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Barb and Steve’s Exciting Adventure (aka. KFOG’s Winner of the Rolling Stones Contest!!)

          THE Rolling Stones!

                           THE Rolling Stones!

My friend Barb has been a loyal fan of San Francisco radio station, KFOG since it’s inception back in the ‘80s. A rabid music lover, she listens to music as much as possibly possible, which means she’s got the radio on at work most of the day. Being the fun-loving adventurer that she is, when KFOG (http://www.kfog.com) has anything to offer its listeners – free dinners, concerts, tickets to just about anything – Barb gets the itch in her dialing finger and throws fate to the wind by “going for it!” As she would say, “Why not? Right?” This “why not attitude” of Barb’s has won her a lot of things in the past, from concert tickets (Eric Clapton, Neil Young’s Bridge School Benefit, Concert for Kids, Outside Lands Festival) to numerous CDs and other fun stuff.   Well, this past November, while Barb was at the office (yes, her music addiction is well-known amongst her bosses and co-workers,) KFOG made an historic announcement! They were having a contest to send a listener to New York to see the kickoff of the Rolling Stones’ “Fifty and Counting” concert at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn! The contest would last only three short days, and five people per day would qualify for the grand prize if they were the tenth caller when a Stones song was played. The contest would take place on December 3, 4 and 5, and the winner would be notified on the 6th, then flown out of San Francisco International Airport on Dec. 7 for the Dec. 8 concert! Talk about a whirlwind! For someone who has been a Rolling Stones fan since she was old enough to know who they were, Barb was thrilled by the thought of it all! And, you can bet she was going to have her radio tuned in to KFOG for this contest of a lifetime! kfog

On Monday, December 3, the contest began. Barb’s anxiety was barely controllable, but she had no choice but to keep her cool on the job and hope to be listening at the right time. But, the day came and went and, try as she might, Barb was not one of the qualifiers. Not to be discouraged, though, she knew that she had two more days to try and get her call in. “Why not? Right?” That’s right, Barb! So, when Day 2 of the contest began, she was listening intently. Sure enough, at some point during that day, she heard a Stones song enter the airwaves, and was ready to dial! And dial she did! She got through and when she heard that she was caller #10, she was ecstatic! Winning the Stones promo CD, titled ‘GRRRRR….!’ was the cherry on the top of qualifying for the trip, which she excitedly told KFOG during the call, “I already have my bags packed!” Her enthusiasm seemed to spread through the radio station as the DJs played on her excitement, playfully bantering with her during the call. Off the airwaves, she gave them the necessary information needed to “throw her into the hat” with the other qualifying contestants. Next, Barb had to sit tight and wait two very long days until the grand prize winner was announced! These days, hours, and minutes consisted of lots of exciting conversations with friends, co-workers, and everyone else she knew, about qualifying for this trip of a lifetime. She never mentioned then, but admits now (after the fact) that she felt it in her bones that she was going to win the trip. She just sensed it, and if you believe in the Law of Attraction, then you know she simply willed it. Because, sure enough, two days later she got a phone call from KFOG informing her that she had won the trip to New York to see the Rolling Stones!! Because of the timing on this event, the station actually called her, and started the paperwork rolling, before they announced it on the radio. Once the legalities were under way, they got her on the line and spoke to her on air. Of course, she explained to the listeners how it had come about, that she had been called earlier by the Station Manager, and that they were getting this thing moving right along. Barely able to control her enthusiasm, and thanking KFOG profusely, you could hear the DJs getting excited along with Barb. They knew that they had pulled the name of a worthy winner of this contest, her gratitude and appreciation overflowing!

Within the next 24 hours, KFOG had to get their flight to NY arranged, set up hotel accommodations, and organize a way to have

          With tickets in hand!!

           With tickets in hand!!

their concert tickets waiting for them. Meanwhile, Barb and her husband Steve (she won tickets for two,) were getting their things together, including informing her workplace that she wouldn’t be coming to work the next day, as well as missing Friday night’s company Christmas party where they would be acknowledging her 15th anniversary with them. (When the time came, not only did they announce it, but they added on the fact that she wasn’t there that evening to accept her kudos due to having won the contest to New York to see the Stones.) Happy Anniversary, Barb!

