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Editorial Results (free)

1. Memphis Representative -

4,880 MILES MORE SOUTHERN. There he was again. Nora and I were watching a show about historic homes in Memphis on WKNO and when they paused to pitch for support, he was one of the volunteers manning the phone bank behind those pitching.

2. Poor Performance -

OUR POOR KIDS ARE GETTING THE BIRD. During political seasons – that’s pretty much all the time – I’m often reminded of what my first boss once told me, “You know that beautiful, almost iridescent, blue-gray dot in the middle of chicken (crap)? That’s chicken (crap), too.”

3. Thank You, Thank You Very Much -

A THANK YOU NOTE FROM A COPYWRITER TO ELVIS. Elvis was once asked what kind of music he played. “I play all kinds,” was his response.

That pretty much sums up Memphis, and Elvis was pretty much the sum up of its parts. Part gospel and part blues, part country and part soul. And all original. Part dirt poor and part flashy rich, part Mama’s boy and part nasty and naughty. And all surprising. Part glitz and glitter and part sad and tragic. And all too real. Part Mississippi and part Tennessee. And all world shaking.

4. Hey, I’m Back Here -

HOT? GET IN LINE. I have three absolute favorite expressions for hot – everyone who lives in the grits belt needs at least one.

My third favorite is Halle Berry hot – substitute your mercury raiser.

5. Haunted History, A Story Retold -

WORRY ABOUT THE DOGS. Depending on who’s talking and when, history around Fort Pillow changes.

At the time of this story – one I shared first in a 2013 column – it was called the Cold Creek Correctional Facility, a minimum-security operation farming about 6,000 acres in Lauderdale County. Next it was called the Fort Pillow Prison and Farm, next door to something called the West Tennessee High Security Facility, now the West Tennessee State Penitentiary.

6. Granddad, Hambone And The KKK -

IF THE KLAN DOESN’T LIKE YOU, PAT YOURSELF ON THE BACK.

Before their last sheety little show here a couple of years ago, an Exalted Cyclops of the KKK – must be just one hole in his hood – was quoted on Channel 5 and in The Huffington Post, “Y’all are going to see the largest rally Memphis, Tennessee, has ever seen. It’s not going to be 20 or 30 – it’s going to be thousands of Klansmen from the whole United States.”

7. A General Invitation, Revisited -

COME ON BACK TO ELMWOOD, GENERAL FORREST. I first issued that invitation in 2013 and while we haven’t yet heard from the General, we’ve heard from just about everybody else. The invitation stands because – as it has been for some time – it’s past time.

8. It’s the Law -

THE LAW, AND I QUOTE. Oh, the outrage! Across the nation, people have reacted to the laws passed and validated by the courts, their liberty threatened, the Constitution violated, the republic at risk.

9. My Kind of Crazy -

CRAZY LIKE CHISCA. Lauren Crews told me that people think he’s crazy.

After all, he paddled a canoe from the Twin Cities to New Orleans – just him and his dog. He rode a bike to New Orleans, too, all the way down Highway 61 in the summer, the heat driving him dizzy into ditches.

10. In It Together -

WE’RE RELATED. For a few years, Nora was in a handbell choir at our church. The choir was invited to perform here and there. Being an Episcopal church, those trips were more a celebration than a solemn occasion, and, like the service itself, food and drink were central to the issue at hand. I tagged along because the here and there included roux-full places like Mobile and New Orleans.

11. The Irish in Us -

BOOM. HERE’S TO THE IRISH. Recently, Ireland became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote. Ireland. Stereotypically, a country where conservative is a matter of degree not choice, where killing each other over religion isn’t current news but DNA, where progress is measured in pints.

12. Listen for Home -

WHEN YOU’RE HOME, YOU CAN HEAR IT. I was recently reminded of a story I heard from an actor friend years ago when he was in town for a commercial I was making. His name was Robert Lansing – if you’re old enough, you’ll remember him from TV’s “12 O’Clock High.”

