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Ain’t No Wi-Fi Within These City Limits — Pinging Nutbush

July 17th, 2010 · Tags:Arts · Cities · Wi-Fi

Back in my newspaper days, occasionally the editor would give me “Man on the Street” interview assignments. “Great! Where can you find 20 people who have enough spare time to comment on celebrity gossip, trade embargoes or a new strain of e-coli?”

The first time I manned up on the street, it took me about 3 hours to get enough interviews. People were just too busy.

There had to be an easier way. “Where can I find people sitting, bored, and willing to chat?” (This predated nouveau coffee shop craze …) I discovered the waiting room at the full-service car wash. Soon, MOTS interviews were completed in 30 minutes.

Even later, my observations of bored waiting rooms, combined with my first blog — The Wi-Fi Guy — led to my theory that “someday, any and every place where butts are in seats, will have Wi-Fi.” Maybe it was a no brainer, but back in 2003, some people thought I was crazy. “What is Wi-Fi?”

Flash forward. Yesterday, I went to a Goodyear store in Millington, Tenn. Not only was there a Wi-Fi hotspot, they advertised it right on the front door … where the rubber meets the road. Was it good? Glad you aksed. I pulled out my iPhone and pinged the hotspot. I was on line, tweeting in about 5 seconds — even before the salesman captured my contact information and prepared to change the oil in my ride.

Goodyear in Millington — I went in for an oil change, pinged some peeps, tweeted — fast, easy and free — faster then they could say “You need two new tires.” Great service … perfect Wi-Fi experience … perfect score — 7 pings (but remember to rotate them after 20,000 miles).

Even before Goodyear pinged my ride, I had the chance to burn up some miles around Tennessee. Sorry, but I avoided the obvious attraction. Been to Graceland, done that … This time I sought out the deeper, darker side of the Memphis sound. By chance, I saw a traffic sign promoting the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. SCREEEEEEETCHing halt. (Prolly why I needed new tires.) You really should read up on Stax and check this place out.

Soulsville

Soulsville

Book

Book

Joe Tex

Joe Tex

At Graceland you can see lame’ jumpsuits with capes. At Stax there is more flare … but it is a lot mo funky ya’ll. Six-inch platform shoes … orange felt fedoras … Isaac Hayes’ totally pimped out green and gold-plated Cadillac (which spins on a turntable) … and the history of the real Memphis sound. Memphis Slim … Joe Tex … Rufus Thomas … Aretha Franklin … Ike & Tina Turner … & on & on … I mean, Aretha Franklin, Memphis Slim and Booker T all were raised within blocks of each other, near the museum. Ha … sidenote … I am an absolute freak for Hammond B-3 organ (used extensively in church, rock and reggae …) The museum even has a Hammond keyboard (an M-3) that belonged to Booker T … way cool. Equally quirky, yes I still have a vinyl copy of Booker T &The MGs “Green Onions.”

Stax got Wi-Fi? It do … but … unfortunately the hotspot is for staff only. I toured the place, grabbed a soulful shirt to feed my t-shirt addiction but had to use 3G to send out a ping or two.

Stax Museum of American Soul Music – It’s got a great beat, you can really dance to, but I would add Wi-Fi to the rhythm section — 5 pings.

Tighten Up

Tighten Up

Visit their site and listen to all the great tunes:

Soulsville USA

The Stax displays were covered with awesome record album art and memorabilia … including some Tina Turner 4-1-1 … which jogged my memory of her old song “on highway number nineteen … little ol’ town in Tennessee … Nutbush, Nutbush city limits.” “Where on God’s green earth is Nutbush?,” I wondered.

Back in the workplace — recall that I fund this blog by working in disaster recovery — some local laborers told me they live in Nutbush … a neighborhood within Memphis. But, gentlemen, the song begs to differ. That ain’t the real Nutbush.

