Do you live in an identity capital? American cities are like patchwork quilts – but some patterns stand out more than others. Let’s explore:
Provo (Utah), America’s conservative capital
In 2005, The Bay Area Center for Voting Research, a nonpartisan think tank, found that Utah’s third largest city is America’s most conservative. Or in three words: Rightwing Republican Heaven. Votes aside, in more recent times, it became city-ranked 1st for volunteerism and is one of America’s healthiest urban centers. But just to scare left-liberals, the conservative Mormon metro is projected to have the greatest population increase. Thanks also to America's Freedom Festival at Provo where they "celebrate, teach, honor, and strengthen the traditional American values of family, freedom, God, and country" patriotism is thriving.
Washington (District of Columbia), America’s AIDS capital
Think: tax, tax, tax. And: liberal, liberal, liberal. Furthermore, “Washington, DC, has the dubious distinction of being America's AIDS capital, with the highest HIV infection rate in the country,” reports Public Radio International. “A recent study estimated that the infection rate in DC is three percent, the highest in the US. To put that figure in perspective, the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization consider a one percent infection rate as the threshold for a severe epidemic.” One certainty: If the AIDS epidemic worsens, more tax-hungry Democrats will be taxing.
Loma Linda (California), America’s longevity capital
Was that centenarian pushing weights? And does life begin at 90 here? Many of Loma Linda’s long- living Seventh-day Adventist Christians follow a vegetarian diet or eat meat sparingly, attend church services, avoid drugs like the plague, make time for regular exercise, encourage abstinence before marriage, keep the Sabbath holy (from sundown Friday to sundown on Saturday), and like the Mormons, they love volunteering. As well, it’s hard to ignore the inviting sunny climate associated with other longevity world capitals. I take my hat off to these Protestants - and their highly disciplined lifestyles.
Atlanta (Georgia), America’s gay capital
She’s known as Hotlanta in Georgia. According to The Advocate (a fabulous magazine), “Atlanta is undoubtedly our gayest city—with 29 gay bars.” Reportedly, “Atlanta guys are hunky, the ladies are gracious, the gay sports leagues are seriously well organized, and its housewives (and their gay BFFs, complete with handbags and heels) are now camp icons.” The downside: The crime in Atlanta is relatively high, particularly fabulous property crime.
Berkeley (California), America’s leftie capital
Family warning: Berkeley’s street performers, I’m told, perform some unspeakable acts. Also, according to The Bay Area Center for Voting Research, Berkeley is America’s third most “liberal” city, just behind Gary (Indiana) and Detroit (Michigan). But is this because some residents are too stoned to register? Here’s what we know: Berkeley has leftwing form. Smelly hippies and cultural upheaval did characterize the “scene” in the late 1960s, but the soybeans are still boiling. Today, Berkeley is home to the Himalayan Fair in May, the Berkeley Kite Festival in July, and the Solano Stroll in September.
Colorado Springs (Colorado), America’s religious capital
If America had a religious capital, it would be Colorado Springs. Men’s Health reports: “We scoured the U.S. Census and the yellow pages (Yellow.com) for places of worship per capita. Then we tallied up religious organizations (U.S. Census) and the number of volunteers who support these groups (VolunteeringinAmerica.gov). Finally, we considered the amount of money donated to religious organizations (Bureau of Labor Statistics and spent on religious books (Mediamark Research).” While there’s never a perfect way to measure religious values, Colorado Springs is known as "the Evangelical Vatican” and "The Christian Mecca" for a reason.
Huntington (West Virginia), America’s fat capital
When the British television chef Jamie Oliver tried to evangelize about the benefits of healthy eating to the folks in Huntington, West Virginia, he was reduced to tears. Obviously this made for some sensational television and loud tabloid headlines, but his concerns appeared genuine. The emotional Oliver sobbed: “They don't understand me. They don't know why I'm here.” In 2008, the AP named Huntington "America's fattest city." And I wonder, can fat people enter the Kingdom of Heaven? After all, the path is narrow, according to the Bible, and gluttony is a sin.
Boston (Massachusetts), America’s historical capital
The American Revolution. The Boston Massacre. The Boston Tea Party. And I thought Ann Coulter was controversial. The unofficial “Capital of New England” loves drama. So when Puritan colonists from England founded Boston, they didn’t just shake the continent, they ended up shaking generations across the world for centuries to come. But there’s more: Real Bostonians have a “Boston accent” and their own elitist language, “Boston English.” Plus, it’s said that your typical Harvard professor is over two-hundred-and-forty-two years old. (Really.) Even the Boston Globe’s august columnist, Jeff Jacoby, is living in the year 1889.