Another day, another group of terrible, awful states. Yes we're continuing on deeper into the muck today, bringing you states 17-11. Almost to the top ten! Where will the dump you call home rank?
A quick brush-up on the project at hand: We decided to find the worst of America's 50 truly terrible states, and to do so we polled members of the Gawker staff, having them rate the states from 1-10 (based on whatever criteria they wanted). We then took those scores, found the average, and made the list. We've two more days after this, so on Friday we will be naming the ultimate Worst State in America. Pretty exciting! For now, though, let's inch closer to the coveted top ten. Let's go!
The Cornhusker State isn't just home to Becky Donaldson-Katsopolis. It's also home to lots of other stuff, like ___ and ____.
The Good: Nebraska can actually be really pretty! The drive in from Colorado on 80 is green and pleasant as you get into the North Platte area (do not stop in North Platte). And hey, if you like Metalcore music, and who doesn't!, then you'll love Omaha's thriving music scene. (To be fair, it's also the home of good jazz and indie stuff, like Bright Eyes!) Omaha is also the birthplace of Alexander Payne, one of cinema's best directors.
The Bad: Unfortunately, if you like meth, then you'll love Omaha's thriving meth scene. From that grimness comes tragic and bizarre stories like this one. Other than the crystal devil, Nebraska can be prettttyyyy freakin' boring. If you dare take a left somewhere off 80 and drive north, well, we'll see you when we see you because good grief there is nothing there. (Meet me in Saskatoon?) Nebraska also has some crappy political stuff to contend with, so that's unfortunate. I don't know, man. It's Nebraska.
Final Score: 4.55
16. South Dakota
The Mount Rushmore State is beautiful and strange, a quiet and vaguely menacing place with more bison than people (or at least it seems that way).
The Good: The whole Badlands/Black Hills/Mt. Rushmore stretch of the state is very pretty. Wild and faraway-feeling, it's like standing in a history book about the pioneer days, but also like standing on the moon. On the way into the Badlands you may pass by, oh say a million or so signs for Mitchell, SD's fabulous Corn Palace, a kitschy tourist trap that's worth the drive just to say you've been. Wind Cave National Park is cool and creepy too, a mysterious place where the main attraction is underground and everything up top is strange prairie grass on low rolling hills, waving in the wind. Shivers!
The Bad: There's nothing there. Nothing! When your most cosmopolitan city is Sioux Falls, you've got a problem. Also, South Dakota boasts the United States congressperson with the worst hair in all of Washington. Look at that hair! Kristi, girl. Choose one look and go with that. You can't have the Rachel and the Monica at the same time. In general, South Dakota's politics tend to trend towards the batshit bonkers side, so beware. Also, the Corn Palace? It's nothing special. Or at least it doesn't justify the fifty million signs that advertise its proximity. I'd be more interested in seeing Kristi Noem's hair salon. And burning it down.
Final Score: 4.45
The home of seven presidents, Ohio is the belly-button of America. A kind of center, a reminder of who we are, but also kind of gross.
The Good: A decent amount of people live in Ohio, so that's a change of pace for today! Ohio has big cities like Cleveland and Columbus and Cincinnati (what's with the Cs, guys?) to serve as cultural capitals. Plus Ohio is chock-full of great schools — from state institutions like massive Ohio State (excuse me, the Ohio State) and preppy Miami of Ohio, to hippie-dip dumpster dive paradises like Kenyon and Oberlin. Ohio indulges our fascination with Amish people pretty thoroughly. Part of it is situated on a big fat lake, so if you're into that you can do that. Lots of rural Ohio is very pretty — pastoral and red-barned and all that.
The Bad: All the people who live in (or near, I guess) those quaint red barns are total jerks (politically speaking, at least). Everyone who lives in the cities is poor and miserable. Calling Cleveland and Cincinnati "cultural capitals" is sort of a sad joke. (Ha, Cincinnati thinks it's people.) Ohio still uses its ridiculous (if dwindling) political power to elect chuckleheads like John Boehner to positions of power. They once set a river on fire. People from Cleveland, one of the worst cities to live in, tend to get all butthurt when you, correctly, tell them it sucks. Ohio feels like it's full of serial killers. (You can drive by a house that Jeffery Dahmer lived in as a kid outside of Akron and it's sooo scary.) Oh, and string me up for this, but buckeye candies taste bad. Deal with it.
Final Score: 4.41
What is Arkansas? Is it the South? Not quite. Certainly not the Midwest either. It's really just sort of Arkansas. It's just sort of there.
The Good: The Ozarks are pretty, with all their hot springs and stuff. (Plus, funny old Eureka Springs.) Fayetteville is a quirky-cool college town. Arkansas gave us Bill Clinton, our first black president. Arkansas also gave the world Johnny Cash and Al Green. You hear things about Little Rock once in a while, like "Little Rock isn't so bad," so it's got that goin' for it.
