Monday, November 25, 2013

The howling savages of the Outback and the Chili's.

Omaha is a city of half a million, double that for the metro area. Home to Berkshire Hathaway and ConAgra, headquarters for the nation's intercontinental nuclear forces since the days when B-47s flew in black & white with Jimmy Stewart on the stick, and a transportation hub and meat-packing center since the late 19th Century, the largest city in Nebraska has been a metropolis for over a hundred years.

So you can imagine Brian J. Noggle's puzzlement when a Forbes writer referred to it somewhat oxymoronically as a "rural city".

What is a "rural city", anyway? I'm assuming he means anyplace that's not a local call from Manhattan but that isn't LA.

Every time I encounter this phenomenon I am reminded of the New Yorkers that allegedly brought apples and crackers with them from Gotham on their voyage to darkest Indiana, because you never know what kind of privations one might face out here on the frontier.

43 comments:

greg said...

So...Rural = 'Any Place they think differently than folks in Northeast/Kalifornia'?

I can dig it. Not sure I agree...I mean, the area I live in, the Tri-Cities in Washington(Richland, Pasco, Kennewick) have a combined population of over a quarter million, and if you look at it us on Google Maps, there are agricultural circles almost 'in town'...but, I still don't consider us to be rural...heck, we 6 micro-breweries in town!

Keith said...

Phoenix metro has a population of over 4 million but we're still just "fly over" country for allot of those people. Let them continue to think that while wondering where all their congressmen went.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

If the two coasts fell off tomorrow, I wouldn't mourn much. Well, I'd miss Florida, I guess. Maybe the East coast could only fall off down to Virginia or so.

og said...

Let's not leave out Marlin Perkins.

Omaha is a nice city, our systems house is right across the river and I've spent a lot of time there. You want to eat something that moos, this is a pretty good place.

Ruth said...

The first time my mother visited our new house she announced it to be "horribly rural!". I just shook my head.

I mean sure, I have 2 acres, and the back line backs onto 100's of acres of privately owned wild-life habitat.

But we're also less than 20 minutes from the closest grocery store....Her house in the Boston suburbs isn't that much closer to HER local grocery!

mustanger said...

Well, Omaha with half a million people... maybe they're not quite as urban as Atlanta with however many million that is now. Atlanta urban can beat up Omaha urban, so Omaha must be rural. That's about the only reasoning I can figure 'em basing it on. That and "flyover state".

Paul, Dammit! said...

I come from the 'burbs of a 'small' city of 1 million in the northeast. It's all in the perspective.

Some folks up here don't even believe in the midwest. The Mississippi river divides New Jersey and Los Angeles in that perspective.

Farm.Dad said...

Umm... You have been here ... just sayin LOL

bluesun said...

It was kinda fun last February sitting in the hotel lobby in Belize with the TV on. I think it was NBC, and the only weather they talked about the entire week was the snow in New York. Globalization, I guess, means that the weather in Ghana or Thailand in the winter is the same as New England.

Firehand said...

When I first started as a dispatcher at a LE agency here in OK(1979), toward summer we'd always wind up getting a few calls from potential tourists from NY or NJ-type areas asking if there was any trouble with the Indians lately and was it safe to come here?

No, I'm not joking.

Stuart the Viking said...

I grew up 5 miles from the nearest town... of 800 people. The nearest "real" grocery store (not counting the little Mom-n-Pop in town) was nearly an hour away (if one kept to the speed limit).

From my perspective, Omaha looks like a massive urban jungle.

s

OldTexan said...

Firehand is right about them Yankees. I worked in Oklahoma City in the 70's and easy 80's and I had a sales rep from the Northeast who flew into Dallas, which he knew was safe because he had seen the TV show, and then he rented a car and drove on up to OKC.

He told us that be filled the trunk of his car with bottled water and bags of food and he bought a sleeping bag in case he got stranded in the desert between Dallas and Oklahoma City. He thought he might need a gun but he did not know how to buy one.

He made it up and back safely.

Brian J. said...

Frankly, the most concerning thing is how easily the writer is able to hold two opposites in mind at the same time and to believe them both to be true.

Bram said...

