Ain't no Sunshine for Men's Health

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Left, Burgers contemplate the futility of their existence, Feb 2011 (photo courtesy 
Tim Schultz Photography).
Right, Happiness is Fargo, ND, (photo via
Oregon Magazine, Feb 2010)

Men's Health magazine has determined, through creative use of statistics, that Fargo, North Dakota is among the happiest cities in the country, while St. Petersburg, Florida, is the worst of the "Frown Towns." After the steam stopped shooting from our ears, we at iLovetheBurg thought a rebuttal was in order.

Let's for a moment ignore the irony that a "health" magazine can diss a city with the third longest public waterfront in the country, where people can walk, run, bike and swim every day of the year, where the sun shines 360 days out of 365, and where it's a 15-minute drive to one of the best beaches in the country.

So, put your irritation aside--as you sit in the park, at your desk at work, or in the shade of your trailer, taking in the warm sunshine this end-of-November day--and let's have a look at the "data" on which their assessment is based.

First of all, quality of life was not a criteria, obviously. Beautiful, sunny weather: Not a factor. Variety of experience? obviously not. In LA, they say, you can go swimming and skiing on the same day. Here, you can sit on the beach in the morning, dolphin, bird-watch or fish for lunch,
 wakeboard in the afternoon, have a gourmet meal for dinner, and dance to live music at night. All within a few city blocks. Half of those things, btw, you can do for free. So what about the three factors that Men's Health--based, by the way, in happy Emmaus, Pennsylvania--did base their study on? Let's see:

Unemployment: Sure, it's difficult to find a job here. That's because everyone wants to live in St. Petersburg, Florida, and there's a finite number of jobs. That's also why there are still people living in Fargo, North Dakota.

High number of people who report feeling the blues all or most of the time: Perhaps a little trip to North Dakota would give these people the boost they need. No? Okay--don't say we didn't try.

High percentage of households that use antidepressants: Maybe Men's Health hasn't heard of Florida's brisk Pill Tourism trade, although they seem to be doing their part to promote it. Just beneath the article describing the misery of existence in the 'Burg, a headline screams "DON'T STOP NOW" at men who consider quiting antidepressants "after just 2 months."

Here are a few data points we can assemble ourselves: Count the number of 'Burgers who long to vacation in Fargo, North Dakota (sure, include rabid Coen brothers fans). Now, look out your window and count the license plates of North Dakotans scrambling to escape their cold, grey, happy existence.

A few other facts Men's Health failed to note:

•  AmericanStyle Magazine lists our little city at the top among mid-sized cities of its Top 25 Arts Destinations in the country.
•  St. Petersburg has for years been attracting an unprecedented influx of younger residents
•  We're home to the Pinellas Trail, a haven for cyclists that stretches for 37 miles
•  People flock to the 'Burg from all over Florida--or as far away as North Dakota!--to enjoy gourmet fare, an art museum of international renown, dolphin and manatee spotting and the music of a popular hip hop artist, all within toe-dipping distance of the longest sub-tropical waterfront in the US

So cheer up, fellow 'Burgers. Put down the pill bottle and put on those shades. You don't need a job to go for a walk along the water on a warm sunny day on one of the most beautiful cities on the planet.

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