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OUR 1708TH ISSUE 11.18.21

JERRY D. SWIFT Advertising Director Emeritus KELLI DEWITT, CHIP GOOGE, HAILEY THOMAS Senior Account Executives MICHELLE MUSOLF Account Executive ROBBIE FRENCH 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 memphisflyer.com CONTEMPORARY MEDIA, INC. ANNA TRAVERSE FOGLE Chief Executive Officer LYNN SPARAGOWSKI Controller/Circulation Manager JEFFREY GOLDBERG Chief Revenue Officer MARGIE NEAL Production Operations Director KRISTIN PAWLOWSKI Digital Services Director MARIAH MCCABE Circulation and Accounting Assistant KALENA MATTHEWS Marketing Coordinator

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CONTENTS

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

In this week’s issue of the Flyer, I wrote about Matt Vinson and Iris Valenzuela-Vinson’s mobile plant store, Viva La Plant Bus. To prepare for the piece, I also spoke with Amanda Willoughby and Eso Tolson, two Memphians making moves in the local art scenes, who are also well-known for their plant person status. For me, it was an absolute delight, and I hope our readers will feel the same. I can’t remember my first “green thumb” moment. My mother, my dad, and my grandmother (we always called her Grannie) all kept houseplants and were all gardeners. I can remember my mother darting over to some houseplant on a shelf in a restaurant and quickly snipping off a cutting to propagate it at home. Houseplants were more her forte; whereas, Grannie and my dad preferred to tend an outdoor garden. I remember picking blackberries at Grannie’s house, plucking green worms off the tomato vines, and shucking corn or snapping peas while sitting on the floor in her living room. She didn’t grow the latter two, but she traded with her neighbors. My dad, meanwhile, turned the area around his little white house out in rural West Tennessee into something out of a storybook. That was after we lost our house in Midtown Memphis and around the time that my sister and I spent the school PHOTO: JESSE DAVIS year in Phoenix, Arizona, Dad’s storybook garden with my mother. I think Dad wanted to give us something to look forward to, to transform the loss of stability into an excess of constantly transforming natural fireworks. So moss and lichen covered rocks in the yard, and dogwood trees and wildflowers blossomed between tall pine trees. The lessons I took from my time bouncing between Memphis, Phoenix, and a little house out “in the country” are strangely similar to the lessons we, as a society at large, are refusing to learn from the last 20 months or so. The first and foremost lesson — that any community is only as healthy as its least-protected member — is not where I want to focus today. No, that’s a subject for another column; rather, I think we need to take a step back and remember that we are not separate from nature. We tend to think in binaries, to look at the world as the realm of the natural, distinct from the human-made world of cities and social hierarchies. But what we do affects the world, and the opposite is just as true. More specifically, we’ve forgotten that all things operate in cycles. There is a growing season, but just as important is the time when a field lies fallow. Nutrients in the soil will be depleted, and quickly, if it’s made to overproduce. And the same hardy cacti that thrive in the arid Sonoran Desert will rot in Tennessee humidity. Plants are not one-size-fits-all. Nor are we meant to operate at the same capacity every day, but that’s what has been expected of nearly everyone during a global pandemic. We’ve seen mass death, but we haven’t allowed ourselves time to grieve. Of course, these issues impact everyone to a different degree. Remote work isn’t always ideal, but it’s possible in the field of journalism. The same can’t be said for every job. And it seems to me to be one of our greatest failings that we demanded the economy to operate as usual, that goods and services should be N E WS & O P I N I O N as readily available as ever. We have built THE FLY-BY - 4 NY TIMES CROSSWORD - 6 a system unable to tolerate the slightest POLITICS - 8 disruption, and one that serves very few of AT LARGE - 9 us. ROMANCE LANGUAGE - 10 Many of the individual problems we’re COVER STORY struggling to address are symptomatic of “VIVA LA PLANT BUS!” this larger ailment, this refusal to admit BY JESSE DAVIS - 12 WE RECOMMEND - 16 that humans need time in which they aren’t MUSIC - 18 required to be productive. I hope we can, CALENDAR - 20 instead of returning to normal, find a way to BOOKS - 23 be better, to shape our economic system and FOOD - 24 social structures to benefit each of us. FILM - 27 In short, I hope we grow. C LAS S I F I E D S - 30 LAST WORD - 31 Jesse Davis jesse@memphisflyer.com

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THE

fly-by

MEMernet Memphis on the internet. O N TH E J O B

POSTED TO TIKTOK BY JT RODRIGUEZ

A TikTok from JT Rodriguez seems to show a Memphis Police Department officer asleep in a patrol car. Commenters were split on the video’s veracity. You decide. H U EY’S WAR War raged on in the Memphis Sandwich Clique Facebook group last week. Keyboard warriors aligned on two sides: Pro-Huey’s and AntiHuey’s. Well, some also thought it was okay … but overrated.

November 18-24, 2021

TWE ET O F TH E WE E K Now living in Georgia, @Kokfrfr_ proclaimed, “I never lived in Tennessee. I lived in Memphis.” D O U B LE TALK Briarcrest Christian School wrote on Facebook, “A beautiful sunset showing God’s glorious sunset at the Briarcrest campus this evening!” A commenter said, “The Lord painted a beautiful painting in the sky tonight!” P R OTEST

POSTED TO FACEBOOK BY HUNTER DEMSTER

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Protesters gathered outside Briarcrest Christian School last week against an adult class from the school called “God Made Them Male and Female and That Was Good.”

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Questions, Answers + Attitude Edited by Toby Sells

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

Briarcrest, Abortion, & the Strip A “gospel response” to sex and gender, a new waiting period, and the Highland Strip gets a facelift. AB O RTI O N LAW Tennessee’s 48-hour waiting PHOTO: UNIVERSITY NEIGHBORHOODS DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION period for abortions is now an unquestioned law, said the Tennessee Attorney General last week, as “the legal battle is over.” Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery said Friday the window of opportunity for a review of the law by the U.S. Supreme Court has closed. The 48-hour waiting period for an abortion “is no longer subject to question,” he said. The law passed the Tennessee General Assembly in 2015. Later, a district court agreed with abortion providers that the law violated a woman’s right to have an abortion. The ruling stopped officials from enforcing the law. State officials appealed the ruling to the full Sixth Circuit Court A $6 million project aims to upgrade the Highland Strip’s of Appeals. That court reversed the walkability and safety for pedestrians. lower-court judgment saying the law “is not a substantial obstacle to abortion for a large fraction School (BCS) after a class for adults at the school offered a of women seeking pre-viability abortions in Tennessee.” “gospel response” to issues of gender and sexuality. The school promoted a class called “God Made Them Male STR I P G ETS WALK AB LE and Female and That Was Good: A Gospel Response to CulThe Highland Strip is getting a pedestrian-friendly facelift as work ture’s Gender Theory.” began last week on a $6 million project from Midland to Southern. An email about the class drew fire online. On Facebook, The project will calm traffic along the strip, aiming to imKevin Dean, a former BCS student, said the school gives prove safety for all, especially pedestrians. Improvements will “Christianity a bad, bad name” and that he is “embarrassed to include a raised traffic table at the intersection of Midland and tell people I attended Briarcrest Christian School.” Highland. The device raises the entire wheelbase of a vehicle The school did not post any response to backlash. to reduce its traffic speed. A new mast-arm traffic signal will “Briarcrest’s code of conduct states that LGBTQ+ students direct traffic at the intersection. will be expelled should their identity be discovered, and The project will bring two new signalized crosswalks on students are also subject to discipline if their parents support Highland, as well. It also includes raised medians with plantthem in any way,” reads a statement from OUTMemphis. “We ings, new street trees, new sidewalks, and landscaping along condemn in the strongest possible terms this repugnant apboth the east and west sides of the roadway, asphalt paving, proach to youth education.” and new streetlights. OUTMemphis said 42 percent of LGBTQ+ youth consid“This project will be totally transformational for the Highered suicide in the last year and the numbers are higher if land Strip and the surrounding neighborhoods, creating a youth are in hostile school environments. much safer, walkable, and enjoyable environment,” said Cody “We call on the administration of Briarcrest to open their Fletcher, executive director of the University Neighborhoods eyes and acknowledge the harm they are inflicting. We call on Development Corporation (UNDC). the parents there to advocate for their children and peers by demanding changes or removing their kids from the school.” Visit the News Blog at memphisflyer.com for fuller versions of “R E P U G NANT” these stories and more local news. OUTMemphis called for changes at Briarcrest Christian


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Crossword ACROSS

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Suzanne Somers’s role on “Three’s Company” 8 Wind River tribe 15 Cornmeal treat 16 Crescentshaped 17 Called things off 18 Star-studded event held annually at the Anna Wintour Costume Center in New York 19 Highway divider 20 Marriott competitor 21 “You ain’t ___!” 22 Six-time All-Star Ron 23 Where college students might take a stand? 24 Inclined 25 Some acts

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November 18-24, 2021

Clearing It Up Tennessee Valley Authority criticized for lack of transparency.

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Online subscriptions: Today’s puzzle and more than 7,000 past puzzles, nytimes.com/crosswords ($39.95 a year). Read about and comment on each puzzle: nytimes.com/wordplay.

