Friday, November 30, 2007

Roller Derby Girls Calendar for Sale

Posted on Fri, Nov 30, 2007 at 4:00 AM

The ladies of Memphis Roller Derby can clean your clock, and now they'll stuff your stocking, too!

The local roller derby is selling its very own 2008 pin-up calendars, featuring your favorite roller girls in very skimpy outfits. Er, we mean, their uniforms.

To order one for your favorite derby enthusiast or one for yourself, to go memphisrollerderby.com and click on "Merchandise."

And don't forget -- the season opener is this Saturday, December 1st, at the FunQuest on Highway 72 in Collierville!

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Radar Names Craig Brewer "New Radical"

Posted on Fri, Nov 30, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Local director Craig Brewer is among the nine named a "New Radical" in the December/January issue of Radar. The feature is the first in what is planned to be an annual salute to "exciting rogues, renegades, and rule-breakers of the year."

Winners will be feted at a ceremony in New York on Tuesday and will receive a golden replica of Marcel Duchamp's urinal.

Joining Brewer as a "New Radical" are actor/comedian Kathy Griffin, musician Spankrock, transexual actor Candis Cayne, and writer Shalom Auslander.

In his profile, Brewer is tagged as the "hirsute helmer of passionate, sweaty, soulful, booty-shakin' Southern dramas" who "describes himself as the cinematic equivalent of a bat -- 'neither bird nor beast.'"

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Male Prostitution in Overton Park?

Posted on Fri, Nov 30, 2007 at 4:00 AM

The Memphis Police Department announced today that they have arrested several men on prostitution and indecent exposure charges during a sting operation in Overton Park on Thursday.

In response to citizen complaints, plainclothes detectives conducted a two-day investigation earlier in the week. They arrested two men on prostitution charges and five other men were issued misdemeanor citations for indecent exposure.

The men range in age from 27 to 47.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

AIDS Memorial Quilt To Be Displayed

Posted on Thu, Nov 29, 2007 at 4:00 AM

A portion of the massive AIDS Memorial Quilt will make a one-day appearance in Memphis on Saturday, December 1st in honor of World AIDS Day.

Twenty twelve-foot-by-twelve-foot blocks from the colorful quilt will be shown at Rhodes College. Established in 1987, the NAMES project Foundation designed the 50-ton quilt. Over 40,000 blocks memorialize someone who has died from AIDS.

Blocks contain items that once belonged to victims, such as car keys, motorcycle jackets, love letters, flip-flops, merit badges, stuffed animals, and wedding rings.

Information booths and free HIV testing stations will be set up from noon to 4 p.m. at the event.

Also, Planned Parenthood of the Greater Memphis Region will offer free HIV testing at the Orange Mound Community Center on Friday, November 30th from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more on the quilt, go here. Or for more on World AIDS Day, go here.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Memphis Selling For Less

Posted By on Wed, Nov 28, 2007 at 4:00 AM

From South Memphis to Southwind, Memphis is losing value. Two people who ought to know say so. Both are professionals, and neither is an alarmist or a naysayer.

One of them is Shelby County asssessor Rita Clark, whose job is putting a dollar value on houses, buildings, and land for tax purposes. The other is auctioneer John Roebuck of Roebuck Auctions, one of the leading real estate auction firms in the South.

They calculate value differently. Clark and her staff use computer models, comparables, sales histories, and first-hand "windshield" inspections. Roebuck wields a microphone and a gavel and stands in front of a group of buyers and opens the bidding.

But they've come to the same conclusion: Real estate prices are declining, which reverses a long trend of increasing values.

"Memphis is a strange city that does not dip and rise like other parts of the country," Roebuck said. "Right now, Memphis is down about as far as I can remember in 30 years."

He said people are leaving the city, demand for housing is low, and there is a surplus of new homes and condos. Even the owners of some million-dollar homes are turning to auctions as a way to unload their property.

"Auctions get a bad rap," Roebuck said. "An auction typically brings the true market value that day. Appraisals are just one man's opinion."

He expects to see "a substantial reduction" in home values in the next countywide reappraisal in 2009, leading to an overall decline in the tax base.

Clark doesn't disagree with that evaluation. "Absolutely," she said, when asked if the tax base in Memphis could be shrinking, although she declined to put a number on it at this time. "We follow the market. We don't predict the market."

Clark will leave office next September after serving 10 years. In the 1998, 2001, and 2005 reappraisals, the total value of assessed property in Memphis increased an average of 14 percent each period. The suburbs were up even more, led by Collierville (up 24 percent in 2005) and Lakeland (up 30 percent in 2005).

Higher property appraisals are an indication of a healthy economy and provide a cushion for Memphis and Shelby County governments, which operate primarily on property taxes and sales tax. If housing prices continue to fall, lower appraisals will mean lower tax collections and less money for schools, police and teacher salaries, sports facilities, parks, and debt service.

There is also the prospect of no tax collections at all from some property owners. Memphis is one of the top foreclosure markets in the country. Foreclosures are expected to get worse in 2008 as subprime mortgages are reset at higher rates.

The usual way to balance the budget in Memphis and Shelby County is with a tax increase, but Memphians already pay the highest property tax rate in Tennessee. The smell of scandal is in the air. Houses aren't selling. Values are declining. Mayor Herenton got only 43 percent of the vote. The 2008 City Council will have nine new members. And they're going to increase taxes? Don't think so.

Other signs point to a stagnant city that is getting poorer, not richer. In banking as in real estate, it looks like the big money has been made for a while. This has been an awful year for banks. The stock price of First Horizon, the last of the big Memphis-based banks, is $21 a share compared to $43 a year ago. The share prices of other regional banks with a big presence in Memphis, including Regions, Renasant, Trustmark, and Cadence, are all down at least 30 percent this year and are at or near five-year lows. FedEx, our corporate jewel, is off 15 percent so far this year.

At the risk of piling on, there is an unsettling tone in the public relations campaign to "liberate" the National Civil Rights Museum from "corporate interest domination." Unsettling because it sounds like the preelection rhetoric of our soon-to-be fifth-term mayor who as much as wrote off the white vote. So much for public-private partnerships.

The $30 dinner entrée, the $570 a night hotel suite, the $140 Grizzlies ticket, the $45,000 SUV, the $40,000 a year college tuition, and a $30 million public boat landing look like relics of a golden age. Let’s hope Memphis can still support them a year from now, but I wonder.

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Shelby County Hazardous Waste Center Opens

Posted on Wed, Nov 28, 2007 at 4:00 AM

As Rick Messere pulls up to the sheet-metal building tucked around a hidden corner on Haley Road near Shelby Farms, a group of men in bright yellow vests approaches his car. A few are pushing a plastic cart.

Messere pushes the button to pop his trunk. As the vest-wearing crew unloads about 30 cans of paint from his trunk, Messere rolls down his window.

"Do you take old batteries?" he asks.

"Yes, we do!" replies Lisa Williams with the Shelby County Roads and Bridges Department.

Messere unloaded three year's worth of mostly empty paint cans and some old batteries on opening day at the Shelby County Hazardous Waste Facility Tuesday morning. He was one of about 60 county residents who took advantage of the center's first day in business.

The center takes the place of the county's annual hazardous waste collection event. Items such as paint cans, automotive fluids, compact florescent lightbulbs, and pool chemicals are collected at the site and shipped off for proper disposal. They'll even accept electronics, like computers and cell phones.

The center, which is funded by a combination of public and private funds, and is open every Tuesday and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. It's located at 6305 Haley Rd.

Acceptable items: aerosol spray cans, automotive fluids, anti-freeze, motor oil, batteries, oven and toilet cleaners, adhesives, stains and varnishes, electronics, cell phones, flammable liquids, drain cleaners, fluorescent tubes, herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, paint, pool chemicals, moth balls, insect repellent, mercury, and thermostats.

-- Bianca Phillips

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Shelby County Sheriff's Office to Sell Seized Property

Posted By on Tue, Nov 27, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Need a beat-up 1993 Dodge pickup truck? Or how about a single-engine Cessna plane? Both items will be sold in a Shelby County Sheriff's sale on Wednesday, November 28th.

A new feature on the Shelby County Sheriff's Office website lists items to be sold in auctions of seized property. Items range from major purchases (such as the plane) to everyday goods (i.e. computers).

Often, property is seized when a loan is defaulted. For example, a creditor could get a court order for deputies to seize a person's real estate or other valuable goods. Most of the money from those sales goes back to the creditor, although the sheriff's office receives a small fee for conducting the auction.

Other items are seized by the Shelby County Narcotics Bureau. Officers may confiscate a vehicle used in drug sales or a computer used to store information about stolen goods. Proceeds from those sales are used to purchase new equipment for the narcotics bureau. For more, go to the Shelby County Sheriff's Office website.

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Dragnet: Memphis Tranny McBrawlers Busted

Posted By on Tue, Nov 27, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Three cross-dressing customers who attacked a McDonald's staff late Sunday evening have been, um, dragged off to jail after police captured them yesterday afternoon. (If you somehow managed to miss this Memphis moment, get the details here.)

Dacorian Greer, Danny Mitchell, and Lynn Gillespie, all in their late 20s, were charged with assault and damage of property over $500 after their unladylike behavior, which included smashing the drive-thru window and peeling off accessories to better teach the workers a lesson in customer service.

We're breathlessly awaiting the surveillance video from the fracas, which has been handed over to the Shelby County DA's office.

No word yet on whether the assailants will be held in the women's or men's prison, or whether the manager of the fast food restaurant has caught all kinds of hell for getting a beat down from transvestites. Either way, the mug shots are priceless. See more at WREG's website.

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Pau Gasol Poops!

Posted By on Tue, Nov 27, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Well, this gives "running the floor" a whole new dimension.

Sure, some of our Christmas traditions are lousy. We've got gaudy and tacky decorations, that stupid fa-la-la-la a song, and retail "Christmas creep." But in certain regions of Spain, they've got us beat. It seems their traditional nativity scene includes a small figurine of a defecating peasant.

This hallowed tradition has been going on since the 17th century, but recently the pooping peasant has begun to be replaced by shitting celebrities. And Memphis just happens to have a local celebrity who hails from Spain.

Yep. Everybody poops. Even Pau Gasol. There's more about this at Deadspin.com, including a link to pictures of pooping Popes, George Bush, and other luminaries. Spain. What a country!

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Monday, November 26, 2007

When Transvestites Attack; Memphis McDonald's Undergoes Gender-fication

Posted By on Mon, Nov 26, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Things got a little out of order after three hungry transvestites found their service at a Memphis McDonald's drive-thru unsatisfactory.

The three, er, men, tried to get the manager's attention by tapping on the drive-thru window, and when they were ignored, decided to grab a tire iron and go inside and throw a supersize tantrum.

That's when things got ugly.

As any good cross-dressers would, the three began to kick off stiletto boots (to better keep their balance while swinging), remove hoop earrings (no danger of having them yanked out), and take off their jackets (less restriction of movement) in order to deliver a McWhoopin' on the staff.

The manager retaliated with a pot of scalding French-fry grease. When all was said and done, one worker was sent to the hospital by ambulance, windows were smashed, and the three trannies escaped before the police arrived.

Police are still looking for the fightin' tranny trio, and we wish them good luck. Our bet is Anna Rexia looks more like Andy Rex today. And we'll resist making a joke about trans-fats.

Read more about the shenanigans at WMC.com.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

The Zoo Lights Up

Posted on Fri, Nov 23, 2007 at 4:00 AM

The Memphis Zoo is sure to dazzle when SunTrust Zoo Lights kicks off Friday, November 23rd.

Boasting more than a million lights -- including $100,000 worth of new light features and activities -- visitors can tour the display on Friday and Saturday evenings through December 8th and nightly from December 14th to 23rd and December 26th to the 30th.

Among the new features are a Victorian village and a Christmas Around the World display, along with a riverboat, swans, carolers, butterflies, a menorah, a castle, and a fishing Santa. The right jolly old elf will be on hand for photographs with his two live reindeer, Dasher and Dancer. Other activities include a ride on the zoo's train, the North Pole Express, which is free with admission to the zoo. Horse-drawn carriage tours and the new motion simulator ride "Glacier Run" will be available for $3 per person.

For more information, visit the zoo's website.

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Northwest Airlines Considering Nonstop Flight to Tokyo

Posted By on Fri, Nov 23, 2007 at 4:00 AM

AP -- Northwest Airlines is considering whether to begin nonstop service in 2009 between its hub in Memphis and Tokyo, Japan.

The idea was raised by the Eagan, Minnesota-based airline's CEO Doug Steenland in Japan last week, as a possible route for one of the new Boeing 787 planes the airline will receive in 2009. He also discussed reviving the New York to Tokyo flight canceled in 2005 as the airline entered bankruptcy protection.

"Mr. Steenland was talking about how Northwest might utilize the 787," said Northwest spokesman Jim Herlihy. "It's more than a year away, and there will be a lot of discussion between now and then."

Memphis business leaders say they are pushing for the move to link local commerce with the Asian economy, but it's still up in the air.

"This is not a done deal," said John Moore, president and chief executive of the Memphis Regional Chamber of Commerce and former Northwest executive.

The only current trans-Atlantic passenger flight from the Mid-South region is Northwest-KLM's daily flight direct to Amsterdam. Trans-Pacific flights must go through other hubs.

Northwest offers connections to 17 other Asian cities from its Tokyo hub, so that flight would have more business potential, said Michael Boyd, head of The Boyd Group of aviation consultants outside Denver.

"This is more important than the Amsterdam flight because Tokyo is where the growth is," he said.

About 160 Japanese companies, including Nissan Motor, have operations in Tennessee, and not including locations in Arkansas and Mississippi.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

David Gest is Nuts -- The Musical

Posted By on Thu, Nov 22, 2007 at 4:00 AM

According the UK's Guardian, David Gest is launching a stage musical about himself called David Gest is Nuts - My Life As A Musical.

Music will include more than 20 Top Five hits performed by original artists including Gloria Gaynor and Coolio. The show will open at London's Hammersmith Apollo in February, then will tour.

Friend Michael Jackson was quoted as follows: "David can't sing and can't dance. It will be amazing to see just how nuts he gets on stage!"

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Guy Sebastian's "Memphis" Album Is Actually Good

Posted By on Thu, Nov 22, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Fans of this website know that on weekends and holidays, we tend to get, um, less "news" directed.

A few weeks ago, we became enamored with a story about Australian Idol winner Guy Sebastian's sojourn here to record an album with some legendary Memphis musicians.

Well, the album is out now and we decided to see what it sounded like, so off we went to Guy's website. There's a nice montage of videoclips of the Bluff City and samples from the songs. We were somewhat surprised (being cynical Memphians) to discover that the little sonofagun can really sing. He nails these tunes.

Sebastian is currently touring Australia with Memphis legends Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn, Lester Snell and Steve Potts.

Check it out. (And yes, we know we'll get a zillion website hits from Australia. Hey, it's Thanksgiving. Traffic is traffic, you turkeys.)

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Criticism Arises for Elkington's Farish Street Project In Jackson, MS

Posted By on Thu, Nov 22, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Beale Street developer John Elkington's Performa Entertainment company is being criticized by civic leaders in Jackson, Mississippi, for a lack of progress in the proposed Farish Street project.

From the Jackson Free Press: The Farish Street District Redevelopment Ad Hoc Committee and Jackson Mayor Frank Melton lobbed complaints about the lack of development progress in the Farish Street Entertainment District at a public forum last week. Committee members, including chairman Harold Lathon and hip-hop artist and Jackson Free Press columnist 'Kamikaze,' hurled complaints at Memphis-based Performa Entertainment Real Estate Inc., which is overseeing development of the project.

Kamikaze pointed out that Farish Street languishes in blight while other portions of downtown blossom with new development.

"If you stand in front of the site of the convention center and look a stone's throw away from the convention center, you still see the blight that exists on Farish Street," Kamikaze said. "Nobody's doing anything about it."

Melton proposed to take the Farish Street contract away from Performa.

"Over the last four or five weeks, there's been nobody working on the entertainment district," Melton said. "We're going to pull that contract and get some local people who can get that done."

Melton criticized the absence of Mid State Construction workers on Farish Street, telling the crowd that contractors working with the Memphis company told him that Performa had been stiffing them out of their pay. "I called (Mid State), and they say they haven't been paid in the last three months, and that's why they're not down there (working) anymore," Melton said.

Mid State Chief Operations Officer P.G. Bernheim said Mid State had completed Phase 1 of the project and was "waiting for Phase 2 and Perform's direction on it."

"I talked to (Performa's Vice President of Development) Cato (Walker) Tuesday or Wednesday of this week, and I feel optimistic about the situation," Bernheim said.

Walker admitted Performa owed Mid State money, but added that rumors were flying about the two companies' relationship.

"Positions have been made about our circumstances without anyone ever calling to see if those were true," Walker said. "We are working with the state and our lender to close out Phase 1, and we're paying Mid State the money that they are owed."

Read the rest at the Free Press website.

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