Monday, December 28, 2009

Ribs Anonymous

My name is Candy and I love ribs. I actually have eaten more ribs than Stagg on our trip. Stagg and I landed up taking the Memphis trolly all the time. One of the rides Stagg told the driver we were doing an intense science research project on ribs. The driver made sure we knew where to try more ribs. We did. We weren't going to go to Neeley's because we wanted to try other bbq...but when we told one of the women behind the desk at the hotel we weren't going to neeleys and we told her where we were going instead...she said "personally, I find __________ nasty." And we said we thought Neeley's was too far away. She said "You can take the trolley." Done and done. Out of all the ribs we ate...and we even had ribs at our hotel bar on the 24th instead of going out because it was pouring rain and we had spent the day outside at Graceland...Neeleys had the best ribs. Plus, the best cole slaw I've ever eaten and I eat a lot of cole slaw. (the ribs we had at the hotel bar ere excellent too!)

We are eating salad for supper for the next two months.

When I went on my yoghurt oddessy in Memphis I mentioned I tool the public transit. During my bus ride I landed up talking to the fellow sitting next to me. He turned out to be bartender who worked on Beale Street so I said we would come and see him at work later that evening. On the way home I took a taxi because it was pouring rain and I thought I had been gone hours and Stagg would be freaked out. The taxi driver gave me a couple of places to check out for ribs. It was about a half hour taxi ride and when we got closer to downtown a green van tried to turn right in front of us but the taxi driver honked, paused, and the guy in the gree van just slowly and then quickly saw we were cautious so he gunned his motor and pulled out in front of us to make his illlegal and dangerous turn. A black SUV on our right smashed into him. Immediately...a woman with the most pained face jumped out of the drivers seat. I opened my door and jumped out...looking for traffic to see if she was okay...and she opened up her back seat and pulled a baby in a car seat out of the car.

This poor woman. Only a parent would have moved this quickly. I was so shocked that she had gotten out of her exploded airbag. I'm sure she popped it with her fingernails. She was crying and I held her around her shoulders and then I touched her hair trying to calm her. Her baby was about two months old and he looked very angry and was staring at her. I said the baby is is okay. You're going to be okay. She said, "I'm so scared". She was so utterly frightened but then a bunch of other cars and drivers stopped and she was saying she had to call her husband. It happened so fast and with such violence and I will never forget how she jumped out of the car and grabbed her baby still in it's car seat. We left her with several good people helping her and the taxi driver and I just got back on the road and started breaking down the events. So much happened on the trip to get some groceries and my yoghurt that I forgot to tell Stagg about the accident until later that night over supper.

The rain was just crazy for a couple of days. On the 24th someone in the hotel brought us a gift basket. It had t-shirts and candy bars and cookies and a beautiful hotel holiday card. What a thrill. I was wondering what it would be like to be not at home and just in a hotel for the winter holidays and it turned out to be a wonderful experience. The city was extremely quiet and the few people we encountered were all cheery and wishing each other a merry Christmas. It was quite fun, surreal and lovely. On the 25th we woke up to a beautiful sunny cold day.WE spent a couple hours in the swimming pool and hot tub and talked to a family who just arrived at the hotel. They had been to Graceland the day before same as us and had come to memphis from Detroit because of the St. Jude's hospital. The hospital helps very sick kids and their son was going to be treated there. He and his sisters had been to Graceland and now were playing in the pool and having snacks and lots of fun. Another pause for Stagg and I. Really makes you think ya know? We could see the St. Judes hospital outside the windows of the swimming pool.

When we went down to Beale Street the city had come alive on the 25th. We took the trolley, which I had really become quite a nerd about. I saw similar trolley's in Knoxville while researching real locations that the novel Suttree incorporated a couple of years ago. What a treat that Memphis uses these reconditioned trolleys for public transit and they look the same as when they were first designed. All kinds oof people were out on Beale Street and the cafes and bars were seeing a lively business. We went for a bite and to watch a band at BB Kings spot. The food was good, the service slow but the bandNite Life was killer. Some of the songs that they played "Don't Go Messing With The Kid" by Junior Wells, "The Thrill Is Gone" by BB King, "Red House" by Jimi Hendrix, "Brick House" by The Commodores.

We were building up our energy for a late show across the street with Rhoney G. who is a performing artist with his own original work but his band also performs all the great R&B, hip hop, pop music of the last twenty years. Rhoney G and his band were fantastic and some of the classic R&B tradition they covered were "Party Like A Rock Star" by Dem Fraanchise Boys, "Hey Yeah" by Outkast, "Black Street" by Dr. Dre, "What's Your Fantasy" by Ludacris and "Pop Life" by Prince.

