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The Big Question: Your Town | Manolo for the Big Girl

The Big Question: Your Town

So it’s the second day of South by Southwest music and I have just now reached the point where I want to yell at the hoardsHORDES (as in The HORDES of Beloved Pain in the Ass Pedants –seriously, you can quit it now–) of carefully unwashed indie kids here to live the rockstar dream for a week to just leave their money and go home.

This is a personal best for me as I usually hit my yelling-at-strangers point roughly five minutes after the first plane lands from L.A. and while I haven’t ever actually yelled at strangers and decency prevents me from wearing one of the famous “I Don’t Care About Your Band” shirts much less this little jewel:

welcome to austin

I do find myself irked at the interlopers.

But then I think, you know, Austin is a great town. All the live music you could possibly want, good weather for most of the year (oh how I chortle at the people who complain of Austin’s humidity. Clearly they’ve never lived any place like DC) great Tex Mex, excellent universities, friendly people –t-shirts notwithstanding– and you’re pretty much allowed to do what you want and be who you are without getting bothered about it. It’s got a small town friendliness and some pretty great big city amenities, plus you get to co-opt all the great and fun things about being a Texan without ever having to touch a cow.

Today Miss Plumcake wants to know:
What’s your favorite thing about YOUR hometown? It can be where you live now or where you were born. It can be a place, an event, or just the feeling of it. I’m curious, so let me know!

45 Responses to “The Big Question: Your Town”

  1. enygma March 18, 2010 at 2:06 pm #

    Chicago is a beautiful city with no pretensions and tons of resilience. Chicagoans don’t follow anyone’s lead but their own and they aren’t afraid to do what they want. It’s a tough city but it’s also a sophisticated one.

  2. The gold digger March 18, 2010 at 2:35 pm #

    I miss Austin, but the Austin of 1987-1993, when I lived there, before the traffic got bad, although if I had a chance to move back, I sure wouldn’t turn it down. All the great restaurants, including Dot’s and Threadgill’s and Seis Salsas. Yum. And yes – it is to laugh about the humidity. I moved to Austin from Houston. Houston is the staging ground for hell.

    I now live in Milwaukee – I moved here for love and marriage. The people here are really nice and down to earth. The food is fabulous. We are not chubby because we are eating Doritos, we are chubby because we are eating frozen custard and fried cheese curds and potato pancakes and fish fry. I am not crazy about winter (ha) but I have to say that in the summer, this (and the upper midwest in general) is about the most gorgeous place you will ever be. Great weather, a beautiful skyline on the lake, and some kind of festival every single weekend.

  3. jessie March 18, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

    I live in Memphis..well a town right near it. And so many people thinkj”Ughh downtown memphis, danger, danger” But theres this old school beauty, Beale Street, the blues, BBking, the orpheum..this feeling of american musical history.At its heart,memphis is a good ole southern town, with a bluesy heart, great BBQ, and of course..Elvis

  4. Plumcake March 18, 2010 at 3:11 pm #

    Enygma, so what you’re saying is you’re proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation?

    Gold Digger, the sign of a true old-timer! I’ve never thought traffic was bad here, at least not compared to DC or Richmond or Houston, but I’ve never known the halcyon days without the occasional bumper to bumper

    Jessie, Memphis has a special place in my heart even though I’ve never stopped there. When I drive from Austin to Nashville my favorite moment of the (long, mostly boring) drive is crossing the Mississippi into Memphis. I hope I NEVER become a person who doesn’t get excited by that.

  5. Cat March 18, 2010 at 3:12 pm #

    I will pretty much say “What Plumcake said,” except for the part about good weather most of the year. I do not consider Austin summers to be good weather. When it’s so hot that I’m afraid to take my dog for a walk for fear his little paws will get burned on the sidewalk, that is not good weather. But, yeah, I agree with the rest of her list of Austin’s good points.

    As for SXSW, Plummy, I feel your pain. Yesterday on my way home from work, the SXSW hordes were wandering around the downtown streets. One girl stepped out from between two parked cars (one of which was a U-Haul, meaning I couldn’t see her at all until she stepped out into the street) DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF MY MOVING VEHICLE while looking down at her phone and texting. Girlfriend is lucky I have good brakes and quick reflexes.

  6. jojo.k March 18, 2010 at 3:21 pm #

    I live outside the aforementioned DC. We will not speak of humidity as it is made up for by cherry blossoms on the Tidal Basin and autumn.

    But one of my favorite, classic things about the District is the free museums and monuments. You could go on a different tour or hit a different museum every weekend for a year or more without duplicating. And the little ones can be some of the best.

    A new highlight is all the great young chefs and restaurants that have been popping up, and they cover every culture you can think of. You want Afghani, Indian (pick your region), Caribbean, Argentinian? You name it, you can have it.

  7. Mrs. Hendricks March 18, 2010 at 3:23 pm #

    While the Twin Cities have many things going for them (as every Minnesotan you’ll ever meet will tell you: the theater, the lakes, the quality of life, blah, blah, blah) what I love is the change of seasons. The drama! Snow up to your hips and temperatures down below zero, and then, six months later, hot and humid in the 90s and mosquitoes swarming everywhere. Even now, as spring approaches and raises the rivers up to flood stage, it’s like I have amnesia: remember when it was cold? When was that again? Practically all of the snow has melted, but there’s almost always a farewell blizzard at the end of March, and as one of our favorite sons sang, “Sometimes it snows in April.” Time marches on and the seasons never let you forget it. I love that.

  8. Ali March 18, 2010 at 3:57 pm #

    I am originally from Vienna/Austria and Vienna has many good things – culture, really amazing food, art, cool cafes, …

    Now I live in Chicago and I love the summer – or really any season but the winter. I love that there is a big cycling culture, I love the lake, I love the street festivals, the food culture and the unpretentious, friendly people.

    Still, if I’d get to live in Hawaii for a few years, I wouldn’t say no.

  9. Chiken March 18, 2010 at 4:15 pm #

    It took me 30 minutes to get from my house in Hyde Park to my office downtown yesterday at noon. Usually it takes 10. The hipsters were swarming!

  10. Twistie March 18, 2010 at 4:35 pm #

    I sometimes think of my town as The Land That Time Forgot, which has its good points and its bad ones. On the upside: tree-lined streets, architecture ranging from the 1850s to last year with an emphasis on pre-1930s, a quiet place with a low crime rate (I’ve lived here since 1993 and there have been something like half a dozen murders in all that time), lots of family-owned businesses. In addition to all that, while our little town is quiet, there’s a thriving arts community and easy access to huge numbers of cultural experiences within a short distance. In half an hour’s drive, we can get to live professional theater, Michelin Guide-rated restaurants, some fabulous museums, nearly anything I could dream of wanting.

    And now that we actually have a movie theater in town, I’m a much happier camper! Considering how many movies film around here (I nearly walked right into the filming of Matrix II one day by accident), it really is nice to be able to go see said films when they come out if I just happen to feel like it on a whim.

    The thing I like best, though, is the way that people will just say hello and even strike up conversations in the street. Walking home from the grocery store this morning, I got two compliments on my hat and petted a very friendly fox terrier puppy. That was a two-block walk, and I walk fast, too!

  11. Gauss March 18, 2010 at 4:53 pm #

    I love New Haven because in half an hour I can get to at least 5 state parks, including beaches and mountains!

  12. Ali March 18, 2010 at 4:54 pm #

    Jessie – I think Memphis is beautiful! I was there last April and there were flowering trees everywhere. We stopped at a rib place (sorry, forgot the name) on one of those beautiful streets and there was live music playing. The afternoon light was absolutely gorgeous – a golden light that reminded me of the light in Florence/Italy. The old city center was so pretty.

    But I have a soft spot for the South anyway – if it wouldn’t get so terribly hot in the summer, my favorite place to live in the US would be New Orleans. My husbands family is from there and I feel totally at home there.

  13. Jezebella March 18, 2010 at 5:38 pm #

    I too lived in Austin during the Slacker Years (1991ish) and I miss that Austin terribly. I’d move back in a heartbeat, even though I know that it’s not the same. It’s surely better than my current abode, Buttcrack, Mississippi.

