Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Judy Freeman

Posted By on Wed, Mar 12, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Judy Freeman worked for our sister publication, Memphis magazine, for many years. She passed away last weekend, saddening the hearts of many of us in this office. Here's her obituary, written with the help of her dear friend Tim Sampson.

JUDY FREEMAN, of Memphis, 64, died on Sunday, March 9 from complications of cancer. Judy leaves behind her sons, Graham Freeman Short of Seattle, Washington, and Gregg Forrest Short of Memphis; her daughter-in-law Angela Carolyn Short of Memphis; two grandchildren, Savannah Diane Short and Danielle Judith Short; and her brother and sister-in-law, Jim and Pat Freeman of Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Anyone who ever encountered Judy also knows that she is preceded in death by an extremely large and loving group of friends in Memphis and throughout the world. Judy's passion in life was to live it well beyond the simple norm. While she was an absolutely wonderful gardener, cook, mother, and grandmother, she was also deeply committed to spiritual learning as a practitioner of Loving Relationships Training and various Women’s Groups. Judy also danced ballet and taught dance for over 20 years, and spent her remaining years studying and practicing yoga.

She was with Memphis magazine for over 15 years, before starting her own business as a real estate investor. Judy at heart was an explorer, and was as at home in the mountains of Peru, the gardens of Bali, and dancing under the street lights in the French Quarter of New Orleans as she was in much of her daily life. She also lived in Manhattan and on a farm outside Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Judy fought the good fight for several years, after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She never succumbed to self-pity and was an inspiration to all of those who knew her. Even in her final days, her sense of humor was contagious. Judy was human and she had her struggles in life. But she always strove to live in love, rather than fear. She wished to thank those who participated in her life those people who helped make it so full and rich, as well as those who helped her and her family during her illness and her death.

She will always be remembered as the beautiful, elegant, and exciting person whose lifelong quest for knowledge and understanding of the universe was matched only by the love she showed everyone she knew with her actions, not just words on a day-to-day basis. For those who would like to make a donation in Judy’s memory, her wish was that you support early ovarian cancer testing by making a contribution to National Ovarian Cancer Coalition on line at or by calling 561-393-0005. A party and celebration of Judy's life will be held on Sunday, March 16, at The Cove at 2559 Broad Avenue from 3 to 5 p.m.

Three 6 Mafia to Conduct Strip Club Tours

Posted By on Wed, Mar 12, 2008 at 4:00 AM

In what may be the best music-marketing PR ploy ever, Memphis' Oscar-winning rappers Three 6 Mafia will lead music writers from around the country on strip club tours! Pure genius!

Already, national gossip and music sites are plugging the stunt. Check out's reaction, for example. And be sure to scroll down for the list of cities included. Nope, Memphis isn't on there, but then again, thanks to the County Commission, our strips clubs suck, anyway.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

David Kustoff Resigning as United States Attorney

Posted By on Tue, Mar 11, 2008 at 4:00 AM

United States Attorney David Kustoff, who oversaw most of the Tennessee Waltz prosecutions, announced his resignation Tuesday, effective May 16th.

Kustoff, a Republican who was formerly active in Shelby County politics, became United States attorney for western Tennessee in March, 2006. He was appointed by President George W. Bush. He plans to join his former law firm, Kustoff and Strickland, in partnership with Memphis City Councilman Jim Strickland.

The announcement came in the form of a press release faxed and e-mailed to news organizations. Coming in the midst of the presidential campaign, an ongoing congressional investigation of the removal of federal prosecutors by former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and the Eliot Spitzer scandal, Kustoff's resignation invited speculation, which he took pains to squelch.

"Personally, the timing is right," Kustoff said in an interview. "Recently I have had people across the community ask me if I would seek to be renominated after the presidential election. I came to the conclusion that I would not. I can leave on my own terms and go back and practice law."

Kustoff said he and his wife, who is also an attorney in his former law firm, are expecting their second child in three or four weeks.

"There is nothing more to it than that," he said.

Kustoff did not try cases himself, however, he was frequently in front of news cameras at press conferences announcing indictments and convictions in big federal investigations including Tennessee Waltz, Main Street Sweeper, Tarnished Blue, and the closing of Memphis strip clubs.

United States attorneys are political appointees and often choose to leave office when a president from the other party is elected. Because there are only about five months between Kustoff's resignation in May and the November election, an interim United States attorney is likely to be appointed, with a permanent replacement announced after the new president takes office. Kustoff said his resignation should not be interpreted as an indication that he thinks the Democrats are about to take the White House.

I'm not going to prognosticate anything," he said. "Regardless of who is elected, it will be time for somebody else to serve as United States attorney."

Newspaper Guild Plans "Humorous" Protest at Commercial Appeal Wednesday

Posted By on Tue, Mar 11, 2008 at 4:00 AM

From the Memphis Newspaper Guild: The Newspaper Guild leads humorous protest against outsourcing.

