No, I don't live here. Susan's year in Memphis
I try to be a good person, because if I am, maybe when I die I can go to Memphis. For now I just settle for the occasional visits, and this little article is to let y'all know why I found it necessary to head on out there so many durn times this past year.
MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND 1997
Along with my sister Margaret and our running buddy Andrea, we set out to witness the Memphis premiere of Mike McCarthy's feature film, The Sore Losers. You might have read about this little juvie/nudie opus in last year's GW#5, in which I played a stripper/succubus. Well, we couldn't miss the gala premiere, which ended up being in some typically shady locale, a loft in deserted downtown Memphis that doubled as the home of this guy Reed. He'd decided to throw a big party in the part he didn't live in and strung up a big screen to project the flick on.
Before the movie, we were entertained by some suspiciously stagy live "prank" phone calls. They were so staged that Andrea got to participate in them the following night when we inadvertently found ourselves at the receiving end of these "prank" calls, the home of David Dunlap. After the movie, a bunch of music was played, the best of which came from Scott Bomar and Jack Yarber's impromptu combo. In fact, us three Texas girls were inspired by those sexy Memphis grooves (and the Sam Smith's Oatmeal Stout we drank) to climb up on a table behind the projection screen and provide a little shadow dancing as part of the evening''s entertainment. Talk about an ideal setup — they gave us a band, a stable dancing surface, a screen and 2,000 watts of light all there so we could amuse ourselves. We were already dressed up like a bunch of hook—exuberant, self-confidently sexual young women. Man, we were so exuberant that we danced through almost an entire '68 Comeback set! And that's a long
fucking time. Someone even thrust tambourines into our hands at one point.
All three nights pretty much went like that. Since a girl travels faster when she travels alone — and I'm nothing if not fast — it was a new experience to have company in Memphis. Ever since our esteemed editor Jennifer La settled down, got married and started having kids [one boyfriend, one dog —ed.], she hasn't been able to go with me on my little trips. But this time I had other folks to show me around, to take to Ellen's soul food, the AmVets Thrift Store, Schwab's Dry Goods and Neely's BBQ. And we even went out for a night of dancing at Green's Lounge with Scott Bomar and Mike Tole. Green's Lounge was this truly nasty blues dive where we saw Wilroy Sanders play. There's usually a few white folks there, but it's generally populated by neighborhood types, older black folks drinking, dancing and macking — the same shit we do on a Saturday night, but with better music. You're served Budweiser in quart bottles with paper cups and can bring in your own hard stuff and buy a set-up. Margaret brought in some vodka and got fuckin' trashed, Andrea danced with every guy that asked, and my purse got stolen — par for the fuckin' course if you ask me. What a great night.
I can't explain how much I love listening to the music you find in these spots in Memphis. It inspires vastly conflicting feelings. On the one hand, I'm terribly grateful It's still around for me to hear and it makes me feel right at home. On the other, I feel no better then some cultural tourist who gets to pop in and listen for a while, then say "Wow, fellas, thanks for living the underprivileged life so's we could hear those snappy tunes! See Ya!" That liberal guilt sure was eased by having my purse stolen, though, I can tell you that. Oh, Green's Lounge burnt down last year, RIP.
A few years ago, Jennifer La and I attended the first Dixie Fried fest in Memphis and I've managed to hit all three now. Sadly, this year's Dixie Fried was the last time I got to hear Junior