Lileks: Time for America to fall out of love with Minnesota

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 16, 2014 - 4:35 PM

Outside magazine named Duluth the best city in the country. Minneapolis was #3. This has to stop. Now.

It’s nice that the state is having its moment; Minneapolis is like the Benedict Cumberbatch of cities. It’s cast in everything. You can’t read a magazine survey without discovering we’re the best place ever for starting a handmade eraser business (Pencils Quarterly, 2013). It’s nice that Duluth got in on the action. But:

Duluth was cited for its rowing club. That’s great. However. The sentence “this job offer in Paris is incredible, but the opportunities to hone my oarsmanship seem scant. Duluth it is!” has never been spoken by a human being. Poll a thousand Duluthians, and the number of people who say “I guess it’s the abundance of synchronized, competitive paddle-yanking that keeps me here” will be small.

I’m not mad Duluth beat the Mill City. I love Duluth and find the solemn call of the foghorns a soul-stirring song that ties this land to the lure and lore of the broad open water. I love the Lift Bridge, which looks like a handle a giant could use to pick up the city. But the Outside poll had 221K votes. The city has 88K residents. Either everyone voted several times or most of the votes came from people who left, because the phrase “the wind is an ice pick in the frozen block of my soul” kept coming to mind.

No, it has to stop because our moment will pass. The fickle magazine editors will look elsewhere. Minnesota? It’s been done. We will drop to 37th for Great Places to Buy Artisanal, Hand-Woven Dental Floss and will wonder what we’re doing wrong. We’ll still be the same marvelous places we were before, but without polls, how can we feel validated?

The story had Provo, Utah, between Minneapolis and Duluth, which tells you a lot. The only town between the two is Hinckley, where you stop for gas and caramel rolls. Shows what they know.

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858

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