Work at The Commercial Appeal is being shipped overseas. Today, some advertisements for Memphis-area businesses are being laid out by workers in India.

At least one Commercial Appeal worker has already left because he doesn't see the point of continuing under these circumstances.

We have nothing against India or Indians, of course, but we feel it's a slippery slope and we want to keep our jobs here.

A group of Commercial Appeal workers is planning a lighthearted look at the issue -- we'll be having a tongue-in-cheek street theater event in which we urge employees to pack up and move to India to follow jobs that are being sent there.

There will be a lot of color and excitement as the workers in costumes play Indian records, hand out Indian candy, and tell employees all about the virtues of the Asian subcontinent.

Background: The Newspaper Guild is a labor organization that represents Commercial Appeal employees. Commercial Appeal workers covered by collective bargaining agreements have not had a raise in more than five years.

The Commercial Appeal is one of the region's most important media outlets and this event offers you a look at its inner workings.

Where: The Commercial Appeal -- Beale Street entrance

When: From 7:30 a.m. until 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 12.

What: Humorous street theater protest against outsourcing

Visuals: Workers in costumes will urge their co-workers to move to India.

Sounds like great fun. See you there!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Topless Clubs in Memphis to Face Naked Truth?

Posted By on Sun, Mar 9, 2008 at 4:00 AM

On a recent Thursday night at the Gold Club, a topless, Caucasian woman with long, dark hair and an ample bosom snakes around a brass pole in the center of the stage. Occasionally, when the music's intensity heightens, she jumps into the air and lands in an impressive full split on the floor.

One man, seated at the end of the stage, inserts a dollar bill into his mouth, and the woman approaches him slowly. She smiles as she pulls his head toward her breasts and holds it there for several seconds. Then, as she pulls away, she uses her hands to push her breasts together and grabs the dollar between them. The woman saunters away to finish her routine, leaving the man looking dazed, like a boy who's seen his first nudie mag ...

Jackson Baker, John Branston, and Bianca Phillips team up to take a look at the brewing controversy surrounding Memphis strip clubs. Read it all here.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Police Charge Victim's Brother with Six Murders

Posted on Sat, Mar 8, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Jessie L. Dotson, a convicted murderer who served 14 years in prison, has been charged with the murders of six people at a house on 722 Lester Street, including his younger brother Cecil Dotson.

"We can all rest a little easier today," Memphis Police Department Director Larry Godwin said at a press conference Saturday afternoon.

Godwin said police are "confident" Jessie Dotson, 33, is the only killer, although the investigation remains open. He said the brothers began arguing last Saturday afternoon and the argument continued throughout the evening, culminating in the "horrific" shootings and stabbings of nine people.

Dotson is charged with six counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted first-degree murder.The dead, all of whom were shot to death, included two of Cecil Dotson's sons, one four years old and the other two years old. Three other young children in the home were stabbed and critically injured.

Godwin said Jessie Dotson first shot his brother then killed or attempted to kill the others in the house to cover up the first murder. The bodies were not discovered by police for more than 30 hours.

Dotson, along with other family members of the victims, had been in protective custody most of last week. Rumors that the killings were gang reprisals have kept Memphians on edge all week.

"As a community, we are relieved that this was not a random act of violence," said Godwin. "It was committed by a person who was known."

Godwin said the more than $80,000 in reward money put up by the state and local governments and others would not be paid out.

Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons said prosecutors will make an announcement soon about whether they will seek the death penalty for Dotson, who is in the Shelby County Jail.

--John Branston

Friday, March 7, 2008

MGMT in London

Posted By on Fri, Mar 7, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Flyer editor Bruce VanWyngarden's favorite band, MGMT, is touring Europe at the moment, where they have the top-rated video, "Time to Pretend."

They're also making a bunch of videoblogs of their journey. In this one, Andrew VanWyngarden (in the hat) and his bandmate Ben Goldwasser open a fruit stand and later try to find a copy of their CD in a record store, with mixed results. Their other vidblogs are on

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Lessons of Lester Street

Posted By on Thu, Mar 6, 2008 at 4:00 AM

In a city where murder occurs at the rate of about one every other day, the murders of six people, including two children, in a house at 722 Lester set a new standard for brutality.

Memphis police on Tuesday asked the news media and the community for help in solving one of the worst mass murders in Memphis history.

"There are people out there who have the information that we don't have," said Lieutenant Joe Scott.

Read the rest of John Branston's City Beat column.

Design Firms Unveil Shelby Farms Plans

Posted By on Thu, Mar 6, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Three finalists in the Shelby Farms Park design competition revealed plans for the 4,500 acre park at a press conference at the Central Library Thursday morning.

