I don't think of myself as anything close to a redneck. Two reasons. One, I've never driven a truck, except for a U-Haul once and after a minor accident I now have a fear of driving one again. And two, I was born in northeastern Ohio; went to college at Northwestern in northeastern Illinois; and now live in the southwest on the west side of Los Angeles. I also may be hiding clues to The Westing Game.
But when my friends at Movoto.com sent me this list yesterday of the most "redneck" cities in the U.S., I was shocked to see my hometown of Cleveland made it. I gasped, my eyes popped open wide and my monacle fell into my glass of Veuve Clicquot.
Several "well I never!" iterations later, I was ready to write the list.
These are the 11 most redneck cities in America, based on criteria including high school dropouts, gun and ammo stores, taxidermists, cowboy boot stores, country radio stations, NASCAR race tracks nearby, Walmarts, and riding lawn mower and tractor repair shops (all per capita). With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy...
Redneck stock photo 1.
Louisville, Kentucky - The original list on Movoto only went up to 10, so I badgered them for the 11th and they gave it up to me. Therefore, we can call this an 11 Points Exclusive -- the 11th most redneck-y city in the U.S. is Louisville, Kentucky. Yep, my exclusive scoop is that Kentucky belongs in the conversation when you're discussing the subject of rednecks. I'm a regular Bob Woodward over here.
Mesa, Arizona - Having driven through Mesa and seen two guys at a gas station walking around guns hanging from their belts (no law in Arizona prevents that), I'll confirm this one. In fact, Mesa has the highest ratio of gun and ammo stores to people of any city in the U.S. It's 132 stores-to-446,000 people; that's one guns and/or ammo store per 3,379 people. They might not even match that ratio with grocery stores.
Cleveland, Ohio - I guess Cleveland's gone a lot more country in the decade-and-a-half since I left. Turns out we have the lowest high school graduation rates in the U.S. So, let it be known. If you're a redneck who likes wildly unpredictable weather, lake effect snow, a football organization that specializes in psychologically torturing its fans, and a few places that serve really good corned beef -- consider packin' it up and moving to Cleveland. Houses available.
Sacramento, California - This is the other "northern" city on the list. So prepare accordingly if your kid's debate club has a meet in Sacramende.
Arlington, Texas - Arlington has the most cowboy boot stores per capita and the most riding mower and tractor repair shops per capita. On the strength of that big two it seems like it would've been the favorite to come out on top. But just like its baseball team in the World Series, a few big bats can't make up for everything.
(That's a very arbitrary shot at the Texas Rangers. I really have no specific beef with them. I'm just feeling ornery having found out I grew up a redneck without realizing it.)
Redneck stock photo 2.
Fort Worth, Texas - So Arlington makes it, Fort Worth makes it and Dallas rudely gets shut out entirely? It's the Cooper Manning thing all over again.
Tulsa, Oklahoma - Tulsa's first motto was "America's Most Beautiful City." In the 1960s they changed to a slightly less vain but equally grandiose motto, "Oil Capital of the World." Now, they're using a totally generic (but less hubris-y) motto, "A New Kind of Energy." What does all this mean? I think landing fifth on the most redneck cities list just might provide a much needed rebranding opportunity.
Nashville, Tennessee - Not a bad showing at all for the most reluctant member of the Confederacy. "Look at us now, South Carolina," you might -- but probably won't -- hear them say. I'm certain there are about 15 or so Vanderbilt professors who are appalled that Nashville finished up here; meanwhile, the entire city of Memphis is nodding in agreement.
Redneck stock photo 3.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma - Oklahoma City is the home of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, the only state capitol building with an oil well underneath it and the site of the world's largest livestock markets. Even more impressive: None of that stuff counted toward this list and OKC still had enough juice to land in third place.
Kansas City, Missouri - I ran this by three people from Kansas City and had virtually identical exchanges with all three:
Me: KC was named the second-most redneck city in the country.
Them: You sure they didn't mean Kansas City, Kansas? Those people are hillbillies.
Me: Nope, Kansas City, Missouri.
Them: (brief pause) Yeah, I can believe it.
I guess there's chewing tobacco floating in all those fountains after all.
Atlanta, Georgia - Good for Atlanta, I'm sure it's quite a redneck paradise, blah blah blah -- how did northern Florida get shut out of this list? If the people behind the list posted a correction tomorrow and said they messed up, the 11 most redneck U.S. cities are actually Pensacola, Tallahassee, Panama City, Jacksonville, Gainesville, Daytona Beach, DeLand, Fort Walton Beach, Leesburg, Palm Coast and Deltona, would anyone blink?
This post was originally published on Friday, May 10, 2013 at 11:00:00 AM under the category Travel.