Flyer InteractiveCity Reporter

Artist Sought For Soulsville Gateway Project

The planned rebuilding of the legendary Stax recording studio which existed on the corner of McLemore and College from 1960 to 1975 is only part of the urban revitalization going on in that neighborhood. The Urban Art Commission, an organization devoted to enhancing the quality of life in Memphis and Shelby County by placing art in public buildings and outdoor spaces, has announced that it is seeking a visual artist from, or with close ties to, the tri-state area to oversee the Soulsville USA “Gateway” project.

The plan is to create a series of murals (though other art forms may be considered) that will reflect the “Soulsville” neighborhood’s unique history. The Stax and Hi labels which once operated in the area produced recording giants like Isaac Hayes, the Staple Singers, and Al Green, to name a few, and it is believed that at one time this neighborhood was home to the highest concentration of Soul musicians in the country. According to project manager Elizabeth Alley, the murals will “alert visitors to the fact that they are entering into a historic neighborhood” while “creating a sense of pride among those who live there.”

These murals will adorn the area’s four natural gateways: a series of three railroad trestles on Bellevue north of Severson, the trestle on Mississippi Blvd. near Booker T. Washington High School, the area on Porter Street adjacent to LeMoyne Gardens, and the interstate overpass at Walker near LeMoyne-Owen College.

A budget of $75,000 has been allocated to cover design fees, cost for implementation/installation, and labor. The project is funded in part by an Office of Planning and Development “Neighborhood Demonstration” grant, and a First Tennessee Bank Bravo Award. — Chris Davis


Hooks Jr. Courts Radio

Memphis school board Member Michael Hooks Jr. says he’s getting closer to going on the air as the host of a radio program on hip-hop station KXHT-FM “Hot 107.”

“We’re still in the last phase of negotiations,” says Hooks, who at 24 is the youngest member of the board. “Should be another month or so.”

As he told the Flyer in a recent profile, Hooks envisions a program that would include both music and serious discussion of the issues of the day, a mix that apparently has station officials listening.

“I would say it’s not anything that’s going to happen, like, tomorrow,” says the station’s director of operations Chris Taylor. “I know he’s got a concept. We’ve had some talks. He’s certainly a friend of the radio station, but that’s as far as it’s gone.” — Jim Hanas


Theatre Memphis Announces New Season

Since the recent dismissal of executive director Michael Fortner, Memphis’ oldest community theater has not merely plodded along, but made measurable artistic progress. For an organization functioning without a leader, the group’s just announced 2000-2001 season is an ambitious one.

On the main stage: The season opens with Larry King’s naughty rump-slapping romp The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, followed by A Soldier’s Play (which was made into the award-winning feature film A Soldier’s Story). The perennial holiday classic A Christmas Carol is backed up by a pair of Memphis debuts: the Off Broadway comedy hit of last season The Exact Center of the Universe and a complex new drama Far East. Noel Coward’s goofy ghost-story Blithe Spirit, and (in memory of Peanuts creator Charles Schultz) You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown round out the season.

In the Little Theatre: Christopher Durang’s ode to tabloids, TV, and psychotic reactions Betty’s Summer Vacation begins the season followed by Neil LaBute’s (In the Company of Men, Your Friends and Neighbors) evil triptych Bash. The sweet Australian comedy The Sum of Us follows, and Tina Howe’s (Painting Churches, Museum) Pride’s Crossing closes out the season.

Seven out of the 11 total plays of TM’s 2000-2001 season are regional debuts. — C.D.


When Does A Watch Become A Warning?

Last Friday afternoon, the National Weather Service issued a 40-minute tornado warning for Shelby County, activating sirens warning residents to take cover. That afternoon, however no tornadoes actually touched down in Shelby County.

So — do we duck and cover when we hire the sirens, head to shelters, or just ignore them?

In Friday’s case, radar indicated funnel clouds in adjacent counties, and the NWS was concerned they might be headed toward Memphis.

Here’s the system: The National Weather Service works in conjunction with the Shelby County Emergency Management Agency to update residents on current weather conditions. The decision to activate the sirens is made by the EMA, after it receives information from the NWS that a tornado warning has taken effect. Only then will the sirens be turned on.

