Thursday, January 25, 2007

Memphis Police Department Unveils New DUI Squad

Posted By on Thu, Jan 25, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Memphis Police director Larry Godwin introduced a new 18-member DUI unit last night at the Ridgeway Station in Hickory Hill.

The team was formed after Godwin pulled his officers from the Metro DUI unit earlier this month. Godwin said 71 percent of the DUI arrests in Shelby County occur in Memphis, so pulling out of the city/county team would help the MPD target Memphis DUIs. “We want the same thing the sheriff wants, but I have to be responsible to the citizens of Memphis,” said Godwin.

MPD officers assigned to the Metro DUI unit were housed 19 miles outside the city limits. The new squad will be headquartered in the Hickory Hill substation. With only eight officers, the old Metro unit was also considerably smaller than the new MPD unit.

Interestingly, the new Shelby County Sheriff’s DUI unit has also grown since the split. They’ve partnered with the Germantown Police Department, and now boast 11 officers. - Bianca Phillips

Isaac Hayes in NY Post's Page Six

Posted on Thu, Jan 25, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Isaac Hayes, in New York to promote Stax's 50th anniversary, got some ink in the New York Post. There's nothing too gossipy or even revelatory in the piece. But he is quoted as saying of South Park, "They didn't pay me enough."

TM's Oleanna Is Provocative, Upsetting

Posted on Thu, Jan 25, 2007 at 4:00 AM

I’m sorry to report that it’s curtains for Theatre Memphis’ appropriately troubling and thoughtfully staged production of David Mamet’s widely acclaimed Oleanna, which closes its run on the NextStage Sunday, January 28th. The 1992 show was culturally “on time,” having debuted just after the seating of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, the subject of a very public sexual harassment hearing, and after 15-years it hasn’t aged a day. The play has been variously viewed as an indictment of the “feminist agenda,” a scathing criticism of political correctness gone amuck, and as a dark exploration of class and gender relations at the end of the 20th century. It has always been each of these things, and none of the above.

It’s easy enough to buy into the “Mamet as misogynist” theory, considering the writer’s macho, cigar-chomping image, and the horrors his male characters inflict on women in earlier scripts like the brutally brilliant Edmond, and the juvenile Sexual Perversity in Chicago. It’s not a completely baseless charge, but it’s one that completely (and unjustly) strips America’s most provocative living playwright of his complexity. Oleanna is, at its very core, a simple tragedy in the classic mold, about a person of privilege who, neither fully guilty or completely innocent, is brought low by pride and hypocrisy, and replaced by a system that will not and can not stand.

John, played with sensitivity, and explosive fury by Chris Hart, is happy with his job at an exclusive college, and in line for tenure. To celebrate that professional milestone he’s finally buying his castle: a nice house with a big back yard “for the boy.” His recently published book has proven incomprehensible to Carol, a failing student who hopes to appeal her grade. A deal is struck between student and teacher to forgo their traditional roles, and change the failing grade to an A. For John, this proves to be a deal with the devil that will rob him not only of his of his job but his dreams as well.

In the play’s first scene Lyric Peters’ Carol is an agitated bundle of confusion and impatience, unable to articulate her needs or understand anything that challenges her values. By act three she’s the angry, articulate, politically motivated spokesperson for a “group,” promising to drop all the charges she’s leveled against her teacher in exchange for the removal of his and other books from the reading list.

Are their sexual overtones in John’s words and actions? Mamet leaves it vague, and the answer can vary from show to show. In this case, however, the answer is no. Although John’s behavior may stink of paternalism and entitlement, his root intentions are basically noble and in keeping with his views as an educator. One also gets the sense that the only thing Hart’s autoamorous professor wants to feel up is his own reflection in the mirror.

Mamet’s attempts to write language as it’s actually spoken, then present it as a rigidly structured, nearly orchestral exercise can be hard on actors. Caught between the play’s hot emotion and the writer’s cold formalism both Hart and Peter sometimes stumble over one another, and lose their way. But neither ever completely lose sight of their intentions, and their committed performances keep the audience engaged even when the dialogue gets messy.

Mamet loves a good cypher, and in order to understand its intentions it’s important to understand the meaning of its mysterious title which is neither referenced or explained in the spoken text. “Oleanna” is the name of a 19th-century european folk song that, like the American hobo anthem “Big Rock Candy Mountain,” tells of a heavenly paradise where crops self-plant, “sweet beer” bubbles up from the earth, and luscious barbecued pigs walk the street asking if anyone would would like a slice of ham. In Oleanna, “the women” do all the work, and, “If she doesn't work hard enough/ she takes a stick/ And gives herself a beating.” The point here is that there is no paradise where things are easy, and even utopian environments like the ivy-covered walls of academia, or the lost Oleanna, have a dark side. Like its closest dramatic kin, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, Oleanna isn’t an indictment of anything or anyone but a fair, unflinching jury trial.

by Chris Davis

Car Crashes Into House

Posted on Thu, Jan 25, 2007 at 4:00 AM

The Shelby County Sheriff's Office has just issued a release that reads like an action movie, involving a white camaro crashing into a house, a mysterious black SUV, and a pistol-waving man.

It reads as follows:

A South-East Shelby County house was severely damaged this afternoon when a car crashed into it. Fortunately, no one was home at the time.

The driver of the car, Christopher Anderson, 26, lives in South-East Shelby County. The other passenger in the vehicle, Jeremiah McCoy, 20, also lives in the neighborhood.

It all started about 12:30 this afternoon when Anderson told Sheriff’s Detectives a black SUV started following his white Chevrolet Camaro as he drove east on Marsha Woods near Hacks Cross Road.

That’s when Anderson said someone in the SUV began shooting at his car. As the Camaro crossed Hacks Cross Road onto Glynnville Drive, Anderson lost control at the intersection of Glynnville Drive at Winding Hollow Way.

The Camaro jumped the curb and crashed into the front room of a house at 4286 Winding Hollow Way owned by Mr. and Mrs. Mickey Smith. They were not at home.

Neither Anderson nor McCoy was hurt in the crash.

Deputies are investigating whether the shots fired at Anderson’s car might be connected to another shooting call in the same neighborhood before the crash.

About noon, neighbors near the intersection of Hacks Cross at Marsha Woods reported hearing gunshots and saw a man wearing black clothes standing on the sidewalk at the intersection firing a pistol into the air. Deputies arrived a short time later but the man had left the area.

So far, no other persons have been arrested in connection with the shooting and car crash today.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

American Idol Memphis on MySpace

Posted By on Wed, Jan 24, 2007 at 4:00 AM

American Idol superfans are certainly aware of the site DeathByCamera.com, which has been posting the MySpace sites of those who've recently auditioned for the show. Up now are the Memphis hopefuls, including the Paula-loving, "Footloose"-singing reject Topher McCain.

Read the Anna Mae He Ruling — From the Source

Posted By on Wed, Jan 24, 2007 at 4:00 AM

The custody battle between a Chinese couple and an American couple from Memphis is once again in the local and national news.

On Tuesday, the Tennessee Supreme Court, in a unanimous opinion, ordered that 8-year-old Anna Mae He be returned to her natural parents, Shaoqiang and Qin Luo He. Anna Mae He, or A.M.H. as she is referred to in court documents, has been living with Jerry and Louise Baker in suburban Memphis since she was three weeks old.

The opinion overturned the rulings of a Chancery Court and the Tennessee Court of Appeals, whose ruling was 114 pages long.

The case is nearly as difficult to summarize as it is to interpret. At the same time, it has provided countless sound bites and much material for feature stories, which, no matter how skillfully done, cannot do justice to such a complicated tale. However, the Supreme Court’s narrative, which is 20 pages long, is very readable and available online at the Tennessee Supreme Court’s website.

Anyone with an opinion about the case – and that means just about anyone who has followed it even casually – will find it fascinating if not compelling.

Here is an excerpt of the court’s own summary of its opinion.

“Therefore, according the parents those superior rights to the custody of their child that constitutional law mandates, only a showing of substantial harm that threatens the child’s welfare may deprive the parents of the care and custody of A.M.H. Although A.M.H. has now been with the appellees for more than seven years, six of those years elapsed after the parents’ first unsuccessful legal filing to regain custody.

Evidence that A.M.H. will be harmed from a change in custody because she has lived and bonded with the Bakers during the pendency of the litigation does not constitute the substantial harm required to prevent the parents from regaining custody.” — John Branston

Memphis Police Officer Indicted for Theft and Falsifying Statements

Posted By on Wed, Jan 24, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Memphis Police officer Orlando Hebron, 39, was arrested today following an indictment after his role in a sting operation involving fake drugs and government money.

Hebron offered to launder money for an FBI informant last spring, but the officer ended up keeping the money for himself. Since the money was being used in an FBI sting investigation, it was property of the U.S. government. He later lied about his involvement when confronted with the FBI. Hebron is being charged with theft of U.S. funds and making false statements to U.S. investigators.

Hebron, a Mitchell High School security officer, had numerous conversations and meetings with the unnamed informant over the course of 2006.

On November 9th of last year, Hebron accepted $3,000 in cash in exchange for his promise to launder the money and return $2,400 to the informant, but the money was never returned. Hebron said he’d used some of it to “pay some bills.”

The two made several plans to rob drug dealers, and in one meeting at a Budget Mini-Storage on Fontaine, the informant delivered Hebron a briefcase with two kilograms of fake cocaine and $9,800 in U.S. currency.

The two drove to Mississippi, rented a hotel room, and spilt the cash. Hebron hid the “drugs” hidden in nearby woods. Hebron later told the informant he was unable to locate the fake coke.

When interviewed by an FBI agent on January 19th, Hebron denied his participation in the scheme. A couple days later, he called the FBI agent back and changed his story, claiming he’d given the informant a ride to the storage facility, but did not know anything about the contents of the briefcase he’d received.

The investigation against Hebron was part of Operation Tarnished Blue. — Bianca Phillips

Bass Pro Shop: Are They Buffaloing Memphis?

Posted By on Wed, Jan 24, 2007 at 4:00 AM

"We’re on record in favor of blowing up The Pyramid, and perhaps, based on Buffalo’s experience, that will be what we do five years from now when talks finally grind to a halt. Until then, we need to pay close attention to what’s going on in Buffalo.

"There, Bass Pro Shops is now asking for a waterfront site that would block access to the river and mar the historic district’s image. Already, the Buffalo news media are asking tougher questions about the entire deal and why the city should continue with the large public subsidy and allow the store to pick its site.

"Most of all, the Buffalo public has lost its patience with the store and its interest is fast following. With the clock on the 30-day ultimatum ticking, Buffalo citizens were told: 'the talks are going very well now,' 'we don’t want to interfere with the momentum we’ve got going,' 'everyone is being as creative and flexible as possible,' and everyone is 'putting in a good faith effort.'”

The foregoing is from one of our favorite local blogs — "Smart City," (which would explain why it's on our blogroll). The latest SC post examines the stormy history of Buffalo, New York, and Bass Pro Shop. You remember Bass Pro Shop? They want to buy The Pyramid. Or not. Or something.Read Smart City and learn why we need to beware of fishy promises.

Shaun Micheel Unveils KISS Golf Bag

Posted By on Wed, Jan 24, 2007 at 4:00 AM

KISS guitarist Tommy Thayer was on hand last week to support his friend, PGA Champion golfer — and native Memphian — Shaun Micheel at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in Palm Desert, California. They had a few photo-ops with fans and the BHCC girls.

Shaun officially unveiled the KISS logo on his new tour bag. Shaun told kissonline.com, "The KISS logo represents my deep appreciation for the band and the music that they have made over the years. I've been a fan for as long as I can remember and I wanted to be able to add something very special to my golf bag. I'm very fortunate to be able to call them friends and I look forward to seeing them out on the road in the near future."

Shaun then added, "I've been asked by many players and fans about the logo. Most people know me as an avid KISS fan and the reactions have all been great. I've been amazed at how many fans are out there and interested in what the band is up to and whether or not they are going to be touring again. Of course everyone wants backstage passes, but I guess that's the price you have to pay when you are representing a Hall of Fame band."

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

American Idol: Squawkin' in Memphis?

Posted By on Tue, Jan 23, 2007 at 4:00 AM

If American Idol's two previous audition shows in Minneapolis and Seattle are any indication, we Memphians will be doing a lot of embarrassed squirming tonight. Idol's producers seem intent on exposing American to some of the worst, uh, talent imaginable.

Still, advance word is that Memphis fares better than the cities north of the Mason-Dixon line. And besides, a Southerner wins almost every year, so maybe this year he/she will call Memphis home. Check it out tonight on Fox-13 at 7:00.

Elvis and Dakota Fanning Have Everyone All Shook Up.

Posted By on Tue, Jan 23, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Entertainment insiders are abuzz about a new controversy, and this time it has nothing to do with Lohan's "water bottle" or Justin's latest ladyfriend. This time, it's Elvis and Dakota Fanning who have everyone all shook up.

Seems that 12-year-old actress Fanning's role in the movie Hounddog is that of a child who is brutally raped, then turns to the music of Elvis for comfort.

The scene is so brutal that the film's investors actually pulled out, and production had to be stopped until new investors with deep pockets and thicker skin were located. Despite the controversy — or perhaps because of it — the movie was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

The question now: Is Memphis ready for the dubious attention Hounddog will bring to its most famous dead resident? Read more about the kinderscandal.

Open Call for Home Design Show

Posted on Tue, Jan 23, 2007 at 4:00 AM

HGTV/Fine Living is holding an open call for area homes to be featured in its program What You Get For the Money. The show compares similarly priced homes in different parts of the country.

Homes should be between the $150,000 and $850,000 range and should lean toward a contemporary design.

To submit your home, send a digital photo to Mindy Christiansen with the headline "Tn Casting Call".

Deadline to send in submissions is February 12th.

Funeral Home Opens Doors to Forest Hill Patrons

Posted on Tue, Jan 23, 2007 at 4:00 AM

On Monday, January 29th, High Point Funeral Chapel on Summer Avenue will host an open house for people with pre-arranged services at Forest Hill Funeral Homes.

Forest Hill Funeral Home owner Clayton Smart is facing several class-action suits after he announced he wouldn’t be able to honor over 13,000 prepaid burial contracts last July. At the time, he blamed inflation, but now state authorities are saying he invested the money from those contracts elsewhere. Smart filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Oklahoma yesterday.

David Keller of High Point will have extra staff on hand next Monday to counsel those affected on how to transfer arrangements to his or another local funeral home.

TN Supreme Court Rules in He Case

Posted on Tue, Jan 23, 2007 at 4:00 AM

According to WMCTV.com, the Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled that Anna Mae He should be returned to her parents Casey and Jack He.

Nearly eight years ago, Anna Mae He was placed with the Bakers in foster care as an infant. The Bakers have sought to adopt Anna Mae, which the Hes contested.

Read the Flyer's 2004 cover story outlining the complicated details of the He/Baker situation.

Monday, January 22, 2007

10 Million Memphis Cigarettes Siezed!

Posted By on Mon, Jan 22, 2007 at 4:00 AM

No, it's not a radical move by some local health nazi to stop Memphians from killing themselves. In fact, it didn't even happen in Memphis. It happened in Malta, where the customs department got suspicious about a shipment of "Memphis" brand cigarettes. Turns out they were counterfeit. They were actually Nashville cigarettes, a vastly inferior, inauthentic off-brand.

Or not.

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