Plans from all three firms -- Tom Leader Studio, Hargreaves Associates, and Field Operations -- were inspired by trends in "green" environmentally-friendly design. Each puts some focus on restoring waterways and encouraging on-site organic food production.

Tom Leader Studio is proposing a solar farm that would utilize sun energy to run all Shelby Farms' facilities. Their plan would also restore natural streams and divert their flow into the Wolf River. That water would be used to irrigate organic food crops and native grasses used in the creation of biofuels. Under the Leader plan, public art would be installed by artists-in-residence who would live onsite for six months. The plan also calls for a new amphitheater with studio space for musicians and an on-site restaurant specializing in healthy food.

Hargreaves Associates plans to turn Shelby Farms Park into Shelby Lakes Park by creating new streams using water from the Wolf River. The end result would consist of 10 miles of waterways that could be used for canoeing, kayaking, and other recreational activities. The plan would also create a new sports center with fields for outdoor sports, such as track and football, and space for indoor sports.

The Field Operations plan includes a 100-acre orchard for apples, peaches, figs, and cherries to be sold at the on-site farmers' market. An Art Mound would be developed on the west end of the park for public art installations, and the plan includes a Shelby Farms Charter School. Patriot Lake would be expanded, and goats, llamas, and additional bison would be added to the existing range area.

The plans are on display the Central Library and Cossitt Library. Plans will be available for viewing at the Shelby Farms Visitors Center beginning March 17. Later today, they can be viewed on the Shelby Farms Park website. The public is being asked to comment on their favorite aspects of each plan in an online questionnaire. A final design firm will be chosen in April.

-- Bianca Phillips

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Now YOU Can Fix the Shelby County Budget!

Posted By on Wed, Mar 5, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Local gadfly and humorist Tom Guleff has come up with another good one. He's created an avatar of Shelby County Mayor AC Wharton, so all of us can "play" mayor and take a shot at fixing the $16 million budget shortfall.

Go to Guleff's website, and start hacking away at those numbers.

Adventures in a Memphis Wal-Mart

Local Walmart verifies ALL purchases, dammit.

Posted By on Wed, Mar 5, 2008 at 4:00 AM

For some time, one of our favorite sites, The Consumerist, has been keeping an eye on retailers that require consumers to show them a receipt for their purchases as they leave the store.

In today's tale, Patrick visits a Memphis-area Wal-Mart to buy a firearm, ammunition, and some groceries (like we all do). But he's not allowed to buy the ammunition and the groceries with the firearm, so he opts just to buy the gun.

Because of a policy that a manager must escort weapons out of the store, the manager is holding the firearm when an employee at the door asks Patrick for his receipt. Because, of course, when a manager walks your purchase to the door, there's a good chance you're stealing it.

Here's what Patrick wrote to the Consumerist: "I try to explain that not only did I give cash to Assistant Manager Ladarrel AND he gave me a receipt of sale AND he has been in complete possession of the firearm since the sale; he escorted me from the back of the store to where we were standing. At no time had I even been in possession of my merchandise."

Receipt, please. No exceptions. Get the full story.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Art at Memphis' Power House: From Iraq to the Old South

Posted By on Tue, Mar 4, 2008 at 4:00 AM

For Tom Lee's exhibition "Into the Fire," there is a perfect pairing of art and venue. Inside Power House's small, sooty gallery, the Fuel Room, Lee has drawn, whittled, and painted a savagely wry 21st-century version of Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam. Instead of surrounding God with cherubim, Lee depicts the Almighty flanked by a circular saw with an image of George W. Bush imprinted on each tooth of the blade.

In Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel masterwork, God reaches out, almost touching Adam. The Fuel Room Jehovah points to a replica of Elmer Fudd's shotgun (circa 1950s), which sprays pellets into a tiny Bugs Bunny hanging from the wall.

Read the rest of Carol Knowles review of the latest show at the Power House.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Storms are Approaching. Batten Down the Hatches.

Posted By on Mon, Mar 3, 2008 at 4:00 AM reports severe storms will continue to push eastward toward the Mississippi Valley today, ahead of a strong cold front. As a cold front shifts eastward today, the line of storms will progress eastward, causing destructive weather in its path. The greatest threats will be damaging winds and a few tornadoes Heavy downpours and large hail will also be possible with the strongest storms.

Storms today will occur from East Texas northeastward to west Tennessee. The line of storms will continue to shift eastward along the brim of warm and moist air over the western Gulf. By the afternoon, storms will press into Mississippi.

"As the line of storms moves east from Texas, the storms will intensify into a strong squall line that will move across Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and western Tennessee," wrote severe weather expert Henry Margusity in his blog. "While wind damage will be the primary threat, supercells that develop ahead of the line in Louisiana and Mississippi may contain large, long-lived tornadoes."

Oy. You've been warned. Be careful out there tonight.

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