Thursday, October 6, 2011

You Can Buy Anything in Hickory Hill - Showboat

Several people have recommended Showboat Barbecue on Hickory Hill Road to me since I started this quest, so I stopped by today tired the “short order rib special.” The sign said I would get four ribs but when I finished there were six rib bones on my plate. Add in in a big helping of beans and some really tasty slaw and it was a lot of food for just $8.95.

The ribs were good, but not quite as tender as the ones I had at Reggi’s yesterday. Also, the sauce seemed somewhat bland, but I suspect that most sauces would after the spicy sauce I’d enjoyed the day before. Don’t let that turn you against the good food at Showboats. I’m trying so many places that sometimes the really good will end up suffering in comparison to the great. Besides, beyond the food there is one other big reason that you need to visit Showboat Barbecue. Once you finish your meal you are only two blocks north of the greatest exhibition of Memphis-style laissez faire capitalism you will ever behold -- Big Daddy’s Pawn Shop.

The Hickory Hill neighborhood in southeast Memphis has been a fairly recent victim of white flight and ongoing suburban sprawl. In fact, it was still considered out in the suburbs well into the 1990s. Now it is in the frightening period of transition that happens when falling property values cause poor, single, working mothers to think that they can grab a piece of the suburban dream. Instead they end up in neighborhoods with no sense of community and bored, recently transplanted latchkey teens roaming the streets.  Several large churches have set up shop in the area and are trying to establish a sense of community and stability through various outreach programs.

Driving east down Winchester is a startling look at the waste involved in ongoing sprawl. Big box developments and restaurant locations sit empty and abandoned until further east, where newer versions of the same stores have relocated a few miles down the street. But one of those former big box stores has found a new life as Big Daddy’s Pawn Shop.

          Sometimes you go shopping for a bedroom suite and grab a PT Cruiser as an impulse buy.

Big Daddy’s, located in a former Target store, isn’t just a pawn shop. It is actually a mix of new and used merchandise. And it sells a little bit of everything. When I say everything I don’t just mean the usual bedroom suites, power tools, jewelry, electronics, lawn equipment and music instruments you expect to find in any old “we sell everything under one roof” retailer. Sure Big Daddy’s has all that stuff. But what if your shopping list includes items like a glass pipe, a set of brass knuckles with a built-in Taser, a butt plug and a handgun? They still have you covered. There are plenty of places to buy a car stereo. But when you want to buy some she-male porn and a Romanian AK-47 variant during the same transaction, it’s time to head to Big Daddy’s.

 Because Big Daddy's has the Romanian AKs sitting in between the Hi-Point carbine and the FAL.

The she-male porn is on the opposite side of the store from the AKs.

If you want a giant Ronald Reagan commemorative lock-blade knife it is in a case with the digital scales over by the ninja swords.

While I was in Hickory Hill I also encountered a once-common sight that has largely disappeared in the era of mp3s -- a group of aspiring rappers selling mix CDs in a parking lot. For a brief period when the cost of producing a CD had plummeted but people still bought their music on the shiny little discs, there were rap artists selling their albums out of car trunks all over Memphis. The members of the 2 Gunz Up Money Boys said they had decided to go old-school in promoting themselves and sold me their CD for four bucks. They said they were all from Raleigh and North Memphis. I grew up in Raleigh and live in Vollentine-Evergreen so I had to support some guys who were repping two of my hoods. The first track on it was the kind of Auto-tune abusing garbage that is threatening to destroy hip hop. But the rest of it was mostly the good old Dirty South crunkness I was hoping for when I’d handed over my four dollars out of nostalgia.

1 comment:

  1. Showboat was good at one time, but I no longer recommend it. They actually served me cold food the last time I was there. They've been around for a long time and I suspect that the reputation they now enjoy is dated.