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The "Armpit of Ohio" makes the cover of the Rolling Stone

Published: Wed, October 8, 2008 @ 1:31 p.m.

YOUNGSTOWN — It’s certainly not the first time the national media has described Youngstown in an unflattering way, but it may be the most stinging.

A recent article in Rolling Stone, a weekly magazine with a circulation of about 1.4 million, states the city, formerly called Steeltown, has “acquired a number of nicknames that better capture its present state. Struggle City. The Armpit of Ohio. Murdertown.”

The article states the city’s declining population after Black Monday in 1977 gives “Youngstown the disoriented feel of an inhabited ruin.”

The article is about Roger Dillon and his girlfriend, Niki Boyd, convicted of stealing $7.4 million last year from an armored car company that employed Dillon.

David Amsden, who wrote the article, said today that the piece was a reflection of the city from the perspective of Dillon and Boyd and their friends.

“My intention isn’t to bash a city,” said Amsden, who spent about 10 to 14 days in the area earlier this year researching the article.

But bash Youngstown is what Amsden did, said Phil Kidd, a city official who also created Defend Youngstown, a group dedicated to Youngstown’s advancement.

“Because of Youngstown’s reputation for crime, his exploitation of these challenges makes him an opportunist,” Kidd said. “His angle is cheap and convenient. It sells magazines.”

Mayor Jay Williams added that Rolling Stone opted to use “outmoded and obsolete references of Youngstown.”

For the complete story, read Thursday’s Vindicator or Vindy.com.

Click here to read Rolling Stone’s Web version of the story, and/or register your reaction to the writer’s appraisal of our hometown.


1DoctorGonzo(728 comments)posted 7 years, 8 months ago

“Because of Youngstown’s reputation for crime, his exploitation of these challenges makes him an opportunist,” Kidd said. “His angle is cheap and convenient. It sells magazines.”

Nobody is buying Rolling Stone to read the article about Yompton, Phil.

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2RobinVanPersie(9 comments)posted 7 years, 8 months ago

I got this issue (I got a free subscription by buying an unrelated music album online, believe me, this magazine is pretty horrible and would not pay for it). I read the story, and usually I only read the music reviews. Generally, the stories always include President Bush eating puppies for breakfast and curb stomping children for brunch.

I read a fair and accurate portrayal of Youngstown. As someone who moved to this area only 4 years ago, (NOT YOUNGSTOWN CITY) I am still amazed at the destituteness of the city proper.

However, Rolling Stone did not mention that Canfield, routinely included in America's Top 100 places to raise a family, is only 5 miles away. It wouldn't have fit their liberal slant. They also failed to mention the years of Democrat, single party rule.

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3JeffLebowski(953 comments)posted 7 years, 8 months ago

Having read an excerpt of the article it is obvious that the description of the area serves to show the irony that someone from an economically depressed area pulled off one of the highest grossing capers in recent memory. Did the writer pile on the negativity a bit? Yes, but only to better illustrate his point, not to unfairly denegrate the area.

The fact that Canfield or any other area wasn't mentioned is a matter of relevancy to the story, not a slight.

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4isaac45(404 comments)posted 7 years, 8 months ago

nor the never-ending (until recently and on nov. 4) republican governors, presidents, congresses, senators, and state legislatures that have had no influence on the area's (or the country's) economy

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5YoungstownKidd(40 comments)posted 7 years, 8 months ago

It's a feature article in an extremely popular national magazine, Doc. They might not buy the mag BECAUSE of Ytown article but folks buy the magazine and read it, regardless.

A crime of this nature could have taken place in any other area because it was a matter of extreme opportunity. Because of the amount of cash stolen and because it happened to take place near Youngstown, OH, it becomes a story in which this particular journalist tried to draw a correlation and capitalize on it to enhance and dramatize his story, period. That's wrong.

Mr. Amsden was obviously looking for a particular background angle to accompany his reporting of the heist. No one can or will deny the socio-economic challenges of Youngstown. However, because of Youngstown's reputation for crime, his exploitation of these challenges makes him an opportunist. His angle is cheap and convenient it is done by stepping on the face of a community attempting to rise up and address such issues.

