This article crossed my radar the other day, and as someone who lives in Memphis, I always find these amusing, at best, at how just plain wrong they are, with regards to me and my life, about opinions on this city. In this case, as the title suggests, it’s things you have to explain to out-of-towners, which, while I’ve only had a few out of town friends really come to the city and need things explained (which mostly consists of what areas are “good”, what ones are “bad” and my own personal stories around Crosstown, Downtown, South Memphis, etc) it’s never been much of anything in this article, save for maybe a few things.
For perspective, Memphis is a pretty big city. Not super large, but for it’s population it sprawls out quite a bit, and I live on the outer edges. It’s still Memphis, to be sure, but it’s not the “heart” of the city, so to speak. This means my view of the city is very, very different compared to someone who lives in, let’s say, Midtown.
That being said, time to share the article and begin ripping it apart. Keep in mind, as you read, that I’m just going off the top of my head with what I want to say. I might not address all points made in the original post, but I will cover what I take from it, for what it’s worth.
1. BBQ Fest is only fun if you know someone with a tent
Barbecue fest is one of those many many Memphis in May events that I just avoid by not going to Memphis in May at all. The entire event just doesn’t appeal to me, and the fact that the weather is legendarily never good makes it even less enjoyable than it might be under normal circumstance. I like BBQ, and I’m sure what’s down there is good, but honestly, I just don’t see it as worth the effort of going.
2. Our water is the best
Yes, yes it is. This one I agree with – our water is good. Damn good. That simple.
3. Following Memphis basketball is good cardiac exercise
I don’t care about basketball. That should be all I have to say about it, but uhg, don’t let anyone know that, or they will give you absolute hell for it. That alone is worth its own article.
4. Oh, and if you’re a Grizz hater, you can leave
Or, I can stay right here and not give a shit, how about that? We bought a sports team from Vancouver, and built a massive stadium for them. That’s all – they are yet another attempt by this city to try to keep up with the “big” cities, but even that still isn’t going as well as they think it would, revenue wise. Oh well!
5. Stay out of the far-right lane of Poplar Ave
This one is true, the lane is oddly sized, and due to the road construction method it does flood when it rains. Still, it’s just a road. There are other ways to get to where you want to go, as even outside of the I-240 loop the city follows a mostly grid design. Basically, unless where you want to go is on a given road, you can mostly avoid that road.
6. Asking, “Where is the best barbecue?” will tense up a room
Maybe a room full of people who take food way too seriously. I don’t care, as mentioned in number 1. I don’t even have a particular place I go for barbecue, I just pick a place and eat. Even in a room full of people who have opinions, it ain’t something to argue about, unless you just plain hate a suggested place, which, given our food quality, I doubt would be the case for any reason other than arbitrary ones.
7. There is more to Memphis barbecue than the Rendezvous
Yes, and the fact that there are 3 entries now discussing Barbecue shows that there isn’t much else to the city on a whole beyond that, which is somewhat ironic if you ask me. Also, never eaten there, and don’t care to unless I happen to be in that area, which I’m most often not.
8. We nickname our Krogers
Don’t locals of all areas nickname everything? Considering most every major road goes on for 20+ miles, and people in this city can’t seem to comprehend intersections and where something is actually addressed to (seriously, they get the location of Walmart stores mixed up constantly!), it kind of makes sense to give them nicknames so you go to the correct one, not one 10 miles down from where you want to be.
9. You won’t starve if you eat vegetarian or gluten-free
*yawn* Why is this even a point here? What does it matter? In what city can you *not* get foods that fit varying lifestyle and medical needs? For someone to think they won’t have vegan or gluten-free options when they come here is quite the idiotic presumption, if you ask me, which you must be since you are still reading this.
10. We do know that macaroni is not a vegetable
Last I checked the “standards” for a meal were designed to cover nutrition, and they just kind of evolved into a standard “main meat, side vegetable, with something else” pattern. Also last I checked, you could eat whatever the hell you wanted for a meal, and if you want Macaroni, then you want that. Screw what “slot” it fills, it’s food, eat it, enjoy it.
