A Love Letter to Memphis: Kontji Anthony

Published: Apr. 16, 2019 at 10:54 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 16, 2019 at 10:57 AM CDT
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I will never forget the sweltering July afternoon when I arrived in Memphis, Tennessee. I was only here on a two-year assignment, I didn’t know a soul, and I never imagined this New York native would end up calling Memphis home 14 years later.

Memphis is, unequivocally, the best thing that ever happened to me. The people, the culture, my experiences and the history of this soulful river town helped to shape me into the woman I am today. There is no place I would rather be.

So, Memphis turns 200 this year! How do I love thee? Let me count the ways:


  1. Looking over my shoulder to see living civil rights legends
  2. Walking across the Harahan Bridge
  3. Driving in Memphis “traffic”
  4. The Memphis 101 crash course that taught me the beauty of the Bluff City
  5. Walking into B.B. King’s any day of the week and hearing the best band ever
  6. The emotionally interactive exhibits at the National Civil Rights Museum
  7. Vanilla shakes at A. Schwab’s
  8. Paulette’s poppers with strawberry butter
  9. Looking out at the mighty Mississippi River morning, noon and night
  10. The fact that history can be found on almost any and every corner
  11. The mom and pop shops
  12. Walking into a restaurant or store and knowing people’s names
  13. The haunted juke box at Earnestine & Hazel’s
  14. Soul burgers at Earnestine & Hazel’s
  15. The burgers and fries at Alex’s Tavern
  16. The Peabody ducks make appearances two times a day, 365 days a year
  17. The duck master and his duck cane
  18. How the Stax Music Academy shares Memphis music all over the world
  19. The TV lounge at Graceland with the little monkey on the coffee table
  20. Cazateatro Bilingual Theatre Group nights at Evergreen Theatre
  21. Watching local actors shine at Hattiloo Theatre
  22. Broadway shows at the Orpheum Theatre
  23. The renovation of Playhouse on the Square
  24. The Ballet Memphis relocation to Overton Square
  25. Tea parties at the Woodruff-Fontaine House
  26. Live music sets at Mollie Fontaine’s
  27. The ever-changing menu at Bar DKDC (Don’t Know Don’t Care)
  28. Sitting under a hair dryer and eating dessert at the Beauty Shop Restaurant
  29. Casting iron on the riverfront at the Metal Museum
  30. Sitting on the bench in the park near the Metal Museum and watching the river
  31. The lawn ornaments in Voodoo Village
  32. How Choose 901 and ILoveMemphisBlog showcase what’s great about Memphis
  33. Cocktails in the Peabody Lobby
  34. Tea time at Chez Phillipe
  35. The reasonable cost of living
  36. The Rouhlac Mansion Bed & Breakfast in South Memphis
  37. Baked chicken at Four-Way Grill in South Memphis
  38. South Main Street Trolley Nights
  39. Brick oven pizza at Boscos
  40. Seeing musicians congregate in Soulsville’s Memphis Slim House
  41. Tailgating and/or suite hopping at the Southern Heritage Classic
  42. Tent hopping at Memphis in May
  43. The Soulsville USA Festival’s amazing music lineups
  44. Eating a roast beef + gravy + swiss po boy on the patio at Second Line
  45. That the winters are not long and harsh
  46. The seafood flight at Flight restaurant
  47. Power walking along the Mud Island riverside
  48. The no-leash dog park at Shelby Farms Park
  49. Any and every activity at Shelby Farms Park
  50. The gold-plated Cadillac at Stax Museum of American Soul Music
  51. Taking the elevator to the top of the Pyramid
  52. Hearing the Memphis Symphony play at the Botanic Garden
  53. Riding the Grand Carousel at the Children’s Museum
  54. Planetarium shows at the Pink Palace Museum
  55. Picnics during the Levitt Shell summer concert series
  56. Eating avocado toast with egg and cheese at Edge Alley
