Saturday, December 23, 2006

From: at home she feels like a tourist

Bars of Memphis?

I like bars. Not all of them, of course. But a good bar is a perfect snapshot of night-time urban sociability: it's messy and chaotic, noisy and dark, full of oddballs, chance encounters, missed opportunities, a curious combination of hope and desperation (but then, there's nothing so curious about that, really), shadowy corners, midnight seduction rituals, poetic profanity, and the allure, promise, danger, and threat of strangers. There are yuppie bars and working-class bars, punk rock bars and trannie bars, dive bars and upscale cosmo-sipping bars, bike messenger bars and Young Republican bars and goth bars and dockworker bars and fashionista bars and Latino bars and everything in between - bars and their clientele represent the full spectrum of crazy, diverse cities. And the best bars jumble together strange and unpredictable combinations of subcultures and ethnicities and classes for a bizarre riot of voices and fashion sensibilties and generally embarrassing dancing styles. They feature well-known quirky regulars, beloved jukeboxes, bartenders who become minor celebrities, distinctive decorations and moods. There's something democratic - in the populist, bottom-up, anti-authoritarian way - about this messy, alchohol-tinged sociability. It's no wonder that bars have long been cradles of the revolutionary spirit in nations teetering on the edge.

But bars can only be as compelling as the city that houses them. So I'm pleased that I've stumbled into some great little places in my 4 months in Memphis. I love the spooky, crumbling, mysterious former brothel on the upstairs floor of Earnestine and Hazels, the crazy jumble of art, junk art, and caricatures covering the walls (and ceiling) at the P&H, and the rundown divey hole-in-the-wall feel of the Buccaneer (to say nothing of the pirate theme!) But I figured I'd ask you, oh knowledgeable readers, for your recommendations. Anything unpredictable, off-the-beaten-path, seedy-in-a-good-way, not in the guidebooks, catering to a truly odd clientele? Unload your thoughts on me - I'm on vacation in Boston, dreaming of M-town...

posted by fearlessvk

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thinking of going to Memphis next year and visit an old friend. The Buccaneer sounds like a good place to catch up on some old times and hoist a few.

Thanks for the tip.