As I've probably mentioned before, I love the St. Louis Cardinals. I have lived in St. Louis since 1995 and have since become a very proud member of Cardinal Nation. So, last week, the Cardinals played the Washington Nationals in a best-of-5 series. It was the Nationals' first post-season trip in something like 78 years. I'll just remind you that the Cardinals are the reigning World Series Champs. But, I digress...
On the eve of the final game between Washington and St. Louis, some blogger named Mister Irrelevant (well, a guest writer that he hosted on his blog) - wrote a mean-spirited, hateful post titled, "Why St. Louis is a Terrible, No Good Place." (Read it here) Here is my response...
Dear Mister Irrelevant,
I heard about your post regarding St. Louis recently, and felt the need to respond. I read it in its entirety, and I won't pretend to be an expert on Washinton, D.C., despite the fact that you seem to have claimed that right for yourself about St. Louis. You have said you lived here for three years and were "happy to escape back to civilization." Well, good riddance, considering how you feel about our city. However, I feel the need to defend my home on a few points.
1) Crime - I won't pretend that the crime statistics for St. Louis aren't terrible - they are. For several years, the City of St. Louis has topped the lists for most violent city in the U.S. No argument here. But, here's the thing - most of what people consider "St. Louis" is actually outside of the city proper, and very safe. And if we want to compare city to city, Washington, D.C. is not exactly topping the lists of safest cities in the U.S. Here are two lists I found that lists D.C. among the 25 most dangerous cities. The Gawker and Neighborhood Scout. As for your claim that there are just bad and worse areas, that's just false. St. Louis, like most big cities, has plenty of areas I wouldn't walk alone through. It also, however, has many wonderful areas that are beautiful, affluent, and safe. Tower Grove Park, Forest Park, Lafayette Square, and The Hill are just a few. My point is, St. Louis is really no different than most big cities. There are bad areas - areas I will always stay away from, but there are the good areas, too. It is not one big cesspool, as you'd have your readers believe.
2) As for your argument about our "insular community," you make some valid points. Lots of people do live in the suburbs - but just because I choose to live where I can afford to live does not mean I don't value culture. We are not Manhattan or D.C. - we don't have your population or your tourism draw, so no, we can't compete when we start counting museums or monuments. But to call us stupid is rude and offensive. Your damn right I'm going to be defensive - I live in a great city. We have one of the top-ranked zoos in the country. And it's free. To everyone. Most of our museums - the Art Museum, the History Museum, the Science Center, to name a few, are free. Are they the Smithsonian? No - but they're wonderful places, full of culture. And we're proud of the fact that in St. Louis you don't have to make six figures to be able to take your family to the zoo or to the museum to experience that culture that in most other big cities would set a family of four back well over $100. Maybe you think only the wealthy deserve to be exposed to culture?
3) Food - Okay, I agree with you on the pizza. Can't stand provel on pizza. But our barbeque? Some of the best. You went to one restaurant (a place I've never even heard of, by the way) and judge all barbeque on that? What about our Italian district - the Hill? Italian food, toasted ravioli, Ted Drewe's custard. St. Louis is more than the stereotypical barbeque, but you failed to mention anything else. Shame on you.
4) Sports - I am a proud member of Cardinal Nation - we love our baseball. And in recent years, the Rams have struggled to keep fans interested because, well, they've just played like crap. And I occasionally watch hockey, but have many friends that are die-hard fans and "bleed Blue." But so what if the Cardinals are our biggest sports draw? Why do you care? So what if we have "Happy Flight," and the Rally Squirrel? Does it really impact your life if our small, insular, culturally-insignificant hillbilly town has a world champion baseball team that loves its rituals and traditions? That's right - World Champions. 11 times. Last fall, I had the privilege of being with friends in a bar near Busch Stadium when we won game 7. Though I've never seen that many people in one place at one time, it was by far one of the coolest things I've ever seen. Because that night - the night we won our 11th championship - St. Louis was the best city in the world. I knew that while everyone celebrated, no one was going to set cars on fire, or trash the bar, or throw trash on the baseball field. Because Cardinals' fans don't do that. It's why Sports Illustrated and other sports-related media consistenly call Cardinal fans "the best fans in sports." As for the calls you claim to have heard to have Mike Matheny fired? Pretty sure those were all in your own head.
So, Mister Irrelevant, I'd say you certainly are. Because while you're happy to have escaped us, I'm happy to live here. I wasn't born here or raised here. I moved here to go to college, got a job, met my husband, and here we stay. All of those things you seem to hate about it here, I love. Here are the reasons why St. Louis is a Wonderful, Fabulous Place to Be...
1) Roots - Didn't grow up here, I am a transplant. Married a local boy who has virtually his entire family within a 2 hour drive. I have come to love the roots that people plant here because it gives us history and feels like home. I never had roots anywhere, but here, I've planted some.
2) The cost of living - we do not live in a big house. But it's a house, with a yard, a garage, and a safe neighborhood. Our most affluent areas and most expensive homes rarely top $1,000,000. That's a mansion around here. With a big lot, in the most sought-after areas. I think our average house price is somewhere around $250,000. And that will likely get you a 3 or 4 bedroom house with a basement, 2 car garage, in a great school district. In D.C., what does that get you? A 1-bedroom condo? I'm proud of the fact that my husband and I can afford our home, our car, and our bills and not go into financial freefall to also go out to dinner.
3) The values. I will take the midwest values over that of your fine, cultural city any day. I'm sure there are wonderful people in D.C., but since I haven't been there since I was 15, I won't attack your city. We are a forgiving people, a kind city, and full of old fashioned values that I believe in. I am proud of that.
I wasn't born here, but this is home. Part of that home is those World Champion Cardinals - that, by the way, stomped your Nationals into next season. See you in 2013, Mister Irrelevant!