News

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Q&A with Eric Barnes, President and Executive Editor of The Daily Memphian

Posted By on Wed, Sep 19, 2018 at 5:49 PM

Eric Barnes - CHRIS DAVIS
  • Chris Davis
  • Eric Barnes
The Daily Memphian, a new, ambitiously scaled and digital-only print news source, launched online this week. When the venture was announced earlier this year, the company's president and executive editor Eric Barnes said such a venture became necessary when Memphis' traditional "newspaper of record," the Gannett-owned Commercial Appeal, lost considerable editorial autonomy. Many of the new startup's first hires were marquee reporters and columnists siphoned away from the CA — refugees from the increasingly non-local local newspaper.

Barnes recently spoke with The Flyer in a brief but far-ranging conversation about sustainability, availability, representative news rooms, and the potential risks and rewards of going big and all digital.

Memphis Flyer: Obviously, you're not starting from nothing. You're building off The Daily News' legacy with so much banner talent direct from The Commercial Appeal. But with this launch, The Daily Memphian goes from zero to light speed in some ways. There's lots of digital news out there, but a startup daily of this scale is barely charted territory. Do you feel the eyes of the industry on you or are you too busy to worry about all that?


Eric Barnes: I’m not worried about industry pressure, and there are people watching us. It’s been interesting. When we started talking to people nationally about other startup digital dailies, we talked to everybody from this really cool little website in Philadelphia to the Graham family that used to own The Washington Post and still owns a bunch of TV stations. It became clear that what we were after was quite a bit bigger and more ambitious than what other people were doing — and they were still incredibly encouraging about doing it.

Most people that have started something like this — for profit or nonprofit — have started very small and grown. We made the calculated decision that we would go big and launch with a really big staff, making a lot of noise by hiring talented, popular writers. And we would come out with a big editorial mission rather than a small mission we’d then expand upon. I think by and large nobody’s done that. At least none I’ve found. Though I’m sure someone from Des Moines or somewhere will call me tomorrow and I don’t mean any disrespect.

Subscription is hard. The tech is hard. The customer service is crazy hard. And on top of the mechanics, you also need unique content people are willing to pay for in addition to what they already pay just for digital access. And all of that's in the context of a redundant media environment where the same information may be available in other spaces, often for free. How are you navigating all of this?

A few things. We wanted to come out with a good subscription signup process. So we went with a company called Piano. They handle everybody from Condé Nast’s online magazines on down. We wanted it to be simple, so there’s only one offer. We’ll have other offers down the road. But we wanted to be $7 a month, first month free. Don’t have to think about it or choose. I think a lot of online publications fail because they make it so hard to sign up. There are lots of options. You’ve got to tie it to your print subscription. You’ve got to enter a special code. It’s all intentional and understandable, but we wanted to keep it simple.

I’m probably going to overuse the word sustainability, so I’ll apologize for that in advance. You guys had, I think, $7 million at startup, which is pretty great. But this is a business where community-spirited billionaires with nothing but the best of intentions have struggled with the cost of building and keeping modern newsrooms. Is there enough revenue and readership in Memphis to support two full capacity dailies?

Obviously, we think so, but it’s not proven yet. We think our projections are modest and doable. We’re talking about, by year 5, having over 20,000 paid subscribers at a relatively low price point. We may go up from $7, but we’re not going to go up dramatically.
I’m not going to give you the paid subscription numbers that we have now, but I will say we’ve exceeded our expectations at launch quite dramatically. So, early signs are good but there’s no doubt it’s unproven. This is uncharted territory. I think we do know, to be a daily news source of high quality, and have the number of journalists you need to do that, I don’t think it can be free. There’s a place for free papers, I’m not saying it’s an impossible model. But to have a newsroom of over 20-people, covering the city on a daily basis, there’s not enough ad dollars out there. So many advertising dollars go to Google and Facebook, and there’s not enough left for the rest of us. We are going to have advertising, and we do have advertising. And we’ve exceeded our numbers on that too. But there’s definitely risk involved.

Do you hope to eventually be fully reader supported? You throw out the number 20,000 paid subscribers in 5 years. With $7 a month subscriptions, is that the number or is there a target number of subscribers for reader-supported sustainability?

Our goal is definitely to be sustainable so we don’t have to live grant to grant and constantly be raising money. For us to fulfill a mission of high quality journalism, people are going to have to participate in that. You see it at the national level. At the big metro papers like Boston.com, Philly.com, Seattle — papers that are below the New York Times but bigger than Memphis. They’re all going harder and harder on their pay wall. And they’re seeing success. It all comes back to, whether you’re for profit or not, you want to run your publication like a business. You want to pay your own way and don’t want to be forever dependent on fundraising.

Non-profit has been a big buzz in media for a while and I get a lot of it. But what I often find myself telling people is it's not some kind of magic status that makes all the sustainability problems go away. All the same essential challenges exist. You’ve got to attract and retain an audience while also covering payroll. And you've got to provide content people want badly enough to pay for it. So maybe we can address myths and realities of non-profit, and how maybe it changes what you do as a publisher.

It doesn’t change a lot. There aren’t a lot of limitations that come with that status. We can’t do endorsements, but I don’t know that we would have done endorsements anyway. More and more local papers are moving away from endorsements. There are at least 200 non-profit news sources online around the country. Some have chosen a niche or advocacy, but there’s a full range of stuff. I tell people all the time, one of the most successful businesses in Memphis has to be Methodist hospitals, and they’re a non-profit. But a very sustainable non-profit. Revenue producing. High-quality employer and a big contributor to the community. I’m with you 100%, non-profit doesn’t solve the problem. And non-profit doesn’t make it easier.

You say you can’t endorse. But does this change in any way how you cover government or politics otherwise? Also, you’re a non-profit, but you sell ads? How does that work?

It does not affect the way we’re covering government or politics. There is a difference between advertising and sponsorship and if we bring stuff in that’s deemed to be advertising in the eyes of the IRS, it probably means we end up paying taxes on it. And that’s fine.

Watching our non-profit cultural institutions grow over the years I’ve noted how they are shaped by and service their audience and donor community — which they should, and even have to to survive. But it’s not the same as reflecting and serving the community at large. That’s a tough line to walk and I wonder how will TDM be publicly and proactively transparent?

