Saturday, April 30, 2011

Tonight changed Memphis sports history

Photo Credit: Nikki Boertman - CA

It should be Z-Bo up there, because he saved us.  Despite leading for almost the entire game, there we were down one, 80-79, with more than four minutes to go.  Zach Randolph took over, scoring 13 of our final 20 points and leading the Grizzlies to their first-ever series win with a 99-91 victory over the #1 seeded San Antonio Spurs tonight at the FedExForum before a screaming sellout crowd.

How appropriate it was that, in the toughest moment, Z-Bo put this team on his back.  Randolph, who had a checkered history, has rebuilt his reputation in Memphis b y being a model citizen off the court and the team's leader on it.  Along with youngsters like Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and OJ Mayo, and fellow vets Tony Allen (pictured above) and the return of former hero Shane Battier, the Grizzlies have won over the city.

I have had the great fortune to have attended this city's premier sporting events over the years, including the U of M's 21-17 football victory in 1996 and Albert Pujols' PCL-winning home run in 2000, but I have to say that tonight may have topped them all, and it was very, very special.

Next up for the Grizz is the Northwest Division champion Oklahoma City Thunder, against whom we had a 3-1 regular season record.  Game 1 comes Sunday at noon on ABC24 and WRBO-FM 103.5.  Tickets for Games 3 and 4 in Memphis go on sale to the general public Sunday morning, see for details.  UPDATE: Game 3 is Saturday, May 7 at 4 PM (which means I can't attend due to prior commitments) and Game 4 is Monday, May 9 at 8:30 P.M.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hey City Council! Steve Ross Has A Question For You!

As in, Where The Hell Are The New Council/SB Districts??????  He tells you why he asks right here.

We Welcome Quips of Yellow to THE ENDLESS BLOGROLL

Heads up to the newest Tennessee blogger, Quips of Yellow, good posts being written over there, go check them out!

The Weather Was Brutal in the South

Courtesy Tuscaloosa News/Dusty Compton

Per the Weather Channel, over 250 people died in the South, 162 in Alabama alone, due to the devastation.  A long-track tornado demolished much of Tuscaloosa, then smashed into Birmingham's west and north sides, and worked its way to Ringgold, GA, a suburb of Chattanooga.

If you are on Twitter, you will want to follow Wayne Grayson of the Tuscaloosa News, who has stunning pictures of the destruction.

If you can, please text REDCROSS to 90999 and a $10 contribution will go to the Red Cross, who will use it for damage relief in the affected areas.  They will be appreciated, especially by those who survived the storms but had their lives uprooted.

In West Tennessee, Steve Ross notes that the high water is threatening low-lying areas, and not just along the Mississippi.  I received an email this morning from a good friend advising that the Loosahatchie was out of its banks where it crosses I-40; it won't crest for a few days, I suspect.  Go here and here for more information about the rivers in our area.

If you are on Twitter and want to know how power restoration is going locally, follow either @MLGW or their savvy communications chief, @GaleJonesCarson.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

Because there isn't enough right-wing gibberish on radio these days..

Citadel has flipped 98.9 FM from Gen X music to right-wing talk, featuring that Alex P. Keaton wannabe Ben Ferguson from 2-6.  Ferguson is apparently the only local "talent" featured hosting a show, although the Radio-Info Memphis board discussion says Bev Hart of Wake-Up Crew fame is on the station.

Ok, so that's WREC AM 600, Flinn's Folly 87.7 The Point, and now News Talk 98.9 (600 has Faux News, what will this station use?), so what's someone who is NOT right of center supposed to do?  I won't be listening, that's for sure.

I am thankful that I have WQOX, WEVL, WUMR, WKNO, and WMAV (MPR Oxford) plugged into my car radio; that's a welcome relief from the buffoons on these other stations.

By the way, this is my 2,100th post.

Thanks for the lovely comments, and some tweaks, additions and subtractions

Your comments on my Saturday post were wonderful, and much appreciated.

I was cleaning up THE ENDLESS BLOGROLL, moving some links higher, and some lower.  In the process, I discovered that one of my favorite blogs, 55-40, was no more, and has disappeared into the ether.  The forever-unknown Bob had some of the very best commentary ever written about this city, and it will be very much missed.

Some of the links were left on despite the fact that they had not updated in a while, like THE FREEDONIAN, which has not been updated since November 2007.  I always hold out hope that he will return to writing there, which I have mentioned to him personally.  I know, always a dreamer....

Hey, if you haven't signed up for OUT OF THE BLUE/DAILY BUZZ, you should do so post-haste, you are seriously missing out.  Ok, enough for now, and GO GRIZZLIES!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Where I am, and where I'm going

No, not away, despite having repeated thoughts of getting rid of this wonderful place in which I have written for these 6 and something years, I am not leaving.

