Gin score: Phil 1710 Elaine 1635
Bags of trail mix left 12
Top three church enticements:
Partake of the bread of life or you are toast!
It's hard to stumble when you are on your knees*
Life has many choices. Eternity has two. Which have you chosen?
*but not impossible
The number one businesses throughout the south we've visited have been cattle and farming but close runners up include casinos, advertising and rip off cash providers. Thank goodness for the former. The ranches and farms, homes and animals grazing amidst live oak, water oak and pecan trees couldn't be more beautiful, around each corner, mile after mile of truly stunning beauty. But then, as soon as one pastoral scene disappears in the rear view mirror, the billboards for gambling pop up. Gambling is huge and the business of balancing the fortunes of a few on the backs of the many who can ill afford it but can't help themselves are apparent everywhere. In a transparent and laughingly ineffectual concession to legislators who, one imagines, fought the ineffectual fight against the unrestrained construction of casinos, each billboard is accompanied by an invitation to the addicted to call a hot line. From the few upscale clubs full of bling, big name entertainers and high rollers (where you might expect to find Phil n the Blanks) to the hideous little dumps passing themselves off as casinos but often nothing more than a temporary building nailed to a gas station, they're everywhere and the latter are full of desperate people clutching a handful of chips or coins, a last cigarette and a drink and hanging on a slot machine. I hope we continue to successfully oppose efforts to begin doing the same thing in Maine. The indian tribes deserve opportunity but this isn't it.
Billboards, the promotion of billboards, businesses whose business it is to promote the business of others, electronic billboards shared by several advertisers so as many as ten or twelve show up on one board within one minute, even billboards that advertise the capacity for a competing billboard company to do one better, are huge, not just just huge business but huge billboards. The range of business and service each offers is more often numbingly dull and tacky: casinos, auto dealers, opportunities for getting quick cash by selling personal belongings or by turning over titles to anything and the very tackiest: attorneys who specialize in litigating against nearly anyone on your behalf in all sorts of particular areas. These are almost always accompanied by an enormous photo of the lawyer, smiling and oozing assurance. The best of these was found yesterdy in Mississippi in the form of a forty foot long invitation to those who felt they'd been wronged. "INJURED?? BROKEN BONES?? TONY CAPELINO 800 GET BACK. The accompanying photo of Mr. Capelino might instead have carried the caption BROKEN BONES? NO? WANT SOME? He made Tony Soprano look like Mr. Rogers.