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No More Sour Grapes…

500 Good Things About Memphis

ver the last nine years we have published cover stories on everything from the circus to double-dipping at city hall. We’ve written fun stories and serious stories, but some people seem to think that we are only interested in negative stories.

So, in this, the “Year of the List,” and in celebration of our 500th issue, we have compiled a randomly ordered list of 500 good things about Memphis. The concept (and quite a few of the entries) came from the founder and publisher of this newspaper, Kenneth Neill. The list was compiled from suggestions offered by the 50 employees who work at Contemporary Media.

We did not use a scientific formula; this was a very subjective process. But we think we have come up with a substantial compilation. When we tallied all the entries from our employees, the numbers reached well past 700. We could have done 1,000 good things about Memphis, but we’ll save that for the year 2007, after we’ve published our 999th issue.

#76 – St. Jude’s Dr. Peter Doherty

1. Fourth of July fire-works over the Mississippi – bright lights, big river.

2. The Rhodes College campus – Cambridge on North Parkway.

3. Concerts at the Dixon – Midsummer Night’s Dream.

4. The Children’s Museum.

5. Christmas images in the First Tennessee Bank building windows.

6. Beale Street – puts the fun in funky.

7. The Mississippi River.

8. Africa in April.

9. The trolleys – plenty of good seats still available.

10. Harbor Town – seaside without the sea.

11. Overton Park – oasis in the City.

12. The Peabody – still the place where the Delta dawns.

13. Good-tasting water, straight from the tap.

14. Ardent Studios

15. The Center for Southern Folklore’s Music & Heritage Festival

16. Cordell Jackson – rockabilly grandma.

17. Anderton’s Art Moderne decor.

18. Brownies at Huey’s.

19. U of M’s Mississippi Valley Collection – Past-perfect pictures.

20. Chicken-fried steak at the Green Beetle.

21. Shelby Foote, underdog’s view of the Civil War.

22. The annual Dixie Fried Festival.

23. Lifelong Memphians who’ve never been to Graceland.

24. Sam Phillips. The Sun king rambles on.

25. The modest monument to Opportunity on Court Square.

26. Two – count ’em two – monuments marking different spots where DeSoto supposedly discovered the Mississippi. One for Herenton one for Rout.

