Archived entries for local

My Mother, winner of 2010 Memphis AdFed Silver Medal award

Winner of the 2010 Memphis AdFed award for lifetime achievement.

Congrats, Mom.

Put this up on the new site a few minutes ago. Rough idea for targeted tax shelters to encourage growth in rough areas.

I just came out of a dry-run presentation by one of the commission educators, and there wasn’t enough room on the form for a full break down of my suggestion.

From what I learned today, there are at least two tax districts required by law when a metro government is established. But two is the minimum, there could be hundreds of tax districts if the city saw fit. Which if there were, would present the metro government with a very interesting chance to develop blighted neighborhoods without just dumping money on them.

Allow me to explain.

Say the metro area was divided into a hundred or so tax districts. Each of these districts start out at a base line of tax. However, after studying data for a period of time, the metro government decided that there were areas that could use an economic kick-start. These would be areas affected by blight, crime, or some other combination of detrimental forces. The goal of the kick-start would be to drive people to this area both for residential and commericial purposes.

The kick-start could be delivered in a variety of ways. Here are a few examples:

-Passively. As the taxes for the metro area as a whole go up, kick-start areas are excempt from the taxes for a certain period of time or until an economic threshold is reached. People who can prove residency in these areas will pay less than those in other areas, making this a more attractive place to live and do business.

-Actively. Taxes are dropped for areas targeted for a kick-start, and partially raised for the wealthiest areas to balance the books. This will make the targeted areas more attractive to people that might be looking to locate to a new area.

The community could get directly involved with the proccess, as well. Neighborhoods could petition to be granted kick-start status. Home owners and business owners could work together to ensure an improved future for themselves specifically, and by doing so, improve the rest of the city over all.

I’m sure there are other iterations and shapes this idea could take, but it would be a way to both improve the city, and avoid the oncoming fight between the city and the county over old tax issues by fragmenting the metro area into something more than an us versus them.


Jesus Bloody Christ.

I need a vacation from my holiday.

I was supposed to work through the whole thing, but the server I was working on decided to give me the middle finger, and I wasn’t able to get a fix up until this morning. Go-go borked website launch.

My grandfather also came down with pneumonia and a heart attack on Tuesday night. He’s been living in an assisted living facility for a while, as his Alzheimer’s is so severe that he hasn’t recognized family in three years. It had been his wish for years that he not be kept alive by extreme measures, and that he didn’t want to live half-alive in a hospital bed, as his own mother had been for almost two years.

He passed away on Saturday at around 8am, as I was washing clothes to come and see him later that afternoon.

I am fine, I mourned the loss of my grandfather years ago when the person he was ceased to be because of the Alzheimer’s. This is more a relief for him and our family at this point. I’m sure I’ll have something more to say about this later.

On a different note, Saturday was L‘s birthday party. She decided that she wanted to go karaoke-ing (karaoke’ing? karaokeing? karaoking? bad-idea-ing?). Not only that, she wanted to go karaoke-ing at the fucking Windjammer. A bar where they’ll shoot you for a parking space, a bar where people actually make out in front of everyone, a bar where insulting Jim Croce is likely to get you killed, a bar where every tarted up whore in the places stands up and cheers when some one does that horrible song that refrains “So here’s to all my sisters out there keepin’ it country, Let me get a big “Hell Yeah” from the redneck girls like me”, a bar where they charge you $7 a pop for bottom shelf whiskey and coke, a bar where more people than not think that Sarah Palin would make a great president, a bar where I’ll go up to sing a Muddy Waters song only to have it not be a Muddy Waters song, a bar that looks like it is one errant cigarette butt away from burning to the ground – again, a bar where, oddly enough, when I wasn’t scared out of my fucking mind, I had a decent enough time. But, not a decent enough time to ever go the hell back.

Yes. Things happened. I’ll parse them out in more detail when I get a chance, but for now, here are pandas:


My lunch, grits with two kinds of mushrooms from the just-opened Grace in Cooper-Young.

