Memphisness

Friday, September 14, 2018

Trader Joe's Opens West Nashville Location in Germantown

Posted By on Fri, Sep 14, 2018 at 1:56 PM

It's no mistake that the bags handed out on opening day at the new Trader Joe's say "Nashville," and "Music City." After all, it's a new day for Germantown — Trader Joe's has arrived. And while the city will remain in Shelby County, the addition of Trader Joe's to a market that already included Whole Foods and Sprouts, means the Memphis suburb can officially describe itself as being Westest Nashville.
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Via:

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Friday, August 10, 2018

"Memphis Most" Promotion Showcases Parking Lot Under Interstate

Posted By on Fri, Aug 10, 2018 at 2:16 PM

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You know what? I'm not going to complain. It could have been worse. It could have been.  Given the Gannett-owned Commercial Appeal's batting average on stuff like this lately, we should all be thankful that the background photograph for this self-promoting ad was taken in Memphis. You can even see a little skyline in the upper left.
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But mostly, it's just a shot of Bass Pro's southern parking lot.
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Under the interstate.
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This isn't a recent issue. The ad's from July. But, like they say, if you haven't read it, it's still a parking lot under the interstate.

That's so Memphis. To somebody. 

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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Memphis Isn't America's Sweatiest City

Posted By on Tue, Jul 31, 2018 at 10:31 AM

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Cold comfort seems like the wrong way to describe this latest news.

But the mercury is climbing again, as we head into August and as our pits and upper lips go dewey and our thighs turn into cheese factories, we can all be thankful that we live in Memphis, and not one of the nine American cities that, according to a new report, are even nastier.

Honeywell Fans partnered with consultants from Environmental Health & Engineering to create the definitive sweaty city list based on a set of criteria that includes "humidity levels, length of summer and access to shade." Shockingly, Memphis barely cracked the top ten.

As it happens, your Pesky Fly is a misery tourist who's visited every single furnace on Honeywell's top 10. So, instead of simply sharing the list, I've included some thoughts about each location.

1. Orlando, Florida — Anybody who's ever stood in line at Disney World knows that Orlando can be peeing-your-pants-while-drinking-coffee-in-hell miserable. But as hot and bug-infested as Orlando may seem, it's easy to maintain a smile and cheerful demeanor by reminding yourself that at least you're not in Tampa. 

2. New Orleans, Louisiana — Let's be honest. Regardless of Honeywell's methodology, fewer experiences produce more sweat for the least amount of effort, than standing roadside on Carrollton, waiting for an afternoon streetcar. NOLA is probably at least as sticky, buggy, and stultifying as Orlando most days, but everybody's having too good of a time to care.

3. Phoenix, Arizona — There is a place where dry heat meets the dry heaves. That place is Phoenix.

4. Dallas, Texas — Being in Dallas in the summer is like being in a prison movie where the sadistic warden punishes everybody by locking them in a boiler room and cranking the juice.

5. Las Vegas, Nevada — Like somebody covered Dallas in glitter and feathers.

6. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma — How this place clocks in at No. 5 is a mystery. The heat is like a blazing fist that reaches down your throat and rips out your tongue.

7. Kansas City, Missouri — I honestly don't remember KC being all that hot. But I was in a brisket coma.

8. Austin, Texas —  Cooler than Dallas in most regards.

9. Atlanta, Georgia — One of America's most miserable rush hours. Thankfully, there's a proper bar at every exit of the commute.

10. Memphis, Tennessee — There are nine places sweatier than Memphis. And besides, who's got time for weather talk when we have Bird Scooters to complain about?

Friday, June 15, 2018

The "T" Word: A Memphis Collective Looks at Black Masculinity, Nomenclature

Posted By on Fri, Jun 15, 2018 at 4:34 PM

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In the time honored spirit of the answer song, the mixed-media art exhibition "Thug" was organized to converse with a past exhibit called "Fiber,"  a deep dive into black femininity. "Thug" organizers wanted to give black male artists from diverse backgrounds an opportunity explore the range and role of masculinity in black culture. Curator and photographer Ziggy Mack says The Collective's exhibit showcases experience.

