So, I will say this: Mississippi. Hoo-Boy. I couldn't get out of the state fast enough. To the point, that a friend in Los Angeles stayed on the phone with me as I drove through until I got to Alabama, that's how bad I was freaking out about it.
I spoke to my Father later who said: Well, you know Mississippi is one of the poorest states in the country.
It's unavoidable the feeling of hopelessness in the state. Just getting out of the car here and there, spending one night, and I felt suffocated. This was the closest I felt to wanting to take a sedative so far on this trip.
Driving through Jackson, and spending the night in Pearl, I felt like goddamn Miss America everytime I got out of the car: Conspicuous, like a "chosen one". I wanted to say to them: you have no idea - this is all smoke and mirrors, you're probably better off financially. You probably have families. Children. A home. But, the reality is, the feeling would last a nano-second. And, the severity of their situations would smack me in the face and snap me right out of that momentary imaginary dialogue.
I really feel like this is a State that our country has forgotten. The poverty, the lack of education, the obvious racism. Where are the grass roots people? Where are they? Los Angeles doesn't need another goddamn potluck dinner at Joe W's in Brentwood or Los Feliz to make phone calls - Mississippi needs a statewide potluck to revolutionize the people; to empower, to educate. No phone calls, this requires hands on dedicated people.
And, really when you factor the whole BP mess in, you just want to throw your hands up in the air. Where do you start? Where? How do you get this state back on track? Was it ever on track?
What is the main industry of Mississippi? Well, let's hear from Governor Haley Barbour. (unfortunately I am unable to grab the video to put on here. You'll just have to click on the link above. Wise of the webmaster and the Governor's peeps to keep it secure)
Would it be better if he didn't have such a severe accent?
I mean, he really does sound like a caricature of some sorts. Well, more like a Bugs Bunny Character.
Well, let's see: There is a Ammo plant that is moving from Illinois to Mississippi that will provide 1000 jobs, and..
The Governor rambles on, telling us Rolls Royce has something to do in Mississippi, and some German Company, and Nissan. And a little Toyota. He just glosses over everything. Sounds like: cheap wages, cheap space to lease. Win -Win.
Listen, this is coming from having spent less than 24 hours in the State. And I agree, this is not a fair assessment by ANY means, but driving through each state, you definitely get a feeling - a mood of the State, the overall state of mind.
Funny, I spoke to my Aunt, and she told me I sounded like my Mother when she drove through Mississippi. Apparently, my Mother had the same reaction as I did.
And, a BIG thank you to Alan who from the confines of his interior design office in Soho expertly guided me through Jackson and Pearl.
Right now, Alabama is looking VERY good.