Monday, August 17, 2009

Beale street, and the fun in Memphis.

Ok, so, we rolled into Memphis about five and a half hours after we started. I'd headed over to Paul and Judy's place around 10AM that morning, Wednesday morning, and we'd stopped at the drive through of a fast food place for breakfast before turning up onto I-40 and heading east.

I think it was an Arby's? Pfft, it's been too long, but I think that's what it was.

Later, as we rolled along, I made sure to keep the ass of that white Altima in my sights, but it didn't always work out that way. I lit up a cigar, the first of three on that drive, and cranked the tunes after finishing off that little breakfast sandwich. I was groovin', as I usually do, with a steady trail of smoke waftin' out of the sunroof. When I wasn't suckin' on that thing I was singin' along with the music and engagin' in a little air guitar now and then. Pretty soon, maybe about half way through the drive, I looked up and that white Altima wasn't there any more.

I said to myself, "What the fuck?" I looked back in my rear view mirror and sure enough, there they were. I called Paul on the phone and asked him "Is that you back there?" and "Well shit, how'd you get back there?" I guess I'd just slid into autopilot and eased on past, boogyin' and groovin', and hadn't even noticed. It was funny as hell. I told him, "Well get back up there! You're the one with the GPS."

The next little bit of drama didn't happen till we were finally driving into and out of some heavy rain on the outskirts of Memphis. I wrote about it a few posts ago, so I'll just cut and paste:

By the way, Mushy's made mention of a certain event that took place along the road to Memphis, when a local cop decided to check out what kind of smoke that really was driftin' up out of my sunroof as we sped West down I-40. I looked up at one point and saw the SUV in my rear view, about one car length behind me, and assumed he wanted by.

I was in the left hand lane behind Mushy and Judy as we passed a slow moving truck that had blocked the right hand lane (Ok, that's how I remember it, but it all happened very fast). It had been raining, so the road conditions weren't prime, but nether of us were speeding, having passed unscathed by several police SUVs that were parked along the highway.

Have I mentioned the fact that there are a SHIT LOAD of cops on that stretch of road, and that they mostly wear SWAT type outfits and drive big black SUVs? When you come up on them they always seem to be parked in threes. Anyway...

So when I saw this dude on my ass, I wasn't really concerned. Mushy moved over into the right hand lane when he passed the truck, and then I gassed it to get over ahead of Mushy and let this dude by me. Then I was amazed to see him slip in behind me flashing his purdy blue lights. I was like "What the fuck? Shit!"

I brought the Silver Bullet to a stop, tossed my nub into the ash tray, got out the appropriate paperwork and rolled down the passenger window. He walked up and rested his arms on the door, wanting to know if those folks were with me (Mushy and Judy had stopped about 30 or 40 yards up the road to wait for me), and how did I meet them. I told him "Blogging," and he was amused, saying "Well, I know that's very popular." It was all very cordial, with my attitude calmed by the knowledge that there was an assault rifle in the trunk and a loaded revolver in the back pocket of the passenger seat.

Who was I, who were they (Mushy and Judy), how did I know them, where had I been and where were we going. In the end he told me to be careful on Beale street, asked me what kind of cigar I was smokin' and told me not to pass people so closely in this kind of wet weather. I wanted to say something like "Well shit, you dumb bastard, I wouldn't have done it if you hadn't been right on my fuckin' ass with that police truck. Shit!"

But my AR-15 was whispering sweet nothings in my ear, saying stuff like "Shut your fat cake hole you dumb ass!" I get no respect from the AR. Too many AKs in the closet. You know... penis envy. So, we parted ways and I lit up another stogie. I called Mushy and we all had a big laugh over it. Within and hour we were all slapped up in the lap of luxury at the Westin Hotel off Beale Street and life was GOOD. But, that's another story.

Yep, that's how it went down, as close as I can remember. Pretty soon we were rollin' in Memphis, followin' the dictates of Paul's windshield mounted portable GPS system. Before I knew it we were rollin' up beside B.B. Kings place, cutting across Beale and then turning left down to the Westin. We both took advantage of the valet parking, got our rooms and found out that the elevators in the hotel were busted.

We got very familiar with the staff elevator in our two day stay, in what was in every other way a very nice, swanky hotel. The running joke was that we'd be making our own beds before long, but they kept telling us how sorry they were and that the main elevators would be fixed in no time. Of course, they weren't. They were fixed and busted again day after day. You never knew when you walked in if they were gonna be working or not.

