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FRESH STORIES DAILY AT MEMPHISFLYER.COM CLAY’S SMOKED TUNA P18 • THE EXPANSE P20 • SALUTING ESSENTIAL WORKERS P23

OUR 1670TH ISSUE 02.25.21

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JULIEN BAKER ON UGLY BEAUTY, ROCKING OUT, AND HER NEW ALBUM.

Little Oblivions


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BRUCE VANWYNGARDEN Editor SHARA CLARK Managing Editor JACKSON BAKER Senior Editor TOBY SELLS Associate Editor CHRIS MCCOY Film and TV Editor ALEX GREENE Music Editor SAMUEL X. CICCI, MICHAEL DONAHUE, CHRISTEN HILL, JON W. SPARKS Staff Writers JESSE DAVIS Copy Editor, Staff Writer JULIE RAY Calendar Editor MATTHEW J. HARRIS Editorial Assistant LORNA FIELD, RANDY HASPEL, RICHARD MURFF, FRANK MURTAUGH, MEGHAN STUTHARD Contributing Columnists AIMEE STIEGEMEYER, SHARON BROWN Grizzlies Reporters ANDREA FENISE Fashion Editor KENNETH NEILL Founding Publisher

OUR 1670TH ISSUE 02.25.21 Rush Limbaugh and I had a lot in common. We’re both Baby Boomers, both from a small town in Missouri, and both of us grew up in a Republican family. Rush dropped out of college and then moved to Pittsburgh to try to become a radio DJ. I dropped out of college to smoke pot and protest the Vietnam War. Then I moved to San Francisco and became a night watchman and a busker for tourists in Ghirardelli Square. Both of our career paths were a bit murky there for a while. Rush bounced from station to station for a few years, eventually ending up in Kansas City. I bounced from job to job out West and in Columbia, Missouri, where I eventually finished my journalism degree and found semi-honest work in the business where I still ply my trade. Rush began his climb to glory in the wake of the overturning of the FCC Fairness Doctrine in 1987, when broadcasters were no longer constrained by having to provide equal time for opposing views, or for anyone who was attacked on air. After getting some notoriety in Kansas City for his “public affairs” show, Rushbo got hired by WABC in New York and he quickly gained national notoriety for such actions as celebrating the deaths of gay men from AIDS with show tunes, coining the phrase “Femi-Nazis” for women’s rights activists, calling Chelsea Clinton the “White House dog,” and regularly saying revoltingly racist things about African Americans (too many to list here), all under the guise of “conservatism.” It was a truly deplorable schtick before deplorable became a thing, and one that resonated, appallingly, with much of white America. Rush got very rich with it. WIKIPEDIA COMMONS In 1996, the Telecommunications Act allowed broadRush Limbaugh casting companies to own stations in many markets and spawned radio syndication. Rush quickly got even bigger (literally) and richer and became a major player in the Republican Party. A slew of conservative Rush-clones emerged: Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Mark Levin, to name a few. Stirring up anger and outrage at liberals, Democrats, Blacks, Muslims, and immigrants was, and is, their stock-in-trade. And it’s made them rich. Then came Fox News, the ultimate benefactor of the abolishment of the Fairness Doctrine. (“Fair and Balanced” being the lie from which all others were spun.) Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes built a television empire on right-wing outrage, angry white male hosts, short-skirted blondes, and lies. Now, with the internet, the genie is out of the bottle. If you want “fair and balanced,” it’s strictly DIY. Pick your news to suit your views. If you believe climate change and COVID-19 are hoaxes, that Donald Trump won the 2020 election, that Texas lost power because of a Green New Deal that hasn’t been passed, that QAnon is onto something, that Antifa spawned the January 6th insurrection, that President Biden’s dog isn’t “presidential,” that the Bidens’ marriage is a “charade” … there’s a whole news ecosystem built just for you. Likewise, if you take the opposing point of view on any or all of those issues. But it all started with Rush Limbaugh. And now he’s dead of lung cancer, at 70, leaving three ex-wives and a widow and millions of fans to mourn his passing. Lots of Republicans want to honor what they perceive as Limbaugh’s glorious legacy. He’s being called a great American, a true patriot — lauded by GOP politicians all over America. In Florida, the governor wants to fly the flag at half-mast in Limbaugh’s honor. In Rush’s home state of Missouri, legislators are talking about establishing a state holiday in his name. A state holiday! His bust already resides in the state capitol building — kind of like Nathan Bedford Forrest’s up in Nashville. N E WS & O P I N I O N But let’s speak the truth here: Rush THE FLY-BY - 4 NY TIMES CROSSWORD - 6 Limbaugh was not a great American by POLITICS - 8 any fair and balanced measure. In his FINANCIAL FEATURE - 9 radio persona, he was a divisive, hateful, COVER STORY homophobic, racist, misogynistic asshole. “LITTLE OBLIVIONS” What he was like in private, I can’t say, but BY ALEX GREENE - 10 I doubt that we had much common when WE RECOMMEND - 14 Limbaugh departed this earthly vale — CALENDAR - 16 FOOD - 18 far from his Missouri roots. I do hope he FILM - 20 found peace at the end. It’s more than he C LAS S I F I E D S - 21 wished for others. LAST WORD - 23 Bruce VanWyngarden brucev@memphisflyer.com

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THE

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MEMernet A roundup of Memphis on the World Wide Web. S N OW MAD Last week’s snow stuck around long enough to push some of us beyond the usual snow stuff like making a snowman or sledding. Exhibit A: Roquita Williams celebrated her 44th birthday like this.

POSTED TO FACEBOOK BY ROQUITA WILLIAMS

Exhibit B: Mickey needed a cold one with his cold one.

Fe b r u a r y 2 5 - M a r c h 3 , 2 0 2 1

POSTED TO INSTAGRAM BY BEALE STREET BREWING

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D O N UTS The joke Libertyland Twitter account said “We’re doing donuts and building and running over snowmen in Tiger Lane.” The joke Mid-South Coliseum account responded: “They really need to bring back our golf cart.” F R OZ E N The Downtown Memphis Commission shared this photo from @connordryan, capturing the snow blanket from on high.

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Questions, Answers + Attitude Edited by Toby Sells

W E E K T H AT W A S By Flyer staff

Drugs, Cockfights, & Overton Park Two charged in Darknet scheme, a bill against fighting birds, and a “blank canvas.” DA R K N E T D R U G S Two men were charged here last week for their alleged participation in a drug distribution conspiracy perpetrated over the Darknet. In conjunction with the arrests, the government seized more than $5 million in assets alleged to be connected to the drug trafficking activity. Law enforcement officials allege the pair was selling pills marketed as Adderall on the encrypted messaging service Wicker. C O C K F I G HTI N G B A N A Tennessee legislator pledged to crack down on cockfighting in the state, and animal rights activists are behind him. Tennessee state Sen. Jon LunMAKSIM SHMELJOV | DREAMSTIME.COM dberg (R-Bristol) and leaders at Animal Wellness Action (AWA) Clockwise from top left: Tennessee legislator cracks down on cockfighting, and and Animal Wellness Foundation Darknet drug deal leads to charges for two local men (AWF) are working to end cockfighting in Tennessee. Sen. Lundopinions. But a Wednesday post got into the nitty-gritty. The berg announced last week that he will bring anti-cockfighting opinions came from a series of more-detailed questions. These legislation to Nashville this year. asked about the kinds of trails people wanted to see, or natural Tennessee is one of only eight states without felony-level features, structures, recreation elements, events, gardens, and penalties for cockfighting. Animal rights activists at AWA and commercial activities. AWF claim that this weak law is the reason why cockfighting “I’m not real keen on structures, but if there has to be one, rings have run rampant in the state for years. Owning and it should likely be something that feeds money to the [OPC] shipping birds for cockfighting has been banned under federal to help run the park,” reads a comment. “Restaurant, food law since 2002. vendor, coffee shop.” PAR K P LAN S Trails of all kinds. More forest land. More grassland. Playgrounds. Fitness stations. Festivals. Art installations. Gardens. Commercial activities. No commercial activities. Votes and suggestions were in last week for the best ways to develop a 13-acre piece of property on the east side of Overton Park. The space has been home to a city of Memphis general services facility for decades. But it’s moving out, leaving a blank canvas that the Overton Park Conservancy (OPC) is now calling Zone 1. It will, ultimately, be up to OPC to decide how to fill the space. But the organization asked community members in November what they want to see there. More than 1,000 voiced their opinions, and those opinions are varied. An OPC blog post last week showed some high-level

