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Gatlinburg, TN

Your conversation with a listener about the area in and around Gatlinburg, TN was right on the mark. It is indeed a place exhibiting the most horrible bad taste, hokey, tourist ripoff, kitsch, missing not a single fast food, lodging, merchandise or other international chain spreading American values across the planet.

Much as I hate to admit it, just looking at this place as you drive by is worth part of any trip to Blue Ridge region. Reminded me, in an odd way, of the wonderful old Coney Island with Luna Park and Steeplechase Park when I grew up in the 40's and 50's.

My youthful naivety was shattered when Nathan's Famous became a franchise and Hebrew National became just another Hormel but with a Star of David logo and without "miscellaneous pork products" added to the salami.

Gatlinburg is so quintessentially American/Free Enterprise/ Demolish and Develop anything however crude if it might make a buck, that it turns out to be perversely very entertaining. One finds it embarrassing to sort of derive pleasure from looking at it! If we had had more time, we would have stopped and worked our way down the line of "museums", merchandise outlets, mini golf courses, two headed goat displays, arcades, Native American crafts shops, Houses of the Bizarre, etc, for a day or two.

I can imagine what a European would think when seeing it! We drove the whole awful strip and I wish I had turned on the camera and videotaped every mile through the windshield. If things like this ever start to disappear in the USA (doubtful) I nominate this place for preservation as a Smithsonian Extension or National Monument to the way it was! A latter day Williamsburg, VA if you will.

How can one be so disgusted and fascinated at the same time?

Art Edinboro, PA


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