Your Fly is Open 

A brief history of Fly on the Wall

Call me Pesky. I am the third generation in a noble lineage of "Fly on the Wall" columnists. Jim Hanas, a former Flyer staff writer who has since gone on to bigger and better things, created the column in 1996. When Hanas tired of his shiny new plaything, Mark Jordan, then the Flyer's music editor, took over and he shepherded the young column into the new century. He too has moved on. And now there's me: Pesky. And I've got nothing better to do. Besides, I've been training for this gig since I was just a wee little larva wiggling around in a puddle of poo. And, like all the other flies who came before me, I fix my compound eyes on the Mid-South, reading every paper, scanning every magazine, watching every news broadcast, and running up and down the radio dial in search of bizarre news items which might otherwise fall between the cracks. When it comes to my fierce buzz, nothing is sacred and nobody is safe.

Breaking News

Under the headline "Chinese Leader Dies," the September 12th [1996] issue of the Collierville Herald reports, "Nationalist Chinese Leader Chiang Kai-Sheck died in Taipei, Taiwan, of a heart attack in 1975 at the age of 87." Chiang Kai-Sheck's dead? Stop the presses! -- 11/26/96

The Big Brush-Off

"He says to look for a brush with soft bristles that's comfortable to hold, and one you like. Because dentists say, bottom line, a toothbrush is only as effective as the person using it," -- WHBQ-TV Channel 13 news.

Digging for an angle, reporter Laurie Davison ominously posed the question: "But can a worn out toothbrush also be a haven for bacteria and germs?" Dr. William Lacante answered halfheartedly, happily staving off hysteria. "If it's not cleaned properly, yes," he said. "I mean, anything is possible." -- 11/13/1997

Mean Streets

WMC Channel 5 trumpeted its "Big Story" Sunday with teasers about "high tech" thieves invading Memphis. Turns out two neighbors in Cordova had reported their garage doors mysteriously opening, which prompted a breathless three-minute story on the possibility of thieves using electronic "decoders" to open garage doors. At the end of the report we learn that police had told the homeowners that it was "unlikely" that thieves had opened their doors, and that they had no reports of any such criminal activity in Memphis. Tomorrow's "Big Story": mysterious doorbell-ringing in Bartlett. -- 12/18/1997

Beauty Is

As beauty does, or so they say. And Elite Memphis' special "30 Most Beautiful People of Memphis" edition lists "Dicks Unlimited" among the community service activities to which one of the featured beauties devotes her "time, finances, and talent." Talent indeed! But that's only the beginning of this saga. When Elite promises a special collector's edition they know how to deliver. Consider the biography of the eldest member of the "Most Beautiful" clan (oh, we needn't mention names here), who argued that she was "too old and wrinkled" to be beautiful. But Elite's professional judges thought otherwise, and they claim that the dear old lady "personifies perfect Biblical beauty." (Italics ours.) Could it be that the author knew his subject in the biblical sense? But, aside from all the beauty business, Elite readers will want to check out the "What They Wore" section, where one woman sports an "outtit from Lost in Paradise. As near as we can tell, no tit was actually out. And believe us, we looked pretty hard.

And then, for the more serious-minded reader, there is a hard-hitting news feature focusing on the difficult question, "If you were a fruit or a vegetable, what would your friends say you were, and why?" (We're not making this up, we swear.) One Pam Montesi replied that she was "the corn," saying, "It's a very popular vegetable and is sweet to the taste." And of course, like its cousin the peanut, the corn never completely digests, so you get to see it again and again. Just like all the faces in Elite Memphis. --6/26/2003

Joe Brown Speaks

Concerning the issue of Barbara Swearengen Holt's controversial "potty phone," Councilman Joe Brown told the press: "This building is not totally safe. [One of our female council members] could be raped. Also, nobody is exempt from abnormalities of the human body. We need that phone in there. God bless everybody." And who among us can argue with reasoning like that? Heck, who can begin to understand it. -- 11/1/2000

Mr. Lott's Neighborhood

Writing for the Biloxi Sun Herald, David Tortorano and Timothy Boone fret that ousting Trent Lott from his leadership position within the Senate because of unquestionably racist comments could have a negative effect on Mississippi. According to a 2002 report, Mississippi is ranked sixth in the nation in government "pork" spending. Lott was quoted as saying, "In my eye, if it's south of Memphis, it sure isn't pork." This is true, according to the Fly-team's political experts who claim that in the state of Mississippi federal funds spent for no other reason than to impress the voting public are unofficially referred to as "watermelon and fried chicken." -- 12/19/2002

