Couple musical suggestions – have you heard Sufjan Stevens’ “Come on Feel the Illinoise?” He has to be one of the most creative people I’ve ever encountered. It’s a song cycle all about Illinois that is just so weird and cool. He also did Michigan.
Apparently he plans on doing all the states, although I hope he has some signficant funding, because fifty albums requiring massive amounts of research is going to require some time and money! But check it out – this album is really, really, wonderful.