I can now cross a couple of things off my bucket list! Today we drove to Beale Street and walked the block where Johnny Cash worked as a door-to-door salesman and Elvis recorded his first hits. We stood in the park next to W.C. Handy's house and savored the blues music roaring from the entrance of BB King's club. It was amazing. Porter helped me track down the Rendezvous restaurant, which Bobby Flay says has the best ribs he ever ate. It's in a basement down an alley off 2nd Street. When we walked in, we were told that they don't "technically" open until 4:30, but if we wanted to have some ribs, slaw and beans, we were welcome to stay. The place was hopping, with waiters yelling like Whitney yelled at Bobby..."hey bah-BEE! Gimme one half and two whole with extra slaw!" The guys working the rib pits had the orders out in under two minutes and the food was without a doubt the best barbeque we've ever had. The beer was cold, the atmosphere was remarkable and we really felt like we were experiencing the best that Memphis has to offer.
After lunch we walked a few blocks to the National Civil Rights Museum. We were really moved to be standing at the Lorraine Hotel below the balcony where Dr. King was assassinated. The museum is beautifully presented and very comprehensive in its depiction of the long, brutal struggle. I spent just a few minutes in Dr. King's room looking at the spot where he fell before I had to walk away and compose myself. Across the street is the boarding house where James Earl Ray carried out his insanity, and Porter and I both had mixed feelings about touring it and looking at his belongings displayed as evidence. One thing I took away from it was the disparity between the grace and intelligence of Dr. King and his coworkers, and the cowardice and sleaziness of Ray's life.
After touring the museum for several hours, we walked to the Mississippi River bank. Very impressive river! We then went back to Beale Street for a beer in a little blues/pool hall joint and conversation with some colorful locals.
It was a great day- I got to do some things that I have dreamed of doing for years. We still have to see Graceland and Sun Studio. Graceland will be interesting because it's "Elvis Week" in Memphis. He died on August 17th, and I think every Elvis fan in the world is here to commemorate it. We'll let you all know how it goes.