  57. Dodging Sun Studio tourists as I drive down Union Avenue
  58. Watching people sign the wall outside Graceland
  59. Carrot souffle at the Piccadilly on Elvis Presley Boulevard
  60. Gus’ fried chicken. Did I mention Gus’ fried chicken?
  61. Sitting on a bench at Martyrs Park looking out on the river
  62. Playing the drums at Paula & Raiford’s Disco
  63. Never knowing who I will see in the basement of the Pocket
  64. People watching and seeing the who’s who at Houston’s
  65. Watching Penny Hardaway coach the Memphis Tigers
  66. That professional soccer has arrived in Memphis
  67. Soup at Caritas Village in Binghampton
  68. The amazing people who visit and work at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
  69. That FedEx is cheaper here because it’s the company’s headquarters
  70. When I print something, it’s likely Memphis’ International Paper made the paper
  71. Eating Phillip Ashley chocolates
  72. Buying a bow tie from Mo himself
  73. Taking a selfie shooting up into the lights at Crosstown Concourse
  74. Dressing up for Memphis Fashion Week
  75. Binge watching the short films session of Indie Memphis Film Festival
  76. Everything Young Arts Patrons hosts in the city
  77. Broad Avenue restaurant hopping
  78. Roxie’s Grocery Store burgers in Uptown
  79. Holding a meeting at the Office at Uptown and using their office services
  80. Learning history at the Slave Haven and going where the enslaved hid out
  81. Watching the sun set from a Beale Street Landing rocking chair
  82. Catching an unexpected concert in Handy Park
  83. The “She Crab Soup” at Itta Bena Restaurant
  84. Lunch in Court Square on a sunny spring day
  85. Buying shea butter at Africa in April
  86. Taking photos in front of the “I Am a Man” mural on South Main Street
  87. The Chicken BBQ Nachos at Central Barbecue
  88. The Salmon Goulash at Abyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant
  89. Having lunch on Food Truck Fridays at Dixon Gallery & Gardens
  90. The dueling pianos at Silky O’Sullivan’s
  91. Eating good barbecue at the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest
  92. Surfing the crowd at the Beale Street Music Festival
  93. Weddings at Lichterman Nature Center
  94. Climbing the wall at Bridges
  95. Memphis’ craft beer explosion
  96. The real history behind the C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa site
  97. The ribs at Blues City Café (wet)
  98. The 1969 flooring inside Royal Studios
  99. The old pipe organ inside Clayborn Temple
  100. Sunday service at Reverend Al Green’s church in Whitehaven
  101. Huey’s veggie burger (yum)
  102. Walking the stairs on the bluff
  103. Drinking delicious Memphis Aquifer tap water
  104. Muddy’s Prozac cupcake
  105. The Orange Mound Parade
  106. The Whitehaven Christmas Parade
  107. Dyer’s burgers
  108. Catching a blues band at Wild Bills in North Memphis
  109. The Salt Caves at Better Bodies Yoga
  110. The turnaround of Memphis Animal Services
  111. Makeda’s butter cookies
  112. Karaoke at Alfred’s
  113. Karaoke at the Cove
  114. Karaoke at Rock House Live
  115. That Beale Street welcomes bikers every Wednesday night
  116. Muddy Water Mac and Cheese at Chef Tam’s Underground Café
  117. Losing time playing games at the Rec Room
  118. Growl towels
  119. People’s love of “wrasslin”
  120. Reading a book while sitting on the Treedom sculpture
  121. Skating during the winter at the Memphis Zoo
  122. Park After Dark movie nights
  123. Taking a photo in the Amurica trailer
  124. The black and white photos at the Withers Collection Museum & Gallery
  125. The pulpit at St. Mary’s Catholic Church
  126. Historic downtown buildings architecture
  127. The ducks at Audubon Park
  128. The Mud Island River Park replica of the Mississippi River
  129. Turtlette chocolates at Dinstuhl’s
  130. Monday poems shared by Burke’s Books
