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Blue Star

Blue Star


By Scott Sullivan



I knew I’d sinned after the first time our college newspaper cast got stoned. Plus the times that followed. But like most, we did not repent until we got caught.

I quit soon after — a conscious decision, not based on guilt. Why pay to screw up my head and health?

Forty years later I have better sins to repent, like doubting the value of click-bait polls that drive website rankings.

This fresh guilt was first inspired by the flood of money that gilded coffers here after the woman “who put Saugatuck on the tourism map,” per MLive, helped us win USA Today’s “Best This” and “Fourth-Best That” titles. Its website makes up, then doles out dozens of these each year.

Then WalletHub, which releases near-daily reports on America’s Most-Something Places, announced something even more useful to me: 2016’s Most Sinful Cities.

“To determine the darkest places in America,” said its website, “WalletHub’s data crunchers compared the 150 most-populated U.S. cities based on seven key vices: Anger & Hatred, Jealousy, Excesses & Vices, Avarice, Lust, Vanity and Laziness.” Thus warned, how soon can I book my flights?

The Sin-Repent Cycle is a self-sustaining industry. Look at country and blues singers, gossip magazines, pro sports heroes busted for steroid use and/or hitting women half their size, mental health groups, churches and 12-step programs. How many stories did I write about the affair between ex-state Reps. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat?

We all need forgiveness, me especially after reading Care.com Think Tank’s “Ten Best Cities to Raise the Next Jimi Hendrix.”

Most think-tank thinkers are tanked. They start their studies infused with spirits — pro-free enterprise, pro-social justice … — of who pays for them. Faux-scientific findings confirm the premises on which they were based. That’s news?

My memories of Hendrix, a self-taught electric guitar pioneer who died of a drug overdose at age 27, are hazy. Still, what parent would not want their child to grow up like him?

Their madness of these pseudo-studies lies in their methodologies. Care.com — a $59-million corporation that turns coin listing child care, senior care, pet care and tutoring jobs — had “analysts rank 111 major cities based on the amount of music lessons available (as reported by Care.com music tutors) compared to the number of children under 18 in the area.”

Non-Care.com tutors didn’t count. Nor does the fact that Hendrix grew up in Seattle (ranked 33rd), the son of poor alcoholics who couldn’t afford, nor have even dreamed, of sending him to a tutor.

If you want to make Junior like Jimi according to this report’s methodology, you better have bucks to pay Care.com tutors and start him or her young. “The next generation of legendary musicians walk (or crawl) amongst us, waiting to learn how to tap into their inner rhythm and ROCK OUT!” Care.com’s come-on says.

My daughter is 17. but it’s still not too late for our family to move to Gainesville, Fla., or the other top-10-ranked cities — all university towns, amazingly. She will be playing “Hey Joe” with her teeth, then setting her guitar on fire like Jimi, before I know.

Now the woman who put us on the tourism map is gone, there is no point staying. Opportunity lies anywhere Care.com or Wallet- Hub have customers, USA Today is believed and/or gullible people travel.

As much as I would like Flannery to fulfill herself (not to mention me) as a zillionaire rock star, I would repent if I forced that on her. That’s why website rankings are so important.

If she instead wants to be a millennial entrepreneur, USA Today will guide her to Birmingham, Ala. If she wants to drink beer, Grand Rapids. Click now on their site and vote for the Best Reindeer Sandwich in Alaska, Barbecue Chicken Sandwich in Alabama or Pepperoni Roll in West Virginia.

If she wants the best city to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, WalletHub says Cincinnati. Lowest movie costs? Corpus Christi. These guys study everything.

“What do you want?” I asked Flannery.

“Leave me alone. I’m playing a video game,” she answered.

Movoto’s website says the best gaming city is Atlanta, GeekWire says Seattle, Metro argues Los Angeles and Kuboku says Huntington, N.Y.

So much data, so many ways to crunch it. I just hope we’re not crunched ourselves.