Tuesday, March 15, 2011

O Phoenix, My Phoenix!

This is how cruel life can be: you go to sleep, safe and secure that you're the 5th largest city in the US, with all the glory that entails, only to wake up and find your world shaken to its core by the news that, while you slept, innocent as a baby, the cosmos has blinked and you've slipped back to 6th. Dear God, why hast thou forsaken us?

Oh how fondly I remember that halcyon day a few years back when the news came that Phoenix had passed Philadelphia and moved into the treasured 5th spot. The cries of joy were deafening! Mayor Phil Gordon, who really is kind of a doofus, (but still preferable to the oily Sal DiCiccio, who dreams of succeeding Phil and whose persona screams out for a suitable nickname, like Sally Cheech, or maybe Sal the Cheech), talked a lot of smack about Phoenix's superiority, and the chorus of civic cheerleaders chimed in with how this was only the beginning. Watch out Houston, we're coming for you next! Meanwhile, City of Brotherly Love, you can eat our dust!

This all played well with the locals, who have, truth to tell, a terrible inferiority complex about their hometown. Cheering crowds filled the streets chanting "nyah nyah, we're bigger than Philadelphia!! And because we're bigger that means we're better, right?" Of course to anyone who had ever been to Philadelphia this celebrating was all very confusing. Because, well...

Let's compare and contrast the two cities in a couple of areas: Philadelphia is a sophisticated, mature metropolis. It's main art museum rivals the Met and MoMa in New York City in terms of quality. (Nothing rivals them in quantity). The Phoenix Art Museum has a very nice cafe. It's permanent collection isn't worth more than a casual glance, but occasionally it does get a good traveling exhibition. Advantage Philadelphia.

Well, so what? We don't care much about "art" here anyway...

Moving on, the downtown of Philadelphia is a vibrant place, full of theatres, shops, restaurants, galleries, high-rise office buildings and a variety of residential areas. Pedestrians roam about at all hours and the place has an actual pulse. On the other hand, Downtown Phoenix has been re-branded yet again and is making another "comeback". I've lost count as to which one this is, but I hope it works out better than the last two or three. "Copper Square"? Really? For the time being, however, other than sporting events and the occasional concert, the only "action" is people fleeing to the suburbs at the end of the workday. Advantage Philadelphia.

What about sports? Isn't Phoenix one of just a few cities that have teams in all 4 major professional sports? Yes it is. Philadelphia is another one of those cities, and all of their teams have won their respective championships more recently than ours. Ouch. Advantage Philadelphia.

It's not really fair to compare histories because Philadelphia has a 200 year head start. But we can compare some famous citizens, men whose life work is reflected in their city. Philadelphia had Ben Franklin and we had Kemper Marley. Every school kid knows who Franklin was: a printer, pamphleteer, scientist, inventor, diplomat, statesman. I would explain to you who Kemper Marley was, but I don't want my car to blow up. Maybe some day, when I have better insurance...In the meantime you can google Don Bolles. Advantage Philadelphia.

The wording of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were argued out over drinks at Philadelphia's City Tavern. Call me old fashioned, but that trumps all of the land swindles ever concocted over a scotch and soda at Durant's. Advantage Philadelphia.

Both cities have some great restaurants--if you can afford them. Better to judge what the common folk eat on a regular basis. So it's a loaded cheesesteak versus refried beans and a cheesecrisp. I think my cardiologist would call that a "push".

Come on now, Phoenix must have some advantages over Philadelphia. Well, we do have a very mild winter. And a shit load of golf courses. Advantage Phoenix.

Of course, none of this matters now. Philadelphia has somehow slipped ahead of us--probably through strong-arm union chicanery, if you ask me. We're back to being number 6. And honestly, in the long run wouldn't we be better off comparing ourselves to other sunbelt cities?

But not San Diego--we have no ocean. And unless a tsunami is roaring toward you like a fatboy bumrushing an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet, nothing beats an ocean view. How about Vegas then? Overbuilt? Check. Water shortage? Check. Overrun with gamblers and the chronic desperation and sadness they bring? Well, we're getting there. Salt Lake City? Yeah, we can whip them in a fair fight. Albuquerque? Bring 'em on! San Antonio? Maybe. Maybe not.

A pessimist might think that Phoenix's rise has stopped, and that our best days are behind us. But the winters here are still very mild and we do have all of those golf courses, so who knows?

1 comment:

Mission Man said...

Perhaps the best post I've dreamed of for this site!