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Memphis Flyer

Published: Sun, 18 Mar 2018 00:00:01 -0500

Last Build Date: Sun, 18 Mar 2018 11:00:00 -0500

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Grizzlies 101, Nuggets 94: Finally, a Win!

Sun, 18 Mar 2018 08:23:00 -0500

The Grizzlies’ unrelenting torrent of misery finally, well, relented on Saturday night, as they won (seriously!) (like, I’m not making this up—according to the official National Basketball Association scorer’s report they finished with more points than their opponent) (seriously!) for the first time since January 29th. Denver is a playoff team, or at least they would be if they didn’t keep losing to teams like the Grizzlies, but then that’s why they play the games. The Grizzlies came out swinging in this one, but one facet of the game stuck out to me above others, and it was something we haven’t seen from this Griz team in quite a while: offensive rebounding. The Griz didn’t even get more ORebs than Denver (they had 14 to the Nuggets’ 17) but when they did, they made them count. These weren’t just tips off something missed under the basket (looking at you, Zach Randolph’s career rebounding numbers); on multiple occasions the Grizzlies used offensive rebounds to bring the ball back out, settle in, set up a new play, and try again. They made the most of the possession, and then when they got an opportunity to set up for another one, they took it. That’s not something the Grizzlies have been doing, not even back in January when they were still occasionally winning games. It was a new look for them, and one that signals that maybe in all this losing, little things are starting to improve. Things are being learned on some level.The other uncomfortable truth about Saturday night’s win? $30 million worth of salary got a DNP-CD and spent then night watching from the bench. Ben McLemore didn’t play, and neither did Chandler Parsons. McLemore has been playing heavy minutes through this stretch of losses (even though they’re ostensibly trying to win and trying to develop players). Parsons has been trying to shake some rust off while still on a heavy minutes restriction. Neither has been good. In fact, Parsons has been at best neutral, and McLemore has been the worst player on the team by a pretty wide margin. That’s not a great sign, even in a season as bad as this one. McLemore was signed really early in the free agency window for more money than it seemed was necessary to get a player of his caliber, and Parsons, well, let’s not even go there right now. But when these guys sit and Tyreke Evans doesn’t, the Grizzlies can win. When they play, and especially when they play and Evans doesn’t, the Grizzlies are (apparently) the worst team in the league. Which is fine. The Grizzlies sit at 19 wins now, and I would be shocked if they make it to 22. The season is almost over—13 games left, luckily enough—and there’s absolutely no incentive for them to go on a win streak this late in the game. If they play McLemore enough, apparently it won’t be possible at any rate. Even if they don’t win another game this season (watch for Parsons to get shut down first, if he’s liable to start drawing DNP’s anyway), this win over the Nuggets, tank or not, was probably a necessary breather for the hapless hometown team. They were clearly distraught after the Chicago game, having come so close to finally breaking the losing streak and yet fallen so short at the end. That stuff matters. There’s bad, and then there’s “bad and cranky,” and they were trending that direction. One can only hope they can now manage to scrape the bottom of the barrel with smiles on their faces. Tweet of the Night Not really related to the win, but maybe not necessarily so unrelated, given how important St. Jude is to both of the Gasol brothers: Up Next Road games against the Nets, 76ers, and Hornets, each of them winnable in their own way. But. The Grizzlies have yet to win a road game in the calendar year 2018, and they’re abysmal against Eastern Conference teams this [...]

"Drowsy Chaperone" hits, "Laughter on the 23rd Floor" hits walls

Sat, 17 Mar 2018 18:27:00 -0500

The Drowsy Chaperone begins in the blackout with a cranky voice calling out into the darkness. "I hate theater," it says. "It's always so disappointing, isn't it?" Lights finally come up, illuminating an unremarkable apartment and its lone occupant, the Man in Chair. He shares a little prayer before the start of any live performance asking God to keep things short — two hours at the most. Additional requests are just as modest: a story, "a few good songs" and some good old fashioned escapism. I've felt this poor man's pain since the first time I sat down to watch The Drowsy Chaperone, a parody of 1920's era musical that takes its share of pokes at modern fare ("Please Elton John, must we continue this charade!"). The Man in Chair loves theater, of course. Or what it's capable of anyway. He's just picky. Discerning. Theater Memphis' take on this instant classic is knowing and no holds barred, with a terrific that includes Jason Spitzer as the curmudgeonly man, with Gia Welch as a superstar giving up her career for love, and Annie Freres as the titular chaperone. There's so much more I could say about this cast and all its performers but maybe reviews shouldn't be too long either. How about we wrap with a classic: Don't miss this one. [event-1] I regret that I've been occupied with other stories of late and unable to blog about Laughter on the 23rd Floor. Or, to be precise, I regret that I haven't blogged about its source material Your Show of Shows starring Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca, and boasting one of the greatest comedy writing teams of all time. The roster included Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Lucille Kallen and Laughter author Neil Simon among others. Best I can say at this point: Those unfamiliar are overdue a YouTube binge. It was SNL when words like "pregnant" were too racy. But in spite of a more restrictive environment, Caesar's team regularly delivered smart, relevant material. Maybe even too smart for network TV, which always looked to grab the biggest audience possible no matter how low you had to aim. Your Show of Shows represented an extraordinary convergence of talent and its quirky backstage life has been eulogized memorialized in TV's Dick Van Dyke Show, Simon's Laughter, and the wonderful Peter O'Toole film My Favorite Year. Like Drowsy Chaperone, Laughter on the 23rd Floor pivots around a narrator. Unlike Chaperone, we're never given that much of a reason to care about this storyteller, loosely based on the playwright. He's just a device to set things up and wrap them up in a show with not much story, but a whole lot of character. From people punching holes in the wall to running gags and unexpected changes of pants, the conflict and physical comedy in Laughter on the 23d Floor echoes the source material. What it may lack story-wise, it more than makes up for in opportunities for laughs. Michael Gravois digs into the role of Max Prince, loosely based on the driven but booze and pill-addled Caesar.  With a believable, manic edge Gravois convinces us he's the kind of guy who might write a post sobriety novel titled Where've I Been? But there's no starring role in this comedy, it's the kind of ensemble where one weak link breaks the chain. Gravois is supported by a gaggle of solid comic performers including Jonathan Christian, Brent Davis, and Kim Sanders as various other members of the greatest writers room in the history of writers rooms. I've never been a Simon fan — an unpopular opinion I know. And structurally speaking, this is arguably one of a prolific writer's most paint-by-numbers efforts. It may not be a great play. But when the characters come to life and the comedy cooks it can be a helluva show.  [event-2] [...]

St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Beale

Sat, 17 Mar 2018 08:39:28 -0500


Legend has it that St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, was undertaking a 40 day fast when he was attacked by snakes, which, according to the fossil record, never existed in Ireland. Patrick responded by chasing his non-existent attackers into the sea thus explaining why serpents that never lived in Ireland still don't. It's a good story. Maybe not as good as Mark Flanagan's story about a time in the early 1980s when he, and a considerable group of St. Patrick's Day revelers, chased the snakes off Mud Island.

