Editorial Results (free)
1. Two Bo’s, One Town
- Friday, May 17, 2013
THANK YOU, Z’BO AND C’BO. AND THANK YOU, MICHAEL. Last week, my son reminded me to write a column about the Grizzlies. So I did. This week, a good friend commenting on that column reminded me of why I write them in the first place, and then wrote one for me.
2. Grizz Buzz
- Friday, May 10, 2013
A ROUND OF APPLAUSE. “You need to do next week’s column on the Grizz,” the email from a regular reader opened.
“There is no better or more appropriate time than now when the whole city is watching. You can contest the Simers article in the LA paper about Memphis being a ‘rathole’ where they should be ‘handing out bullet-proof vests instead of growl towels’ and focus on how the team represents the diverse, working class mentality of our city. Also, new ownership, including local minority group with Justin Timberlake, Ashley Manning, etc. Memphians are soaking up the Grizz like a sponge right now. You should join in. Just a thought.”
3. One End to the Other
- Friday, May 03, 2013
GET IT TOGETHER. Cooper is on fire. From the cougars in the zoo to the cougars in Alchemy, the viewing is best at feeding time. From the lions at the zoo to the lyonnaise salad at 1912, this is a stretch to strut in.
4. I Know a Place
- Friday, April 26, 2013
I’LL TAKE YOU THERE. “Oh, mmm, I know a place… When Mavis Staples sang those words, everybody in the audience was moved to move. The kind of primal itch you got to scratch, the kind of muscle over mind that makes toes tap, fingers snap, and hands clap.
5. Understanding the Importance of a Getaway
- Friday, April 19, 2013
THE TIME TO GET AWAY IS CLOSE. One morning last week. Anderson’s dogs were running, impossibly fast, circling a field of new wheat, impossibly green, and then through the woods and past the ponds, Snuffy bounding just ahead of us and Bow Wow off to our right in the trees. Their eyes were bright and their joy obvious, impossibly happy.
6. I’m Lucky to Know Bea
- Friday, April 12, 2013
REMARKABLE CONNECTIONS. After last week’s column, Bea dropped me a thoughtful email note as she often does about whatever I’m writing about. My story about Linda Courtney and her son Bill struck a common chord, and Bea wanted to share.
7. Single-Handed Success Story
- Friday, April 05, 2013
SINGULAR PERFORMANCE. The White Station Class of 1966, the year ahead of mine, had two Academy Award winners – one you’ve heard of and one you haven’t.
That was some class. Physicist, gray matter repository and best-selling author Alan Lightman was in it. Federal judge and arbiter of public education’s future in Shelby County Hardy Mays was in it. John Vergos, former courageous city council maverick and scion to Rendezvous rib royalty, was in it. Academy Award-winning actress Kathy Bates was in it.
8. The Means to be Mean
- Friday, March 29, 2013
PIECE OF CAKE. Lately, and this is disturbing, I’ve been thinking about Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, as Marie Antoinette, complete with a powdered wig and a cute little stick-on beauty mark, running up and down the halls inviting the poor to eat cake when they run out of bread. But these are not the halls of her Petit Trianon in Versailles at the time of the French Revolution. These are the halls of the state capitol in Nashville at the time of the super majority.
9. The Duck, The Dog, The Farm
- Friday, March 22, 2013
GOING TO LIVE IN THE COUNTRY. My column last week prompted a number of you to share your memories of the creatures that came home with you from the cages at Katz Drug Store. My friend Bill Haltom, attorney and storyteller, sent me this:
10. Shared Bites
- Friday, March 15, 2013
OF KATZ AND RATS, DADS AND DONUTS. Howard and I were having breakfast. It was supposed to be about business. Turns out it was about monkeys and parakeets and donuts and dawns and day-olds, about his Memphis and mine, about ours.
11. Failing Every One of Us
- Friday, March 08, 2013
FAILING TO DECIDE. I once heard advertising legend and certifiable-one-of-a-kind Jerry Della Femina give the keynote address at an Ad Age Creative Workshop in San Francisco. He was bemoaning the loss of creativity in American advertising at the time and the homogenizing of our colorful national character into a colorless blob. As I remember it, he said he’d had a dream that sometime in the late 60s all the radicals, revolutionaries, hippies, dropouts, turn-ons and turn-offs all got together in a field somewhere to figure out what to do next to take over the country.
12. A Higher Order of Sausage
- Friday, March 01, 2013
GOD’S SAUSAGE. (When you see this column, it’s the 40 Days of Waffle Shop again, so strike while the iron is hot.)
“You might just be a copywriter,” Brick Muller said, staring down at the piece of paper I’d just handed him. On it was an ad idea I’d just pounded out on the 1948 Royal typewriter he was paying me to use as a copywriter. The fact that this was his first recognition that I might be one was gratifying since I’d already been there for nine months.
