Back in April, Bloomberg‘s BusinessWeek published a neat, little article titled “Austin or Bust: America’s Biggest Cities Lose People to the Urban B-List.” It has all the charts and graphs you might expect in this kind of economy-centric periodical and on this kind of topic. In this case, ‘b-list’ isn’t some sort of slam against the places listed: they are more like the diva’s understudy waiting for the spotlight than one of Cinderella’s undeserving step sisters.
I don’t really understand what all of the data points mean, or what the graphs portend. (Maybe someone could VoxSplain it all to me?) It might surprise you to learn that- in droves- people are shedding the cities with the highest cost for the homes desirable to middle-income earners. Or maybe it won’t. This statistic, I think, is a positive thing. What it means is Americans are still scrapping and clawing, even in this dismal economy, to achieve the epitome of the American dream, home ownership. Increasingly, they’re finding it, not in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, but in smaller cities like Nashville, Tennessee, Phoenix, Arizona and Austin, Texas.
“But it’s hot….”
About thirty days from now, I’ll be moving back west, not to Las Vegas, where I spent most of the 2000s (did we ever settle on what to call that decade?), but to its sister to the south, Phoenix. I know Phoenix has the same soul-stealing heat, gorgeous red rock scenery, and other things you’ll find in or around Sin City. There are things that Bugsy Siegel’s ‘Paradise’ doesn’t have over the Valley of the Sun that appeal to me. For instance, baseball. The Cactus League is home to many major league spring training camps, including that of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Last year, the league set an all-time attendance record as over 1.7 million happy fans crowded the stadiums that dot the landscape. I hear rumors that Arizona has other professional sports teams, too, which of course we don’t have in Cincinnati.We only have the Bengals.
Phoenix has museums and zoos and lots and lots of other stuff to keep you cool indoors. And besides the blistering summer months, the rest of the calendar is mild and pleasant. When I think of Phoenix, I think of an willowy,aproned Flo and “Mel’s Diner.” I wonder if sassy waitresses there ever say,”Kiss my grits”?
Often, whenever you tell someone you used to live in Vegas, people will give you an incredulous look, and say something like, “But it’s so hot there. How did you stand it?”
“No, really. It’s hot!”
I’ll tell you how you stand the heat. You become like a wily lizard. You plan ahead and seek out the way. Any shade — tree leaves, awnings, an extremely tall person — will do. You also plan your most active part of the day when it’s coolest: in the early mornings or the late evenings. You find your occupation someplace indoors, in the merciful splendor of air conditioned modernity.Then you make sure to have access to an outdoor swimming pool, where you reside in comfort once the sun goes down.
Now, you might cotton to the line of thinking found in this Salon article: “Say goodbye to Phoenix — and the American West,” they say, because climate change is making all of the water dry up. I’ll leave that for the pundits and the scientists to duke it out. Because I’m going…
“But why leave Cincinnati? What’s wrong with it?”
There’s nothing wrong with Cincinnati, necessarily. Well, there is the fact that the state itself is trending toward stagnation and liberalism, rife with aging dinosaurs looking to lead the state Republican party ever onward to more compromises with a growing, progressive left. Our governor, the “compassionate conservative” John Kasich, decided that it would be “the right thing to do” to cut a deal with the Obama Administration on expanding Medicaid, over the will of the people of Ohio and her elected majority GOP legislature. We have a Speaker of the House (yes, I live in John Boehner’s district) who waffles and weaves… and sobs his way to overwhelming election wins, every two years. Really, the less said about him, the better, don’t you think?
Beyond all that, Cincinnati is a lovely city. I’m going to miss United Dairy Farmers and the World’s Largest Chicken Dance at Oktoberfest on Fountain Square (Check The Guinness Book of World Records- it’s in there!); Reds Opening Day and Skyline Chili. And the reason I’m leaving contains the reason it’s so appealing to others: it’s not going to change all that much, no matter how long I’m away. More than likely, all of these great things will be here– when I come back and visit.