Related to that question was one more broadly about commercial activities in the park. OPC said that of those who left comments on the survey, “the most popular response was ‘none,’ which didn’t surprise us. We know that there is a strong desire among park supporters to focus on the natural aspects of the park.” “We also know that it will take considerable funds to convert a 13-acre vehicle maintenance facility into a place people will want to visit, and that our current business model (which relies on private donations for 85 percent of the costs of operating the park) is not sustainable in the long term,” the OPC said in the post. “That’s why we’re exploring thoughtful ways to generate revenue.”

Visit the News Blog at memphisflyer.com for fuller versions of these stories and more local news.


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The New York Times Syndication Sales Corporation 620 Eighth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10018 For Information Call: 1-800-972-3550 For Release Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Crossword ACROSS Midday 7 The Emerald Isle 11 Bring home 14 Superficial appearance 15 Not occurring naturally 16 Tulsa sch. 17 DAM 19 Car coat 20 Most-wanted group 21 Tony winner Neuwirth 22 Zap, in a way 23 Prefix with -phyte 24 FIRED 26 Reds, blacks, evens or odds, in roulette 29 Perform better than

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S TAT E W AT C H By Christen Hill

405 N Germantown Parkway Memphis, TN 38018

Local leaders weighed in last week on the move to move a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest from the Tennessee State Capitol. A vote on the issue by the Tennessee Historical Commission was rescheduled last week to March. The State Capitol Commission voted in favor of removing the bust from the Capitol in July, and petitioned the Tennessee Historical Commission to move the bust from the Capitol to the Tennessee State Museum. Forrest was a Confederate general, slave trader, and Ku Klux Klan leader. The sculpture of his likeness has been front and center in the Tennessee State Capitol Building since the late 1970s. The Flyer spoke to three local leaders about the issue. “We should pay close attention to what we choose to memorialize and render as proud history,” said Memphis City Council member Michalyn Easter-Thomas. “My hope is that our state legislators vote to remove the bust that symbolizes murder, oppression, and tyranny in this city, region, state, and nation. However, no matter the outcome, it can be assured that the fight for justice will continue no matter whose bust is on the pedestal.” Tennessee State Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis) said, “I obviously don’t agree with the statue being in the Capitol.” “This statue sits in the most prominent place when you get off the elevator,” said Parkinson. “I vehemently oppose it. However, it is nowhere near my highest priority in regards to what I think is important for people at this time. We are coming at probably the worst period in most Americans’ lives, financially, mentally, and even educationally.” State Rep. London Lamar (D-Memphis) said, “There is no question that the history of Nathan Bedford Forrest is a symbol of hate.”

“The Confederacy itself symbolized the legalization of slavery where Nathan Bedford became rich from selling slaves on an auction block in Memphis, Tennessee, and served as the first Grand Wizard of the KKK,” Lamar said. “There is no positive Tennessee history behind Nathan Bedford Forrest, so there is no reason that Tennessee should be honoring him with a bust in our state Capitol. The people that we should be honoring are those who make a positive impact on our state’s history.

NATHAN BEDFORD FORREST BOYHOOD HOME/ FACEBOOK

“The bust should be moved to the Tennessee State Museum because removing this bust does absolutely nothing to remove Tennessee’s history, it simply removes the fact that Tennessee seems to praise the man who obviously symbolizes white supremacy through his determination to keep slavery legal in this state and led mass murder on African Americans. I hope the commission votes to remove the bust to the museum where the story of Nathan Bedford Forrest can be told in the appropriate context.”


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Snow-Blind As a week from hell thaws, our vision may be returning. Yes, it was one hell of a week, literally. I was put in mind of a situation five years ago involving a couple of the bad actors we heard so much about this past week. Of the seven times I’ve been able, on behalf of this newspaper, to travel to New Hampshire during a presidential caucus and to report on it from there, the occasion of 2016 was most brutal, weather-wise, with temperatures always in the oughts or teens. On the first night I was there, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, one of the leading Republican candidates then (and the protagonist of this week’s “Flyin’ Ted” melodrama), happened to be having a town hall in Dover, where I was holed up, on the state’s southern rim. Cruz, who at the time was Donald Trump’s best positioned GOP rival, also happened to be doing his thing in a sleet storm. Inching along cravenly in my rental car on streets of ice, being honked at by locals who somehow were able to whiz by me, it took me more than an hour to get to the site, which was only blocks away. When I got there, I was astounded at the size of an overflow crowd, eager (or curious) to hear Cruz’s sternly right-wing views. Every venture I undertook anywhere that week to catch up with the candidates, Democrat and Republican, I experienced as a life-and-death matter. I fell on the ice and almost broke my back at a Hillary Clinton event. The climax of the week was a 26-mile trek in a bona fide blizzard to Manchester, the state capital, to catch frontrunner Trump’s performance at a downtown auditorium. The candidate was an hour late, and came in complaining about the blizzard and the many traffic accidents it had already caused. He tough-loved the crowd: “You have to do me a favor. I don’t really care if you get hurt or not, but I want you to last till tomorrow. So don’t get hurt!” The crowd loved it and reveled even more when Trump agreed with a woman supporter’s shout that opponent Cruz was “a pussy.” The sadomasochism of the thing — of the whole week, actually — was in retrospect a perfect precursor for the four years that were to come. Survival of the fittest, every man for himself, trust to your luck

and pluck. All that. And there was the moment, over this past weekend, when I finally hazarded a trip out of the house, hopeful of buying some bottled water. I didn’t make it the first time or two. Not only was the stillunthawed ice too rough in the sloped part of my driveway, but as I looked around at the expanse of snow all around me, the glare of all that empty crystallized whiteness seemed about to annihilate my field of vision. And I suddenly knew what the term “snow-blind” meant. Eventually I would get out and get my water, not at a store (they were out) but through the kindness of a friend. Eventually the ice would begin to melt and the stressful whiteness of the landscape would begin to fill in with renewed color. This may not seem to be much of an epiphany, but it happened simultaneously with, or in the wake of, the decision of city and county governments to open new vaccination sites and, of all overdue things, to offer guaranteed vaccine doses to the public school teachers who had been expected, martyr-like, to rush back to in-person teaching without them.