I called up Yahoo Maps on my new Apple iPad and got to the bottom of this Nutbush thing. There it was … about 60 miles north of Memphis. I left more rubber on the road and cruised north on 51. It’s clearly marked … Highway 19. I hung a right and drove past numerous cornfields, obscure blues bars/shacks … a faith healing place called God’s House … some cotton fields …

I loved the NB City Limits song as a kid — although props and shout out to my sister … She turned me on to it. My hometown was about 800 people. My buddies and me, we we’re all dusty little farmboys — wearing gimmee caps that had the NK seed company logo.  (We called them Nasty Kid hats, although it really stood for Northrup King … ) Sometimes, the radio and it’s rock ‘n’ roll were our only window to the world. So, I had to know if in fact Tina Turner had been raised in a smaller, more rural place. Tina wins hands down. Coming from the west on Highway 19, I don’t think there was a sign to mark Nutbush’s city limits. In the town’s defense, there are several signs on the east side — Nutbush (unincorporated) and signs proclaiming Tina Turner Highway. Now that is bling, when you have your name in a reflective road sign …

We Ping The Funk

We Ping The Funk

Nutbush, my friends, is smaller than it sounds in the song. There is a store/café marked with “Birthplace of Tina Turner” … a cemetery which coincidentally features (what I think is another) Turner family headstone as soon as you drive in the gate as well as Confederate flags instead of flowers on some graves … There are a couple of churches, but most of the downtown real estate is dedicated to the local cotton gin and it’s equipment. “A little old town in Tennessee …”

Flashinig Double T

Flashinig Double T

Oh this is weird … on the day I drove to Nutbush, that morning in my hotel in Millington, Tenn., this kid was wearing a Texas Tech hat — pretty rare in these parts. Later in the day, I posed in front of Tina’s sign, and flashed the Texas Tech sign with my hands — the “guns ups” hand gesture. Stay with me … then I was thinking about all the things associated with Texas Tech that are called Double T. What are Tina Turner’s initials? One more thing. I was shooting a photo of a logo on a cotton truck. Looking down at the mud flap on the vehicle, I noticed it was printed with Lubbock, Texas … Which of course is the home of Texas Tech … You know, my school which fired the most brilliant coaching mind in football and its all time winningest … I’m just sayin …

Anyway, anything to ping in Nutbush? Ha .. Wi-Fi prolly ain’t allowed, if you know the song … Not even any t-shirts, as I peered into the closed café. Maybe I can do a Ping Nutbush t-shirt … I digress …

Nutbush, Tennessee — no Wi-Fi detected, and “motorcycles not allowed” ya’ll … but it did give us the best legs in rock ‘n’ roll and the queen of Bartertown in “Thunderdome” — 4 pings.

So … back to Highway 51. I think Johnny Winter did a song about it. No wait, that was Highway 61 … back on point. As I was burning rubber to get to Nutbush, I passed Henning, Tennessee. It too was the tiny, childhood (summer) home of a celebrity. If you guessed magician Doug Henning, that would be wrong. (He is dead AND Canadian … Old SNL joke …) As the road signs proudly proclaim, Henning, Tenn., gave the world Alex Haley, who gave the world the best inside look at the heritage of slavery in his phenomenal book and mini-series “Roots.” Actually, Haley spent summers in Henning, with his grandparents … so they shared his roots …

Summer Roots

Summer Roots

Alex Haley Roots
Alex gets bragging rights. His summer home is three or four times the size of Tina Turner’s cotton patch. The Alex Haley Museum is in the writer’s boyhood home … But alas, was also closed.

In both of these hometowns, it is amazing to look around and see the rural setting, scattered poverty, miles from anywhere … and wonder how in the world they rose to the top. Salute!

Another sign caught my eye … “Fort Pillow.” Why would the Confederates name the fort Pillow? Did Stonewall Jackson sleep there or something? Is someone famous laid to rest? I took the turn and checked it out.

Pillow Talk

About two miles away is the Lower Hatchie Wildlife Preserve, which provides a road right up to the banks of the Mighty Mis-Sip. I followed the road, oddly, surrounded by an escort of wasps and bumble bees … Were they attracted to the brightly colored logo on the side of my Dirty Gigs car?

So after I treaded where Confederate soldiers once trod, and after tracing the roots of two famous Tennessean African American superstars … I cooled off my weary feet in the cool, murky mud of The Great River. There was no Wi-Fi, and I didn’t need it. I met an elderly fisherman — a truck driver by trade, named E.J. — and listened to tall tale after tall tale about the huge catfish that had been given up by the channel just a few feet from where we sat.

Know what I sayin?