It seems that not a week goes by when we don't learn that Milwaukee has been named to a national list of the best things or the worst things.
Some of them have very real policy implications - things like employment numbers or health measures. Some, though, seem like they're designed to make headlines for the ten or twenty cities on the list - concepts like Best Nightlife, or Most Outdoor Adventures.
In the City Guide issue of Milwaukee Magazine, senior editor Howie Magner surveyed some of the many lists on which Milwaukee has found itself.
"You wonder if there's a list of the cities on the most lists," Magner says. "and if so, Milwaukee would have to be near the top of it."
Magner points out that Milwaukee's appearance on these lists is often touted either as a beacon of development, or of the city's demise. Witness, for example, the research of Forbes Magazine, which named Milwaukee on a list of Top Emerging Downtowns, at the same time it also named Milwaukee to the list of "Most Miserable Cities."
On the positive side of the spectrum, Magner points to the city's inclusion on surveys naming the Best River Towns and Best Cities for Biking. At the same time, a website devoted to extra-marital affairs, named Milwaukee the #8 Mistress city, for the number of single women pursuing affairs with married men.
Magner concedes part of the point of the collection was to get people to lighten up a bit. "Part of the problem with these things is that people take them as gospel," he says. "Look, it's somebody sitting at a magazine office, usually, and saying, 'Gosh, I need a story and let's see what we can do to get some page clicks.'"