So I’m living in Seattle for six months, I’m halfway through, and I like it here. One thing that’s taking some getting used to, though, is everything is a little too laid back for me. Back East, I’m more used to living in places that have a ubiquitous enthusiasm/anxiety pulling me through the days. One part of that attitude (which, for me, is setting Seattle apart) is how I’ve seen people relate to their hometowns. So, some examples from places I’ve kinda lived:
This is one of the most common tattoos I saw from my time in Chicago, especially among the bike messengers I was hanging out with:
Apparently, it was common enough, I never thought to take a picture. Though, I did get a picture of this guy’s tattoo on a bike rally through the Loop and out to Cicero:
He got me in touch with a bunch of people who did drunken, midnight-madness bike rides. Next weekend’s theme was, of course, “The Blues Brothers,” so we all put on black suits and sunglasses and biked around the city singing “Sweet Home Chicago.” When equally drunk pedestrians asked us what we were doing, we’d all yell: “We’re on a mission from God!”
I hope Philly is filled with town pride. Otherwise, those guys in the tricorne hats would start to seem kind of creepy. In other cities, you might call the authorities on chatty old men claiming to be Ben Franklin.
And oh, and how they do love their Philly teams. Even William Penn roots for the Flyers, and he died well before the ’67 NHL expansion.
As an example of their enthusiasm for local teams, look at their willingness to turn any sport into a blood sport. There are people from Philly who find this clip hilarious but only after being told its a joke:
More tricorne hats; fewer Ben Franklins. In fact, yeah, get away from “Ben,” that’s a little weird.
Here you’ll see a lot of people wearing their town pride, at least because it probably says “Boston” somewhere on their college hoodie. And you can get a sense of the city’s self-obsession when you stop to read a plaque every 20 feet.
A lot of Bostonians are also willing to be proud of things they maybe shouldn’t be so proud of. Like Charlie stuck on the MBTA. Or an accent that’s part Lincolnshire, part Dublin, and part seagull. They rooted for the Sox, undeterred, for the whole of the 20th century. Honest to God, in Boston, they cheer for their polluted river. And they don’t care. They own it.
New York (Fuckin) City
Pointing out cultural examples of how New York is in love with itself is like shooting fish in a barrel in Chinatown. Sure, you could easily do in twenty with one shot, but it gets excessive and nobody feels well afterwards. Or, you could take aim for one and still make your point. So, forget that New York has dozens of songs written about it. Forget that just Manhattan has dozens of songs written about it. Forget that people even write songs about outer boroughs. Just consider that this government-housing/beach-resort at the far end of Queens has a song written about it:
And finally, Seattle. The reason I bring any of this up in the first place, is I stumbled upon Seattle’s version of local bravado:
These people are so chill, they just let their sentences end-ish.
That’s fine. I do like it here. Plus, there’s nothing great about a mindless allegiance to one’s home town, or the delusion that people in certain areas are better than others. It’s just the bullshit I’m used to.
But still, I’ve mentioned my awesome new coffee mug to people. Right down the line, locals have no idea what I’m talking about, and East Coast transplants think it’s hilarious. And it led me to hear about the best slogan for this city. A guy who had lived here for decades was asked what what he thought of Seattle, and he really talked it up: “Well, it’s bigger than Vancouver, and really, probably just as good.”