DISCLAIMER: I normally don’t make a habit of writing slam-jobs on other cities just for the hell of it, but I needed a reason to write off all my St Louis expenses to lessen the overall sting of having voluntarily gone there like a moron. Sorry STL.
I fled the Twin Cities for much of the Republican National Convention, a.k.a. ‘the Republican Unlawful Detention’, a.k.a. ‘the Republican Rational Prevention’ (I got a million of ’em people). I thought I was being prudent. Escaping the drunken, narrow-minded, homophobic fatheads, who all stayed in downtown Minneapolis for some reason, avoiding the dipshits running around with scarves over their faces as if anyone gave a f*ck about their identities and not being swept up in a mass arrest while out trying to buy milk for my cookies like a good goddamn American. That’s right, I still eat milk and cookies. I even make cookies. Don’t tell me that I don’t love this country you stinking, devil-worshiping, fornicating socialist.
Unfortunately, I went somewhere unimaginably worse: St Louis. I hadn’t been to St Louis since 1990. I spent most of that trip on a college campus, doing some wholesome juggling and wishing that the boy-girl ratio at juggling festivals wasn’t 45:1. So, it’s safe to say that I didn’t see much of St Louis back then. And it’s also fair to say that I didn’t see a whole lot of St Louis during this visit either. But the parts I did see were ubiquitously repellent.
Let’s start with the skyline. OK, that Arch is bloody amazing. Even from miles away, the sheer scale of it blew my mind. But apart from that, just dreadful. This may have had a lot to do with the foreground outside downtown being nothing but a sea of butt-ugly industrial buildings and warehouses. Or maybe it was simply that I had to stare at it so insufferably long as I sat in traffic.
Which brings me to the abominable state of traffic and driving. The instant I crossed over the Iowa/Missouri border I noticed an immediate drop in driving aptitude which got unthinkably worse as I neared St Louis. People were acting funny, like they weren’t exactly sure what to do with those shiny, reflective things mounted on their windshields and both doors. Baffled by these strange protuberances, it seemed as if they had resolved to just ignore them all together. Along with their turn signals. And the posted speed limits. And my exasperated honking.
St Louis may be the only major metropolitan area that I’ve visited in the entire world where people chronically drive under the speed limit. And not a little under neither. Perilously under. People were just lallygagging along. It didn’t matter if they were on the highway or a residential street, there seemed to be no awareness that sitting idly at green lights and driving 2 MPH down residential streets might cause a backup. And strangely, those caught up in those incessant backups didn’t seem to mind. It’s mass driving apathy down there.
And where are the coffee shops? I had to drive two miles to get a cup of coffee. Is there any other major city in the universe where you have to go two miles for coffee, second only to tea as the most common drink on Earth? I’m not talking the suburbs here, where you have to drive just to pick up your mail. I was smack in St Louis proper. Two miles. And with traffic being the way that it is, getting that cup of coffee took about 35 minutes. By the time I got there, I didn’t need the effing coffee. The rage and adrenaline had already done the trick.
And I hate to encourage an overused stereotype here, but people from the south tend to have certain qualities that were overwhelmingly present in St Louis. Loud, vacant, rotund… I didn’t even know that St Louis was south enough to be in The South. Look at a map. It’s dead center. I know Missouri shares borders with Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas quintessential, fried chicken-eating, truck driving, current events-challenged southern locales, but if one were to extend the Mason Dixon Line further west then you can clearly see… Oh, St Louis is the south. Never mind.
There are certainly great things about St Louis. Their zoo, museums and art galleries have free admission, and they have a spectacular botanical garden. I’m told there are great restaurants, but I only managed to get to one good place and a few so-so places. But in general the whole time I was there, I was sick with longing for my Minneapolis, where drivers usually move with purpose (the first snow accumulation of the year notwithstanding), the people are more attractive, most people can name that whatchamacallit country directly to the north of us and not a single resident lives more than four blocks from a reliable source of coffee.
I love you Minneapolis. Please forgive my insolence. I’d rather take a point-blank shot of mace up the nose and get arrested with excessive force for no apparent reason by a Maplewood cop than leave you for St Louis again. Now let’s go French kiss on the couch.