Food was excellent, but the servers need to pick up their game. We waited a half hour after food was delivered for our waiter to come back. I would have loved dessert, but there was no time.

I’m also worried about the portion size. What I had for lunch is the appetizer at dinner. I’d be fine with it as an appetizer or small plate before an entree, but as a whole meal, that’s asking a lot.

Still, it is still a soft opening, and none of this has put me off having dinner there as soon as I can.

Me: A 20-something at the Lucero show last night with his girlfriend and roommate on a blanket.

You: A horde of douchebags with no respect for the Shell or its rules.

Last night was a perfect sort of early fall night in Memphis. A little muggy, but warm enough to make you forget that it is already October. Lucero was set to kick off their biggest tour yet with a free show at the Levitt Shell. The opening bands were two beloved Memphis acts. I had a perfect spot in the middle, a soft quilt and a cooler full of samosas. It was going to be a good night.

Then, you show up. With your twelve packs of Bud Light and Marlboro Light cigarettes. You set up around me and mine, and I eye you warily, but not with any overt malice. Maybe you’re just going to bend the rules a little bit. Sure, the Shell bans all alcohol and smoking because it wants to stay a family-friendly venue, but this is a Lucero bar crowd. (Except for those dozen or so small children running around the stage for the first two acts. Oops.) Turn one of those aluminum cans from your beer into an ashtray, and I’m fine. Put your shitty beer into a bag or trashcan after your done, and I’m fine. Don’t do any of these things, and you’ll piss me the fuck off.

Remember what the Shell used to be like? Before the Mortimer Levitt Foundation spent millions of dollars to rebuild and update the dilapidated structure that was there? Remember all of those broken, jagged, splintering benches that were more often than not occupied by a derelict or drug addict? Remember how all of that lush, green grass was nothing more than caked dirt or mud? Remember how the speakers were blown out and the lighting was non-existent? Well, you may not, but I sure as fuck do. The Levitt Shell is a musical wonder in Memphis. A free musical wonder at that. And assholes like you that come in and destroy something like that don’t deserve to use it.

It isn’t like the Mortimer Levitt Foundation set out to block your fun. There are ashtray/trashcan things all over the outer edge of the Shell space. Get off your lazy ass and walk the twenty yards to one of them. It isn’t hard. I watched my girlfriend do it a few times, she didn’t seem put out at all. And the booze? I don’t really give a damn about it as booze, I’m more concerned about walking past a group of frat boys with their crushed empties spread around them like  territorial markings. This isn’t your front porch, broheim. You’re taking money out the Shell’s pocket when they have to clean up after your lazy, cheap beer swilling ass. If you want to drink at the Shell, and God knows last night I did, mix up a cocktail and put it in a water bottle or something. There is no need for idiocy like that.

The bottom line is that the Levitt Shell is a public space, and public spaces should be left as good as you found them, if not better. I walked out last night with a bag full of trash that wasn’t my own because of you douchebags. The Shell is one of the best things going in Memphis, and it’ll never cost you a dime for a show. But, if you mistreat it, it will go away. And if that happens and they start thinking about turning it into a parking lot again, you’ll have no one to blame but yourself.

Check out the real Missed Connection on

Also, check out the girlfriend’s reaction to Lucero’s addition of horns to their old songs.

Kerry and I are giving a talk tomorrow at 10am. I have no idea where Social Camp is being held, she’s driving. I plan on being staggeringly drunk and horrifically beligirant.

You know, just a normal day for me.

Topic Title: Don’t Be a Social Media Douche Bag

Anyone that works in social media knows that guy. Yeah, that guy. That guy that follows 1400 people on Twitter, but only has 30 followers himself. That guy that claims he can get you 500 Facebook friends in a day. That guy that calls himself a social media expert with years of experience. That terrible, horrible social media douche bag guy.

