This article is part of the The Great American Reach Around series.
Missouri has the exciting distinction of being the only state in the Midwest to have joined the Confederacy during the American Civil War. Actually, it's even worse: Missouri tried to join the Confederacy and they failed. Even the Confederacy did not want them.
Missouri has all of the natural splendor of a limestone quarry combined with the economic opportunities and culture of a strip mall. To drive through Missouri is to see America at its worst, a mash of the fundamentalism of the South bereft of its history and beauty with the rampant consumerism of the North without anything good to consume. It's the birthplace of Mark Twain, but he hated it so much that he died.
Let us slump into...
Located on the Mississippi river on the border with Illinois, St. Louis is the closest thing Missouri has to a world city. It has long been a center of science and industry in the United States, but as the industry has disappeared St. Louis had struggled to find more of the science part. After decades of decay and rampant crime the city is in the early stages of an upswing. It has a long way to go to fight itself out of the decay (anyone who even drives through St. Louis can see that) but it seems to have finally put itself on the right course.
St. Louis has a very dark side lurking just across the river. Residents of St. Louis, Missouri can try to blame Illinois, but East St. Louis is a creature of their own creation. The slowly-shrinking pool of St. Louis vomit on the Illinois side of the border has been a cancer of destitution and decay since the 1950s. East St. Louis is slowly managing a comeback as well, but it owes it all to riverboat casinos. Stripping your population of their wealth to rebuild your town is a hollow victory, at best.
Visitors to St. Louis don't have it all bad. You can go to a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game (they're kind of like the Yankees of the Midwest) or check out the arch that looms over the city like a space-age door knocker. There are a lot of historic buildings and museums, or you can just sit down with a picnic by the Mississippi river and watch a barge loaded with garbage drift slowly past. What's that smell? Oh, looks like someone left another dead body in one of the abandoned HUD houses on the north side!
A little side note on St. Louis: St. Louis was the location of the 1904 World's Fair. One of the main attractions was the first Ferris Wheel…the main attraction of the famous Chicago World's Fair of 1893. Way to go, losers!
I will now end the American portion of this week's GARA by giving you one or two sentence descriptions of the remaining Midwestern States. I do this with all due respect and affection.
Iowa - Take the middle of Illinois and spread it across an entire state, add more corn. Tied with Ohio for most efficient letter-to-syllable ratio.
Nebraska - Probably more of a Great Plains State, looked better when the Germans were driving panzers through it on their way to Moscow.
North and South Dakota - Frozen wasteland and wasted farm land, Democrat and Republican. South Dakota is home to Mount Rushmore and North Dakota is home to the giant Paul Bunyan from Fargo.
Kansas - Missouri's friendly twin. Good-hearted rednecks playing baseball and dreaming of the big city.
That's it for the filthy Americans, so let's see what the filthy foreigners have to offer!
"Your left eye," the optometrist casually explained while blasting my face with a blue laser at point blank range, "is farsighted and shaped like an eyeball. The other eye is nearsighted and shaped like a football. Not even a good football."
Jeff Foxworthy has awakened to the new flesh to tell some redneck jokes.
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