"It was a tongue-and-cheek-type deal," says Flanagan, an original member of Irish Eyes, the event's founding body. Flanagan describes how his merry band of celebrants terrorized construction workers working on the Mud Island river park by hurling 500 lifelike rubber snakes the way people on parade floats throw beads. "It looked just like something out of a movie," he says, describing the snake-induced chaos.

It should come as no surprise that Memphis' 45-year-old St. Patrick's Day Parade was conceived by bar owners who initially envisioned it as a pub crawl. It was veritable cabal of storied tavern keepers: Zinnie's Gerry Wynn, Wanda Wilson from the P&H, Jimmy Robertson of Friday's and Trader Dick's, Huey's Thomas Boggs, and Silky Sullivan.

"Liquor by the drink had just come in in 1971, and we were a bar-crawling crowd," says Flanagan, who spent 30 years traveling back and forth between Memphis and the Emerald Isle, doing media relations for the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking festival.

"We used to go all the way from downtown to Overton Square," Flanagan says of the original pub crawl. "We've been on Beale Street for almost 20 years now, and there are going to be over 60 units in this year's parade."

Events connected to the Beale Street parade begin Thursday when a caravan from Silky's arrives at the airport to pick up special guests from Ireland. Music sheets are passed out and Irish songs sung as the guests arrive and are swept into cars where they are driven downtown, making single drink stops at taverns along the route. Although the caravan makes its last stop at Silky's, this party carries on in some form or another till Saturday when the parade kicks off at 3 p.m. Without snakes, this time.

St. Patrick's Day Parade on Beale St. 3 p.m. Free.

How ’Bout Them Apples?

Sat, 17 Mar 2018 08:38:48 -0500

The Long Road Cider Company is worth the drive. Let's just start with the meat-hook reality that anyone who starts a conversation with, "Hey gang, let's drive out to the country and get some cider!" is going to sound a bit daft. However, if your aspiration is to out-hipster the craft beer crowd, it may be your only course. And cider is really old school. Even if you don't care about any of that and just want something a little different, it's still a pretty good option. The Long Road Cider Company in Barretville, on the slightly far side of Bartlett, is worth the drive. And that drive is long enough for you to contemplate America's protracted history with cider. The settlers of Jamestown planted an orchard in 1607. The Mayflower had in its hold apple tree saplings, as well as a cider press for its 1620 voyage to the New World. The press was dismantled en route after a rough storm damaged the ship and they used its giant screw to keep the ship from breaking apart — thus, ensuring that America's first batch of well-armed religious lunatics arrived safely. The true-life legend Johnny Appleseed wasn't planting orchards everywhere because frontier moms needed something to wrap up with the kid's lunch. He was planting apples because our Founding Mothers (and Fathers) — just like their descendants — need a drink sometimes. John Adams, for example, was noted for quaffing two tankards of cider a day. Cider remained a common drink in the U.S. until prohibition was established in 1920. The legal dry spell lasted until 1933, and liquor and beer bounced back immediately after repeal. But it took wine until the 1970s or so to really re-enter the American mainstream. Cider never seemed to find its legs again. (And to be honest, I'd always mentally put it in the same category as those god-awful wine coolers.) Long Road Cider Co., Tennessee's first, wants to change that. And there is a decidedly old-school method to their madness, a "Methode Champenoise" to be exact. Which means that there is a third fermentation in the bottle, creating a natural carbonation. (Like champagne, if you hadn't guessed.) All the ciders are made in-house, as is the non-alcoholic root beer. The suppliers are family-run businesses, and they add nothing artificial; what happens in their barrels and bottles is just the product of Mother Nature and time. Long Road is located in an old general store. When you first enter, you think: "Well, of course, this is a cidery." What you notice after you've ordered a flight (because you know nothing about cider) is how light they are. In a world of double and triple IPAs and chocolate coffee stouts, there doesn't seem to be much heft to it. I think this is what makes the ciders so refreshing. The folks at Long Road are mercifully unpedantic about this: There is always a local beer on tap, in case you simply don't care what the Romans do. It is a drive, but not that long, and worth more than one trip to sample the revolving selections. We had the Bourbon Slingshot, which is made like any other cider, then stored in used barrels from the Jack Daniel's Distillery. It works well. The cider starts with a light taste, and the whiskey barrel storage gives it an interesting bite. We also tasted a very dry and tart number called Applerater, and a subtle Rhonissippi — a traditional cider that tastes exactly like you imagine that stuff John Adams was knocking back must have tasted like. Be warned though, even though the cider is very light tasting, these drinks have plenty of alcohol. The "lite" cider, for example, is 5.8 percent ABV. The others run around 8 percent. (In a world before modern sanitation and heavy machinery, our forebears would put away a lot of alcohol.) Fortunately, it's easy to remember to eat something while you're there. The menu is solid. I "split" the Pl[...]

Spirit Fest, Butcher's Dinner

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 19:42:00 -0500

I was surprised - and pleased - when I clicked Instagram on my phone March 11 and saw a painting of the “We Saw You” logo. The painting was on display at Spirit Fest, which was held that day. I contacted Jennifer Drew, who posted the photo and, eventually, found the artist, Anatheresa Palermo. I called Palermo and told her I had to have that painting. I love it. It was doubly flattering to be surrounded by paintings of Elvis at the event. The King only could be shown from the waist up when he sang “ Don’t Be Cruel” in 1957 on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” In my logo, I’m only shown from the nose up. Well, the painting now graces the blank wall that faced me every day at the office. But I wanted to find out more about Spirit Fest. Norma Dejesus filled me in. “It is a holistic fair, festival, where different holistic practitioners come together and offer their services and educate the public about the different services and modalities,” said Dejesus, the Spirit Fair coordinator. The event - the fourth - was held March 10 and 11 at Unique Catering Event Center in Bartlett. It was hosted by The Circle, a non-denominational store owned by Dejesus at 2465 Whitten Road Suite 105. The store, which offers holistic services, is open Wednesdays through Sundays. “Basically, it is a center that is geared toward helping people connect to spirituality,” Dejesus said. “And empower them with that connection.” The next Spirit Fair will be held Nov. 10 and 11 at Unique Catering, Dejesus said. For more information, go to The City Block Salumeria Butcher’s Dinner featuring Lucky Cat owner Zach Nicholson, Memphis chef Fotunato Oliva and a team of friends was a success. The five-course meal was one of a series of monthly meals. “It was memorable experience,” Nicholson said. “We did a really elegant grille cobia dish over glass-like cucumber gelee cubes plated on a clear glass brick. That was visually stunning. "We had some of the best beef available for purchase in the world. We had the highest grade of Wagyu beef you can buy. “The first course was fun, too. We did blood sausage and sea urchin. The way we prepared it was we made a butter with the roe from the sea urchin and froze it. The fun part of that course was we took the frozen butter pieces and we grated them over the blood sausage right in front of each guest like pottarga.” Phillip Ashley of Phillip Ashley Chocolates assisted with the desserts. Former Hog & Hominy bartender Aaron Hanna and Jon Neizer of Hog & Hominy created saki cocktails. [...]