13. Granddad, Hambone and the KKK
- Friday, February 22, 2013
IF THE KLAN DOESN’T LIKE YOU, PAT YOURSELF ON THE BACK. An Exalted Cyclops of the KKK – must be just one hole in his hood – recently told Channel 5, also quoted in The Huffington Post, “Y’all are going to see the largest rally Memphis, Tennessee, has ever seen. It’s not going to be twenty or thirty – it’s going to be thousands of Klansmen from the whole United States.”
14. Give Up These 40 Things for Lent
- Friday, February 15, 2013
40 THINGS TO DO WITHOUT. Lent has begun – a season of reflection and sacrifice for believers seeking spiritual strength, a season bridging the gray gloom of winter and the green promise of spring for those seeking renewal, a season of waffles and chicken hash for those seeking comfort in the caloric basement of Calvary Church – 40 days of all of that for me.
15. War Within the State
- Friday, February 08, 2013
TENNESSEE HAS DECLARED WAR ON SHELBY COUNTY. We now have renamed three parks. Forrest Park to Health Sciences Park. Confederate Park to Memphis Park. Jefferson Davis Park to Mississippi River Park. The new names are uninspired and uninteresting – they might as well be Boring Park, Bland Park and Whatever Park – but what inspired them is what makes them interesting.
16. It’s Personal
- Friday, February 01, 2013
IT’S NOT BUSINESS ANYMORE. IT’S PERSONAL. This is our town, and you’re not welcome here.
So pack a plane with all your meaningless spin, all your lackeys and suck-ups, all your apologists, all your legal but unethical tactics, all your eye popping price gouging, all your cold and calculated manipulation of lives, your own employees’ lives, and a city’s pride and get the hell out. There’s so much of all of that in the massive fuel dump you just dropped on Memphis that I’m sure it’ll take more than one plane to haul it all off and we may never be rid of the stench it’s leaving behind.
17. Swimming in Memory
- Friday, January 25, 2013
THE POOL’S CLOSED. My first date was Ann Wiggs. I took her to a dance in the cafeteria at White Station at the beginning of the seventh grade. She was tall and all elbows and angles. I was short and dumpy and all nervous. We didn’t so much dance as run into each other to music. I was 11. She was 12.
18. A General Invitation
- Friday, January 18, 2013
COME ON BACK TO ELMWOOD, GENERAL FORREST. And bring the missus and the horse along. The family’s waiting.
After all, you bought the Elmwood lot yourself in 1854 and you were buried here in 1877. Your wife was, too, before some folks named a park after you and moved both of you there in 1904, parking one of the finest equestrian statues anywhere right on top of you in 1905.
19. ‘It’ Goes to Committee
- Friday, January 11, 2013
THREE YEARS LATER, MEMPHIS GOES TO COMMITTEE. Almost three years ago, in the hope that we were on the verge of positioning ourselves, of taking our rightful place among places, I wrote this in another column:
20. New Heroes
- Friday, January 04, 2013
SCHOOL LESSONS IN HEROISM. On Friday morning, Dec. 21 – one week after semi-automatic gunfire swept through elementary school classrooms and the nation, murdering innocence – one week after a Memphis police officer stood between a bullet and you and me, giving us all she had – a single two-ton bell in the tower of Idlewild Presbyterian Church rang 29 times. Once for officer Martoiya Lang, 20 times for the children of Newtown, six times for their teachers and, unlike anywhere else I’m aware of, once for the shooter’s mother and once for him. Each is the toll of madness, of misplaced priorities and violence, of the belief that more armed violence is not only a righteous solution but a constitutional right. And of a country where it’s easier to buy an assault rifle than vote, easier to buy ammunition than Sudafed.
21. Horseback Rides With Weddings
- Friday, December 28, 2012
BRIDAL PATHS When I was little, I was pretty sure you went to cool weddings by horseback. After all, Roy and Dale were married, and they sang “Happy Trails To Us” from the back of a horse every week. Mom and Dad were married, and they spent the first year of their marriage in Arizona riding horses and doing cool-sounding things like punching cattle, shooting rattlesnakes and smoking Old Golds.
22. Christmas Coming Home
- Friday, December 21, 2012
CHRISTMAS TIME Every Christmas I tell this story, and in the telling Christmas comes home.
It was my first time to England and overseas, and prime time for The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Soho.
23. Give a Reboot This Year
- Friday, December 14, 2012
REBOOTS FOR EVERYBODY. As I sat there on hold – again – listening to synthesizer Gap crap, or a good beat slowly beat to death, or Barry Manilow at the Copa, the Copacabana – I was reminded of a Lily Tomlin line from years ago, “I had a terrible dream last night. I dreamed that the man who invented Muzak invented something else.”
24. It’s Past Time to Start Over
- Friday, December 07, 2012
START. STOP. START SOMETHING NEW. There we were in our shirtsleeves, playing golf on a 70-degree Saturday in December, when my old friend, cart mate and Republican said, “I could get used to this global warming stuff.” Unable to resist the smart-ass opening I had just been provided, I replied, “Must be tough on you guys these days – not only do you have to admit to global warming, you have to throw Grover and the pledge under the elephant.”