13. A Measure Of Truth -

A MEASURE OF JOURNALISM. As I wondered what to write about while on vacation, I was bailed out by New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan and my friend Jay Martin, who sent me her article. Ms. Sullivan upon ending her teaching stint at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism left these parting words for her students:

14. Corporate Speak -

WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE. Corporate speak – the art of saying very little with a great many words in order that something very little might appear to be very great, or that something very grave might be buried under so many words that there is little chance of digging it out – continues to thrive, its practitioners legion, its impact so significant that since the Supreme Court declared a corporation to be an actual person, corporate speak, is now, officially, the language of actual people.

15. Time to Produce -

MEMPHIS: THE SEQUEL. “People who make movies – people like Francis Ford Coppola and Milos Forman and Sydney Pollack, and our own Craig Brewer and Willy Bearden – and people like me who write and produce TV spots and videos all have something in common. We know just how damn good Memphis looks through a lens, we know how deep the local talent pool is for actors and crew, we know how wide the choice is for great locations.

16. Getting to the Bottom -

A BIG BASS PROBLEM. We’ve done it. Just like a lure, the light reflects off a shiny object and draws a crowd.

A huge shiny object. A huge crowd. And we’ve done it again. We’re letting something tiny by comparison, a minnow to a record catfish, foul the water and spoil the catch.

17. Can We Still Be Friends? -

DIVORCE MAY BE BEST. After all, it was a shotgun wedding.

He grew up in an old neighborhood under the shade of old oaks – a big city boy with more ambition than brains, a dreamer always looking past the weeds in his own yard to greener grass. He was fun alright – into good times and great restaurants, live music and funky joints, nights that start with sunsets on the river and end at dawn next to somebody. He spent big, too big. Lived large, too large. And, truth be told, he could be a bit scary and more than a bit grabby.

18. I Believe in Grit and Grind. Amen. -

GLORY BE. As an early convert, I was there for their first win ever – the first outward and visible sign for a city so in need of faith. While we knew grit and grind all too well, who knew we would come to embrace that identity and its disciples with religious fervor?

19. Memphis Taking Big Steps -

BIG STEPS. Part of our vacation ritual involves underwear, kitchen gadgets, camp shirts, socks and shoes – all items available in branded abundance on the cheap at Tanger Outlets.

20. Dead Reckoning 2015 -

GHOST OF A RIVER. Jimmy Ogle is a Memphis history savant. He knows things about our people that even they didn’t know.

21. Let’s Face It -

THE FACE OF UNINSURED TENNESSEE. I washed down my eggs with a big swig of cold reality, decidedly unsweet.

The woman serving me was familiar in the way regular customers and servers are familiar, not close but not strangers, not really friends but really friendly. “Haven’t seen you in a while,” I said, an opening that invites but doesn’t require an explanation, that notes a change in appearance without referencing it.

22. Pray Tell -

PRAYING FOR TENNESSEE. This being Easter week, let’s open with a prayer. Aren’t we all Christians – at least all of us who matter – and in Tennessee, the Promised Land?

23. Days These Days -

GOING RIGHT BACK OUT THERE ANYWAY. I get lots of email about the kind of days friends are having these days – days like mine.

I need to write a column, but looking at a video on my phone of grandchildren splashing in the rain, I realize I also need to wash the snow-salt-sludge off my car.

24. First At Last -

TENNESSEE. FIRST AT LAST. That’s our new slogan. Time to own it. Some of you, my faithful readers, tell me I should be more positive about our prospects as a state. Look at the circus in Nashville – and remember how much fun I had at the circus as a kid, how hard I laughed at the clowns. Watch our march backwards, our retreat from progress – and think of it as a parade, marvel at how the marchers stay in lockstep with their eyes so firmly closed, applaud their speed and coordination.

25. Chock-Full -

STORIES 90 YEARS IN THE MAKING. The other day, Willy Bearden and I visited with Norman Blackley in his kitchen. Willy and I are suckers for stories and that kitchen was chock-full.