Playhouse on the Square Won’t Share Findings of Misconduct Investigation

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 13:32:00 -0500

(image) Playhouse on the Square won’t release the findings of an independent investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by former executive director Jackie Nichols according to David Brown, a board member and consultant handling news media contacts on behalf of the organization.

The now-concluded investigation had been triggered by one woman’s December Facebook post accusing Nichols of sexually abusing her 40 years ago. Although they did not go public on social media, and none have been previously acknowledged by Playhouse on the Square or its representatives, several more women came forward to tell their stories to the investigator.

When asked if the report or a summary of findings would be released, Brown responded: “There will be no release of findings. Playhouse never said it would publicly release a report. I can tell you that the last alleged event was from the 1980s, nothing in the past 34 years, and (Nichols) denies all of the allegations that came up during the investigation.”

In response to a request to interview Nichols, Brown said the Flyer would need to contact Nichols directly or by way of his attorney, Louis P. Britt III.

“In fact, I think that would be the only way for you to report with balance. Jackie is not with Playhouse any longer as he has retired,” Brown wrote in an email.

Big Betsy

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 12:40:00 -0500

The annual return of one of Memphis’ rowdiest bands. A lark is a lark is a lark, and many a band has been launched on a whim, but Big Betsy is one lark that grew legs and became a Memphis institution. After staggering on for well-nigh a quarter century, the group will once again mount the stage at Murphy's Saturday, not to mention Celtic Crossing, and Railgarten. Having taken the city out for a jig every St. Patrick's Day for over two decades, their dance card is full. Perhaps having roots in another band known for its gonzo antics has given Big Betsy its charm. Neighborhood Texture Jam has always been known for crunching riffs, original subject matter ("Rush Limbaugh-Evil Blimp," anyone?), and over-the-top performances, including chainsawing an inflatable doll stuffed with dog food. They were also perhaps the first band to supply "texture" via members pounding on steel barrels and other industrial detritus. This anything-goes approach spilled over into a side project formed, as well as anyone can remember, on St. Paddy's Day in 1993, by members of NTJ, sans lead vocalist and exhorter-in-chief Joe Lapsley. Founded by NTJ guitarist Tee Cloar, Big Betsy also included Greg Easterly (who can play fiddle as well as "texture"), Steve Conn, John Whittemore, and Paul Buchignani. Non-NTJ members have filled out the lineup over the years, including Charlie Yarwood, Brad Trotter, and Andy Mus. Clearly, these are players who like working together, to which both Big Betsy's longevity and NTJ's perennial reunions can attest. And the band's roots in the hard-rocking NTJ give their take on Irish music a decidedly heavy edge, as does their love of one of Ireland's most rocking groups, Thin Lizzy. "Tee was definitely the main driving force and came up with the name," explains mandolinist Whittemore. "We all liked Thin Lizzy, and Thin Lizzy/Big Betsy are the opposite halves of the name Elizabeth. And we liked traditional Irish drinking songs, so we decided to do this thing for St Patrick's Day. Of course, Murphy's was the logical place to do it. The Pogues were also an inspiration. Kinda raucous. Of course, we're a little more raucous than the Pogues." A healthy sense of absurdity colors the proceedings. Easterly, for example, who will often travel from Nashville or Knoxville to join in, does not always play his instrument. "Greg plays fiddle. But sometimes he holds a banjo and doesn't play it. It's a tradition. My old roommate Matt Johnson was the original banjo holder. We used to say that we wished we had a banjo, so he'd come and hold one." Most of the other instruments, however, are actually played, albeit played-up for maximum visual impact. "If there's one crowning achievement of Big Betsy," says Whittemore, "it's that we're the only band to ever feature an electric mandolin shaped like a Firebird guitar. And so in recent years, Charlie has played a Firebird and I've played a Mando-bird, as it's known. And then on the other side of the stage, there is a double-neck electric guitar, like the Jimmy Page thing, and a double-neck acoustic guitar. I'm pretty confident we're the only band to have two Firebirds and two double-neck guitars on the stage at the same time. That's probably our greatest achievement." For all that, much of the material is traditional. "There's 'Streams of Whiskey,' 'Whiskey in the Jar,' 'Whiskey You're the Devil,'" says Whittemore. "And a lot of songs about beer. And we do several Pogues songs: 'If I Should Fall from Grace with God,' 'Sally MacLennane,' 'Dirty Old Town.' There's a great song called 'Jack's Heroes,' about a famous Irish soccer coach, and a song called 'Waxies' Dargle.' I don't know who Waxie was, and I don't know what a dargle is. But it sounds good." And to top[...]

"The Nether" : A horror show about pedophilia without consequence in virtual paradise

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 11:51:00 -0500

(image) Jennifer Haley's The Nether is a remarkable little play stuffed with big ideas. It’s a near future detective story about investigating pedophilia and brutal murder in a virtual world “without consequence.” It’s another big little play produced by Quark, a company devoted to “small, essential” theatre. With an A-list cast of Memphis actors it’s one brief act of smart, relevant drama — serious stuff with a comic book edge and satisfying moments of dark, blindsiding humor.

Today we call it the internet. In the future it’s the "Nether." And in the future (should we choose to become “shades”) we can leave our physical bodies behind to atrophy, live in our own custom-built avatars and enter into a world without consequence where girls will be boys and boys will be girls and nothing is real — unless it all is. Jillian Barron plays the hardboiled detective here and brings a fierce anime edge to her scenes with Sims/Papa, as played by the honest, always understated Barclay Roberts. Papa invented The Hideaway — a beautiful, faintly Edwardian world where everything is perfect and visitors can have special encounters with little girls (sometimes the avatars of adult men) before chopping them to pieces with an axe.

There are moments when The Nether begins to echo old, dubious warnings about the effect of deviant behaviors in entertainment and video games. Sims/Papa, as played by Roberts, makes the usual (nevertheless icky) counter argument that he provides a safe place for potential bad actors to work through compulsions without actual harm. But, for being such a little play — only 85-minutes long —The Nether is bigger than all that, bird-dogging a variety of near-future challenges that seem almost inevitable.

Quark’s a poor company that embraces its poverty, leans hard on good material and the strongest tool in the theater-maker’s toolbox — imagination. This isn’t bare-stage theater, but it nearly is. There are screens and some furniture, but this show is mostly built of sound. A low electronic buzz defines the real world with more pleasing noises taking us into The Hideaway. And yet, as visually null as this production may be (save for some colorful lighting splashes courtesy of Louisa Koeppel) this play is most likely to appeal to sci-fi fans who’ve enjoyed eye-candy like Blade Runner and HBO’s Westworld.

Stephen Garrett — soon to take a paternity break from the stage — is typically strong as a conflicted patron of The Hideaway who’s more than he seems.

