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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Seeking a creative city? Think Kabul, Afghanistan.

When I read the description of London, Ontario, in my local paper, I was appalled. According to The London Free Press my city is dull and boring. Just the descriptive words one wants associated with one's city. These are not the descriptive words to post on the Internet for the world to find on googling London, Ontario. Nice work, Free Press.

I decided to do some googling to discover what the world finds when they google boring cities and stuff like that. Surprise, my search didn't lead to London, Ontario. But it did lead to:

  • Waterloo, ON — "This city is boring, has awful weather and worse food."
  • Orange County, CA (San Francisco, Long Beach) — "Depressingly boring"
  • New York, NY — "Overrated, boring place, just left of rural Alabama"
  • Catalina, CA — "No points of interest . . . you can walk it all in under 20 minutes"
  • Miami, FL — "Another lifeless boring place"
  • Albany, NY — "The most boring place in the world"
  • Phoenix, AZ — "The most boring large city in America"
  • Hamilton, ON — "If you thought Mississauga was boring, this place is worse — "

Gosh, what a surprise. I found folk bad mouthing Hamilton. Who would have thought? The father of The London Free Press reporter Randy Richmond fled to Hamilton when he could not take another boring day in London according to Randy Richmond, the reporter who wrote the London is boring story.

Heck, if some folk find Hamilton boring, why go on with this search? Clearly, the number of places that have been called dull and boring must be just about infinite.

Still, if boring puts London, Ontario, in the company of places like New York and San Francisco, what company do we keep if we become a Creative City as The London Free Press suggested in another story? Answer: Try Kabul!

Yes, that's right. A few years ago Newsweek featured eight creative cities in a piece looking at The World's New Culture Meccas. Kabul, Afghanistan, made the cut along with Tijuana, Newcastle/Gateshead, Marseilles, Cape Town, Zhongguancun, Antwerp and Austin. The BBC agree that these eight cities are "the world's new culture meccas."

So, if you don't like boredom, don't move to Hamilton like Randy Richmond's dad, move to Kabul. No boredom. Guaranteed.
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This weekend, end of May, 2016, the paper ran another hatchet job on London. This one was penned by Larry Cornies: Safe, average London: Canada's wallflower.

This afternoon I took my six-year-old granddaughter to see the Cirque du Soleil show Toruk: The First Flight at Budweiser Gardens in downtown London. During intermission I had a short chat with a lady taking the seventh inning stretch. I asked her if she had read the Larry Cornies' piece on the city in The London Free Press. He called the city Canada's wallflower, I told her. "Oh," she said and shook her head to indicate "No." She explained, "I don't take the paper. I find it dull and boring."

1 comment:

  1. I have to disagree on with you on this. London is... well, it's not good.

    It's one of the worst places to try to navigate through. During the summer months there is ENDLESS road construction being done but oddly enough it's almost always the same roads. No thoroughfares, expressways and the pitiful LTC all add to the dismal experience of one's daily commute to work.

    And work? London's job market is awful - abysmal really. It was one the hardest hit places in the country in terms of employment in 2009 and while it's ever so, so, sooooooo slowly getting better: it still stinks. Innovation, cutting edge and forefront are NOT words that can be used legitimately when discussing the city's job sector.

    Oddly enough, for a city hosting two of some of the largest post-secondary schools in the province, there's a lack of things to do. Sure there is the Budweiser Gardens (formerly the JLC) and an ok amount of clubs/bars but there's really nothing special about any of those things either. The shopping in the city is weak, the once bustling downtown of 25 years ago has long rotted and been given over to crackheads and skid balls; no thanks in part to big box stores, criminal parking fees, methadone clinics and that welfare office next to the McDonald's on Richmond and Dundas.

    It's almost like London puts no effort into retaining any of the close to 60, 000 full-time college and university students that pass through annually. But hey, let's build giant Goodwill centres, Salvation Army residence's, a half dozen Missions, detox centres, meth clinics and "job resource centres" (these are favourite places for lowlifes to smoke weed and and hangout all day when the weather is warm) right downtown. Yes, cater to that demographic some more London, ON.

    Sure, there are some nice parks, gorgeous walking paths and a handful of decent festivals in the summer but it's not enough to make up for the city's flaws.

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