Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Memphis Needs Mr. Methane!

Posted By on Tue, Mar 20, 2007 at 4:00 AM

It's been reported that Memphis Light, Gas and Water’s Allen Power Plant generates electricity by supplementing its normal fuel source — coal — with methane gas from the city’s wastewater treatment facility.

If methane gas is indeed a good source of energy, then we are missing out on a huge, untapped supply in Memphis. Namely, all the men, women, children, cows, horses, pigs, and other living creatures that populate this region. The topic of methane gas production — a normal byproduct of digestion — is not usually discussed at scientific conferences or Sunday dinners with the parson, since it is normally known by another term entirely: flatulence.

But considering the high cost of our utility bills lately, we say now is not the time to be squeamish about such matters. And if methane can help lower our bills, and considering our city’s penchant for bringing in consultants to help us with just about anything and everything, the Flyer strongly recommends that we lure out of retirement a uniquely qualified individual who goes by the name of Mr. Methane.

We needn’t go into this gentleman’s qualifications here, except to note that anyone whose résumé includes such terms as “performance flatulist,” “trouser trumpeting,” “colonic comedy,” and — our favorite — “controlled anal voicing” can surely help us increase our own city’s methane supply. After all, he’s made a good living by taking advantage of his own, often-prodigious methane production. Surely he can help us with ours.

For more about the amazing Mr. Methane (and a good source of CD and other fart-related gifts), visit www.MrMethane.com.

If anything else, the MLGW board meetings should definitely be more entertaining.

— Michael Finger

"To Kill A Mockingbird" Fund-Raiser

Posted By on Tue, Mar 20, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Catch the Wednesday night performance of To Kill a Mockingbird at Theatre Memphis and raise money for a good cause. Proceeds from the special showing of the racially-themed courtroom classic will benefit the Community Legal Center (CLC).

The CLC provides pro bono services to residents in Shelby County “without enough resources to both pay the rent and pay a lawyer.” They also offer educational programs and clinics.

For over 10 years, the center has provided legal assistance to over 30,000 local families with incomes between 125 and 175 percent of the poverty level. In other words, they help the people who cannot afford private counsel but make too much to receive assistance from Memphis Area Legal Services. For more on CLC, visit their Web site.

Gardens, Guns, and Guts

Posted By on Tue, Mar 20, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Ole Miss professor “Mr. Magazine” Samir Husni reports that a new publication is on the way for “the 21st Century Southern American.” The Garden & Gun, apparently shooting for both men and women, is targeting “the sporting Southerner… [and] reflects the modern lives of affluent Southerners and those who aspire to the sporting life of the South.” The new mag will launch on April 3rd. Check out their Web site.

Yahooo! It's Yazoo Beer For Memphis.

Posted By on Tue, Mar 20, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Yazoo Brewing has begun shipping its popular beers into the Memphis area. Yazoo was started three years ago, by the husband-and-wife team of Linus and Lila Hall, in an old automobile factory in north Nashville. Since then, Yazoo beers have become one of the top-selling craft brands in middle Tennessee.

A craft brewery named Yazoo, located in Nashville? “We grew up in Mississippi in Vicksburg, and got married overlooking the Yazoo River. We ended up in Nashville, both working for different jobs”, says Linus. “But we always had a dream of opening our own brewery and taking my home-brewed recipes to another level, so we quit our jobs, bought some used equipment, and renovated a space in the old Marathon Motorworks building."

Yazoo beers were voted “Best Local Brew” two years running by The Nashville Scene.

Yazoo is being distributed by Southwestern Beverages in Memphis. The two brands currently available are Yazoo Pale Ale, a citrusy American-style pale ale, and Dos Perros, a chocolaty Mexican-styled amber.

Yazoo beer is already on tap at many great local watering holes, including both Flying Saucers, Young Avenue Deli, B.B. Kings, Café 61, King Biscuit Café, and the Fox and Hound. Six-packs are available at most specialty beer markets.