    As for my hometown, New Orleans, who *doesn’t* love NOLA? If you don’t, I don’t want to hear it, for something is terribly, terribly wrong with you and you need medical attention immediately. I believe Times-Picayune columnist Chris Rose originally described us thus: “We dance when there is no music. We drink at funerals. We talk too much, and live too large & frankly, we’re suspicious of those who don’t.” And that is NOLA in a nutshell.

  14. LoLo March 18, 2010 at 6:10 pm #

    I’m from Kuala Lumpur, living abroad now, and oh, I miss it so! The food, the amazing cultural diversity, the horrendously hot and sticky weather, the flash floods, it’s all good. Mama’s goin’ HOME for summer!

  15. Plumcake March 18, 2010 at 6:14 pm #

    Jojo, when I moved to Texas I was shocked, SHOCKED that you had to PAY to go to museums and galleries. I love D.C. proper and although I’m told the burbs are not what they once were (small, sweet little bedroom communities) I’d be happy to live in the city proper any time, and please, do not get me started on the beauty of the cherry blossoms. I’ll weep.

  16. Plumcake March 18, 2010 at 6:15 pm #

    Mrs Hendricks, what a poetic answer!

  17. Jeni March 18, 2010 at 6:28 pm #

    I live in Harrisonburg VA which is in the Shenandoah Valley. I love this area it is by far the prettiest area I have lived in (NW CT being a close second).

    The weather is lovely here. We get all 4 seasons which is a nice change from some of the areas I have lived in…

    I grew up near the ocean but the blue ridge mountains have quickly grown on me. In the spring and summer they are bright green, in the fall they are ablaze with color and in the winter the snow clinging to the trees is a thing of beauty.

    The history here, mainly the civil war, is a big draw for me (history dork here). All over the area you will find historic monuments, museums and houses. My dream is to live and renovate an Antebellum farm house.

    And finally, I have the best of both worlds. My area has a lot of farm land (which I love) but its not like we are out in the boonies. Harrisonburg is a nice small city with most of the necessary shops. If I feel the need for more “big city shopping” NOVA/the DC area are not super far away.

  18. Plumcake March 18, 2010 at 6:34 pm #

    Oh Jeni, how I miss the burg! (not the smell though, or did they get that sorted out?) it was even lovelier when I was there 1997-1999. South Main was still old houses. But my whole heart longs for the Shenandoah Valley.

  19. Beth March 18, 2010 at 6:55 pm #

    The best thing about San Francisco is that while it is a major metropolitan city it is also small enough that I’m pretty much guaranteed to run into someone I know at some point during the day. It is not at all unusual to see me (or someone else) suddenly stop and yell, “HEY RYAN!! What’s up!?” (or insert other name, obviously) at someone across the street. It just happens all the time.

    I love the weather. It s foggy in the summer and mild in the winter. Love it.

    I love that there is no reason whatsoever to eat bad food in the Bay Area. You can always get good food.

    I even like earthquakes. Well, the little ones that don’t mess anything up.

  20. dr nic March 18, 2010 at 7:10 pm #

    I live in Buffalo, NY. What I love about this city is the fact we know how to take advantage of the good weather. From June to September there are free concerts (minimum three days a week) and every weekend there is a festival/street fair/lawn fete.

  21. Mrs. Hendricks March 18, 2010 at 7:11 pm #

    My dear Plumcake, you are too kind.

  22. Tachina March 18, 2010 at 7:38 pm #

    I almost feel like I’m cheating, because – New Orleans! Jezebella, Chris Rose got it right, but I think Mark Lorando got it even better with his “Letter to Miami” before the Superbowl. Google it – it’s still on NOLA.com.

    My favorite things about this magnificent city:

    1) It’s home to everyone who visits. Gael Garcia Bernal finds a little of Latin America, Yao Ming finds a little of Shanghai, New Yorkers find H&H bagels and kosher bacon. We’re the only city I know of that LOVES tourists – we buy them drinks, take them on impromptu tours, hug them goodbye and invite them back.

    2) We planned a parade before the Saints even won the big game. You better believe we would’ve thrown them love even if they lost, but since they won, we threw the biggest party in the city’s history, which means the biggest party in anybody’s history.

