Thursday, August 1, 2013

10 Reasons I Love Memphis

I'm beyond stressed right now, and don't have anything particularly deep to say, but I do want to give a shout-out to the city I call home, and love deeply.

A lot of people don't like Memphis, but I've found the vast majority of those people don't live here. :) Almost everyone I know who actually lives in Memphis, or visits frequently, like my mom, loves the city; the people who don't either aren't giving it a chance, are hiding in the suburbs (not that there's anything wrong with the suburbs necessarily, but you don't HAVE to live there to be safe like some people think you do), or just have a bad attitude about life in general.

So here goes:

1. The Weather.

*Right outside Memphis. 

Yeah, it's hot in the summer. And there's absolutely an entire season devoted to rain. But some days it's absolutely out of this world gorgeous.

*Running pic from a few weeks ago.

And the city really comes alive when the weather is nice. People are camped out on patios, out playing golf, sitting in the park. It's like people just get instantly happier.

*Sitting on my patio, unfortunately doing work. 

*Spring flowers.

2. It's a "fixer-upper" city.

Memphis is not traditionally known as a progressive city with a lot of opportunities. It has a pretty brutal history of racism and poverty and (a word I hate) backwardness.

But I kind of like that it's a city with problems.

Because that means I get to be part of fixing them.

Rather than being a part of something that's already established, I get to be an active part of making it good, for me and for generations to come. And there are a ton of opportunities to do so, from neighborhood associations to Memfix to Choose901, and everything in between.

Of course I'd love if nowhere in the world had racism or poverty or crime. But that's not reality, and I'm happy I can be a part of changing Memphis for the better.

As Bruce VanWyngarden noted in his article in the Flyer today,

"Yes, Memphis has poverty and crime and our education system is a work in progress, but guess what? You can say the same thing about St. Louis, New Orleans, Little Rock, Chicago, Kansas City, Cleveland — any number of American cities. It pretty much comes with the urban territory. Mayor Wharton is an honest and decent man. The city council has a lot of engaged and sentient folks — and a couple of goofballs. Those aren't bad odds."

3. It has character(s).

Memphis has local notables who are...bizarre. It has places that are kind of that way too.

*Prince Mongo, via The Commercial Appeal

*Jerry Lawler, via

*Joe's in Midtown, with the famous Sputnik sign. Via (which is ironic all on its own...)

*Our liquor store signs don't mess around. 

**Yes, this actually exists. 

If nothing else, it's never boring.

4. The food.


*Muddy's cupcakes - TJ and I had already eaten the Capote's at this point. Thanks Kirby!

*One of the pretties food pictures I've ever taken.  Muddy's is pretty. :)

*Nirvana. At Muddy's.

*At Chiwawa.

*At The Brass Door, Downtown. One of the best meals I've had in Memphis, period.  

*Mimosas at Bosco's!

*Guacamole and chips at Chiwawa.

*Chicken and Waffle Fries at RP Tracks.

And of course there's Dishcrawl, and a ton of new restaurants opening all the time. I'm particularly excited about Sweet Noshings in Overton Square and the upcoming less fancy cousin to Restaurant Iris, The Second Line

Not even just the BBQ (although it's so good - I'm a Central girl, but it's hard to really go wrong with ribs or pork sandwiches in Memphis), or the soul food, or the meat and threes.

Fine dining.

Creative food.

Innovative food.

And people who are passionate about it.

5. Speaking of food, the "Eat Local" movement.

Thomas over at Eat Local Memphis has some great reviews, but the larger mission of his work is even more important:

"Eat Local Memphis is an underground movement to support local eateries and highlight the culinary adventures of this awesome city's diners and the colorful people who feed them!

Break the Chain. Eat Local."

I have a "Break the Chain. Eat Local." sticker on my car - right next to my Muddy's "Love at First Bite" one.

I don't even think chains are bad. People who work at them and own them need to make a living too. 

But the idea of taking charge in Memphis and really working to be a part of the community, especially such a thriving food community like the one that exists here, is an amazing thing. 

6. Music.

Really, pretty much any night of the week, you can go someplace and watch live music.

Just this summer, at the Levitt Shell, which I can walk to, there were 30 live concerts and 7 concert films. In ONE venue.


That's just not normal anywhere else.

7. The Parks and Public Art.

Memphis is truly a city in a park. And, for such a flat place (I'm from the Arkansas hills - anything but real mountains looks flat to me) it's got some amazing views.

I realize that I live in an area (Midtown) where this is especially true, and that not all parts of Memphis are like this. But we do have a TON of public parks and green areas.

And we have a ton of public art - both in and out of museums.

*One of the University of Memphis Tigers - they made 100 for the 100th anniversary, and now they're scattered around campus and the community. This one is in the Admin building. 

*My favorite one, outside the UofM library.

*The controversial sidewalk outside the Memphis Public Library (main branch) via

*The Library, a work of art all on its own. Via

*Mural in the Vance neighborhood, downtown, via

*Mural in Cooper-Young, via

*The Overton Square Security Office, literally the coolest building paint job ever. Via

And, honestly, any city that has a giant moose statue is okay with me:

*Outside of Mollie Fontaine's at around midnight. I make good decisions. 