Matter of fact, Norman built the kitchen. “Everything in here cost about 200 bucks,” he told us, “put it in myself. This was the garage. Needed a kitchen more than a garage.” He has other garages behind the house. Like the one that holds the 1978 Lincoln Town Car he restored. Or the 1965 Chrysler New Yorker. Or the 1920-something Jordan he’s working on now. His 1955 Chevy’s not back there. It’s in a museum. However, in another garage there’s a tank he built to float his 1927 Chris-Craft 14-footer. He was with his mother when she bought it in 1930 and he’s had it ever since. “Gotta keep it wet,” he explained, “the mahogany shouldn’t dry out.”

26. Join In The Waffle Shop Ritual -

MEMPHIS RITUAL. The Memphis of Memphis is best shared around tables, best accompanied by good food, and best expressed in good stories.

Mildred’s story, for instance. I told it last year, but here it is again because Mildred spent 70 years earning the telling.

27. Let’s See -

EYE OPENERS. I learned recently that Leadership Memphis is raising $50,000 to start something called Expanding Horizons College & Career Tours, taking 400 promising students from their SUCCESS High School program in eight Memphis schools on college tours in June.

28. A Word About Reality -

“REALITY JUST IS.” I stood in the bathroom in boxer shorts and shaving cream and cheered words coming from my radio – words good enough to overcome that image I just put in your head – words like these:

29. Done Unto -

BELL. BOWLING. CROWE. GARDENHIRE. KELSEY. NICELY. ROBERTS. AND NORRIS. Since last week’s debacle in the state Legislature – the abandonment of common sense and decency and hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans by their elected representatives – the ether and printed pages here and elsewhere have been full of various explanations and finger pointing. Let’s keep it simple. Let’s simply point that finger at those who raised their hands.

30. Lifelong Fan -

YOU GOTTA LOVE ‘EM. When some fall in love, falling headlong and defenseless, even despite subsequent events and the weight of time and change, never mind the disappointment and the heartbreak – never mind life – the love remains because that fall and the feel of it last a lifetime.

31. Tribute to Good and Decent -

DRAWING A CROWD. The line started at one end of the big room and wound its way out into the hall.

The widow and the son and the family received the soft words about the hard loss, the sympathy, the hugs and the tears, the emotional exchanges of finality, the shared experience of a life lived and now over. A visitation, yes, but it seemed more than that quiet, somber label would suggest.

32. Frogs And Toads -

OF FROGS AND TOADS. Years and years ago, I was served a couple of striking culinary metaphors that have not only proven to be unforgettable but seem to get better and better with age.

The first was on the wall of my dentist in the 100 North Main building, one of those focal points you stare at while somebody probes your molars with this and that. It was a photograph of a pyramid of frogs inscribed with this:

33. Who Are You? -

KNOWN BUT NAMELESS. Who the hell are you? I’m not mad at you, I’m mad because I don’t know who you are and I should. No clue. Known you since the earth was cooling and I couldn’t come up with your name under Dick Cheney’s enhanced interrogation, not if I had to listen to Barry Manilow sing or Rush Limbaugh talk until I came up with it. You look so familiar we might be brothers … but I know my brothers. Their names are … give me a sec. I don’t have any sisters. I think.

34. Sick Irony -

A SPECK OF CEREAL. Insure Tennessee reminds me of Lorne Greene, David Letterman and a can of Alpo.

You remember Lorne, don’t you? Dad on “Bonanza”? In an old commercial for Alpo, he made his ancient dog fetch a stick to get fed. As she struggled back with the stick in her gray jaws, Lorne suggested that her longevity was due to Alpo – dog food, he said, “without a speck of cereal.”

35. A Cool Ending to 2014 -

As is so often the story, 2014 ended with others seeing more in us than we see in ourselves.

A story of tween and teen sisters from Switzerland via Germany, of Scandinavian design and meatballs from Sweden, of a 12-year-old made a superstar chef by a national television audience.

36. Christmas Coming Home -

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.

