Friday, August 29, 2008

Drink Beer With Animals This Weekend

Posted By on Fri, Aug 29, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Don't do your drinkin' in a dive Friday night. Instead, head to the Memphis Zoo for the annual Zoo Brew party, where guests will sample fine microbrews from around the world. The best part -- it's only $15! The party starts tonight at 6 p.m. For something totally different, check out Miss Fairy Tale at Midtown gay bar Crossroads tonight. This live disco operetta mixes video and stagecraft in a salute to Donna Summer and the Disney Princess franchise. The show runs Friday and Saturday night at 10 p.m.

Save money by hitting up the Memphis Music and Heritage Festival, the uber-popular free fest with over 300 musical and dance performances this weekend. The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday night through Sunday night.

Memphis lost 5,000 residents during the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1978. During that tragic time, the survivors spent a lot of time in their black mourning clothes. See examples what women and men wore (and how they decorated their homes) during times of loss at "Between the Church and the Cemetery" at the Woodruff-Fontaine House in Victorian Village. The exhibit runs through November 2nd. Party on!!

The second annual Delta Fair and Music Festival begins this weekend at the Agricenter. Catch local metal band On a Dead Machine Saturday night or Foghat and the Romantics on Sunday night. Besides live music, the fair also features a rodeo and various exhibits.

For more weekend options, check out the Flyer's searchable calendar listings.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Bass Pro President Talks Up City Council

Posted By on Mon, Aug 25, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Three years after taking a first look at Memphis and The Pyramid, Bass Pro Shops is ready to move ahead, but it will be at least another three years before a new store opens for business.

Jim Hagale, president of the company, met with a handful of members of the Memphis City Council Monday morning. His presentation was part sales pitch and part apology. He thanked Robert Lipscomb, the city's point man on the project, "who took most of the arrows for me." He also apologized for delays in moving the project forward, but said "there has never been a point where Bass Pro became disinterested in the Pyramid project."

The company, which competes with such retailers as Cabela's, L.L. Bean, and Gander Mountain, is wary of over-expansion, Hagale said, naming Krispy Kreme Donuts as an example of dilution of product name.

The "development agreement" outlined Monday calls for a year of further study during which Bass Pro would pay the city and county $35,000 a month. If the company walks away at the end of the year, it pays an additional $500,000 unless it finds structural problems in the Pyramid that make its plan undoable.

If Bass Pro decides to go ahead, construction of a store, aquarium, hotel, and restaurants would take two more years.

The cost to the city and county: $30 million, plus the remaining $9.9 million of debt on the Pyramid. Various experts explained that the $30 million would not come out of property taxes or general fund revenues but would instead be financed by new market tax credits and Tourism Development Zone funds and other creative financing tools. Ultimately, the project depends on tourism dollars to produce a tax "increment" or surplus beyond the current tax take, which is essentially zero since the Pyramid closed.

Hagale showed a video promotion for Bass Pro that touted its economic benefits and broad appeal to nature lovers as well as its core market of hunters and fishermen. He said nearly half of the visitors to the company's superstore the Missouri Ozarks stay overnight and spend three or four hours in the store.

"It's a planned destination trip," he said, adding that the company is "very disappointed when we are designated as a big-box retailer."

That would be one of the kinder depictions. Local bloggers and their commenters who oppose the project generally employ the term "bait shop."

Hagale's cheering section included Mayor Willie Herenton, fishing legend Bill Dance, former city councilman Tom Marshall, and businessman Scott Ledbetter among others. Former President Jimmy Carter endorsed Bass Pro in the video. Only five council members attended; some are at the Democratic National Convention in Denver this week. At any rate, the meeting was for information only, and no action is required by elected officials at this point. There was a second presentation before the Shelby County Commission Monday afternoon.

Bass Pro has 47 stores and $2.7 billion in sales last year.

And the Ostrander Goes To ....

Posted on Mon, Aug 25, 2008 at 4:00 AM

The 25th annual Ostrander Awards, recognizing the best of local theater, was held last night the Memphis Botanic Garden.

