The Ecphorizer

Urban Stereotyping
Archie Fish, Ph.D

Issue #46 (June 1985)



Here at the Institute for Minority Stereotyping we are conducting many interesting studies of the inherent characteristics of racial, economic, and religious minorities. Unfortunately, none of our results have yet appeared in print because of the media's [quoteright'/>prejudices against the kind of work we do. Talk about scurrilous innuendo! Nevertheless we are continuing the fight against such ignorance and hope to receive fairer treatment soon.

A breakthrough of sorts has recently taken place, however. Three lawsuits against us were dismissed and the others are on appeal. So we are rushing this article to press before the veil of prejudice drops over our activities once more.

The turning point in our studies occurred when our Department of Regional Quirks came up with the idea of Urban Stereotyping. It is commonly recognized that the inhabitants of the major American conurbations exhibit distinct value structures and behavior systems--that  for instance, are different from Los Angelenos. This idea was expressed in America as early as 1925, when the prospectus for the New Yorker magazine distanced its readership from "the little old lady in Dubuque" – urban slur if we ever heard one. Down through the years, whole clusters of urban stereotypes have grown up. Yet the beauty of these data, from a scholarly standpoint, is that they can still be discussed in polite conversation. Thus was a research project born.

Interview teams fanned out across the nation, asking questions and filling out forms. They strove for the broadest possible resource sample by working in bars, military posts, bus stations, and American Legion meetings. The raw data were then analyzed statistically by our computer system. As a result, we have established preliminary stereotypes for six major American cities. These conclusions are presented here for the first time.

New York City. New Yorkers are definitely pushy. And rude. The brutish struggle for existence in their crumbling, bankrupt environment has left them with few, if any, social graces. When invited to a party with free hors d'oeuvres they pig out like animals. They love to cheat out-of-towners, whom they regard as peasants. Their idea of a fun evening is not getting mugged.

Denver. Denverites mostly live in the woods, where they gather wild food during the summer. During the winters they eat granola and worry about whales. They travel about from commune to commune, using skis, kayaks, and bicycles. Most of them have lost touch with reality because of excessive drug consumption. They think trees are more important than people.

Washington, DC. Government people in Washington are drunk with power. They sit around thinking about destroying the world. In quieter moments they design incomprehensible forms for other people to fill out. They are also dishonest. They steal a lot of money and lie to the newspapers. They will do anything to keep their jobs. They think a billion dollars is only slightly more than a million dollars, which they think is hardly anything at all. People in Washington who don't work for the government are inconsequential.

Los Angeles. Los Angelenos drink orange juice to the point of hallucinating. They sit in the sun a lot, sometimes naked. They practice weird religions which require them to give lots of money to crazy Hindus. The men wear open shirts with gold chains and hug each other. Their houses are built on the sides of canyons, overlooking freeways. They bathe in hot tubs and think that sex is a kind of game. When not in a drug-induced coma, they watch television sitcoms.

Boston. Bostonians are all snobs. The rest of the world offends them. They believe that anybody who didn't go to Harvard was poorly educated. They speak nineteenth-century English and live in antique houses. They drink a lot of tea. They all have family fortunes which originally came from ship captains who bought and sold slaves. Their streets are dirty because they are too stuck-up to clean them. Bostonians think they invented Christianity.

San Francisco. Because the Institute is located in the SF Bay Area, our research on the inhabitants of this city is quite complete. We found San Franciscans to be warm, stimulating, outgoing, and intelligent. Their gay and hippie communities add color to one of the world's most enviable lifestyles. Their cosmopolitan outlook mirrors the best aspects of American culture. Living as they do in the nation's favorite city, San Franciscans are universally happy and self-fulfilled.

Well, that about wraps up our research so far. But we are always busy on new investigations, pushing forward the frontiers of human knowledge. If ECPHORIZER readers have any insights to add to our findings, we will appreciate hearing them. Just address the Institute, care of this magazine. 

Contributor Profile

Archie Fish, PhD




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