I love the underdog. That's why I get my pets from the pound. That's why I like March Madness. That's why I like independent music. That's why I don't go to chain restaurants (when given a choice). I could go on and on and on.
I like St. Louis because it's an underdog city. Many people from the metropolitan suburbs and exurbs trash talk about or openly hate the city, yet claim her namesake, cultural institutions, sports teams, nightlife and parks. I hear this all the time. People who have lived in or around St. Louis who make the decision to leave for greener pastures love to let you know why St. Louis sucks when they leave. You'll hear them say: 'Chicago is this, the East Coast is that, this place is a cow town, it's a joke, you're all a bunch of rubes, you deserve what you get'. All things I've heard or read when people who leave STL, and once probably even loved STL, say to make them feel more validated in their decision to abandon or wash their hands of STL. If I were to leave STL, I would mourn. I would openly and unabashedly mourn. I would pray for her well being and future, although I'd have no part of it in my new digs. I would never, even with all the obvious faults (lame ass govt, suburban strip malls, messed up schools, racist tension, etc) say how happy I am to leave all that shit behind. But then again, I don't like to kick a dog when it's down. I am not an elitist, and again, I like and will bet on the potential of the underdog. Even when I lose, it's more fun to bet on the underdog.
I went to undergraduate university at Southern Illinois-Carbondale in the mid-1990's Many, many people attending that Univ. are from Chicago, or more accurately ChicagoLand (sub and exurbs). I had many, many arguments with friends and acquaintances about which city was better. They always won (in their minds). But there was one point that would at least make them sway from their elitist arguments. It'd come down to Smashing Pumpkins (Chicago band) vs. Uncle Tupelo (St. Louis band). I always won (in my mind), but it was tough because no one had heard of Uncle Tupelo and Smashing Pumpkins were extremely popular at the time. But once they heard how cool and different Uncle Tupelo was, they had to at least acknowledge my argument that St. Louis was cool and more underground than the behemoth that is the Windy City.
Chicagoans are elitists. No doubt about it. They love snubbing other Midwestern cities. They think they are somehow better than us. Just talk to a Cubs fan. Delusional at best. They love comparing St. Louis and Chicago. They hammer us on vibrancy, downtown nightlife, density, culture, architecture, investment, coolness, pizza, you name it. Chicagoans love bragging about how they're better than the "cow town" to the south. I get it.
Please bare with the music fanatic while I digress: I can make an argument about how the Rolling Stones are way fucking better than a small unheard of band. As an example, let's use Pavement, one of my favorite defunct bands that 90% of the people I've met have never heard of.
Chicagoan = Rolling Stones
St. Louisian = Pavement
Chicagoan argument: "The Stones are the best band of all time after the Beatles (NYC) and maybe the Zep (Los Angeles). The best, dude! Sticky Fingers (the Loop), Gimme Shelter (the Blues), Some Girls (Second City), Beggar's Banquet (the Lake). Enough said. You can't even compare them to Pavement (STL)."
But here's the deal, and what they don't seem to understand: The Rolling Stones are fucking great. Pavement fans get it. But Pavement is more special to those that love their music. It's a more intimate and personal relationship. You are part of a club if you are a Pavement fan. If I saw someone with a Pavement shirt, I would walk across the room and make a comment about the shirt, ask them what their favorite album is and ask if they bought the new Jicks record. If I saw someone in a Stones shirt, I probably wouldn't feel compelled to strike up a conversation. After all, everyone loves the Stones, right? Can't you get a stones shirt at Target?
My point is, the underdog is sometimes way cooler than the obvious elitist or populace choice.
St. Louis lovers are definitely part of a club. And it is not a high-falootin' club. It's a humble one, like the love for a mutt.