Memphis, Tennessee.  Home of the blues. Beale Street, the best barbecue anywhere, bar none. Elvis. Graceland.

That's what the tourists see.

Let me take you down to Memphis. The real Memphis, Tennessee.

Metropolitan Memphis is 324 square miles, and there are 652, 717 people living there.

It's tough, living in Memphis. You think Chicago's tough?

Okay, Chicago is tough, but so is Memphis, it was the murder capital of the U.S., twice in the last decade

I'm not proud of that. It's tough, is all I'm sayin'.

Memphians will tell you there are more churches than gas stations in their city, and more barbecue places than churches.

I was in one of our fine, barbecue-scarfin' establishments once, back when a pay phone cost ten cents. A man with four pennies in his hand asked me for “a solid dime.”

The telephone, he said, don't recognize four cents.

That's how people talk in Memphis, TN.

Memphis is the only place you'll see a locally owned convenience store with a giant, neon sign that says: Watermelon. Beer. Ice.

It is the only place I know where a pastor goes on the radio and says, When you come to my church, I will greet you with all the love and sincerity I can muster.

Swear to God, he said that.

To a man named Sidney Shlenker, Memphis was an opportunity.

The name might be familiar. In 1995, Shlenker was in the news for his involvement in the Heidi Fleiss scandal

In '89, Sidney Shlenker was in Memphis, pitching an idea to the city fathers: a 20, 000 seat pyramid-shaped arena, with a Hard Rock Cafe and everything.

You'd think a name like “Sidney Shlenker” would've given someone pause.

Shlenker was well-known for all sorts of flim-flammery, but he managed to persuade more than a few of Memphis' movers and shakers the venue would be “a monument.”

Out-of-town financial backers disagreed and sent him packing. A lot of bankruptcy petitions would be filed before Shlenker slithered away, and it seems God does look after fools; the pyramid was built and today it is a Bass Pro Shop, one of the biggest in the country.

But for years it was just an eyesore. A testament to stupidity, and greed, three hundred feet high.

Memphis is an unmelded mass of grifters and lottery ticket holders, a divide of broken promises and privelege.

It's a shabby, backwater, exploitation film of a city.

The humidity's always high, it's either too hot or too cold.

And I miss it something awful here in Chattanooga.

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