The Bad: Arkansas. The bad part of Arkansas is that it's Arkansas. Specifics? Long history of racism in schools. More recent history of anti-gay nonsense. The apocalypse is happening there. Fitting, as some Arkansas residents let their crazy religious beliefs put people in jail for years for crimes they didn't commit, based on ridiculous fears and speculation. Plus, some dark, dark stuff lurks in the shadows of those pretty Ozark Mountains.
Final Score: 4.36
The big bad bastard of the south, Texas is a land unto itself. Independent and brash and a total jerk-off.
The Good: There is a lot of good in Texas. And, no, weirdos, not just in Austin. Though, Austin is a great city with so much culture and verve and Whole Foodses that it is definitely one of The Good. But other than Austin there is other good stuff! Like, for example, the food. Holy hell the food! On one hand you've got sweet, sweet BBQ and on the other you've got the whole array of so-called Tex-Mex cuisine. All of it is delicious! Good grief can you eat well in Texas. You will be nine hundred pounds, but you will be happy. Texas has also provided us with a variety of terrific cultural touchstones, from Chainsaw Massacre to Dazed and Confused to Reality Bites to Friday Night Lights. And, of course, a crazy amount of music. Like it or not, Texas helps make the country interesting.
The Bad: Welp, let's see here: Rick Perry, George W. Bush, the board of education, Cameron Todd Willingham, the culture of capital punishment as a whole, guns, religious zealotry both inane and dangerous, smog-filled Houston, airless Dallas, scorched wasteland El Paso, and the way they treat their immigrants, their blacks, their gays, and their women. But mostly Texas is awful because despite all the miseries it inflicts upon the rest of the country (and its own citizenry), Texans rarely stop loudly and aggressively stating what a great, awesome, perfect place Texas is. The Texan ego is as big as the state, and no matter how much you point out to them that, uh, hey what about all this extremely terrible stuff, they will not listen. If you guys would just shut up about if for a while, the rest of us might like you a little more.
Final Score: 4.11
America's insane penis is a kooky, fucked-up swamp. But it's kinda charming in a way, too.
The Good: Miami can be fun in the right context. And it certainly has culture and cuisine and all that going for it. Key West is grand and gay. St. Augustine is a cool old place (oldest in the States, fyi) that's good for a day visit. Plus, you know, beaches. And warm weather. And, yeah, what the hell, DisneyWorld. That shit's fun! Alligators are cool, too.
The Bad: So many crazy, News of the Weird-type things happen in Florida that Fark has created an entire tag just for them. Think of Florida as a cookie or candy with a grandparent crust and a frothing, criminally insane filling. The middle of the state is a cultureless void from which crystal meth (or, like, moving away) is the only escape. Florida's brand of conservatism is one of the dumbest, and who can forget when the state was the trigger-man for that whole election theft back in 2000. Florida is a swampy morass of misery and boredom and church and guns and drug-addicted babies. Florida feels like a work of fiction. But it's depressingly real.
Final Score: 4.09
Seward's folly is a vast yet empty expanse of tundra and oil, a northern dreamscape that we're hellbent on destroying.
The Good: Whoa there is so much pretty stuff in Alaska. Denali! The Kenai Peninsula! Wrangell-St. Elias! Old Russian churches on the Aleutian Islands! Alaska is just teeming with gorgeous mountain ranges and expanses of sea and animal life and all that. It's a dramatic, foreboding, and thrilling chunk of the country. And, as it turns out, Anchorage isn't a half-bad city, lots of Montana-esque mountain quirk and good beer.
The Bad: It's huge and empty and scary and dark and cold. Ever been to Fairbanks? Yeesh, it's a pit in the summer. In the winter it's 30 below and full of chemical fog. Everything in Alaska is approximately a four hundred million hour drive from everything else, and you can't even drive to the capital city. People like the Palins and the Johnstons are the ones who made it out of Alaska. Those are the state's successful dynamos! But really, yeah, the weather. I once asked a waitress in Valdez how much snow they got last year and she said "40." And I said "Inches?" And she said "Feet." and I cried just thinking about it.
Final Score: 4.06
The countdown continues tomorrow with five more states!
The Worst 50 States in America: Day 1
The Worst 50 States in America: Day 2
The Worst 50 States in America: Day 3
The Worst 50 States in America: Day 4
The Worst 50 States in America: Day 5
The Worst 50 States in America: Day 6
Photos: Nebraska (via akasped/Flickr), South Dakota (via icarusjj/Flickr), Ohio (via cryptozoologist/Flickr), Arkansas (via ncreedplayer/Flickr), Texas (via dph1110/Flickr), Florida (via MarkDL/Flickr), Alaska (via bevrichardmartin/Flickr)