In the crazy whirlwind that followed, Barb and Steve managed to think of, and remember their good friend Rob, an avid Rolling Stones fan who had passed away three years earlier. For his 40th birthday, Rob had arranged for twenty of his closest friends to accompany him to the Rolling Stones concert at Pac Bell Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. Perfectly timed, the concert coincided with his birthday, so he planned for us all to go together, after pre-partying at his house, then driving over in a rented bus. It was an event to remember, and Barb and Steve did! So, what they did, since they couldn’t share this evening with Rob, was to take the memorial card that was handed out at his funeral, and bring it with them. This way Rob could be with them in spirit, and they could be comforted knowing that he was enjoying the show with them, wherever he was.

50 Years & Rob!

                     ’50 & Counting’ with Rob!

Dec. 7th, 2012: The day had arrived, with not much sleep the night before! Barb and Steve’s flight to New York was bright and early – 6:00 am – via Delta Airlines. After arriving in New York, they went directly to the hotel – The Empire – to get settled in. But, not for long, because they wanted to take in as much of this city as they could in the short time they were there! So, they scrambled off to an obvious destination spot – Times Square! They wandered around, taking in the sights. Then, over to Rockefeller Center to see the holiday lights, skating rink, and other bustling festivities. They were in awe in this magical city adorned for the season! When they got their fill, it was back for some much needed rest before the main event the following night!

The next day involved a little more sightseeing, but not too strenuous since they wanted to save their energy for the main event. However, this was Dec. 8th, the 32nd anniversary of John Lennon’s murder, and of course, two diehard music fans would never, could never, visit NYC without a trip to Strawberry Fields and the Dakota Apartments. Amazingly, because this timing, Barb and Steve were able to join about a hundred or so other Lennon fans in Central Park for the “Pilgrimage to Strawberry Fields” to celebrate his life. There were hoards of people there, gathered peacefully, some with guitars, one an actual John Lennon lookalike, singing his songs together. It was heartfelt and moving to experience the honoring of this man so many years after his death. People placed flowers, notes, candles, and other memorabilia on the “Imagine” marker in his memory. His impact on this world will obviously not be forgotten for a long time. Over at the Dakota Apartments, where Lennon lived at the time of his murder, people gathered as well, at the actual spot the shooting took place that fateful night of Dec. 8, 1980. Rest in Peace, John Lennon. And thanks for your legacy of beautiful music!

Strawberry Fields Forever!

                      Strawberry Fields Forever!

Right afterwards, Barb and Steve hopped on the subway to the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, the newly built home of the New York Nets basketball team. (http://www.barclayscenter.com) They were surprised, yet thrilled, that the train dropped them off directly in front of the arena! With their special passes (and Rob’s picture) around their necks, they entered the bustling Barclay Center. They could feel the energy electrifying the people inside. There was security everywhere, as well as the major presence of police, EMTs, whoever and whatever, to keep things civilized and running smoothly. After all, this was a special event – the first concert tour in many years, by the longest running rock & roll band in history – – the world famous Rolling Stones!! Yeah, they’re getting old, but who cares? They are the Stones – Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Ronnie Wood- back together again!

Since they had arrived early, Barb and Steve moseyed around, checking out the Stones’ souveniers and memorabilia. After buying a few small trinkets, they decided to indulge in a Nathan’s Hot Dog, (lhttp://www.nathansfamous.com/index.php/history) for nostalgia’s sake, and walk around to size up this new center. After awhile, it was time to find their seats, which were decent, but

The Loot!

