The second installment of my already fabled “Ned’s Snap Judgements of States” is more of a sweep over a couple states as that’s mostly what the second leg of our journey looked like. For those of you coming in on Vol. 2, you’re much like Drew Magary from Deadspin that watched only the last episode of Breaking Bad. As my friend Cam Powell says, “No doubt a shameful move, but it yields some entertaining results.” I’m no completist, however, so I forgive you and fully expect that you’ll be able to catch on to the fact that I’m simply making ignorant snap judgements on states in which I spent 24 hours or less.
I do feel like in this volume I should recognize my predisposition to generally disliking most of these states. Growing up as a South Carolina Football fan, I find myself loathing most other SEC schools and the states they represent, because I’ve had to see them clashing with the team that I love so dearly. This results in obvious residual disdain for any state with an SEC school in it not named USC. Now that that is out of the way, we can carry on.
After leaving the plantation minded Alabama we headed for Little Rock, AK. We had a good amount of time though, so our leisurely pace took us over into Mississippi and then straight up into Memphis.
Though we only stopped in at a rest stop in Mississippi, I gathered one piece of information very quickly: Everyone in Mississippi has a mullet. Old, young, mothers, fathers brothers and sisters, they all had mullets. They even have Mullet Festival. I’m not lying, drive there and see it for yourself.
Now, I’m a music man, so this was no doubt a pleasant little stop in for me “Home of the Blues/Birthplace of Rock n’ Roll”, but Memphis wasn’t quite what I was expecting. It retroactively reminds me of Hollywood. Like it’s a shell of something that it used to be, and this shell has been kept up by people who are wanting to share what it was with everyone in hopes that it still is/will be how they think of it in their heads. Beale St. was Myrtle Beach or Gatlinburg with it’s hokey neon lights and bars/grills with bad themes that made touristy people want to get the BB King Blues Burger. It was cooler than Gatlinburg or Myrtle Beach (unless it’s bike week) because it had a million times more rock n’ roll there, and that’s really what made it still cool. The history of Memphis is undeniable and the impact it’s made on music in this world is equally so.
Memphis left me really wide-eyed the entire time we were there (3-4 hours), because of all of the famous musicians that had come from there. Not even just dudes from way back like Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, BB King, Aretha Franklin and Al Green, but even the new school dudes like Eightball, MJG and most importantly, Justin Timberlake. But our time was running out so I did the important things: I took a picture of the Giant Elvis, went to the Lorraine Motel, walked with my feet actually on Beale and then hung back around to the car to leave for Little Rock.
The drive out to Little Rock was almost as intriguing as the city itself. As soon as you crossed the bridge going out of Memphis you hit lush green nothingness, and it accompanied you for the entirety of the drive. Arkansas, much like eastern Oklahoma, surprised me with how vegetated it was. Arkansas was beautiful. It was full of rolling hills that turned into small mountains with pretty trees and everything that goes along with a vibrant green landscape. It mesmerized me for the entirety of the drive until we arrived in Little Rock, which was equally surprising with it’s beauty. However it’s contents were significantly less intriguing and exciting.
The coolest thing that we saw there was the Bill Clinton Presidential Center and the Little Rock Central High School (Home of the Little Rock 9) Both of them were cool, but they were more of a neat than they were magnificent. Also, I’m not sure why I’m surprised by this, but the people of Little Rock were pleasantly normal. I still can’t figure out why I expected them to be as mullet-y and weird as Mississippi, but maybe some of you can help me in understanding my preconceived notion of Arkansans more than I can. Regardless, Arkansas was alright by me, but I don’t think I would live there unless I wanted to settle down and give up on all of my dreams to have a pretty neat life in a pleasantly okay place.
I do apologize for the lack of interesting things to talk about with Arkansas, but I think we can all turn our squinting accusatory eyes towards Arkansas for that one. I hope that you’re enjoying taking this journey with my family and me, and I hope that you don’t ever have to spend extended amounts of time in Mississippi (or Florida for that matter).
I’ll be talking about Oklahoma and OKC next time, so make sure you check back for that in two weeks.
All the best y’all,
P.S. go buy “Giants” off iTunes and if you already have it, review it and let everyone know what you think!