Memphis Flyer 4/25/2024

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Here Comes Santa Claus!

Actually lots of Santa Clauses — for the International Santa Celebration in Memphis.

OUR 1835TH ISSUE 04.25.24 FrEe

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Black Magic

Talibah Safiya conjures up new sounds in a new album full of collaborations.


Here Comes Santa Claus! Actually lots of Santa Clauses — for the International Santa Celebration in Memphis.


Survival Without Bombs or Borders

Envisioning change isn’t the same thing as creating it.


3 CONTENTS aquaTreasures Estate Center & Marketplace 901-486-3444 AQUATREASURES.COM MEMPHIS IN MAY SALE! MON-SAT 11-5 aquaTreasures Estate Center OUTDOOR FURN. JEWELS, BABY GRAND, PATIO DECOR KITCHENWARE TODD’S LIVE AUCTION May 4th & May 18th Todd’s Auction Services on FACEBOOK LIVE @ 6PM 3449 Summer 38122 PARK IN REAR ELITE HOME DECOR Todd’s Auction Services: TN5911 SEE US ON FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM SHARA CLARK Editor-in-Chief ABIGAIL MORICI Managing Editor JACKSON BAKER, BRUCE VANWYNGARDEN Senior Editors TOBY SELLS Associate Editor KAILYNN JOHNSON News Reporter CHRIS MCCOY Film and TV Editor ALEX GREENE Music Editor MICHAEL DONAHUE, JON W. SPARKS Staff Writers GENE GARD, EMILY GUENTHER, COCO JUNE, PATRICIA LOCKHART, FRANK MURTAUGH Contributing Columnists SHARON BROWN, AIMEE STIEGEMEYER Grizzlies Reporters KENNETH NEILL Founding Publisher CARRIE BEASLEY Senior Art Director CHRISTOPHER MYERS Advertising Art Director NEIL WILLIAMS Graphic Designer JERRY D. SWIFT Advertising Director Emeritus KELLI DEWITT, CHIP GOOGE, PATRICK PACHECO Senior Account Executives CHET HASTINGS Warehouse and Delivery Manager JANICE GRISSOM ELLISON, KAREN MILAM, DON MYNATT, TAMMY NASH, RANDY ROTZ, LEWIS TAYLOR, WILLIAM WIDEMAN Distribution THE MEMPHIS FLYER is published weekly by Contemporary Media, Inc., P.O. Box 1738, Memphis, TN 38101 Phone: (901) 521-9000 Fax: (901) 521-0129 CONTEMPORARY MEDIA, INC. ANNA TRAVERSE FOGLE Chief Executive Officer LYNN SPARAGOWSKI Controller/Circulation Manager JEFFREY GOLDBERG Chief Revenue Officer MARGIE NEAL Chief Operating Officer KRISTIN PAWLOWSKI Digital Services Director MARIAH MCCABE Circulation and Accounting Assistant National Newspaper Association Association of Alternative Newsmedia NEWS & OPINION THE FLY-BY - 4 POLITICS - 8 AT LARGE - 11 COVER STORY “HERE COMES SANTA CLAUS”
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OUR 1835TH ISSUE 04.25.24

MEM ernet THE fly-by


Local law enforcement agencies amassed Sunday for a “Sea of Blue” to honor fallen Memphis Police Department O cer Joseph McKinney.


Dozens of bands and performers drew thousands to Cooper-Young Saturday for the fourth annual Porchfest. at’s where @HopeIn eUSA caught the photo of Grave Lurker above.


irteen-year-old Brooklyn-native and content creator Jazzy’s World TV tried out her Memphis accent on Moneybagg Yo. Yes, she said “junt” and “mane.” But Yo suggested she city-fy her pronunciation a bit.

Questions, Answers + Attitude

WEEK THAT WAS By Flyer staff

Bridge, Reparations, & McKinney

Replacing the I-55 bridge, bills to stop local study, and o cer killed by friendly re.


Memphis residents were invited last week to hear about the $787.5 million bridge proposed to replace the MemphisArkansas Bridge, also called the I-55 bridge or “old bridge.”

As those talks began, work continues on the current I-55 bridge and its interchange. For more than a year, crews have replaced the old cloverleaf interchange and replaced much of the bridge’s worn-out decking. at project is slated for completion early next year.

e Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) calls the new bridge “America’s River Crossing.” It would completely replace the old bridge, which would be demolished. Construction on the new 1.5mile span over the Mississippi River could begin as soon as 2026 and be complete as early as 2030, according to state documents.

e old bridge needs replacing, o cials say, because its condition and recent appraisals have “raised concerns.” e bridge is 75 years old. It does not meet current seismic standards, which could put drivers in danger should an earthquake occur. Retro tting the bridge could cost between $250 million and $500 million, according to a state report.

Also, the old bridge is small. It has two 10-foot travel lanes in each direction separated by a concrete divider, with twofoot shoulders on each side of the roadway. e new bridge would add a new lane in each direction, for a total of six lanes, and have 12-foot shoulders on both sides of the roadway.


Memphis River Parks Partnership (MRPP) named John Best its rst “Maker of Culture,” a community leader dedicated to maintaining immaculate vibes and experiences on the riverfront.

Best is a DJ who has performed at multiple park events and is also the general manager of Memphis-Shelby County Schools’ 88.5FM and Cable 19 TV.


State lawmakers don’t want Shelby County leaders — or any local government in Tennessee — to study giving

reparations “to individuals who are the descendants of persons who were enslaved.”

Shelby County Commissioners approved a $5 million study of reparations in February 2023. A new committee was established to study the impact of giving local money to local African Americans.

Bills to stop this were led by Sen. Brent Taylor (R-Memphis) and state Rep. John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge).

“Despite any good … intentions of such actions, [reparations] have not fostered and can never enhance community healing and unity,” Ragan said. “Rather the real impact divides us and generates more bitterness. Ill-founded accusations of collective guilt and group punishment for wrongs no one in the group could have ever committed creates resentment, always.”


Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy said last week fallen Memphis Police Department (MPD) O cer Joseph McKinney was killed by friendly re during a shootout on April 12th.

With that, the DA’s o ce dropped the murder charges against the 17-year-old involved in the shooting. However, Mulroy said the 17-year-old’s “reprehensible actions” are still to blame for McKinney’s death.

“Should a legal avenue open up for additional prosecution, be assured we will pursue it,” the DA’s o ce added.

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

April 25-May 1, 2024
Memphis on the internet.
PHOTO: COURTESY TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION e 75-year-old Memphis-Arkansas Bridge would be demolished.
5 NEWS & OPINION open THRU MAY 12 SUE: The T. rex Experience was organized by the Field Museum and is part of the Griffin Dinosaur Experience, made possible by generous support from Kenneth C. Griffin.

Black Mothers

In Tennessee, non-Hispanic Black women are more than twice as likely to die from pregnancy than white women.

As Tennessee strives to become a “pro-life state,” lawmakers say that state priorities prove otherwise, especially when considering the livelihood of Black mothers.

“ e Tennessee legislature continues to prioritize corporations over the lives and well-being of our Black women and families in pregnancy,” the Tennessee Senate Democratic Caucus said in a statement.

e state has historically held a high maternal mortality rate. e Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) has ranked the state as having the thirdworst rate in the nation.

In its most recent report, the Tennessee Department of Health said that nonHispanic Black women are more than twice as likely to die from pregnancyrelated causes than white women. It also said 89 percent of deaths were deemed preventable.

Sen. London Lamar (D-Memphis) has long been an advocate for Black mothers given the “horri c” maternal mortality crisis in Tennessee. Lamar and Briana Perry, interim executive director of Healthy and Free Tennessee, held a press conference at the Cordell Hull O ce Building in Nashville to address the mortality crisis and discuss areas of improvement for the coming year.

Lamar said this topic is special to her, as her son died because of an abruption that led to stillbirth during her rst year in the legislature.

Nearly all of these deaths were deemed preventable.

“ at was one of the hardest moments of my life,” Lamar said. “But what it did was, it brought more awareness that maternal and infant mortality doesn’t have a position or title to it. It impacts all communities including mine, and women across this state and country.”

Given the state’s excessive infant and maternal mortality, it’s evident that Tennessee is facing a crisis. Lamar said that if the state wants to continue its pro-life stance, it needs to provide more resources for mothers, especially Black ones.

She went on to explain that she has proposed a number of pieces of legislation that would positively a ect these communities and lower the mortality rate. In 2022 Lamar passed her rst bill,

which pushed for “acknowledgement and support” for doulas. Last year’s governor’s budget also allocated $1 million for pilot programs for doulas in “underserved communities.”

While Lamar has pushed for legislation that would help lower both the maternal and infant mortality rate, she said that she still has to continuously advocate for Black mothers like herself across the state.

“If we are going to be a state that’s going to force all women to have babies we need to make sure we fully fund healthcare so that women can access all the services they need,” Lamar said. “Before pregnancy, during pregnancy, and a er pregnancy.”

Some of these policies include “cultural competency” training for healthcare providers providing services to Black women. is also includes addressing economic, housing, and food disparities.

“A lot of times Black women are dying because we’re unhealthy, because our only access to decent food is the corner store with Twinkies and Hot Cheetos and Taquitos every day,” Lamar said.

Perry added that maternal health outcomes are “deeply connected” to these things as well as reproductive justice. She said that reproductive oppression takes many forms, such as only having the option of hospital birth and “traveling long distances for prenatal care.”

“Sadly, we know that communities — especially Black communities — have been impacted by [a] history of reproductive oppression, and have not been a orded the human right to choose to — or choose not to — create families,” Perry said.

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Across the Lines

On matters that transcend political and geographic boundaries.

The Shelby County Commission — and county government in general — normally gets less public and media attention than do Memphis city government and the city council. This is largely due to long-held tradition held over from the numerous decades of the preceding century when the bulk of the county’s total population resided in the traditional urban core.

White flight, sprawl, and suburban growth have altered the demographic proportions and residential patterns significantly, of course, but even before the balance of population began to shift so radically eastward and outward, the fact was that, in Shelby as in the state’s other 95 counties, county government has been the chief instrument of self-government — not least because Shelby County is the Venn diagram; it contains not only Memphis but six other incorporated municipalities and much unincorporated turf as well.

The county’s budget is larger than any city’s, and it has primary constitutional charge of health and education matters, as well as significant and growing responsibility over law enforcement. Monday’s meeting of the county commission reflected the unique aspect of our binary system, actually one of multiplicities.

One significant debate concerned the expanses into which solar energy enterprises — those harbingers of our greener future — can be allowed to spread. Mindful of the outer county’s

He was not a Memphian nor even a Tennessean, but Arkansan David Pryor, a near neighbor who died Saturday after a lingering illness, deserves our sympathy and remembrance as well.

increasing residential mass, the boundaries for such installations were significantly circumscribed: Going forward, they must be distant from each other by at least a mile and no closer than 600 feet at any point to residential areas. And they must be limited in size to a square mile.

Another prolonged discussion concerned the question of whether a portion of a long-dormant planned commercial development in the Eads area should be allowed to proceed with the development of septic tanks pending an opportunity to connect with the Memphis sewer system. (It will be remembered that such new tieins with new developments outside the city were discontinued as of 2017.)

The developers of the area under consideration Monday — one that was de-annexed in 2020 — hope eventually to manage such a connection. But expressed concerns on Monday from Eads residents and defenders of the Memphis sand aquifer about potential pollution resulted in a unanimous turn-down of the septic tank proposal by the commissioners.

