Walking in Memphis

Posted On: Tuesday - October 5th 2021 2:34PM MST
In Topics: 
  Music  Race/Genetics

Beale Street- Memphis, Tennessee:

I've got a couple of posts here just based on overhearing people's conversation on an airplane flight. These posts come out of left field, I'm tellin' ya! I can't stop it either.

In this case, I had been talking to the young man in the middle seat, as I sat by the window (the only way to go, for me, at least). This guy was in his late twenties, just judging roughly by the year he told me he graduated from the university in the town we took off from. I only know that because the conversation started off with college football, like I'm supposed to give a rat's ass. Peak Stupidity has noted already that since you can't even discuss the weather anymore, sportsball must be used to break the ice now.*.

Anyway, I liked the guy OK, but I did want to start back on the book I was reading (Peak Stupidity book reviews stop for no man.) He later started talking to the fairly decent looking similar age woman (also near 30 y/o) in the aisle seat. More power to him, though we had a 3-way... conversation (ha! gotcha!) for a little while. As young people who did a decent amount of traveling, the two were then discussing American cities that had visited for business and, yes, college football games.

No, I couldn't help overhearing as one can't talk but so quietly over the airplane airflow noise, and there were the face diapers of course. There were 2 or 3 cities that one was telling the other about. One of them was Memphis, Tennessee, in the southwestern most corner of that State, on the east side of the mighty Mississippi. "You gotta go to Beale Street, it's great.." was the advice, and this web headline that went with the picture up top advises the same:

Yeah, OK, but as these two young people discussed these attractions, they did know the "darker" side of these attractions and the cities they are in. The phrase "scary part" was used numerous times by both of them, as they gave advice to each other. I guess the word "sketchy", one I used to hear and use a lot, was just not gonna do justice to these areas of American inner cities. They used this term "scary" in a light-hearted manner, as it it was all in fun. Inside though, I know exactly what these people mean. You have just too large a chance of ending up on a news report like the following, if you spend much time in those areas.

Beale Street at night late at night is not the same as Beale Street during the day during some Blues festival. It turns from a "you gotta go there, if you're going to Memphis." to one of those "scary areas". Actually, for downtown Memphis Tennessee, the whole place is a scary area. At night NOBODY walks in Memphis (nobody with any sense, that is). Oh, wait, that was "nobody walks in L.A." from the 1982 Missing Persons song, not Memphis, right? But, it was for a different reason.

Well, I still like this 30 year old Marc Cohn song, no matter how overly romantic he is about the Blues and Elvis, Gospel, and catfish...

Put on my blue suede shoes,
and I boarded the plane.
Touched down in the land of the Delta Blues
In the middle of the pouring rain.
W.C. Handy,
won't you look down over me.
Yeah I've got a first-class ticket,
[must be nice!]
But I'm as blue as a boy can be.

Then I'm walking in Memphis.
I was walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale.
Walking in Memphis,
but do I really feel the way I feel?

Saw the ghost of Elvis
on Union Avenue.
Followed him up to the gates of Graceland.
Then I watched him walk right through.
Now security they did not see him.
They just hovered around his tomb.
But there's a pretty little thing
waiting for The King
down in the Jungle Room.


They've got catfish on the table.
They've got gospel in the air.
And Reverend Green
Would be glad to see you.
When you haven't got a prayer.
But boy you've got a prayer in Memphis.

[You'd better make one, if you keep walking after sunset!]

Now Muriel plays piano
every Friday at the Hollywood,
and they brought me down to see her,
and they asked me if I would
do a little number,
and I sang with all my might.
She said "Tell me are you a Christian child?"
And I said "Ma'am I am tonight".


Put on my blue suede shoes
and I boarded the plane.
Touched down in the land of the Delta Blues
in the middle of the pouring rain.

Touched down in the land of the Delta Blues
in the middle of the pouring rain.

* Here's the intro. paragraph from that old post, SportsBall as the Circuses in the "Bread and Circuses":
What do you do when you interact with someone, knowing it'll just be for a short while, saying in a motel lobby, or sitting by him in an airplane, before he's got all the electronics out and running? "How about the cold weather?!" Nah, that can be a big No-No now, what with Global Climate DisruptionTM being so political and all. Nope, better not talk about the weather! "Oh, Arkansas, huh, yeah, those Razorbacks, blah, blah ..." That's much better. It's what people do now, look at a jersey, hat or just figure from where you told them you're from and start off about football. This is EVERYWHERE now, and I want no part of it.
Yeah! I like it when I remember what I wrote 3 years back. That one fits this anecdote very well.

Wednesday - October 6th 2021 8:00AM MST
PS I haven’t been in Memphis since the early ’90s, so I can’t report on current conditions. They were just starting to tart up Beale Street then. From the picture, it appears that they have succeeded to a considerable extent. I didn’t hang around there at night. The time to have been on Beale Street was in the ’40s and ’50s. And you wouldn’t have wanted to be white while being there. It as a* Main Street of Black America. Memphis is now, I believe, majority black, and going the way that majority black cities go.