I lived in LA for a couple of years and always thought of it as a suburban city. There aren't that many tall buildings. Just lots of neighborhoods of houses with small yards that go on forever - without the farms and woods that would break it up in civilized places.

Sebastian said...

I've visited all but, I think 5 states at this point. Been to a lot of cities too. But I have never met people more provincial than what you will find in New York City. This is truth

Walt said...

Yeah, their whole world is only about eight square blocks of parochial urbanity, and yet everybody outside those eight squares is an unlettered hick.

Well Seasoned Fool said...

Omaha, a place of many hills with a four way stop sign on top of each one!

A Reader said...

These are the same folks who wonder seriously if everyone in Texas wears a cowboy hat and rides a horse.

Their maps of the midwest must say "Here there be corn & rednecks" with a picture of a rampaging mutated combine out beside it.

Tam said...

Raise your hand if you knew that Omaha had a larger population than Miami, Oakland, or Minneapolis.

I sure didn't.

Of course, those three cities are surrounded by other urbanized areas, while the Omaha MSA encompasses Council Bluffs and not much else.

I have a gut-level grasp of the whole MSA thing because I live in Indianapolis which, thanks to UniGov and taking over all of Marion County has a population of 830,000, making it the 13th largest city in the US and dwarfing my hometown of ATL's 40th place population of 440,000.

Look at MSA's, however, and Atlanta's in the middle of an urban sprawl of nearly 5.5 million, passing Boston for the ninth largest in the nation, where Indianapolis-Camel-Muncie doesn't even top two mil, putting it in 33rd.

RandyGC said...

Maybe "rural city" means a not too unpleasant place to live (I don't like cities or large towns as a rule) with friendly inhabitants and a reasonable cost of living.

As opposed to "real city": Coastal urban hell hole populated with condescending provincial pricks and excessive prices and taxation that allow pay for the statist thugs to keep you down.

Lived in both, would take Omaha hands down over any city on East or West coast. If nothing else you can be out in an actual rural area with a little as 15-30 minutes drive time.

WindRider said...

Omaha is an underrated midwestern gem. I lived there for a year. And it is where the big restaurant chains launch because the populace knows good food when they see it.

I had a young professor in college in the '60s whose mother sent him books from the east coast when he moved to Santa Barbara CA because she thought they might be hard to find. Provincial?

Frank W. James said...

All this demographic and population stuff is interesting and at times amusing, but the hard fact is the entertainment industry (and by that I mean the MSM) considers only two areas of the United States important and worthwhile: the area between Washington, DC and Boston and sourthern California, i.e. Los Angeles.

Quite simply in their view, everything else DON'T COUNT! It's the middle-earth as far as they are concerned and our opinions, tastes and political prefernces simply don't amount to anything until we trump them at the ballot box and then they scream in disapproval and shock because we are so backward and unapproving of their superior intellect and social morals.

To Hell with 'em....

All The Best,
Frank W. James

LCB said...

Tam,
We talked about Jimmy Stewart last week. What an awesome movie his life would make...especially the WW2 part of it. We'll never see it, will we...

Anonymous said...

I had a boss back in the 90's, he was from NYC, went to Yale to get a PHD, then moved to Eastern CT to work for Big Pharma Co. One day he asked me where to buy gas cans, because he wanted to drive to western NY state (Buffalo area) and knew his car couldn't make it there and back on one tank of gas. No, it didn't occur to him that he could fill up on the way. That's how parochial NY'ers are.

Windy Wilson said...

Fuzzy, I'm with you; You'd only have to jettison that part of California within 100 miles of the coast, plus Sacramento. Just give me some notice so I can finish escrow and have the check clear.

Firehand, perhaps that was like "Do you have Prince Albert in a can?".

Just My 2¢ said...

Well, actually...
Since I live in Wyoming...
Any place where you seriously need to check the gas tank before going to the next town down the road is a rural city.

A Reader said...

I haven't spent enough time in Omaha to get a sense of the place, but I did pay a visit to some folks in Lincoln, which has working fields in the city. By this standard, I suppose Abilene, TX also fits, on account of the horse ranches in town. I'd say any place without working agriculture or at least noticeable sections of undeveloped land is overdeveloped. After driving across north Texas, Okieland, and Kansas, the fields in Lincoln did not seem out of place.

Light29ID said...