37. A Present for the Kids -

GIVE THANKS. This Christmas, our country has given our kids a chance. As a county, we had a chance to do it for ourselves but local government wouldn’t fund it and local citizens wouldn’t pay for it. As a state, our governor had to be talked into asking for it and our Legislature would rather not talk about asking for help at all.

38. Back to Normal -

NORMAL. AGAIN. Last week, Bob Loeb and I took a stroll through the 1950s in the reality of 2014.

39. Just for Pun -

SUFFERING FOOLISH. Just when you think your cold is getting better, it snot. If you think that’s bad, I’m just getting started.

As I write this, Thanksgiving weekend is winding down and my cold, a gift from my grandchildren, is just getting warmed up. Nora’s gone to church, the dogs have fled to another room, I’m out of Kleenex, and the last sneezing exhibition numbered 18. Not feeling much like writing a column, I opened my email and saw these from my friend, Gene:

40. Ginkgos and Band-Aids – and Thanks -

LOOK FOR THE WONDER. REPEAT. I write about it every year. This year, just last week, it happened again.

Right outside my window is a ginkgo tree, and another on the other side of the house. 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.

41. Holden’s Hat -

FINDING MEMPHIS. Last week the Church of the Holy Communion inaugurated a reading group called Words, and enticed an eclectic baker’s dozen of participants with Muddy’s cupcakes. I can’t speak for the rest, but I’ve worked for much less.

42. The ‘Meh’ Generation -

ALL THIS IS GETTING OLD. Mitch McConnell is 117. Across the aisle, Harry Reid is 132, same age as Nancy Pelosi over in the House, and John Boehner is 98.

The last time any of them had an original idea, they had to call it in on a rotary phone. The way they get somewhere, or fail to, is as antiquated as our infrastructure, as much in danger of collapse as our bridges.

43. Anonymous Friends -

HONEST EXCHANGES. Parked at the curb, he honked his horn when I walked by, earbuds firmly in place, somewhere in the middle of Morning Edition.

“Where’s your wife?” he asked through the open door of the city bus he was driving. “Stress fracture,” I answered, “I’m on my own.” “Hope she gets better soon,” he said, “and tell her I’m retiring November 21st.” “I’ll do that,” I said, leaning in to shake his hand, “and good luck.” I stepped back, and he pulled away with another toot of the horn and a wave. He’s been waving at us like that for years since his bus is generally passing when we walk out of our driveway each morning, as familiar he to us and us to him as one morning is to another, a dependable sign that this day is up and on schedule.

44. May We Remember -

MAY WE NOTE LEST WE FORGET. The day after Benjamin Crowninshield Bradlee died last week, I told my audience that I was going to open my remarks with a question, and I knew I was going to be depressed by the answer.

45. Let’s Make Sure It Fits -

A couple of guys I know have been renting tuxes around here for 50 years. The first guy, Guy Miller, was a photographer with a studio on Cleveland where Saigon Le is today. He started renting tuxes there as a sideline in 1965 and then hung up his camera and went formal full-time.

46. Different Windows, Same Views -

THIS MORNING. THIS TOWN. This morning, I woke up in a challenged neighborhood. You know the challenges well.

The population is declining and aging – talking about the good old days, bemoaning the present, fearful of the future. The city is trying to reinvent itself – built on a booming business now faded and all but gone. Young people aren’t returning. One major employer dominates and other jobs are mostly in government or in lower-paying positions in service or tourism. People outside the city point to it as the source of the area’s problems.

47. No On One -

NO. IT’S HER DECISION, NOT YOURS. The Tennessee General Assembly is 83 percent male – and those big, strong men in the majority are convinced they know what’s best for the little ladies in the minority, in fact, what’s best for all the women of Tennessee.

48. Once and Again -

I REMEMBER THIS SONG. Last week, I wrote about passing institutions – a couple of examples of places and people that won’t come our way again. I said the past can inform the future, but we can’t go back to some other time.

49. Raise A Glass -

RAISE A GLASS. INSTITUTIONS ARE PASSING. What’s your pleasure? Maybe a chocolate malt or a single malt. Maybe a vanilla soda or a scotch and soda. Maybe a root beer or a draft beer. But these guys wouldn’t ask that question because they already knew your drink. What’s your name?

