Editorial Results (free)
1. Life is Where You Live
- Friday, July 14, 2017
In our USAToday, we woke up here. We’ve all heard former Speaker Tip O’Neill’s grammatically flawed truism, “All politics is local.”
So is life, Mr. Speaker, and it deserves to be covered locally.
2. Not Ours, Not Theirs
- Friday, July 07, 2017
Not the apple of the apple's eye. The only other person on the subway platform that night years ago was in a hood-up hoodie and seemed to be about 8 feet tall, and seemed to get taller as he walked toward me. Even sober, I wouldn’t be able to do anything about whatever he had in mind, and I was far from sober after a three-hour meal in Tribeca. I was done.
3. The Big Picture
- Friday, June 30, 2017
The city is a gallery, the neighborhoods its rooms. Artistic talent runs in the family like spilled India ink on paper, although it ran away from me. Briefly majoring in art, I learned that my talent lay in appreciation not execution, and there is much to appreciate in our city.
4. My American Story
- Friday, June 23, 2017
Don't call me Cherokee, just call me Leif. As a kid, I was told I was part Native American on my mother’s side – probably Cherokee, they said, maybe Chickasaw. My mother, my aunt and my uncles weren’t sure which and how much and my grandmother wasn’t talking, but one look at any of them or at me or my children with our profiles of various 1950s Pontiac hood ornaments leaves little doubt and more is more likely than less.
5. Sharing Yards and Roots
- Friday, June 16, 2017
ROOTS AND MONKEY GRASS. So I’m waiting in line at Booksellers to get my high school classmate, Cary Fowler, to sign my copy of his new book when a moment of quintessential Memphis broke out.
6. Cracking a Smile
- Friday, June 09, 2017
ORIGINAL, UNIMPORTANT THOUGHTS. I’m on vacation, trying desperately not to think about anything important. I’ll be home next week – God willing and the Creek don’t rise. This week, I thought I’d share a bit of interesting trivia friends have passed along about origins of some of our common expressions.
7. Tiresome Behavior
- Friday, June 02, 2017
ENOUGH ALREADY. Even after months of mediation, after an agreed-upon compromise, after the appointment of a committee and the committee’s selection of a master planner, after the Overton Park Conservancy put up $250,000 toward the plan, after the council voted to take the Conservancy’s money … even after all of that … the Memphis Zoo stiffed the conservancy, the city, and you and me.
8. Of Camels and Spoon
- Friday, May 26, 2017
SPOON. 2002-2017. We took a left off of I-55 somewhere around Coldwater and drove about 10 miles through farms to our destination. There was a wooden sign with hand-painted numbers by the gravel drive. There was a Shetland pony in the yard. And emus.
9. Unhealthy Motives
- Friday, May 19, 2017
WE DON’T CARE ABOUT HEALTH CARE. WE CARE ABOUT INSURANCE. Like casinos, the insurance business is a bet, you know, like a roll of the dice. And like casinos, the house always wins. An army of actuaries hedges every bet. If you buy life insurance, they’re going to charge you enough to make money before you die. They win. If you buy health insurance, they’re going to charge you enough to make money if you get sick. They win.
10. Alternative English
- Friday, May 12, 2017
HE MADE ME DO IT. “The devil made me do it,” we used to say, but we used to say lots of things, using words that seem quaint these days. Facts. History. Welcoming. Bipartisan. Diplomatic. Tasteful. Respectful. Considerate. Thoughtful. Credible. Reality. Presidential. But then, we used to use complete sentences, and care about meaning and the art of language.
11. 5,000 Miles Of Smoke
- Friday, May 05, 2017
DANISH ISN’T JUST FOR BREAKFAST ANYMORE. The man was hauling gold up the steps from Riverside Drive as I waited at the top of the bluff. He was rising like smoke from all the cookers below, holding as he was something above the rest.
12. Better is Perfect
- Friday, April 28, 2017
I’M HERE TO TELL YOU, YOU MATTERED. The Rev. Richard Lawson baptized our grandchildren a couple of weeks ago. When 3-year-old Gaines looked like he was going to climb the font, Richard scooped him up, turned him upside down, and into the font he went, headfirst with his hands over his eyes. He returned to the pew, baptized in wet, wide-eyed wonder.
13. Our Best Point of View
- Friday, April 21, 2017
Editor’s note: At press time, The Daily News learned a proposal to construct two silos on the riverfront was withdrawn from the Board of Adjustment agenda.
