Dare to Ask: A bicoastal bias against Midwest?
By PHILLIP MILANO, The Times-Union
Do people on the coasts think we in the Midwest are all unsophisticated,
easy-going farm folk?
Molly, 23, St. Louis, Mo.
About a dozen or so of my high school classmates have moved to the
D.C./Baltimore area. They are now looking to move back. There are the same kinds
of idiots living out there that were in our town.
Brian, 28, Peru, Ind.
Having been in Minneapolis for three years . . . this is one of the most
unfriendly places I have ever been. "Minnesota nice" - yeah, whatever. Try the
land of the practical haircuts and [big behinds].
StellaBlue, 36, Minneapolis
The reputation is it's full of very religious people with little tolerance
for racial differences, gays or people who are eccentric or different. I think a
lot of the negative comments are sour grapes from people who didn't fit in back
Lani, 40, San Francisco
I got chatted up by strangers there pretty often, which never happens in New
Ed, 26, Milpitas, Calif.
Being from the Midwest, I've met some people who grew up on the East or West
coasts who have comical or insulting views of the Midwest. Some think most
everyone lives on a farm, which is not true. Although, I actually grew up on a
Katrina, 43, California
I'm guessing that as a bisexual and an atheist, I am more likely to find
people with similar values in urban areas on the coasts than in the Midwest.
Squonk, 25, female, Cambridge, Mass.
I visit Wisconsin every year, and it's a scary place! The men and women live
like it's the 1880s. Women are treated like second-class citizens. . . . My
experiences in the Midwest are so different from the way I grew up and the
cultures I've lived in that visiting is enough for me.
Colleen, 42, Maine
We talked to Michael Feldman. He is from Madison, Wis. He hosts Michael
Feldman's Whad'Ya Know? quiz show. It is distributed nationally by Public Radio
He was short and to the point. We will be, too.
"You have to go by the individual as far as boring-ness. I've never heard it
about Midwesterners. I have been bored by Midwesterners, but that's because
they're all around me. But you can't generalize."
Midwesterners aren't more honest, he said.
"If anything, we're more closed up, so if you do say something, it has more
import, because ordinarily we say so little."
The Midwest has pluses.
"The main benefit is that we keep the two coasts apart. If they ever met, it
would be a fatal reaction."
Appearances can be deceiving.
In the Midwest someone could like you, and you'd never know it. In the South,
people appear to like you, and maybe they don't . . . If we're doing a show in
the South, women will put their hand on you to talk - that's better than I've
done here in 27 years of trying."
Phillip Milano, author of I Can't Believe You Asked That! (Perigee),
moderates cross-cultural dialogue at Y? The National Forum on People's
Differences. Visit www.yforum.com to submit questions and answers. Send general
column comments to email@example.com. You can also hear his
podcasts or watch his