I like the idea, espoused in these pages by a fellow columnist recently, of place specificity in our tourism advertising.
Instead of generic Natural State come-ye-alls, put the name of a town on the invite, or the name of a wide place in the road if it has a good name. I’d rather hear from Apt or Ink directly than from the state Department of Purple Ballyhoo promoting all of our bar pits and scenic cutovers collectively. Wouldn’t you?
Come on down to Altus and taste-test native vintages till you just pass freaking out. Come on down to Gillett and have them fry you up some coon tips. Come on down to Possum Grape and pick yourself a passel. You know you want to.
I was the Arkansas Traveler once, so I know the allure of many of these places with fetching names. I always liked Ben Lomond, Bodcaw, Judsonia, Success, Poughkeepsie, Marmaduke. I liked Imboden and Umpire and Lake Dick and Standard Umpstead and Jenny Lind. Bucksnort. Wampoo. Tollett.
You can pitch such places in a way that you can’t pitch the state that contains them all, or contrived tourism regions or districts, such as the Delta Quadrant, the River Valley, the Clearcuts Where There Used to Be Trees.
Here are some proposed boosterism promo intros to just a few of those places.
Visit Piggott. Hemingway thought it sucked, but Hemingway was a prick, and you might find more Piggottiana to like there than he did. And he’s dead so it’s your call.
Visit Dumas and you can hang around until the romance of agribusiness starts to grow on you but then you’d best get the hell out. Go on to somewhere less bewitchingly prosaic. Pine Bluff say.
Visit Number Nine. Be sure and ask about the love potion.
Visit Arkansas Post for the mosquito rassling. Be a spectator first, but if you want to participate, and lots of tourists do, don’t go any higher than the bantamweights. One of those sumos gets you pinned, he can siphon you dry in a heartbeat. Some big-ass mosquitoes there, and no pity in them.
Visit Lucas, if you can find the ruins out between Echo and Ione, and see where Ol’ Diz and his little brother Paul learnt pitching by flanging hickernuts at fox squirrels, which in turn learnt catching them, extracting kernels, then flanging them back.
Visit Gurdon and pretend like everyone else to have seen the light. It’s sort of expected. Also while there, see where Hoo-Hoo first concatenated.
Visit Magnolia and see where I attended college briefly before the bastards ran me off.
Visit Johnson to see if it has one.
Visit London and Paris a lot cheaper than you thought.
Visit Jasper and you’ll more’n likely see several of them.
Visit Lonoke and prepare to be astonished if the only minnow ponds you’ve ever seen are little old dinky things. You can help in the ongoing slaughter of the big wading birds out there.
Visit Brinkley if you’re thinking you might like to get beat up and defaulted on by a thug ex-congressman. You wouldn’t be the first.
Visit Weiner just so you can ring up Bevis and say, “Guess where I’m calling from. Huh-huh, huh-huh.”
Visit Yellville where the residents shout all the time, even at the library and when they think they’re whispering sweet nothings. It’s like all the people in Huntsville hunt and all the people in Plumerville unstop commodes; all the people in Yellville yell.
Visit Tucker and see the telephone. And the other homemade instruments of torture that together comprise our extry-proud Arkansas penological legacy. They’ll let you taunt caged lifers down there too.
Visit Centerton and drop in on Tom Coughlin if you’ve never seen a slime weasel up close and always wanted to.
Visit Eudora if you’ve always wanted to go some place where you could claim to have been the first to go there who didn’t have to.
Visit Murfreesboro and look for diamonds, with about as much chance of finding and walking away with one as a casino visitor at Hot Springs or West Memphis has of breaking even.
Visit Sheridan to see what kind of place would name itself for a pompous little martinet whose main claim to fame was having once said that the only good Indian was a dead Indian.
Visit North Little Rock if your passion is for rusting tubs.
Visit Fayetteville where they pay to dig big holes in the ground with money swiped from schoolchildren.
Visit Eureky if you always wanted to hang-glide off a real high Jesus. They damn you to hell if they catch you, though. It’s a lesser crime to bungee off one of the outstretched arms.
Visit Helena to see some cutting-edge municipal government at work.
Visit a place called Hope to see where young Mike Huckabee used to wheedle his grade-school classmates out of their milk money because even then he thought it was the priority obligation of everybody else in the world to give him free stuff for no reason.