New Yorker Discovers ‘Merica (The First in A Lengthy Series, I’m Sure)

Photo by Phil Roeder

Yes, this is several months old, but I’m still mad about it:

Yes, happy. Life in Des Moines, and Iowa in general, is pretty sweet. I have a loft apartment in a converted warehouse (rent is $1,200, eat your heart out) that overlooks the home of the Class AAA Iowa Cubs. After home games on Fridays, there are fireworks.

I have a regular seat at Eatery A, a wood-fired pizza place that was once President Obama’s re-election headquarters in Iowa, and before that Mitt Romney’s 2012 caucus offices, and before that a Blockbuster store.

We transplants exchange survival tips. Mrs. Clinton’s Iowa communications director, whose parents are New Yorkers, emailed me about the Downtown Farmers’ Market, whose 300 vendors “make the Union Square farmers’ market in NYC look small.’’ Her counterpart at the state Republican Party, also a newcomer, pointed me to Taste of New York Pizza in West Des Moines, which is run by transplanted Brooklynites (including a granddaughter of the Dodgers great Gil Hodges).

Iowa Nice is no cliché. People return your calls.

Okay, let’s unpack:

  • $1,200 for what is probably a one-bedroom apartment. This is around (or even less than) what they go for in downtown Cincinnati these days too, but… I just can’t, you guys. I rented a perfectly nice one-bedroom in downtown Oshkosh, WI for $420 a month back in 2006, and this will forever be my reference point for what constitutes reasonable rent. Get off my lawn. Sure, it’s cheaper than New York, where rents are very, very stupid – but to me, $1,200 + warehouse + loft in the Midwest = gentrification and loss of former blue-collar jobs to the white urban playground (indirectly, at least).
  • Definitely gotta mention that the baseball team is minor league. I see you. I SEE YOU.
  • One must consult with others in order to SURVIVE out here, on this barren plain with an acclaimed university and several Walmarts. Oh, the humanity.
  • Thank God I can get the bread with sauce and cheese that tastes like the bread with sauce and cheese I’m used to, however would I live otherwise?
  • “Iowa Nice” is just a repurposed Minnesota Nice, which is a SARCASTIC TERM for people who are NOT ACTUALLY NICE. Now this guy, he’s Iowa Nice.

That’s all the energy I can put into my takedown of this hot, fresh, Iowa pizza take. Please, New York writers, STOP DOING THIS. We were all doing just fine without your stamp of approval. Go home.

Steph Barnard

Steph Barnard