Tuesday, July 7, 2015

My Ranking of All 50 States

Thrillist.com just did a ranking of all 50 States, but their reasons are a little skewed: "Inventions, food/drink, somewhat productive famous people, unique physical beauty, etc."

50th and last: Florida.
49th: Delaware, a neighbor of New Jersey.
30th: Massachusetts, home of sports cheating.
21st: New Jersey. We came off rather well.
13th: New York, a neighbor of New Jersey and home to the greatest city in the world.
12th: Pennsylvania, a neighbor of New Jersey.
9th: California.
8th: Washington, suggesting that the 25-year-old trendiness of Seattle will continue.
5th: Louisiana. But if it didn't have New Orleans?
4th: Wisconsin. But if it didn't have all that beer?
3rd: Kentucky. But if it didn't have all that bourbon?
2nd: Maine. Too many Red Sox fans.
1st: Michigan. Somebody has a lot of faith in the rebound of Detroit.

As you might guess, my guidelines are a bit different. Here's what I'm looking for:

* Looks. Is your State nice to look at, on the average?

* History. Is it long? Is it good? Being 1 of the 1st 13 States in 1776 helps. Being a Union State in the Civil War from 1861 to 1865 helps, while being a Confederate State hurts. Being a segregated State from 1865 to 1965 hurts. Anything else important, or at least something I find interesting, happen there?

* Politics. Do you vote right -- or, rather, correctly? (If you're a regular reader, you know where I stand on this.)

* Sports. If you favor baseball or hockey, that's a plus. If you favor football, that doesn't help you as much. Success in sports also helps.

* Food. What kind of food is thought of when we think of the State?

* Transport. Is it easy to get around the State to see the State's good stuff?

* Have I been there? If so, did I find the experience enjoyable? If I haven't been there, that doesn't hurt. But if I have, and have enjoyed it, that helps.

So, here goes, in descending order:

50. Mississippi. This is the State where Elvis Presley, Oprah Winfrey, William Faulkner, Chuck Scarborough, and the blues as we know it were born. And, um, nice Gulf Coast beaches. Still doesn't make up for so much foulness. Also, it's too damn hot!

49. Alabama. This is the State where Hank Williams and Hank Aaron were born, America learned to appreciate Southern football, and the Civil Rights Movement began. But then, there's a reason the Movement began there. Also, it's too damn hot!

48. Idaho. Natural beauty and the world's greatest potatoes don't make up for being the birthplace of the Aryan Nations. Or the birthplace of Sarah Palin, for that matter. Compared to that, Boise State Unversity's horrid blue "Smurf Turf" is a minor offender.

47. North Dakota. Aside from being staunchly Republican, there's not much that's bad about it. In fact, the biggest bad thing about it is that there's hardly any good things about it. Also, it's too damn cold!

46. Arkansas. This is the State where Johnny Cash, Bear Bryant and Bill Clinton were born. But if the last 20 years has proven anything, it's that it's still more Orval Faubus', Mike Huckabee's and Jim Bob Duggar's State than Clinton's. Even if Hillary is elected President next year, she's from Illinois, got her political thinking formed in Massachusetts, got her political start (by meeting Bill) in Connecticut, and got elected to public office in New York. Also, it's too damn hot!

45. Oklahoma. The home State of Will Rogers, Jim Thorpe, Mickey Mantle and Johnny Bench is also Tornado Alley and a hotbed of Teabaggers. Also, it's too damn hot!

44. Wyoming. It's got Yellowstone National Park. It's also got Dick Cheney. They cancel each other out. After that, what's left? Not much.

43. Nebraska. Nice, friendly people -- if you're just like them. If you're not, you'd better be male, between the ages of 18 and 23, and be able to play football.

42. Alaska. Lots and lots of natural beauty. But the people... Let's face it, anybody who watched Northern Exposure wasn't surprised by Palinmania. Also, it's too damn cold!

41. South Dakota. Mount Rushmore helps, but that's pretty much all there is to do there. Unless you like to hunt and/or fish. And I don't and/or don't. Also, it's too damn cold!

40. Montana. As Red Skelton once said of Texas, they got miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles. There's no State that has a worse size-to-stuff ratio.

39. New Mexico. A lot more nice scenery than Montana, but that's about it. Also, it's too damn hot!

38. Kansas. "What's the matter with Kansas?" Not enough Jayhawk basketball fans and too many Tea Partiers. Also, it's too damn hot!

37. Utah. Salt Lake City is quickly becoming what Atlanta is to Georgia and Austin is to Texas: A liberal enclave in the capital of a seriously backward State. Also, it's too damn hot!

36. Iowa. The Hawkeye State is becoming increasingly liberal, to the point where the worst thing I can say about it is that there isn't much to attract your attention, unless you like politics, and even then, the Caucuses only happen once every 4 years.

35. Louisiana. New Orleans is pretty much the only thing keeping this former Confederate State from being another Mississippi or Alabama. Also, it's too damn hot!

34. Vermont. Like skiing? You'll love it. Don't like skiing? Uh... Well, there's Lake Champlain. And... that's about it. Ben & Jerry's? You can buy that anywhere.

33. South Carolina. The good news is, the history keeps it from being a bottom-tenner. The bad news is, so much of that history is bad. And Myrtle Beach proves that rednecks can't do beach towns. At least the food is good. Also, it's too damn hot!

32. Indiana. The Colts, IU, Purdue and Notre Dame help. The Indy 500? It's big, but I don't like auto racing. And it's a conservative State: Aside from Barack Obama in 2008 and Lyndon Johnson in 1964 -- both outlier elections -- it hasn't voted for a Democratic nominee for President since Franklin Roosevelt in 1936. That's 1 in the last 13 elections, and 2 in the last 19.

31. Maine. "Vacationland"? I'd hoped to visit this year, and hopefully I'll get to do so soon, which may change my mind. But it doesn't seem to be a very interesting place. Also, Red Sox fans.

30. Georgia. College football and food can't offset Confederacy and Coke. Also, it's too damn hot!

29. Hawaii. Beautiful and liberal, but too damn far and not sports-oriented enough.

28. West Virginia. With natural beauty and good sports fans, it used to rank much higher, until they started to believe that Democrats were going to take all their guns away, and failed to notice that Republicans took a lot of their jobs away.

27. Missouri. Sports and history keep it in the top 30, but they're going to have to overcome the legacies of Rush Limbaugh, John Ashcroft and Branson. Also, it's too damn hot!

26. Kentucky. College basketball, horse racing and natural beauty help. Little else does.

25. New Hampshire. Another relatively close State that I have never visited, and it will probably help if I do. Still, not a lot to do there, and too many Red Sox fans.

24. Colorado. My only visits have been in changing planes. I should rectify that, as it's beautiful, it's an increasingly liberal State, and it's a good sports State.

23. Washington. Looks nice. Good liberal people. Good sports State. Food. Another one that would probably rise significantly if I visited.

22. Minnesota. Thank you for what you tried to do in 1984. (But what's your explanation for 1972?) Thank God the Metrodome is gone now. Good sports State. Nice people. But it's too damn cold!

21. Texas. History and sports put it a lot higher than its blatant stupidity in politics and its chauvinism in just about everything else would suggest. Also, it's too damn hot!

20. Arizona. Natural beauty? Check. Good sports State? Check. Good food? Check? Good politics? Not so much. Also, it's too damn hot!

19. Tennessee. Great music. Great food. Great for college sports. Not so good for pro sports, or politics, and it was a Confederate State. Also, it's too damn hot!

18. Nevada. Las Vegas is an acquired taste, but I acquired it. Lots of nice scenery. Good on politics. But it's too damn hot!

17. Oregon. It seems like a place I'd love to visit, but I never have, due to the distance. For politics, sports, food and natural beauty, it looks terrific.

16. North Carolina. Beautiful, great food, great college sports, getting better in pro sports. Evolving into a better political State, and was one of the Original 13. Still, it was a Confederate State.

15. Delaware. A neighboring State for New Jersey, and thus one I've visited a few times. Rehoboth Beach alone might get this State into the top half.