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Two groups urged the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) for more transparency and more public input last week, reminding that the power giant is a public agency. In a letter, the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) objected to TVA’s “effort to evade meaningful public engagement” around its decisions on where to store coal ash from the former Allen Fossil Plant in Memphis. Also, protesters locked arms in Knoxville, demanding TVA “immediately resume public listening sessions” at board meetings, which were suspended on Covid-19 concerns. TVA has agreed to remove coal ash — a threat to the area’s drinking water — from ponds at the Allen plant. But SELC attorneys say the process of finding a location to dump the ash has not been transparent and the utility has not engaged well with neighbors who may be affected by the selection. The group is now asking TVA for an additional review of the project. It says TVA did not adequately seek out other sites for the ash. TVA also “violated federal regulations by depriving communities in South Memphis the opportunity to provide input on the disposal plan.” That plan will run trucks from the Allen site across several South Memphis neighborhoods to the landfill (close to the corner of Holmes and Malone). “TVA’s decision will impose nearly a decade of additional traffic, noise, air pollution, and public safety impacts on predominantly Black, low-wealth communities in South Memphis that already bear more than their fair share of

PHOTO: TENNESSEE VALLEY ENERGY DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT

Protesters demand transparency from the Tennessee Valley Authority. environmental burdens — including the cumulative burdens associated with 60 years of TVA’s burning of coal at the Allen Coal Plant and TVA’s ongoing operation of the Allen Combined Cycle Plant,” reads the SELC letter. Scott Brooks, a TVA spokesperson, said 40 public engagement events have been held over the last five years. The South Shelby Landfill was identified as early as 2019, and it meets “a rigorous set of criteria with oversight and approval by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC).” Protesters gathered in Knoxville last week with a demonstration called “Locked Out, Locked Arms,” seeking access to TVA board meetings. The meetings have been mostly virtual through much of the pandemic, but some board members are gathering in person once again. However, the board has not resumed public listening sessions at meetings. “Unlike legislative bodies and government agencies across the country that have adapted and adopted virtual participation and public comment in response to Covid-19, TVA’s board has not held any public listening sessions since it shifted to virtual board meetings in May 2020,” reads a statement from the Tennessee Valley Energy Democracy Movement. Brooks said TVA’s offices are closed on Covid concerns.


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POLITICS By Jackson Baker

An Uneven Week for Sheriff Bonner He’s home-free, electorally, but he’s got the jailhouse blues. Sheriff Floyd Bonner had ample reason to feel satisfied last week. Previously he had been informed that the Republicans would not include his office in their 2022 primary elections. And on Wednesday of last week, he was treated as something of a conquering hero by a large crowd of rank-and-file Democrats and candidates for other offices at a party forum. Indeed, Bonner spoke early, as a de facto head of the party ticket, at the forum, which was sponsored at the Great Hall of Germantown by District 4 (Germantown, Cordova) of the Shelby County Democratic Party. And he was well applauded. Yet all is not sunny weather for the sheriff. He is currently vexed by the matter of the county jail, as he made plain

in his remarks at the forum. In effect, Bonner made a somewhat desperatesounding plea, asking that those present help him in rounding up candidates to work at the jail, promising a $5,000 bonus for anyone applying and accepted, to go with a salary in the $40,000 range. “And they can be 18 years old,” he said. The sheriff did not mention another fact about the jail — that he has been the subject of a suit filed by the ACLU on behalf of the inmate population, which, according to the suit, is seriously underserved in the matter of protection from the ravages of Covid-19. Bonner is also bound by a consent decree to remedy the matter, overseen by federal Judge Sheryl Lipman, who finds both staff and inmates, a small minority of whom are vaccinated, to be in “deep peril.” (Three deputy jailers have died from Covid, and numerous inmates have become seriously ill.) Lipman has issued a follow-up

PHOTO: JACKSON BAKER

Sheriff Floyd Bonner

order denying a motion by the sheriff to suspend the decree. Supporters of the ACLU action succeeded in getting a resolution critical of the sheriff ’s inaction on the agenda of the SCDP’s executive committee Thursday night, but it was rejected 21 to 3, with members of the majority proclaiming a reluctance to impose judgment on the sheriff ’s prerogatives. And clearly the realpolitik of 2020 electoral politics played a role in the outcome. The court order remains, however, as does the resolve of local activists demanding compliance. As this week began, Sheriff Bonner, who won all the votes last week, lost one. The first reading of a resolution to raise his annual pay from $164,765 to $199,500 failed in the Shelby County Commission by a vote of two ayes, two noes, and seven abstentions. The magic number would have been nine, a two-thirds majority.

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AT L A R G E B y B r u c e Va n W y n g a r d e n

Hit the Brakes An epidemic of reckless driving is plaguing Memphis.

There’s nothing new about the love affair between reckless youth and reckless driving. The Memphis City Council passed an ordinance designed to punish those who take part in organized races and stunt demonstrations. The police department launched Operation Slow Down Memphis in August and says it is directing extra resources for patrolling and monitoring local thoroughfares. Speed bumps have been added on Front Street and other thoroughfares popular with motorheads. All good, but I think a more proactive approach might be necessary, at least as long as this phenomenon lasts. Call it profiling, if you want, but these vehicles aren’t hard to spot. If MPD officers see a drive-out tag on a muscle car while on patrol, I would have no problem with them pulling that car over and doing a license and registration check. These vehicles can be as dangerous as a loaded gun. Drag racing and performative stunt-driving in crowded entertainment districts and residential neighborhoods are putting lives at risk for nothing other than misguided testosterone. It’s time to hit the brakes.

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was northbound on Cooper, first in line at the stoplight at Central, patiently waiting for it to turn green. A guy a few cars behind me wasn’t in a patient mood. He peeled out of the line, roared forward using the oncoming traffic lane, then made a hard right onto Central, squealing his tires as he accelerated across my bow, headed east. I turned to my left to see the driver in the turn lane next to me looking wide-eyed, shaking his head in disbelief. Two days later, I was having dinner with a friend at an outdoor table in crowded Overton Square. As we were about to dig into our meal, a matte-gray Mustang about 40 feet away on Madison Avenue began spinning its tires, sending up a sulfurous cloud of burning rubber, before passing two cars and accelerating through a red light at Cooper. The following day, while discussing the incident with friends, I was shown a TikTok video of a white muscle car pulling up alongside a Memphis police cruiser and doing a complete donut around it before speeding off into the night. What in the world is going on here? The most comprehensive answers to that question were covered in an excellent two-part story by Micaela Watts in The Commercial Appeal in early October. I urge you to read it. The condensed version is that a subculture of souped-up muscle cars has emerged in the city, fueled by overpowered vehicles (Dodge Chargers, Mustangs, Infinitis) from the mid-2000s that have become cheap to buy, and by the ability of their drivers to obtain or create fake drive-out tags in lieu of license plates. Since Memphis police are prohibited (thankfully) from high-speed chases, the hot-rodders have gotten bolder — on the streets of Memphis and in displaying their dangerous antics on social media. There’s nothing new about the love affair between reckless youth and reckless driving. It’s been glorified in pop culture since at least 1951, when Jackie Brenston’s “Rocket 88” (cited by most

as the first rock-and-roll record) was released right here in Memphis. Tell me which of the following tunes rings your bell, and I’ll tell you how old you are: “Little GTO,” “Fun, Fun, Fun,” “Mustang Sally,” “Radar Love,” “Little Red Corvette,” “Pink Cadillac,” “I Can’t Drive 55,” “Bitchin’ Camaro,” “Shut Up and Drive.” I could go on. And on. The Google “songs about cars” rabbit hole has more inventory than Covington Pike. If it makes you feel any better, the raging muscle car craze is a nationwide phenomenon, not just a Memphis thing. But that doesn’t help the people who’ve been killed by drivers illicitly racing through the city streets of America, including two people here who were killed by an off-duty Memphis cop going 100 miles an hour in his Dodge Charger. Local television stations have aired video of cars racing around the I-240 loop, using other traffic like participants in a video game. It’s crazy out there.

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My pappy said, “Son, you’re gonna’ drive me to drinkin’ If you don’t stop drivin’ that Hot Rod Lincoln.” — Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen

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ROMANCE LANGUAGE By Daphne Maysonet

The Iron Swipe The complicated world of online dating.

M

y last three relationships and my last approximately 74 star-crossed situationships all began on the World Wide Web. This might shake the sensibilities of readers who have ever said, “I’m glad I met old so-and-so before online dating. I couldn’t possibly imagine doing it now. Perish the thought!” After the last year of homebound communication, I don’t need to explain the uncomfortable value of internet connectedness. We all happen to be at the same 24-hour party of social media, and it’s strange. It makes love matches appear more possible as a by-product of numbers. We can “meet” people we haven’t seen in our daily lives. We can connect with people in niche fandoms all over the globe. The plenty of fish in the sea are multiplied. And while social media platforms do their best to mimic the organic meeting of souls in a gigantic cacophony — rife with mutual ties and deceptively complete with life lived in words and images — dating apps take it a step further. The first time I ever created a dating profile was a few years ago at the onset of Facebook dating. This seemed to make sense given that data on my preferences had been mined for a decade. Why not let Cupid Zuck use it for good! I was wrong. I encountered the typical experience in all its superficiality and power. I rejected interested parties en masse with my iron swipe. I talked to a few people and eventually felt overwhelmed maintaining conversations with lots of men with whom I shared the delicate desire for romance. Both details are problematic: 1. The truth is that someone in real life who doesn’t catch my heart-eye might with time. People can become exponentially more attractive through building rapport. I’ve developed crushes on probably 326 coworkers in this way — unlikely candidates whose familiar quirks grew appealing. The dating app invites you to treat humans as bad résumés — a slush pile to screen as quickly as possible. The ethics are debatable, but it just doesn’t accurately represent the complexity of attraction in the real world. 2. Okay, so you matched. You made it past the split-second gateway. You are joined in the revelation of your common intent to grow that precious flower of love.