After these and various other agenda items were dealt with, several of the commissioners turned their solemn attention to a matter that increasingly roils citizens everywhere in Shelby County — shoot-outs like the one that in the last few days resulted in the deaths of MPD Officer Joseph McKinney and attendees at an Orange Mound block party.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” said Commission chair Miska Clay Bibbs. Indeed so. The bell tolls for city and county alike.

Pryor, who represented Arkansas as a congressman, as governor, and as senator, was the genuine article, a selfless public servant. He may turn out to have been the last major Democrat in his state’s history, but as my friend and former Arkansas Gazette colleague Ernie Dumas observes in an almost book-length obituary in the Arkansas Times this week, Pryor was much more — “the most beloved member of the U.S. Senate” in his time, across all partisan lines. That was something that I learned myself when he took me in tow on my first visit to Washington as a cub reporter back in the ’60s. R.I.P.

8 April 25-May 1, 2024
AP R I L 26 s t, 2 0 2 4 THE UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS UC BALLROOM R E GISTER O N EV E NTBRIT E WHO SHOULD ATTEND 6 C O NT IN U IN G EDU CATI O N H OUR S O F F E R E D Alcohol kills on average 95,000 Americans every year. Tobacco related deaths average 480,000 per year. Once again, meth is back on the scene in full force and taking over US cities. Even recreational drug use is more dangerous than ever. Hear from local experts about current data and find out what we can do to help prevent unnecessary ATOD related deaths. Students, Teachers, Therapists, School Counselors Socia Workers, Psychologists, Peer Specialists, Addiction & Mental Health Professionals Treatment Centers, Churches, Outreach Ministries, Physicians, Nurses, Pharmacists, Law Enforcement, Judges Media Representatives, Individuals In Recovery & Fami ies This p r oj e ct i s f un ded un d e r a G ra nt Cont ra ct with th e St a t e of T e nne ssee De p ar t me nt of Ment a H ea lth an d Sub s t a nc e Abus e Se r vic e s
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10 April 25-May 1, 2024

Welcome Turnaround

Chattanooga auto-manufacturing workers lead the way to change.

“The reality is companies have choices when it comes to where to invest and bring jobs and opportunity. We have worked tirelessly on behalf of our constituents to bring goodpaying jobs to our states. These jobs have become part of the fabric of the automotive manufacturing industry. Unionization would certainly put our states’ jobs in jeopardy.”

Sounds just like the kind of statement a well-paid automaker CEO would make when faced with the prospect of his company’s lowly worker bees forming a union. Except in the preceding case, it’s the kind of statement six Southern Republican governors would — and did — make at the prospect of the United Auto Workers unionizing a car-manufacturing plant in their state.

The governors — of Alabama, Texas, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, and, of course, Tennessee — were getting the vapors over the notion that factory workers would dare to organize for better working conditions. “Lawsy mercy,” said Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, in a statement. “We cain’t have no communist unions moving into our bidness-lovin’ Land o’ Cotton™. Old times here are not forgotten! Next thing you know, these uppity workin’ folks will be wantin’ gummit healthcare and decent public schools and gun reform.”

Okay, ol’ Voucher Bill didn’t really say that, but he sure as hell thought it. Here’s another gem from the governors’ statement: “We want to keep good paying jobs and continue to grow the American auto manufacturing sector here. A successful unionization drive will stop this growth in its tracks, to the detriment of American workers.” Right, because you clowns are always all about the “workers.”

The scare tactics didn’t work. Employees at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga voted by a three-to-one margin to join the United Auto Workers last Friday, making their factory the first in the South to unionize since the 1940s.

It’s no wonder the governors were scared. The GOP economic model is to keep workers underpaid and uneducated, grateful for any crumbs their corporate overlords deem them worthy to receive. In return, the politicians get fat corporate “contributions” and corporations get sweet tax breaks to move into the states of the old Confederacy. When it comes to workers’ rights, the mantra for those at the top of this pyramid scheme is, “Look away, Dixieland.”

Another vital part of the GOP’s

strategy has been to keep working-class Americans fighting amongst themselves, mostly by exploiting racial division. Gotta make sure the MAGA whites stay mad at the African Americans and the Latinos. And vice versa. The GOP knows that if all those folks ever organized to challenge the game being played on them, well, it could get ugly.

That’s why it was so edifying to see videos of the Volkswagen plant workers — white, Black, and brown — celebrating their successful union vote with fireworks, chants, and cheers. They were celebrating getting a voice in their workplace, including better healthcare and retirement benefits, and more paid time off. They were celebrating getting some skin in the game.

Current wages for workers in Chattanooga range from $23 to $32, according to Volkswagen. The UAW noted that following their strikes last year against Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis, wages for the highest-paid production workers at those plants rose to more than $40 an hour, plus improved benefits. Fireworks, indeed.

Interestingly, Volkswagen said it respects its workers’ right to determine who should represent their interests. “We fully support an NLRB vote so every team member has a chance to vote in privacy in this important decision,” the company said. It’s almost like the state governors were fear-mongering or something. Or maybe the company actually respects its workers. What a concept.

Next up for the UAW — which says it plans to try to unionize a dozen Southern automaker facilities — are two Mercedes-Benz plants in Alabama, where a vote on unionization will take place in mid-May. The UAW says a majority of workers at those plants have already signed authorization cards supporting union membership.

The results of the Volkswagen vote, could have far-reaching consequences for the labor movement in the region, said Stephen Silvia, a professor at American University who was quoted in a recent Washington Post article: “If the UAW can prevail,” he said, “it means that the Volkswagen victory isn’t an anomaly and we’re really seeing a turnaround in attitudes in workers in the South.”

If so, it’s kudos to Tennessee’s auto workers for standing up to the governors and for leading the turnaround in attitudes toward workers’ rights. And here’s hoping Alabama can keep the momentum going. Roll Tide.


1, 2024

April 25-May

Here Comes Santa Claus!

Actually lots of Santa Clauses — for the International Santa Celebration in Memphis.

Hope you’ve been good so far this year. Because it’s not just that Santa Claus is coming to town, but that hundreds of Santas are already streaming into Memphis. While they already know who’s been naughty and who’s been nice, you might catch a break this week since they’re busy attending the International Santa Celebration (ISC) April 25th through 28th at the Renasant Convention Center. at’s a lot of whiskers. And ho-hos. And twinkly eyes, all of which will be taking in Memphis for days of workshops, conferences, baseball, a river tour, a parade on Beale Street, and a hall full of vendors. e ISC happens every two years and is open to all types of Christmas performers. Don’t expect all of them to embrace the

traditional in their roles, although you can expect them to all share a love of children, a message of kindness, a belief in giving, and an a nity for wearing red.

Yes, there will be mostly old guys with white hair and beards, but there’s room for Mrs. Clauses and elves. If you’re really lucky, you’ll get to meet Genma Holmes, who is Ms. Claus and devoted to the role.

For Holmes, it started when she was a child growing up in Fayette, Mississippi. “My grandparents were my Mr. and Mrs. Claus,” she says. “So I learned the heart of serving others through watching my grandparents be that example. ey did it for their grandchildren, and they taught us to serve other people and give back in our communities.”

It was a perfect t for her, blending

not only the joy of the season, but the culture of the South, particularly one where civil rights leaders set the tone. “Nobody was a stranger,” she says. “Everyone got fed, everybody got a hug no matter who you were — that whole spirit that embodied serving others and taking care of your community.”

Holmes, outgoing by nature, carried it even further: “I wasn’t a Mrs. Claus; I wasn’t an elf. I just said I’m going to be everything my grandfather could be. Except I’m not a male. But I didn’t want to get into anything other than just being Santa, so I took on the persona of Ms. Santa — and the rest is history.”

at’s been 27 years of taking the spirit of Santa all over the country. Holmes calls herself a serial entrepreneur, and

her list of accomplishments prove it. She’s based in Nashville and runs a pest control company; she has a media consulting rm, edits publications, and is a media in uencer. As Ms. Santa, she is deeply involved in promoting the Yule spirit and is on the board of directors of International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas, better known as IBRBS, which is the primary sponsor of the ISC. e president and CEO of IBRBS is Stephen Arnold, a Memphian and member of the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame. Arnold is a longtime member of the local MidSouthern Santa

PHOTO: COURTESY GENMA HOLMES e Santa Parade is a highlight of the ISC.

Society and astute observer of the Santa industry who you’ve almost certainly seen around town at the major Christmas events. Known as Fabled Santa, he’s been interviewed in e New York Times and knows as much about the business of being the jolly old elf as anyone in or out of the North Pole.

Arnold ran the Only Kids specialty toy shop for 22 years, a store familiar to many Memphians for its location at the Regalia Shopping Center. Having a toy store was his entrée to being Santa, although it wasn’t his goal. ere were times during the holiday season when the Santa he hired wouldn’t show up, so the he y Arnold would don a suit and entertain the youngsters. It wasn’t something he could do or wanted to do on a regular basis since, a er all, he had a toy store to run at the busiest time of year. Eventually, though, he closed the store in 2002 and found his calling as a Santa Claus who got into it in a big way.

He’s been wrangling the details in putting on the ISC, and the lineup will have plenty for anyone in the Christmas entertainment sector. “ e conference itself is primarily an educational opportunity,” he says. “We will be o ering 48 classes on various topics pertaining to the Christmas community at any one time.”

As happens with conferences, there are o en sessions that overlap, but the schedule mixes them in a way that allows for choices. ere are classes, for example, for Mrs. Clauses. ere are meetings aimed at Santas who have real beards, and then those who wear fake beards, more elegantly described as Designer Bearded Santas. Although the IBRBS is for real-bearded Santas, the ISC is open to anyone, no matter the status of their chin whiskers. ere will be elves, reindeer handlers, and more.

“ e advantage to this conference versus attending a specialized Santa school,” Arnold says, “is that every school has the master who’s developed the curriculum and they obviously teach what they’re most familiar with. ere are guest speakers they may have during the usually two-day events. is is a threeday event with 42 talented, experienced speakers. As an attendee, you can choose the curriculum that you want to choose, so you have a big selection. At a school, every attendee will attend every class — there’s no choice except what’s decided upon by the owners of the school.”

en there is the networking.

“ ere’s the camaraderie, the sharing of experiences, the meeting of people that you may have only met on Facebook or heard about through something else,”

Arnold says. “ e attendees are coming from France, England, the Netherlands, Israel, Australia, Canada, and almost every state, so there’s real opportunity to meet people that you wouldn’t ordinarily meet.”

It wouldn’t be much of a convention if there weren’t vendors. It’ll be something like a huge toy store, but for Santas.

“If you’re looking for a new suit, we’re going to have three, I think four people who specialize in suits,” Arnold says. “We’ve got four vendors that are going to be purveying leather goods. We’ve got two, three beard maintenance, beard oils and bombs. We’ve got several of them for other accessories like the belt buckles and pins and bells, things like that.”

Does this sound tempting? Well, you’re in luck since the vendor area is open to the public. It’s especially useful for those Santas who can’t make the entire event. “ ere are a lot of Santas who can’t attend because of timing or a commitment with work or money,” Arnold says. “We know that there are quite a few coming from Arkansas and some from Mississippi who are just coming up for a day to shop. And we expect that there will be some interested people in the community, maybe even some prospective Santas who may have been thinking, ‘Boy, I think I’d like to do that.’ ey can come in and see all of the goods.”

