Monday, June 18, 2007

Braunstein Gets 20 to Life

Posted on Mon, Jun 18, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Peter Braunstein was sentenced today to a term of 20 to life for a Halloween 2005 attack in which he posed as a fireman to gain entrance into a young woman's apartment in New York City. He was a fugitive for two months before he was captured in Memphis.

Pathetic Attempt To Recapture the Spirit of Jack Kerouac Lands Aging Reporter in Memphis

Posted By on Mon, Jun 18, 2007 at 4:00 AM

The assignment: send USA Today's Jerry Shriver in a car across America's heartland. The occasion: the publication 50 years ago of Jack Kerouac's On the Road. Result: When it comes to Memphis, Shriver can't leave the city fast enough.

"Normally, I crave Memphis' rough charms," Shriver writes. "But two days in a lousy hotel and newspapers filled with stories of a murderous preacher's wife put me in a foul mood that I can't shake. Where is that joyous jolt I used to get from my now-raggedy paperback [of On the Road]? "Why do the pathetic parts seem so much more prominent than when I read the book in my 20s? Perhaps I've seen too much of a country grown stale. I'm relieved to say goodbye and head to Nashville, the end of my road."

More staleness?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Play the Big Love Boardgame

Posted on Sun, Jun 17, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Can't get enough of the HBO drama Big Love, starring Memphian Gennifer Goodwin? Now you can pretend you're a polygamist too by playing the Big Love boardgame.

The game, on, has players roll the dice and watch clips from the show or answer trivia questions.

Our verdict? The show is way more interesting. This boardgame is pretty boring.

Boston Has High Hopes For Johnson

Posted on Sun, Jun 17, 2007 at 4:00 AM

On Tuesday, Memphis City Schools superintendent Carol Johnson will be presented to the Boston Public Schools committee as the sole candidate to fill its superintendent position.

Johnson will replace Manuel J. Rivera, who accepted the position in January but is now taking a job as the top education adviser to New York state.

According to the Boston Globe, Johnson had been considered for the post previously but refused on be interviewed for the job.

From the story: "Johnson, who has overseen a school system more than twice the size of Boston's since 2003, was the best of several finalists to lead the 57,000-student school system, [Boston Mayor Thomas] Menino said. He cited Johnson's success in improving the performance of minority students in Memphis and her reputation as a superintendent who includes parents and community leaders in decision-making -- two characteristics that Boston parents, activists, and school officials have said they wanted to see in the next public schools chief.

"'She'll give us the leadership we need in these schools,' Menino said. 'I think she'll bring us to the next level. We're very fortunate to attract a talent as strong as Carol.'"

Read more here.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

John Elkington Eyes Ruben Studdard

Posted on Sat, Jun 16, 2007 at 4:00 AM

On Friday, Performa CEO John Elkington told members of the Birmingham Ad Federation that he is in talks with American Idol winner Ruben Studdard about opening a nightclub in the Beale St.-like entertainment district he's planning in that city.

According to The Birmingham News, Elkington says he's already signed several tenants for the project and is hoping to break ground in the fall and to have it completed in 18 months.

From the story: "Ruben Studdard would be great for Birmingham's district and we're in talks with him now," Elkington said. "Ona Watson has a great musical legacy in Birmingham. Those are the type of people we want involved."

No Hot Biel on Beale Action?

Posted on Sat, Jun 16, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Last month on this site, we reported that People magazine reported that Justin Timberlake was "in love" with actress Jessica Biel. Timberlake refutes this in a recent interview with a French magazine.

In the interview, Timberlake was asked who was the love of the life. He answered, "I haven't met her yet."

Timberlake goes on to say, "She truly insisted that she came with me on tour. I don't know how to say no to a pretty face. But it wasn't really a good idea. This time I'm putting the machine before everything else. Jessica met up with me in Manchester, but for Paris I told her categorically no. This tour is very important for me. I'm doing it really seriously so there's no question of playing sweethearts!"

The Flyer regrets the error.

Read more here.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Taxman at Bonnaroo

Posted on Fri, Jun 15, 2007 at 4:00 AM

From The Tennessean: State revenue agents have returned to this weekend's Bonnaroo festival in Manchester, Tennessee, to collect fees on concertgoers' illegal substances, as part of the state's controversial drug tax.

"It's not an effort to curb drug use — for some, a Bonnaroo tradition that has sent tens to the hospital and a few to the morgue — but to make sure state and local authorities recoup drug enforcement costs.

"For an ounce and a half of marijuana, just above the limit for a misdemeanor drug charge, the tax amounts to about $165, said Al Laney, director of tax enforcement for the state revenue department."

The drug tax was started in early 2005. At that year's Bonnaroo, between 30 and 40 concertgoers were taxed. In 2006, that number rose to 147.

