Places That Inspire: Indianapolis
Yes, Indianapolis. What the actual fuck? you ask. Who gets inspired by that place? Don’t you know that New York, L.A. and maybe Chicago are the only places that exist?
Well, guess what? I live here. And when you live someplace, and you’re not a miserable human being who derives no joy from anything (and it’s not a truly awful place like, say, I don’t know…Omaha), you’ll start to enjoy it. Especially when you realize that there is a lot going on all around you.
Something happens in this town when the economy goes bad. It’s already cheap to live here, so it is full of artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs. So when the going gets tough, the creative class still chugs away, because the going is tough for them all the time. And suddenly, opportunity opens up in the form of rents and real estate. They open bars, small businesses, cabarets, music venues. Because the city is small, word spreads. These venues thrive. And they provide a place for the artists and musicians to shine.
It’s a small world here, so everybody knows everybody in the creative underground. There is solidarity, because they are often fighting reactionary forces bent on shutting them down. The subcultures are small, so they are forced to hang out together. Ideas flow freely. One may be a goth and a geek and a burlesque girl/guy or many things simultaneously, because there is no pressure to pigeonhole yourself. The musicians and artists and entrepreneurs tend to remain accessible, so there is ample opportunity to get inside their heads and see what makes them tick. Contrary to popular belief, there is always something happening. One simply has to be willing to look.
Visually, the city is an interesting mix of historic architecture, rust-belt ruin, and postmodern revival. Culturally, it is a blank slate. Except for !Sports! and racecars, there is no over-arcing theme. Anything goes.
If you hate beer, mead, music, cabaret, burlesque, public parks, museums, art shows, drag shows, clubs, street fairs, farmer’s markets, and affordable housing, you’ll probably hate this place. If you insist on only seeing the city as it was 20 years ago, you won’t be impressed. If you can see only politics, corruption, annoying people and annoying things, you’ll be miserable wherever you go. If you’ve lived here and then found a place you like better, don’t forget the place that offered you a start.
It can’t always happen somewhere else.