25. Mrs. Olds: Fire Lighter
- Friday, November 30, 2012
TEACHERS, NOT SCHOOLS, TEACH. If you’re wondering how many pieces of notebook paper it takes to produce a truly impressive spitball, it’s 10, give or take.
Terry was occupying most of the rear corner, busily inserting one piece of notebook paper after another into his mouth. Known for both gross weight and behavior, Terry was larger and older than us; the former the result of being so fond of everything in the cafeteria that he went back again and again, and the latter the result of being so fond of several grades that he went back for those, too.
26. Ginkgos and Band-Aids
- Thursday, November 22, 2012
LOOK FOR THE WONDER. REPEAT. Right outside my window is a female ginkgo tree, her boyfriend is on the other side of the house, and every fall they engage in an ancient mating dance, a spectacular competition for attention. So exhausting is the effort, it doesn’t last long. So intense is the result, it’s explosive. And then it’s gone, leaving only a memory.
27. Visions of Grace
- Friday, November 16, 2012
CHICKEN WIRE AND TIFFANY. This Saturday, seven windows of Louis Comfort Tiffany are open at Grace-St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, and his brilliant lamps shine through Jan. 13 at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.
28. Boy Scouts Must Honor Own Motto: Be Prepared
- Friday, November 09, 2012
PROTECT THE SCOUTS, NOT THE INSTITUTION. Scouts are at risk, not just from the sick, twisted creatures who would prey on them – documented in print, on air and online – but from adults who have twisted the truth and continue to excuse the inexcusable if not in fact, in effect. Allowing even one of these monsters a pass, not turning them over to the police, is a monstrous crime in and of itself. And the monster grows even larger, even more dangerous with every revelation of omission and every buried file.
29. Richie Stories Leave Impression
- Friday, November 02, 2012
Calvin called and told me Richie was coming to town. Calvin was calling a meeting.
There are a number of reasons for getting out of town for college, out of the warm blanket you’re wrapped in to something less restrictive or out of cold circumstances to something warmer, out of the suffocating sameness of safe and familiar, out of yourself to find you. Little reasons – like nobody else does your laundry, makes you study or go to class, makes you chicken soup or makes it all OK. Big reasons – like taking responsibility, taking chances, taking on the world, taking a look at things and people you’ve never seen before and the realities they represent.
30. Half-Penny For Their Thoughts
- Friday, October 26, 2012
FULL OF HOPE.
See the children. See them run.
See the children. See them play.
See the children. See them see.
See the children. See them learn.
See the children. See all that’s possible.
31. Chasing The Phantom Screamer
- Friday, October 19, 2012
LOUD MEMORIES REMAIN. Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy emailed the other day and reminded me of the Phantom Screamer.
The Screamer never caught the game-winning touchdown pass. He didn’t hit a walk-off home run or a fade-away jumper at the buzzer, or go on to do something that might, literally, save the world like his remarkably seedy classmate, Dr. Cary Fowler.
32. Rain Dance
- Friday, October 12, 2012
IT’S RAINING. SO WHAT? She’s 4. She has big hair, a whole big bunch of auburn curls. She’s my daughter’s friend. They’re laughing in another room, about to break something.
33. We All Have a Right to Rights
- Friday, October 05, 2012
BENDING EVERYBODY STRAIGHT. I know a guy who’s into shoes. And into colors, theater and rearranging furniture. He majored in art, and can spend hours hanging one piece in the only two square feet of wall space he has left– robin’s egg blue and Chinese red walls, I might add. He wrote and directed musical satire in college. Johnny Mathis is all over his iPhone, iPad and iPod along with Judy Collins singing “Danny Boy” and way too many original Broadway casts singing their showstoppers, all of which he incessantly hums. He makes tomato aspic. He wears a lot of purple and pink, liberally sprinkles words like fabulous and spectacular in general conversation, has a couple of precious matching dogs, and has the legs for cross dressing. He’s a lifelong Memphian, but he doesn’t hunt or fish.
34. Boys Will Be Boys
- Friday, September 28, 2012
BOYS WILL BE BOYS. AND THAT CAN BE VERY BAD. If you don’t think teenage boys are thinking about sex virtually every waking moment and dreaming about it virtually every second asleep then you never were one, never the parent of one, or never knew one. If you think wagging a finger at them will stop them, or fairy tales about sexuality instead of honest truth will change them, then you’re either in self-righteous denial or participating in society’s greatest conspiracy:
35. Story on the Side
- Friday, September 21, 2012
A STORY IN EVERY BITE. As I listened, I remembered comedian David Brenner discussing directions in the South. He noted that directions come with a story, and they may include turn left at the three-legged dog, and that everything comes with grits.
