lf you’re reading this right now, it may not surprise you that hipsters love New York City and hate absolutely every other place in the nation, if not the world. It is the only city that can enthrall and surprise them, challenge and enchant them, the mother’s womb that surrounds them with the amniotic fluid of culture but also bombards them with second-hand toxins on a daily basis. I believe that I have a better candidate: Huntington, West Virginia. Here are my reasons:
1. Geographically, it’s ambiguous, and ambiguity is hot
Is it in the South? Kind of, it does border Kentucky and our accents are not unlike an untuned banjo. Is it in the Midwest? Well, we border Ohio and are familiar enough with “casual dining” chains and large, homogenous malls, so maybe it is. Is it East Coast? We border Maryland and Virginia, so our ties to D.C. are stronger than most states. I prefer to pledge allegiance to the mountains and just say we’re Appalachian.
2. Politically, it’s fairly liberal
West Virginia is a land of working-class Democrats and has been for decades. When Robert C. Byrd died, my boyfriend cried for two days; his aunt was a personal friend of the man. Everyone is on welfare of one kind or another, or is at least related to someone who is, so universal health care and union support are popular. There’s an abortion clinic in Charleston that no one’s even tried to bomb, and protestors are usually bussed in from a few states away.
3. We have a pretty darn good college
You may remember said college from a film titled We Are Marshall starring Matthew McConaughey (or, he who dampens Southern mammaws’ panties). We were very excited about this, despite the fact that the premise of the film is “Marshall’s football team was great… until everyone on the team died in a fiery plane crash.” (It’s true.) But even though our football team never wins, we still have a rather prestigious English department (Google Breece D’J Pancake; he’s like a redneck Ernest Hemingway) and a now-quite-topical Parks & Recreation degree that is considered top-notch. Oh, and the college parties? Coal bought some huge houses in this town; get seven friends and you can rent one for about $200 a piece. #likeaboss
4. It’s all grassroots, all the time
The mayor has no idea what anyone is up to, and neither does anyone else in charge. Development has been limited to a few blocks downtown; the rest of the city is up for grabs. So, do you want to start a community garden? Play in a local kickball league? Participate in community theater? Organize a comedy night? Just do it, and find some other people to help. And the best part is, since you’re in a small pond, you are always the big fish (if that’s your thing).
Let’s talk food. We get new ethnic cuisine all the time. Unfortunately, this is usually because the previous place didn’t get enough business. In one year, a Middle Eastern buffet was taken over by a Jamaican place, which lasted for about three months and then became another Middle Eastern place, which then closed because they were always closed on Friday and we just didn’t get that. It now stands empty. But with a large population of twenty-somethings willing to try weird meats, they might come back!
6. Economically, it sucks
Not gonna lie, there are almost no jobs here and the ones that we do have are mostly call centers or retail. It’s like the Manila of America. The silver lining is that there are tons of thrift stores and antique shops. I can drive to four different Goodwills within 20 minutes and they are all full of designer clothing.
You know, after listing all the great stuff about Huntington, I’m not sure that I do want you guys to move here. After all, it would suck if my city got all mainstream.