“You don’t look like you belong here.”
This was the first thing I heard as I got out my car to take a photo with a new mural installation. The funny thing is, I felt completely at ease and like I belonged. I know you’re a bit confused. Let’s start from the beginning.
Murals have become so cool and trendy now that most don’t remember when they were frowned upon. They were the trademarks of urban neighborhoods and suggested crime and danger. Boy have things changed. What was once bad has been flipped into something cool. Kinda like how the old housing projects have been replaced with triple level luxury apartments. Go figure.
One of the best artists in the city and a good friend of mine, Jamond Bullock @alivepaint, recently finished a new mural of Isaac Hayes, Ike as the hood calls him, at 745 McLemore. I think the location is perfect and will keep the trendy Instagrammers away and bring the real fans of art that also feel comfortable in the “inner city”. Why? Well this mural is on the side of a corner store. If you’re from any urban area, you know all about the corner store and you know exactly what I’m getting at.
As I was getting ready to snap a few pics of the mural, local fly guy Rick, who was standing in the parking lot of the store, approached me. “You don’t look like you belong around here”. I get this often and I kinda understand. I sort of stand out with my fitted jeans, sweater over my buttoned down shirt and oxfords. I definitely don’t look the part and the hood knows it.
“Nah my dad grew up around the corner in Lemoyne Gardens.” I said.
Rick responded, “It ain’t about yo daddy. Where are you from?”
The one thing about Memphis is that where you’re from really means something. It’s like a gang of sorts. If you’re from South Memphis, you don’t go to North Memphis just because. You gotta have a pass from the members of that neighborhood. Rick was checking my hood credentials.
“I grew up in Pussy Valley and Westwood.”
“Oh you good young blood!”
I passed the test. The insertion of PV probably validated my claims. Not many know that area of Memphis. Rick and I spoke about the mural. He wanted to know who painted it. He had a funny story about how he met Isaac Hayes and I told him my mom was his next door neighbor when she was a little girl. He asked if I could snap a pic of him and I agreed.
That’s the real Memphis right there! Memphians will welcome you in if you come correct. Even if my hood credentials didn’t check out, as long as I was respectful and cool, they would extend that same courtesy. Memphians are tough in the outside but are full of Southern hospitality on the inside dying to get out. So don’t be afraid to visit the real hood to see one fo the coolest new murals in the city. If you see Rick, tell him Mike said what’s up.
Life is for Living,