In the everyday emotional availability desert, simply wanting a relationship is an oasis. It’s intoxicating. So much so that it’s easy to overlook other metrics for compatibility. Compatibility: that naturally occurring thing we taste when we meet someone at a concert and can assume we share interest in the band or setting. Meeting someone entirely new on a dating app can seem suspicious. Where has the beloved been? Is this person cool in a way that means something to me? If I’ve never seen this person at events I attend because they’re important to me, do we have enough in common to make it last? This is absolutely unfair. You can be new to town. (Ah, I remember the days of

PHOTO: TERO VESALAINEN | DREAMSTIME.COM

being the coveted transplant fondly.) Or maybe you’re freshly single. Maybe you’re overcoming paralyzing social anxiety. Maybe you just haven’t yet found your love of the thing at the center of the scene in question. There are reasons. My last relationship began on a dating app and proved incompatible. We shared some relationship preferences, some priorities, and a few personality traits. It wasn’t enough. Even so, I still have hope it’s possible to meet some undiscovered Romeo on the likes of Hinge or Bumble. In vibrant Midtown, where we same 50 people attend every art show, concert, and film screening, where we inevitably date all of the same few singles left, it is important to see reminders of a world beyond the bubble and into the realm of single, available people open to partnership. Besides, dating isn’t appreciated enough as a leisure habit. Life is short. Drive to Clarksdale on a full moon to meet that match and have the best one-night stand of your life; then gather your tattered little ghosted heart for the next adventure. Just hypothetically, I mean. Live a little.


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11


A L A ! V S VI NT BU A L P

~

*

COVER STORY BY JESSE DAVIS PHOTOS BY JUSTIN FOX BURKS

IRIS VALENZUELA-VINSON AND MATT VINSON BRING GREENERY TO MEMPHIS WITH THEIR MOBILE PLANT STORE.

I

November 18-24, 2021

t’s a brisk but sunny November Saturday as Memphians wander among the booths at the Broad Avenue Artwalk. A performer croons a sad, slow song over the clean tones of a softly strummed electric guitar. At Sugar Ghost Ice Cream and Bubble Tea, the line of customers stretches out the door and onto the sidewalk. “This is the best idea ever,” says a woman wearing a Memphis Tigers sweatshirt as she ducks her way into Viva La Plant Bus, parked next to the Falling Into Place gift shop. Inside the bus, pothos vines dangle from shelves along the walls, and snake plants and other leafy greenery reach toward the vibrantly decorated ceiling. It’s a bus; it’s a plant store; according to one Tigers fan, it might be the best idea ever. It’s Viva La Plant Bus, the mobile plant store owned and 12 operated by the husband-and-wife duo of Matt Vinson and Iris Valenzuela-Vinson.

TRANSPLANTS: FROM TEXAS TO TENNESSEE Matt originally hails from Fort Worth, Texas, but in 2012 — before traveling to Memphis — he moved the 2,000 miles to Portland, Oregon. “I am originally from El Paso, Texas,” Iris says. “Same as Matt — in 2012 I moved to Portland, Oregon. We didn’t know each other at the time, but I think he moved there about a month before I did. I went to art school out there. I just kind of loved it and decided to go to school out there.” The two met in 2015 at the Toyota dealership where they were both employed. Matt worked in the service department and Iris was a receptionist, so they didn’t cross paths often. That is, until a faulty tire brought Iris to Matt’s department. “She thought I was a pretty cute guy,” Matt says. “I pursued him after I left the job,” Iris says with a laugh. Matt quips, “He’s from Texas, he can change a tire, what else do you need?”

As the romance progressed, the couple discovered they shared a goal — to own and operate their own business. “Knowing we wanted to be small business owners one day is something we bonded over very quickly,” Iris says. “I think that’s something that has always stuck with us. Living in Portland, small businesses very much meant community for both of us.” Iris and Matt married in 2018. A year later, the young couple picked up and moved to Memphis. They were ready for a change, Matt says, and being in Memphis turned a multi-day drive to visit family in Texas into a more manageable six-hour drive. The Texas transplants say they love Memphis, though they did have to do a little bit of adjusting. “Definitely the biggest change for us would be the weather,” Matt says. “The first summer was definitely — ” “Brutal,” they say in unison. “We ended up in a rental that wasn’t that great, that we didn’t get a chance to see before we got here.


ON THE BUS “Plants are definitely my thing. I will take that credit,” Iris admits. When she was a child, she saw them at her grandparents’ house. “I was very lucky to grow up very close to them, within five minutes probably, so we spent a lot of time with them. And both my grandparents are huge plant people,” she remembers. “That’s just something that’s always been around me.” The passion persists, both in Iris and in her relatives. In fact, her grandfather is about to turn 90, and he still maintains a large collection of plants. “My grandparents had everything. I remember they had a lime tree and then aloe vera plants everywhere, of course, because we were in the desert so they grow so easily. And a lot of houseplants, too. That was very much my grandmother’s little touches,” Iris says. Hearkening back to her childhood, one of Matt and Iris’ goals with Viva La Plant Bus, Iris says, is “being a representation for Latinx culture in the community. That was a very important thing for us and was definitely the whole theme for the bus. It’s been really cool to create an environment that’s based on my culture and really celebrates it. “We definitely have a lot of customers who come out and are really excited to see a space that is familiar to them,” Iris says. “It’s been great, too, to connect to other Latinx business owners, like Mili’s Flower Truck. She’s been really great.” Mili opened some communication lines with other local businesses when Matt and Iris were first launching the plant bus, and the couple says they’re still grateful for the connections. “The reception has been overwhelmingly positive, so we’ve been excited about that,” Matt adds. LET IT GROW: LOVE, PLANTS, AND BUSINESS Beginning a business is no small thing, even in the best of times. Launching a relatively new concept — plants? on a bus? — during a pandemic is another level of risk. Add to that equation that Matt and Iris were new in town, both worked other jobs, and that

Matt’s job was supervising the opening of a new Tesla location; the mind-boggling effort that went into Viva La Plant Bus begins to clarify. “It’s been very challenging to say the least,” Matt says, with a touch of modesty. “We both have our weekly jobs, and on the weekends it’s the plant bus,” he continues. “During the week, Iris maintains and builds up the plants that we have. And we’re working on social media and marketing during the week as well. It’s been a lot of evenings and dinners discussing bus- and business-related things. It’s been challenging, but it’s been really fun.” Of course, as any small business owner or indie band member will confess, the business will wind its way into one’s personal life as well, ignoring the delineation of socalled “business hours” and creeping like kudzu vines. So, even though there’s a whole bus devoted to Iris and Matt’s business, so, too, has it claimed a room of their house. “We have converted our spare bedroom into a plant studio. We currently have five three-tier shelves full of plants and plant lights. It’s a lot to maintain during the week,” Iris says. She spends time each day repotting plants, watering them, and adding little Viva La Plant Bus touches to their pots and containers. “I get so much joy out of seeing my plants grow and thrive,” Iris says, admitting that she celebrates every time one of her plants gets a new leaf. “That’s the everyday — maintaining plants, making sure things are healthy and pest-free — and at night I’m a bartender.” Challenges aside, Iris and Matt have enjoyed building the business together. There are times they get on each other’s nerves, they admit, but they think it’s good to have something to work on together. “It does get me away from the worries of the daily work at my job,” Matt says. “It’s a good thing to do in our ‘free’ time. It’s something we’ve been doing together, and it’s been really enjoyable.” “Saturday is typically our pop-up day. Saturday morning is get up, take care of the dogs, and start loading plants,” Iris says. They spend Saturday mornings watering plants, putting them on “huge trays,” and getting them on the bus. The pop-ups usually last about six hours, then it’s time to drive home, unload the bus, and take inventory of unsold stock. FLOWERS IN THE WINDOW “I saw the bus for sale from a brand that was selling Mexican huaraches,” Iris says, “and they were on that next step for their business, so giving up their bus.” The bus already had the trellis roof with greenery, and it had been partially converted into a retail space. “It already had the Mexican continued on page 14

{

Rooted in community and creativity, Iris ValenzuelaVinson and Matt Vinson’s Viva La Plant Bus plants seeds of wonder and excitement, no matter where the couple brings their business.

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

So the first summer was sweaty.” Before long, the couple began to thrive in a new environment, and the experience with the not-so-great rental home would later help inform their business. Houseplants are, after all, one simple way to brighten a dreary space. “They go to each place with you,” Iris says of her houseplants, noting the difference between, say, a favorite satin-leaf pothos or a dilapidated couch or a piece of furniture that might be too heavy or expensive to move, especially across the country. But, as Iris says, “Your plant, you just always make room for them.”

