Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Events in May, Abridged and Action-Packed

This is a small sampling of fun/interesting stuff that's going on. For more comprehensive lists, I would consult Memphis in May's site, the extensive Sierra Club calendar and the Memphis Flyer event calendar.

April 30, May 1, May 3, May 8, May 10, May 17-18, May 25

  • April 30 (Wednesday):
    Our Vibe. Our City. On Film. Screening
    6:30- 8:00, Malco's Studio On The Square, 2105 Court Street

  • May 1 (Thursday):
    "The City Livable: Modest Suggestions for Making Memphis Great"
    Reception at 4:30 p.m., presentation at 5:00 p.m.
    Buckman Hall, Christian Brothers University
    Please use CBU's Central Avenue entrance and parking lot.

  • May 1 (Thursday):
    Sierra Club First Thursday Gathering
    5:30 pm - 7:00 pm, Otherlands, 641 S. Cooper

    Sierra Club members, activists and friends can meet in a casual setting to talk about issues and interests. For more information contact Juliet Jones, Vice Chair, at (901) 374-0582 or juliet101@comcast.net

  • May 1 (Thursday):
    Cooper-Young Nite Out
    5pm - 9pm
    Cooper-Young Historic District

  • May 3 (Saturday):
    Mississippi River Canoe and Kayak Race
    10 a.m.

  • May 3 (Saturday):
    Neighborfest at Idlewild Elementary.
    11 a.m. to 3p.m.
    Idlewild Elementary School
    Eat a snocone and a hamburger, and learn about the great things happening at this fine Memphis elementary school!

  • May 3 (Saturday):
    Jug Band Jam Session in Tribute to Will Shade.Will Shade, the Memphis Jug Band leader, was buried in an
    unmarked grave in 1966. His gravestone will finally be installed this week. Ceremonies honoring him will be this jam session and the gravestone installation at the Shelby County Cemetery

  • May 3 (Saturday): Mission Accomplished? Fest
    2 p.m., National Civil Rights Museum

  • May 3 (Saturday):
    Memphis Warehouse Revival v3.0!

    Thrown by the Rozelle Art Guild, this party at 822 Rozelle is scheduled for May 03 at 10PM. DJs Saturna, Mind At Large, University Acid Squad, Jim Henson, Bobby Lee, Mr. White, and the triumphant return of Memphis's own Shawn OD! $10 door, +$5 to drink. Ages 18+.

  • May 8 (Thursday):
    Artist Rick Lowe speaks on Project Row Houses
    6:30 p.m., Memphis College of Art
    Sponsored by the UrbanArt Commission.

    If you're an artist, architect, developer or activist, don't miss this.

  • May 10 (Saturday):
    Old Forest Hike
    10:00am to 11:30am, Overton Park, led by the Citizens to Protect Overton Park.

    Meet at the bridge on Old Forest Lane, next to the Rainbow Lake parking lot, for a guided walk through the Old Forest at Overton Park. Email Naomi or call 901.278.2396 if you need more info.

  • May 17-18 (Saturday-Sunday):
    A Weekend with the Reddings

    On Saturday and Sunday, May 17 & 18, 2008 the Soulsville Foundation will once again make history when Otis Redding's family will be our special guests and events participants on two very exciting evenings. The family includes Otis Redding's widow, Mrs. Zelma Redding, along with his three children, Otis III and Dexter Redding and Karla Redding-Andrews.

    All will be special guests on Saturday, May 17th at the Stax Music Academy SNAP! After School Spring Concert at the University of Memphis' Michael D. Rose Theater. Otis III and Dexter will perform with the students. All ensembles will be featured during the concert - Stax Music Academy Rhythm Section, StreetCorner Harmonies, Premier Percussionists, and the Soulsville Swing Band, as well as The Soulsville Charter School's Soulsville Symphony Orchestra. Also starring as a speical guest is the academy's Artist in Residence, internationally acclaimed saxophonist Kirk Whalum.

    The concert is at 7 p.m. and admission is just $5!

    On Sunday, May 18th, the entire Redding family will be our guests for our "Conversations With The Reddings" panel discussion/Q&A, along with others who knew Otis Redding well, including Ben Cauley, the only Bar-Kay band member on board the plane to survive the tragic crash on December 10, 1967 near Madison, Wisconsin, which took the life of Redding at the age of 26. This event will take place in the Stax Museum's intimate Studio A. The discussion will not only focus on Otis Redding the phenomenal entertainer, but also Otis Redding the loving father and husband.