                         The Loot! 

not ‘up close and personal.’ But, they didn’t care, they were happy to be there to soak up this once in a lifetime experience! Once they sat and got situated, the show began, albeit about 45 minutes late. The arena darkened, and at first there was nothing but the sound of drumming. Then, a drumline appeared, marching onto the floor behind both sides of the stage. In two lines, they drummed along the outside aisles of the floor seats, then up the middle and through the center aisle.  They were joined by cheerleader-style dancing girls, which started the buzz and excitement throughout the place. The noise, movement, and vibration energized the crowd and got their adrenaline flowing. This interlude continued for approximately 15 minutes before the Rolling Stones hit the stage. And what a stage it was! It was built in the shape of their famous logo, the big lips and tongue! Out blasted the Stones, exploding into “Get Off of My Cloud” while old black & white videos of their musical journey streamed behind them. Throughout the show, between songs, were snippets of friends and colleagues of the band sending them good cheer, wishes and congratulations for making history – achieving status as the first rock band to be together for fifty years! They played some favorite hits, some lesser known obscure songs, and some new stuff. They entertained like they were still young, with Mick running all over the stage, and Keith shredding on his guitar, with his signature raunchiness. There were a few guest singers that joined in, like Mary J. Blige who performed a “Gimme Shelter” duet with Mick; and Gary Clark, Jr., who joined them for “Goin’ Down” and got down with Keith for some guitar battling.

The approximately two and a half hour show included a good variety of songs from every Stones era – the early ‘60s stuff from their raw beginnings, to their heavy blues period, through those songs with a disco edge, to the heavier rocking era, etc. The volume of music this band has put out over the years is so vast that, when seeing them in concert for two short hours, it seems that they only cover the tip of an iceberg. But, this night they did an excellent job of bringing together a sampling of many decades of their material. They did not disappoint. Of course, they came back for the encore with “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” while being backed up by the local Choir of Trinity Wall Street (http://www.trinitywallstreet.org/music/choir/meet.) Next was “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” and last, but not least, they ended the show with their signature song, that song that made them famous when it took American radio by storm so many years ago….”Satisfaction!” The crowd went wild!! The buzz and excitement of seeing the Stones perform their hugest hit live, just capped of this adrenaline-filled historic night! When it was all over, they all came together at the front of the stage for bows, waves, smiles, and thanks. And then they turned and walked off into the darkness…What a night! What a blast! What an unexplainable feeling to experience this once in a lifetime show! Thank you, Rolling Stones! Thank you, KFOG! Thank you, Barb for sharing your story!

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The Grand Finale: The Lorraine Motel & Civil Rights Museum

                   Lorraine Motel

***And now for the most moving experience of them all, for me at least. It was the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on the balcony on April 4, 1968 before attending an event in Memphis. To see this hotel – which had been frozen in time – exactly how I remembered it from the news, movies, papers, etc, over the years was bonechilling. But, here it was in living color, for real, transported from the past, and right here in true form in the present! It was the Twilight Zone come to life – mindboggling and breath halting – to put it mildly! The Lorraine Motel has since been shut down and turned into the Civil Rights Museum. An attached building houses the history of slavery, racism, and the journey through the Civll Rights Movement. It takes you on an audio tour through two floors of the Movement, into a bus where Rosa Parks sits, shows Dr. King’s journey, then brings you to the room he had been staying in, and to the now infamous balcony where it all ended. To see the actual spot where this man took his last breath, violently and unnecessarily at the young age of 39, was beyond emotional. Though it had been forty-four years since that fateful night, it didn’t lessen the sadness of it all. What this man had accomplished in his short life only made me wonder what more he would’ve achieved had he lived. This unfair, unnecessary act of violence against such a decent and upstanding man can never be justified or forgotten.

                      The Courtyard Cars

Downstairs, in the parking lot of the Lorraine, stood two cars that were replicas of those that Mr. King and his entourage were to drive to dinner that evening. Now called ‘The Courtyard Cars,’ they stand in remembrance of the night a dream ended. Across the street was the seedy flophouse where James Earl Ray had rented a room for the night, in order to play out his plan of killing Dr. King. This was another very moving sight, to see the room, the window, the bathtub he stood in, in order to have a good perch to aim from. It was all still there, set up the way it was that fateful night, and from the window we could see the balcony where Dr. King walked out, said his last words, and took his last breath. It was rather haunting to be in the very location, the actual spot, where this historic man was gunned down. I can hardly describe the emotion, as it was surreal and deeply saddening.