And the winners are


Set Design: Craig Lewis, University of Memphis, Assassins

Costume Design: Janice Lacek, University of Memphis, The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Lighting Design: Ken Friedhoff, University of Memphis, Animal Farm

Props: Emily Wells, University of Memphis, Animal Farm

Music Direction: Mark Ensley, University of Memphis, The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Sound Design: Eric Sefton, McCoy Theatre Rhodes College, How I Learned to Drive

Choreography: Jay Rapp, University of Memphis, The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Supporting Actress in a Musical: Shaheerah Farrakhan, University of Memphis, The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Supporting Actor in a Musical: Jason Hansen, University of Memphis, Assassins

Leading Actress in a Musical: Kirie Walz, University of Memphis, The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Leading Actor in a Musical: Chris McCollum, University of Memphis, Assassins

Direction of a Musical: Stephen Hancock, University of Memphis, The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Musical Production: University of Memphis, The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Supporting Actress in a Drama: Katie Preston, McCoy Theatre Rhodes College, How I Learned to Drive

Supporting Actor in a Drama: Matthew Crewse, University of Memphis, Animal Farm

Leading Actress in a Drama: Shannon King, McCoy Theatre Rhodes College, How I Learned to Drive

Leading Actor in a Drama: Greg Krosnes, McCoy Theatre Rhodes College, How I Learned to Drive

Leading Actor in a Drama: Reginald C. Brown, University of Memphis, Animal Farm

Ensemble Acting: University of Memphis, Animal Farm

Cameo Role: Andrew Whaley, McCoy Theatre Rhodes College, The Rocky Horror Show

Direction of a Drama: Gloria Baxter, University of Memphis, Animal Farm

Dramatic Production: University of Memphis, Animal Farm

Best New Play: Rebecca Fisher, The Magnificence of the Disaster

Best Production of an Original Script: Rebecca Fisher, The Magnificence of the Disaster


Set Design: Christopher McCollum, Theatre Memphis, Thoroughly Modern Millie

Costume Design: Andre Bruce Ward, Theatre Memphis, Thoroughly Modern Millie

Lighting Design: Michael Compton and Chris Swanson, Theatre Memphis, Thoroughly Modern Millie

Lighting Design: Michael Compton and Chris Swanson, Theatre Memphis, Thoroughly Modern Millie

Props: Robin Black, Harrell Theatre, High School Musical 2

Set Dressing: Kerry Strahm, Germantown Community Theatre, Crimes of the Heart

Makeup and Wigs: Barbara Sanders, Theatre Memphis, Thoroughly Modern Millie

Music Direction: Dennis Whitehead, Playhouse on the Square, Jerry Springer the Opera

Sound Design: David Newsome, Theatre Memphis, A Midsummer Night's Dream

Choreography: Mitzi Hamilton and Kathy Caradine, Theatre Memphis, Thoroughly Modern Millie

Choreography: Mitzi Hamilton and Kathy Caradine, Theatre Memphis, Thoroughly Modern Millie

Supporting Actress in a Musical: Jude Knight, Theatre Memphis, Thoroughly Modern Millie

Supporting Actor in a Musical: Ken Zimmerman, Playhouse on the Square, The Producers

Leading Actress in a Musical: Cheyenne Nelson, Circuit Playhouse, The Great American Trailer Park Musical

Leading Actor in a Musical: Kent Fleshman, Circuit Playhouse, The Great American Trailer Park Musical

Direction of a Musical: Mitzi Hamilton, Theatre Memphis, Thoroughly Modern Millie

Musical Production: Theatre Memphis, Thoroughly Modern Millie

Supporting Actress in a Drama: Jo Lynne Palmer, Next Stage Theatre Memphis, Pride and Prejudice

Supporting Actress in a Drama: Sheana Tobey, Circuit Playhouse, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolfe

Supporting Actor in a Drama: Matt Reed, Next Stage Theatre Memphis, Seascape

Leading Actress in a Drama: Sheana Tobey, POTS at the Works, And Baby Makes Seven

Leading Actor in a Drama: Jerre Dye, Circuit Playhouse, Compleat Female Stage Beauty