There are a ton more - really anywhere you go you can see some kind of art - but these are my favorites.

8. The Weirdness.

There are a lot of things in Memphis that just don't make any sense.

Why does East Parkway run North/South, but North and South Parkway run East/West?


Why does the interstate go as far outside of the city as possible? (I know why, but it's weird to visitors.)

Why is the bridge that opened in 1973 called the "new bridge?"

*Hernando de Soto bridge, from the Mud Island Riverpark. Ride the Monorail!

Why do so many streets end in dead ends? (Looking at you Madison, and all the various incarnations of Monroe...)

But it's kind of fun. And makes me an invaluable tour guide. :)

9. Entertainment Galore. (Not just people watching, which is basically an Olympic-level sport here.)

Yeah, we don't have a crazy dinner movie theater like the one I went to in Salt Lake, or in London, but Malco headquarters are here, and we have a huge variety of places to see movies and theater.

I'm a big fan of Ridgeway, which was recently renovated and features some great food from Ciao Bella, and shows great indie stuff.

*Swank. Via Kerry, thanks for taking awesome pictures! (And for running an amazing blog!)

Studio on the Square is my local theater, and it's one of the best small theaters I've ever been to.

We have a drive-in.

And, maybe best of all, we have the Orpheum.

Where else can you go and see Rock of Ages, a ton of movies, including The Big Lebowski, Rocky Horror, Dirty Dancing, Mean Girls, Pretty Woman, Grease, Gone with the Wind, a Sound of Music Sing-A-Long, Broadway plays like Flashdance, Wicked, West Side Story, War Horse, and (OMGYAY!) The Book of Mormon, a tour featuring Tyrese and Ginuwine, Kevin James, an art sale, Ira Glass, A Prairie Home Companion, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and a ton more stuff, all in one place? It's in the heart of downtown too, and is such a highlight for the Memphis community. Bonus: There isn't a bad seat in the house. Even the upper gallery seats are still really good.

We also have a ballet company and a ton of smaller community theaters.

And we have a great AAA baseball team, the Memphis Redbirds:

And an NBA team, the Memphis Grizzlies:

*Who are awesome. 

And a good college basketball team: 
*via I'm a Razorback fan (Woo Pig!) but I can appreciate some good basketball. 

*via the MRD Facebook page.

And probably a ton more sports teams I don't know anything about. 

And burlesque, which is most of the time awesome, but is sometimes just bizarre:

*At the dearly departed Hi-Tone. This was a burlesque circus act maybe? Anyway, one girl had Phantom of the Opera pasties, another girl came out in a headscarf and burlesqued to M.I.A.'s "Bad Girls," and another one wore a horse head mask. It was...something. The really odd stuff was from some Nashville people though. 

10. The People.

Some of the best friends I've ever had I've met in Memphis. I'm constantly amazed by the giving and caring nature of people here, and the intense optimism and love I see for this city.

*The Painting with a Twist class I went to with Kirby. So much fun!

*With Marly and Kirby at Halloween. I was the Devil. No one is surprised by this. 

*Out with my roommate, taking random pictures with people we met at Local. Who knows. 

The fact that these are really all of the pictures I have of my friends (where none of us look like we're having a seizure...) and I means that we need to take more pictures, people!

The point is, despite the lack of photos I have (and the stuff I'm sure I've missed - these are just things I happen to love today - and narrowing it down to 10 was hard), I've grown up here. I moved here in a serious relationship, got engaged (and subsequently un-engaged), discovered a passion for what I do, eaten a lot of food, run a lot of miles on Memphis sidewalks, had heartbreaks and amazing times, boring nights and fun nights, made really good decisions and REALLY REALLY BAD decisions, and basically become an adult (or as close as I'm ever going to get), and the people I've met here, both my friends and people in the community, have absolutely changed my life for the better. 

So sometimes it floods:
*My parking lot after a moderate rain. Yeah....

And sometimes I find fruit by my car:

*It's a Sicilian message. 
**I've also found multiple banana peels on the ground here. Have you people never watched cartoons!?!

And sometimes I even want to strangle other drivers:

*I'm bad at parking, but really?



And sometimes people are absolutely weirdos:

*Girl asleep, in the middle of the day, in a bathroom on campus. 

*At Sam's. And several people had them in their carts.

*Classy neighborhood + PBR = Memphis. 

But it's mine. And, even though it will never replace where I grew up, for as long as Memphis will have me, it's home.

*Sign on Poplar. You too, Memphis!


  1. Aww, I love Memphis! So many of these things are reasons I love it here too! I remember hearing about Prince Mongo when I was a little girl and would come visit my grandparents in Memphis. He's been a Memphis staple ever since. ;) And all the food - oh man! I had no idea Ciao Bella was at the theatre until seeing your comment on my most recent post. I'm pretty sure I need to get on that pronto! And all our parks and art (especially the murals!) and sports and the drive in (oh, I LOVE the drive in!)... so many things to love about Memphis! :)

    1. It's so good! I love that theater anyway - especially now that they've redone the seats, it's so much easier to see, and soooo comfortable! I've never actually been to the drive-in (my secret Memphis shame!) but I definitely need to go.

      I actually moved to Memphis just kind of on a whim, partially for school and partially for a boy, but man I'm glad I ended up here!