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VOL. 131 | NO. 92 | Monday, May 9, 2016


Bill Dries

Last Word: Behind Grit N Grind, Brooks at 100 and Massacre

By Bill Dries

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This is a 12-month-a-year basketball town. There’s the season, possibly a post season, which by NBA standards is a second season. (Yep, they are still playing.) And then there is the rest of the year when whatever has been about to boil over behind the façade of sports clichés finally begins to spill out into the open.

What boils over is dysfunction -- the truth that the controversies team leaders say don’t matter really do matter -- and new faces.

With that, Dave Joerger was fired as head coach over the weekend by a Grizzlies front office that was in conflict with him well before Joerger made the city’s keeper reel of memorable sports moments with his post-playoff game 4 defense of his injured team being swept.

The comments spoke to commitment.

But Grizz GM Chris Wallace said Saturday in explaining the firing that the team is looking for “a deeply committed leadership team.” And it turns out Joerger wanted permission to talk with the Sacramento Kings a year after he talked with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

So, for the week ahead – it looks like you will be hearing the name Frank Vogel, the former coach of the Indiana Pacers.
And there will be much more attention on top of the already considerable attention Mike Conley’s free agent future with the Grizz is getting.

Joerger’s place in the team’s history in Memphis is right up there with Hubie Brown and Lionel Hollins, largely because of the epic struggle the team had this past season which plays into the Grit ‘n’ Grind reputation embraced by the city at large.
And like Brown and Hollins, he was in conflict with the part of the management chart above his box in the chart. There is rarely a grit ‘n’ grind way out of that kind of conflict.

If all of this caught you by surprise, it’s no surprise. The word came on a busy Saturday across the city.

Overton Park was one of the busier places around town.
It was a weekend away from the Greensward controversy and the metal barrier that has become the personification of the front line of the issue.
Although there are already new t-shirts making the rounds bearing the words “fringe element” – a term used by council chairman Kemp Conrad last week to describe some – but not all – of the protesters.

A lot of people were taking a look around the newly-renovated Brooks Museum which is also marking its 100th anniversary.
The museum’s familiar elements remain in a blend with some changes that in combination keep Memphians coming back. My personal favorite is what I call the Renaissance room, near the original 1916 entrance to the museum. I really like the soft lighting and the bold images on big canvasses – could and have spent an hour or two in there with no problem.
One of the new elements is changing works in the rotunda as well as a series of outdoor installations for the next year that began with the RedBall Project.
The 250-pound inflatable red ball was quite a hit around the city for the 10 days it was here.

Our photographer, Andrew Breig, chronicled its journey in different setting and we’ve posted the chronology which, of course, includes his drone work as well as still photographs.

In Raleigh this weekend, it was a Sears auto center at Raleigh Springs Mall that got all of the attention as well as a city council member driving a piece of heavy machinery into the auto center.

Before you get too far in your conclusions on this – it was on purpose and the auto center has been closed and boarded up for some time. The council member was Bill Morrison who did the honors in the first demolition work that is part of converting the mall property into a town center with a new library and police precincts as well as an 11-acre lake, one mile trail and a skate park.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said the sight of Morrison in the cab of the excavator alone was worth showing up on a rather desolate parking lot on Saturday morning.
And several hundred people did.

Highland Row, the $58 million mixed-use development that is a key element in a redeveloped Highland Strip area, is taking shape with the middle building leasing up quickly so far. And the developers are looking at an interesting mix of residential tenants from students to empty nesters to medical professionals. The first tenants begin moving in this summer.

The cover story of our weekly, The Memphis News, marks the first and possibly only time we have gone with an engraving on our cover – a 19th century engraving at that. It’s the story of our view in 2016 of one of the city’s darkest and most obscure moments from 150 years ago. It is the first three days of May 1866 when 46 people were murdered and every black church and school in the city was burned to the ground. For some time, we’ve been watching new discussions about how our history is written, particularly the history of the Civil War and its aftermath. And that, more than the horrible events of 1866, is where we went with the cover story especially when we heard about the path a proposal for a marker on the event took.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of recent books for you to add to your reading list and shelves including Stephen Ash’s recent “A Massacre in Memphis” which is about the 1866 massacre as well as Preston Lauterbach’s “Beale Street Dynasty” whose central character is Robert R. Church Sr. who was among those shot and wounded in the violence of 1866.

Did someone say history? The Memphis News Almanac includes Kroger buying out east, right turns on red, the Allmans at the Shell, 1930 U.S. Census results and plans for two schools.

A follow-up to The Daily News Money & Markets Seminar last week with more from McVean Trading chief economist Michael Drury on how multinational corporations make decisions and the effect on investors. Drury interacting with the panel of experts from several local financial institutions.

And Evergreen Packaging, an International Paper spin-off that includes two other packaging companies it recently consolidated with is going to expand on Poplar Avenue, adding square footage to call Memphis its global headquarters.
It means 70 new jobs with an average salary of $176,283 a year and $1 million in capital investment by Evergreen.

PROPERTY SALES 28 290 16,197
MORTGAGES 33 165 10,087
BUILDING PERMITS 184 608 38,544
BANKRUPTCIES 33 125 7,597