In viral video, Indy's coolness is celebrated...without many specifics

March 7, 2014
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A slick, empowering video produced by Dusty Frey over a year ago that touts Indianapolis as an amazing city where creative artists can thrive has gotten a rebirth through social media.

Its headline: "You Probably Never Thought You'd Be Jealous of Indianapolis. But You Are After Watching This."

The talking heads in the video say a lot of important things about how our success should not be based on trying to be New York or Chicago. And how we live in a city where relatively small efforts add to the fabric of our cultural life.

What the video doesn't do is offer many specifics. (And it doesn't help that one that it does feature, Earth House, is already gone.) We see "Ann Dancing," First Friday, a musician in a club, an art fair, Fountain Square signage, and lots of speeded up movement to create the illusion of activity. But we don't see many things that make Indianapolis distinct from Detroit, St. Louis, Columbus, or Louisville.

So I put it to you to help fill in the blanks in this video.

What are uniquely Indianapolis events that truly make this city a more interesting place to live?

  • Indy's plusses
    My favorite things about Indy are: 1) Access in and out through a great airport. 2) Conventional to avant-garde entertainment: Beef & Boards to ShadowApe Theatre/performance art, and every kind of live music available. 3) 4 distinct seasons, with outdoor activities year-round. 4) Abundant street festivals and large public events at the Fairgrounds, city parks and sports arenas. 5) World-class museums and a great zoo. 6) A downtown that's clean and easy to navigate. 7) A downtown canal walk-path with a stunning skyline view. 8) Monon Trail connecting north to south by bike. 9) Distinct suburbs, each with its own character. 10) Plenty of free lectures, concerts and educational offerings from universities and civic org's. 11) A diverse populace. 12) Tons of ethnic restaurants and markets!
  • Nothing.
    While we do have everything that Inky writes about none of it is uniquely Indianapolis, and in this day and age no city has anything "unique". Simply because if it's good and people like it then every city is going to have it. Kansas City is "known" for bar-b-que but I've eaten bar-b-que here in Indy that was every bit as good as anything I've ever had in KC. Memphis is known for blues music but I enjoy the Slippery Noodle just as much as any venue on Beale Street - even if the noodle resorts to booking ROCK/blues bands a little too much because of a dearth of good blues bands around. In our oft-travelled and internet sharing society good luck finding any city with something wonderful that is to be found in no other locale.
  • Your question really isn't needed
    You hold up uniqueness as if it is the most important factor in a city's appeal. It's not for the very reason you and others have noted: very little is unique to only one city. What may be unique to Indy is the mix of ingredients we have all in one place and in general, for a fairly affordable price.
    • further...
      Jeffrey, I didn't say unique is the most important. But specificity is helpful when making a case for what the city already should be proud of and pointing toward what it can be, culturally. For instance, I'd argue that Art vs. Art is a unique event here and one I've happily taken out-of-towners to. In a very different corner of the cultural spectrum, I don't think any other city has an event quite like the Indianapolis City Ballet's annual Evening with the Stars benefit performance (which makes my New York friends very jealous every year). On a more conservative front, the ISO's Yuletide Celebration is a unique event that grew here and has a distinct flavor. Further, growing a talent pool of artists also help make a city distinct, whether that's Time for Three or No Exit Performance or the Indianapolis Children's Choir. I agree, though, that the mix of ingredients is helpful and important to making Indy an attractive place to live. Other thoughts?
    • more of Indy
      A beautiful river path from downtown connecting to the canal, a levee along the river with great views, marott park, and holliday park, great breweries, affordable housing, broad ripple park, the indianapolis art center...just to mention a few things
    • Nice Place to Live
      "Indy is a nice place to live, but I wouldn't want to visit here." Indy is a pretty nice place to live, as places without interesting geological features go, but I wouldn't want to visit here. I'm like most people and have limited vacation. I would no sooner spend it in a place like Indy than I would in a place like Kansas City or Milwaukee. But let's think about the people who HAVE to come here, for family or a conference. (And despite popular notion, not all conferences take place downtown.) That being said, I entertain guests frequently from both big cities and small. People from small towns like it because Indy feels big. People from big cities like it (while simultaneously looking down their noses at it) because Indy feels small and comparatively, pretty cheap. ("$5 craft beer?!!" my Chicago friends love to exclaim when we hit Mass Ave.) "There is no traffic here!" my Atlanta friends say. "How do you deal with all