But what about the programming of the convention? What’s on the wish list? ere is a variety of o erings that will appeal to the novice elf or the seasoned Santa. Here’s a sampling:

• Mrs. Claus Flying Solo

• Ho Ho How to Market Your Santa

• e Enduring Magic of the Classic “Twas the Night Before Christmas”

• American Sign Language — Business

continued on page 14

• e Santa Clause: What to Include in Your Booking Agreements

PHOTO: (ABOVE) OLIVIA MARINO Stephen Arnold, Fabled Santa PHOTO: (RIGHT) COURTESY GENMA HOLMES Genma Holmes, Ms. Santa

April 25-May 1, 2024

continued from page 13

Practical Use for Santa and Mrs. Claus

• e Art of Projecting Your Voice

• Setting Up a Virtual Workshop

• How to Stay Cool in Your Costume

• Santa and His Pipe

• Working With Children With Special Needs

• Miracle on Diversity Street

• How to Create Magical Home Visits

• Reading to Children

• Developing Your Christmas Brand

• Developing Your Christmas Wardrobe

• Surviving the Season

And that’s just a partial listing. But every one of those topics means something to Christmas performers. It’s fun to be with kids and amuse them, but there are scads of details for a successful Santa to tend to and there are lots of ways things can go wrong. And that’s not the impression anyone wants to leave.

Arnold says the workshops and sessions are geared to being a successful Santa. “Let’s talk about the business of being a Christmas performer,” he says of the program lineup. “So many of them see themselves as Santa and try to learn how to portray the role, but so many don’t know anything about being in the business of being Santa, how to take care of your receipts, what’s deductible, what’s not, how to be a professional in the industry.”

For all the tradition that seems to be part of the Santa mythos, change is very much a factor in what Santas do, how they present, and what they can bring to keep the holiday spirit alive.

Social media has changed so much of how Christmas entertainers interact with the public. And of course the pandemic really did a number on the idea of a child sitting on a lap and whispering what she wants to Santa. In 2020, the business of doing Zoom encounters or taping videos got a big boost. It kept the Santa connection alive, but is it really a good move in the long run?

e state of being Santa today is vastly di erent than just a few years ago. “ ere was a lot of trepidation about what was going to happen because of Covid, what the residual e ect would be, and would Santa in person ever recover,” Arnold says. “And the answer is that the state of the Santa business is good. People have not withdrawn from having Santa, wanting to either visit with Santa in mall situations or big box stores or in person at events or their own events. I was never busier than last year. I had to turn down so many people for home visits and things.”

He mentions Steve Dodd, a local Santa who does a lot of work in the community. Arnold says that Dodd is just about booked up for the rest of the year. And Arnold himself is quickly lling up his calendar. “Last year I tried to cut back and I still did, I think, 75 appearances and probably have that many this year. I’m going to deliberately try to move more of

my business into video visits so that I don’t have to physically go out and meet with people. I’ll try to still do the big events like Graceland, the Christmas parade, and maybe the St. Jude tree and the LeBonheur tree. I got some pretty good gigs, but I think I’m going to have to do less of the other things.”

Still, there’s plenty of new talent coming onto the scene and it’s adapting to changing times. “ e prices have gone up to cover the expenses that have happened in both the accessories and suits that we have to buy, but also obviously transportation,” Arnold says. “But the community seems to accept the fact that it costs a reasonable amount of money to have a true professional come and visit. And more people started picking up home visits because they realized that they didn’t have to wait in line for an hour or two and get a picture from somebody who wasn’t a professional. ey realized they could actually hire a photographer or a good friend to come and take pictures in their home and have a di erent kind of experience.”

While the scene is improving for the Santa industry, there have been lots of changes.

Holmes, as Ms. Santa, has seen it all go down. “A lot of the newest Santas are competing with each other,” she says, “literally on social media, versus becoming their own Santa.” No, she says, it shouldn’t be that way. “We should grow our own. We see children who were babies when I used to go to their schools as Ms. Santa. ey are adults with children, and that customer

base is built right in.”

While it’s perfectly sensible for a Santa to do some traveling wherever the business takes him, there is a caution, Holmes says. “Like I say to the younger folks coming in, you’re spending a lot of money, and yet you haven’t bloomed in your own backyard. I believe in starting where you are, bloom where you’re planted, bloom right there. en watch yourself grow and grow and grow. Become a household name right in your own community.”

It’s a classic case of changing with the times while trying to preserve longheld traditions.

“Social media has changed everything,” Holmes says. “And sometimes I wonder if we are trying to be a social media Claus versus the heart of Santa. ose are two di erent titles, and we see that. I’m not knocking it, but there’s a dynamic of social media. I’m into social media. I actually work for companies that use social media. I handle their business, their communications and everything. I totally understand that. But I also know that sometimes we have to, in order to become bigger, we must become smaller.”

Related to that, Holmes also cautions against aiming too high. She once used the Nextdoor networking app where she’d established a presence. “Are you looking for Santa photos?” she asked. e result? “It was 72,000 people coming at me at one time.”

But with all the changes going on in the industry, she nds a great deal of satisfaction in working with other Santas, which is what prompted her to get involved with IBRBS and the ISC. “I wanted to go deeper in my relationships with other Clauses to help sharpen them, whether I’m being sharpened or they’re being sharpened. We can get the big head because we wear the suit in red and we can lose that humility that is so vital to being a Claus. I was seeing a lot of things online. You’re behind the screen and you could just type anything out, and then you wonder why your business is the way it is.”

Holmes remembers when some students had come in to help her with a project, and they were all watching these

people online who listed their names as Santa. “ ey were making comments and saying, ‘I don’t think I would want my child to be engaged with Santa Claus because these Santas are really mean.’ We don’t realize how we look or sound to the rest of the world until the rest of the world tells us this is what we sound like.”

So, she feels it’s important to keep the communication among Santas open and share the success stories. “We have achieved our goals, and we also have watched some of the things that are concerning to us about the Claus community get addressed, not just by us, but by others as well,” she says. “I believe in that community of getting together and really having someone to be your partner in sharpening you. Iron sharpens iron, and that has been one of the most beautiful things. I have since found several Ms. Clauses who were single, solo Ms. Clauses and they have done the same thing. ey wanted to have someone not tell them how to be a Ms. Claus, but to help them be a better person. I say, if we’re going to help each other be a better person, then you’re going to naturally be a better Ms. Claus.”

Even as the ISC is bringing together Christmas entertainers from all over the globe, Holmes nds in that expanding world a powerful way to carry on the message of good will. “Santa World comes in all shades, colors, hues, shapes, sizes, di erent backgrounds, di erent nationalities,” she says. “When I travel to other places, I meet people from all di erent places, a microcosm of the real world. And when I go, I see people from all backgrounds. But here’s one thing — they’re all uni ed around the love of the holidays. No matter what their beliefs are, when they see me show up with toys, they’re like, ‘Baby, get in line!’”

For Holmes, there is a purpose to being Ms. Claus, and to work with individuals and organizations to raise the Christmas spirit, and to perpetuate joy. “My goal is to show that the happiness that we can bring to the world, we can be that to the world,” she says. And then she laughs: “Because sometimes Santas are just grumpy old men! I want us to be the happiness that we show. We can be that too. And then we can represent that no matter what background that we are from.”

at happiness should, she believes, rise above the everyday. “It doesn’t have to get into a race conversation or a femaleversus-male conversation. It’s like, no, just be the happy you. at’s what people are going to love and gravitate to.”

And for all holiday entertainers, whether versions of Santas or elves or reindeer impersonators, she holds forth with this sentiment about the ISC: “We hope that this attracts new members, and for members who have stepped out for a minute to say, ‘Hey, let me catch my breath,’ please come back. We can’t do this without you. We need each and every one of us to be the best that we can be by helping each other.”

ThE sTaTe oF bEiNg SaNtA tOdAy iS vAsTlY dIfFeReNt tHaN jUsT a fEw yEaRs aGo.
PHOTO: COURTESY ISC Santa convention in Atlanta two years ago





























































steppin’ out

We Recommend: Culture, News + Reviews

So Groovy

April is Minority Health Month, dedicated to building awareness of the health disparities among minority populations and to improving health outcomes through community and education. As the month concludes, Groovy Gratitude in partnership with Muggin Co ehouse will celebrate with a “Rhythm of Life” block party Uptown on Saturday.

Groovy Gratitude presents Rhythm of Life.

Alicia Dixon, owner of Groovy Gratitude, a juice and smoothie bar opening mid-May, says, “Our mission is to inspire health and wellness through our o erings. And so we wanted to come to the Uptown Greenlaw community because there’s a community with limited healthy food options. And so we’re addressing this by bringing accessible, a ordable, and nutritious choices to the area, and for our brand, it really stands out by integrating music, mindfulness, and community. And one of those things was Rhythm of Life. And [that] was birthed through our passion for the community and the brand but also to celebrate Minority Health Month.”

e block party, which is sponsored by Varsity Spirit, Memphis Medical District Collaborative, and 100 Black Men of Memphis, will be a “cultural music celebration as well as a holistic health focus,” says Dixon. “We’re tailoring the event to address those everyday stresses and strains, particularly bene ting the hard-working blue-collar community.”

Essentially, Dixon with her business partner Marquis White hopes to present well-being as an experience of the mind, body, and soul, so this event will have a range of activities from yoga and meditation workshops with sound baths, to live performances on the Overton Park Shell’s Shell on Wheels, to DJ sets, to acupuncture, to vendors o ering aromatic co ees and wholesome eats.

e YMCA will have activities for kids, and a re truck is coming, too, for folks of all ages to explore. “We really want to make it a fun, family event,” Dixon says.

“My earliest childhood memories are from growing up in the Uptown, North Memphis, Hurt Village community,” White adds. “Being a lifelong Memphian, I’m stoked and excited to be bringing Groovy Gratitude but also just building even more community with the fun things that we have lined up. We’re excited for sure.”

“ is is just the beginning,” Dixon agrees. “Because we de nitely aim to ignite a series of health and wellness initiatives that really leave a lasting legacy, encouraging our community to continue making health-conscious choices every day. Not looking for perfection, just balance. Just let people have an option if nothing else.”

VARIOUS DAYS & TIMES April 25th - May 1st

Roo op Party Featuring Landslide Peabody Hotel, 149 Union Avenue, ursday, April 25, 6-10 p.m., $15/ general admission, $30/VIP

food, co ee, and wine from local restaurants; and opportunities to get involved with local nonpro ts.

Start your weekend with a roo op party featuring Landslide. Prepare to be swept away on a thrilling journey through the timeless hits of Fleetwood Mac and the iconic sound of Stevie Nicks.

Doors open at 6 p.m., and DJ AD will deliver good vibes through great music before the band takes the stage at around 7 p.m. If you are a music lover, you’ll want to arrive early to this party so you don’t miss out.

Roo op Party tickets are available for purchase at the door.

Cafe du Memphis 2024

Malco Summer Drive-In, 5310

Summer, Saturday, April 27, 10 a.m.-

1 p.m., $15-$25

e Rotary Club of Memphis brings

back Cafe du Memphis. Enjoy beignets, shrimp and grits, cafe au lait, and plenty of fun. Tickets are $15 for a half plate of beignets, and $25 for a full plate of shrimp and grits and beignets.

Blooms, Birds, and Brews

Spring Fest

Cordelia’s Market, 737 Harbor Bend, Saturday, April 27, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Enjoy beer, vendor sampling, learn more about Memphis’ favorite mosquito-eradicating purple martin birds, and much more.

Taste & Create

Belltower Co eehouse at Shelby Farms Park, 6903 Great View Drive, Saturday, April 27, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., free

Sip, savor, and create with the Belltower community. At this free event, you’ll connect with: live painting, pottery, and more from local artists;

Plus, there’ll be face painting, bounce houses, and balloon animals for kids.