All that empty whiteness seemed about to annihilate my field of vision. On Monday, the County Commission was scheduled to strike down residential requirements for the hiring of a new corps of vaccine workers to augment and step up the vaccination process. In Washington, a new president, with a new commitment to the role of government in sheltering the lives and livelihoods of citizens, began to roll out an enhanced COVID-19 plan — a national plan, at last! — and declared, as well, a resolve to fix a cruel and xenophobic immigration system and a commitment to a stimulus plan capable, perhaps, of restoring a bleached-out nation’s economic hopes and of returning it to normalcy. Yes, the plan is ample, having what County Commissioner Reginald Milton says is the “girth” that government needs to survive lean times. In many ways, the snow is melting, and our vision, fixed too long in icy indifference, may be returning.


Older Americans are looking at more adventurous retirement.

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etirement has long been thought to be a time of relaxation and peace, but that trend is quickly falling to the wayside in favor of more adventurous golden years. Seniors are more active than ever, looking to take on new experiences during their retirement instead of slowing down. Given that by 2030, all Baby Boomers will be 65 or older, there will likely be a large shift in retirement trends in the years to come. One of these trends is owning a second property, either for vacation destinations or renting out to make a passive income. Seniors (and possibly their children who might have an interest), should know the pros and cons of buying a second home and what to look for once the hunt begins in earnest. Retirees might consider getting another home if their current mortgage is paid off and they’re looking for new investment opportunities. A second home in a hot locale is one way, or they may want to buy a vacation home, either in a favorite location or near extended family.

Seniors should know the pros and cons of buying a second home. First, they should decide what their goals are for retirement. To stay active, think about a second home near the water, mountains, or parks. If they want to ensure social time, they could move to a senior-friendly area or closer to family. If acquiring another home is to make money, then look near a major city to attract renters. The reasons seniors are buying homes in recent years are changing. The National Association of Realtors took a deep dive into 2020 generational home-buying trends and discovered exactly what motivates seniors to make big purchases. Twenty-five percent of those 65 and older purchased a new home specifically for retirement. Their biggest motivators were the desire to be closer to friends and family, own a smaller home, or to own a turnkey home that required less maintenance. A small portion of seniors (1 percent) bought a home exclusively as a vacation or investment opportunity. Buying a home is a big decision,

whether first or second. Some experts recommend that seniors go into retirement mortgage-free, but you can also use your second home to offset costs and make a more passive income once you retire. The pros of buying a second home: make money via short-term rentals such as Airbnb or VRBO; long-term rentals; a place to vacation; and a meeting space for family gatherings. And the cons are: a large down payment needed; higher insurance rates; having to manage the property either yourself or paying someone else; and having to get landlord insurance or second home insurance. Have a few things settled before starting to look at potential second homes: What is the purpose of your second home? How much disposable income do you have on a regular basis? What features are you looking for? How much can you afford to put down? And add these into the mix: Will your second home need updates as you age? Is it suited for retirement? What about the layout? How much time will be spent there? Where are the nearest hospitals? When dealing with rental property, you’ll want to know ahead of time if you’ll manage the property or if you’ll hire someone. Will you be located near a major city or another area that would attract renters? Will you make a profit? If it’s a vacation home you’re considering, pay attention to the layout and how your needs will change as you age. For rental properties, you should look for amenities that make your property desirable, such as an updated kitchen or a low-maintenance yard. Location and affordability are paramount. Also, get your home properly inspected to check for potential issues. If you want a vacation home, make sure it will age gracefully with you. A one-story home with wide doorways, lever handles on all doors and appliances, walk-in showers, and easy access to laundry and storage spaces will be smart. You should also look for a home in a place that isn’t prone to extreme weather. Other things to keep an eye out for include smart home devices to control your home from your phone, a security system, enough bedrooms to host family gatherings, and close proximity to activities that will help keep you active. This guide to second homes is adapted from information provided by hippo.com, a home insurance company.

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ALYSSE GAFKJEN

Fe b r u a r y 2 5 - M a r c h 3 , 2 0 2 1

Julien Baker

Little Oblivions

JULIEN BAKER ON UGLY BEAUTY, ROCKING OUT, AND HER NEW ALBUM. COVER STO RY BY ALEX GRE E N E

W

hen I pull up Julien Baker’s new album, Little Oblivions, and hit play for the first time, I am jolted out of my expectations by the crass tones of a cheap, possibly broken organ or Mellotron blasting blocks of chords like a fanfare. It’s an ennervating shot across the bow from an artist more typically associated with delicate guitar lines that hypnotically draw listeners in to the hushed-to-frantic intimacy of her voice. As the song develops, those chord blasts are joined by mellower synth-strings, 10 and you can hear echoes of her past work more clearly, even as she begins to sing

words from darker, grittier depths than she’s ever plumbed before. Blacked out on a weekday; is there something that I’m trying to avoid? Start asking for forgiveness in advance for all the future things I will destroy. Listeners won over by Baker’s bare bones debut, 2015’s Sprained Ankle, or her first album on Matador, 2017’s slightly less minimalist Turn Out the Lights, may expect more of her trademark romanticism-cut-with-blunt-realism

approach, and that’s in evidence here, but it’s soon apparent that she’s taking the bluntness several steps further, mixing intimations of anguish with wry observations on the prosaic fumblings of everyday life. As she sings on the second track, “Heatwave”: It’s worse than death, that life, compressed to fill A page in the Sunday paper; and I had the shuddering thought: “This was gonna make me late for work”


ANTHONY CABAERO

Memphis Flyer: You’re a Memphis native, and recorded both of your records for Matador here, but now you’re living in Nashville. Are you settling down there? Julien Baker: I’ve always had this nomadic span between Memphis and Nashville, and this is the longest I’ve been away from Memphis. And it makes me really sad. My parents and a lot of my friends have moved to other cities. So when I do come back there, it feels underpopulated. I still consider that my home-home. Memphis, with all the music that comes out of there, has an outsider-ness to it, but I worry about gentrification. I fear Memphis becoming a cariacature of itself in the way that other cities have. Maybe it’s because I live here in Nashville and I see it so much. There’s actually a rich and inclusive community in Nashville, but it is underneath layers and layers of irony and branding. I don’t want Memphis to feel like it has to acquiesce to the stylization that I see in a lot of other cities, in order to legitimize itself. That old backwater feeling of Memphis can help more idiosyncratic artists thrive. Did you feel like that growing up here? Completely. When I was growing up, I felt like in my little microcosm of the music scene it was booming. Because I would go to the skate park all the time and see seven-band bills that were weird metalcore, hardcore, or deathcore bands, and it would be packed. And that felt like such a massive era to me, because I was a kid. I was part of a close-knit house show community, and we’d play little art galleries, or parking lots. And then there was this big gulf between that and Minglewood Hall or the Orpheum. I’d go to the Orpheum to see Death Cab for Cutie knowing that they’re on a B city tour. We’re the city they didn’t bother to hit on the first tour. [laughs] Something about that, when you’re making music in that sort of a petri dish, there’s less posturing because there’s less expectations. The people you’re relying on to come to your shows and support your

