Aug 28, 2011

Road Trip Day 10

I was to arrive in Chicago on the August 29th, but somehow I was a day ahead of schedule. To kill a bit of time, and inspired by the Whithers gallery, we went to visit the Lorraine Motel, where MLK Jr. was shot. It's been converted to the National Civil Rights Museum. On the whole drive over, I could hear U2's Pride playing in my head.

The museum was educational. I had read about Rosa Parks before, but the museum put many of the different parts of the civil rights movement together in perspective. It also helped that Memphis, unlike say Toronto and San Francisco, has a significant black population.

A few years ago, I had this sense that San Francisco was a city stuck in the past. It was obsessed with its significant history, especially in the Vietnam and hippie era. Many of the buildings were old, and I couldn't really see where the city was going. My view on the city has changed over the last two years, seeing the significant development in the Dogpatch area, as well as spate of new and fairly innovate restaurants. The start-up scene is picking up again as well.

It took me a while to see the development in SF, so I'm probably wrong with my two-day impression of Memphis, but I did get a feeling of a city somewhat stuck in the past. Most of the tourist destinations were celebrations of the 50s and 60s. The National Civil Rights Museum was beautiful. While the neighborhood around it was gentrifying, it still wasn't that well developed. There's probably some cool music going on in the hipster scene which we mostly glazed over. Memphis was a fun enough town to be worth visiting again, but I'd hope that the city that gave birth to rock and roll would get its groove back and give birth to something new again.

The rest of the day was a drive up north. It was about 9pm by the time we made it up to Champaign, Illinois, so we stopped there for the night. Having had a good few days of BBQ, we finally had some asian food at Arirang, apparently an old student hangout. The dol sot bibimbap was as good as any.

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