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Return of Suburbasaurus!

(Suburbanite searching for Navy Pier? Credit: Motoe.)

Recently, a bit of year-old Carless content created an unexpected stir in, of all places, the forums. Yes, I was as shocked to learn they have the Internet in Ohio as you were.

The post in question? Suburbasaurus!, in which I decry the annoying comportment of a certain breed of out-of-town visitors. Annoying, anyway, to downtown residents, who have to put up with these pasty, polyester people, parent and progeny, and their endless entreaties for instructions to get to Navy Pier or asinine solicitations to discover the way back to LaSalle Street Station, all day long. Annyoance decried in the Cleveland forums as arrogant, anti-tourist, anti-suburban bias from an overegoed inner-city Chicagoan. I respectfully disagree. I love tourist dollars.

Are most Chitown visitors suburbasauruses? Not by a long shot. But it does peg a small minority of dunderheads who tend to show up in Chicago and other big cities having done not an iota of advance planning and with nary an idea about how to get around once they get here. Despite the everpresent city map, waving uselessly in hand like some tri-fold tourist flag. They’re the same people who’ll jump on a bus, or train, or elevator because it’s there, and then after the journey’s begun actually begin themselves to try to ascertain if they’re moving in the desired direction.

Still, given the hew and holler from Lake Erie shores, I suppose an explanation is in order to my readers. So let me set the record straight by responding to a few allegations made about about the post and me in the Cleveland forums:

An arrogant post? Yep. Looking down on suburbanites? You betcha. City dwellers as generally the only civilized humans on the planet? Exactly. And that’s just here in Chicago. The idea of Cleveland suburban dwellers, one shudders.

Of course, one would have to think of Cleveland to think of Cleveland suburbs. And, as any civilized person would imagine, Cleveland is not exactly a hot topic of conversation in Chicago. Well, at least not polite conversation. Although, living as I do in a city that so far has only managed to burn its buildings down, I do give Cleveland credit for learning how to burn its river down, too.

I hope that clears up any misunderstanding. You know, there really is something cathartic about admitting when you’re wrong.

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Michael Thaddeus Doyle

I'm a NYC-native, Latino, Jew-by-choice, hardcore WDW fan in Chicago with an Irish last name. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I do nonprofit development. I've written this blog since 2005. Believe in the world you want to live in.

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7 replies

  1. Pingback: Cincinnati Is Cool
  2. No-El Noel

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  4. I am a bitch. šŸ™‚ It’s because I’m from Cleveland Heights, a decidedly not-so-bad inner-ring suburb of Cleveland on the East Side. And I like you too, actually. You have a good blog with a good design and intelligent viewpoints. Nice place ya got here…it has virtual comfy couches to sit on and virtual bowls of crunchy snacks. I’m gonna stick around for a while.

    I see why you don’t want to coddle your Chicago suburbasauruses…just because I’m nice to the San Francisco tourists doesn’t mean I’m not maddeningly annoyed by them at times. When they all walk across a sidewalk and block it and I’m coming towards them, I like to play Red Rover and charge at them and watch them panic and figure out what to do. This usually entails mass confusion and lots of bumping into each other. If they are blocking the sidewalk with a map in front of their face, I’ll do a shoulder-bump as I pass them…not too hard, but a “Get the fuck out of the middle of the sidewalk” sort of bump.

    While I agree Des Moines or Sheboygan qualify as Third World cities, I must take umbrage in your blanket statement that Cleveland ranks among these. Cleveland is firmly Second Tier, the King of the Shitty Cities. You see, Cleveland knows it’s hopelessly outclassed by New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Even Chicago. These are all First Tier cities. Detroit tries to rank itself with these giants but falls flat. Cleveland, knowing its kingpin status of the Second Tier Cities (Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Akron, Columbus, Indianapolis) simply laughs at Detroit but will become self-conscious when a New Yorker or San Franciscan walks into the room. Chicagoans are harder to distinguish from Clevelanders…the Great Lakes Look is pretty much omnipresent from Lake Superior all the way to Lake Ontario.

    So don’t be hating on Cleveland, biatch. šŸ˜‰

    But anyway, people are going to come to experience big, interesting cities like Chicago and San Francisco no matter what. We agree on this.

    But you know they will always make a nuisance of themselves. It’s inevitable. I find it endearing at times…and the really annoying ones tend to stick to Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 and Union Square. The more interesting, cute, hot, European ones tend to…well, end up in my apartment at times.

    As far as The Gavin goes [swoon] he has done a good job with the homeless. He figured $471 a month per homeless person was a bit much, so he cut it. When he did, a huge chunk of the homeless population disappeared overnight. Well-done, IMHO.

