A few notes on a very busy weekend in our corner of the world…
The visit by royalty to Memphis was one of the rare opportunities where the exposure probably got a lot of people thinking about what Memphis has to offer who maybe haven’t thought about the city before.
Normally, we have a tendency to fervently believe against all odds that a 10-second shot of the Pyramid or the city skyline on national television will produce an avalanche of visitors who will not only visit but will decide to move to Memphis and live here until they die.
I might be exaggerating slightly. But you get the idea.
In this case, there were several really good travel and tourism pieces that focused on what the royals could see if they got out on the town and what others could see during a visit to the city they were suddenly reading about and seeing stories about. It helped that the visitors in question were here to do a bit of that built around a friend’s wedding.
The other interesting part of the Princes William and Harry being in Memphis over the weekend for me is that the security for their visit did not involve blocking off the interstate during rush hour.
The Princes arrived in Memphis at the height of the afternoon rush hour Thursday and their three-car motorcade with tinted windows got on the interstate and right into the regular afternoon drive time traffic. They exited onto Poplar before turning north on Shady Grove Road for the Memphis Hunt and Polo Club and stopped at traffic signals along the way.
Obviously there were security precautions not seen by the public and not talked about including just what the security specs of the vehicles were.
But consider that when Memphis gets a Presidential or a Vice Presidential visit – when a visiting football or basketball team is in town – they get a police or sheriff’s office escort through traffic signals and the streets of Memphis.
Princes seem to travel lighter than the President. They don’t come with a couple of buses of traveling press and their exposure to the public was very limited. There was no working the rope line and a really surprising lack of Royal selfies that are now the norm for American political figures.
Still, The Daily Mail estimated the cost of the trip to Memphis including security at around $84,000. That apparently did not include dealing with the Prince Harry impersonator who was making the rounds at the National Civil Rights Museum and Beale Street.
Let’s not forget that Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice were here for the visit to Memphis as well and we shall see if “fascinators” become the legacy of their brief time here. There may be a delayed fashion effect.
The visit by the royals came at a time when those on their way to the Beale Street Music Festival dress to be comfortable to the exclusion of every other consideration. At times the choices can call to mind the term “fascinator” but for very different reasons. Yet, to each his or her own in the name of comfort.
Lots of social media carping about the choice of the Rendezvous for their first Memphis stop of the visit.
It’s proof that the Memphis food scene is a dynamic part of the larger discussion about what defines Memphis. Many of the comments complained that the choice played into a narrow and stereotypical identity of Memphis.
And of course, a good part of that argument goes back to our long held tendency to focus intensely on what others outside the city will think if this is their first brush with Memphis.
I’ll leave that discussion to continue its own long life in our civic discourse.
Instead, it is a great excuse to change direction here and direct you toward what I think was an overlooked masterpiece on our city from Roseanne Cash that was in the November music issue of the Oxford American.
Her career as a singer, songwriter, performer is already well established. And the piece touches on themes in a lot of the music in her most recent release. But there is so much more in the magazine piece about us and one person’s journey out of many through a city she obviously came to know well through the eyes of a child.
So, give it a read and you can tell her what you think when she comes to town next month, June 14, for a show at the Levitt Shell.