Newscoma calls what I am about to write an Annoying Autobiographical Pause; it won't be as well-written as what she does, but this will have to do.  Well, hold on, I have to go get Zippy the diabetic cat off the kitchen table (he has a thing for licking plastic bags, don't ask me why).  Ok, then, back to it!

It has been a rough year and a half since Lauren died, despite the fact that I have the most loving friends, family and readers that any human could ever hope to have.  Somehow, I managed to hit our old haunts in Dallas and Jackson, with the love and support of our friends there that we knew from Celtic music, and continue to do so.  My workgroup, who lost her as well, has been deeply supportive. Again, I offer my thanks to all of you who reached out to comfort me when she left; I can never state enough how much that has meant to me.

However, this last couple of months or so, I have finally began to think about waking up, moving toward the future and beginning to live more than merely existing. My Buddhist practice has really kept me going and moving forward; I believe it is why I am able to get through each day.  If you would like to learn more about it, go here.  If not, look at this cute penguin!

Grieving is a process, and acceptance is the last stage.  Part of me has always accepted her death, part of me never will, but I think I am over halfway there these days, and that is a good thing.  She would have told me to get off my ass and get moving a long time ago; her first concern was always for my happiness.  She was my partner and the love of my life, which has to go on even though she's not here.

But you probably knew that any way.

I write this on the morning before one of her parties, for which she was well known.  I continue to throw them, trying to remember what she taught me.  Our friends, whom she also trained in the art of throwing a party, help me put it together.  Her spirit is always here, even if her body isn't.  She was multitudes, and I miss her every day, which will never change.

However, this is about the future, and the realization that I am at a different place in my life and things are changing.  I intend to be here a little more often, and write my own pieces rather than just throw press releases up here.  (Attention, City Council,  I have a bone to pick with all of you, and it's NOT about taxes, but more on that later).  I am going on, because I need to, because I believe I have a responsibility to do so, and because I have come to the crazy idea that you want to know what I have to say about things.

Thanks to all of you, this endeavour called a blog will continue, as will the changes in my life.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Out of the Blue

I received this morning in my inbox a new email newsletter from Mike McWherter titled Out of the Blue. It will become, over the coming weeks and months, a morning update of what is going on in Tennessee, especially from a non-conservative point of view.  Here's Mike:
So many candidates walk away and "fold the tent" following their races.  I want to remain an active Democrat and do everything I possibly can to promote the values our party.  Due to the recent illness of my father, Governor Ned McWherter, we were forced to delay this venture, but now we are moving forward.  Let me assure you, this is not an attempt to usurp any efforts by our leadership, but merely to help enhance communication efforts.  United we can stand and develop an environment in our state which serves everyone, not just a privileged few.
Good start.  Oh, and he won't be doing this alone by a long shot; he hired someone really Sharp to put this together.  As in our dear friend, Trace Sharp, who will be the managing editor of this enterprise.  If you want to sign up to have this in your inbox every morning, go to and add your email address to the list.

It will be more than worth your time, and I think this is a great thing Mike and Trace are doing, because Democrats around the state are reeling right now, and this will inform us and keep us fired up for the task ahead.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Congratulations and Good Luck, You're Gonna Need It

On a day when Larry Finch was buried and Ned McWherter memorialized (in the first of TWO services), the Shelby County Democratic Party met at American Way Middle School to re-organize in Phase 2 of their convention.

To the shock of absolutely no one, Van Turner was re-elected Chair of a much smaller Executive Committee, with no other name being placed in nomination. Attorney Curtis Johnson announced yesterday that he would seek the office; however, it was apparent that he had not organized, as none of his supporters were elected to the ExecCom.  Turner smartly brought him onstage, thanked Johnson for his candidacy, and asked for his help and support.

Turner correctly noted in his acceptance speech that the SCDP desperately needed to ensure that all who had participated in the Caucuses (phase 1, held two weeks ago) and today's Convention remain active as part of a real Ward and Precinct organization.  This, if done, would hopefully produce enough Democratic turnout to prevent another whipping during County elections in 2012.

Well, OK then.  At the top of this page, you see the county-by county 2010 Census numbers, and they show that Shelby County grew ever-so-slightly, but nowhere near the rate shown by neighboring suburban counties Tipton and Fayette in Tennessee, and Desoto in Mississippi.

I think you can learn a lot from another census map, the brilliant one created by the New York Times, in which you can go down to census tract level.  It is the Desoto County map that shows you why Shelby County Democrats have been losing votes in droves in county-wide elections, except for President, despite the exodus of white Republicans to Fayette and Tipton counties.

African-Americans, in particular MIDDLE-CLASS African Americans, are moving to our southern neighbors in droves.  This is why our inner city's population is shrinking, and these folks are the very base of any hope of Democratic dominance.

