Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Memphis Is Home of the Cash Cow

Posted By on Tue, Oct 31, 2006 at 4:00 AM

Ever heard the rumor that a check written on the side of a cow can be used as legal tender? Well, for starters, it’s an urban legend. But the myth got its start in 1967 after the Memphis Press-Scimitar published a story with the headline: A CHECK CAN BE WRITTEN ON A COW.

Apparently, some intrepid reporter had seen a fictional TV show on the BBC, and took its plot a little too seriously. The show, Misleading Cases, featured a character named Albert Haddock, who attempted to pay his income tax by writing a check on a cow.

For more on this and many other urban legends, go here.

Kallen Esperian Does Lunch — At Calvary

Wash your sins away

Posted By on Tue, Oct 31, 2006 at 4:00 AM

So you’re planning on going out tonight to get trashed on cheap wine at some back-alley Halloween party hosted by a gaggle of crackhead drag queens. No problem.

Head over to Calvary Episcopal Church tomorrow at noon for one of their free weekly luncheon concerts, and you’ll feel that sin washed away in no time.

This week’s featured performer is local opera maven Kallen Esperian. People usually dish out big bucks to watch her perform, so don’t miss this rare opportunity to see her for free. If you’re not too hungover, the seafood newburg is on the menu for $6.

For more, check out the Flyer’s searchable listings.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Scary Stuff

Posted on Mon, Oct 30, 2006 at 4:00 AM

Ditch the kids at the not-so-haunted church trick-or-treat ice-cream social and head to Midtown's historic Annesdale-Snowden neighborhood for a hair-raisingly frightening tour through Nightshade Manor Haunted House.

Designed by haunted-house enthusiast Kevin Gaiman, the eerie warehouse boasts 3,500 square feet of film-quality sets with meticulous attention to detail. He's been working on the design since January.

Cobwebs, roaches, fake blood, and other nasties dominate every inch of space not occupied by an actor or a creepy mannequin. Antique photos of innocent-looking children become holograms of skeletons when viewed from a certain angle, and it's nearly impossible to tell the animatronics from the real actors ready to jump out and frighten their victims.

Tickets are $12 or $10 with a donation of two cans of food. The canned goods and 10 percent of the gross proceeds benefit the Memphis Food Bank.

Nightshade Manor Haunted House, 1301 Heistan Place.

The 10 Most Dangerous Cities — And Memphis Isn't On The List!

Posted By on Mon, Oct 30, 2006 at 4:00 AM

St. Louis, home of the world champion Cardinals, is now the "most dangerous city in America." At least, according to a ranking firm called Morgan Quitmo.

And surprise, surprise, as Gomer used to say: Memphis is nowhere to be seen on the list. The top 10: Gary, Indiana; Youngstown, Ohio; Oakland, California;Cleveland, Ohio; Birmingham, Alabama; Camden, New Jersey; Compton, California; Flint, Michigan; Detroit, Michigan; and finally, the home of the world champs! Go here, for more.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Dress Like a Winner

Posted on Fri, Oct 27, 2006 at 4:00 AM

Thomas Shelton Clothiers, the menswear shop downtown, has something special for the sports fan. What looks like an ordinary two-button navy sportscoat opens up to reveal the color and logo of the wearer's favorite team — blazing orange and a "T," for instance, for the University of Tennessee. Logos and colors are available for more than 30 teams. University of Memphis is not one of them — make of that what you will.

Loren Pickford at Cafe Soul

Posted on Fri, Oct 27, 2006 at 4:00 AM

Saxophone great Loren Pickford and his quartet will be stopping by Cafe Soul on Sunday, October 29th at 3 p.m. as part of its Homecoming to New Orleans tour.

Scary Stuff

Posted on Fri, Oct 27, 2006 at 4:00 AM

The Avenue Carriage Crossing is having a Halloween Pet Parade on Saturday, October 28th, from 1 to 3 p.m. Dogs, cats, and their owners are encouraged to wear costumes. Prizes will be awarded by Just Dogs! Gourmet.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Manatee Overboard!

Posted By on Thu, Oct 26, 2006 at 4:00 AM

Numerous sources have reported sightings of a manatee — an endangered aquatic mammal sometimes called a sea cow — swimming in the Mississippi River near Memphis, over 500 miles away from its natural habitat. Animal-protection groups have been trying to decide what action would be appropriate to insure the animal's safety.

Others have voiced serious concerns that what has been described by experts as a 1,500-pound manatee may actually be Denny Hastert, Speaker of the House, attempting to find peace and quiet in the midst of several scandals in Washington, D.C.

Read the rest of Chris Davis' "Fly on the Wall."

Kurt Tops Elvis

Posted on Thu, Oct 26, 2006 at 4:00 AM

It looks like Courtney Love and Co. earned more in the past 12 months from Kurt Cobain’s estate than CKX did from Elvis’. Forbes sixth annual list of top-earning celebrities [http://www.forbes.com/2006/10/23/tech-media_06deadcelebs_cx_pk_top-earning-dead-celebrities_land.html] was released this month, with Kurt Cobain topping the charts. Other top-earning celebrities include Marilyn Monroe, Dr. Seuss, and Albert Einstein.

The Nirvana frontman’s estate made $50 million from licensing deals and marketing campaigns. Elvis has traditionally been the top earning dead celebrity, but came in second this year with earnings of $42 million.

It’s still more money than we’ll ever see in a lifetime.

Missing Manatee Mystery Solved!

Posted By on Thu, Oct 26, 2006 at 4:00 AM

Thanks to alert Flyer reader Benton Thompson, who sent in this photo that pretty much clears up the whole "missing manatee" thing. Click headline to see a larger version.

Dating, Pre-Internet: Trial and Errors

Posted on Thu, Oct 26, 2006 at 4:00 AM

"The Internet has brought with it much joy and heartache since Al Gore single-handedly created it (and recently, when Mark Foley apparently often used it single-handedly as well). ..."

Read the rest of columnist Ron Hart's wry look at dating the old-fashioned way.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Columbia Prof Jackson Tours Memphis

Posted By on Wed, Oct 25, 2006 at 4:00 AM

Flyer City Beat columnist John Branston spent last Saturday morning driving around Memphis with Kenneth Jackson, author of Crabgrass Frontier, professor at Columbia University, and general expert on all things having to do with cities. Jackson spoke at Rhodes College Tuesday night.

No wonder Ken Jackson is one of the most popular professors at Columbia. He’s got so much Memphis in him.

Jackson attended East High School, White Station High School, and Memphis State University, leaving Memphis after college graduation in 1961. He went on to make a name for himself as an expert on what makes big cities thrive and struggle. His encyclopedia of New York City is considered the definitive work, and his class at Columbia featuring a night-time bike ride through the city is one of the most popular offerings on campus.

Jackson’s friend Henry Turley introduced us, and I offered to give Jackson a Memphis “reality tour,” sort of like Kramer’s New York reality tour on Seinfeld. He accepted, and we piled into my old Mustang Saturday morning and spent the next three hours driving through Midtown, East Memphis, Collierville, Hickory Hill, the airport area, and Cooper-Young. Jackson still has family in Memphis and his wife is a graduate of Southside High School, but he had not seen much of the suburbs that have sprung up since the days when he traveling by bus to play football against Germantown High School 50 years ago.

He had been in Memphis for nearly a week, and he planned to spend the rest of his Saturday prowling Memorial Park Cemetery for the graves of old relatives and attending the University of Memphis football game. He was an athlete as a kid and remains a big sports fan. Like a good reporter, he carried a yellow notebook on his lap and parried my questions with questions of his own, usually beginning with “why.” Why is there no true downtown medical center in Memphis, why did Baptist Hospital abandon downtown, why are the roads so wide in the county, why is Memphis still hung up on race, why is the FedEx world headquarters so far from downtown, why is the population density of Memphis so low, why did Memphis fall behind Atlanta, why did Boyle Development concentrate on the suburbs instead of the inner city, why aren’t there more restaurants with sidewalk dining?

The overriding question he seemed to be wrestling with was whether suburban sprawl, which he sees as harmful to the density that cultivates urban creativity, is a zero-sum game. In other words, does the rising tide of prosperity lift almost all boats, or are there big losers who get left behind? Jackson is not an ideologue. Clearly he is a fan of densely populated, culturally rich, diverse, walkable cities. But he does not demonize developers who took advantage of the tax incentives (i.e. deductible home mortgage interest) provided by the federal government. As we drove along Winchester in the annexation area past low-end subdivisions, I said something like “far be it from you or me to suggest that these homeowners are not better off here than in the old city” and he did not disagree.

The theme of his talk at Rhodes was opportunities lost and still ahead for Memphis. Our city, he said, was once, along with New Orleans, the leading city in the southeast, but both have been displaced by Houston, Atlanta, Dallas, Nashville, and Charlotte. He did not pull his punches. He praised Fred Smith as perhaps the greatest strength of Memphis, “compared to his just being here all else in recent Memphis history is reduced to a footnote.” But he singled out FedEx, Baptist Hospital, and Bellevue Baptist Church as important institutions that went with the flow instead of strengthening the inner city. He said Boss Crump stifled political initiative and democracy. He said, only half-jokingly, that he would provide free housing for gays in the inner city because they exemplify the creative class that knows how to rebuild and reinvent and has the disposable income to do it. He sees their acceptance as a statement of a city’s tolerance and its welcoming of diversity. He suggested that entire lanes of suburban roads could be dedicated to bicycles instead of building trails. And he said Memphis needs a true medical center, a slogan, a vision, acceptance of its diverse population, and new political leadership – not the Fords.

Scary Stuff

Posted on Wed, Oct 25, 2006 at 4:00 AM

Warren Community Church in Somerville is set to open its Judgment House today. A religious alternative to haunted houses, the Judgment House has its visitors make choices that will lead them either to heaven or hell.

Previous incarnations of WCC's supremely scary variation on the holiday spook house have brought visitors face to face with top-level demons as well as lowlife scum. Once they even recreated the horrors of a violent kidnapping. With super creepy fun like this, who needs zombies and chainsaws? It's the perfect outing for true believers looking for salvation and arch ironists alike. Not recommended for children 10 and under.

Judgment House, Warren Community Church, 11800 Hwy. 64, Somerville, Through October 31st, 6-9 p.m. Reservations recommended, 266-1437 or 857-0494 after 5 p.m., $3 suggested donation

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Gold Rush at Graceland

Posted on Tue, Oct 24, 2006 at 4:00 AM

Survivor creator Mark Burnett's latest venture is an online pop-culture-trivia gameshow called Gold Rush, in which contestants vie for more than $1 million in prizes.

Today's Gold Rush episode was filmed at Graceland, and included questions about Elvis, Tom Cruise, and the Bangles.

The winner of this round was Colleen Demark who received $100,000 and a spot in the upcoming Gold Rush finals.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Herenton Calls for Payroll Tax or Alternatives

Posted By on Mon, Oct 23, 2006 at 4:00 AM

Mayor Willie Herenton challenged Memphis business leaders Monday to either support a payroll tax or come up with some other way to raise money for more police officers.

Meeting with reporters for the second time in two weeks, Herenton and Police Director Larry Godwin repeated that Memphis needs more cops to deal with a rising violent crime rate and community concern about it.

But this time Herenton admitted that he, like most members of the Memphis City Council, is “weary” of property tax increases. He said his recent proposal to increase them by 50 cents over the next two years was only to illustrate how expensive it will be to add hundreds more officers. No council member rallied around that plan.

Herenton praised one of his former mayoral opponents, John Willingham, for proposing a county-wide privilege tax or payroll tax on people who live outside of Shelby County but work in Memphis or suburban Shelby County. Herenton easily defeated Willingham, a former member of the Shelby County Commission, in the 2003 mayoral election.

The mayor’s comments were aimed at the Memphis Regional Chamber of Commerce and Memphis Tomorrow, an elite group of business leaders that has urged him to take ownership of the crime issue.

“We need to change fundamentally how we support government,” Herenton said.

He said it is “ridiculous” to say Memphis government has an expense problem that can be solved by being more efficient.

“We have a revenue problem,” he said.

Herenton said he is not necessarily giving up on the property tax increase but would prefer to see council members and business leaders “jump on a solution bandwagon” and get behind an alternative.

Meanwhile, Godwin said the police department will expand its “Blue Crush” program to all precincts and step up its use of reserve officers to perform perfunctory tasks. Applications are being accepted for 50 police reserve officers and 25 traffic aide positions.

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