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Beale St, Memphis, TN
2nd Aug 2008
Long-distance information, give me Memphis Tennessee.

A late night at the house party and an uncomfortable sofa meant I tried to sleep in as late as possible.  When I finally hit the road it was gone noon.  I drove to the far corner of Tennessee to its largest city, Memphis.  I was staying with a very nice cat lady.  I describe her thus as she had no fewer than eight cats (and a fish) in her one-bedroom house, all of whom had amusing sci-fi/fantasy names like Drexel, Morpheus, Andromeda, etc.

My goal in Memphis was, for once, not to wander around sweating aimlessly, but solely to go out on Beale Street for the music.  Luckily it was a Saturday night, but unluckily the city was at one of its most hectic times (according to my host Simone at least), since there were two huge concerts and a bikers' convention that day.

We hit Beale Street around 10pm and it was already jam packed.  The entire block was cordoned off and IDs were being checked just to enter the block.  There was a huge number of police, using cherry-pickers to watch the crowd. Simply as an observation, the crowd's ethnic distribution changed markedly over the evening:  at the start, it was a mixed crowd on the street and in the bars; by 2am it was an exclusively white crowd in the bars and exclusvily black crowd on the street.  The white kids were all preppy idiots (pastel-coloured polo shirt tucked into their canvas or khaki shorts, with leather deck shoes or flip flops, and silly floppy haircuts; dancing like drunk monkeys), the black kids were wearing suitably hilarous black kids' clothes (bling, baseball caps, basketball shirts and shorts that are worn 6" too low, showing their underwear at the top and touching their glowing white socks at the bottom; not smiling and not looking like they're having any fun at all).

The street's vibe reminded me of Rue Bourbon in New Orleans at Mardi Gras time, the only differences being less packed (ie you could actually move) and fewer boobs (none, in fact).  There was the same atmosphere and the same drinking on the street (hurrah!).  

We ate and then went to some bars for blues.  One bar we went to had only the front of the building, just one wall in four, supported by a metal frame.  The other three walls and the roof had been removed.  We danced there until closing at the rather early time of 2am. By 3am I was falling asleep on the sofa, trying desperately to hold a conversation with the insomniac Simone (who needs 4 hours' sleep a night and rises at 4am normally.

My night was disturbed by the cats jumping on me, and at one point I awoke to the sound of one of the vomiting... on my bedsheet.  Nice.




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Previous: Nashville, TN

Diary Photos

Beale St, Memphis, TN

Bar, Beale St, Memphis, TN

Crazy girl, Beale St, Memphis, TN

Cherry picker, Beale St, Memphis, TN

Silky`s bar, Beale St, Memphis, TN

Big ass beer, Beale St, Memphis, TN

Mural, Beale St, Memphis, TN

Beale St, Memphis, TN

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