With the PGA Tour taking a week off for the holiday and thereby providing a merciful break from what has been a run of barely mediocre gambling advice, I get the opportunity to return to my writing roots with an old school FGR timeline. This one is inspired by the two-day whirlwind trip I took to visit my college freshman son in Memphis, America's top ranked city for death by tire iron.
We're going to do this one vacation photo style because I took about 20 pictures while I was there and it feels like half of them tell a story. Ironically, none of them are of the two of us but whaddya gonna do? Men . . . am I right? So anyway, grab a piece of pie and a cup of Sanka off the sideboard as I finish loading-up the Kodak carousel and prepare to be entertained. Or puzzled. Or both.
I arrived at the airport at 4:45 a.m. for my 6:20 a.m. flight and was immediately flummoxed by the fact that my parking spot seemed to be on a different floor than the elevator which never ended-up arriving. After stumbling down 14 flights of stairs, I got into a shuttle that was so full that I expected to step-on a live chicken. And as you would expect, I had the hyper cheerful and chatty head of the homeowner's association lady right next to me. OH MY GOD SUSAN . . . PLEASE JUST SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT YOUR CASSEROLE!!!
Then fifteen minutes later I was THAT guy in the security line fumbling for my driver's license with no boarding pass ready. I think I first tried to use a Chipotle gift card as my ID. The people behind me would have been well within their rights to start booing. But I wasn't done. Next I tried to carry my phone through the metal detector explaining that I was TSA prechecked (do you know who I am?!?!) only to have the TSA guy say "everyone in this line is TSA prechecked" (with emphasis on the unspoken "dumbass"). When I apologized, he gave me an "all good (dumbass)" with way more sincerity than I deserved.
The guy at the rental car counter was in a very jaunty mood and gave me a "free courtesy upgrade" from my intentionally chosen very basic midsize sedan. When I got to space 509 and saw that meant I'd be spending the next two days living-out Fast & The Furious Tennessee Drift, it was too late. This was gonna be my ride. If you've ever traveled with me, you know that it would take leaving a kid or a vital organ behind for me to go backwards even five steps for anything and even then, it would depend on the kid and the organ. I mean I've got multiples of both.
I stayed in something of a hipster hotel with a lobby full of business casual people having mini meetings about "synergies" and "verticals." Out of a sheer sense of laziness and curiosity, I decided to eat lunch there. This is the "house" pilsner that Atticus the bartender in the brown apron sold me on. If you're thinking "that looks like a very light beer," you're not wrong. I'm pretty sure their recipe is:
- 2 parts Coors Light
- 1 part artisanal water imported from Florence
That'll be $9.72 but that price includes the condescending sneer from Atticus as he serves it.
This is the chicken sandwich that I was in the process of eating in the lobby of said hipster hotel when the fire alarm went off. One of the lesser acknowledged modern behaviors is how people now respond or don't respond to a fire alarm. In the olden days of my youth, you would at least have a couple Costanzas bolt for the door knocking the weak and elderly out of the way in the process.
Now everyone just looks at each other like "this doesn't apply to us right?" and continues on about their business waiting for a more definitive sign of danger than a blaring alarm accompanied by flashing strobe lights. This went on for about ten minutes until Atticus of all people finally took charge and, in a tone dripping with "I guess I have to do everything around here" he whined, "come on guys . . . we really need to go" (frankly I didn't think he had it in him). So I abandoned my sandwich but I did make a point to drain my "beer" and set the empty glass down directly in front of him. Two can play at the pettiness game.
After finally tracking down my son on campus and braving the dorm's communal bathroom (don't ever put yourself in that situation), we decided to go play golf so I did some research and found what appeared to be a mid-tier public course nearby. Usually the rental clubs at such courses are either: (a) slightly outdated models of premium brands that were demo clubs in their day, or (b) a relatively new set of matching Spaldings or Top Flites that you can buy at Dick's for $250. Instead what I got was this island of misfit clubs. For reference, the Diablo fairway woods hit the market in 2009 and yes, the pitching wedge, 9-iron and 8-iron are from three different sets. The shaft flex on the driver was fusilli.
This is a close-up of the sand wedge from the aforementioned rental set. On the 13th hole I hit my second shot on a par five into the face of a bunker about 30 yards from the green (yes it's going to get golfy for a minute). The ball was sitting in its pitch mark on the upslope near the lip and I had to hit it with one foot in and one out, basically the kind of shot the no fucks to give "Warrior" by Custom Golf sand wedge was designed to dominate. I hit a full blast that landed six feet short of the hole and took a peak as it rolled by before stopping about four feet away. I then buried it in the back of the cup with my Sub 30 S2 putter. Easy game with the proper weaponry.
Back in my hipster abode and this is the message that some decorator thought would be cute to paint on the wall of the bathroom. Suffice it to say this was not run by legal. Allow me to translate: "We chose style over safety with our slick tile flooring thereby creating a known hazard but, instead of fixing it, we decided to admit it with this sign. Hang on while we get our checkbook." On a related note, imagine going through life seeing everything this way. Or don't. Because it's awful.
I had some time to kill so I took a stroll down to the Memphis Pyramid which actually has a fascinating history worth reading including the facts that (a) Memphis is named after an ancient Egyptian city, (b) the Pyramid was once home to the NBA Grizzlies, and (c) Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band played the last ever concert there. Let's be honest. If you were trying to explain America to someone who knew nothing about it, the fact the they built a giant glass pyramid in the home of the blues to host basketball games and then turned it into a Bass Pro Shops megastore but only after Bob Seger played there would be a pretty good place to start.
I left redneck nirvana and sauntered along the Mississippi where I encountered this dystopian flotilla. I'm pretty sure there's a lost civilization living in there that has evolved to subside on mosquitoes and rust. Part of that fleet is actually an old riverboat that I'm sure could be had at a discount. All we'd need to start laundering money would be two devious city slickers, a casino license, ten millions dollars and about twenty dead bodies.
This is Silky O'Sullivan's, the "World ☘ Famous" Irish bar located on the "Street where Blues Began" that proudly serves Belgian White Ale. I was tempted to drop-in and see how old Silky's gout was doing but the place was packed with Australians singing German drinking songs. So I ventured across the street to the Beale Street Tap Room where I got myself . . .
. . . this Red Bull and vodka. After a busy morning of lawyering and a two for one Pacifico lunch special, I was dragging like a diner waitress on a double shift and I still had to rally for a November NBA game where at least 75% of the players who showed-up in uniform would be mailing it in. At least we'd have something in common.
This is where $250 gets four of you for a Friday night Grizzlies game. As expected, the visiting Charlotte Hornets played as if their mother in-laws' lives depended on it and were down 71-47 at halftime. It took me a minute to figure-out why we were still there in the 4th quarter until I realized that my son was magnanimously buying all of the beers and nachos under the unwritten "hey my dad's in town" protocol which is basically like having your credit card stolen by a Kardashian.
And that was pretty much it. From there we did a mostly ceremonial lap down Beale Street and through the lobby of the Peabody Hotel at which point my credit card and I were mercifully excused. I sleepwalked through the airport the next morning to catch another ungodly early flight and I think I was asleep before anyone on the plane had a chance to get under my skin.
All in all a solid trip. If you're headed to Memphis anytime soon, here are a few tips: (1) skip the Grizzlies game experience and spend the $250 on Labatts and Red Stripes at Silky's, (2) make a pilgrimage to the Pyramid but don't feed the alligators, and, most importantly, (3) keep your head on a damn swivel.
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