Ensemble Acting: The Cast of Pride and Prejudice, Next Stage Theatre Memphis,

Cameo Appearance: Corey Cochran, Circuit Playhouse, A Year With Frog and Toad

Direction of a Drama: John Rone, Next Stage Theatre Memphis, Pride and Prejudice

Dramatic Production: Next Stage Theatre Memphis, Pride and Prejudice

Behind the Scenes Award: Alvin Miller, Germantown Community Theatre,

Larry Riley Rising Star Award: Ken Friedhoff

Friday, August 22, 2008

What to Do This Weekend in Memphis

Posted By on Fri, Aug 22, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Not sure what to do with all your free time this weekend? Here are a few suggestions.

Local artist Niki Johnson's work will be featured at the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center Friday night in a show titled "Consumer Content." Johnson's sculpture, paintings, and prints highlight the relationship between consumers and advertisers. The opening runs from 7 to 9 p.m., but Johnson’s work will be on view through September 15th.

Don't let produce rot in the fridge. Learn to use the summer's bounty in the free Seasonal Cooking Demo at Wild Oats Friday night at 7 p.m. Edible Memphis editor Melissa Peterson will use fresh local ingredients to create a tasty summer meal, and of course, workshop attendees will be allowed to sample the dish.

For years, the Church Health Center has provided affordable health care to the city's uninsured, but the center relies on donations to provide that service. Support health care for all people at the annual Rock For Love benefit for the Church Health Center at the Hi-Tone Friday and Saturday night. The event features live music by Lord T & Eloise, Al Kapone, Snowglobe, and others. Shows start at 9 p.m. both nights.

While we're on the topic of supporting nonprofits, you might as well check out the annual Sports Ball at the Peabody Hotel Saturday night. The event benefits Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Memphis. The black tie/tennis shoe gala wants attendees to pair comfy sports shoes with cocktail dresses and tuxedoes. The party starts at 7 p.m.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has the Oscars. But Memphis has the Ostranders, the annual award ceremony honoring the best actors, directors, and productions in local theater. Veteran character actor Chris Ellis hosts this year's ceremony. The cocktail reception begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Memphis Botanic Garden. The awards ceremony starts at 7:30 p.m.

For more weekend fun, check out the Flyer's searchable listings.

--Bianca Phillips

Thursday, August 21, 2008

John Elkington and Birmingham's Dome Stadium

Posted By on Thu, Aug 21, 2008 at 4:00 AM

From the Birmingham News: The developer behind a planned downtown entertainment district told Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex board members today that knowing the location of a proposed domed stadium could help him finalize bank financing for his project.

Responding to a question from Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford, John Elkington of Performa Entertainment Real Estate said being able to tell lenders that the proposed $500 million, 70,000-seat stadium is being built adjacent to the BJCC "would be a huge plus."

That prompted an exchange that suggested Langford might know the location ...

Judging from the rest of the story, now Elkington knows, even if most of the rest of Birmingham doesn't.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

City Gets State Grant to Beautify Graceland Area

Posted By on Wed, Aug 20, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Governor Phil Bredesen announced today that the state will provide a Tennessee Roadscapes Grant in the amount of $76,396 to the city of Memphis to assist with improvements to an important gateway in the city.

"The development of well-planned landscaping programs create inviting surroundings that boost local economies and improve the quality of life for citizens,” said Bredesen. "It's important to create welcoming places for people to live and work and to build a sense of pride in one’s community."

The city of Memphis Roadscapes project includes establishing an entryway to the Whitehaven neighborhood, to be located at the intersection of Elvis Presley Boulevard and Brooks Road. The area is a gateway to Graceland and the new Memphis Visitor Center. Landscaping will include native trees lining the road and a small stone wall to replicate an existing one in front of the Visitor Center.

The Tennessee Roadscapes initiative was developed in 2006 as a partnership between community organizations across the state and TDOT to create inviting spaces through an integrated approach to roadside landscaping. TDOT funds 80 percent of the cost of a project with the grant recipient contributing the remaining 20 percent. Grants are derived from federal funds that are specifically earmarked for roadway enhancement projects.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Committee Approves Funding Compromise

Posted By on Tue, Aug 19, 2008 at 4:00 AM

In the ongoing tussle over more than $57 million in city funding, the City Council's budget committee this morning approved a compromise.

Under the terms of the compromise, the city schools would give the city $57.5 million from its reserve fund. The city would then allocate that money back to the school system to meet a state maintenance of effort clause and save the city schools from staring down the gun barrel of a $423 million state funding cut in October.

"The ball will be in MCS' court to fund it," council attorney Allan Wade said. "If they do not fund it, it will be their choice to not fund it."

But when council member Barbara Swearengen Ware asked if the school system was in agreement with the compromise, there seemed to be some reluctance from the district.

To read more, visit In The Bluff.

National Civil Rights Museum to Honor Al Gore, Diane Nash

Posted By on Tue, Aug 19, 2008 at 4:00 AM

The National Civil Rights Museum will honor former vice president Al Gore and long-time civil rights activist Diane Nash at this year's Freedom Awards on October 28th.

Gore, now an environmental activist, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for his work on climate change.

Nash founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960, and was active in "freedom rides" and other civil rights movement events.

For more on the Freedom Awards celebration, visit the NCRM website.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Mrs. Fields Files for Chapter 11

Posted By on Mon, Aug 18, 2008 at 4:00 AM

As they say, that's the way the cookie crumbles.

Mrs. Fields, the cookie company started by Debbi Fields Rose more than 30 years ago, announced Friday it plans to file for Chapter 11 protection.

The company, which includes frozen-yogurt shop TCBY, has plans to restructure.

Rose, married to former Promus Hotel chairman Michael Rose, started the company in 1977 in Palo Alto, California. She later sold it in 1997, and the corporate headquarters are now based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Shad Death at Shelby Farms

Posted By on Mon, Aug 18, 2008 at 4:00 AM

A number of fish have bought the farm. Shelby Farms, that is.

Shelby Farms' Patriot Lake is experiencing a mass kill of gizzard shad, similar to an incident in March.

The U of M Ecological Research Center's Bill Simco investigated the March kill and told the park that cloudy weather had reduced the oxygen levels in the lake, making it inhospitable for gizzard shad.

The park has called Simco to test water quality again, just in case, but because the dead fish are once again gizzard shad, they suspect lower oxygen levels as the culprit.

"We don't think we have any cause for alarm," says Robert Mayer, director of park operations. "This is just a natural occurrence."

The real bad news is for park rangers.

"The rangers have to put on their waders, get out in the water and scoop out the fish," says communications manager Jen Andrews. "We have to get them out somehow."

To read more, visit In the Bluff.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The New School Year's Begun: Where Are the Students?

Posted By on Sun, Aug 17, 2008 at 4:00 AM

City and county public schools opened this week, and students aren't the only ones who could use an orientation.

Kriner Cash, his staff, and members of the Memphis City Council and school board should climb on a yellow bus and check out three new high schools their predecessors left them — and taxpayers — at a cost of nearly $100 million.

Each of the schools — Southwind High School, Douglass High School, and Manassas High School — comes with the latest furnishings and technology and some important unfinished business. Taken together, they offer a lesson in school choice, city-county politics, urban renewal, flight from the inner city, and the underpinnings of the current conflict between the Memphis school board and the City Council.

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

Friday, August 15, 2008

Council, MCS Meet on School Funding

Posted By on Fri, Aug 15, 2008 at 4:00 AM

New Memphis City Schools superintendent Kriner Cash may have initially said he could figure out a way to live with the City Council’s $66 million cut. But on Thursday night, at a public meeting held at BRIDGES U.S.A. in Memphis’ Uptown neighborhood, the superintendent was singing a different tune.

Whatever may have been said or done in the past, it’s clear that the superintendent and his team have determined that MCS needs the city funding commitment, not just this year, but in perpetuity.

The seats at Bridges were filled with City Council members, Memphis City Schools board representatives, parents, and teachers. The public’s questions regarding the school system’s budget, teacher raises, possible layoffs, taxes, and optional funding were addressed but not always answered. Concerns were seldom allayed.

