Doing Memphis right
Trip Start Sep 15, 2012
19Trip End Oct 07, 2012
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Our first glimpse of Memphis was a little sad because it seemed pretty deserted around this eatery. We proceeded towards Beale Street thinking we would just preview it. It turned out that Wednesday night is "Bike Night" on Beale Street which means it is shut to traffic (except bikes of course) and all the stores and restaurants stay open. It was hopping when we arrived. We love it when places stay open. It's always baffling when, and this is common in major cities from LA to San Francisco to Boston, things shut at about 7 PM
Today was a big day with Graceland as the focus of the schedule. Our crappy hotel, the Days Inn Graceland, is located one door down from the ticket stand for Graceland (across the street). So, we at least avoided paying parking. Admission is not cheap. We had a coupon which turned the 'platinum' tour into $32 instead of $36 and we were happy because this meant that for the price of the regular tour, we also got to see Elvis' private jets and his auto collection. The tour was decent. You take a little shuttle from the ticket pavilion up to Graceland and you have an audio tour through the first floor, basement, and outbuildings at Graceland. Due to Elvis' tradition of not letting anyone upstairs except family, the upstairs continues to be closed to the public. I suppose we would have seen where he died then, right? I believe he died in his bathrooom.
Some of you may know that I have a thing for Elvis
After we finished up at Graceland, we went to Stax Studios which was where Otis Redding and Booker T and the MGs recorded along with many other soul artists. We debated this or Sun Studios, but decided that we covered the country/rock side of things with Elvis. I'm glad we went to Stax. We heard a bunch of old good music and learned about the rise of the studio and its intersection with the complicated story of race relations in the 50s, 60s and 70s. It really emphasizes how important Memphis is to music. Between Stax and Sun, it's amazing how many artists recorded in Memphis from those I mentioned to Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis and the like.
We stopped by, somewhat briefly, the Peabody Hotel which is downtown Memphis for the daily marching of the ducks
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peabody_Hotel ). If we hadn't been so busy, we would have gone to the roof to see the new duck habitat the hotel has built. In short, there are ducks that live in the fountain in the hotel and have since the 1930s. They were trained later to march from their home on the roof down to the fountain in the morning and back at 5 PM. The ducks have been on the Tonight Show and on Sesame Street. It was extremely crowded when we showed up at 4:30. The city really seems a little deserted at times so it was surprising to see all these people in the lobby awaiting the ducks. It was cute, but a lot of fanfare for some ducks. I guess the hotel must make money off of it through concessions which is good because Memphis could use an infusion of cash and enthusiasm to keep it alive. I think I would look into staying at the Peabody if we returned. It was (re)built in the 20s and, in the style of LA's Biltmore, is very beautiful.
Following the ducks, we headed to dinner at this place, Cozy Corner which is a barbecue joint. It was as good as yesterday's chicken. I don't love messy barbecue sauce, so I had the cornish game hen "dry" or with a dry rub. It was very well-cooked and the skin was tasty without being overwhelming. Mike had the ribs which he enjoyed quite a bit (in fact, I kinda wished I had some too). Dessert, which we don't always get, was sweet potato pie and banana pudding. I *loved* the banana pudding. It was sort like a bread pudding in that it's not all pudding. There seemed to be sliced bananas, nilla wafers and whipped cream involved. The consistency was very nice. It was so good. I want more right now!
We are getting ready to pack up and head farther down South now