  131. Handmade barrettes at Five in One Social Club
  132. Jars of jam from the Memphis Farmers Market
  133. Free birthday high-speed indoor go-karting at Autobahn
  134. Vintage shopping at Flashback
  135. The Summer Avenue Drive-in Theater
  136. The Eucalyptus Mint Bath Soak at Maggie’s Pharm
  137. Catching a Red Birds game and a hot dog with mustard at Auto Zone Park
  138. Taking a photo in front of the “I Am a Man” sculpture at Clayborn Temple
  139. Watching the cats in the window at House of Mews
  140. Watching the night lights on the Memphis bridges
  141. Buying pieces of art at the River Arts Festival
  142. Taking a photo in front of the Guest House at Graceland Christmas tree
  143. Taking a photo in front of the Main Street Christmas tree
  144. Tackling the Children’s Museum of Memphis Skyscraper
  145. Eating a San Diegan Open Face Omelet at Brother Juniper’s
  146. The Rachel’s Breakfast Wrap at Café Eclectic (naked)
  147. Fries at Young Avenue Deli
  148. Fresh fries at Fuel Cafe
  149. The splash park at Peabody Park
  150. Riding the Main Street trolley
  151. The creepy Crystal Shrine Grotto at Memorial Park Cemetery
  152. Dinner at the Tower Room atop the Clark Tower
  153. Bourbon tasting on the rooftop of Old Dominick Distillery
  154. Attending a house party on the greens at the FedEx St. Jude Classic
  155. Eating a cup of potato soup at Huey’s
  156. The chicken avocado soup at Las Delicias
  157. The onion soup at Café Keough
  158. Listening to a music set at the Madison Avenue pocket park
  159. Signing the wall at Atomic Tiki
  160. Grabbing some friends to eat a whole Kooky Canuk Kookamonga Burger
  161. Braving the Agri-Center’s Mid-South Maze
  162. Taking photos of the sunflowers at the Agri-Center
  163. Taking photos with the tulips at the Dixon Gallery & Gardens
  164. Haggling at furniture stores on Summer Avenue
  165. Memphis Black Restaurant Week
  166. Watching the Beale Street Tumblers
  167. Live music at Hard Rock Café
  168. Visiting the CMPLX in Orange Mound
  169. Eating spanakopita at the Memphis Greek Festival
  170. Eating delicious Italian at the Italian Festival
  171. Packing picnics for the Live at the Garden Concert Series
  172. Eating pronto pups at the Delta Fair
  173. Store and restaurant hopping during the Cooper-Young Festival
  174. Anticipating the next lineup for Mempho Music Fest
  175. Catching a glimpse of the stumbling Santas
  176. Seeing the Carnival Memphis Boll Weevils spread cheer
  177. Sitting in the VIP area of the WKND
  178. Drinking a healthy shake at Downtown Nutrition
  179. Watching episodes of Junt Land
  180. Sniffing soap at Bubble Bistro
  181. Sniffing candles at the Downtown Candle Company
  182. Tracking just how many music legends got their start in Memphis
  183. Breakfast at the General Store near Shelby Forest Park
  184. Boat rentals at Shelby Forest Park or kayaking on the Mississippi River
  185. Making reservations for Downtown Dining Week
  186. Hobnobbing with hipsters at the Crosstown Art Bar
  187. Ordering a Tiger’s Blood Supreme at Jerry’s Sno Cone
  188. Brunch at Jim and Samella’s in South Memphis
  189. Attending a reception at the Rock & Soul Museum
  190. The Pilates room at Ballet Memphis
  191. Celebrating 901 Day at AutoZone Park
  192. Getting dressed up for the annual Night at the Lorraine Gala
  193. Trying on and buying Cheryl Pesce Jewelry creations
  194. Ching’s lemon pepper wings
  195. Visiting the Angels & Tomboys shop in Orange Mound
  196. Buying prints in the Center for Southern Folklore
  197. Taking the Memphis Greenline
  198. Going Ape at Shelby Farms Park
  199. Sunrise yoga classes at The Dixon’s Hughes Pavilion Wednesdays
  200. Living in the most giving city in America

Find more love letters, stories and photos at wmcactionnews5.com/memphis200.

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