In conclusion, if and when you ever have the opportunity to visit Memphis, Tennessee, the Lorraine Motel and Civil Rights Museum is an absolute must that should not be missed. Give yourself a good two to three hours to go through it slowly and with attention to detail. Yes, I tend to read every word, and stand before each display for some time (hence my nickname “Tammy Tourist”) but, it’s better to have extra time on your hands, than the frustration of having to leave before absorbing the full experience. For more on this amazing tour, see: (http://www.civilrightsmuseum.org/)

With Rosa Parks on the bus

        With Rosa Parks on the bus

To sum up my trip to Memphis, I can truly say that it was one of the most moving and educational places I’ve ever been to. The history, the culture, and the ghosts that still inhabit this fabulously, famously, richly eclectic party town make Memphis a diamond in the rough, a nugget of wealth and struggle, and a place where so much happened, from sharecroppers moving in to town from the fields, to the birth of blues and rock & roll. This is a town where blacks and whites came together in brotherhood because of their love for music. But, it is also the place where racism and hatred ran so deep that a beloved warrior for peace was murdered in the name of hatred. There is a lot of spirit in Memphis, as well as lots of spirits, of the spiritual kind. If you stop and listen for awhile, and allow yourself to feel the ghosts of music past, you will know they are still there, happy and content with the town that they helped put on the map. Happy that you are visiting their beloved town. Happy that the music lives on. And happy that their legacy continues to make others happy. Conversely, the deep scar that tarnishes this town, stands still in the memory of a man that stood strong for his beliefs. He will never be forgotten, and the Lorraine Motel may not be a happy place, but it is a place devoted and dedicated to keeping the history of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. alive and real.

Memphis rocks! Do yourself a favor and walk it’s sacred grounds…Start here to plan your trip: http://www.memphistravel.com. But first, you might want to watch this video by Marc Cohn….”Walking in Memphis.” [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KK5YGWS5H84]

 

 

Magical Memphis

Beale Street

                        Beale Street

***Memphis is home to some of the most amazing places! If you love music, and its history, this is the place to roam. To think that iconic bluesmen and legendary rockers walked these streets and frequented the clubs gives me chills. If only the walls could talk!!! I made tracks around this town and am happy to say I hit a lot of amazing places. From Beale Street (and all its haunts) to Graceland, the Gibson Guitar Factory, Rock & Soul Museum, Sun Studios, Lorraine Motel, Peabody Hotel, the Civil Rights Museum, and more. This place is magic!! And, it’s got a good sense of humor, too! I got a kick out of some of the signs advertising restaurants, food, and drinks, on Beale – “Put Some South in your Mouth,” “There’s a Thrill on the Hill,” “The Best Head on Beale,” “Big Ass Beer,” “Love, Peace & Chicken Grease,” etc. And, the barbecue is to die for! I had two of the most amazing rib meals ever, at Blues City Café, (http://www.bluescitycafe.com) and the Rendezvous Cafe. (http://hogsfly.com/awbbq.php?gclid=CKKu_uCRqLQCFUxxQgodpkcARw)  Eat at both places if you ever make it to Memphis!

One completely surprising occurrence that I was unaware of, was that Memphis is the home of St. Jude’s Hospital, Danny Thomas’ Hospital for sick children. I’ve known about it forever, but had no idea it was here, so it was intriguing to come upon it during a tour. “The mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is to advance cures, and means of prevention,

Memorial at St. Jude's

         Memorial at St. Jude’s

for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of our founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay.”  It was quite a place!

Then, there were the honky tonks that my friends in ‘Paula Harris & Blu Gruv’ band, who were here a few months earlier for the International Blues Competition, mentioned that they visited. Kudzu’s Bar is a rustic old place where the gang went to jam a few nights during their stay. I stopped in one night to check out the scene (on blues jam night) and was entertained not only by the musicians, but by the extremely friendly (and funny) bartender. He was an older guy who had probably been there for a few decades, and was the personality of the place. I imagine people come just to chat with him, and become like family there. He had only just met me, but hooked me up with a ride home when he found out that I was going to be walking back to my hotel alone. What a guy! As for the music, I noticed the biggest difference between Memphis and Northern California blues jams was the age of the performers. In California, it seems that the majority of the blues musicians are in their 50s or 60s, however in Memphis there were young’uns in their twenties (and maybe teens.) It was nice to see a few generations jamming together on one stage.

The Rock and Soul Museum and the Gibson Guitar Factory were conveniently located right across the street from each other, and a block from Beale Street! Really? How could so much musical wonderfulness be in such close proximity to

Rock & Soul Museum

    Rock & Soul Museum

each other? I was in Heaven! Inside the R&S Museum, I found antique memorabilia, such as wood cabinet radios and shareholders’ battery operated radios, circa 1930s; a handcrank record player, a 1934 Selectophone Jukebox, old guitars, radio station equipment and histories, and the list goes on. It gave us a musical tour through the birth of rock and soul music, telling the story of musical pioneers who, for the love of music, overcame racial and socio-economic barriers to create the music that shook the entire world. Much of the focus was on radio, and things that transported music to its listeners via the airwaves, record players, microphones, et al. Immediately after that tour, I took myself directly across the street to the Gibson Guitar Factory, which was a music extravaganza in itself. We got to watch as guitars were taken from their beginning as a slab of wood, cut, sanded, shaped, formed, painted, glued, strung, tuned, shined, and ready for shipping! It was so fascinating, that I seriously contemplated applying for a job to get on their assembly line. Why not move to Memphis and make Gibsons? Then I realized how truly unglamorous it would be to be holed up in a windowless factory performing a repetitive task for hours on end. No thanks! But, I sure do appreciate those who work there and creat some of the greatest musical gifts to the world. Yes, thanks!

Gibson Guitar Factory

                  Gibson Guitar Factory

The Grand Finale: The Lorraine Motel & Civil Rights Museum…

GRACELAND

***GRACELAND! Wow! Elvis’ home! Meticulously kept in its full 1970s décor, this home shows how the man lived. A large home, the

GracelandMemphis, Tennessee

Graceland
                                Memphis, Tennessee

tour groups are not allowed upstairs in order to respect Elvis’ and his family’s private space. However, there was plenty to see on these sacred grounds where the King, his family, friends, and fellow musicians gathered. I have always heard that this home was tacky, and some of it is, but I wonder if people forget that we’re talking the ‘70s here – a time when styles, décor, cars, fashion, had a reputation for being rather cheesy and gaudy. So, of course Graceland was the innocent victim of being decorated during such a tacky time in our interior designing history. But, believe me I’ve seen worse! I think. Maybe. The tour took us through the grand front door, into the foyer which looked into the roped off living room. Furnished in white, with white carpet, the focal points were the bit of color – blue curtains, sleek black coffee table, and especially the stained glass window separating this room from the piano room. With the light shining in from outside, the room was sophistically simple, sleek and sharp. Meandering through the house, the most notable rooms, besides the Living Room, in my opinion, were the Jungle Room, the TV Room, and the Game Room. Individually and uniquely decorated, each room is completely different. The Jungle Room is predominantly green, with heavy wooden furniture, carved in tiki style. I found nothing comfortable or cozy about

Jungle Room

Jungle Room

this room, and would most likely spend little time in it had I lived there. Downstairs in the basement, you will find the TV Room, with it’s black sectional couch accented with yellow pillows. In the wall are three seventies era televisions side by side, that Elvis watched simultaneously. Elvis’ personal record collection sits next to the wall of TVs, with a small, unassuming turntable, looking almost like an afterthought squeezed into the corner. I expected much more from a musician, but this room looks like it belonged to a newsman, or some other sort of television executive – except for the god-awful color scheme and décor! The yellow and black, with mirrored walls, and just plain ugly artwork painted on the wall behind the couch, is nauseating in this claustrophobic, windowless basement room. I couldn’t get out of their fast enough, but first had to snap some pictures of it, the bar, with its yellow formica counters, mirrored walls and shelves, and black appliances. Truly hideous! I don’t know how anyone spent more than a few minutes in that room! (I know, I know….it was the 1970s and all the rage!!) Anyway, after my stomach settled down, it was on to another claustrophobic underground room – the game room. This room was less tasteless, but more resemblant of

