Friday, November 11, 2011

A Pilgrimage to Memphis

Naturally, when you're from a country dominated by the output of an enormous southern behemoth that owned the last century, trips down in that direction assume an atmosphere of magic. Could I really be in the place that sent men to the moon, that totally won all those wars no fooling, that invented atomic bombs and lapdances and jazz and rock and roll and goatse?

Arriving in Memphis, then, was an eye-opening voyage into the heart of the culture of America. Walking down the street from some shitty record studio I looked up and saw what I had come to see:

That's right, an entire Hostess™/Wonder™ BAKERY, smelling of the sweet stuff that dominated my dreams and taunted me from television commercials and comic books for most of my life. I cursed and adored Twinkie the Kid™; Hostess™ products were not distributed in my province.

And now, in Memphis, home of legendary food, there it was in front of me.

I opened the door and went in. There were offices but no facilities for grateful consumers. Was this some kind of joke? They gave me strange looks and told me to leave. I was CRUSHED. I left, and cried.

As I looked up, puffy-eyed, I saw another vision across the street:

Yes, an entire store full of factory-fresh Hostess™ products, waiting for me. I was saved! Fuck the blues! Memphis has saved my life! Who invented that blues crap anyway?

Breakfast porn for those so inclined:


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

You are a very silly person, Substance McG. And I don't hand out compliments like that lightly.

Dr.KennethNoisewater said...

My stance on silliness is well-documented. I DISAPPROVE*!!!

taunted me from television commercials and comic books for most of my life. I cursed and adored Twinkie the Kid™; Hostess™ products were not distributed in my province.

I have zero sympathy for you. Zero. Imagine living the land of Crap That Will Only Be Outlived by Roaches and being denied it ALL because your parents all into "healthy eating" or some such SHIT. AUUUUGH!! So unfair! All my friends got to eat it!

Also, don't cry, Substance! There there. *pats awkwardly*

*If by disapprove you mean heartily approve

tigris said...

Jesus, they actually bake that stuff? I thought they mined it.

J— said...

some shitty record studio

Sun? Stax?

Hamish Mack said...

He was going to see Sun Records and it is not fair

Anonymous said...

The closest we got at my house was puffed wheat and the occasional home-made strawberry shortcake... thank god there was plenty of second-hand smoke!

M. Bouffant said...

Wow. I've not seen any of those Hostess products in my province either, 'cept Moon Pies.

Didn't even know they extruded Hostess cereal, & am now fascinated by whatever Stage Planks may be. Really appetizing name, too!

Was there plenty of discounted day-old bread?

Vac, my p.u.s were so concerned about my health they not only didn't feed me anything good (Example: sukiyaki, w/ tofu, is an early memory. Maternal grandmother, who lived w/ us off & on, collected rainwater for drinking.) they home-schooled me. Count your blessings.

M. Bouffant said...

But: I showed them! Just had several Little Debbie® Oatmeal Creme Pies.

They're in Collegedale, TN 37315, & are "A Family Bakery." See if you can find Collegedale & stop in.

Substance McGravitas said...

Sun? Stax?

Sun, which was not really worth it except for people who didn't know what was going on; an enthusiastic tour guide is either punchable or endearing depending on your taste. It amounts to a lecture in two small rooms, one of which has meaningful and original memorabilia and the other is the recording room. I would have been happy to do Stax, but Memphis became somewhat depressing through the day.

In general, Memphis seems to have destroyed its downtown area in the same way a lot of cities have, by moving people out of them.

Jaywalking is easy because there is no traffic to speak of. Searching for a room was a little bit of a problem because there was supposedly a teachers convention in town, yet there was no evidence of extra life on the street. I suppose we all know how serious teachers are about their work and not drinking like fish whenever they can so maybe they were just doing extra self-improvement to make the world a better place.

wiley said...

My mother thought whole wheat bread was some kind of communist plot.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

I cursed and adored Twinkie the Kid™

Unrequited love is always difficult to deal with. Was it his lasso which turned you on, or was it the creamy filling?

Smut Clyde said...

However I am now in Detroit

I rate for Jacoby's Biergarten. And the D.I.A. of course.

El Manquécito said...

Too bad Willie Mitchell died a while ago 'cause I could have got you a tour of HiLo Studios, lots more fun and almost as influential as Sun. He was a real nice guy for a genius knob twiddler, especially if you shared his taste for vodka. Which I did.

wv: dingonsm That's some aussie disease isn't it?

El Snacktator said...

El can't believe he missed this. El would have been happy to send you all sorts of despotic delights.

Major Kong said...

My job frequently takes me to Memphis and I would describe it as "Detroit with the addition of high humidity".

You can hit the highlights in a couple days (Sun, Graceland, Memphis Zoo, Beale Street) and that's about it.

Substance McGravitas said...

I stayed a night, ate and drank at some hipster place, had some ribs, got depressed at Beale Street...some good times were had, but yeesh.

Halloween Jack said...

I lived in Memphis for several years, and Major Kong has it about right, although I don't think it is as bad as Detroit. I'd throw in the Civil Rights museum (formerly the Lorraine Motel, where MLK was shot) and the Center for Southern Folklore, if it's still in existence, and skip Beale Street, which is unapologetically touristy. (The Center got displaced from its last location on Beale by a place selling frozen daquiris, which tells you all you need to know about Beale.) I haven't been back in a decade, so I'm not sure what is even still around.

Halloween Jack said...

Also, too, a couple of other things:

1) There are Hostess bakeries all over (well, not so much now that they're going out of business); there's one in Peoria, along with the outlet. Memphis, on the other hand, is the spawning ground of FedEx, Holiday Inn, AutoZone, and arguably the modern supermarket (Piggly Wiggly), so it's much to blame for modern America, I think.

2) I had exactly the opposite experience as Wiley. I wouldn't necessarily go out of my way to visit Nashville, but I've had worse times; there are some delightfully tacky souvenir shops downtown, and various oddities scattered around such as a faithful recreation of the Parthenon (brightly painted, as the Greeks actually did to their temples) in some park, and the Sarah Cannon Research Institute, a cancer research facility named after the country comedienne better known as Minnie Pearl. The Ryman Auditorium, the former home of the Grand Ole Opry, also hosts a number of musical acts, including many non-country acts if you don't like country. (The current official home of the Opry is an amusement park that, by all accounts, is to be avoided at all costs.)

I did not visit Atlanta close to the Olympics or World Series, and when I did I found it to be largely crowded and charmless, although I did have an interesting experience at the World of Coke Pavilion, where Coca-Cola has samples of its products from other countries; I got to try Beverly, a soda marketed in Italy, which may well be the worst beverage in the world.

Substance McGravitas said...

The trip was really about delivering a vehicle so we didn't explore too much of any place. The most Nashville-oriented we got was a planned trip to Dollywood™ that we had to scrub because we weren't driving fast enough. In and around this post there's more travelogue.