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Indianapolis Facts 11-20

Ugly buildings

Persona non grata!

Apparently I am no longer welcome in the place where I was raised. My parents have written me out of the will; my sister says she never wants to see me again, and I don’t even want to tell you what her husband says; fortunately my in-laws are still on speaking terms but have stipulated they’ll only meet me at specified locations outside the Hoosier State.

I love Indianapolis, really I do. It’s just so easy to mock. And so much fun. I didn’t mean to offend anyone with my fact-finding yesterday. But I miscalculated. I forgot many Hoosiers can actually read. And they have internets. Who knew?

Things have gotten ugly, and I blame myself. There’s only one thing uglier than a Hoosier, and that’s a mad Hoosier who’s just been reminded that their capital city is known in the rest of the country as “a cornfield with lights.” I shouldn’t have said anything.

Amongst the numerous angry and incoherent cries from my benighted Hoosier brethren, the following remark from one JB of Indianapolis is all too typical:

I know you love your adopted hometown dearly, B, and your misgivings about The Crossroads of America are well-documented (literally!), but I guess I’m just not quite able to accept that the same Bart Everson who has spent the better part of the last two decades overtly or by implication cataloging and deconstructing that particularly American brand of lowest-common-denominator jingoism has truly devolved into that polarized paradigm that The Onion so succinctly summed up on their timeless “The Sports Team From My Area Is Superior to the Sports Team from Your Area” t-shirts, but I guess it could be that the march toward middle age has caused you to (hopefully temporarily) leave behind the Reason of your youth and supplant it with a clumsier and more hackneyed polarity normally not seen this side of Mike Royko, but I’m holding out hope that maybe you were just having some semi-satirical fun whilst stoking some cred fires in your new homeland.

See what I mean? Rile them up a little and they fall to pieces. That’s a run-on sentence. Clearly, he’s rattled.

I should know better than to continue along this vein, but I just can’t help myself. It’s like eating potato chips. Or smashing windows. Once you smash one, you gotta smash ’em all.

  1. Let’s start off with a little history, going back to 1897. That’s when the Indiana legislature tried to round Pi off to 3.2.

    You might think this is a joke. You might think it happened in Kansas or Oklahoma. But alas, it happened in Indianapolis.

    (Thanks to my former dorm-mate Bartlett M. for reminding me of this gem.)

  2. Every other major city in the country requires dogs be licensed, but in Indianapolis they just let them run wild in the street.

    The city has truly “gone to the dogs.”

  3. Indianapolis is such a cesspool of corruption they’ve got, like, thirteen property tax assessors. That’s an obvious absurdity, and I would never want to live in a city with — what?

    Oh, never mind. Ahem. Scratch that remark about the assessors.

    But continuing on the topic of real estate…

    Indianapolis was in the news quite a bit a year or so ago because they had the cheapest housing market in the country.

    Why is housing so cheap? Because no one wants to live there. It’s simple supply and demand. Detroit has now surpassed Indy in this category though. Way to go!

  4. Did you know half the nation’s population is within a day’s drive of Indianapolis? And yet the overwhelming majority of drivers refuse to stop when driving through Indy.

    I wonder why that is.

  5. Never mind the rest of the county. The sad fact is that Indy is embarrassed of itself. As a subjective phenomenon, such an allegation might seem difficult to prove. Therefore I quote no less an authority than the respected Aaron M. Renn:

    let’s face it, Indy is carrying around a chip on its shoulder about being a “cow town” sort of place. It is desperate to prove its big city bona fides and have people see it as a real big city. That’s why there is so much focus on things like swanky restaurants, shops, pro sports, light rail, etc. Indy is desperate to be perceived as having the trappings of a “real” big city and be taken seriously

    Please note these are the words of an advocate, not a detractor. But with friends like these…

  6. The so-called “Hoosier Poet,” James Whitcomb Riley, has not one but three works featured in Very Bad Poetry by Ross Petras. The titles are evocative indeed: “The Smitten Purist,” “Us-folks Is Purty Pore,” and “I’m Thist a Little Cripple Boy, an’ Never Goin’ to Grow.”

    I’d quote from this last but I’m afraid it might induce my readers to barf.

    It is worth noting that Riley was the most cultured man the Hoosier State has yet produced.

    Until I came along of course.

  7. David Letterman got his start on TV as a weatherman on an Indianapolis station. He once predicted hail stones “the size of canned hams.”

    For this little joke, he was summarily fired, and the citizens of this dour and humorless city rode him out of town on a rail. Of course they were doing him a favor by forcing him to seek his fortune elsewhere, which he did with considerable success.

  8. I’m sorry to return to the subject of food, but I can’t ignore the fact that Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard is betting “shrimp cocktail with plenty of horseradish” against New Orleans in the Super Bowl.

    As a former Hoosier I actually do understand this. As I grew up, I truly thought that “shrimp cocktail with plenty of horseradish” was the pinnacle of good eating and the high life. In fact, on my honeymoon in French Lick I ordered two servings of it.

    But let’s be honest. The Saints may actually have to throw the game to avoid this “prize.”

  9. I can’t put it any better than this: Super Bowl Cities Summarized Though Individual YouTube Clips. Watch the videos, read the commentary. The ribbing on New Orleans is pretty good, but on Indianapolis it’s even better.

    It has a good football team, which is celebrated by the local populace by appropriating another region’s signature icons and culture because Indianapolis lacks one of its own. Wave those Terrific Towels, everybody! You’re the 12th Man! A chain restaurant of your choice wants to host your Super Bowl party! They got sliders!

    Each comment is funnier than the last.

  10. Dan Quayle.
    Nuff said.

My sides are hurting. I haven’t had this much fun since, well, since Saturday night. And we all know how that turned out.

But don’t get me wrong. I’m not joking. I’m not. This is very, very serious stuff. Very. Very. Serious. To suggest otherwise would be downright un-American.

Published inSports?


  1. So you put a lot of effort into this one, I see. Good effort.

    As the twitter updates pour in and the emails blast through my inbox with subjects “I hate Indianapolis,” “Indy is a dull city” or the like, I can’t help but ask…

    When was the last time you’ve been to Indianapolis? Has someone from Indy actually shown you the very cultural side of our city? Has anyone taken you to Chatham Tap for a fresh, locally brewed beer while chatting with the regulars. Has someone taken you down to Deano’s Vino in Fountain Square and then to Radio Radio to see a show, one of the coolest small venues we have here.Ever heard of Indy Fringe Festival? IMA? Lilly Gardens? Has someone taken you down Broad Ripple Avenue? Has anyone showed you the little jazz spots that you can rarely find online?

    Is online research you’ve ever experience in the last decade of Indianapolis’ cultural growth?

    Yes. You may you do your research. You may notice I work for the Convention and Visitors Association. Hey, you may even assume that this is all an attempt to boost our rep for supporting our city… but there is where you’d fail. (for the 21st time).

    Every city has its illiterates. Every city has its hot-headed advocates. Every city has people like you. People who think Indianapolis can be compared to New York. That Louisville can be compared to San Francisco.

    The difference here is… we know where we stand. We’re not desperate to get people to appreciate our city. We aren’t begging visitors to see what we have to offer. We know they’ll like what they see.

    We’re growing. We’re never satisfied. We’re making changes. We know what it takes to get to the top. And frankly, we’re a bad ass city who isn’t afraid to back down to our competitors any more. How can you hate a city that is making remarkable changes to become a more desirable destination? And I’m not talking minor changes. I’m talking build-a-new-stadium-new-airport-largest-downtown-hotel-connections changes. We’ve heard the complaints. And we’re making sure we do our part to fix it.

    So instead of crucifying you for hating our city, I encourage you to just come visit us. And visit us with an open mind…

    Afterwards, I can assure that your top 20 will look a little different next time.

  2. There’s harmless fun, I mean very, very serious American stuff, like you’re doing here. And then there’s the Harmless Fun perpetrated by John Georges’ bigoted, black-face-wearing fraternity all the way through 1997 and the folks who recently invited me to a Ten Little Indians party for which attendees were asked to dress as their favorite American Indian or Indian Indian. Or a cowboy, for extra flavor.

    Context is almost always superior to concept, the concept in question here being caricature. But, ultimately, how harmless is the fun if people are hurt, if they “can’t take a joke?” Depends on the joke, i.e. the context.

    Of course, the sad thing is a lot of the folks “hurt” would not stop themselves from turning around and creating lists of what they find odious about New Orleans. Just like I am itching to throw a Come Dressed Like Your Favorite Skinny Blonde White Bitch party and invite some special folks to it.

  3. Chris Huffman Chris Huffman

    1. New Orleans is a great place to live – IF YOU WANT TO BE MURDERED

    New Orleans was (once again) the United States murder capital, and 3rd leading city in the world, in 2008. Its murder rate is estimated as 67 per 100,000 by its own police department and 95 per 100,000 by the FBI.

    And this isn’t Katrina-related. In fact, the murder rate in NOLA peaked in 1994 at a rate of 86 per 100,000 residents, which made New Orleans the murder capital of the ENTIRE WORLD.

