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Paging Vance Lauderdale

June 25, 2010 Leave a comment

… or any other history buff for that matter.

I just stumbled across this website, which purports to contain over 7 million photos and* 50,000 videos of royalty-free archival material. If you’re in to history or that sort of thing, this is basically porn.

I’ve collected a few of the Mempho-centric videos below. Since the site doesn’t allow embedding, you’re just going to have to follow the links if you want to look at some of this stuff.

Cotton Carnival Parade, 1957 – I went to the Cotton Carnival when I was a kid. It used to be a really, really big deal.

Cotton Carnival on the river, 1961 – This time with fireworks.

Miss America Pageant, 1947 – A Memphian won that year, and she sure is pretty. Bizarrely, there is also a man in drag in that video, and he is fabulous.

The Harahan Bridge, 1917 – One of my absolute favorite places on the planet, it looks essentially unchanged from almost a hundred years ago.

Memphis Tigers vs Tulane, 1960 – Go Tigers!

Kemmons Wilson, 1974 – One of Memphis’ most famous entrepreneurs talks about emerging information technology and his franchise operations.

Saving the best for last:

The Memphis Riverfront, 1917 – It’s amazing how many of those buildings are still standing.

* Apparently the photographs are merely stills taken from the videos. Bummer.

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Categories: History, Memphis

Visualizing the BP Oil Geyser

June 11, 2010 Leave a comment

If the oil was over Memphis, this is what it would look like.

Click the image to generate a new map

Categories: Memphis, Petroleum

Herenton Admits He’s Not Fit to Be Dog Catcher

June 10, 2010 3 comments

It’s not every day that a candidate for major office comes right out and says that they aren’t fit to be dog catcher, but that’s exactly what former Mayor Willie Herenton did at his free-for-all press conference yesterday.

At one point, after [WREG’s Mike] Matthews had pressed Herenton hard, and properly so, on his cavalier attitude toward scandals in his last mayoral term at the Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center — MSARC — and at the Memphis Animal Shelter, Herenton made a peculiarly tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement of having “dropped the ball” because “I just want to make you happy.”

Herenton played that one for laughs, and it was almost possible to forget how contemptuous he had been in stating his indifference to what had been genuinely tragic circumstances at both MSARC and the Animal Shelter.

Who gives a damn about those peripheral issues?” Herenton had thundered. “I say it’s trivial. I never made one visit. I didn’t even know where MSARC was located until you guys covered it.” He went so far as to condemn his mayoral successor, A C Wharton, whom earlier he had called a “disaster,” for turning up at the Animal Shelter to actually see what was going on there.

For a man who would go on to boast that he had been “the best mayor Memphis ever had,” that was rather an odd way to go about defining the quality of his stewardship.

[Jackson Baker]

As Maya Angelou famously said, when someone shows you who they are, believe them.

Herenton also said he did not “give a damn” about the problems that emerged during investigations involving animal abuse at the Memphis Animal Shelter and poor supervision at the Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center that led to delays in treatment for victims. He called them “peripheral issues” that represented an “infinitesimal” portion of the city he said he ran more successfully than any mayor in the city’s history.

Who gives a damn what happened in MSARC and the dog shelter?” Herenton said, adding that he did not know where MSARC was located and had never been to the animal shelter.

[Commercial Appeal]

I wonder who Emily’s List will endorse this time around, eh?

It’s difficult to imagine a more reprehensible statement coming out of the mouth of a former city executive, but I suppose he deserves some applause for his candor. After all, how often do you actually hear a politician come right out and confirm what everyone has already long suspected? It’s an event on the order of Pat Buchanan casually remarking to Rachel Maddow, “Yeah, I never really liked blacks or Jews all that much in the first place.”

On the basis of their comparatively small cost when weighed against the whole of the city budget, Herenton claims that MSARC and the Animal Shelter “ain’t important in the whole scheme of things.” By that measure, neither is his pension from the city.

It might be instructive to recall, for a moment, what originally prompted these statements.

Herenton says this isn’t an issue of debates only under his terms. “I don’t know the questions you’ll ask,” he said. He did admit, he had no idea what questions either Brewer or Sanford would askl, but says “they would get involved with a lot of trivialities.”

Herenton says he might let local reporters ask anything they want of him at a news conference in a few weeks, to end all this talk about, using his words, “trivialities.” “They want to talk to me about MSARC, (the Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center) or the dog pound situation.

There have been investigations into both the animal shelter and the rape crisis center, but the former Mayor says the issues don’t make sense in a congressional campaign.

[Mike Matthews]

Herenton was speaking to reporters, not voters, when he declared his nonchalance regarding the two scandals, and this is exactly where his media strategy begins to fall apart. Absent the fundraising and campaign operation needed to make his appeal directly to the voters, Herenton is left to rely on the media to get his message out —  the same media whose questions he finds irrelevant. The result is a mess of his own making, a soiling of his own nest. He’s painted himself into a corner and it’s difficult to see any way out for him.