One thing is, we’re trying to be as accessible as possible to civic groups, clubs, churches, or anybody who wants to get one of us to come speak. And I don’t mean that in a token way. It’s very interesting to meet people and hear what they like and what they are interested in and want. The board is transparent. All the board members are listed on the website. Beyond that, there are some things we won’t be transparent about. Somebody said everything we do editorially should be transparent and public. But I’m not going to do that. There are a lot of stories we’re working on and we want to be first to publish. So there’s a certain amount of privacy. In the end, what matters is what we do on the site and that we’re judged by the work we do on the site.

Can the public view your financials? See big donors. Is any of that required on your 990 tax form?

Everything required to be on 990s will be on 990s. The money’s been donated anonymously and that’s kosher. The money went through the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis and so that’s not required to be disclosed.

A lot of pre-launch criticism has focused on representation in the newsroom. I don't want to be too redundant, but I tend to agree that when you take a birds eye view — or almost any view — there does appear to be a crisis of representation in Memphis print media. Do you think it’s a crisis? And, given an opportunity to build a newsroom from the ground up in a majority African-American city did you have any kind of strategy for building a more representative newsroom?

We were very intentional in trying to build as diverse a newsroom as we could. Both male and female and with people of color. We got close with female participation. We’re somewhere in the 45-percent range. We fell short on what we would have liked for people of color. We’re going to be 20-25-percent African American. That’s pretty standard. I’m not making excuses, but that’s just kind of the world we live in. The number of people of color in journalism is very, very small. The CA was in that range. Otis Sanford has talked at length about it. This has been a problem as long as he’s been in journalism. Even when newspapers were making huge profits, they were not able or did not find ways to crack that code and find ways to make newsroom more representative.

When we were hiring we had criteria. We wanted people with a print journalism background. We wanted people who had daily or near daily experience because the grind of that is not to be taken lightly. And we wanted people who are in Memphis and had covered Memphis for a long time. That meant we weren’t going to go out of market. And we weren’t going to hire kids out of college. So our pool of people was very small. That also meant, when a handful of African Americans turned us down for various reasons, our pool got really, really small. I’m proud of the people we’ve hired.

I get it. We see the world through our own eyes. I try see the world as broadly as I can but I’m still a 50-year-old white guy from Tacoma, Washington. That’s why it’s important for all companies, maybe newsrooms in particular, to be diverse. Because we see things through our own lens. The other part of this, I’ve said, and will keep saying, is that we should be judged by the work we do. If day after day after day the front page is a bunch of 60-year-old white guys who work and live on the Poplar corridor, then I’ve failed miserably. If the stories we write about don’t look like Memphis in all its complexity and diversity then we’ve failed.

We'll come back to this more in depth later. I also want to talk about the digital divide a little. And also briefly, because I want to revisit this in depth at a later date in regard to another project I'm working on. But the post-pulp environment creates information monopolies. There's this idea that "everybody has a phone," but in reality there are so many obstacles to digital access. Is there a strategy for serving the whole community or are we approaching a kind of trickle-down theory of information?

We are going to be as aggressive and smart and creative as we can be in getting access to The Daily Memphian regardless of whether or not they can afford it. We don’t want to leave people out. Simple things. I believe we’re already free in the Shelby Co. libraries. We’ll get to the suburban libraries soon. We’re free to all teachers. We’ll possibly be free in schools and other public spaces where we can take down the paywall and make access available. Then we’re going to talk to more and more people. And I’m open to ideas about how we balance financial sustainability with access.

And can I say one more thing on the diversity front?

Sure.

We will be starting an internship program that's for everybody — black, white, male, female. But we will have a particular emphasis for people of color getting into journalism. That's another small but important way we can start getting more African-Americans, and more people of color into journalism.

The Daily Memphian is available now at  dailymemphian.com

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Thursday, August 9, 2018

Sinclair/Tribune Mega-Merger Collapses. What Does it Mean for WREG?

Posted By on Thu, Aug 9, 2018 at 11:37 AM

Race to the Bottom
  • Race to the Bottom
The controversial, law-bending $3.9 billion merger of Tribune Media and Sinclair TV collapsed Wednesday, August 8th, when Tribune Media's board voted to terminate the deal.

The merger, which seemed likely, given the FCC's initial willingness to misapply the outdated "UHF discount" rule, became considerably less certain last month when the FCC criticized Sinclair, casting doubt on Sinclair's proposed divestitures, which might amount to divestiture in name only. Or, per the actual concern, "sham transactions."

Historically, Sinclair's content has been right-wing. Recently, it has become overtly Trumpian, with mandates for local stations to air editorial segments by Boris Epshteyn, the Russian-born Republican political strategist and investment banker who is now the "chief political analyst" for Sinclair. Epshteyn was also a senior advisor in Donald Trump's 2016 campaign.


The president has been more than happy to return the favor. 


What made Trump's endorsement especially troublesome — even for him — is the fact that Sinclair's stations operate unbranded. So, in terms of affiliation, the Sinclair stations the president endorses often are actually affiliates of the NBC, ABC, CBS networks he criticizes.

And some Sinclair stations are FOX affiliates. Welcome to the media ownership funhouse.

While much attention is focused on the big, national networks such as CNN, FOX, MSNBC, etc., Sinclair has been creating a vast web of local, network-affiliated stations. Local TV news has more reach than all four major cable news stations combined.

In addition to ending the merger, Tribune is suing Sinclair.

The stake in this deal for Memphians was news station WREG Channel 3. It now appears that for the foreseeable future, Memphis' Channel 3 will remain a Tribune Media property.

Bye, Boris. 
Boris Epshteyn — Not coming to WREG.
  • Boris Epshteyn — Not coming to WREG.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Will WREG dodge the Sinclair bullet? FCC commissioner criticizes policy decisions.

Posted By on Wed, Apr 4, 2018 at 11:19 AM

Race to the Bottom
  • Race to the Bottom
A recent tweet by FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel argues against policy rulings custom built to enable the Sinclair Broadcast group's $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune media. The move she criticizes would transfer ownership of WREG Memphis and push the overtly Conservative company's local market reach well past what's previously been allowed.  Rosenworcel's comments were inspired, in part, by President Donald Trump's apparent endorsement of Sinclair over "fake news" media like "CNN, NBC, ABC & CBS."
What makes Trump's endorsement especially troublesome — even for him — is the fact that Sinclair's stations operate unbranded and so, by way of affiliation, these Sinclair stations the President endorses often are the same NBC, ABC, CBS stations he also criticizes. And sometimes Fox stations as well.

