Tag Archives: beer

To Memphis and Beyond

After leaving New Orleans we head back north again to Tennessee. This time to Memphis instead of Nashville. The drive was uneventful until our stop in Jackson Mississippi for lunch we took the suggestion of Mindy’s friend Osid Riley and checked out Keifer’s for a Greek lunch, a welcome change from all the BBQ we’ve been ingesting.

We could see the capital building from where we parked so we decided to walk over it. There we found a somber ceremony on the front lawn for Mississippi Department of Transportation workers who were struck and killed while working on the highways. I stood in the back taking it in for a while and a nice lady informed me of what was going on. It was truly moving. In a tribute that reminded my slightly of the ghost bikes to remember fallen cyclists they had set up road cones, each with a white worker’s helmet placed on top of it.

The capital itself was a beautiful building with the high steps and domed roof you’d expect from such thing but what really caught our eyes were the statues. They had a replica of the liberty bell in front as well as a monument to confederate women, complete with sculpted confederate flags. The embracement of the rebel flag is something jarring to me. I knew it was still a symbol that some clung to but it’s weird to see it as a celebrated piece of history in this area. Fascinating and disturbing to me at the same time.

From there we continued north and arrived in Memphis. Although our friends Kyle and Courtney were waiting for us at their home James insisted we check out Goner Records before they closed that evening. We looked up prices and times for Graceland as well and found it to be obscenely overpriced.

After getting set up at Kyle and Courtney’s we made our way out to get dinner. Of course Memphis is famous for it’s BBQ so it was the obvious choice again. I swear that when this trip is over I am lying off BBQ for AT LEAST a month. My arteries hate me right now but I cannot deny that it was the best we’d had on the trip so far. Over dinner Kyle told us about a beer place called Flying Saucer that has a beer club membership and over 200 beer choices and a website to log your beers. Seeing as how I’m attempting to try as many different beers as possible this suddenly became a ‘need to do’ item.

Sure enough I joined the beer club, drank a Ghost River Copperhead Irish Red, a Yazoo Sue, and a Sam Adams Black lager. All of which were excellent. The Sue was particularly interested as it was a smoked porter, the first of it’s kind that I’ve tried. I am not usually a fan of porters but I was pleasantly surprised. A few of Kyle’s coworkers from the local Apple store joined us for drinks and we spent the night swapping stories.

The next morning James, Courtney and I went over to get a traditional southern style breakfast at a deliciously greasy little place called Bryant’s, the first real breakfast we’ve had on the trip. From there James and I made our way to the legendary Sun Studios, the birthplace of Rock and Roll and original home to Elvis, Johnny Cash and more. Standing in the spots that these legends first recorded was an honor. They even have an original Shure 55 vocal mic that was used by these greats that, on the wishes of their founder, is available to hold and pose with.

Memphis was great, a worthwhile trip and we definitely didn’t give ourselves enough time there. Hopefully I’ll be back at some point.

Enjoy the photos!

Thunderstorms, BBQ and Vineyards

NashvilleSaturday started off quietly as James and I awoke to our iPhone alarms at 8:30. We packed up our things and made sure not to disturb Lee, Rebecca or Michael on the way out.

The beauty of Louisville shined though the gray overcast morning as we wandered the streets. Knowing our next destination, Nashville, was only three hours away we decided to take some time to explore before rolling out.

First things first we head over to the Louisville Slugger factory to get the tour. We were suprised to find they also have a mini Norman Rockwell exhibit there as well and we spent some time learning about both baseball and art.

From there we made a stop off to Cake Flour bakery for a quick bite to eat and suddenly we found ourselves caught in a torrential downpour. We watched from inside as the street began to flood and it began to look like the dead of night at 11 am EST and decided it as our cue to get out of town ASAP.

Sure enough we passed right through the storm on the road but otherwise the trip to Nashville was uneventful. Turns out the Nashville beer festival was sold out so we met up with my friend Robin and decided to grab some BBQ then head over to Arrington Vineyards for a wine tasting. We sat beneath the trees overlooking some gorgeous Tennessee hills sipping wine and talking about video production and laughing like idiots.

After some sobering up we blared some pop music and drove towards the city to show James Yazoo Brewery. Yazoo is a local Tennessee beer company with a wide variety of beers and an excellent brewpub. We relaxed there sampling beers as the sun went down sharing old stories and laughing at dumb jokes.

From there we head downtown where Robin described the damage of the flood that hit Nashville last year and we met a homeless gentleman, Ernie. He told us about swimming in the river and hopping fences. Somehow it came up that we were headed to New Orleans and he told us that is where he’s from originally, he then launched into detailed suggestions of things to do there, specifically citing that the French Quarter is overhyped and we need to make sure we explore the whole city.

After wandering the strip for a while we ended the night in a dueling piano bar off of Broadway before heading back to Robin’s place for the evening. All in all it was a laid back and carefree day. I couldn’t have asked for a better time.

We’re now solidly on the road to Birmingham for lunch and New Orleans this evening. Until tomorrow true believers, enjoy the photos!

The Siren Call of Blue Island

blueisland-6

Not long ago I received an email from my friend Paul in NY. Paul, among many other things, is an enthusiast of great beer and was writing me for some assistance with a recent discovery.

Apparently Guinness is testing a Black Lager beer in the Chicagoland market. Paul, knowing my passion for good beers knew this would piqué my interest and it would take very little coercion to get me to track it down. Sure enough I did, however the only place where it’s available for purchase that isn’t a bar was located in Blue Island Illinois, just south of Chicago. Seeing as I’ve never been there before I figured this would be a good opportunity to explore and photograph.

