Advertisement

Brock About Town: Iowa City’s five smells


Illustration by Lev Cantoral

Last weekend, I took my boyfriend to Cedar Rapids to meet the home folks. It was a beautiful afternoon, so we rolled the windows down as we passed through the scenic downtown area, and then he instantly rolled them back up.

Now, I’ll be honest: I lived in Cedar Rapids for so long, I hardly notice the supposed assault on the olfactory organs being perpetrated by the Quaker Oats corporation. (Except Crunchberry day. I look forward to that shit for weeks.) Mostly, I think the whole “City of Five Smells” joke is more of a meme than an actual observation being made by the people who won’t shut up about it. After all, every town smells like something, right? Why is Cedar Rapids getting singled out in all this?

And that got me thinking: if Iowa City had five iconic, defining smells, what would they be?

  1. The ginkgo trees on the Pentacrest, which, particularly in the summer, reek of… well, you know. Or, if you don’t, ask your big sister.
  2. A townie bar: slightly dank, redolent of spilled PBR and stale French fries, with hints of the cigarette smoke wafting in through the front door. Yum.
  3. A brand-new book from the self-help section of Prairie Lights, being huffed by a freshman creative writing major who thinks the fact that paper smells good is the kind of brilliant insight that’s going to get her that Pulitzer.
  4. The vaguely comforting, extremely crunchy aroma of the vitamin aisle at the New Pioneer Co-op, and also most of the people who buy their vitamins there.
  5. That particular way in which Victoria’s Secret Love Spell mingles with the coffee smell at the Clinton Street Starbucks to create a sort of basic miasma.

We’re definitely going to need our own candle.

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 298.


Thoughts? Tips? A cute picture of a dog? Share them with LV » editor@littlevillagemag.com

Advertisement

IOWA CITY HOLIDAY MARKET

Fresh, local and hand crafted

Learn More

SATURDAY, DEC. 18
8 AM - 1 PM

ROBERT A. LEE COMMUNITY
RECREATION CENTER

220 S. GILBERT STREET
IOWA CITY, IA 52240

Advertisement

World of Bikes presents:

KEEP ROLLING THROUGH THE WINTER

Come talk with our experts about ways to stay on the bike this winter! Find out more at World of Bikes.

Get Started

The Future is Unwritten

You look to Little Village for today’s stories. Your sustaining support will help us write tomorrow’s.

Regular

$10/mo or $120/year
(AUTO-RENEW)
The cost of doing this work really adds up! Your contribution at this level will cover telephone and internet expenses for one month at the LV editorial offices.

Italic

$20/mo or $240/year
(AUTO-RENEW)
$240 is enough to cover one month’s costs for sending out our weekly entertainment newsletter, The Weekender. Make a contribution at this level to put a little more oomph on your support and your weekend.

Bold

$30/mo or $360/year
(AUTO-RENEW)
LittleVillageMag.com connects eastern Iowa culture with the world. Your contribution at this level will cover the site’s hosting costs for three months. A bold move for our boldest supporters!

All monthly and annual contributors receive:

  • Recognition on our Supporters page (aliases welcome)
  • Exclusive early access when we release new half-price gift cards
  • Access to a secret Facebook group where you can connect with other supporters and discuss the latest news and upcoming events (and maybe swap pet pics?) with the LV staff
  • Invitations to periodic publisher chats (held virtually for now) to meet with Matt and give him a piece of your mind, ask your burning questions and hear more about the future plans for Little Village, Bread & Butter Magazine, Witching Hour Festival and our other endeavors.