InterroLoop: Day 11 – Arkansas and Beyond

Driving to Fort Smith, Arkansas from Tulsa, Oklahoma has confirmed a long-held suspicion of mine: suburbs, regardless of location, are essentially identical once one controls for accent and climate.  This is by no means an insight and was probably first discussed by Montesquieu or Voltaire but confirming evidence as to my assumption of the monotony of urban purgatory is (dis)heartening.

Fort Smith is the second-largest city in the state is between 150-200 years old depending on when you tart the clock.  This is just enough history to name things after figures that’d reached mythic status but with little actual body to them.  The commercialization behind such is a new phenomenon in my mind and I’m curious to see how the zeitgeist develops as it moves from kitsch to history, should such a thing even be possible.  My host in the area was Ed Portman/SquareMEal who let me use his shower and then we talked about his ambitions as a scenic designer.


One of 8 people to have a TI shirt.

He’s caretaker for a surprisingly active cat that possesses the rare ability to take a stationary ball, strike it, and then chase it which could be interpreted as either idiocy or the height of play.



We met with Ed’s mother for dinner and then I got a quasi-tour of Fort Smith.  I saw the mighty Arkansas river:


Big Rock Candy Mountain Reject

I also got to see the fake carillon that apparently has bells but plays music over speakers instead.  As a side note, my mother says “carillion” rather than “carillon” and I’ve not met another person who’s done this.  One day I think I may challenge her on this as I should have done to that guy who insisted that “perspicaspity” was a word.  Regardless of the projection type and my standing tiff, the tower was imposing:


Incapable of playing "toot toot, you're a bitch"

I left for Hot Springs National Park intent on staying over there for $12 but discovered after driving 80 miles through banjo country that they don’t offer 24/7 check-in like every other national park I’ve been to.  Downtown Hot Springs was a strange mix of 3-5 star hotels, biker gangs, and surprisingly cheap gas stations ($2.51 in a few cases) but these elements didn’t mix well at 11 PM on a week day.  With no reasonable way into the park and not wishing to risk a night at the “King’s Stay Inn”, I drove out a bit until I found a $50.00 motel and plopped down for the evening.