On the first day of spring, Memphians will have the opportunity to swing from the trees — literally.
Go Ape, the city's first treetop adventure course, will open March 21st at Shelby Farms Park. The course has six zip lines, two Tarzan-style swings, ropes, ladders, bridges, and trapezes. The 42 obstacles included in the course are set up 40 feet up in the forest canopy. The course takes two to three hours to complete.
Go Ape's Shelby Farms location will be its eighth in the country since it launched in 2010. It's the first Go Ape location in Tennessee.
“Go Ape is an exciting addition to Shelby Farms Park and a perfect compliment to the current and planned recreational amenities in the park” said Shelby Farms Park Conservancy’s Executive Director, Laura Morris. “Our vision is to give rise to a celebrated 21st century park, and through this partnership with Go Ape we are taking fun to new heights.”
Using a loose definition of "city," a compilation gathered earlier this month by CreditDonkey.com named the top 40 happiest cities in Tennessee — one of which being Collierville within the top five.
Rankings were determined on only seven factors: restaurants per capita, crime rate, average commute time, income, divorce rate, percentage of income dedicated to housing, and percentage of residents who left work before 5 a.m.
Five suburbs and towns of the Memphis metropolitan area made the list. Collierville came in highest at No. 5. Bartlett arrived at No. 16, Atoka ranked No. 25, Munford was No. 35, and Millington squeezed into the list at No. 39.
According to the survey, Millington also had the highest percentage of divorced residents in the Memphis suburbs and towns that made the list, at a combined 29.4 percent.
Earlier this year, Collierville was also named the top neighborhood in Memphis for cheaters. Bartlett and Millington also made that top-ten list.
Oak Ridge, town of 29,000, was crowned champion of happiness in the state.
A fundraiser for a new local film will feature a host of Memphis talent at Crosstown Arts Wednesday night.
The new film, Kissing River Phoenix, is slated to begin production next spring. The film is from Memphis writer Kat Moore and is based on a short story recently published in the University of Memphis magazine.
The fundraiser event is called River City Ruckus and will feature performances by several Memphis writers and musicians and will feature works from some of the city’s visual artists.
The Ruckus runs from 6 p.m.-9 p.m. at 430 North Cleveland. Tickets are $10 with a $1.54 handling fee.
Older areas of Memphis are peppered with retro neon signs, murals with business names and logos, and other architectural remnants of the city's past.
Memphis Type History, a new illustrated history book by writer Caitlin Horton and painter Rebecca Phillips, shares a few of those stories through photographs and personal tales from Memphians who remember the significance of the signs and places they represent. Memphis Type History is available for pre-order through November 2nd.
Each chapter features a painting of an iconic sign by Rebecca Phillips, as well as historical images and additional current-day photographs by Jeremy Greene. The history of the sign and they places they represent are told through personal stories. Featured signs include the Universal Life Insurance Company sign on M.L.K. Jr. Avenue, the old Chicago Pizza Factory sign that was replaced with Chiwawa's "Midtown Is Memphis" sign, the sputnik sign at Joe's Wines and Liquors, the Drink-n-Drag sign on Club Spectrum, and the Skateland roller skate.
The Memphis Type project began in 2009 when photographer Jeremy Greene began documenting old and overlooked Memphis signs just for fun. He sought out signs with compelling type, as well as interesting graffiti. Then he posted the artsy images to a website, MemphisType.com.
Phillips worked with Greene at the time, and when she saw his images, she was inspired to recreate them on canvas.
"I would keep looking at the photographs and would think about how much I wanted to paint them because he wasn't just taking images of modern places. It was also places like Leahy's that people would completely overlook," Phillips said.
Horton sold some of Phillips' painting on FrontPorchArt.com, where she helps artists market their work and shares the stories behind the pieces. Phillips' paintings caught the attention of The History Press, and a book deal was born. Horton and Phillips immediately began collecting stories from Memphians to include in the book.
"There are a lot of stories that stuck with me," Horton said. "One of my favorites, though, came from Carolyn Jensen, who told me about the time she took her 82-year-old mother to record her own album at Sam Phillips Recording Studio. Her mother sang some of her favorite '40s and '50s songs and one she wrote herself. She passed away a few years later, and Carolyn told me that recording the album was 'the thrill of her life.' It was really meaningful to be able to include that story in the book."
