God, I love a bookstore when it is holding a going-out-of-business sale.
It is the perfect place to scoop up a bunch of books, for future use as sources of material in this column, at a deeply discounted price.
That has been my great fortune with the closing of the Borders bookstore that has long been a haunt of mine. As you may have heard, several Borders locations in the Atlanta area, and the one I frequented near Cumberland Mall, are soon-to-be-shuttered stores.
But, last weekend yielded a true treat for me. I found a copy of Catherine Price's "101 Places Not to See Before You Die." It is a listing of essentially the worst places on, and in, Earth.
There is a "Testicle Festival" in Montana; a town in Austria whose name is also a seven-letter slang term for sex; an Argentinean religious theme park, where a six-story-tall Jesus rises out of a mountain, only to nearly be decapitated by a low-flying airplane; Hell (the Biblical locale, not the town in Michigan); every hotel in the world that used to be a prison, and fountains in Brussels that look like urinating children.
It got me thinking, though, that there must be other places in the world that are totally skippable. Well, there is a long list of such places (heck, enough to write a book), so I can only name a few places here. I cannot, of course, stop you from going to these places, but remember that, if you visit them, it is at your own risk (of boredom, or of shock).
One thing I do not understand is this state's fascination with giant peanuts. As you may know, there is a 13-foot-tall peanut, with Jimmy Carter's toothy grin on it, in Plains, Ga. Meanwhile, Ashburn boasts itself as the home of "The World's Largest Peanut," a giant white peanut sitting on top of a giant gold crown, on the side of Interstate 75.
Why do we need to venerate peanuts like this? It is not like Georgia is known as "The Peanut State." And, can we not come up with a better tribute to the only U.S. President to hail from Georgia?
But, as odd as giant peanuts are, they pale in comparison to a 15-foot-tall Superman statue in the middle of the Illinois town of Metropolis (Yes, that really is the town's name). The town, tucked away in a southern corner of the state that juts out into Kentucky, has literally built an entire Superman tourism market around its name.
Of course, the hilarity only gets better when Metropolis partners with Paducah, Ky., every year to hold a joint-superhero/quilting festival. Did you not know Superman and Batman did quilting in their spare time, between fighting supervillians? I suspect Batman knitted his own "Batnet" to catch bad guys.
But, inevitably, there are bigger, and more bizarre places in the world -- like Paris, France. In particular, I am talking about Paris' Museum of Eroticism (Musee de l'Erotisme). Do I need to say anything else here? Does the name of the place not say it all?
But, Paris cannot help outdoing itself when it comes to weirdness. There are the city's catacombs as well. Now, it is a bit creepy, but I would not mind seeing the catacombs -- which are packed full of the bones of dead people -- during the day. But, the after-hours activities in the catacombs, specifically the late-night parties reputed to take place in them, are a different story.
The tales I have heard describe the catacombs as some sort of gothic nightclub in Hell (the Biblical locale, not the town in Michigan). Seeing the remains of dead people is one thing, but dancing and getting drunk on their graves is something else.
That is definitely not a site to see.
Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 247, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.