14. Virginia. Only its Confederate/segregation status keeps it out of the Top 10. Its Revolutionary role, its many tourist attractions, its natural beauty from mountains to bay, and its generous people make it the 2nd-highest of the ex-Confederate States.

13. Rhode Island. The smallest State by area, but one of the nicest. Its only real flaw: Too many Red Sox fans.

12. Ohio. Great for college sports, good for pro sports, improving in politics, and Cleveland is a great food city. I've never been to Cincinnati, and I need to change that.

11. Wisconsin. I love Milwaukee. I've never been to Green Bay or Madison, but I'm sure I'd love them, too. Away from Lake Michigan, though, it's not much to look at, and it gets cold. That's all that's keeping it out of the Top 5.

10. Florida. The highest-ranking Southern State, and despite that history, and being too damn hot and too damn humid, there's so much to see and do, even if you don't want to visit Disney World. Great college sports State, although its pro sports status has taken a hit, with the only team doing well in attendance being, ironically, hockey's Tampa Bay Lightning. Even the Miami Dolphins aren't doing too well at drawing crowds these days, and as soon as South Floridians realize Dwayne Wade is leaving as LeBron James already has, you won't be able to find too many Heat fans.

9. Connecticut. Very nice. Great State for college sports. Losing the NHL's Whalers hurt. Also, too many Red Sox fans. Other than that, I like Connecticut a lot.

8. Michigan. Yes, Detroit needs serious help. But it's a great sports town, and the rest of the State supports the pro and college teams very well. Michigan has lots of natural beauty, and the many ethnic groups provide lots of fine food. And while they stupidly elected and re-elected some horrible Governors in John Engler and Rick Snyder, they usually vote Democratic for President and Senator.

7. California. Yes, it's got Los Angeles and its vacuous suburbs, and Oakland is a bit dodgy. But is there a better State for Sports? Is there a better State for showing that liberalism works and conservatism doesn't? And with L.A. and San Francisco, there aren't many better States for ethnic food variety. As for natural beauty, there's San Francisco, San Diego, the Sierra Nevadas, the Redwoods, and Yosemite National Park.

6. Illinois. Chicago alone gets it into the Top 10, and the historical stuff elsewhere in the State helps. (Thanks, Abe.)

5. Maryland. Some parts of the State -- the mountainous Panhandle and the Eastern Shore, especially Ocean City, the Redneck version of the Jersey Shore -- aren't too palatable. Otherwise, this beautiful State with one great (if troubled) city, Baltimore, and access to another, Washington, might well be Number 1.

4. Massachusetts. Between the history, the natural beauty, the food, and the sports, this State could have been Number 1 if their sports fans weren't so, how shall I put this... Boston.

3. New Jersey. I'd have loved to be able to put my home State at Number 1. I just couldn't, because, well, Jersey City. And Paterson. And Trenton. And Camden. And Atlantic City. And "Christie Country" in the rural western part of the State. And the industrial blight along the Turnpike (North and South). But pretty much anything you could want, we've got it, and we've got it good. Too bad we can't claim either New York City or Philadelphia as our own, as close as we come to them. Speaking of which:

2. Pennsylvania. James Carville once said, "Pennsylvania is Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, with Alabama in between." He wasn't kidding, and he wasn't referring only to the State's love of football. There's a reason that the 280 miles in between the suburbs of those cities, and the rural mining areas in the north of the State, are called "Pennsyltucky." And they were too quick to defend the indefensible from Joe Paterno. But with Philly, Pitt, and its role in the Revolution and the Civil War, how can you not put Pennsylvania in the Top 5?

1. New York. Admittedly, most of this is due to New York City. But even the rest of the State, by itself, would make the Top 20. Buffalo. Rochester, Syracuse. Lake Placid. And, oh yeah, Cooperstown. Plus, the Hudson Valley, West Point, the Catskills, the Adirondacks, Lake Champlain, the Finger Lakes, and Niagara Falls. And, yes, New York City.

Disagree? Set your own guidelines, and then make your own list.

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