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Opinion >  Column

The Slice: Face it: It takes all types to make a great city

Paul Turner is taking some time off this summer. In his absence, we dive into the archives at Slice Central. Today, we revisit July 20, 2001.

Stacey Timm objected to Harrington appearing in a list of cities and towns nominated by Slice readers for the title “Armpit of America.”

“Harrington is not by any means disgusting,” wrote Timm.


Of course, Spokane also showed up on that list. Nobody complained. Perhaps it was understood that this is pretty subjective stuff. And there are always going to be the disenchanted among us.

The truth is, the cross-section of personality types one encounters from city to city is remarkably similar.

Haven’t you found that to be the case?

OK, people might speak with an accent in City X. Or they might have unusual culinary habits in City Z.

It says here, however, the assortment of saints and blockheads doesn’t vary all that much.

Climate, scenery and economic conditions mark distinctions. But people make a place what it is.

Statistics about race, education and household income might be valuable to marketing types. But they don’t reliably predict the likelihood that someone in Buffalo or suburban New Orleans will stop and ask if you need help changing a tire.

Travel and experience tell you more than generalizations and “Places Rated” lists.

Now that sounds like stating the obvious. But actually it challenges Spokane’s conventional wisdom.

That’s because we think we’re special.

Chances are, you’re familiar with our peculiar strain of civic-image schizophrenia. You know: “We’re not as fashionable as Seattle, but we’re obviously a better place to live than Dayton, Dubuque and Duluth.”

Call it pride, self-esteem or delusion. But inferiority/defensiveness coupled with geo-smugness is an interesting blend. It might help explain a few of the ways Spokane seems a few degrees off center.

There are many wonderful people here, and our share of losers. Still, that’s more or less true of other places, too. So really, does any city deserve to be called the Armpit of America?

I’m on notice that Harrington does not. And I can tell you that Spokane doesn’t either. There are way too many nonarmpit types here.

Want me to break it down for you? OK, here is The Slice’s unofficial personality profile of Spokane:

Big heart, ton of patience: 3 percent

Always sane, considerate: 13 percent

Usually OK to be around: 17 percent

Depends on the day: 35 percent

Raised in barn: 11 percent

Immaturity on parade: 9 percent

Consistent jerk: 7 percent

Makes the case for jails: 5 percent

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