50. 100 Percent Sure -

IF A PROGRAM IS 100 PERCENT SUCCESSFUL, GET WITH THE PROGRAM. I wrote something three years ago when President Obama visited Booker T. Washington High School. In light of recent events, I’d like to visit those words again.

51. At the Counter -

THE COLLEGE INN, FULL CIRCLE. The future was in my hands. My parents had set me free and I sat there all by myself for the very first time, my own stool at the counter, my own menu in front of me and a cool new show on the TV above. It was 1957. I was eight. The show was Perry Mason. And I was in control.

52. A Tasteful List 2014 -

MEMPHIS ON A PLATE. Presenting the fourth edition of the Tasteful List, updated for 2014 – second, third and fourth helpings, this year’s specials, delicious memories – an alphabetical survey of local flavor in one decidedly local man’s opinion.

53. It Begins -

KICKING IT OFF. Here we go again. Some years ago, I found myself at a tailgate party in downtown Tuscaloosa. Even though the game wasn’t until that afternoon and it was only mid-morning, there were plenty of people well into their cups.

54. The Skinny -

THE NAKED TRUTH. Of the occasions I’ve been skinny dipping, two stand out. The first ended in an FBI interrogation and the other in front of a generation of city leaders.

The summer before my senior year in high school, a group of us made frequent trespasses to a secluded wet spot on a farm off Winchester. Elam’s Pond has long since been lost to progress and the airport, the girls and boys who splashed there those bright afternoons have long since become fully clothed and responsible adults – well, fully clothed anyway.

55. The Q Party -

CRISIS AVERTED. It’s all a matter of perspective.

At the height of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, a friend’s father was in Corinth, Miss., on business. He was outside the courthouse having a cigarette and waiting for an appointment when he overheard a conversation between two old men on a bench.

56. Paying Attention -

ON MY WATCH. AND YOURS. Mrs. Parker tends her corner of the garden at Trezevant with loving dedication, looking up from her planting and fussing with a gloved wave to Nora and me as we walk by of a morning. A couple of years ago, she presented us with a bag of ginger lily roots. Hers was taking up too much room, and she didn’t want it to spread any more.

57. Ask a Lawyer -

JUDGED BY LAWYERS. Q: What do you when you have a lawyer buried up to the neck in sand?

A: Not enough sand.

Lawyers can’t catch a break.

Q: What the difference between a lawyer and a catfish?

58. Discriminate at the Ballot Box -

DISCRIMINATING TASTE. By all means, discriminate. Refuse to accept some prepackaged deal as the best you can do, some label to be the quality test. In the known, look for proven performance from each individual offering, standing alone, not just part of some group menu. In the unknown, demand fresh and bold, the promise of new and interesting interpretations from old and predictable ingredients.

59. More Than Delta -

MESSAGE FROM HOME. A while back – right after I wrote a column blasting Delta, the Airport Authority and Garage Gargantua – I was invited to tour the airport and learn a thing or two or 50 about where so much of what and where we are takes off and lands every day.

60. We’re All Invited -

MEMPHIS, SERVED IN THE SHELL. Following up last week’s column, this from a reader:

“We have no civic pride, half the population is intent on killing as many as they can and the other part lives behind walls or gates. There was a time in the fifties when you could leave your front door unlocked and keys in the car.”

61. Light and Dark -

WHEN STORIES ARE TOLD IN THE DARK, LEAVE A LIGHT ON. As I watch what leads the local TV news – basically a visual evening recap of whatever that day’s monitoring of police scanners and chasing sirens can produce – and what passes for TV reporting – basically an evening twist to whatever might be salacious or sensational in that morning’s paper – I wonder if all of our better angels have left town.

62. The View From Nashville -

IF WE DON’T CARE, NO ONE ELSE WILL. Longtime friend and Nashville marketing maven, David Bohan, answered my column about oxymoronic Nashville barbecue with his own column “Marketing Matters” in The Tennessean last week.