Taste the Rarity

Wiseacre Brewing Company, 2783 Broad Ave., Saturday, April 27, 3 p.m., $45.56, 21+

Wiseacre welcomes old friends and new as they bring their best and weirdest beers to Memphis. Featuring breweries from all over the country, Taste the Rarity is a specially-curated festival dedicated to the things you love most: beer, fun, and weirdness. Your ticket gets you a wristband, taster glass, and four hours of unlimited drinking,. ere will also be live music, food trucks, and other nonsense for you to enjoy.

25-May 1, 2024


Black Magic

conjures up new sounds in a new album full of collaborations.

We all know it takes a village — to raise a child, tend a garden, or create art — but rst someone has to make the village. Talibah Sa ya, the Memphis singer-songwriter with a recording career now spanning almost a decade, is one of those people, drawing scores of collaborators around her by dint of her vision and voice, pulling disparate threads together to cra her unique neo-soul/trap hybrid music.

at sonic identity seemed to arrive fully formed with her 2015 debut single, “Rise,” and is just as powerful today, her collaborations only growing deeper and wider. Not only does her 2024 album, Black Magic, feature some notable coproducers, she’s worked with even more since its release in February, as several remixes, the latest of which dropped last Friday, have shown.

And, as she points out, she’s been “working mostly with producers who have Memphis roots, even if some of them don’t live here anymore,” proving that you can still go big while going local. One case in point: “I worked with Brandon Deener, who is from Memphis but based in L.A. He’s actually an incredible visual artist who is currently working on a solo show in Paris that’s happening this summer. But he’s a producer as well.” Indeed, his painting was the focus of e Guardian’s pro le of Deener last year, where he was called the “former producer for hip-hop and R&B royalty such as Timbaland, Missy Elliott, and Lil Wayne … now known more as a visual artist.”

Yet the album’s title song proves Deener is still in the music game. A bold opening shot, it builds on a vintage loop of stinging, soul-blues guitar before Sa yah’s voice decries, “We come from a Black-ass city/ Black Magic … We said our pledge of allegiance/To the capital of Egypt!” It’s an anthem of sorts for Sa yah’s hometown, and the vintage soul stew loop only puts a ner historical point on it.

Deener also worked on “Jack and Jill” and “Have Mercy” (the latter featuring Marcella Simien), and both also play with locally-derived samples of roots guitar. ose avors were very intentional, growing, Sa yah explains, from her time as artist-inresidence at the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music last year. “ e Rudi Scheidt School has the High Water Recording Company catalog, and I did a deep

Hemphill would be a prime example of that process, but she has modern-day analogs. As part of her village, Sa yah enlisted a current feminist hero of the local neo-soul/ hip-hop scene, MadameFraankie, for the track, “Papa Please!” Even that was touched by R.L. Burnside.

“For ‘Papa Please!’ speci cally, I played Fraankie ‘Bad Luck City.’ at song is such a huge in uence on a lot of the songs on the project, even if everything didn’t sample it. So I told Fraankie about a friend of mine and her relationship with her dad. I gave her a whole visual story and played her ‘Bad Luck City,’ and she went o and made the beat for ‘Papa Please!’ And when sent me that track, I was inspired right away. I wrote the song immediately, sang it for her, and that was the rst one that we composed for the project.”

e track features MadameFraankie’s trademark liquid rhythm/solo guitar, but that’s not all. “She played the bass. She played the drums. She did everything on that song, there’s nobody else playing,” Sa yah enthuses.

“‘Bad Luck City’ had me immersed in the sound of R.L. Burnside’s voice. … I loved that.”

dive into some of that music, singing along with my guy Brandon Deener at Ari’s studio.” at would be producer/ engineer Ari Morris, pro led in these pages last year as “Memphis music’s secret weapon,” who was also deeply involved in Black Magic “ at was when I rst met Ari, and how Ari and I ended up locking in,” Sa yah adds, “but I found myself really inspired by, rstly, R.L. Burnside’s

‘Bad Luck City.’ at song had me really immersed in the sound of R.L. Burnside’s voice — it sounded to me like he was improvising the song, and I loved that. It sounds like he was just making it up on the spot. And it got me thinking about Memphis. So I was super inspired by ‘Bad Luck City,’ which we sampled for the single ‘Black Magic,’ and that’s how the whole project got that name.”

Another High Water artist that Sa yah found inspiring was Jessie Mae Hemphill, though her music was not sampled for the project. “She was my guiding light for the energy of the composition of music,” Sa yah says. “My husband Bertram and I were at A. Schwab’s and he bought me a book, Blues Legacies and Black Feminism, by Angela Y. Davis, which talks about how Black women have freed up the way we tell our stories through the blues.”

Meanwhile, there are still more collaborations going down as Sa yah issues remixes of the album’s key tracks. e rst was a brilliant reimagining of “Jack and Jill” by another soon-to-beiconic Memphis gure, Jess Jackson, aka DJ BLINGG, who originally built a name with her sisters in the band JCKSN AVE. And as of Friday we have the album’s closer, “Delicious,” remixed by A.N.T.E. “He plays the keys and he’s done a couple other remixes for me,” notes Sa yah. “It’s really fun, and has a soulful, jazzy kind of vibe. But it feels totally di erent than the other version.”

True to form, “totally di erent” is something Sa yah will always be pursuing as she taps into her very disparate networks. “My theme throughout has been genre-bending,” she says. “I grew up listening to a lot of di erent types of things, and I love a lot of di erent types of music. I don’t think that they should be separate.”

Talibah Sa ya PHOTO: ARIEL COBBERT Talibah Sa ya

April 25-May 1, 2024

AFTER DARK: Live Music Schedule April 25 - May 1

All Stax Music Academy

Ensembles: Handy Park Summer Music Series

A spectrum of entertaining activities awaits you. From live music and dancing to games and arts and crafts, there’s something for everyone. Bring a lawn chair or picnic blanket, and let the festivities begin. Free. Thursday, April 25, 5-7 p.m.


An Evening with Omari Dillard, Soul Violinist

A classically trained and culturally inspired performer interpreting R&B classics. Saturday, April 27, 7:30 p.m.


Celtic Woman - 20th Anniversary Tour

Four Irish women and a robust ensemble including dancers, bagpipers, and a full band playing traditional Celtic instruments, including bodhran, tin whistle, bouzouki, and Uilleann pipes. $55-$156. Thursday, April 25, 7 p.m.


Jad Tariq Band Sunday, April 28, 3-6 p.m.


KEM: Live in Concert

Kem is joined by rising R&B star Levelle for a soulful seductive sound for the mature, sophisticated, and elite. $89.50-$99.50. Saturday, April 27, 8 p.m.


Landslide (a tribute to Fleetwood Mac)

A rooftop party with Landslide playing the hits of Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks. Thursday, April 25, 7 p.m.


Memphis Songwriters Association 2024 Competition

Featuring finalists Dennis Jay, Dutch Vanderpool, JD Graffam & Josh Threlkeld, Miz Stefani, Reginald Taylor, Sam Raines, Shara Matlock, and Ted Horrell. Thursday, April 25, 7 p.m.


Memphis Symphony

Orchestra: Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony

Also featuring Wynton Marsalis’ Violin Concerto with Kelly Hall-Tompkins on violin. Saturday, April 27, 7:30 p.m.


RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles

With note-for-note precision, this performance transports you back to the eras of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band , Magical Mystery Tour , and other hits. $30, $70. Sunday, April 28, 7 p.m.


Memphis Symphony

Orchestra: Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony

Also featuring Wynton Marsalis’ Violin Concerto with Kelly Hall-Tompkins on violin. Sunday, April 28, 2:30 p.m.


Almost Famous

Almost Famous is the quintessential high-energy, sophisticated, and versatile cover band. Friday, April 26, 10 p.m.



The sound of ’80s metal bands from Bon Jovi to Whitesnake. Saturday, April 27, 9 p.m.


Aquarian Blood Album

Listening Event

Aquarian Blood will be sharing their newest album, Counting Backwards Again Free. Thursday, April 25, 6 p.m.


Cactus Lee With the TN Screamers. $10. Sunday, April 28, 8 p.m.


Carlos Eliot (Colombia)

Carlos Eliot (Colombia) with Kitty Dearing & the Dagnabbits. Friday, April 26, 9 p.m.


Cledus T. Judd

Perfectly crafted parodies of the biggest names in country music. Thursday, April 25, 7 p.m.



Dystopia Productions presents Summore, with Vampire Police and DJs

Graveyard Gloria, Nyx, and St. Faust. Saturday, April 27, 10 p.m.


Swingtime Explosion

A big band playing swing, jazz, rock, ballads, movie and TV themes, Latin, and blues. Monday, April 29, 6 p.m.


The 2000s: A Space Odyssey Dance Party

VJ Queen B’s throwback video dance party. $5-$10. Friday, April 26, 9 p.m.-3 a.m.

Queen Ann Hines

David Collins Acoustic Septet

Tuesday, April 30, 10 p.m.


Devil Train

Bluegrass, roots, country, Delta, and ski e. ursday, April 25, 10 p.m.


DOA: Dope on Arrival

Hip-hop/rap revue with Ace Picasso, Black Miigo D, Chelsthemac, Cherrymoon222, and Tom Skeemask. Saturday, April 27, 7:30 p.m.


Don Ramon Saturday, April 27, 9 p.m.


First Wednesdays: Jazz with Stephen Lee and friends

Memphis Jazz Workshop’s very own pianist, Stephen Lee, performing jazz in the Terrace Room. Wednesday, May 1, 5:30 p.m.


Fugitive Droids

With The Red Mountain, Risky Whispers, Magnolia, and Little Baby Tendencies. Friday, April 26, 7:30 p.m.


Gaby Moreno presented by Folk All Y’all + Crosstown Arts

2024 Grammy winner for Best Latin Pop Album and acclaimed singer-songwriterproducer. $20. Wednesday, May 1, 7:30 p.m.


Heartbreak Hill Trio

Sunday, April 28, 3-6 p.m.



With Don Diesel and ree G. $20-$25. ursday, April 25, 9 p.m.


High Step Society

A big band bringing jazz back to the party, where it belongs. Wednesday, May 1, 7 p.m.


Indigo Avenue

Playing the music of Harry Styles, John Mayer, Coldplay, Taylor Swi , Katy Perry, and more. Tuesday, April 30, 6 p.m.


JD Westmoreland Band

Monday, April 29, 10 p.m. B-SIDE

Jeff Hulett and the Hand Me Down’s

Je Hulett is a Memphis music mainstay, with a talent for warm and honest songwriting. ursday, April 25, 7:30 p.m.; Tuesday, April 30, 7:30 p.m.


John Craigie

With Mason Jennings. Sunday, April 28, 7 p.m.


Kevin & Bethany Paige (Duo)

Kevin and Bethany Paige have entertained as regulars on Beale Street for more than 20 years. Saturday, April 27, 1 p.m.


late night drive home

All ages show by the band that’s “reinventing indie rock,” with Dazy, Pleasure Pill, and Wishy. $18, $22/DOS. Tuesday, April 30, 7 p.m.


Lee Taylor & Friends: St. Jude Fundraiser

Friday, April 26, 8:30 p.m.


Memphis Punk Rock Flea Market

With music by Ben Ricketts, Macrophonics, Gooetones Free. Saturday, April 27, 7 p.m.


Memphis Reggae Nights

ft. Exodus, DJ Static

The city’s first reggae band appear in a special edition of Memphis Reggae Nights. Sunday, April 28, 7:30 p.m.


Mikaela Davis

With Sean ompson’s Weird Ears, and Walt Phelan. $20. Wednesday, May 1, 8 p.m.


Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway - Down The Rabbit Hole Tour

Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, and musician Molly Tuttle and her band, with Wyatt Ellis. $30-$35. Sunday, April 28, 8 p.m.


Queen Ann Hines Friday, April 26, 8 p.m.


R&B and Hip Hop Throwback Party

Featuring ’90s/2000s hits from artists like Usher, Missy Elliott, T-Pain, Destiny’s Child, Lil Jon, and so much more. Friday, April 26, 9 p.m.


Rice Drewry Collective

From classic rock to acoustic driven roots rock, there’s a little something for everyone. Saturday, April 27, 5 p.m.


Ryze Hendricks: Ryze Up Tour

$20-$25. Friday, April 26, 9 p.m.



With General Labor and Ella Havoc. $10. Friday, April 26, 8 p.m.


Stax Class of ’74: Chico Hamilton, “The Master” Guitarist Joe Restivo and Stax executive director Jeff Kolath discuss drummer Chico Hamilton. Free. Tuesday, April 30, 6 p.m.



The Black Jacket Symphony Presents Prince’s Purple Rain

The Black Jacket Symphony recreates Prince’s iconic album live in its entirety, plus a set of Prince’s greatest hits. Saturday, April 27, 8 p.m.


The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

With Outline in Color, Honore, and e Storyline. ursday, April 25, 7 p.m.


Hozier, with special guest Allison Russell Grammy-nominated Irish singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist

Hozier tunes into raw blues spirit, unrestrained soul, rock energy, and folk eloquence. $98. Thursday, April 25, 8 p.m.


Sour Bridges Friday, April 26, 8 p.m.


Takes Two to Tango Thursday, April 25, 8 p.m.; Friday, April 26, 10 p.m.


The Eastwoods Eff’s Birthday Banger with The Eastwoods, The Electrick Nobody, and Owlbear. $10. Saturday, April 27, 8 p.m.


T Jarrod Bonta Trio Sunday, April 28, 6 p.m.


Tommy Luke Wednesday, May 1, 8 p.m.


GPAC Youth Symphony Program Spring Concert: Shades of Sound Featuring flautist Ella Liu and the Mozart String Ensemble, Wind Ensemble, Mendelssohn String Orchestra, the GYSO String Quartets, and the Youth Symphony Orchestra. Sunday, April 28, 4 p.m.




“A World Apart”

A solo exhibition from Roger Allan Cleaves, taking viewers on epic adventures through the multiverse of e Land of Forget Me Nots. rough April 27.


“Branching Out”

Discover intricate connections between students, teachers, and casting communities, which branch out much like a family tree. rough Sept. 8.


“China Blues: The World of Blue and White Ceramics” e collection includes a range of objects from the Ming and Qing dynasties in a wide array of materials, including beautifully carved jades, paintings, textiles, and ceramics. rough May 31.


“Compositions in Color”

Exhibition of abstract works by Jon Woodhams. rough April 29.


“Everyday People: Snapshots of The Black Experience”

A photography exhibition showcasing Memphis artist Eric Echols’ photo collection of 20th-century African Americans. rough July 14.


“Forty-Some Odd Paintings”

David Chapple is a local artist working in mixed media, creating works of vibrant colors. rough April 28.




“Iliumpta” by Birdcap is a retelling of Homer’s Iliad set in the Southernmost bayous of Mississippi. rough April 28



Bruce Brainard is well known for meditative, allegorical landscapes of in nite skies, elds, and oceans. rough June 1.


“It’s All Relative”

Sicilian/Puerto Rican postsurrealist sculptor Morgan Lugo uses permanent materials, such as bronze, to speak to the lasting e ects of past experiences. rough July 7.


Jana Travis: A Place For Everything

Exhibition of work by Jana Travis. Free. rough April 26.


“Nature’s Palette: Art Inspired By the Earth”

Oil landscape paintings by Collierville artist Wes Ashworth. rough May 4.


“Lest We Forget … Images of the Black Civil Rights Movement”

A traveling collection, showcasing 35 powerful portraits and images by Robert Templeton, captures key figures and moments from the Black Civil Rights Movement. Through May 6.


“Made in Dixon” | “Hecho en Dixon”

“Made In Dixon” features artwork from more than 300 program participants of all ages, diverse cultural backgrounds, and interests. rough June 2.


“Maritza DavilaIrizarry: Homage to the Human Heart”

Maritza Davila-Irizarry’s large format accordion-style book she created using printmaking techniques honed over decades embodies an homage to all of the people who have crossed paths with the artist. rough May 31.


“Memphis 2024”

Experience visual art in various genres and media from artists across Memphis. Free. rough June 30.


“People Are People” is exhibition honors famed American designer Christian Siriano’s electrifying contributions to fashion. rough

Aug. 4.



Sheikholeslami: Progression” is show features works encapsulating a diverse range of subjects, from enigmatic gures set within interior spaces to boldly painted still lifes and abstract landscapes. rough July 7.


SUE: The T. rex


Step into the world of SUE the T. rex . rough May 12.


“The Earthworm and the Hawk”

Melissa Dunn’s “ e Earthworm and the Hawk” is the overlap between two states of being. rough April 28.


“What Were You Meant For?”

Kevin Brooks’ “What were you meant for?” is an art exhibition that delves deep into the world of film to uncover the seldom-seen layers of Black male identity.

Through April 28.



Chalkfest 2024

Transform the museum’s plaza into the most colorful work of art. Free. Saturday, April 27, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.



Paint and Picnic

Paint your own birdhouse with artist Nicole Dorsey. Expertise not required; art materials provided. Saturday, April 27, 2-4 p.m.


Phoenix Savage

Artist Talk e artist will speak on Casting History and Process. ursday, April 25, 6 p.m.


booksellers. Saturday, April 27, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.



Terrarium Workshop with Sheryl

Learn everything you need to know to create a unique and beautiful terrarium to enjoy at home. Sunday, April 28, 1 p.m.



George Willborn

$22.50-$40. Friday, April 26, 7:30 p.m., 10 p.m.; Saturday, April 27, 7:30 p.m., 10 p.m.


Rob Love

$20. Saturday, April 27, 8 p.m.


Scott Eason

Nationally touring comedian

Scott Eason (Comedy Central, Sirius XM) headlines the monthly stand-up show at High Cotton Brewing Co. $10. Saturday, April 27, 8 p.m.

South City Has a Vibrant New Mural That Celebrates the Past, Present, and Future SCORE CDC invites everyone to come view and celebrate the beautiful new mural in South City. Saturday, April 27, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.



An Evening with David Sedaris

A unique opportunity to see best-selling humorist David Sedaris in GPAC’s intimate and magical setting. $58. Saturday, April 27, 8-9 p.m.



Aram Goudsouzian in Conversation With Geoff Calkins

Aram Goudsouzian discusses the long-awaited memoir of the in uential sportswriter Stan Isaacs. Monday, April 29, 6 p.m.


Independent Bookstore Day

Burke’s will have prizes and giveaways, exclusive Independent Bookstore Day items for sale, and Independent Bookstore Day cookies. Burke’s will be joining over 600 independent bookstores across the country for a celebration of independent



38th Annual “Bowlin’ on the River” Bowl-AThon

Bene ting Junior Achievement of Memphis and the Mid-South. Saturday, April 27, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.


City Nature Challenge

An iNaturalist project that will collect all nature observations in Shelby County. Friday, April 26, 9 a.m.-noon; Saturday, April 27, noon-4 p.m.


City Nature Challenge: Birds & Bugs

An iNaturalist project that will collect all nature observations in Shelby County. Friday, April 26, 4-5:30 p.m.


City Nature Challenge: Cicadas, Butterflies, & Flowers

An iNaturalist project that will collect all nature observations in Shelby County. Sunday, April 28, noon-3 p.m. T.O.

City Nature Challenge: Moth Party

An iNaturalist project that will collect all nature observations in Shelby County from April 26-29. Saturday, April 27, 8-9:30 p.m.

continued on page 22

at Overton Park Learn the
of EVENTS: April 25 - May 1
PHOTO: COURTESY MEMPHIS BOTANIC GARDEN Document wildlife in Memphis Botanic Garden’s Woodlands as part of the City Nature Challenge. PHOTO: COURTESY OVERTON PARK CONSERVANCY
guided group walk.
Learn about the animals and plants in Overton Park’s Old Forest on a

continued from page 21

ing birds, insects, plants, fungi, and reptiles in guided walks at Overton Park. $5. Saturday, April 27, 9 a.m.-noon.


Line Dancing with Q

Line dancing lessons, Tuesdays with “Q.” 21+. Tuesday, April 30, 6-9 p.m.


Brick Convention (LEGO Fan Event)

The greatest LEGO fan event on Earth. $15. Saturday, April 27, 10 a.m., 2 p.m.; Sunday, April 28, 10 a.m., 2 p.m.


International Santa Celebration Conference

The Christmas performer community meets for several days of socialization, education, networking, and camaraderie. Thursday, April 25-April 28.



Memphis Mineral, Fossil, & Jewelry Show

The show offers everyone the opportunity to experience the Earth wide-open. $6, $2/ Children. Saturday, April 27, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, April 28, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.



FUNBOX Bounce Park

The World’s Biggest Bounce Park, where 25,000 square feet of continuous jumping zones connect 10 different play areas. Friday, April 26-April 28.


Jurassic Arts Experience

A captivating group collage that captures the essence of the Jurassic era. Younger artists can enjoy ‘roar-some’ crafts including dinothemed origami. Saturday, April 27, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.


The Beautiful Spectrum

A fashion show featuring autistic children. $25. Sunday, April 28, 4 p.m.


World Penguin Day

Enjoy learning fun facts about penguins and witness their 3 p.m. feeding. Thursday, April 25, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.


For Information Call: 1-800-972-3550

For Release Saturday, March 23, 2019



Blooms, Birds, and Brews Spring Fest

Our 2nd annual Spring Festival on the island! Enjoy beer, vendor sampling, learn more about Memphis’ favorite mosquito-eradicators-Purple Martin birds, and much more. Free. Saturday, April 27, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.


CommUnity Festival

Free community festival for the entire Snowden neighborhood — and beyond. Saturday, April 27, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.


Overton Square Crawfish Festival 2024

All the crawfish you can crunch. Saturday, April 27, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.


Oyster Fest

A variety of raw and cooked East, West, and Gulf Coast oysters, seafood dishes, and Guinness specials! Free. Saturday, April 27, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.



Deep Sky IMAX

Deep Sky brings the awe-inspiring images captured by NASA’s Webb Telescope to IMAX. Thursday, April 25, noon.



Giuseppe Tornatore, director of Cinema Paradiso, turns his camera on his longtime collaborator Ennio Morricone, in a moving profile of an indefatigable composer. Thursday, April 25, 7 p.m.


RPDR Season 16 Watch Party

The fabulous India Taco hosts the night with some special guests who will be sashaying their way into the party. Friday, April 26, 6:30 p.m.


Saturday Morning Cartoons and Games

The Lodge offers an ever-changing block of ’80s and ’90s cartoons, retro vintage kids commercials, video and board games, and of course, a variety of cereals and breakfast dishes. Saturday, April 27, 11 a.m.-noon.


Spirited Away

The 2001 Japanese animated film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Monday, April 29, 7 p.m.


Wings Over Water 3D

Michael Keaton narrates this breathtaking film that soars above the clouds and takes you on an amazing journey to the heart of the prairie wetlands. Thursday, April 25-May 1, 11 a.m.