Why, you ask?  Because the higher the income level, the more likely you are to vote in EVERY election.  People who live below the poverty level, which is an increasing percentage of the City of Memphis, are far less likely to vote, PERIOD.  Those middle and upper-middle-class African Americans   leave and take their taxes and their VOTES with them, which only serves to injure the Democratic cause.

Look, I understand that A) the Election Commission's handling of the 2010 Election was spotty at best, but when you combine the fact that B) we had a weak ticket and C) fewer people likely to vote for us in this type of election and D) Democrats in the middle and eastern parts of the county were generally ignored, it led to the disaster we had last August.

Little of which, I might add, was Van Turner or the ExecCom's fault.  However, it is incumbent upon them to figure a way out of this morass, and I do not envy them.  Turner is absolutely correct when he says we need to keep people involved, and I want to add that they need to do serious outreach to all potential Democrats, because we need new blood at all levels.

This ExecCom will be hurt by the fact that our legislators in Nashville are powerless at the moment to stop the GOP onslaught against working and middle-class families.  Add to that the fact that Shelby is like to lose two state House members and one State Senator in redistricting, and it is not difficult to see that we are under siege.

The fact that the GOP has a stranglehold will make it difficult for the SCDP to raise money from sources to which they have traditionally looked; business no longer needs Democrats, and they never really LIKED us, any way.  This means we have to recapture the old way of getting votes, which is with shoe leather, canvassing and organizing, block by block, precinct by precinct, district by district.

If Van and the SCDP can at least make some headway on this (hopefully, with the help of thee and me), then we have a shot to make things better.

But they can't do it alone; the next SCDP Meeting is April 18 at the IBEW hall at 1870 Madison.  Why don't you show up and ask what you can do to help?  If you can't make it, check out their website and see who your District representatives are; they will really appreciate your help.

Think about it; as Ben Franklin said, "We must all hang together, or we will surely hang separately"!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Braisted Catches Curtis Halford Whining About Democrats Telling the TRUTH

Sean Braisted has a GREAT post up about Rep. Curtis Halford, who complains to his colleagues about the fact the Democrats are doing a TERRIFIC job of pointing out that the GOP-controlled Assembly is doing NOTHING with regards to job creation.

Go read it; you'll love the letter Halford sends to his colleagues.  Great work, Sean!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

More on the passing of Ned McWherter

Trace, who has known him all of her life (her grandfather was one of Ned's friends) gives us more about the greatest Governor Tennessee has ever known, and, as always, it is well worth your time.

Jackson Baker tells of his dealings with the governor, and of an opportunity lost.

Finally, hat tip to Trace for the link, Speaker Naifeh talks of the governor's influence on his life and work:

Monday, April 04, 2011

What a horrible few days for us all

Photo taken by Rick Maynard at 2009 Coon Supper, Covington, TN

First, Larry Finch passes away on Saturday.  Then, we learned of the tragic death of Wilson Forrester over the weekend; he is the son of TNDP Chair Chip Forrester.  Then, tornadoes hit all throughout the Mid-South today.

And now, the greatest governor of Tennessee in my lifetime is gone.  Ned Ray McWherter, speaker of the House for 14 years and Governor for eight more, the man who bestrode this state like a colossus, putting working people first, has left us at the age of 80.  He had been ill with cancer, and died at a Nashville hospital early this afternoon.

He protected and nurtured West Tennessee, and not just the rural areas; there is a reason the library at the University of Memphis is named for him.  He worked for EVERY Tennessean, regardless of where they lived.  He earned the respect of all who worked with him, regardless of party.  His legacy will be long remembered for his achievements.

Please remember Mike and the McWherter family in your thoughts and prayers; arrangements are pending.  Here's a link to the family statement.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Goodbye to the greatest Tiger of them all

Courtesy of the Commercial Appeal

Larry Finch, the man who brought Memphians together during his playing career like no one else before or since, passed away this afternoon at the young age of 60, reports the Commercial Appeal.

Finch, who led the Tigers to the national championship game in his senior season of 1972-73, served the university as a player, assistant coach, and as head coach, with more victories than any other head coach in Tiger history (remember, 2007-8 no longer exists).  His service to the university was recognized with the naming of the Larry O. Finch Center in his honor; it serves that the practice facility for Tiger men's basketball.

After being fired by Athletic Director RC Johnson at the end of the 1996-97 season, Finch dabbled in politics, nearly unseating County Register Guy Bates in 1998.  However, a series of strokes led to Finch moving into a nursing home.  He had recently been taken to St. Francis Hospital, where he passed away this afternoon.

I moved to this city as a 13-year-old in the summer of 1972, and that fall I discovered the grip he had on this city as he led them to the NCAA finals, only to lose to Bill Walton's spectacular performance for UCLA, a game that was tied at halftime.  He remains the reason I have feelings for the neighborhood school, and his passing is sad for anyone who remembers him as a player, as a coach, and as a human being.