36. The Heart Beats
- Friday, September 14, 2012
THE HEART BEATS. AGAIN. A lifetime ago, screwdrivers with lifetime guarantees came from an art moderne castle, and screwdrivers with orange juice came from the only other Friday’s outside of Manhattan.
37. A Tasteful List 2012
- Friday, September 07, 2012
A LIST YOU CAN SINK YOUR TEETH INTO. So many of you seemed to salivate over last year’s Tasteful List, I’ve updated it for 2012. While reduced some, make no mistake, there’s nothing dietary about it.
38. One Quiet Truck
- Friday, August 31, 2012
JUST SEND ONE QUIET TRUCK. My friend Joan White died a couple of weeks ago. You may not have known that.
In fact, if you aren’t a member of advertising’s old school fraternity, you may not know that Joan made the boys let the girls in and made the business, and us, better. In fact, if you aren’t a member of Temple Israel, you may not know how much she meant there, how her steady devotion gave steady evidence of, in the words of her rabbi, “a life worthy of living that enriched us all.” You may not know that she was Miss Holly to Mr. Bingle, trailblazer and mentor to generations of ad agency folks, and just the volunteer to talk to in the Temple Israel shop if you were looking for just the right menorah or kiddush cup. And because of her selfless work and life ethic, business women today will never have to know how tough it was in the ‘50s for a single Jewish mother from Chicago with a 2-year-old in tow to make it here.
39. First and Ten, First Ever
- Friday, August 24, 2012
MOVING THE CHAINS. Georgia scored again while I was throwing up. Georgia and I had already done these things several times in the preceding three hours. Like Tennessee, I didn’t think I had anything left. Very late in the fourth quarter, our offense had gone ice cold and we were down by eight – and my temperature was red hot, up by two. Millions were watching on TV and even ABC’s super-saccharine Chris Schenkel thought Uga had this one all wrapped up.
40. County’s Math Proves Problematic
- Friday, August 17, 2012
WE ALL LOSE, 7-1. While the suburbs cite the test performance of Memphis students as a primary reason to form their own systems, a closer examination reveals that they themselves seem to be lacking in a basic understanding of math.
41. Finding Inspiration In an Ad
- Friday, August 10, 2012
ADVERTISING. YOU GOTTA LOVE IT. From time to time, I’ve been invited to lecture on advertising, copywriting and the creative process in college classrooms – as opposed to the uninvited lectures I’ve given in all kinds of rooms. I tell students that advertising is a terrible business made up of itty-bitty margins, great big egos, volcanic eruptions and Richter 8 earthquakes – and those are just the staff meetings. I tell them it’s a constant emotional roller coaster of soaring ups and crushing downs, of inspired thought and amazing idiocy – and that’s all before lunch.
42. Remembering The Decathlon
- Friday, August 03, 2012
SHOOTING THE MOON FOR GOLD. My fellow decathlete, Jeff Chamblin, called. We remember the competition as if it were yesterday.
Surely we all remember the wedge on 18 at Galloway, dug from a heavy lie in a front yard on Walnut Grove, having arrived there after a 350-yard drive, 250 yards of that by virtue of bounces in the street. Even now, we can see the wedge rising over five lanes of traffic. We can hear the horns, the homeowner scream from his porch, as we watch that scarred, bruised warrior of a ball hit, bounce and bite to eight feet for birdie. Don’t tell me about the troublesome rules of golf. In this competition, if you could find it and hit it, it was in play, and that was a helluva shot.
43. Thundering Across America
- Friday, July 27, 2012
ON THIS CROSSING, EVERY STEP RESONATES. In the big bubble-shaped cars of the 1940’s, the space – the shelf, if you will – between the back seat and the rear window was roughly the size of Overton Park, a place for picnic baskets, hatboxes, shopping bags and babies. For me. No baby seats. No seat belts. The only things that would keep me from flying into the front seat and beyond would be the sure hands of my brothers in the back seat, and I’m pretty sure they’d be watching out for themselves.
44. John or Bill
- Friday, July 20, 2012
A PROPHET IS NOT WITHOUT HONOR, SAVE AROUND HERE. If William Faulkner looked out the window on this cloudy day he would see the still and always green magnolia leaves still and always sad still and always there still and always reminding remanding back still and always back in the sunless indolent superheated moment between a dark brooding now the even darker starker truth of then and the oppressive promise hanging in the coming storm of repeating the moment still and always the same.
45. It’s All Ours
- Friday, July 13, 2012
TURNS OUT, WE HAVE A PLAN. READ IT. If you sat down at the proverbial kitchen table – in fact, if every one of us sat down at your kitchen table – and made a top-10 list of what should be the guiding principles of our public schools, you might wonder just what we’d come up with.
46. Hit Dogs
- Friday, July 06, 2012
IT’S NOT RACIAL. IF I’M LYING, I’M DYING. We are lying. And if we don’t realize it, we will die from it.
