In Overton Park last Sunday, a bunch of people took off their shirts and covered their nipples with various kinds of sticky items in celebration of International Go Topless Day. It was a symbolic protest, claimed organizers, a bold stance against the cruel laws that allow men to take off their shirts in public, but not women.
I just briefly glanced at the pictures posted on the Flyer website ... Okay, maybe "briefly" isn't the right word. Anyway, what I saw was a bunch of humans of many shapes and sizes with their shirts off. Many of the men wore bras to further demonstrate the absurdity of banning views of the nipple for one sex and not the other. (In a couple of cases, it appeared the men could actually use the support, but I digress.)
At any rate, it was not sexy — anything but, actually — but it looked like everyone was having fun. So whatever. At least it wasn't a total bust.
Meanwhile, out at Shelby Farms, folks were dressed in Elizabethan garments, drinking mead (or beer), jousting, eating turkey legs, and in general having a great time at the Mid-South's first Renaissance Faire. The turnout was great, and I hear a good tyme was had by everyone. It's happening again this weekend, if any of ye all are still wanting to shake your bodkins.
And there was also action at the cleverly named Health Sciences Park downtown, where the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest was defaced for the second time in as many weeks with spray paint. "AwGoWhat" was the message this time. And it didn't take Memphis' finest long to crack the case and arrest perennial wackjob mayoral candidate Leo Awgowhat for vandalism. (I'm just guessing here, but I suspect ol' Leo is also the one responsible for defacing several other mayoral candidates' signs around town with the same message.)
The City Council also voted to move the NBF statue last week, but anyone who thinks that will happen anytime soon is just, uh, whistling Dixie. This case will be fought over in courtrooms for months, if not years. And if the city does eventually win, the moving of the statue, and the even more traumatizing move of Forrest and his wife's bodies, will provide more ugly controversy and bring national press to town for reasons that won't be to anyone's liking.
Maybe we need to get a little more creative about this issue. How about if we built a circular wall around the statue, tall enough to block it from easy view? Then we charge a stout admission to those wishing to see the thing. That's a win-win, right? Nobody has to look at the Wizard of the Saddle unless they want to, and we make a some dough off of the Confederate fetishists. Use the money to fund scholarships for deserving minority students.
I realize that it will never happen. It makes too much sense and requires compromise, two things that are always in short supply. But, full disclosure, I'm about to go on vacation, so none of this will be on my radar for a couple weeks. I plan not to think about Nathan Bedford Forrest for one moment while I'm gone. I trust all of you will behave and keep your shirts on 'til I get back.
A couple weeks ago in this space, I jokingly wrote that Memphis Airport Authority head Jack Sammons had agreed to become the executive editor of the Flyer. At least, I thought I was joking ...