while this morning’s hotel breakfast confirmed for me that $70 hotel rooms are, in fact, worth the price of admission — fresh grits, biscuits and gravy, a whole thermos of coffee to myself at my table that the dining-room attendant brought for me when she saw me get up to get a refill, and many other fine things had i wanted them — and that $30 hotel rooms are not, it’s time to blow this popsicle stand and get the fuck out of mississippi.

this morning, my clock radio alarm woke me at 7AM to the sounds of the (i swear i am not making this up; i’d google a link for it except i’m too lazy) Joe Bob and Billy show on a local meridian station, which i had selected last night on the basis of Queen’s “We Are The Champions.” one of the fine gentlemen was off on a tangent, spending a good two minutes discussing the meaning of the verb “to ruminate,” and how it seems like a cow chewing her cud in a pasture… just sort of hanging out and considering. then he went on for a while on how cities will name streets after people, but no sooner is the body cold than the streets renamed to new people. and then he digressed a moment on the topic of streets named after the reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and his feeling that — and although my personal feeling about the sentiment he then expressed may color my recollection of his words, i’ll try to transcribe them as best i recall them — when you get to such a street in such a town, that’s a sign to just turn around. one should do a one-eighty and get out of there.

i generally try not to be hypersensitive, but try as i might (and i have been trying), i’m really not able to find another meaning, a lighter one, than “when you see MLK Jr. Drive, get out of there, because that’s the black part of town, and you don’t want to be there,” or the slightly less-charitable “any town that would name a street after such detestable and loathsome scum as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is no place i want to be.”

and the thing is, that my interpretation of this remark is going to determine my feelings about the entire state of mississippi for the rest of my life. or at least until i grow old and senile, and the only thing that remains constant from this part of my life is my love of shiny things. from this point on, i will think of mississippi as a pretty place but i wouldn’t want to live there, because they’re all racist fuckheads.

the racist fuckhead contention is supported by the fact that at my holiday inn here, nice as it is, the desk personnel are all white, and the apparent manager or day-manager that i saw in the breakfast room was a white man in a nice shirt and tie, whereas the cooking and cleaning staff have all been black. these are the things i notice when i’m staying places. i’m generally reassured when i notice some sort of diversity in the cleaning staff of various establishments. i suppose i’m willing to forgive some propensity for hiring latinos who speak poor English for these positions, because a bad command of the common language does not prepare one for a rewarding job while it does not prevent one from making beds, but i just find it completely mystifying when i find an entire cleaning staff of kind, polite, and well-spoken black people when the “customer-facing” staff are all white. i mean really, are you telling me that the woman who thoughtfully brought me a coffee thermos, unbidden, and with whom i chatted briefly and found to be very pleasant, is somehow less qualified to sit at the desk and tell me they do, in fact, have a non-smoking single available?

maybe i’m biased by my politics to find racism where it doesn’t exist — and i’m certainly prejudiced by prior experience to find racism in the south in general — but, that said, this sort of thing still just bugs the shit out of me.

so, congratulations, Joe Bob or Billy, or whoever that kindly-sounding gentleman on the FM radio was, for making yet one more northerner think yet more badly of the south. you may be just another lame-ass shock jock who no one takes seriously, or you may be the rush limbaugh of your local broadcast area from whom everyone takes their daily wisdom. it doesn’t really matter to me, because i’m leaving, and i’ll never hear you again. rest assured that your words have made a difference. every time i think that things are getting better, someone has to fuck me up with reality again. i find this irritating. i’d much rather live in my happy star trek world where everyone’s kind and everyone can do anything they want and no one has to be ashamed of who they are, but you people keep fucking it up for me because you can’t get over it.

well, it’s nearly ten and i still have yet to pack up my hotel room — not that i really unpacked, but, you know, put the laptop away (sniff, bye fast network … i’ll miss you) and put the shampoo back in my suitcase and stuff. then back on I-20 to get the hell out of this pretty but racist-fuckheaded place.