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Chris Rose: City Vitals 2.0

Which state is best for retirees? Where's the best place to raise kids? Who are the fattest people in the country?

America loves her lists, those short-attention span surveys that feed our insatiable curiosity as to where we fit into the broader global spectrum of activities and affairs.

Some are predictable. New Orleans is dangerous. New Orleans is romantic. And, yes, New Orleans is fat.

It's all just fun and games.

Until somebody gets hurt.

Or really ticked off.

Which happened over the weekend as results of a much-ballyhooed national study on the economic and cultural vitality of American cities reached the alien, distant shores of New Orleans.

The study is called City Vitals 2.0; note the affixed catch phrase which universally affirms 21st century credibility.

It was published by CEOs for Cities, a national public policy think tank which is not impressed with New Orleans' famously antiquated and beloved means of cultural expression, communication, transportation, urban design, et cetera.

A particular point of contention is a "culture" index that ranks our city last out of America's 51 largest metropolitan areas.

It was the conclusion drawn by comparing the percentage of households owning high-def televisions against the number of residents who attended "cultural events."

No definition of "cultural event" was given.

On and on it goes, pronouncements of our city's lack of ambition, amenities, progress and interconnectivity, sparking enough outrage among locals to prompt a hasty clarification on CEOs for Cities homepage over the weekend – in effect, an apology for hurting our feelings.

Do these much-publicized national surveys actually influence the investment decisions of Fortune 500 companies and the entrepreneurial class?

I don't know.

I haven't seen the latest list on that subject.

But I do know this:

Once again, folks from Elsewhere have made pronouncements from On High which may or may not have any real effect on our lives – we've seen this movie before – but which once again prompt New Orleanians to circle the wagons, draw together and tell those folks, well....

You know what were telling them.

We may not be 2.0 in the estimation of America's corporate class, but in our own self-evaluation, and by our own list of cultural "indicators," we are clearly and unequivocally Number One.

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