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Opinion >  Column

Doug Clark: Spokane’s inclusion in magazine’s ‘least attractive cities’ is a marketing opportunity

Humor columnist Doug Clark (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Humor columnist Doug Clark (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

A disturbing thing happened while we were all caught up with burning Columbus Day at the stake and trying to recall the mayor.

We let ourselves go.

Go as in plummet into the abyss, I mean.

Hey, don’t take my word for it. A recent reader’s survey from that esteemed scientific publication, Travel and Leisure, ranks Spokane as America’s third “least attractive” city.

And these critics weren’t trash-talking the Clocktower or the Big Red Wagon. Spokane’s civic landmarks are apparently as handsome as ever.

No, they were holding their noses about you and me, aka the uncomely Spohabitants of the Lilac City.

Read it and weep, my friends:

“Wineries and a growing distillery scene have given downtown the moniker “Cork District” and earned (Spokane) high marks for its bar scene in this year’s survey,” the website reported.

However, “readers don’t consider the locals all that eye-catching …”

At this point, a sappy columnist would attempt to discount such judgmental unpleasantness by telling you all not to worry, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that every flower in God’s vast garden is equally gorgeous in his eyes.

I am not that columnist.

I believe in facing the ugly truth, and here it is:

We’re hideous. We’re grotesque.

Look at me! I used to have hair and wear pants with a 30-inch waist. This was before I acquired a Dairy Queen habit and became president of the Cyrus O’Leary Pie of the Week Club.

True story: Before I married my lovely wife, Sherry, her mother warned her:

“Do you really want to marry him? Your children will have noses like a potato.”

Don’t laugh. According to Travel and Leisure, none of you looks so hot, either.

As a professional wordmonger, I know what a phrase like “least attractive” means.

My internet research reveals this is just a backhanded way of saying we Spokanites are so ugly that …

  • Guards make us wear ski masks whenever we walk into a bank.
  • When we were born, the doctor slapped our parents.
  • Farmers hire us to scare the crows away.
  • We can’t sit on a sandy beach without cats trying to bury us.

Look, I don’t want to con any of you into thinking that we can turn this around with facelifts, liposuction and more deodorant.

Have you seen the downtown lately?

We can’t even get the streets fixed in a timely fashion.

Besides, those self-help programs never work – you know that as well as I do.

Face it. We are what we are. The best option is to not just accept our least attractiveness, but to run with it.

By following a simple plan, I see no reason that my hometown can’t become America’s homeliest town by this time next year.

There’s a gold mine of marketing potential to be had in assuming the title of the USA’s most beauty-impaired burg.

Close your eyes, if you will, and visualize this headline on the front of the next chamber of commerce brochure.

“Visit Spokane. See the Freaks!”

Tourists will come here in droves to spend their dollars and gawk at the residents.

According to Travel and Leisure, Spokane is third-most hideous behind hatchet-faced Sacramento in second and Baltimore, the No. 1 carbuncle on America’s nose.

So here’s what we need to do.

1. Change the civic “Near Nature/Near Perfect” motto to “Spokane: Near Broken Mirrors/Near Elephant Man.”

2. Launch a national ad campaign featuring the new “Face of Spokane”: actor Steve Buscemi!

3. Make the mayor and City Council wear “I’m With Ugly” T-shirts at all meetings and city functions.

Oh, one more thing.

As long as we’re being honest here, are you ready for the real reason why “Z Nation,” that zombie TV show, films in Spokane?

Three words:

No makeup needed.

Doug Clark can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or

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