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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.


  • You're both so cute!

    By Blogger Kate the Peon, at 10:58 AM  

  • I'd like a pic of you in an Elvis jump suit. I know you got one Pinz.

    By Blogger Pup, at 9:56 AM  

  • Didn't you instruct Lady Pinz in photography techniques to make you look regular-sized? If she really loved you, she'd take all the pictures from a kneeling position looking upward.

    By Blogger LiAps, at 8:38 AM  

  • Lady Pinz uses other techniques when she's in a kneeling position looking upward at me.

    By Blogger Big Pinz, at 11:16 AM  

  • Oooh, and there's a new Elvis pinball game, by Stern, BTW.

    By Blogger James F, at 10:57 PM  

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