About Richard Alley's cover story, "20<30" ...
I laughed to myself when I picked up your latest issue and read the cover — on the eve of my 36th birthday and marveling at its "pushing 40" feel — my first thought was only a sardonic "guess none of my old friends will be on that list."
These young people touched my heart. I'm a true optimist who grew up in Memphis, left for many years, then chose 901 five years ago with zero regrets. We absolutely love living here and raising our son in this wonderful city. And yet ... one Commercial Appeal story or Action News 5 viewing too many can really get me down. I need reminders like these that there are so many special people — smarter, more talented, and more ambitious than me — who do more than sit around letting their emotions get manipulated by the daily news. They inspire me to do more and give me so much hope for the future of this amazing city that I love.
And I was wrong that I wouldn't know anybody on the list. Bennett Foster, though he wouldn't remember me, was a favorite sighting at my high school haunt Java Cabana when his dad Tommy still owned it. I'm not surprised at what a big-hearted man he's grown up to be.
Kat Justice Leache
About Chris McCoy's review of American Sniper ...
While I understand the points of Chris McCoy's review of American Sniper, I take exception to his contention that the Best Years of Our Lives can be interpreted as questioning whether the war was all worth it.
In that film's memorable soda fountain scene, it is the man who did not serve in the war who tries to tell Homer, who lost his hands during the war, that his sacrifice was "for nothing." Homer is outraged and even without his hands scuffles with the man. Fred, Homer's friend and fellow veteran, does punch the man out. Fred, who is the soda jerk, loses his job, but says "the customer is always right. But this one wasn't."
The film was realistic in showing the challenges veterans have in readjusting to civilian life and in finding jobs. But none of the main characters, least of all Homer, questioned that the war was worth it.
About Toby Sells' story, "Pinch Potential" ...
Your recent article was more timely than you may have known. As we speak, the Tennessee Historical Commission is considering delisting the Historic Pinch District from the National Register of Historic Places. The reason they cite is that there aren't enough "historic resources" left in the district. Another way of saying this is that too many important historic properties have been demolished. We at Memphis Heritage disagree, as does the Memphis Landmarks Commission, which voted unanimously not to support the delisting. We believe that the boundaries of the district can be redrawn to carve out the abandoned lots.
A few tragic things led to the potential delisting of the district. When the Pyramid was constructed, a few shortsighted property owners razed some significant historic properties for parking lots. We see how well that worked out. Another issue is our woefully lacking regulations governing the building permit process. Recently, a property owner in the Pinch razed a historic building without applying for a demolition permit. Her penalty? A $50 fine.
A listing on the national register makes it much easier for property owners and developers to apply for and receive Historic Tax Credits, which are a huge incentive to redevelopment that could help bring the district back. MEMFix events are fabulous and successful. A pop-up party in the Pinch will enlighten a lot of Memphians about a real gem of a neighborhood. Let's just hope we're not too late.
Joey Hagan, AIA
Memphis Heritage President