TRANSLATION: MEMPHIS 

TRANSLATION: MEMPHIS

WEATHERTALK Since we are pretty much strangers, and I’m not really in the political frame of mind at present (lest I go on for about 500 paragraphs) I figured it’s a great time to comment on the weather. Isn’t it absolutely gorgeous? I sometimes wonder about weather talk. At any given moment across Memphis, or the US, or pan-ultimately, the world, how many people are having polite, largely innocuous little chats about the state of the weather? Thousands at the very minimum. Probably a whole lot more. (Not including the overabundance of eager weathercasters, who I bet know what temperatures they enjoy to the degree and aren’t satisfied unless the air is in that perfect, overly defined state.) Talking about the weather, or course, is perfectly reasonable. How many wars are fought over it? Unless, of course, you start to analyze it further, and place politics and religion into the realm of being cultural applications of environmental factors (your forest is more fertile than mine, etc.) Then maybe all wars, at heart, are really about the weather. But anyway, back to the innocuous reflection on the grand state of Spring. Spring is a monster in Memphis. It’s like a living creature. I swear that I went to sleep one night watching the moon through a sparse tangle of branches out my window, slept about six hours, and awakened to a yard of fully blossomed trees outside my apartment. It’s as if there was an overnight marathon, in which the moon shouted “one, two, three, goÉ” and handed out prizes to the plants quickest to sprout by the break of sunlight. That pretty much rocks, in my book. And the best part of the whole thing is that the people start coming back out. The warm weather here is like a season-long version of a full moon, and everyone starts running around in circles. Which leads me to a brief public service announcement. If you are one of those people who begins to run unbridled through the city as the temperature rises, please look in both directions when crossing the street. I’ve recently read that Memphis is one of the more dangerous cities for pedestrians, and this has to be correlative to the number of individuals that seem to enjoy walking right along the yellow lines in the middle of the road. So what to do, amidst all of this temperate splendor? Well first off, keep your eye open for the ongoing plethora of special events. From April through October, Memphis holds the honor of being the festival capital of the world. Crawfish festivals. Africa in April. The South Main Arts festival. The Great Wine Race. Memphis in May. Sudsfest. Parties in the Pinch. Artist markets. The fair. Elvis’ death week. The Jerry Lee Lewis birthday convention. The Cooper Young festival. The list goes on and on, and frankly, is entirely too long to fully detail without my arms falling off. It’s also a great time of year to walk around and watch people. For the third straight season, I have seen certain people emerge right around this time, wander about while the weather is right, and then disappear into the winter. Go to the park. Drive up and down the street. You’ll find more characters than you could imagine. Just a few weeks ago I was approached by a self-described “Redneck Irishman” with a bloody right eye and a yellow balloon who told me that he loved me. There’s another man with whom I’m mildly obsessed that can be seen walking up and down Vance almost daily. He’s tall, and carries an air with him as if there’s some sort of ancient secret that he’s sworn to protect. I know that probably sounds ridiculous, but if you saw him, you’d know what I mean. And if you’re searching for Memphis mementos, check out some yard sales. Sure, there are enough gift shops about to fill an entire mall, but why not seek out something that’s truly indicative of the city’s people. I enjoy nothing more than wandering from yard to yard, trying to imagine what secrets might live inside a home, based solely upon the “garbage” tossed out on the lawn. This past weekend, for a grand total of thirteen dollars, and over the course of about a square mile of Midtown, I found a huge ornamental tapestry, a voodoo doll, a metallic Egyptian print on a fiber paper, two dresses, a pair of brown velour pants, a tee-shirt, paperback versions of The Serpent and the Rainbow, Watership Down, and The Tenth Man, as well as some really cool cloth napkins that I’m going to use to mat some frames. So what are you doing inside, anyway? Go out and play. Did I mention that the weather is splendid? (Care to respond? Write mailonthefly@aol.com.)

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