Friday, June 24, 2011

A citywide backhanded compliment

St. Louis was recently named the 11th best place in America to raise a family. I actually found this a little offensive.

Being a transplant to this fair city -- I originally grew up in Northeast Ohio. Lebron wasn't the first person to get out while the getting was good -- I don't bring all of the home-town bias most metropolitan area residents bring with them to the city. I'll spare you all my detailed rant on why St. Louis isn't quite as great as everyone here seems to think it is, I'm just content that all of the World's Fair talk has died down now that it's been more than a century since it was here. Just because I don't think St. Louis is the end-all, be-all of towns doesn't mean, however,  that I like someone calling the place I raise my kids a great place to raise my kids.

To me, calling somewhere a nice place to raise kids is an outright insult. It's on par with saying someone is a nice guy or that a girl has a good personality. None of those things are bad. You'd hope that a guy  is a nice guy or that a girl has a good personality or that your city is a great place to raise kids. You just don't want that to be a defining characteristic. Because that means they are boring. If someone is awesome you don't call him or her nice, you call him or her awesome. If a city rocks, you don't say it's a nice place to raise kids. New York rocks. Boston rocks. San Diego rocks. No one has ever said those were great places to raise kids. They say awesome things about them.

I recognize this list was put together as a means to drive web traffic or sell magazines, but I seriously doubt its accuracy. State's Exhibit A - Washington, D.C. is the number one place to raise kids. I'm not sure if they are talking about the Washington that once had a crack-head mayor, the Washington full of powerful men who like to tweet their junk, or the Washington that used to always have the second highest murder rate (behind of course East St. Louis).  State's Exhibit B , we were number 2 on this list just last fall, which was really like being number 2 on the number 2 list. That must have been a quick turnaround. Nonetheless, it really rubs me the wrong way.

St. Louis, I think it is time for us to stand up and be something more than "a great place to raise kids (because nothing good or bad ever happens here)" or "a great baseball town (because there isn't anything else to do)" and give ourselves SOME sort of identity. Everyone hear thinks we've given Toasted Ravioli and thin-crust pizza to the world, but no one outside of the bi-state area has ever heard of them (or would eat them if they had). People have heard of the Arch. That's it.

I don't have all of the solutions right now. Maybe we try to get The Hangover 3 be filmed here and actually have it be funny. Maybe nobody wears pants to work next Tuesday (unless you are a "nice" or have a "good personality" -- then you should probably keep your pants on). Maybe we divert the commercial traffic from the Mississippi and make it one big "Fifth Coast" beach party. Whatever we do, we'd better do something fast, or all of our kids are gonna move away once they grow up and no one will be left to hear us talk about how awesome it was when Poison and Motley Crue used to come to town every summer.


  1. Don't tell me you actually went to the Motley Cru concert! Hmm...perhaps the article, just to be fair, needs to specify that STL city is still #2 or #1 on the worst places to live but STL county is nice. Maybe we could even change that whole nice thing by having a reality show that actually focuses on all the organized crime we have? It could be the Bosnian's one season, the Asians (yeah yeah..I can't remember which group it is in Chesterfield), and I'm sure there are others I just don't remember. At least the history channel did feature us on their Gang's show and list us as one of the worst cities for gang issues...perhaps we can do a reality show on that! Not so nice anymore are we. Or maybe I just need to stop focusing on the bad things and think of something AWESOME. Hmm..that might take some time.

  2. Your last sentence summed it up perfectly... we just don't have anything that you can rely on to be awesome day in and day out. I'd like something like that for this town to be known for.

  3. While in Spain, if I said Chicago, people would consistently say Michael Jordan or Al Capone. But we do have pizza....

  4. Doubtful that Spain knows where STL is. If it wasnt for Albert Pujols I doubt we would be associated with any person that is breathing.