“This is done in order for people in unsafe living conditions to find a safe place to go,” says EMA director Clint Buchanan, who explains that he is talking about “unstable, manufactured housing” — house trailers, in other words. EMA officials stress that when the sirens are sounded, residents should find a safe place for cover, and tune in to local TV or radio stations for updated weather conditions.

Generally, the NWS first issues a tornado watch, which indicates that tornado conducive weather is occurring or that a tornado has been spotted several counties away. Officials and spotters are then notified to be on the lookout in surrounding areas. Once a tornado has touched down in a path toward Shelby County, a tornado warning is issued.

Shelby County currently has approximately 100 torando sirens, most of them located at schools and fire stations. Last year, EMA replaced some 30 malfunctioning sirens, and a five-year plan is currently under way to add 30-40 more to newly developed areas of the county. — Jake Lawhead


Plan To Open Liquor Stores Near Costcos In Jeopardy; Merchants Suspect Couple Is A Front

A “loose confederation” of area liquor store owners is fighting an effort by a local doctor and his wife to open liquor stores adjacent to two Costco discount-club stores.

Dr. Roy Page and his wife, Nancy, have each applied for liquor licenses to operate stores in buildings connected to the two recently opened Memphis-area Costco stores. Dr. Page would own the store next to the Costco on Hacks Cross Road; Mrs. Page would own the one at Germantown Parkway and I-40. The Pages have already received a certificate of compliance from the city alcohol commission, but now their applications are stalled at the state level amid suspicions that the longtime Memphis surgical oncologist and his wife are merely fronting for Costco.

Washington state-based Costco is the nation’s largest discount club store, where shoppers pay an annual fee to have access to a large variety of goods, most of which are marked well below retail. Currently the Memphis Costcos carry a limited selection of beers, but state laws governing the selling of alcoholic beverages forbid the company from getting involved in the hard liquor and wine business.

But that is exactly what they are trying to do, according to some liquor store owners. Twice now the Page’s applications have been shelved by the state commission, and now they are taking the unusual step of going before a judge for a just-cause hearing. That hearing is slated for April 7th. Earlier this month, Scott Smith, owner of Majestic Liquors at 3705 Malco Way, and Richard Enriquez, owner of the Wine Cellar at 7960 Winchester, appeared before the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission to express their concerns about the applications, including terms of the original lease which Enriquez describes as “very generous.”

“[The Pages] were paying something like $10 a square foot in rent, while the going rate is between $16 and $20,” Enriquez says. “The typical length of a lease for a store might be five years, but [the Pages’] was a one-year lease.”

In addition, the original lease agreement had Costco providing the Pages with certain equipment, including a cash register and use of a forklift. Roy Page says most of those lease provisions have been removed and that the lease currently on the table is for three years with two two-year options.

Officials with Costco could not be reached for comment.

All these little quibbles, say area liquor store owners, are just part of an overall effort to circumvent the state liquor laws. Currently, the state requires that liquor stores be operated by independent, single-store owners without the use of any out-of-state money. This effectively freezes out Costco. But if the company finds a loophole in the state liquor laws and the playing field does not change for the state’s small store operators, area liquor store owners say Costco could effectively price them out of business.

“We’re doing what we can to make the state aware of any glitches or loopholes that would allow that to happen,” says Smith. “This is not about fear of competition, it’s about ensuring fair competition.

But Roy Page says it is about fear.

“Our stores would be no different from any liquor store in a strip mall that rents space from a landlord, but these people who are afraid of the competition don’t want you to see it that way,” Page says. “As far as our connection to Costco, I don’t even know anybody at Costco. I’ve met the store manager to discuss certain logistics, and my attorney has talked to their attorney about the lease. But that’s it, and to say that there is some sort of clandestine connection between me and Costco is ridiculous.” — Mark Jordan


Making a Difference in Millennial Memphis - 36

“Why can’t everybody just get along?” remains the great riddle of the ages. The answer, however is rather simple, if somewhat less than encouraging — it is because we are many, we are equal, and we are all very different. In a world of many faiths, colors, allegiances, ideologies and lifestyles there will never be one way of thinking, worshiping, doing business, or enjoying day-to-day life that will suit everyone. While this diversity should be cause for celebration, it is all too often the source of unrest.

