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All Pinzur, All The Time

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Photo-Blogging Memphis

We packed a whole lot of tourist-ing into our one day in Memphis. Our flight landed by 8 a.m. and we didn't have any committments until the 7 p.m. wedding. We picked up our rental car and headed directly to...


This was almost nothing like what I expected. Over the last 15 or 20 years, Elvis has become so kitsch, I figured Graceland would be really over-the-top and slightly self-mocking.

Absolutely not. This is an irony-free zone.

My favorite part about buying tickets for Graceland: the basic tour of the mansion is $20. For $27, you get the mansion plus a tour of a few of Elvis' planes and his car collection. But for something like $55, you get the VIP TREATMENT: the exact same tours as the $27 version, but you can go back as often as you want ON THE SAME DAY! You also a human tour guide instead of the little MP3 audio player, you ride a prettier bus on the half-block ride from the ticket center to mansion and you get a laminated VIP pass. Yeah, we did the $20 tour.

The mansion itself is smaller than I expected - the grounds are huge and gorgeous, but the house is not ginormous or anything. The tour doesn't go upstairs (according to Lisa Marie on the audio tour, Elvis never permitted guests upstairs), but the downstairs rooms are all in their original condition with original stuff. A few of my favorites:

Elvis' den, where he watched three TVs at once because he heard that's what the President did.

The kitchen, where all the peanut-butter-and-banana magic happened.

Elvis built a racquetball court in a small building behind the mansion, and this lounge outside the court had a neat old pinball machine that James would love.

The famous Jungle Room was also way cool, but they were hard-core about not allowing flash (God forbid any of the original Elvis bricabrac fade) and none of the pictures came out too well. You would be amazed how many old people cannot figure out how to turn off the flash on their cameras.

I really liked this sign, which hung on the door of the office used by Elvis' father:

There was also, not suprisingly, a ton of Elvis memorabilia, including a bunch of his late-career jumpsuits and a room with all his gold and platinum records. A few shots:

This painting was not velvet:

The tour ends at the Presley family graves, where people file past in great solemnity...

... and leave tributes like this:

As I said earlier, we didn't have time to see some of the other Graceland sites, such as the Heartbreak Hotel or the three restaurants or the four gift shops. We had to move onto...


... which looks like it's just starting to reemerge after years of decay, or is just reaching the nadir of that decay. Either way, there's not much going on.

The Peabody Hotel is goregous, at least in the lobby (the rooms were a little shabby). Ducks live in the lobby fountain and parade around twice a day. The tradition began almost 100 years ago when the manager and his buddy, drunk after a day of duck hunting, put some of their live decoys in the fountain.

We also shagged a quick lunch at the legendary Rendezvous, a great rib joint that is literally in an alley. It's become kind of a tourist spot, apparently, and isn't nearly as ghetto as we'd been told by people who went there 20 or 30 years ago.

The ribs were amazing. In true Memphis style, they're done with a dry rub instead of a wet sauce... but then you can kick 'em up with a great tomato-based BBQ sauce. They were so good. But we couldn't linger too long if we wanted to visit...


Mud Island sits in the middle of the Mississippi River, right in downtown Memphis. It's accessible by a monorail or a pedestrian bridge. Its main attraction for locals is a pretty outdoor concert amphitheater. Its main attraction for tourists and kids is a scale model of the lower Mississippi, flowing with water and twisting and turning just where the river does. Here's a small part of it, seen from above:

It starts at the top with waterfalls that represent the rivers that feed the Mississippi, like this one:

We walked all the way downstream, where it ends with a "Mississippi Delta" and a "Gulf of Mexico" and, of course, a "snack bar." The snack bar does not sell french fries:

One step is equivalent to one mile, so it's about a mile walk to do the entire length and come back. After walking down, we decided to take a lesson from the kids and wade through the water on the way back up. The groud is really uneven, meant to mimic the changing depth of the actual river, but it was fun to splash around in the hot afternoon.

That's about all there is worth sharing... after Mud Island, we went to a lovely wedding, partied with the bride and groom and slept for a few hours before our early-Sunday flight back to Florida.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Who is this guy?

Some guy has made a niche writing hilarious product reviews on Amazon. I urge you to read them here. Among my favorites:

- For pink "breast-cancer awareness" Post-Its: After someone gave me these Post-It notes, I became aware of the terrible disease known as breast cancer. Prior to using the notes, it had not occurred to me that oncogenes might have a special scourge for the ladies (and some feminine men, too!). Now that I know, I will not make any more loud jokes at the bar about how lucky chicks are not to have prostates, and how I wish they had a cancer of their very own like men do! I guess that the existence of breast cancer finally explains why those jokes usually fell flat. Thank you, 3M, for making me aware of this insiduous disease.

- For Anal-Eze lube:Anal Eze is fantastic! First of all, it is strawberry flavored. I was concerned that my anal lube would not be flavored and therefore I would not get to enjoy the taste of artificially flavored lube tinged with fecal matter.
The second selling point of Anal Eze is that no batteries are required. This is excellent, since lubricants that require batteries tend to be painful on the sensitive genital regions. Electricity doesn't mix well with nuts.
Finally, I love that Anal Eze has a desensitizing agent. It makes it possible for me to use Anal Eze in my torture dungeon without my victims complaining too much. It also helps to numb my tongue so the chunks in the fecal-lube mixture are not so objectionable.

For Hebrew National Beef Franks In A Blanket:I thought Hebrews weren't allowed to have their franks in a blanket. Isn't that what the bris is all about?

Good stuff.

By the way, pictures and stories from our trek through Graceland and Mud Island coming later this week.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Danny Tanner: XXX

A story in Slate contained a link to this profile of Bob Saget, which originally ran in the New York Observer. I urge you to read it, right now. It contains the following passage:

In comedy circles, there’s a famous Saget story about the night his first daughter was born. After a very difficult birth, during which Sherri Saget and her baby almost died, a friend showed up to find Mr. Saget looking utterly destroyed, unshaven, unrecognizable, but holding his newborn.

“Oh my God, Bob, she’s beautiful,” the friend said.

“For a dollar, you can finger her,” Mr. Saget replied.

“This story continually comes back to me,” he said, groaning. “Oh boy, I was a wreck, and I was just operating on whatever sick mode I’m always in anyway. I don’t remember, but I don’t think a dollar is enough money for something that crosses the line that much. I would have said $5.

Yes, it's the same Bob Saget. Yes, he's evidently really that fucked up. No, I don't think he ever got with the Olson twins. Yes, I'm sure he tried.

I'm also predicting that the documentary discussed in the profile, The Aristocrats, will be huge when it's released this summer.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Walkin' in Memphis

Lady Pinz and I are going to be in Memphis for about 26 hours later this month attending my friend's wedding. We fly in Saturday morning, fly back Sunday morning. That's going to leave us about four to six hours to kill on Saturday afternoon before we need to get clean, get dressed and get to the wedding.

My natural inclination is to go to Graceland, because it seems like the sort of place I ought to see, and when the hell else am I going to be in Memphis.

But, frankly, this description doesn't make me think it's worth $40 a couple:

Just outside the ticket office is a shuttle to take guests across Elvis Presley Boulevard to enter Elvis' 14-acre estate. With the new digital audio guide featuring the voices of Lisa Marie and Elvis, guests enjoy a specially produced audio tour presentation and even more information on specific exhibits and items of interest. (I have to pay to listen to Lisa Marie? I won't even listen to her for free on the radio.)

The mansion tour consists of the living room, music room, Elvis' parents' bedroom, the dining room, kitchen, TV room, pool room, and “jungle” den in the main house, and, behind the house, Elvis’ racquetball building and his original business office. (Second reference in this post to the Marc Cohn song: "There's a pretty little thing, waiting for the King, down in the Jungle Room.")

Recently opened was a section of the mansion that was previously closed to the public. The tour now includes never-before-seen items like the desk from Elvis’ personal office and an extensive collection of his stage costumes.

The highlight of the mansion tour is Elvis’ trophy building, which houses his enormous collection of gold records and awards, along with an extensive display of career mementos, stage costumes, jewelry, photographs, and much more. The tour ends with a quiet visit to the Meditation Garden, where Elvis and members of his family have been laid to rest. Shuttles return guests to the plaza. The tour lasts approximately 60-90 minutes.

So maybe we need alternatives.

Possibly the National Civil Rights Museum, which would be a laudable destination but sounds a little too heavy to pack between a flight, a wedding and another flight.

There's also something called Mud Island, which appears to be cooler than its name suggests (though not as girl-on-girl-wrestling dirty as I'd hoped):

The River Walk is one of the most unique representations of the Mississippi River in the world. It is a 5-block long replica of the lower Mississippi river, from Cairo, IL, to New Orleans, LA. Each 30" stride is equivalent to one mile on the actual river. Along your journey, you'll revisit historical events and learn about geographical transformations.

The "1,000" mile journey concludes at the Gulf of Mexico, a one acre enclosure that holds 1.3 million gallons of water. There, visitors can enjoy a leisurely pedal boat ride around the Gulf area with the Memphis skyline in the background.

It also has two restaurants, and I wouldn't mind being able to tell people I ate at Mud Island, but the menu doesn't have any cleverly named food like MudBurgers or DirtDogs, so maybe not.

I also might try to find a barbque joint where my dad once went for ribs. It's evidently in a pretty dicey area, and he had to argue with the waitress for 10 minutes because the place had an unwritten policy against serving the hottest sauce to white people. So that would be cool.

Any other suggestions?