Friday, July 18, 2008

Colonel Mustard in the ballroom with a......

microfilm machine?!?!?! Doesn't sound like I'm the best detective....

BUT, today I am playing detective, splitting my Friday between the Buffalo Historical Society and the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library (known now in my Diss footnotes as BECPL. Now you know, too). And I'm having lunch with my mom downtown at noon and meeting Raquel, who lives downtown, for happy hour. At 3pm. Even though I am up early (again....ugh), time today is going to fly fast. Better have my notebook poised and pencil sharpened.

"The Buffalo Gazette" went to print in 1810. 1810!!!!! And I must get my sweaty paws on some copies, even if they are from later on down the road, like 1825. There were only 1,500 friggin' people here then! Yesterday, I spent a painstaking afternoon TRYING to piece together musical life in the ol' frontier village of Buffalo up until 1860. Oy! There is information scattered EVERYWHERE and I seem to be the latest schmuck trying to cull all of this very, um, fascinating crap together. Why (you ask)? Good question.

My Diss intro chapter---the one where I make my case and throw everything but the kitchen sink (or perhaps the revolver or candlestick) behind my "theory"---came together quickly after a year of research, mayhem, madness and procrastination. Nothing works better for this girl than a deadline. Anyway, I know my Chapter 1 is clumsy and will get clumsier as my research gets more vivid and my writing gets done. That's what "revision" is for, yes?. But I also know that my theories and ideas are solid. I believe in this Dissertation, I really do. I haven't been silly enough to ask myself WHY I believe so much....that can of crazy will wait until I have a real job with benefits that include therapy. Ha ha!

ANYWAY, although my Diss focuses intently (or will one day) on music in The Buff during the Depression era, I know in my bones that I have to include info about how Buff got there. And, I'm really curious about it. So that's my Chapter 2. And as I write, I find lots of holes that need to be filled. Hence, "The Buffalo Gazette."

We're a feisty bunch, we Buffalonians. People today believe this and work it for all their chicken wing-filled might. And from what I've gathered so far, this ethos was here from the get-go. The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 brought money, trade, notoriety, innovation and absolute pandemonium to this sleepy lil' village on the lake. While hangings, brothels and public indecency have made it into the historical tomes I've already uncovered, music making has not.

And this is where I come in. My education--while stellar--has given me little prep for serious archival research. I have many theories I can spew out about all kinds of musical, cultural, economic, political, sexual, etc. etc. matters. Ask and ye shall receive. But, I'm nervous today, a little bit, about poking around the past and getting lost in it. Getting overwhelmed or confused by it. Getting excited about it?

Coffee's done. I gotta water the garden and then pack up for the day. Parking downtown sucks, so best I get there early. 1810, here I come....without a clue.

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