Annie Laurie Peeler put it best. She was, after all, the best sixth grade teacher in the history of the universe. Really. With all due respect to the sixth grade teacher you love, Mrs. Peeler will spot her or him two eyes in the back of her head, three stories you’ll never forget, and four Southernisms and still beat your teacher like a cloakroom paddling.
47. Democracy And Goats
- Friday, June 29, 2012
EVERYBODY SWIMS IN THIS POOL. A lot has been said about our jury system. Thomas Jefferson offered, “I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.”
48. Eggs And Elmo Take Me Back
- Friday, June 22, 2012
PERFECT REMINDERS. I’m reminded. He stared at the target, and on this particular night it seemed larger than ever. He got his signal – same as before – bring the heat. As soon as he let it go, he knew that’s the best I got. Nobody’s touching it.
49. Jud Strunk Made Me Cry
- Friday, June 15, 2012
A DAISY A DAY. “He remembers the first time he met her, He remembers the first thing she said,
He remembers the first time he held her,
And the night that she came to his bed.”
50. City’s Music Hitting Some High Notes
- Friday, June 08, 2012
THE MEMPHIS SOUND HAS A NEW GIG. Memphis has had plenty of superstars, but the beat behind them and underneath and around them, the bass they stood on, the lead they followed, the brass that announced them and made them royalty – that beat was a superstar all by itself.
51. Everything’s Possible, Even a 58
- Friday, June 01, 2012
WHAT THESE GUYS DO ISN’T PROFESSIONAL. IT’S IMPOSSIBLE. The other day, I played in a golf scramble – a format where four players hit every shot, pick the best, and turn in one score at the end. And we had two mulligans each (do-overs) and a toss (a throw yourself out of trouble when you’ve just hit a shot so nauseating you want to toss). We played well, making putts and clutch shots, using our mulligans and tosses wisely, and turning in a score two or three strokes better than we thought ourselves capable of – 62, 10 under par.
52. Straighten Up and Fly Right
- Friday, May 25, 2012
NOTE TO DELTA AND THE AIRPORT AUTHORITY: IT’S NOT YOUR AIRPORT. Tom Jones has suggested that Delta is doing to us what hard-core protagonist Debbie did to Dallas. This time around, Delta is the only one deriving any pleasure out of the act and charging us two, three, even four times the going rate for the experience.
53. It Wasn’t Like This
- Friday, May 18, 2012
AROUND HERE, 24 HOURS AREN’T WHAT THEY USED TO BE. A day in Memphis wasn’t like this.
When Andy Jackson stood on the Chickasaw Bluffs and said to Winchester and Overton, “Boys, we can sell some lots here,” it wasn’t like this.
54. Learning From Wrecks
- Friday, May 11, 2012
SPEAKING OF EDUCATION, WE DON’T LEARN. The weight of his robes bearing down, the certain confusion and probable chaos resulting from his next words, the U.S. District judge in Memphis adjusted his glasses, took a deep breath, and changed public education in his hometown forever.
55. Attaboy, Jimmy
- Friday, May 04, 2012
AND STRAIGHT ON TILL MORNING. Last week, Peter Pan was laid to rest. They came from all over Memphis, his Never Never Land and reality for everybody else, to overflow Midtown’s majestic Idlewild Presbyterian Church.
56. More Monkey Biz From Officials
- Friday, April 27, 2012
EVOLVING RESPONSE. The anachronistic Tennessee Legislature has awarded creationism equal scientific weight to evolution and declared that the prevailing religious belief of that body be offered as viable explanation to our school children for the order, formation and timing of the universe.
57. The Devolution Of Our Species
- Friday, April 20, 2012
LEGISLATURE VOTES TO DEVOLVE. Dateline: Nashville, 2012, 1925 or 1869, your choice.
The Tennessee legislature has officially gone bananas and passed the Monkey Bill, allowing any student who disagrees with the findings of modern science to reject those findings and howl about it from the treetops with impunity. The debate lasted six days, and on the seventh they rested.
58. What They’re Cooking Isn’t Genuine Gumbo
- Friday, April 13, 2012
IT TAKES OKRA. This Sunday, April 15, Mike Warr has asked me to help judge the gumbo cookoff at the City Auto Rajun Cajun Crawfish Festival, the annual mudbug throwdown to benefit Porter-Leath. Mike started this party when he was at the helm of Captain Bilbo’s 23 years ago, initially ordering 600 pounds of crawfish. Now he heads Porter-Leath, and this year some 20,000 people will be picking away at 16,000 pounds of the little critters.
59. Dead Reckoning With Ghosts Of Our Past
- Friday, April 06, 2012
GHOST OF A RIVER. Jimmy Ogle is a Memphis history savant. He knows things about people and places around here that even those people didn’t know in the first place.
60. Statues Give City Glimpse Of History
- Friday, March 30, 2012
STANDING FOR HISTORY. She’s tall and proud, sole representative of an all-but-forgotten people, standing alone where hundreds once lived in a village, where thousands once thrived in a nation. She nobly bears the weight of the loss of all of that, wrapped in skins against the lonely chill of that, and in images of all that has come to pass since her time. Silently and beautifully, she tells her story.