This presentation will focus on ways to make an impact and reach your audience without being that guy. We’ll cover topics from pitfalls that might snare over-eager social media virgins to ways to ensure you don’t end up becoming a social media douche bag once you’re established.

Word on the street is that people are taking side bets to see how long it is before one of us cracks and says something “not safe for work”.

Its like they don’t have faith in us or something.

I have a friend who works as a social worker. She is a very kind and caring woman. But, that doesn’t stop her from being a normal, rational human being and freaking the fuck out when something like this rolls across her desk.

via her Twitter:

PLEASE STOP EVERYTHING in order to appreciate I have an 8-year-old client named “DIJONNAISE.” That is all. Thank you.

[Ok the stupid embed isn't working, you can find the whole thing here at WMCTV5's website.]

The participants:

  • Charles Carpenter – Herenton’s old legal counsel. Crony. A non-figure.
  • Carol Chumney – White. Lawyer. Blinks a lot. Lost the last election in a split ticket.
  • Wanda Halbert – City Councilwoman. Playing this game to get some free press.
  • Robert Hodges – Prince Mongo. Insane. Brilliant. Took a  high priced lawyer threatening a lawsuit to even get him on TV.
  • Jerry Lawler – Former professional wrestler. But, this isn’t California. We’re not going to elect a D-list celebrity. Even if his ideas are good, if half-baked.
  • Myron Lowery – Mayor Pro-Temp. One of the two people up there who stands a chance of winning this. I got the distinct feeling he was a closeted ‘mo. He wasn’t making a total fool of himself until he said Memphis didn’t have any debt, which is both ignorance and a lie to curry political favor.
  • Sharon Webb – This woman is on the school board. She sounds like an uneducated hoodrat, which is telling of the Memphis City School System. She was either drugged, or drunk or both because the fucking man up there who gets government disability money for being crazy (Hodges/Mongo) sounded more coherent than her.
  • Kenneth Whalum, Jr. – I…I don’t even know who this guy is but he scared the shit out of me last night. Then I did some research on him this morning and he’s just a different kind of crazy Christian.
  • A C Wharton – Look, the tapioca comment was a fair one, but I’d rather have him and his pragmatism than one else up there. We’ve had insanity for 17 years. I think we deserve a little bit of a stable, steady hand, don’t you?

If you live in Memphis, or have lived in Memphis or have any interest in bizarre spectator politics, please for the love of all that is holy, watch this. Pour yourself a whiskey and enjoy the schadenfreude.

Kerry‘s swapped jobs. She used to run the audience development gig at the local paper. Now, she’s pimping the city for the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

She’s on twitter as @ilovememphis and she writing about the city over at

Her days now consist of going around to all the cool place in Memphis and telling people about them.

I hate her for this, but she’s damn fucking good at what she does. Give her some love.

I have a horrible feeling they’ll completely miss the point of all of this, but whatever. No such thing as bad press…right?

The about blurb:

TURN UP THAT DIAL! From the underground dance clubs of 1950s Memphis, Tennessee, by way of hit runs at the La Jolla Playhouse and Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre, comes a hot new Broadway musical — inspired by actual events — with heart, soul and energy to burn. He’s a young, white radio DJ named Huey Calhoun (Chad Kimball), whose love of music transcends race lines and airwaves. She’s a black singer named Felicia Farrell (Montego Glover), whose career is on the rise, but who can’t break out of segregated clubs. When the two collaborate, her soulful music reaches radio audiences everywhere, and the Golden Era of early rock ‘n’ roll takes flight. But as things start to heat up, whether the world is really ready for their music – or their love – is put to the test.

A thrilling theatrical event that combines Broadway splendor with the roots of rock, MEMPHIS features an original story by Joe DiPietro (I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change) and a brand-new score with music by Bon Jovi founding member David Bryan. Directing is Tony nominee Christopher Ashley (Xanadu) and choreography is by Sergio Trujillo (Jersey Boys). The cast also features Derrick Baskin, J. Bernard Calloway, James Monroe Iglehart, Tony nominee Michael McGrath and Cass Morgan.

