Thursday, August 26, 2010

Me vs. WTF Terre Haute?

Me vs.WTF Terre Haute?

Honestly a lot of my incentive for trying to write this blog was annoyance at a blog entitled "WTF Terre Haute?" "WTF Terre Haute?" is a place dedicated to slagging on all that is crappy and pathetic about Terre Haute in a mildly humorous way. Misspelled signs, making fun of fat people, typos in the newspaper, and of course lots of meth jokes. I see the appeal, er sometimes, but it's easy to slip from humor to mean-spiritedness, and if the bloggers attitude isn't clear enough, it's clear that many posters come to vent frustration and hatred. Indeed the Facebook page is probably livelier than the blog itself and full of Hautians and ex-Hautians full of bile. Now I've never quite known how to take Terre Haute's self-hatred when it comes from a native. I mean, I suppose they've earned the right to hate themselves if they want, and lord knows I slip into beating myself up often enough. Me, I've only lived in Terre Haute for 5 years now. I've lived in worse places that Terre Haute, and better. I've lived in lots of places really. But never one that came close to the self-hatred problem that Terre Haute has. But Matt Wilson, the blogger of WTF Terre Haute, he is another story. My wife seems to recall him claiming he’s only been here 5 years, same as me, so he's just being an asshole. Or my wife is wrong, and that never happens … (Ooh ooh, after much digging she now reports he claimed on the page that he first moved here “several” years ago.) I will say this, I found personally, that I saw the downsides of Terre Haute right away, and the upsides, the hidden gems, took me longer. Someone I knew once said Terre Haute is a town that reveals its best slowly, and that has been my experience.

But the one that really set me off was his Aug 21st 2010, post “Brutally honest Terre Haute article” – where he just hyperlinks an article from the Indy Star called “Terre Haute is a model of Stagnation.” Of course, this article was written in Mar of 2003. 2003! Many of its specific complaints have actually improved since then. The Terre Haute I have lived in the last 5 years definitely has a poverty problem, and it definitely has a meth problem, but it DOESN’T have a stagnation problem. I’ve seen all kinds of change and new projects and people working to make things better, and people chasing there idiosyncratic passions. As Ehrmann says “What various aspirations man pursues!” Even in the Indy Star article the writer clearly makes the point that one of Terre Haute’s biggest problems is beating itself up. It quotes, then Mayor Anderson, as saying "We've always put ourselves down. We've always been our very worst enemies." Maybe soon I’ll post a list of all the cool things I’ve seen get better since I moved here 5 years ago. The Farmers Market, the Children's Museum, the Terre Haute Rex, The downtown hotels, Wise Pies Pizza, lots of new bike paths, and of course, the Ehrmann statue. I could go on, and will...

So I don’t have 24 followers for my blog, and I don’t have 2,324 fans for my facebook page, and an army of smart people taking vaguely humorous pictures for me with their mobile phones. But if you have a story or a picture or anything that you want to share about being proud about Terre Haute, mildly humorous or not, post it and I’ll see if I can get it up. Your contributions will be ...

Just one more reason I'm proud of Terre Haute.


  1. I'm glad you've started this blog. To me, it feels like about five years ago, the city of Terre Haute *itself* basically said "ENOUGH!" and changes started happening. Almost like the city is waking up from a 50 year slumber or something. It's awesome to see.

  2. Ya know, Brian, I am one of those people who doesn't really appreciate Terre Haute, but I have only been here for 5 years myself and I can appreciate trying to seek out the good in any situation. Unfortunately, I don't have much to offer initially, but thanks for the reminder to stay optimistic and watchful for the positive! Balance is always a good thing.I look forward to reading the posts here.

  3. I lived in Bloomington, IN for 8 years, and that was a great town. I've often said that if I'd have moved from Bloomington straight to Terre Haute, I'd have only seen the worst in Terre Haute. But I lived in a few other places in between, including Auburn, AL, which I DID NOT LIKE (although their were good bits even there). When I got to Terre Haute I saw all kinds of things going right, instead of all kinds of things going wrong. It's odd too, I am not at all the optimist, and cringe at positive thinking, so its weird for me to be the one to try to be the glowy sunshine pusher ... I do hope I find some neat things you might otherwise have missed.