Bad Boys, Bad Boys

The Shelby County Sheriff's Department has chosen to spend well over $400,000 to install state-of-the-art video surveillance equipment in 99 squad cars. The equipment will be used to provide conclusive evidence in various situations, and even the most routine traffic stops will be captured on videotape. The amount it will cost taxpayers to have a similar camera mounted on Sheriff A.C. Gilless' zipper has yet to be determined. -- 6/29/2000

GOOD TWIN, evil twin

Grand Opening

Troy and Cynthia Graham, who recently opened It's Game Day, a regional collegiate gift and apparel shop in Sanderlin Place, did so with some urgency. According to a press release, Troy was quoted as saying, "The September 11th terrorist attacks made one thing very clear to us: Tomorrow may be too late. We really took a now-or-never approach to opening the store." And well they should. Everyone knows that after the apocalypse, the people -- or should we say the flesh-eating mutants -- who survive will be desperately searching for big foam fingers. -- 5/2/2002

Truth in Advertising

This just in: Cal's Championship Steakhouse, named in honor of Tigers basketball coach John "Show Me the Money" Calipari, has changed its name to Cal's Steakhouse. No punch-line required. -- 10/31/2002

21st-Century Graffiti

The fan postings at, a Web site for hardcore baseball fanatics, recently featured the following less-than-flattering remarks about a hometown hero:

User name: Kinzinger, Rodney; Topic: Stubby; Message: Anybody named Stubby Clapp should not play baseball; he should join the circus."

This posting was followed by a stern rebuttal: "User name: Stubby Clapp; Topic: Get a life; Message: Anybody named Kinzinger should not be allowed to live. -- 6/29/2000

Men With Guns

A Memphis construction worker hunting in Tipton County accidentally shot and killed another hunter last week. Shawn Harper of Brighton was hunting near the Hatchie River bottoms on Thanksgiving morning when he spied something 75 yards in the distance. That something turned out to be 250-pound Shawn DeVaughan of Burlison sitting in a deerstand 20 feet in the air.

After the shooting, Harper, who did not know DeVaughan, was arrested and held on $500,000 bond. Harper explained to Tipton County sheriffs that he shot the other hunter because he thought he was an owl. Apparently the biggest damned owl who ever lived. -- 12/2/1999

Teens on the Rampage

The beleaguered owner of the Donut Man in Bartlett reported to the police that four juveniles entered his store and claimed they had a gun. The owner called 911 and the teens fled. The owner said "the same juveniles had entered the store previously, brandishing hammers and demanding donuts." He did not say if the first donut robbery attempt was successful. -- 10/24/1996

And Lo, He Was Ashamed

When asked why he fled when police attempted to pull him over, West Memphian Fate Patterson answered, "Because I was naked." Of course, that's not entirely true. When Patterson was extracted from his vehicle, he was wearing a jacket. -- 3/7/2001

P.S. I Love You

According to various news reports, Larry Henry of Memphis has declined to press charges against fiancÇe Shirley Martin, even though she attacked him with an eight-inch butcher knife. Martin stabbed Henry in the chest because she thought he was sneaking a peek up another woman's skirt, and in retaliation Henry bit Martin's pinky finger. But the two have resolved their differences and are still planning to get married sometime next month. Like they say, "If you love something, stab it in the chest. If it comes back, it's yours forever." -- 11/15/2003

Politics of Dancing

We thought for sure the Macarena was going to be just another flash-in-the-pan. In an attempt to make up for lost time, we sent our political columnist, Jackson Baker, to get the scoop. Just back from the political conventions, he has what is sure to be the next big thing in this great dance-crazed land of ours.

So come on everybody. Do the Jackarena!



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

    • MEMernet

      A round-up of Memphis on the World Wide Web.
    • ‘Boiling Point’

      Civil rights groups ask for answers in shooting death of Brandon Webber.
    • Dead Waters

      Mississippi River pollutants (again) create ‘Dead Zone’ in the Gulf.

The Latest

Hungry Memphis

Saltwater Crab To Open July 2nd

Hungry Memphis

Remembering Bourdain on Bourdain Day

News Blog

Fairgrounds Redevelopment Project Moves Forward

Film Features

The Dead Don’t Die

Hungry Memphis

U of M Wins Approval for L'Ecole Campus in Cordova

Hungry Memphis

Peggy Brown's Food Slated to Go Online


More by Chris Davis

Readers also liked…

  • More Power To You

    TVA considers big changes for an energy-efficient future.
    • Nov 16, 2017
  • Transit in Transition

    City wants feedback on the future of public transit in Memphis
    • Nov 23, 2017
  • Dead Water

    Tennessee contributes to massive toxic plume in Gulf of Mexico.
    • Nov 30, 2017
© 1996-2019

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation