Celebrity City

It's official now: The next world heavyweight championship fight will take place in Memphis. Convicted rapist and nationally televised ear-chomper

Mike Tyson will duke it out with England's Lennox Lewis in a battle at The Pyramid on June 8th -- a fact which should give the old Hoagy Carmichael song "Memphis in June" new meaning, especially those lyrics which go, "It's paradise, honey/Take my advice, honey/Cos there's nothing like old Memphis in June." (Of course, one of the two fighters, if not both, is sure to end up -- or wake up -- feeling somewhat un-paradisiacal.)

We are under no illusions that the signing of the deal will lessen the debate currently raging over whether Memphis should feel proud or embarrassed to have been selected as the venue. It's a bit like the ongoing NBA arena dustup in that regard. But one thing seems clear: The media spotlight will be shining brightly on our town on June 8th.

And an interesting confluence of events should make Memphis headquarters for even more celebrity sightings. Golfer John Daly's Make-A-Wish golf tournament is scheduled for the same weekend as the title fight. The tournament always draws numerous Hollywood types to the Grand Casino for a couple days of partying and golfing and charity events. This year, they'd better book their rooms early. It'll be celebrity overload.

And what's not to like about that? The fact is, despite the misgivings of many about the Tyson fight, it will be difficult for most of us not to enjoy our moment in the sun. And maybe some of the economic and public-relations afterglow from it will kindle lasting benefits for the city.

It's Time For Hands-on Again

So far, the Bush administration's Middle East policy has been dismayingly uneven. The president came into office with a pledge not to emulate Bill Clinton's micro-management of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority.

That changed somewhat in the immediate aftermath of September 11th when George W. Bush, his consciousness evidently raised somewhat by the tragedy, paid public homage to the idea of an eventual Palestinian state, one that would live side by side and in peace with Israel.

The Bush policy took a drastic turn away from that premise, however, in the wake of continued suicide-bomb assaults by Palestinian terrorists, which were matched by high-powered and, in terms of body count, increasingly costly acts of retaliation by Israeli forces. The administration seemed to back off and adopt a laissez-faire attitude toward the carnage.

That seems to have ended now, and the president has once again acknowledged that America has a role to play in making peace between the two warring peoples. The recent dispatch of Ambassador Zinni was one evidence of that, and though administration officials have not yet indicated a willingness to meet with Palestinian National Authority leader Yasir Arafat, they have interceded with the Israeli government to permit Arafat's departure from virtual house arrest to attend an all-Arab conference.

However this turns out, the United States has involved itself in the region again. There should be no turning back until real progress has been made toward peace.


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