  4. Lived here pretty much my whole life, except for a brief stint in Marshall, IL. I used to complain a lot as a kid/teenager about Terre Haute. However, in the past 10 years, many things have changed for the positive. I am happy to say that my daughter really likes it here and hasn't grown up complaining about Terre Haute like I did.

    Terre Haute has become more friendly to people of all ages, young and old. We have more festivals now than we had when I was a kid. People are also free to enjoy their Saturday mornings at the Farmer's Market as well. For those who don't get up early enough, artsy displays about town are much more common and kids and adults both seem to enjoy looking at wildly painted horse that seem to have morphed into cars. Our parks department continues to develop interesting programs and replace equipment and shelters at a time when others cities are cutting back such expenses due to economic reasons.

    Shopping has become more varied. We do have a few large stores and a mall of course. However, I think a bragging point is the fact that there have been several small independent shops open up (or stick around) and have actually survived so far through the tough economy. Several of my friends and myself shop at those places for specialty items they desire. My favorites would be Headstones (a Valley Classic, for sure) and Herbs and Heirlooms.

    Terre Haute is still struggling to find her way, but I think she has a better idea of where she's going than she did. To spin it positively, one could say that it just means there is room for growth. I personally am happy that I have lived here to see these changes happen and I hope Terre Haute continues on its path of progress.

  5. I LOVE your starting this blog, Brian. I'm a member of the "Bloom where you're planted" school and I'd much rather be looking around for the good things about Terre Haute while acknowledging the not-so and doing what I can to change the latter.

    I'll try to start my own list of things to share, but right off the top of my head, I'm thinking about ArtReach - the free community art-making space in downtown Terre Haute.The Monday night School of Rock at ArtReach is featured in the newest issue of Terre Haute Living.

  6. P.S. I moved here from Miami, Florida 19 years ago. When anyone complains about Terre Haute traffic (including the trains)or lines at the Post Office, I laugh and laugh.

  7. I will also say that I have now seen several genuinely funny things on WTF Terre Haute, and they changed their by-line to "We laugh, because we love" and there are some people there trying to change the tone from simple slagging to something more bittersweet in line with the "we laugh, because we love" line. One of the ideas I'm going to use soon, basically comes from there, too.

  8. WTF TH really could have been funny, but instead it's just a haven for haters. It's always puzzled me that some folks seem practically obsessed with hating on the Haute. Like, they moved away 10 years ago, but for some reason are stalking Terre Haute websites to leave derogatory comments. Talk about WTF!

  9. This is relevant to my interest. However, as is across the country, in every small city, there is MUCH work to be done, even in terms of the way we, the people, and those who manage to get elected THINK. There have been baby steps, but I think it is well past the time to LEAP. Kudos. I look forward to great success.

  10. You are really taking things out of perspective. WTF, Terre Haute? is a page that was developed by Mr. Wilson as a joke; just to poke fun at the silly things that happen around here (as do in other cities as well, the only reason this one was chosen is because it's the place where the creator currently lives. no reason to make a WTF Tallahassee page when he doesnt live there). Yes, I agree that some of the posts are mean spirited, but you have to realize that all the posts did not originate from the creator, which brings me to my second point, in which, you really should not have revealed the name of the page creator. Yes, I realize that you technically have not done anything wrong in doing so, but because of some of the crazies out there, you may have unleashed some dogs on a person who really doesnt deserve it.

    This page needs to be taken lightly. ITS JUST A JOKE! If you dont like it, then ignore it. You dont have to read its stories. So ignore it, and if you cant, then I say youre trying to argue and criticize for the sake of having something to complain about.

    By the way, just so you know, I agree that terre haute has made leaps and bounds above where it used to lie, even so much as a 2-3 years ago. But that doesnt change the fact that there are (pardon my language) some fucked up people around here (again, just as there would be in other places). The page is just a way to share those moments with others, even though some people get out of hand.

    My name is Peter Boyll, feel free to message me at, although dont expect a speedy response, that is only a secondary email. and if i get hate mail, i wont respond, nor will i care because that inbox is flooded with pointless spam/crap lol.

  11. My reply got too long, so I moved it to a separate post. Here