In a difficult role that calls to mind the play’s own cautions about role-playing in a world without consequence, young Molly McFarland stands shoulder to shoulder with her adult co-stars and delivers a brave, polished performance.

From a technical theater standpoint, it’s easy to imagine a better dressed version of The Nether using projection or some other wizardry to paint scenes with pure light. With confident, unfussy direction by Tony Isbell, t’s hard to imagine a more thoughtful or surprising version.

With terrific productions of Blackbird and Years to the Day in the rearview mirror, Quark’s still the new kid on the block. Also a real contender. Good stuff.

Supreme Court Sets Two More Execution Dates

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 11:00:00 -0500

On Thursday, the Tennessee Supreme Court denied the Tennessee Attorney General’s call to set execution dates for eight inmates before June 1.

Attorney General Herbert Slatery called for the expedited executions in a motion filed in February. The new timeline was needed, Slatery said, because of issues getting access to drugs state officials would need for the executions.

But the court did set execution dates for two of the men in Slatery’s request.

“On its own initiative,” the court ordered the execution of death row inmate Edmund Zagorski on Oct. 11, 2018. Zagorski was convicted of the 1983 murders of two men during a bogus drug deal and received two death sentences.

The court also ordered inmate David Earl Miller to be executed on Dec. 6, 2018. Miller was convicted of the 1981 murder of a mentally disabled young woman, according to a statement from the court.

Earlier this year, the court set an execution date of August, 9, 2018, for condemned inmate Billy Ray Irick.

Tennessee has not executed an inmate since 2009.

$28M Raleigh Town Center to Break Ground

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 10:27:00 -0500


A $28 million development in Raleigh will break ground this month, the city announced earlier this week.

The 68-acre Raleigh Town Center, to be constructed at the site where the Raleigh Springs Mall once stood, will feature a new library, police precinct, skate park, and 11-acre lake with a walking trail.

Memphis City Council member Bill Morrison, who grew up in Raleigh and has been pushing for the project for about six years, said it’s a chance for the neighborhood to be reborn.

“Raleigh is an area we can turn around,” Morrison said.

The $800,000 skate park will be a championship park built to host national competitions, while the new library, costing $6.1 million, will house advanced technology and a second-floor coffee shop overlooking the lake.

Finally, the $18.2 million police station will serve as both a precinct and a traffic command center, designed to hold 400 police officers. It will include state-of-the-art crime fighting technology.

Twenty of the 68 acres will be set aside for private development.

Mary Borys, project manager with the city’s Division of Housing and Community Development said the site would work for multiple uses.

“The overall location makes it a good option for retail, but the pastoral setting would also be really good for healthcare facilities, like a dialysis or rehab clinic, and for a mini-office park, which could address the low level of good office space in the area,” she said.

Companies involved in the project include OT Marshall Architects, PC; Toles & Associates, LLC; Zellner Construction; Montgomery Martin Contractors; Wagner Construction; and landscape architect Zach Wormhoudt.

Construction is slated to be completed by June 2019.

Memphis Political Intrigue Arises

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 10:15:00 -0500

Even as the year 2018 advances, with its plethora of county, state, and federal election contests, the city election of 2019 is throwing some hints of things to come. Mike Williams in; Statue hangover in Sawyer vs. Gatewood? Even as the year 2018 advances, with its plethora of county, state, and federal election contests, the city election of 2019 is throwing some hints of things to come. For one thing, Mike Williams, the Memphis Police Association president who drew a substantial cadre of voters in his race for Memphis mayor in 2015, is clearly preparing the way for another mayoral race in 2019. On Saturday, Williams inaugurated a new Facebook page entitled "Michael R. Williams 2019," and his initial text was a de facto announcement of another race next year: "I am starting this page to allow more people to follow and for me to disseminate information. I needed a public figure page that allows more than 5,000. I have almost 1,000 additional friend requests that I can not add. I will start directing people to this page. Are we getting ready for 2019, yes we are. Let's get started early this time. Thanks, and please direct people to this page as well." As of 8:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, the page had attracted 56 likes. • And, as current Mayor Jim Strickland thereby learned the identity of one reelection opponent for next year, he reluctantly found himself at the center of a brewing controversy involving a candidate for the Shelby County Commission. That would be Tami Sawyer, whose urgent activism last year as a leader in the "#TakeEmDown901" drive to remove the city's Confederate statues often seemed to put her at odds with what Strickland regarded as a more moderate and methodical pathway to that end. Sawyer is a candidate this year for Position 7 on the commission, and, among her opponents in the Democratic primary is former Shelby County Schools board member Stephanie Gatewood. Proponents of Sawyer have charged in online posts, in emails to their networks, and in other modes of an ongoing whispering campaign that Strickland is taking a behind-the-scenes role on behalf of Gatewood and against Sawyer. When queried about the rumors, Strickland responded with a categorical "No," and, focusing on the online rumors, expressed amazement that they could be taken seriously. That in this heyday of social media, he himself relies heavily on regular messages from his office circulated through the internet is clearly something he regards as being another matter altogether. And Gatewood herself took note of the rumors, contending in a Facebook post that they were "inaccurate" and saying specifically, "Mayor Strickland has not donated a dime to my campaign nor have I had a conversation with him regarding him having a fund-raiser on my behalf." Addressing the same matter of online credibility that seemed to astound Strickland, she would conclude her post by acknowledging "What's funny is that perception is reality to most." In an effort to rebut such a perception, one supporter of the mayor maintained in an online message that Strickland had gone out of his way during a presentation to the state Heritage Commission in Athens last year to cite the role of "people of grass roots" in the struggle to remove the statues, and, in so doing, had bade Sawyer to rise. Sawyer herself, when asked about the Gatewood matter, was somewhat guarded. She acknowledged that she was conversant with the rumors but declined to comment further on them except to say, "The mayor has a right to support anybody he chooses for public office." [...]

It's A Hitchcock Weekend! Time Warp Drive In and Turner Classic Movies Present Four Classics From The Master of Suspense

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 06:57:00 -0500

(image) If you've ever wondered what was so great about Alfred Hitchcock, this is the weekend to find out. Was the master of suspense the greatest filmmaker of all time? The four films playing in Memphis this weekend make the strongest case possible for Hitch's GOAT status.
Saturday night, the Time Warp Drive-In will devote its season's first full show to Hitchcock. Cinephiles will go round and round on which of his films is the best, but the Time Warp is leading with my pick: Rear Window. This amazingly compact work takes place in one giant set. It has Jimmy Stewart at his most laconic, literal queen Grace Kelly at her absolute sexiest, and a classic supporting performance by the great Thelma Ritter. Just look at the way Hitch introduces the setting and almost every character in the film in the opening three minutes. 

Next up is North by Northwest, the template for thousands of action movies. Check out this trailer, in which Hitch prefigured Deadpool's marketing campaign by six decades.