WE DON’T JUST LOSE THE VIEW – WE LOSE THE VISION. My father had an interesting theory about Memphis expansion. Even though the most beautiful rolling land in Shelby County is north, Memphis expanded east. Dad said that was because industry was oriented to the river from the beginning, and a state line was just south, so, “they put all the crap along the river mostly north, and nobody wants to drive through all that to get to the office.”
14. Saving the Day
- Friday, April 14, 2017
YOU WANT TO LIVE IN THE CITY THEY SEE. AND YOU DO. Last week, I took a 3-year-old to see “Power Rangers,” teenagers turned superheroes to save a threatened world while assuring the future of digital effects. I didn’t want to go, but I cheered as loud as he did, spilling popcorn everywhere. As the credits rolled, he looked up at me and said – I swear – “Granddan, the Power Rangers saved the day.”
15. Everything to Lose
- Friday, April 07, 2017
LET THEM EAT CAKE. AND DIE. I’m paraphrasing Marie Antoinette. She didn’t say “and die” – but then she probably didn’t say “let them eat cake” either when told that the poor had no bread. History suggests that some other arrogant French aristocrat did. The reason the quote lives – and the point – is that the rich have always pretty much ignored the plight of the poor and done so at their own risk.
16. Claiming Our Responsibility
- Friday, March 31, 2017
4,000, 801, 70, 24 AND COUNTING. It’s well past time to be honest about our numbers and their toll. About 4,000 people were lynched in the South between the Civil War and the civil rights movement, about 800 more than previously thought due to the research of the Equal Justice Initiative. The “about” part is significant since those kinds of statistics are more carefully hidden than proudly claimed.
17. True Fakes
- Friday, March 24, 2017
TRUISH. These days, fake news can seem so real, and real news gets more and more unbelievable.
I offer recent local, state and national examples.
ZOO PREPARING BOAT PARKING FOR RAINBOW LAKE
18. Love Me Some Lent
- Friday, March 17, 2017
LENTEN LESSON. The Episcopal Church, with ancient roots in early Christianity, the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Church, has many arcane names and traditions in its liturgy derived from the many languages and practices of its long history.
19. How Cool is That?
- Friday, March 10, 2017
COOL ON CAMERA. In an earlier column, I recalled that Meg Ryan once walked by my house when I was on the porch and waved. After all, she and Dennis Quaid lived right down the street.
20. Time for a Divorce
- Friday, March 03, 2017
IT’S OVER. LET’S MAKE IT FINAL. I said divorce might be best in a column two years ago, so let’s get on with it already. After all, it was a shotgun wedding.
21. The Right Thing to Wear
- Friday, February 24, 2017
INTO CONDOMS. About 25 years ago, we went to the Cooper-Young Festival with another couple. Our sons were about 9 or 10 at the time. As we lingered at this or that booth, the boys got antsy, so a later meeting place was agreed upon and they took off.
22. Publicly Advancing
- Friday, February 17, 2017
WHEN PUBLIC GOES PRIVATE, WE HAVE IT BACKWARDS. My kids and I know more about public schools and public school innovation than our brand-new secretary of education and voucher poster girl, Betsy DeVos, and our own state senator and voucher poster boy, Brian Kelsey.
23. The Us of Us
- Friday, February 10, 2017
I AM US. I am Muslim. I am a COGIC Hindu Jewish WASP Jehovah’s Witness. I am a Roman Catholic Buddhist Satanist Seventh Day Adventist and Latter-Day Saint. I am an Atheist Agnostic Humanist Evangelist. I am a Sunni Shia Christian Rastafarian Taoist Sikh. I am a foot-washing, holy-rolling Jain spiritualist and whatever Lord Voldemort is – and I am not.
24. For What’s Bugging You
- Friday, February 03, 2017
LOCKED AND SEASONED. I have armed myself. A while back, I was at a friend and colleague’s house in Rossville, a popular place for the Second Amendment.
We were brainstorming a project we’re both involved in when he spotted a fly – several, in fact. He picked up a pump gun and both of his dogs jumped up – they are, after all, hunting dogs – and started running around the room. He stood, slide cocking the weapon, releasing the safety and looking down the barrel through the pop-up site.
25. New Year, New Game
- Friday, January 27, 2017
INSPIRING WORDS FOR OUR NEW TEAM. “Sometimes they write what I say, not what I mean.” – former Cardinal, Dodger and major league MVP Pedro Guerrero, who obviously could have been president.
26. Remind and Remember
- Friday, January 20, 2017
REMEMBERING MOMENTS. I recently called my oldest older brother. I told him that there was snow on the ground outside my window, it was 19 degrees, my gardenia looked like a lime Popsicle, and I didn’t appreciate it. This time of year there’s generally a couple of feet of snow outside his Adirondacks window, 19 is downright balmy, and he’s often threatened to send some of that my way.
27. The Bard’s Barbs
- Friday, January 13, 2017
THE ENGLISH MAJOR RETORT. So here we are between the election – you remember the election – and the inauguration – you know, the upcoming event that even some of the Rockettes can’t raise a leg over – and we’re already exhausted.
28. Naked Truth
- Friday, January 06, 2017
NAKED, AND UP TO SOMETHING. Of the occasions I’ve been skinny-dipping, only one had any class to it. I reprise that story as a reminder that this city truly values reality over pretense, and that is the measure of our worth.
29. Looking Forward
- Friday, December 30, 2016
SEEDS OF SURVIVAL. I know Cary Fowler, a quiet, unassuming high school classmate and Rhodes graduate whose forward-thinking worldview might very well save the planet. At the very least, what he’s doing gives the world something to look forward to in the new year and beyond.
30. Christmas, Then and Now
- Friday, December 23, 2016
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.
31. Lists of Things Learned
- Friday, December 16, 2016
A FEW OF LIFE’S LISTS. The four stages of life: 1. You believe in Santa Claus. 2. You don’t believe in Santa Claus. 3. You are Santa Claus. 4. You look like Santa Claus.
32. Giving is a Gift
- Friday, December 09, 2016
ORDINARILY EXTRAORDINARY. If you ask one, what makes Memphians special is nothing special.
We do hard well. We work hard, play hard. We come by what we have by the hardest – and here’s the thing – we share ours with people who have it harder.
33. Not Again. Or Not.
- Friday, December 02, 2016
I WON’T DO THAT AGAIN. Words3 is a writers group that meets monthly at the Church of the Holy Communion to read and reflect. And eat doughnuts.
This week’s column is courtesy of one of them, Robert Propst, who writes songs –Dylanesque, except with a sense of humor – and shares them with folks who might be getting just a bit too reflective long about now – say, me.
34. Thanksgiving. For Real.
- Thursday, November 24, 2016
NORMAN’S NORMAL. You’ve probably seen “Freedom From Want,” Norman Rockwell’s iconic Thanksgiving painting.
You know, Grandmother with the turkey so lovingly prepared. Grandfather preparing to lovingly carve it and serve it to the loving bunch assembled. Aunts, uncles, in-laws, kids and siblings, all smiling, all whiter than the white meat in that turkey, the view of the outside world obscured by white curtains.
35. One of Us
- Friday, November 18, 2016
IMPLICITLY AND EXPLICITLY, ONE OF US. I’ve been reading about implicit bias lately. It’s complicated but I like the way the National Center for State Courts describes it. In part:
36. No Pain, No Gain
- Friday, November 11, 2016
HMMM, WE GOT ISSUES. Javier repeated, “I said, bend over as far as you can.” I replied, “I already have – this is it.”
“Hmmm,” he murmured. He would do that a lot in our first session together. Javier is a physical therapist and his task is to give me my left hip back. And stop the pain in my left leg. And left foot. And right leg sometimes. Shoulder’s not great either. And something weird’s going on in one elbow.
37. We Need Hits
- Friday, November 04, 2016
GOT TO KEEP SWINGING. In the last week, somebody took my iPad and my sunglasses out of my car, the hot water heater crapped out and rained through the ceiling light fixtures, something crawled up inside our dryer vent and died, and somebody lifted my wife’s phone and wallet from her purse. Job called and offered his condolences.
38. Fixin’ To Lose
- Friday, October 28, 2016
RED STATES. RED HERRINGS. Earlier this year, I wrote about laws our state Legislature passed in their last session to solve problems that didn’t exist.
Statistically, you and I are much more likely to be struck by lightning while in the next door bathroom stall to a transgender person who just committed voter fraud, or sitting between an outraged counselor or therapist and a same-sex couple carrying concealed weapons in a college chapel pew than we are to fall victim to anything the Legislature has proposed or passed laws to protect us against.
39. I’ll Never Be President
- Friday, October 21, 2016
BIRTHDAY REFLECTIONS IN AN ELECTION YEAR. Let’s face it; I’ll never be president.
Another birthday just showed up and I didn’t blow out any candles. Maybe I don’t have the breath for it anymore. Maybe I don’t have the enthusiasm. While I’m grateful for another year, the count thereof gives me pause.
40. Words From Church
- Friday, October 14, 2016
FAITH IN THE FUNNY. As you could tell from last week’s column, this campaign is wearing on me and, I suspect, on you. Words don’t appear to matter. Truth is ignored and lies are embraced.
