Monday, July 02, 2007

A Daughter of the Dust Returns!

Had an awesome time back in my old stomping grounds in MEMPHIS. It wasn't technically a 'vacation,' as I was on deadline, a serious one, but I did have a great time with the family, all de family, that great extended hand waving, "Hey! What you know good?"

That's a painting of Memphis Minnie....

Is it so dark up in there because they don't want you to see what you eatin'?
I ate something in there, can't remember now, sho'll wasn't impressed, but I did like that deco....
Hadn't been on Beale in ages...! Looks like lots of knew stuff poppin' downtown, but they still don't have no parking! LOL - When I lived downtown during college, it was like a ghost town after 5. Nothing but a few homeless folk and the trolley. I had a cool apartment in the William Len, a great Art Deco building from back in the day. Now the Len has returned to its hotel roots. It's been renovated as a Marriot...

A new Marriott Residence Inn will also open in June in the site of the former William Len Apartment Building. Designed for "extended-stay" visits, the Marriott Residence Inn will offer guest-friendly amenities including a full kitchen in each room and Residence Inncomplimentary grocery shopping for all guests. The renovated hotel (which served as the William Len Hotel before it was converted into apartments in the mid-80's) will add 90 new hotel suites to the Downtown Core on the corner of Main and Monroe.

The Downtown Developer


With the tourists and the locals looking to see and be seen, this is one of the best spots to people watch. If you have a cold enough drink and a high tolerance for 'squitos, you can just stand there on Beale and watch the parade go by. I actually met someone I hadn't seen since high school, and another friend who was hanging out with visiting relatives.


Folk in New York always complaining about the summer, but they don't know nothin' bout no heat. I'm talkin' about beat-you-down-hot-moist-humid-sticky-HEAT down in the Delta, where even at sunset them rays can turn you into a crispy critter! The sun was going down, but that don't mean nothing in Memphis in July! Didn't nobody have to tell me twice, 'cuz it was definitely time to go!

Alright, so we didn't go straight home, we headed on down to the river. Yes, I know, why go in the direction of the skeeters? But truth is, I don't feel like I've been home unless I've had a chance to stroll by the river. The Mississippi looks mighty pretty at sunset and there are far fewer people down on its banks than the folk 'ucklebuckin' on Beale. Waitaminute. Is "buckin'" just a 21st century version of the old Hucklebuck? I gots to go back to see The Color Purple so I can see that dance again for myself. You know, I grew up hearing elders talk about "so-'n-so 'ucklebuckin' down the street," (translation, they up to no good), but I never knew what it actually looked like until I saw them dancers get down on Broadway. If you ain't seen The Color Purple, you gots to go. LaChanze was great, and I heard Fantasia was pretty good, but I don't care who play Celie, 'cuz the sista that plays Sophia has stole da show! I was blessed to attend the opening shindig and I will have tell you, I am not the starstruck type. I mean, when I first moved to New York, I worked part-time at Forbidden Planet (when it was across the street from the Strand), and all kinda folk was up in there on the regular. I mean if I can see Prince AND Michael Jackson (even when he was wearing that weird black surgical mask) and still not faint (the former, from pure lust, the second from fear), well, you know I can handle it. But that night, I had never seen so many legendary icons gathered in one place, live in the flesh, so inside I was squealin' - you know, like ooh, that's Sidney Poitier, or damn, Tina Turner is still fly, and David Bowie is really skinny, and is Iman a goddess or what, and why didn't Jerry Seinfeld wake up until the topless dancers in the Africa number started during their thing? I know some of you, especially you fly maverick journalists-type get down like this all da time, but for us regular folk, it is still a treat.

Waitin' on a riverboat...THE MEMPHIS QUEEN...

A view of the Pyramid.
(based on the pyramid Memphis built in 1896 to celebrate Tennessee's centennial)

Can you believe ours is bigger than the one in Vegas?

The best view is seen coming across the Hernando-DeSoto bridge from Arkansas. Now, compared to all the great cities of the world, there ain't much impressive about the Memphis skyline, but that pyramid sure is an awe-inspiring sight, especially at night. Imagine, you're rolling across this huge M-shaped bridged (apparently, the largest 'letter tribute' structure in the world, according to Guiness), then suddenly you see the top of the Pyramid Arena, and it looks as if it's rising from the river. It looks as if it doesn't belong and yet, it appears to have been there forever. I'll take that vision over a giant Elvis banner anyday.

Replica of Ramses, a gift from Egypt


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