For further information, contact Steve Barzizza at Southwestern Beverages (901) 272-9648.

Justin Timberlake Shakes Up NashVegas

Posted By on Tue, Mar 20, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Justin Timberlake played Nashville Saturday night, and after the show, he nearly caused a riot at a local club.

From the Nashville Rage's Heather Byrd: "After the show, rumors began swirling that J.T. and his crew were heading to Layl'a for an after-party. I must admit, I was a bit suspicious. After all, every time anyone of any notoriety comes to town, rumors always break out that they're headed to Layl'a, and it's almost never true. However, J.T. did have three days off after the Nashville show, and insiders had already confirmed that his dancers had made a table reservation.

"By the time I arrived, there was already a line down the block and past South Street. Folks were fighting to get inside the door, fighting to get up the stairs and fighting even harder to get into V.I.P. I saw one gal pointing and yelling at the downstairs hostess to let her friends come upstairs just before she lost her balance and toppled down from the first landing. I guess what goes around really does come around.

"Upstairs, the V.I.P. balcony was packed. John Rich held court with members of Muzik Mafia alongside Rascal Flatts' Jay Demarcus and his lovely wife Alison. The room was a sea of people. Trying to maneuver to the bar or restroom was virtually impossible. I stepped onto the upstairs balcony and from around the corner came two huge tour buses. Holy s--t, I thought to myself. He actually showed. ..."

Read Byrd's story.

Lee Keeps Job, As City Council Circus Continues

Ford Waves Bible; Lee Refuses to answer direct questions from Belz.

Posted By on Tue, Mar 20, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Embattled Memphis Light, Gas and Water president Joseph Lee appeared before the City Council today — against the advice of his attorney Robert Spence — to answer the council’s questions of his conduct of MLGW policy and procedure.

Lee had declined to be interviewed as part of the outside investigation of MLGW conducted during the past two weeks. The City Attorney's office contracted Saul Belz to conduct the investigation of MLGW policies and procedures, and the council invited Belz to question Lee.

Spence explained that Lee would answer council members’ questions because Lee’s “ethics [and] his integrity have been questioned. And by questioning his integrity, you question his good name. He is here to defend his good name.”

An impassioned Lee addressed the council, declaring “I want it to be clearly, convincingly, and plainly understood that I have not received a benefit, gift, or anything of value from any council member, including Edmund Ford at any time… I did not participate in any criminal or illegal activity.”

Lee claimed that he had tried to bring a “level of compassion” to his work at MLGW. He brought a file folder bulging with his MLGW customer correspondence to illustrate. “I said that Edmund Ford was treated differently, and he was. But so were all of these customers,” Lee said.

“I have never instructed a staff person to cut [anyone] off. I say ‘work with the customer,’” he added.

Councilman Joe Brown called the investigation “tainted,” saying, “if it’s about policy, let’s talk about policy. All I can see is Edmund Ford. Is this about Edmund Ford, or is this about policy?”

Lee’s refusal to answer questions directly from Belz, who was sitting directly across from him, forced Belz to pose his questions through councilman Tom Marshall. Marshall, then, asked Belz what Belz would have asked Lee. Marshall posed the questions to Lee as laughter rippled through the audience.

Marshall urged Lee to speak with Belz directly, assuring Lee that “there are a lot of people out there that don’t necessarily think you’re guilty of much.”

Ford gestured wildly throughout the proceeding, and at times held a Bible aloft.

Lee defended himself variously, denying awareness of certain MLGW policies, claiming to run the utility with compassion toward its customers, and even citing the 17,800 accounts in arrears as evidence of this. Lee attributed the company’s handling of Ford’s account to staff recommendations that he accepted.

The Belz report, however, showed a more hands-on approach to the Ford account.

Marshall explained, “We couldn’t find any more instances where you directed an account other than that of councilman Edmund Ford’s, to be retained, and not cut off.”

