Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Kansas City's 'Golden Age' showers down

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2012 at 11:26 AM

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So in the last week alone, there was a shooting at Independence Center, a dude was killed at 71st and Monroe, there was a triple homicide at 39th and the Paseo, and The Kansas City Star reported that the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese Pedophile Clearinghouse Prize Patrol paid out $1 million in 2011 to the lucky survivors and their prize-winning post-traumatic stress disorders. One damn week, you guys. THANK SCIENCE, IT’S FRIDAY, or whatever, because Kansas City is still “the City So Nice They Defibrillated It Twice.”

Something is changing, though. You can feel it on the streets. You can see it in the faces. Or just, y’know, huff some of it from the dirty jar containing this assy-smelling Midwest Voices commentary by Hampton Stevens, a KC-based writer for The Atlantic and ESPN the Magazine.

Frankly, considering the origins of Midwest Voices as a kind of “volunteer fire department” model for the future of journalism, those are some pretty impressive professional credentials. I mean, compared with the boring housewives and Wikipedia plagiarists they used to publish.

I assume Hampton also embroiders really large throw pillows, judging by girly sentences like, “Ultimately, a city is made of individuals who might never get their names in the paper or win awards but whose effect on the life of a city nevertheless grows through time like the proverbial flap of a butterfly’s wing.” As I read that line aloud in the falsetto voice I use to make fun of Ink, it occurred to me that at some point 1,000 years ago, a butterfly flapped its wings and then one thing led to another, and then Hampton Stevens wept during a particularly dainty episode of This American Life.

Like Phil Collins, Jitterbug phone user and pop star, Hampton Stevens can feel something and it’s coming in the air tonight. The whole piece is premised on the idea that Kansas City has entered a “golden age” and also that “something is happening” or “something is changing” or “something has been growing,” by which he seems to mean some kind of vague, local zeitgeist-y deal to which he attributes a whole bunch of shit that old, rich white people enjoy, pretend to enjoy or are at least willing to endow in order to expedite their impending arrivals in heaven, presented here in a bulleted list:


  • The Nelson-Atkins expansion

  • The Kansas Speedway

  • The Nerman Museum

  • The Livestrong Sporting Park

  • The restored Midland

  • The UMKC Conservatory

  • The KC Symphony

  • The Todd Bolender Center

And that’s just for starters. I’m not even going to mention his over-the-top praise for Quixotic Fusion aerialist Megan Stockman, which reads like the literary equivalent of the move young dudes make where they pretend they’re just stretching out their arm across their movie date’s shoulders. [Note to Megan Stockman: Hampton Stevens can be reached at oped@kcstar.com or c/o Editorial Page, The Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64108, please, please, please write to him.]

Putting aside the hilarity of referencing both NASCAR and the Todd Bolender Center for the Prancing Arts as twined examples of KC’s new “Golden Age,” Hampton also cites old-white-people favorite Woody Allen (in the lede!) and the TED lecture series for fancy persons who crochet ukulele cozies while listening to LastFM. Just as all Chinese cookie fortunes make more sense if you append “in Shia LaBeouf’s ass!!!!” to the end, Hampton’s column about Kansas City’s Golden Age makes more sense if you end every sentence with “for old, white people west of Troost!!!!!”

Also, this:

We may have been built on wheat and cattle, but today creativity is key to so many of the businesses that define us. Hallmark, for example.

Head. Desk. Bang. Ow. Goddammit, Hampton.

Maybe it is a golden age for Kansas City. For middle-class people who wear Dockers and drive P.T. Cruisers, I guess. But seriously, you guys, ultimately, a city is made of individuals who might never get their names in the paper or win awards but whose effect on the life of a city nevertheless grows through time like the proverbial flap of a butterfly’s wing — for old white people west of Troost!!!!

Chris Packham is a writer for Cat Fancy, Teen Vogue and other national publications. He lives in Astoria, New York, with his dog, Blossom. What. Shut up. Reach him at chrispackham [at] gmail [dot] whatever.

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