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VOL. 133 | NO. 65 | Friday, March 30, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: Opening Day, Slowing the Flow and 30 Years of Shangri-La

By Bill Dries

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There is something about opening day of the Major League Baseball season – especially when it is opening day for just about every team at the same time. Just seeing the green fields with a solitary outfielder, the low brick walls behind the symmetry of batter, catcher and umpire renews my love for the game. I don’t really pay attention to players – don’t know any of their names. And how and when did the Astros wind up in the American League and the Brewers in the National League? I just like watching the game in a sport where the team and the individual coexist as in no other sport.

And while I don’t know who is who now, I find I have a pretty good memory for the teams and players of my childhood and my baseball card collection of three or four years of that childhood. The Cardinals infield is still Cepeda, Javier, Maxvill and Shannon. McCarver behind the plate for Gibson and Carlton. Brock, Flood (who should be in the Hall of Fame) and Maris in the outfield. My memory tends to fade on the rightfielders that followed Maris. So while watching a bit of the Astros and Rangers Thursday via ESPN on opening day, I was startled to see a name I knew. Rusty Staub died on opening day. A player I knew of primarily from his years playing for the Montreal Expos – a team that no longer exists. Here’s to Rusty Staub and opening day – when spring arrives in spirit.

All of which makes me wonder if you can rent a bike with baseball cards in the spokes once Explore Bike Share opens up for business. Of course that will mean running down a supply of clothes pins. But I’m pretty sure the complete rig makes the bike go faster and it’s a much cooler way of sharing trails with those on foot than always saying “to your left.”

City public works director Robert Knecht had a meeting with a room full of developers Thursday afternoon at Shelby Farms Park that basically laid out the ground rules for the next three to five years of development in the Fletcher Creek basin area. It is still possible despite the city’s very real concerns about sewer system capacity, Knecht said several times. But the developers need to be flexible including temporary storage of wastewater flow on their dime to go into the city sewer system during nonpeak hours.

Shangri-La Records at 30 years old is one of two vinyl music stores, along with Goner Records, that are more than places to buy old records.

Shelby County commissioner Eddie Jones is chairing the budget committee as the 13-member body prepares for a budget season in an election year that will see at least seven of the 13 commission seats change hands two months after the start of the new fiscal year.

Shangri-La, one of the city’s two vinyl stores that also features new local music, is turning 30 years old which dates its origins to about the time compact discs began changing things. Shangri-La and Goner are more than just new and old vinyl. They are music culture and local culture as well that you can’t find anyplace else.

Add this to the county commission’s ongoing effort to fix the minority business contracting ordinance it passed over a year ago – the largest contract by dollar amount that has come across the desk of the current county commission in their four-year term included a provision that makes it exempt from the terms and goals of the ordinance. That prompted a proposed moratorium on all such contracts until the end of the current term of office at the end of August. The commission votes on this Monday as it prepares for the county budget season.

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen on the omnibus appropriations bill, his effort to make it more difficult to fire special prosecutor Robert Mueller and his support of President Donald Trump’s proposal to raise the federal gas tax.

Meanwhile in Nashville, Gov. Bill Haslam’s bill to downsize the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees narrowly passes the House with help from Democrats.

In the ongoing drama around the sexual abuse allegations against state Rep. David Byrd of Waynesboro -- he says his conduct three decades ago is difficult to recall and he questions the motives of the women accusing him.

Andrew Bell, president of the United Soccer League franchise in Charleston, has been in Memphis for a look around as the USL franchise to play here in 2019 begins to assemble its front office.

The United Soccer League’s Memphis franchise has tapped Andrew Bell as its first sporting director for a team that begins play at AutoZone Park in 2019. Bell, who is currently president of the USL Charleston franchise, has been taking a look around town recently. He doesn’t know Memphis and if you aren’t a soccer fan you probably don’t know Bell. But he is considered quite the experienced soccer front office presence.

MarShon Brooks’ return to the NBA and debuts with the Grizz this week after four years playing basketball in Italy and China in Don Wade’s “Press Box” column.

J.T. Young, the new president and CEO of Memphis Light Gas and Water Division talks storm recovery, underground power lines, TVA and rate hikes on “Behind The Headlines.” The show airs Friday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 8:30 a.m. on WKNO TV.

The cover story of our weekly, The Memphis News, sets the stage for next week’s climactic week in the 50th anniversary observances of the 1968 sanitation workers’ strike and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in our city. We look at what has happened in those 50 years during which the events of 1968 have always been a presence – a much debated presence around how we compare now to who we were then.

The PDF of the new issue is up now on this very website. The hard copies hit the streets Friday morning and the online version of the cover story along with another online-only story about the anniversary goes up here Friday afternoon.

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