63. Fat Chance -

12-STOP. “My name is Dan, and I’ve lost control.”

“Hi, Dan,” answers America, desperately addicted to too much, too often, in need of a 12-stop consumption program. As in 12 ounces of any soft drink is plenty and 12 ounces of gin starts fights with strangers. As in 12 ounces of any animal in any form is too much and 12 things on your breakfast plate doesn’t jumpstart your day, just your LDL. As in 12 of anything larger than a carrot stick at a single sitting will narrow arteries and prospects, broaden what you’re sitting on, and make getting up from the table – or for anything – a challenge. For a forklift.

64. Let’s Roll -

GET IT TOGETHER. A year ago, right here, I suggested – and a flat ton of you agreed – that we should get something rolling up and down Cooper.

So let me repeat myself: LET’S GET SOMETHING ROLLING UP AND DOWN COOPER.

65. I’ll Be Back -

MEMPHIS FROM THE BEACH. I’m on vacation, but I’ll be home soon, and here are some thoughts about that I first shared a couple of years ago.

Right now, 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. Staring at it properly is a big job – big enough that making sure you don’t miss the next dolphin breaking the surface or the next crab making a break for it is more important than whatever you were doing last week. That’s pretty much the way the dogs look at it, too. We don’t miss a thing.

66. Get Real -

NASHVILLE, THE CAPITAL OF Q. WHO KNEW? Last week – in a move I equate with Russian forces massing along our eastern border – Travel + Leisure ranked Nashville as America’s #1 city for barbecue.

67. All the Colors -

ALL IN HOW YOU LOOK AT IT. “What do you see in that?” she asked, pointing up.

I said that I saw all of us in the pinks and blacks, the browns and tans, the darks and lights. I saw our earthiness in the oranges and yellows, our politics in the reds and blues, and I saw our seasons, our water and skies in there, too. I said I saw all of that, all together, in all the shades in-between.

68. I Was a Teenage Werewolf -

MEMORIES OF PARKING. AND FULL MOONS. Last week, if I remember correctly, I mentioned CRS – that remarkable condition that blocks the knowledge of what one had for breakfast but allows a clear and concise image of something that happened in, say, 1966.

69. The One-Hour Vacation -

DON’T KILL AN HOUR, LIVE ONE. The other day, I showed up for a 10:30 meeting in South Main. As often happens when Siri helps you with your calendar, coupled with chronic CRS, the meeting was actually at 11:30.

70. The Heartbreak Hotel -

HEARTBREAK HOTEL. ON THE EDGE OF THINGS. “They’re calling this area The Edge, and it’s about to explode,” Ben said.

We were looking up at The Heartbreak Hotel, a stack of bricks where traveling salesmen a century ago would rest their sample cases for the night, rising three tired stories above the all-but-forgotten intersection of Monroe and Marshall – pretty much like Elvis sang – down at the end of Lonely Street.

71. Going South -

JACKSON. FULL CIRCLE. Fifteen years ago, I sat across a table from a guy named Tommy Ramey in a place called Nick’s in Jackson, Mississippi. Tommy said he wanted to buy my ad agency and took a swallow of some very good Cab. I took a swallow of mine and told him what that would take. We both took another swallow, he said that sounded about right, and we shook hands. And ordered another bottle.

72. Hands Up, You’re in Tennessee -

ARMED AND DANGEROUS. I got an email last week from a White Station classmate.

“Aren’t you the guy who once wore a western style .22 pistol in a holster into the drug store at Poplar and Perkins? Man, were you ever ahead of your time.”

73. Feed the Imagination -

SHOPPING FOR SOMETHING DIFFERENT. The courtyard you’re in was once stacked with wooden cases, the food trucks you see were once mule-drawn wagons waiting to load those cases, the locally-brewed beer you’re sipping the reincarnation of what filled them, the live music you hear covering the century-old echoes of the South’s once busiest brewery – the Tennessee Brewery.