Councilwoman Carol Chumney, the council’s MLGW committee chairperson, banged the gavel throughout the rowdy meeting, and demanded order from her fellow councilmen and the audience.

The fun had barely started. Ford took the floor, and launched into a lengthy tirade. He claimed that his kindness to his constituents had caused him this trouble. “Maybe that’s my problem,” he said. “I help people.”

Ford went on to claim that the well-publicized delinquent MLGW account in his name is for a property that he does not own. He accused Marshall of initiating the inquiry for personal reasons. “I want [Marshall] to stop it today, or I will write a letter asking [him] to step down [as City Council chairman.]”

Ford turned to Marshall and said, “I really want to be your friend.”

Brown called the MLGW shake-up a “coup.” He followed that up saying that those council members behind it could never muster the eleven (out of thirteen) member votes needed to oust Lee. Brown told Lee directly, “You don’t have to worry about being replaced by this body.”

Belz had presented the council members with a written report of his findings at 10 a.m. The council referred to the document throughout their questioning of Lee.

Councilman Jack Sammons noted an account record included in the report of a MLGW employee who requested an extension on his utility bill until the ensuing payday. The employee explained that his wife was recovering from a brain tumor. MLGW ordered a cutoff.

Sammons asked Lee how he reconciled cutoffs of customers experiencing hardships while allowing Ford’s account to go unpaid indefinitely without cutoff.

Lee claimed not to be fully versed in the utility’s cutoff policies.

Chumney circulated copies of Lee’s resignation to the council members as the meeting closed, and stated that she will move for the council to accept Lee’s resignation at the April 3rd council meeting.

Citizens attending the meeting expressed a range of opinions regarding the matter. “There’s nothing but a bunch of thugs running this place,” remarked a man, “why do you think Toyota didn’t come here?”

Another was more put out with Ford’s lack of discretion. “Edmund abused his privileges,” he said. “It’s like in college when you had the hook-up at the chicken place — you don’t go in for 20 pieces a day.”

—Preston Lauterbach

COGIC Bishop G.E. Patterson Dies at 67

Posted By on Tue, Mar 20, 2007 at 4:00 AM

AP -- G.E. Patterson, the presiding bishop of the Church of God in Christ and a minister for almost 50 years, died of heart failure Tuesday, the church announced. He was 67.

The predominantly black Protestant denomination, headquartered in Memphis, claims 6 million members worldwide and traces its origins to the 1870s.

The church said in a statement that Patterson died at Methodist University Hospital in Memphis.

Patterson was hospitalized in January for an undisclosed illness. He told his followers in 2005 that he suffered from prostate cancer.

At the 99th annual COGIC Holy Convocation in November, he said he had considered stepping down from the post he held since 2000, but changed his mind after receiving an outpouring of support.

"If my body being afflicted can get us back to where God wants us to be, then I'm willing to suffer," Patterson said at the time. Following his comments, Patterson received a standing ovation.

"It was a direct result of his work, such as his TV ministries, that allowed people to see COGIC as it should have been projected," said jurisdictional Bishop Jerry Maynard, the chief operating officer of the national church who had worked with Patterson since 1992.

"He always said if you represent God, you should represent him in a very positive way and not in a way that cause people to question God or his ways."

Maynard said the church would begin selecting a successor after memorial services are completed.

"Many people know him because of his worldwide telecast and the kind of compassion and love and faithfulness that he demonstrated," said San Diego jurisdictional Bishop George D. McKinney, a member of the COGIC General Board.

"America lost an angel today," former U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr. said in a statement. "He was favored by the Almighty and he used his favor to instruct us all on how to be better servants."

He was born in Humboldt, Tenn., and was ordained as an elder in COGIC in 1957 in Detroit.

Patterson attended Lemoyne-Owen College in Memphis, Detroit Bible Institute and held an honorary doctorate from Oral Roberts University.

Patterson is survived by his wife, Louise Patterson. The couple had no children. Funeral arrangements were pending.

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