    2. You wouldn’t want to live in New Orleans if you have children (unless you can afford private school).

    The New Orleans Public School System is one of the area’s largest systems (along with the Jefferson Parish public school system). In the years leading up to Hurricane Katrina, the school system was widely recognized as the lowest performing school district in Louisiana. And Louisiana’s public education system ranks 47th in the country, beating out Mississippi, Alabama and New Mexico.

    3. New Orleans has some of the best food in the country, and it’s obesity rates prove it

    In 2009, Louisiana’s adult obesity rate remained seady, with the state ranking 8th highest in the nation, at 28.9 percent. Louisiana also has the 7th highest rate of overweight youths, ages 10-17, at 35.9 percent, according to the study.

    4. Louisiana is widely acknowledged as the most corrupt state in the Union

    From beloved former Governor Huey Long to four-term Governor Edwin Edwards (who pled guilty in 2001 and was sentenced to ten years in prison on racketeering charges), the Cajun State has a long history of dirty officials.

    For instance, according to a 1998 report from Human Rights Watch, a former police officer named Len Davis ordered the murder of a woman after he learned she had filed a brutality complaint against him. Federal agents already had Davis under surveillance for alleged drug-dealing, but were too late to stop the murder.

    5. Louisiana continues to be one of the most racist states in the U.S.

    In 2009, a Louisiana justice of the peace Keith Bardwell said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple. “I’m not a racist. I just don’t believe in mixing the races that way,” Bardwell told the Associated Press.

    Louisiana is also the birthplace of David Duke, an American white nationalist, and former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. The citizens of Louisiana elected him to be their State Representative in 1989 and nearly 40% voted for him to be Governor in 1991. He lost that bid to the corrupt Governor Edwin Edwards (see #4 above).

  4. I laughed all the way through your characterization of “dose guys'” town. And the reaction. Anyway, we learn some important things from our critics, so let the smack fest continue. We’ll know who really has bragging rights in a few days.

  5. Lee Lee

    I’ve never seen you “not” write things with such vigor. I hope you’re not too serious, and this is mainly just about the game. There are many things that could be said about NOLA as well, but I will not mention them here. I could personally care less about sports.

  6. Anthony Anthony

    Dude.. I’m probably gonna have to go to Indianapolis in 2 years when they host the Superbowl. It’s two years away and you are already making me concerned.

  7. dsb dsb

    Another fun Indy fact: Indianapolitans (that’s the only term I could find for residents of Indianapolis) apparently don’t do funny, unless they move away.

    But I kind of like: “…I guess it could be that the march toward middle age has caused you to (hopefully temporarily) leave behind the Reason of your youth and supplant it with a clumsier and more hackneyed polarity normally not seen this side of Mike Royko…” You don’t see the Mike Royko reference every day.

  8. M Styborski M Styborski

    I think you forgot one B:

    New Orleanians have a sense of humour. We also know the definition of sarcasm.

    And Miss Huffman, we are not as racist as you might think. Why just tonight the City of New Orleans elected its first white mayor in over thirty years!

    (See, I told you we understood sarcasm… 🙂 )

  9. Outtatowner Outtatowner

    Stumbled on this one. Just moved to Indianapolis from an oasis further west with a real city. Indianpolis is depressing. I have been here six months and I am begging for the return home. I am plannning my move home in three years four months. This city has enough crime and poverty to go around. You don’t see it as much if you are one of the ones to seclude yourself up north in Carmel, Fishers, or Zionzville like many of the “spokesmen” of the city. I have been to all of these supposed “great places of Indy” and think it still fails as a city!

    I also feel it is very prejudice in Indianpolis. As a third generation Mexican American, I have felt and heard the prejudice! I went to dinner with co-workers only to hear awful derogatory comments from one of the girl’s husband about African-Americans, Mexicans, and Jewsish openly! I have accounts from others that this is the most prejudice place they have ever lived.

    As seen in the picture above, Indianpolis doesn’t take care of itself. It is ugly and if a business fails, we are reminded every day until the sign decomposes! During the summer I will admit due to the greenery, the city is more aesthetic, but in the already depressing winters it is difficult to stomach! Do something with this ugly city!

    Events and listings for the city kill me! We are VERY limited on the available activities during the winter. As a young childless couple in the city, my husband and I have been forced to leave the city when we can in order to stay sane. The concerts and live music here is extremely limited. When there is a descent music group here the radio stations are compelled to play the music repetitively for the next year, making us all hate it and never want it to return!

    The most awful thing about the city is the driving! I have never been to a city or town with worst drivers! I can honestly say I fear for my life! Every conventional highway driving rule is thrown out the window with the trash here! This in my opinion is an easy fix, but still even the law enforcement fail to use simple turning signals.

    This city is growing up. I hope for their sake they get it together. I won’t stay to find out.

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