Friday, May 31, 2013

Silky Sullivan Passes Away

Posted By on Fri, May 31, 2013 at 10:43 AM

Silky Sullivan
  • Silky Sullivan

Beale Street bar owner Thomas "Silky" Sullivan has passed away at the age of 71 as a result of health problems. Silky opened Silky O' Sullivan's on Beale in 1992, and he previously ran Silky Sullivan's in Overton Square from 1973 to 1998.

According to a source at the Beale Street Merchants Association, Silky's wife Joellyn reported that Silky was not feeling well on Thursday due to lingering complications from colon surgery. As they were arranging to drive him to the ER, he fainted and 911 was called. He seemed to recover briefly and chatted with Silky's house manager Johnny Price. He responded to questions asked by the EMTs. But as he was positioned on a stretcher, he fainted again and stopped breathing. He was rushed to the ER but never recovered. He had been scheduled for surgery next week.

In an email to the Beale Street Merchants Association, Joellyn had this to say about Silky's passing: "Silky lived a full life with loads of friends. Please share this news for me. There’s a party in heaven with some fabulous dancing going on right now."

Silky was well-loved on Beale and during his Overton Square days for his boisterous manner and sense of humor. His bar on Beale has become a tourist attraction, thanks to beer-drinking goats and massive mystery "diver" cocktails served in buckets.

Silky celebrated the 40th anniversary of his bar and the St. Patrick's Day pub crawl this past March. The Flyer interviewed him for the occasion. Here's what he had to say. Years ago, Silky was also the subject of a Memphis Flyer cover story on the "The King of the Irish." Silky was named King Pontchartrain by the Krewe of Pontchartrain in this past year's Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Former Death Row Inmate Timothy McKinney Released From Prison

Posted By on Wed, May 22, 2013 at 3:24 PM

After 15 years in prison, 10 of them on death row, Timothy McKinney walked out of jail a free man today.

McKinney was convicted of the 1997 shooting death of off-duty MPD officer, Donald Williams, at Crumpy’s Comedy Club in North Memphis. His case garnered much national attention amid allegations that prosecutors suppressed key evidence in McKinney's 1999 trial and that his conviction was too heavily predicated on fallible eyewitness testimony.

Indeed, ten years after his conviction, questions about whether McKinney was adequately represented by his defense counsel in the 1999 trial led to an appeal that overturned his original conviction. In subsequent retrials, two hung juries were unable to re-convict Timothy McKinney of the murder of Officer Williams. The most recent trial ended last month with a hung jury — the majority of the jury members in favor of McKinney's acquittal.


Yesterday, the District Attorney's office and McKinney's defense team, attorneys Gerald Skahan and Marty McAfee, avoided a fourth retrial of McKinney with an agreement that McKinney would plead guilty to a lesser charge, second degree murder, and be released from prison on time served.

"During the period of time between the initial trial and the retrials, many of the State’s witnesses, including
the State’s key witness Officer Frank Lee, passed away. After a great deal of consideration, I decided to accept the guilty plea of the defendant to second degree murder and criminal attempt second degree murder," said district attorney Amy Weirich in a statement yesterday.

"I know it's been a long 15 years for both sides and there is no good resolution to a first degree murder case," Judge Lee Coffee said after accepting McKinney's guilty plea. "This is probably the only resolution at this time because I'm of the opinion that this case could probably be tried 800 times and I don't know that it would ever get a unanimous verdict given the state of the witnesses. It's not a resolution that probably either side is happy with, but under the circumstances I think it's probably the only resolution."

The family of Donald Williams was prepared for a fourth trial, and was, as Coffee suggested, "disappointed at the outcome."

"While we understand the situation and the D.A.'s decision, our family resolved early on to stay the course; to prosecute Mr. McKinney to the fullest extent of the law," read a statement issued by the family after yesterday's proceedings.

Still, the pervasive feeling in the courtroom yesterday was that of exhausted relief, if not on both sides, certainly on the part of McKinney, his family, and his team of defenders, including the team from New York law firm Davis, Polk & Wardwell who helped him appeal and overturn the original conviction.

"I don't think a jury is ever going to be able to decide the fate of Mr. McKinney," said Skahan after the court hearing yesterday. "The options are to continue to try this case and spend a lot of taxpayer money or to work out a settlement. As Judge Coffee said, it's a settlement that probably both sides aren't happy with but in the end, the state got a conviction and Mr. McKinney got his freedom."

Broad Avenue Water Tower To Become Art Canvas

Posted By on Wed, May 22, 2013 at 5:32 AM

Broad Avenue water tower
  • Broad Avenue water tower

The old water tower on Broad Avenue that has become an iconic symbol for the burgeoning arts district will soon get a facelift.