From the “Faith Healer” music video

music have less power in the commercial music world. And that’s what gives you the freedom to not feel so performative. When bands play New York, it’s a big deal. When bands play Nashville, industry people are there and it’s a big deal. When you’re in Memphis, you’re collecting all the scraps of culture as it trickles down to you. And then assembling them into this clandestine collage. When you have limited resources, the resourcefulness makes you experimental and inventive. You can see that in your debut. It was hard to pin down, stylistically. It’s funny because even that record is made out of a lack of resources, trying to assemble something out of just a looping pedal. The whole reason Sprained Ankle got made was because I had this friend in college [Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro] who had free studio time. I wanted the Memphis band I was playing with, Forrister, to come up and record some songs. And they couldn’t get off work. So I was like, “Okay, I don't want to waste this studio time,” and I made that record. And then a label wanted that record, and all of this stuff happened to me. But those songs are just things I cobbled together alone in college because I didn’t have my boys with me. To me it sounds like a scratch track where all the instruments are missing. So when I told my band, “Hey, a label wants to sign me, and they want me to make another solo record and they want me to tour,” they were all excited for me but undeniably disappointed. And I was too, because I had imagined that we’d all do this together, and that my band and I would be musicians for life, as a career. And that’s not what happened. Now, starting with The Late Show, I’m playing with a full band again. Calvin Lauber, who recorded my music, both Turn Out the Lights at Ardent and this

new one at Young Avenue Sound, is playing bass, and Matt Gilliam from Forrister, who I’ve been playing with since I was 14, is playing drums. And it was so much more fulfilling to me than just seeing my lonely body standing onstage. Because it felt like I was standing on the invisible shoulders of all these people who played with me, and then I reaped all the credit. [laughs] It always felt very bizarre, and I struggled with that. So it was coming full circle, being back with your bandmates? Yeah. It’s not quite the old lineup, but it’s still meaningful to me to have Memphis people who I grew up with playing with me. And one reason Calvin and Matt and I have such good musical chemistry is because we came from the same subcultural milieu of the Memphis scene. And it feels so much easier for me to enjoy the music when it’s a group effort. It’s not just me, a single body onstage demanding attention, being the sole person producing sound. It is an ongoing collaborative auditory conversation that the band is having. I’m ecstatic to be playing with a band. [laughs]. It’s ironic, because I gather that you played most of the parts on Little Oblivions. Calvin and I made the record together, and I played most of the instruments. I think he played guitar on one track and a little bit of drums. But it was just me and him building this studio creation. There are a lot of drums on the new record. Are those loops? They’re showing off their sampled-ness. It’s a cool, disarming effect. Oh yeah, the sound of a really overcompressed drum machine! I was so worried about how to use a drum machine in a tasteful way. Also, I played a lot of the acoustic drums, but I’m not good at drums. I just knew the parts I

wanted. So I would do 16 measures of a drum beat and Calvin and I would try to splice together usable takes. I used to hate that or consider it dishonest studio magic. And I don’t know what flipped in my head with this record. I had noises in my head and I wanted to accomplish them. I also wanted to explore ugly sounds. I love ugly sounds in beautiful songs. But looking back on my records, Turn Out the Lights is this glossy, beautiful, clear-toned combination of instruments, and I felt like what was missing was that aggressive disjuncture between the softness of the songs and some ugliness. When I was making Turn Out the Lights, I thought using a Mellotron guitar pedal at the end of a song was a big sonic jump. “Playing it safe” is a reductive phrase, but in many ways I was making sounds that were beautiful only then. I wasn’t really pressing myself to try to integrate weird noises. It’s sort of the opposite on this record, and I like that. The sounds are of a piece with the lyrics on Little Oblivions. You’re a little grittier and harder on yourself in the new songs. Yeah, there’s a lot of waxing philosophical on Turn Out the Lights. I think I wanted so badly to write songs that were about healing and recovery, and if they were sad, they still offered the possibility to triumph over negative things. I think that was noble of young me [laughs], but also maybe a little bit idealistic. And undoubtedly I’ll look back at this record and think it’s pretty nihilistic, but maybe that’s just the shift of the pendulum that I needed. The songs on the new album have a kind of groundedness in day-to-day experiences. Like “a weekend on a bender,” that kind of specificity, or “let’s meet when you get off work.” That sort of prosaic, daily life stuff, and then the emotional universe comes crashing through while you’re “cruising down Main Street.” I don’t think I realized it when I was writing the songs, but they’re more bodily. They are more grounded. A lot of that has to do with me learning how not to live in the world of my head so much. The record’s pretty candid about things like substance abuse or physical violence. And those are things that, in a jarring, scary, destructive way, jolt you back into the experience of your body. For a long time, I thought of my behavior and my sobriety as this power of the mind to subdue the body. But that’s a very Puritanical way to think of your body, as just a flesh suit for your mind. You know what I mean? It’s just very continued on page 12

COVER STORY m e m p h i s f l y e r. c o m

Everyday tragedies that make you late for work: such are the impressions of an artist who’s confronting reality, from the mundane to the spiritual, on whole new levels. And, as the world saw when she appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last month, this time she’s got backup: a full-on rock band. And yet, despite such world-conquering moves, this quarantined life humbles us all, and when I call her, the first thing on her mind is getting back to Memphis, where she first learned to play with a band before a fluke recording opportunity made her a solo star.

11


IT'S TIME FOR

WAFFLES

Julien Baker (left) and Calvin Lauber, with Matthew Gilliam in tracking room

{to-go} AND

PREACHING {live-streamed}

Wednesdays & Fridays calvarymemphis.org/lent

continued from page 11

Fe b r u a r y 2 5 - M a r c h 3 , 2 0 2 1

disassociative to be always transcending something instead of just inhabiting your body. And so I think, for better or for worse, it’s like situating my life back into my body, and being more present in my day-to-day life experience was a big part of that shift on this record.

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In the song “Faith Healer,” you evoke both a “snake oil dealer” and the desire to just feel something, anything. People are drawn to substance abuse or even organized religion because it makes them feel something. And we’re assuming that what it makes them feel is what they’re after. What I was after, what anybody’s after, is the thing that makes you feel good. There’s an inevitable balance of pain that comes with the things that make us feel good, and yet we return to it: in toxic relationships, in substance abuse, in church. I’ve changed the way I think about religion and my various other convictions. Like my political beliefs. There’s a sort of disillusionment that can be good. When I reevaluated all my behaviors and I think, “What am I actually coming to these things for?” If it’s just as compulsive as an addict, for me to wake up at 4:30 in the morning and read my Bible every day, then why don’t I just drink? [laughs]. You know, if these are basically dealing with the same issue? Religion, belief, belonging to a political identity or a social group or some particular conviction of behavior — I adhered to all those things because I thought they would make me feel safe and assuage my anxiety. And that’s also the very same longing that makes me susceptible to substance abuse. Those things aren’t unrelated. It seems like you’re trying to bring more

intentionality to faith — or drinking. Whatever it may be, do it with more intentionality. You say “I don’t mind losing my conviction, it’s all a relative fiction.” It’s like you’re seeing these scripts or constructs that humans create. But it’s not quite nihilist to me. It seems more existentialist. Like you’re choosing your script to suit your life needs with more intentionality. Precisely! I think that’s something very real that you’re getting at. Instead of having a schema of faith outside of my being, it’s more like coming to faith as a lens for the world, and choosing how I apply that lens. What tools I take from faith to help me be a better human being. And it’s the same thing with substance abuse. For a long time, I had an oversimplified, self-constructed narrative about sobriety. But I had to re-approach sobriety as a practice rather than as an ideal. And in terms of faith, instead of trying to figure out how to define God, I had to shift faith into a practice. Now, the part of faith that resonates with me is the community aspect. The cultural aspect. I hear that in your lyrics. “A character of somebody’s invention/A martyr in another passion play … I’ve got no business praying, I’m finished being good/Now I can finally be okay in not the way I thought I should.” The consideration you bring to your words propels the album beyond nihilism. Yeah, ultimately nihilism becomes just as painful and limiting as idealism. You have to learn how to be a person eventually. And that is what is called “your twenties.” Little Oblivions drops this Friday, February 26th, on Matador Records. On Thursday, March 25th, Julien Baker and band will perform a streamed concert in support of Little Oblivions from Nashville’s Hutton Hotel, with three screenings aired at 8 p.m. AEDT, 7 p.m. GMT, and 9 p.m. EDT. Tickets start at $15, available exclusively at audiotree.tv/streams.


