Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Walking in Memphis- Day 3

I am apparently the only person who was out the previous night who comes to an early session... but I am excited, in true geek fashion, about a symposium on magical thinking. I spend a bulk of the day, like the good graduate student that I am, learning a whole lot about diversity, narrative, homophobia, and the like. Self-Disclosure, L. and I take off for an hour or so to examine the Memphis waterfront. Though it is hardly epic in its beauty or anything, it is still a little symbolic to know that you are standing on the banks of the Mississippi, with all its history.

Apparently this hulking pyramid is a big attraction, for some reason or another.

The Mississippi

Riverboat! *Princess busts out her musical dance number*

The King

Memphis is a funny city. It has this amazing musical history and all these incredible old buildings, yet it is clearly a town that is falling apart at the seams. I've never seen such a desolate downtown. Really the only people walking the streets are homeless. There is no evidence at all of day-to-day life... no groceries stories or families or apparent residences. I assume they are all hiding in the suburbs, away from the poverty of downtown. It seemed tragic to see these beautiful buildings that should be libraries or post offices gutted. There were condominiums selling downtown for $60,000- you can't even get a wood shed in the shittiest area of town for that here! It's just a really sad city, overall. Maybe that's why it inspired such creativity.

We head back to the conference for yet more learning. Later, we meet with my supervisor and some other profs and grad students. We can't get into the restaurant we planned, so we go back to the Mexican restaurant, partially because of my raves about the amazing server. Unfortunately, his evil twin decided to work for him that night. My lovely smiley server had turned into a growly rude man! And he actually yells "Don't forget your change!' at me when I left him a deservedly not so great tip. On the bright side, I do now have in my possession a picture of one of the top researchers in my field with a sombrero on!


Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

Try and get to Sun Studio's if you can. Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash recorded there, as well as The King.

I have always wanted to visit the place after reading Last Train to Memphis which is about Elvis's youth.

Ant said...

Hm, an interesting place - with all the contradictions of great history yet modern dilapidation...

What's the conference about btw? Sounds like it covered a lot of interesting stuff. (I sometimes get a bit too excited about this research stuff too and think I'm being too geeky, but then I start chatting to folk that make up the majority of the computing field, and pat myself on the back for being so normal once more... :o)

LMizzle said...

You should get a sombrero and put it on the Elvis statue! Truly that would make my week complete.

Memphis really does look sad. It looks like it carries this air of regret about it for some reason...

Are you going to Graceland?!?!

Tonya said...

If you think that's depressing then you've never been to downtown Detroit. Now THAT, is depressing!

Princess Pointful said...

Ultra- We actually drove by Sun Studios. It's funny-- this unassuming building in almost an industrial area of town. While I was partying it up on Beale Street, the other folks from my lab took pictures outside it, though it was closed. Is that book on Elvis good? After Graceland, I am actually really curious to read a good biography.

Ant- Official title is the Annual Meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. Yeah, I have those moments too. I'd really like to think that the 15 hours work days will end at some point-- I just can't get so involved in the whole tenure track process, though I am passionate about what I'm doing (at least I am at times!)

LMizzle- Damn! I wish I had got your request earlier! I actually have a picture of myself with a viking hat... we could have had an Elvis fashion show! I did go to Graceland... see Day 5 ;)

Tonya- That's funny, as whenever I tell anyone about Memphis, Detroit is the first comparison that gets brought up.