Holy Trinity Community Church was founded in 1990 as a place of worship for those who felt unwelcome or uncomfortable elsewhere. It is a place where gays, lesbians, straights, Catholics, Protestants, blacks, whites — you name it — can find comfort, love and acceptance. It is, without a doubt, a great experiment.

In 1998 the church purchased a simple building at 3430 Summer Avenue to serve as its permanent home. The building is situated in a homogeneous stretch of strip malls and thrift stores, and the congregation wishes to paint a series of four murals celebrating their church’s diversity. They have artists ready and willing to do the job, but they lack funding for paint and materials.

For this worthwhile project, Holy Trinity Community Church will receive the 36th Making a Difference in Millennial Memphis grant. As part of its 10th-anniversary celebration, The Memphis Flyer is giving away $50,000 in grants of $1,000 each. The money is provided by an anonymous Memphian who hopes to encourage what might be called good works — little things that improve the quality of life in Memphis. The grants are disbursed by the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis.

Grants are available to any nonprofit in the Memphis area. To apply, send a proposal on the organization’s stationery to:

Making A Difference
The Memphis Flyer
P.O. Box 687
Memphis, TN 38101


Verbatim

“Calipari, who did a brilliant job coaching UMass to the Final Four in 1996, would be the best thing to happen to Memphis since Elvis. Well, maybe not. But at least since Gene Bartow coached there in the early ’70s.” — Dick Weiss, New York Daily News

Fly on the Wall

Fly on the Wall

Kim Hindrew
Anchor Away?

Is Channel 5 news anchor Kim Hindrew pulling up stakes? The Flyer has learned that the Chickasaw Gardens home owned by Hindrew and husband Mason Granger has been on the market for several months. To recall, Granger resigned as general manager of WMC several years ago and has since become GM at New Orleans’ NBC-affiliate, WDSU-TV. Hindrew re-signed at Channel 5 more than a year ago with a contract that station officials would only say was for longer than a year.

Hindrew, however, says she doesn’t have any specific plans to leave the station, although she does acknowledge that her house is up for sale. According to the popular anchorwoman, she has “no future plans that have been thought out.”

And Now For The Weather

On Thursday Helen Lane, a Cumberland County woman renowned for her old-fashioned, folksy weather prediction techniques, passed away after a long illness. Taught by her father, Lane used such colorful methods of forecasting as reading the thickness of corn shucks, counting the number of fogs in August, and watching where spiders spun their webs (close to the ground is portent of a bad winter). She became a media celebrity when she successful predicted the storm that dumped some 6 feet of snow on East Tennessee in the winter of 1959-60.

Though her methods sound bizarre in this age of super Doppler magnetic resonating micro-duper cyber technology, Lane’s neighbors in Crossville, Tennessee, swore by her predictions. And her methods hardly seem any stranger than our local TV weathermen’s, which going by their accuracy, seem to involve Jello shots and darts.

Eighteen-Wheel Hero

It’s been more than 20 years — when Kris Kristofferson’s Rubber Duck took on that mean old scraggly Ernest Borgnine in Convoy — since truckers were considered true heroic figures. In the ensuing years, America’s truckers have had to suffer humiliating portrayals such as Sylvester Stallone’s monosyllabic turn in Over the Top (an aptly-titled film).

But now some real trucking heroes have emerged once again. Last week the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company announced the six nominees for its North American Highway Hero Award. Among them is Memphis-based trucker John McDonald.

On February 7, 1999, McDonald, who drives for M.S. Carriers, came to the rescue of a warehouse worker whose leg had been severed when several hundred pounds of barrels collapsed on top of him. The quick-thinking McDonald applied a tourniquet and tried to calm the
A governor who knows dippy.
man while waiting for help. Though he lost his leg, the man survived.

McDonald stands to receive a $20,000 savings bond if he wins, and all finalists receive a $5,000 bond. The award will be presented March 23rd.

Daniel Webster Reincarnate

“Anyone who thinks that is … dippy,” — Governor Don Sundquist, trying to carefully choose his word to describe critics of his new Tennessee state license plate design. The new plates, which bear an uncanny resemblance to the governor’s old campaign logo, have come under fire from several law-enforcement agencies who say it is difficult to read the license number set against a dark green drawing of the state.

Compiled by Mark Jordan

Send items to:
P.O. Box 1738
Memphis, TN 38101
FAX: 521-0129

e-mail: jordan@memphisflyer.com.


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