    3) Go cups! Spicy cream sauce! Brass bands!

    4) You’re expected to be completely and unapologetically yourself and proud of it, unless you’re being judgmental. Which will get you a slightly pitying look and a gentle, “You’re not from here, are you?” Devastating. I saw a frat guy criticize a woman’s weight in a bar once, and he was quietly shooed out the door and into the street. And over-the-top is better than boring.

    5) Oh, the stories we can tell. The Southern Gothics never had to invent a thing. Just in one family, in the last 20 years – a spy, a crazy uncle in the attic, incest, murder, and a house with secret passageways.

  23. Toby Wollin March 18, 2010 at 7:53 pm #

    I live in Upstate New York(though not as Upstate as Buffalo, dr nic) and agree with both you and Mrs. Hendricks. Wild change of seasons, appreciation of good weather (have we had a great couple of weeks or what?), a certain ‘we’re tough because we’ve got to shovel massive snow” attitude. On the other hand, there is also something that drives me nuts about my own area, which is a tendency of people to look back and feel nostalgic about the big industries here, which employed tens of thousands of people, supported the communities and the arts, polluted the soil and ground water, causing all sorts of birth defects and cancers, and then decided that shoveling snow was not fun and dumped us for someplace else. It’s a bit of a struggle to love the place, but what the heck, the cost of living is generally super cheap.

  24. Elaine March 18, 2010 at 8:24 pm #

    Baton Rouge, LA. I miss my family most, and the wonderful sense of community from knowing you can knock on any door and ask for help and get it, plus a hug and a cup of good coffee to boot! I love the food, the weather, the football and everything LSU, and the pace of life. (Do NOT miss I-10, I-12, or Airline Highway.) I miss my friends and the pranks and my friends’ families, who were my extended family too. I have a soft spot for all the wonderful places I’ve lived, but home is where my people are and that will always be Baton Rouge and Southern Louisiana.

  25. Jeni March 18, 2010 at 8:30 pm #

    Plumcake- I have not noticed a smell here so either it is cleared up or I just never noticed it. What kind of smell are we talking about?

  26. Christine March 18, 2010 at 10:12 pm #

    I wish I had a hometown, we moved every few years when I was a child.

  27. Plumcake March 18, 2010 at 10:38 pm #

    Ah but Christine, you are a citizen of the world!

  28. Cedar March 18, 2010 at 11:13 pm #

    Mrs. Hendricks and gold digger, thanks for speaking up for two of my most favorite towns. I’ll go back to the mid west someday if I’m lucky. But I’m pretty happy about being in Boston now. Consider:

    The public transit. Oh how I love thee, public transit. I sold my car the moment I got a job here. The instinct that public libraries are temples, yes TEMPLES of learning. The ocean, even in its nasty moods. The cheapness and variety of dishes involving clams. The strange way that the ethnic neighborhoods hold onto their identity even as they gentrify. All the free music/film/art at the 50 + metro area colleges. It’s a good place.

  29. Debs March 18, 2010 at 11:20 pm #

    Danville,Ca. It’s about 30 minutes east of San Francisco. It’s close to Oakland (food), Berkeley (food and scorn), SF (museums, but they are a bit pricey), not far from the wine country. No snowy winters ( my family moved here from the East Coast and seemed happy to abandon the weather).

    It’s pleasant, usuallly quiet and safe, NO ,that’s not overrated when you want packages delivered, to do your gardening, and your SUV w/o the front plate left alone. And edgier places are available nearby for shopping enjoyment.

  30. abdabs March 19, 2010 at 3:51 am #

    Melbourne (Australia) is the closest thing to a home town I’d claim, although we didn’t move there until I was 17. Regularly recognised as one of the world’s most liveable cities, it has fabulous restaurants, fantastic festivals (the comedy festival starts next week), wide boulevards, leafy parks, beautiful beaches, and trams are one of the key forms of public transport. The climate is temperate (very occasional frosts in winter; might break 100F/38C a few times in summer), the politics are temperate (national health system, unemployment/pensioner support), the religion is temperate (atheist convention just finished, plenty of churches), and the culture is temperate (a truly multi-cultural society, galleries, fashion etc). Not showy or conceited or staid; as plain-talking as most Australians.