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COVER STORY m e m p h i s f l y e r. c o m

AS WE HONOR:

13


steppin’ out (& stayin’ in)

We Recommend: Culture, News + Reviews

Royal Flush

By Julie Ray

As February slides into March this week, Black History Month gives way to Women’s History Month. What better way to celebrate than with a winning Hand of inspiring “Queens?” Becca Hand is the artist, and her “Queens” exhibition showcases photo-realistic portraits of empowered women in Memphis. The timely exhibition blends a realistic style with influences from a graphic design background, drawing inspiration from traditional playing card iconography. Starting with the classic Queen of Hearts, Diamonds, Spades, and Clubs, the project went on to address more challenging themes, such as time, joy, passion, courage, balance, and more. Hand says, “While topics of each painting are idealistic and abstract, the real underlying theme is gratitude for the amazing women in my life who have helped shape me.” In addition to painting, Hand is a partner and graphic designer at Paradigm Marketing & Creative. Having experimented with many different types of artistic interests over the years, from typography to woodworking to interior design to calligraphy, she consistently comes back to painting as one of the true passions of her life. Get an early peek at Hand’s work during Eclectic Eye’s highly anticipated annual sale through February 27th. Independent eyewear brands will be up to 75 percent off, and a portion of each frame purchased will be donated to the Justice and Kindness Everywhere Foundation to help local restaurants provide meals to out-of-work hospitality workers. It’s a win-win.

COURTESY OF INFERNO

“Queens” by Becca Hand

“QUEENS,” ECLECTIC EYE, 242 S. COOPER, OPENS MONDAY, MAR. 1, 10 A.M.-5:30 P.M., AND CONTINUES THROUGH MAR. 31, FREE.

Fe b r u a r y 2 5 - M a r c h 3 , 2 0 2 1

VARIOUS DAYS & TIMES February 25th - March 3rd

DO GOOD. BETTER.

901.726.5725 momentumnonprofit.org 14

We help Mid-South nonprofits succeed.

Bodine Bash: Through Their Eyes Online from Bodine School, bodineschool.org, Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 25-27, free to bid The annual auction will be held online, and restaurant partners will offer special dining offers each day, benefiting Bodine School. Fat Charlie’s Tequila Tasting Fat Charlie’s Speakeasy, 107 Harbor Town Square, Friday, Feb. 26, 6-8 p.m., $50 Taste some of the best tequilas in the world and enjoy some Mexican tapas by Chef Mary.

This is Illyria, Lady: Twins, Clowns, and Cross-Dressed Lovers in Twelfth Night Tennessee Shakespeare Company, 7950 Trinity, and online from tnshakespeare.org, Friday, Feb. 26, 8 p.m., $15-$25 Influenced by the end of Christmas celebrations, Shakespeare’s tale of unrequited love embraces a comedy and musicality that remain popular for all ages. Levitt Shell’s Virtual Black History Month Series Finale: #OccupyTheShell Online from levittshell.org, Saturday, Feb. 27 , 7:30 p.m., free From the archives, the closing Black History Month event features a music festival with some of Memphis’ best hip-hop, reggae, and neo-soul.

Soup Sunday Online from Youth Villages, youthvillages.org, Saturday-Sunday, Feb. 27-28, various pricing Choose to experience the event in the comfort of your home through various meal packages or choose dine-in options at participating restaurants, benefiting Youth Villages. Gay Run Across Mississippi Finale Horseshoe Casino Tunica, 1021 Casino Center, Tunica, MS, Sunday, Feb. 28, 3:45-4:15 p.m., free Join world-record-setting University of Memphis graduate Mikah Meyer and run for queer rights. A Hulu filmmaker will be filming the event for a documentary. Dress colorfully.


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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

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15


CALENDAR of EVENTS:

February 25 - March 3 T H EAT E R

Germantown Community Theatre

Biloxi Blues, while stationed at boot camp in Biloxi, Mississippi, in 1943, Eugene Jerome learns life lessons. Become a package holder to take advantage of inperson performances. $70 for flex package. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m., and Sundays, 2:30 p.m. Through March 7. 3037 FOREST HILL-IRENE (453-7447).

Hattiloo Theatre

From the Frontlines of COVID-19, online series that spotlights healthcare workers who share emotional insight of their critical work as they care for those who have been impacted by the virus. hattiloo.org. Free. Ongoing. 37 S. COOPER (502-3486).

Kudzu Playhouse

Kudzu Playhouse Virtual, join Kudzu social media for donation-based classes, games, scholarship opportunities, and more. Download the app for more fun theater activities and information. Ongoing. P.O. BOX 47 (888-429-7871).

The Orpheum

Orpheum Virtual Engagement, join Orpheum staff, artists, and students for activities, interviews, and more on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Visit website for more information. Ongoing. 203 S. MAIN (525-3000).

Fe b r u a r y 2 5 - M a r c h 3 , 2 0 2 1

Playhouse on the Square

I Am My Own Wife, the fascinating tale of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, a real-life German trans woman who managed to survive both the Nazi onslaught and the East German Communist regime. playhouseonthesquare.org. $25.

Fri., Sat., 7-10 p.m., and Sun., 2-5 p.m. Through Feb. 28.

Tennessee Shakespeare Company

THE DIXON GALLERY & GARDENS, 4339 PARK (761-5250), DIXON.ORG.

This is Illyria, Lady: Twins, Clowns, and Cross-Dressed Lovers in Twelfth Night, influenced by end of Christmas celebrations, Shakespeare’s tale of unrequited love embraces a comedy and musicality that remain popular for all ages. Available in-person or online. $15-$25. Fri., Feb. 26, 8 p.m.

Virtual Afro- Puerto Rican Bomba Dance Class

Join Redobles de Cultura, New York City-based Afro-Puerto Rican bomba practitioners, and learn about the traditional dance and musical style from your home. $10. Thurs., Feb. 25, 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Theatre Memphis

Online on Stage, a Theatre Memphis Facebook group that serves as a clearinghouse for performers wanting to share their talents. Featuring storytime, readings, or performance art. Ongoing.

(846-5640), CAZATEATRO.ORG.

C O M E DY

Chuckles Comedy Club

74 FLICKER (634-1698).

OTH E R A R T HA P P E N I N G S

Eclectic Eye

“Queens,” exhibition of photorealistic portraits of empowered women by Becca Hand. The series draws inspiration from traditional playing card iconography. Through March 31. 242 S. COOPER (276-3937).

WWW.MEMPHISMUSEUMS.ORG

Greg Henderson, $20. Fri.-Sat., Feb. 26-27, 8 p.m. 4330 AMERICAN WAY (249-4052).