"It looks at black masculinity and how society views it," Mack says. "And it also looks at sexuality within black masculinity.

"In black culture you see this kind of appropriation happen multiple times," Mack says, setting up context for the show's title. "Post-slavery as a people we'd taken the word boy and turned it on its head substituting the word man. Like, 'Hey man! How you doing my man!' That was a response to black men being called boy. And there's the N-word, a more controversial word. But another word we appropriated like taking lemons and making lemonade."

Thug, a similar appropriation, was re-appropriated in white culture where it's become a deracialized stand in for less socially permissible slurs. 

"The collective and I used it because we thought it would make people ask, 'What's this about?" Mack says. "And we used it to turn it on its head again. To turn it into something else. To build a body of art around the word and black masculinity."

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Tom Lee Park Redesign 'Totally Unrelated To Atlantis' New Riverfront Chief Says

Posted By on Thu, Jun 14, 2018 at 9:31 AM

Definitely not an irradiated Gill Man.
  • Definitely not an irradiated Gill Man.
At a press conference in their Front Street headquarters on Tuesday, Carol Coletta, head of the Memphis River Parks Partnership (MRPP), previously called the Riverfront Development Corporation (RDC), told reporters that her organization’s plans to dramatically alter the landscape of Tom Lee Park have nothing to do with her predecessor’s ambitious project to raise the lost, subaquatic city-state of Atlantis from the depths of the Mississippi River.

“Our plan will activate the park space for all Memphians, and make it more attractive to Memphis In May festival goers,” said Coletta. “It’s totally unrelated to the RDC’s plans to raise Atlantis.”

Coletta joined the RDC in March, replacing Benny Lendermon, who had announced the public-private partnership's multimillion dollar plan to spend millions of dollars on targeted nuclear explosives that would trigger powerful earthquakes bringing the long hidden city/state of Atlantis back to the Above World, presumably to rule over a golden age of peace and prosperity for Memphis and the Mid-South region.

“Now some people will say that the new undulating hills we’re building in the flood zone of one of the most powerful rivers in the solar system would be an ideal spot for burying the thousands of horribly burned gill-men cadavers that have been washing up on the banks of the Big Muddy, but you would be wrong,” said Coletta.
“We acknowledge mutation is an ongoing problem in this area of the river,” she added. “But we prefer to focus on making the riverfront great for everybody.”

Similarly, a rebranding effort that changed the name of a corporation devoted to riverfront development (RDC) to Memphis River Parks Partnership (MRPP), was in no way caused by news reports associating the RDC with the effort to raise Atlantis.

“Having a new name that doesn’t come up in Google searches next to the words ‘raise Atlantis’ and ‘nuclear weapons’ was in no way a factor in our decision to rebrand,” said Coletta. “Look, the truth is, there wasn’t much to the Atlantis thing. It was really overblown by the media, right from the beginning.

"When Benny's crew of nuclear demolition engineers got to where they thought Atlantis was going to be, there wasn’t anything there. So, they left. That’s what happened.

"Those earthquakes you want to ask me about, we had nothing to do with those. Completely natural phenomenon.

"We’re just laser-focused on making the riverfront better by cleaning up all the radioactive material from the shoreline and disposing of it somewhere that’s not Tom Lee Park.”

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Goodbye Colonel Tommy

Memphis Artist and entrepreneur Tommy Foster has died. He was 64.

Posted By on Wed, Jun 6, 2018 at 11:52 AM

Self portrait.
  • Self portrait.


Tommy Foster was the epitome of Memphis cool. Every day of his     too-short life, this artist and enabler of alternative culture in Memphis made the city where he grew up a more colorful place to live in and explore. In addition to building his own outsider-styled constructions, contraptions, and curios, the self-taught sculptor and painter founded spaces for other artists to display and sell their work. He operated a storied venue that hosted some of the best bands of the day while doubling as an incubator for a host of local players. He made safe, visually inspired and inspiring spaces where writers, poets, and would-be filmmakers felt comfortable working and sharing their words in a noncompetitive  environment.

