Thursday, August 14, 2008

Charter Commission (Briefly) Considers MCS Funding

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

With a Memphis City Schools budget presentation to the City Council scheduled for this evening, school board and charter commission member Sharon Webb proposed -- and then withdrew -- a charter change that would have required the city to fund the school district.

In today's Charter Commission meeting, Webb presented a charter amendment that would have guaranteed Memphis City Schools at least 75 cents on every one hundred dollars of assessed property value.

After the City Council cut $66 million in funding to the school system in June, the district sued the city, arguing that it has a mandate to fund education under a state maintenance of effort clause. The city has argued that the maintenance of effort clause relates to the official local funding body, the county.

Webb said she wanted to give the citizens of Memphis the choice to fund Memphis City Schools.

"My rationale is that the children of the Memphis City Schools belong to Memphis city," Webb said. "From the abrupt decision made by the City Council, I really don't believe everybody understood the full impact of what happened." To read more, visit In the Bluff.

Literacy Council's "Taste of Cooper-Young" Tickets On Sale

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

Tickets are currently on sale for "Taste of Cooper-Young," a popular fund-raising progressive dinner to benefit the Memphis Literacy Council. The event is Thursday, August 21st. Last year's event sold out.

"The issue for us is getting the word out -- not only who we are but about the problem in Memphis. One in three people in Memphis are functionally illiterate," explains Debra Hall of the Literacy Council. "It's really a call to let the community know that we have a problem, because we can't solve it if they don't know about it."

This is where the eating comes in. A Taste of Cooper-Young is a progressive dinner, with nine of the neighborhood's restaurants providing a signature dish. The participating restaurants are Celtic Crossing, Tsunami, Café Ole, Young Avenue Deli, Lou’s Pizza Pie, the Beauty Shop, Java Cabana, Do Sushi, and Blue Fish.

The evening begins with cocktails -- including the Literatini, "a cocktail for the well-read," Hall says -- at the Literacy Council offices, then it’s off to sup, with seatings at 6 and 7:30 p.m.

"In a traditional progressive dinner, you go around in a group to each restaurant," Hall says. "With ours, we'll give you a ticket and then send you out to whatever restaurant you want, in whatever order you want. That way, there won't be a huge back-up in any particular restaurant."

After dinner is done, it's back to the Literacy Council for wine and a silent auction, featuring Cooper-Young-themed items from area businesses and artwork, including a painting by N.J. Woods and framed photographs of the neighborhood.

Last year's Taste of Cooper-Young raised $12,000.

"Last year was a great success," Hall says. "I've been having people ask me all year long when the next one was going to be."

"A Taste of Cooper-Young" Thursday, August 21st. Seatings at 6 and 7:30 p.m. $50. To purchase a ticket, go to

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Best of Memphis: Last Day To Vote

Posted on Wed, Aug 13, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Voting in the 2008 Best of Memphis Readers' Poll ends tonight at 11:59 p.m.

To have your voice heard on everything from the best tapas place and favorite tattoo parlor to Memphis' "best" failure of 2008 and the best athlete, go here.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Ask Vance: the 1921 Ford Motor Company Robbery

Posted By on Mon, Aug 11, 2008 at 4:00 AM

A battered tombstone in Forest Hill Cemetery is the only visible reminder of one of Memphis' most notorious robberies.

Eighty-seven years ago today, two Ford employees, chief accounting clerk Edgar McHenry and special agent Howard "Shorty" Gamble drove to a bank on Second Street to pick up that week's payroll -- a satchel containing $8,500, which was an enormous sum in those days.

To read more, visit Vance's blog.

Writer Implicates Scientology in Isaac Hayes' Death

Posted By on Mon, Aug 11, 2008 at 4:00 AM

My friend, Isaac Hayes, died on Sunday, and his passing leaves many unanswered questions.