“Queens” by Becca Hand at Eclectic Eye, on view through Wednesday, March 31st Online Art Auction: “Incognito”

Peruse work online or in person by over 90 artists who have donated original unsigned work. Artist identity revealed after the auction. Bidding exclusively online. Through Feb. 25. MEMPHIS BOTANIC GARDEN, 750 CHERRY (636-4100), MEMPHISBOTANICGARDEN.COM.

Jimpsie Ayers: “Mostly Rejoicing”

Artist will talk about her current exhibition via Zoom. Free with registration. Wed., March 3, 1 p.m. THE DIXON GALLERY & GARDENS, 4339 PARK (761-5250), DIXON.ORG.

Memphis Flyer Coloring Book

Order your book today benefiting local artists and journalism. $35. Ongoing. MEMPHISMAGAZINESTORE.COM.

Talk at Two: “Impressionism, Post Impressionism, and the Black Model” Heather Nickels will explore several works in the Dixon

UWMIDSOUTH.ORG.

Reader Meet Writer: Fatima Shaik

Author will talk about Economy Hall: The Hidden History of a Free Black Brotherhood via Zoom. Free with registration. Thurs., Feb. 25, 6 p.m.

Each month, a local rabbi will discuss current issues through a Jewish lens. Free. First Tuesday of every month, noon Through July 6.

The Comedy Junt

Binder Projects

Virtual town hall featuring national and local health professionals in an honest conversation about COVID-19, the virus, the vaccine, and our community. Free. Thurs., Feb. 25, 6 p.m.

Real Talk with the Rabbis

1700 DEXTER.

A R TI S T R EC E PT I O N S

BODINE SCHOOL, 2432 YESTER OAKS (754-1800), BODINESCHOOL.ORG.

NOVEL, 387 PERKINS EXT. (9225526), NOVELMEMPHIS.COM.

Tommy Davidson, $25-$45. Feb. 26-28, 6:45 & 8:45 p.m.

630 PERKINS EXT. (682-8323).

parents. Moderated by Gay Landaiche and Pam DeMato. $30 for all sessions. Thurs., 6-7:15 p.m. Through Feb. 25.

Candid Conversations: COVID-19 Vaccinations

DAN C E

7950 TRINITY (759-0604).

PINK PALACE 16

Gallery and Gardens’ collection, highlighting the presence and absence of Black artists and subjects. Free with registration. Sun., Feb. 28, 2 p.m.

66 S. COOPER (726-4656).

Artist reception for “Begin Again,” exhibition of work by Alex McClurg, Marja Vallila, Alex Paulus, Ed Rainey, Lauren Fogg, Jim Buchman, Nancy Cheairs, Erin Wright, Linda Wallis, and Whitney Lorenze. Sat., Feb. 27, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Send the date, time, place, cost, info, phone number, a brief description, and photos — two weeks in advance — to calendar@memphisflyer.com or P.O. Box 1738, Memphis, TN 38101. DUE TO SPACE LIMITATIONS, ONGOING WEEKLY EVENTS WILL APPEAR IN THE FLYER’S ONLINE CALENDAR ONLY.

MEMPHIS JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER, 6560 POPLAR (761-0810), JCCMEMPHIS.ORG.

PO ET RY /S PO K E N WO R D

The Poetry Society of Tennessee

Tennessee-Resident Challenge, this challenge invites anyone residing in the state of Tennessee to submit an original and unpublished poem related to Janet Qually’s artwork. $25 to the winner and publication in Tennessee Voices. poetrytennessee.org. $1. Through March 1.

Virtual Black History Speech Series: “Say It Loud”

A free Black history series featuring well-known locals portraying historical figures with an introduction by other well-known locals. Visit website for full online series. Free. Thurs., Feb. 25, 6 p.m. HATTILOO THEATRE, 37 S. COOPER (502-3486), HATTILOO.ORG.

P.O. BOX 770688 (264-7532).

LECT U R E /S P EA K E R

C O N F E R E N C ES/ C O NVE NT I O N S

Advocacy Nuts and Bolts

Write Your Own Story

Attend online informative sessions by local experts, for

A virtual leadership conference bringing together hundreds of

DINOSAURS IN MOTION Exhibit Now Open sponsored by


C A L E N DA R: F E B R UA RY 2 5 - M A R C H 3

TO U R S

Elvis Presley’s Graceland Virtual Live VIP Tours

Behind-the-scenes and neverbefore-seen highlights of the mansion, presented live through a private, closed Facebook group. $100. Thurs., Feb. 25. GRACELAND MANSION, TICKET OFFICE PAVILION ON ELVIS PRESLEY BLVD. (332-3322), GRACELAND.COM.

Stax Virtual Tour

Museum tour, interviews, and live musical performances sharing the history of Stax Records and Memphis music through those who lived it and continue to be impacted by its legacy. Free with registration. Through Feb. 28. STAX MUSEUM OF AMERICAN SOUL MUSIC, 926 E. MCLEMORE (9462535), STAXMUSEUM.COM.

E X POS/ SALES

Eclectic Eye Annual Sale Shop up to 75 percent off independent eyewear brands. A portion of each frame purchased will be donated to the Justice and Kindness Everywhere Foundation to help local restaurants provide meals to out-of-work hospitality workers. Through Feb. 27. ECLECTIC EYE, 242 S. COOPER (276-3937).

WE Consign

Featuring a large selection of furniture, rugs, crystal, sterling silver, antiques, and other treasures benefiting the Woman’s Exchange of Memphis. Mondays-Fridays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Through April 16. WOMAN’S EXCHANGE ART GALLERY, 88 RACINE (327-5681).

S P O RTS / F IT N ES S

Gay Run Across Mississippi Finale

Join world-record-setting U of M graduate Mikah Meyer for queer rights. A Hulu filmmaker will be filming the event for a documentary. Dress colorfully. Free. Sun., Feb. 28, 3:45-4:15 p.m. HORSESHOE CASINO TUNICA, 1021 CASINO CENTER, TUNICA, MS (800-357-5600), MIKAHMEYER.COM/RUNACROSSMS.

Laughter Yoga

Join Baptist Cancer Center on Zoom for a unique combination of breathing, fluid movements, and voluntary laughing to make you happier and healthier. Free. First Monday of every month, 6 p.m. Through Dec. 31. BAPTISTCANCERCENTER.COM.

Thur.-Fri., Feb. 25-26, 7 p.m. FEDEXFORUM, 191 BEALE.

St. Jude Barrel Jam Fri.-Sun., Feb. 26-28.

AGRICENTER INTERNATIONAL, SHOWPLACE ARENA, 105 S. GERMANTOWN, BARRELJAM.COM.

M E ETI NGS

Churches from the Presbytery of the MidSouth: Sunday Worship Livestream

Combined livestream worship. Visit website for more information and livestream link. Sun., 11 a.m.

Lenten Preaching and Waffle Shop

Waffle Shop will serve through pre-orders and take-out food. Wednesdays, Fridays, 11 a.m.1 p.m., 12 & 5:15-6:15 p.m. Through March 26. CALVARY EPISCOPAL CHURCH, 102 N. SECOND (525-6602), CALVARYMEMPHIS.ORG.

Levitt Shell Virtual Black History Month Series

Featuring concerts from the archives. Closing event features #OccupyTheShell, a music festival featuring some of Memphis’ best hip-hop, reggae, and neo-soul. Free. Sat., 7:30 p.m. Through Feb. 27.

