VOL. 132 | NO. 75 | Friday, April 14, 2017
Saving the Day
BY DAN CONAWAY
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.”
I was again reminded that looking through younger eyes not only provides a more hopeful view; it’s a helluva lot more fun.
I saw another show last week – staged by New Memphis Institute at the iconic Clayborn Temple and titled “Instant Memphian,” providing a “list of 102 things every local should know.” I didn’t want to go – I mean what can you tell me, right? I sign this column off “I’m a Memphian” every week – but I did want to see inside Clayborn Temple in the midst of a resurrection, and there was beer.
What I saw was presented by two guys, both about the average age of my ties but more relevant.
This was on the same night as a Grizzlies home game, making getting to neighboring Clayborn Temple a nightmare, and the beer selection had one local choice – the kind of planning cluster that Memphians love to bitch about.
But that in and of itself made this a very Memphis sort of thing, and what they presented made me very glad I came. You see, these two guys – Frankie Dakin, Stanton Brown and people like them – are going to save the day.
Of their 102 things, barbecue didn’t show up until number 27, and while the world-famous BBQ Fest was noted, so was the world’s largest Kosher BBQ Fest. Graceland and the zoo got mentions, but so did Pancho’s Cheese Dip and the whole of Summer Avenue, and quality-of-life issues like going from one of the worst cycling cities to one of the best in eight years got discussions. Sure, our entrepreneurial and musical DNA was referenced, but what’s breaking out in South Main, Crosstown, Overton Square, Cooper-Young, Binghampton, the Edge, The Pinch and the University District is causing a fever.
Even at 24, they had very seasoned Memphis advice – “Avoid Germantown Parkway at rush hour. And the other 23 hours a day.” – but of five things they recommended every Memphian eat, I’ve only had two, and of five secret places to spend a Saturday afternoon, I’ve only done three, and concerning the maligned Shelby County Schools, they called Memphis “ground zero for education reform” and cited plenty of examples.
Even at age 102, their list gave me new places to eat, new places to go and new ways to look at my town.
This is the very local, very bright view of two very young guys, one white and one black, both Rhodes grads and classmates at Millington Central – and Frankie is already an elected Millington alderman.
I’m a Memphian, and we have people out there who are going to save the day.
Dan Conaway, a communication strategist and author of “I’m a Memphian,” can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.