In later years, Foster took pictures at parties. It was a gig, but also an extension of his art. As usual, this fanboy and trendsetter was showing Memphis its best, fanciest, and funnest self.

Foster, who sometimes signed his artwork "Colonel Tommy," lost a long, hard-fought battle with cancer this week. Even if you never met the man, if you've lived in Memphis in the past 40 years,  you've encountered some aspect of his marvelous, multivarious legacy.

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The first mention of Foster I could locate in The Memphis Flyer's digital archives is dated April 2, 1998 (and now reprinted here on the right, where you can click to expand it). It certainly wasn't his first appearance in our pages, nor would it be his last. But it's an appropriately colorful yarn and, in describing this life well-lived, it seems as good a place to start as any. On that date, the original Fly on the Wall column reported that the Java Cabana founder, who sometimes moonlighted as non-denominational minister, had sold his funky Cooper-Young coffee shop and would no longer perform Elvis-themed weddings in its Viva Memphis Wedding Chapel. He was packing up his decorated box of sideburns, wigs, and chunky gold sunglasses and taking his kingly matrimony business to the Center for Southern Folklore, which was then located on Beale Street.

Wedding packages were affordably priced starting at only $185.

Memphis is a  city of marvels and curiosities and Tommy Foster did his part to keep it weird and real. In the 1980s, he founded the Pyramid Club, an upstairs rock-and-roll bar on a stretch of Madison Ave. where all the buildings were leveled to make room for AutoZone Park and surrounding apartment buildings. Musicians who played there may remember the seemingly endless, narrow stairway as the "worst load-in in history" but it attracted players like Alex Chilton and personalities like musician/journalist Bob Palmer and it hosted performances by bands like Flat Duo Jets, Human Radio, The Grifters, and The Scam.

Foster almost singlehandedly launched coffee culture in Memphis  and laid a cornerstone for Memphis’ funky coffeehouse scene. He opened Java Cabana in the Cooper-Young neighborhood in 1992, at the dawn of the C/Y comeback.

Foster turned Java's back room into his Viva Wedding Chapel, so Elvis-loving couples wouldn't have to go to Vegas to get married by the King. It could happen in the birthplace of rock-and-roll in a funky little room where the walls were hung with folk art depictions of rock-and-soul saints. Foster's wonderful coin operated Elvis impersonator shrine— originally a window display for Java  Cabana— was replicated and placed in House of Blues venues across the country.
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Foster ran the quirky Viva Memphis photo booth, oversaw the creation of A. Schwab's fantastic soda fountain, and did so many other things I'm sure I'm leaving out. He'll be missed, but his spirit will be with us for some time to come.

A memorial service is planned for later this summer. Details to come.


 

Friday, May 25, 2018

Dammit Gannett and other Media Follies — Long Weekend Roundup!!!

Posted By on Fri, May 25, 2018 at 3:52 PM

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I planned to write a whole column goofing on WMC’s time machine. See, the well-intentioned tweet above notes that the City of Memphis was created 199 years ago (in 1819) and goes on to note that WMC has been “in love ever since” even though the 70-year-old media company was founded in 1948. Maybe you can be in love with Memphis retroactively, and find some kind of familial agape love to get you through the years of slave trading and civil strife. But who has time to dwell on that while Memphis still still has a dying daily newspaper to kick around? Especially when that newspaper has a time machine of its own. And instead of going back in time and not completely screwing itself up, the Gannett-owned sadness chose instead to bring back Houston High’s 2015 soccer team to win the state championship.
"Stop, you're BREAKING THE TIMELINE!!!"
  • "Stop, you're BREAKING THE TIMELINE!!!"