Welcome to the media ownership funhouse.

Sinclair has been collecting network affiliated stations in an environment where cable news gets all the attention even though local TV news has more reach than all four major cable news stations combined

Via Common Dreams:
"Critics, including Rosenworcel, are concerned that under Chairman Ajit Pai, who Trump appointed last year, the FCC is moving deliberately to allow the Sinclair-Tribune merger to go through. Known for pushing right-wing viewpoints within the stations it already owns, the broadcaster drew ire this week after a viral video showed how local anchors nationwide are forced to read the same pre-packaged scripts."

When the FCC cleared a path for Sinclair's acquisition in May it was widely assumed that the deal would go through quickly, but that hasn't been the case. Delays have resulted from ongoing wrangling with antitrust officials in the Justice Department and the FCC's internal investigation into decisions made by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, and "whether there had been [FCC] coordination with [Sinclair]."






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Friday, February 9, 2018

City Accidentally Erases Wrong Murals

Posted By on Fri, Feb 9, 2018 at 2:26 PM

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The big, gray, sorta-kinda controversial zombie painting by Dustin Spagnola still haunts Lamar Ave. but some really nice murals created by 15 other artists have been accidentally removed from S. Willett.  The Commercial Appeal's Ryan Poe reports:

In a statement Friday, Public Works Director Robert Knecht said there was a "miscommunication" that led to crews painting over too many murals.

"This was not intentional," Knecht said.

A recent Flyer cover story about Satanic panic on the City Council and the midtown mural project chronicled the history leading up to what Paint Memphis founder Karen Golightly describes as a violation of the city's written agreement with her organization.

If you want a comprehensive look at what the project was like before the repainting here's a slideshow. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Memphis College of Art in the 1960's-70's

Posted By on Thu, Nov 16, 2017 at 11:33 AM

Artists Ed Perry and Rockne Krebs worked together on numerous - urban-scale installations involving light and lasers. - COURTESY OF ROCKNE KREBS ESTATE
  • Courtesy of Rockne Krebs Estate
  • Artists Ed Perry and Rockne Krebs worked together on numerous urban-scale installations involving light and lasers.

Additional "Art of the Deal" web extras will be more closely related to MCA's closing. But I'd originally wanted to drop the whole story of the school's misfortunes into a bigger history, and look at the relationship between the art college and the city that helped to create and sustain it. It was classic biting off more than I could chew but hopefully unused interviews with Dolph Smith and Veda Reed, collected for this week's cover package, will provide readers with a snapshot of campus life in the 1950's, and as the school transitioned to Overton Park. And maybe this curiosity from from the Flyer's morgue will do double-duty, giving readers a taste of what MCA (still the Academy) was like in the 1960's and 70's — and also what kinds of things were going on more recently at The Nesin Graduate School downtown. It tells the story of Academy grad and art-world nobody Ed Perry, the amazing body of work he left behind, and the friends and former classmates who wanted to make sure he wouldn't be totally forgotten.

It may not capture highlights from the era. You'll have to go here to look at pictures from the time David Bowie showed up. But it's the best I had on hand!

The story originally published August 21, 2014.

The Life and Afterlife of Edward Perry
Who is Edward Hagen Perry, and why is The Memphis College of Art producing two shows of his work?

by Chris Davis

Ed Perry and Rockne Krebs unload one of their urban-scale installations - COURTESY OF ROCKNE KREBS ESTATE
  • Courtesy of Rockne Krebs Estate
  • Ed Perry and Rockne Krebs unload one of their urban-scale installations
Ed Perry isn't famous. He died, a complete unknown, of congestive heart failure in 2007, in the toxic environment of his cluttered home and studio in Stephensport, Kentucky.

"They say he died of congestive heart failure, but there was so much wrong with him you can't keep up with it all," says Memphis songwriter Keith Sykes, who met and became close friends with Perry in the 1960s. "Ed was relentlessly cruel to his body his whole life," Sykes adds.

At the time of his death, Perry's only source of income was a small Social Security check. He died penniless. All he left behind was a mean parrot named Jake, a filthy house overfilled with furniture parts, old wood, and electronics he'd collected for the creation of future projects. He also left an uncommonly unified body of work, much of which had never been exhibited due to Perry's deep mistrust of the commercial art world.
coverstory_pc-8.f.jpg
Although he despised the gallery system, many of the large, meticulously constructed pieces Perry built, mixing painting and sculpture while skirting the boundaries of fine and folk art, were painstakingly labeled, with notes regarding size, weight, construction and, when appropriate, wiring schematics. Many pieces were boxed and stored, as if awaiting their invitation to gallery shows that were never booked. So they sat for decades, gathering mildew and parrot dung, like dirty brides left waiting at a shabby alter.

"Contaminated" is the word Sykes uses to describe his old friend's living environment at the time of his death. "He must have worked for two weeks to just make room for us to move around," he says recalling earlier, happier visits. It fell to Sykes to salvage, store, clean, and painstakingly catalog his friend's work. "If you were sensitive or had any kind of allergies at all, you probably couldn't go in there at all," he says. "We finally got stuff out with masks and gloves on. Because over the years all the nicotine and all the sawdust and all the moisture had conspired together to make it just pretty damn deadly."

So who was Ed Perry? What is it that sets his work apart from so many other artists who collect their MFAs and never exhibit again? And what did this completely unknown artist do to merit two simultaneous shows of his work at the Memphis College of Art (MCA)?
Ed Perry was a Pacifist but became enraged when diplomatic agreements resulted in the destruction of missiles he might have transformed into art supplies. - COURTESY OF MEMPHIS COLLEGE OF ART
  • Courtesy of Memphis College of Art
  • Ed Perry was a Pacifist but became enraged when diplomatic agreements resulted in the destruction of missiles he might have transformed into art supplies.
Judging by his resume and correspondence, Perry self-identified as a "Visual Engineer, MFA," and an "electro-optics engineer," whatever those titles may imply. He was also an abstract painter and an obsessive builder. He was a chain smoker, a self-made scientist, and a 1972 Memphis Academy of Arts graduate. In the late 1950s and early 1960s he trained as a figure skater in Lake Placid, New York, where he met and befriended Olympic medalist Peggy Fleming. He was also a radical pacifist, a drinker of strong libations, and a boundary-defying conceptual artist working with found materials, spray paint, and state-of-the-art lasers.