Get ready to experience all the exuberance and the emotion…the beauty and the controversy…of a wondrous, defining time in our history.
You’re tuning in to MEMPHIS.

And lets not forget the ever important YouTube video.

My primary political goal is to represent the ninth congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. I have every intention of being a congressional candidate during the August 2010 election.

However, during the interim, recent events have compelled me to step forth to provide leadership and express my sincere feelings on how our city can continue to move forward, despite our current dilemma.

My recent retirement from the office of Mayor has created this situation and I feel obligated to seek alternatives to Myron Lowery and an ‘anyone can win’ mayoral race.

The city I love deserves better.

Therefore, I am also preparing a referendum resolution that would allow the citizens of Memphis to rescind the current charter amendment that elevated Myron Lowery to the office of Mayor Pro Tem. This resolution would prescribe limitations on the powers of a non-elected mayor.

It is clear to many citizens that my retirement from office created opportunities for Mayor Pro Tem Lowery and a puzzling list of mayoral candidates to turn our city backward. I am disappointed in Myron’s reckless style of leadership. He must be stopped.

We cannot allow Mayor Pro Tem Lowery to be elected mayor during the upcoming special election. Unfortunately, it is difficult to predict a clear winner with a complicated array of mayoral candidates in the race.

Therefore, I have pulled a petition to run in the upcoming mayoral special election.

- W. W. Herenton’s statement about pulling a petition to run for the office he just vacated, via the Commercial Appeal.

One thing you can say about Memphis. It is never boring here.


In a waking dream in Memphis, TN. It’s a good town but something’s not right. Maybe it’s me.
-From the Tennessee section of the 50 State Project.

First off, I bet you are probably asking “What the fuck is a Trixie Bedlam”. And that’s a good question.

Trixie Bedlam is the pseudonym of Sarah Sharp, a writer/photographer formerly of NYC. She made the jump to Detroit recently to be at the frontlines of America’s death from rust wind and economic bowel-rot cancer. She claims to be the greatest girl detective in the world.

Right now her current project is something she’s calling 50 States. The idea is simple. Hit all 50 States inside of a year, take photos and notes, then put all of that into a book when she’s done. Last time I checked, she’d hit 36 states, and was planning on knocking out the rest with a few long-arc road trips across the bit empty spaces in America. The catch to her plan? Alaska and Hawaii are a bit difficult to get to, and gas prices aren’t going down.

So, she’s asking for your help thought Kickstarter is a project funding program that will pay for an artist’s project, if they can meet a funding goal inside of a certain period of time. If they can’t meet their funding goal, then no money is collected from the people who pledged. This way, artists don’t end up with not enough money and people expecting results. In Trixie’s case, she’s shooting for $5k by September 10th at 1:14pm. She’s at  $2,137 now.

But, you’re not just giving her money. You’re buying art. Each step of contribution comes with gifts. Photography collections, art books, limited prints, etc. So, if you’ve got money to spare, help an artist out. You’ll get something in return.

Also, Trixie, if you stumble across this by chance and are ever back in Memphis, shout out. There’s even more weird stuff in this silt roughened town, and we’d love to show you some of it. Plus, we have whiskey.

You can find more of Trixie Bedlam’s work here.

I snake out over the web. The blessed road built on the flashes of light and not-light. Delivery agent to a trillion billion ones and zeroes that hide themselves in a secret tongue, only translatable by the modern day tabernacle – the home computer.

This tabernacle brings me visions of beautiful people doing terribly creative things. They are living lives that are entangled with the future like lovers’ legs. I am the ghostlight, the ignis fatuus, watching them pass onward to these other things.

Part of me longs to follow along with them, abandoning my humid river bank for a bivouac of steel and concrete, for a bar of steam and brass, for a home with people of this type. But, then I remember, in the places they live, those like them are legion. Armies strong of thinkers, makers, be-ers, do-ers, and sadly, most of them fail-ers.