The Broad Avenue Arts District won a $350,000 grant from ArtPlace America to pay an artist to paint the tower and to transform the warehouse loading dock under the tower into a live music amphitheater.

The UrbanArt Commission will launch a national search for an artist to design the tower. The winning design will be chosen using Crosstown Arts' MemFEAST concept through which patrons at a catered dinner hear proposals for art projects and vote on their favorites (Crosstown Arts held its latest annual MemFEAST event for a public art project on the V&E Greenline this past Saturday).

The grant money will fund the construction of seating and a public art installation for the warehouse loading dock. The dock has been used as a live music stage for the past several Broad Avenue Art Walk events. The warehouse, which is partially inhabited by Power Telephone & Supply, will continue to house that business.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Animal Advocacy Group Plans Protest Against Memphis Animal Services

Posted By on Thu, May 16, 2013 at 4:51 PM

Memphis Animal Services (MAS) medical director Rebecca Coleman was written up by city officials for "cruel and inhumane treatment" after it was discovered that a dog with an embedded collar waited four days for medical treatment.

An embedded collar means the dog's collar was so tight that it had grown into its neck. The dog in question had an infection from the in-grown collar. According to shelter records, Coleman was the only vet on duty when the dog arrived last fall, but she failed to treat the animal until four days later. At that time, not all of the collar could be removed because tissue had grown up around parts of the collar. The dog was later euthanized to ease its suffering. Although the incident happened last year, it had only recently been reported in the media.

Because of this and several other issues at MAS, the members of animal advocacy group S.O.S. Memphis are planning a demonstration at the corner of Poplar and Highland at 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 19th.

According to the press release about their planned action, here are some of the other issues S.O.S. will be raising awareness about:

* A Great Dane entered the shelter wearing a muzzle. The dog sat in the cage for eight hours wearing the muzzle without food and water.
* A dog was euthanized in error because the employee did not follow shelter policy.
* An employee was fired but only after calling in sick 43 times and being tardy 40 times during a six-month period.
* An employee handled an animal inhumanely, dragging a dog with a catch pole.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Nuisance Petition Filed Against Owners of Illegal Dump Sites

Posted By on Wed, May 15, 2013 at 3:51 PM

Between February 2012 and February 2013, Larry Dean Brunson, Mable Sutton and Debra Nesbit allegedly allowed people to pay them a fee to dump trash onto their properties in Frayser. Now Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, and Memphis Mayor A C Wharton have filed nuisance petitions against the three property owners.

Larry Dean Brunson, Mable Sutton, and Debra Nesbit
  • Larry Dean Brunson, Mable Sutton, and Debra Nesbit

The petitions came after a year-long investigation by the Memphis Police Department and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation into illegal dumping sites. The illegal dumps were identified at 3449 Dillard, 3498 Dillard, and 3286 Arwine, properties belonging to Brunson, Sutton, and Nesbit. Oneal Payne and Warren Payne of Payne Enterprises, a local construction company, were reported to have been caught dumping illegally on the properties.

This morning, Shelby County Environmental Court judge Larry Potter issued injunctions against the property owners. "No trespassing" signs have been placed on the properties by the Memphis Police Department. Brunson, Sutton, and Nesbit are ordered to appear in court on Monday, May 20th.

According to figures from the Shelby County Public Works Division, the average cost to clean up illegal dumpsites and landfills in Shelby County is around $162 per hour. Since January 2012, Public Works has cleaned up 562 dumpsites at a total cost of $92,278.05. To date 2013, work crews have cleared one 193 dumpsites.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

City to Hold Public Meeting About McLean Bike Lane

Posted By on Thu, May 9, 2013 at 3:01 PM


The McLean Avenue bike lane has been in place now for about one year, so the city's engineering division is planning a May 14th meeting to ask citizens for feedback.

The section of bike lane between Poplar and Overton Park caused a stir among some residents of that area last year due to loss of on-street parking, so the city eventually allowed car parking in the bike lanes after 7 p.m. Some residents are apparently still complaining.

A Liveable Memphis email calling for bike lane supporters to make an appearance at the meeting are asking them to attend the meeting and give "positive feedback to the city for creating this essential bike corridor."

Although the most controversial area extends from Poplar to Overton Park, the city's bicycle and pedestrian coordinator Kyle Wagenschutz will be on hand to discuss any concerns or support for the entire McLean corridor from Lamar to Hunter. The meeting will be held at Snowden Elementary School from 6 to 8 p.m.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Westboro Baptist Church Plans To Picket Graceland

Posted By on Mon, May 6, 2013 at 11:20 AM

God hates Elvis?
  • God hates Elvis?