Welcome to District 11

batchainpuller said...

You can see rural from Omaha. And if you left at the two minute warning, you could bury a body in a real bean field and be back before the second half starts.

Paul said...

Omaha is a nice town.

Personally, if the people in New York and LA never come here I will not go there.


Since I won't go there, should make it pretty easy for them.

Anonymous said...

A guy I work with lived in lower Manhattan, he moved to downtown Brooklyn (where we work) and after maybe six months pronounced it "too suburban" and moved back to Manhattan. Now I actually DO live in the suburbs (Bergen County, NJ), but downtown Brooklyn ain't it. Except for a little pocket park a couple blocks away the only grass you'll find is the kind that's smoked, not mowed.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps "rural city" is meant to denote prosperity built upon agriculture, thus having a connection to rural values, that cities built by manufacturing, financial transactions, or housing all the government bureaucracies one could imagine in a restless dream, do not? It would be cooler to call Omaha a runway alert city, or a launch on authorization city. Too cumbersome, I suppose.

"Rural city" makes me think of people growing squash and green beans in the ruins of Detroit:

Urban farming detroit

"... since the days when B-47s flew in black & white with Jimmy Stewart on the stick, ..."

Nope, not falling for it. You don't screw up hints.



Mike James

Scott J said...

I define rural as "can't get pizza delivered" :)

Tango Juliet said...

I want nothing to do with Omaha. Much, much too big.

You want it Iowa?

CGHill said...

Tell 'em that Malcolm X was born in Omaha. They'll change their tune almost instantaneously.

Joseph said...

"One day he asked me where to buy gas cans, because he wanted to drive to western NY state..."

Absurd. Whoever heard of a Manhattanite who could drive?

Buzz said...

If "rural" means the snot-assed bastards won't show their faces and frak it all up, then I choose rural.

To me, anything other than rural stinks worse than a pair of skivvies after 5 days of hunting camp with no TP or shower. (yep, that includes suburbia, with its vast swaths of cookie-cutter McMansions and a Starbucks within a 7 minute radius)

Ed said...

The comment that contained the link to the New Yorker magazine cover that had the perspective of the United States from 9th Avenue NYC, reminded me that Oliver Wendall Holmes once referred to Boston as the "Hub of the universe". Here is a map that shows that:

http://bostonography.com/2012/life-the-boston-number/

Old NFO said...

Fly over country... Can't be important... sigh

fast richard said...

Nothing ever happens to America that has not previously taken place in Boston. This is why every true Bostonian sniffs complacently when someone else tells him “news.” He knows where the impulse first originated.

This quote from the linked Boston article reminds me of the claim made throughout my lifetime that all cultural trends start in California. That is another form of regional parochialism that I assume, and perhaps hope, will move to whatever becomes the new dynamic center of the culture in the future. All three places, New York, Boston, and California are historically influential places. I just hope the next such cultural center is someplace other than Washington DC.

Anonymous said...

It's a basic boundary-maintenance mechanism. Since being "urban" is central to their identity, they will change the definition of "urban" as often as is necessary to prevent people they don't like from joining the club, unless the new gal is willing to become just like them. (Omaha is the clueless noob in the comments of the long-established "major urban area" blog...)

It's also basic instinct in a species with a Dunbar's number of 148-point-something, but it's hilarious that such self-consciously evolved and sophisticated people don't understand (or deny) basic primate psychology; or that people who would deny that there is anything unique about human beings in a heartbeat but unironically consider themselves the pinnacle of life on Earth.

What's hilarious to me is how unthinking and unquestioned that kind of bigotry is in the deep-blue urban centers.

It's just the way things *are* to them, and if you point out how bigoted and condescending (among other things) it is they get all butthurt and defensive (because they're supposed to be tolerant an' all, and hate it when you point out how intolerant they really are) like the little kid who has said something mean-but-true and can't understand why he's in trouble over it.

PhilaBOR said...

Rural city...

Is that anything like a white Hispanic?

JimB said...

I lived in NYC until I was 40. Lived in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. I never felt right in any of those places. I'm living in Bergen county NJ now. It's starting to get to me too. Too much nanny state in both places. I only feel comfortable when I'm far away. I'd really like to move to Texas. Just have to convince my wife.