One day, I think Thursday afternoon, I actually got stuck in one of them with a little dude from Australia. They'd said that one of the two elevators was fixed, so we took it. Paul and Judy got off on their floor, but the elevator passed up my floor, moving on to theirs. I stood there after the doors closed, punching the button for my floor over and over until the doors swung open, still on their floor, and my Aussie friend stepped on.

He punched the button for the first floor as I punched the button for the sixth again, but this time nothing happened. Boy I tell ya, between that little dude and me, the expletives were flowin'. I may well have taught him a few new ones. We called in on the emergency phone and talked to someone, but the thing didn't move till another guest, this time from my floor, punched the button. The thing heaved down and the doors opened. We gave a good cheer, having had no idea how long we were gonna be stuck there, but we warned the new guy not to get on the infernal thing. My Aussie friend and this other gentleman headed off to the staff elevator and I headed to my room. Bullet dodged.

Anyway, that was piddling drama compared with the excitement of just being there in Memphis with my friends. We were livin' large, within' easy walking distance (and maybe stumblin' home drunk distance) of Beale Street. We had all sorts of fun planned to pack into the next few days. After a short interval of time spent getting into our rooms and getting situated, the three of us met again down in the lobby and stepped out to explore.

It turned out that the Westin was perfectly situated. All we had to do was step out the front door and walk around to our left to find ourselves at Silky O'Sullivan's, right on Beale, where the old historic facade of the building is preserved with this interesting steel scaffolding.

They claimed to have a bunch of special goats there at Silky's. I got to thinkin' later... "Aaaah, THAT's where Guinness comes from!" I've always thought it tasted like goat piss.

Anyway, we'd been clued in to the locations of a few good BBQ places before we left Harriman. Judy's brother, who works at a swanky place in Atlanta, told us about a place called the Rendezvous, a couple of blocks over from Beale.

After walking up and down the drag, giving ourselves a chance to get some daylight shots of the sights, we headed in that direction.

Pretty soon we were there at the Rendezvous, which offers a charcoal cooked dry rub BBQ.

It turned out to be pretty cool inside, almost like a museum. After we ate I walked around and checked the place out. I found walls filled with guns and stuff from all over, but I didn't want to go around flashing with my camera, so you'll just have to go there and check it out for yourself.

Bottom line, the food was really good. Not sure why, but all the places we went to in Memphis wanted to give us these itty bitty cups of beans and slaw on the side. Don't they know a Texas boy can eat some beans? And put some jalapenos in those things. Damn!

After the day of driving and walking, there was very little conversation as those pork ribs met their fate.

It was quick, or at least it seemed to pass very quickly to me.

Before I knew it there was nothing but carnage before me, and I was lookin' for one or two of those little wet wipes they hand out.

Then it was a short walk back to Beale. We talked along the way about maybe steppin' into the Peabody to see the Duck Walk, but we didn't know exactly when they let the critters in, so in the end we saved that for the next trip. I made Paul and Judy stop for a short time at a nice looking Cigar Store along the way, picking up a few souvenirs for later. I put in a call to our buddy Chuck, who was staying in another nearby hotel, and we headed for B.B. King's place to try to listen to some good music.

We sat down there and waited for Chuck to show up, listening to these guys tune their instruments and get ready to play. By the time Chuck arrived, we decided we needed to find a quieter place where we could talk and get to know one another.

So, it was back out onto the street and down to road to The Tap Room, where we spread out on one of their back tables and started drinkin'. Ol' Chuck is a great guy, an on and off again blogger that we'd both read and enjoyed for years until he was forced to stop due to the time constraints of his job. Now we all keep in contact through Facebook.

Memphis is within' the range of his business travels, so when he found out we were gonna be there we decided that he should drive up and write it all off as a business trip. We were happy to have him join us. We'd talked about getting together for a few years, but it never materialized. So both Paul and I were looking forward to finally meeting him and getting to know him a bit better.

Once we got together Chuck wouldn't let anyone else buy drinks, and he kept them coming. Both Paul and I felt bad about that, but Chuck said something about putting it all on his expense account. He also told us that since his Gastric Bypass operation, while he can't eat, he can apparently drink like a fish.

