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VOL. 133 | NO. 101 | Monday, May 21, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: Pete & Sam's and Barbecue, Neutral Turf and Ralph Wiley on Penny

By Bill Dries

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Pete & Sam’s, one of the city’s long running restaurants in a vibrant culinary scene, reopens Monday afternoon on Park Avenue following an extensive renovation following a major fire this past December. There should be lots of curiosity about what change looks like in a restaurant devoted to sticking with the past so much so that at times Pete & Sam’s and its reputation have been debated vocally among foodies. Kind of like the debate that occasionally surfaces over the Rendezvous and its place in our local world of barbecue.

So by now you know it was true – Dave Grohl was at the barbecue contest as a judge, it turns out. Although judging by the Instagrams and other photo evidence on social media, he had to balance the judging with a fairly high number of selfies and other photo ops as he made his rounds.

The 2018 World Champion is The Shed, the Ocean Springs, Mississippi crew led by Brad Orrison. This is The Shed’s second world championship in 12 years of coming to Memphis In May.

Here is The Week Ahead which includes the final weekend of the Memphis In May International Festival901Fest and the Great River Run.

The “Around Memphis” reading list includes Chalkbeat’s story about the turnaround work at Georgian Hills Achievement Elementary in Frayser, The New York Times piece on South Main and Front Street development that has provoked some discussion back and forth about gentrification, a mock NBA draft that comes up with a different name for the Grizz #4 pick than you may have heard and the LA Times on Tubby Smith’s Memphis home and its basketball history.

The United Soccer League won’t be playing at AutoZone Park until about this time next year -- March 2019 to be precise. But Pete Wickham writes about the soft opening of sorts at CBHS in East Memphis for the development league that is a companion to the USL.

Graceland and City Hall on neutral turf in Whitehaven last week. The result was some good give and take on the manufacturing jobs that Graceland is touting with strings attached to the epicenter of the conflict between the two institutions – the 6,200 seat arena Graceland also has planned. The town hall meeting last week also featured a third entity – Whitehaven homeowners who want to know what kind of jobs Graceland is talking about, how much they pay and why Chia Pets are such a big deal. And they had some thoughts on the Grizz/FedExForum noncompete in case the city got too comfortable in this discussion. However, no one wants to debate the importance of The Clapper.

Don Wade’s cover story on Penny Hardaway’s start as Tigers basketball coach leads the new edition of our weekly, The Memphis News, with some thoughts about how this is playing here and how it is playing outside of Memphis and the difference.

Penny Hardaway's storied basketball career at the University of Memphis in the 1990s was a turbulent time reflected in a 1993 essay by Ralph Wiley in his 1993 book "What Black People Should Do Now."

Penny Hardaway Then and Now

In thinking about Hardaway’s story over the weekend, I came across something I haven’t read in quite a while – the chapter in the late Ralph Wiley’s 1993 book “What Black People Should Do Now: Dispatches from Near the Vanguard.” The essay “Why Black People Shoot the Jump Shot for Nothing” is a reminder of Hardaway’s journey and how his journey and his game then reflected who we were as a city at the time and the issues at the intersection of sports and culture in a city Wiley knew well as a Memphis native. He died in 2004, less than 10 years after the book came out that from the distance of 25 years reads like something of a time capsule and in other places like an ongoing prophecy.

“There are 43 high schools in greater Memphis, Tennessee. Each of them has a varsity basketball team running 12 to 15 deep, in turn fed by twice as many junior high schools. The high schools in turn feed many universities with talented basketball players. Some teams, like the nearby University of Arkansas, go five-deep with these players. ‘In Memphis, the kids never stop playing,’ says Nolan Richardson, the coach at the University of Arkansas. ‘By ninth grade, the good ones play 100 organized games a year.’ Memphis State’s roster barely has room for any out-of-towners. Hardaway was the cream of a bumper crop, perhaps, the most talented high school player in America, surely the best freshman basketball player since, well, you name him.”

Rolling Stone’s review of “Low Cut Connie’s” new album, released last week and made at Ardent Studios.

Yes, you are seeing more armadillos and the TWRA says the non-native mammals are extending their range to Tennessee – like over the mountains east Tennessee.

The Memphis News Almanac: The last NFL campaign, BSMF on the new Beale, the Peabody’s new bandstand, Outlet becomes Fenwick and Highland south of Southern goes commercial.

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