Memphis needs a reboot. Took a survey from the locals and it said Memphis’ been bad for a long time and gettin’ worse. Hey, at least they’re Number One for Worst Potholes in America.
Mom dropped me at the PDX airport around 4am. Took a detour around the spring blizzard in Denver. Instead I’d spend three hours in Texas. Strategically placed myself between two single dudes at the terminal bar that was closest to my departing gate. The one on my left had been stuck in airports all day, thanks also to the blizzard. He was eventually replaced by petite, doll-faced Julia from Los Angeles, on her way to visit family for Easter weekend. (I guessed correctly, she works in entertainment, a beautiful look for film & TV.) On my right was AJ, who’d just spent 28 days on an oil rig in the Gulf. Showed them the new sizzle reel for Audreality. Made plans to meet with Julia when I’m in LA for Rel/event, next week.
Upon landing in Memphis, saw it was a straight shot from the airport to Hein Park, a pretty little enclave near the zoo, where Aunt Sandy lives. Only eight miles! Figured I’d save myself some cash and hoof it until I got tired.
After about an hour, sun setting and one toothless man pulling over to ask where I was headed, came to one of the few businesses you’ll see when going north from the Memphis airport: a BBQ joint, just minutes past a gritty titty bar. Contemplated going in for something to eat. (Or rather, to drink.) The parking lot was full, some of the cars had lowered suspensions and huge shiny rims. Wondered if there were any hotties inside…
Just then a bus pulled up at my feet. There was no sign, no bus stop, not even a telephone pole anywhere nearby. Bewildered, told the driver I was going straight ahead, at which point he said he’s taking the next turn and I should continue standing in this unmarked spot until the next bus appeared.
The phone rang. It was John, a friend I’d met last time I was in Memphis. He told me I shouldn’t be walking here (“Ninety percent of Memphis is ghetto.”) and he’d be more than happy to pick me up. So that was cool.
Checked in with Sandy (who took a bad fall recently) then went out for dinner and celebration. Found a dive bar with a pool table, where we drank indiscriminately with the locals until much too late. Willie had stringy grey hair, a cowboy hat and a drunken southern drawl that made him indecipherable. He said I was good at pool but still managed to beat me, playing with one hand.
This day was mostly a wash, the first half lost to a brutal hangover. Once I was able to hold down water, there were about six hours of activity midday, with John. We were planning to build a ramp and handrail for Sandy. Got lunch (a massive mound of fajitas), then picked up groceries and building supplies, before spending the rest of the evening passed out on the couch.
Felt SO MUCH BETTER. Even did some pushups, sit-ups and took a jog around Hein Park. Went for BBQ at Central with Dad’s friend, Mike. Then he brought me down to the edge of Mississippi River, where we burned one down.
Turns out, Memphis has done something AMAZING with their waterfront park, downtown. Fitness stations! There were pull up bars, three sizes of stumps for box jumps, monkey bars, an “obstacle course” and long, heavy ropes for pounding. This is one of (perhaps a few ways) that Memphis has Portland beat. Where are our fitness stations Portland?!
By the time I got back to the house, John was almost finished building Sandy’s new ramp and handrail. Upon completion, we went for dinner. And of course more pool. The bar we wandered into had only one beer on tap (Guinness) and it was half price, because it was their last day. Rents went up and they were closing down the business.
Kim sent a message asking, “How’s Memphis?”
First responded with a series of images. Then, “Managing to make the most of it.”
“You know Memphis is competing for most ghetto in America? I’m a minority here. Big time. Corruption has ruined it. Everyone with money gets the hell out. Including businesses.”
Kim: “I wonder why?”
“Political leaders siphoning money that’s supposed to go back to improving the city. It’s organized crime. Memphis has the most potholes in the country. It’s not because they don’t collect taxes – they tax everything! We need a movement of people who care enough to get involved. Run those old cronies out of office.”
Kim: “Yup. That’s what’s wrong with the whole country.”
“Exactly. This is just the extreme end. Portland is the polar opposite. It took years for me to learn, Portland is a bubble. As long as everyone is self-obsessed and/or stuck in the rat-race, the bad guys get to keep doing what they’ve been doing for far too long.”
Kim: “Time for everyone to pull their heads out of their asses.”
“VIVA LA REVOLUTION!”