    I now live an hour west of Melbourne, and while I’m perfectly happy with where we live now, I still get up to Melb whenever I can.

  31. Carol March 19, 2010 at 9:13 am #

    Milwaukee has so much going for it – Lake Michigan, Summerfest, Irishfest, Germanfest, Mexican Fiesta, Festa Italia, the Brewers and the Wave, the Milwaukee Art Museum with it’s extensive collection of modern art, the Public Museum, the world-class Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Milwaukee Ballet, the Florentine Opera, countless choirs and bands, nightclubs, restaurants of every persuasion, fireworks over the lake every weekend during the summer, hundreds of other lakes within driving distance, weather tempered by proximity to the lake, the most family-friendly city I’ve ever lived in. Though our public school system is troubled, there are hundreds of parochial and private schools in town that provide an affordable and excellent education.

  32. gemdiva March 19, 2010 at 9:14 am #

    Born in Brooklyn and moved to Jersey in my “tweens”. Love both places! Jersey (even though we have the highest property taxes in the known universe) because we’ve got easy access to both NYC and Philly for pro sports, the arts, museums, Broadway, tip top shopping, fashion week and people who know that you need to have an opinion in this world and not be shy about stating and debating it. I travel a lot for work and see many great towns and places that have won my affection, but I jjust love coming home. Best of all worlds I guess.

  33. Chicklet March 19, 2010 at 10:14 am #

    The best part about living in Minneapolis/St. Paul (besides the theatre-lakes-lifequality trifecta Mrs. Hendricks mentioned) is that the change of seasons requires a year-round wardrobe. Just when I get sick of my sweaters and tights and boots, it’s time to switch to t-shirts and capris and sandals. And then of course, by October, I’ll be most ready to dig out my Dale of Norway sweater again. Variety!

  34. Siege March 19, 2010 at 10:57 am #

    I love Boston, having moved here from Buttcrack, PA about 10 years ago for college. As Cedar already mentioned, the public transit system is tremendous. There are so many great restaurants I don’t know where to begin, plus I can get food from at least 10 different cultures delivered directly to my apartment. I love spring here, when it’s 50 degrees and overcast but the hyacinths are starting to come out. Even though I don’t go out very much, I love knowing that if I wanted to, there are enough cultural/historical/artistic happenings to keep me busy for a year. I love the native Bostonians, who I like to think of as “grudgingly polite.” I’ve even kind of grown to love the whole Kennedy thing, even though I don’t really get it. Oh, and I REALLY LOVE the Sox!

  35. ChloeMireille March 19, 2010 at 11:14 am #

    I live in Houston, but my Actual Hometown is a little podunk city in North Louisiana with a population of 13,000 on a good day. I lived there for the first 24 years of my life, except when I went to college in a slightly bigger podunk city 30 miles away. We have all the small town qualities: everyone knows everyone(and everyone’s business), low crime rate, decent property values, an honest-to-God downtown. We’re still one of those places where you can get away with sitting on your front porch at 11:30pm and not worry about being shot.

    People can still randomly pop up at someone else’s house without calling first, AND IT’S OKAY. I dunno why Houstonians are so weird about that. I was going to chalk that up to a “city people” thing, but I have friends from Baton Rouge and New Orleans that do this all the time, so I know it’s not.

    Since Katrina, we’ve been getting a lot of South Louisiana’s movie business. If a scene calls for an “authentic” downtown, we’re it. If you’ve seen a post-2005 movie with brick-paved streets, that’s my native homeland.

    Sometimes I fantasize about giving up on Houston and moving home to operate either a thrift store or a used bookstore, because it has neither. I wouldn’t mind re-opening our 2-screen movie theater either. The only thing stopping me is that I don’t drive.