13


PLANT CARE WITH AMANDA Amanda Willoughby is co-owner of Not Your Ordinary Films production company. She’s also the lead video facilitator for Memphis Public Libraries at CLOUD901 Teen Learning Lab and the Mentor Program Coordinator and the Black Creators Forum/Festival Producer at Indie Memphis. Her film skills are put to use in a myriad of ways, not the least of which is in managing her @planty.droppers Instagram account, where she waters her houseplants in seductive slow-motion. Her videos turn routine plant care into something steamier — and generally more entertaining. Now she’s a recurring guest on Action News 5’s “Bluff City Life” segment, where she shares her tips for keeping houseplants healthy and thriving. We asked her to share a few tips with our readers who might be interested in taking the plunge into houseplant parenthood.

continued from page 13

November 18-24, 2021

upholstery in the back and that green wall, and I just immediately thought ‘a plant bus,’” Iris says. “It’s a no-brainer.” So Iris and Matt put their plant plan into action. They purchased the bus in February of this year, picked it up from Los Angeles in April, and opened for business in August. Since then, it’s been a process, as their business began to take root and thrive in Memphis. “I think honestly we’re just taking it day by day,” Iris says. “We’ve just really been enjoying where this is taking us and are excited to see what is possible for the plant bus. I don’t think we have any intention of opening a brick-and-mortar.” They enjoy the mobility the bus offers — and keeping costs low, for themselves and for their customers. It’s nice, Iris and Matt admit, not having to pay rent for a storefront. That was also a factor in working up the courage to take the leap on a new business in a pandemic. “We didn’t have to deal with the insecurity of ‘Are we going to be able to cover rent? Are we going to maintain a 14 lease? Are we going to have people come into our store?’” Matt explains. Of course,

there were still challenges — and reasons to be nervous — but the bus felt like a safer investment. So they kept an eye on the future. They weren’t sure if people would want to go out, but if the customers did appear (and they did), Viva La Plant Bus would be ready. As Iris and Matt’s bus has tooled around Memphis, they have built a customer base, and the pair say that business has been going well. What’s most important to them, though, is creating a space to foster wonder and excitement. They want people to learn the joys of caring for plants, that it’s not as difficult or as frightening as it might appear, and to transport their customers, if only for a little while, to a place where even something as mundane as a bus can be magical. “People love the bus,” Iris says. “It’s just such an experience.” Viva La Plant Bus will be at Soul & Spirits Brewing Saturday, November 27th; Frances Berry-Moreno Open Studio Saturday, December 4th; and Memphis Modern Market at Saddle Creek Sunday, December 5th. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram at @vivalaplantbus. continued on page 26

Memphis Flyer: First, I have to say I’m a huge fan of your Instagram page @planty.droppers. It’s hilarious and also pretty satisfying to watch plants get watered. What gave you the idea for that? Amanda Willoughby: I came up with the idea for @planty.droppers out of sheer boredom one day at home. I started recording some of my plant care and got a little creative with the shots. And then came the music! I personally thought they were cool and just kept the videos to myself for a while and made them for my own entertainment. Then I figured, if I like these so much, why not share them for other people to see? Turns out other people liked it too! How did you get into caring for houseplants? About five years ago I was given a handful of houseplants and managed to kill them all. After that, determined to keep plants alive, I bought more and learned how to properly care for them. I watched a lot of YouTube tutorials. I also really loved the way they looked as home decor. Somehow, this grew into an obsession with having plants in my house, in every room. The slightly improved air quality is also a plus. Do you have a favorite plant to care for? Yes! Jade plants! They’re so beautiful. The jades are my oldest plants, and they don’t require much attention. Jades grow slowly, but they are easy to manipulate into desired shapes and patterns. I have about seven bonsai jade trees that are my

PHOTO: COURTESY AMANDA WILLOUGHBY

Amanda Willoughby pride and joy. They’re also really easy to propagate, so I’ve given several jade babies away as gifts. I propagate my pothos, but I’ve never tried with anything else. Do you have any tips for propagating plants? Have patience. Other plants, such as succulents, take more time to grow roots. Sometimes it can take months, so be sure to research the proper way to propagate each of your plants. Trust mother nature to do her thing, and enjoy the process. Are there any tips you would give to new plant parents? Research the care for every plant you acquire (light, soil, and watering needs). In the beginning, I made the mistake of treating all of my plants the same, which is the reason many of them died. They each have their own needs and an ideal environment for thriving. Be sure you can accommodate those needs in your home. Where can Memphians see what you’ve got growing? You can check out my bimonthly segment all about plant parenting on “Bluff City Life.” And of course, follow my plants on IG. Is there anything else you want people to know? A green thumb is not something that comes to people naturally. It’s a skill that anyone can learn. So, if it interests you, try it out and see where that leads you. Being a plant mom has taught me a lot about how nature operates, and I’ve grown to have the utmost respect for mother nature. It’s pretty cool that the skills that are necessary for plant care (patience, understanding, logic) can help us in so many other areas of life.


15

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


steppin’ out (& stayin’ in)

We Recommend: Culture, News + Reviews

Sugar Rum Cherry

By Abigail Morici

PHOTO: MARY GUNNING

NutRemix dancer

For nearly two decades, New Ballet Ensemble has been performing its take on Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker with its NutRemix. Set on Beale Street, this performance blends ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, flamenco, Memphis Jookin, and West African dance while the Memphis Symphony Orchestra puts a fresh spin on the original score. “After a year not on our stage, a lot of our students are coming back, and the show is coming back to life and the love will emanate off the stage,” says Katie Smythe, New Ballet CEO and artistic director who conceived of the show back in 2003. “And the NutRemix is all about love, which is always needed.” Since its inception, the production has gone through a few minor changes, but it’s always stuck to the same story. “In 2003, you had to be pretty explicit and didactic about social justice themes. It angered some audiences members, and it thrilled others,” Smythe says. “Now, we feel like people come to this show because they want to see this human tapestry on the stage. They embrace it for its diversity, and we’re going to dig deeper into the cultural diversity by bringing in experts of the art forms.” For next year’s performance, the ensemble plans to explore Colombian, Indian, and Congolese dance. “This year is sort of a fond farewell to the genres that have been in Act II,” Smythe says, “and next year we’re gonna embrace some new genres which is a huge education for our audience, for our dancers, for our students, and for me.”

COMEBACK COFFEE

ART STREIBER | AUGUST

NEW BALLET’S NUTREMIX, CANNON CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS, 225 N. MAIN, SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 20TH, 5:30 P.M., AND SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 21ST, 2:30 P.M., $20-$45.

November 18-24, 2021

Carmen Maria Machado discuss her collection of short stories. Books, p. 23

16

Order another round of canned coffee sodas at Comeback Beverage Co. Food, p. 24

VARIOUS DAYS & TIMES November 18th - 24th Black Power, Jewish Politics: Reinventing the Alliance in the 1960s rhodes.edu, Thurs., Nov. 18, 8 p.m., free Scholar and author Marc Dollinger will discuss his latest book, Black Power, Jewish Politics: Reinventing the Alliance in the 1960s, which argues against the historical narrative remembered and taught today about “the alliance” — the famed union between Black and Jewish leaders from the early 20th century through the Civil Rights movement and its dissolution following the rise of Black Power.

The Toymaker’s Apprentice Circuit Playhouse, 51 S. Cooper, Thurs., Nov. 18, 7 p.m., $32 Opening night of a sweet holiday show celebrating hard work, fairmindedness, and the joy of artistry. Old Gideon has a decision to make: Will Jack or Libby be the new apprentice for Gideon’s Toyshop? Watch as the most unique interview process gives each child an equal chance, but only one will win the job in a shop populated by not-entirelyhuman toy-makers. Performances run through December 22nd.

Press Play: 52nd Birthday Celebration playhouseonthesquare.org, Fri., Nov. 19, noon-8 p.m. Enjoy past performances from the organization’s unprecedented 52nd season and Playhouse on the Square at Home series. Follow staff and special guests as they visit Memphis area attractions that have partnered with the theater for years. Then, groove to the music of local Memphis artists. The event is a fundraiser and will accept donations that go toward general funding.

The Sugar Run 5k 8040 Wolf River Blvd., Sat., Nov. 20, 8 a.m. Benefiting JDRF’s “Fund A Cure” for Type 1 Diabetes Research. The run will be along Wolf River Boulevard in Germantown. Over its 15-year history, the event has raised over a quarter-million dollars for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation West TN Chapter. The inaugural run in Germantown will feature The Elite Run alongside the classic Sugar Run 5K and Kids Fun Run, making the event accessible for people of all ages and skill levels.


Live music at

PHOTO: NATASHA RAWLS

Natasha Rawls with her 1927 Underwood No. 5 typewriter

What’s Your Type?

By Abigail Morici

Natasha Rawls, author of Abandoned North and South Memphis: What’s Left Behind, bought her first antique typewriter in 2013 from eBay, but when she realized her typewriter didn’t work despite the seller’s claim, she left it at a shop to get fixed, where the worker there told her he couldn’t. She left it there permanently, $85 down the drain. At the time, she was a single parent, worked two jobs, and had written two self-published novels. But this February, after the death of a few loved ones due to Covid, Rawls bought her next typewriter and then another and another, until she accumulated the 45 she has now. “I had to learn how to fix them by going to YouTube University,” she says. “It was therapeutic for me.” During this time, she also found a typewriter community online that helped her figure out the ins and outs of the machines. She even participates in a weekly typewriter club. Now, all but two of Rawls’ typewriters are working as smoothly as they did back in the day. Her oldest is an Oliver Typewriter from 1915, and her most recent is a 1980s cursive electronic model. “Each typewriter has its own personality. They inspire you in different ways,” she says. “My favorite for the past few weeks has been the 1926 Remington 12. ... And I have to wonder — and I know this is morbid — what’s going to happen to my typewriters when I’m gone.” To share her love of typewriters, Rawls has organized a Type Out at Cordova Library for the public to try out all her typewriters. “You can type on them, and there’ll be a typing contest and different little activities,” she says. “And you can bring your own typewriters, too.”

November 18th - 7:00pm POCKET FUNK

TYPE OUT, CORDOVA LIBRARY, 8457 TRINITY, SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 20TH, 11 A.M.-1 P.M., FREE.

November 19th - 8:00pm NOLA 901

11/18 -7pm

Pocket Funk

11/19 - 8pm 11/20 - 8pm

Chinese Dub Connection Embassy

11/26 - 8pm

Water Lantern Festival Martin Luther King Riverside Park, 498 W. Mallory, Sat., Nov. 20, 5-9 p.m., $35 Write a note, your wishes, or your fears on a lantern and watch it float away, lit up among other lanterns in the water. (It’s like the scene in Tangled.) Each adult ticket covers entry to the festival, a floating lantern kit, LED candle, commemorative drawstring bag, and marker. The price also covers the cost of removing the lanterns as well as any trash that may have previously been in or around the water.