Next on the super-genius parade is The Birds, a deeply weird horror film that today can be read as a kind of proto-zombie movie. The events of the film are never really explained, but as you can see from this classic clip, these are some really pissed off birds!

On Sunday at the Paradiso, Turner Classic Movies presents a 60th anniversary screening of Vertigo, Hitchcock's masterpiece which, in 2012, bumped Citizen Kane from the top spot of the decennial Sight + Sound Best Films Of All Times poll. You can judge for yourself at the Paradiso on Sunday, March 18 at 2:00 PM.

Seven Days In Entebbe

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 05:02:00 -0500

(image) It’s not often that you get to see the making of a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode in real time, but I feel confident that at some point a guy in a movie theater with a couple of robots is going to make fun of Seven Days In Entebbe.
This film, directed by José Padilha, is the fourth made about the June-July 1976 hijacking of an Air France plane by a combined force of Palestinian and German terrorists. The plane was flown from Athens, Greece to an airport in Entebbe, Uganda on the shores of Lake Victoria. There, the 254 passengers and crew were held hostage with the help of Idi Amin’s army. The terrorists demanded the release of prisoners from Israeli jails, but instead they all got bullets in the head from a force of Israeli commandos. All but one of the passengers were rescued in the daring raid, and the men behind it—Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Defense Minister Shimon Peres—became national heroes. Even today in Israel, the events of that summer have repercussions: The only Israeli casualty was the brother of current Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.
The first of Seven Days In Entebbe’s many faults lies in its attempts to tell all sides of the story at once, and failing in every respect. Rosamund Pike and Daniel Brul play Brigitte Kuhlmann and Wilfred Bose, a pair of radical Red Army guerrillas who led the mission. Kuhlmann and Bose were the last of the breed of militant leftists who grew out of the 1960s. Their comrades in the infamous Badher-Meinhof group were all dead or in prison, and since they were stuck in a Libyan training camp with no prospect of returning home alive, the hijacking was an act of desperation.
The hijacking goes smoothly enough, but the passengers, all decked out for the 1970s, appear to have been imported directly from an Airport movie. The self-parody is completed with Denis Menochet as the no nonsense flight engineer, who would have been played by George Kennedy if this had really been 1976. He gets great lines like “A plumber is worth five revolutionaries!”

On the other side is the Israeli government, led by Lior Ashkenazi as Rabin and Eddie Marsan as Peres. The pair of politicians leave no cigarette unsmoked and no brow un-furrowed, but at no time are they believable human beings. Even worse is the shoddy looking defense ministry headquarters, which looks like a 1960s-era Doctor Who set where everyone tells each other what they already know, unconvincingly. Most pointless of all is a subplot where a young commando played by Ben Schnetzer has to miss his girlfriend’s godawful modern dance performance because he’s off rescuing hostages. The only person who looks like he’s having any fun in the entire movie is Game of Thrones vet Nonso Anozie, and I suspect that’s because his portrayal of Idi Amin is secretly a Donald Trump impersonation.

Seven Days In Entebbe jumps out in front in the race for the most pointless (least pointed?) film of the year so far. Padilha is an acclaimed action director who somehow forgot how to film a good action scene since his uneven Robocop remake. His film failed to make me care about the passengers, the hijackers, the decision makers, or the soldiers. The only question is, why would anyone pay good money to remake a Charles Bronson TV movie from the 1970s, and do it so badly at that? For that, I have no answers. But one day, someone's going to thank them for the lulz.

Feast on the Farm with David Krog

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 16:04:00 -0500

Celebrate spring with “Feast in the Field with Chef David Krog” April 14 at Rose Creek Farms in Selmer, Tennessee. Krog, former executive chef at Interim Restaurant, will prepare a five-course meal, which will showcase the bounty of local farms, including Rose Creek Farms, an organic farm owned by Ray and Ashley Tyler. “Ray and I have been talking about doing this dinner for over a year and there never was time,” Krog said. “We couldn’t put it together. But the time has come. The idea behind it is to showcase the stuff we were using in the restaurant. Not too often are you going to eat vegetables from a farm on the farm. With vegetables that have been out of the ground for hours.” Also included in the event will be Bluff City Fungi in Memphis, Sweet Magnolia, a gelato company in Clarksdale, Miss.; and Marmilu Farms in Jackson, Tenn. - all businesses that bear on Krog’s future plans. “Amanda (Krog’s wife) and I are going to open a restaurant run by us. A family-owned business. We like to surround ourselves with other family-owned businesses that are passionate about what they are doing. These are small businesses run by families with children - moms and dads and everything - going out there to give their best every day. We want to showcase their work.” The dinner will begin at 4 p.m. with champagne and hors d’oeuvres and a tour of Rose Creek Farms. Each course will be paired with a boutique wine chosen by Blake Parish of Memphis. “I will guarantee that everything you eat that day is local. The vegetables you are going to eat will come from that farm or close to us. Within 100 miles. And we’ll have a discussion about where everything comes from that day. And there will be some of those farmers that are involved with us on site to talk about their farms. “It’s a discussion. It’s a dinner. It’s good people.” Tickets are $195 each. For information, go to here. [...]

Fly on the Wall 1516

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 14:30:09 -0500


Dammit, Gannett
While your Pesky Fly on the Wall isn't superstitious by nature, it seems likely that the good people in Iowa who edit (or fail to edit) The Commercial Appeal, are about to be haunted by a very angry ghost with a remarkable gift for creative swearing.

 Angus McEachran — the hypothetical ghost here — shuffled off this mortal coil Monday, March 5th.

He was a lifelong newspaperman and lion of Memphis journalism who started out as a copy boy at the CA in 1960 and worked his way to the top editor's position at The Pittsburgh Press where he led a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning news team.

In 1993, McEachran returned to Memphis to helm the CA, where his intolerance for mistakes was as legendary as his ability to turn reporters into quivering puddles of contrite goo during a process of journalistic atonement called "error court."

 Following his March 5th death, the CA honored its famously meticulous editor by spelling his name wrong in the headline of an otherwise lovely tribute.

At least that was just the early digital version. Surely somebody caught the error and fixed it before it was immortalized in newsprint.


