America, Countries, Sport

Walking in Vegas and Memphis

And WC Handy will still look down on him… Rainy Days and Songdays celebrates Tyson Fury as he goes Walking in Vegas and Memphis.

The Gypsy King has become as big a headliner in Vegas as Celine Dion, Elton John and The Osmonds (yes, really).

The World Heavyweight champion brought the house down when he adapted another American classic in the ring after defeating Deontay Wilder, who really ought to have had the home fans in the palm of his destructive hands.

Memphis history

That’s Handy: In Memphis

Now we’ll forgive Tyson for being disorientated.

And not quite knowing his surroundings after Wilder put him on the seat of his pants during the fight.

Because WC Handy was an Alabaman, who made his name in Memphis, Tennessee, as the Father of the Blues.

A couple of feet: Off of Beale

Tyson would be a thousand miles away though if he had touched down in the land of the Delta Blues.

The Delta being the juncture in the Mississippi.

Although we will give him his Beale (Avenue) in Las Vegas which we stumbled upon in Neon City.

Although the Beale which Marc Cohen was referring to was Beale Street in Memphis.

On the Strip

VIP: With the Rat Trap

Mind you Vegas can recreate anywhere in the world in their own image.

Head down the Strip and you will almost think you have been transported to Paris or ancient Egypt.

And an anecdote here to prove my point.

Jetlagged on my arrival in Vegas I laid down on my triple bed in The Palazzo in the afternoon.

And against my better judgment I fell asleep.

Only to be woken up by a call from our host Tryphavana to say the party was sitting down for dinner at the Venetian.

The Grand Canal

The one in.., Vegas

Wiping my eyes, still in sleepy mode, I passed by gondolas on the Grand Canal.

And walked through to the restaurant and an Italian feast.

Looking up I saw a fresco of the Creation of Adam.

Sure, Vegas can recreate the world in their own image.

So go ahead, me and Tyson Fury love Walking in Vegas and Memphis.

America, Countries, Culture, Music

The Deep South have a lot to sing and write about

‘Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy… that’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’ And doesn’t Harper Lee’s state Alabama and the Deep South have a lot to sing and write about.

That great novel, To Kill A Mockingbird was 60 years old last year.

And it is regularly listed as one of the public’s favourite books and Harper Lee is rightly celebrated in the Deep South state.

So much so that the good residents of her own Monroeville homestead live the story every year.

With the locals actually becoming part of the cast alongside Jem, Scout, Boo Ridley, Atticus Finch and Tom Robinson.

Part of the cast

Every April and May, a version of Mockingbird  is put on by people from the community.

And you’ll see the jury preside over Tom Robinson’s trial is selected from the audience before each performance.

While just a short drive away lies Montgomery where Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald lived from 1931-32 and where Scott worked on Tender is the Night.

You can visit the Jazz Age couple’s Felder Avenue home is now the site of the F. Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald Museum.

And a two-bedroom apartment that can be booked by literary lovers on Airbnb.

The Sound of the South

With Rosa Parks in Jackson, Mississippi

It is no coincidence that Hollywood mines the Deep South for epic movies.

William Faulkner, the Poet Laureate of the South says it better than ya’ll could.. certainly this scribbler.

Faulkner is the author of the classic The Sound and the Fury.

And he opined: ‘I discovered that my own little postage stamp of native soil was worth writing about and that I would never live long enough to exhaust it.’

And you can learn much more about Faulkner and other alumni from the Magnolia State including Richard Wright and Eurdora Welty on The Mississippi Writers Trail.

All of which is a good bookend to the Mississippi Blues Trail which of course is richly infused through the Civil Rights Struggle.

While Faulkner will forever be linked to the Deep South, that too is the case for Tennessee Williams. Well, how could it not as he carried it around the state in his name?

Good ole Southern Boys

Graceland: And a reason to believe

Like many famous Tennessee legends, like BB King and Elvis Presley he is in fact a Mississippian.

The Deep South includes AlabamaKentuckyLouisianaMississippi & Tennessee.

And to immerse yourself in the region is to step right into the pages of these great storytellers.

Yes, truly, the Deep South have a lot to sing and write about.

 

America, Countries, Culture

Freedom Ride through Civil Rights history

The Greyhound is more of an adventure than a coach trip but 60 years ago it was a Freedom ride through Civil Rights history.

The first group of Freedom Riders set out from Washington DC in 1961 to integrate interstate buses.

That buses were the frontline in a social revolution is hard to believe but the Civil Rights Movement saw them as a vehicle for change.

Ever since Rosa Parks refused to vacate her seat for a white passenger back in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, and thus challenged segregation.

All of which I witnessed myself on an unforgettable odyssey.

