Even when I'm a long way from home, Memphis is still right there.
On a recent trip to Boise, Idaho, my husband's hometown, we popped into a coffeehouse to refuel after a long day. When hubby wandered off to check out the gift shop, I made my way to a funky vintage cigarette machine labeled "Art-O-Mat." Someone had the maniacally clever idea to convert retired cigarette dispensers into mini art galleries. I looked over the machine's 22 selections, and was drawn to one artist in particular, for no particular reason. After paying the $5, my box-o-art slid through the slot and I quickly opened it to see what was inside. A small piece of printed cloth and tiny, silver rings fell into my palm. The artist's statement was printed on the back of box:
"I like the idea of having an art gallery in your pocket. Precious objects, small enough to carry along with you on your daily journey, providing an aesthetic pleasure of sight, smell, and touch." — Judith Dierkes, fiber artist, Memphis, TN.
I got goose bumps.
I'm still not sure what made me pick Dierkes' piece over the other 21, but I keep it on my desk not only to remind me of that trip, but to help me remember how "everywhere" Memphis really is.
Take, for example, this month's Vanity Fair . It's the publication's highly anticipated Hollywood Issue, naming the "10 Fresh Faces of 2008." Among them, there's hometown gal Ginnifer Goodwin shoulder-to-couture-clad-shoulder with other young A-listers Anna Hathaway, Emily Blunt, and Jessica Biel.
The night before I sat down to write this, Willie Mitchell was honored with the Trustee's Award at the 50th annual Grammy awards. It's high time, we think. Mitchell has been one of the principal architects of the "Memphis sound" since the 1950s, and most famously, guided the career of Al Green. It's hard to imagine what a world without "Love and Happiness" would be like, no?
Earlier this same week, a film crew from the Food Network was here, taping at Uncle Lou's Fried Chicken, among a few local hotspots, for the popular Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives series. Two weeks prior, the Food Network aired the segment Down Home with the Neelys , taped in the kitchen of Pat and Gina Neely, one of barbecue's royal families.
Elsewhere on the cable dial, Tiger basketball dominates college sports coverage, with our hometown team ranked number one for the past three weeks. Even if we're knocked out of the coveted spot by the time you read this, there's been plenty to cheer about in that arena.
Finally, take a look at this issue's cover. Palm trees and sandy shores don't normally come to mind when one conjures up the Bluff City, but thanks to the vision of Overton Square founding partner Ben Woodson and his buddies, the Florida Keys are infused with a little piece of Memphis in the form of Little Palm Island. Read all about it beginning on page 46.
Keep your eyes open. You'll see that from music to literature, smoked pork to Florida resorts, Memphis really is everywhere.