Tuesday, September 07, 2004

To break the silence and try and work through my post vacation stupor, I'm going to relive the recent vacation to New Orleans in several posts.

So, after weeks of sheer madness designing a show for which my reimbursement check was to be bigger than my paycheck, and the afterglow of piles of crusty dishes and dirty rooms, Mike and I were headed to our favorite place. I packed everything we owned the night before while Mike was at the Metallica concert, and desperately trired to contain my impatience.

We hit the road on saturday morning, and drove off with Memphis as our goal because taking the whole drive would make us insane and we had plenty of time to get there. once out of the chicago area, we noted that Illinois, though marked with the occasional cow or horse, is pretty damn boring. We had loud music and pleasant company to get us through, but after several hundred miles, there was nothing to do but sing the trees and pavement song.

It goes like this: Trees and pavement, Trees and pavement, Trees and pavement...etc etc etc.

Might I add that I dislike rest stops? Not so much the stopping as the doors that don't lock, toilets that don't flush, and the sometimes excessive fluids.

Anyhow, so we managed to get through Illinois only to pass into Missouri (or Misery as we fondly named it.) The fun part about passing into Missouri was seeing huge red billboards for BOOMLAND. At least 12. And this place needed all 12 as each one featured a new item that was sold there. Peaches. Fireworks. Crafts. Jewelry.

Yes, everything you could possibly want. (Please note that the place was called BOOMTOWN a couple years ago, they must have swollen due to the amount of crap they decided to sell)

Because we needed gas, a walk, and something to talk about while driving through the rest of the wasteland know as Missouri, we stopped there.

BOOMTOWN! EXIT NOW!!!!!!

They have a football field long room of fireworks and several signs that plead with you not to smoke. Mike nearly peed himself however, when he noticed that despite all the explosives and signs for no smoking ans EXIT HERE, that there were no sprinkler systems to be found. If God zapps the place with lightning, the whole state would be sure to blow up in a very colorful way. There were also gambling machines, numerous cedar wood boxes, hillbilly accessories made out of logs, (including a $5 log moose we pondering for a second before coming to our senses), animals made out of real fur, fiber optic jesuses in the color of your choice, aisles of disturbing knick knacks, "native american" items, crap to keep the kids busy, 99 cent studded bracelets....

It just kept going. We stopped in the restroom near the scary restaurant, which looked like some trailer park residents were vacationing for the day. Had I chosen to, I could have easy gotten a french tickler out of the "health station" dispenser, but thankfully I decided to pass.

on the way out we saw some stickers, many of them being about snowboarding, but one of them saying something along the lines of "surf or die." There must be a lot of dead people in Missouri, because we sure as hell didn't see anyone surfing.

We left BOOMTOWN enlightened, to say the least.

So we plowed onward through the rest of the state. And on. And on. And on. Little did we know that the vast landscapes full of nothingness would soon give way to even more nothingness in Arkan-snore. In Missouri we could still sing about trees and pavement, and the occasional billboard. Arkansas didn't even have any billboards, or signs to amuse us. The worst part is it was only an hours drive through - but it was undoubtedly the longest hour of our lives.

We didn't have too far to go after getting through ARRRR Kansas to get to memphis, fortunately, but we did have to pass through West Memphis - where naturally we were not going to stop for obvious reasons.

It was dark and still early in the night by the time we arrived and got a hotel just off the highway. We unpacked some, noted the slablike nature of the bed and the fact we had no shampoo, then decided to check out the local nightlife.

After some aimless wandering through through the poorly planned pre-downtown area, we finally managed to figure out how to actually get downtown. I did get to see the very large pyramid on the way.

Memphis seemed very clean and about Cleveland sized - which is not too big, but the place obviously takes in a lot more tourists. We parked and started to walk towards Beale Street, which is the happening place downtown, and no sooner than we hit the pavement when some drunk frat guy yelled out the window as us "YOU GUYS ARE GAY!!"

Blink.

Ok, so Mike has long hair and was wearing his phantom t shirt, and I'm wearing all black, but I still don't quite see us being picked up on any kind of gay-dar. We snickered and continued on.
Beale Street fancies itself a smaller version of Bourbon Street, only cleaner. You have to get ID-ed at a checkpoint to enter, but then you can carry your drinks around, and some bras even have stools on the sidewalk. It's all restaurants, clubs, bars, and odd shops - even a voodoo shop. the building are definitely historic and nicely kept. Beale Street itself isn't all that long, but long enough for bar hopping. It's a more lively version of the way Cleveland's flats/warehouse district used to be.

We popped in BB King's Club, all the while noticing that we were very obviously not blending in with the crowd, to have some ribs, as I heard the ribs were faboo here. And, as promised, they were WONDERFUL. Meat falling off, drippy, sticky..gahhhhh. drool. While we ate and had a few drinks, we were entertained my a group of guys known as the Beale Street Flippers; three guys who wander around the area doing flips, somersaults, and other tricks. They vaulted over women in chairs, as well as each other. Once they were done, we heard some live music from BB King's widow and her son - who own and operate the place. It was a good night all around.

After dinner, we stopped through the "oldest drugstore" in town, which sells everything from voodoo supplies and candles to...pants. You could buy an entire outfit there, including a silver or gold lame cowboy hat. Lots of tourist kitsch, but some useful stuff too.

We waddled back to the car and headed back to the hotel to get some rest.
It was only the first night away from home, and we had mississippi to look forward to in the morning.

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