Wednesday, February 19, 2003

What I Really Think of New York...
There's a strange schizophrenia in being from someplace like Kansas City. To my country cousins, I was a city boy. And I was, really. I'd grown up running errands with my grandmother, who was much more inclined to go downtown for the necessities of life than to the suburbs. Of course, I was also a Boy Scout, the grandson of a cowboy, and the son of a man who bucked hay for fun money when he was a kid. Truth be told, I was equally comfortable on sidewalks or tromping through the woods, and I have trouble even now imagining life without both.

Because of that, places like New York, Boston, or Washington are great places to visit, but, well, you know the rest. Actually, their appeal to me is largely historical, like London, or Beijing. Metropolises like that are leftovers, artifacts of the industrial revolution and previous economic models that predated the ease with which we now move goods and information around the world.

Of course, that's assuming people actually want to move out to places like Columbia, a town of 100,000 or so, with theater, music, art, and food to rival many New York neighborhoods, with a great farmer's market featuring largely organic food grown within a hundred miles of here, tons of bike and walking trails, rock climbing in town, reasonably priced housing, etc.

That's not to say there aren't tradeoffs. If you work in IT, for example, then you've got the choice of about 3 good sized companies that are frequently hiring or dozens of small shops that are always overworked and rarely adding staff. It's a situation which encourages people to stay where they are for more than a few years, but gives my boss incentive to keep me happy. It's a nice compromise, actually.

There are the students, sure. There's a bit of chaos when they swoop into town after a break, especially because we locals get used to being able to go to a movie on Friday night without having to wait in line and actually being able to converse in the bars. But they also bring in the art and the theater, as well as cute liberal arts grad students who are fun to talk to at coffee shops. Okay, that last part's just a theory, but I hope to test it some day. And at the risk of sounding like a dirty old man, college girls add a nice dimension to the town when the weather starts warming up.

You know, the more I think about Columbia, the more I think the New Yorkers have a point. The coasts have so much to offer that you just can't find here in fly-over country. You wouldn't want to give that all up. In fact, it's probably for the best if you don't even come visit out here. You'd just be bored. And, frankly, we have plenty of people here already.

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