The Honorary Mentions of Silliness

There are many places which are not quite World Class silly, but I think they still deserve mention. At least one of these places has been declared world class at one time, but they were fairly voted off the main list, by people who cared to vote. And you can vote too!!

  • Belleville and East St. Louis, Illinois, USA. Thanks to a guidebook called "Oddball Illinois", I once spent a week of vacation exploring Silly Places in downstate Illinois. The guidebook laments that Silly Places are disappearing... but I can vouch, for each Silly Place that disappears, another takes its place. And these places are pretty thick near St. Louis. When I visited there (March 2004), the Illinois side of the river had:

    I now declare Belleville and East St. Louis to be sillier than any other place that didn't make the main list. But the main list has a "No State Twice" rule. So, I've declared these towns the cutoff point. For your community to make the main list, it must be sillier than Belleville and East St. Louis, Illinois.

    And so Our Lady of the Snows, the matron of both Belleville and the northern lands, has had mercy upon the Canadian tundra once again, because otherwise, this next Silly Place would have voted itself back onto the main list by popular demand...

  • Symbol of Iqaluit Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada. Iqaluit is the proud capital of Canada's newest territory, which is the result of a lawsuit by Canada's First Nations (various Indians and Inuits/Eskimos).

    When I went to visit Frobisher Bay in the Northwest Territories at Baffin Island in 1999, the Northwest Territories dodged . I still captured the Northwest Territories flag (Capture The Flag!) at the airport gift shop, but the rest of the town had become known as Iqaluit in the territory of Nunavut.

    Iqaluit is indeed a proud territorial capital, with a museum and markers for its history. Iqaluit is also the only city ever to vote itself off the Silly Places list! (Like I said, proud.)

    But unfortunately, these plagues are upon Nunavut's capital city:

    1. Trash. There's more trash along the roadsides than anywhere I've seen outside Alabama. Convenience store owners have signs up saying, "Please respect your community and don't throw trash here."
    2. Dogs. Local law requires all dogs above a certain size to be chained up outside of town. This is since a little girl was torn to pieces by people's pets a few years ago, according to a hotel proprietor.
    3. High prices. $10 for a small bottle of cough syrup, $18 for mittens. (Canadian dollars, admittedly. But it's still double what an American is probably used to.)
    4. Dirt. All over almost every road. All kicked up by...
    5. Taxis. Almost half the vehicles are taxis. You'd think more people could walk, in a town two miles long. But I guess it keeps the car usage down.
    6. Starving artists. Or at least they have heavy tooth decay. But carvings (very similar to the Collection of the Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec, Canada) go for $30 or less, particularly if you haggle. Right at your dinner table. The local hoteliers and restauranteurs smile upon this, apparently. Or at least they weren't objecting.
    7. No wood. Plywood doesn't count; there's plenty of that, in houses and among the trash. But when I walked in a shopping mall with my wooden walking stick, a native looked at me as if I had three legs. A stick of solid wood is roughly as rare there as a stick of solid gold - and much rarer than fur or ivory.
    8. Canada's slowest customs house. Ellis Island was probably more efficient. But, in Baffin Island's defense, they only get one international flight per week, staggering in from Greenland. So they don't get much practice.
    But Baffin Island also has:
    1. Cable TV. Particularly the Boston channel that used to have "Dilbert" cartoons.
    2. An elite coffee shop. Specialty coffee is $15 a pound.
    3. Sunup at 2 am. Or sundown at 2 pm, depending on time of year.
    4. Ice in the harbor in June. In fact, it was still frozen over in June 1999 when I visited. The supply ships make their annual runs in July and August. Meanwhile, the passenger planes carry mostly cargo.
    5. A Pentecostal church. With a wooden angel nailed to the side. With a loudspeaker coming out of the angel's hand.
    6. A Territorial Liquor Warehouse. Gotta store a year's worth at once, after all.
    7. Fancy Places with home-style cooking, with steak, corn, and mashed potatoes for dinner. Caribou meat is optional.
    8. A very small memorial to the English discoverer of Baffin Island, plus a mention in the Baffin Island Visitor Center: "Sir Martin Frobisher came, mined fool's gold, made a laughingstock of himself, and poisoned English relations with the Inuit for generations." This was much more succinct than what the Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec, Canada had to say about him.

    (Thanks on this entry go to Tracy who proclaims herself a "Nunavut lover", and points out that most of the Inuit residents of Iqaluit can not only afford the high prices, they make more money than the average North American. This is almost entirely due to Canadian government subsidies.

    (Acknowledgment on this entry goes also to the many people who rose to defend Iqaluit's honor. So many people voted against Iqaluit being a Silly Place, they got it thrown off the main list. I'm glad you care, and every vote counts... but the next time you complain about how evil the United States is, try not to do it from Microsoft Hotmail free e-mail, eh?)

  • Symbol of Waco

  • Waco, Texas, USA. I almost put Waco on the list. Not because of that Branch Davidian crap, but because of its many offbeat museums: Also, Waco is subject to major grasshopper migrations every year. They infest the Waco Hilton hotel, which does its best to convince its guests the insects are there to lull them to sleep at night.

    But if I added Waco, then Texas would make the list twice, thanks to Dallas... and I couldn't have that. Waco was the place that inspired my "No State Twice" rule: For your community to make the main list, it must be sillier than the second silliest town of any state, territory, or province. And for years, this was Waco, Texas.

  • Symbol of Huntsville Huntsville, Alabama, USA. It's definitely not the stereotypical Southern town. I worked on Star Wars the Defense Project there. It mainly gets a silliness award because of the rockets you see all over the place, like at the Space Museum and at the Visitor Center along Interstate 65. (It's like they want to put up church steeples, but all they have is rockets.) But it gets an honorable mention for Space Camp too. Yes, your kids can pretend to be astronauts in training!

  • Symbol of Columbus Columbus, Ohio, USA. I hereby declare Columbus to be silly, because it's declared the U.S. Prohibition against alcohol to be a racist measure against German-Americans. Columbus has a visitors' center that says that, in its German Village district.

    Columbus is amazingly similar to Dallas, in that it has:

    It's been pointed out to me that my Silliest Places I've Ever Been list is unfair to the parts of the world I've never been to.

    With that in mind, I'm taking submissions for a new list:

    The Silliest Places I've Never Been

    1. Nesquehoning, Pennsylvania, USA. There they have a Shower of Roses, dropped from a helicopter, in honor of St. Therese the Little Flower. People come from hundreds of miles to be there, as the roses are believed by many to have supernatural powers. The Grand-Mistress of Ceremonies is a statue of Mary of Nazareth, carried around town in a big parade. Beautiful Catholic teenage girls compete for the title of Rose Queen. (Thanks to Christine L. for the report.)
    2. Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. I've heard... "Silly doesn't even begin to describe Las Vegas. I don't know what does. It's kind of surreal in a way. You walk into a hotel and you're on a Paris street or in Venice. The Venetian Hotel has a canal inside, complete with gondola rides, and the ceiling is painted to look like the sky."
    3. Pine Bush, New York, USA. I've heard... "This town has been linked to many UFO sightings and wacky pheonmena. I once read about UFO groups meeting weekly at the local VFW. This may be because their mothers also happen to be their aunts, or just the moonshine finally kicking in."
    4. Salisbury, Maryland, USA. I've heard... "If you want real silliness, visit Salisbury, Maryland. They're incredibly proud to be the home of the Perdue Chicken company."
    5. Seaside, Florida, USA. I've heard... "Seaside is one of those cutesy towns designed to look like an authentic 'old time' village of ocean cottages, which instead just makes you puke!" (Thanks to Oscar Baillio for the report.)
      • Seaside is on Florida's extensive Gulf of Mexico coast. Many Floridians consider the Florida Panhandle to be Real Florida. But sadly, its coastline is often neglected when tourists want a Florida vacation. Apparently, the town of Seaside tries way too hard for tourist money.

    Copyright © 2007, Eiler Technical Enterprises

    (signed) Richard M. Nixon