Cash referred to a gloomy power point presentation and said that without the additional funding, jobs would be lost, textbooks won’t be replaced, initiatives won’t be launched, and significant additional cuts will have to be made in years to come as the system fails to meet its mandated cash reserves.

Cash justified six-figure salaries offered to new hires by saying he was putting his new team together and the generous salaries were market value. He also said that a majority of the job cuts would come from system’s main office and administration.

The superintendent’s presentation assumed yearly increases in operating costs though school enrollment has been in decline.

The proposed compromise between the city and the school system is, quite literally, passing the buck.

The school district would transfer $57.5 million from its reserves to the city, an amount the council says it’s owed. The city would then give the $57.5 million back to the school system, which would allow the district to balance its 2008-2009 budget.

The problem, according to the school system, is that the one-time transfer of $57. 5 million doesn’t replace the funding stream the school district loses if the council continues to withhold funding and, if projections reflect reality, MCS could witness a budget shortfall of $14 million by 2010.

The dialogue between the city, the school district, and the public was hampered somewhat by a series of ground rules designed to allow such a meeting in light of a pair of lawsuits the city and the school district have filed against one another. -- by Chris Davis

Get Out This Weekend: To Midtown and Beyond

Posted on Fri, Aug 15, 2008 at 4:00 AM

If you're Jailhouse Rocked-out by this point in Elvis Week, here are a few other suggestions for the weekend.

Midtowners shouldn't miss the opening reception for "This Is Midtown," a collection of photographs from the city's edgy, artsy sector by Tommy Wilson. The show opens tonight at 7 p.m. at the newly reopened Edge Coffee House on North Watkins.

Escape throngs of tourists by ducking down to Southaven for the Snowden Music & Bike Rally at Snowden Grove Amphitheatre. The three-day event (Friday through Sunday) features live music by Blind Melon (minus deceased lead singer Shannon Hoon, of course), Memphis’ own Saliva, Kansas, and Bad Company.

Indian food lovers, get your panek paneer fix at India Fest Saturday at the Agricenter. Food from all regions of India will be for sale, as well as traditional saris, bindhis, and other accessories. The free festival begins at 11 a.m. and runs through 7 p.m.

Now that the weather's cooled off a bit, there's no excuse for staying indoors. Hop on a bike and head to Nesbit Park in Bartlett for the annual Legend of Stanky Creek Bike Race. The two-day time trial and mountain bike race begins on Saturday at 1 p.m. and runs through Sunday.

Dig out that poodle skirt and head to Playhouse on the Square for a performance of The Buddy Holly Story, a musical tribute to the 1950s rock star. Sunday's performance will be preceded by a Mini-Antique Car Show of autos from 1950s and 1960s, as well as a Buddy Holly Trivia Contest, burgers, and root beer floats. Events begin at 2 p.m.

For more weekend ideas, check out the Flyer's searchable online calendar.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Vance Lauderdale Discovers the "Clarksdale Giant"

Posted By on Thu, Aug 14, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Roaming through the fourth floor of the Lauderdale Library last night, I came across several bound volumes of a now-defunct magazine called Night & Day. As I flipped through the yellowing pages of the July 1953 issue, my one good eye was caught by a story about a fellow named Max Palmer, who became known as the Clarksdale Giant, among other monikers ...

Intrepid arcane adventurer Vance Lauderdale explores the odd tale of one very big man on his blog at Memphis Magazine.

Calling All Photographers: Images Needed for "Memphis 8.16.08"

Posted on Thu, Aug 14, 2008 at 4:00 AM

On Saturday, August 16th, between 12:01 a.m. and 11:59 p.m., the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is asking this city's citizens of all ages, creeds, and colors to pick up their cameras and start shooting. The goal of "Day in the Life of Memphis" is to capture images of Memphis 2008.

"Day in the Life of Memphis" is the first time the museum has made such a large call for entries The pictures, divided by age group and amateur and professional photographers, will be judged by a jury, and the winning images will be displayed online and at the museum from September 20th through November 2nd in a show titled "Memphis 8.16.08." In addition, some of the images will be used in a Memphis Regional Chamber ad campaign.

Read more about "Day in the Life" here.

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