Gen-Z Cellist: Iris Orchestra with Zlatomir Fung, Cello Germantown Performing Arts Center, 1801 Exeter, Sat., Nov. 20, 7:30 p.m., $45-$70 The first American in four decades and youngest musician ever to win First Prize at the International Tchaikovsky Competition Cello Division, 21-yearold Zlatomir Fung is poised to become one of the preeminent cellists of our time. He joins Iris for this evening beginning with Tchaikovsky’s sparkling Rococo Variations and closing with Mozart’s landmark Symphony No. 40 in G minor.

University of Memphis Jazz Singers presents “… of Place and Time” Harris Concert Hall, 3775 Central, Mon., Nov. 22, 7:30 p.m., free The University of Memphis Jazz Singers invite you to start your week off on a high note. The repertoire for the evening from U of M Jazz Singers is swinging, varied, and poignant. The selections performed are wideranging, made famous from names such as Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, and Barbra Streisand … and some blues! Reserve your seat online at memphis.edu.

The Soul Rebels

11/27 - 8pm

John Nemeth

11/28 - 8pm

Ghost Note

railgarten.com 2 1 6 6 C e n t r a l Av e . Memphis TN 38104

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Even with a star-studded cast and an Oscar-winning director, Marvel’s Eternals is an eternal bore. Film, p. 27

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

NOLA 901

17


MUSIC By Alex Greene

Rev. Charles Hodges JASON D

WILLIAMS WED

NOV

7PM

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 8 • 8 PM

November 18-24, 2021

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 14 • 7PM

18

RING IN THE NEW YEAR! FT. RADIOMAZE AND ALMOST FAMOUS VIP PACKAGES ON SALE NOW!

Looking back on a life in music that reads like a sermon.

W

hen you have a chance to speak to a musical innovator like the Rev. Charles Hodges, you don’t think twice. Here, still living and performing among us, is a man who redefined the place of organ in soul music, shaping the hits of a generation by way of forging his own voice. Now, Hodges has found his voice on the printed page as well with the release of his authorized biography, My Story: Charles Edward Hodges Sr., written by Delois Jackson. One side benefit of the book’s release this year has been that Hodges is eager to talk about his life. And, sitting down to hear him tell the tales, one realizes that the book, with only about 80 pages of narrative, barely scratches the surface. That may be because of the roundabout way the book came into being. “This book is more of an introduction,” Hodges explains. “I didn’t use a professional writer, but she is known for her work. Delois Jackson. She’s a member at the church where I’m an associate minister, and she noticed my shoes and the way I dressed. That captured her imagination — she didn’t know anything about me. So she started asking members of the church, and they’d say, ‘You don’t know him?’ One day she came to me and asked if I’d be interested in her doing a book on me, and I said, ‘Yeah, that’d be kind of interesting.’”

It’s more like a homespun sermon, looking unflinchingly at the whole of his life. Such understatement is typical of a man whose watchword is humility. “It’s nice, feeling like a hero,” he says, “but I’m one of those humble heroes, I guess.” That quality is echoed in the book itself, which bears an old-school formality and dignity that is rare in music biographies. Indeed, it captures some of the spirit of the ministry to which Hodges has dedicated his life for the past 23 years. Similar to the way certain words are highlighted for emphasis in the Bible, key phrases in Hodges’ life are singled out by the author. “We were poor but never hungry,” reads one quote. “I often

PHOTO: RONNIE BOOZE

Rev. Charles Hodges at Royal Studios went to the icebox and kitchen cabinets looking for food.” Later, Jackson notes that “For Charles, using crack cocaine the second time led to an eleven-year nightmare of drug use.” Such an approach distinguishes the volume from more conventional music biographies. It’s more like a homespun sermon, looking unflinchingly at the whole of his life, from his rural upbringing to his studio session days, from drug addiction to his own redemption. Most readers may already know Hodges’ work under producer Willie Mitchell, who dubbed him “Do Funny” for the unpredictable flourishes Hodges would bring to a track. Hits by Al Green, Ann Peebles, O.V. Wright, Syl Johnson, and Otis Clay all bore Hodges’ unique stamp. But one delight of this book is its deeper look at the roots of the Hodges family, including Charles’ two brothers, “Flick” and “Teenie,” who would also become integral to the Hi Records sound. All of them came up under the musical guidance of their father, Leroy Hodges Sr., in rural Germantown. “My dad was one of the greatest blues piano players in the city,” says Hodges now. “I’m going to say in the world. And I’m not saying that just because he was my dad. I still can’t understand today how

he could do the things he did. He played that boogie and he wouldn’t skip a beat!” But Leroy Hodges Sr. was content to see what instruments his sons took to naturally before he taught them more. “My dad wouldn’t help me until he saw that I wanted to do it,” Hodges recalls. “We brought the piano in the house when I was about 11 years old. And there was about a year where I would get on the piano and just bang it. At about age 12 was when he came over my shoulder. He’d say, ‘No, do it like this.’ And I always watched him. So by 16, I was in the Memphis musicians’ union.” The path from childhood to success, to addiction, recovery, and redemption, gives this book a philosophical bent, something that comes out in Hodges’ casual conversation to this day. “I’ve had some good times and some bad times. You don’t trade that for nothing,” he reflects. “That’s something to hold on to. Because you can grow from anything. I love adversity because it carries you somewhere else.” Rev. Charles Hodges is the organist for Unity Baptist Church in Collierville and is still active in both the gospel and secular traditions, onstage and in the studio. His biography can be ordered from xlibris.com.


“Full of humor, spirit, and sass …”

Autographed and personalized copies available. Order today at bit.ly/BruceVBook

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

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

Everything That’s True — Selected Writing from the Memphis Flyer and Memphis magazine is a great read — and a great gift.

19


CALENDAR of EVENTS:

November 18 - 24

ART AN D S P EC I A L E X H I B ITS

“47 Rockets”

Work by Raina Belleau and Caleb Churchill. Through Nov. 19. 2021 PROJECTS

“A Come Apart”

Nikii Richey presents new work. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Through Nov. 28. MEDICINE FACTORY

“Art with Class”

A show by Gay Jemison Rhodes and students of her MBG acrylics class for all levels. Through Dec. 29. MEMPHIS BOTANIC GARDEN

“A Walk in the Park”

Work created by Larry Hughes in art residencies at several national parks and monuments. Through Nov. 30. WKNO.ORG

“Better Than a Stick in the Eye”

Exhibition of sculptures by Greely Myatt. Through Nov. 20.

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

Playhouse on the Square presents Little Shop of Horrors, a musical about a man-eating plant and one man’s quest for love.

Sam Wang: Acts of Persistent Discoveries

Exhibition of photography by Sam Wang. Through Nov. 29. ART MUSEUM AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS (AMUM)

“Southern Landscapes” Exhibition of works by Jim Henderson. Through Dec. 2.

“Black Artists in America: From the Great Depression to Civil Rights”

MEMPHIS BOTANIC GARDEN

Exhibition of work by AfricanAmerican artists responding to the political, social, and economic climates from the 1930s into the 1950s. Through Jan. 2.

“The Photographer’s Shadow”

Exhibit centers the role of the caretaker and explores the implications of deep devotion. Through Dec. 11.

THE DIXON GALLERY & GARDENS

CLOUGH-HANSON GALLERY

“Discordant, Clashing, and Found: Painted Collage” Exhibition of work by Donnie Copeland. Through Nov. 30. EAST ARKANSAS COMMUNITY COLLEGE

“Fearsome Flora and Graveyard Flowers”

“Inside the Walt Disney Archives”

Exhibition celebrating the legacy of The Walt Disney Company archives. Through Jan. 2.

Pieces by Jimmy Crosthwait, complementing The Little Shop of Horrors. Through Dec. 29.

GRACELAND EXHIBITION CENTER

PLAYHOUSE ON THE SQUARE

Exhibition celebrating the most influential contemporary metal

DAVID LUSK GALLERY

Master Metalsmith: Kim Cridler | Held

artists. Through March 6. METAL MUSEUM

“Mona Hatoum: Misbah”

A contemporary art installation where the viewer stands in a darkened room, lit only by a rotating lantern. Through Jan. 9. MEMPHIS BROOKS MUSEUM OF ART

“On Christopher Street” Exhibition of portraits of transgender residents by Mark Seliger. Through Jan. 9. MEMPHIS BROOKS MUSEUM OF ART

“Sacred Faces: Masks of West Africa”

Experience the spirit of Africa. Through Nov. 30. JAY ETKIN GALLERY

“Wanderings” - Boger, Free, and Stern

How did three artists navigate a pandemic year? By wandering. Through Nov. 30. MEMPHIS BOTANIC GARDEN

“Writing in Three Dimensions: Myth and Metaphor in Ancient Egypt”

Exhibit explores the ways in which the ancient Egyptian

Bene�iting Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital

Nov. 20 - Dec. 31

November 18-24, 2021

WWW.MOSHMEMPHIS.COM

20

Holiday Movies & Planetarium Shows Get your photo made with Santa.


