November 25, 2013
SKANLYN’s Top Ten Worst Cities in America
Having had the opportunity to travel all around this great nation, I’ve gotten the chance to visit a lot of great places. I’ve also gotten the chance to visit a lot of terrible places. Since there’s no fun in writing or reading about the positive, over the next several days I will be counting down the top ten WORST cities in the United States.
#5. MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA
On the roads and highways in and around Montgomery is a series of signs reading “Keep Alabama Beautiful”. If their capital city is any indication of what the rest of the state is like then it’s a little too late for that.
Montgomery is “The Asylum” of American cities. The Asylum is of course the film studio that makes those really bad sci-fi movies like Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, 500 MPH Storm, and Sharknado – films so terrible that they’re actually fun to watch. And such is Montgomery, AL – a city so inconceivably awful that it’s actually fun to visit (though you sure as hell wouldn't want to live there). From the cratered streets that are sure to destroy your shocks and struts in as little as five miles to the rows of semi-demolished (and sometimes burned-out) houses to the confederate flags that proudly adorn every front porch and dirty pick-up truck you see to the stench of utter poverty that perfumes the city, Montgomery manages to reflect every stereotype of the deep South with 100% accuracy.
One probably can’t expect too much from a city whose economy is driven by the bail bond industry (or so it would seem from all the billboards around town targeting the recently arrested) so it goes without saying that Montgomery’s city center is clearly not the place of neon lights and places that stay open all night that Petula Clark had in mind when she sang about going downtown. There’s no “music of the traffic” or any “rhythm of a gentle bossa nova”, just silence punctuated by the occasional howl of the wind. I walked several blocks without encountering another living soul. The buildings, sidewalks, paved streets, traffic lights, and power lines all seemed to suggest that people had been there at one time, probably not too long ago, but at some point they all just vanished. It brought to mind an old Twilight Zone episode in which a man and woman awake in an unfamiliar house after a night of heavy drinking. Finding no one at home, they wander outside and find themselves in a deserted town seemingly void of any other human beings though they keep hearing the laugh of an unseen child. At the end of the episode it’s revealed that they’re being kept as pets by a little girl giantess and that they had been wandering around a miniature town built for a model train. While there was no such dramatic revelation for me, just a really boring walk around town, the eerie vacancy of downtown Montgomery thoroughly creeped me out and left me with a strong desire to be around other living things, even if they weren’t human. I thus found my way to the Montgomery City Zoo, a grungy 40 acre wildlife park where the scent of exotic animals and monkey shit fills the air.
Things didn’t go exactly as planned at the Zoo and I didn’t get to see nearly as much of it as I had hoped due to getting there late in the afternoon and an unfortunate train derailment. There was also that loser in front of me at the ticket booth who seemed to take forever counting out enough change to cover admission for him and his white trash family. After finally getting through the gate I got to see a giraffe, a gator, some birds and a parade of really dirty elephants (not sure if that was mud or shit covering them). It was then that I thought it would be a good idea to hop aboard the train for a leisurely ride around the perimeter of the zoo. About half way into the ride there was a terrible noise followed by a thunderous thumping then, I shit you not, the rear two cars came off the fucking track. This set into motion a comedy of errors that began with the nervous lady engineer stopping the train and handing all of us accident forms to fill out followed by a bumbling maintenance man making several failed attempts to lift the derailed cars back onto the track with a bulldozer of all things. Somewhere in there the lightning began to flash as thunder clouds burst open sending heavy rain pouring down on all of us. It was during that violent storm that Maintenance Man Mike finally came to the conclusion that the bulldozer thing wasn’t going to work so he decided to just disconnect the rear to cars and have the passengers who were seated therein find new seats for the ride back to the station. Upon arriving back at the train depot I decided to call it a day in light of my wet clothes and the continuing inclement weather.
Due to the train incident I was unfortunately unable to make it to the Hank Williams Museum as planned. I really had hoped to get my picture taken in the back seat of the death car. That is, the blue 1952 Cadillac in which ol’ Hank died of heart failure while being chauffeured to a gig on New Year’s Day in 1953, proudly on display as part of the museum's permanent collection. Oh well, maybe next time. The day was not entirely a loss though as I did manage to teach that big blue parrot at the zoo to say “motherfucker”. I only wish I could have been there the first time he repeated himself in front of a pack of school children on a field trip.
Will your city be #1???