Oh, what a difference a few years make.
In 2013, the website Business Insider ranked The Azalea City the third “Most Miserable U.S. City” to live in, which irked many a Mobilian, to say the least. This designation even prompted Sandy Stimpson, who was running for mayor at the time, to fly the writer down here to prove just how un-miserable we were.
I’m not sure if this “big city” writer really cared if we were miserable or not or wore shoes, she was just trying to serve up some click bait. But it proved to be a good stunt for the Stimpson campaign, and her cyberbait worked, so it was a win-win for both parties involved.
But oh, how things have changed, as earlier this week WalletHub, another website whose sole purpose is to compose lists like this so they can generate tons of hits in order to get tons of advertising dollars (they hope), listed us as one of the “Most Fun Cities in America for 2016.”
The site listed the top 150, with Las Vegas taking the top spot and some place called Oxnard, California, barely making it in at 150th. Mobtown came in at a respectable 44th.
We all know just how fun our homeland can be. I mean, for Krusty’s sake, apparently we have clowns running around our public school campuses … for free! You can’t get much more fun than that! I bet they have to pay extra for those in Oxnard.
And in addition to an abundance of clowns, we also have actual real things like Senior Bowl, Mardi Gras, SouthSounds, 1065, a great entertainment district, a constantly evolving and vibrant music, arts and cuisine scene, endless amounts of water to have fun on almost year round, and just that laidback Mob-easy attitude we all possess. As our fancy new ad campaign suggests, Mobile really does have a certain magic.
Though we have been known as a breeding ground for corrupt, pervy or perhaps even murderous politicians, we can also claim Hank Aaron, Satchel Paige, Jimmy Buffett, Eugene Walter, E.O. Wilson and Lonnie Johnson as native sons, and there are countless others who have graced various pages, boardrooms, screens and fields. Not too shabby for a burg our size!
We even had a serial killer born here, the very one who also shot porn publisher Larry Flynt. If only poor Oxnard could lay claim to that, they probably could have broken into the Top 100, although in their defense “Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak once “had a beach house” there.
I was really proud of our well-deserved place on this list until I drilled down a little deeper. The top 10 was exactly what you would expect, Vegas, Miami, New Orleans and Orlando (I know, but it is allegedly home to the “happiest place on Earth”).
But then there are some that are a bit more puzzling AND beat Mobile, like Buffalo, New York (doesn’t it snow there like 365 days a year?) or Springfield, Missouri (though they did give the world the newly single Brad Pitt and they should be commended for that, but what else is going on there? There is no Mardi Gras, for Angelina’s sake!).
I kid, I kid, I am sure they are both lovely cities, but the real problem I have with this list is that Mobile wasn’t even top ranked “fun” city in the state of Alabama! Birmingham beat us. What in the Vulcan’s bare butt is that all about?
And I like Birmingham just fine and would totally give them props over us on some things like more breweries, more rich people, more statues of half-naked men holding torches, more enclaves for “white” people to “flight” to, more furnaces, but more fun? No way! I mean, last time I was there, the altitude made my ears pop. That was not fun at all! #sealevelgirl
And they ranked just under Austin, Texas — you know, the live music and hipster capital of the world. And Austin beat them by less than a point. I’m sorry. But I know Birmingham and I know Austin and ‘Ham, you are no Austin. I smell payola here.
But the number one indicator that this list is pure garbage is evidenced by the city that comes in at 133. Sure, it’s pretty far down there, but when Montgomery, Alabama, makes the Top 150 of any list that isn’t titled “Top Place for Unethical, Slimy, Hypocritical, Clearly Brain-Damaged Political Douchebags to Spend Time” there is a problem. Perhaps all of that hanky-panky in the governor’s mansion made it seem more “fun,” but certainly our geezer governor getting it on with his mature lady friend would qualify more as eeeeewwwww than elation.
WalletHub must have sought the Alabama Ethics Commission’s opinion on this list before it was published because, much like everything else they approve, it is baloney.
The armpit of the state is most famous for the “Luv Guv’ and they get 133, while Oxnard can claim Michael Serros, the writer for the critically acclaimed George Lopez TV series, and come in dead last. You were robbed, Oxnard! Robbed, I say!
Oh well. It is what it is. I am just not going to pay any attention to these stupid things anymore.
We don’t need no stinkin’ lists to tell us how fun, miserable, drunk and/or rainy our hometown is. If you live here and love it, you just know there is something special, maybe even slightly nutty about it. Sure, it rains like hell and it is miserably hot here from June to September, so hot, in fact, fish and crabs just kill themselves so they don’t have to live in it (#myjublieetheory #unfounded), but as the aforementioned native son Eugene Walter so perfectly put it, “Down in Mobile, they’re all crazy, because the Gulf Coast is the kingdom of monkeys, the land of clowns, ghosts and musicians, and Mobile is sweet lunacy’s county seat.”
And that sweet, sweet lunacy will always make it number one in my book, although I could take a few less creepy clowns right now.