Bonnaroo runs through Sunday; all 80,000 tickets to the event have been sold.

Read more about the drug tax here.

Gay Theater Troupe Celebrates Broadway

Posted on Fri, Jun 15, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Dust off those fishnet stockings and apply a liberal amount of candy-apple red lipstick. It's time-warp time at TheatreWorks as the Emerald Theatre Company celebrates the music of Broadway in Out Tonight Six: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again.

The city's only gay theater troupe closes out every season with a musical showcase, but this year's production, featuring songs from 1970s musicals, is slated to be especially entertaining. The show runs through June 16th.

For more information, go here.

Juneteenth This Weekend

Posted on Fri, Jun 15, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Fourteen years ago, Glynn Reed started Memphis' Juneteenth celebration — an event that commemorates June 19th, 1865, the day slaves in Texas learned that the Civil War was over and they were free. This year's Crossroads Ford Juneteenth Freedom and Heritage Festival salutes African Americans in the military.

The festival will take place June 15th to the 17th in Douglass Park. Activities include horseback riding, picnicking, kiddie rides, moon walks, face-painting, storytelling, Little League softball, Afro-centric jewelry sales, health-testing opportunities, and more.

R&B artist J. Blackfoot will be the music headliner, performing at 7 p.m. on Saturday, and the gospel group Kevin Davidson & the Voices will perform at 6:15 p.m. on Sunday. In addition, Juneteenth will feature lots of local musicians, including African drummer Ekpe, "because we've got so much talent right here," Reed explains. And, as always, an abundance of food will be available, though families are welcome to bring their own.

Reed says that in just 14 years, Memphis' Juneteenth has experienced extraordinary growth. "At first, there were less than 300 people, and now, there's no way to tell how many people there are," she says.

As for the reason behind the festival's increased popularity: "We've been cooped up inside all winter," Reed says, laughing. But, more importantly, "It's a cultural event, and there are not a lot of opportunities for children and adults together to get history about their culture," she says. "It's a celebration of freedom."

The festival is free. For more information, go to by Rachel Stinson

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Is Networx Being Undersold?

Posted on Thu, Jun 14, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Who wouldn't buy Memphis Networx? For the low, low price of $11-milion, you get a state-of-the-art, disaster-proofed data center. But that's not all. If you're the lucky buyer, MLGW and Memphis Broadband, LLC will throw in -- at no additional cost -- untold miles of hot, virtually unused optical fiber! As sweet deals go, the one struck between MLGW and Boulder, Colorado-based Communications Infrastructure Investments smells like Dutch chocolate.

Communications Infrastructure Investments isn’t just the name of an organization: It's a no-nonsense description of what the new, telecom-savvy holding company does. CII is a $200-Million venture created by a handful of telecom executives and backed by investment firms like Columbia Capital, M/C Venture Partners, Oak Investment Partners, Battery Ventures, and Centennial Ventures. Before coming to Memphis, the fledgling group entered into an agreement with Pennsylvania Power & Light to buy PPL-Telecom, a Networx-like subsidiary of the Allentown, Pennsylvania-based utility. According to The Daily Camera, of Boulder, the Allentown deal is valued at $60-million. Yes, $60-million.

So what's Allentown, PA -- pop 106,632 -- got over the Bluff City? Maybe a lot. But does anybody in Memphis fully grasp what we're about to lose in this deal in addition to the initial $29-million investment?

Memphis Networx's selling price barely covers the company's existing debt. Out of $11.5-million, Networx's private investors split a paltry $2-million. That leaves $994,000 for MLGW. That’s beans -- and without even the pretense of being magical.

It's too easy to focus on Networx inability to turn a profit, let alone recover any investments. How much would the city of Memphis have saved already by utilizing Networx's data center to consolidate and streamline its vast IT networks? Yes, there are other ways to make the venture pay for itself. Always have been.

It's tempting to describe MLGW's foray into the telecom biz as visionary. Well, except for that whole dot-com bubble thing and the great telecom meltdown of 2001. In fact, the timing couldn't have been worse. Either way, it would appear that MLGW, and Memphis' civic leadership lacks either the vision or the desire to understand and use what they’ve got. On the other hand, Communications Infrastructure Investments knows exactly what they're buying from Memphis' taxpayers. For $11-million.

Today there are three things you can count on: death, taxes, and a steady expansion of broadband services. Data security issues, magnified by the incredible information loss resulting from Hurricane Katrina have made "Thin Client" technologies and off-site data management look increasingly attractive. That requires high-speed fiber, and that's what Networx is all about.

So who wants data security and offices that are free of cumbersome PC networks and telephone systems? These services can all be managed from a data center for one low, low monthly bill. How low will that bill be? Well that depends, at least in part, on who owns the infrastructure.

by Chris Davis

Memphis Fox Station on the Block

Posted on Thu, Jun 14, 2007 at 4:00 AM

On Wednesday, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. announced it planned to sell nine of its Fox-affiliated TV stations, including the one in Memphis.

News Corp. is making a bid to buy Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones & Co. for $5 billion. The stations it is selling are in the smaller markets, including Birmingham, Alabama, and Greensboro, North Carolina.

The Memphis Fox affiliate is WHBQ-TV 13.

Earlier this year, the New York Times Co. sold nine of its stations, including Memphis station, WREG.

Contributions to Herenton Down Compared to 2003 and 1999

Posted By on Thu, Jun 14, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Mayor Willie Herenton, who said this week he believes that unnamed business leaders are trying to persuade him not to seek reelection, is bringing in a lot less campaign cash this year compared to 2003 and 1999.

Herenton has not formally filed for reelection, but he has said several times that he will be a candidate for a fifth consecutive term in the October 4th mayoral election. In the past week he has accused business leaders of trying to oust him and attorney Richard Fields of trying to embarrass him by cooking up a sex plot.

Herenton was scheduled to hold a press conference Thursday afternoon.

In the reporting period covering January through April, Herenton raised only $1,650, bringing his campaign war chest to $502,958. In the last half of 2006, Herenton raised $39,562, with much of it coming from fundraisers in Detroit and Atlanta.

That’s a lot more than challenger City Councilman Carol Chumney, who is leading Herenton in some polls but had only $18,325 in her campaign fund as of April 1st, according to her most recent report filed with the Shelby County Election Commission. Herman Morris, the former head of Memphis Light Gas & Water, has also filed papers to run for mayor but he has not yet had to file any reports. Other candidates have until July 19th to file qualifying papers.

Herenton, of course, could still raise a lot of money in the next four months. But the small amount of contributions could also indicate Herenton fatigue. In 2003, Herenton raised $361,180 before the election in which he trounced John Willingham. And in 1999, running against Joe Ford and several others, Herenton raised $313,000 and spent $825,000 to win his third term with 46 percent of the vote.

Herenton’s campaign treasurer is Stephanie Dowell, a former Herenton mayoral aide who is now CEO of UAHC Health Plan, the Tennessee subsidiary of United American Health Care. UAHC is the Detroit-based company that paid former senator John Ford hundreds of thousands of dollars for consulting services. The health care management company gets most of its business from low-income Medicare clients in Memphis.

Fields said Thursday that he would respond soon to Gwendolyn D. Smith, a former client who accused him of hatching a plan to blackmail Herenton. He said he no longer felt bound by the attorney-client privilege in light of Smith’s front-page accusations in The Commercial Appeal.

On Thursday Smith delivered a letter including her accusations to the office of Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons. He was out of town, however, and an assistant said he would not comment on it until he returns and reads it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

U of M to hold Urban Ecology Colloquium

Posted on Wed, Jun 13, 2007 at 4:00 AM

The University of Memphis will be the site for the first Urban Ecology Colloquium June 14, with an emphasis on funding environmental education.

Among those scheduled to appear are Alice Chastain of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Environmental Education Grants Program, Tamara Coleman of the Tennessee Department of Education and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, and Mary Helen Butler of the Tennessee Environmental Education Association.

The colloquium is open to the public and free of charge. For more information, visit

Pauly Shore Comes to Memphis

Posted on Wed, Jun 13, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Dude, it's the wea-sel! Pauly Shore, that loveable, curly-headed stoner from the '90s, may have a dead film career, but he's not dead. We know because he's scheduled to appear at Comedy, Tennessee on Thursday. August 9th for two back-to-back shows.

Another Deputy Arrested For Assault

Posted on Wed, Jun 13, 2007 at 4:00 AM

For the third time this week, a Shelby County Sheriff's deputy has been arrested for domestic assault.

Deputy Jonathan Astor turned himself in to the Tunica County Sheriff's Department this afternoon after a warrent was issued alleging he assaulted a woman in a hotel last night.

On Monday, Deputy Michael Hoard was arrested for allegedy assaulting his pregnant ex-girlfriend. Also, on Monday, Deputy James Taber was arrested after an incident with his wife and step-daughter. Earlier this month, Memphis Police Department officer Jeremy Kyle was shot and killed after he forcibly entered the home of his ex-girlfriend, another police officer.

Today, Sheriff Mark Luttrell issued the following statement: “I have immediately asked the Director of our Training Academy and the command staff of the Sheriff’s Office to schedule training classes on domestic violence for all employees. We in law enforcement are held to a high standard and must adhere to the law. We have a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy about domestic violence. Those on our staff struggling with personal relationship issues are being urged to seek assistance to keep from being involved these types of incidents.”

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