The great R&B star, actor, DJ, performer and family man, the composer of "Soul Man," "Hold On I"m Coming" and other hits by Sam Moore and Dave Prater like "When Something Is Wrong with My Baby," also was a member of the Church of Scientology.

Isaac was found dead by his treadmill, but conveniently missing from the wire stories was a significant fact: in January 2006, Isaac had a significant stroke. At the time, the word went out only that he had been hospitalized for exhaustion.

But the truth was, Isaac, whom I'd seen just a couple of months earlier when he headlined the Blues Ball in Memphis, was in trouble. Having lost the rights to his songs two decades earlier, he was finally making some money voicing the character of Chef on "South Park." But "South Park" lampooned Scientology, so the leaders wanted Isaac out ...

Read the rest of FoxNews columnist Roger Friedman's column here.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Music Legend Isaac Hayes Dies

Posted on Sun, Aug 10, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Isaac Hayes, the great Memphis singer/composer who helped make Stax-Volt a major record company in the '60s and '70s and whose extended oeuvres of soul and r & b hits made himself a household name for the last several decades., was pronounced dead Sunday at Baptist Memorial Hospital East.

The singer was reportedly found unconscious in his Memphis home sometime after noon Sunday by his wife, who immediately called for medical assistance.

The 65-year-old Hayes, who had been in declining health for some time, had nevertheless continued to be an active presence not only musically but in assorted civic activities.

Along with co-composer David Porter, Hayes was the creative eminence behind many of Stax-Volt's early hits, and Hayes became a successful singer in his own right with such albums as Hot Buttered Soul (1969) and Black Moses (1971) . He also scored several films, including Shaft, for which he won an Academy Award. He would accumulate three Grammy awards during his career and was a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Hayes also involved himself in a number of social causes, becoming prominent in the Scientology movement. Like numerous other musical artists, he went in and out of difficult economic phases during the course of his career, but never quite retired and could still electrify audiences in his increasingly rare public appearances.

Among those remembering Hayes was 9th District congressman Steve Cohen , on behalf of whose reelection campaign Hayes had recently appeared in a series of well-seen ads.

"Isaac Hayes was our emissary to the world for over four decades," Cohen said. "His music and his love of his fellow man transcended all racial boundaries. His contributions to this city and its culture were many, and his friends were even more numerous. I was fortunate enough to have him as my friend, and I was blessed to have his support in my most recent election.

"His music, his talent, and his spirit will live on. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Adjowa and his entire family. He was a soul man and a great man, and like Moses, there will never be another."

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Memphis Heritage Working to Save C&I Bank Building

Posted By on Sat, Aug 9, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Fresh off its Cumberland Presbyterian/Chick-fil-A victory, Memphis Heritage is setting its sights on the C&I Bank building at 200 Madison ...

More at Mary Cashiola's "In the Bluff" Blog.

Memphis: A City of Losers That Produced Elvis?

Posted on Sat, Aug 9, 2008 at 4:00 AM

We're losers. That's what one Brit writer decided anyway ...

"By the time we got to the Zippin' Pippin it was midnight. My guide, Mike McCarthy, had led a ghost tour of Beale Street -- a thoroughfare routinely described as the birthplace of the blues -- which ended at the statue of the young Elvis Presley. Then, the real tour began ..."

Read the rest here.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Buy Cheap Art and Get Crunk This Weekend

Posted By on Fri, Aug 8, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Last week, we recommended the "Price Is Right" show at David Lusk Gallery, where art is priced below $1,000. But if that still seems a little high for your pocketbook, head to the P&H Cafe Friday for "The Price Is Even More Right." The show, which runs from 8 to 10 p.m., features very reasonably priced work by Gadsby Creson.

Rather than slave over dinner tonight, head to Wild Oats and nosh on samples from Giacomo Ciabattini's Traditional Italian Cooking Class. The chef from East Memphis' Cafe Toscana will take over the store's community kitchen to demonstrate classic Italian dishes at 6:30 p.m. The class is free and, of course, the audience will have a chance to sample his creations.

