I received an e-mail this week from a gentleman in Houston. He'd been reading the Flyer online. Here's what he wrote:
"I am transferring to the Memphis area from Houston, Texas. I really never paid attention to Memphis politics or government until this summer, when it looked like I was moving my family there after the first of the year.
"I have never seen such vitriol, bordering on hatred toward the mayor of a city. What is the root of the problem? Quite honestly, before I decided to move, the negative perception concerning the mayor and city government made me think twice. ... If you don't mind me asking, what do you enjoy about living in Memphis?"
I thought about it for a while, then I wrote this:
"I've lived in Memphis since 1993. Moved here from Pittsburgh. Before that I lived in Washington, D.C., and St. Louis. I can honestly say Memphis is a better place to live than those other cities. The weather is hot as Hades in summer, but temperate in winter and beautiful in the long spring and fall. If you work downtown and live in Midtown or downtown, your commute is five to 10 minutes max. Housing is affordable and there is a huge stock of great homes available and lots of great lofts, condos, etc. downtown. We've got great restaurants, great music, some nice museums, big trees everywhere, and lots of parks. The people are friendly.
"The negative responses regarding the mayor were primarily brought on by the mayor himself. He made some arrogant and foolish statements. Some people are very tired of him, no doubt. But it doesn't really impact our quality of life on a daily basis. ... We just elected an almost entirely new City Council, and some of them are even sort of impressive. "The city school system is manageable, especially if you can get your kids into the optional programs. My children both graduated from city high schools. All in all, I'd say, don't worry about the politics too much. Blogs and websites like the Flyer tend to draw a lot of vociferous opinions.
"I think you'll find Memphis a very livable place, certainly much easier to get around in than Houston. We've got problems, but what city doesn't? Come on and dive in."
The Tennessee Department of Transportation announced last week that the I-55 "old bridge" across the Mississippi would be closed for nine months, beginning in 2017, so that the department could build new exit and entrance ramps. This is a really horrible idea, with potentially disastrous economic, public safety, and even national security ramifications ...
In the 14 years I've been the Flyer editor, I've gotten lots of hate mail. It mostly used to come in envelopes filled with pages of scrawled handwriting. I read them and put them in the wastebasket, chalking it up as a natural by-product of writing for a liberal paper in the conservative South. Lately, the angry folks have switched to email, and it comes in waves ...
(such a sky and such a sun
i never knew and neither did you
and everybody never breathed
quite so many kinds of yes) — e. e. cummings