I Choose Cleveland

Today is the 4th of July. It's a day when, if you're one of those people who sneeringly say everything Europe does is better than the US, then you simply have to shut up. It's a day to be thankful for what the US does well and for the efforts of those who made it this way. Happy Independence Day!

I moved to Cleveland from Chicago in late 2006. I was puzzled at the muted awe Clevelanders expressed at my mention of Chicago - it was nice there, but it wasn't Nirvana. When I would mention the move, the most common response was actually "why?" Eventually I began to notice an undercurrent of disparagement directed towards Cleveland - and the worst offenders were usually natives. The negativity first made me wonder if I had made the right choice in moving here, and then made me angry that my judgement was being called into question. And I echo: why?

Why? It's a pose. It's the public face of a person too afraid or too weak to stand up in favor of anything. It's pretending that nothing is good enough for them. It's hipsterism.

Examples? When I called to cancel my subscription to the Plain Dealer, they asked me why. Not wishing to explain to this nice lady that I thought her employer was obsolete, I made up the more palatable lie that I was moving out of town. She asked me to where, and I replied Chicago. Her response? A cheerful "oh good for you!" This, from a representative of the local newspaper. Congratulations on leaving. My mind reeled.

Oh, and let's not forget the sickening "fake tourist videos" one and two. These are utterly toxic, lacking the faintest shred of positivity; even the punch line at the end of the second one is degrading.


I chose Cleveland. I choose Cleveland today and every day that I wake up. I will not have my judgement questioned by people who don't have an uplifting word to say about anything. Nor will I stand idly by and let those comments go unanswered. Why NOT Cleveland? What will you do to make it BETTER, hipster asshole? You can start by quitting spewing POISON.

I'm not in favor of unconditional boosterism. Mindlessness on either side doesn't help. This is not a public service announcement. I've never bought the argument that Cleveland is actually awesome because of its world-class museum and orchestra and hospital; other cities this size have a few great things too, but they don't have this counterproductive mixture of narcissism and self-loathing. No, I want to focus on the day to day things that make life here good. The restaurants are good. The weather's never awful and usually pretty nice. Housing is cheap. And I have friends - honestly, right now I want to weep with gratitude at the wonderful people I've come to know here. I am happier here than I have ever been.

Yeah, I choose Cleveland. I hope you will too. And happy Independence Day!