61. Sam’s Slice of Memphis
- Friday, March 23, 2012
For Pete’s sake, it’s Sam’s. And it always will be. Turning basic things into things Memphis is part of our storytelling alchemy. Some mixture of food, drink and funky has to be involved in the telling, and the telling should take a while. Sometimes the stage itself may be the story.
62. It’s True – No, Really
- Friday, March 16, 2012
IF YOU WANT TO HELP, STOP. My high school classmate, Donna Davis, and I are doing an intervention. We’re asking our other classmates, and yours, to stop sending helpful, lifesaving email. Tell us what you’ve been up to … briefly … maybe even something … a little something … about your children/grandchildren or your plastic/heart/knee/hip surgery, but, please God, stop spreading the dismal fog of spreading germs and apocalyptic prophecy.
63. In a Word
- Friday, March 09, 2012
A WORD ABOUT MEMPHIS. THREE, IN FACT. I’m paraphrasing a bit, but this was the gist of what they were asked:
What matters most to our city’s future?
What do we promote to bring your friends here?
64. Try Looking at Our City This Way
- Friday, March 02, 2012
A NEW WAY OF SEEING THINGS. New Orleans is the city that throws the country’s biggest party about this time of year, putting on the biggest show in return for a few colorful beads and trinkets since the Indians gave away Manhattan. It is also the city so much larger than life that Katrina couldn’t drown it, the subsequent loss of virtually every support system couldn’t kill it, and a slow and painful recovery can’t keep it from partying harder and smiling wider.
65. Waffle Shop Again Answers Prayers
- Friday, February 24, 2012
GOD’S SAUSAGE. “You might just be a copywriter,” Brick Muller said, staring down at the piece of paper I’d just handed him. On it was an ad idea I’d just pounded out on the 1948 Royal typewriter he was paying me to use as a copywriter. The fact that this was his first recognition that I might be one was gratifying since I’d already been there for nine months.
66. Mind Over Matter
- Friday, February 17, 2012
THAT’S ENOUGH. Growing up, whenever I was doing something, saying something or up to something for a period of time deemed sufficient by my father, he would say, “That’s enough.”
67. New County Of Them
- Friday, February 10, 2012
NEW BILL CREATES EIGHT NEW COUNTIES. Continually annoyed about existing law that gets in his way, Tennessee Rep. Curry Todd of Collierville has introduced a bill in the state house eliminating Memphis and Shelby County and creating eight new counties.
68. 25 Reasons To Laugh
- Friday, February 03, 2012
THE VOICES IN MY HEAD MAY NOT BE REAL, BUT THEY HAVE SOME GOOD IDEAS.
That line, aside from being an apt description of my entire career, is a paraprosdokian – a figure of speech in which the latter part of a phrase causes the reader to reframe the first part. The comedian Steven Wright makes a living off these things, and you probably have some living in your inbox right now.
69. Fight Fair and We All Win
- Friday, January 27, 2012
OKAY, PEOPLE, BREAK IT UP. Are you ready to rumble?
If Terry Roland and the whole Shelby County Commission really do get into it, is it even possible they could get hit hard enough to knock some sense into the whole body?
70. Bend and Lift
- Friday, January 20, 2012
BUILDING NEW BOXES. “Listen here, college boy. Bend your knees when you pick that up, or you won’t make a week.”
That sound advice came from Charles, across a huge stack of corrugated boards that would soon hold refrigerators, on my first day at Mead Container. Way over on Manassas, north of Chelsea, way far away from my East Memphis house in miles and mindsets. For me, it was the first day on a job that would last the summer after my freshman year. For Charles, it was another day on a job he just hoped would last. That day, that summer, I learned a lot.
71. This One’s For Bob
- Friday, January 13, 2012
FOUND, NOT LOST. “There’s a hole up here,” she said, and then held up a mirror so I could see a perfectly round, barren wasteland about two inches wide in what used to be an uninterrupted forest of dark brown hair. But, then, it used be all dark brown too. “What should I do about it?” I asked. “Stay away from people taller than you,” she said.
72. Making a Personal Hook
- Friday, January 06, 2012
CAUGHT FOR LIFE. At five o’clock on a Sunday morning in 1969 the phone in the frat house rang. When a phone rings at that time on that day in a frat house, it’s a wrong number, bad news or somebody calling for bail money. This call was for me.
73. Take a New Look at City’s Positives
- Friday, December 30, 2011
NEW YEAR INDEED. As 2012 dawns, we’ll be able to see a number of things in a positive, new light – if only we’ll allow ourselves to look at it that way.
A Downtown icon that almost became a parking lot is now writing a new song, and praise will be offered in brand-new ways for architect Francis Gassner’s seminal and long-neglected C&I Bank Building. Positive change is being heard in the Visible Music College.