Ed Perry was a Pacifist but became enraged when diplomatic agreements resulted in the destruction of missiles he might have transformed into art supplies.

Additionally, the man collected in "Ed Perry: Constructions," and "Ed Perry: Between Canvas and Frame," was something of a stock character: the misunderstood genius, pursued by personal demons, uncompromising to the point of being commercially invisible throughout most of his semi-reclusive lifetime.

Perry was highly trained both as an artist and a laser technician. He shared studio space with groundbreaking artists like Sam Gilliam and frequently worked alongside Washington D.C.-based art star and fellow parrot-owner Rockne Krebs, to create massive, urban-scale laser installations. But he was an artworld nobody when he died in 2007. And it's unclear just how much the MCA exhibitions can do to launch an unknown alum's posthumous career, or give his elaborate, mixed-media constructions the happy afterlife Perry's friends think they deserve.

Remy Miller, MCA's dean of academic affairs and the driving force behind both Perry exhibits, thinks it's too easy to sensationalize the lives of troubled artists, and he worries that doing so takes emphasis off of the work. "People tell these horrible stories about a guy who was falling apart and struggling to live," Miller says, specifically referring to accounts of the life of action painter Jackson Pollock. "That's really what you want to talk about in the face of this beautiful work?"

But even Miller succumbs somewhat to the temptation of a good story, comparing Perry to Vincent van Gogh, the Dutch painter whose post-mortem success is partly responsible for the enduring myth that nothing increases the value of an artist's work like a difficult life and untimely death. But the van Gogh story, while relevant in so many ways, isn't an especially realistic impression of how the modern art world works. Perry despised the business side of art-making, and although his resume lists a handful of shows, for the most part he seems to have actively avoided public viewings of his work.

"I asked him if he'd ever thought about making a coffee table book, and what came out of him was another Ed I didn't know and didn't want to know," Sykes says, recalling a past dustup. "I just wanted people to see the stuff. He really hurt my feelings over that."

"I think Ed understood the work was really good," Miller says. "Why else prepare all of that other stuff? Why bother to box it up? Why keep it? Write all those notes on it? I think Ed just couldn't bear to sit through what was going to have to happen next."

Gordon Alexander shared a house with Perry when the two were still students at the Memphis Art Academy (now MCA). He remembers a visit from his friend some years ago, on the night before several larger pieces of Perry's work were scheduled to ship to Memphis' Alice Bingham Gallery for a show. "Ed just says, 'I'm not going to do it,' and he didn't. And that was it." The pieces never shipped; the show never happened.

In some regards, because he has no exhibition history or records of previous gallery sales, Perry might as well not exist. He has no place within the established art world. And even if gallery people find the work compelling, they don't really know what to do with it, because there's no previously established value.

"It's a kind of catch-22," says Ellen Daugherty, the art historian who led an MCA class on Perry and contributed an essay to the exhibit's striking catalog.

Art consultant John Weeden was enlisted to structure a logical value scale for Perry's work. He couldn't discuss the specific rubric, but he gave a general overview of how we might assess the worth of artwork created by a previously unknown artist.
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"Commercial history and provenance are two of the leading factors in determining the general value of an artwork," he says. "In the case of a largely unknown artist, the task becomes one of establishing a framework upon which an initial market for that artist's work may be constructed." Weeden also allows other considerations including the nature of the materials, the style of the pieces, the reputation of the artist, and the level of craftsmanship, labor, and design.

So finally, with two shows, a class, this story, and any other attendant press, Perry the artist finally has a public paper trail. His working relationship as an artistic and technical assistant to Krebs can be affirmed, and too late, maybe, an underappreciated artist gets his overdue recognition.

MCA's Miller doesn't equivocate: "I wouldn't be talking to you right now if I didn't think that this body of work can stand up next to any body of work created in the later half of the 20th century," he says. "I absolutely believe it's as good as any body of that work made by any artist during that time period." Miller's not alone in that belief. Sykes and Alexander, both close to Perry since the 1960s, have made a strong effort to ensure that their old friend's life work doesn't pass unnoticed.

Perry was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. His father was a WWII vet. His brother Bill also went military. Perry, on the other hand, took classes at community college and trained as an ice skater before leaving for art school in Memphis in the fall of 1967. He was riding a Triumph motorcycle and wearing a flak jacket and WWII combat helmet the first time Alexander saw him pulling up to the Memphis Art Academy in Overton Park. The two young artists bonded early, becoming neighbors, first in the Auburndale Apartments, then housemates, when they moved, along with their friend Paul Mitchell, into an old house on Madison Avenue where Overton Square's French Quarter Inn now stands.

By most accounts Perry was a good but not stellar student who worked hard when he was interested and sometimes flummoxed faculty. He would eventually become MCA's student body president.

"I was in New York by then," Alexander says, speculating that his friend must have been drafted into student government. "He hated titles."

Always interested in technology, especially the artistic applications of lasers, Perry also took physics classes at Rhodes College (then Southwestern).

Alexander describes the Memphis Art Academy as being a creatively fertile environment and speculates that Perry was especially influenced by the work of three notable professors: Ted Faiers, who experimented with totemic "Indian Space" painting and 3D painting; Ron Pekar, the original graphic designer for Ardent Studios who worked in neon and designed the logo for Big Star's #1 Record; and acclaimed color theorist Burton Callicott, who painted false shadows in his work and created colorfields that seemed to glow with their own internal light. Because he was exposed to so much 20th-century art, it's difficult to call out specific influences, but it's not difficult to look at Perry's totem-like constructions and imagine all the ways they might be inspired by these mentors.

Alexander describes the house he shared with Perry as a mattress-on-the-floor den for starving artists. Work was always being made by someone somewhere in the house and painters, sculptors, and musicians were always coming and going.

"We didn't even lock the house," Alexander says. "I know it's hard to believe, but it's true." Musician and occasional actor Larry Raspberry was an intermittent visitor. So was Sykes and a young Alex Chilton, who would eventually move in next door. Somebody was always playing music. When they weren't, Alexander, an audiophile and music editor for the then-Dixie Flyer, Memphis' original underground newspaper, was spinning records on the turntable.