This weird and probably misplaced act of heroism seems to have adversely affected the timeline, devolving Gannett’s copyediting staff to the point they can’t spell the name of their own damn newspaper. 
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And, perhaps most alarmingly of all, the CA has begun to insert random photos of Burt Reynolds into its content. And not the good ones, either.
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Thursday, May 3, 2018

Memphis comic book creators launch Rise of the Golden Dragon

Posted By on Thu, May 3, 2018 at 4:52 PM

I was biking around South Main a few Sundays back when I spied some nifty-looking Afrofuturist art at Art Village Gallery. So I popped in to discover that wasn't the only thing going on. Artists/comic creators John Cooley and Erwin Prasetya were also giving away copies of a new, locally produced comic book titled Rise of the Golden Dragon.
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Who says you can't judge a book by its cover? This issue is cool.

The spreads are generous, thoughtfully broken down and nicely drawn. 
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The action's great. 
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And the details are nice.
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The story, which has a light tone and never takes itself too seriously, is focused around a pair of warrior "dragons" who are rooting out ancient supernatural evil wherever they find it. Think Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, and tracksuit Iron Fist meets John Constantine in an Enter the Dragon remake.

The lightly worn pop-culture references don't stop there. Issue 1/12 was action-packed and full of gags, but still managed to lay the foundations of a sprawling story and establish a compelling set of personalities. And c'mon— Ninja exorcists? That's got all kinds of potential.

The self-published Rise of the Golden Dragon is slated to come out once a month. Find out more about that and other titles at Fanboycomics.com


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Wikipedia edit trolls the Tennessee House of Representatives

Posted By on Wed, Apr 18, 2018 at 2:40 PM

Klandy Holt
  • Klandy Holt
It's not hard to troll ol' Klandy Holt and a Tennessee legislature that can't quite bring itself to denounce white supremacy, but can always rise to the occasion of punishing a majority African-American city for removing the public statue of a slave trader, Grand Wizard, and Confederate general. How can it be so richly satisfying?

Hats off to the author of this edit. Though Wikipedia has removed your fine work, let it always be remembered. 
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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Great National Pancake Day Robbery + A Thirsty Burglar

Posted By on Tue, Feb 27, 2018 at 11:55 AM

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Fly on the Wall's always looking to spot new trends in TV reporting and WMC's recent marriage of food and crime news looks promising.
From this list of headlines we discover two things: It's national pancake day (who knew?). Also, the International House of Pancakes in Midtown was robbed.

Good news/Bad news
  • Good news/Bad news

WMC has also alerted Mid-southerners to the activities of a very thirsty burglar who'll break into your house and steal all your Capri Sun. We bet this fiend would grab your SunnyD too, given half a chance. 
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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Ameripolitan Awards, 2018: Winners and Music Clips

Posted By on Wed, Feb 14, 2018 at 5:41 PM

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Everybody who's a fan of honky tonk, western swing and rockabilly wins at Dale Watson's international Ameripolitan Music Awards. Sadly, only a few folks go home with trophies. The Tuesday night awards followed four days of showcases at venues like Loflin Yard, Blues City Cafe and the Guest House at Graceland and performances by dozens of artists like Whitney Rose, The Greenline Travelers, and Watson himself.

In addition to honoring the best new makers of old sounds the 2018 Awards paid tribute to Stray Cat Brian Setzer and, pedal steel wizard Lloyd Green who played on records by Johnny Paycheck, Charley Pride, and other Nashville hit makers. The night's top honoree was Sun studio founder Sam Phillips whose memory was honored with performances by contemporary artists backed by Sun drummers W.S. "Fluke" Holland and James Van Eaton. "She Thinks I Sill Care" songwriter Dickey Lee made an appearance as did the Blackwood Brothers.
And the winners were...