Nothing is more Memphis than Crunkfest. The annual Dirty South rap show features Gucci Mane, V.I.C., Playa Fly, and Yo Gotti. The show begins at 7 p.m. tonight at the Mid-South Fairgrounds.

Crunk too raw for your taste? The Cotton Club big band dance on Saturday at the Cotton Museum could be a better fit. The monthly event features Reni Simon, Rene Koopman, and Tim Goodwin. If you plan to imbibe, hit up the liquor store on your way to this BYOB party. The Cotton Club fun begins at 7 p.m.

Shop for grandma's birthday or get an early start on Christmas gifts at the Ladies of Charity Arts and Crafts Fair on Saturday. Wreaths, beaded purses, handmade jewelry, and crocheted items are available at this day-long sale that benefits numerous local charities. The sale will be held at the Holy Rosary Catholic Church from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sunday nights are typically reserved for relaxation in preparation for the upcoming work-week. But stay out late this Sunday at Club Elvis, for an Elvis Week kickoff dance party at Graceland. The party starts at 8 p.m., and if you're hungover at the work the next day, blame Elvis. Your boss will understand.

--Bianca Phillips

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

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Council Hears Overton Park Plea

Posted By on Thu, Aug 7, 2008 at 4:00 AM

The Citizens to Preserve Overton Park went before the City Council parks committee Tuesday to ask the council to do four things.

The first was to restore 17 acres of old-growth forest, currently controlled by the Memphis Zoo, to free, public use.

Another was to protect the old-growth forest in Overton Park with an conservation easement or by designating it a state natural area.

To read more, visit In the Bluff.

Rosie Flores Plays Rock and Roll Camp -- and the Hi-Tone

Posted By on Thu, Aug 7, 2008 at 4:00 AM

"We don't have to play so loud today. We don't have to be Z.Z. Top," said Rosie Flores, Austin's honky-tonk heroine, as she stalked across the stage of the Hutchison School's Weiner Theatre, prior to a 12:45 performance today for the Southern Girls Rock and Roll Camp.

Flores, who plays the Hi-Tone tonight with hard country harmonizers Those Darlins, had played with all the musicians in the room at some point, just never at the same time. Playing a cherry red Taylor thin-line she rushed through her set's trickiest parts creating emergency arrangements, singing near the microphone and fretting over whether or not she was getting enough vocals in the monitor.

At 12:30, 60-plus guitar-playing, bass-slinging, drum-pounding female rockers between the ages of 10 and 18 poured excitedly into the theater. Since Monday, the girls have been learning about everything from recording and songwriting to music "herstory," and how to make a 'zine.

They've been forming bands with fellow campers and learning to play the songs they'll be performing at Saturday's showcase at Hutchison.

On Monday and Tuesday, campers took in midday concerts by harder-edged acts like Six Gun Serenade and The Faintly Red Mollies. Flores' vintage mix of country, rockabilly, and surf represents a radical stylistic departure, but within seconds the stage was lined with teenagers dancing to songs by Buck Owens, Link Wray, and Johnny Cash.

Flores gave a frantic, joyful performance, jumping up on chairs and letting girls in the crowd strum her guitar while she worked the frets. By the time they got around to picking Owens' "Hot Dog," the mix was perfect, loud, and the band sounded like they had been playing together for years.

After the show, Flores took questions from the crowd. She talked about being in a vocal group that wore matching dresses and beehives at age 14, and then moving on to straight-up rock and roll with an all-girl band at 16.

Flores also spoke about her world tour with Wanda Jackson, who is generally considered to be the first female rock and roll artist.

There were a lot of women making rock and roll like Rosetta Tharpe and Memphis Minnie. But Wanda Jackson was the first to become really popular," Flores said, introducing a new generation to the woman who scored an unlikely international hit when the atomic-age rocker "Fujiyama Mama" climbed Japanese charts in 1957.

