You make a boy smile as large as Pluto. Yes, I’m obsessed. But it raises another (controversial?) idea: Big Ten college towns. Why are they so much better than other college towns around the country? If I had to choose a college town to live in, I would choose almost every Big Ten town before any other part of the country (not that I’ve been everywhere). But Ann Arbor, Bloomington, Iowa City, Madison — in my experience, they seem so much more culturally interesting, playful, civic-minded, quirky etc. than say Gainesville, Chapel Hill, Syracuse, Tallahassee etc. The only other two college towns that come to mind in that category are Eugene, Ore.  and maybe Boulder, Co. Though I’m probably just clouded by midwestern goggles.

As an illustration: a typical Saturday night in Gainesville and Madison (both towns I’ve spent some time in). Madison,all along State street, has street performers (good ones), local pubs, good and cheap dining, theater, lots of live music, and a strip of 18+ dance clubs with underdressed college students. A Saturday in downtown Gainesville, on the other hand, has a strip of 18+ dance clubs with underdressed college students and one VERY overcrowded bar for everyone else in town.

So that’s the brief observation of the day. I’m working on several projects and interviews right now for work. More later with thoughts about the nature of interviews, oral histories, and life “retold”.


5 Responses to Ahhh…Madtown

  1. dbay says:

    What do Pluto and college towns have to do with each other? You must explain this connection.

    Or maybe you are truly obsessed. Here’s a test: Do all your conversation topics somehow begin with Pluto? Like, “Hey, I like Pluto. What do you want to eat for dinner tonight?” Or “Hey, Pluto is so cool. What’s that on your face?”

    Here’s another city question to ponder: Is Minneapolis a Big-Ten college town or, uh, a real city? Either way, I’d like to write a blog on why living in two cities simultaneously (Twin Twin Twin) makes me feel schizophrenic sometimes. Maybe I’ll do that.

    Bloomington rules.

  2. Kris says:

    That Pluto thing could be really dangerous. “Boy, isn’t Pluto the best? AND WATCH OUT FOR THAT BUS!”.

    Oh yeah, Minneapolis is definitely a real city. Or, as Dbay points out, two of ’em, actually. The Twin Cities have, in recent years, been at the top of lists of the Best Cities for Singles, Best Cities to Have a Baby (logical progression), Best Cities for Entrepreneurs, and the Best Cities for Fishing (not so logical progression). We’re really real cities.

    As for Midwest College towns vs. the rest, I don’t have any first-hand experience. Madison, I’ve heard, is a mecca of sorts, and Dbay likes Bloomington (my friend Michael who lived there didn’t like it too much, I don’t think though). As for Gainesville, well, which do you seriously prefer? Some guy juggling on the street corner or underdressed college students?

  3. Matt says:

    Sometimes I think it’s a weather thing. I went to school in Ann Arbor, and the street life definitely varies according to the temperature. Plus, people across the country don’t sit down to plan out their spring breaks and say to each other, “Hey, you know what? Michigan!” (Or Wisconsin, or Minnesota, or Illinois…) Whereas, maybe, Florida attracts enough tourists year-round that tourist/party culture has sabotaged the entire state…?

    I don’t know. I was only in Florida once, in St. Petersburg–also known as “God’s waiting room”–and the major population I noticed was seniors in thongs. And I don’t mean the foot kind.

  4. Pulao says:

    I LOVED Gainesville. And, even though I was happy to eventually go other places, I LOVED Hattiesburg, MS when I lived there. (Now there’s a town that would have driven duodecad crazy.) I also LOVE Minneapolis– I would say possibly more than Gainesville, but I’m living here now so I’m not completely objective. And Delhi, depsite traffic, heat, rain, etc. etc. is one of the greatest cities in the world.

    What this says about me: I have no roots. It’s a sad moment in someone’s life when she realizes this about herself, but the truth of the matter is that I have the loyalty of a chameleon. I went to a baseball game with kris, dbay, and duodecad last year, and I was rooting for the Twins something fierce. And I thought to myself– why? I don’t like baseball. I don’t know any of these players, and really, I have no time-tested attachment to Minneapolis. But there I was, cheering away.

    I wonder– is this a polite way of saying that I am completely swayed-by-the-masses unoriginal?

  5. Pulao says:

    Hey, friends. Don’t feel like you all have to jump in all at once and say “oh, no, Pulao– you’re not at ALL unoriginal! You’re SO unique!”

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