Wuz That ... ? 

Gifts for Memphis that can’t be wrapped.

When my brother was a little guy, he'd look through the new Sears Wish Book and make his Christmas list. He didn't write it down, it went more like, "I want everything on these two pages except that. That's for girls." As an adult, my list is just as easily made. I'd like to have the freedom of a toddler to run around and look adorable without pants as opposed to being asked to "leave quietly" because I'm "disturbing the other customers in the cheese shop."

But I am nothing if not a giver, so as I begin making a list of presents I will not buy my family and friends this holiday and instead order something at the last minute from Amazon Prime because, hey, free shipping and no pants, I have also made a list of things I want to give my beloved Memphis. Understand, I'm not offering what you fancy types call "solutions." This is pure slacktivism. I'm just saying what I want and leaving it up to people who actually know about stuff and how to do it. I'm a facilitator. The ideas guy, if you will.

click to enlarge GILBERTC | DREAMSTIME.COM
  • GilbertC | Dreamstime.com

My first wish is that we find another name for the flyover. That's what it is, not what it is to us. Your old beater in high school had a name, right? Mine was the Blue Booger. I have proposed to several people that we start calling it the Grinder. We're the home of the Grindhouse, right? And don't you grind your teeth into meal when you're stuck at the junction? I got those sort of blank, polite looks like when a kid in church tells the nice lady next to him that morning his daddy stubbed his toe and screamed, "JESUS HORATIO CHRIST ON A RAFT!" Then, once I drove up it, I decided on the Tower of Terror. Y'all ridden that thing yet? It's cool as all get out. Just don't look down. But last night I decided that Memphis should never be without the Zippin Pippin, so we could call it that.

When driving along Winchester, my husband and I play a game I call Wuz That. Wuz that a Circuit City? Wuz that a grocery store? Thousands upon thousands of square feet of empty buildings just sit there. Meanwhile, a show called Memphis Beat was filmed in Louisiana. Work with me here. I'll tie these things together. I think Memphis should be Movie City. I don't pretend to understand the problem with giving the film industry the kind of breaks Georgia and Louisiana do, especially since we threw so much cash at another industry that upper management dances around with their tax credits making it rain in the boardroom. Those buildings could be soundstages, post-production, animation, craft services (we are a food city, after all), whatever. Memphis has a few tall buildings to be leapt in single bounds, swampy areas for battle, Rhodes College — especially in fall — looks like the perfect New England school where two awkward nerds can fall in love. Then there are those production facilities I was talking about where giant purple horses can battle blue lizards to colonize Des Moines and turn Americans into Ood-like creatures who wail to communicate. But I don't want to give too much of my screenplay away.

Cars are on my list, too. Get off the pot and build a damn parking garage for the zoo. At least allow me a bus route there that doesn't take me to Collierville first. My husband, being a budget- and environmentally-conscious fellow, wanted to commute by bus to work. The commute involves starting in East Memphis, making three turns, and going straight down Getwell a few miles. Most of his commute is a straight shot. Right past a bus terminal. The 8-mile commute takes about 15-20 minutes in the car. By bus? TWO HOURS AND TWO MINUTES. In fairness, there is another route to get him to work by 7:30 a.m. that only takes an hour and 52 minutes. I understand that a public transportation system won't expand and improve if people don't use it. I also understand that if it doesn't expand and improve, people won't use it. If the Greenline has taught us anything, it's that if you build it, they will come. And please, for the love of Pete, hurry up and make those trolley tracks of use for something other than getting your bike tire stuck in them and breaking a collarbone. Unless a secret cabal of Memphis' world-class orthopedic professionals are in cahoots with MATA to shift business their way. I'm all for revenue, and I like secret plans.

Also: Boscos must never ever never take the black bean and goat cheese tamale off the menu. I'm willing to trade renaming the flyover for that one.

Susan Wilson also writes for yeahandanotherthing.com and likethedew.com.

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