It would be years before Sykes would co-write the hit song "Volcano" and hook up with Jimmy Buffett's Coral Reefer Band. At this point he hitchhiked, pumped gas, worked the holiday rush at Sears Crosstown, and toured as a Dylan-inspired folkie on the Holiday Inn Circuit. He met Perry and Alexander when they were still living at the Auburndale Apartments and remembers being smitten by Ed's work from the very beginning.

"Once you see an Ed Perry, you'll always know his work," Sykes says.

Like so many great college friends, Sykes and Alexander became separated and immersed in their own families and careers. They lost touch with Perry for 20 years.

Perry took his MFA at the University of Cincinnati, where he subsequently went to work for Leon Goldman, a dermatologist and laser surgery pioneer sometimes referred to as "the father of laser surgery." Perry and Goldman co-created studies on laser surgery and published them in scientific journals. But when it was time to make art again, Perry moved on.

Krebs met Perry in 1974 at a laser safety certification class at the University of Cincinnati and almost immediately hired him as an art assistant with laser-safety training and advanced technical skills. This was the beginning of a decade-long working relationship with Krebs.

Perry eventually moved to D.C., where he kept an apartment and studio on the second floor of a warehouse co-owned by Krebs and noted color field painter Gilliam who, like Faiers, had been painting well beyond the frame.

Krebs had a cranky parrot named Euclid, and Perry acquired a cranky parrot named Jake. Studio visitors sometimes had to use trash can lids as shields to avoid a ferocious pecking.

Heather Krebs, Rockne's daughter, remembers Perry well. She says she had to pass by his studio whenever she visited her father's. "He was always in there working," she says, remembering his creations, like the decorated envelopes he made for her to use, but which she kept instead.

Heather suggests that Perry might have benefitted from his proximity to both her father and Gilliam. Clients coming in and out would have seen his work in Krebs' studio or in his own. She wonders if steady work meant he didn't feel pressured to show.


Ed Perry and Rockne Krebs unload one of their urban-scale installations
Krebs created large-scale laser and solar installations for the Omni International Building, now the CNN Center, and Perry consulted and assisted. "Omni was billed as the greatest premiere in Atlanta since Gone With the Wind," Perry wrote excitedly to Krebs, describing the 1976 opening.

"The stuff shirts oohed when Tony Orlando took the microphone," Perry continued in his letter. "And moaned when he announced he would not sing."

Perry moved back to his parents' farm sometime around 1986, and that is where he either built or completed many of the constructions on display in "Between Canvas and Frame."
Artists Ed Perry and Rockne Krebs worked together on numerous - urban-scale installations involving light and lasers. - COURTESY OF ROCKNE KREBS ESTATE
  • Courtesy of Rockne Krebs Estate
  • Artists Ed Perry and Rockne Krebs worked together on numerous urban-scale installations involving light and lasers.
Ellen Daugherty thinks that, for all of his training and expertise, Perry's work sometimes resembles folk art. "Ed builds this stuff that has a kind of similarity to some folk artists," she says, citing his approach to construction and his use of available, affordable materials like old fence boards and discarded Shaker furniture parts. "But when you look at the stuff, that ain't folk art," she says. "It's highly trained. And extremely visual and abstract."

A laser diffraction photo by Ed Perry given to laser artist Rockne Krebs
The backs of Perry's constructions are often as lively as the fronts. Electronic pieces include a full-sized drawing of the wiring plot. Many pieces include obsessive notes about what kinds of materials have been used, when the canvas was primed, and so on. He also makes diary entries marking everything from Halley's Comet arriving in conjunction with the first Martin Luther King Jr. Day, to notes about the Mississippi River flood of 1993.

The two Perry shows are the culmination of a sprawling buddy adventure that launched in Midtown in the 1960s and is now coming home to roost.

"In the late 1990s me and Gordon started talking," Sykes says. "We should go see Ed. You know he's going to be like he always was. Not taking care of himself. Working all the time. Forgetting to eat. Forgetting to sleep. If we didn't go see him, we thought we might not ever see him again." So the old friends went to visit their buddy in Stephensport. After the first trip, they continued to visit as often as possible. They helped their friend when they could, and they watched him fall apart.

"He made bird houses that looked like Frank Lloyd Wright designed them," Alexander says. Further blurring the lines between fine art and folk art, he also carved beautiful, realistic duck and fish decoys, and built majestic weather vanes.

Even at his folksiest, Perry never stopped surprising his friends. "We were sitting around one night and it was dark," Sykes recalled. "Ed says, 'Y'all watch this.' And before you knew it, there were laser beams running all around the house. He had mirrors set up here and there, and that light doesn't degrade."

After Perry's death, Sykes took charge of Jake the parrot and as much of the artwork as he could, with a goal of getting it seen. A veterinarian said it was normal for older parrots to be cantankerous, adding that Jake would be fine once he was weaned off the alcohol. Getting the artwork in front of people proved to be trickier, but Mark and Becky Askew loved the work and agreed to show it in the Lakeland offices of A2H architects.

Miller says he initially had no interest in viewing the work. "I figured it would be the couple of good pieces on the invitation and maybe some unicorns," he says. "But I went. And I've never seen anything like this in terms of a body of work. It was just amazing. So consistently good. So complex. So beautiful and so interesting. I immediately started bringing people out to see it." Now, with the two MCA exhibits, he's inviting the rest of Memphis to look.

One big question remains. What would Perry, who took such pains to stay out of the spotlight, think about his posthumous closeup? "Well, for starters, we're not taking a commission," Miller says, addressing one of Perry's primary complaints.

Alexander takes things a little further: "If he was going to be anywhere in the world, Memphis or Spain or wherever. I think he'd want to be at the Art Academy. Back in Memphis, where it all got started."
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Monday, November 6, 2017

Richard Ransom Announces Plan to Curb Violent Crime Reporting at WATN 24

Posted By on Mon, Nov 6, 2017 at 5:32 PM

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“Reporting crime all the time is not a responsible or accurate reflection of life in our city and I am proud to work with a news team that wants to inform you, not scare you.” — Channel 24 anchor/managing editor Richard Ransom
Richard Ransom, who left his position at Memphis' top-rated WREG, to join the news team at WATN Channel, 24 says he wants to break the cycle of "if it bleeds it leads" TV-journalism. In a brief but compelling interview with Smart City Memphis, Ransom described lazy “crime all the time” coverage, as  low-hanging fruit. "It also doesn’t reflect the city I know," he said. "It glorifies violence and can fuel racial stereotypes."

