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The 8th Deadly Sin: Neglect

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Best of the Twin Cities? That's what you dared call that last issue? What a sad joke. Where the hell was I?

Let me tell you guys at City Pages a little something: I not only should have been on the cover of that publication, celebrated as the single best thing there is about the Twin Cities, I happen to also be the only reason your towns exist in the first place.

Do any of you media mooncalves so much as notice me anymore?

Yoo-hoo, hello, over here! That's right—that bright, blue, glorious, shimmering body of water snaking right through your gut, Twin Cities. Remember me?

I see the Mega Mall got a nice mention in your issue. There was a time long before that wasted block of concrete came along that a river as grand as I would have been front and center in the minds of writers. Before those giant cathedrals, fancy skyscrapers, and pro sports teams sidled in.

I gave birth to your world, for God's sake. I gave you your sense of place, I nursed you, I brought you your citizens.

Think of how it could have been with you and me, had things been different, had you cared about me from the start. Picture it: walkways and beaches stretching all along the waterway; swimmers and lovers sharing the same space; decks over the waves where people could sit alone, drink in hand, meditating on the sublime beauty.

Somewhere along the way you turned your back on me, Twin Cities. I became something of an afterthought. You huddled your buildings together in small downtowns, and I became little more than the designated hangout for miscreants and the homeless, wayward youth, and fishermen who like catching ugly, bloated creatures filled with mercury. It didn't have to be that way.

Today there is no greater example of how far I've fallen than to read your "Best of the Twin Cities" issue and see a celebration of everything but me.

Hell, the little lakes even get mentioned. "Best Walk Around a Lake": Como?!

Dear Lord, understand how that must feel to the granddaddy of all rivers, the heralded, legendary Miisiziibi. When you are given a name like that by the Annishinabe and you know it means "Great River" and you know they've seen a few of them in their day, you begin to believe the hype, perhaps feel it's deserved. Conceited that may sound, but know that you've worn away at that sense of self-worth rather relentlessly over the years. At the very least I've become what you take for granted, or worse, what you simply forget. You've forgotten my long history, my lore, my wild tales, my mysteries. And you fail to see my aging beauty, still here, in your midst—my sweet aging beauty.

Do they forget in De Soto, Wisconsin; Muscatine, Iowa; Kaskaskia, Illinois; Ste. Genevieve, Missouri; Hickman, Kentucky; Reverie, Tennessee; Tomato, Arkansas; Tunica, Mississippi; La Balize, Louisiana? What do their "Best of" issues reveal? Am I still queen down there?

Next year, how about it? "Best Natural Wonder: the Mississippi River. She winds through our two towns with the curves of a beautiful woman, with the gentle grace of the wind itself, drawing the lines of our cities, wrapping us in a tender embrace, beckoning in whispers, only in whispers, the lone surviving call of our wild and wondrous past."

Can you write that, City Pages? It shouldn't be that hard. I'm a pretty big deal nationally. They say I'm the greatest river in America. I'm the legendary one. I'm the one with all the grand stories, the literary touchstone. Source of triumph and tragedy, of great escapes, of childhood dreams—damn it, America, I am your elder. Respect me.

Okay, glad I got that off my chest. Needed to vent. I'm okay now. What say we have a fine spring and summer together, eh? Let's hang out. I could be your sweetheart again. It could be like old times.

Oh, and if you don't mind, on your way back up the banks, pick up some litter. It'll go a long way toward healing the little rift in our relationship.