This article appears in the February 2012 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe, please visit Lou.com .
The only cities lower on the happiness scale, the magazine’s researchers say, are Detroit (99), Memphis (98), and St. Petersburg and Tampa in foreclosure-clogged Florida (100 and 97 respectively).
Imagine the shock, horror, anxiety and anger the “Possibility City” folks — heck, even a good share of those who make fun of “Possibility City” folks — have been working through since Thanksgiving. Here you’ve got a place that, just a few years ago, picked up the award as the most “livable” large city in America from the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and now its reputation — discourtesy of the best-selling men’s magazine on U.S. newsstands, whose six-sentence story and listing were picked up by 100 or so online sites — is dog doo among impressionable people everywhere.
Go ahead, say it: “Hand me the pistol — we are finished.”
And I know why; everyone should know why. The absence of Mayor Jerry. Our bigger-than-life cheerleader has left the scene. Ain’t no sunshine when he’s gone. No giant-smile (that smile!) ribbon-cuttings. No high-pitched podium power — just a Kevin Bacon drone. If Jerry were still here, we’d all be happy, employed, free from pharmaceutical crutches. But he’s not — he’s in Frankfort now, and we’re all a bunch of sad sacks without him. Just ask Men’s Health.
When Jerry was here, we were riding along like a cigarette boat on the Ohio River — a city of cities by the assessments of various publications and associations. The seventh-safest metropolitan area in America and one of the most underrated too. We were the best large city for relocating families, the fifth-most-affordable for family health insurance, the ninth-fittest, a top-25 place to retire, the seventh-best town in America. Now look at us — a bunch of unemployed, suicidal, antidepressant-popping Debbie Downers, getting sand kicked in our faces by paradises such as Fargo, N.D. (3); Omaha, Neb. (4); and Sioux Falls, S.D. (7).
I understand there are a few Louisvillians out there who think the veracity of these month-by-month “researched” pronouncements is laughable (even amid our gloom) — about as weighty as a grain of salt. Men’s Fitness, a competitor of Men’s Health, may have found us the ninth-fittest city in 2006, they’ll say, but three years later it named us the 10th-fattest. And Jerry was still mayor then.
Point well-taken, I guess, if it weren’t coming from depressed people.
Illustration courtesy: Carrie Neumayer