Commission to End Poverty in Memphis Forms

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 11:00:00 -0500

The Memphis Theological Seminary in partnership with the Tennessee Poor People’s Campaign announced Thursday a new effort to “abolish poverty” in the city. The seminary's Henry Logan Starks Institute for Faith, Race, and Social Justice, along with the Poor People’s Campaign will establish the Truth Commission, as a part of the new national Poor People’s Campaign, A National all for a Moral Review. The commission will document and study human rights violations in the Memphis area. Types of violations will include environmental degradation, criminalization of the poor, neighborhood gentrification, living wages, quality education, and health care issues. Edie Love with the Tennessee Poor People’s Campaign said these all fall under the four main evils of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, militarism, ecological devastation, and distorted moral narratives. The goal of the commission will be to unite as many people as possible to do “direct moral action,” putting pressure on state government to change policies that “benefit the wealthy, while exploiting everyone else.” “The evils of racism, economic exploitation, and militarism are all tied together,” Love said, quoting Dr. King Martin Luther King Jr. “You can’t get rid of one without getting rid the others. The whole structure of America must be changed.” This can’t be done without a “radical redistribution of economic and political power.” From now until Thursday, March 22, the commission will be collecting “truth stories” of how poverty has directly affected people’s lives here. The commission will present the most “egregious” stories of poverty on Saturday, March 24 so that the stories can be acknowledged by the entire state. Stories can be shared on the Poor People’s Campaign website. Dr. Rosalyn Nichols, director of the Starks Institute said as the city commemorates the 1968 sanitation workers and the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s death, “we continue to be challenged by Dr. King’s question: ‘Where do we go from here?’” “The reality of what was left undone in the aftermath of April 4, 1968, still confronts us,” Nichols said. “The question is will we grieve and commiserate or take up the charge and strategize.” Dr. Elena Delavega, assistant professor of social work at the University of Memphis and author of the The Poverty Report: Memphis Since MLK was also at the press conference. Poverty affects everyone in Memphis, she said. “The reality is we’re all going to pull together, or we’re not going to pull out,” Delavega said. “Just as we have policies that promote poverty, we can have policies that destroy poverty.” [...]

On Doing No Harm

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 03:45:00 -0500

(image) Maybe Tennessee, just now without any pro- or anti-gun legislation on the docket in deference to Governor Haslam's appointment of a task force, is in a position to practice the maxim "First, Do No Harm." Read this week's editorial here.

Stormy Weather Ahead

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 01:02:00 -0500

Lord knows, it's hard to keep up these days. There's an information overload from our information overlords. So much distraction, so little time to process change before more change happens. Mostly forgotten in all the daily chaos coming out of Washington, D.C., is the mid-February repeal of net neutrality by Ajit Pai, the Trump-appointed head of the Federal Communications Commission. Net neutrality rules instituted during the Obama administration basically classified high-speed internet as a public utility, meaning all broadband consumers have equal access to all content from the internet — and at the same access speed. It's similar in concept to MLGW, which, as a public utility, can't charge more for water usage for some customers than others. Nor can it decide to provide electricity only to certain neighborhoods, based on profitability concerns. When it comes to broadband providers, all the rules are about to change. The repeal of net neutrality is another example of the Trump administration's push to privatize pretty much everything, including our public institutions and properties. They've opened up thousands of acres in national monument lands to oil and timber companies. They're pushing to allow offshore drilling in sensitive coastal waters. They've incentivized for-profit prison systems, turning them into a mega-billion-dollar industry. And now they're coming for your porn. Now, that probably got your attention, but it's true: Repealing net neutrality means that high-speed internet companies like Comcast, AT&T, and others will be allowed to block or throttle web traffic or offer priority to certain websites and services. Essentially, the providers can charge you different rates for specific content, based on profitability. And what's more profitable than porn? On the internet? Literally nothing. Even more troubling, the net neutrality repeal also allows for increased meddling from state legislative bodies. Which is where the porn issue is likely to, er, arise. Rhode Island legislators, for example, have proposed a law, contingent on the implementation of the repeal of net neutrality, that would require content providers to block most "adult content." In order to visit their friendly neighborhood PornHub, Rhode Islanders will be required to request in writing that they want their broadband provider to disable the state-imposed block. They'll have to present identification verifying they are 18 and acknowledge receiving a written warning regarding the "potential danger" of deactivating the content block. And they'll be required to pay a $20 "digital access fee." In short, if this bill passes, the state of Rhode Island would charge residents to view adult content and create a registry of those who've paid to do so. And this is in Rhode Island, one of the bluest states in the country! Just imagine what our gun-loving, non-fun-loving, evangelical Nashville Hillbillies will come up with. They don't want a gun registry, but they'll sure as hell want to know if you like to watch Busty Milfs on Broadway. In fact, 44 states are preparing one sort of legislation or another to deal with the consequences of net neutrality repeal. The possibilities are mind-boggling. Providers could charge extra for to you to watch presidential debates or the Oscars or the Super Bowl. Political content could be amplified or throttled, based on profitability or a corporation's preferences. Most broadband providers have a monopoly already, and they have insatiable stock[...]

Participate! Change Comes From the Bottom Up

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 01:00:00 -0500

On the evening of the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center's 36th annual Living the Legacy of Nonviolence, Tami Sawyer accepted the Happy Jones Award on behalf of #TakeEmDown901. As the masses of people stood and applauded, Sawyer said, "Everyone in here ... was a part of #TakeEmDown901. The reason it was so successful as a movement is because it was a people-centered movement. It gathered the voices and sentiment of our entire community." Sawyer's words were a reminder of the power of widespread participation in collective political action. When members of the community are in conversation and they collaborate and strategize together, social change is more impactful and long-lasting. #TakeEmDown901 demonstrated how community dialogue with differing opinions on how to address local issues helps complicate and strengthen resistance to not only racial inequality but also symbols of racial violence. The approach of a people-centered movement is reminiscent of Ella Baker's grassroots leadership philosophy. In 1957, along with Bayard Rustin and Stanley Levison, Baker co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). As a field organizer for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), she traveled extensively throughout the South to organize local NAACP chapters. From her travels, Baker came to recognize the collective power of communities and the importance of their participation in decision-making processes that affect their lives. These methods of organizing did not sit well with the other leaders of the SCLC, who were accustomed to a "top-down" approach. Baker challenged this practice with her understanding of how individuals can find empowerment through direct participation. Thus, they do not depend on the direction of a larger, outside institution but they find the resources within themselves first to address injustice in their community. Baker found that the SCLC's hierarchies within its organizational leadership conflicted with her philosophy. She said "In organizing a community, you start with people where they are." She believed that individuals and communities already had resources and strengths that could be harnessed for collective liberation. Additionally, Baker had disagreements with Martin Luther King Jr.'s leadership, because the SCLC relied so heavily on him as a sole leader. She knew the dangers of having a singular person portrayed as the face of a movement. Many of her ideas and suggestions, which called for the engagement of youth and women in organizing, were also overlooked, because they were voices of a black woman in a male-dominated space. In the 1960s, Baker witnessed the organizing power of students in North Carolina. Following the example of 1940s and 1950s sit-ins in cities such as Chicago, Baltimore, and St. Louis, black students in Greensboro, North Carolina, used nonviolent protest to desegregate Woolworth lunch counters. The four college freshmen, now known as the Greensboro Four, were joined by other college students in daily sit-ins which drew national attention to the segregation in the South. They unveiled the curtain to the violence that white people would inflict to maintain segregation and racial inequality. The grassroots organizing that these students were engaging in drew Baker to them and led to the formation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Baker supported the student organizers working independently of SCLC because she knew that the youth needed to have agency in the directio[...]

Tennessee Gun Control: First, Do No Harm

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 01:00:00 -0500


Stand up if you're not surprised that President Trump caved in on his resolve to "fight the NRA" if necessary to get effective public-safety legislation on guns. No, don't, on second thought. So massive and sudden a change in the disposition of planetary weight could cause tectonic shifts

and endanger the earth's equilibrium in its orbit about the sun.