41. Truth is Hard
- Friday, October 07, 2016
AIN’T NO SUCH. We have a charming expression in our family. Back in the 1920s, my wife’s grandfather, Memphis architect George Mahan, took a fishing trip to Reelfoot Lake and brought along a crystal radio. Radio was brand-new and he wanted to see if he could get a signal up there with that rudimentary receiver.
42. Seeing Better
- Friday, September 30, 2016
TAKE A LOOK OVER THERE. Over the edge of the deep porch, from rocking chairs beneath huge fans inset in the ceiling, through the dogtrot or glass walls, down the manicured lawn to the boardwalk and the boat dock’s double-wide wooden chaises, to the lake, to the treeline, to two distant office buildings, somehow disparate symbols rising as they do from a primeval forest like modern sentinel towers.
43. Bridging Imagination and Reality
- Friday, September 23, 2016
GETTING A BIG IDEA ACROSS. A few years ago, I heard about a big idea and wrote about it. Next month, that idea becomes Big River Crossing, an inspirational bridge between imagination and reality.
44. A Tasteful List 2016
- Friday, September 16, 2016
MEMPHIS BY THE BITE. Presenting the sixth serving of the Tasteful List, updated for 2016 – alphabetical local favorites in one decidedly local man’s opinion – the only things easy to swallow in an election year.
45. Laws of Our Nature
- Friday, September 09, 2016
IT’S NOT YOU. IT’S THE LAW. You know that feeling when you’re in line … any line, including any lane for anything … that the line was moving faster until you got in it, and you wonder if it’s just you, subject of a cosmic conspiracy, or a karmic joke, or, like Job, a bet between God and Satan.
46. Starve The Egos. Feed The Love.
- Friday, September 02, 2016
GOODWILL IS AN ENDANGERED SPECIES. Remember how much we used to love the Memphis Zoo? I do.
“The Memphis Zoo is probably … aw, hell ... IS the best zoo of medium size anywhere. From the alabaster white animal statue sentinels out front to the last siamang scream in Primate Canyon. From the impressive entrance greeting of Egyptian columns, reflecting pools and hieroglyphics (Memphis on the Mississippi is named after ancient Memphis on the Nile) to the exotic temple and waterfalls in the tiger den. From the stately grizzlies and polar bears to the precious meerkats standing guard and shaggy orangutans just hanging around. Not just fun, this place is a certifiable blast. If you don’t like watching the animals, just watch the people. Watch the lions watching you. Watch the cheetahs track you across their lair. And watch that little girl over there when she discovers the leopard high up on the cliff, or that little boy and his grandfather when the alligator snaps, or the python uncoils, or the guerrilla charges. Recent venue additions and a complete redesign of the spectacular entrance area add a major attraction feeling to what was already a time-honored Mid-South must for almost a century of kids and their families. I turn back into a kid every time I go there. Newer venues include Cat Country ... just about everything in here thinks you’re lunch, Primate Canyon … look for cousins, some more distant than other, Creatures Of The Night ... bats, aardvarks, naked mole rats, generally spooky, and Once Upon A Farm ... charming, but you might want to watch your step. Don’t-miss favorites include the sea lions at feeding time and the – Oh my God, Harry, what is that? – reptile house with its oh-so-strange collection of snakes, spiders and technicolor frogs. The Memphis Zoo is always funky, always fascinating.”
47. We Know, We Know
- Friday, August 26, 2016
THE MORE YOU KNOW, THE BETTER. There’s a guy crawling around my house with something called a moisture meter. Whatever it finds is measured in money. There’s another one sanding my living room down to raw wood. Cha-ching. My dogs are going nuts not knowing which of them to bark at next or which sound to run from or toward. Please shut up.
48. Cool Shades
- Friday, August 19, 2016
SHADES OF THE FUTURE. We were talking about sunglasses and how you see things through them.
They were cool when you and I were young, no matter when that was, and they’re cool now. Still cool long past things and people once cool and now long gone, like eight-tracks and Fabio. Always cool instead of once cool, not cool, and then cool again, like argyle socks.
49. Another Olympics, Another Time
- Friday, August 12, 2016
SHOOTING THE MOON FOR GOLD. When the Olympics last rolled around, my fellow decathlete, Jeff Chamblin, and I laughed our way through the memories, remembering the competition as if it were yesterday.
50. Laughing Beats Crying
- Friday, August 05, 2016
THE RODNEY PERSPECTIVE. I was depressed. After a couple of weeks of political conventions and mind-numbing analysis by talking head armies to my left and right, I was wondering if I should bother to get out of bed. But I took solace as I sometimes do in the words of the late philosopher, Rodney Dangerfield, who reminds us that no matter how bad it gets, it could be worse, and a lot funnier.
51. The Privilege of Legacy
- Friday, July 29, 2016
WE ARE PRIVILEGED TO BE HERE. As poor as we are, we are far richer than we may realize. As so many struggle to make ends meet, one may wonder why so many are drawn to us. As difficult as it is to breathe the air this time of year, there is music in that air, there is a world-famous beat to this city.
52. We Are They
- Friday, July 22, 2016
THERE IS NO OTHER, OTHER THAN US. They came for them. They came for us.
You may not have heard of Martin Niemöller, a Protestant pastor in 1930s Germany, but you’ve probably heard him quoted, beginning, “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Socialist.” You may have heard or seen some variation of the original referencing Communists or Catholics or Mexicans or Muslims or African-Americans or whatever other, but you got the point because the original and every version concludes, “Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.”
53. To Zoo. Zooed. Zooing.
- Friday, July 15, 2016
YOU’VE BEEN ZOOED. That headline is indicative of the last few months. In fact, it’s the indicative present perfect usage of the new verb this city has created.
54. Eulogy for a Copywriter
- Friday, July 08, 2016
A LOSS FOR WORDS. We lost a good one two weeks ago. Good man. Good son and husband, father and grandfather, brother and friend. Good citizen and arts supporter. Good mentor to students and adviser to college presidents, Episcopal priests and copywriters.
55. Different But Not Less
- Friday, July 01, 2016
THIS IS MINISTRY, BABY. Sometimes we don’t see the difference we can make right where we are.
Brian McLaren – pastor and celebrated theologian, activist and prolific author – was here a couple of weeks ago, and he shared some thoughts about his visit in The Huffington Post:
56. Same Name, No Relation
- Friday, June 24, 2016
THE NAME OF WHAT WE ONCE HOPED TO BE AND WHAT WE’VE ACTUALLY BECOME.
The late Andy Holt from Milan, a schoolteacher, a coach, and once the principal of what is now Campus School in Memphis, the national president of the National Education Association and president of the University of Tennessee. His Columbia doctoral dissertation was about the struggle for public support of education in Tennessee.
57. A Place to Grow
- Friday, June 17, 2016
SEEDING TOMORROW IN WEST TENNESSEE. Things grow in Hardeman County. Crops, livestock, husbandry in all its forms – and relationships grow there, too, between the wild and the tame, between an abundance of resources and their conservation, between awe and understanding.
58. It’ll Leave A Mark
- Friday, June 10, 2016
THE MARKS WE’RE LEAVING. People were hooking up, shooting up and throwing up in the woods, on benches and in cars and right in front of children on the greensward. Like the weeds, pretty much everywhere. Like the privet, pretty much out of control. Like the shell and the rose garden and the lake and the forest and the picnic grounds and the pride of a city, pretty much left for dead.
59. Real Memphis
- Friday, June 03, 2016
THE REAL DEAL. When our daughter was 5 we took her to Disney World and totally encased ourselves in Disney plastic. To this day, I’m still haunted by strains of “It’s A Small World” that won’t leave my head, still having nightmares that I’m still in line for Space Mountain.
The third day there, we took a boat to a lake island for a “nature walk.” Hallie looked down into a stream and looked up at me, wide-eyed: “Look, Daddy, real fish!”
60. Insulting In Style
- Friday, May 27, 2016
INTELLIGENT INSULTS. CLEVER COMEBACKS. As we brace for this summer’s political conventions and a general election that promises to raise the lowest levels of public discourse to new heights, I thought I’d share some of my favorite exchanges collected over the years to remind us that we can do this sort of thing with style.
61. Elephants Abound
- Friday, May 20, 2016
The old joke goes this way: Every morning on the commuter train to work a man watches another man read his paper, meticulously folding every page to a single column width, then unfolding and refolding as he reads each column top to bottom. Finally, unable to stand it anymore, the first approaches the second and asks, “Why do you do that?” “It keep elephants off the train,” comes the reply.
62. High Water Marks
- Friday, May 13, 2016
LORD KNOWS, THE CRICK DOES RISE. The last time I was on a cook team, the Mississippi was lapping at the top of Tom Lee Park and I’d been lapping at a number of things for a couple of days myself.
63. Memphis Barbecue Primer
- Friday, May 06, 2016
IF YOU DON’T GET YOUR BARBECUE HERE, IT DOESN’T MATTER WHERE YOU GET IT. The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest is next week. One of my first columns was about defining barbecue when no definition should be necessary. Sadly, we’ve slipped further and further down a saucy slope and basic definitions are required again.
64. Tennessee Legislature's 2016 Session: Unbelievable
- Friday, April 29, 2016
THE STATE OF UN. In this nadir of presidential elections with everyone awash in slimy sound bites, with Congress and a Supreme Court nominee stuck in the mud, it takes truly jaw-dropping state legislative idiocy to draw the attention of the national media, make the monologues of late-night hosts and inspire “Saturday Night Live” skits.
65. Tickled Pink
- Friday, April 22, 2016
MEMPHIS IN BLACK AND WHITE. AND PINK. I’m glad Billy Orgel got engaged at Justine’s because that inspired his family to save it, not because they miss the crystal and crabmeat but because the place is personal.
66. R.I.P. Sears Laurelwood
- Friday, April 15, 2016
DOUG, JANICE, SUSAN, PETE, DAD. AND SEARS. Doug Ford – two-time major winner and golf Hall of Famer – is 93, and coincidently that’s what I shot at Ridgeway last week.
Janice was a high school girlfriend, and she liked her horse a lot more than me. Susan was a junior-high girlfriend, or whatever you are when you’re 12, and our relationship was worth peanuts. Pete was my best friend, and just about the coolest things we’d ever seen were vending machines that served hot food and Cokes in cups. My father believed in my mother, the United States Navy and Sears – because whatever story he was telling or advice he was giving, at least one and probably all three got in the conversation.
67. A Great Big Little Golf Course
- Friday, April 08, 2016
OVERTON EAGLES SOAR. When the city last talked about closing the Overton Park golf course, I told my story in a column.
Rumor has it, the course is in jeopardy again – a possible Greensward replacement – as if repurposing existing green spaces will justify destroying others, as if all the stories that have made the park so personal to so many are worth no more than a parking spot, as fleeting as a phone call from power to council.
68. Open to Progress
- Friday, April 01, 2016
WE CANNOT REMAIN STILL. When the news of the assassination broke on April 4, 1968, I ran to the dorm phone to call home to find out what in my world was going on, if my city was on fire, my family safe. All the lines to Memphis were busy, the answers would have to wait.
69. Time On The Porch
- Friday, March 25, 2016
ON PORCHES. Whatever porches are about, the best ones are about time. Time for swings and rocking chairs and reflection. Time spent alone with your thoughts or time shared with others sharing space and experience. Time to be very quiet. Or very loud. Life in real time.
70. Careful What You’re Being Sold
- Friday, March 18, 2016
ZOO DOO IS BACK. In the early ’90s, an enterprise started in Memphis to market recycled zoo dung – talk about organic – called the Zoo Doo Compost Co. A pungent and powerful fertilizer, raw product supplied seven days a week, a clever name, a great promotional headline, “Gardeners Love This Crap.”
71. Dull Pencils For Sharp Problems
- Friday, March 11, 2016
WE NEED THE SHARPEST PENCILS IN THE DRAWER. I don’t do my own taxes. In fact, my taxes send TurboTax into default mode, crash laptops and fry transformers. H&R Block blocks my phone number.
My accountant does my taxes, only because he’s known me for decades, he speaks Dan, and he uses the Gordian Knots in my finances to train his people.
72. Shameful Performance
- Friday, March 04, 2016
SHAME ON US. This week, the Memphis City Council ran over a whole room of citizens and a whole city and parked right on top of something they care about.
Every council member should be ashamed.
73. Thanks, But Go Save Someone Else
- Friday, February 26, 2016
COMING TO SAVE US IS STARVING US. We recently dodged the state Legislature’s latest effort to save us from ourselves, reaching into Shelby County to raise our poor and pitiful children from the depths of despair – Shelby County Schools.
74. Last Word: The Trade, Hardaway-Todd Grudge Match and Tomato Aspic
- Friday, February 19, 2016
Jeff Green leaves the Grizzlies for the Clippers and Lance Stephenson leaves the Clippers for the Grizzlies.
That was the trade at the NBA’s Thursday afternoon deadline that caused much of Thursday’s deadline buzz as well as lots of social media reaction.
Some of the reaction was tempered by the other part, a protected lottery pick for the Grizz as well.
75. The Original Pop-Up
- Friday, February 19, 2016
POP-UP WAFFLES. Pop-up concepts are hot. Popping up in spaces – Broad, the Edge, the Brewery, the Fire Station – reclaimed and repurposed to show what’s possible, the original character of the space adding flavor, the here-today-gone-tomorrow aspect adding spice, the unusual nature of the things served – things not seen every day and everywhere – adding adventure. Millennial curiosity addressed, the need for gratification met, the existential question asked and answered.
76. Timeout For Fresh Quotes
- Friday, February 12, 2016
THE SPORTS QUOTES YOU HAVEN’T HEARD. While the Super Bowl, Iowa and New Hampshire are behind us, the rest of the primaries, the general election, and a million tired sports analogies and metaphors are regrettably still in front of us … as in, we’re still in the early innings.
77. Last Word: EW&F, Midtown Rent Rise and A Closer Look At The Pyramid Deal
- Friday, February 05, 2016
One seemingly ordinary winter’s night in Downtown Memphis, I was going from event to event focused on work – specifically trying to stay on a schedule in which several things I wanted to cover were happening at the same time.
That is usually when you miss the experience that is Memphis on an everyday but definitely not ordinary basis.
So I get in a parking garage elevator and on the next floor David Porter – of Stax Records fame – gets on and he introduces me to his friend, Maurice White – the founder of Earth Wind and Fire. They too are trying to be in several places at the same time.
As they went their way and I went mine, I remember thinking this is quite a special place.
The encounter slowed my stride a bit and took some of the edge off the schedule – noticing for the first time how many people were out on a winter’s night in our city having nothing but a good time made better by all of us going our different ways.
White, who was from Memphis, died Thursday with his band’s music stronger and more relevant than ever.
If you grew up listening to EWF when the songs were new, you know that the bright and funky sound and the positive, affirming, and diverse identity of this music was quite intentional at a time when there was plenty going on that could have pushed it the other way.
If your parents or grandparents grew up listening to EWF, this music is a part of your family’s tradition that calls to mind special occasions and even your own mild surprise the first time you found yourself dancing to it with your children.
And if your folks’ vinyl record collection from back in the day included Earth Wind and Fire, that was one of the ones you listened to when they weren’t around and one of the ones you took with you when you got a place of your own.
78. Letter to the Editor: Memphis Zoo Is in Favor of Parking Solution at Overton Park
- Friday, February 05, 2016
In his column last week, “History Lesson,” Dan Conaway made an absurd comparison related to the Memphis Zoo’s current parking challenges and the fight to prevent I-40 from cutting through Overton Park in the 1970s.
79. A Bit More Super
- Friday, February 05, 2016
CARE ABOUT THE GAME. I’m a homer. I can’t watch a sporting event for the beauty of the game, the spirit of the competition, the skill displayed on both sides. I want somebody’s butt kicked and for good reason.
80. History Lesson
- Friday, January 29, 2016
A HISTORY LESSON TAUGHT, NOT LEARNED.
When I first wrote about attempts to steamroll Overton Park, a friend told me a great story. He was in his parents’ living room one afternoon in the late ’60s listening to his father go on and on about the battle to keep I-40 out of Overton Park ... too late to stop it, who are these silly protestors anyway, yadda yadda ... when they turned on the local news.
81. Who’s In Charge?
- Friday, January 22, 2016
IT MIGHT BE RIGHT, BUT IT’S FLAT WRONG. A week or so ago, 27 trees disappeared from Overton Park’s greensward – a fancy word for yours and my yard since Overton Park belongs to us.
82. Blowing The Whistle
- Friday, January 15, 2016
WE HEAR WHAT WE WANT. I have an old white dog. She’s like a lot of old white dogs. She has a lot wrong with her, aches and pains here and there, problems internal and external, sagging everywhere.
She spends a lot of time napping in front of the TV, snoring while she’s at it, talking to herself and dreaming about what used to be, having nightmares about what she imagines is coming.
83. Let’s Not Forget
- Friday, January 08, 2016
BELL. BOWLING. CROWE. GARDENHIRE. KELSEY. NICELY. ROBERTS. AND NORRIS. As the Tennessee General Assembly gets going in 2016, let’s remember how they started 2015 – with the abandonment of common sense and decency and hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans.
The story of what they did bears repeating as a cautionary tale. If we let them do it again, we all bear responsibility.
84. Diverse Learning
- Friday, January 01, 2016
The black kid across the hall came from Pearl in Nashville and had a full-ride scholarship.
All I knew about Pearl was that they’d bounced Memphis Treadwell out of the gym the year before to go 31 and 0 and win the state basketball championship. So the kid must be a baller, right?
85. Christmas Coming Home
- Thursday, December 24, 2015
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.
86. The Truth, Whole Truth, Nothing But the Truth
- Friday, December 18, 2015
THE INS AND UNS OF OUR TRUTH. Truth is the truth. It isn’t inconvenient, inconsistent or incomplete. It isn’t uncomfortable or unpleasant and certainly not untrue.
But what we’ve made of the truth is all of those things.
87. A Great Zoo. A Great Embarrassment.
- Friday, December 11, 2015
IF YOU CAN PARK A HIPPO, YOU CAN PARK AN SUV. “Finally,” the young TV reporter said, “somebody who’s happy with the zoo.”
The zoo’s general manager was involved in controversy, his vision in question. The reporter found plenty of people at the zoo gate ready to feed the GM to the lions, but Nora and I were the first he talked to who liked the guy and he wanted a little balance for his story. You remember balance? Good reporters used to have it, and this guy was good.
88. Knee-Jerk Outbreak
- Friday, December 04, 2015
A SAD STATE OF AFFAIRS. WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States government has mobilized against a clear threat to the country.
Troops have been sent to identify and capture members of an ersatz government openly operating here in defiance of federal law. This group claims theirs as the only true religion, and that laws be based on it as prescribed in the tome of that religion. They believe no other laws to be valid in the eyes of God, and no rights assigned or any authority recognized if any are based on such godless laws. They seek to prohibit the teaching, or even mention, of any other religion in schools.
89. Ginkgos And Thanks. And Thanks Again.
- Thursday, November 26, 2015
LOOK FOR THE WONDER. REPEAT. I write about it every year. And it’s 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.
90. Angels Of Our Better Nature
- Friday, November 20, 2015
SPIRITS OF A CITY. Emily Sutton and Annie Cook were prostitutes. And angels.
91. Billions And Billions Of Grins
- Friday, November 13, 2015
GOOD NEWS IS GROWING. Really. I only have 500 words here and what my friend Andy Cates had to say last week is worth far more, several billion dollars worth actually, and what St. Jude had to say at the end of the week adds billions more.
92. Funny Way With Words
- Friday, November 06, 2015
HIGH IQ OR NOT, STILL FUNNY. Friend Gene sent me something – as he often does – that was very funny. It was also something – as it often is – we’d both seen before but forgot.
93. Can We Talk?
- Friday, October 30, 2015
WE’RE SIMPLY NOT COMMUNICATING. I’ve been saying for years that our city, as a city, does not understand or value the role of marketing and branding in the city’s game plan.
94. Around Here, You Hear Belz
- Friday, October 23, 2015
BELZ IS AT IT AGAIN. AND THAT’S A GOOD THING.
If you think you know Memphis, and you don’t know about him, you don’t know Jack.
Following his father Phillip as patriarch to the Belz family, Jack Belz led Belz Enterprises for decades, a company close to or at the top of Tennessee property owners for all that time. A quiet philanthropist and quiet pioneer in the concepts of city gateway centers and discount malls, Belz went very public with the world-class renovation and reopening of The Peabody.
95. Ghosts Of A Paper
- Friday, October 16, 2015
–30– In 1936, she was the society editor and all of 24 and he was a graphic artist for The Commercial Appeal and barely 21. A man walked up to her desk, the first one you came to off the elevator at the front of the old city room, and asked, “Could you tell me where I could find Cal Alley?”
96. A Pothole 26 Years Deep
- Friday, October 09, 2015
CRUISING LIKE IT’S 1989. Let’s pretend you can get three cans of tomato soup at Seessel’s for a buck instead of just one, a six-pack of Bud for four bucks instead of six or seven, and a pound of hamburger for 89 cents instead of five bucks. Hell, let’s pretend there’s a Seessel’s.
97. Mining Crap
- Friday, October 02, 2015
SO MUCH CRAP. SO LITTLE TIME.
Since I allowed Apple to plant iOS 9 on my phone, on my iPad and in my psyche, my email is a crap shoot, iTunes is no longer playing my song, Siri won’t speak to me, Firefox won’t let me on my own home page and U-verse goes south daily.
98. Two Tasty Stories on the Side
- Friday, September 25, 2015
A STORY IN EVERY BITE. Last week’s column reminded me of a couple of stories about food. My main editor – my wife – reminded me that I’ve told them before. That happens a lot. It’s about to happen again. Just think of them as second helpings.
99. A Tasteful List 2015
- Friday, September 18, 2015
MEMPHIS ON A PLATE. Presenting the fifth helping of the Tasteful List, updated for 2015 – an alphabetical survey of local flavor in one decidedly local man’s opinion.
Could I get another napkin over here?
100. A Steeple in Hell
- Friday, September 11, 2015
THE CHURCH OF GROUND ZERO. Headed to my desk, I passed a photograph on the wall. I pass it several times every day, but when I typed 9/11 at the top of the page, the date this column would run in The Daily News, I realized what the column would be about: