So, as you might have guessed from looking at our front cover, the Flyer's been around 20 years. That's a long time — a quarter of a lifespan, if we're lucky and/or blessed with good genes.
For most of those 20 years, I've been in Memphis, working in one capacity or another for the Flyer and its parent company, Contemporary Media, Inc. I wasn't born here, which is a distinction worth noting. I chose to move here in 1993.
I'd met publisher Ken Neill at a magazine convention in Miami the previous year. We hit it off, and he invited me to come visit him in Memphis. He lived on Oliver Street in Cooper-Young, in a Queen Anne-style house with a wraparound front porch. As we sat on his veranda and sipped a glass of white wine, I marveled at the massive oaks blocking the evening sky.
It was April, and in Pittsburgh, where I'd been the day before, snow was still on the ground. Winter seemed as though it would never leave. In Memphis, flowers were in bloom. A mockingbird sang from a nearby lamppost. People walked by in shorts, and everyone said hello. And what kind of tree was that? A magnolia!
I was charmed. My Pittsburgh job was changing for the worse. I wanted a fresh start. Why not Memphis?
That was pre-Internet, so I ordered a mail subscription to the Sunday Commercial Appeal, and I'd sit around the kitchen table at home in Pittsburgh, looking for a good job in the Memphis want ads.
As is obvious, I finally found one. My Memphis friend and host eventually became my Memphis boss — and remains my friend, I should add.
Nine years ago, I took over as editor of the Flyer on a temporary basis, after my predecessor, Dennis Freeland, passed away. But once I got a taste of the job, I couldn't let it go. It's been the best nine years of my working life.
A newspaper is a composite creature. I believe in hiring bright and talented people, then giving them the leeway to do their jobs in bright and talented ways. It seems to have worked.
Thanks, Memphis. From all us.
The rain is coming down, slow and persistent from a low gray sky. It soaks the grass, fills the gutters, and falls hard on the flowers left on the Beale Street sidewalk outside of B.B. King's club ...
Exactly seven years ago this week, I wrote a column decrying a proposal by city engineers to turn the Overton Park Greensward into an 18-foot-deep "detention basin" designed to stop flooding in Midtown. The engineers claimed we'd hardly notice the football-field-sized bowl. "Except," I wrote then, "when it rains hard, at which time, users of Overton Park would probably notice a large, 18-foot-deep lake in the Greensward. Or afterward, a large, muddy, trash-filled depression."