* There were several.
Dieter Kief
Tuesday - October 5th 2021 11:09PM MST
Mr. Smith, this video about the Forest Service and what to do about climate change is a nice satire by amateurs.
The amateurish quality being, she smiles a bit too much so one is tempted too soon to see through the fiction.
Nice fiction though.

As a photographer I have no problem talking to strangers about the weather. Lots of aspects to it that are small-talkish. Poetic ones too. Moods. Light-shifts. All that.- Memphis in the rain, with blue suede shoes on- that would be a great one.
I used to listen to George Thorogood And the Destoyers quite a bit in the eighties. Great guitarist.

(My day begins with a typo: Not quite awake yet (Rory Gallagher) I typed a word that looked a lot like Greta instaed of great - hehe: The climate-cult is reinventing the archetypicl Saint: Ascetic a-sexual Great Greta Thunberg: The Energetic Dwarf (Rumpelstitzken) of Climate Change with the quasi-Holy Rage.


Jonathan Franzen has gone full throttle (could be a song title by George Thorogood) in the direction of religion with his actual novel Crossroads about the Sixties. 600 p. about one day in the Sixties actually. My wife brought it home yesterday (the German edition - 800 p.). Religion, and Robert Johnson (Crossroads / The Devil & Me): The Devil and God and poular music and all that. Sin and forgiveness.Faith & Doubt (faith and doubt being the subtext of many a sports conversation - the mythical (and religious)subtext. Sports as the insufficient (esthetically not least insufficient) ersatz for the very hole in their hearts the decline of religion has left people with, making them poorer than before methinks).
Adam Smith
Tuesday - October 5th 2021 9:46PM MST
PS: Imagine a world without balloons...


Tuesday - October 5th 2021 9:28PM MST

Mr. Moderator:

I once watched the Superbowl with a group including an American male (whom I invited) who I am pretty sure was not sure how main points you get for a field goal, and similar levels of (lack of) knowledge of the game.

I feel confident you pass that bar!

In another case, I remember a long-term US-resident foreigner being clearly unaware of the name of a major sports team in the city he lived in.

Say what you will about soccer, but I somehow feel US expatriates in Europe are more aware of the soccer teams ('clubs') therem and rules of soccer (they are not difficult, except the offside rule).
Tuesday - October 5th 2021 7:56PM MST
PS: I'd be that guy, Mr. Hail. Without a TV, and without making any conscious effort to keep up with any of it*, that's the way it has turned out at least during the last 20 years or so.

That's not to say I'd just blow you off with "never heard of 'em", but I wouldn't have much to converse with on the topic of sports, sorry to say. There are other things to talk about soon enough - politics had better not be one of them right away though - not in this day and age. "What kind of work are you in?", etc.


* I enjoy going to an occasional baseball game, but I don't care who wins, and that's about the whole of it.
Tuesday - October 5th 2021 7:01PM MST

On "sports" conversations with strangers.

Every now and then, through work or other ways, I come to meet an American male who is obviously not at all conversant in sports, or come to realize a man previously known to be is completely unconversant in sports, or some specific major sport. I am talking even something as basic as being unaware the Superbowl is going on that week, that weekend, or even that day. Expressed often as not knowing names of teams, not knowing the rules of the game, being unable to name any players or coaches, able to make no intelligent comment about any aspect of the game in any way.

Such encounters always seems off-putting, like some tribesman in some distant time and place who meets a fellow tribesman only to discover his interlocutor cannot speak the tribal language properly. You still wish him well, but something seems off, like a cognitive dissonance.

No need to be a super-fan (the etymologists say "fanatic" is the base word for "[sports] fan"), but the polar opposite of total-ignorance is probably also a bad idea for social purposes.

Consciously we may not wish it were so. But, alas, we cannot escape it. We do not set the rules in this way.
Tuesday - October 5th 2021 6:58PM MST

On "SportsBall as the Circuses in the 'Bread and Circuses'..."

I don't know when this began and it's hard to know for sure in part because we all end up with distorted views of a past which we did not live through.

How many similar casual, conversations-with-strangers between men about sports of any kind, ca. 2020 vs. 2000 vs. 1980 vs. 1960 vs. 1940 vs. 1920?
Tuesday - October 5th 2021 6:25PM MST
PS: Adam, thanks for the big laugh! It reminded me of that Hank Johnson inquiry on the buoyancy of the island of Guam.

"I would have to follow up with you on that one, Mr. Gohmert..." Man, it's got to suck to have someone for which you have to exercise extreme restraint to not call "retarded", to his face, in a position to terminate your job. I have been lucky not to have been in that situation so far. How about you?

Peter, I liked that one at first listen. Thank you. BTW, it was not the one I thought you had been linking to before I pasted it in. The guy I'm thinking goes by the name of George Thorogood, but it's not his original.
Tuesday - October 5th 2021 3:46PM MST
Try this song about Memphis.

Adam Smith
Tuesday - October 5th 2021 2:59PM MST
PS: Good evening Mr. Moderator,

This just might be the best plan I've heard to fix the Global Climate DisruptionTM...


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