Those who pre-order the book before November 2nd will also receive a postcard set featuring three of Phillips' paintings, a hand-drawn map print, and some bonus goodies.
Smart phone users in West Tennessee got emergency alerts today with a new phone number to replace 911 when dialing from a cell phone.
The numbers were issued by the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency in response to a disruption of routing for cell phone calls to 911 centers. Water from last week's flooding caused damage to some 911 equipment, causing some calls to be re-rerouted to other counties.
Until the disruption is resolved, West Tennesseans are urged to dial these alternate numbers on cell phones instead of 911, or they may dial 911 from a land line.
The new number for Shelby County is (901) 543-6333.
“Local 911 center directors requested the state alert the public to the disruption and provide alternate numbers to contact emergency services,” said Curtis Sutton, executive director of the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board. “The 911 centers are still functioning, but we need the public to use the alternative numbers to ensure help is received as quickly as possible until this disruption is resolved.”
Numbers for other West Tennessee counties are as follows:
* Benton (731) 279-4280
* Chester (731) 989-2787
* Crockett (731) 696-2104
* Decatur (731) 852-3911
* Dyer (731) 285-4019
* Fayette (901) 465-3456
* Gibson (731) 562-8176
* Hardeman (731) 658-5101
* Hardin (731) 925-9007
* Haywood (731) 772-1215
* Henderson (731) 425-6202
* Henry (731) 642-2424
* Madison (731) 424-9677
* McNairy (731) 645-3406
* Obion (731) 885-3316
* Weakley (731) 364-5454
The first-ever Memphis Comic Expo debuted this year to throngs of comic fans looking to buy comic books, meet artists and authors, and revel with other fans. The inaugural year’s lineup included over 35 guests in the art and fiction world, hailing from all over the country. Even wrestler Jerry Lawler was a guest, displaying his Batmobile — a replica of the 1966 car Adam West and Burt Ward drove in the 1960s-era “Batman” TV show.
With the expo aligned in rows, comic book fans bobbed and weaved around cosplayers, large comic book collections, action figure displays, and huge art presentations. A podcast was even being recorded live on-site from the folks at Black Nerd Power, a podcast featuring thoughts on the science fiction and fantasy world from a black perspective.
Attendees could also commission a piece of art from an illustrator during the expo, get an autograph, or purchase completed pieces directly.
One Memphis artist, Derrick Dent, sold his illustrations as well as pieces that had been previously commissioned as part of the annual Bikesploitation event that had its fourth year last May. Dent has been illustrating since he was in college, and he was first commissioned his junior year. His style was originally influenced by “a lot of manga and a lot of video game art,” he said.
“I was a really big fan of traditional cartoonists, and I understood what they were doing was a form of drawing, but it was a magical kind of thing,” Dent said. “It was so clean and precise.”
The fast-talking artist brought his work to sell as well as promote, offering a table-length’s worth of art that attendees could view.
“A lot of my work is really kinetic,” Dent said. “There’s a confident line to my work that I think people are attracted to. There’s a sense of tradition because I do a lot of brush and ink drawings. That’s a timeless way of creating images — I don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon. I handle black-and-white images very well, and I think that’s always been a strength of mine.”
During the interview, Dent was working on an Elvis illustration — one that he admitted later to its recipient that it might have been more Johnny Cash.
Comic books were not the only facet of nerd culture at the expo. Science fiction and fantasy author Cecilia King was promoting her novel, Take It to the City in the Sky. King is also from Memphis and said she’s been writing since she was little. Her novel features a teenager named Avi, a juvenile delinquent in the year 3047 who has been arrested for the third time — this one revolving around drugs.
Even if comics were the overarching theme, any self-proclaimed nerd could have found his or her fill at the expo. The Memphis Comic Expo now joins the growing number of nerdy and geeky conventions, exhibitions, and gatherings staking their claim in the Mid-South.
2014 Memphis Comic Expo
The first-ever 2014 Memphis Comic Expo was held at the Agricenter, featuring artists and authors from all over — including locals.
Flash flooding after heavy rains this morning affected residents in Raleigh-Frayser, where firefighters used boats to rescue several residents from their flooded homes. Areas of Bartlett saw flooding as well.
Contemporary Media Inc. — parent company of the Memphis Flyer — President Ward Archer documented high water in Lick Creek as a result of the heavy rains that moved through the city this morning.
Last year, construction was completed on the Overton Square parking garage, which contains a Lick Creek drainage basin on its bottom-most level. Since that basin was constructed, many residents living near Lick Creek have said their neighborhoods no longer flood. For years before the basin's construction, residents complained of flooding after many major rain events.
On the USA Today's sports blog For The Win, Memphis was named the No. 1 most underrated sports city in America due to the city's love for the Memphis Grizzlies and the University of Memphis Tigers.
The list was created to showcase the top 10 cities with passionate fan bases but lack recognition outside the city.
Also mentioned on the list include San Antonio, home to one of the Grizzlies' rivals, the San Antonio Spurs.
Memphis Rep. Steve Cohen has signed on to a letter issued Thursday demanding a hearing on the use of force by local law enforcement officials during the protests in Ferguson, Mo.
Cohen, and Reps. John Conyers and Robert Scott issued the letter to Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, after Ferguson police broke up a protest Wednesday night with "brutal force: confronting demonstrators in riot gear and armored vehicles, arresting journalists, and firing tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd."
Riots have calmed in Ferguson since Wednesday's show of force. Security of the protest has been handed over to state police who shed the riot gear and walked with protestors. Still, Cohen and the others want an investigation into the previous events "as soon as possible."
"These incidents raise concerns that local law enforcement is out of control and, instead of protecting the safety and civil liberties of the residents of Ferguson, is employing tactics that violate the rights of the citizens and hinder the ability to of the press to report on their actions," the letter reads. "This situation requires immediate congressional scrutiny."
The Congressmen also want to discuss "what appears to be a pattern of the use of deadly force by police against unarmed African Americans in cities around the nation." Also, the Congressmen want to look at the arrest of two journalists - Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post and Ryan J. Reilly of The Huffington Post.
Finally, Cohen and the others said they want address the "extensive militarization of state and local police."
"In Ferguson, why do local police dress in military-style uniforms and body armor, carry short-barreled 5.56-mm rifles based on the M4 carbine, and patrol neighborhoods in massive armored vehicles?" the letter reads. "In all likelihood, the decision to adopt a military posture only served to aggravate an already tense situation and to commit the police to a military response."
Here’s what the app’s designers have to say to that:
“SketchFactor is a tool that can be used anywhere at any time by anyone. The app is not exclusive to privileged communities or tourists. Many of our users experience racial profiling, police misconduct, and harassment. We encourage all users to report this information. In addition, we partner with community organizations to ensure all members of the community have access to this app.”
So far, its use in Memphis has been limited. It’s also unclear how many users are for real and how many are trolling.
Another app, Buy Partisan, allows users to see the political profile of a company that makes the product they are about to buy.
Collierville is home to more cheaters per capita than any other area in Shelby County, according to a new list from AshleyMadison.com, the hook-up website for extra-marital affairs.
A little more than nine percent of the 50,000 Shelby Countians who are registered to use that website live in Collierville. Raleigh, however, is home to the most faithful Memphians, according to the website. They make up about six percent of the site's local users.
Here's the AshleyMadison.com list of Shelby County's least faithful neighborhoods.
1. Collierville 9.1%
2. Arlington 8.8%
3. Downtown 8.6%
4. East Memphis 8.3%
5. Germantown 8%
6. Midtown 7.7%
7. Barlett 7.3%
8. Lakeland 7.2%
9. Millington 6.9%
10. Raleigh 6.4%
Additionally, they found that 43 percent of adulterers in Memphis are female with an average age of 35. Bartlett cheaters tend to have the most children, and Lakeland cheaters tend to have the most affair partners.
Noel Biderman, CEO and founder of the site, said their study of stats across the country tended to show the most cheating occurring in more affluent neighborhoods. But that may be more related to the digital divide than anything else. Cheating in lower-income areas may not necessarily be arranged on hook-up sites.
Memphis United has announced a campaign involving social media and town hall meetings to improve the Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board, which has been reinstated by the Wharton administration after being inactive for four years, according to the organization. The Flyer covered Memphis United's early work on this issue in February.
At a press conference Thursday evening, members of the group spoke about their experiences with the Memphis Police Department and the Internal Affairs Bureau. Speakers included Paul Garner, an organizer with the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, who was arrested while filming officers last year. His process took months to complete with Internal Affairs and went nowhere.
“[The review board] existed nowhere but on paper,” Garner said to reporters. “Now, it has no subpoena power and no punitive authority.”
The board was also only allowed to review investigations that were completed by Internal Affairs.
Deborah Robinson, a freelance journalist from Las Vegas, also spoke to reporters after having an incident with Memphis police last month, where she was allegedly questioned and assaulted while filming an arrest at a bus terminal.
In December, the Memphis Police Department released its formal policy on recording, instructing officers to refrain from asking for identification or reasons for recording as well as stopping those in the process of recording.
“The officers ignored the policy,” Robinson said.
For inspiration, Memphis United looked at Knoxville as a model for the proposed improvements to the Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board.
The first town hall meeting for citizens to offer input into Memphis United’s work to “make [the board] more effective” is June 24th at 6 p.m. in the Lewis Davis CME Church, located in the Chickasaw Gardens neighborhood. The organization also has a hashtag for people to share experiences with Memphis police on social media, #CLERBspeakout2014.
Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and Memphis public works director Dwan Gillom shared a magical moment last week before a news conference.
While we can't be sure what they were discussing, it sure looked like fun.
We were so happy to capture the moment on camera and wanted to celebrate the best way we knew how. So, we GIF-ified it. Enjoy.
The changes were officially identified as being, "part of The CA’s ongoing reorganization focused on its digital platforms."
An internal memo circulated at the CA provided a little more information:
"Wendi Thomas writes her final column Sunday, then assumes a new role, Team Leader of our ‘Safe in Memphis’ digital team. Wendi’s charge is to develop the content plan and get our crime and justice franchise team up and running as quickly as possible, working with a newsroom committee and the Knight Center. In the interim, she’ll add badly needed editing strength to Metro."
Since the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism closed in 2009 it seems likely that the memo refers to its funding organization, the Knight Foundation, which provides venture capital for innovations in journalism with a stated goal to, "preserve the best aspects of journalism and use innovation to expand the impact of information in the digital age."
A year ago, when Thomas was temporarily reassigned to an editor's desk without any official notice from the paper to its readers, many commenters assumed that the CA's first female African-American columnist was being punished somehow for her often contentious positions on events of the day, especially those relating to race.
“Rumors of the death of my column have been greatly exaggerated,” Thomas told the Flyer at the time. “I’ll be back at my column and some online only commentary in mid-July, when a temporary editing assignment ends,” she said.
This time it's dead for real.
The mayor of Brighton, Tenn., in nearby Tipton County, used city employees to help build a house for his son, according to an investigation by the Tennessee State Comptroller’s office.
The employees used a city-owned backhoe, dump truck, trailer and two other vehicles. Mayor Jeff Scott oversaw their work during most of the three days they were on the construction site, according to the Comptroller.
Jeff Scott instructed the employees to leave the hours off of their city time cards. Instead, he told them they’d be paid by the project’s private contractor.
The contractor, a friend of the mayor’s, paid the public works employees and reimbursed the city $200 for the use of the backhoe. The contractor told investigators he did not have a contracting license and was only helping the Scotts.
Investigators in the Comptroller’s office recommended Brighton’s board of mayor and aldermen calculate the city’s cost for the project and seek reimbursement from the mayor, his son, and the contractor.
“It is unacceptable for officials to use public resources for the exclusive benefit of private individuals,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said in a statement. “People pay taxes and fees with the expectation that money will be fairly distributed to provide services to all citizens, not just a select few who happen to know somebody at city hall. I commend our investigators for their fine work in bringing these issues to light.”