Nobody should be surprised, any more than they were surprised when Trump backed off from a promise to sign bipartisan legislation on DACA a month earlier. Nor when he abandoned a dozen other promises of constructive action.

This is a president who is on a permanent campaign swing, but in the 14 months that he has actually held office, has seemingly learned nothing about governing itself. Even those few circumstances his devotees can tout as "triumphs" — the appointment of conservative Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, the passage of a monumental tax cut favoring the wealthy — are merely services demanded by and performed for the sake of the special interests who see in Trump's tenure an opportunity to aggrandize themselves.

But the cave-in to the National Rifle Association, whose influence in the gun bill just proposed by Trump is all too obvious, is especially disheartening. The legislative package announced by Trump — the same President Trump who had the nerve to chide members of Congress for being "afraid of" the NRA — carefully avoids any particulars that would go against the wishes of the gun lobby.

One of the bill's main provisions would offer support for teachers willing to pack "defensive" weaponry at school facilities. That means more guns for sale, and that presumably suits the NRA and the firearms industry just fine. Another provision would ostensibly firm up background checks but continue to leave the ubiquitous gun shows immune to such controls.

Ideas expressed by Trump during his breast-beating "fight-the-NRA" moment e.g., raising the minimum age for firearms purchases to 21 or doing anything to curtail the sale of assault weapons — are unsurprisingly missing. Given that some of these stricter measures did end up in a bill passed at the behest of the Republican Governor and GOP-dominated legislature of Florida, it is obvious that any true relief will have to come at the state level.

Is there any hope then for Tennessee, where bills friendly to the gun lobby normally have an easier time than resolutions in praise of springtime? Surprisingly, there might be. A task force on approaches to firearms control has just been appointed by Governor Bill Haslam, and, in the apparent deference to that, two gun bills — one to arm teachers, another to reduce (!) the financial penalties for unlicensed gun possession — have been put on hold.

In the context of the assembly's gun-happy recent history, doing nothing amounts to a constructive act. We don't normally put much stock in the appointment of commissions or task forces as substitutes for action, but this one puts us in mind of the famous health-care axiom: "First, do no harm." That may be the best we can hope for.

Nikole Hannah-Jones at the Halloran Centre

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 01:00:00 -0500


In 2017, New York Times Magazine investigative journalist and MacArthur fellow Nikole Hannah-Jones made a strong case that "Most white Americans were willing to ignore stark segregation and racial disparity as long as it came wrapped in so-called colorblind policy." Her award-winning report, "The Resegregation of Jefferson County," chronicled efforts by predominantly white towns in Alabama, to secede from their school districts and create new ones. It's a story that may sound familiar to Memphians who remember the struggle for consolidation and fight for suburban independence. Teach for America's Diversity and Cultural Competence Director and #TakeEmDown901 activist Tami Sawyer thinks Jones could just as easily have titled her story "The Resegregation of Shelby County."

"I feel like 'The Resegregation of Jefferson County' should be required reading for anybody who teaches in the South," Sawyer says. "Because we talk so much about educational equity, and people still don't realize that segregation isn't just about where you choose to live. It's about a redistribution of resources that takes us back to separate but not equal." That's one of the reasons why Sawyer's excited about moderating the Center for Southern Literary Arts' conversation between Hannah-Jones and Wendi Thomas, founder of MLK50, at the Halloran Centre.

"I just want to ask a million questions about educational equity in the South," she says.

Sawyer is also excited to be part of one of the most female-centric events sporting an MLK50 hashtag. Hannah-Jones co-founded the Ida B. Wells center for investigative journalism, named for the pioneering journalist who was driven out of Memphis for her public response to the lynching of friends. "Wells doesn't get as much love in Memphis as she should," Sawyer says. "While we're reflecting on 50 years past King, how about reflecting a little on almost a hundred years past Ida?"

The Center for Southern Literary Arts and MLK50 present An Evening with Nikole Hannah-Jones at the Halloran Centre, Tuesday, March 20th $15

Spring Trends

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 01:00:00 -0500

African Prints, Florals & Stripes, and Bold Accessories Stylist & Photographer Andrea Fenise Makeup Nikki Chanel Stylist Assistant Devin Lester Models Grace & Allanna of MEKA MODELS, Asia Rose, Jennifer Hall Burris African Prints African print fabric has proven to be so versatile that it is now recognized on the global fashion scene and will be seen locally in streetstyle and contemporary fashion. African print fabric has metamorphosed from cultural attire to a glamorous wardrobe must-have, and right now the spotlight is on Africa. Designers like Tanganika by Tangie inspire us to wear the print as a gown, blouse, or by mixing prints with tops and wide leg trousers. Left on Grace: Tanganika by Tangie top; Style Junkie earrings; Cheryl Pesce wicker bag Middle on Jennifer: Tanganika by Tangie top and pants; Cheryl Pesce necklace and bag Right on Asia: Tanganika by Tangie dress; Style Junkie earrings and bracelet; Cheryl Pesce bamboo bag Florals & Stripes There is no other fashion rule more outdated than "don't mix your prints"! This spring, print-clashing like a stylish pro is easy when you use a beautiful family of colors and prints like black-and-white gingham and florals or black stripes with a red base of florals. Far left on Jennifer: Sachi top + skort Middle left on Allanna; H&M top and skirt; Style Junkie earrings; Middle right on Asia: Sachi blouseand trousers; Style Junkie earrings Far right on Grace: Sachi dress; Style Junkie necklace ACCESSORIES Accessories make a complimentary statement of their own. Take the approach of more is more, and style your looks with bold and colorful accessories. Think the bold and the beautiful! Use the color palette of your wardrobe as a source of inspiration. Jeweled and stone earrings to complement a graphic tee, ethnic necklace pieces to accentuate a flowy dress, a natural and earthy statement piece to add an edge — it all works. On Allanna: Dixie Pickers graphic tee; Style Junkie earrings; Tanganika by Tangie skirt GET SOCIAL & SHOP THE LOOKS Stylist & Photographer by / @andreafenise MUA / @the_facegyrl MEKA MODELS Asia Rose @msasiarose Jennifer Hall Burris @travel_with_jen DESIGNERS & RETAILERS / @tanganikabytangie / @cheryl.pesce / @sachimemphis / @dixiepickers [...]

