Coping with the Alternative Press It was about4 a.m. last Friday when a pot of coffee and three liters of Evian arrivedat my suite in Memphis' Peabody Hotel, and the room service fellowasked where I was from. When I said New York City, he replied: "Ahh,you must be here for the convention." I nodded yes. "You with the VillageVoice?" I told him no, that paper was a scurrilous competitor and gave hima copy of my weekly. "Well, truth be told, I always did like NYPressbetter than that damned Village Voice." We both chuckled, he disappearedlike a merry elf, I listened to Janet Reno (apparently not mummified,after all) on CNN and logged onto the Drudge Report.
These Southernersare friendly and eager to josh around, but man, they move at a lethargic pace.When I landed at the airport on Thursday morning, after an uneventful Northwestflight (what a relief, finally, not to fly Continental out of Newark),I waited on a taxi line for 45 minutes. And then I had to double up with a gooberwho had a closer destination: I never did like sharing cabs-a real downsidein DC when I worked there in the early 80s. But soon enough we got tothe Peabody, a classic, grand hotel. There's the feted "duck walk" twice a day,where locals and tourists flock into the lobby to watch ducks troop into andout of the elevator and wobble on a red carpet laid out for them.