Does anyone seriously care what care what opinion of Dillon or Boyd's or their friends think of Youngstown? It's Amsden's justification for writing what he wrote. Because these two idiots live near Youngstown, that's why they stole $7.4 million dollars? No. They stole $7.4 million dollars because THEY COULD and they just happen to live near Youngstown, Ohio. Given the same scenario, they would have stolen that money if they lived in Akron, Columbus, Louisville, or Los Angeles. They were two individuals that were placed in a position of extreme opportunity to do something wrong on a grand scale and they chose to do it.

Like others articles before him (ex. Forbes), the Youngstown angle is parasitic in nature and is played out. There’s more happening in Youngstown than what is portrayed is superficial and dramatic pieces such as this one and most people who actually choose to take the time to look into this realize that.

The positive side of this (if there is one) is that only a short time ago, an article like this would have be demoralizing to the community. I see less of this today as the community appears less concerned about the opinions of outsiders and gradually more concerned and engaged in working on a number of initiatives to move forward. That’s a huge sign of progress, particularly in a place such as Youngstown where we can and often are our own worst enemies. Therefore, articles such as the Rolling Stone and Forbes should be used as fuel. The fact that we no longer accept these unbalanced attacks is a fundemental difference in today's Youngstown vs. its past the single greatest reason why things are begining to change. Hopefully, one day we will be able to look back on such articles and use them as gauges as to determine how much we have accomplished.

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6prodgodq(172 comments)posted 7 years, 8 months ago

What amazes me is why people who still live in this area are
"amazed" at the condition of the city. This city has gone from a peak population of about 240,000 to under 80,000, all due to the wholesale looting of American jobs for profit.
What also amazes me is the lack of perspective. Youngstown is just one of many similar sized cities to be similarly looted, with the same results.
While it may be convenient for some clown at the Rolling Stone to pick on our city because that's what every other ignorant journalist likes to do, the fact remains that in this part of the country, he could have gone to at least 5 other cities and reported the same thing.

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7Bull_Chip(170 comments)posted 7 years, 8 months ago

Let me get this straight;

A guy runs away with his girlfriend and his mother to a trailer they rented in West Virginia, leaves the receipts for the rental in his mothers’ car, which they abandon in an obvious place.

A lack of demand for steel due to the completion of the construction of the majority of the American infrastructure. A union mentality that had former steel workers in an interview 10 years after the mills closed saying ‘we are not going to take a job flipping burgers, we know the mills will reopen’ has a background shot showed a smoke stack being demolished.

A political environment and an organized crime elite which specialized in developing innovative ways of separating blue collar workers from their money which thrived until they discovered ways of separating the poor and aged from their money. Oh, and it was and is impossible to tell the difference between the local politicians and organized crime.

A current environment which tolerates overt criminal activities, failed schools and attempted extortion by the mayor because they confiscate 80% of their revenues from non-city residents and provide them no services.

I think Rolling Stone was pretty generous in their article about Youngstown.

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8RobinVanPersie(9 comments)posted 7 years, 8 months ago

I find it funny that someone who designed a "Defend Youngstown" shirt with a strong-looking steel worker would react like such a whiny little pansy to any and all criticism of Youngstown.

Maybe the t-shirt image is just his freudian projection of himself.

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9Maverick(1 comment)posted 7 years, 8 months ago

I find it funny that someone who moved to Canfield 4 years ago and feels "slighted" that The Rolling Stone didn't mention her township as a "top 100 place to raise a family," in its 2 page article about 2 degenerate robbers and the ALL stereotypes of the city they were from, thinks she's well-informed to speak not only on Youngstown and the Defend Youngstown movement, but also on the character of someone who is doing positive things for the city she clearly doesn't know anything about.

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10Tugboat(759 comments)posted 7 years, 8 months ago

In the meantime, police are looking for two men in the aggravated robbery of a fast-food restaurant on Midlothian Boulevard last night and you still need to insert a mouthguard to keep your teeth from chattering as you drive on Market Street into the city. It is what it is.

