True Grit In Grind City
For the life of me, I can’t figure out why this is the hardest blog to find motivation for. It’s a story of triumph over tragedy. The following trip to Memphis would unknown to me then, alter the rest of my life. In the first week of December 2016, I was invited to Memphis TN, to be a contributor in an art show put on by my good friend Johnny. (@JohnnyMeant) Shortly after landing sometime in the evening this guy Eric (@Webraw / pronounced web-raw) was there to pick me up from the airport. This guy Eric in a few short days would go from a stranger, to someone I consider a close friend. Not only that, but Eric’s an instrumental part on ensuring I still got to experience some of the best food around, and most importantly, true Southern Hospitality. (I'll add a list of amazing food spots to check out at the end). There was someone else in the car, another first time meet; Jorden. (@Anomalicious) Jorden is someone that would leave an impact on me in the days and weeks to come. When they pulled up we all shook hands and I threw my bag in the back of the car and we were off to meet up with Johnny.
We arrived at where I would be staying, The Exchange Memphis. Here is where Johnny was starting to print his photos for the show that would be held the following night a few floors above us in the penthouse banquet hall. After awhile Johnny suggested we go on the roof and that I go out with Eric and Jorden. For the rest of the night we went around and made some photos and I was introduced to two of the most amazing bars I’ve ever seen, Paula & Raiford’s Disco, and a disco it was.. The other being Ernestine and Hazels, and my favorite of the two. The structure was built in the late 1900’s and remains very much original to this day. You can’t buy this type of perfect imperfection. In the 1950’s the 2 story building’s lower level was turned into a Jazz club, with a salon upstairs. All the remaining rooms were rented out to ambitious ladies of the evening thanks to the Salon owner. The owners husband had ties with Stax Records which allowed him to book Aretha Franklyn, Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix, ect at his nearby club. After the show they would all head over to E&H for the afterparty. Last thing I’m going to mention is that it’s said 13 people have died there and it remains haunted to this day.
Arriving back at The Exchange sometime during the darkest hours of the night Johnny was still printing. I told him I would take over so he could get a couple hours of sleep before our drive to visit an abounded mental Hospital. It’s located a couple hours outside Memphis so we had to get an early start. An hour or 2 later I went to wake him up along with my favorite people from Chicago, Tatiana and Steven. (Tat_Ventures) & (Atavisme) A short while later we were in the car.
The hospital was really rad. I’ve visited a similar one back when I lived in Minnesota. This one I was told still had some of the patients luggage and I really was hoping it hadn’t been too disturbed. The hospital began construction in 1885. It’s said that during the 1960s patients were “warehoused” in dormitories with their numbers exceeding 2300. Treatments dolled out here ranged from hydrotherapy and insulin shock therapy to lobotomies and electric shock therapy. Yikes. After a few hours we wrapped it up and headed back to the Exchange to get ready for the show later that night.
The show was great. I got to see the work of, and also meet a lot of the people in the Memphis photo community. While everyone was great, I personally don’t really do crowds so Tatiana, Steven, and I broke away to go get some food down the street. A short while after we got back the party came to a close when some young shit heads decided it was a cool and respectful idea to buck off a fire extinguisher which ended up setting the fire alarms off throughout the entire building. The Exchange is a 21 story building with over 100 units of residential and hotel space. If anyone involved with that is reading this, you need the grow the fuck up and learn some respect.