For many of us who live here, that's fine, of course. We're happy with our secret knowledge of Rhody's collective cool, contentedly brunching at Jim's Dock in Jerusalem, watching kids catch crabs near the moorings or gazing at boats that motor or sail in and out of Salt Pond. Taking our rambling drives along coast and through country to Tiverton Four Corners, for a cone of coffee or butter brickle at Gray's Ice Cream. Cycling with a picnic lunch to Colt State Park in Bristol, where the bay opens up to a patchwork of green fields attracting communities of kite flyers, Frisbee tossers, smorgasbord crashers and games of volleyball, baseball, touch football, bocce and horseshoes. No, it doesn't bother us that the rest of the world hasn't discovered some of our simple but peerless pleasures.
But the state wants tourist money. So it comes up with slogans. Like "Discover Rhode Island." As if we are too small for the average American to find. Or "Unwind." As if the world's tightly wound will encounter bliss, harmony and tranquility in a Rhode Island February.
The slogan concept has even confused the Great Oz of Dictionaries, Wikipedia, which in a list of state slogans, says the following about Rhode Island: "Unwind (formerly Hope)."
Uhh, sorry all you Wikipedians out there, but Hope is our motto, never our slogan. A motto is a much deeper thing than a slogan, a core tenant, a belief, a way of being. A slogan is just trying to sell something, a marketing gimmick, a shallow catch phrase. Perhaps that's why we've never gotten the hang of it. "Unwind" sounds like something California would say. It's not us. We're a state of slapstick. We're a state of scandals. We're a state of contradictions. We're a state of little-known secrets. We're a state that loves to laugh. We're a state that lives to the daily rhythms of the ocean. We're a state obsessed with our quirks. We're a state that likes to eat and drink and gamble. We're a state that immerses itself in history and nature and roadside kitsch. We're a state that is happy it's not Connecticut.
It's hard to get all of that into a slogan.
More successful was the response to a student posting a Yahoo Answers question, requesting help for a social studies project in which the assignment was to come up with a slogan for Colonial Rhode Island. The best answer, chosen by three voters:
I named a chicken 'Red.'Yup. That about sums it up. Beats "Unwind," at any rate.
We've asked this question before, but we're not above repeating ourselves. What should be Rhode Island's slogan?