Sports Entertainment

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Existential Horror Of The Winter Olympics

Posted By on Wed, Feb 19, 2014 at 8:48 PM

The universe is a vast, uncaring place built on a foundation of random meaninglessness overlaid by a thin veneer of order that gives us insignificant humans an illusion of hope. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Winter Olympics.

Consider Hannah Kearney, U.S. women’s mogul skiing gold medalist in 2010, returning to defend her medal run on the second night of the Sochi games. On her final run, the 27-year-old national hero’s balance faltered for a microsecond while slamming into a snow mound at 50 miles per hour. She recovered with superhuman grace and strength, crossing the finish line with poles triumphantly upraised. She came in third, less than a point behind a pair of Canadian sisters, Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe. Dry-eyed, she told an interviewer moments later that her career had ended in that microsecond.

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Meme Alert: Dana from Homeland/College GameDay

Posted By on Mon, Nov 11, 2013 at 4:29 PM

Nov. Memphis magazine
  • Nov. Memphis magazine
Sing All Kinds has a meme alert involving Dana from Homeland (played wonderfully by Morgan Saylor).

Many people hate Dana. It's a thing. I actually like her, but just not on Homeland. Spin her off. Let her get into hijinks that don't involve national security — or that do, but don't have anything to do with Carrie and Saul. I'd love to watch Dana try to date boys in the insular, inside the Beltway District of Columbia. What happens when Dana dates the Muslim son of the Iranian ambassador? How does her Mom feel about that? I'd watch that.

Until then, we'll just have to amuse ourselves with Dana memes. Interestingly, her image is finding purchase in the pop cultural Zeitgeist ancillary to college football.

I wrote the cover story (plug, plug) in the November Memphis magazine, on the Grove scene in Oxford, Mississippi, during football season.

A sharp-eyed reader — Flyer Managing Editor Susan Ellis — noticed something odd on the Memphis magazine cover, and paired it with a Tweet she saw last weekend.

It appears Dana is on the cover of Memphis magazine. Play Where's Waldo? and see if you can find her, or just take a gander below:

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Phish and D Wash Sr. on "The Line"

Posted By on Wed, Nov 6, 2013 at 10:59 AM

A follow up to our post on Phish's song about Darius Washington Jr.

“Darius Washington Jr.'s story was incredibly moving to all of us in Phish,” Trey Anastasio wrote in an email to the Flyer. Anastasio is the lead singer of the jam band Phish, which should in all probability have exactly nothing to do with Tiger hoops. But this is Memphis. Things get weird.

At a Halloween show in Atlantic City, Phish played a song called “The Line.” The song is about Washington's infamous free throw attempts against Louisville in the 2005 C-USA tournament. The song is also about overcoming adversity. Darius Jr.’s Twitter handle is @Mr_Adversity. Following the emotional loss on national television, Washington’s father, Darius Sr., refused to let his son wallow in self-pity and led him on a walk up and down Beale Street to face the fans and to revel in their support.

We reached Darius Jr. by Twitter. He is playing basketball for Olin Edirne Basket, a Turkish team, and deferred questions to his dad. We spoke to Darius Sr. by phone yesterday.

Explaining Phish to Darius Sr. is not what one expects to do on a music-writing gig. But, again, this is Memphis. Initially confused by the news, the Washingtons have developed a sense of humor and perspective on the song, the event, and what it means to people.

“Is he a famous country singer?” Darius Sr. asked. “I don’t know them.”

Phish is somewhat famous for being a jam band, primarily a touring act that invests less time in the studio and in pursuing radio success than in playing live shows for its dedicated fans. It’s not for everybody.

“If the people that sit there and listen to this — if they don’t follow sports and don’t know that this took place — what are they thinking? What’s going through the fans minds?,” Washington Sr. wondered.

“It really spoke to me on a personal level, because I've gone through some difficult moments in public, too,” Anastasio wrote. “I'm sure most people have, in one way or another. Those tough moments can ultimately become gifts though.”

The Washingtons were not immediately sure of the musicians’ motives when they heard about the song on CBS Sports.

“We had to sort through and figure out which rout to take. I’ve got rap artists — people that could have just blasted him out,” Washington Sr. said. “I had a lot of scenarios going through my head about how I would respond if it was something that I felt that he was trying to pour salt on a wound or something like that. Maybe I can get one of my rap guys to rap something about it.”

But the awesome possibility of a musical standoff between Phish and the Washingtons was quashed as Darius’ Sr. again demonstrated the character that led him and his son out onto Beale to face the music.

“They show it on ESPN,” Washington said. “They talk about it on March Madness and at the beginning of the year. It’s been following us forever. But it’s not a bad thing, though. There’s something that people fail to realize. Yeah, that was a history making moment, but we got up off the floor and we’re still doing what we do.”

Anastasio was among those moved by the display of family, character, and civic goodwill that went on display.

“You learn a lot about what's really important in life when
something like that happens,” Anastasio wrote.

“This is the question I pose to people,” Washington said. “If he would have just walked off the court after missing those free throws and sat on the bench like it was nothing, then people have said, damn that kid didn’t even care. But being that he is so passionate — and he hated to lose — that was the main issue. That wasn’t a national championship game. That was a freaking conference game to get into the big dance. That should show the world the passion he has for winning. The kid was always and still is a winner. He’s not a kid anymore, he’s a man. He did that in rec league. If he missed a shot, it bothered him. To this day, that’s how it stands,” Washington said.

In an even more conciliatory gesture, Washington laid the groundwork for what could become Phish’s masterpiece.

“If he decides to do a video, tell him to call us.”

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Friday, October 4, 2013

Grantland Features Jerry Lawler

Posted By on Fri, Oct 4, 2013 at 7:16 PM


The web's Sports-media gold standard, Grantland, finally got around to writing about Jerry Lawler. Written by "The Masked Man, aka David Shoemaker, the article follows the long-form essay that is Grantland's stock in trade.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Memphis Wrestling Legend Jackie Fargo Dies

Posted By on Mon, Jun 24, 2013 at 5:10 PM

  • Strut!

Memphis wrestler Jackie Fargo, known for his trademark “Fargo Strut,” swore to the bitter end that he could still take Sputnik Monroe. “Easy,” he said. Now that the Fabulous One has been called on up to join Monroe in that big cage match in the sky, maybe the two legendary grapplers can settle things once and for all.

Jackie Fargo, easily one of the most popular and influential wrestlers to ever work the Memphis territory, died in hospital, Monday, June 24, after being found unconscious in his home Saturday. The 85-year-old Fargo had been struggling with congenital heart disease.

Fargo was a mouthy, peroxide blonde, heel brawler, who held numerous titles over the course of his lengthy career. Like most pre-WWE wrestlers he worked several territories, but was most closely associated with Memphis where he co-owned the Southern Frontier Lounge & Restaurant with Country singer/deejay Eddie Bond who passed away in March. Fargo and Bond were also instrumental in launching Jerry Lawler’s career... as a sign-painter.

Fargo vs Lawler

Lawler started working outlaw wrestling shows in West Memphis while he was employed as both a sign painter and deejay with Fargo and Bond.

"I remember going into Eddie's office when he was on the phone," Lawler told The Memphis Flyer in a 2007 interview. "He motioned for me to sit down and pick up the other receiver. And it was Jackie on the other end. He didn't like that I was talking about these outlaw shows on the radio... And he was saying, 'The kid doesn't need to be over there wrestling with those punks. Maybe we needed to get a bunch of the real wrestlers together and drive down to West Memphis on Saturday night and break some arms.'"

It was all a bluff, and Lawler called it. No arms were broken, and a week later Fargo invited Lawler to fight on TV in Memphis.

Fargo admired Lawler and called him the “smartest guy in the business.” Like Lawler he’d also gotten his start wrestling outlaw in South Carolina under the name Dickie Bishop.

I suppose it’s true to say I Idolized him,” Lawler said of Fargo in his autobiography, “It’s Good to be the King (Sometimes).

Fargo appears in Memphis Heat, an exhaustive, entertaining documentary about Memphis wrestling.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Memphis Grizzlies: The Movie

Posted By on Tue, Jan 29, 2013 at 5:05 PM

Who would play Zach Randolph in a movie about the Memphis Grizzlies?
  • Who would play Zach Randolph in a movie about the Memphis Grizzlies?
History was made last Saturday. Every week on Memphis Sport Live (Sports56/87.7 FM), hosts Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter play "Hang Up and Listen," where they take a sports-related question from a listener, who has to say the magic phrase "I'll hang up and listen" and then do just that.

What happened last Saturday is that they got the best question in the history of the segment. Adam called and said, "The budding new superstar of the Grizzlies, Tony Wroten, it's been said he looks like Don Cheadle. So if you have a movie about the Memphis Grizzlies, who's going to play each of the starting five and Coach Lionel Hollins? I'll hang up and listen."

That, friends, is how it's done. What a great question. When my wife and I heard it, we basically high-fived and went into action, pulling up pictures of the roster online and brainstorming a cast. Cerrito, Hunter, and producer C.J. Hurt made their cases for key roles, and I went on air about 30 minutes later and presented my own cast.

You can hear it all here, on the MSL podcast.

Below is my official cast for Memphis Grizzlies: The Movie. After much thought, I've made two changes to the lineup first given on air. Alert! The roster is presented as a slideshow, with the actor to the left, the Grizzly to the right, and my comments below. I also added the cast for the front office. Who will play John Hollinger? See the slideshow to find out. (Also see who original MSL caller Adam, a.k.a. @ajr7926, says should play Robert Pera.) And very special shout-out to Matt Wiseman, who made photographic mash-ups happen.

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Why Memphians Should Hate the Tennessee Titans, Part II

Posted By on Thu, Oct 25, 2012 at 2:13 PM

Previously on "Why Memphians Should Hate the Tennessee Titans," I re-prosecuted the war against the NFL team that is today based in Nashville. Part one took us from the beginning of time, the dawn of an asteroid-smashed planet, up to where the Oilers were leaving Houston for Tennessee. Part two picks up the thread there.

In a 1997 viewpoint in the Memphis Flyer, publisher (then as now) Kenneth Neill wrote about the impending decision that the Oilers would play their first two seasons in Memphis. “Look long and hard," Neill wrote, "for some sign that Bud Adams gives a hoot about Memphis. Try to find something that suggests he has even a fuzzy fondness for what goes on in the western part of the state. Try to find anything that suggests that Mr. Adams’ motives in setting up shop in Memphis are anything less than 100 percent Machiavellian.”

Flyer editor Dennis Freeland agreed with the sentiments of those “who think the NFL abused the good faith in Memphis and is about to do so again,” but that wasn’t necessarily the prevailing opinion in town. There was plenty of support for the Oilers at the outset, especially from many in corporate Memphis and the local Sports Authority.

In the Flyer’s June 26, 1997, issue, the week after the Oilers confirmed they’d be playing two seasons in Memphis before moving on to Nashville, there was a full-page ad announcing the arrival of a major new player in the Memphis community. “We’re so happy to be in Memphis,” the ad basically said. It struck just the right note, coming across as grateful for an opportunity and excited for the future in Memphis.

The advertisement in the Flyer was for Barnes & Noble, the national bookseller chain, which was opening two locations in Memphis. The newly dubbed Tennessee Oilers didn’t bother taking out an ad, that week or any other, as a measure of thanksgiving or goodwill in the city. That’s not reflective upon the Flyer’s ad sales, either. The Oilers didn’t advertise anywhere.

The attitude emanating from the franchise was, I’m Bud Adams, we’re the Oilers, here we are love us we don’t have to do anything. The perspective persisted throughout the season in Memphis, as Adams, despite his public promises otherwise, simply would not untie the purse strings and promote his team and try to sell his new city on the venture. The Oilers even selected a local PR firm, Walker & Associates, but never gave them a budget or direction. The extent to which the team had a presence in Memphis at all, other than on game day, was due mostly to Memphian Pepper Rodgers arranging local practice sessions and other events.

Comically, outrageously, in the press conference in Memphis announcing that the Oilers would play here, Adams made a mess of it and a fool of himself, referring to Memphis mayor Willie Herenton as “Mayor Harrison.”

Freeland let Adams have it in a column the next week. “Why would an NFL team wanting to win the hearts and minds of Memphis sports fans rush through an introductory press conference/autograph session after months of prolonged negotiations with Houston, Nashville, and Memphis? The event left the impression, once again, that this city is just an afterthought to the Oilers.”

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Why Memphians Should Hate the Tennessee Titans, Part I

Posted By on Wed, Oct 24, 2012 at 4:30 PM

A month ago, the local Fox TV affiliate chose to show a matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rather than a game featuring the home-state Tennessee Titans versus the Detroit Lions. Most Titans games are broadcast on CBS, and this was a rare Titans game Fox was carrying nationally. In Memphis, however, its airing was declined by the affiliate, Fox 13.

My Twitter feed (under the handle @gregakers) was rife that Sunday with Memphis-area Titans fans who were mad they couldn’t watch their team.

I was a little surprised because, in my mind, Memphians by and large hated the Tennessee Titans as much as I personally do, and for the same history-based reasons. I didn’t think it very controversial when I tweeted out, “Twitter blowing up with Memphians mad they can't watch Nashville football. Where'd our self respect go?”

Here was my real surprise: The hate I got was instantaneous and widespread. I tried to play it off to responders that I was just talking NFL trash, which I was, but the Titans’ Memphis contingent wasn’t having it. People said I was a sore loser; that I should let the past go; that my dislike was sour grapes; and that I sucked and I was trash. (Many objected to me insisting on calling the team the “Nashville Titans,” some of them correcting me as if I didn’t know the team’s real name. I maintain it’s rhetorically funny trash talk.)

In light of the ardent response, I wondered for a while if I had this Tennessee Titans thing all wrong and a few hours later tweeted out my conclusion: “I've been pondering and now will reassert that the Titans of Nashville should not be enjoyed by the people of Memphis.” One Twitter friend said I was trolling, which is true but I was also expressing my heart-felt belief, however trollish.

I wanted to explain exactly why I hate the Tennessee Titans and why I feel all Memphians should hate them, too, but Twitter isn’t the best vehicle for making my case. So, it’s time to play 2012 Morning Quarterback and plumb the depths of my sports and civic hatred for the Tennessee Titans.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Olympic Overdose: One Man's Attempt to Watch Every Sport

Posted By on Tue, Aug 14, 2012 at 8:50 AM

Chris McCoys Olympic checklist: He planned for gold, but hell settle for bronze.
  • Chris McCoy's Olympic checklist: He planned for gold, but he'll settle for bronze.

I’m not much of a sports fan, but I love the Olympics. I know, I know —the International Olympic Committee is a bloated, corrupt institution; the amateur athletics label is outdated and hypocritical; it can royally suck to live in a city where the games are being held, and all the cool kids are watching NBA basketball. But I don’t care. The Olympic games are awesome. They are a celebration of humanity at its finest. The Olympic motto Citius, Altius, Fortius—Faster, Higher Stronger—is as pure a distillation of the Enlightenment ideal as has ever been written. And even though the games are rife with nationalism, the gathering of our disparate tribes to compete with each other inevitably leads to the conclusion that humanity is all one big tribe, as the sportsmanship of the athletes surface to show that our commonalities clearly outweigh our differences.

As an Olympic fanboy, I was naturally excited as the 2012 London games approached. I believe it’s important to have goals, so, inspired by the Olympian ideal and given my current state of underemployment, I decided that this time around, I would watch ALL of the games. Of course, that’s pretty much impossible, given that there are 26 sports divided into 39 individual disciplines. So I refined my goal. I would watch at least one game-unit of each sport. Given that NBC was devoting 16 hours a day of their airtime on four different TV stations and streaming the entire games live on the internet, surely this would be possible. And if Michael Phelps could devote most of his life to his attempt to become the greatest Olympic athlete of all time, devoting a couple of weeks of my time on the couch with the iPad and cable TV was the least I could do, right?

I got started a day before the opening ceremonies when I accidentally caught a soccer game while trying to figure out exactly which channels I would be frequenting over the course of the Olympics. Its seems that the soccer tournament has to start early in order to fit a complete tournament in before the closing ceremonies. I filled in my first two entries in my Olympic journal: Men’s and Women’s Soccer. Cool, I thought. I have a head start!

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Friday, September 30, 2011

Memphis Heat DVD Out October 1st

Posted By on Fri, Sep 30, 2011 at 9:07 AM


After multiple local screenings and successful theatrical runs all over the region, the long-awaited DVD release of Memphis Heat: The True Story of Memphis Wrasslin' has finally come to fruition.

