Friday, May 1, 2009

Car Games in Memphis

No, I didn’t bribe an inspector, but I sure tried to fool some, says John Branston.

Posted By on Fri, May 1, 2009 at 1:25 PM

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Withers Museum Headed to Beale

Museum will showcase late photographer's work.

Posted on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 5:09 PM

An agreement has been struck between Beale Street's Performa Real Estate and the Ernest C. Withers Trust to create museum to preserve and promote Withers' photographic legacy in his former studio space.

Read more about it in Sing All Kinds.

Gadfly: Let's Torture OUR Prisoners in Memphis!

A "Modest Proposal" from the indominable Marty Aussenberg.

Posted By on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 9:16 AM

A "Modest Proposal" from the indominable Marty Aussenberg.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Eight Indicted in County Clerk's Office

Councilwoman Barbara Swearengen-Ware cited for offering bribes.

Posted By on Wed, Apr 29, 2009 at 3:58 PM

l to r: Luttrell, Gibbons, Godwin
  • l to r: Luttrell, Gibbons, Godwin
Memphis City Council member Barbara Swearengen Ware has been vexed by many issues during her tenure in public life -- police-residency resolutions, management of city contracts, and the presence (or lack) of telephones in City Hall rest rooms -- but she has a brand-new concern after being designated as having offered bribes for official services in a new Grand Jury indictment.

Ware is not one of the indicted parties, all eight of whom are former of current employees of the Shelby County Clerk's office. But District Attorney General Bill Gibbons, who announced the indictments at a press conference attended by other law enforcement officials, said merely, "The investigation is continuing," when asked about Ware's potential liability.

What the councilwoman did, according to the indictments of Millicent Rogers and Patricia Reid, was offer money "to register a vehicle without the vehicle having gone through inspections required by the City of Memphis or without other proper documentation required to register the vehicle."

The sums involved were unspecified.

Besides Rogers and Reid, others indicted for similar violations were Janice Garrett, Rita Jones, Anita Porter. Three other past or present clerk's employees -- Seprice Crews, Julia Marshall, and Darlene McKee were indicted for "accepting a benefit to "run multiple transactions ... as opposed to running a fewer number of transactions at one time.'"

Among those attending the press conference, held in Gibbons' office in the Criminal Justice Center, were Sheriff Mark Luttrell, Police Director Larry Godwin, and officials of the state Department of Revenue and other official services.

Unmentioned in the indictment was Charles Nichols, former CEO for County Clerk Debbie Stamson and for the previous clerk, Jane Creson. It was public allegations that Nichols had rendered improper services that first called attention to the ongoing investigation.

Gibbons declined to answer directly when asked if Nichols was cooperating with the investigation. The D.A. noted only that Nichols wasn't named and that the investigation was continuing.

What was the dollar amount of Councilwoman Wade's bribery? Gibbons et al. answer:

Levitt Shell Schedule Released

The spring/summer concert season for the Levitt Shell at Overton Park has been finalized ...

Posted By on Wed, Apr 29, 2009 at 11:39 AM

The spring/summer concert season for the Levitt Shell at Overton Park has been finalized ...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mike Fleming Laid Off by Clear Channel

Relieved of post at WREC 600-AM in cost-cutting measure ...

Posted By on Tue, Apr 28, 2009 at 10:12 PM

Clear Channel, the nation’s largest radio broadcaster, has finally done what Air America, Mayor W.W. Herenton, and all the forces of liberalism combined could not accomplish. They have silenced Mike Fleming. He was laid-off from WREC radio on Tuesday, April 28, 2009.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Clear Channel cited the bad economy as its reason for laying off Fleming and more than 2,300 additional employees since January. Like floundering daily newspaper chains that also tend to blame the economy for their current woes, Clear Channel is mostly making excuses for its own overreaching. Although the global economic crisis has certainly exacerbated the situation, the real problems were created when the Dow was soaring and credit was cheap and plentiful.

In February, one month after slashing 1,800 jobs, Clear Channel announced that it would seek an additional $1.6-billion in credit. In March, Clear Channel's debt rating was slashed by Moody's Investor Service due to a “high probability” that the company couldn't meet debt obligations. At that time Neil Begley, the senior vice president of Moody's told the New York Times that if the company can't meet its covenants with Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Morgan Stanley, Wachovia and other lending organizations, it may be forced to seek Bankruptcy protection. “With a capital structure that was highly speculative from its inception, the company’s ability to continue as a going concern is completely dependent upon remaining in compliance with its covenants,” Begley was quoted as saying.

Clear Channel is often referred to as a “media empire” an accurate description that is too often mistaken for a metaphor. Like most empires the company overextended itself and took on extraordinary debt in order to own more stations that could be treated like exploitation colonies. Even in good times the company—like all media giants— squeezed out local talent and replaced it with cheap syndicated programing. Now the economy has taken an ugly turn, stations have already been cut to the bone, and what was already crippling debt has become crushing debt. And Mike Fleming got squashed in the process.

Former Rock 103 morning man Tim Spencer, now Clear Channel's director of operations in Memphis says he's not at liberty to say whether or not Fleming 's evening drive-time slot will be replaced by local talent or by syndicated programming.

Bianca Knows Best ...

And Helps a Cranky Roommate.

Posted By on Tue, Apr 28, 2009 at 8:02 PM

And Helps a Cranky Roommate.

Lyle Lovett to Play Memphis

Texas folk-country songwriter/bandleader Lyle Lovett will bring His Big Band to Minglewood Hall ...

Posted By on Tue, Apr 28, 2009 at 12:31 PM

Texas folk-country songwriter/bandleader Lyle Lovett will bring His Big Band to Minglewood Hall Tuesday, July 14th. Details here.

The Return of Vance Lauderdale

Vance's Blog about Memphis oddities was misplaced. Now it's back.

Posted By on Tue, Apr 28, 2009 at 8:32 AM

Vance's Blog about Memphis oddities was misplaced. Now it's back.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Commercial Appeal Gains Readership -- Sort Of ...

The Commercial Appeal tops a list of daily newspapers with circulation gains for the six months ending in March ...

Posted By on Mon, Apr 27, 2009 at 6:13 PM

The Commercial Appeal tops a list of daily newspapers with circulation gains for the six months ending in March according to a report inEditor & Publisher. According to circulation specialist Jennifer Saba, the CA's circulation grew by a whopping 30.9 percent, in a period marked by layoffs, and a decimation of the paper's editorial staff. Obviously, there's a catch.

From E&P:

The Appeal noted that the advances made this spring were mostly due to an uptick in electronic editions used for Newspaper in Education (NIE) programs. Individually paid circulation at the CA declined 14.2 percent according to a comparison of the March 2009 and March 2008 FAS-FAX reports. "While we have seen declines in home delivery -- some of it because of the same things happening to other papers and some of it was self-imposed -- we had a dramatic increase in schools wanting to use NIE editions," said Karl Wurzbach, vice president of sales and marketing at the Appeal, about the rise in daily circ.

Any good news for the CA is welcome. The paper witnessed dramatic circulation losses in recent years and, as Wurzbach notes, cut back on home delivery in 2008. Redefining circulation is nothing new but counting online NIE programs as if it was the same as growth in newsstand sales or paid home delivery seems like a stretch if not an outright contortion.

Even if it's accurate, an accounting of students in NIE programs as subscribers would dramatically lower the average age and income of the CA's readership.

Regular paid-circulation, arguably the most telling metric for judging a daily newspaper's health, declined 14.2 percent, as E&P also reports. No matter how hard you spin it, that isn't good news.

--Chris Davis

No Swine Flu in Shelby County Yet

Health Department issues statement through Mayor Wharton

Posted By on Mon, Apr 27, 2009 at 3:55 PM

From the Memphis and Shelby County Health Department: Officials with the Memphis and Shelby County Health Department are working closely with the Tennessee Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control in monitoring confirmed swine influenza cases. As of today's date (April 27th), no cases of swine influenza have been reported in Shelby County or in the state of Tennessee.

"While Shelby County has not reported a swine influenza case, we want everyone to be in full prevention mode," said Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton, "This means following good hygiene practices to include the simple task of repeatedly washing your hands and if you are feeling sick with flu-like symptoms, stay at home."

MGMT Wins Settlement From French President Sarkozy's UMP Party

Donates money to artists' rights groups.

Posted By on Mon, Apr 27, 2009 at 2:21 PM

American band MGMT (which features former Memphian Andrew VanWyngarden) has settled its dispute with French President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party for its unauthorized use of the song "Kids."

MGMT alleged that UMP used the song in political rallies without properly compensating the band. UMP, which has an anti-music piracy platform, eventually agreed to compensate MGMT for its use of the track.

MGMT issued this statement:

"About two months ago, it was brought to our attention (through the MGMT message board) that the UMP French political party was using our song 'Kids' at rallies and posting videos of these rallies on their official website. Normally MGMT steers clear of mixing music and politics, but the fact that the UMP used our song without permission while simultaneously pushing anti-piracy legislation seemed a little wack.

"We believe that access to music benefits both the musicians and the fans, and has undoubtedly helped spread our music around the globe, while also expanding our personal musical collections.

"We didn't want to be 'typical Americans' and sue, despite the amazing monetary benefit and chinchilla coats and Navigators it would bring. Instead we're using the settlement fee the UMP presented and donating it to artists' rights organizations.

"Thank you France for the wonderful food. C'est bon."

MGMT will play Minglewood in Memphis on June 11th.

Obama: An Exceptional American?

Joe Conason says President Obama is uniquely qualified to take on Muslim extremists in his Viewpoint.

Posted By on Mon, Apr 27, 2009 at 1:43 PM


From My Seat: When Legends Die

Frank Murtaugh ponders sports imponderables ...

Posted By on Mon, Apr 27, 2009 at 9:33 AM

Frank Murtaugh ponders sports imponderables at his From My Seat column.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Un-dead Take over the City!

Bianca Phillips reports from the front lines of the Zombie March.

Posted on Sat, Apr 25, 2009 at 8:31 PM

It was a bloody affair in downtown Memphis on Friday. Bianca Phillips reports from the scene.
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