TV Room

TV Room

an acid trip with busy patterned fabric pleated and covering the walls, ceiling, furniture, etc. Yikes! The pool table in the middle of the room was the only solid block of color. The rest of the room looked like a paint factory filled with peacocks exploded inside – definitely a visual sensory overload! Enough of the inside of Graceland, now it was time to visit the grounds. Outdoors was the large lawn with Lisa Marie’s swing set still standing, the pool, and buildings that housed many of the outfits Elvis wore in various movies, pictures and paintings, awards, gold and platinum albums, guitars, and a variety of other Elvis memorabilia. He had a car collection, as well as airplanes, but the most moving experience I had here was when I stood before his grave. It gave me goosebumps! But, not only that, it seemed that the ghost of Elvis (and the Universe) constructed a way for me to be there alone. I had been with a group of people in a tour group the entire time, and now suddenly they were all gone. As I stood looking down at the graves of Elvis, his parents, his grandmother, and his twin brother*, I was overcome with emoition. My entire lifetime had

Game Room

Game Room

included Elvis, in movies, in concert, in interviews, television specials, his sudden death, his dynasty, the man, the legend, the imprint and legacy he left to the world. And, here I was, standing at his final resting place, the place I’ve heard of for so many years. As I looked down at the graves, tears welled up in my eyes and I was overcome with sadness. The sky overhead darkened, filling with rain clouds and, as the tears fell down my face, they also fell from the sky. Yes, the sky was crying with me, crying over a man who gifted us with his music, his acting, his talent, and who was taken from us too soon. Here lay a man who hit the world by storm, had it wrapped around his finger, but was still lonely and sad. Here was a man who had everything (by the world’s standards,) yet ended up with nothing (in the spiritual sense.) Here was the ending to a sad story, and the skies over Graceland and I felt it together. I thanked him for his music, and I told him how sorry I was that his life ended up as it did. No one was around, so it was just Elvis and I having a moment. I know he was there – I could feel his spirit – and he knew how much he meant to me. It was not a coincidence that I ended up in that spot alone, nor that the sky began crying at the exact time I came face to face with his resting place. These were sacred grounds, a holy place, where the spirit of Elvis remains. It moved me to tears, and it was an experience I will always remember…Thanks, Elvis!

DSC00293

Coming soon: Barbecue, St. Jude’s Hospital, Kudzu’s, Rock & Soul Museum, and the Gibson Guitar Factory

Ducks, Sun and a Million Dollar….jukebox!

(*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.”)

                Ducks in a fountain

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

              Million Dollar Quartet
                 December 4, 1956

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

             Sun Studios Wurlitzer

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

Bye, Bye, Burning Man!

***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~~~>

                     Cruisin’ the playa
Photo by Dan Krauss/dankrauss.blogspot.com

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,

                                  Nightfall on the playa
                                 Photo by Dan Krauss

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.

                                Fire Dancers
Photo by Dan Krauss/dankrauss.blogspot.com

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/

Burn, Baby, Burn!!

***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

                          Welcome Home!

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.

               The Night the Man Burned

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

                            “Burn Wall Street”

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!”

                     The Temple goes up in smoke!

What happens….stays…..

***After six days at Burning Man, I was seriously drooping. I had no energy to do much more than sleep or lay around. The heat and dust were really getting to me, my hair was a rat’s nest, showers were few and far between (if at all,) and people were noticeably irritable. Kicking back in my tent, I picked up the BRC News and came upon an article about ‘crankiness on the playa’ being the norm by Thursday! Well, I’ll be! – it was Thursday! So, I was normal, after all. Whereas, I may not have necessarily been cranky and crabby like the article indicated, I sure was lethargic and lacking energy. I was in urgent need of a cold sponge bath and loading up on Gatorade to perk up! It helped, as did sundown when the heat of the day left us and cooler air took over. This is when I found myself more energetic and raring to go, kind of like a noncturnal animal…I was much more productive and active at night! All the rest during the day got my motor runnin’ and I’d kick into gear when the sun went down…