This place I call home is short on such people. I have gathered the worthwhile ones around me, but we are not legion. We are not an army. We are at best a band of highwaymen, appearing for a moment to do some dastardly deed, then slipping back into the dark of night.

I must always remember, nothing good is ever easy, and nothing easy is ever good. A victory, however slight, here, does more for those sleeping silently around me than a dozen successful campaigns in another place. I do not think that I’ll ever truly win, but I do hope that from watching those beautiful people from my haunt, and trying to fight for things here, I’ll be able to show some one else that such acts aren’t futile. To show that you can come up from the silt of the river in a backwards and half-mad place such as this and do things just as amazing as those the live in the other places.

After all, what is more important?

To give the literate man a book, or to teach the illiterate one how to read?

Memphis Music at SXSW by Live From Memphis

This won’t last long. Watch it while you can.

A little bit of plugging for my friends. Derek has a piece he worked on in the show.


Baker’s Dozen UAC Benefit

Niki Johnson is pleased to present, The Baker’s Dozen: An Unorthodox Benefit for UrbanArt, featuring works by 13 premier regional and national artists including:

Liz Daggett, Richard Gamble, Brendan Hudson, Anthony D. Lee, Carrol Harding McTyre, Greely Myatt, Sunny Montgomery, Nick Pena, Stiles&Crum, Christian Westphal, Kiersten N. Williams, Tad Lauritzen Wright, and Jeff Zimmermann.

Live Music to benefit UrbanArt to follow at Odessa from 8 p.m. to midnight. Musical performance by, Saturna and Hype Taylor

The public will have an opportunity to purchase the artwork featured in this event in a silent auction as well as through a series of limited edition t-shirts designed by the featured artists.

To view the artwork and t-shirt designs click here.

$5 donation recommended


From the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center:

Over a dozen local bands, food, drink and hundreds of your favorite Memphians. During the day we will have a moonbounce for the youngins and the concert area features shade and grassy areas. So bring a blanket and some sunscreen. Kids under 12 get in FREE.

Featuring the music of…
Featuring the music of Two Way Radio, Hope Clayburn, Pezz, Yazoo Shakes, Jeffrey James and the Haul, Bulletproof Vests, While I Breathe I Hope, Soul Enforcers, & Jessica Jones.

Cost: $10 will get you in all day and you can come and go as you please. Another $10 will get you all the PBR you can drink throughout the day and into the night. We’ll also have an unlimited supply of water, drinks for the kids and delicious food from the Cooperative Association of Memphis.

Rain Location: The Abbey, inside LifeLink Church and the place where Johnny Cash played his first concert.

Tickets are here. They are also doing a bike ride tour of Cooper-Young before hand for $15, more info is at the site. But, I’ll be at Star Trek, so I don’t really care about that. However, I do care a LOT about the $10 bottomless PBR cup they are offering.

10 hours of music and endless beer for a total of $20? Fuck, you know I’m there.

I’ll make this as short and simple as possible.

I saw the whole thing last night. I went in wanting to hate it. I was packing a flask full of whiskey to encourage that hate. And, I’ll admit, the first bit with the drummer is the worst part of the whole thing. But, there are pull-outs from that first 7 minute segment that make you forgive it. (Namely Amy Levere in her underwear.) By the end of the second episode, you’re sold on the whole thing. Which is perfect, since the show is broken up in a way that 3 single episodes fit inside a half hour block. The first of those 5 groups will be shown tonight on MTV.

I am not the biggest Brewer fan in the world. I think Hustle and Flow was a great big screen opener, but Black Snake Moan had…issues. He shoots $5 Cover in an up-close cinema verite style, which works both for and against him. It keeps his actors, all untrained locals with the exception of Clare Grant, from over acting too much. However, there are a lot of choppy camera movements and weird compositions that come along with that style. These problems may be lessened on a smaller screen, but on a movie screen they were pretty jarring.

