Thursday, July 26, 2007

Memphis Artists Dominate EW's List

Posted on Thu, Jul 26, 2007 at 4:00 AM

In Entertainment Weekly’s ranking of the top love songs of all time, fully 20 percent of the Top 20 have connections to Memphis. Redding, Cash, Green, and of course, the King.

In fact, three of the top five songs have Memphis connections. At number five is Al Green's "Let's Stay Together;" at four is the Memphis-born Aretha Franklin's "(You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman);" and at number two is Elvis' "Can't Help Falling in Love," of which EW writes: "Guaranteed to get anyone with half a heart all shook up. Beneath the lyrics is the unsettling suggestion that matters of the heart are largely dictated by fate; Presley's placid vocal signals that's fine by him."

EW's number one love song is "God Only Knows" by the Beach Boys.

Check out the list here.

The Orpheum To Hold "Garage Sale"

Posted By on Thu, Jul 26, 2007 at 4:00 AM

At this garage sale, chandeliers will provide the lighting.

On Friday, July 27, The Orpheum Theatre will host a summer garage sale consisting of office furniture, theater merchandise, show posters, and Broadway show memorabilia. Vendors and artisans can also rent tables for the day.

The sale will last from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Other Orpheum events on Friday include Happy Hour from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. and a screening of the classic movie Gone with the Wind at 7:15.

Backstage tours will take place throughout the day.

To participate as a vendor, call 525-7800. To order tickets for the garage sale, call 525-3000.

HBO Opts for Another Year of "Big Love"

Posted By on Thu, Jul 26, 2007 at 4:00 AM

HBO has renewed Big Love for a third season, which will launch in 2008.

The series, which stars Bill Paxton, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloe Sevigny, and Memphian Ginnifer Goodwin as members of a polygamist family hiding out in the suburbs of Utah, will begin filming in November.

Read more here. And check out this Ginnifer fansite that's only slightly obsessively creepy.

Memphis Postcards From the Past

Posted By on Thu, Jul 26, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Want to see full-color images of the old Claridge Hotel or the original version of Baptist Hospital or the Elks' Club, or all sorts of other long-gone Memphis landmarks? Sure you do.

Now there's a website that has archived full-color postcards of buildings, bridges, monuments, and other places in every county in Tennessee. It's called Penny Postcards from Tennesee, because the old cards originally cost just one penny to mail.

Lots of things have changed since then, including postage charges and the fact that there used to be a "cotton arch" down on Second Street. Who knew?

For some interesting glimpses of the past, go the Penny Postcard website.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

"Blue Dog" Exhibit Comes to the Dixon

Posted By on Wed, Jul 25, 2007 at 4:00 AM

He graced the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog and was a fund-raising symbol for the post-Katrina New Orleans saints.

Now, Blue Dog is coming to Memphis.

From July 29 to October 14, the Dixon Gallery will exhibit "Blue Dog: The Art of George Rodrigue."

The Dixon's website states that Rodrigue's internationally-recognized Blue Dog "came unexpectedly from an illustration he did for the folk tale of loup-garous, the Cajun werewolf." When the artist created Blue Dog, he modeled it after his own recently deceased dog, Tiffany.

The exhibition will span Rodrigue's 40-year career and will include many never-before-seen works.

Vote Now for the Best Of Memphis!

Posted By on Wed, Jul 25, 2007 at 4:00 AM

It's that time of year again, time to cast your ballot for the one and only Best of Memphis contest. You can get a ballot in this week's Flyer, or you can vote online by clicking the Best Of Memphis icon on our website.

Or you can just click THIS and go right to the ballot.

Tennessee Waltz Techie Moves On

Posted By on Wed, Jul 25, 2007 at 4:00 AM

A key member of the federal government's Tennessee Waltz prosecution team is leaving the building.

No, not David Kustoff, My Harrison, Tim DiScenza, or FBI agents Mark Jackson and Brian Burns. The departing member is, in a way, more important than any of them.

Mark Erskine was the man who handled the compact discs, fired up the computers, and played the undercover tapes and videos in court in the trials of Roscoe Dixon, John Ford, and Calvin Williams. The tapes, of course, were crucial to the government’s case, and it was Erskine's job to make sure they functioned on cue.