Honky Tonk Female: Brennen Leigh

Honky Tonk Male: Luke Bell
Honky Tonk Group: The Reeves Brothers

Western Swing Female: Sophia Johnson

Western Swing Male: Billy Mata

Western Swing Group: The Carolyn Sills Combo
Rockabilly Female: Bailey Dee

Rockabilly Male: Al Dual
Rockabilly Group: The Go Getters

Outlaw Female: Nikki Lane

Outlaw Male: Cody Jinks

Outlaw Group: Whitey Morgan and the 78’s
Ameripolitan DJ: W.B. Walkers

Ameripolitan Venue: Sportsmen’s Tavern
Ameripolitan Festival: The New England Shakeup-Up

Ameripolitan Musician: Chris Scruggs

Keeper of the Key: Reverend Horton Heat

Founder of the Sound: Lloyd Green

The Master Award: Brian Setzer

The Legend Award: Sam Phillips 

Friday, February 9, 2018

"Elvis Used to Live Here" - Honest Tourism Commercials, Memphis Style

Posted By on Fri, Feb 9, 2018 at 10:53 AM

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If you haven't seen this short parody of Memphis tourism courtesy of Ryan Hailey take a peek.

You can find out more about Ryan's Shorts by clicking here.

Happy Friday!


Thursday, February 8, 2018

RATS! Public Art that Doesn't Give a Rodent's Rump

Posted By on Thu, Feb 8, 2018 at 3:41 PM

A new art installation called “Barrier Free” now stands in the Hall of Mayors at Memphis City Hall. 
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It’s beautiful. It’s big…real big. The main piece has larger-than-life photos of families from across the city.
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That part of the piece represents “our beautiful diverse tapestry,” reads the artist’s statement from Yancy Villa-Calvo, hired to create the installation by Latino Memphis.
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Graphic shirts at the end caught my eye. What did they say? 
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The delightful little girl’s shirt reads “Follow Your Heart” and I hope she follows hers.
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The man standing behind her followed his heart when it came to choose his wardrobe. His shirt reads “I don’t give a….” Below the words, a cartoon rat leads a cartoon donkey.
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Reading between those twisty lines of high comedy, you know this shirt implies: “I don’t give a rat’s ass.”
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Then, you look up at the man wearing the shirt and you realize he really doesn’t. At. All.
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Good for you Rat’s Ass Shirt in a Big Public Art Display Guy. Much respect for you playing by your own rules.

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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Poop on Pees: A Commercial Appeal Headline Gone Wild

Posted By on Wed, Jan 31, 2018 at 2:31 PM

Some names present special challenges for headline writers who have to pack a lot of information into only a very few words. Clarity can be especially difficult if the headline writer needs to identify a person whose name is also a verb. The sports section in today's Commercial Appeal provides us with a classic example of how  inconsiderate word placement can transform the meaning of a sentence.
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How hard would it have been to simply reverse the names? — "Titans Vrabel scores twice with Pees, LaFleur?"

Way too hard for Gannett. Dammit.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Commercial Appeal Illustrates Local Earthquake Story with Non-Local Disaster Photographs

Posted By on Wed, Jan 17, 2018 at 12:19 PM

Dear mom and dad,

I'm sorry I didn't check in safe on Facebook after the earthquake in Memphis and West Tennessee. But jeepers, I didn't even know there was an earthquake in Memphis and West Tennessee. Still, I can understand how you might be concerned after seeing pictures of collapsed buildings like this one published by the USA Today-owned version of The Commercial Appeal. It looks bad. 
Pretty bad, huh?
  • Pretty bad, huh?
But that picture's a video still somebody found on the web —  this video published in 2016 to be specific — and not a current picture from Memphis or West Tennessee.

Or maybe you saw this picture. It's super-scary, right? 
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It also wasn't taken in Memphis. Or Dyersburg. It's from...
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Anyway mom and dad, I don't want to be dismissive. It's possible that this quake (which I didn't feel) caused some damage somewhere. But near as I can tell no multi-story buildings from New Zealand collapsed in Memphis today.

Anyway, I love you and I'm sorry, and I promise to check in in the future. Stay warm!

Chris

PS: I think I'm creating a new tab for my Fly on the Wall blog called Dammit Gannett. I used to just file all this stuff under media but I think with this one the CA's parent company has earned its own special place in the cabinet.   

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