74. Where There’s Smoke -

DON’T WAIT FOR THE FIRE TO FIND THE WATER. Neglect and denial burns in empty buildings and blighted neighborhoods, futures are hazy, moods are dark and the smoke from all of it chokes cities and sends those able to flee to greener ground at the edges, leaving behind a bitter landscape, a smoldering threat.

75. Unique Flavor -

MEMPHIS RITUAL. The Memphis of Memphis is best observed and shared around tables, best accompanied by good food and best expressed in good stories.

Mildred’s story, for instance.

76. 100 Homage -

38 STORIES, THOUSANDS OF STORIES. I remember when the big hulk was a big deal, its unimaginative gray mass full of imagination and local color.

On our first date in 1967, I took Nora to the Top Of The 100. I’ll never forget when she leaned over the table, her blue eyes wide, and said, “You eat parsley?” The building was two years old and Top Of The 100 was a private club occupying the top three floors with its own set of elevators and a revolving bar on the top, a panorama 38 stories high served straight up above everything else in town.

77. Talking Sex -

ALL OF OUR COLLEGE PRESIDENTS SHOULD GET SEXY. The Tennessee General Assembly has long been afraid of sex.

When I was a UT student in the late sixties, the Tennessee legislature proposed a law making it illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to view nude art. On the humanities complex plaza, stood and still stands a huge statue of Europa and the Bull – both starkers and anatomically and quite dramatically correct. The morning after the news of the proposed law broke, Europa was wearing a huge bra and the bull a jock strap, fashioned from sheets – lots of them – and placed on the statue by enterprising students in the night.

78. Sunny Side Up -

WHAT’S FOR BREAKFAST? I’m skeptical of city pep rallies because they tend to be more about the pep than any solutions worth rallying around, the cheerleading more cheering than leading. I’m also skeptical of anyone who’s particularly peppy first thing in the morning.

79. Ceiling Reflections -

FAMILY TIME. “You’re no happier than your most unhappy child,” a wise friend said.

I remembered those words as I stared at the breadbox on the ceiling. I’ll explain. Back when we were living in the Georgian Woods with about 27¢, we didn’t buy anything we didn’t need and couldn’t justify. Nora needed a breadbox, so she used the occasion of my birthday to give me … a breadbox.

80. Preaching to Meddling -

OUR NEW PHARISEES. Pharisee |'farese|, noun

• a member of an ancient religious sect, distinguished by strict observance of traditional and written law, commonly held to have pretensions to superior sanctity.

81. Give Memphis a Lift -

CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE. Rather than walking a mile in other people’s shoes, try riding a mile on their bus.

From where I’m sitting, basically Poplar Plaza, to, say, those new jobs at Electrolux is anywhere from an hour and 35 minutes to two hours and 20 minutes with 75 to 116 stops on three buses – with a nice little half-mile stroll built-in.

82. Fascination From a Child’s Eyes -

URPED MY OATS. “I urped my oats,” the 2-year-old announced from the backseat. “Urped her oats? Did she throw up back there?” her grandfather questioned. “Yes, baby,” her grandmother said to her, “you do have purple boots.”

83. Mae Be, Mae Be Not -

MAE BE ONTO SOMETHING. State Sen. Mae Beavers – really, that’s her name – has offered legislation that makes it against the law in Tennessee to obey the law in the United States – really, I couldn’t possibly make that up.

84. Driving While Stupid -

DRIVING US CRAZY. I write about things Memphis, and there’s nothing more Memphis than the idiots on our roads. Our driving is like our unpredictable, even dangerous creativity, our shtick of doing old things in new ways and scaring people to death while we’re at it.

85. Give Me My Money, the Sequel -

A BILLION IS, LIKE, A LOT. Sometimes numbers are so huge – so much larger than life, if you will – they are beyond our comprehension.

For instance, the tonsillectomy that went so horribly wrong recently and left one child brain dead can engage the national media and captivate the country for weeks – while we pay no attention at all to the millions upon millions allowed to remain at risk at the edge of life every day.

86. Give Me My Money -

IT’S MINE, AND I WANT IT BACK.

“I thought I heard the captain say
Pay me my money down
Tomorrow is our sailing day
Pay me my money down”

87. Horseback Rides With Weddings -

BRIDAL PATHS. As I did last year, I begin this year revisiting markers on the journey.

When I was little, I was sure you went to cool weddings by horseback.

After all, Roy and Dale were married, and they sang “Happy Trails To You” 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.

88. New Years and Old Ones -

NEW YEAR REMINDER OF OLD FRIENDS. The cutest girl on Tennessee’s campus sent me a message, and that sent me back to Houston for her wedding a lifetime ago, and just about the wildest weekend I’ve ever spent. Extant.

89. Christmas Coming Home -

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.

90. Here’s to Memphis Made -

THIS SEASON, RAISE A GLASS TO US. “Have a beer. When you can find something we can all agree on, something we can all be proud of, something unifying, you should drink to it. Seriously. Drink to it.”

91. Tiny Bag to Big Box -

ONE SCREW. ONE CENT. ONCE UPON A TIME.

Saturday at 491 South Highland.

That meant, if you couldn’t get out the door and out of earshot fast enough, you’d be working for Dad. “I need a #2 this or that,” he’d say – staring at the repurposed wooden Philadelphia Cream Cheese box in his hand that no longer held cream cheese and, evidently, not a single #2 this or that either – “Run down to the hardware store.”

92. Renewal of Life -

LOOK FOR THE WONDER. REPEAT. I wrote about this last year. This year, just last week, it happened again.

Right outside my window is a ginkgo tree, and another on the other side of the house. 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.

93. Our Kind of Street -

A DIFFERENT KIND OF ADDRESS. The sticker on the door of Elwood’s Shack – sort of on Summer and sort of in Lowe’s parking lot – said “Summer Ave. is my Poplar.”

94. We’ll Get There -

IT’S NOT THE RIDE. IT’S THE DESTINATION. The guy driving this thing is from Chicago. And the way they get places in Chicago isn’t pretty.

Calling the Obamacare website wreck “a bump in the road” is like calling, well, like calling the ride I’m about to describe as bumpy.

95. See and Be Seen -

IT’S ALL IN THE WAY YOU LOOK AT IT. In this town, this should play.

They teach music in there, but more, they teach purpose and meaning in music. Music as more than sound, but as expression of the soul. Music as more than notes, but as evidence of who we are and what we believe, of what we’re capable of and what moves us. Sometimes a celebration, sometimes a lament, sometimes both, but always a reminder that we share our destinies.

96. Boy Oh Boy -

SONS AND FATHERS. AND BOYS. His sister never went to the emergency room.

Gaines went to the emergency room so much, three different shifts knew his name. Before he was 4, he almost hung himself once, almost poisoned himself three times, had me in an ice bath to bring his temperature down, and had his mother give him mouth-to-mouth running to the car while I tried to find my keys and pants.

97. A Few Words Before Takeoff -

PRE-FLIGHT MESSAGES

To: our airport

That logo on the front of garage gargantua could be a touch larger. While it can be seen from the surface of the moon, I don’t think the Mars rover is picking it up yet.

98. We Have to Talk -

THE CYNICAL TRUTH IS, WE JUST CAN’T TALK ABOUT IT. Cynicism about politicians isn’t new.

“We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office,” Aesop, 2,500 years ago.

99. Know Your ABCs -

THE ABCs OF PRE-K. If we are to pass the half-cent sales tax increase to fund prekindergarten for every child in Memphis, the newly appointed Memphis Pre-K Commission will need to learn their ABCs or get schooled by the voters again.

100. Events -

The Memphis chapter of the American Payroll Association will meet Thursday, Oct. 10, at 11:30 a.m. at the Holiday Inn University of Memphis, 3700 Central Ave. Emily Gregg of the Tennessee Department of Human Resources will present “Tennessee Child Support Program and Employers Working Together.” Cost is $20 for members and $30 for nonmembers. Visit memphisapa.org.