A farewell party was held Wednesday for Erskine, who is going to attend law school, according to U. S. Attorney Kustoff. He is the brother of Commercial Appeal reporter Michael Erskine.

John Ford's Sentencing Date Rescheduled

Posted By on Wed, Jul 25, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Former state senator John Ford's sentencing date has been reset for August 27th, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

Ford, who was convicted of bribery earlier this year, had been scheduled to be sentenced on July 31st. He was one of the premier defendants in the Tennessee Waltz political corruption investigation.

Ford has a status conference scheduled for August 3rd in Nashville in a separate federal case involving his consulting fees from Tenn-Care providers. He has pleaded not guilty in that case.

In an interesting twist in the Nashville case, Edward Yarbrough has been nominated to become the new assistant United States Attorney for Middle Tennessee. Yarbrough represented Ford in his senate ethics hearing, meaning he would likely recuse himself from any dealings with Ford's criminal case. Yarbrough would replace Craig Morford, who has been promoted to a job with the U.S. Attorney General in Washington.

Beale Street Landing from a Different Angle

Posted on Wed, Jul 25, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Friends For Our Riverfront overlaid a site map of $29 million Beale Street Landing on to a Google map of the Memphis riverfront and Tom Lee Park.

To see how it looks, go here, or for more information go to the Riverfront Development Corporation’s website.

Beale Street Landing would give steamboats a new and more convenient docking place and provide a restaurant, parking lot, and gathering spot for Memphians. It was approved by the Memphis City Council earlier this year.

Work has not yet begun on the north end of Tom Lee Park, but the size of the site plan suggests there may be an upcoming conflict between the RDC and Memphis In May and the Beale Street Music Festival which also use Tom Lee Park.

The diagram shows the size of Beale Street Landing relative to Number One Beale, a proposed hotel and condo project at Beale and Riverside Drive. And it indicates that the landing will still leave the cobblestones unimproved, meaning that more dollars will be needed before this part of the riverfront is finished.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

RIP: "Wild Bill" Storey

Posted By on Tue, Jul 24, 2007 at 4:00 AM

It's been a rough year for late-night life in the city. First Raiford's Hollywood Disco closed, now comes the news that the proprietor of Wild Bill's, beloved Vollintine Avenue juke joint has died.

Willie Storey passed away Sunday morning at his home. A Wild Bill's employee reported his age as 88. Funeral and memorial arrangements are pending. The club employee says that Storey's wife will try to keep Wild Bill's open.

Check back with for further details on Storey's funeral and a memorial service at his eponymous club.

City Council Committee Recommends Raise For Herenton

Posted By on Tue, Jul 24, 2007 at 4:00 AM

A City Council committee recommended this morning setting the mayor's salary at $171,500. The figure, derived from giving the mayor the same increase city employees have received within the last four years, would amount to an $11,500 raise.

The council committee also looked at using the increase in the consumer price index (commonly called the cost of living) over the past four years to set the mayor's current salary, but that figure would have been almost $180,000.

Councilperson Barbara Swearengen Ware suggested the mayor's salary be bumped up to $175,000, but no one on the committee seconded it. New councilperson Madeleine Cooper Taylor, wanting the mayor's pay to be more in line with the heads of the local school districts, Memphis Light Gas & Water, and the Riverfront Development Corporation, moved that the mayor get $200,000 annually, but that was also not seconded by any other committee members.

Before the increase becomes official, the full council will have to approve it

City Council Votes To Appoint Its Own Staff, Setting Up Court Battle With Mayor

Posted By on Tue, Jul 24, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Maybe Councilman Brent Taylor was remembering when Mayor Willie Herenton invited him to step outside. Maybe he was thinking about when the mayor took on boxing great Joe Frayser in the ring.

Whatever the reason, even Taylor seemed wary of fighting City Hall. "This issue is not worth going to court with the mayor," said Taylor, of a motion this morning to give the City Council direct authority over its staff. "If we ultimately adopt this, what is the mayor going to do?"

In what could be seen as a burgeoning power struggle between the council and the mayor, Councilman Dedrick Brittenum proposed letting the City Council appoint its own staff members. Currently, the City Council's office workers are appointed by the mayor.

"It boils down to basic separation of powers," said Brittenum. "We have that authority."

Even if the council approves the change, the mayor could veto it. Then the council could override the veto, and in all likelihood, it could end up in court.

