Local & State Voices

Charlotte - we’re No. 8, and climbing

What city can compete with this uptown Charlotte scene?
What city can compete with this uptown Charlotte scene? ogaines@charlotteobserver.com

I was reading news online the other day, when “Twenty Five Best Places to Live in the U.S. in 2019” caught my eye. I am drawn to U.S. News & World Report’s annual best-city list like a moth to a flame, and every Queen Citizen knows why: I expect our fair city to figure prominently.

Let’s be honest. There are two kinds of people in this world — those who will admit Charlotte is America’s most livable city, and liars. And yes, I said America. I don’t want to hear about Paris or Rome from urbane sophisticates, even though I doubt you can find decent barbecue in either place.

I perused the list, fellow Charlotteans, and have some bad news and good news to report. The good news is we are on the list, as we should be. The bad news is we came in at No. 20. What’s wrong with being No. 20, you ask? Pour some sweet tea, my friend, and join me porch-side.

If you’re looking for some “it’s an honor just to be nominated” nonsense, read no further. That’s weak, like Elton John closing out a private concert at Yankee Candle headquarters with “Scented Candle In the Wind.” No, I’m not taking this lying down.

And why should I? Have you ever seen an NFL fan waving a “We’re #20!” foam finger to support his team? Me neither. Twenty? Do you know who my 20th favorite actor is? Gerard Depardieu. That’s how thin the herd gets out there.

And get this: Of the 19 cities ahead of us, eight of them are in jurisdictions where recreational use of marijuana is legal. Isn’t the list, then, a comparison of apples to chemically altered oranges? It seems as fair to us as a weightlifting competition with Romania in 1976.

I mean, if you ask a high-as-a-kite Oregonian to say nice things about Portland, what do you think he’s going to say? And the interviewer was there for what, two hours of research? Hardly enough time to hate drum circles.

While neither Texas nor Wisconsin has legalized recreational cannabis, smart money says jails in Austin and Madison — two more cities ahead of Charlotte — are not filled with Dimebag Dave or Weedy Wendy. That’s why compared to them, we’ve dropped like a pair of soaking wet corduroys.

Striking these ten total cities from the list, as fairness dictates we must, puts Charlotte at No. 10. Better than twentieth, but I’m not done yet. Two more cities ahead of us are from right here in the Tar Heel State.

You sense where I’m going with this: Raleigh/Durham and Asheville. I’m so tired of hearing about the blossoming food scene in Durham, and all those magical craft breweries of Asheville.

You know what happens every single time I’m in Asheville? It rains. This is fine for the last scene of a rom-com, but it gets old in real life. And Durham may open restaurant after restaurant but, like making change in the collection basket at church, just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Applying this logic gets Charlotte into the top eight nationally, which is distinguished enough dirt for me to declare victory. If anyone’s looking for me, I’ve gone to Dick’s in South Park to purchase a “We’re #8!” foam finger.

Kerrigan is a Charlotte attorney. Email: mikekerrigan29@gmail.com