Proving Des Moines is NOT boring

Why Des Moines is better than Minneapolis

I’m sick of hearing all the time about how great Minneapolis is. (I know, we’re technically supposed to call it “the Twin Cities,” but does anyone really care about St. Paul? Do we have any evidence that St. Paul actually exists? Have you ever met anyone from St. Paul? I sure haven’t. So let’s move on and focus on Minneapolis, the “real” city in Minnesota.)

I haven’t been to Minneapolis in several years, and I don’t really know much about it, but lack of knowledge has never prevented Americans from having strong opinions.

So here are my poorly informed views on why Des Moines is a better city than Minneapolis:

Des Moines

Image by Jordan Walker of Jake Boyd Photo

1. Sports. Minneapolis is home to the Twins, Vikings and Timberwolves. (I’m omitting the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, because who cares.) So yeah, I suppose it’s good to have big league sports teams. But the thing is, all of Minnesota’s big league sports teams are terrible and will never win a championship ever again. It’s better to live in a city with no big league sports teams than to live in a city where your big league sports teams are the Twins, Vikings and Timberwolves.

Advantage: DES MOINES

2. People: Everyone talks about how “nice” people in Minnesota are, but “Minnesota Nice” is really just “Minnesota Thinly Veiled Passive Aggression.” Deep down, all of those smiling Minnesota Lutheran church ladies serving “bars” and “hot dish” are simmering cauldrons of rage and resentment. (“Hot dishes” of rage and resentment, if you will.) Also, Minneapolis is home to Michelle Bachmann, who is one of the worst human beings in America (although I still find her strangely attractive).

Advantage: DES MOINES

3. Traffic: Minneapolis has too much traffic. I had to drive to the airport there a few years ago, and it took forever. Minneapolis is not nearly a big enough or cool enough city to be worth putting up with all of that hassle.

Advantage: DES MOINES

4. Attitude: Minneapolis people are so damn SMUG all the time. They’re always saying (imagine this next part being said in an annoying Minnesota accent): “Minneapolis is so great! We have active outdoorsy lifestyles, and a prosperous economy, and progressive politics, and a happenin’ cultural scene! Too bad you backward Iowans can never fully enjoy or appreciate the glory that is Minnesota!” I’d rather hang out in laid back, slightly self-deprecating Des Moines any day. In Des Moines, we don’t take ourselves seriously. We fly under the radar. We’re too busy enjoying our lives and hanging out in bars to waste time engaging in meaningless regional rivalries or looking down our noses at anybody.

Advantage: DES MOINES

5. Culture: Has anything noteworthy happened on the Minneapolis cultural scene since the heyday of Prince? Probably not, right? (I am not a pop culture expert. I have two young kids and I never listen to music, watch movies, go to concerts or leave the house. I haven’t listened to any new music since 2007 and the last movie my wife and I saw in the theater was “The King’s Speech.” Never have kids.)

You know who else is a well-known cultural figure who lives in Minneapolis? Garrison Keillor. And don’t get me wrong, Garrison Keillor is a national treasure and a great writer, but his humor is just so damn friendly and mild-mannered all the time. It’s comedy for people who have no problems. After Garrison Keillor retires, we need to find a new cultural ambassador for Midwestern humor – someone with a much harder edge.

Although I will say this for Minnesota: Garrison Keillor is much funnier than that other widely-known purveyor of Midwestern mild-mannered humor, Wisconsin’s Michael Feldman of NPR’s “Whad’ya Know?” How in the hell has “Whad’ya Know?” managed to stay on the radio all these years? It’s a 2-hour cavalcade of punchless jokes and aimless Midwestern mild-manneredness, interspersed with treacly, tinkly piano “jazz” that wouldn’t pass muster at a Cedar Rapids Nordstrom. Whenever I’m driving somewhere and “Whad’ya Know?” comes on the radio, I become genuinely angry. “Whad’ya Know?” makes me want to drive my car off a bridge.

Michael Feldman has been on the radio for like 30 years, making big money. He probably lives in a mansion like all the other NPR personalities. (A lot of people don’t know this, but all of the NPR news people are millionaires, and they refer to the NPR Pledge Drive as “Soak the Plebes Week.”) I’m a lot funnier than Michael Feldman, and here I am toiling in obscurity. But Michael Feldman is the only bad thing about Wisconsin – everything else about Wisconsin (beer, bratwurst, cheese, frozen custard, etc.) is PERFECT.

Advantage: DES MOINES…or possibly MADISON, WISCONSIN (minus Michael Feldman)

So, in conclusion…if there’s one lesson you remember from reading this article, I hope it is this: a lot of those NPR news people are surprisingly attractive! Seriously – have you checked out these photos? My favorite is Audie Cornish. So, so sexy.

Ben Gran is a Des Moines writer and comedian. He always roots against the Twins, Vikings and Timberwolves because he wants people in Minneapolis to be unhappy. Follow Ben Gran on Twitter and Facebook.