Lou Pickney's Online Commentary
April 1, 2004
This is no April Fool's joke -- Evansville, Indiana outranked Tampa, Florida in the latest MSNBC List of the Top 50 cities in the United States.
47. Evansville-Henderson, IN-KY
48. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL
Evansville has Tampa beat on the traffic, but that's about it. I spent four years in Evansville, and I've got love for the town, but c'mon... outranking Tampa?!? Who are they kidding?
Looking outside of things like cost-of-living, traffic, etc., I've put together a list of cities/areas that I've visited that I really enjoyed. My list has nothing to do with objective criteria per se, but rather places that struck me as having something special to them. If nothing else, they're places that I think you should all visit at least once in your life.
Now, to be fair, this is only a subset of the world. I love to travel, but remember that: I'm only 26; I haven't had something like the military to utilize to travel a ridiculous amount; I've only been to two continents (North America and Europe), and even within that subset my travels have been limited to the experiences I've been lucky enough to have. There are places like Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo and Los Angeles and San Diego and Madrid that I've never visited. So keep that in mind. Anyway, on with the list. This is in no particular order...
Amsterdam: It gets a bad rap because it doesn't take a hardline puritanical stand on things like sex and drugs, but there is so much more to this city than hash bars and the red light district. The laid back atmosphere there is perhaps the most refreshing thing you'll find in Europe (outside of a cold Hacker-Schorr beer at Oktoberfest in Munich), the waterways that crisscross the city are fascinating to see, and the mixture of cultures is truly unique. I'll never forget when I first arrived at the train station in November 1998 (with Liz, Bubble and Andy) and going to the help desk and being amazed that the guy working there could speak five languages (no exaggeration). Even the panhandlers in town there are smart -- try as I did to keep a low profile, our appearance still screamed "American", and the bums (most of them) came up to us speaking English. There were a few who'd ask for money in Dutch or German (this was pre me shaving my head, but I still looked very much the part of my French/German heritage), but they quickly recognized and switched their spiel to English.
Tampa: I love this city. I love it. How can you not? The winters are mild, there's a ton of fun things to do (from sports to theatre to the beach), the clubs are hopping, Miami and Orlando are in driving distance (and even Key West if you're up for a longer drive), and it fits the small major city profile perfectly (bad traffic, but not ridiculous; some crime, but not South Central Los Angeles). The summers get hot, but that's the case in Nashville and St. Louis and most everywhere else. Short of San Diego (at least from what I'm told), you're going to run into humidity. So it goes. But I love it here. Beautiful women flock to Florida, people come here to vacation, oh and there's no state income tax. And did I mention the beaches and the ocean? And the beautiful women??? Yeah, I though so...
New York City: The ultimate "big city", at least from what I've experienced. You want bigger than life (except for apartment sizes), this is it. Unfortunately that goes for the prices too, but that is how it goes. There's a chance I might be spending some time in NYC fairly soon for work-related duties, which will be nice. Always fun to get up there. I haven't been since January 2001, so I haven't been to a post 9/11/01 NYC. But the clubs there are off the chain, there's always something going on, and it seems that the big-time players in everything flock there. But if you go, be prepared for sticker shock. It's pricey.
London: While we're talking big cities, let's discuss my second-favorite big city... London. I really like that place. England is a place I'll always have love for; it's similar enough (especially on the language tip) to make communication easy, but it's different enough to make there be plenty of fun and unique and fascinating differences. My description I realize is doing the city absolutely no justice... just go there sometime. You won't regret it.
San Francisco: My most recent addition to the list is San Fran. Gorgeous scenery galore, with the hills and valleys and bay bridges all connecting to form some really picturesque visuals. From Chinatown to Fisherman's Wharf, there's a wide variety of things to do there. I don't know about living there, between the cost of living and the way the political world tilts so sharp to the left, but the visit I had there was outstanding.
Nashville: As much as I love Tampa, Nashville is and will always be my hometown. A fun city, on the mid-major level population wise, but growing and expanding and overcoming being seen as merely a "country music town". Go there, see that some of the stereotypes are true, others are blown out of proportion, and that many more are entirely out of whack. Hit 2nd Avenue for a good time on the town.
I could go on and on... But those are some places I love. And you should love them too -- or at least visit them at some point in your life...