When I saw him light up a cigarette and realized the coast was clear (I'm used to being told that ether I can't smoke or I can't smoke cigars in some of the local places we go to), I lit up one of the cigars I'd purchased on the walk back from the Rendezvous. And so, the good times commenced.

Next thing I know he's orderin' shots. The conversation was great, and the warmth of friendship was palpable. It's always amazing to me, just about every time I've met a blogger that I've come to appreciate, they seem to always end up just as nice, or just as cool as they seem on the blog. This was no exception.

A few folks have made mention of my choice of shorts here in the above picture. What, the legs not long and shapely enough for ya? Hey, I'm old school. Sometimes you just gotta let yer lizard breathe, you know. If yer shit pops out, it pops out, there might be a few kids emotionally scarred, folks passin' out here and there, but nobody dies, you know? Shit!

After gettin' the ball rollin' at the Tap Room, we decided to move the party on down the street. Next thing I know we're goin' into Coyote Ugly, basically openin' the place up. In no time Chuck is leanin' over the bar and whisperin' somethin' in the ear of the tall waitress with the streak of red in her hair. I give him a quizzical look as he turns to me and says "I just bought you a Body Shot!" I started laughin', but all I could think was, "Man, I'm in SO much fuckin' trouble."

So, lets go through the details of a Body Shot, with pictures courtesy of my buddy Paul. First, a really hot girl lays down in front of you on the bar and spreads her legs. Well, you can look at the picture and see what's goin' on in my head.

Another waitress, also hot as hell, goes down on the first waitress, grabbin' you by the hair (what's left of it anyway) and pulling your face to hers in a very theatrical manner.

Then, as the first girl lays there in front of you, the second places a shot of whiskey on her pleasingly flat belly. The first girls job, in the whole scheme of things, is to lay there looking hot (not too difficult), while not spilling any of the whiskey (probably not that easy).

Then, while breathing heavily and dodging all the illicit thoughts that are wafting by, the second waitress pulls your head down to the first girls belly. You take the shot glass in your mouth, toss your head back and kill it without using your hands.

Mmmm, that's good stuff. Would you call that a shit eatin' grin?

Then, as the first girl starts to actually look bored, the second turns you around, pulls you back over the bar, and with a slice of lime in her mouth, pulls your mouth to hers and squeezes the juice into your gaping maw.

Oh, but you're not finished. Hold up! Then, as always, after the pleasure comes the punishment. The second girl pulls you up over the bar, stands over you and gives you a sound paddling with a leather strap. Yes, I was a naughty boy, and I needed to be punished.

There'd been no kissing or touching. The whole thing had been very sanitized, and there were several large guys standing behind me just in case I decided to be a jackass and try to grope one of these lovely ladies. Funny thing is, to be honest, while it was hilarious and fun, the Body Shots at Coyote Ugly really weren't very "erotic". Try as they might, it just didn't get me there.

Now, here in Killeen, there's a certain place were we used to play pool each week called the USA Club. They do a thing there called a Titty Shot. In that case the waitress brings you a shot of whiskey in a glass that's pressed between her breasts... And her breasts are salted.

The objective there is to cup the woman's breasts in your hands, reach in with your mouth, take the shot, down it (remember, no hands), and then, still cupping those puppies, you lick the salt off the ladies breasts.

And you take your friggin' time in the licking! You should hear the shit the girls say about you if you don't get all of that salt. Now, THAT's erotic. And it beats the ass off a Body Shot. Try to get up and walk away from that without havin' to put a book in front of it.

Thinking about things that night, I got a little melancholy. I couldn't help but admire these two folks even more. How cool would it be to have a beautiful woman sharing your life who actually trusted you and could join in the fun the way Judy did with Paul that night? He truly is a lucky man. In his own words... "Judy, bless her heart, had as big a time as any of us guys. I’m blessed with a great lady who enjoys life and hasn’t got a jealous bone in her body. She is great, and I’m just the same with her as I am without her along. We have no secrets and take the greatest pleasure in seeing the other have a great time."

We all had a huge blast there that night. I think Chuck ended up getting a Body Shot, and so did Judy. Yep, Judy, but those pictures are in a vault and won't probably be released until Judy's pretty young teenage granddaughter, Katie Bug, goes off from home in a few years and get's herself a job at the Coyote Ugly in Knoxville!

Anyway, they're in a vault!