27. Earl’s Hot Biscuit, the Best of West Memphis.

28. Ted Faiers’ carved mural at First Tennessee Bank.

29. Jim Jarmusch’s Mystery Train.

30. Central train station renovations. Better late than never.

31. Wanda Wilson of the P&H – one of the true Wandas of Memphis.

32. The weather in October. It makes up for June, July, and August.

33. Magnolia blossoms.

34. Dave Brown.

35. Lowenstein-Long Youth Hostel.

36. Sunsets over the river.

37. The river view from Ashburn-Coppock park.

38. The butterflies exhibit at the zoo.

39. Crape myrtles.

40. The Amtrak train to Chicago and New Orleans.

#254 – The Hard Rock Cafe neon sign

41. Ellis Chappell – illustrating how to succeed.

42. Summer rainstorms.

43. Great junk.

44. Elvis.

45. Al Green.

46. Barbecue. No city does it better.

47. Danny Thomas in the gold dome.

48. A. Schwab’s, the city’s best museum.

49. Michael Donahue: The hair, the bold-faced column, the man.

50. The Peabody ducks.

51. Elvis impersonators.

52. National Ornamental Metal Museum.

53. Brian Teigland.

54. Wonders Series. Will Wonders ever cease?

55. Memphis in May.

56. Candlelight Vigil. 1,000 points of light.

57. Lichterman plant sale

58. John Ryan – Father and son.

59. Elmwood Cemetery.

60. Stan “the Man” Bronson, a U of M icon.

61. Overton Park.

62. Vance Lauderdale – mysterious answer man.

63. Underground railroad legends.

64. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

65. The Pyramid.

66. Shelby Farms.

67. Rufus Thomas.

68. Kemmons Wilson

69. FedEx

70. Las Savell’s ever-changing sign.

71. Wooden circus in Pink Palace – under the little top.

72. National Civil Rights Museum.

73. Memphis & Shelby County Film Commission.

74. Barbecue contest.

75. The Peabody lobby.

76. St. Jude’s Dr. Peter Doherty. The Nobel prize comes to Memphis.

77. Seessel’s butter pies

78. George Klein – still Elvis’ best friend.

79. Underground Sound.

80. Sun Studios

81. The Pinch District

82. The Woman’s Exchange

83. The Orpheum Summer movie series

84. The Great Mississippi Canoe & Kayak Race

85. The Fleming kids. The TV sequel that just won’t stop.

86. James Hyter’s “Ole Man River.”

87. The zoo’s Animals of the Night exhibit.

88. Memphis Queen Line.

89. Kang Rhee – Still kicking.

90. Mose Vinson. Vintage piano man.

91. Josť Gutierrez, The Peabody’s chef supreme.

92. Coletta’s barbecue pizza.

93. Monkey nurse.

94. Mertie Buckman. Philanthropist extraordinaire.

95. Isaac Hayes. Shaft, chef, and Scientologist.

96. Steve Cohen, the lonely liberal.

97. Exline’s pizza.

98. Jimmy Ishii – he knows Sushi.

99. Dancing waters on the Main Street Mall.

100. Dr. George Flinn. From medicine to radio in three easy steps.

101. Jacqueline Smith, professional protester.

102. Voodoo Village.

103. The Hunt-Phelan Home.

104. The Orpheum ghost.

105. Jackie Nichols – the Playhouse’s guiding light.

106. Ernest Withers, legend- ary civil-rights photographer.

107. The flower “M” on East Parkway.

108. Formosa

109. Balogna sandwiches from Cozy Corner.

110. Vietnamese vermicelli at the Lotus.

111. Old houses with basements.

112. The boys who flip on Beale Street.

113. The skyline from the bridge.

#28 – Ted Faiers’ carved mural

114. Roger Against the Night, the laid-back jazz show on FM91.

115. An Icee in the summer.

116. Memphis College of Art

117. The Zippin Pippin.

118. Carroll Cloar’s greatest paintings at Brooks.

119. Leonard’s pork shoulder, extra brown.

120. Scott Street market – Fresh produce at 5 a.m.

121. The Church Health Center and Dr. Scott Morris

122. Betty’s Resale Shop.

123. Chocolate tarts from City Bread.

124. Sandwiches at the Map Room.

125. The bar at No. 1 Beale.

126. Riverside Drive.

127. Confederate Park on late afternoons.

128. Mild winters.

129. Tom Lee Park.

130. The North Mississippi All-Stars.

131. Musician Ross Rice.

132. The Grifters’ David Shouse.

133. Stax – forever in out hearts.

134. Bill Dance – TV’s fishin’ magician.

135. The Oilers play in Nashville.

136. Cybill Shepherd.

137. The Redbirds.

138. Tiger football. The Cubs have nothing on us.

139. Midtown.

140. The Mid-South Fair. Corn dogs, carnies, and cattle.

141. The Parkways.

142. The Med.

143. The I-40 corridor – best new/old neighborhood.

144. WUMR-FM. All that jazz all the time.

145. Ike’s – if they don’t have it …

146. Nonstop flights to Amsterdam.

147. Willie Mitchell.

148. Nina Peebles.

149. Habitat for Humanity houses.

150. The underdeveloped downtown waterfront.

151. Southern soul food.

152. Murphy’s.

153. Pink Palace Crafts Fair.

154. Central Gardens.

155. Harold Ford Jr. – more than a chip off the old block.

156. Dino’s Southwestern Grill’s bright yellow bread pudding.

157. Paulette’s.

158. The North End’s hot fudge pie.

159. The waiters at the Rendezvous. Attitude is everything.

160. The bison at Shelby Farms.

161. Piggly Wiggly.

162. The beer menu at Young Avenue Deli.

163. Pink Palace’s IMAX.

164. The Mule Barns on Monroe.

165. The Racquet Club of Memphis.

166. Free parking at the airport for the first 30 minutes.

167. U of M musicologist David Evans.

168. The Riverbluff Clan.

169. Parking Can Be Fun

170. The street name Idlewild.