IDLEWILDCHURCH.ORG.

LEVITTSHELL.ORG.

Cradle Gardening at Elmwood Cemetery: Getting Started

Nominations for Memphis Parent Mom of the Year

Learn more about being involved during this hour-long webinar. Free with registration. Thurs., Feb. 25, noon, and Sat., Feb. 27, 9 a.m. ELMWOOD CEMETERY, 824 S. DUDLEY (774-3212), ELMWOODCEMETERY.ORG.

Free Tax Prep

United Way of the Mid-South will prepare and file taxes for low- to moderate-income families. Walk-up or drivethrough locations available. Visit website for locations. Free. Through March 15. UNITED WAY OF THE MID-SOUTH, 1005 TILLMAN (433-4300), UWMIDSOUTH.ORG.

Virtual-T

Weekly Zoom gathering for anyone 18+ who identifies as a member of the trans or GNC community. For login information, email ahauptman@ outmemphis.org. Tuesdays, 6 p.m. OUTMEMPHIS.ORG.

S P EC I A L EVE N TS

Afro-Latino Week

Join Cazateatro Bilingual Theatre Group to experience the Afro-Latino culture and music on Facebook Live. Free. Wed.-Sat., Feb. 24-27. (846-5640), CAZATEATRO.ORG.

Bodine Bash: Through Their Eyes

The annual auction will be held online, and restaurant partners will offer special offers, benefiting Bodine School. Visit website for more information. Free to bid. Through Feb. 27. BODINE SCHOOL, 2432 YESTER OAKS (754-1800), BODINESCHOOL.ORG.

Community Walk Against Gun Violence Meet at Hillcrest High School parking lot, 4184 Graceland, to join your community against gun violence. Sat., Feb. 27, 10 a.m. MEMPHISCRIME.ORG.

Nominate a mom who makes you smile. Prizes include $1,000 orthodontic work for the child and teeth whitening for Mom from Saddle Creek Orthodontics. Submit nomination online. Winner announced in May issue. Through Feb. 28. MEMPHISPARENT.COM.

FOOD & DR I N K E V E N TS

Beer Bracket Challenge

Vote for your favorite local craft beer. Features 32 beers, nine brewers, and one winner to be revealed in the March 4th issue of the Flyer. Through Feb. 26. MEMPHISFLYER.COM.

Soup Sunday

Choose to experience the event in the comfort of your home or through various meal package dine-in options at participating restaurants, benefiting Youth Villages. Visit website for details. Sat.-Sun., Feb. 27-28. YOUTH VILLAGES, 5515 SHELBY OAKS (252-7600), YOUTHVILLAGES.ORG.

Vive Le Brooks: Savor at Home

A series of chef-led virtual dinners with special wines brought to you live via Zoom from Brooks Museum featuring Chef Jimmy Gentry and Buster’s. $90. Fri., Feb. 26, 6:30 p.m. MEMPHIS BROOKS MUSEUM OF ART, 1934 POPLAR (544-6209), BROOKSMUSEUM.ORG.

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Boyz N the Hood 30th Anniversary

Once upon a time in South Central L.A. Also screening at Malco’s Collierville Grill location. $15. Sun., Feb. 28, 3 p.m., and Wed., March 3, 7 p.m. MALCO PARADISO CINEMA, 584 S. MENDENHALL (682-1754).

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brian Clay, owner of Clay’s Smoked Tuna, never thought he’d end up in the fish business. Or be selling his tuna salad in restaurants and stores, and from a food truck. “It started when I was in Orange Beach, Alabama, on a vacation and I went to this restaurant on the beach,” says Clay, 36. “I wanted to try something different, and I tried the smoked tuna salad. And it was so good. I asked the waiter, ‘What’s going on with the tuna salad, man? What’s up?’ He said, ‘This guy out here has a tuna farm and he wholesales it to us.’” Clay thought about it. “No one in Memphis is doing this. No one is wholesaling it. I can do the same thing.” He went home and made his first batch. “It was delicious. I gave out free samples and never looked back. “I marinated it in white wine and I smoked it,” Clay says. “I chopped up my ingredients to make the salad [with] the mayo and everything. It was an instant hit.” That was five years ago. He used his Facebook business page to get the word out, and he began delivering the eight-ounce packaged tuna salad to the Mid-South. His first vendor was the Curb Market in Crosstown Concourse. “I think in four hours we sold $600 worth of tuna.” Then, “Stores started reaching out to me,” he says. Clay uses yellowfin, also known as “ahi” tuna. “We use fresh tuna made from tuna steaks. Not your canned stuff at all.” He originally was “going to the Gulf in Louisiana to get the fresh tuna.” Now, he says, “It comes from the Gulf, but I have someone who drops it off.” Clay, who initially thought about strictly doing wholesale, moved to a commercial kitchen with a drive-through pick-up window. People could pick up individual orders of tuna salad as well as his smoked chicken dip. “We expanded our menu to hot foods as well,” Clay says. He began selling smoked wing plates, catfish plates, salmon plates, lamb chops, and T-bones. “Everything is smoked on a rotisserie smoker with pecan wood.” The tuna salad takes nine hours to prepare. “We marinate our tuna steaks in white wine, and we put it on a rotisserie smoker at a certain temperature and let it smoke five hours. It’s a strenuous process.” After two and a half years at the com-

mercial kitchen, Clay transitioned to his food truck, where he continued selling his salad, dip, and hot plates. His truck is at East Parkway and Summer. “That’s a busy intersection,” he says. “A lot of people are getting off Sam Cooper and going to and from the zoo.” Growing up in North Memphis, Clay helped his dad cook before he took on the job of cooking breakfast for his parents on weekends. “I would always experiment. Like I would give them eggs, toast, and orange juice, but I would add nutmeg and parsley to the eggs.” His parents suffered through those experimental breakfasts, but Clay says, “They boosted my confidence and acted like they enjoyed it.” He got his bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in business administration, but he was interested in making and selling a product. Abrian Clay

Clay still is surprised at his career path. “I had an epiphany with myself when I started,” he says. “I noticed all day I was going to people’s houses, delivering them containers of tuna salad. I was like, ‘This is going to be my history? This is what I’m going to tell my children I was doing at that age? Driving to people’s houses and bringing them tuna salad?’” Clay’s food truck is open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. He also delivers. His smoked tuna salad is in stores, including Cordelia’s Market and DeeO’s Seafood. For more information or to order, call (901) 848-5640 or go to clayssmokedtuna.com.


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TV By Chris McCoy

Working Class Space Heroes The Expanse hits its stride in season 5.