  36. Kai Jones March 19, 2010 at 12:44 pm #

    I am a born and raised Portland, OR supporter. (Although part of our culture is that we discourage people from moving here.) I love my hometown! The weather is great when it’s great (summers: 80 F, sunny and NO HUMIDITY) and only kinda sad when it’s not (I grew up with the 40 F, clouds and rain so it’s normal to me). We’re in the Willamette Valley, only 90 minutes from the Pacific Coast and 90 minutes from skiing in the Cascade range. If you like the great outdoors, you can ski in the morning, windsurf on the Columbia river in the afternoon, and watch the sun set over the ocean in the evening–all on the same day! Great camping, hiking, fishing; museums, opera, ballet, theater, music of all kinds; and Portland is a foodie town. Plus more microbreweries per capita than any town in the world!

  37. enygma March 19, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

    Plumcake-hells yeah. ;) Even though I’m planning on moving to the DC/MD area in a couple of years, Chicago will always be in my heart.

  38. Bree March 19, 2010 at 6:31 pm #

    I live in a small waterfront town just 30 miles north of Baltimore. Virtually nothing goes on in the town unless you attend every dance and bull/shrimp/oyster/crab feast at the local American Legions. But I enjoy being near the water. We have a fabulous park with a boardwalk built above the Susquehanna River and I enjoy walking it or seeing the ducks, geese and occasional heron. The park has free concerts every summer on Friday nights and it’s nice to sit outside on the river and listen to music. There’s also a nice little pub that serves good food for cheap here too and at least there is county-run public transit, although it doesn’t operate on weekends, late nights and holidays, when I had to take it to work, it was very convenient.

  39. dcsurfergirl March 19, 2010 at 6:41 pm #

    I love DC! I live just outside of it in the Maryland suburbs.

    I love DC for all the reasons others gave and a few more. If you have a dark sense of humor, all the politics, local news and DC life in general is an endless source of comedy. It just is.
    I also like that there is more nightlife in DC. The restaurants, bars and clubs make DC a lot less comatose than it was when I was a kid. I hope that the Metro suystem’s safety and financial problems affect life in DC any more.

    The other DC chicks may disagree but I think shopping is starting to improve. I still have a rough time shopping. For clothes, but I learned how much I LOVE accessories from some new boutiques.

    Maybe I should listen to all my buds who tell me to give in and just get an apartment in downtown DC…

  40. hickchick March 19, 2010 at 7:28 pm #

    I wish I could love Austin as much as I love the people I’ve met here. I miss seasons and cheap rent and skinny dipping in places that are actually secluded and I’m kind of weirded out that soooo many people here want me to smoke pot with them. I’ll be moving back north soon, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

  41. AmazonPrincess March 19, 2010 at 8:25 pm #

    I grew up all over Sonoma County, in CA. Most of my childhood was spent along the Russian River in the redwoods. I love it out here, but not really during the summer and harvest season. Too many pretentious wine people roaming about. They don’t travel in any particular direction, if they did that you could easily plan to avoid them. But no, I get cornered in TJ’s listening to them go “Well do you like your whites dry or sweet”
    “Oh on the dry side of sweet dahling, hurhurhur”
    If I found a wine that doesn’t try to kill me maybe I’d be more accepting (drunk) of the wine people.
    Anyway, it’s beautiful out here, and we’re a short drive to SF if we want city excitement. Oh, and the only good thing that comes with all the pretentious wine people, AWESOME FOOD. Of all kinds.
    I’m staying though, unless I decide to relocate to Seattle, all my Californian friends who moved there love it (Sorry Eliece! ^_^)

  42. Jane March 19, 2010 at 8:29 pm #

    Portland, Maine, is the hometown I adopted at age 24 after leaving Massachusetts behind. I live in the most awesome neighborhood in the most awesome city in the world. If I walk down the street from here, there’s an elementary school, an amazing bakery, a wonderful Italian/African fusion kind of restaurant, a creative pizza place, a gay bar, a sex shop and a folk club. All within a couple of blocks of the Episcopal cathedral and the retirement community where my dad lives. And it works.

  43. EdeVM March 20, 2010 at 11:51 am #

    Another DC person here (I was born across the river in Virginia and moved into the city after college). One of my favorite things about DC is the height restriction on buildings–we’ve got a human-sized downtown as a result.

  44. Jewels March 20, 2010 at 9:22 pm #

    Thanks Gold Digger and Carol for supporting wonderful Milwaukee! 4 seasons, friendly people, great food, a summer full of festivals – gotta love it!

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