If Utica’s Doing it…

  |  November 18, 2014

Come on, Utica. Take one for the team

…then what about the rest of upstate New York? Author Brock Clarke postulated in the NYT recently that perhaps if residents of Utica were to just procreate a bit more, it might solve the problem of the central New York’s shrinking population, like some sort of a Reverse Modest Proposal.

Referencing his birthplace Denmark’s recent video campaign entitled “Do it For Denmark!” Clarke points out a similar issue here in our backyard:

Upstate New York also has some serious birthrate problems (United States Census data show that 35 of the state’s 52 counties outside the New York City area lost population between 2010 and 2012). But I’m not sure a campaign to encourage upstate New Yorkers to have sex would work. Especially now, staring down the barrel of another long winter. I don’t want to imagine that promotional video, but I will: two pasty people whose genders you can’t tell because they’re both wearing too many hooded sweatshirts emerge from a snow cave with buffalo wing sauce smeared all over their faces, making eyes at each other while in the background the revving of snowmobiles gives you the sense of what’s about to happen.”

Vivid imagery aside, we get it, and it even applies to towns south and east of Utica. In spite of what you may have heard about the Great Hipster Exodus to everywhere north of the Westchester border, it’s not like there’s been a population explosion in places like Columbia County’s Hudson or Ulster County’s Kingston. In fact, Kingston has held steady numbers over the past 4 years after a slight bump in 2010. Hudson’s population, on the other hand, has been steadily headed down for a decade or more. And as the small-town kids head out where they can find jobs and homes, what’s an upstate town to do? “The obvious answer is to have a lot more unprotected sex,” Clarke wrote. And to pay for the next baby boom, he continued, just start a tourist campaign to draw in Danish visitors. Or something like that. Because more visitors could result in a higher population…eventually? It kind of got away from us there at the end.

Anyway, it’s satire. We get it, but apparently, some others didn’t pick up on that, or at least didn’t appreciate it. Ah, well. Such is the way of the Interwebs.

By the way, Mr. Clarke described his novel The Happiest People in the World thusly: “It’s a novel about a Danish cartoonist who finds himself in an upstate New York town run by spies, boozers, and drug dealers.” Well, we’re sold.

Read On, Reader...