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church, best known for their "God Hates Fags" protests and picketing at the funeral services of soldiers, are planning to demonstrate in front of Graceland on Friday, May 17th at 4:45 p.m.

According to their website, Westboro members view Elvis Prelsey as a false idol and a drug addict. Here's their bizarre explanation:

God hates your Idols, so Westboro Baptist Church will picket one of the many major idols of Doomed USA, to wit: Graceland. Former home of Elvis Presley. ALL the evidence suggests that his present home is HELL.

Ask the Question: How did Elvis die? The Internet gives this: Elvis died on August 16, 1977 in the bathroom at Graceland. After being found on the bathroom floor, Elvis was rushed to the hospital where he was officially pronounced dead.

The coroner recorded the cause of death as cardiac arrhythmia. While true in the strictest sense (cardiac arrhythmia means that the heart was beating irregularly), the attending physicians deliberately omitted the fact that what had apparently caused Elvis' heart to beat irregularly and then stop was an overdose of prescription drugs. These drugs included codeine, Valium, morphine, and Demerol, to name a few.

Some people believe that Elvis Presley is still alive. It is an interesting idea to explore. (WHAT?! You people need something to do with your time!!)

Assuming you do believe that Elvis died, you can visit his grave at Graceland. (YES, gotta worship the rotting carcass of that lecherous, adulterous, pervert and drug addict!) I did NOT ask the Question: What happened in the Jungle Room! My stomach is only so strong.

Oh, and of course they have to work homophobia in somehow. After a listing a few Bible verses, this little nugget is thrown in at the end of the post:

GOD killed your idol, Elvis.

For ALL this, God has cursed you with Same Sex Marriage, a thing that will be your final undoing! Praise God!

Westboro is also planning to protest Ole Miss on May 18th. Though we can't quite make out the reason by reading the ranting post, it appears to have something to do with their football team as a false idol and something to do with the movie, The Blind Side.

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Friday, May 3, 2013

City of Memphis Holds Bike Corral Contest

Posted By on Fri, May 3, 2013 at 1:13 PM

To promote cycling in Memphis, the Saris Cycling Group and the City of Memphis Engineering Division are holding a bike corral contest. A bike corral converts the space of one on-street parking stall to parking space for 10 bikes. Corrals typically feature interesting or non-conventional designs. The contest is open to the public, and anyone can submit a photo and brief description of where they think a bike corral would be most beneficial to cyclists.


Nominations will be placed on the city’s Bike/Ped Facebook page, and the winner will be decided by how many “likes” each photo received. The city will then provide and install a bike corral for the business or organization that demonstrates the greatest need, location, and public support for additional bike parking.

So far, there are only two submissions on the Bike/Ped Facebook Page: the lot in front of the "I Love Memphis" mural on Cooper Avenue (the future location of Memphis Made Brewing Co.), and the lot in front of the newly constructed Beale Street Landing. Submissions can be made until May 10th, and three finalists will be announced on May 11th. The final winner of the bike corral competition will be announced May 17th on National Bike to Work Day. To submit a photo or for more information, call Kyle Wagenschutz at (901) 576-6710.



Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Memphis In May Has An App For That

Posted By on Wed, May 1, 2013 at 4:10 PM

Memphis In May has released their free 2013 smart phone app, and it's a vast improvement over their apps in years past (thanks Paul Ryburn for letting us know). The app is available for iPhones and Android phones.

The app features the lineup of bands for the Beale Street Music Festival, and users can highlight favorites to create their own personal schedule within the app. There are two general maps of the park tailored to the music fest and the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, each highlighting where stages and vendor tents are located for the events. And there's a separate map highlighting the disability-accessible viewing areas for music fest.

Additionally, the app includes information for where to take or locate "lost and found" items during the festivals, a list of events throughout May celebrating Memphis In May's 2013 honored country of Sweden, and a list of barbecue teams participating in the cooking contest.

Perhaps, most importantly, the app includes themed photo booths for music fest, the barbecue contest, and Sunset Symphony. In the spirit of investigative journalism, we've tested them out.

Flyer intern Chris Shaw sings for the band Ex-Cult by night. But we just cant get him to stop singing ... like ever.
  • Flyer intern Chris Shaw sings for the band, Ex-Cult by night. But we just can't get him to stop singing ... like ever.

We cant believe Contemporary Media executive assistant Michael Shelton actually stopped eating to pose for this shot. Hes such a pig! Okay, we kid.
  • We can't believe Contemporary Media executive assistant Michael Shelton actually stopped eating to pose for this shot. He's such a pig! Okay, we kid.

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