11. We love our local celebrities
One can argue we do, as people would in any city, but I really don’t give a damn about Justin Timberlake. Don’t act like I do. Also, apparently, I’m related to him in some weird way, but so is everyone else in Memphis. Seems legit, right?
12. Some of us still have issues with John Calipari
Don’t care. I’m not one for sports, but I sure as hell don’t care about college sports, even local stuff, so, whatever. Get over it.
13. It will rain at Memphis in May, and that’s OK
As I mentioned earlier, rain at Memphis in May is pretty much always a thing. If you want to go to the event, then, well, get used to it.
There, there’s another one I agree with.
14. The marathon shuts down pretty much everything
Uhm, I’ve never once been inhibited by this marathon. Hell, I barely know it exists, probably because I don’t live in that area of town.
15. We aren’t all just Elvis fans
Honestly I don’t like Elvis much. Not my style. I don’t hate him, but I don’t care for him, either. Memphis does have a rich musical history, and I do enjoy that, but I don’t have to “like” the music like I do other content I enjoy. Also, to say “good Memphians” in that way is quite the “no true Scotsman” claim as well as incredibly condescending.
16. Don’t sing/reference “Walking in Memphis”
Aside from the gospel / religious nuances to it, I do like this song. In fact, I like it so much I have a parody version with my friends that talks about the “bad” elements of the city. Really, it is a nice enough song, and yeah, Memphis is brought up quite a bit in music (although the only other song I know to say the city by name is “Black Velvet”) still, this song could be worse. Much worse. I’m glad it isn’t. Doesn’t bug me if you bring it up.
17. We will take you to Graceland and Beale St, but only under a few conditions
No, I won’t take you to Graceland, I’ve never been there. Beale Street, however, I do enjoy visiting. Not for alcohol, though, but for the look and “feel” of it. Seriously, I like Downtown for its feel and visual, but beyond that, eh… About the only other place in the city I will take someone is Crosstown, an amazing area that I really need to write about in the near future.
18. The First 48 is not a documentary about Memphis
Never watched the show, but I do know it’s a real crime documentary, and many of the cases are in Memphis. Yes, this city has a high crime rate. Yeah, shit goes down all the time. Yeah, it sucks to have happen. No, that TV show isn’t all about us, and that isn’t all that happens here, so yeah, I can agree with this one.
19. Memphis is not Tennessee, and we’re definitely not Nashville
This one is also true, Memphis is a very liberal area in a very conservative state, and is very different when compared to Nashville. Knoxville, in East Tennessee is also nothing like Memphis or Nashville. I like that nuance, how the state, and it’s cities, are just so varied. Then again most places are like this, but Tennessee seems to really embrace this distinction, including the differences Memphis has with everything else.
20. Summer Ave is the best street
This is somewhat true, Summer is kind of an amazing street, but the best thing about it, to me, is that it ends (after a name change) at the old Sears Crosstown building, now known as Crosstown Concourse. The stores along Summer are pretty awesome though, so yeah, I’ll give the article this one – it’s a damned cool road, that as you travel down it is almost like a time machine into Memphis’s history!
21. We think the Pyramid is weird too
No, I don’t think it’s weird. It’s awesome. This comes from the time of the late 80’s “revitalization” of Memphis downtown, which included heavy Egyptian theming, the pinnacle of which was the Pyramid arena. I fucking love this building, but sadly, in the early 2000’s it was abandoned as an arena for Basketball and other events (you can thank the Grizzlies being bought and FedEx forum being built for that) and, only recently, was remodeled into a Bass Pro.
That’s right, something hyper Egyptian which symbolized the city so perfectly is now redneck central. The Pyramid isn’t weird, the fact it’s a goddamned sporting goods store is! I need to write an article on that, as well, sometime soon.
There you go, my take on this “wonderful” article. This entire list seems to have been written by the more typical “midtown” type of person who eats-sleeps-and-breaths the city and everything around them. I love this city, I really do, but I have my interests and most of them don’t involve the city directly. I could live happy most anywhere, but while I am still here in Memphis, I’ll enjoy what I want, not what you tell me to.
Don’t treat all Memphians like this, and sure as hell don’t try to say if they aren’t like this, they aren’t real Memphians.