Monday, June 14, 2010

Hangin' Down in Memphis All the While

Graceland was a nightmare as far as major tourist attractions go -- shuttle vans, clumsy headphone devices, no flash photography, getting herded around like cattle, hearing guides reciting the same crap over and over... Still, the actual mansion was as wonderfully gaudy as expected (the Jungle Room!), though the killer memorabilia was what really made it worthwhile -- the jumpsuits, the gold records, the concert posters, the news clippings, the fan art, the movie costumes and props, etc., etc., etc... Elvis's private racquetball court was converted into this:

I didn't have time to check out the car museum, the Lisa Marie (the plane, not the daughter), and the myriad gift shops, 'cause I had to race back to the Peabody for the 11 a.m. duck march. Unfortunately, the ducks didn't "march" so much as bolt, running from the elevator to the fountain so quickly that I barely saw 'em. I didn't get a decent picture, but believe me, they were plenty cute.

Kitty-corner from the Peabody is AutoZone Park, home of the AAA Redbirds. I love a downtown ballpark, and the retro-brick style and intimate, minor-league scale make it a thing of beauty. Too bad I didn't plan my trip to take in a game there. One nice touch, among many -- the various Redbird whirligigs around the venue:

The rest of my brief time in town was a series of surgical photo-op strikes, such as the Lorraine Motel:

The Arcade Restaurant (in the same vicinity of the train station and site of the demolished Arcade Hotel, all seen in Mystery Train):

Sun Studio:

The Levitt Shell:

And Ardent Studios, where Jim Dickinson produced three of my all-time favorite records (Big Star's Third, Pleased to Meet Me by the Replacements, and Mudhoney's Tomorrow Hit Today):

Less meaningful to me -- but of much greater historical significance -- is Stax:

I forgot to visit A. Shwab's when it was open today, but last night when it was closed I snapped this:

After a fairly decent lunch at Tops Bar-B-Q, I sped up to St. Louis via Arkansas -- the 38th state I've visited in my life -- driving through such towns as Cooter and Festus. Sadly, I didn't arrive in time for Ichiro's leadoff homer at tonight's Cards/M's game. In any case, Bush stadium is now the 24th current MLB stadium I've attended a game at, the 29th overall. Another personal stat: this is the third time I've seen the Mariners on the road, the other times being in Oakland in 1997 and Texas in 2007.

I'll say more about St. Louis later. Tomorrow I'm going to Kansas City. Kansas City, here I come.

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