Enough. Stop. Please. I implore the City Council to pass a resolution withdrawing Minneapolis from consideration in any more lists. We hit the top this week, when a website looked at all the other meaningless surveys about urban areas hot and haute, and declared the Mill City to be the best place to live in the country. Now we can just hook our thumbs in our suspenders and beam contentedly forever after and never pay attention to any of these lists again.
For some the results are preposterous, because, you know, Murderapolis. These critics think joggers all over town regularly do face-plants when they slip on the carpet of expended cartridges littering the park paths. As if people on the border of the city breathe a sigh of relief when they cross 50th and France into Edina, like the Dukes of Hazzard boys seeking safety on the other side of the county line. (The pursuing criminals stop and throw their hats on the ground and shake their fists in impotent rage.)
There are also people who believe it cannot be the best place because the taxes are high, and while that’s true that they are mandatory, living here is not, and the politicians who set the taxes did not descend from the skies uninvited. I think there’s elections or something where people choose them based on their stated policies. I’ll look into that and get back to you.
Best does not mean perfect. It means that given all the factors one could consider — economy, neighborhoods, industrious citizens, number of small restaurants with exposed brick walls that sell sriracha-drizzled Cronuts for nine dollars — we pretty much have everyone else beat, and that includes New York. As well it should. New York is loud and it costs $6,000 for an apartment the size of a refrigerator crate. San Francisco has great views, but the entire economy is built around making cellphone apps that let you rate strangers’ genital piercings or manipulate falling pieces of imaginary candy.
Other cities are cheaper, and in their own ways they are better for this and that. Other cities have a better climate during the months when we feel our marrow turn into icy slush. The cold, you might think, would knock us out of the top spot; other cities that have civilized attributes like museums and theater, and their hospitals do not have pamphlets at the receiving desk titled “So You’ve Lost a Toe Now, There.”
But no one’s put it together quite like Minneapolis, it seems. So let’s just accept that we’re the best and never speak of these lists again, for the following four reasons:
1. These lists are all subjective hogwash based on things the writers look up on the Internet. The site that called Minneapolis No. 1 is called Patch of Earth and it’s devoted to “highly shareable editorial content,” which of course we are doing right now, Sharing, highly. Here’s what they say about Minneapolis: “It’s considered very green, with a great food scene and fantastic job market. Plus it’s a good place to live without a car.” And that’s it. Nothing more needs to be said, I guess; nothing about the number of people we lose every year to wolves. Did you just move here? Did anyone tell you about the wolves? Never makes the lists. Well, you’ll figure it out.
2. The list is obviously flawed, because it did not say we were the most readingest city in the known universe, which is odd because we have such a tall rate of literalicy. But reading isn’t an unalloyed good. It’s what you read that matters. If you wandered into Barnes and Noble in a new town and asked what was popular, and the fellow behind the counter said “heck, can’t keep ‘Mein Kampf’ from flyin’ off the shelf,” you wouldn’t think, well, at least they’re reading.
3. We have real problems, and there’s a danger we could turn a blind eye to underperforming schools because a website somewhere hung a useless medal around our collective neck. Really? you say. Nah. Not a chance. But I needed a No. 3.
4. At some point we will fall in the rankings, because some bright fancy little city will flounce into the consciousness of magazine writers. It’ll start with stories like “Surprisingly, Omaha” or “Nebraska’s Crown Jewel: Omaha is Omahot” and so on. The fickle critics will tire of praising Minneapolis, and while it will never occur to them to be so cruel as to start talking up St. Paul — which travel writers seem to think is the urban equivalent of Overflow Parking for Minneapolis — they’ll praise a new place. And what will we do then?
Go about our business, of course, because it doesn’t matter. And I say that as someone fully prepared to gin up manufactured outrage over our demotion when that happens.
But is there a deeper issue here? (Spoiler: no, but let’s pretend.) Are we so insecure that we fasten on these lists to reassure ourselves that we live in a great place, or so proud that we like to see what we know confirmed by outsiders? Thirty years ago I’d have said the former. Now I say the latter — providing the BEST designation includes St. Paul, and the suburbs, and the exurbs, and the small towns that orbit the Metro like protons around a bright nucleus, and the lakes and the woods and plains and the fields.
All things considered, we have it good. Let us speak no more of lists. Unless “All Things Considered” wants me to come on and talk about the list, in which case: name the time!