From Arkansas to Mississippi

We started our Arkansas day with (what else) a visit to Bill Clinton’s presidential museum in Little Rock. It’s located in an area of the town that had become pretty run down, and the architecture of the place is quite innovative, jutting out over the river. Televisions and audioguides all feature Bill’s voice, so sometimes you want to ask him to keep quiet on foreign policy because you want to hear his view on why the attempt at reforming healthcare failed. A little-noticed treasure are all the daily itineraries from 1993-2001, which anyone who enjoys West Wing will relish (just reading the schedule for election day 1996 makes you tired). We resisted buying “I miss Bill” t-shirts in the store, but got a chuckle from the fact that Gene Sperling’s book is the only staffer bio that Clinton allowed in (no sign of Robert Reich’s Locked in the Cabinet or George Stephanopoulos’s All Too Human).

From there, we made our way to Clarksdale, Mississippi, passing cheery billboards saying things like: “When you get to the afterlife, will you be in the smoking or non-smoking section?” and “Warning: exposure to the son may prevent burning”. Driving around downtown Clarksdale was one of the most startling things I’ve done in the US. On one side of town are collonaded southern mansions. Within 5 blocks, you’re driving past boarded up stores, with signage that I’ve only seen in 1950s movies, piles of junk in the streets, and houses missing parts of their walls.

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One Response to From Arkansas to Mississippi

  1. Ben says:

    Andrew,

    Loving your stories about the Deep South. I’ve only been as far south as Kentucky (and Florida – but it doesn’t count really) but I am really keen to take a look at the South. Surprising that its relatively overlooked by international tourists. Someone once said that one of the real goals of travelling is the confirmation of stereotypes. I don’t at all mean that in a negative sense. Its the things that make people different from us that is most interesting. Where better than the South.

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