this traffic?" my Kentucky friends say. My international friends are less impressed because we don't have the distinct ethnic neighborhoods that NY or Boston have. By neighborhoods I mean places with sidewalks and shops and apartments. I love Lafayette Road for its ethnic restaurants, but my visitors have had mixed feelings. I love the idea that old Bob Evan's restaurants are now Vietnamese restaurants. Out of town guests, however, have used the term "janky" to describe some of our neighborhoods. And truthfully, I don't want to gentrify these neighborhoods. If I wanted them to have a vanilla experience, I'd take them to Carmel. Here's what everyone, including me, says though. Why is Indy so dirty? Lots of people refer to the clean downtown area. What about the rest of the city? It's littered with trash. Ravines and ditches are full of discarded water bottles, beer cans, and fast food bags. It's disgusting. This city needs Woodsy Owl and that crying Native American back STAT. In the video, a woman noted that many people apologize for being from Indy. Why must we apologize for what we aren't, and why must we constantly seek approval from bigger cities? I think the Super Bowl was a perfect example of that feeling of desperation. "See, we're an actual city! Even Jimmy Fallon came here!" Since we know we can't become a vacation destination, then can we focus on making it a nice place for those of us who do live here? For our size, I think we have plenty to offer in the arts arena. While I haven't attended the ballet extravaganza to which you refer, I have taken guests to some local professional and amateur theaters, the IMA and some local galleries, all to mixed opinions. People from small towns love it, and people from bigger cities are less impressed. That's just human nature. Some people say that Hudnut declaring Indy a sports city is what made Indy thrive. That being said, I've seen three professional sporting events here in my life. I see concerts, lectures, gallery openings, and performance art as many times per week! I'd like to see less money going to professional sports, and I'd like to see prospective sport teams (i.e., cricket, soccer) using existing stadiums. I am not convinced that big conventions and sporting events have helped enrich my life here. I get that such visitors help restaurants and hotels (most of which are not locally based), but I don't see how it helps people who are not in those industries. So far no one has provided conclusive data that proves that events like the super bowl help the actual citizens who foot the bill for the super party. Nor have I seen data that proves that having sports attracts young talent to the area. Can we focus on making Indy nice for those of who live her rather than trying to impress celebrities who happen to be passing through? Also can anyone speak to the rise of high-rent apartments downtown. Are they being occupied? I like the idea of high-rise living downtown, but in truth I prefer my affordable home in the suburbs where I can have a big back yard, a dog, a garden, a hot tub, and a swimming pool. Hard to believe, but even people who live in uncool subdivisions love to partake of local color. I'd love to see more dining and drinking options in the suburbs, and a real bookstore for crying out loud! I would like to see the following things happen: 1. Clean up trash. City should distribute giant trash cans like there are near Pleasant View Parkway neighborhoods. Woodsy Owl. Children, teenagers, and adults need to be taught how to use a trash can. 2. No new stadiums. 3. Develop the canal, and do it in a "family friendly" way. Not everything needs to be Chuck E. Cheese. 4. Clean up the streets and sidewalks along the canal on Westfield. That area is getting janky. It could be a great biking/pedestrian area but instead it's ugly. 5. Keep IMA free.
      • edit
        I *meant* Develop canal but NOT in a family friendly way. I don't mean we need strip bars, but could we have some adult options? Last I heard, the city official woudln't even consider it because it would make it less family friendly. I think this city is too family friendly. That might be why you're not attracting younger people.

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      1. Uh, sorry Johnnie, but you are incorrect. Despite the assertions by yourself and various defenders and captains, sports attendance is NOT off significantly at most sporting events in the US. Variances in attendance has been in the range of single digits, both + & - for years now. MLB has had most of its best overall attendance nubers in the last decade, and that trend has been consistent for most major sporting events. The number one issue cited by most fans when asked about attendance is the overall cost of attending. The presence of HD and big screen televisions in home doesn't even register, as a factor for not attending an event. VALUE in the product is the key, and apparently is something lacking in the current ICS. What other explanation is there when with what is routinely touted as the "best" racing on the planet, fans are staying away in DROVES. A "close" title battle into the last event at Fontana, with the "cars and stars" of the ICS, and who showed up? MAYBE 8K. Sorry, but HD TV isn't to blame for that kind of fan apathy.

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