CALENDAR: NOVEMBER 18 - 24 approach to solving the meaning of life involved a complex framework of balance and counterbalance. Through Nov. 29. ART MUSEUM AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS (AMUM)

ART HAP P E N I N G S

“A Come Apart”: Artist Talk

Nikii Richey speaks on her latest show. Saturday, Nov. 20, 2 p.m. MEDICINE FACTORY

B O O K EVE N TS

A Novel Book Club: Dawn

Join your pals at Novel on Zoom to discuss Dawn by Octavia Butler. Wednesday, Nov. 17, 7 p.m. NOVELMEMPHIS.COM

E X P O/ S A LES

F E ST IVA L

FOOD AN D DR I N K

Gifts of Green

Craft Food & Wine Festival

Wilson Wine Dinner, Be Thankful Experience

Memphis Botanic Garden will once again host its seasonal pop-up shop. Through Dec. 30. MEMPHIS BOTANIC GARDEN

FA M I LY

THE COLUMNS

Flower Tots

Memphis Water Lantern Festival

Story time for pre-k and kindergarten-aged children (with an adult) followed by a motion activity or show and tell. Thursday, Nov. 18, 10-11 a.m. MEMPHIS BOTANIC GARDEN

Homeschool Days

Hands-on learning that supplements your homeschool curriculum. $8, members. $10, nonmembers. Friday, Nov. 19, 10 a.m.-noon. MEMPHIS BOTANIC GARDEN

C O M M U N I TY

Community Garden Day in Orange Mound

Volunteer for a great community service opportunity, meet other people, learn from expert gardeners, and reap the harvest from your labor. Sunday, Nov. 21, 9-11 a.m.

Celebrate culinary magic benefiting Church Health clinical services. $65. Sunday, Nov. 21, 3 p.m.

Wacky Hollow

Features a life-sized board game for the whole family. Children are guided through the forest maze to uncover the identity of a mysterious prankster. Through Nov. 28. THE CHILDREN’S MUSEUM OF MEMPHIS

ORANGE MOUND COMMUNITY GARDEN

Features food trucks, music, and lanterns. $35. Saturday, Nov. 20, 2-7 p.m. MARTIN LUTHER KING RIVERSIDE PARK

FI LM

Crosstown Arthouse presents Million Dollar Mermaid

The life story of Australian swimmer and actress Annette Kellerman. $5. Thursday, Nov. 18, 7:30-9:30 p.m. CROSSTOWN ARTS AT THE CONCOURSE

Exemplar: Portrait of the Personage of Abdu’l Baha

A documentary tribute, on the occasion of the centenary of the ascension of Abdu’l Baha, Saturday, Nov. 20, 4-6 p.m. BENJAMIN L. HOOKS CENTRAL LIBRARY

As part of the Wilson Wine Experience, the Wilson Wine Dinners are a display of culinary excellence and wine pairings. $150. Saturday, Nov. 20, 5-8 p.m. THE HISTORIC WILSON THEATER

H E A LT H A N D F IT N E S S

The Sugar Run 5k

book, Black Power, Jewish Politics: Reinventing the Alliance in the 1960s. Free. Thursday, Nov. 18, 7 p.m.

8040 WOLF RIVER BLVD.

ZOOM

Wilson Turkey Trot Race

U. Memphis MOCH: “Slow Violence and Environmental Justice in 2021”

Benefiting JDRF’s “Fund A Cure” for Type 1 Diabetes Research. Saturday, Nov. 20, 8 a.m.

Something for all ages and experience levels – 10K, 5K, and Family Fun Run. $35, general admission. Wednesday, Nov. 24, 10 a.m.-noon. WILSON THEATER

8th Annual Chilly Chili 5K

H O LI DAY EVE NTS

MULLINS UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

Explore a forest of sparkling, awe-inspiring trees, the Gingerbread Village, and model trains. Saturday, Nov. 20, 10:30 a.m.

Benefits the students of Concord Academy. $38, $42. Saturday, Nov. 20, 9 a.m.

Health and Wellness Series

Join health and wellness classes including yoga, reiki, and more. For schedule visit Levitt Shell’s website, levittshell.org. Through Dec. 12. LEVITT SHELL

South Memphis Senior Walking Club

Calling all seniors for #SeniorEdition walking club. Earn a free Fitbit after one month of walking. Tuesday, Nov. 23, 8-9 a.m. CORNER OF MISSISSIPPI AND GAITHER

Enchanted Forest Festival of Trees

MUSEUM OF SCIENCE & HISTORY

Graceland’s Holiday Lighting Weekend

Join Graceland for three days of festivities to kick off the holiday season, including the annual lighting ceremony. Thursday, Nov. 18-Nov. 20. GRACELAND

Rob Nixon (Princeton) will discuss how the environmental justice movement impacts the most pressing issues of our day, including Black Lives Matter and the Covid-19 pandemic. Free. Thursday, Nov. 18, 6 p.m. MEMPHIS.EDU/MOCH

P E R FO R M I N G ARTS

Gen-Z Cellist: Iris Orchestra with Zlatomir Fung, Cello

Astounding audiences with his boundless virtuosity and exquisite sensitivity, this 21-year-old has already proven himself to be a star among the next generation of world-class musicians. Saturday, Nov. 20, 7:30 p.m. GERMANTOWN PERFORMING ARTS CENTER

LECT U R E

Black Power, Jewish Politics: Reinventing the Alliance in the 1960s

continued on page 22

Scholar and author Marc Dollinger will discuss his latest

Celebrate with Family & Friends at these Special Vesta Events: Forest Bend Acres

off Forest Hill Irene in Germantown

NOV 20th - DEC 12th GENERAL ADMISSION WEEKENDS WEEKDAYS Adults: $15 Adults: $25 Under 12: $5 Under 12: $10 Each child must be accompanied by an adult. No strollers allowed inside the homes. Credit card only. No cash accepted. Closed Monday and Thanksgiving Day.

For more information, visit

vestahomeshow.com

Nov 23rd & Dec 7th

December 2nd

December 9th

11:00 AM to 1:00 PM

5:00 PM to 8:00 PM

5:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Beat the crowds and explore the homes an hour before the gate opens to the public. Then enjoy a delicious lunch and an enlightening chat-back with our talented team of designers.

Sample fine wines, perfectly paired with nuts, fruits, olives, cheeses, charcuterie, and chocolates. Linger into the evening to discover the holiday magic of this year's Vesta!

Try some of the area's best locally brewed craft beers, all paired with pub food favorites! Get a sneak-peek of the Home Expo, met homebuilding pros, and see the homes, all lit up!

Special advanced ticket purchase required for all Special Vesta Events. Must be 21 or older.

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Explore five multi-million-dollar homes that redefine excellence in architecture, interior design, and new home construction. The 2021 Vesta Home Show features the latest trends in furnishing, fixtures, appliances, and technology. Each home is beautifully bedecked with Christmas trees, ribbons, and garland, and is enchanted by the glow of candles, fireplaces, and thousands of twinkling lights.

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

Discover the Holiday Magic of the Vesta Home Show!

21


CALENDAR: NOVEMBER 18 - 24 continued from page 21 NutRemix

Set on Beale Street, this show transports audiences to a magical world with a fusion of all kinds of dance, including ballet, hip-hop, West African dance and drumming, Memphis Jookin’ and American tap. Saturday, Nov. 20, 5:30 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 21, 2:30 p.m. CANNON CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS

Zlatomir Fung, Cello + Iris Musicians

Begin with an hour-long concert of solo and chamber music by Iris musicians and guest artists; then enjoy a featured exhibition of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, with refreshments and conversation. Sunday, Nov. 21, 3 p.m.

THE GREAT HALL & CONFERENCE CENTER

S P O R TS

Memphis Grizzlies vs. LA Clippers Thursday, Nov. 18, 7 p.m. FEDEXFORUM

Memphis Grizzlies vs. Toronto Raptors

Wednesday, Nov. 24, 7 p.m. FEDEXFORUM

Western Kentucky at Memphis Tigers Friday, Nov. 19, 7 p.m. FEDEXFORUM

S P EC IAL EVE N TS

TH EATE R

Press Play: 52nd Birthday Celebration

Ada and the Engine

PLAYHOUSEONTHESQUARE.ORG

November 18-24, 2021

Celebrating 71 years of service to persons with disabilities and support for their families. Saturday, Nov. 20, 5:30 p.m.

MEMPHIS BROOKS MUSEUM OF ART

Virtual fundraiser for Playhouse on the Square. Enjoy past performances from the organization’s unprecedented 52nd season and Playhouse on the Square at Home series. Friday, Nov. 19, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

22

The Arc Mid-South’s 26th Annual Awards and Benefits Gala Auction

Brings to the stage historical figures Ada Byron Lovelace, her parents Lord Byron and Annabella Byron, her husband Lord Lovelace, and the esteemed inventor Charles Babbage. $20, $40. Thursday, Nov. 18-20, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 21, 3 p.m.

The youngest musician ever to win first prize at the International Tchaikovsky Competition Cello Division, Zlatomir Fung joins Iris Orchestra at the Germantown Performing Arts Center.

Clue: On Stage

Adapted from the cult-classic 1985 film and the Hasbro© board game, Clue: On Stage is a madcap comedy-meetsthriller that begs the questions: who, with what, when, where, and why? $25. Friday, Nov. 19-Nov. 21. CANNON CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS

Disney’s The Lion King

The entire Serengeti comes to life as never before. And as the music soars, Pride Rock slowly emerges from the mist. $34-$154. Thursday, Nov. 11Nov. 28 THE ORPHEUM

Little Shop of Horrors

When a man-eating plant lands in your flower shop, what do you do? Thursday, Nov. 11-Nov. 22. PLAYHOUSE ON THE SQUARE

The Toymaker’s Apprentice

Sweet holiday show celebrating hard work, fair-mindedness, and the joy of artistry. Friday, Nov. 19-Dec. 22. CIRCUIT PLAYHOUSE

TENNESSEE SHAKESPEARE COMPANY

For help, call the Tennessee REDLINE 1-800-889-9789


BOOKS By Jesse Davis

Body Language Carmen Maria Machado talks stories and craft.

