The Fly-to People

Adam Nagourney, in writing about Des Moines and how it is no longer a stereotypical Midwestern town, reveals why Midwesterners think New Yorkers are superficial idiots. His travel writing is as bad as his political writing.

But the other night in Des Moines, I had dinner with a colleague and the Iowa state director of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign at a vibrant restaurant, Lucca, in the heart of a gentrified neighborhood called the East Village. The restaurant had more panache and better food than many places I’ve eaten in Washington, D.C. The East Village streets, spread out under the State Capitol, were aglow with lights — lavender, icy blue and, of course, red and green — strung out for Christmas. They were bustling with boutiques, bookstores, coffee shops, culinary stores and Smash, an edgy T-shirt shop where the proprietors were listening to Band of Horses while making slightly off-color T-shirts celebrating the Iowa caucuses.

I’m not sure I would go so far as to say that Des Moines has become a vacation destination. But it has most certainly become cool. More than that, if you have any desire to witness presidential candidates in the most close-up and intimate of settings, there is arguably no place better to go than Des Moines. If the city itself was once a reason not to come, it has now in fact become an added draw.

Des Moines is now officially a place I don’t care to go to. “This whole thing in the East Village, which didn’t exist 10 years ago: that area, it was a classic grimy neighborhood, with a couple of lofts and gay bars. And now it’s wonderful and funky,” says David Yepsen. Wrong. It was funky 10 years ago. Now it’s bobo. I certainly don’t begrudge Des Moines economic development, but Nagourney’s enthusiasm only addresses one limited segment of an urban economy, that of an urban theme park.