After the Q&A, Flores attended a music "herstory" class to talk about the importance of women in country, blues, and early rock.

The Hi-Tone's doors open at 9 p.m. There's a $7 cover charge.

--Chris Davis

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Don't Be Square. Dig Some Elvis Movies!

Posted By on Wed, Aug 6, 2008 at 4:00 AM

So you don't like crazy music, and you don't like rockin' bands. You just wanna go to a movie show and sit there holding hands? You're so square. But, baby, this is Elvis Week, and Elvis Presley Enterprises and Malco theaters are going to show Presley-loving cinephiles that they really do care.

What could be cooler than enjoying a picnic on the lawn at Graceland while taking in a screening of Jailhouse Rock? Scorching, precedent-shifting choreography and a snappy Leiber and Stoller score make Jailhouse Rock the quintessential Elvis flick. And how can you not see the King sing "Treat Me Nice" on his own front lawn? The film screens on Monday, August 11th, following a 7 p.m. concert by early-rock aficionado Andy Childs. The concert documentary Elvis —That's the Way It Is screens on Tuesday, August 12th, after a concert by Terry Mike Jeffrey with members of the TCB Band and the Imperials. The events are $44 for a one-day ticket or $75 for a two-day pass.

Fans looking for a cheaper (and a more climate-controlled) peek at the celluloid Elvis may want to visit Malco's Studio on the Square on Tuesday, August 12th. Elvis' last pre-army film, King Creole, screens at 9:30 a.m., and a different Elvis film starts every 15 minutes until noon. Other films include G.I. Blues, Blue Hawaii, and Girls, Girls, Girls. Admission is $5 per film.

"Music and Movies at Graceland," Monday, August 11th, and Tuesday, August 12th, 7 p.m. (tickets: 332-3322). Malco's Elvis Film Fest 5, Tuesday, August 12th, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at Studio on the Square

--Chris Davis

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Older Students Spell Trouble For MCS

Posted By on Tue, Aug 5, 2008 at 4:00 AM

New Memphis City Schools deputy superintendent of academic operations Irving Hamer calls 9,000 elementary students a "ticking bomb."

They are students who, during K-5, have already been held back by at least one grade.

"I can practically say categorically that these students do not graduate," Hamer told the MCS board at its most recent meeting.

Add to that the almost 7,000 students who get held back during middle school, and the almost 10,000 that get held back in high school, and the district is looking at 22 percent of its students being overage by the time they reach 12th grade.

For more, visit In the Bluff.

It's Official: The "First 48" Isn't Coming Back to Memphis

Posted By on Tue, Aug 5, 2008 at 4:00 AM

The Flyer just received the following press release:

As Director of Police Services, I have reviewed and carefully considered the concerns expressed by District Attorney Bill Gibbons, community leaders, and more importantly my staff concerning the show First 48. First and foremost, our goal is to provide safety and solve crime for the citizens of Memphis. In an effort to prevent future disruptions or distractions from interfering with our goal, I have decided not to renew the contract with First 48.

Larry A. Godwin

Director of Police Services

Memphis Police Department

Read a Flyer interview with soon-to-be former "First 48" star, detective Caroline Mason.

Lisa Marie is Expecting Twins

Posted By on Tue, Aug 5, 2008 at 4:00 AM

According to US Weekly magazine and other entertainment sources, Lisa Marie Presley is pregnant with twins:

It's official: Lisa Marie Presley is expecting twins! A week after Us Weekly broke the news, her mom Priscilla has confirmed it to Entertainment Tonight.

"She wanted it really to be kept a secret for a long time, you know, and I think women should, because they should be able to announce what they're having and when it's time to make the announcement," Priscilla tells ET.

Lisa Marie's dad, Elvis, was a twin, and her mother, Priscilla, has younger brothers who are twins.

A source tells Us the singer, 40, and her husband, rocker Michael Lockwood, 47, will greet their babies in the fall.

Read more at the Us Weekly website.

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