    And yes, bitch…I’m familiar with downtown. North Beach abuts the downtown Financial District. The Transamerica Pyramid is 4 blocks from my apartment and fills the view from my bedroom windows, and I’m an 8-minute walk (at a brisk, San Francisco pace, not a tottering, waddling tourist pace) from the Montgomery Street BART station. And the trains are clean…until they return from Oakland. So it’s not our fault over in the 415 that the filthy people in the 510 don’t know not to make doodies on public transportation.

  5. You’re a bitch. I like you already šŸ˜‰

    While I’ll refrain from commenting on your rectum, I will take you to task for expecting that you always have to coddle your local suburbasauruses.

    Perhaps in Cleveland, or Des Moines, or Sheboygan, or other Third World cities the tourists and their dollars won’t come unless you kiss their asses.

    In Chicago, however, they will. Kiss them or kick them, they’ll still keep coming, because Chicago (like New York, or San Francisco) is Chicago. It’s an icon. People are going to come to experience it no matter what. And when they do, I expect them to not make a nuisance of themselves. It’s bad form and scares the homeless.

    Speaking of which, nice job your mayor, Gavin Newsom, has done reducing the homeless numbers in your own downtown. You know downtown, the neighborhood likely on the far end of the J line from you? The neighborhood with the tall buildings and the tourists? The neighborhood I doubt you live in.

    Though if you do, two words: clean BART.

  6. Your skin sure is thin for a native New Yorker who now lives on the prairie.

    I see you’re familiar with Cleveland history, as you referred to the Cuyahoga river burning. Too bad it’s ancient history, as the river burned in, oh, 1969. Most people have moved on, as referring to that river tends to make you look like someone who has had his head shoved firmly in his rectum since 1978.

    I’m speaking figuratively, of course.

    As someone who lives in San Francisco – a tourist mecca – let me give you a few pointers on dealing with those pesky tourists and their dollars. You’d think this would be common sense to someone from New York, but I’ll share them.

    Rule number one: Tourists will ALWAYS, ALWAYS do stupid things. They get on the wrong trains. They sometimes block sidewalks. Rarely do they plan ahead. True civilized, urban sophisticates know this and deal with it accordingly (not to mention make sure their parents are trained in How To Walk Around A City Much More Congested Than Cleveland when they come to visit). Since tourists are not familiar with the city they’re visiting, they’ll be waving maps in their hands. Why does this surprise you? Why does this annoy you? Are you that easily rankled that you have to dedicate an entire blog post about it? Bitching about tourists is extremely passe.

    Which brings me to rule number two.

    ALWAYS BE GRACIOUS TO THE TOURISTS AND THEIR TOURIST DOLLARS. As a San Francisco resident, I get asked directions to Fisherman’s Wharf on a daily basis. I live in North Beach, so I’m always plugging my favorite restaurants, bars, boutiques, and shops to the tourists who approach me and ask me. I always do so with a smile and a “I hope you enjoy your stay. Thanks for coming.” When they go home, they’ll tell their friends about how nice the people are in San Francisco, and their friends will come here and spend their dollars so our potholes are filled and our streetlights remain illuminated at night. Being rude to out of town visitors is a cardinal sin, and shows extreme provinciality. Remember you are an ambassador of your city. You’re in the Midwest, which is generally known for it’s friendly people. It’s easier to be nice than it is to be a total dickhead.

    If most Chitown visitors are not “suburbasauruses” then I suspect you were just blowing off steam in your blog against the “small minority of dunderheads who tend to show up in Chicago and other big cities having done not an iota of advance planning and with nary an idea about how to get around once they get here.” That’s fine. They’re no different in San Francisco. But when you start running your mouth about a city you obviously know nothing about – not to mention its residents – it just makes you look, well, just a bit ignorant.

    Also, had you really read the responses of the hollers from the Lake Erie shores (actually, very few were actually living anywhere near the shore of Lake Erie) you would have realized they were actually mocking you, and not caring what you say.

    Perhaps the only one “shuddering” at the Cleveland suburb dwellers (which are actually lovely, lush, green, hilly places, more so than Chicago or New York, which are generally flat as pancakes) was you.

    Cleveland is not exactly a hot topic of conversation in San Francisco, good or bad (we have better things to bitch about), but as a city of transplants, we know better than to have an impolite conversation about someone’s home. I’m sure you could call up a bunch of San Francisco bloggers who feel the exact way you do, but for every angry, bitter highrise dweller…there’s those of us down at street level who realize interacting with people isn’t an annoyance, it’s a benefit to living in a large, American, cosmopolitan city with a magnetic draw.

    BTW…I’m carless in San Francisco. We have more in common than not. You have a good blog, and I enjoy reading it. I’m just responding to this as I see fit. And I’ve even posted my real name, email address, and blog URL. You can either ignore me, respond civilly, or blast me. I’m ready for any of them.