Friday, March 24, 2017

MAF Has a New Meaning: Memphis Ass Farm

Posted By on Fri, Mar 24, 2017 at 12:04 PM

  • Emily Yellin
Sometimes captioning goes wrong. Sometimes a line like, "Hotter than Memphis Asphalt," becomes, "Hotter than Memphis Ass Farm." Okay, that only happened once, on an episode of Sun Records. Of course the Internet caught it right away. Thanks Internet

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Nashville Changes Fred Douglass Park to Frederick Douglass Park. Finally.

Posted By on Thu, Mar 23, 2017 at 2:51 PM

When it comes to honoring African-American heroes, Memphis has had its own awkward moments as witnessed by text on the original Tom Lee monument erected in 1954. But this is next level stuff. Key bit from The Tennessean:

"On Wednesday, families and children, city officials and the mayor joined descendants of Frederick Douglass in the grassy park bottom where the famed abolitionist visited more than a century ago.

Together they unveiled the new sign that rectified a mistake that for many years left the park with the wrong name — Fred Douglas Park."

Douglass is, as noted by President D.J. Trump, an, "example of somebody who's done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more."

  • Fred

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Remembering the "Miracle Child" Robert Raiford

Posted By on Wed, Mar 22, 2017 at 3:48 PM

The man, the myth, the legendary Robert Raiford - JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • The man, the myth, the legendary Robert Raiford
I remember the first time Robert Raiford tried to retire.

"I don't know what your religion is like, and your religion may not be like mine," he told me, looking back over the 10,000 nights he'd spent in his own little garden of earthly delights on Vance Ave., where the words "No Discrimination" were painted on the wall for all to see. "But when I was in the club and it was full and everybody was having a good time, I couldn't help but feel that that was the way the world was supposed to be all the way back at the beginning of time." I was pretty sure then, and remain convinced that everybody who ever drained a quart of beer and danced the Electric Slide at Raiford's Hollywood Disco on one of those special nights when the club was packed, felt the exact same way.

Raiford moved to Memphis in 1962 and took a job pumping gas at Mabe's Esso on Poplar Ave.

In the '70s, he co-owned a body shop with his brothers, and his automotive skills took him from Memphis to Chicago and from Chicago to Wisconsin. But the cold weather didn't agree with his Southern temperament. In 1978, he returned to Memphis and rented the dilapidated building at 115 Vance and began transforming it into the most personalized disco in the world. His fingerprints were, literally, everywhere. And even with the colored lights, the thick cherry-scented smoke, and sex-o-matic dance competitions, Raiford's felt less like a club than the cozy private living room of Memphis' Avenging Disco Godfather. In the DJ's booth — and sometimes on the drum kit — Raiford reigned supreme in colorful suits, hats, and James Brown-style capes, spinning classic wax for the generations.

I first visited Raiford's place in the early 90's. It was around 3 a.m., and I'd just gotten off work and made my nightly stumble from Automatic Slim's, where I cooked and waited tables, toward Wolf's Corner on S. Main for a quick beer before bed. Wolf's was closed. Likewise, Earnestine and Hazel's.  If I was going to cap the night, Raiford's Hollywood, the lit-up little nightspot just up the street was my only option. I almost didn't go, because I'd heard it was a hooker bar, and not safe. I'm not sure I've ever felt safer anywhere else in the world. That night, which ended with me making a new friend, and a ride home in the back of one of Raiford's customized Caddies, was the first of many evenings I'd spend at the Hollywood, back when very few people lived in the S. Main district, and everybody knew everybody else. It became a kind of clubhouse. A late night refuge for all kinds of folks — blacks, whites, greens, purples and plaids, Drag Queens, and disco kings; anybody who could get along while they were getting down.

"I call myself the Miracle Child," Raiford told me once,  swearing he hardly ever had bad day. And when he was spinning records, it was impossible for anybody in the house to have a bad night.

RIP Robert Raiford. You made Memphis funky the way it's supposed to be. And weird the way it's supposed to be. And welcoming the way it's supposed to be. Flights of angels, and all that jazz...

For a fuller profile check out this great piece by Shara Clark.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A Musical History of Labor Hero Joe Hill at First Congo

Posted By on Tue, Mar 14, 2017 at 2:11 PM

Regular Joe.
  • Regular Joe.
And when Joe looked back at the sweat upon his tracks
He had nothing to show but his age
had nothing to show but his age - Phil Ochs - "Ballad of Joe Hill."

This week at First Congo, Nashville's Shelby Bottom String Band provides the music for a multimedia history of early 20th-century folk singer and union organizer Joe Hill and a discussion about art and activism in the Trump era.

Hill was an immigrant, but in the early decades of the 20th-Century there wasn't a native-born worker in America who couldn't relate to the stories he told in his songs. In addition to giving American labor its marching music, Hill became the movement's patron saint when he was cut down by a firing squad for a murder he almost certainly didn't commit.

Last words: ""Fire — go on and fire!"

It's a pay what you can event, Wednesday, March 15th at 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. First Congregational Church, 1000 South Cooper. For additional details, click here.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Memphis Church Sign: Thou Shalt Stock Up on Peanut Butter!

Posted By on Fri, Mar 10, 2017 at 8:58 AM

Church signs are an endless source of joy. Summer Ave. is an endless source of joy. Church signs on Summer Ave. are, by definition, an endless source of joy squared.

If your Pesky Fly is reading this one correctly, it's time to buy more peanut butter. Or tea biscuits. Or maybe just a nice jelly spoon. 
Or maybe they're just trying to turn us all on to this Classic Rock cover band from Ireland. Hard to tell.
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