March 2, 2011

Why I Hate Boulder—and Love South Park. ~ Joe Yeoman

From the awesome blog Last Fm

In South Park’s “Die Hippie, Die”, my favorite town is overrun with “no-good college” hippies, drum circles, and jam bands. Eventually, they are consumed by the largest musical festival ever…ever.

This episode makes me tear up because I am laughing so hard. (If you haven’t seen it, check it out.)

Clearly, the episode, especially when the stinking, gross, college hippies roll into town, we can see that South Park is teasing Boulder (Come on, obviously the student-hippies, or trust-a-farians, are CU and Naropa Students).


Personally, I hate Boulder with ever fiber of my being. When I’m strolling down Pearl Street—and faux down-and-out teens are trying to scam me out of my hard earned cash so they can buy beer and frolic in the sun like they are some sort of magical trust-a-farian wood gnomes, I feel like I’ve been thrown-up on and I need to run home to take a shower.

Boulder is the sore on the roof of my mouth that I keep tonguing at.

Photo: Melvin Schlubman

(As a side note: I live in South Boulder by the Table Mesa Park-n-Ride, so I’m not one of those whiny Broomfield suburbanites that wishes, no dreams to be basking in the light reflected off the Flatirons—I actually live here, and I hate it!)

My Top Five Reasons I hate Boulder:

1. “City”.

Every week, I get updates on Yahoo! that proclaim Boulder is the healthiest, smartest, richest, hikingest, dog-friendliest city in America. Then I’ll be at church meetings or gatherings on campus, and a speaker will proclaim that our fair city is in the middle of a crime wave.

First off, Boulder ain’t a city.

In 2008, the US Census Bureau estimated that the population was around 96,000 people. With CU averaging around 30,000 students per semester, a third of the town’s population is from students. (The number one employer in town is the university.) That means it is a college town just like Iowa City, Madison, South Bend, and Bloomington.

Photo: Cincooldesigns

As for crime, Boulder is ranked lower than the national average for crime rates in every category besides rape, theft, and arson (all of which can be linked to an influx of non-resident students and alcohol/drugs every semester). The murder rate is zero (you’re not a true city until you have a murder rate).

The murder rate in Chicago is twice that of New York City, even though NYC is three times the size of the Windy City. Chicago reached a 45 year low last year, according to the Chicago Tribune:

Chicago recorded 435 homicides in 2010, marking the city’s lowest murder rate in 45 years, according to preliminary statistics released Saturday by the Chicago Police Department.

The 2010 total was down from 460 in 2009 and 513 in 2008, and is the lowest since 1965, when the city had 395 killings.

Hundreds of deaths vs. no murders. City vs. quaint college town.

To keep on the city rant, Boulder is a glorified suburb. While we don’t technically touch Denver and Broomfield from the south, there is barely a mile of land between their Super Target and our Park-n-Ride. Most of us drive to Denver for work, and they travel up here for weekend tourism.

Boulder. You’re a college town. You’re pretty close to a suburb. Get over it.

2. “Liberalism”.

I am so sick of being told “no” in Boulder. Everywhere I turn, I am being told what to do. Don’t smoke here; Smoke there (even though smoking is dirty). Don’t use plastic bags in the grocery store. It’s illegal to use a charcoal grill in apartment complexes. Don’t build there. Don’t do this. Do that.

Photo: Radio Saigón

The Boulder Building Codes, to be nice, are some of the most restrictive and conservative in the country. They are put into place to save the Open Space and mountain views. While in principle, this is a groovy idea. I love looking at to the mountains while I’m driving to Target, but it ensures that property prices and taxes will stay at a fixed (very high) level for years to come. This also means that the college slums off of Grove are able to rot, while rents increase every year.

To reiterate how stupid the codes are, the Daily Camera discussed what homeowners could do after the Four-Mile fire:

The code changes will give people whose houses burned in the blaze up to two years to apply for permits to rebuild essentially the same house they lost, in the same location, without going through the county’s rigorous site plan review process.

The new rules will also allow victims to add up to 530 square feet — the size of a typical two-car garage — and make minor changes to the house design and location, using an expedited review process that’s more rigorous than just applying for a building permit but easier than going though the site plan review.