In a little less than two hours, Brewer does more to make Memphis look cool and interesting than any tourism board could do with a budget five times his. Of course it was a joy to see people that you’d grown up with, places that you frequent, things you’d worked on and people who you admired on screen, so it was an easy sell to this all Memphis audience. Before the lights came down, Brewer encouraged us to make noise and “act rowdy” whenever some one came on that we knew. I burst into guffawing laughter a few times when I watched one of my friends stumble by in the background, trying their damnedest to act cool.

I’m not about to tell you that this didn’t have the air of something your friends made, so you inherently love it more and cast its flaws aside. It did, and that works for it. The question that remains, though, is if that feeling can translate out to the rest of the world that didn’t already love these people and this city.

Personally, I’m hoping for an encore.

You’ll be able to find the whole thing here in a few hours. Watch it on the web. They get more money for that. And they only need this to be a moderate success for them to come back and do another round.

Look, I don’t know if you people really are getting this, but let me explain it to you.
Originally posted 10/31/07

So. There’s this thing about zombies, and zombie culture, and the reason its so frightening to those of us that understand it…and I think most of you missed the fucking boat on it. I’m going to try to break it down for you, and hopefully, you’ll see why several thousand people on a zombie march is exactly what the idea of the modern zombie was supposed to be against.

Originally, most movie zombies were voodoo oriented. Either re-animated dead, or people who were made into living zombies. This was a slave metaphor. People being bound to a will that was not there own. They weren’t the rotten flesh, braining eating variety we know now. They were homunculi, false men.

It wasn’t until Romero that the modern zombie really emerged. And the symbols he laced into his zombie metaphor were incredible. The source of the zombie plague? A satellite that fell out of the sky. What are the zombies trying to do? Consume you. What people most normal people don’t realize is that the same year that Night of the Living Dead came out,   was the same year that we got the first live news coverage from Vietnam. The first satellite news coverage. Romero was worried that with the growth of world-wide mass media we would all be responding to the same stimuli. We’d start to think them same, which would lead us to act the same, which would make us into zombies.

See where I’m going with this? Well, if not, let me pound it into your head. The reasons zombies are scary is because they represent the total uniformity of humanity. Its not about the brain eating or the living dead. Its about the sameness. Its about the endless sea of grey where there should be color. So, when you have thousands of people getting together and doing zombies marches, do you see how this could sort of be exactly what he was warning us about? Hell, the whole mass market penetration of the zombie thing is a bad idea. The uniformity of thought is turning us into the monster that Romero envisioned.

I the spirit of full disclosure, I should point out that I’ve been a zombie in a zombie movie, and I own the Zombie Survival Guide. Neither of which are that great. I think its time that we put this all down and step away. Never before have I wanted the cultural ADD to kick in so bad and move on to something else.

The Radio-Sweethearts got married over the weekend, and I was lucky enough to be their preacher man. What follows is a lose transcript of what I was going to attempt to say before they did the deed. I say lo0se, because I started to lose my shit and things became much more impassioned and flowery about 50 words in.

Before we get started, I just wanted to say a few words. First off this, isn’t going to be a normal ceremony. I mean, the groom’s in red Chuck Taylor’s for God’s sake.

This is the most important thing I’ve ever done in my life, and one of the most important things I will ever do in my life. I am deeply grateful to Matt and Kerry for giving me this opportunity to be the one standing here.

For me, this goes beyond two people dedicating their lives to each other. Matt and Kerry are two of my dearest friends, but beyond that, they are my family. I know a lot of you here today don’t know those of us that are lucky enough to call them friends, but for us, what we share goes beyond that word. We’re not just friends and acquaintances. We’re each others’ chosen family. So, what I’m doing right now, and why this is so special to me, is not just uniting two people in love, but strengthening my chosen family.

I also wanted to thank the Trislers and the Crawfords for giving the world two such amazing people. And for raising them to be such singular adults. Two adults, who I feel supremely blessed every day because I can call them my friends, and my family.

Congrats, you two.

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