Free Spirits

Behavior on the Playa: There are acceptable behaviors at Burning Man that aren’t as tolerable in the Default World. Along with nudity, drugs, and sexual activity amongst consenting participants, there are things, such as playa husbands, wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, etc. Anything goes, so if you come solo to BRC (whether you are single or not in the Default World,) you may end up with a playa spouse for the week, and no one cares, judges, or condemns. In fact, many people have playa names and shelve their real names for the week, giving them the freedom to really be anonymous. However, this place is not necessarily a sexual free-for-all, though there were plenty of camps you could visit to fulfill such desires. Many couples came together, and though some were out to find a third and/or fourth person to join their twosome, not all were open for that. Flyers were distributed early in the week asking us to be sensitive to who, and what we took pictures of. With the ease of picture taking and uploading them to the internet, it can be destructive to some people. So, discretion is asked for, and highly recommended to insure anonymity. But, no matter what your reason, motive or adventure for coming to this event was, I can tell you one thing: What happens at Burning Man stays at Burning Man!

Grossness, Food & Cravings!

***Now, for some gross stuff…hey, sh*t happens when you hit the dessert! Playa dust can transform body parts and functions in ways you didn’t know existed. There is something known as ‘Playa Foot,’ which is when the alkaline filled dusty ground dries out your feet, resulting in painful cracks, sores and rash. Luckily I escaped this nastiness, but in order to avoid this, you should wash your feet in vinegar, or lemon water. Then, what I did for insurance, was to plaster them with lotion and/or Vaseline, before covering them with socks and closed-toe shoes. Cutesy sandals and flip-flops are NOT the ideal fashion for the playa, as it is way

To avoid ‘Playa Foot’-soak in vinegar or           lemon.

too much exposure to the elements. Also, as I did experience, there is also ‘Playa Headache,’ ‘Playa Nose,’ ‘Playa Hair,’ ‘Playa Skin,’ and ‘Playa Eyes!’ I know, it makes you wonder why anyone would EVER want to experience such torture again. Don’t ask me….I can’t explain it, but people repeat this adventure year after year! For my own personal definitional interpretations of these ailments, see below:

~Playa Headachebreathing so much dusty playa air that the sinuses go on on overload, causing a pain in the head.
~Playa Nosewhen an excess of playa dust enters the nostrils and causes a surplus of gunky snot, which requires depositing it with thrusting force into wads of tissues.

~Playa Hairwhen such a massive collection of playa dust gathers in the hair that it is such a struggle, nearly impossible, and/or too aggravating to attempt the passing of a brush/comb,/fork,/bulldozer, through the  rat-mop-nest!

~Playa Skin – the shriveled, dry, pale epidermis that results from layers of dust collecting on dehydrated and wind-sucked-dry, sun-beaten skin.

~Playa Eyesgunky, crust-filled eye sockets working overtime to eliminate the overabundance of playa dust upon the once clear and visually effective eyeballs.

Other than these particular ailments, everything was dreamy. Well, maybe not, but the positives of this adventure outweighed the negatives. People come every year to this event, and I’m seriously considering coming for my second time next year. So just like having babies, many people choose to do it again!!

***Eating can be a little bit of a challenge out on the playa, not because there aren’t any restaurants (well, that is one reason why,) but because of the heat, dust, and loss of appetite. I’m not sure everyone experiences a loss of appetite, but I did. It could be

because of the heat, or maybe the fact that you tend to eat the same few things, because of simplicity and/or lack of inventory. The

                  A ‘must’ on the Playa

heat causes thirst, and it’s a strong suggestion that each person drink at least a gallon of water/liquid a day. This also tends to keep the belly filled with the false sense that it isn’t hungry. Also, because it isn’t easy to prepare a meal in the dusty heat, keeping meals simple trumped variety, for me at least. So, it was sandwiches, cereal, and cheese rolled up in deli meats that sustained me, for the most part. Luckily, I was with the HOTD, which asked for someone to be in charge of a different night’s meal for the camp. This way, we got to eat a nicely prepared dinner every night with the responsibility of cooking for everyone one night in return. A capital idea that seemed to work for all! In exchange for a chicken fajita dinner with beans, rice, and the works, I was fed for the five or six remaining nights. So, we were all treated with dinners, involving pasta, chili, chicken, beef, salads, veggies, and more. It kept many of us from the doldrums of same the ‘ol, same ‘ol, as well as brought us all together once a day for a meal and conversation.

