Dear Mr. Bezos,
So I hear you’re looking at Boston, along with New York, Atlanta, Chicago, and Dallas, among other places, as the second headquarters for Amazon. As my friend’s elementary-school daughter said when I couldn’t remember what grade she was in:
Trust a native New Yorker: Shun the Crab Apple. It’s not just that there’s a blood feud raging between Andy Cuomo and Bill de Blasio that makes the old disagreement between the Hatfields and McCoys seem like an ice cream social.
New Yorkers have a bias against nimble, fast-moving enterprises like Amazon. Against anything fast moving, really. If you’re an out-of-stater and you drive 70 or so, even through long empty stretches of northern New York, the cops are sure to cull you out of the highway herd. And then, when they ask if you’re aware of the speed limit, and you reply, “No, but I assumed it was the speed those cars ahead of me with New York plates were going. If I was speeding, they must have been, too, so why didn’t you stop them?,” he’ll ignore the last 33 words of ironcald exculpatory reasoning and just type “no” into his little machine, which will then spit out a ticket saying you confessed to not knowing the speed limit. And then you’ll either have to return three weeks later to some back country courthouse to contest the injustice or pay a huge fine, and it will make you so mad that you’ll resolve never to return to that godforsaken. . . .
Ahem. On to Atlanta. A-Town really should be called ZZZZZ-Town. SmarterTravel recently named it one of the dullest cities in the world. And here’s what CBS News had to say some years back: “After dark, downtown has more in common with a Midwest farm town than an Olympic city.”
Which brings us to Chicago. Take your cue from Saul Bellow. He was virtually synonymous with the Windy City — but deeply ambivalent about it. “I am putting on one of my annual drives to get out of Chicago,” he wrote a friend in 1945. “It grows more like Siberia all the time.”
And not just culturally. Go there in the winter and you’ll see just what Bellow meant when he wrote that the Chicago cold had a “headhunter’s power of shrinking your face.” In 1993, the Nobel laureate finally caught a Boston break; John Silber offered him a post at Boston University. Bellow left Chicago in the rearview mirror and spent his last decade here.
As for Dallas, well, as Union General Philip Sheridan said, “If I owned Texas and hell, I would rent out Texas and live in hell.” Remember the joke about two cougars who decided they’d spend a year hunting humans, one prowling in Texas, the other stalking in New Mexico? In the spring, they met to share stories. The New Mexico puma, plump and prosperous, was shocked at his friend’s appearance. “Lord, son, you’re just skin and bones. What happened?”
“I don’t know,” the other catamount confessed. “I used my regular method: Wait on a limb until I see someone coming, then roar as loud as I can, and then pounce.”
“It’s a miracle you’re not dead, hunting that way in Texas,” the New Mexico cougar said. “When you roar, you scare the crap out of ’em. When you pounce, you knock the wind out of ’em. With Texans, there’s nothing left but boots and buckles.”
That story always reminds me of Ted Cruz. And not because he tells it.
I’ve certainly never seen any evidence of that. Everyone else is just jealous.
See you soon.Scot Lehigh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeScotLehigh.