Editorial Results (free)
1. The Whole Truth
- Friday, March 16, 2018
TRUTH BE TOLD. 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.
2. Gorillas in the Living Room
- Friday, March 9, 2018
IMPROVING THE VIEW. There are very large gorillas in our living room.
It seems these things are never seen when such a sight would spoil the vision at hand – except, of course, by those who see the reality of unpleasant things. Never mentioned in polite conversation – except, of course, by those who discuss unpleasant things. Avoided at all costs by those charged with promoting civic accomplishment – except by those who measure the cost of unpleasant things.
3. Lent Is Complicated
- Friday, March 2, 2018
REPENTANCE. FORGIVENESS. AND WAFFLES. Lent is complicated.
People: Have mercy on us, Lord.
Celebrant: We confess to you, Lord, all our past unfaithfulness: the pride, hypocrisy, and impatience of our lives.
4. Godspeed, Helen. We Were There
- Friday, February 23, 2018
A HAPPY DAY AT A FUNERAL. Her name was Helen Larkin. She was a couple of years younger than me when she started at the University of Tennessee and pledged the same sorority my wife did a few years earlier. Two of her three older brothers were in my fraternity there and one of her two sisters was in my high school class. Spring quarter of her freshman year, Helen would become a Little Sister of that fraternity.
5. This is Not a Squirrel
- Friday, February 16, 2018
DISTRACTION. Spoon hated squirrels. Every so often, I would yell, “SQUIRREL!”, and Spoon would charge the window from wherever she was in full and frantic bark mode, whatever she was doing forgotten in the urgency of the moment. Sometimes there actually was a squirrel, but most of the time I did it for the reaction.
6. Serious Diversion
- Friday, February 9, 2018
ZEN FOR CYNICS. Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me for the path is narrow. In fact, just buzz off and leave me alone.
7. In the Snow
- Friday, February 2, 2018
SNOW IN A WARM CITY. I looked out the window as the snowfall of a few weeks ago ended. The tires that brought the paper made the only marks on the street. The quiet, the way snow muffles everything, blankets the morning as surely as the snow.
8. Only Two
- Friday, January 26, 2018
IT JUST TAKES TWO. “Dan,” Sen. Howard Baker chuckled, “see that person at the end of the dais? She’s run my office for years, been with me everywhere, heard and seen everything. That’s the first time I’ve seen her blush.”
9. Using Kids as Chips
- Friday, January 19, 2018
THIS ISN’T A GAME, KIDS AREN’T CHIPS. As I write this, 9 million low-income kids in America are at risk of losing their insurance, primarily because they aren’t the kids of Congress.
10. Soul is Required
- Friday, January 12, 2018
TIME TO SEE SOMETHING NEW. Years ago, friend Billy bought the Edge office supplies business on Union just west of other things that aren’t there anymore, like Happy Day Laundry and Wiles-Smith Drug Store. I was in there one day when he asked if I wanted to see something cool. He lowered a pull-down ladder to an attic and sent me up. As soon as my head cleared the opening, he flicked on the light.
11. Memphis is Changing
- Friday, January 5, 2018
SOMETHING’S GOING ON HERE. President of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis was invited back to Memphis in 1964 when black folks were getting all uppity during the civil rights movement. He has finally left the podium.
12. Outrageous 2017
- Friday, December 29, 2017
EVERY DAY, AN EMBARRASSMENT OF CHOICES. This year is, thankfully, coming to a close.
Early in the year, a group of us from here and there set about documenting the actions of an administration already out of control. We thought we would produce a calendar with an example for each day of something outrageous reported in mainstream media. Our research didn’t produce one such example for each day; we were buried in examples for each day. We divided them up and here are a few of mine.
13. My Christmas Story
- Friday, December 22, 2017
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.
14. What to Give Them for Christmas
- Friday, December 15, 2017
GIVE THEM TOMORROW. 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.
15. Reminded Again
- Friday, December 8, 2017
WE NEED ADVICE, FROM OURSELVES. When I closed up my parents’ home some 30 years ago, I found myself in my old room, going through my desk drawers one more time. In the back of one, I found something I’d missed – a magnifying glass with a loose handle.
16. We’re Original. Act Like It
- Friday, December 1, 2017
IF YOU’RE COPYING, IT’S NOT YOURS. My church has an impressive mosaic of da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” over the altar – the one a friend says should be called, “Everybody get on the same side of the table so I can take this picture.” True to the original in every detail, the mosaic is even more impressive when you realize it involves more than 40,000 individual pieces. It’s beautiful.
17. Good Morning
- Thursday, November 23, 2017
RANDOM OBSERVATIONS OF A MORNING. As I write this, I’m out of town and just finished reading an email from friend Gene. He was sharing a few deep thoughts and life questions people have shared with him. Since I found several of them funny enough to spill my coffee on my hosts’ floor and read out loud to people who just woke up, I think I’ll just turn this week’s column over to Gene and get some more coffee.
18. Time for What’s Next
- Friday, November 17, 2017
A NEW LOOK AT OLD VIEWS. Just as we’re getting somewhere on Brady’s Parking Lot vs. Overton Park, Brooks decides to chase something bigger, shinier and newer on the bluff and the Memphis College of Art throws down their brushes.
19. Thanks for the Light
- Friday, November 10, 2017
THANK YOU, OLD FRIEND. Thanksgiving is coming up so I’d like to give some to an old friend. Like many old friends, this one has been there my whole life and has meant more to me than I’ve said. More talented is this old friend, but sharing of that talent, and inspirational in the sharing, and patient in the teaching of those less talented.
20. We Must Talk
- Friday, November 3, 2017
A necessary conversation. Tom (R) and I (D) had an email conversation recently. Remember when conversation between those who differ was possible?
We met through friends – his, not mine – mostly college classmates sharing links to conservative columnists who support their views. Most of those columns aren’t real and their false attribution is for credibility where none exists. This is only one such list among legion, right and left.
21. Sweetness of a Moment
- Friday, October 27, 2017
A slice of time. In the spring, young men’s fancy turns to … well … whatever it turns to looks a lot more like an Ole Miss coed than Coach Collins, a lot more like a beach at Sardis Lake than the lunch counter at White Station High School, and the lemon meringue pie was a lot sweeter than fifth period.
22. Fix This Ticket
- Friday, October 20, 2017
HARD MADE HARDER, THAT’S THE TICKET. Growing up, I felt deprived because I occasionally had to ride the bus. In college, I felt deprived because I didn’t have a car. When I got married, I felt deprived because we had only one.
23. The Ride From Can’t to Can
- Friday, October 13, 2017
“THREE BUCKS A DAY, ALL IN.” My friend Jay Martin, founder and chairman of Juice Plus+, is impatient with systems for systems’ sake, with bureaucracies based on bureaucracies, with the tried and true default of “we’ve always done it that way.” If he sees a problem and sees no solution or a solution as problematic as the problem, he has a habit of building one himself and taking it out for a spin. And then he gets a few friends to climb on.
24. Hey, Hope, How Are You?
- Friday, October 6, 2017
“HEY, DAN.” I was attempting to visit a friend in extended care at Regional One. That’s in the Turner Tower. “The what?” the parking lot attendant replied, and then added, “Got to be one of those.”
25. A General Invitation, Come Home
- Friday, September 29, 2017
COME ON BACK TO ELMWOOD, GEN. FORREST. I first issued that invitation in 2013, and again in 2015. As it has been for some time – it’s past time.
Come back, general, and bring the missus. Elmwood is where you said you wanted to be. Others put you in a public park and made you a symbol of what you are not. You are not a victor in a virtuous cause. You are not superior by virtue of your color. You are not entitled to a glorified history others would give you, only to the whole truth of your own.
26. Raised From the Dead
- Friday, September 22, 2017
GHOST AND SPIRIT. I walked through the town at mid-morning. Like any town you spend a lifetime in, you know people.
I spoke to the guy that owns the coffee shop, Jimmy Lewis, as he walked between customers over cups and conversation. He and I went to the same high school, and I see they’re building a new high school right here in town – going to be trying all kinds of new ideas in there, a public/private, secondary/higher education partnership model for the country I’m told.
27. A Tasteful List: 2017
- Friday, September 15, 2017
DIG IN, MEMPHIS. Presenting the Tasteful List 2017 – alphabetical local favorites in one decidedly local man’s opinion – all good if not good for you. Some are farm to table, some got waylaid by sugar, flour, corn meal and deep-frying along the way, but all are ours, bless their hearts.
28. What We’re Left With
- Friday, September 8, 2017
LEGACIES OF IRONY. The guy who invented dynamite and various ways to blow people up also gave us the Nobel Peace Prize. According to Alfred Nobel’s will in 1896, the award is to go to someone who has “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”
29. I Recommend a New Novel
- Friday, September 1, 2017
They read us like a book. When I was growing up, The Book Shelf was about where the northwest corner of the Kroger in Poplar Plaza is now. It smelled like books – not the library smell of tomes and the weight of knowledge, but the smell of brand-new information, shiny new possibilities, a world of discovery on a personal scale.