    "Conversations With the Reddings" will take place from 5 - 7 p.m. $10 general admission and free to Stax Museum members.

    This will be Zelma Redding's and Karla Redding-Andrews' first visit to the Stax Museum of American Soul Music.

  • May 25 (Saturday):
    Chickasaw Group Sierra Club Canoe Trip Through Mississippi River Bottomlands
    8:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park

    Meet at the Visitor's Center. Reservations required. Free! Canoes provided. Bring your lunch and water. For reservations, contact Judith Hammond, (901) 276-2819.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Visual Musing on Imaginative Leadership

How's it that Memphis civic leaders remind me of this guy
Toy-Hating Burgermeister Meisterburgeror this guy

The Child Catcher, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
but never this guy?

Willie Wonka

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Rolling and Staggering Towards a New Memphis

Skaters leaving Fairgrounds after Skatepark Demo
We had the Skatepark Demo at the Fairgrounds on Thursday.

No one in my family is a skater -- yet -- but I still wanted to see it. When I saw all the cars outside the Youth Building, I assumed something else was going on. When I saw the people riding bikes and carrying skateboards, I knew something really exciting was going on. The turnout was incredible!

Here's a very short video of my experience before the batteries in my digital camera ran out.

Luckily amiev was also there, capturing the energy, enthusiasm and capacity of the turnout.

And Aaron, the mastermind of the event and of Skatelife Memphis, has done a post-vitam of the event. Note to activists: use Myspace.

The next day, the Memphis Zombies walked again. And there was no sophomore slump. The Zombie horde was at least equal to last year's, and their audience was significantly larger, imho.

Here's some recaps.

Here's Paul Ryburn's video chronicle of the passing Zombie throng.

Here's a couple of apprentice zombies.

Memphis Zombie Walk
And I heard a great piece of heckling from a Beale Street bouncer:

Look! It's a zombie Gerry Cooney!

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Friday, April 25, 2008

CORRECTION: Demolition Permit Not Requested for Cumberland Presbyterian

Inner Courtyard of Cumberland Presbyterian
UPDATE 4/25/08: The latest word I've gotten from Memphis Heritage is that a demolition permit has not been requested and/or issued. It appears to have been some other kind of permit, possibly a construction permit. While demolition seems to be very much in play here, the information I originally posted was incorrect. My apologies.

A request for permit was made. It's not clear at this point who made the request. It may not have been Chick-Fil-A.

Just received this from Memphis Heritage:
We have learned just now that Chick-fil-A made application to the City Codes Department for a demolition permit. The Landmarks Commission received a call from Codes to confirm that there was no special designation that would prevent them from demolishing the Historic Cumberland Presbyterian building at Union and Rembert St. in Midtown. This is really unthinkable that they will take this action without having an open discussion with the members of Memphis Heritage.

We are asking everyone to call the corporate offices of Chick-fil-A in Atlanta TODAY and again over the next several day (1-404-765-8000). I am afraid the toll free number might just let you leave a recording but you can try it (1-866-232-2040) and ask to speak to Truett, Dan or Bubba Cathy. Or if you want to get to their Marketing VP ask for Steve Robinson.

Please voice your tremendous disappointment that the Corporate leadership of CFA will not even meet to discuss other possibilities for the site. To our knowledge, no one from their corporate design team even came to Memphis to see about the possible adaptive reuse for this architectural landmark.
Call now!
The Cornerstone of Cumberland Presbyterian

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Music and Protest May 3rd

At 2:00 p.m. Saturday May 3, Dan Montgomery (singer/songwriter), Antique Curtains (punk), Giant Bear (roots rock), and The Third Man (post-rock) will all take part in a free outdoor music event near the grounds of the National Civil Rights Museum in downtown Memphis to commemorate the fifth anniversary of George W. Bush's "Mission Accomplished" event on the USS Abraham Lincoln.

Each band will be mixing their own original material--including some songs written specifically for this occasion!--with "classic" protest songs (Dylan, Guthrie, Seeger, even some Springsteen, et al.)