As we stood there drinking, several other patrons ended up getting their own Body Shots.

There were bad boys all over the place, and some wide smiles on the faces of the audience. In the end, after spending about forty-five minutes or an hour in the place, Paul and Judy and I had had enough. It had been a long day, and our motors were runnin' down. I think Chuck was a little disappointed, but we parted happily and all said that we'd have to do it again some day.

The next morning I woke up, looked out the window facing the Gibson Guitar shop and Museum, and saw that the rain had begun to fall again. It was threatening the whole time we were in Memphis, but by the time we met again down in the lobby and walked over to Beale to find breakfast the sprinkles had gone and left a pall of humidity to press down on us throughout the day.

We ended up having something like Brunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. That's my cheeseburger there. It was good stuff. We asked the waitress there as we were finishing up if she knew how far it was to walk to the Sun Studios Museum, which was our next objective after the meal. She said something about it being a ten minute walk. Well, maybe as the crow flies, but it took us all of twenty for us to get there. And in that humidity I was lucky not to lose Paul and Judy along the way.

But we eventually got there. It turned out to be a few miles up the road, at the tip of a long hill.

You couldn't miss it, what with the huge guitar hangin' off the wall.

The Museum gift shop is actually located in an old diner that was next door to the studio in the old days. That's where all the musicians used to go to eat between recording cessions. Now they sell tickets to the tours of the old studio there, and CDs, and t-shirts, and all sorts of other souvenirs.

It was fun to look through all the cool stuff there in the diner while we waited for our tour to start.

There's the man himself, Sam Phillips, and one of the gizmos he used to record folks like Elvis back in the day. Once the tour began, the guide took us upstairs to view a display of old relics from the recording years there at Sun.

There was some fascinating stuff there on display. As it turned out, the place had a much richer history than I assumed when I walked in. Phillips used the money he made from selling Elvis' contract to record and advertise many other wonderful musicians.

The tour guide, the mop topped fellow there in the middle, wasn't just a kid. He was very knowledgeable and conveyed his information in an excellent, laid back, humerus way. I kinda do that stuff for a living, so I could see that he knew what he was doing. I told him so after it was all done. It took me a while to get to where I was comfortable talking in front of people like that and felt like i knew what I was doing, so I can appreciate his talent.

This is the desk of the woman who discovered Elvis. As the tour guide explained, if Marion Keisker, the office secretary, hadn't let Elvis in to cut that first record, supposedly as a gift for his Mother (just a ruse to get her sympathy), the world might not have found out about Elvis until later.

The tour eventually winds down to the actual studio where all those great records were recorded.

It was really cool to be there, and to learn so much more about those times in Memphis. The guide really did a bang up job. The last thing he let us do was actually come up on stage and pose with the mic that Elvis used to record some of his early hits. I declined, but Paul got up there and struck a pose.

Don't he look regal? Kinda like Louis the Fourteenth, only without all the seventeenth century gear. You know, the long flowing wig and all the servants to kiss your ass all day.

After the tour ended we hung around waiting for the bus back to the hotel. Yep, we found out once we'd arrived that there was a shuttle that took you back and forth from Beale. But, piddlin' around in the CD store, we missed the return shuttle, so it was another long, hot walk back to the hotel.

We were all pooped by the time we got back, so the deal was that we'd rest, take a shower and then meet back downstairs to get into that white Altima and DRIVE (with AC) out to the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, which was our next destination.

It was raining a bit heavier by the time we got there, but we were still able to get into the museum without getting too wet. Once we got in there we found that they didn't allow pictures. Paul and I had to relinquish our cameras at the door. So you won't see any pictures here from inside the place. Well, not really. So long as I have my phone I'll still be dangerous.

This is a shot of us huddled up in a hallway near the gift shop. As we'd finished the tour, a huge storm had erupted around us, including up to four tornadoes. One apparently touched down somewhere near us, so the staff of the Museum had us all go into this hallway for safety's sake. We'd already seen the tour, so this was like the little extra entertainment that didn't appear on the bill.

Once again, have phone, will fuckin' take pictures, beotch!

By this time the weather was beginning to subside. We'd gotten our cameras back but were sittin', waitin' for the coast to be a little clearer before headin' out. Camera geeks, you know. The museum was very cool, but I think I'm gonna refrain from giving them too much free publicity, since they were so pissy about the cameras. Check it out if you ever come to Memphis though. It was very cool.

