Most of today's renewed crop of St. Louis boosters recognize that the nature of the inferiority complex is, by definition, internal. Its our own residents, city and suburbs alike, pounding St. Louis into the ground, not people from other cities. (Well, Chicago is jealous of our Cardinals, and Austin, Texas seems to have a superiority complex, but it's really just those two).
Many St. Louisans grow up with an internalized indifference, dislike, or even hatred of their own city. Some of them move far outside the city and don't look back (or their parents did so a generation ago).
Like...this guy, a student of St. Louis University (in 2003) who penned a petty piece on his hatred of St. Louis, aptly titled "St. Louis: how I hate thee".
Here are some lowlights from that editorial. It's worth noting that it is one of the University News' most commented articles, even today, and most of those comments are either lukewarm or brutally negative themselves.
I'm no anthropologist, but, as a high school history teacher of mine noted, every society has culture--even Affton. Culture like cruising Lindbergh Boulevard with neon license plate holders; culture like the monstrosity of a movie house called Ronnie's and its sea of waist high pre-pubescents wearing clothing and make-up that would make a hooker blush (my friend dubbed these youngsters "prosti-tots"); culture like having every major road and highway within a 50-mile radius of St. Louis clogged with bumper to bumper traffic that makes the opening scene of Office Space look like a documentary. Forgive me if I'm unimpressed.
I suppose I post this because I've grown tired of fighting people that can't see the positive and the potential of St. Louis. Yet it's difficult to exist in St. Louis without some pre-existing database of words, phrases, and neighborhoods in your head to counter the next "why do you stay here?" commentaries.
To that effect, I knew there would be someone in St. Louis's vast online journalism community that could sum up their love for the city better than I can. Or at least do so less wordily.
That's why I wanted to post these three uplifting St. Louis articles/commentaries that really fly in the face of the critics. Read them and weep--with tears of joy for our much-maligned, but, I feel, kickass city that I feel is truly becoming a great place to live.
The first is a well-put blog post from St. Louis Magazine. The second is a lengthy article in that same publication discussing the movement of "Creatives" to St. Louis and includes more boosterism than I think I have ever read in something written about St. Louis. And the last is a particularly snarky, yet no less inspiring (and early--written in 2002!) defense of St. Louis from haterism by our own Riverfront Times.
Kicking Against the Myth of "St. Louis, Misery
St. Louis Magazine - Look/Listen Blog
We have a great contingent of place-sensitive, brilliant, creative people who are doing that work here locally, too. When seen through this filter, St. Louis is anything but miserable. Tiny ripples are starting to reach shore; PSFK, "a trends an innovation company" that runs a daily news site, has been doing a "Report from Middle America," series, and today's post focuses on Black Bear Bakery. This weekend, scores of those young bloggy creative types will be gathering in the West End to protest the possible demolition of the San Luis Apartments with a "Valentine's Day Love-In." They may just save that building, and more: the astrological alignment that the Broadway hippies saing about in "Age of Aquarius," will actually occur tomorrow! Now, that's having some major mojo on your side, at least if you're organizing a love-in. Change, I think, is continuing to blow through the air, but I think it will be a while before the list-makers figure that out.
The Rise of the Creative Class
St. Louis Magazine
Educated, imaginative, enterprising people of all ages and persuasions have migrated to St. Louis over the last decade to join an already vibrant, if largely subterranean, creative ecosystem. Here—amid the historic architecture, patchwork street life, distinct neighborhoods, diverse ethnic populations, city parks and grungy warehouses—they find a creative freedom that they’ve experienced nowhere else. Fueled by a jury-rigged spirit of optimism and ingenuity, they love this city shamelessly. They’re determined to restore its glory—and, if we’re careful, they just might succeed.
Best of 2002 - St. Louis
Losers, crybabies and unsettled souls love to blame St. Louis for their frustrations, as though something as nebulous as a city could be held responsible for a human being’s unhappiness. “Everything would be better if I were in (enter name of hipper city here). There’s so much more action there. I’ve got my choice of two dozen vegetarian restaurants, hundreds of international markets. Amazing shows every night! A rock scene. An art scene. House and techno scenes. An amazing theater scene. Hotter boys. Sexier girls. Get this: (insert hip city here) has a store devoted only to Asian incense! Weird!”
And yet these same unsatisfied souls have never been to a production by the Black Rep, have never been to Lo when Astroboy’s spinning house, never grooved to the Hot House Sessions at the Delmar, never rocked with the Fantasy Four at Lemmons. They haven’t experienced the sublime joy of In Soo’s shrimp moo shu. They’ve never listened to the amazing DJ Needles on Q95.5, don’t even know what the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts is, let alone that Tadao Ando’s creation has been touted as one of the most important new American buildings of the decade. No, they’ve never cruised on a Saturday afternoon down Martin Luther King Boulevard, as revealing a St. Louis history lesson as there is, have never sneaked onto a downtown roof -- which isn’t that hard to do if you pay attention -- at 5 a.m. with your honey and watched the sun rise between the legs of the Arch.
Feeling uplifted? Don't let it stop here. Link me your own inspiring write-up in defense of St. Louis, and I'll post it here. You don't necessarily have to be the author, but make sure to give credit where it's due!