I hopped on I-94 and briefly followed signs to Memphis and made my way there. My first impression of the town upon my arrival was that it felt like a city lost in time. Much of Blue Island has a beautiful 1950’s charm to it, the downtown area (along Western Ave – yes, the same one) is filled with historic buildings and it would be easy to imagine it bustling with people going to the local Woolworth’s back in the day.

Sadly it seems time and the economy have not treated Blue Island especially well and many of the building are empty with historic companies long since closed. Despite all that, Blue Island’s charm shines through in it’s decay. Maybe it was just the light on this particular day but the sun seemed to shine on these old buildings and give them an air of urban friendliness.

In some ways Blue Island feels eerie with it’s charm. Like the dinner party scene in “The Shining”, almost as if the ghosts of what once was here were still hanging around inviting me to join them. I felt drawn to the area, wondering to myself: “could I live here?” The answer of course is no but something made me want to ask.

Enjoy.

It’s A Party in The USA – Thailand Part 7

Yesterday we arrived in Ayutthaya and set up camp in a hostel called Tony’s Place. While there are some minor flaws (zero water pressure in the shower) this is hands down the coolest place I have ever stayed at while abroad. The whole front of the building is a giant deck / restaurant which is swarming with a mix of traveling folk and it’s directly across the street from Christine’s favorite bar, Chang House.

There is WiFi and decent food in the terrace as well as a tourist information desk, it very much blurs the line between hotel and hostel. Everyone here is super friendly and I’m typing this while eating a delicious BLT breakfast (I got a little tired of chicken and rice).

Our room has cable tv so we settled in and relaxed for a bit and flipped through stations before settling on MTV Africa (an odd thing to broadcast since Thailand is not in Africa). I haven’t watched MTV in years, in fact I’ve been pretty actively boycotting it since around 1997, so whenever I do catch it for a while I’m always blown away by what I see. 8 videos in a row and 7 of them (including Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus) clearly used and overused auto-tune. I’m sickened, is there any musical talent required anymore? Geez. Anyway this frightened me worse when I realized I was watching MTV Africa, not MTV US, these pop stars and the ads for Jersey Shore are representing America to a lot of people and they look up to it, that is really scary.

After that we went to Chang house and hung out with Christine’s friend Earth. Awesome guy, we split a bottle of “Blend” whiskey (Distilled by Red Bull, cheap and not half bad, considering) and attempted to overcome language barriers and had a good laugh doing so. From there we went to another bar where Earth’s band was playing and found some French guys and Christine’s coworker Dan from the UK. We had a really good time talking about cultural differences and I wound up telling the one gentleman from Paris my trick to getting a Parisian to speak English, he had a really good laugh and admitted he had no doubt it would work.

From there we went to a nightclub where there was a Thai rock band playing. I was exhausted but it was a lot of fun. It seems a lot of Thai rock is set on a reggae beat so it’s very, very similar to the ska punk I grew up with on Long Island which is very strange but very comforting. Eventually the band busted into a Thai Punk cover of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance which turned out to be surprisingly good.

Thai covers of American music are actually really huge over here in the touristy areas but they are quite amusing to those of us who natively speak English because most, not all, of the singers don’t understand the words to what they’re singing. The singers will butcher the lyrics but hit the notes, tones and timing near perfectly. It’s an amazing phenomenon and very entertaining nonetheless. From there it was time for bed, but as a whole the day turned out to be really enlightening and fun.

Today we’re catching a boat tour around the city and checking outcome old ruins, I can’t wait to take pictures and to share them with y’all. Cheers!

Arrival / Night 1 – Thailand Part 2

Bangkok on Flickr

So I managed to get some wifi in Hong Kong briefly which is how I was able to post the first entry. So far I haven’t been able to get any service on a Thai network with data using my iPhone. Turns out if I turn off 3G it works fine.

Anyway enough of the Internet woes. I landed around 10:30am and wandered around the airport for a while before finding Christine. We then caught a bus and went to Khao San in Bangkok to find a hostel for the day.

I’m extremely happy to not be on a plane. The travel here was a combined over 20 hours and 5 different airplane meals, I never want to eat something with a tin foil lid ever again.

I made pretty good use of the time though. I did a lot of reading, a lot of writing and rewatched most of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia season 1. It’s crazy but I have very, very quickly fallen head over heels in love with my iPad, the battery life is insane.

Anyway Christine suggested we check out the market but apparently it’s only open on the weekends so we took a Tuk Tuk (Thai go-kart / cab) to the skytrain in an attempt to check out a photo gallery. After a good hour of wondering we discovered that the gallery was also closed so we decided to settle down at a bar outside and throw back a couple of beers. I made a point to try all three of the major national beers; Singha, Cheng and Leo. All three are pretty basic lagers nothing especially great about any of them. I prefer Chang, Christine prefers Singha.

Our Tuk Tuk driver made us stop off at a tailor, he apparently gets a commission so we agreed to humor him and spend a few minutes in there. Well it turned out I got talked into buying some custom fitted shirts. The fact of the matter though it really was a steal I basically paid $200 for three fitted shirts of my own custom styling and fitting and a supurb pair of slacks. I really do need good dress clothes and the price and quality was beyond reasonable. They had them cut, fitted and delivered to our hostel in just a few hours. That’s pretty unbeatable service.

We are now hanging out in Khao San in a bar with an excellent cover band made up of Thai nationals that do frighteningly good versions of American and British pop songs. The place is swarming with Britons who go crazy at every Oasis song, but I can’t really blame them either, I totally nerded out for the Nirvana covers myself so who am I to judge?