When did you begin writing? As soon as I could pick up a pencil, I was writing my own stories and poems, often riffing on writers I loved (like Roald Dahl and Shel Silverstein). “Brides never fare well in stories. Stories can sense happiness and snuff it out like a candle.” I was really struck by those lines in “The Husband Stitch.” Can you talk about the importance of stories in that piece? “The Husband Stitch” is a story about stories; the stories we tell ourselves to survive, to be happy, to make sense of a

world determined not to make sense. But stories are also unruly; they can shift and evolve, come to mean things you wouldn’t expect, take on new context. Ultimately, it’s a story about how stories can’t save us. I know people who make lists to help with anxiety, and I couldn’t help thinking about them when I read “Inventory.” Does the narrator focus on these details to help banish the pandemic in the story to the margins? I think so? I’m also a list-maker and I’ve always been fascinated by the form; how you can see around a list, or use it to play with foregrounding and backgrounding as a literary technique. What is the significance of the disappearing girls in “Real Women Have Bodies”? The title seems to draw a line toward supposedly body-positive messaging that excludes many women — and is rooted in consumerism and fetishization of women, rather than in reality. Am I way off the mark? No! This is one of many stories of mine that directly came from its title. I was thinking about the phrase “real women have curves,” which (as you say) comes from a body-positive place but is fundamentally broken as a philosophy. I remember thinking, “Real women have bodies,” and then liking it as a phrase and writing it down. Eventually the story just unspooled from there. Since the event at the University of Memphis had a craft interview component, I want to talk a little bit about your process. Can you talk about what it means to be a working writer today? I have been incredibly lucky; I’m pretty much having a dream career as a writer in every respect. The fact that I can support myself with my writing is truly incredible, and I get to dive into passion projects constantly. That being said, a lot of writers don’t have that luxury; being a working writer can be extremely difficult, and in the U.S. we have so little support for artists. And trying to do all of it during a pandemic and climate crisis? It’s amazing anything gets written at all.

CONTINGENCY PL AN Featuring work by nine graduating seniors in Studio Art and Photography at the University of Memphis.

NEW FACULT Y: CONNECTIONS Featuring work from the most recent faculty additions to the Department of Art at the University of Memphis.

Both exhibitions opening:

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 6-8 PM On view through January 23

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Memphis Flyer: Have you always been interested in stories? Carmen Maria Machado: Yes, I was a reader from the very beginning. My parents were not huge readers themselves but very much believed in the value of reading — someone read to me every night, whether it was my mom or dad or my great-grandmother.

CROS STOWN A RTS

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

L

ast week, Memphis was graced with a reading by a world-class author of fiction and memoir — Carmen Maria Machado. The author gave a reading at the University of Memphis, and we had the honor of an interview, which we’re sharing for those who were unable to attend the events. In Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties, she defies genre and writes stories that read like fables and urban legends. “At first everyone blamed the fashion industry, then the millennials, and, finally, the water,” Machado writes in “Real Women Have Bodies,” in which an epidemic has young girls fading away, to translucence and then to nothing. Even though the collection is rooted in the present moment, there’s an air of timelessness to it as well, as if these stories have always been told somewhere, in some form. In a sense they have. These are tales of girls and women who have been taught to fear, and of how it feels to fully inhabit a body, to feel love and lust, to be the madwoman in one’s own attic.

Art Openings at

23


FOOD By Michael Donahue

One More Can of Coffee Comeback Beverage Co. stirs sweetness into its coffee sodas.

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A TWO DAY

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EVENT WITH LINDSAY GLAZER & FRIENDS

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ou can now order Comeback Beverage Co. canned coffee sodas online at comebackbevco.com. That means you can enjoy the sweet taste of strawberry — and lime and lemon and thyme — coffee without leaving your house. You can, of course, still stop by Comeback Coffee and get a can along with fresh coffee and house-made pastry. “The plan has always been taking this product and breaking outside of Memphis city limits,” says Hayes McPherson, who, along with his wife Amy, owns Comeback Coffee. “They’re doing this with beer, where the name of ‘Memphis’ is being spread in the beverage industry. And we want to do that with coffee.” The native Memphians opened their shop in March 2019. They wanted to get in “the movement of specialty coffee that was starting to exist here,” Hayes says. They don’t brew coffee at their shop. “We’re a multi roaster,” Amy explains. “That means we bring in coffee from all over the world.” Food & Wine magazine named them one of “The Best Coffee Shops in America” in 2019, about six months after they opened, Hayes says. Some of that is doubtless due to the coffee itself, but some credit must go to the coffee shop. They wanted to “create a unique space for people to come together,” Amy says, “make it comfortable.” Coffee soda, which became a staple in the coffee industry four years ago, is a “cold coffee, oftentimes with some sort of flavoring, sometimes sweet, sometimes not,” Amy says. “Ours is sweet.” After trying other brands of coffee soda, they thought, “I think we can make this and make it better.” “We figured out a process where we could hold onto all the good parts of coffee,” Hayes said. “Cold brews a lot of times are bitter. The coffee tastes burned or old or kind of gross.” Their coffee sodas have sweetness from the sugar and fruit juices along with a notoverpowering coffee taste. “You get those fun flavor combinations, but you still get the caffeine kick.” Hayes, Amy, and Ethan McGaughy, who all work on the flavor combinations, launched their strawberry-lime flavored

coffee soda at the first Grind City Coffee Xpo in 2019. People “dug it,” Hayes says. They put it on tap when they opened the shop. “And sold 10 gallons of it that first day.” The couple launched Comeback Beverage Co. last year and began selling small batches at the shop. They sold out all 100 cans in 30 minutes the first day, Hayes says. Comeback Beverage Co. now sells only two mainstay canned coffee sodas: “Field Day,” the original strawberry-lime drink, and their No. 1 seller, the lemon and thyme “Southern Style.” Memphis artist Macon Wilson designed the labels.

PHOTO: COMEBACK COFFEE

Amy and Hayes McPherson and Ethan McGhaughy This past year, Hayes and Amy researched “how to create a system to make bigger batches and have full control over it instead of sending it out places to get it made or relying on other folks to do it,” he says. Now it’s all done in house. “About six months ago I started a process of buying this equipment to do this in bulk.” Comeback Beverage Co. is in “literally a garage” connected to their shop, Hayes says. They plan to physically build out the business, though, “and help build out this district, the Pinch, a district we’ve fallen in love with.” The Comeback crew wants their coffee sodas to be “all over the country and all over the world,” Hayes says. “This started out as a singular drink on a coffee menu over two-and-a-half years ago. We never anticipated it would be this well received,” Hayes says. “Well, our community has supported us in ways we are so thankful for and allowed us to jump into something like this and spread it out.” And, he says, “If it wasn’t for the city of Memphis, we would not be able to do it.” Comeback Coffee is at 358 North Main Street; (901) 860-4215.


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continued from page 14

PLANT ZADDY ESO TOLSON, ALSO KNOWN AS THE COOL URBAN HIPPIE, SHARES INSIGHTS ABOUT PLANTS, ART, AND MAKING A NURTURING ENVIRONMENT.

November 18-24, 2021

Memphis artist Eso Tolson stays busy. Maybe you saw his “Spectacular Vernacular” exhibition a few years ago, or maybe you have a T-shirt with his artfully rendered words splashed across the front or some of his art framed and hung on your wall. Maybe you saw his “Rediscover Memphis” cover for the 2021 edition of Memphis magazine’s annual “City Guide” issue. But, for all that, Tolson also understands the value of rest and relaxation. Much of his art — like his “Less Grind. More Chill!” print — questions the grind ethos. Part of embracing your inner “chill” means creating an environment that soothes and inspires. For Tolson, one part of that process is, of course, art. Another part of the equation, says the self-proclaimed plant zaddy, is caring for houseplants. So I spoke with Memphis’ own Cool Urban Hippie to ask about what plant care means to him. Memphis Flyer: First, I’ve seen you describe yourself as a “plant zaddy” — care to define that for our readers? Eso Tolson: [Laughs] Yeah! So, a “Plant Zaddy” is someone who is very intentional about plants in their spaces. It’s not just about having a plant or two randomly in a room. It’s something that is highly curated into your space/life. It’s about style. It’s about a level of swag and expression. I’m a plant parent, but I make it look really good. When did you get into plants? I’ve always been fond of plants and flowers since I was a kid. I’d pick flowers and give them to my mom and people I liked and loved. I grew up with plants in the home. So, I was comfortable with the idea of caring for plants. With that being said, I didn’t get my own houseplant until four or five years ago.