Cafe du Memphis 2024

The Rotary Club of Memphis brings back Cafe du Memphis. $15/Half-plate, $25/Full-plate. Saturday, April 27, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.


Canoes + Cocktails

A guided sunset paddle on the lake followed by specialty cocktails provided by Old Dominick, snacks from Cheffie’s, yard games, and music. Friday, April 26, 7 p.m.


Food Truck Fridays

Grab a bite from a local food truck and enjoy lunch in the beautiful Dixon gardens. Friday, April 26, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.


Memphis Farmers Market

A weekly outdoor market featuring local farmers and artisans, live music, and fun activities.

Saturday, April 27, 8 a.m.-1 p.m.



Body Balance

A new generative yoga class that will improve your mind, your body and your life. Free.

Thursday, April 25, 6:30-7:30 p.m.



Stroller Strides and Stroller Barre workouts

Thursday, April 25, 9:30 a.m.; Tuesday, April 30, 9:30 a.m.


Guided Nature Walk

Join a Lichterman nature center naturalist on a themed guided walk around the property.

Saturday, April 27, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.



The Hike-a-Thon is a monthlong fundraising and adventure competition in April where participants can hike, bike, paddle, climb, and trail run to protect Tennessee’s lands and waters. Through April 30.


Hustle & Flow Pilates

Join instructor Bridget for free Pilates classes on Mondays in March and April at A Monument to Listening in Tom Lee Park. Please bring an open mind and your own mat/towel and water. Free. Monday, April 29, 6-7 p.m.


22 April 25-May 1, 2024 ACROSS 1 Old-fashioned group of people 9 You may train to get in it 14 Another moniker for the Empire City of the South 15 Having an uninterrupted series of steps 16 Chosen 17 Kite grippers 18 Peso : Cuba :: ___ : Korea 19 Être, across the Pyrenees 20 Predecessors of Transformers 21 Yearbook sect. 22 Scratch 24 Lose sleep (over) 26 Like the characters on “Lost” 28 Kitchen gadget brand 29 Couple seen on Raisin Bran boxes 32 Bullish figure? 34 New Age keyboardist 35 Third character to appear in “Macbeth” 36 Painted Desert sights 37 New Age composer 39 It may be made into spears 40 Job for an investment bank, for short 41 Some modern discounts 43 “State Fair” director Walter 45 Fifth-century scourge 46 Tailward 49 Ridge 51 81-card game 52 Vamp’s wear 53 It points sharply down 54 The American Film Institute named its soundtrack the greatest film score of all time 56 United 57 Bob’s relative 58 Wikipedia’s globe and such 59 Alternative to a 9-to-5 work schedule DOWN 1 Warms 2 “Your” follower 3 Some prep school wear 4 Subject of the 2004 autobiography “The Soul of a Butterfly” 5 One use for hair clippers, in modern lingo 6 How many Oscar acceptance speeches are delivered 7 Buffet burner 8 Fooled 9 Part of a natural repair process 10 Some lunar effects 11 No small favor 12 Potentially attracted to anyone 13 Workup sites, briefly 15 Like some kisses 20 One who might say “You wish!” 23 Appear in print 25 Poorer 26 U.S. poet laureate ___ Van Duyn 27 Whipper snapper? 29 Rebellious “Downton Abbey” daughter 30 Italian hors d’oeuvre 31 What Homer used to propose to Marge 33 People on the case, for short 35 Benjamin 38 Like an amnesiac’s memories 39 Medieval weapon 42 Ovary’s place, botanically 44 Insurance mascot with an accent 46 Early counters 47 Comments section, often 48 “The enemy of creativeness,” per Picasso 50 Sierra Nevadas and others 53 Poorly 54 Cover letters for certain applications? 55 Like some kisses
BY ANDREW KINGSLEY AND JOHN LIEB Online subscriptions: Today’s puzzle and more than 7,000 past puzzles, ($39.95 a year). Read about and comment on each puzzle: ANSWER TO PREVIOUS PUZZLE 12345678 910111213 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 2728 293031 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 4445 464748 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 CATFISHESWHARF ONIONTARTOILER OOPSSORRYORATE SAKESTHERIO SPLINESWOODMEN PEELEDJUNO ADVILMASKWATT CRAZYRICHASIANS YOREALOUANNUL BYOBGLADTO ALLPROSMOSTEST WEARONMETAL OWNITMELODIZES KIDDOGWENIFILL ESSEXSLEEPEASY
New York Times Syndication Sales Corporation 620 Eighth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10018

Slow Your Roll | Saturday Morning Meditation

A serene start to your Saturday with some morning mindfulness, led by the experienced mindfulness educator Greg Graber. Free. Saturday, April 27, 8-8:30 a.m.


Free SANA Yoga at Comeback Coffee

Find your glow and fuel your soul with free yoga session. is all-levels Flow class will surely leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Tuesday, April 30, 11-11:45 a.m.


Twilight Yoga & Pilates

Join the Shell each Monday for a full body burn during rotating yoga and Pilates classes at the historic Overton Park Shell. Free. Monday, April 29, 5:30-6:30 p.m.


Wednesday Walks

A casual stroll around the Old Forest. No agenda, just a chance to meet new people and get a walk in. Where: Rainbow Lake Playground

Kiosk. Wednesday, May 1, 4-5 p.m.


World Taijiquan & Qigong Day

Celebrate this special day with Taijiquan and Qigong sample sessions by various instruc-

tors. All ages. Free. Saturday, April 27, 10:30-11:30 a.m.



Strengthen your yoga practice and enjoy the health bene ts of light exercise with yoga instructors Laura Gray McCann. Free. ursday, April 25, 6-6:45 p.m.


Yoga on the River

Candace guides your yoga journey along the mighty Mississippi. Free. Tuesday, April 30, 6-7 p.m.



Dance your cares away at the Overton Park Shell with a dynamic, weekly Zumba workout that fuses together

Latin and international music and movement. Free. Tuesday, April 30, 5:30-6:30 p.m.


Wild Womxn Productions: “Kings and Things!”

Featuring e Don, Fantasia Bordeaux, Imagene Azengraber, and Pat McCooter. ursday, April 25, 9 p.m.



2024 Annual Tribute Luncheon Join e Women’s Founda-


tion for a Greater Memphis (WFGM) as they roll out the red carpet for Princess Sarah Culberson, the keynote speaker, at this year’s Annual Tribute Luncheon on April 25. $150. ursday, April 25, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.


Art of Caring Fundraiser Baptist Memorial Health Care Foundation is hosting the 25th annual Art of Caring to bene t the Kemmons Wilson Family Center for Good Grief. $50/general admission (includes food & drinks). ursday, April 25, 6-8:30 p.m. FEDEX



Memphis Redbirds vs.

Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp

ursday, April 25, 6 p.m.; Friday, April 26, 11 a.m.; Saturday, April 27, 3 p.m.; Sunday, April 28, 1 p.m.



Blues in the Night

The soul of the blues wails out full and strong in Blues in the Nigh t, a scorching, Tony-nominated musical. Through May 5.


Steel Magnolias

The bond among a group

e Brick Convention this weekend will bring all the fun and creativity of LEGO building.

of Southern women shows as they deal with the good fortune and tragedy that comes to them. Friday, April 26-May 12.


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

Make your plans to see this one of a kind combination of storytelling and spectacle adapted from Mark Haddon’s award winning novel.

$10/sensory friendly, $26/ adult, $16/student, $16/ teacher, $16/military, $16/ wheelchair space, $21/seniors 60+. Friday, April 26, 7:30-9:30 p.m.; Saturday, April 27, 7:30-9:30 p.m.; Sunday, April 28, 2:30-4:30 p.m.

Your Arm’s Too Short

To Box With God

Based on the Gospel of Matthew, Your Arm’s Too Short

To Box With God is an uplifting musical with gospelinspired music and inspiring storytelling. Friday, April 26-May 19.



The Original Memphis Brew Bus

Visit three local breweries for tours, talks with the brewers, and of course beer. $59. Saturday, April 27, 2-5:30 p.m.


Tombs: A Mausoleum Tour of Elmwood Cemetery

Visit the mausoleums of Elmwood. $20. Saturday, April 27, 10:30 a.m.-noon.


True Crimes of Bygone Times: A Tour of Elmwood Cemetery

A tragic tour of twisted tales. $20. Friday, April 26, 5:30-7 p.m.


We Saw You.


DJs, a balloon artist, corn hole, and bowling — along with a lot of pizza and beer — welcomed guests to the new Rock’n Dough Pizza & Brewery in the Edge District.

e more than 7,000-square-foot pizza palace at 704 Madison Avenue held so openings as well as a charity day fundraiser for LeBonheur Children’s Hospital before holding its grand opening blowout on April 13th.

“We called it our grand opening party because it was our rst major introduction to the neighborhood,” says general manager Joe Cogen.

e balloon artist and DJs were just part of the grand opening. e other attractions, which remain, include DuckPin Bowling (four-bowling lanes inside the restaurant) and corn hole. “Arcade-style basketball hoops” are slated to be installed in the future.

Between 225 and 250 guests were served. People partied inside and out. “Total seating, if you include all the indoor seats and outside, is 199.”

And they drank Rock’n Dough beer, which is brewed at Hub City Brewing in Jackson, Tennessee.

24 April 25-May 1, 2024
PHOTOS: MICHAEL DONAHUE above: (le to right) Abby Herron and Braylon Pridgeon; Doug Hollis below: (le to right) Hyo Young and Duyeol Lee; Wallis, Acie, and Josh Steiner bottom row: (le to right) Trevor Jones, Megan Williamson, Joe Cogen, Heather Corley, and Jerry Corley; Michael and Tia Fulton

JEM Is a Gem

New restaurant opens in the Edge District.

Josh and Emily Mutchnick have arrived.

“It’s been a long road,” he says. “ is is my dream becoming ful lled.”

e dream is JEM, a dream of a restaurant that opens April 25th in the Edge District. Josh and his wife, Emily, are owners of the roughly 3,500-square-foot restaurant at 644 Madison Avenue. “She’s doing the back-end paperwork and all the fun stu . Every aspect of it. And I’m doing the che y stu ,” Josh says.

“JEM” stands for “Josh (and) Emily Mutchnick.” It also stands for “Just Enjoy the Moment.”

“ is is our restaurant and this is our food. is is our personality. is is it.”

Mutchnick, 37, was in the sixth grade in Mobile, Alabama, when he realized he wanted to be a chef.

A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Mutchnick worked at several prestigious restaurants, including Chicago’s Michelin-starred EL Ideas, where he was chef de cuisine.

When they decided to relocate in 2020, Josh and Emily ended up in Memphis, where his sister had gone to Rhodes College.

Josh was doing his monthly JEM Dining Supper Club dinners at the James Lee House in Victorian Village when he and Emily decided the time was right to “jump full in” and open their restaurant. “In the middle of 2022 was when I had my business plan and talked with the real estate broker and bank.”

His broker “found this gem in the Edge District.”

Josh kept the ball rolling. “I met with a lot of restaurant-style business owners. ey gave me a lot of advice.”

John Halford and Patrick Brown with cnct. design, pllc, designed the space for the Mutchnicks. e ceiling features exposed beams and rusty tin. ey kept the original concrete oor, which they covered with a clear seal. e “cracks and paint spots add a lot of personality and texture to the place.”

“ is is an old building and we want to keep some of the personality,” he says.

But the old is juxtaposed with “some modern lighting, a lot of wood nishes, and a lot of warm colors that are going to add depth to it.”

“You come in and you want to snuggle up in the space with all this wood and rusty color and beauty.”

He adds, “It’s a completely open kitchen. You come in and see all the


Josh and Emily Mutchnick’s JEM will feature globally-inspired dishes and desserts from arancini to a wa e mousse (both pictured below) on its menu.

open kitchen? “Short answer is: modern American with global in uences.

“Long answer: I’ve been cooking and working towards this my whole life. And I’ve always expressed myself through food. I know I can make the best food when I’m excited about the techniques and can put new and different things on the menu.”

Whether that’s “Asian, European, or American in uences,” Josh says, “it’s going to be delicious.”

action. We have a kitchen counter, but every seat you get to see the kitchen in action. And, if you want, you can come up and talk to us.

“I think the main goal of this restaurant is to have an experience that is welcoming and shows hospitality through the food, physically through the space, but also through the service.”

ey want JEM to be a place “where people come in and have exciting, delicious food, but feel welcome and relaxed.”

“We’re surrounded by a passionate sta that feels like we do. We want to show you a great time and make you feel right at home while serving you the best food and cocktails and wine that we can.”

So, what will Josh be cooking in that

Describing one of his dishes, Josh says, “I’m taking traditional Italian arancini, but using Korean avors by adding kimchi, scallions, and cilantro to it. en serving it with charred scallion tofu aioli and pickled daikon radish.”

And, he says, “One of the coolest things is, it’s completely vegan.”

All their desserts are homemade. One was inspired by Wa e House pecan wa es, Josh says. It’s a “decadent wa e mousse with a maple gel, candied pecans, and a pecan cake base.”

He and Emily believe JEM is in the right spot. “Moving to Memphis, from day one we had our eye on the Edge District,” Josh says, adding, “It’s an up-and-coming neighborhood. We’re just out of Downtown. I think the location is perfect. Near Downtown and near Midtown.”

All the business owners in the

“I’ve been cooking and working towards this my whole life. And I’ve always expressed myself through food.”

neighborhood are trying to “build up this community,” he says. “And we want to be part of that energy and that action.”

eir neighbors include the new Rock’n Dough Pizza & Brewery as well as Inkwell and Sun Studio. “ is community is about to explode. I love it.”


April 25-May 1, 2024

MY HEALTH is our health

More complexity, less time

Every day I advocate for my baby whether it’s at daycare or the doctor’s office.

Since welcoming little one, life expanded while my world contracted. And every day, I push off one thing my own health.

Cardiovascular disease is the #1 killer of new moms, with risks can last for months post-partum.

So, I’m taking action and starting the conversation, with not just my doctor, but with other moms I know, too.

Because not only do I want to be a great mom — I want to be a mom for a very long time.

Locally supported by

• At the Goodwill store in DuBois, Pennsylvania, workers found a treasure in a box of old Lego pieces, United Press International reported on March 12: a 14-karat gold Kanohi Hau mask from Lego’s Bionicle collection. Originally priced at Goodwill at $14.95, the piece eventually sold for $18,100 to an anonymous collector. “We didn’t know it was worth anything until people started asking if they could buy it for $1,000,” said Chad Smith, vice president of e-commerce and technology for Goodwill. Lego created only 30 pieces in gold in 2001. [UPI, 3/12/2024]

• LAD Bible reported on March 5 about two unacquainted Brits who were headed to a holiday in Bangkok, Thailand. At the airport, Mark Garland, 58, of Wiltshire, tried to check in, but gate staff told him he already had. After some sleuthing, they realized there was another Mark Garland (62, from Bristol) on the flight — and the look-alikes were seated next to each other. As it happens, they live only about 15 miles apart and sometimes ride the same bus. They even have a friend in common. “We were so shocked by how strange it was,” said the younger Garland. “It was crazy — I have never known anything like it,” said the older. “I’ve made a friend for life.” [LAD Bible, 3/5/2024]

Amber Denae Wright of Cape Town, South Africa, has shared a marriage tip on TikTok that other wives may want reported on March 9. A video on the social media site shows her husband, Nick, talking when Amber plays orchestra music from her phone. When Nick asks, “What is that? What are you playing?” Amber says, “It’s Oscars music. You know, when the speeches are too long …” Nick’s taking it well, though: “She’s been doing this the whole week. Every time I tell a story! Is this gonna be the rest of my life?” One TikTok commenter suggested, “I should use this at work when People, 3/9/2024]

New Orleans Police Superintendent Anne Kirkpatrick told city council members on March 13 that rats had infested the department’s building so thoroughly that they made their way into the evidence room and were eat-

ing confiscated marijuana. “They’re all high,” she said, according to the Associated Press. “The uncleanliness is off the charts.” She elaborated, saying the building is full of mold and cockroaches, and staff suffer broken air-conditioning and elevators. [AP, 3/13/2024]

That’s Disappointing

The Pittsburgh Penguins planned to provide prized playthings to their passionate patrons on the evening of March 14, ESPN reported. (Okay, that’s enough of that.) NHL legend Jaromír Jágr bobbleheads were promised for the game against the San Jose Sharks — but the cargo was stolen during transit. Penguins president of business operations Kevin Acklin said the team is looking forward to “resolving this theft and delivering the prized Jagr bobbleheads to their rightful homes, with our fans.” The hockey great commented, “The legend of Jágr continues.” [ESPN, 3/14/2024]

The Passing Parade

On March 5 in Green Bay, Wisconsin, a 42-year-old man was charged with battery and disorderly conduct with a weapon after his daughter called 911, saying her dad was naked and had a gun. The Smoking Gun reported the story — and the much more compelling backstory about Deez-Nuts Lee Kroll, the defendant. In 2011, Derrick Lee Kroll, then 29, petitioned the court and paid $164.50 for a name change. On the form, Kroll, who seems to be spelling-challenged, wrote his preferred name: Dez-Nuts Lee Kroll, and said his reason for the change was that “I with out a dout [sic] HATE MY NAME.” Six years later, it occurred to Dez-Nuts that he had spelled the name wrong, and he went to court to change his name again. At his recent run-in with the law, officers noted that he appeared to be intoxicated but cooperated with them. He was released on $2,000 bond. [The Smoking Gun, 3/13/2024]


your weird news items with subject line WEIRD NEWS to NEWS OF THE WEIRD © 2023 Andrews McMeel Syndication. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. NEWS OF THE WEIRD By the editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Have you ever gotten your mind, heart, and soul in sweet alignment with the spiritual beauty of money? An opportunity to do that is available. During the next four weeks, you can cultivate an almost mystical communion with the archetype of wellearned wealth. What does that mean? Well, you could be the beneficiary of novel insights and hot tips about how best to conduct your finances. You might get intuitions about actions you could take to bring more riches into your life. Be alert for help from unexpected sources. You may notice that the more generous you are, the more the world’s generosity will flow your way.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): My Gemini friend Alicia thrives on having a quick, acute, whirling-dervish-like intelligence. It’s one of her strong points now, but it wasn’t always. She says she used to be hyperactive. She thought of serenity as boring — “like some wan, bland floral tea.” But after years of therapy, she is joyous to have discovered “a kind of serenity that’s like sweet, frothy hot chocolate spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg.” I’m guessing that many of you Geminis have been evolving in a similar direction in recent months — and will climax this excellent period of relaxing growth in the coming weeks.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): All Cancerians who read this oracle are automatically included on the Primal Prayer Power List. During the next 13 days, my team of 13 Prayer Warriors and I will sing incantations to nurture your vigor, sovereignty, and clarity of purpose. We will envision your dormant potentials ripening. We will call on both human and divine allies to guide you in receiving and bestowing the love that gives your life supreme meaning. How should you prepare for this flood of blessings? Start by having a long talk with yourself in which you describe exactly why you deserve these gifts.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): A meme on Instagram said, “The day I stopped worrying about what other people think of me was the day I became free.” This sentiment provokes mixed feelings in me. I agree it’s liberating not to be obsessed with what people think of us. On the other hand, I believe we should indeed care about how we affect others. We are wise to learn from them about how we can be our best selves. Our “freedom” includes the discernment to know which ideas people have about us are worth paying attention to and which are best forgotten and ignored. In my opinion, Leo, these are important themes for you to ruminate on right now.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): The city of

Mecca in Saudi Arabia is a holy place for Islam. Jerusalem is the equivalent for Judaism, and the Vatican is for Catholicism. Other spiritual traditions regard natural areas as numinous and exalting. For instance, the Yoruba people of Nigeria cherish Osun-Osogbo, a sacred grove of trees along the Osun River. I’d love it if there were equivalent sanctuaries for you, Virgo — where you could go to heal and recharge whenever you need to. The coming weeks will be an excellent time to identify power spots like these. If there are no such havens for you, find or create some.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): In my astrological opinion, you are entering a period when you can turn any potential breakdown into a breakthrough. If a spiritual emergency arises, I predict you will use it to rouse wisdom that sparks your emergence from numbness and apathy. Darkness will be your ally because it will be the best place to access hidden strength and untapped resources. And here’s the best news of all: Unripe and wounded parts of your psyche will get healing upgrades as you navigate your way through the intriguing mysteries.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): According to my astrological perspective, you are entering a phase when you could dramatically refine how relationships function in your life. To capitalize on the potential, you must figure out how to have fun while doing the hard work that such an effort will take. Here are three questions to get you started: 1 What can you do to foster a graceful balance between being too self-centered and giving too much of yourself? 2. Are there any stale patterns in your deep psyche that tend to undermine your love life? If so, how could you transform or dissolve them? 3. Given the fact that any close relationship inevitably provokes the dark sides of both allies, how can you cultivate healthy ways to deal with that?

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): I feel sad when I see my friends tangling with mediocre problems. The uninspiring dilemmas aren’t very interesting and don’t provoke much personal growth. They use up psychic energy that could be better allocated. Thankfully, I don’t expect you to suffer this bland fate in the coming weeks, Sagittarius. You will entertain high-quality quandaries. They will call forth the best in you. They will stimulate your creativity and make you smarter and kinder and wilder. Congratulations on working diligently to drum up such rich challenges!

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): In 1894, a modest Agave ferox plant began its life at a botanical garden in Oxford, England. By 1994, 100 years later, it had grown to be six feet tall but had never bloomed. Then one

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Bordering the Pacific Ocean for a thousand miles, Chile’s Atacama Desert is a place of stark and startling beauty. Unfortunately, its pristine landscape is also a dumping ground for vast amounts of discarded clothes that people bought cheaply, wore out quickly, and didn’t want anymore. Is there any other place on earth that more poignantly symbolizes the overlap of sacred and profane? In the coming weeks, Taurus, you will possess a special aptitude for succeeding in situations with metaphorical resemblances to the Atacama. You will have an enhanced power to inject ingenious changes wherever messiness is mixed with elegance, wherever blemished beauty requires redemption, and wherever lyrical truths need to be rescued from careless duplicity or pretense.

December day, the greenhouse temperature accidentally climbed above 68 degrees Fahrenheit. During the next two weeks, the plant grew twice as tall. Six months later, it bloomed bright yellow flowers for the first time. I suspect metaphorically comparable events will soon occur for you, Capricorn. They may already be underway.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Have you felt a longing to be nurtured? Have you fantasized about asking for support and encouragement and mentoring? If so, wonderful! Your intuition is working well! My astrological analysis suggests you would dramatically benefit from basking in the care and influence of people who can elevate and champion you, who can cherish and exalt you, who can feed and inspire you. My advice is to pursue the blessings of such helpers without inhibition or apology. You need and deserve to be treated like a vibrant treasure.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): In his book Attention Deficit Disorder: A Different Perception, Thom Hartmann theorizes that distractibility may have been an asset for our ancestors. Having a short attention span meant they were ever alert for possible dangers and opportunities in their environment. If they were out walking at night, being lost in thought could prevent them from tuning into warning signals from the bushes. Likewise, while hunting, they would benefit from being ultra-receptive to fleeting phenomena and ready to make snap decisions. I encourage you to be like a hunter in the coming weeks, Pisces. Not for wild animals, but for wild clues, wild signs, and wild help.