Through the Deep South taking in the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis which incorporates the Lorraine Motel room where Dr Martin Luther King was assassinated.

And the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson.

King’s heirs

Iconic: Dr Martin Luther King

Civil Rights, is of course, a journey which still alas is anywhere near completion.

As Dr King himself, and his followers predicted.

And which is evidenced in the unfinished statue to the Father of the Movement in DC.

We can though track the history of the Civil Rights Movement throughout the South by visiting 120 landmarks across 14 states.

Not that you have to worry about working any of it out for yourself as our friends from Alabama have only pointed us.

In the direction of an invaluable companion book.

And when we say our friends we only mean Dr Bernice King, Dr King’s youngest.

Stuff of history

Action: The Civil Rights Movement

More on the book:

The 128-page hardcover book showcases former Southern Living photographer Art Meripol’s pictures.

The historic photos, paired with more than 200 images of the landmarks today, underscore the transformative experience of the trail and its endured relevance. 

‘The Civil Rights Trail is a one-of-a-kind cultural travel experience that everyone should visit.

‘To renew their perspective and gain a deeper appreciation for those who fought before us,” said Dr. Bernice King.

‘Each landmark across the trail serves as a reminder.

‘Of where my father and many other brave activists fought tirelessly for our fundamental freedoms so that future generations of Black Americans could enjoy a better life.’

The heroes and heroines

Legacy: With Myrlie Evers

Travellers can draw inspiration from the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

And follow the harrowing stories of 14-year-old Emmett Till.

And Mississippi leader Medgar Evers, whose indomitable widow Myrlie I met in Jackson at the opening of the Mississippi museums.

Also take in the story of the Birmingham Sunday School attendees.

And the Selma voting-rights marchers and Nashville Freedom Riders.

While reading their stories and retracing their footsteps at sites along the trail. 

The magic bus

Legend: With Rosa Parks

The Greyhound is of course a misnomer as your journey goes at snail’s pace. 

But ever since I took my first one from New York to Boston with my fellow pale-faced Scots.

And mingled with Native Americans, blacks and a melting pot of nationalities.

I have sought out the bus as my preferred mode of transport in the US.

And enjoy the bus the way it should.

And consider too its place in American culture with the Freedom Ride through Civil Rights history.

The book also underscores the movement’s present-day relevance by featuring historic destinations such as the Smithsonian National African American Museum of History and Culture in Washington, D.C., alongside new memorial sites including the Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. 

How to stay informed

The story: Civil Rights Trail

For more information about the book or to plan your journey on the trail, visit civilrightstrail.com.

Consumers can purchase the book from Amazon.com (will ship to the UK) or at This is Alabama.

 

America, Countries, Culture

Native American signs point the way

I’d advise anyone who is thinking about taking a summer out before work to spend it in ‘At or about the great hill’. Or Massachusetts to you and me!

You see, we all know more Native American language than we thought.

Always in the big tent

But imagine if somebody came to your country and changed all the names of the places which the settlers did.

AIANTA, the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association, have got us on board for their initiative Mapping Indigenous Place Names.

Where is..?

Do you know the way to?

Now as the United States took shape and they formed new settlements they went for names from the Old World and then just put New in front of them.

Some though were more inventive and took Native American names.

So, let’s play a game of what does that American state mean?

Rivers run through it

All kinds of everythng with Carol Dana, language master for Penobscot Nation

Starting with A, of course, and Alaska is from the Aleut word alexsxaq, meaning ‘the object towards which the action of the sea is directed’.

K is for Kentucky, a hallowed place in American Country music, is Iroquoian for ‘at the meadow’ or ‘on the prairie’.

While Michigan who we met up again with this week at MTM21 and are close to welcoming us all back, nods to the Ottawa mishigami, ‘large water.’

Dressed to thrill

Our magical Mississippi, whose old man river just keeps rolling, is derived from the Algonquian language Ojibwe. meaning ‘big river’…

And yes, there’s a theme here.

Utah, another we caught up with at MTM21 and where we’ll visit after the American Travel Fair, IPW, means ‘high up’. Naturally!

Follow the trail

They were here first

When we all get travelling again we should definitely add Native American experiences to our lengthening list.

Helpfully AIANTA has done the heavy lifting for us and pointed these information packs our way.

That bbbbbuckin’ Bronco

Top Ten Experiences: https://www.aianta.org/ten-native-american-tourism-experiences/

Pre-Columbian Sites:  https://www.aianta.org/pre-columbian-sites-in-the-us/

Native American Tours: https://www.aianta.org/native-american-tours/.

Must fly, I’m being called back to ‘the Place Where The Scary One Breathes Fire’, sometimes called ‘Home’.