30. A Matter Worth Raising
- Friday, August 25, 2017
SYMBOLS AND FLAGS MATTER. Nora approached the concierge desk at the General Walker Hotel in Obersalzberg, Germany, just below Hitler’s infamous retreat, the Eagle’s Nest, and just above the town of Berchtesgaden. We’d heard that there was a museum in the hotel’s basement. The man behind the desk was behind a newspaper when Nora asked, “Excuse me, could you tell me how we get to the Hitler museum?” He snapped the paper down and in a tone the Fuhrer himself would have been proud of and loud enough to turn heads in the lobby, he sneered:
31. 2017, The Musical
- Friday, August 18, 2017
“GRANT US WISDOM, GRANT US COURAGE.” Episcopalians sing every week, as I’m sure many of you do, but most of us aren’t listening to the words. Their familiarity has bred if not contempt at least complacence.
32. Watches Tell Time, And Stories
- Friday, August 11, 2017
IT’S ABOUT TIME. It’s an old 700 series Rolex watch – stainless steel with a small military-style black face, hands and numbers that once glowed in the dark, a simple stainless steel band and a small brass rivet for a fastener – nothing special by Rolex standards.
33. No Place for Those Words
- Friday, August 4, 2017
“WHAT TRUMP COULD HAVE SAID.” After Trump’s narcissistic impolitic/political rant/speech at the Boy Scout National Jamboree, I didn’t know what to say. But when my daughter sent me an opinion piece from LNP in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, I realized it had already been said.
34. Love in the Bones
- Friday, July 28, 2017
DNA IN THE TIMBERS, SOUL IN THE PLACE. We drive by them at the edge of fields, just there in the woods, or just here abandoned at the edge of progress, beneath the tumble of vines and what remains of a roof or a wall, the dark eyes of broken windows and missing doors, the lost welcome of sagging porches, of warmth gone cold from crumbling chimneys, reminders of a life and lives, of another time – and every time I wonder who they were, what happened there.
35. History in Our Whiskey
- Friday, July 21, 2017
GOOD WHISKEY ISN’T DRUNK. IT’S REMEMBERED. Good whiskey and good stories age well. I wrote that a while back when I was hired to write a bit about whiskey. I thought about all of that on the porch looking at the night over a bit of whiskey with the dog. I was drinking whiskey; the dog was just looking at the night. We both liked the moment.
36. 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.
37. Not Ours, Not Theirs
- Friday, July 7, 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.
38. 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.
39. 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.
40. 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.
41. Cracking a Smile
- Friday, June 9, 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.
42. Tiresome Behavior
- Friday, June 2, 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.
43. 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.
44. 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.
45. 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.
46. 5,000 Miles Of Smoke
- Friday, May 5, 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.
47. 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.
48. 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.”
49. 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.”
50. Everything to Lose
- Friday, April 7, 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.
51. 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.
52. 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
53. 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.
54. 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.
55. Time for a Divorce
- Friday, March 3, 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.
56. 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.
57. 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.
58. 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.
59. For What’s Bugging You
- Friday, February 3, 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.
60. 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.
61. 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.
62. 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.
63. Naked Truth
- Friday, January 6, 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.
64. 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.
65. 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.
66. 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.
67. Giving is a Gift
- Friday, December 9, 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.
68. Not Again. Or Not.
- Friday, December 2, 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.
69. 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.
70. 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:
71. 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.
72. We Need Hits
- Friday, November 4, 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.
73. 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.
74. 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.
75. 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.
76. Truth is Hard
- Friday, October 7, 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.
77. 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.
78. 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.
79. 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.
80. Laws of Our Nature
- Friday, September 9, 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.
81. Starve The Egos. Feed The Love.
- Friday, September 2, 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.”
82. 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.
83. 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.
84. 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.
85. Laughing Beats Crying
- Friday, August 5, 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.
86. 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.
87. 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.”
88. 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.
89. Eulogy for a Copywriter
- Friday, July 8, 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.
90. Different But Not Less
- Friday, July 1, 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:
91. 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.
92. 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.
93. 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.
94. Real Memphis
- Friday, June 3, 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!”
95. 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.
96. 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.
97. 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.
98. Memphis Barbecue Primer
- Friday, May 6, 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.
99. 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.
100. 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.