(*This is the second post about my trip to Memphis. To read the first one, go to my ‘Archives’ and click on ‘August’ and it should take you to my original entry dated Aug. 12, 2012. It’s titled “Walking in Memphis.”)
The Peabody Hotel (http://www.peabodymemphis.com/) is a beautiful old hotel around a couple corners from Beale Street. This top of the line, top-notch hotel has been in this historic locale since it opened in 1933. If only those walls could talk – the stories they’d tell!! One story would be about the Peabody Ducks, the fine feathered friends that march (aka. waddle) out of the elevator twice each day to make their way from their rooftop ‘palace’ down to the marble fountain in the lobby for a swim. But, before they make their appearance to a packed house, the ‘Duckmaster’ gives the gathered crowd a bit of history on these quacky critters. It all started back in the 1930s when then General Manager of the Peabody, and his pals, returned from a hunting trip three sheets to the wind, and brought with them their live duck decoys. What better place to keep them but in the hotel’s fountain in the center of the lobby? The feathered quackers caused such an enthusiastic stir amongst the guests that they have become a popular staple here for nearly 80 years! For more info on these cute quackers, see: http://www.peabodymemphis.com/peabody-ducks/.
On the complete flip side of the sightseeing coin is a truly phenomenal place for music lovers – Sun Studios. (http://www.sunstudio.com) I don’t know where to begin in describing this place, but for me it was sacred grounds. And in fact, I found the whole city of Memphis to be. Sun is where blues exploded into rock and roll by none other than the discovery of Elvis Presley! It was started by Sam Phillips, a self taught music lover whose inexperience and lack of recording knowledge is exactly what made it all work. Besides Elvis, whose potential was actually recognized by Sam’s secretary, Marion Keisker (whom he never failed to acknowledge for this,) Sun was also responsible for the careers of Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash. And, in fact, on one very notable day in early December of 1956, what has now become known as ‘The Million Dollar Quartet’ took
place in this very studio. Coincidentally, on that day, Elvis, Johnny, Jerry Lee and Carl all showed up at Sun at different points during the day and ended up in an impromptu jam session. This chance occurrence ended up being recorded by Sam, who let the tape continuously run throughout the jam, knowing that something special was happening right in his studio that day. Seeing the opportunity for some publicity as well, he called the local Memphis Press-Scimitar newspaper’s entertainment editor to come by, which he did. He wisely brought along a photographer, who took the famous picture of the ‘first fab four’ that hangs in the recording studio to this day.
Sun has been kept in almost its exact state since the 50s, with secretary Marion’s front office still furnished as she had it when she worked there. The studio, just on the other side of the window from her office has not been renovated, modernized, or anything since the days when Elvis recorded there. And, they still even had the very microphone he sang into! Upstairs was a museum that told the musical story of Sun and all its famous clients – Howlin’ Wolf, BB King, Roy Orbison, and all. This was the place where musical history was made, not only because it was the first studio ever to represent both black and white musicians side by side, but also because it introduced us to a new sound – one that combined blues, with gospel and country – that was eventually called ‘Rockabilly’ and ‘Rock & Roll!’ For a detailed history of this amazing place, see: (http://www.sunstudio.com/). Before, and after, the tour, you can peruse the malt shop, which acts as the gift shop, café, and waiting area. My favorite thing in this room was the old-time Wurlitzer jukebox that continuously played old 45s, flipping them
on and off the turntable, just like the good ol’ days! This was the real deal, a truly vintage jukebox from a 1950s era malt shop! Not the kind you find in bars today that play CDs and/or MP3 songs off the internet. This was as old-school as they come, and I was twinkly-eyed over it. In fact, a man had to ask me to move out of the way so he could take a picture of his kid standing next to it! Oops! I was snapped out of my trance, unaware that I was hogging the Wurlitzer! Needless to say, I walked out of that historically rich building with my head in the clouds. I was so moved that it hurt to leave, but…the rest of Memphis was calling, and there is a lot to see!!
Next up: Elvis’ Graceland
***How do I sum up one of the weirdest experiences I’ve had that makes no sense at all? I guess I’ll just have to wing it~~~>
Burning Man is a place of creative imagination and fantasy amidst a world gone crazy – the way life should truly be lived, with no judging, ego, greed, prejudices, materialism, negativity, cruelty, limits, or boundaries. It’s a place of magical freedom to be your true and real self, where societal shackles disappear, worldly possessions have no value; names, titles, and hierarchy are non-existent. Burning Man is back to basics, where value lies in beauty – the beauty of art, of kindness, generosity, sharing,
similarities, differences, and life. The fact that a magical, spiritual place can evolve from a harsh and dismal desert is a wonder in itself. And because each and every year, the population of Burning Man grows proves that it is not just a fad, a passing phase, or a trend. It is a movement, a shift in spirit, the heart of getting back to the depths of the natural human value of LOVE. It is about being one with Mother Earth, in tune with nature, and at the mercy of a tough environment. It is a ‘city’ of campers, who work hard and play hard, talented entertainers, artists, mystics, and spiritual seekers who share their gifts, talents, and selves with others. It is where you can dress like Halloween every day, or not dress at all. To truly understand Burning Man, you must experience it. It’s not for wimps or crybabies, but it isn’t for the hardnosed and thick skinned, either. It’s for those who long to live harmoniously with their neighbors, and experience a caring family-like community. It’s a place where people work together for the greater cause, give of themselves, and get joy from helping others just because… So, if you think you have it in you, and desire to commune with strangers, I highly recommend the adventure of Burning Man. It can be a glorious journey to a new way of life, whether temporary or permanent. Though Black Rock City may be temporary, the essence of its spirit will live on in your soul.
And, now for a few other random thoughts and snippets, here you go: ~There is no such thing as a wardrobe malfunction at Burning Man! ~ Burning man is the REAL world, and the rest of the time we live in the DEFAULT world! ~When entering Black Rock City, you are greeted with cheers of “WELCOME HOME,” because that is where you are – HOME! ~And, when you leave BRC and go back in to the DEFAULT world, it is considered a ‘re-entry,’ in which many people feel a letdown and have a difficult adjustment for days and weeks afterwards.
BONUS: One of our HOTD campers, creative young thang that he is, went on his own little private journey to find the “Best Crotches at Burning Man!” Little did any of us know just how amusing his little video would end up being. For Allan Dixon’s humorous take on Burning Man, look here to see the eclectic variety of crotches he discovered!! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMMRPCXB3Jc)
For more information on Burning Man, see their official website at: http://www.burningman.com/
***I found it rather curious as to why a place that is so adamant about ‘packing it in, packing it out,’ ‘leaving no trace,’ and
picking up every speck of ‘MOOP’ (Matter Out of Place,) can be so careless about air quality. If they are so strict and rigid about keeping the desert meticulous, then why is it okay to pollute the heck out of its air? Almost every night in Black Rock City there was a burn. And, not just a cute little sing-along-the-campfire type burn, but a massive stand-back-100 yards-beyond-the-guards kind of burn! One night, it seemed that the whole playa went up in smoke. There were around forty works of art that met their fiery doom, all at the exact same time! These large structures barely survived four days in this city before destruction! It was crazy! Bikers were pedaling as fast as they could from one burn to the next to see which one burned the wildest, and which would crash land most violently.
On a different night, Mr. Burning Man himself was sacrificed, but we all knew that was going to happen. The sad thing is, his burn isn’t even all that significant anymore with all these other bigger, and crazier burns. After he burned, the following night was “Burn Wall Street’s” inferno, which was much more intense than Mr. Man’s! “Burn Wall Street” was a mini version of New York’s Wall Street – four large ‘buildings’ to represent our nation’s greed. Each building signified the
culprits – ‘Chaos Manhattan,’ ‘Bank of UnAmerica,’ ‘Merrill Lynched,’ and the Capitol. The whole lot was titled “Burn Wall Street” and that’s exactly what they did. It was reduced to smoke and ashes. And, on the last night, the most significant burn was that of the Temple. The temple is a ‘holy’ place, where people come to pray, reflect, remember, and cry. With its burn goes a lot of pain, sadness, and suffering. As the smoke rises, the past disippates, and renewal takes its place. Whereas, I love the idea and purpose of this, I still belive the Man should be the main focus of this event, and the one whose burning means the most. Why the Temple outshines him, and why so many other things are burned, is beyond me. It seems that the Burning Man event is run by pyromaniacs who use any and every excuse to light things afire. The thrill of the fires burned out so quickly for me that I began saying to everyone, “If you’ve seen one flame, you’ve seen ‘em all!” Personally, I believe the new focus should be to, “Keep the air clean, let the artwork stand, and keep the big man as the big burn!”