74. Ghosts Of Christmas Past, Revisited
- Friday, December 23, 2011
CHRISTMAS TIME It was my first time to England, first time overseas and prime time for The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Soho and the rocking HQ for the whole British invasion.
It was time to discover pubs, and Scottish eggs, bubble & squeak and spotted dick. Time to discover that bitter, served warm, is twice as strong as our brew, that a British pint holds 20 oz. instead of our 16, and that all of that explains why your knees don’t work after three of them.
75. ‘Gifts’ Worth Exchanging
- Friday, December 16, 2011
AW, YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE. REALLY. Last week, I suggested we all look around for very merry Memphis things to give family and friends this year. I would be remiss if I didn’t also recognize a few of those folks who’ve been giving it to us, good and proper, all year long.
76. Memphis – With a Bow On Top
- Friday, December 09, 2011
GIVE MEMPHIS TO SOMEBODY YOU LOVE. Put a polar bear and a panda under the tree. But walk them first. You really don’t want all that on the living room rug. Do this yourself; don’t ask Santa. Polar bears make reindeer skittish.
77. St. Louis Blues
- Friday, December 02, 2011
HEY, ST. LOUIS, YOU WANT A PIECE OF ME? If you don’t think we’re in a fight, you probably don’t realize you’re bleeding.
The first blow came more than 20 years ago – a big, upriver uppercut after a series of negative articles in The Commercial Appeal on St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The hospital hollered, another big river town heard them, and we were one feint away from losing St. Jude to St. Louis. We didn’t go down, rallied as a city and won the hospital’s decision to stay.
78. You’re Idiots – But Thanks, Guys
- Thursday, November 24, 2011
SHARED IDIOCY. SHARED LIVES. I look around the table, many tables over many years, and I’m thankful for those I still see.
Thankful that the same old guys can still bring each other to tears, laughing so hard at the same old stories from a lifetime ago that they still brighten the lifetime lived since. Thankful for the women I see, seen even then, putting up with us, loving us, despite real knowledge of the reality of us over all those years.
79. U of M Needs To Grow Some Claws
- Friday, November 18, 2011
IF THIS IS YOUR JUNGLE, ACT LIKE A TIGER. Statistics show that the people who could help the University of Memphis compete, even win, aren’t even in the game. And I’m not talking football.
80. Law Isn’t Holy
- Friday, November 11, 2011
WE DON’T SPEAK FOR HIM, GOD KNOWS. When I write about politics and religion – lately, the same thing – questioning the judgment of some of our elected officials and self-anointed saviors, I’m apparently not only risking their self-righteous wrath, but the very wrath of heaven. Or, as we say around here, I am going straight to hell. So here goes.
81. Say What You Mean
- Friday, November 04, 2011
THE IZING OF AMERICA. He stood on a board above a pool in 1936 and on a hill above Paul Newman in 1967, and both times, he nailed it.
Strother Martin’s dive won the National Springboard Diving Junior Championship and entered the record book, and his immortal line from “Cool Hand Luke” identified our problem then and now and entered the national lexicon.
82. Welcome To The World
- Friday, October 28, 2011
7 LBS., 3 OZ., AND A TON OF PROMISE. She looks like me. She looks like her other grandfather. And both grandmothers. And her parents. And both aunts. And a little like Buddha, a lot like Winston Churchill, and a bit like Mike Tyson. And she’s the most beautiful thing I’ve seen since her daddy was born and her aunt before him.
83. Who’s To Blame?
- Friday, October 21, 2011
IS THIS OUR BEST SHOT? Evidently, after one of our state legislators falls off a barstool, another will take the stool – then take the wheel of his car. Loaded with a loaded gun.
Ophelia, meet Curry.
84. A Tasteful List
- Friday, October 14, 2011
A LIST YOU CAN SINK YOUR TEETH INTO. Seems like everybody has a list these days, so, in recognition of the 125th anniversary of The Daily News, here’s mine – 125 things that make Memphis easy to swallow – a sort of alphabetical soup to nuts of local flavor. Friends old and new, and a few long-gone, but I can taste them still.
85. Note to Self
- Friday, October 07, 2011
WE NEED ADVICE, FROM OURSELVES. About 25 years ago, I closed up my parents’ home at the end of their lives. Wandering through the empty house and the memories, I found myself in my old room, going through my desk drawers one more time. In the back of one, way back there, I found something I’d missed – a magnifying glass with a loose handle. Curious, I pulled the handle off and saw a piece of a paper inside. Unrolling it, I instantly recognized the note and laughed out loud, returning that sound to a place once filled with it, replacing a sense of loss with a sense of perspective.
86. Crime is Down, But Who Knew?
- Friday, September 30, 2011
IGNORANCE ISN’T BLISS. IT’S FRIGHTENING. Tonight, within the first 30 seconds after going on the air, someone wearing an expression of deep concern – and plenty of hair product and makeup – is going to stare into the camera and dramatically read the following shocking revelation off the teleprompter.
