Friday, February 23, 2007

On Memphis

Early this afternoon, I arrived in the city of Memphis. This is a city I have changed planes in many times, but know very little. I once had a five hour layover here and past my time by visiting Graceland. It was traumatic. I may post about this experience at another time.

This time I get to stay in Downtown Memphis. I was not quite sure what to expect, but having spent the afternoon and evening wandering, I am both impressed and interested.

Downtown Memphis has a very old world feel to it, albeit very much an old world of the South. That being said, the feel is very different from Louisiana. There are trolley cars and guys doing shoe shine, but also few people walking around and many properties looking for tenants. There is an restrained dignity though, that is impressive. I like the place.

As I walked through the area, I was impressed by the lack of chain business. I liked the interesting local ones. For instance, the peanut store, the independant clothing store and the place with a sign that now reads 'Downto n igs'. It is a very cool place. It is both very retro and very real.

Naturally, by reputation alone (and by anyone who is asked) one is drawn to Beale Street. As I wandered up and down Beale Street looking for a place for supper, I was horrified to see a real Elvis impersonator (I'm still having PTSD from Graceland). I was amazed and horrified by the number of places that sold what they claimed to be Cajun food. Why? Scary! The fact that one place had award winning Gumbo in no way made me feel any better.

Eventually, a guy approached me. I figured him for a hustler. He could have been. However, he asked me where I was from, when I said Louisiana, his disposition changed. He was originally from New Orleans. I explained that I was looking for a good place to eat. He told me that I should go to a place called Rendezvous, tucked away in an alley opposite the Peabody Hotel just up from the intersection of Third and Union Streets. His advice was excellent. I ate superb dry ribs. I recommend this joint.

Earlier on Beale Street, I ran across the most unique A. Schwab store. There they have a huge variety of stuff, from cheap clothes, to weird decorations, to Voodoo supplies. All arranged in a fairly random manner. The staff were very charming, so I stocked up on my Voodoo supply needs, at great prices. My enemies should take note of this [NB. this is a joke, maybe]. This store is incredibly folkloric, a real period piece out of time. I recommend it, as I recommend old Downtown Memphis. What a weird, but cool town.

After the visit to this store, I got to take a long walk down beside the Mississippi River, watching the barges and boats. The weather was perfect. It was warm, but not hot, with a light breeze. Truly magical.

Tomorrow, I have to return to the academic world, to say my thing at my session. However, I am very happy to have such an interesting and unusual place to continue to explore, during the rest of the conference.

The CP


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beale Street - what a treat I had hoped; sorry to hear that it has been inundated with tourist-motivated attractions. Must be too long ago that I listened to the Blues over the airwaves from all the local clubs there! Hopefully there are still a few around for you to explore.

10:12 AM  

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