Monday, January 11, 2016

Marketing Apocalypse: Chapter 1

To get Hill City, you’ve got to get 2020. That was 5 years ago, the year everybody stopped pretending. The year we lost Miami. It was the first in a string of really big American cities to become unlivable. And the hilarious thing was, the ice caps didn’t even have to melt to sink the place. We’d all been sitting around waiting for that big catastrophe for years, for the not-so-far-off future of 4-plus degrees people were always carrying on about.

But while we waited for the real show to start, a creeping, un-sexy disaster got Miami, a daily tide that was consistently a foot-and-a-half higher than normal. That’s all it took, and suddenly? Not a single Kardashian could be found on South Beach.

Miami Beach Prepares for Extreme High Tides
Just a foot and a half, and you couldn’t get to the restaurants and nightclubs and art galleries anymore, couldn’t wear your fabulous strappy sandals because the sewer pumps were backed up and leaking all the time. And nobody from Fort Lauderdale to Homestead could drink the water, because the ocean seeped up through the limestone and contaminated what was left of the aquifer. About the only thing that could live in that tropical stew of sewage and dead mangroves were mosquitoes. They bred in thick clouds and gave all the celebrities malaria, and chikungunya, which, while entertaining, was not very glamorous at all.

People left the place in waves. The ones who had come from somewhere else and bought condos on Collins or Brickell – the ones who could afford it and had someplace better to be anyway – they left first. They got on planes and flew to Norway, or Moscow. Or, if they were pro basketball players, they signed on with the recently rehomed Dakota Wizards. OK now, that was the story of 2020, let me tell you. I don’t even like sports, and I know all about it. It was freaking everywhere.

The Dakota Wizards used to be out of Bismarck, until they, like everything else, got bought by California. They ended up in Santa Cruz. But then, this internet guy who had been out in Silicon Valley moved his company to Bismarck. Nobody noticed or cared until this same internet guy bought the Wizards and moved them back home to North Dakota. Suddenly there were all these longform thinkpieces about Bismarck. “Bismarck: The New Seattle?” and “The Hottest Place in America is Also the Coldest.”

People started paying attention to Bismarck, maybe for the first time ever. Especially after half the Miami basketball team got on YouTube wearing “Can’t Take the Heat,” hoodies and announced that they were leaving and joining the Wizards. That got everybody’s attention way more than the ruined aquifer did, and suddenly we all agreed that maybe Miami wasn’t cool anymore. We were right. It was getting hotter, every year.

Nobody much saw or cared after the people who could leave Miami did. The people in Miami who were left behind – old people, black people, immigrants – had been invisible way before Miami was condemned. But those people had to go somewhere, too. Same with Lost Vegas, a year later. The people had to go somewhere. And where they went was our backyards.

Chapter 2

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