June 8, 2011



Like the Willie Nelson song says, “Back on the Road Again.” Sending this into cyberspace from a motel in the Volunteer State. That would be Tennessee, for those of you that hang out at A’s and don’t get out much. It is 101 degrees with high humidity. Shirley and I came down here for a wedding. I am the only person within five hundred miles wearing Wranglers and a long sleeve shirt! I never did say I was smart, but I am modest. Fifteen hundred miles to stand outside and sweat, or sit in an air-conditioned motel room.
 But we did have the opportunity to spend a night in Memphis. I was going to visit Graceland and Elvis’ grave, but it was too hot. So I convinced Shirley that we had to go down to Beale Street. I’ve heard of Beale Street for years. Home to the Blues. B.B. King’s, Silky O’Sullivans, Beale Street Cafe, Coyote Ugly....So we rented a car, well, actually, we rented a pickup. I’m more of a pickup man. We rented a pickup, got a room on Union Street and walked down to Beale.
 Beale Street is like the Bucking Horse Sale in Miles City. It is several blocks of party. The only difference is there are no boots, hats, or Wranglers. Unless you counted the one fat guy from North Dakota. Oh yes, and they allow drinking on the street. In fact, they encourage it. Unlike Miles City, where they crowd you out into the streets, then arrest you. Oh yes, and there are no bucking horses. In fact, I guess it is not like the Bucking Horse Sale. It is full of kiosks selling “Big Ass Beers!” Their label, not mine. It is full of street jugglers, openair bars, live music, wonderful restaurants, and people. Lots of people. You could stop any time, slip into a cool bar, or under a shade outside, buy a cold drink, and listen to wonderful music from a host of musicians. I like music. In fact, for those of you that don’t know, or don’t care, I was the number-one trumpet player in the Berthold band for a number of years! Just in case it ever comes up in trivial pursuit.
After a couple hours of Beale Street blues, booze, and great food, we went to a ball game. Baseball game. And like another song says, “at least we’re triple A.” Which is one step up from the Minnesota Twins this year. It was a Pacific Coast League game (honestly, Pacific Coast League … on the Mississippi) between the Memphis Redbirds and the Albuquerque, now get this, Isotopes! Right the Isotopes! I’m not just sure what an isotope is. I remember a teacher mentioning it fifty years ago, but I think I was tired that day. Anyway, despite the hometown cheering, the Isotopes defeated the Redwings, 3-2. But the beer was cold, the crowd happy, the seats good, and the foot-long was great!
Now Memphis is known somewhat as a high crime city. I did see a lot of police. Not much crime. Unless you count the guy sitting down a couple of rows from us. I guess maybe he had a little too much cold beer. He was overcome with passsion for his “Redbirds” when they were at bat in the eighth. He could not contain his exuberance and jumped up on the dugout to lead the few thousand fans in cheering. Someone had to lead. He got the crowd clapping and cheering in time as he ran back and forth on the dugout roof. I pointed out to Shirley that the security people were not cheering. They were closing in on him. It was like watching a pack of wolves on the Nature channel. They circled slowly. One would move in a step, to distract our cheerleader, and another would take a couple of steps down the aisle. The circle was getting smaller. The cheerleader panicked and jumped off the roof and made a run for it. Tragic mistake. A burly security officer grabbed him. He threw up his hands in surrender. I guess he’s seen those taser deals work. He bowed his head in dejection as they led him up the stairs. Then, when they relaxed their grip as they could see the gig was up … he threw his arms up in defiance, as the last cold beer kicked in. He took the stairs two at a time, the crowd cheering. But this was not a bunch of wolf pups. This was an experienced pack. At the top of the stairs, more security police waited. He was taken into custody. I imagine he was placed in cement boots and dropped in the Mississippi. We can’t have people leading cheers at a ballgame. Homeland security, you know.
Oh, yes, and we went to a wedding. On a plantation in Tennessee. And I hate to even go to weddings at home. Go figure. But it was a wedding for Scott. Remember Scott? I wrote a column about the southern gentleman that lived with us a year ago. Well, evidently my column impressed one southern belle immensely. And I will tell you one more thing. 101 degrees is too darn hot to stand outside at a wedding. I’m back in the air-conditioned room.