The Lilliputian Gazette
Wednesday, November 20, 2019
Here’s your latest update from Lesser Bellingham. If you are somehow out of the loop and have never heard of the organization, let me quickly catch you up. Way back in 2007, as I was becoming increasingly agitated by accelerating growth in our pleasantly small city, I founded Lesser Bellingham. Our organization views so-called “smart growth” as an insufficient and ultimately destructive model for the future. We advocate the principle of municipal shrinkage, embracing the noble motto, “Let’s get small.”
In 2007 there were 78,000 folks living here; now there are about 91,000. Things are not going well for Lesser Bellingham’s strategic plan. Our town continues to be increasingly attractive to outsiders. Nothing seems to discourage them, not our inflated home prices, exorbitant rental rates, low wages, confusing streets, Escheresque intersections, not even our lack of decent Chinese restaurants and good rye bread. They just keep coming.
Given these grim realities, the last thing anyone should be doing is encouraging more people to move here. This goes against everything Lesser Bellingham stands for. We have enough problems from national publications that keep designating Bellingham as “The Best Place to ______ “ (you name it). Just a few weeks ago, for example, Fortune magazine ran an article designating Bellingham as an “off-the-radar foodie oasis.” Hey, Fortune, put a sock in it. Lesser Bellingham’s goal is to stay off the radar and you’re not helping.
But an even greater threat is being generated right here among us. It saddens me to say that an organization I greatly admire has made a tragic error that could entice even more people to head our way. This fundamentally decent yet terribly misguided culprit is the Downtown Bellingham Partnership. How it grieves me to say that. This is a terrific organization, dedicated to promoting downtown Bellingham as a great place to work, live, shop and entertain oneself.
Right now you might be asking (unless you’ve already stopped reading), “What is it that you find so objectionable, Mr. Cranky? What is this grave mistake that is undermining Lesser Bellingham’s mission?” It is this, Concerned Reader: the Downtown Bellingham Partnership is trying to change our city’s unofficial slogan, the slogan that every true ‘Hamster holds dear: “The City of Subdued Excitement.” I get chills up and down my spine whenever I hear those stirring words. This is why the Downtown Partnership must cease and desist in promoting its potentially ruinous alternative slogan, “The City of Renewed Excitement.”
No! This cannot stand.
This new slogan can only result in luring even more people up here, the wrong kind of people, people seeking excitement. If characters of this ilk want excitement they should stay in Seattle where driving is a blood sport, whole neighborhoods get bulldozed in an afternoon, and you have to dodge street crime on your way to Starbucks.
This irresponsible slogan doesn’t even make sense. Renewed excitement? When were we ever exciting? OK, maybe during the Gold Rush, when corruption was the norm, the town was flush with prostitutes and con men, and people settled their differences by shooting each other in the street. If that’s the kind of excitement you’re looking for, move to Chicago for God’s sake, but not here, not to this city of minimalist thrills, subtle joys and understated pleasures.
At this point some of you might be thinking, “Oh, come on, Mr. Cranky, is this such a big deal? The City of Subdued Excitement is only an unofficial slogan anyway.”
I’m sorry, folks, but this entirely misses the point.
Consider this parallel example: “Waltzing Mathilda” is the unofficial Australian national anthem. Burly, macho Australian men get tears in their eyes as they sing, “Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong/Under the shade of a coolibah tree.” Yes, it’s only an unofficial anthem, and maybe a silly one at that, but imagine what would happen if Australian legislators dared to suggest that, say, “Dancing Queen” would be a better choice. Mobs of otherwise genial Aussies would descend upon Canberra, storm the parliament, and pelt the offending politicians with globs of spoiled Vegemite.
Official or unofficial, it makes no difference. “The City of Subdued Excitement” is who we are. It defines us. It states our clear-headed values and sacred principles. Walk tall, ‘Hamsters. Wear your mantle proudly.
That’s it for now. For those of you who have emailed to ask if Lesser Bellingham holds regularly scheduled meetings, I’m sorry, but we don’t. We just aren’t comfortable in crowds.