Besides the need to drink gallons of water, it is essential to consume salt in order to retain the water, and a good idea to ingest electrolytes, too, in order to keep the body’s sodium, chloride, calcium, magnesium and potassium levels in check.  The body is an interesting thing, because I noticed a craving for salty foods almost immediately. Not only that, but there were a number of camps that passed out pickles, bologna sandwiches, bacon, etc. At first I thought, ‘Mmmm, yummy bad food!’ Then, I realized they satisfied cravings!! I passed on the sandwiches (had plenty of my own,) got much in the bacon department with many of our campmates serving it up with eggs some mornings, but went on a search for “The Pickle Joint” so I could fulfill my desire for these dill-ish-ous delights! Ah, what a wonderful place this pickle joint was. Conveniently located (thank gawd!) near Center Camp, it was an easy cruise from Hair of the Dog camp. The PJ is has been serving up fresh, cold, crisp, brisk pickles and spicy pickletinis – the essential and legendary playa treat since 2002. I stayed long enough to cool down from my sweaty bike ride, and enjoy a deliciously dill pickle, a semi-sweet pickle, and a cute little Pickle-tini! It definitely quenched my salt craving for time being!

Ah yes, quite delicious – the Pickletini!

Crazy Bar Flies..!!

***A man walked into the bar”….okay, we’ve all heard that joke before….but, in my case, “An enormous fly charged into the bar….”

                           HOTD by day…

one afternoon while I was tending. He was on stilts, wearing a complete fly get-up, and took everyone by surprise!! With aggressive authority, he headed right towards little ol’ me!! This insect was about ten feet tall, and threatening as hell! Everyone at the bar was stunned, and I almost peed my mini-skirt (or whatever I was wearing that day!) So, what’s a bartender to do, but try to figure out how to take a fly’s order? Seeing that he was much taller than me, and didn’t really have a mouth, I was stumped. Clever fly, swung his trunk-like appendage towards me, indicating his form of communication. Taking a hold of it and directing it to my ear, Mr. Fly was able to order a “whiskey on the rocks.” Coming right up, sir! Once made, I placed it on the bar near him wondering how he was planning on drinking it. But alas, he had it all figured out. There was a straw-like hose dangling from his ‘trunk’ and once that made its way into his drink (with a little help from fellow customer,) he sucked his drink dry in one quick gulp! Wow, we were all impressed with the show! He then swung his trunk at me again, and putting it to my ear, he said, “Pull a blue tab.” Being the center of everyone’s attention, and totally intimidated by this freaky creature, I was really uncomfortable with this whole thing. But, believe me, I complied to his instructions! Seeing some small objects

                   May I take your order?

hanging by blue tape from his trunk, I pulled on one. Off came a small Mother-of-Pearl pendant with the Burning Man insignia engraved on it. It was a gift from Mr. Frightening Fly to me! He was kind, after all! I loved it and gave him a big “thank you” with an even bigger smile! He then backed up on his stilted legs, and gallantly marched out of the bar, leaving all of us in shock and awe! What a uniquely cool experience! The only bummer was that no one had a camera to take a picture of this guy-fly! And, once he was gone, he was never seen again…

*Addendum: Being part of a Rock Bar camp takes a lot of energy. Our bar was open at all hours of the day and night, blaring music constantly, and though there are few rules in Black Rock City, whatever happened happened. The one exception is that the state of Nevada is very strict on underage drinking, and BRC must abide by their rules. So, this was something that Hair of the Dog Lounge did not take lightly, and made sure to check for IDs. Apparently, the state police plant undercover cops inside BRC to make sure no one slacks in this area. Luckily, we obeyed their rules and weren’t busted for any illegal activity. However, last year we weren’t so lucky and apparently one of our bartenders was fined $1000.00 for serving an underaged customer. Buzz kill!!

 

                                                                     Our bar glowed at night