When we did leave, we headed over to a BBQ place called Neely's. It's a fairly famous place that's been featured on TV. Paul's GPS took us right to the place.

Mmmmm, now THAT's some ribs for ya. Beef this time, with a few more beans (still not Texas sized), and some decent fries.

Judy saw something interesting on the menu, BBQ Spaghetti, and decided to try the appetizer sized portion. Sounds weird, but it was good.

As always, the carnage was terrible. Oh the humanity. I'm not really sure if the beef ribs I had here were better than the pork ribs we'd had at the Rendezvous. They look bigger, but that's mostly bone. They were all good though, but I think I can get stuff here at home, from some of the better BBQ places between here and Fredericksburg or Austin, that would give these Memphis folks a good run for their money. I can't WAIT to get Paul and Judy down here to show them.

In the end we decided to go ahead and have dessert. This is a shot of my slice of "Sock It To Me Cake". Mmmmm, good.

After killin' our dinner and washin' up, we headed back to the hotel. Paul and Judy were done, so I said I was too. But after showering and sitting around the room for a bit, I started to think I needed to take one more walk out on Beale. Smoke one more cigar. So I put on some clothes and took a walk.

When I got out there I was surprised to remember that when we'd done the walk Wednesday night I'd seen lots of stuff I wanted to pick up but didn't want to have to carry around all night. I went to the CD store that sits next to B.B. King's place and picked up about three or four CDs. Derek Trucks, Santana, and Eric Clapton. Then I went next door again and found a hand full of cool t-shirts and old concert posters from the 1960s. The Stones, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. So it was a great last fling. I went back to the hotel happy, even though I knew that my time visiting with Paul and Judy was fast coming to an end.

We all got up the next morning and I followed that White Altima through town and up onto I-40 again, this time to a Cracker Barrel just inside Arkansas. Paul knew I was gonna head north on I-55 after breakfast so he chose the restaurant that sat right there at the junction, even though it meant they had to drive further west to get there.

We had a great breakfast, talkin' about all the fun we'd had, and then we headed out to the parking lot to say goodbye. I was very tempted to give Paul my traditional parting ass kickin'... Pick him up, shake him like a rag doll and toss him down. He always complains, but I think he secretly loves it. But I was afraid I'd jar somethin' loose in there, like a rib, so I just hugged him hard and gave him a big smooch on the cheek. Judy laughed, and then I hugged and kissed her too.

Paul reacted as you'd imagine, but I don't care. My cousin Bob hates it when I slap a parting kiss on him too, but I'm big enough to do just about whatever I feel like, so there!

I love these folks like family. Hell, they're closer to me than most of my family. Like I said, they've enriched my life in the last few years in so many ways, it's impossible for me to fully quantify. I just love 'em to death, and it always tears me up to leave them, but life goes on, and there'll be many more fun times in the future.

Anyway, I had a new mission. As I drove away, tryin' to hold back the emotions, I found a new excitement welling up in me. I was on my way up into Missouri, where I'd spent some of the best times of my childhood, to find another good friend that I'd known for years but never met.

Cue the music (the theme from "Jaws"). Dum, dum, da dum. Dum, dum, da dum. Dududaaaa! The Silver Bullet was zippin' north at a high rate of speed. The smoke was wafting, again, from the sunroof, and the chum was in the water. Danger Will Robinson! Danger!

Next stop, Bruno's place, and then a long drive home. Cheers!


Mushy said...

Well, if you weren't in trouble before, the "on her pleasingly flat belly" comment should do it!

Another great roundup Brother!

We love you too!

BRUNO said...

Man, after that guided-tour, I'm gonna need to sit down!

No, wait a minute---I mean I need to stand-up...!!!

FHB said...

Mushy - Not in trouble, and not worried about it. Shit happens. Yea, it was long, and even longer in comin', but we pack a lot of fun into a few days.

Bruno - Aaaa, chill brutha. You're up next.

BRUNO said...

Yeah, I was afraid of that.

FHB said...

Well, not really next, but then next.

Chuck said...

Was so great meeting all of you! Let's just hope none of my bosses read your blog since you mentioned my expenses! LOL I was an awesome night. We'll need to go it again one of these days.

PRH....... said...

My Gawd just wrote a novel...I'm gonna have to finish that this week, these old eyes can only do so much reading and viewing.