America’s most sinful cities

America’s most sinful cities

The places to visit to feel good, not guilty, about your hellish habits

Talk about a misnomer.

If the “Seven Deadly Sins” are all that deadly, why is it so enlivening to stuff our faces in Grant Park, admire ourselves in South Beach, bet the house at Caesars Palace, surf ESPN channels in Indianapolis, hate the Giants at Eagles games, flip someone the bird on Michigan Avenue and casually copulate in Oregon?

A saintly town neglectful of every sinful habit (is there such a hell?) is duller than Brussels.

So to the following lively U.S. cities -- don’t go changing on our behalf.

You’re imperfect just the way you are.

Click through the pages to get a sinful travel itinerary through the United States.

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1. Gluttony: Chicago

chicago gluttonyOK, one more for the road.
According to The Daily Meal, Chicago’s 3,500 fast food joints, nearly 4,000 restaurants and 25.2 percent obesity rate make it the eighth most gluttonous city in America -- behind places like Houston, Dallas and Columbus, Ohio.

But don’t be fooled. The preeminence of food-glorious-food (and not just staples like deep-dish pizza, cheesboigahs and Sears Tower-sized ribs, but everything else) in the former “slaughterhouse to the world” and current home of the world’s largest food festival (among a turnstile of others including two separate Armenian food fairs) remains unrivaled.

Sure, New York may have a few more Serbian restaurants. San Francisco may sport more foodie attitude.

But would either of those cities shed real tears after last year’s closing of the Mercantile Exchange’s vaunted pork belly futures market? Or have the cojones to launch a hit new food event called "Baconfest" that sold out within five minutes?

We think not.

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2. Sloth: Indianapolis

Indianapolis slothPhil wanted to change channels, but his thumb just felt too heavy.
Any legendary Midwestern town nicknamed “the Amateur Sports and Racing Capital of the World” (let alone “Naptown” and “City of Siestas”) is bound to court a reputation for being a great place to recline with a Brickyard Burger and some Track Fries and watch other people go really fast.

To be fair, Indianapolis isn’t quite the least active place in America.

According to a 100-city Men’s Healthstudy which gauged exercise levels, hours of cable TV watched, video games purchased per year and death rates from deep-vein thrombosis (linked to sitting), that distinction goes to nearby Lexington, Kentucky.

But who wouldn’t rather channel surf just down the road at a sports bar in Indianapolis -- which is just one notch up on that lazy list. Number 99.

Like Gretzky, only different. 

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3. Pride: Miami

Miami prideAll that surgery and makeup. And that’s just the audience.
With all that pride swallowed after last year’s NBA finals, you’d think Miami might concede top honors here.

Not so, according to a recent study conducted by Living Social and Mandala Research which ranked Miami the country’s “Vainest City” after asking participants in 20 U.S. media markets to rate their own attractiveness and that of others in their respective towns.

And also to note how many locals they knew who’ve had “work done.”

The majority of Miami participants rank themselves a “7” or more (highest in survey) while pummeling their fellow Miamians with low scores. Only 38 percent of Miami guys were considered handsome and 53 percent of women were called beautiful by their South Florida peers.

Miami participants also know more neighbors who’ve had laser hair treatment, tummy tucks, collagen injections and liposuction than any other town. Including Cleveland -- ranked least proud in the same study.

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4. Greed: Las Vegas

Las Vegas greedTommy’s college fund looked so pretty in primary colors.
If greed was just about dumb wealth we’d be weighing the pay stubs of Wall Street bankers and Silicon Valley techlords.

But classic greed is less discriminate -- more tied into that even dumber universal dream of getting rich against all better odds and judgment during a single, hedonistic weekend.

That’s where Las Vegas invites the real lion’s share of participation -- by everyone, from everywhere.

According to Price Waterhouse Cooper, more than US$10 billion of America’s approximate US$60 billion gaming revenues are collected in Nevada -- most of those in Sin City, a money sponge that’s proven fairly impervious to the deepest economic crisis in decades.

Good thing, too. How else are we going to keep those fountains spraying and golf courses green in the middle of a water-starved desert?

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5. Lust: Portland, Oregon

Portland lustAfter all, you can't make love, love just is ...
Never mind all those giddy college towns and Nevada brothel stops.

Like the timid band camp girl in “American Pie”or the unassuming L.A. burb of Chatsworth (aka The Porn Capital of the World), the real showtime horndogs are always more understated.

That’s why Portland’s recent ranking as the nation’s most promiscuous city by national dating site OkCupid -- which noted a preternaturally high preference for casual sex relationships here -- shouldn’t come as a total shock.

Though precise statistics are impossible to gather, it has been widely reported, after all, that Portland also has the most strip clubs per capita of any city in the United States, including Las Vegas.

No coincidence that GoTime.com has ranked Portland the best city in the U.S. to celebrate happy hour. Hey, don’t we work in the same building?

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6. Envy: Philadelphia

Philadelphia envyWhatever New York can do, Philly does not quite as well.
Some thanks this city got for setting up the whole country -- a demotion from Founding Father epicenter to I-95 middle child with a bad case of Lil’ Manhattan syndrome.

New York is richer, Boston is smarter, DC is stronger and even Scranton tests better on network TV.

This hurts -- and it’ll take more than a Liberty Bell, Rocky statue or one more choking sports franchise in the post-season to change Philly’s 200-plus years of chronic jealousy.

The good news: Philly is still game to try. As a new study suggests, envy can sometimes push us to reach beyond our natural grasp.

A generation ago, City Hall was the tallest building in Philly.

Check out the pop-up skyline today, the revitalized Delaware riverfront, the louder-than-ever town criers, etc. and you know you’re in a place relentlessly (if resentfully) determined to go 15 rounds with any arrogant champ before losing the split decision.

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7. Wrath: Detroit

Detroit wrathIn Detroit, this is how you order pizza.
Last year, Detroit was declared America’s “Angriest Town” by Men’s Health after placing dead last (or, pardon, first) in a study that gauged aggravated assault levels, high blood pressure counts, average rush hour waits and number of anger-management specialists per capita.

Then The Daily Beastconducted its own angry city survey based on turnouts at recent Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street protests -- and Denver got the nod (12,018 protesters per million).

We’re sticking with Detroit, after yet another survey using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranked Motor City the most sleep-deprived city in the nation.

If you’re not getting enough shut-eye, you’re gonna start seeing red wherever you live -- let alone in the 313. And if Detroit is awake enough to read this, we’re expecting even more bloodshot wrath.

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Jordan Rane writes regularly for CNN Travel and The Los Angeles Times. A Lowell Thomas Award recipient from the Society of American Travel Writers, his work on travel and the outdoors has spanned six continents and appeared in over 50 publications. He lives in Los Angeles.

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