We started our Arkansas day with (what else) a visit to Bill Clinton’s presidential museum in Little Rock. It’s locatedÂ 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 orÂ GeorgeÂ 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 pastÂ 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.