Deep South Tour:  Memphis to Shiloh
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Friday
June 7th


Civil Rights Museum,
Boxers
& Blues
Friday morning we drove to Memphis, arriving in time for a tasty meal of dry-rubbed ribs at the Rendevous (stop two on the barbecue leg of our tour). Those were outstanding!

We had to stop in Memphis over the weekend in order to catch a Sunday at Al Green's church. So given out trip timing, it had to be this particular weekend, which turned out to be the weekend of the Mike Tyson v. Lennox Lewis boxing match. We have no love for boxing, so all this meant to us was: streets packed with a mix of excited locals and all sorts of kooky celebrity hangers-on; hotel rooms all booked so we ended up staying the night across the river in Arkansas (at 150% the usual Howard Johnsons rate); and random celebrity encounters.

After lunch we walked to the National Civil Rights Museum. It is housed in the preserved building of the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot on April 4th, 1968. The motel building itself is a blast from the past, with a classic 1950s or 60s-esque sign. The exhibits are excellent. They were among the most interesting, detailed, and well-designed of any we saw on the trip.

Entering, we noticed TV crews gathering outside. Inside a woman reporter approached us excitedly and asked, "Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?" We said OK. "Are you here for the fight?", she asked. "No, we don't like boxing." Then she looked a little awkward, said thank you, and dashed off to find some boxing fans.

Halfway through the museum we noticed lots of large and expensively dressed people walking by. One looked like a boxing trainer. One was Evander Holyfield, pictured in this official museum photo boarding the "Rosa Parks bus":
I'm Gonna Knock You Out...

There were a few more groups that were clearly family and friends of various celebrities. But the funniest part came while Matt had stopped to read the Black Power exhibit. All of a sudden he looks up to his right and sees Lennox Lewis next to him, reading the exhibit. He was huge! Matt thinks, "You ARE black power." Then Lewis and his entourage have a discussion about whether Tupac Shakur's mother was a Black Panther. (She was.) Here is Lewis's official museum photo:
...Mama Said Knock You Out

Celebrities aside, this is probably the best of the civil rights museums. We highly recommend it.

After that we headed over to our digs in West Memphis. Then we came back, watched the Lakers stomp New Jersey in game 2, and then caught some city blues at clubs on Beale Street. We also met this amusing, wacky woman at the last club we visited. She claimed to be the 27-year-old vice president of some bank in Florida, and she said she knew the members of the band we were watching, who were about the same age. She sat with us until the show ended at which point the lead singer comes over, asks a couple questions, and then whispers loudly in our lady friends ear that she's a bitch and it's unbelievable she showed her face. The singer takes off, the guitarist drops by to express dismay. At that point we bolted. Note to self: stay away from crazy people.

Oh, and we hear that they went ahead with the fight that night:
Ouch!

Saturday
June 8th


Chucalissa Mounds
& Cicadas
We did a lot of hanging out today, probably because we were recovering from a late night out. However, we still made time to visit more indian mounds at the Chucalissa Archaeological Site and Museum, which is south of Memphis on the banks of the Mississippi. This was a bit of a disappointment, with a very cheesy reproduction of the mounds and even of some of the buildings from the site. But on the way we did catch a couple of good snaps of southern industry at work.

And when we arrived at the site we were treated to quite a racket because the cicadas had come out that year. The manager of the museum claimed both the 13- and 17-year cicadas were out, but this article claims the 17-years are due in 2006. We tried to interrogate this one, but he didn't have much to say:
One Cicada, Two Cicada...

Sunday
June 9th


Al Green's Church
& Shiloh
Sunday morning was church time. We put on our finest and headed to Reverend Al Green's Full Gospel Tabernacle. (On the way we stopped in for belly bombs at the Krispy Kreme.) The church was quite a scene. They were very welcoming and friendly to us. Then things kicked off with sermons from church members, greeted loud responses from the audience. Then a full band came on--electric guitar, bass, drums, and the church choir, which was excellent. While they were singing one woman went into an ecstatic fit, was lain down on the bench and fanned while she shouted, "Thank you Lord! Thank you Lord!" Reverend Green preached from one of the harshest sections of the old testament, Leviticus 20. Some of the reading seemed pretty sensible, like this:
Leviticus 19:29 -- Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness.
Other parts were pretty funny:
Leviticus 19:27 -- Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.
And some other parts we didn't agree with:
Leviticus 20:13 -- If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
So as you can see, Reverend Green is no touchy-feely holdover from the sixties. He's hard core. Still, we felt honored when he greeted the visiting members of the congregation, and pointed at the two of us saying, "I like you. You guys are cool."

After church we hit the road for the Shiloh battlefield, where Grant's offensive-mindedness gave the Confederates the jump on the Union army. Just imagine being a Union soldier stumbling into this clearing and spotting an army advancing on you! Surprise!

The unprepared Union forces, who thought they had the initiative and so made no defensive preparations, fell back except for one group of men who made a stand here at the sunken road. The frustrated rebels called this spot the "Hornets' Nest":
Where The Day Was Saved

Chris walked the field by the peach orchard, where Confederate advances failed for hours:
Chris Makes It Look Easy To Cross

Thanks to the delay, the Union forces were able to regroup and avoid a total rout that day. That night reinforcements flooded across the Tennessee River, allowing the Union troops to send the Confederates packing the next day. Matt celebrates the event:
More Of The Good Guys Arrived Here

We retired from the field to spend the night in Savannah, TN. And we enjoyed watching another Lakers playoff victory.

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