The end of the year is a time to look back, to reflect, and, if you write for any sort of publication, to make a year-end list. Here's my contribution: eight things that happened in 2013 that Memphians should be proud of.
The Grizzlies' Playoff Run: Nevermind what the Griz are going through now — let's go back to the 2013 playoffs, aka the happiest time of the year. I loved every second of it: every time "Whoop That Trick" was played; every glowing bit of national press; Restaurant Iris denying Tony Parker reservations; that picture of all of the Griz stuffed into an elevator; and the feeling of the whole city united in grind. I was even willing to forgive Tony Allen's T-shirt tossing. But no moment of the playoffs was as incredible (and vindicating) as the last five minutes of game six against the Clippers when Z-Bo tossed his headband into the crowd and skipped off into the locker room — and our hearts forever.
The Tigers' first tournament win and first win against a ranked team: This one goes out to everyone calling for Josh Pastner's job. In 2013, the Tigers got their first NCAA tournament win against St. Mary's and, in one of the greatest basketball games I've ever watched, ever, a redemptive takedown of number-five-ranked Oklahoma to close the Old Spice Classic. Now, can we all agree to leave Josh alone, at least for the rest of the season?
The theatrical release of Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me: Drew DeNicola and Olivia Mori's documentary about Big Star wasn't the biggest movie of the year, but it was one of the more affecting, at least at the local level. It was a very Memphis movie: beautiful and tragic and funny and weird. I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried more than once.
The year of local beer: If anything on this list is the hands-down winner of 2013, it's local breweries. This was a banner year for Memphis beer. After the city laws regarding taprooms changed, it seemed like local breweries started popping up everywhere. High Cotton and Memphis Made beers started being sold in stores, Wiseacre Brewing opened its Broad Avenue brewery and its fantastic attached taproom, and two growler fills: the Growler on Cooper and the Madison Growler Shop in the Cash Saver on Madison, which became the go-to beer shop for discerning craft beer lovers.
The explosion of awesomeness at Crosstown: Even before funding was completely approved for the redevelopment of the Sears Crosstown building, the neighborhood surrounding it started to come alive.
The Hi-Tone reopened in a much nicer, more temperate space on Cleveland, and Jamie Harmon expanded his beloved Amurica photo-booth into a storefront next to it. Visible School and Yvonne Bobo relocated to the neighborhood, the Cleveland Street Flea Market got kind of incredible (and grew to include Storybooth, a local storytelling project), and Crosstown Arts continued to play host to a number of free (or incredibly inexpensive) arts events including bands, storytelling, traveling sketchbook libraries, and speed presentations.
... And Overton Square: In the past 18 months, Overton Square has gone from barely populated to impossible to find a parking space (that is, until the new parking garage opened in the fall). Once home to a bunch of sad, empty storefronts, Overton Square is now full of new restaurants (Chiwawa!, Second Line, Bar Louie, and the coming-soon ramen shop, Robata), retail (Sweet Noshings, the Attic, Breakaway Running), a yoga studio, the new Hattiloo Theatre, and the reincarnation of Lafayette's Music Room. Welcome back, Overton Square.
The launch of Southwest's service to Memphis International: Memphis International Airport had become a pretty sad and expensive place, but Southwest Airlines started offering flights to and from Memphis in November and gave those leaving town a bit of hope for airfare approximating a reasonable price.
The rejection of the original Bass Pro sign designs: I realize that this wasn't one of the year's major events and that the Pyramid will still have some (albeit less fugly) Bass Pro signage, but I agree with former Memphis Regional Design director Chooch Pickard, who said this of the original designs: "I am not anti-Bass Pro. I am pro-good design."