“Brand Cattle, Not Cities!”

Well, if you didn’t already know this, Syracuse is a cool place to live because. . . IT’S ALL HERE! The whiz-bang gang over at 40 Below has officially launched what it is calling its Syracuse branding campaign. Apparently, a cool catch phrase and lots of ‘net and alternative media marketing will cure what ails us. We will be happening. People will flock from near and far to experience Syracuse: the rust Belt tres hip.

I found out about this when NYCO sent me an e-mail asking if I was one of the select CNY bloggers asked to create content for the It’s All Here web site. Apparently, I am a bit too smug or a bit too obscure (as well as 6 years over 40) so I was not chosen to join the chorus.

I found it interesting that potential smiley-face bloggers were reminded to write in the first person (no fair re-writing Metropolitan Development Assn. press releases) and to be positive. I don’t believe in relentless negativity, if that’s what you’re craving head over to the 40Below forum over at Syracuse.com. It’s been taken over by the people who believe that 40Below is just a pre-packaged Junior Chamber of Commerce, staffed by the progeny of current establishment figures and run entirely out of the M.D.A. offices. They’re right, of course. However, there is never any hint that the forum is anything but a personal flame war, talk radio for the deaf.

So why does 40Below make me want to vomit? The same reason I had as a kid, it’s sickeningly sweet. I grew up in the burned out, cynical Seventies. David Letterman is the voice of my generation. The tail end of the baby boom got the leftovers of the Sixties. We didn’t help end the Vietnam War; we got the Symbionese Liberation Army and Patty Hearst. We didn’t get the sexual revolution, we got no-fault divorce, herpes and AIDS. A cynic is an idealist burned once too often.

There has to be a middle ground, an honest attempt to promote what’s good about our little corner of the world without having to subscribe to the candy-colored, consumer- driven nightmare vision of hell (sentenced to a lifetime of damnation in the purgatory of a yuppie food court) that the brain-dead advertising wonks are spewing out over at 40Below.

As Saul Alinsky, the patron saint of community organizing liked to point out, a constructive alternative was the price one had to pay to protest the status quo. In that spirit, I would point out that I think one of the best suggestions for improving this area was by Jesse over at York Staters when he advocated the promotion of the backpacker/trekker tourism so common in Europe. Check out his post titled post titled: Hostels, Backpackers and Trains–A Future For Upstate Tourism?

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