You can tell by my lack of blog posts that I had a miserable April. So, let's talk about more misery! More on my series discussing Forbes 20 most miserable U.S. cities list, and the musicians that these cities have spawned.
20. Philadelphia, PA
19. Gary, IN
18. Youngstown, OH
17. Sacramento, CA
16. New York, NY
15. Toledo, OH
14. Rockford, IL
13. Kansas City, MO
12. Akron, OH
Another city for which finding a postcard is difficult. I believe this postcard to the right is of lovely Downey High School, Modesto, CA. Population of roughly 210,000. Second highest unemployment in all of California, expected to reach 18.5% this year. Foreclosures affected 8.5% of homes in 2009, sixth worst in the U.S. In 2008, had the highest rate of auto theft in America. Lots of complaints on the internet about the Tule fog in Modesto, which plagues most of California's central valley from November through March, making everything damp and cold. Burrr.
The now defunct indie rock band Grandaddy hails from Modesto. Modesto native and Grandaddy lead singer Jason Lytle released his first solo album last year entitled Yours Truly, The Commuter.
Grandaddy - Summer Here Kids.mp3
Buy: Under the Western Freeway (1997)
Bonus! A song about misery in Modesto, from a band based out of Brooklyn.
The Hold Steady - Modesto is Not That Sweet.mp3
From: Extended Australian release of Almost Killed Me (2004)
The Windy City. I lived just north of Chicago from 1991-1995, and I loved it, but it appears that the city has become more miserable since I left. Population of 2.8 million with a metro area of 9.7 million, which includes the suburbs north to Wisconsin and southeast to Indiana. Unemployment of 11.6%. And you know violent crime in Chicago is bad when it has its own section in Wikipedia. Toronto has roughly the same city population as Chicago (2.5 million for Toronto) and has had 11 murders so far in 2010. Chicago has has 113 through April 30. Chicago has the nation's highest sales tax rate (10.25%, which is high even by Canadian standards) and very long, painful commutes. Chicago is the city that practically invented government corruption. Just read about the late Mayor Richard J. Daley, who's son Richard M. Daley is now in power. The wind whips off of Lake Michigan and freezes you solid in winter, and the hot, muggy summers can be even worse. I remember my last summer in Chicago in 1995 when a massive heat wave with the heat index of 119°F (48°C) recorded at O'Hare airport killed over 700 people. And speaking of O'Hare, the one and only time I spent a night at the airport was at this miserable set of terminals. Sports teams? One word: Cubs, who are now going on 102 years of futility.
All that being said, I still love Chicago, and I would move back there in a heartbeat.
So much good music comes out of Chicago! Chicago has a rich history of blues music, with masters like Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Bo Didley, and Elmore James originating in Chicago, just to name a few. I saw Buddy Guy a few years ago when he was at the ripe old age of 70, and wow, did he put on a great show. Chicago was the birthplace of house music, and in the 80s was a center of punk and new wave. The rock music scene is always thriving, and Chicago hosts Lollapalooza and the Pitchfork Festival each summer.
The Blues Brothers - Sweet Home Chicago.mp3
Buy: Blues Brothers - The Definitive Collection (1992)
Wilco - Via Chicago.mp3
Buy: Summerteeth (1999)
Chicago (Yes, I'm ironical!) - Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is.mp3
Buy: The Best Of Chicago, 40th Anniversary (2007)
9. Canton, Ohio
Home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Population of 78,362 (I thought the Forbes list cut off at 245,000?), with a metro area of about 400,000. Losing population rapidly with a net migration out of Canton in each of the past 15 years. Unemployment rate of 15.4%. About 15.4% of families and 19.2% of the population are below the poverty line. Only 18% of the adult population has a college degree. Violent crime in Canton is three times the Ohio state average.
I have to say that this Forbes list is rather suspect as every city in northwest Ohio is on the list, with all roughly the same problems (terrible unemployment, lots of crime, losing population, brutal spots teams, and bad weather). Why didn't Forbes lump all of these cities into one giant miserable metro area?
There are a surprising number of famous musicians and groups from Canton, including the 50s/60s soul group The O'Jays, R & B artist Macy Gray, alternative rockers Reliant K, and soft rocker Boz Skaggs.
The most famous rock star from Canton must be Brian Hugh Warner, also known as Marilyn Manson. Say what you will about Mr. Manson, and while I am not a huge fan of his music, I always find him to be incredibly articulate and well spoken when I see him on TV or read about him in interviews. For example, check out Spin's 2007 cover story on the antichrist superstar.
Marilyn Manson - I Don't Like the Drugs (But the Drugs Like Me).mp3
Buy: Mechanical Animals (1998)