Am I a man or am I a Muppet?
Graceland is the top tourist destination in Memphis and something I had to see. Once.
I’m a passive Elvis listener – Graceland is a Mecca for the fans. Because I’ve no patience I dropped the extra dollars on the VIP ticket – if only to skip the lines. Those common masses sure shuffle slowly.
I did once again sit through the introduction video (8 minutes). The film does an excellent job representing the truly unparalleled cultural phenomena of Elvis. One billion albums sold; 1.5 Billion viewers for his global satellite concert – the first in history.
The VIP ticket meant a mini van to the house , a plastic seated waiting area for your group and immediate access to Graceland.
Elvis had terrible taste in décor , not a surprise based on his jumpsuits. The jungle and pool rooms are particularly hideous. The soylent yellow television room looks like a set from a cheap 1960s sci-fi movie.
I sped away from my crawling VIP group and powered through the house. I mean how much ooohing and ahhhing can you do over a gaudy dinner setting? The mini van tour guide was nice enough to get me a private van back to the Disney style franchised entry area.
I didn’t bother with some of the exhibits but The Presley Motors collection is broad and impressive, including stunning classic American and European models I’d never before seen. There’s also a tractor.
It must be said that the staff working Graceland seem to adore the place. Both Tamica and Kristyn, I chatted with, have worked there for years. They raved how wonderful it is to have the world turn up at Elvis’ doorstep. Graceland is definitely a melting pot.
The souvenir store is fabulous, the biggest I’ve seen. I overbought like a maniac. Elvis gifts for all!
Back on the road – Mississippi bound.
As a halfway stop between Memphis and Natchez I called by the birthplace of another giant of the entertainment business. More influential than The King?
Kermit the Frog was born in Leland, Mississippi and there’s a delightful little Museum dedicated to the chirpy amphibian there.
Stephanie, now in her mid-seventies, was the most informative of all Tour Guides I’ve encountered. The lady knows her Muppet History and was so obviously proud of the colorful shrine she has volunteered in since 2014. Stephanie, a life long local, raised on a farm with the closest neighbor three miles away, loathes horses but raises Dobermans.
I may have bought more Muppet than Elvis product.
Three hours later I’m in Natchez, Mississippi.
I started out late last night in Natchez looking for a place to eat. Late in Mississippi was 8PM. I happened on Kim on a Main Street corner and asked if she had any recommendations. Kim told me she was having dinner with her friend Dawn and that “This is the South. Join us.”
So I did.
Both Kim and Daw currently reside in Knoxville. Both had great stories to tell. Dawn is an Adoption Lawyer and has written the book on it in Tennessee. Kim is an expert in Preservation Strategies and is in Natchez starting a major project.
We dined at The Kitchen – I had House Deviled Eggs and Shrimp & Grits – when in Rome . All excellent.
I will definitely be seeing the two ladies next time I’m back in Knoxville. Thanks new friends. And I AM taking your recommendations for Alabama!
I spent all day walking around Natchez. It’s everything I hoped a Southern Town would look like, choc full of character, characters and antebellum architecture.
Natchez sits perched above the Mississippi, looking across at Louisiana.
But then the cherry on today’s cake was bumping into Gerry & Michael late this afternoon on Main Street. They are both organizers behind The Weekend . The couple moved here from LA, in recent years, and have settled into Natchez. They would seem to know everybody. Michael introduced me to some of the other organizers and performers/competitors in the weekends drag events.
Their extreme generosity extended to driving me around Natchez for an hour to ensure I saw the beautiful, good, bad, ugly and improving sections in this great town. I couldn’t have asked for a better more personal tour.
Michael expects hundreds for The Weekend events. The Saturday event alone has sold 500 tickets – all to benefit https://www.yallmeansallnatchez.org/.
I’m digging this Southern Hospitality Thing.