One End to the Other

By Dan Conaway

GET IT TOGETHER. Cooper is on fire. From the cougars in the zoo to the cougars in Alchemy, the viewing is best at feeding time. From the lions at the zoo to the lyonnaise salad at 1912, this is a stretch to strut in.

Whether it’s locally brewed Flaming Stone at Boscos or an Irish and English Black and Tan at Celtic Crossing, there’s a whole lot of flaming fabulous funkiness served up and down the street. Black tie at Brooks to black Thai rice at Tsunami. Knuckle sandwiches at Iris and lobster rolls at the Slider Inn. Knuckling down over egg rolls at Mulan and Jasmine and rolling the nine ball at Young Avenue Deli.

Cooper is different.

Free concerts at the Shell and mussel shells at Bari. Books at Burke’s and bagels at Bogie’s. Curtain time at Playhouse and coming soon at Hattiloo. Double bogies at Overton Park, doubles on the rocks at bars at both ends, and double-shot espressos at Otherlands and The Edge in-between. Studios for movies and tattoos. Remedies from Maggie’s Pharm and farm-fresh pickins from Easy Way.

Cooper connects.

If I was a bright young promoter, I’d buy a 24-seat bus, paint it fabulously funky, and start it up and down Cooper from Overton Park to First Congo, from the new parking garage in a resurgent Overton Square to the nascent parking garage in Cooper Young. I’d put somebody entertaining at the wheel, give away more coupons than Kroger, and pitch Memphis like our own World Series MVP Matt Cain.

If I’m the bright people promoting both ends of the street, I’d pull everything together and promote the whole of the wide experience. I wouldn’t do what Memphis so often does – losing opportunities by fighting among ourselves, killing the body by cannibalizing the parts, failing to see the good because we’re so often blinded by bad vision.

Come to think of it, while everybody else waits for the city to build a trolley line, or for some association to build a brand, or for some conservancy to save what we tried so hard to kill, I’d buy several of those buses, make a loop between what’s happening on Cooper to what’s happening on South Main to what’s happening on Broad, and make it the hottest ride in Memphis since Elvis’ Harley.

While so many sit in houses just like the one next door on streets just like the next one over complaining to people just like them about nothing to do in Memphis, I’d give them a ride to places where very different people are doing everything. I’d give a lift to parts of the city on the rise, to the quickening pulse of places so many would give up for dead or dying, to the heart of what’s happening, y’all.

Let’s all get on board and go there together.

And by the way, CommTrans sells buses just like that. That’s a business on Cooper.

I’m a Memphian, and it’s time to play in the street.

Dan Conaway is a lifelong Memphian, longtime adman and aspiring local character in a city known for them. Reach him at