27 ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT EVERY WEDNESDAY IN MAY TIME: 5:30-7:30 PM HEALTH SCIENCES PARK – MANASSES & UNION - FREE entertainment, food, and drinks. SPONSORED BY HTC, Edge District MMDC, DMC, November 6 Investments, Edge Motor Museum, Ayo Tunez, Overton Park Shell, & Memphis Flyer 5/1 BAND: FLIGHT ATTENDANT DJ: AYO TUNEZ FOOD TRUCKS: SMOKE AND ICE, POKE IN PARADISE, & AUTHENTIC TOAST

Going Nuclear

How Fallout succeeds where all other game adaptations have failed.

Everything’s been adapted into a movie. Since the time of the Lumière brothers and Edison, moving picture producers have frantically looked around for things to base their stories on. If these things come with a built-in fanbase, all the better. Short stories, novels, poems, Shakespeare, musical theater, folklore, urban legends, fairy tales, pulp science ction, high fantasy, romance, board games both real and ctional, animated versions of live action lms, live action versions of animated lms — you name it, somebody’s made a movie of it.

But video games are one medium that lmmakers have persistently had trouble translating. Since even the most primitive games have to have a character to identify with and a modicum of story built in to help the action feel meaningful, you would think it would be easy to do. But all you have to do to disabuse yourself of that notion is look at a few minutes of 1993’s Super Mario Bros. e writing was on the wall long before e Angry Birds Movie took its place among history’s worst attempts at entertainment. Last year’s big hit e Super Mario Bros. Movie was, if not a masterpiece, at least a crowd-pleaser.

Fallout works as well as on the TV screen as it does in the computer monitor.

April 25-May 1, 2024

Future attempts to adapt video games (and you know they’re coming) should study Amazon’s Fallout. Based on the video game series that began in 1997, this Fallout is produced by Westworld’s Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan, who also directed the limited series’ rst three episodes. e premise of the Fallout games begins with a global thermonuclear war in 2077.

You are usually someone who survived the initial con agration in one of the several dozen self-su cient underground vaults located around the ruins of the United States who emerge a er a couple hundred years hiding from the radiation. e new world is full of recognizable bits and pieces of the old, remixed with re and time to create a fantastical (and fantastically dangerous) landscape. e stories that unfold in the post-apocalyptic world are usually basic fetch-quests, but it’s the richness of the world-building, and the dark jokes that emerge when you look too hard at the details, that has made Fallout such an enduring title.

e showrunners wisely avoid a slavish retelling of one of the stories from the games, although elements of the classic stories, such as the broken water puri er which acts as the rst game’s catalyst, do occasionally surface. e pilot begins on the day the rst bombs fell. A uent Los Angelenos of 2077 are obsessed with the trappings of 1950’s and ’60s America, right down to hiring TV cowboy Cooper Howard (Walton Goggins) as entertainment for a kid’s birthday party. He and his daughter Janey (Teagan Meredith) survive the initial bombings by riding away on horseback. When we next see Cooper, he has mutated into a red-faced undead ghoul whose nose long ago rotted o (or, as we come to learn, was perhaps harvested for spare parts by Snip Snip, a rogue medbot voiced by Matt Berry). e Ghoul is now a bounty hunter, roaming the Wasteland catching and killing humans, mutants, and other creatures in exchange for vials of drugs that keep him alive — or at least suspended between life and death.

In Vault 33, underneath what used to be suburban Los Angeles, Lucy MacLean (Ella Purnell) is ready to get married. Since she’s cousins with all the guys in her vault, she follows tradition and sends a telegram to Vault 32, asking for a breed-able male. Instead of marital bliss, 33 accidentally open their doors to raiders from the above world, led by Lee Moldaver (Sarita Choudhury). e vault dwellers barely survive the raid, and Lucy’s father Hank (Kyle MacLachlan) is kidnapped in the process. Lucy de es her vault’s ruling council, led by Betty (Leslie Uggams), and opens the door to the outside world to go looking for her father.

Meanwhile, Maximus (Aaron Moten) is not having fun. He’s a squire in the Brotherhood of Steel, a quasi-military, quasi-religious secret order who search out surviving pre-war technology to use for their own ends. The fascistic order ain’t easy if you’re on the bottom rung of the hierarchy, so Maximus is elated when he gets the nod to accompany Knight Titus (Michael Rapaport) on a mission into the wasteland to find Dr. Siggi Wilzig (Michael Emerson), a scientist who has escaped from the high-tech facility known as the Enclave with some sensitive

technology whose function is a mystery. Once they’re on the ground, the cruel Titus is injured, Maximus lets him die, then takes his power armor to seek his own fortune. ese three characters’ lives and destinies intersect in strange ways out in the American Wasteland, where nothing is ever quite what it seems. e show mines the game’s long history mostly for vibes. Watching the Brotherhood’s iconic power armor lumber through the ruins is a big thrill. e whiplash mixture of extreme danger and black humor work on the TV screen as well as in the computer monitor. e game’s stories are kept pretty basic on purpose, so that your game play experience can ll in the emotional gaps — a er all, those ghouls are shooting at you! e casting gives this adaptation a crucial edge. Purnell’s wide-eyed “okey dokey” and matter-of-fact approach to violence are perfect. Moten’s Maximus is a tightly-wound ball of trauma who you want to see do the right thing, but who o en doesn’t. Goggins dominates the screen with ghoulish badassery, but then reveals a more complex side over time. Fallout’s popularity is heartening, as it shows an appetite in the audience for moral complexity to go with the game’s gonzo visuals.

Fallout is streaming on Amazon Prime.


Our critic picks the best films in theaters.


Zendaya stars as Tashi Duncan, a teenage tennis whiz who must rebuild her life after a career-ending injury. She reinvents herself as a coach and marries Art (Mike Faist), a fellow tennis champion, and coaches him to success in the pros. When Art’s career takes a turn, he must face off against his rival Patrick (Josh O’Connor), who just so happens to be Tashi’s ex.

Boy Kills World

Bill Skarsgård, who you might remember as Pennywise from It, stars as Boy, who is actually a man. The Boy-man’s family is murdered by Famke Janssen. Rendered deaf and mute by the attack, Boy is rescued by a mysterious shaman (revered

stuntman Yayan Ruhian) and taught the means for revenge. Bob’s Burgers’ H. John Benjamin provides the voice in Boy’s head.

Civil War

Alex Garland’s cautionary tale about an America at war with itself is an unexpected hit. Kirsten Dunst stars as Lee, a journalist on a mission to interview the President (Nick Offerman) before the White House falls to the Western Forces.


Ridley Scott’s film returns to theaters for a victory lap on its 45th anniversary. Sigourney Weaver’s star-making turn as Ripley set the standard for tough-girl protagonists for decades. The alien xenomorphs will be the most terrifying screen monster you’ll see this, or any other, year. NOW

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Survival Without Bombs or Borders

Envisioning change isn’t the same thing as creating it.

An enormous ash, a mushroom cloud, multi-thousands of human beings dead. We win!

Nuclear weapons won’t go away, the cynics — the souls in despair — tell us. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle. You can’t, as Gen. James E. Cartwright, former head of U.S. Strategic Command, once put it, “un-invent nuclear weapons.” So apparently we’re stuck with them until the “big oops” happens and humanity becomes extinct. Until then: modernize, modernize, modernize. reaten, threaten, threaten.

David Barash and Ward Wilson make the case that this is completely false. We’re not “stuck” with nuclear weapons any more than we’re stuck with obsolete and ine ective technology of any sort, bluntly pointing out: “Crappy ideas don’t have to be forgotten in order to be abandoned. Useless, dangerous, or outmoded technology needn’t be forced out of existence. Once a thing is no longer useful, it unceremoniously and deservedly gets ignored.” is is a valid and signi cant challenge to the cynicism of so many people, which is an easy trap to get caught in. Nuclear weapons will eventually go the way of the penny-farthing (huge front-wheeled) bicycle, according to the authors. Humanity is capable of simply moving beyond this valueless technology — and eventually it will. e genie has no power to stop this. Praise the Lord.

Transcending cynicism is the rst step in envisioning change — but envisioning change isn’t the same thing as creating it. e next step in the process is hardly a matter of “better technology” — i.e., a better (less radioactive?) means of killing the enemy. e next step involves a change in humanity’s collective consciousness. As far as I can tell, we’re caught — horri cally caged — in the psychology of a border-drawn, divided planet. Social scientist Charles Tilly once put it with stunning simplicity: “War made the state and the state made war.” e human race cuddles with the concept of “state sovereignty.” It’s the basic right of the 193 national entities that have claimed their speci c slices of Planet Earth — and I certainly understand the “sovereignty” part. Who doesn’t want to make his or her own life decisions? But the “state” part? It’s full of paradox and contradiction, not to mention a dark permission to behave at one’s worst. e militarism that worships the nuclear genie couldn’t exist without state sovereignty.

To me the question in crucial need of being asked right now is this: What is our alternative to nationalism, which currently claims free rein (and reign) on the planet? And nationalism strides with a lethal swagger — especially nuclear-armed nationalism. For instance, as the AP recently reported, “President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Russia is ready to use nuclear weapons if its sovereignty or independence is threatened, issuing another blunt warning to the West just days before an election in which he’s all but certain to secure another six-year term.”

Or here’s the Times of Israel: “Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu said Sunday that one of Israel’s options in the war against Hamas could be to drop a nuclear bomb on the Gaza Strip …”

Plunk! Finish the job!

And then, of course, there’s the global good guy — USA! USA! — leading the charge to bring peace to the world wherever and however it can: for instance, by claiming “sovereignty” (you might say) over the national interests of South Korea and declaring, as Simone Chun puts it at Truthout, a “new Cold War with China” and implementing a “massive expansion of the provocative U.S.-led military exercises in the Korean Peninsula.”

Wow, a new Cold War! More than 300,000 South Korean troops and 10,000 American troops, in a series of war games known as “Freedom Shield 2024,” have conducted numerous eld maneuvers, including bombing runs, at the North Korean border.

Chun writes: “ e combined United States Forces Korea (USFK) and South Korean forces far overshadow those of North Korea, whose entire military budget is $1.47 billion compared to that of South Korea at $43.1 billion, not to mention that of the U.S. at $816.7 billion …

“ e U.S. is using North Korea as a pretext for its new Cold War against China,” she goes on, “and, with its control of 40 percent of the world’s nuclear stockpile, is even willing to risk nuclear war to further its geopolitical aims.”

And she quotes Noam Chomsky who, addressing the country’s blatant indi erence to this risk, points out that “the United States always plays with re.”

How do we get it to stop? We live in a self-declared democracy but we, the people, are not the ones with real authority here. ose who run the show seem essentially blind to the consequences of militarism, war and, for God’s sake, nukes. Having power means having the ability to threaten — and, if necessary, cause — harm … beyond their divinely sanctioned borders, of course (not counting the likely consequences that know no borders).

If Tilly is right — if “war made the state and the state made war” — then the state, as currently perceived, at least by those besotted with military power, is the problem. Knowing this is the beginning … but of what? Survival means nding an answer.

Robert Koehler (, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a Chicago award-winning journalist and editor. He is the author of Courage Grows Strong at the Wound, and his newly released album of recorded poetry and art work, Soul Fragments

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