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Love Your Enemy

I’ve had a lot of fun at the expense of my former hometown over the past few days — and the response has truly astonished me. So kick back for a few minutes and listen to this mix while I disclose a few final factoids.

You’re hearing a dozen of my favorite songs from or about the Circle City. Perhaps surprisingly, only a couple of them actually make fun of Indianapolis.

It might be noted that I haven’t mentioned the Indy music scene in my rantings. There’s a reason for that, and it’s because I’m actually a huge fan of Musical Family Tree, which is one of the best music/community sites on the web.

And — oh yes — it is based in Indianapolis. Indie rock (no pun intended) from that city is a sort of touchstone for the site, but it branches out from there. Way out. You’ll find music from diverse genres and from as far away as Japan, but all interconnected in one beautiful web of mutual complicity.

If all this seems unexpected in light of what I’ve been putting out recently, consider this photo (and caption) which I posted way back in July of 2005.


It’s like Indianapolis has turned into the Venice of the Midwest!

Yes, I’ve been dogging on Indy pretty hard over the last few days. Hopefully by spiraling into absurdity I made my intentions clear to even the most irony-impaired Hoosiers. What I said earlier this week is true: I love Indianapolis. Not because it’s a paragon of, well, anything, but because I haven’t got room for hate in this old heart of mine. Indianapolis is where I grew up, and I will always have a soft spot for it.

But it definitely helps to have an 800-mile buffer zone.

New Orleans is in many ways the polar opposite of Indy. I knew nothing of New Orleans as I grew up in Indiana, and it remained a complete cultural blind spot until I moved here ten years ago. The strange thing was that I felt at home here immediately. I’ve come to love New Orleans, not unreservedly, but in spite of her flaws — “warts and all,” one might say.

Which, by the way, is also how I love Indianapolis. Warts and all, and at a distance.

When I returned for that visit in 2005 I was mighty impressed by how much downtown Indy had changed. It really is not what I remembered growing up there in the 80s.

I just thought it would be a good idea to say this now, in advance of the big game. If I’d waited until after the Saints victory, people might have thought I was saying these things out of pity for the Colts fans. Not at all. I speak not out of pity, but because I love the truth. It’s the same love of truth which motivated me to compile all those very factual facts about Indianapolis.

Speaking of which, did you know Indianapolis recently made number eight on a list of top cities to visit in the state of Indiana? (Hat tip to Howie for that one.)

This just in: It appears I’m the subject of an article in the Sunday Herald-Times. That’s the daily rag in Bloomington, Indiana. Feature columnist Mike Leonard was apparently pushed over the edge by my goodhearted razzing. The full column is behind a paywall, but my sources have supplied me with the text. Leonard tries to explain away my invective based on the fact that I grew up in a suburb on the south side of Indy:

And when you grow up in a place like Greenwood, it’s easy to see the worst in Indy-A-No-Place. Of all of the cities and towns in Indiana that begin with “Green,” Greenwood clearly offers the bleakest, strip-mall-and-vinyl-village perspective of all.

Published inMusic & Audio


  1. Anthony Anthony

    Kind of got the impression that you were going over-the-top due to a love/hate thing. I know I get that way with New Orleans from time to time. And someone from New Orleans really wouldn’t have taken that much time to talk smack about Indianapolis because, well, it doesn’t really register with us, and, well, let’s face it, we consider our city SO great that it is sort of bad form to point out how lacking everyone elses city is. It would take someone from Indianapolis to go that far.

    Well, this will all be settled tomorrow when the Saints beat the Colts!!! GO SAINTS!!!

  2. Slick Johnny Slick Johnny

    Leonard’s column ran with your Katrina refugee picture, by the way. Which reminds me- sometimes, Tom, you DO have to live like a refugee!

  3. Mike C Mike C

    N.O. will always have jazz and pralines and parties and live oaks….You’re right about Indy, which is why Indianapolis NEEDS that trophy…Go Colts!

  4. That Dandelion Abortion song holds up pretty well. I am wondering about the Gizmos song. I love that song, but is it explicitly about Indianapolis? I don’t hear mention of Indy. Maybe you chose it because it’s about an American dream exemplified by Indianapolis.

  5. Actually Eric I thought that song was recorded live in Indianapolis… but was it really? Now I’m not sure. But I bought the CD in Indy at a Gizmos show — the only place time I’ve ever seen them live — so I always associate those songs with Indy in my mind. The other angle (content) works as well. It’s the best song in the mix, so even if they’re a “Bloomington band” I had to include it.

  6. You saw the Gizmos live back in the day, or a reunion show in the 90s?

  7. mike mike

    ha, hopefully I can get ransom or someone to post the Leonard piece on FB. This week’s been a high-water mark (um, poor choice of words) in your pranking career, sir.

  8. It was at the (first?) big MFT fest in Indy. Actually we delayed returning from our evacuation just for that. So it would have been November 2005.

  9. haole wolf haole wolf


    I thought your week of jovial jibes was like a mardi gras parade of words across the ether, throwing necklaces every which way. (Sometimes they hit you flat in the face!) I hope the game lives up to hype — these are two fun teams to watch!

    New Orleans has a cultural legacy of hundreds, if not thousands of years. Indianapolis is a manufactured city on a drained swamp, less than 200 years old. (Faux-oldest event: Mayflower moving vans bringing the Colts to Indy from Baltimore in the middle of the night.)

    No fair comparison is possible. It would be fun to create a series of pick-up football games to be played by randomly chosen fans from both cities. That might be just the right venue for trash talking…

    Geaux Saints, Slow Naptown.

  10. bahlonik bahlonik

    Well, Mr. Smarty Pants, I’ll bet you didn’t know that a LOT of the historic decorative ironwork in N’oleans was made in Madison, Indiana and sent down the river, didja! So have some a heapin’ helpin’ of Indiana with your red beans and rice…GO COLTS!!

  11. Jeb Jeb

    Thanks for the shout out Bart! I never doubted your love of Indiana music despite your increasingly humorous list of Indy’s faults.
    Peace! Jeb

  12. bahlonik bahlonik

    The previous blog entry was a parody of mindless hoosier bravado laced with a rare historical bit of interest, such as can be found in Bloomington’s “daily rag” online, the HTO. No hoosiers were harmed in the making of aforementioned entry. The intent is to force those with potential, such as Bart, from the cozy sarcophagus of Indiana into a better life, or to parody and excoriate the neanderthals that they leave us here with.

  13. Adam Endwright Adam Endwright


    Congrats on the win. I hope it means as much to you as it did to me when the Colts won a few years ago. I’m still surprised at how you can be a fan of an NFL team after watching “The RCA State”, but I’ll admit that I didn’t really become an Colts fan until sometime in my college years.

    New Orleans is going to be rocking for the next couple of weeks (of course it would anyway). I’m even contemplating about coming down to celebrate for you. I just don’t think I’d be welcomed while wearing my Colts jersey. It’s still going to be one hell of a party down there!

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