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cience fiction is always about the present, even if — especially if — it’s set in the future. For The Expanse, the sci-fi TV series which just completed its fifth and best season, that dictum plays out in two ways: What the audience expects, and what kind of future the writers predict. The Expanse has its origin in a game project by writers Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. They developed a world where humanity had spread throughout the solar system as a setting for a role-playing game. When they couldn’t find a buyer for the game, they used the setting for a series of sci-fi novels under the pen name James S.A. Corey, beginning with Leviathan Wakes in 2012. This gave The Expanse stories an advantage. Science fiction was born in cheap novels and trashy magazines. When sci-fi earned “respectability” in the 1960s, Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise became the face of the genre. After Star Wars made sci-fi the dominant force at the box office in 1977, every cheap, trashy novel with little green men was written with an eventual screen adaptation in mind. But in 2021, sci-fi audiences are used to world-building in computer

games like Mass Effect or tabletop RPGs such as Stars Without Number. You can’t reduce The Expanse to a traditional sci-fi premise such as “what if we had flying cars?” The show’s central question is more like “how are people shaped by the systems they’re embedded in?” It might sound boring when you put it like that, but the wide-open world of 2350 was designed to give players many options. Do you like noir-influenced cyberpunk? You could get that with Detective Miller (Thomas Jane) on Ceres. Space opera more your speed? Climb aboard the gunboat Rocinante (pronounced “row-sin-oh”) under the command of Captain James Holden (Steven Strait). The setting’s possibilities have allowed the showrunners to adjust from season to season. The noir storylines were going nowhere, so Miller died at the end of season two (the writers studied with Game of Thrones creator George R. R. Martin, so they’re not afraid to kill a main character). The focus shifted to a Trek-style, crew-on-a-spaceship drama for two seasons, as humanity wrestled with the implications of finding advanced alien technology. After ending season four with the day successfully

Keon Alexander (above) plays Outer Planets Alliance operative Marco Inaros in The Expanse; the crew of the Rocinante (below) saved, the crew of the Rocinante went their separate ways. The series’ biggest weakness has always been the flatness of Holden’s character, so season five leans on the ensemble. Pilot Alex Kamal (Cas Anvar) returns to Mars, where he gets a chilly reception from the family he abandoned. Mercenary Amos Burton (Wes Chatham) goes home to Baltimore to face his gangster past. Engineer Naomi Nagata (Dominique Tipper) leaves her lover Holden in search of her long-lost son, only to find baby daddy Marco Inaros (Keon Alexander) has become the Osama bin Laden of the asteroid belt. When Marco attacks Earth with a series of devastating asteroid strikes, former UN Secretary General Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) leverages the crises to return to the corridors of power — which is like an opiate addict becoming president of Purdue Pharma. The Expanse’s vision of the 24th century is quite different from Star Trek’s post-scarcity utopia. When Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, living during the height

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EMPLOYMENT Good guys and bad guys blur: Marco is a terrorist, but he’s got a plan to keep the Belters from starving. Avasarala saves Earth from total destruction, but her first act as Secretary General is to declare martial law. This may not be a rosy view of the future, but looking around at the 21st century, it’s a believable one. At least they solve global warming — although season five ends with the battered Earth in the grips of post-apocalyptic nuclear winter. It’s always something in space. The Expanse is streaming on Amazon Prime.

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EMPLOYMENT • REAL ESTATE • SERVICES COMPUTER SOFTWARE SPECIALIST 3 needed at MLGW in Memphis, TN. Must have Bach degree in Comp. Sci, Engineering, Info. Systems or Business w/ a concentration in IT. Must have at least 5 yrs exp utilizing TOAD, SQL, PL/ SQL, Oracle Forms, Oracle Reports, Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition, Oracle Business Intelligence Applications, Data Warehouse System Administration, Oracle Data Integration, data modeling, data extraction, & Oracle EBS R12. Fax resumes to Georgia Post at 901-528-4981 (ref CSS3.1 on cover page). EOE. SR. USER INTERFACE DEVELOPER II ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is currently looking for a Sr. User Interface Developer II in Memphis, TN. Member of the Digital User Experience Design team at ALSAC to think creatively and provide marketable solutions to conceive, develop, and produce digital products using knowledge of user-centered design principles and practices. Requires a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Science, Web Application Development, Software Engineering or a related field and 5 years of experience as a user interface (UI) developer. To review the full job description and apply, please visit the company website at www.stjude.org/jobs/alsac.html.

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THE LAST WORD By Shara Clark

To Those Who Can’t Stay Home We salute you.

THE LAST WORD

m e m p h i s f l y e r. c o m

COURTNEY HEDGER | UNSPLASH

As I write this from my couch, nearly a year into working from home due to the pandemic, I am experiencing both burnout and gratitude. On the one hand, working from the confines of my 750-squarefoot rental home, I feel — quite literally — boxed in. The days bleed together as I change from one pair of pajamas to another, staring at a laptop, eyes glazed over, with little actual human interaction or external stimuli. Digital documents, emails, Slack exchanges — everything and everyone has morphed into nothing more than words on a screen. If it weren’t for deadlines and production days and the physical calendar on the kitchen wall where I scrawl notes and reminders, I’d likely lose track of which day was which all together. And I’ll admit that I have on more than one occasion in recent weeks. Outings are minimal. Necessary items can be ordered online for delivery or pickup. Like clockwork, the mailman arrives, my dogs bark loudly to alert of his presence, and the [insert whatever random thing was purchased] is here without me having to get into my car or brush my hair or speak to another person. The only traffic jams I’ve experienced in a year are the pile-ups that often happen in the small hallway where my three dachshunds scurry under foot to race to their food bowls at breakfast and dinner. They help me keep track of the hours with their internal clocks. But what day is it again? When did I last shower? What’s the point? It starts to feel a little doom-and-gloom when you realize how the days bend into one another, especially in winter. Those neighborhood walks I so enjoyed in warmer weather apparently kept me sane, or at least somewhat content. The sunshine, the sights and sounds … Now it’s gray and wet and cold, and when will it be spring again? What month is it? Now on to the gratitude. I am hyper-aware of how privileged I am to have had the opportunity to navigate these hazy, dazed work-from-home days, within the virus-free walls of my tiny house. So many — including the delivery drivers who’ve kept our pantries stocked, our gifts en route to their recipients, our non-essential purchases on our porches — have known no such luxury. So many — including my sister, a single mother of two who is working her way toward an assistant manager position at a local grocery store — can not simply stay home and have the world come to them. The kids must go to school or daycare. Bills must be paid, gas in the car, food on the table. The show must go on, the slog continues, and those who have kept the gears in motion on the outside have had to live their lives the same as they did pre-pandemic. Except while wearing masks eight hours a day. Except while potentially exposing themselves to a deadly virus. There’s an entire segment of our population that does not have a choice. I want to take a moment to salute every single essential worker. From restaurants to retail, from healthcare to warehouse workers — we see you. I hope with every fiber of my being that each of you stays healthy while you’re out there risking your lives for our Amazon orders and cheeseburgers. I hope that you do not take the virus home to an immune-compromised family member or loved one. I hope that while you’re out there making sure the ships still sail that the people you encounter are showing gratitude and respect. You deserve more recognition than I can give you. The world as we know it could — and likely would — collapse if not for your continued efforts. And I know those efforts are made out of necessity. Thank you for keeping the shelves stocked, preparing food for us, caring for the sick, and delivering whatever it is we think we need while we’re stuck at home. As I write this, it’s a Thursday afternoon. I’m in a robe and houseshoes. My dogs are piled up around me napping. I am safe. I am healthy. I am grateful. Shara Clark is managing editor of the Flyer.

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Profile for Contemporary Media

Memphis Flyer 2/25/2021  

Julien Baker on Ugly Beauty, Rocking Out, and Her New Album - The Oblivions Clay's Smoked Tuna The Expanse Saluting Essential Workers

Memphis Flyer 2/25/2021  

Julien Baker on Ugly Beauty, Rocking Out, and Her New Album - The Oblivions Clay's Smoked Tuna The Expanse Saluting Essential Workers