hello city

I think this harbour town is waist deep and sinking fast…I think this seaside beer hall should sink into the bay. ~ Barenaked Ladies, Hello City

Did you know that the song Hello City by Barenaked Ladies was written about Halifax, Nova Scotia? I remember the first time I pieced it all together, it was probably around 1998. I didn’t understand why they hated Halifax so much. They bitched about the bars and excessive drinking, the maritime lingo, the lack of sunshine on Barrington Street. They made absolutely no qualms about how much they hated Halifax. The song totally surprised me when I first realized it was about hating Halifax as Halifax is generally very well received and viewed as a desirable tourist destination. To me the things they hated and sung about are just part of the Halifax charm. I viewed Halifax as beautiful, exciting, sophisticated. It was everything I desired in a city. I thought Hello City made the Barenaked Ladies look foolish and a bit sad and I often wondered if they ever changed their opinion about Halifax or gave it a second look. 

MacDonald Bridge, Halifax, Nova ScotiaThe other day Hello City popped up on the radio and I started thinking about perspectives of provinces and cities and how they change over time. People grow and mature and their wishes and desires change and sometimes perspectives on neighbourhoods and cities change right along with it. I have always had the tendency of placing Halifax on a pedestal. I hold it in the highest regard, perhaps sugar coating the negative parts of the city, and washing away any bad points with my sea of happy Halifax memories. I view Halifax as my “glory days”. My twenty something days filled with bars, downtown, restaurants, university and some of the craziest yet most fun stories of my youth. I often wonder what it would be like if we packed up and moved back to Halifax after having lived away for almost six years. I’m such a different person now, different priorities in life, different goals and different hopes for the future. Would I still view Halifax as the best city in the world or would I become cynical about the city like the Barenaked Ladies? Halifax is the only city I have ever lived in. I really have nothing to compare it to in terms of day to day city life. I am positive living in rural Manitoba has changed me as a person, but would it also change my views of Halifax if I were to move back permanently and take it down from the pedestal? Would I finally see the side of Halifax that the Barenaked Ladies sing about? Or would I still think they are full of crap for hating Halifax?

Have you ever hated a city that you felt social pressure to like? Have you ever loved a city that others hated? Did you keep your views quiet or share them? Do you have a favourite city? Do you put it on a pedestal where it can do no wrong?