That all sounds good, and just about right, but can we expect real change?
"Based on our sample, WATN-24 (formerly WPTY) appears to have the highest percentage of mayhem in the Memphis market. In fact, among Memphis stations, Channel 24 seems to devote the least amount of time to news reporting." — Guns & Bunnies, a Memphis Flyer cover story from April, 2017.
  • "Based on our sample, WATN-24 (formerly WPTY) appears to have the highest percentage of mayhem in the Memphis market. In fact, among Memphis stations, Channel 24 seems to devote the least amount of time to news reporting." — Guns & Bunnies, a Memphis Flyer cover story from April, 2017.
Local Memphis 24 has little to lose with this experiment and everything gain.  Judging by the results of a  Memphis Flyer survey from earlier this year, it was the station devoting the largest percentage of its time to crime reporting while producing the least amount of non-crime-related news content. It has also been a perennial cellar-dweller in the ratings game and any attempt to generate more  relevant news programming would be a step in the right direction. A serious attempt to deemphasize crime in favor of useful news might even disrupt the local broadcast market.

Or it will prove once and for all that broadcast consumers prefer being entertained, enraged, and scared to being informed.





Tuesday, August 1, 2017

NewsMax CEO Worries About Sinclair Broadcast's New Acquisitions, Media Consolidation

It's a Conservative-Propaganda-Organ-Eats-Conservative-Propaganda-Organ World Out There. Be Careful Where You Step.

Posted By on Tue, Aug 1, 2017 at 2:15 PM

Boris Epshteyn — Coming to WREG soon?
  • Boris Epshteyn — Coming to WREG soon?
Industry trade magazine AdAge reports that Christopher Ruddy has asked the FCC to take time and carefully weigh any decision allowing the Sinclair Broadcast Group to go through with a deal that would bring the media conglomerate a total of of 233 local TV-news stations, including Memphis’ WREG.

Via AdAge:

"I am calling for delay," Christopher Ruddy, CEO of Newsmax, a conservative outlet with a 24-hour cable news channel, said in an interview. "I think it needs more vetting."

Ruddy, a friend of President Donald Trump, adds a conservative voice to liberal critics of the deal who are wary of Sinclair building a network of local stations featuring the company's pro-Trump commentary.

If you don't know who the players are here NewsMax is a frankly conservative multi-platform media company where TV hosts comfortably compare unflattering news reports about President Trump to “lynchings.” That comparison's no anomaly at NewsMax, which recently dipped its toe in the cable news business. Though marketed as Fox-light it's been a reliably safe space for Right-Wing cranks and conspiracy theorists.

Sinclair's been collecting local news stations. Holdings currently include ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX affiliated properties in an environment where local TV news has more reach than all four major cable news stations combined with NewsMax tossed in like a set of Ginsu knives. Frankly conservative and unapologetically Trumpist, Sinclair requires local stations to air segments by former Trump staffer Boris Epshteyn, the sixth person interviewed in ongoing probes into Russia's impact on U.S. elections.


For pretty much everything you need to know about Sinclair and Boris, and what might happen to Memphis' WREG if the FCC approves Sinclair's latest takeovers click here.

So basically we've reached this weird patch of Spacetime where a company invested in a national cable news product promoting kooks and conspiracy theorists can run headlines like "Local Broadcast Wins as National Media Increasingly Distrusted" with a straight face.

Welcome to The New Fairness in a marketplace of ideas that's somehow even worse than it was when  irresponsible media narratives were seeded and tended by media organs with no agenda beyond basic profit motive.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Corker Describes Trump as a "Wrecking Ball"

Day Officially Ruined

Posted By on Mon, Feb 13, 2017 at 11:28 AM

Yes, “Wrecking ball.” That’s the expression Tennessee Senator Bob Corker used to describe President Donald Trump, in a recent interview for Politico. Corker’s intention was to describe the flailing President as a powerful leader wrestling with destructive foreign policy urges. He didn’t mean to make us all imagine what Trump might look like naked in a Miley Cyrus video.

Thanks, Bob. 
If that wasn't enough, Corker also wants to "massage" Trump's "nuggets." No, he actually said that.
  • If that wasn't enough, Corker also wants to "massage" Trump's "nuggets." No, he actually said that.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Rep. Jeremy "Pants Candy" Durham Merits Expulsion From Tennessee General Assembly

Posted By on Wed, Jul 13, 2016 at 9:13 PM

Jeremy Durham AKA "Pants Candy"
  • Jeremy Durham AKA "Pants Candy"
File under wow.

Rep Jeremy Durham (R-Duh) looks to be a special kind of icky creeper, and a report from Tennessee's attorney general finds his behavior merits expulsion from the General Assembly. Not that anybody's expelling him or anything. 

According to the AG's report Durham was nicknamed "Pants Candy" by one of the 22 women with whom he had inappropriate sexual encounters. His partners had been reluctant to complain for fear of losing their jobs. Lobbyists, interns and executive assistants also worried they's lose favor with the GOP caucus

How did Durham earn the nickname Pants Candy? He kept a dish of candy on his desk. When asked for a piece he reached in his front pocket and fished suggestively for an unwrapped mint. "You don't want those, I've got this," he was quoted as saying.

The legislator's political fate is being left in the discerning hands of District 65 voters. 

Shudder. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Woman Stabbed for Spilling Cheese Dip; It Wasn't Even Pancho's

Posted By on Sun, Jul 3, 2016 at 12:21 PM

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There needs to be an addendum to the old saying, "Don't cry over spilled milk." Don't stab people over spilled cheese dip, especially if it's not Pancho's.



Seriously, don't do that. 



A 35-year-old Memphis woman was rushed into surgery at Methodist hospital this morning after she wrecked a car she was driving to the emergency room.  She'd been stabbed by another woman who, according to reports, became unreasonably upset after the victim spilled a container of Rotel the two women were sharing with an unidentified male.



Ongoing. 








Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Former Memphian David Gest is Dead at 62

Posted By on Tue, Apr 12, 2016 at 12:42 PM

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David Gest is dead. The American producer, and the former Mr. Liza Minnelli who became a British reality TV star, was found dead Tuesday morning in his room at the Four Seasons hotel in Canary Wharf, London. He was 62.

Gest is one of those special people who is primarily famous for being famous. He had been friends with Michael Jackson, and was still technically married to Liza when he took up residence not a stone's throw from the Flyer's Tennessee St. offices. Before jumping across the pond to try his hand at shows like "I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!" Guest lived in Memphis' South Bluffs community, and was often seen puttering about Downtown, or chowing down on fried chicken at Gus's. He could also be seen in Midtown, East Memphis, and other parts of the city where, in spite of a professed desire for anonymity, his face was blown up larger than life, and split into two halves on billboards promoting the man and his various initiatives.  

On November 20, 2006, the Flyer received a transcontinental phone call from the London Sun, a daily Rupert-Murdoch-owned tabloid that was looking to hire a fearless reporter who could get to the bottom of a hot story that was taking Europe by storm. Longtime Flyer columnist and reporter John Branston took the call but not the job. According to a blog post Branston wrote later that same morning, the Sun wanted someone to visit Gest's house to confirm a story he'd shared with the British media about a maid he kept on staff in Memphis named "Vagina Semen" — a name that was later revised to the slightly less graphic "Vaginika Semen." The Sun needed confirmation.

When reality TV gets real.
  • When reality TV gets real.
"We are so NOT making this up," Branston wrote. "Stay tuned."

Memphis has known its share of eccentrics, but few have been more wondered about than Gest, who upon growing weary of his life in big cities (and the tabloids), tried to escape all the notoriety by moving to our sleepy little river town where he fancied buying, "a very small, intimate luxury hotel with a ballroom on the top of it," but never did. 

In 2004, after weeks of trying to score an interview for an article about him and a charitable event he was planning, Gest told me to meet him at the Peabody Hotel. He kept me waiting for an uncomfortably long time, but he did show up eventually, and we chatted over a plate of batter-fried veggies and cheese.

Here's the original Q&A from Dec. 3, 2004.

The Two Faces of David Gest

"There's another David Gest, and I'd really like to meet him. The one you read about is fascinating, wild, weird, and wonderful, and I don't really think of myself in any of those ways. I never intended to be a personality. I went for years [behind the scenes] as a producer. Then [I produced] Michael Jackson's 30th Anniversary] special. That's when I fell in love and everything changed. Things changed after my wedding and after my life with Liza."

— David Gest, at The Peabody, November 29, 2004

He's on a diet and he's had cosmetic surgery. He's good friends with the King of Pop, Michael Jackson (who has had cosmetic surgery, is probably not on a diet, but has other troubles with which to contend). He's married to Liza Minnelli (whose diets, surgeries, and other troubles are well-known), but they are separated and suing one another. He says she got raging drunk and beat him to the point of disability. She says he swindled her knock-kneed.

These are the things you already know about music producer David Gest, if you know anything about him at all. And since these stories have been blown out in the supermarket rags and on tabloid TV, there's really no point in repeating any of it, now is there?

Gest lives in Memphis now, on the south side of downtown near the river. And he wants to make sure that every Memphian who is hungry, cold, old, infirm, lonely, or down on his luck has a nice dinner waiting for them at various Memphis restaurants on Christmas Day. He's promised participating restaurants money up front and is willing to fund it out of his own pockets. But he'd prefer to pay for the whole shebang by way of a star-studded shindig at the Cannon Center: David Gest's All-Star Holiday Extravaganza.

"So I'm only bringing 40 or 50 artists to town," Gest says, countering criticisms that many of the celebrities he's used to promote the event won't be attending. "Who else is bringing four?"

And who else is offering a free Christmas dinner to anybody who shows up and says "I'm David's Gest" at Corky's, Gus', Willie Moore's, the High Point Café, Westy's, Precious Cargo, Neely's, or Ray's? Whether you love to hate him or hate to love him, David Gest is in the house. He's roaming downtown Memphis, performing random acts of kindness, offering up the moon and determined to deliver some stars.

Flyer: Where were you and what were you doing when it occurred to you that you would be moving to Memphis?

David Gest: I was living in Hawaii and suffering from a brain concussion, and somehow I just dreamed about living on the Mississippi River. I always had an affinity for Memphis. It was something that I felt like I needed at this time in my life — to be away from the paparazzi and not to be someone who's always in the tabloids. I wanted to buy a home that was facing the river, and I did. In my life I've learned you've got to go with your gut. I wanted to live in the South. I felt that I could go to Memphis and make records and do things. I can always fly to L.A. or to New York. And I like living in a small town. It agrees with me.

But what was the specific allure of Memphis?

I was — I think — 17 and I was a journalist when I first came here. It was 1971, and I came to Memphis for a rock-and-roll writers' convention. Everybody got to go to Stax and to Hi Studios. There was a big reception at the Holiday Inn Rivermont, which was the hotel back then. You'd see Rufus Thomas walking around in hot-pants promoting "The Funky Chicken." You'd see all the great Memphis artists there. And all of this had a really strong effect on me, so I kept coming back. About two years later, I was offered the job of national public relations director for London Records. I was supposed to be 21, but I'd just turned 19. I lied about my age. I had a thick, thick Afro that went down to my butt and a moustache and a beard, so I looked older. You know when you're a kid you always want to look older. Then you get old and you want to look much younger. When you get to my age — which is 51 — you start to go, Unh-unh.

That was when you started doing PR for Al Green.

Yes, I did public relations and career guidance for Al Green. [He] was the biggest thing at the time. I did the publicity campaign for [Ann Peebles' hit] "I Can't Stand the Rain." You know, I was the one who had John Lennon come to the Troubadour [an L.A. club where Peebles was performing] on the night he wore the Kotex on his forehead. He was really drunk, and he was screaming, "Annie, baby, I love you! Annie, baby, I wanna, I wanna " And then he asked the waitress, "Do you know who I am?" And she said, "You're an asshole with a Kotex on your forehead." They kicked him out of the Troubadour that night. But he loved "I Can't Stand the Rain." It was his favorite record.

How often were you in Memphis back then?