The event is be co-promoted by our friends at the Midsouth Peace and Justice Center (midsouthpeace.org.) This event is FREE and open to the public, so please join us.

Gourd Bird Houses

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Happy Day, Earth!

You know, when I'm not hugging trees, I'm planting more to hug.

Here's one I planted on Saturday.

PawPaw Tree in Memphis
It's a PawPaw Tree, one of two now in the shade of a willow oak, on the front lawn of a Midtown elementary school.

It was born at Lichterman Nature Center, where its wild parents still live.

Paw Paw Tree in Overton Park, Memphis

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Unbuilt Projects: Memphis without Echo Chambers

Frances Gassner's C&I Bank Building, MemphisFor its recent Architecture Design Awards, the Memphis AIA used a panel of Toronto architects as judges. As the Commercial Appeal reported, it did it "to better ensure an unbiased selection of winners."

Openness to non-local ideas and criticism is important everywhere, and in all endeavors. Openness is particularly important for Memphis, where dysfunctional idea networks (aka, echo chambers, daisy chains, dreamcatchers, kereitsu) have often given local currency to universally bad ideas.

A bad idea like, say, the Regional Chamber's plans to replace the C&I Bank Building with a surface parking lot.

While all six designs stood out among the others, the Adaptive Re-Use of C & I Bank Building at 200 Madison caught the eye of the jurors right away. The redesign by Archimania received an Award of Merit.

Much controversy has surrounded the building known for its sloped glass roof and large atrium foyer in recent months. Bought by the Memphis Regional Chamber, the building was later deemed financially unfeasible for the chamber to move into, and discussions of replacing the building with a parking lot have buzzed through the city.

"Our primary interest was in the purpose of the design to find an appropriate way to rehabilitate the building," said Barry Sampson, principal of Baird Sampson Neuert Architects and assistant dean of facilities and design at the University of Toronto. "We felt it should remain in the city, and we would like to see ongoing efforts to retain this building."

Toronto architects shouldn't have to tell Memphis to save it, but thankfully they did.

Woodard House

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

SkateLifeMemphis Intro Video

Visit SkateLife Memphis' website and blog for more info.

And visit Cafe Eclectic for the first Skate Life Memphis meeting on Tuesday, April 29th at 8:00 p.m. (hat tip to My Midtown Memphis).

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Monday, April 14, 2008

The Natural Distinctiveness of Memphis Yards

Art in BinghamtonI like the inconsistently-mowed, over-grown, under-manicured and beautiful yards of Memphis. I like them cultivated, and I like them forgotten. Yards where the trees and vines and shrubs and flowers grow, grow, grow. Places with less unsustainable mowing and more natural curation.

A thought brought to me by the natural background of the film Third Ward TX,and its contrast with Houston's diabolic hyper-mowed freeways and overdeveloped developments.

Galloway Church Community GardenLike Houston, the humidity coming off the Gulf of Mexico turbo-charges the natural of Memphis. When we stop treating the stuff growing outside as a problem, or an enemy, chopping and mowing and paving it into boring placelessness, we'll find ourselves living in a galaxy-class landscape, like the beautiful setting of Third Ward, TX.

Update: To possibly illuminate the aesthetic, here are some more photos.

Artist's Yard, Cooper-Young
Neighborhood Church and Home, Seattle Street
Art in Landscaping, Cooper-Young
Birdhouse and House in Binghamton
Azalea and Wisteria on a Stormy Day

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Memphis Heritage Meeting for Cumberland Presbyterian Building

Correction: this is a strategy meeting, not a rally.
Inner Courtyard of Cumberland Presbyterian
We have once again requested a face-to-face meeting with Chick-fil-a to discuss alternatives to their plans to demolish this great building. mhi has received an email from their corporate offices that they will not discuss alternatives with us.

There will be a rally at

Howard Hall, Memphis Heritage's Headquarters
2282 Madison
Thursday, April 10th @ 5:30pm

to discuss and strategize what else we can do to stop the demolition.

Thanks again and keep up the good work!!

June W. West
Executive Director, Memphis Heritage

Sorry for the late notice.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Our Vibe. Our City. On Film. At ArtsMemphis

ArtsMemphis has posted the 5 semifinalists for the "Our Vibe. Our City. On Film" contest. Go there to view, then vote for your favorite film.

Voting ends April 14th.

By the way, click the titles above the images to see the films.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

More (and Less) on Cumberland Presbyterian

First the bad news. Someone has removed the cornerstone of the building.


The Cornerstone of Cumberland Presbyterian


Former Home of Jesus
Is Jesus in a landfill?

Inner Courtyard of Cumberland PresbyterianNow the good news. A member sent this to Memphis Heritage:
Today I received a phone call from Perry Ragsdale, VP of real estate development/design for Chick-Fil-A. He told me that he was just brought in on the concern of the Cumberland Religious Building on Union Avenue and was given two letters, one of which was mine. He asked me to give him a description of the building and it's surroundings. Which I did to the best of my limited ability. Combining ideas from both my letter and Donna Palmer's, I suggested that if they could,, why not place the restaurant inside the front part of the building, not only providing Midtown with a Chick-fil-a but keeping something beautiful, elegant, and historic intact for all that visit midtown Memphis to enjoy for years and years to come.

I also told him Midtowners love old beautiful buildings,, and that this would be a big hit for them if they used part of it as a restaurant. I also told him that I found it most ironic that a business that closes on Sunday to let associates reflect in whatever religious way they choose, might demolish a building that was built to serve our lord. He told me that they were very interested in doing the "Right" thing, and that he is planning on being here next week to look at the situation first hand. He told me that they have experience putting restaurants in old buildings and that the idea was not completely off the table.

If you would like to voice your support for Chick-Fil-A in Midtown and opposition to the Cumberland Presbyterian demolition, Memphis Heritage asks that you contact

by email:

by mail:
Chick-Fil-A Corporate Office
Attention: Dan Cathy, Donald Cathy & Perry Ragsdale
CC: Truett Cathy, Founder
5200 Buffington Road
Atlanta, Georgia 30349

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Lost Highways

On opposite ends of Memphis.

In the middle of the woods at Lichterman Nature Center.

Mysterious Street Lamp in Lichterman Nature Center

Across the road from St. Jude on Jackson Avenue at Third Street. It points east by southeast, out of line with the street grid.

Mysterious Highway Marker on Jackson Avenue

Remnants of roads that have vanished.

If you know, or have theories, about their meaning, I'd like to know.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Memphis Events in April

PawPaws in the Old ForestHere are some Memphis events you might enjoy this month:

Thursday, April 3: Sierra Club First Thursday Meetup at Otherlands. The Sierra Club also keeps a calendar and RSS feed of environmental events and alerts.

Thursday, April 3: Cooper-Young First Thursday Night Out. This is not just taking place at the corner of Cooper and Young. Many of the participating businesses are on Central. I hope this will become a huge monthly event.

Since they happen on the same night in the same neighborhood, you can go to the Sierra Club meetup first, then walk over to the Cooper-Young events (a block and a half away). Foot-powered connections are always the best.

Friday, April 4th - Sunday, April 6th: Dream Reborn Conference by Green For All organization. The conference is actually sold out, but there may still be a chance to volunteer.

Saturday, April 5: Old Forest Hike, led by the very active activists of Citizens to Protect Overton Park.

Friday, April 11th: a screening of Third Ward TX, a film about community building and art building in Houston. Details.

Saturday, April 12th
: April Rock n' Romp.

Saturday April 19th: Old Forest Hike, led by the activists of Citizens to Protect Overton Park.

Saturday, April 19th: Wolf River Harbor Earth Day Cleanup, on the Memphis Riverfront, led by the Sierra Club.

Cooper-Young Trestle ArtFriday, April 25th: The Second Memphis Zombie Walk which starts on Beale Street and limps toward South Main's Last Friday Trolley Night.

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Mindset in Memphis

Stanford Professor Carol Dweck, the author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success will be speaking at Grace St Luke's Church on April 8th.
Her research shows that parents and educators have a profound influence on a child's mindset and his or her self-concept. In her book, she discusses how parents and teachers can unintentionally reinforce a fixed mindset that limits a child's learning and success potential. She also shows how it is possible for an individual to change his or her mindset at any stage in life to achieve success and see things in a new way.

Very important stuff for parents, educators and citizens of Memphis, for Memphis.

Something I wrote previously on the subject, kinda.

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