The Liberty Bowl has been played for half a century since 1959 when Penn State beat Alabama, 7-0. Memphis became the bowl’s home in 1965 and will host this year’s game, the Vanderbilt Commodores versus the Cincinnati Bearcats. This weekend, a host of Commodore fans decked in Black and Gold will descend on the Bluff City.
Since many people do not know just how much Memphis has to offer, I want to highlight a few places and sights in the order in which Eli Branch experiences them starting in Rupture and then moving on to Public Anatomy.
Near the beginning of Rupture, Eli travels from the medical center down Union Avenue where you’ll find the Peabody Hotel, home of the famous Peabody Ducks. Close to the Mississippi River is the Pyramid Arena, homage to the same-named city in Egypt. The Pyramid was prior home of the NBA Memphis Grizzlies who now play in the Fed-Ex Forum. Across from the Pyramid is Harbor Town on Mud Island. You may remember the tram monorail over to the island as site of one of the final scenes for Matt Damon in John Grishams’s The Firm. Later on, when you’re hungry, stop in Automatic Slim’s Tonga Club, across from the Peabody.
A lot of the action in Public Anatomy takes place in downtown Memphis where you’ll find Front Street Deli, one of the city’s oldest delicatessen’s. In Victorian Village, magnificent homes from the mid-nineteenth century are open for browsing. On second and Beale Street, it’s hard to beat Blues City Café.
A bit further south is the Memphis Arts District, an art colony accessed easily by foot or city trolley. The city is steeped in history, perhaps most notably symbolized by the Lorraine Hotel. And before leaving, you must go to the Rendezvous. Start at the Peabody and take the alley beside the Holiday Inn. Don’t worry, by the time you see the big green dumpsters, you’ll be smellin’ the ribs and know you’re in the right place.