Many of you have asked me: exactly how tasteful is
San Antonio, anyway? Well, now, I can tell you with scientific accuracy. It seems that Travel and Leisure Magazine
has conducted a survey (hat tip to ortho_bob
) in which they compare the inherent desirability of the 25 largest cities in America, in a wide range of categories. The results? Pretty dismal. San Antonio isn’t the worst place to live – it ranked 14th overall, only somewhat below average – but as we’ll see, that ranking is highly influenced by a number of factors that don’t really make it much of a winner. So join me, won’t you, as we learn…HOW BAD SATX SUX!
FOOD/DINING: 9th of 25
Big-Name Restaurants: 18th
Ethnic Food: 5th
Cheap Eats: 4th
Farmers’ Markets: 9th
Analysis: This is the only category where Tasteful San Antonio cracks the top ten, but it’s really not as good as it seems. I could give a fuck about coffee, and this town actually does have some decent farmer’s markets, but note that in “Big-Name Restaurants” – in other words, five-star joints with top chefs – SATX lingers near the bottom. The #5 ranking in “Ethnic Food” is deceptive, because it means, in our case, “Mexican food” – there’s tons of that, and basically nothing of anything else. “Cheap Eats” is true, but that’s only because everything is cheap here. And yeah, good barbecue is everywhere, but only if you like Texas-style BBQ. If you like pit barbecue, NC style, or anything else, you’re shit outta luck. Don’t be fooled; SATX’s food selection is no great shakes.
CHARACTERISTICS: 11th of 25
Peace and Quiet: 10th
Ease of Getting Around/Public Transportation: 13th
Environmental Awareness: 14th
Analysis: Here again, the (relatively – we’ll never make the top ten again) high ranking is deceptive. “Affordability” – well, there you have it: we’re the cheapest big city in the nation, and you won’t catch me complaining about that. I’m making lots of money, and I’m not spending much of it, because everything here is dirt cheap. But that’s the only good thing about SATX – it’s definitely the only thing keeping me here. The only other place in this category where we crack the top ten is “Peace and Quiet”, which translates to “Boredom”. (Other high ranks – “Weather” and “Safety” – likewise basically reflect the fact that nothing much goes on around here.) And in the more important categories – interesting people, ecological awareness, tolerance, and ease of access – we take a real nosedive.
CULTURE: 12th of 25
Classical Music: 20th
Underground Arts Scene: 19th
Historical Sites/Monuments: 5th
Architecture/Notable Buildings: 10th
Analysis: Another super-deceptive category. In the stuff that really counts – music, theatre, an alternative arts scene, literature – SATX is dismal. The overall ranking is brought up, essentially, by the Alamo – that and a bunch of other Texas-history sites are what account for the #5 in Historical Sites and the #10 in Notable Buildings. Likewise, a huge number of the museums here are about Texas and/or Wild West history, which is fine if you like that sort of thing, but the actual art museums and the like are terribly subpar.
CITYSCAPE: 14th of 25
Notable Neighborhoods: 20th
Public Parks/Spaces: 16th
Access to Outdoors: 13th
Pedestrian Friendliness: 13th
Analysis: Now we start hitting bottom, as we completely fall below average and never quite get up again. The skyline here is a boring copy of Seattle, and the architecture is nothing but strip malls and housing tracts. I’d rank public parks a bit higher, but pedestrian-friendliness a lot lower. The downtown area is pretty much a mess, and I live in the nicest neighborhood in town, which should tell you how little that means. Move along, folks, nothing to see here.
SHOPPING: 17th of 25
Luxury Boutiques: 22nd
Home Design: 20th
Vintage Clothing and Jewelry: 18th
Flea Markets: 4th
Analysis: You’d think SATX would rank higher in shopping, since that’s pretty much all there is to do here in the absence of culture, nature, interesting people, or an arts scene of any kind. And yeah, there’s lots of shopping opportunities – as long as you like shopping at the exact same chain stores as the ones you can visit anywhere in the country. The only place where we stand out is in “Flea Markets” – in other words, in old people reselling burned-out junk that nobody wanted in the first place, at a discount. Forget about fashionable clothes (see below); I buy pretty much everything online these days, or drive to Austin, because it ain’t happening down here.
PEOPLE: 17th of 25
Analysis: We’re pretty much hitting rock bottom at this point. Near the bottom in attractive people (shit, this town makes me
feel good-looking, and I basically look like an overweight cancer cell); near the bottom in smart people (well, you know, Texas); near the bottom in well-rounded people (reading and travel are for them big-city East Coasters, don’t you know, and we only travel when we ship out with the Marines); near the bottom in sporty, physically fit people (all that BBQ). And, as you surely don’t gotta tell me, dead fucking last in fashionable people – you get stared at like you beamed down from Mars if your shirt matches your shoes. The only high ranks are “Diverse” (lots of Mexicans) and “Friendly”, which is a real mixed blessing – who wants to be friends with a bunch of ugly, dumb, uncultured morons?
AFTER DARK: 19th of 25
Cocktail Hour: 15th
Live Music: 18th
Singles Scene: 22nd
Analysis: Well, you know about this already, because I complain endlessly about it: the bars are late-‘70s recession flashbacks (and there aren’t many of them, thanks to the city’s highly religious character); the clubs are all for dimwitted frat boys; no bands worth speaking of come here; and the singles scene is a disaster even if you lower your standards to accommodate the 17th-of-25-level people who live in San Antonio. There’s a line in The Office
where Jim says he’d enjoy living in New York so he can see what it’s like in a city where things stay open past 8PM; I, who hardly go anywhere anyway due to encroaching age, crankiness and a petrified social life, can totally relate.
And that, my friends, SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN, is…Tasteful San Antonio