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PICKING WINNERS Well, it’s Best of Memphis time again here at the Flyer, and I know that most of you are dying with curiosity as to what my picks are for this fine city of ours. It’s so hard to be a trendsetter… I could go through the official list and fill in the blanks for you, but instead I’m going to do this freestyle. So here’s my list of what kicks butt about our city. But where shall I begin? Oh hell, I’ll just be random about it. Because that, my friends, is my absolute favorite thing about Memphis. Randomness. I’ve touched on this aspect of our collective life repeatedly, and unless we face a communist lockdown of some sort I don’t think this will ever change. Tammy Faye at The Big One. Strange people genuflecting at intersections with hubcaps. Prince Mongo. Whoever, whatever, whenever, always. But even amidst this plethora of strange, hidden, and unexpected moments, there are, of course, some more concrete bests. Like the fact that you can find almost anything dirt cheap if you’re willing to search a bit. From thrift stores to pawn shops, estate sales, auctions, and yard sales, it seems that everything is for sale here in the River City. My personal favorite is the Gene Elder Auction on Summer Ave., where you can sit amidst a gaggle of random (!) chain smokers and fight for your perceived treasures. I also frequent the weekly offering of estate sales, where you can get pretty much anything at any price while poking around some really cool houses. And finally, there’s The Cotton Exchange on Cooper, where you can buy or sell your duds and come out looking quite sassy. Come to think of it, you’ll look pretty sassy either way, huh? Then there’s the food. I’m going to run the risk of exposing my inner Northerner here, but I’ve got to give the Jenn Medal of Honor to Fino’s on this one. Right at the corner of McLean and Madison, their sandwiches bring me right back to some of the better Italian deli’s I used to frequent in Jersey. Thick, hearty bread. Piles of cold cuts, and a hell of a lot of yum. I’m actually drooling right now, in case you wanted to know. Forget Jersey Mike’s. This is the real thing. As far as “Southern” food is concerned, there’s really nowhere to even begin. This is the barbecue capital, and I’ve grown convinced that the title is duly earned. Mmm, ribs. On the coffee tip, I have grown addicted to the Mystery Train at Java Cabana. A latte with splashes of hazelnut and vanilla, this little beverage will wake you up pretty quick. Not to mention that the coffee shop itself is way cool, offering art for the eye, open mic poetry for the mind and ear, and an assortment of books and clothing for your inner shopaholic. But I’m full now, so let’s move on, shall we? I suppose no best of list about Memphis would be complete without a mention of music. Whether you’re in the mood for blues, punk, rockabilly, chamber, country, gospel, Elvis impersonation, or metal, it’s all going on all of the time. But in my case, the plot thickens. You see, I’ve got a weakness for musician boys. There’s just something about a man that can serenade. So if you’re sitting around complaining that there’s nothing to do, go check some bands out. There’s bound to be somebody playing that will get you booty movin’. Perhaps in more ways than one… Ooh, that was bad, huh? Anyway, as far as general vibe is concerned, I’d say that Memphis is a best of, in and of itself. It’s mysterious in a way, and probably largely due to that river of ours. To sit at Mud Island at sunset, you really get a sense of a strange phenomenon here, wherein time seems to go by while standing still. I mean, how many people have wandered these streets and for how many different reasons? And in some small way, all of those people have left something here that can still be sensed. You can see it visually, roaming the streets and gazing at one of our many old storefronts. You can hear it as the riverboats steam by. And you definitely can feel it. Which leads me to a final best of. This October, in the Snowden Circle area, there will be a ghost tour. Now I’m not saying anything one way or the other about the argument over “ghosts.” But regardless of whether you’re convinced that there’s a specter that does cartwheels through your room at night, or if you think it’s a bunch of rubbish, the tour gives you the history of some neat old Memphis homes where all sorts of strange things have happened. Real things. History. I went last year, and though I didn’t see any heads rolling down the staircases, I enjoyed the chance to get a peek into the private history of those old homes. And if you do believe in the things that go bump in the night, then bewareÉ So, that’s it. This list is in no way exhaustive of the things that intrigue me about the city, but it’s definitely a start. And if you have any of your own personal “best of” selections that you think I should know about, then by all means tell me. I’m always looking for new things to explore

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