Day Forty One – National Civil Rights Museum
Blues Idiom – Hokum – A lighthearted subcategory of urban blues called Hokum was popular in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s.Hokum songs were uptempo, funny and on the raunchy side. Songs like, ‘Please Warm My Weiner,’ relied heavily on double entendre and were about sex, drugs, or some illicit combination thereof.
We are out and about exploring Beale Street by mid morning. Beale Street is world renowned for it’s blues music clubs and bars. I noticed straight away that the music and eating houses have extended further down Beale Street. A good sign that things are looking up. Last time I was in the downtown part of Memphis it seemed like it was struggling.
We had a feed at around 11 at Miss Polly’s. I went for steak and eggs and sweet iced tea.
Our aim today was to got to the National Civil Rights Museum located at the site of the Lorraine Motel, the infamous and now sacred Motel where the Reverend Martin Luther King Jnr. Was assassinated This is my third visit to the museum. I always get very moved when I look over the exhibits, that explore the history of slavery, jim crow law* and the civil rights movement. The museum has been remodelled and is even better that the last time I was here. It really is a must visit for anyone that comes to the U.S.A. In the interim check out http://www.civilrightsmuseum.org
I am sure the girls found their visit very moving and at the same time inspiring. Next we walked back to Sth Main Street which is a mall of 7 to8 blocks. I want to go and pick up our Blues Foundation Awards night tickets for tomorrow night. The tickets can be picked up at the Convention Centre. As I mentioned earlier, how I was pleased to see the improvements of Beale Street, even now more so for the Mall. There are a lot of new businesses opened and the place just feels more vibrant. I have yet to see a pan-handler or have I been hit up for a spare dollar. We got our tickets and can now relax.
I did not want to tell the girls about the normal Wednesday night motor bike showcase that happens on Beale St just after dusk. Better for them to get a huge surprise just as I did some 5 years ago. We walked down to have a drink and a meal and as we turned onto Beale we were greeted with hundreds of incredible motor bikes all lovingly cared for and tricked out to impress. The parade of bikes is even bigger than the last time I was in town and now extends for two whole blocks.
We called into the Rum Boogie bar for some refreshment. Hanging from the ceiling are hundreds of guitars signed by famous musicians.
We walked both sides of Beale and took in the sights. I wanted to go back into the Rum Boogie for some music, a feed and a drink. The time is now 8:30 and I can’t get into any licensed premises as I don’t have my I.D. with me. Struck the same deal in New Orleans. The bouncers are very apologetic as they can see that I am well past 21 however if the authorities come into check patrons I.D. and it can’t be produced then the owners cop a $10,000 fine. Maybe this is having the desired impact of keeping out the not so nice people that come into town to work over the tourists?
We decided to go around the corner to the Flying Saucer bar and grill (no I.D. needed here.) Over 200 beers on tap. You can become a member of the UFO club. Once you have tasted 200 beers (not in one night mind you) then you become a ‘BEERKNURD’ which gets you a brass plate in the ring of honour (on the ceilings and walls). I had a couple of very tasty porters to go with the cheesy jalapeno fries I ordered.
*Jim Crow so named after white minstrels who black faced in the early part of last century. Many slaves were called Jim and crows are black. These so called entertainers would act as buffoons and make a mockery of the African American population. The laws that came in after the abolishment of slavery (segregation, separate but not equal) became known as Jim Crow laws. It is not just a bit of harmless fun as some people I know have said to me about whites black facing at parties or in comedy skits. It is highly offensive and show ignorance.