The Rant 

Ah, the Best of Memphis issue. I feel certain that Geoff Calkins has spent his life's savings once again to pay people to vote for him so he'll win in the Best Newspaper Columnist category, ousting me, the obvious choice as winner, as he has done for the past few years. Kidding, of course. Geoff, you are the man. Good luck.

For those of you who don't know this about Geoff, we share a deep love for the book Rascal by Sterling North. It's the story of a boy and his pet raccoon. I've read it about 100 times. I doubt Geoff is that obsessive.

I'm sure this year's Best of Memphis results will see many of the usual suspects. Huey's will likely win Best Burger. Peabody Hotel Bar will probably win Best Martini or Best Place to Drink a Martini or whatever the category is. I hate to admit it, but I never actually saw this year's ballot, so I don't know what all of the categories are and I apologize to the people, places, and things I would have voted for.

Having said that, I bet there are some categories that I would have included that the great Flyer staff might have overlooked, so I will list some of them here.

First of all, Best Grave: Yes, it seems a little ghoulish, but hey, tourists like to see graves of famous people. My choice is Isaac Hayes' grave at Memorial Park Funeral Home and Cemetery. The new, huge, bronze marker with its raised photo relief design is fitting for Black Moses, the man who changed American music and culture forever. There are awesome bronze photo reproductions on it from various periods of the late megastar's life and career, and it is just a few yards from the Crystal Shrine Grotto, that cool cave built in the 1930s by Mexican artist Dionicio Rodriguez. If you have never been there or haven't been in a while, go check it out.

Best Stacked White Bread: This, of course, is at Wild Bill's on Vollintine in Midtown Memphis just a couple of miles from Rhodes College. Wild Bill's used to be something of a well-kept secret in Memphis, but it's not really so secret anymore unless you live out in the suburbs and think Germantown Parkway is hip. Memphis should be really proud of Wild Bill's with its 40-ounce ice-cold beers, post nuclear war-sized chicken wings, stacked slices of white bread, and some of the best live music to be found anywhere in the world. People of all races and backgrounds sit at long tables together, dance together, and have a great time. I know people who come from other continents to go to Wild Bill's. I always kiss Mel the guitar player on the head when I go there. And I always have a blast. But if you are a friend of mine and you go there with me and later post a photo on Facebook of me trying to dance, I will see to it that you have to listen to Sarah Palin speeches for the rest of your life.

Best Live Band That Is Really Great and Didn't Place in Last Year's Memphis Flyer Best of Memphis Results: I'm going with the Bulletproof Vests. I know that I am old and don't listen to a great deal of new music or live music because I can't stay up late enough at night, but these guys are awesome. Catch them any time you can. Also look for Meant 2 Be and Singa Bromfield.

Best Hair Salon That Will Probably Never Place in the Memphis Flyer's Best of Memphis Results: Michael's Magnificent Cuts & Styles. This is one of my favorite places in Memphis. I usually don't mind being bald, but I really wish I had hair sometimes just so I could get it cut at Michael's. The place is like a club on Friday and Saturday nights and everyone there is cool, cool, cool. Owner Michael Mallory is the nicest guy in the world and he does lots of things for kids. It's a real neighborhood gem and it should get the Best of something.

Best Place Ever in Memphis in the History of the City, the World, and the Universe: Royal Studios. Yes, this is home of Willie Mitchell's Hi Records and it's still a working studio. This is where Al Green recorded all his incredible hits and his number nine microphone is still sitting in the corner of the sound booth. I was in there the other day and got to play the piano (well, hit the two chords I know) that was used on all his songs, while Willie's grandson, Boo Mitchell, who now runs the place, played a rendition of "Let's Stay Together." It was kind of haunting and wonderful all at the same time. The place has changed very little in the past 40 years and it is an international treasure.

Finally, Best Museum That Didn't Place in Last Year's Memphis Flyer Best of Memphis Results: Okay, people. What was the deal? You KNOW the Stax Museum is the best museum in Memphis. Just because I happen to work at the Stax Museum has no bearing on my love for it. None whatsoever. I am being totally objective here. Yes, the Pink Palace and Brooks and Dixon and Rock and Soul and Sun Studios and the Children's Museum and all those and many others are wonderful places, but do they have a dance floor and a gold-trimmed, fur-lined 1972 Cadillac that spins around in a circle? I think not! Oh, well, perhaps I am a little biased. So good luck to everyone and let the best of the Best of Memphis win.

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