Memphis has so many people living outside. We talked to a lot of the guys living and trying to make contact with tourists and residents in downtown Memphis and things are tough. There seems to be a very interesting relationship between some of the businesses and some of the folks who live outside. At a number of bars and restaurants there were guys holding open doors or drinking bottomless coffees. It would be a good work to study the unwritten relationship between any businesses and the people who live outside. Some kind of unofficial arrangment and economic partnership is going on but it's not totally obvious. Sometimes it's that a fellow is just opening doors to clubs maybe hoping for a dollar.

We saw a lot of potential for jobs in Memphis. Over by Neeley's at least several blocks of sidewalks needed replacing. Like most cities, Memphis could hire 50-100 people to clean up sidewalks. All the roads across America could be mended. New high speed rail lines laid...bridges...there are so many ideas for work that could be organized right now. It is bs that jobs aren't be organized right now.

Statement from Mayor A C Wharton, Dec. 9, 2009:

“Given the recent shift in temperatures, finding a humane, responsible, proactive way to meet the needs of our city’s homeless population has obviously become a major priority. Starting this week, Colonel Billy Garrett of the Memphis Police Department and his officers will be working to connect individuals and families in need with local service providers who can help them. This is a new, above-and-beyond collaboration with the Hospitality Hub and other service providers to make sure that we are accommodating and helping as many homeless individuals as possible. My staff is working with the Memphis Police Department and local service providers to ensure we remain coordinated in our efforts to help the homeless.

“I want to assure every citizen and every concerned party that homeless individuals are in no way going to be targets of a ‘sweep’ or a ‘round-up.’ There will be no ‘crack down’ on homeless people, as some have claimed. Any action that is being taken by the Memphis Police Department will be protective, proactive, and humane. I will tolerate nothing less."

I visited Beale Street a long time ago when all the storefronts were shut and shabby. Now the music is being preserved by artists like Rhoney G. and Beale Street is a homey fun place to hang out. Why do people have to lose all sense of compassion with each other unless we label people a "historic significance"? Human life is historically significant and making our cities tidy and giving people jobs to work outside could change everything in a city. Any city anywhere.

Write your civil servants and remind them you pay their wages.

Stagg gives some of these as job creation: 1.) more booklets and maps that homeless could distribute of local art galleries and museums 2.) street sign fixing 3.) fix sidewalks 4) fix roads 5.) fire plug and hydrant painting and street curb painting 6.) more snow pick and shoveling 7.) more garbage pick up and recycling 8.) more public transit action NO MORE STUDIES-MORE TRAINS 9.) more creative decoration with murals, tiles by professional artists, 10.) more public seating and tables for people to sit outside

If you think of some jobs then write your civil servants...they work for you and you pay them their wages.

We were hanging out in downtown so much that we actually were saying hi to regular people every day. It kind of felt like we lived in Memphis for a week...doormen and waiters were calling or waving out to us on the street. We saw some of the same guys who lived in the parks over and over. We really saw a llot of layers of the city and it turned out to be an awesome way to spend the holiday season. I'm going to think about the people we met for a long time. Stagg and I want to give some kind of donation to St. Jude's Hospital for kids. WE want to do something for homeless people somehow. We just hope to get something going in the near future. Sharing and giving and being able to work with people is the best blessing ever!


Janet said...

you guys have the best vacations!!!

mister anchovy said...

I'm experiencing rib envy. Not only are their few places with decent ribs up here in TO, I've been in weight-shedding mode for the past three months and would only have a wee piece in any case.

The Bumbles said...

I'm jealous. Every few years we go on a long weekend trip with this other couple to a city on the East Coast. We've been to Montreal and to Baltimore with them. This year we are likely headed to Phillie but Memphis has also been thrown out there for a future trip. If ever we go I know just who to turn to for recommendations! Glad you are enjoying your trip.

Andrew said...

hey sounds like a great trip. i love memphis, me and my friend went through there on a photography trip and it was both of ours favorite city of the trip. sounds like you had lots of excitement and had a lot to see and do!

bigds said...

Ah yes - the great Q Debate. When I was in Memphis last Oct. I met a buncha nice folks - many of them quite the character. Had some great conversations on music, movies, booze, even a lil religion-talk (it is da south & all) and all were pretty laid back. But, ask where to get some good BBQ and oh boy you could open up a lively debate! Neely's, Corky's, Rendezvous, Central, The Barbecue Shop ... and a few others I can't remember. I'd need a whole week just to eat BBQ to cover "the best" according to locals.

Anyhow - due to time limitations, we only hit Central & it was damnnnn good!