' which i like - now i live in toronto - which is like the new york of canada -and its funny to see how big city kids are in a different city - but i still miss good old albany - fucking capital - it really sucks you in.....    

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