Not to quarrel with Steve Ross, but this isn’t an example of Herenton being crazy like a fox. This is just plain crazy. Herenton has outsmarted no one but himself. He never would have sent out campaign literature declaring that he doesn’t give a damn about MSARC or the Animal Shelter. However, by placing his candidacy at the mercy of an antagonistic media determined to ask pointed questions about the scandals that occurred under his watch, he has let slip his true feelings without any campaign operation to correct the damage.

Thankfully, we now have a mayor who actually does give a damn about stray animals and victims of sexual assault.

During a previously scheduled meeting Thursday with The Commercial Appeal’s editorial board, Wharton was asked about Herenton’s comments. He said: “It does not serve the city well for me to even attempt to respond to that kind of volley.”

But Wharton said he wanted the city to understand perfectly clear that he believes the rape crisis center and the animal shelter play a “pivotal role” for the city.

“Government is supposed to be an embodiment of the values that a society wants,” Wharton said. “A value of a much higher order is the respect for a woman’s personhood and it is government’s paramount obligation to make sure in every way possible the powers of the government are used to insure the integrity of one’s personhood.

“And if you know anything about rape victims, you know they are not white women from out east somewhere who got touched. They are little black girls and it’s mama’s boyfriend or the stepdaddy having sex with them and, ‘I dare you to tell because I’m gonna put your momma out if you do.'”

[Commercial Appeal]

The contrast between the two mayors could not be more stark. Herenton really stepped in it this time.

Watch the entire 95 minute press conference here.

This Election Could Be Almost as Good as the Last One

April 11, 2010 1 comment

It looks like Sidney Chism did some opposition research and thinks he’s found himself some dirt on Steve Cohen.

The way County Commissioner and Willie Herenton campaign manager Sidney Chism sees it, the $396,000 budgetary earmark that Congressman Steve Cohen has recommended for a foundation honoring the work of famed Memphis photographer Ernest Withers “does not pass the smell test.”

Cohen calls the letter Chism says has been mailed to media outlets and law enforcement agencies across the country “absolutely insane” for insinuating that Cohen’s office would arrange to reward a son of the late photographer for running against Chism by directing taxpayer dollars to the Ernest C. Withers Historical Foundation.

Andrew “Rome” Withers is the only opponent Chism is facing in the May 4 county Democratic primary for the District 3, Position 2 seat. Rome Withers is also listed as the executive director of the foundation that stands to receive the $396,000 if a congressional budget committee approves the request. A similar request in 2008 from Cohen’s office to build a museum, archives and research center on Beale Street was not approved, although Chism’s letter describes the request as an “allocation.”

The letter also alleges that Cohen’s district director, prominent Shelby County Sheriff candidate Randy Wade, last year assured Chism in a telephone conversation “that he was going to make sure that I had opposition … to make sure that I was ‘busy’ — in hopes, I assume, to reduce my level of involvement in Dr. Herenton’s campaign.”

[Zack McMillin]

Sidney Chism has made a lot of enemies in his career. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone propose running a primary challenge against him, I could probably afford a nice meal downtown, or maybe even some Grizzlies tickets. To be fair to the Commissioner, I’d be sitting in the nosebleed section, but the point stands. Privately, I even proposed the idea myself shortly after the Ballotgate incident, but the idea fell apart for want of a candidate who lived in the district. Apparently, to my surprise and delight, there actually is one.

That’s just the thing that makes this so perfectly sweet: Rome Winters hasn’t really been on the radar up to this point. I had no idea he was even running. This is the first time he’s been in the news in the context of his run for the County Commission, and for a district race like his, there really isn’t a large enough budget to put together much of a media strategy. You just have to knock on doors, put up signs, and wear out the soles of your shoes. Earned media is priceless in a County Commission race.

Out on street corners campaigning Saturday, Withers says members of the community have encouraged him to challenge Chism, but said neither Wade, Cohen nor anyone connected to them played a role. “False, false, false,” he said, describing the entire scenario. “Untrue, untrue, untrue.”

Nikki Tinker, Cohen’s last opponent (who was endorsed by Chism), focused most of her campaign on winning Whitehaven. That is where the majority of her yard signs were posted, that is where she knocked on the most doors, and that is the demographic she tried to court with her ridiculous and insulting commercial about sitting on the porch waiting on a check from the government. She still lost overwhelmingly, and if memory serves, Cohen won every single precinct in Whitehaven and Boxtown, both of which, when combined, just happen to also encompass Sidney Chism’s home district.

Do you now see why I am looking forward to this election? In much the same way that Reginald French is a proxy for Herenton, Sidney Chism just tied his own opponent to Steve Cohen in a way that the congressman never intended to do himself.

Cohen specifically denied ever recruiting Withers, directly or indirectly, and emphasized the he would have supported the earmark no matter the political dynamics. He stressed that the only two local candidates receiving his direct support are Wade in the sheriff’s race and County Trustee Regina Morrison Newman.

“I haven’t been involved in his campaign, and I assure you if I were trying to beat Sidney Chism you would know it…,” Cohen said. “Now, do I think Sidney Chism should be beaten because he’s not been a good public official? Sure I do.”