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11VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 7 years, 8 months ago

After years of failing to raise, mentor and control our children, we are now reaping our rewards from what our neighborhood children have become and how they talk, socialize, work and play. And these "kids" are now models for our next generation! Our society suffers, our communities are spiraling down and our cities have turned into criminal playgrounds. This will not repair itself. We must begin the difficult process of clamping down on liberal family, social and governmental policies.....if you think this is impossible, do what many others have done.....just move to a town that already has it in place!!!

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12Colaman60(1 comment)posted 7 years, 8 months ago

Clearly, that person has never spent time in Toronto, OH

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13lucy(135 comments)posted 7 years, 8 months ago

I finally read the Rolling Stone article, and it's clear that the writer is dealing purely in stereotypes...of the city and of the young robbers. The article is overwritten, and the writer even pulls drivel from the myspace pages of the robbers as evidence of their creativity and sentimentality. The part of the article that describes Youngstown digresses for far too long. Clearly, it was a case where the writer tried to bring interest to a story that was inherently not that interesting. The angle of the story is both cheap and easy, and Kidd was right to point that out.

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14clayor(281 comments)posted 7 years, 8 months ago

Maybe the writer of the article was being too generous labeling Y-Town as the armpit......maybe he should have done a study in anatomy and moved it down a bit and to the rear, to get it accurate.

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15clayor(281 comments)posted 7 years, 8 months ago

Oh and by the way, Canfield, rats follow the pied piper, they are inching into Boardman...next stop, Canfield. You'll be wanting to move back to the "hood" when we are rid of the rats!

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16dmets(575 comments)posted 7 years, 8 months ago

How can you blame them, when many people refer to it as that themselves. People call Youngstown, the armpit, the hole, the toilet bowl, ect. The writer is speaking the truth, and I guess some people just can't handle the truth!

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17Nonsocialist(710 comments)posted 7 years, 8 months ago

More fallout from what happens when you let the Democratic Party have sole reponsibility for running your city. Obviously, not all other cities are like this (unless they're also run by Democrats...Detroit, Gary...).

When is enough enough?

Vote for Youngstown and not for the Democrats!

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18dmets(575 comments)posted 7 years, 8 months ago

Democrats have nothing to with all the crime and killing going on in Youngstown. The citizens have turned Youngstown into exactly what it is: a HELL HOLE! You know the whole time Jimbo Trafficant was in office, he ran as a democrat and voted as a rebublican. So don't even go there. The letter after their name doesn't mean anything!

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19s_black(40 comments)posted 7 years, 8 months ago

Vindy poster instruction manual

Do you know anything about the topic? If yes, move onto a a different article. If no, feel free to comment. Here are your comment options:
Belittle the smart and informed posters (what are they doing here anyway?)
Say that Ytown is a ___ hole (fill in the blank)
Blame Mayor Jay
Quote Col. Jessup
Say something about anuses
Make racist remarks
Claim to not be a racist
Call Obama a terrorist

Proceed to the next topic about which you know nothing and begin again.

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20crse(15 comments)posted 7 years, 8 months ago

I find it funny that someone would read a thoughtful comment written by a person who clearly invests a great deal of effort into bettering this city and who ended his comment with a positive and hopeful description of how we as a city are starting to move beyond these negative stereotypes and describe the commenter as reacting like a "whiny little pansy".

No actually? I don't find it funny at all. I find it ignorant and disturbingly reflective of said poster's inability to read for content as well as some sick need to publicly display their own pathology by offering unwarranted personal attacks against a reader sharing an educated opinion. I think S. Black, (while omitting the rule about making sure you act out your dysfunction by name-calling without merit) effectively summed up the vindy.com comment posting philosophy.

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21wasfromytown(1 comment)posted 7 years, 8 months ago

I am very discouraged and disgusted that a publication like RS would put down an "All American City!" Youngstown was one of the founding cities of Greatness in our country. Puting down Youngstown is simply Un-American! I am from Youngstown and would have loved the opportunity to raise my family in a town with such high morals, wonderful people, and beauty. It is articles like this that do Youngstown a disservice. This is why I am raising my kids in a city of Strangers in Charlotte, NC! Shame on you RS!

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