The Rant 

I've become a little obsessed with the case of Baby Lisa. If you don't watch the mainstream media morning news shows and have never heard of her, she is the 10-month-old baby who disappeared from her crib about a month ago near Kansas City, while her mother was asleep after drinking enough boxed wine to pass out.

It's an odd story in that the mother apparently failed a polygraph test and the father, who came home in the middle of the night after working a late shift and says the door to the house was unlocked and a window had been tampered with, has not taken a polygraph test yet. They talked to the police a few times together, refuse to talk with them separately, and won't allow police to interview the baby's two stepbrothers who were in the house all night. They say they just don't want to put them through the interview. And most recently, they refused interviews with the police themselves because they were tired. Huh?

But that's not the reason I'm a little obsessed with the case. Think about it. Caylee Anthony, Elizabeth Smart, Madeleine McCann, Susan Powell out in Utah, Robyn Gardner in Aruba, that poor little Robert Wood Jr., the 8-year-old autistic boy who was missing for five days and fortunately later found in good shape. These stories dominate the national broadcast news and are often the lead stories, but when was the last time you read in the news or saw on the television news anything about a child or adult missing who wasn't white? When was the last time there was a public outcry to find a missing black child? Think quickly. Not coming up with anything? See?

It's not because there are no missing black children. There are. Sometimes they get local coverage, but nothing like the national coverage missing white people get. I guess I'm sensitive about this because A) I should be and so should everyone else and B) I look out of my office window every day at the Soulsville Charter School, where roughly 500 kids, most of whom are black, are walking around in blazers and neckties behaving perfectly and I can't imagine what it would be like if one of them went missing. They are amazing kids. So the disparity bothers me.

Enough about that. I see Memphis has made the news in the Los Angeles Times, which picked up the story about the guys in Midtown who were cooking a raccoon on a grill outside their apartment. When police were called, they arrested them for cooking up meth. How nice. It seems they had a futon and some large knives out by the barbecue and some buckets filled with suspicious materials. My question on this one is, who calls the police on people for cooking a raccoon? And how did they know it was a raccoon if it was just an animal carcass on a grill? And why must this happen in Memphis, just when it is starting to become the coolest city on earth?

And speaking of that, kudos to Mayor A C Wharton for the Madison Avenue bike lanes. I know some of the businesses along the stretch aren't real happy about it, but it does make Madison Avenue — and Memphis — more relevant. We need more change like that. We need high-speed rail transportation. We need art and music villages. We need more common areas and green spaces. Yes, we do have plenty now. But we need more.

Have you been to Overton Park lately? It is beautiful. With the Brooks Museum, the Memphis Zoo, Memphis College of Art, the Levitt Shell, the outdoor sculptures, the landscaping, and the forest, it is one of the nicest urban parks in the United States. I don't know why I'm writing about this, but just go there if you haven't been in a while. Eat lunch at the Brooks. Take in the zoo, which, by the way, definitely deserves its rating by Trip Advisor as the best zoo in the country. It's awesome.

And thank goodness for the Loebs, who have taken it upon themselves to make Overton Square a cool place again. I was really hoping for a grocery store there, because I could walk to it from my house, but I'll take an entertainment district. I'm too old to go out at night and be entertained and I fall asleep in movie theaters once the lights go out, but it will be great to see something lively there again.


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