Cohen never endorsed Withers, but by concocting a conspiracy theory using nothing but circumstantial evidence, Chism just effectively associated the two men with one another in the public’s mind. If there is anybody in Shelby County District 3 who has never heard of Rome Withers before, Sidney Chism just told them who he was, and what’s more, tied him to a congressman who is demonstrably popular in Chism’s own district.

In 2006 we elected Cohen, took back both houses of Congress, and began the long, arduous task of steering this country back in the right direction. In 2008, we passed a host of intelligent ballot reforms, made gains in Congress, and elected our first black president. There’s no telling how things will turn out nationally this year, but here in Memphis, it looks like we’ve got something to look forward to. We could give a hearty send-off to both Herenton and Chism in the same election.

Sidney Chism just did Rome Withers a huge favor. And for that, we should all thank him.

P.S. If you have no idea who Ernest Withers is, you’re probably already familiar with his work.

Right-Wingers Freak Out Over Lone Nut

December 28, 2009 4 comments

Based on a web report from Eyewitness News, no small number of right-wing blogs are freaking out because some jackass from Binghampton allegedly threatened to wage jihad on a few gas stations, or as we know it here in Memphis, just another crazy person.

Tonight, Mohamed Ibrahim is out after posting $100 bond. Earlier in the day, he was arrested after police say he walked into several Memphis businesses and threatened to blow them up.

Court records show Ibrahim was also telling people he was Muslim, and wanted to start a jihad, or holy war, in Memphis.

[Eyewitness News]

Here’s what the more patriotic among us have to say about it:

The judge is either blind, deaf and dumb, an Islamist, a Democrat or a Muslim.

[Atlas Shrugs]

Clearly this far-seeing and right-thinking judge understands that Islam is a Religion of Peace™, and that therefore this man only intended to butcher his sinful inclinations, as part of his inner spiritual struggle to conform his life to the will of Allah.

[Jihad Watch]

Is it just me, or is there a recent uptick in black Muslims causing trouble nowadays?

[Political Byline]

This apocalyptic “reporter’s note” is simply priceless:

Reporter’s note: It is clear that our political leaders as well as many judges still do not understand the threat posed by the radical Muslim world. Our politicians and law enforcement officials seem to believe that the policy of appeasement will work with murderers. They are mistaken and if we do not wake them up to this fact…We will have no nation left to defend!

[Examiner.com]

Holy warriors, Batman! Get Winston Churchill on the phone! Wake up, sheeple!

Although the Commercial Appeal reported essentially the same details, there is some discrepancy here. According to the Shelby County Sheriff’s office website, one Mohamed Ibrahim is presently sitting in jail on terrorism charges with a bond set at $50,000, not the $100 that’s been reported. He is scheduled to appear in court later this morning.

MOHAMED IBRAHIM
RNI Number: 404741
Booking Number: 9148795
Booked Date: 12/25/2009 18:11
Date of Birth: 06/01/1974
CHARGES: COMMISSION ACT OF TERRORISM
BOND AMOUNT: $50,000.00

It’s certainly not outside the realm of possibility that the SCSO’s website (as well as the courthouse’s, which appears to show the same thing) wasn’t updated over the Christmas weekend or contains some error. But even if this guy is out walking the streets, I’m going to make a guess that Mohamed Ibrahim is about as much of an al-Qaeda terrorist as I am a Catholic Cardinal.

When I was living in the University area, I met some of these supposedly Islamic hoodies from Binghampton. They were the kind of guys with tattoos of the word “Jihad.” In other words, they were a bunch of antisocial wannabes who called themselves jihadists because they thought it sounded scary. The people who were actually trying to worship at the mosque in that neighborhood were constantly trying to get rid of them. I’d wager this guy doesn’t even belong to a mosque at all, much less some sleeper cell.

All that aside, we’re talking about a guy with a butcher knife up his sleeve threatening to blow up random East Memphis gas stations on Christmas Day. Not an airplane, not a skyscraper, but the corner dine and dash. That’s not an attack on Western civilization, it’s the behavior of a disturbed individual. To his credit, though, if he was trying to scare people, he certainly frightened the wingnuts.

I suppose they have a point. Between the threat to democracy posed by this dude and the attack on our freedoms from that other guy who set his balls on fire, how can Liberty survive?

Categories: Crime, Islam, Memphis, Terrorism

Oh Look, a Liberal

December 23, 2009 4 comments

It’s not often you see an elected Democrat promoting actual liberalism, so it’s worth noting when one does:

“It provided some much-needed help to residents who were struggling to make ends meet, and it helped clean up our neighborhoods,” said [Memphis City Councilman* Harold] Collins. “Those are things government can do if it is done right.”

[Commercial Appeal]

It’s pretty sad that this even needs to be pointed out.

*Thanks to LWC for catching my brain fart.

Categories: Liberalism, Memphis

Twenty-Four Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences

December 19, 2009 Leave a comment

This needs to be nailed to a door somewhere.