Officially, the DVD doesn't hit the shelves until tomorrow, but Memphians will have an early opportunity to purchase the film in person later today (Friday, Sept. 30) from 4 - 7 p.m. at the Midtown location of Central BBQ (2249 Central). Memphis Heat is also currently available for order online right here.

The film chronicles the glory days of Memphis professional wrestling and features rare footage and exclusive interviews with the likes of Jerry "the King" Lawler, "Superstar" Bill Dundee, "Handsome" Jimmy Valiant, "The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart, and many more.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Grizz Host "Staxtacular 2010"

Posted By on Wed, Mar 24, 2010 at 3:59 PM


This Friday night at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, the Memphis Grizzlies Charitable Foundation will stage their annual "Staxtacular" fundraiser event. Hosted by Grizzlies players Rudy Gay, Mike Conley, and all-star Zach Randolph, and featuring live music from local R&B favorites the Bo-Keys, this year's "Staxtacular" party and auction will raise vital funds for the Stax Music Academy's youth mentoring and music programs.

This year's event marks the sixth year of partnership between the Grizzlies and the Stax Academy, and will be the third co-hosted by the emerging NBA superstar Gay.

“I’ve hosted this event for the past three years because it’s important to help students who have special talents, whether it is music, sports or any other field, to have the opportunity to fulfill their dreams,” says Gay. “The Grizzlies and Stax Museum and Academy are sources of pride for the city of Memphis and I’m proud to be associated with both.”

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Chin Music

Posted By on Mon, Sep 21, 2009 at 12:58 PM

Some things can be made up. Like: Hey did you hear Stubby Clapp is moonlighting as a tumbling instructor at The Little Gym in Germantown? See, totally made up.

But some things just can't be made up. Like: Did you hear prominent baseball figure Tim McCarver recorded an album at Memphis' Archer Records? And it's coming out tomorrow? Totally true.

Correction: The album was recorded at Ardent Studios, and Archer Records is assisting with distribution.

A Memphis native (and Christian Brothers HS alum), McCarver is known for his career behind the plate for the St. Louis Cardinals (with whom he won two World Series) and Philadelphia Phillies, among other teams; and for his post-playing career as a television sports broadcaster.

And now he's a recording artist.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Every Rose Has Its Thorns

Posted By on Sun, Jun 14, 2009 at 5:50 PM

4c5b/1245019446-2009_06_11_rose.jpg The Internet's got a story this week about Derrick Rose flashing some gang signs in a photograph that has surfaced recently. The photo is said to have been taken during his time at the University of Memphis, where he helped the Tigers reach the NCAA Championship Game. Do we have to say "allegedly" about that game, now?

Here's's account of the Rose mini-controversy.

I'm not too whippy when it comes to discerning hand gestures. Is he indicating his SAT score?

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

The John Calipari Song … And Official Video!

Posted By on Sun, May 31, 2009 at 10:08 PM

Chris Vernon Show producer Jon Roser, creator of such classic songs as "Why Grizzlies?," "Chicken Wings Poppin'," and "Movies" (full disclosure: the last of which namechecks yours truly), has risen to the moment with the current University of Memphis basketball controversy, penning the instant classic tune "Johnny Calipari" along with co-creator Mark McCleskey, who directed this Official Video:

Friday, May 29, 2009

Living the Dream

Posted By on Fri, May 29, 2009 at 3:39 PM

38c3/1243629387-nascar.jpg Baby, you can drive your car on a real-live NASCAR track.

On Saturday, from 9 a.m. to noon, Memphis Motorsports Park is holding its annual “Season Ticket Holder 450.” The 450 allows season-ticket holders — which you can become the day-of for $109 adults, $50 kids — to drive their own cars, trucks, and motorcycles for four or five laps around the NASCAR track, while taking family members and friends along for the ride.

Pictures will be taken during the run and given as souvenirs to the drivers, who will also be offered complimentary barbecue from Pig N Whistle.

According to Doug Franklin, director of public relations for the park, the 450, now in its fourth year, draws between 200 and 400 participants. A pace car will lead the way, while another official car will follow the pack to keep the order. Speeds average around 40 to 60 mph.

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