Having Tea With Elvis
Yesterday, I went to Memphis. It was the first time I’ve ever been there and I was kind of surprised by how old and run-down some neighborhoods are–even ghetto-fied. I suppose I was expecting more of a quaint southern city due to everyone else’s rose-colored recollections.
The first place I went to was the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, particularly because I wanted to see “The Artful Teapot” (Aside: The author of this link was able to take photographs of the collection–I wasn’t. Overzealous security people screamed “No photography!” at me when I whipped out the digital camera. I assumed they wanted me to buy their overpriced coffee table book. Fat chance!), a collection of twentieth-century artists’ interpretation of the teapot. Teapots are depicted as everything from animals to buildings to political figures. And they are made of a variety of materials: ceramic, metals, twine, bottle caps, and even rock salt. I particularly enjoyed the cartoonish Pupil Correction and The Arms Dealer teapots of George Walker, the metaphorical Hostage Teapot by Richard Notkin, and the Lamb Teapot by Mary Engel made entirely of tiny dice. And, of course, the exhibition wouldn’t be complete without an Elvis teapot (by Jack Earl).
And, a visit to Memphis wouldn’t be complete without a looksee at Graceland. There are only two words I have for the place: TOURIST TRAP. Unless you are an avid fan of Elvis (and even then, it’s sort of questionable), it’s not really worth the twenty-two bucks for the basic tour. One gets jostled around and hustled through the place pretty quickly by overeager fans with cameras. And I was definitely not impressed with the mansion decor–shaggy dark green carpet on the walls and ceilings? I’d rather sit down with a 900-page tome biography about the king of rock and roll.