The Corner

Ugly States

A few points if I may: First, lots of folks are leaping to the rescue of Arkansas and Nebraska (I’m more persuaded by the defenses of Arkansas, by the way). That’s all fine. Indeed, it was sort of my point. You can’t pick any state without someone getting peeved. But, if I may, there’s an important second point to be made. I didn’t pick Arkansas or Nebraska. Personally, I give a lot of weight to things like climate — I may be descended from a desert people, but I don’t like the heat and I loathe humidity. I also frown on heavy penetration of fast-food and strip malls (no, that alone doesn’t make me a crunchy con). By these standards Florida is very high on my list of ugly states despite some very beautiful geographic ghettos. And, Florida ranks #1 in my book on any list of tacky states (again, despite the fact that any number of decent folk live there). 

Anyway, here are some emails, in no particular order, to give you a sense of how this is the kobiashi maru of Corner topics:

As a Missourian, it was always my opinion that Arkansas, the place, was beautiful, while Arkansas, the people, were indeed the ugliest in the Union.  😉

And:

With all respect, may I suggest that the “plurality” of readers may not know what they’re talking about, at least wrt Nebraska and Arkansas.  I’ve traveled Europe and the continental US. I’m from California and have spent much time in the back-country of

the Sierra and the Rockies, from the Mexican to the Canadian border, if the Rockies stretch that far.

NW Arkansas, though moderately developed, is beautiful, especially in contrast with SW Missouri and NE Oklahoma across the border.

I live in eastern Nebraska near Omaha. There are beautiful private parks in Omaha and Bellevue, just to its south. One of our acquaintances is a businessman, born in the east, who travels the world on business and pleasure. His family lived in Paris for several years. According to him NW Nebraska is one of the most beautiful places he has ever been. I’ll grant that much of Nebraska is not beautiful, being devoted to industrial agriculture, though even this part of the state shelters abundant wildlife, e.g., white-tail deer, wild turkey, game birds, etc. But neither is much of California, my home state. Consider the stretch visible from Interstate 10 from LA to at least Fontana.

And:

Kansas, Ugly? 

It all depends on where in the state you are. (Eastern Colorado looks about the

same as western Kansas.) Sorry folks, you just can’t grow wheat and soybeans in

the Rocky Mountains or Big Sur or Cape Cod.

And:

Jonah,

It depends on what aspect of the state you are examining for “ugliness.”

In regards to natural beauty, there is no way Arkansas should be on that

list. It is home to the Ozark mountains, numerous lakes, the Buffalo River and

large swaths of uninhabited land.

But if you are examining cities or inhabited areas, Arkansas probably should

be right up there.  It is sad when one of your architectural masterpiece is

the Clinton Library, which is appropriately compared to a jumbo-sized trailer

home, the latter of which is the home of choice in certain parts of the state.

If you want to look at inhabited areas, and not reveal your East Cost bias,

how about adding New Jersey to that list?

And:

Jonah,

Sure, nobody wants their home state dissed.  I feel for the folks in Kansas and Nebraska, but can kind of understand why folks would call those states ugly based on your criterion (though “boring” might be the better word).  But Arkansas?  We’ve got our share of the Ozarks, and the Ouachita Mountains, to boot.  Fall in the Ozarks is as beautiful as it gets anywhere in the country at that time of the year.  I could go on, but if some body’s got their mind made up that Arkansas is ugly, the facts aren’t likely to change it.

My guess is that people are still taking their hostility toward Bill and Hillary out on those of use who still call Arkansas home.  You notice, don’t you, that Bill and Hillary don’t actually live here?  The State of Arkansas sighed a big, collective, sigh of relief when they left.  We couldn’t believe how dumb the rest of the country was to want them in the White House.  And they call us hicks?

And:

Hawaii, definitely.

All of those overweight over-aged tourists in thongs (above the ankles) with umbrellas in their drinks and red, not tan, marks on their bodies.

And:

I can’t believe none of your friends voted for Nevada.  Even Lake 

Tahoe gets uglier when you cross the border.

There’s a reason gambling and prostitution are legal there.

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