Really? Really? That’s it? Our fair town deems that it’s okay to rebuild your house (just this one time) if it was consumed in freaking fire. Really Boulder? That’s it? They can rebuild their exact house? These people went through hell, and all they get is to add a garage? Come on.

You’re supposed to be the most liberal town in the USA (well second to Berkley, Portland, San Fran, and by political sway, you know, every other real city), and you don’t just automatically let people rebuild their homes. (Also, we pay taxes so this stupid commission can think about and vote to say it’s okay to rebuild a burned down house. What a waste of money.)

Boulder, you’ve gone so far to the left, you’ve ended back up on the right. Congratulations.

3. Whole Foods and Farmer’s Markets.

Look, I get it. Shopping at Costco is bad for me, the environment, and local economies. I understand that I should be buying organic, locally made bread. But guess what, Whole Foods and the Farmer’s Markets are overly expensive. The organic bread at Costco is half as much than at Whole Foods (I get the same bread but doubled in quantity).

Every time I tell people I don’t shop at Whole Foods and that I hate the Farmer’s Market, they roll their eyes at me. I feel alienated. Whole Foods is a status symbol, it’s the Burberry of grocery shopping, and I can’t afford to be part of that status.

As much as Boulder wants to be alternative, it cares deeply where people shop, what people eat and drink (Where’s your Bhakti Chai from the Cup, Joe? How come we never see you at the Kitchen, Joe?), and that you have some sort of physical hobby (When was the last time you went hiking, while wearing your North Face jacket, Joe?).

Well guess what Boulder, you aren’t so high and mighty. There are two strip-clubs located on your blemish free land: NITRO Club (on the precious Pearl Street Walking Mall) and the Bus Stop.

4. Subarus.

They’re everywhere. I can’t ride the bus anywhere without seeing a damn 4WD Subaru, with only the driver, cut-off the bus.

The 2010 Hatchback-SUV-Station Wagon-Hermaphrodite gets 22 MPG in the city and 29 MPG on the highway. Guess what Boulder, your precious Subaru is not fuel efficient; it isn’t even close. The Ford Escape Hybrid gets better MPG (34, 31).

As for Four-Wheeling in your Subaru, come on Boulder, you expect me to believe that you need 4WD when we live in the plains that just happen to brush-up against the mountains. If you live in Nederland, yeah, you probably need 4WD. If you are from Southern California and can’t handle the snow, you probably need to move back home. If you are using the car to cart around snowboards, all the ski-resorts in the area are paved.

Instead, buy a Prius; it’s more Boulder anyway.

5. It’s too F#@$-ing Expensive.

My apartment cost just as much to rent (it’s a garden level too) as it did to live in the Lakeview neighborhood in Chicago.

Photo: Emerson

The RTD is $2.25 a ride, and most of the buses stop service before midnight. (What else grinds my gears is that the city doesn’t want us to drink and drive—in my case, drink and ride my bike—but then it doesn’t offer a bus that leaves the main RTD after the bars close. What is that about?)

Because of the ridiculous liquor laws, only independent liquor stores are allowed to sell spirits, real beer, and wine. This means that there is a lack of competition. While it does mean that you are always supporting a local booze store, it also means that increased prices are passed on to you, the consumer. In Chicago, a 30-pack of PBR runs about $15 after taxes. In Boulder, the same case is ten dollars more.

Why does it cost so much money to live in Boulder? The sweet views of a homeless guy asking for change with the mountains in the background? Not having an indoor mall, but an outdoor one?

Why are you so expensive Boulder?

Bonus: Mountains.

Who do these good-for-nothing mountains think they are? I mean, come on. Do something with your lives, you gross, hemped-out mountains. Get a job.


Joe Yeoman loves you. He is an MFA candidate at the Jack Kerouac School. As a displaced Chicago writer and editor, he hopes to see the Windy City soon. You can contact him at Joeyeoman [at] gmail [dot] com. Follow him on twitter @themindfullife, @walkthetalkshow, and @joeyeoman. Friend him of Facebook.

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