The Rant 


It's such an easy and cheap shot I almost can't bring myself to take it. But I'll try. Sarah Palin has a "fire in her belly"? No, she didn't say that, did she? I know there are some people out there who would like to stick a match up her you-know-what to ignite that fire and watch her explode, but not me. I'm too nice a guy.

I understand that the fire in her belly is probably from putting too much ketchup in her moose dip. Or from taking a closer look at that ugly house she bought in Arizona that doesn't seem to have any windows. (How in the world will she be able to see New Mexico?) Or from realizing that attending the last episode of Dancing With the Stars might not have unleashed the most serious of media waves to kick off a presidential race, if that is indeed what she is doing. And I hope she does. I LOVE her. Gotta have her.

And speaking of love her and gotta have her, if I see one more image of Oprah Winfrey in any form of media, I think I am going to go into convulsions. I thought she was going away to her own — her OWN — television network, yet every time I watch something on TV, there is another commercial about yet another upcoming farewell episode, and in every one of them she has her hands outstretched like a mime lifting up some invisible object. She did the same thing at the Kennedy Center Honors a couple of months ago. What is wrong with her? If she starts involuntarily chanting and her head starts spinning, I am running for cover. You'd think someone with her money and her success would be cognizant of the dangers of megalomania. But I guess she wouldn't be such a megalomaniac if she were. I don't know. It makes me tired to think about it. She makes me tired. So enough.

Last time I filled this page with ink, I was writing about the great vibe going on in Memphis and the cool things happening. And as I write this, I am getting ready to head to Minglewood Hall to see and hear the one and only Mavis Staples and then to see the Bar-Kays perform with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra at the Memphis in May Sunset Symphony in Tom Lee Park on the Mississippi River. I have spread this word far and wide the past couple of days via my social media empire, and if you knew how jealous all my European friends are, you'd never complain about Memphis again. Did I just use the phrase "all my European friends"? How megalomaniacal of me. Sorry. But it IS true.

So in that last column I wrote about some of the great outdoor murals that have become a part of the Memphis cityscape of late, and I have this idea that Memphis should become a City of Murals and become known for it. I think the murals could make Memphis even more of a tourist destination.

And no, they don't have to be big paintings of old blues musicians sitting on the steps of shacks. Please. I love old blues musicians and I love shacks, but tacky paintings of them do an injustice to both. It's like how wallpaper borders give geese and ducks a bad name. No, there is no reason everything has to be some interpretation of Memphis history. No giant cotton bolls. No yellow fever martyrs. No riverboats. No jug bands. Time to move on, people. Enough is enough.

Like the new one on Broad Avenue, the murals could be very contemporary and help splash color all over the city. Like that fantastic one downtown near Madison Avenue overlooking AutoZone Park, they could be urbane and original. Like the Court Avenue pedestrian bridge, they could be cool collaborations between artists, architects, engineers, and others. I'm sure the UrbanArts Commission has plenty of plans and doesn't need my help, but I really think there is potential to this.

The City of Murals could have its own mobile app with stories about each work of art and the artists behind it. There could be a series of murals you drive past, each one with a connection to the next. Gritty graffiti could mix with minimalist modernism (sorry, I'm a slave to alliteration). I don't know. I'm not an art expert. But outdoor art seems to have a great effect on cities. Like the fountains in Kansas City. It's just a feel-good kind of thing.

Like a Mavis Staples concert at Minglewood Hall with the Bo-Keys, a local band that includes Skip Pitts (who played the famous wah-wah guitar on "Shaft"), Howard Grimes (the original house drummer for Stax and later played on all those incredible Al Green records), Ben Cauley (the original trumpet player for the Bar-Kays and the only person aboard Otis Redding's plane to survive the horrible crash), and Floyd Newman (one of the original Mar-Key Horns at Stax). This, followed the next night by the funkiest men alive, the Bar-Kays, whooping it up with the symphony on the banks of the river at sunset? Does ANY other city have this kind of cool factor?

I don't know. I tell you, it has put a fire in my belly.

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