I’m back in the cardigan-infested internet place in Memphis on a dank, cold Tennessee Tuesday.
It’s been some trip so far, what a town. I am in music heaven. In addition yesterday was Martin Luther King day here, with a whole bunch of events to celebrate Dr King’s birthday. He was assassinated here in Memphis, and the motel where it happened is now the National Civil Rights Museum. The motel room on whose balcony he was killed has been reconstructed to resemble as closely as possible the way it was the moment he was shot on the balcony – half-drunk cups of coffee, an ash tray full of cigarette butts, a newspaper tossed casually aside on the bed. Very moving, particularly as you approach the room having come through the entire history of civil rights in the US. Then you can cross the street and squint through the bathroom window from which James Earl Ray allegedly fired the fatal shot.
Outside in the courtyard there was music, food, souvenirs, the whole thing was an absolute blast, a celebration of an extraordinary life. It actually took me a while to twig that of the hundreds upon hundreds of people there I was one of about half a dozen white faces.
Last night I went to my first basketball game, the Memphis Grizzlies and the San Antonio Spurs. I’m not a fan of basketball – to me, a constant points-haemorrhage does not necessarily make for exciting sport (when you grew up a Charlton supporter in the seventies and eighties you learned how to appreciate a 0-0 draw, believe me) – but the whole American sporting experience was a good one. There’s more to do for a start – the Arena has restaurants, bars and shops so that the game itself becomes part of a whole entertainment package. Being able to watch a live game with a beer in your hand is an unusual experience for a football fan too.
The Grizzlies got battered, incidentally, losing by ten points. I thought the rules of basketball said that there can be no more than two points difference between the teams at the end in order to hoodwink the crowd into thinking they’d seen something exciting.
Oh, and Morgan Freeman was there. And, most excitingly for me, the Blind Boys of Alabama sang the national anthem and performed on the court at half-time (singing, not playing basketball).
Off to Vegas on Thursday, more news as it happens.