The Rant 

First of all, I have to boast a little. By the time this column comes out, I will be almost ready to leave Memphis with 15 Stax Music Academy students headed to New York City for their July 31st performance at Lincoln Center. Yes, Lincoln Center. My babies.

Well, they are some very mature babies. They played earlier this month for five days at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C., on the National Mall and played one Friday evening at the Kennedy Center. Yes, the Kennedy Center. And they were the toast of the Smithsonian festival, with large crowds coming to see and hear them twice a day, asking them for their autographs, and having photos taken with them. One elderly man at the Kennedy Center said to me after their show, "They make me feel alive!" Anyway, if for some reason you don't have much faith in teenagers today, pay close attention to these students. And, for the third year in a row, every high school senior in the group has been accepted to college. So there.

I wish certain adults could get their act together and follow their example. The very notion that anyone on the Memphis City School board could, with sound mind and body, discuss postponing the start of the school year indefinitely is almost too preposterous to comment on. Either fix this problem or resign. This is not something that can be juggled. Get 'er done and move on.

I just read an article, if you can call it that, on Huffington Post, that compared Amy Winehouse and her death to small business owners and how they have to protect their brand. What? Have we come to this? A 27-year-old woman dies and writers are making it into a business advice column? Move on.

And on the national budget. I have a suggestion: Why don't elected state officials make public a running list of things they are going to fund and allow the public to weigh in on? I cite this year's appropriation of $107,000 to study the sex life of the Japanese quail, which many are touting as a great possibility for a William Proxmire Golden Fleece Award, even though those awards for ridiculous government waste are no longer issued. If they were, I would say that's right up there with $150,000 Congress approved for a study on the effects of the feud between the Hatfields and McCoys, $144,000 to find out if pigeons follow human economic laws, $6,000 for a document on Worcestershire sauce, and $160,000 to study if you can hex an opponent by drawing an X on his chest. Actually, that last one may not be such a waste of money. I'd kind of like to know about that.

I want members of Congress to give me some money. If they would just cut me a check for a measly $2,000 for a study on how to feed 15 teenagers in New York City, I would spend it wisely and have the answer for them next week and then move on to the next thing.

For, say, $1,000, I could give them a detailed report on the effects of having a maid versus not having a maid. For, oh, $2,000 or so, I could issue a paper on how much more work can be done when driving a car that doesn't sound like it's going to explode into a million pieces when cranked up at Circle K. And for any amount of money, I could render an opinion on why certain families of felines find it necessary to eat individually, at different times between midnight and sunrise, instead of eating together as a group.

I have most of the data in hand already. I don't need much. I'm an efficient worker. I can work on a shoestring budget. I just have trouble with one little thing and that is balancing a checkbook. But at least I'm not delaying the start of the school year.

Which brings to mind one more thing: Mayor A C Wharton's reelection. This is simply my opinion and not necessarily that of this newspaper, but I think we have to reelect him. Memphis has been on too good of a roll in the past year to stop it now. He has done a lot of great things to try to deal with Memphis City Schools and other agencies, and sooner or later the Memphis Animal Shelter is going to follow suit. He is a great guy who shows up for everything and is interested in everything on a personal level.

When a bunch of my Stax Music Academy students were awarded scholarships to the Berklee College of Music Summer Performance Camp last year, he invited all of them and their families to his office for a chat and he was outstanding at encouraging them and telling them how proud he was of them as ambassadors for Memphis. He gets it. And he's cool. Very cool. Vote for him. And tell him I need $2,434.50 for a study on whether it is better to have a huge, fallen tree lying on its side in my backyard or to have it removed. It won't take me long to complete the research.

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