Brittenum's proposal was supported by Carol Chumney and council chair Tom Marshall, who called it a "bold and correct initiative."

In the past, the council has been told they have no employee oversight, per the city’s charter. But, as Marshall said, they've "heard that from people beholden to the mayor." City Attorney Elbert Jefferson argued that the charter would have to be amended before the council could appoint its staff. And, perhaps demonstrating the need for Brittenum's recommendation, said that the issue had been presented to the City Council attorney Allan Wade and "he agreed with me."

Marshall quickly countered, "He's your attorney, too."

Later Marshall added, "The council has been brainwashed over what its authority is."

E.C. Jones also questioned where the council attorney's loyalty was. "When we have a council attorney who is beholden to the mayor," he said, "is that attorney looking out for my best interest or the of the mayor?"

In the end, the committee passed what Taylor called "the main motion: Going to court with the mayor."

Stayed tuned for Round Two.

--Mary Cashiola

St. Elvis Appears in Dream; Inspires Billboard in Ireland

Posted By on Tue, Jul 24, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Now we've heard it all when it comes to Elvis stories -- and we're a pretty tough crowd.

Seems as though suddenly, and for no apparent reason, a huge billboard featuring Elvis appeared in Dublin, Ireland. When a curious local blogger contacted the billboard's owner to find out what the deal was, he got this explanation:

"Thank you for your comments on our Elvis billboard. I am a lifelong fan. I was very ill in hospital some time ago and Elvis appeared to me in a dream and he told me I would get better. He was speaking from a large billboard and my sign is to thank him and commemorate the event so that he may help others." — Harry Crosbie

Read more about the billboard from Irish Elvis uber-fan Maurice Colgan. (He's been on a one-man campaign to get Memphis to name its airport after Elvis for years.)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Ken Burns Coming to Memphis

Posted By on Mon, Jul 23, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Award-winning documentary producer Ken Burns is coming to Memphis August 8th.

WKNO is hosting a reception and preview of The War, Burns' soon-to-be-released documentary about World War II, at the Germantown Performing Arts Centre. The event is sponsored by the Stanford Group.

Tickets ($10 for WKNO members, $15 for non-members) are going fast, so if you want a seat for "An Evening With Ken Burns," call 751-7500.

For more information about The War, check out the PBS website.

Memphis Citys Schools Board Narrows Interim Superintendent Search to Two

Posted By on Mon, Jul 23, 2007 at 4:00 AM

The Memphis City Schools’ (MCS) interim superintendent search committee has selected two finalists: one an MCS insider, the other a former state superintendent currently working as an education consultant.

Each member of the committee submitted up to five candidates. The names of candidates who received at least two votes were then alphabetized, and board members spoke on behalf of their favorite candidates.

Daniel Ward, an MCS deputy superintendent from 2004-2005 and former MCS principal, received the most votes with seven. Robert Schiller, a former state superintendent in Illinois and Michigan, received five.

Some committee members thought Ward's experience with MCS would be a major plus. Ward also has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Memphis.

Fairy Shull, president of the Parent Assembly, said she would prefer to hire a candidate from within MCS. "I think it would send the wrong message to the Executive Leadership Team to hire someone from the outside," she said.

In a written statement, commissioner Betty Mallot said that Ward is "well known and respected by MCS staff and school administrators … [and] highly respected by peers as an area superintendent and as a principal."

Schiller, on the other hand, has never worked with MCS. In addition to his positions in Illinois and Michigan, Schiller was deputy state superintendent in Louisiana and Delaware; district superintendent in five urban and suburban districts in New Jersey, Maryland, and Louisiana; and interim superintendent in Baltimore.

Mallot said, "With [Schiller's] past experience as a consultant, he will know how to use that to his advantage, not his disadvantage, as an outsider."

Likewise, at-large commissioner Wanda Halbert backed Schiller. "Our problems and our challenges are no different from any other school district in the United States," she said.

Commissioner Martavius Jones, the head of the committee, expressed mixed feelings: "I voted for Dr. Schiller, as well. But the concern I have is that he's an outsider, and it would take a while to build the relationships that any superintendent needs."

The board hopes to make a decision as soon as possible so that Superintendent Carol Johnson can train her interim replacement before she leaves for her new job in Boston.

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