"We pretty much all left," native son Chris Suellentrop writes in a piece posted today at Grantland, the ESPN-sponsored treasure chest of writing about sports and pop culture.
The "we" refers to smart and talented people like Suellentrop, who works as an editor at the New York Times Magazine. The place they left is Kansas City, a wasteland for anyone who has ever eked out an original thought, in Suellentrop's view.
Suellentrop describes the hard lesson he learned after college, when he took a job at the Olathe Daily News, "a suburban daily near my suburban hometown."
I didn't know yet that if you want to do something reasonably creative for a living and get paid for it, pretty much the only way to do it in Kansas City anymore was to write for Hallmark cards.Yes, and no aspiring writers or actors have ever left Dallas or St. Louis to pursue their dreams.
Suellentrop puts himself in a category with Calvin Trillin and Paul Rudd in the course of making a point about the Sprint Center, "the symbol of Kansas City's aspirations to national relevance and its actual national irrelevance." For Suellentrop, the Sprint Center's lack of a major tenant epitomizes a demoralized sports town. (But Def Leppard is coming!) Twice he uses the phrase "once-great." (He also quotes Wikipedia -- daring!)
It's an occasionally fun, mostly aggravating essay, with a meditation on Billy Smith, the "tree-climbing expert" who appeared in Kansas City Power & Light commercials in the 1980s, inserted in the middle. What say you, fellow members of the Tribe of the Sloping Forehead, who can't figure out a way or a reason to leave Kansas City?