87. Everyday Heroes
- Friday, September 23, 2011
Be prepared. We need heroes every day. The assistant scoutmaster beside me was asking about procedure if something appeared to be broken. “Don’t do nothing,” answered the earnest, doubly negative instructor, “Transport.”
88. Good Old Brand-New
- Friday, September 16, 2011
NEW URBANISM MAKES GOOD, OLD COMMON SENSE. As Chooch Pickard, executive director of the Memphis Regional Design Center, rolled through his PowerPoint, I was struck by a powerful, hopeful, sense of déjà vu.
89. Coming Home
- Friday, September 09, 2011
MEMPHIS FROM THE BEACH. As you read this, I’m probably on the beach, keeping the sand out of my beer and helping my dogs stare at the ocean. It’s a big ocean – big enough to help you forget whatever you were so worried about a couple of days ago.
90. A Lot to Learn
- Friday, September 02, 2011
TEACHER AND JUDGE. There were cliques. Kids with more money and better clothes vs. kids with more need and better street cred. Kids with chips on their shoulders and bullies who like to fight. Smarter kids and smart-ass kids. Kids who always raise their hands and kids who always raise hell. Cool kids and those in their shade. Phonies and their toadies.
91. Rebranding: Creating Local Personality
- Wednesday, August 31, 2011
While the services of companies like Coca-Cola, Campbell’s Soup Co. and FedEx vary greatly, all three share a common thread that keeps its following coming back for more – a solid brand.
92. The Show Must Go On
- Friday, August 26, 2011
LIVE APPLAUSE. All are in the cast, all responsible for the experience, and all of us have a lot to show for it.
The lines may be drawn on a two-by-four to guide a saw instead of spoken on stage to guide an audience. The song might be whistled to accompany a hammer instead of sung to accompany a chorus. Equal parts sewing needles and director needling. Equal props for props and performances. Equal respect for those who guide you to your seat and those whose talent stands you straight up from it.
93. Tower Revival
- Thursday, August 25, 2011
The reversal of fortune for the Downtown tower at the intersection of Main Street and Monroe Avenue, until recently plagued by falling occupancy and an uncertain future, was set in motion in a private meeting one year ago this month.
94. Coal, Ice And Coca-Cola
- Friday, August 19, 2011
THE POWER OF VISION. Many families have a story about opportunities missed, fortunes lost. My great uncle was in the retail coal and ice business in Memphis. Around 1907, our story goes, a woman owed him about $7,500 – a piece of change then. She couldn’t repay him according to the terms set, so she offered something she owned instead to cover the debt. He turned her down but gave her new terms and she eventually paid off the loan. When asked to justify his decision (and he was asked a lot), he infamously replied, “What she had was a passing fancy, a temporary infatuation no one really needs. People will always need coal and ice.”
95. Show Some Pride
- Friday, August 12, 2011
THE MEMPHIS STRIP SHOW. Our profile, our expression. Our individuality, our creativity. Why we look like us and not like everybody else.
Take it off. Take it all off.
Irresponsible developers, shortsighted politicians and insensitive chains have taken a seat right down front – right next to cynical indifference – and they’re making it rain. Desperate property owners are up there on stage, taking the money and spinning around the pole.
96. Feed the Spirit at Caritas Village
- Friday, August 05, 2011
IT’S GOOD FOR YOU. My cheeseburger was a religious experience. Melting provolone flows over and through a mound of caramelized onions and sautéed mushrooms, a luscious kind of lava covering a mountain of ground beef, all between two pieces of a toasted artisan bun fighting, and losing, a battle to contain the whole eruption. What happens when flavors this diverse come together – in this sandwich and in this place – can restore your faith.
97. It’s Time For City Council To Grow Up
- Friday, July 29, 2011
IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE CHILDREN. THEY’RE IN CHARGE. When I was about 8, Johnny Edgar swung upside down on our backyard chinning bar and, unbeknownst to him, 75¢ fell out of his pocket. A fortune. Found money.
98. A Word About Shoes
- Friday, July 22, 2011
OH MY WORD, LOOK AT WHAT WE’RE MISSING. My copywriter daughter, Hallie, sent her copywriter old man a link the other day – the ultimate compliment copywriters pay, looking at something and saying, “Damn, I wish I’d written that.”
99. Daily News Garners Eight TPA Awards
- Wednesday, July 20, 2011
The Daily News and sister publication The Memphis News won eight honors in the University of Tennessee-Tennessee Press Association awards announced Friday, July 15, at the annual TPA convention in Nashville.
100. Turnip Greens, Peanuts And Personality
- Friday, July 15, 2011
LOCAL FLAVOR, AGED AND SEASONED. My friend in the snappy bowtie is eating pea soup, drinking buttermilk and telling me a story. He thinks he’s told me this story before and he’s right. He also thinks he’s not very good at telling stories and he’s wrong. He’s interrupted several times as people wander over to speak to him. A judge here, a legislator there, lawyers everywhere.