Eyebrows raised last week when The Plain Dealer printed a study ranking Cleveland as the nation's 53rd best city -- out of 65. It concluded that we're poor, uneducated, and we still can't figure out why they give you two forks at upscale restaurants, making this an unswell place to live.
The paper used seven quality-of-life indicators. Minneapolis finished first, followed by St. Paul and St. Louis. Two North Carolina cities -- Raleigh and Charlotte -- were also included in the Top 10, largely due to the state's high percentage of people who marry their cousins, thus generating lucrative income from appearances on daytime talk shows.
But critics were quick to denounce the study's faulty science. They note that, by using measurements like median household income, college degrees, and average commute time, Omaha was able to finish 10th. "Omaha? You gotta be %$#@&% kidding me!" says Biff Hudak, president of the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce. "People don't live in Omaha. They're sentenced to Omaha."
So Scene decided to hire real scientists -- the kind with lab coats, who still live in their mom's basement -- to conduct a more comprehensive study. Using seven indicators that matter to decent people and a briefcase full of twenties from Mr. Hudak, we found that Cleveland is the greatest city in the history of the world. The details:
The Whiskey Consumer Price Index: At an average of $2 for a shot of Black Velvet, Cleveland finished No. 1 in this leading quality-of-life indicator. Dainty cities like San Jose and Seattle, which ranked high in The PD study, were excluded from our more scientific research, since both still rely on the Chardonnay Monetary Standard.
Low Yuppie Quotient: Analysts studied the sale of Jimmy Buffett CDs, enrollment in Jazzercise classes, and the number of times residents used the phrases "new strategic paradigm" and "Can someone help me park my SUV?" Cleveland ran the table.
Composite Masculine Labor Index: With our tradition of heavy industry, Cleveland ranked first with the lowest number of people who were embarrassed to tell their fiancée's parents that they work a sissy desk job for a living. Data further revealed that four out of five Clevelanders preferred a career burglarizing garages to some candy-ass job writing software code.
Number of Bars & Catholic Churches on the Same Block: This critical municipal planning feature, known as "Way Old Urbanism," allows residents to get hammered, cheat on their spouses, and score quick absolution before closing time. Cleveland rode to the top on the strength of its West Side amenities. Salt Lake City, which is largely Mormon -- a religion too cheap to hire a pope, much less build confessionals -- finished last.
Fine Arts & Culture: Research disclosed that 72 percent of Cleveland -- and a whopping 98 percent of Parma -- can recite Slayer's Reign in Blood CD word for word. And when posed the question "Who is Kafka?", 86 percent accurately replied that he was a weak-side linebacker for Philly in the 1970s.
Dietary Superiority: Because Cleveland's four main food groups are kielbasa, beer, pierogi, and cigarettes, the city boasts the nation's highest probability of heart bypass surgery, leaving it uniquely poised to become the major medical research center of the new century. Cleveland is also expected to lead the country in term life-insurance purchases.
The People Who Wear All Black Factor: Unlike supposedly sophisticated cities, where everyone dresses like they're going to an aunt's funeral, researchers found that Cleveland has yet to identify mourning wear as a signature of intellectual depth, angst, or a willingness to pay far too much for coffee. We just figure they have a lot of relatives dying. Cleveland also had among the lowest use of the words "empowerment," "multicultural," and "World Trade Organization." It was surpassed only by Pittsburgh, where polysyllabic language is banned under the city's English Only statute.