Testosterone Matters

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 01:00:00 -0500

Chemistry says men and women are different, and you can’t fool Mother Nature. Another day, another murder, another march against violence. When will it all end? When America decides that you cannot have both a peaceful society and cheap goods. If we cannot reverse the decline of the middle- and working-classes that started more than 30 years ago, then America's violence will continue. If leaders around the world do not — or will not — find a way to create prosperity for their citizens, their countries will experience more violence, as well.   Violent and unstable individuals have always been with us, but gang affiliations, ethnic nationalism, and religious extremism all come from the same place: hopelessness. And when hopelessness meets testosterone, too often, there will indeed be blood. Testosterone has to have somewhere to occupy itself, and if there is no secure job with a decent wage, a young man's endocrine system will find something else to do with it. Who thinks that poor people find manufacturing meth preferable to building cars, or that strapping on a suicide vest is more appealing than donning a Moby? Who truly believes that men with jobs and families would rather be criminals, given other choices? With or without an education, where will a young man go to feel necessary when more and more jobs are being eliminated through technology, while the wealthy and their paid-for politicians scoop up what prosperity remains?  We must acknowledge that when young men have no healthy outlet for their drives, they will seek fraternity and purpose wherever they find it. Often, the siren call of gang affiliation, racial or ethnic nationalism, or violent jihad are the only sounds alienated young men hear as an alternative to feeling worthless.  That's why I'm skeptical that our mayor, or any political leader anywhere, can have much impact on poverty and crime in a climate where human beings, particularly young men, are becoming superfluous to society. Improving the lives of young men will also improve the lives of young women. Regardless of what industry our economic development efforts may bring to Memphis, companies of the future are creating fewer positions for people and more for robots and machines — robots who communicate with and even repair other machines. If the future means industries will be creating jobs that are done with more technology and less labor, that's what we'll have to deal with. But it's worth considering that the costs of not engaging young males in the labor pool are far greater than whatever money we think we're saving in pursuit of an efficiency that is making human beings optional.  It is inarguable that such efficiency is a snake eating its tail. Taken to its logical absurdity, it means that one day even the robots will not have enough to do, because there will be too few people who can afford to buy whatever the machines are making. As Oliver Wendell Holmes is reputed to have said: "Too many individuals ... want the civilization at a discount." We must stop worshiping at the altar of unbridled capitalism, thinking there is no human cost to be paid.  I have said for years that without men, colonization of far-off lands would never have occurred, because women are entirely too smart to have gotten into tiny wooden bo[...]

‘Devastating’ Development

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 01:00:00 -0500

(image) A new project leaves uncertain future for a Memphis institution.

The P&H Cafe has been a neighborhood staple in the heart of Midtown for almost 60 years, but now a neighboring infill development could limit access to the building, and the bar's owners worry that will hurt business.

On the large vacant lot to the east of the bar, where the BellSouth building once stood, developers 1544 Madison Partners want to build a gated 230-unit apartment complex spanning four buildings. Plans for the four-acre development call for parts of the public, one-way alley that runs behind the P&H to be closed and gated off.

Doing that would be "devastating" for the P&H, according to co-owners, Robert Fortner and Matthew Edwards. Many of the patrons who stop by the P&H during the course of an evening use that alley to reach the bar.

"Are we going to have to move?" Edwards said. "Or are we going to lose business or go out of business? You don't know what's going to happen."

Edwards also worries that on-street parking will become limited, while the bar's rear parking lot on Court will be "rendered useless" because it won't be as easily accessible with the rear alley closed.

To advance their cause, an online petition to "stop the closure of public access to the P&H Cafe" was recently launched, and as of press time, it had 1,683 supporters.

Despite the petition, hearing the concerns of Edwards and Fortner, and 11 other statements of opposition to the development last week, the Memphis and Shelby County Land Use Control Board approved the development and the alley closure with a 9-1 vote.

Opposition came from owners of the decades-old self-serve car wash to the east of the development site, the venue space at 1524 Madison to the west, and Cotton Row Recording Studio on the opposite side of the street. They worried the complex could negatively impact garbage pickup and fire department access, as well as on-street parking availability and traffic flow on Madison.

But, Adam Slovis with 1544 Madison Partners insists that the group has been working with surrounding business owners and residents to "make this opportunity work well for everyone."

"As an example, after many conversations and input, we made various changes to make sure and not close any alley or street sections that run adjacent to any properties other than our own," Slovis said. "The overall development idea here is to take the vacant lots and houses that are a part of the development site and bring back the vibrancy and activity that hasn't been seen here since the BellSouth building was torn down."

He said this will "create new customers and an energy for the area's neighborhood businesses" and "spur other positive development for the area."

Before the developers can move forward with the project, the Memphis City Council must approve the plans. Meanwhile, Edwards said he and Fortner will "continue to look for solutions" to allay their concerns and keep their business alive.

The Perfect Bagel

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 01:00:00 -0500

The expansion of Dave’s Bagels. Brick and mortar soon will be added to Dave Scott's successful recipe for Dave's Bagels. This summer, Scott, 27, is slated to open a main store in Midtown, which will carry his bagel, bialy, and pretzel items. He eventually may branch out to satellite stores in other locations. Scott, who has been working out of a shared commercial kitchen, will continue to sell his baked goods at farmers markets and other locations. The main store would be the flagship store, where all his items will be made. "Then maybe a couple of little satellites that we can deliver the fresh baked product to, but we won't need all the equipment on the premises." A native of Morristown, New Jersey, Scott began making bagels when he was living in Las Vegas. He missed the bagels he used to get in New Jersey and New York. After much trial and error, he created what he — and, apparently, many others — consider the perfect bagel. Scott, who moved to Memphis in 2016, began selling his bagels at the Curb Market and branched out to other locations. Later, he began thinking, "Well, they don't have any good Jewish delis or, really, like an old school bagel shop. I wanted something like that down here, which was kind of why I went with the bagels in the first place. 'Cause I couldn't get one in town. I couldn't find a decent one. Now, I'm thinking, 'I want a store.' Using a shared-space kitchen is great, but I'm missing out on a lot of retail opportunities. "I just put a lot of feelers out there, let everybody know what I was looking for and hopefully somebody would come back and tell me some good news, eventually." He got the good news last September. A man came by Scott's commercial kitchen to check out his products. "I was baking that day, so I had fresh stuff out of the oven. I said, 'Hey, man. You look hungry. Here, grab a bagel. I got some cream cheese in the back if you want it.'" The man loved it. He loved it so much he continued to buy Scott's bagels and, eventually, became his silent partner. Scott wants the store to be a "grab-and-go-style bakery." The satellite locations "will give us more room to experiment with the menu. The plan is to do breakfast and lunch. And, again, we'll have your classic bagel stuff, bagel combos there. Your bacon, egg, and cheese. That kind of thing. I'm trying to work in some veggie options on there, too, because bagels inherently are a vegan item." Scott also is thinking "kosher." "One of the things that I was making a point to do with this store that I can't do with my current location is be completely kosher. So, I've been throwing out some feelers with rabbis in town seeing what I'll be needing to do. And once we start construction on the building, we will work with a rabbi so we can get at least the bagel process and all that kosher. So, everything in back of the house will be kosher. I just have to work out details when it comes to front-of-the-house stuff." Scott wants to keep the business simple at first "and probably get a little experimental with having some more deli items." He already figured out what the decor will look like. "I've always been really into like a rustic-modern mesh." As for the name, Scott says, "We're probably going to s[...]