I just read about Memphis Zoo Free Day (City Beat, April 8th issue) and had a flashback from the summer of 1976. Having just graduated from what is now Rhodes College, I was working in the admissions office and took off early to reserve some seats for friends for a Hall & Oates concert at Overton Park Shell.
The city expected 2,000 people and had only assigned 10 or so police officers. Twenty thousand people showed up, filling the park from the Shell to Poplar Avenue! Although chaos reigned that night — no gunshots but plenty of alcohol and marijuana — my friends and I were protected from most of the insanity and could actually hear the concert. The chaos seemed to derive from the fact that most could not hear the duo's music, since no additional sound system had been put in place.
So, I guess history does repeat itself. A 30-year career in nonprofit arts management has taught me that anytime you do something new, particularly if it is going to be outdoors, lots of planning needs to occur before the actual event.
Liberal to a Degree
I am a liberal Southern Democrat. However, I grew up with a racial prejudice that was instilled in me by the society around me. My epiphany came because of an intelligent move on the part of my diocese in the 1960s: Memphis Catholic High School for Boys was integrated with a sprinkling, every year, of the brightest students and the best athletes that the black Catholic community had to offer. This was, as teenagers, our first exposure to the "colored" (forgive the expression) as classmates and was greeted with puzzlement, as we really didn't quite get the civil rights movement yet. Then, as some of these guys bested us academically and athletically, most of us began to welcome them: first because they brought honor and achievement to our school, but then because we began to realize that we actually had a lot more in common than we could have imagined.
I'm still a Southerner, and I am proud of my Confederate ancestors for states' rights. But I don't give a Rebel yell that the Republican governor of Virginia failed to mention slavery in his "Confederate Month" proclamation. He's just stupid. Don't Democrats and the media have more important things to worry about?
Health care is far from fixed. There are a couple of wars that are draining our treasury. Our cities are crumbling. Our schools are failing.
We have no jobs. People are losing their homes. And damn, Tiger didn't win the Masters because he had 15 mistresses.
Tea Party Fun
Regarding Jackson Baker's April 8th cover story ("Here We Go Again"): How many Tea Party yahoos does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: 10.
• One to change the light bulb.
• One to blame President Obama.
• One to call President Obama a commie.
• One to call President Obama a socialist.
• One to call President Obama a traitor.
• One to claim that President Obama is not a U.S. citizen.
• One to spit on supporters of President Obama.
• One to hurl racial epithets at any black supporters of President Obama.
• One to hurl homophobic insults at any gay supporters of President Obama.
• And one to record Glenn Beck's latest rant for tomorrow's marching orders.
B. Keith English
The editors at The Commercial Appeal took Congressman Steve Cohen to task for his response to questions about members of the Tea Party. I say, "Right on, Steve." It's about time for someone to respond to the lies, threats, and acts of violence by members of the Tea Party.
These so-called freedom-loving tea baggers screamed down anyone who had different ideas or wanted to ask serious questions in town hall health-care meetings. Yet they never questioned the spending of a trillion dollars, borrowed from Red China, for the Iraq War. They never screamed about freedom when the Patriot Act was passed, an act that allowed the government to arrest American citizens and hold them without charges or the right to a lawyer. They never even whimpered when the unpaid-for prescription drug bill passed.
It wasn't until a mixed-race man was elected president that these freedom-loving Americans took to the streets. They refuse to honor the American election system. They had eight years to speak out about waste, fraud, and big government.
Which leads me to put on my Dr. Phil face and say what has to be said: It's time for Memphis and Shelby County to start seeing other people. We've tried for years to patch things up, to come to some sort of mutual understanding, but we need to admit that we have irreconcilable differences. We don't even know each other any more ...