I'd be here every three to four months. I'd fly in and work with Quiet Elegance, or maybe Ace Cannon, and others. I gave a party in 1977. It was called "Moonlight on the Mississippi in Memphis." It was a party on a riverboat for the Doobie Brothers. Jerry Lee Lewis was there and Rufus Thomas, Ann Peebles, Carla Thomas, the Memphis Horns. It seemed like everybody was on that boat, and it was a jam all night.

Is it true that you recently gave an elderly woman who was shopping at the MIFA thrift store $100 to buy a coat?


Yes. I loved this lady's face. She was 70 or 80. The sweetest little woman you've ever seen. She came up to me and she said, "I love you." And I said, "Well, I love you." She'd seen me on Larry King a few times, and she said, "I think it's wonderful what you're doing for the community." And so I asked her what she was doing, and she said, "I'm buying a coat." I said, "Let me buy you a coat." I went in with her to shop, but she couldn't find the right coat, so I said, "Here's a hundred dollars. Go buy yourself something." She was sweet. I have no idea what her name was.

When you moved to Memphis did you know that you would be producing a celebrity gala and trying to provide Christmas dinner for 100,000 disadvantaged people?

No. In fact, when I moved here, I'd decided that I really wasn't well enough to start working again. Then one day I saw this man on the street and he said he had no food and he needed $7 for shelter. He said, "I've got no place to go not even for Christmas." I asked, "What do you do on Christmas?" and he said, "I beg for food."

I thought, I'm going to put on a show. I'll call my friends and put together a concert so that on that one day a year people can eat for free. [Even with the benefit concert] it's probably going to cost me money to feed all of these people. I'll underwrite it. What's important is seeing results.

Is Memphis now your home or is it just a pit-stop?

Home. I'm going to buy a hotel. I'm in the process of buying a property and building a very small, intimate luxury hotel with a ballroom on the top of it. It's something I want to do with some of my friends. With all these artists coming in because of the FedExForum, there's a need for something like that here.

Have Memphians encouraged your plans to feed 100,000 people on Christmas, or have they been cynical?

A little bit of both. Some people are jealous. Some people would like to see me not succeed. But I will succeed regardless of any obstacles. I will thrive. People can say what they want, but the doubters are going to see this happen in Memphis.

There was recently news that many of the artists scheduled to perform at the benefit concert wouldn't actually attend. How many have confirmed?

Tons have confirmed. It's going to be phenomenal. We're going to have the full band from Michael Jackson's 30th Anniversary special. And to give you some idea [of what's in store], Kim Weston, who had a hit with "Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me)" in the '60s is going to sing that song with the Doobie Brothers who also had a hit with it in the '70s. They are going to be accompanied by a 200-member gospel choir. It's really going to be phenomenal."
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Thursday, June 18, 2015

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Rejects New Tennessee Logo

Posted By on Thu, Jun 18, 2015 at 6:17 PM

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Not only is it crude and a little embarrassing, the controversial new Tennessee logo doesn't meet criteria for trademark. According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office the red and blue box with the state's Tn abbreviation is too "geographically descriptive." That means a trademark could grant the holder exclusive rights to design elements that other parties need for general identification and use.

The offending element, in this case, is the state abbreviation:

TN is an abbreviation for Tennessee (see dictionary definition attached). The applicant is the State of Tennessee and the place of business is in Tennessee. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that the services come from and are offered in Tennessee.

Like the USPTO says in the FAQ :

Under U.S. trademark law, geographic terms or signs are not registrable as trademarks if they are geographically descriptive or geographically misdescriptive of where the goods/services originate. The theory is that other producers in that area would need to be able to use a geographic term to describe where their goods/services are from and that one person should not be able to prevent others from using that term. 



Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ole Miss Student Gored by Spanish Bull

Posted By on Wed, Feb 18, 2015 at 12:34 PM

Mother Nature has equipped bulls with a secret weapon scientists call the bootie sensor.
  • Mother Nature has equipped bulls with a secret weapon scientists call the bootie sensor.
In case you missed it, a 20-year-old Ole Miss student named Benjamin Milley was gored by a fighting bull during the Carnival del Toro festival in Ciudad Rodrigo, Spain.

The key quote here comes from the surgeon who says the injury wasn't the worst he'd ever seen, but it was the largest he'd ever had to operate on: "The operation took three hours to repair damage to thighs, sphincter, and back muscles." 


While this is not a video of the actual event, it may give readers some sense as to what just such an encounter between bull and human might look like. 


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Johnny Cash's Son Strips at the Airport

Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 at 5:02 PM

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It's been a long time since country music fans have been treated to a news report that included the line, "Cash will be released when sober." But like they say, history repeats. 

They also say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Goodness knows Johnny Cash could raise a little hell when he was on a bender. It looks like his son, John Carter Cash, has an exhibitionist streak and occasionally allows himself to be overserved as well. According to various reports Cash was arrested in Deer Lake, Newfoundland, for stripping down to his underwear in the airport.

Thankfully nobody was struck blind and security successfully convinced Cash to put his clothes back on.

In a tell-all book the younger Cash wrote about his family's various battles with substances, including his own. . 


No charges were brought against the 44-year-old singer. And so far there's been no word as to whether or not this life event will result in a song called "Monday Pants Coming Down," or "Newfoundland Drunk Tank Blues."






Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Authority Song: Gibson Guitar Sticks it to the Man

Posted By on Tue, Feb 11, 2014 at 5:21 PM

Gibson Guitar CEO Henry Juszkiewicz got his wood back and now he's showing the Obama Regime his middle finger by issuing the Government II series Les Paul crafted with exotic woods previously seized by the U.S. Government because, as the DOJ put it, the company failed to comply with rules "intended to limit over-harvesting valuable wood species from Madagascar, a country which has been severely impacted by deforestation.” 

A SCREENSHOT CELEBRATING AN INFAMOUS MOMENT IN GIBSON HISTORY
  • A screenshot celebrating an infamous moment in Gibson history



As you can see, it looks like a regular Les Paul, but with a "Government Tan" finish that just screams tyranny!

According to the description of the Government II at Gibson.com, "Great Gibson electric guitars have long been a means of fighting the establishment, so when the powers that be confiscated stocks of tonewoods from the Gibson factory in Nashville—only to return them once there was a resolution and the investigation ended—it was an event worth celebrating." 

And by celebrating we guess they mean "fighting the establishment." And by fighting the establishment they mean paying $300,000 in fines and making a $50,000 contribution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. 
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