171. Bethany Home.

172. Main Street Mall.

173. Blues Camp.

174. The Elvis Shrine at Java Cabana.

175. The bread at the Macaroni Grill.

176. NARAS.

177. Officer Selby, with or without sensitivity training.

178. Cinema Showcase 12.

179. City CAO Rick Masson’s bowties.

180. The river at Shelby Forest.

181. Indian mounds at DeSoto Park.

182. Queen Anne Cottages in Cooper-Young.

183. The Elvis Presley Memorial Trauma Center.

184. MIFA.

185. A simple city-wide recycling program that actually works.

186. George Lapides. Radio icon.

187. The Grove Grill

188. Burke’s Books.

189. Cielo.

190. Rip Scherer.

191. Saigon Le – Asian treasure.

192. Charlotte’s Place – small, dark, and then some.

193. Tim Sampson. The cynic’s cynic.

194. T.O. Fuller Golf Course – undiscovered gem.

195. Poplar Avenue: the true Main Street of Shelby County.

196. The eye of William Eggleston

197. Artist Claudio Perez Leon

198. The Four-Way Grill.

199. The growing international population.

200. Germantown Performing Arts Centre.

201. Automatic Slim’s.

202. The Mud Island River Walk.

203. Mallory-Neely House.

204. St. Jude golf classic.

205. The old Tennessee Brewery – castle on the Bluffs.

206. The Jolly Royal building on Main.

207. Ernestine & Hazel’s jukebox.

208. Marquette Park, home of the Italian Festival.

209. Playhouse on the Square.

210. Greenlaw.

211. Corky’s.

212. The voice of Kallen Esperian.

213. The stretch of Belvedere between Central and Peabody.

214. Deliberate Literate.

215. Hands On Memphis.

216. Three 6 Mafia.

217. Erling Jensen’s.

218. Photographer Ben Fink.

219. Patriot Lake, without a thoroughfare.

220. Grits any time of day.

221. Kroger St. Jude Tennis Tournament.

222. The Elvis and B.B. King statues in the Welcome Center.

223. Tic Price.

224. 75 miles away from Oxford.

225. 35 miles from casinos.

226. Really nice, gracious people.

227. The Pawtuckets.

228. Boys & Girls Clubs of Memphis.

229. La Tourelle.

230. Kress building.

231. Acapulco on Jackson. No Tex- Mex served here.

232. Shotgun houses.

233. Starry Nights at Christmas.

234. The Majestic Theatre.

235. Graceland.

236. The Cooper-Young Festival.

237. The Germantown Charity Horse Show, 50 years old and still trotting.

238. Wolfchase Galleria.

239. Gibson Guitar factory.

240. Midtown Video.

241. The way the trees form a canopy over North Parkway.

242. The new bike path at Harbor Town.

243. B.B. King live at his own club.

244. WKNO-FM – bringing the classics to the Mid-South.

245. Kim Hindrew, an anchor with heart.

246. Lorette Velvette.

247. The rich bottomland hardwood forests in southwest Memphis.

248. The rolling hills of Frayser.

249. Dogwoods and azaleas blooming in April.

250. David Porter, the real Soul Man.

251. The definitive back-up group: The Memphis Horns.

252. MLGW – a public utility worth fighting over.

253. Ed Porter’s Loverly Records.

254. The Hard Rock Cafe neon sign on Beale Street.

255. The ducks at Chickasaw Gardens lake. Escapees from The Peabody?

256. Lichterman Nature Center.

257. Wolf River’s Ghost River.

258. Sivad.

259. JAM-JAM-1

260. Judd and Alex Grisanti’s heavenly pastas.

261. The soda fountain at Wiles- Smith Drug Store.

262. The sun flashing off The Pyramid.

263. The old mansion at the Pink Palace Museum.

264. Germantown Commissary – barbecue for the ’burbs.

265. International Place landscaping.

266. The weird sculpture at the Union overpass.

267. Flashback.

268. The domed lobby of the U of M’s McWherter Library.

269. Memphis Humane Society.

270. Miss Cordelia’s grocery in Harbor Town.

271. Arts in the Park.

272. Elvis Week.

273. Woodruff-Fontaine House.

274. Vanilla milkshakes from Back Yard Burgers.

275. The Memphis Belle.

276. Little Tea Shop.

277. Court Square fountain.

278. Outdoor concerts at Cordova Cellars.

279. The Japanese Gardens in Memphis Botanic Garden.

280. The 12 o’clock civil-defense sirens on Saturdays.

281. Fiddlesticks at the Mid-South Fair.

282. Music icon (and iconoclast) Jim Dickinson.

283. Thursdays on the Peabody rooftop.

284. WEVL. Radioactive Memphis.

285. Snowbird.

286. Memphis Room at Memphis/ Shelby County Public Library.

287. The lights on Hernando DeSoto Bridge.

288. Friends of the Library book sales.

289. The Meerkat exhibit at the Memphis Zoo.

290. Halliburton Tower at Rhodes College.

291. City Grocery downtown.

292. Little Pigs Barbecue.

293. Memphis Heritage’s architectural auction.

294. The critters at Green’s Nursery in Germantown.

295. The trophy room at Graceland.

296. The neon flag at the Liberty Bowl.

297. The House of Mews – a cat house in Cooper-Young.

298. Jo at Kudzu’s. Irish charm and Pub Quiz, too.

299. The new sculpture outside the Fire Museum of Memphis.

300. RSVP.

301. Aloysius Home.

302. The hundred wines of Le Chardonnay.

303. Goat Days in Millington.

304. Art openings at Ledbetter-Lusk.

305. Ballet Memphis.

#193 – Tim Sampson

306. Sears Crosstown building.

307. The Southern Heritage Classic. Truly the biggest game in town.

308. Overton Square.

309. Redbirds’ street banners. Now if we can only get a stadium.

310. Ruby Wilson, Queen of Beale.

311. 100 Black Men of Memphis.

312. Go-carts at Celebration Station.

313. Lincoln-American Tower.

314. Opera Memphis.

315. Dinstuhl’s chocolate.

316. White Station High School – mecca for National Merit scholars.

317. Memphis Food Bank.

318. The Christmas parade.

319. Calvary Street Ministry.

320. The Wolf River.

321. The M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence.

322. U of M’s Egyptian collection.

323. Cotton Row.

324. Artesian Waterworks building.

325. The Liberty Bowl Game.

326. Brushmark Cafe at the Brooks.

327. The flag on Clark Tower.

328. Joyce Cobb.

329. The Volunteer Center.

330. Jerry Lawler.

331. Memphis Symphony Orchestra.

332. The views from the Church on the River.

333. Marena’s ever-changing menus.

334. St. Nick’s Farm.

335. The music notes on Beale Street.

336. Babe Howard, the Millington marvel

337. Goals for Memphis.

338. The Mississippi River Museum.

339. The glass elevators at Adam’s Mark.

340. Pat Tigrett. Has balls, will travel.

341. The Frisco Bridge.

342. The Christmas-tree lighting at Tom Lee Park.

343. The rotating sculp ture at Gayoso House

344. Eccentric Elvis historian Jimmy Denson.

345. Les Passees.

346. The movie series at Brooks.

347. Horseshoe Lake only 45 minutes away.

348. The stars in The Orpheum sidewalk.

349. Tennessee Cream Ale at Bosco’s.

350. The Firm

351. Ebbo Spiritual Supply House – mystic shop on Madison.

352. Bozo’s Barbecue in Mason.

353. Benjamin Hooks.

354. Dryve Cleaners. Bad architecture, clean clothes.

355. The Crystal Shrine Grotto at Memphis Memorial Park.

356. Idlewild Presbyterian Church building. Stylish faith on Union.

357. Sid Selvidge.

358. Christian Brothers University.

359. Morgan Keegan Tower.

360. The dogs at Southland Greyhound Park.

361. Memphis Motorsports Park.

362. AutoZone downtown.

363. Penny Hardaway.

364. Peabody Place block parties.

365. FedEx purple & orange jets.

366. NBC bank lobby downtown – old-fashioned elegance.

367. Friday-night high school football.

368. McLean Baptist Church steeple.

369. Peter Guralnick’s Last Train to Memphis.

370. The classical Lily Afshar.

371. Project Motion – modern dance.

372. Promus.

373. The Sterick Building. Distinctly empty.

374. The big spinning ball in Oak Court Mall.

375. The Lucy Opry/Harvester Lane.

376. The car museum at Graceland.

377. Saturday breakfast at the Arcade.

378. Herman Green, Fred Ford, and Calvin Newborn – Memphis’ elder statesmen of jazz.

379. Pappy & Jimmy’s sign.

380. The Rock 103 radiothon for Ronald McDonald House.

381. Clough-Hanson Gallery.

382. The RiverKings. ’Rasslin’ on skates.

383. The Italian Rebel – Whitehaven’s great pizzeria.

384. The Old Daisy on Beale.

385. The Cupboard.

386. Marla Bryant’s sexy traffic reports.

387. Lamar Wallis, who built a public library system almost from scratch.

388. Charlie Lea – last Memphian to pitch a big-league no-hitter.

389. Bad Dog McCormack.

390. The weirdness of Tav Falco.

391. Judge Joe Brown. Sentenced to cable.

392. Catfish Cabin, where the puppies are worth the wait.

393. The packed-to-the-gills public library at Peabody and McLean.

394. Memphis: a world-known brand name without any hype.

395. Memphis 21–Tennessee 17.

396. Allie and Barbara Prescott.

397. Old blues musicians playing in Handy Park.

398. Our ubiquitous raccoons.

399. The Tennessee Williams Festival at McCoy Theatre.

400. Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church.

401. Sunday jazz at Huey’s.

402. Herb Parsons Lake.

403. Loren Roberts, putting Memphis on the PGA map.

404. Janis Fullilove. Full of opinions.

405. Eliott Perry.

406. The jukebox at Alex’s Tavern.

407. Our two functional drive-in theatres.

408. Unpretentious Williamson Park.

409. Cat Country.

410. Chips Moman’s records from the Sixties.

411. Our Own Voice Theatre Troupe.

412. Memphis vs. Louisville in basketball.

413. Orange-clad UT football fans when the Vols play at the Liberty Bowl.

414. Maywood. Beach within reach.

415. What-a-Burger. What-a-name!

#30 –Jerry Lawler

416. Youth Villages.

417. International Children’s Heart Foundation.

418. Larry Finch with the clock winding down at the Mid-South Coliseum.

419. Historic radio stations WDIA, WHBQ, and WLOK.

420. The Highland Strip.

421. Circuit Playhouse.

422. Memphis Firefighters.

423. Talbot Heirs Guesthouse.

424. The mansions of Central Avenue.

425. Sherri Ganong, the ultimate pom-pon woman.

426. Mike Cody.

427. The unforgettable Keith Lee.

428. Playwright’s Forum.

429. Old Cordova – fading fast.

430. Ashlar Hall – disco dungeon.

431. U of M Theatre.

432. The Mid-South Peace and Justice Center and those who keep it going.

433. Disability-rights activist Debra Cunningham.

434. Memories of Rex Dockery.

435. Dr. Gerald Vanderharr at CBU

436. Rabbi Harry Danziger.

437. Kenneth and Kirk Whalum. Sermons and sax.

438. USA Stadium in Millington.

439. Hot smoked sausage from Payne’s BBQ.

440. Tim McCarver (the man, not the stadium).

441. Shelby State Saluqis – Memphis’ best-kept basketball secret.

442. Rev. Billy Kyles.

443. The COGIC convention. A haberdasher’s dream.

444. Booker T. & the MGs.

445. Friends for Life AIDS Resource Center.

446. Judge and actor D’Army Bailey.

447. Shelby County Domestic Violence Council.

448. MPD’s Crisis Interventioin Team.

449. Memphis Area Legal Services.

450. Novella Smith Arnold.

451. Artist Terri Jones.

452. Lovable, self-righteous religious freaks.

453. The nimble Clapton-like fingers of Shawn Lane.

454. The entertaining exploits of Larry Parrish.

455. Dave Woloshin, voice of the Tigers.

456. Halle Stadium running track – still one of the best and most accessible.

457. The U of M swimming complex.

458. Billy Lee Riley – Still rockin’ after all these years.

459. Geoff Calkins, a CA columnist worth reading.

460. Terry Keeter, for fighting the good fight.

461. Garrison Starr.

462. Political activist Paula Casey.

463. Mason Temple.

464. The Memphis Drum Shop.

465. Wendy Moten. Soulful diva.

#243 – B.B. King

466. Artist Greely Myatt.

467. An 8 a.m. tee time at Southwind.

468. The Fairgrounds Flea Market.

469. Bill Morris.

470. World News on Monroe. A real city newsstand.

471. Delta Axis.

472. Brother Juniper’s on Walker.

473. Memphis Heritage.

474. Theatre Memphis.

475. Street Ministries director Ken Bennett.

476. Orchestra Caliente, for putting salsa in Memphis.

474. TheatreWorks.

475. Rev. Cheryl Cornish.

476. Monday Night Wrestling at the Mid-South Coliseum.

477. Germantown Community Theatre.

478. Wild Bill’s.

479. The Greek festival.

480. Zoo director Roger Knox.

481. Memphis Black Repertory Theatre.

482. Howard’s Donuts.

483. Marshall Arts.

484. Marguerite Piazza.

485. A Corona on the deck at On Teur.

486. The Full Gospel Tabernacle.

487. The martinis at Side Street Grill.

#34 –Dave Brown

488. Veteran actors Marler Stone, Jim Ostrander, and Gene Katz.

489. Saturday lunch at Fino’s.

490. Historic preservationists.

491. The ties at Sleep Out Louie’s.

492. The College of Art’s annual Horn Island Show.

493. Arthur Prince. Memphis’ man of letters.

494. The antique shops at Central and Cooper.

495. Sex-o-Matic Night at Raiford’s Disco

496. Jerry Lee Lewis. The Killer lives – in Nesbit.

497. Cooper Street Gallery

498. Marshall Arts and Pinkney Herbert

499. Harry Brice, dancer, choreographer, director

500. The Bluff City Classic. Pick-up hoops at its best.


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