What’s your favorite houseplant? I have two, actually! They’re both golden pothos. One’s named “Chance.” The other’s name is “Man man.” They are quite beautiful. Big, full, and pretty! I’ve 26 propagated clippings from both and created other plants. I’d like to think

we’ve created a great relationship with each other. Is there a plant you just won’t have in your house? Or are there any plant horror stories you’re willing to share? An arrowhead plant. I tried them. For some reason, we don’t really get along. And I’m not really sure why. [Laughs] I think they are beautiful. I’ve had two in the past. I don’t have either now. Also, no plants that look like spikey blades of grass. Xanadu, my cat, will attack it every time. I had to give one away to my neighbor to keep the peace. I wasn’t gonna let a plant mess up my relationship with my cat. I know the feeling! I have cats and houseplants. Right now it’s easy to keep them separated, but I worry about what will happen when the plants grow too big to live on the mantle. Do you have any tips for keeping pets away from your plants? I don’t actually. [Laughs] Xanadu lives life right along with the plants. She’ll nudge a few, maybe rub up against them, but she doesn’t really bother them much. She has chewed on some before, but I feel like she was getting back at me for something. Like, telling her that she couldn’t do something that she wanted to do. How dare I? But, maybe see how they do with one plant being in their reach. Then, you can make your best judgment from there. Being a plant person isn’t always represented as a masculine hobby, I suppose because of the nurturing aspect. I think that’s a ridiculous stereotype, but I’m interested in your thoughts on it. Yeah, I think it’s ridiculous, too. Society really be messing things up! [Laughs] There’s nothing wrong with people who identify as men caring for plants. The issue is being a man, as it relates to being “masculine,” typically means “not showing emotion,” “not being caring,” or “not being soft.” But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Besides, all people are comprised of the masculine and the feminine. So, we shouldn’t allow masculinity or femininity to interfere with our humanity. So, fellas: Get a plant. Love on it. And watch y’all grow. I think it’s important to create a home environment that feels safe and nurturing. How do you do that for yourself? Absolutely. Interior Designer Ilse Crawford states that we spend about 87 percent of our lives inside buildings. So, how they are designed really affects how we feel and how we behave. As I create that for myself, I make sure the space feels creative, inviting, comfortable, stimulating, and peaceful. I have wall art and a “mini library”

{

Eso Tolson urges you to embrace your inner Plant Zaddy and add energy, style, and expression to indoor spaces with a curated selection of houseplants to complement your lifestyle.

}

full of books about beautiful things to keep me inspired. Thankful to have southern-facing windows to bring in natural light for both me and my plants. Lamps, candles, and music help to set the necessary mood. Declutter and organize the rooms to keep the right energy moving in the space.

of plants because of a bad experience with the plant or because they seem intimidating. There’s a plant for everyone. Snake plants and pothos plants are great to start with. Then, over time, you may find other plants that you can care for with similar traits. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes because you’re going to.

Has being a plant person influenced your art-making ethos at all? I’m not sure. It may actually be the other way around. I can say being a plant person has helped me become a better human. (Which in turn kinda makes me a better artist.) So, I guess, yeah.

Is there anything else you would like readers to know? Take time to create a space in your home that feels really good. A space that is just as relaxing as it is stimulating. A space that feeds your creativity and your senses. A space that feels warm and energetic. Plants are a great way to add life and vitality to your space. Even if it takes some time to put it together, your energy and life will be transformed by the process. It’s worth it.

Do you have any tips for anyone who might be interested in getting their first houseplant? Yes. Find the right plant for you. A lot of us think we’re not good at taking care


FILM By Chris McCoy

An Eternal Bore Marvel misfires with the ponderous Eternals.

Don Lee, Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek, Gemma Chan, and Lia McHugh star as immortal beings who’ve shaped human history. apes from the Deviants, a mutated race of aliens who prey on emerging intelligent life. They were sent here by Arishem, a Celestial being who has big plans for the Earth. The early going is the most interesting part of the film, as we learn that the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were built over the Eternals’ starship Domo. The Eternals have standing instructions not to interfere with humanity, but they frequently bend the rules to do things like introduce the concept of the plow to early farmers. But as technology progresses, it becomes harder and harder to ignore the consequences of humanity’s aggressive nature paired with increasingly deadly technology. Director Chloe Zhao’s most striking sequence is set during the sack of Tenochtitlan by the Spanish in 1521, where the alien gods debate their responsibility while slaughter rages around them. Zhao won the Best Picture and Best Director Oscars in 2020 for Nomadland. She is undoubtedly a talented director, but her strengths turn out to be the exact opposite continued on page 28

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Omarion and Bow Wow bring The Millennium Tour 2021, featuring special guest Ashanti. Tickets available!

Chris Stapleton brings the “All American Road Show” with special guests The Marcus King Band and Yola. Tickets available!

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

’70s, his style had evolved considerably from the clean lines of the “BAM!” and “POW!” era. One of his first projects was an adaptation of 2001: A Space Odyssey that somehow managed to be even more psychedelic than the original. During this period, his pet project was the Eternals, which contained some of the most incredible images ever seen in the medium. It was less Batman, more Van Gogh. Kirby had become obsessed with classical mythology, so his new characters like Ikaris and Sersi, a group of practically immortal aliens who had shepherded humanity’s progress over the centuries, were presented as the real-life inspirations for the old legends. The story was almost beside the point. Kirby was in it for the art. Now, Eternals is venerated, but in the mid-’70s, the comic book was canceled after less than two years. Now that the MCU’s first generation of heroes are retired, out of contract, and suing, the cultural juggernaut is reaching for new IP to exploit. Since the world is presumably not ready for the disco-themed superhero the Dazzler (try me, Kevin Feige) it’s the Eternals’ turn in the $200 million spotlight. Sersi (Gemma Chan), Ikaris (Richard Madden), Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani), Sprite (Lia McHugh), Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), Makkari (Lauren Ridloff), Druig (Barry Keoghan), Ajak (Salma Hayek), and Thena (Angelina Jolie) show up on Earth at the dawn of civilization to defend us ascended

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

A

mong those who care about such things, Jack Kirby is considered the greatest comic book artist of all time. The King had his first breakthrough when he designed Captain America in 1941; then, after pausing to land on Omaha Beach with the U.S. Army, he drew everything from romance stories to horror comics. When he teamed up with Stan Lee to create The Fantastic Four in 1961, it signaled the beginning of a new era for the medium. Since he drew an estimated 12,000 pages for Marvel and at the height of his popularity up to two million copies of his work were printed each week, he is arguably one of the most seen artists of any kind. Throughout his career, Kirby had an adversarial relationship with his publishers. And for good reason — he certainly wasn’t paid like the most seen artist in history. After a groundbreaking decade with Marvel, he jumped ship for DC in the early 1970s, then returned to Stan Lee’s bullpen after he was promised total creative control. Even after his 1994 death, his estate kept fighting for recognition. Kirby’s work provided almost all of the characters that have made up the Marvel Cinematic Universe, from the Hulk to Black Panther, so needless to say, there’s been a lot of litigation. By the time Kirby returned to Marvel in the mid-

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FILM By Chris McCoy Annual

continued from page 27

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of what Eternals requires. In Nomadland, she and Frances McDormand created one of the deepest characters in recent film history using subtlety and restraint. In superhero land, that translates to a lot of standing around stiffly. Zhao loves to use natural light and has an eye for sweeping landscapes. There’s nothing “natural” about Jack Kirby’s decadent ’70s phase. The psychedelic color pop of characters like the six-eyed space god Arishem is completely absent. It might not be so bad if there was a compelling story to tell,

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but that’s just not Eternals’ strong suit. There’s no reason this film needed to be 2.5 hours long. Frankly, this is not Zhao’s fault. A liveaction Eternals was always doomed. The only way to do this property justice would be an animated movie that put Kirby’s gloriously busy compositions in motion. It would be a barely coherent riot of colors with limited commercial potential, but at least it wouldn’t be boring.

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THE LAST WORD By Jennifer Balink

Help Dreams Take Flight

THE LAST WORD

When I started working at what is now Kindred Place, one of the first items on my to-do list was planning and executing the annual fundraising event, known at the time as the Hands of Hope auction. Since we were writing the next chapter of a 35-year-old organization, refining the strategy and messaging, we spent some time looking in the archives, carefully sorting through what had and hadn’t worked well in the past as we prepared for the future. One of the ideas we unearthed in the dig was the “Box of Hopes and Dreams” component of past auctions. Many years prior, artists had hand-painted wooden boxes, and in the boxes were notes from our clients — both children and adults — about their hopes and dreams. One member of our board, who’d been around long enough to have seen many of our annual events, showed us the Box of Hopes and Dreams on his credenza and talked about how he felt every time he saw it. In that one simple item he had a tangible reminder of how his support for our work helped make hopes and dreams come true for people he would probably never meet. It inspired him to keep working, keep helping, keep dreaming of a better future for all people. The ability to imagine a future and better version of oneself is, according to several research studies, an asset that can PHOTO: COURTESY KINDRED PLACE contribute to moving from poverty to economic self-sufficiency. Dreams, paired with more practical things like food, Jennifer Balink housing, and safety, are fuel. Dreams feed momentum. We brought back the idea, albeit in a slightly different format. Volunteers hand-painted wooden birdhouses, and the theme of that section of the auction was “Help Dreams Take Flight.” In the little round opening of each birdhouse we planned to insert a rolled-up note from a client (child or adult) about their dreams. As the auction date drew near, we had far more birdhouses than notes. I knew it wasn’t likely or even appropriate to get a note from every client, but I was surprised by how few there were. I asked about it during our weekly staff meeting, wanting to know more about how people were approaching the conversation and asking for the notes. How had we done it in the past? What was different now? “The people I’m working with don’t have dreams,” one therapist finally offered. “They don’t know how to dream, can’t imagine beyond the basic, practical needs of right now. That’s always been true for some people, but now it’s true for so many more.” That’s the effect of trauma, stress, and unmet basic needs, including — and possibly most importantly — lack of loving support and human connection. But before you go thinking that this situation describes only “other people,” people you drive by at freeway intersections or see behind dumpsters at the coffee shop, consider another story. Earlier this year, I was working with a group of highly educated, well-resourced professionals on a change management process. They were stuck, and I wasn’t making much progress. With a colleague’s help I decided to try a loosely structured Appreciative Inquiry exercise, starting by asking each member of the group to identify one cherished memory from the past that they dreamed of repeating in the future. At first, I was met with silence. Then someone said: “Honestly, thinking about the things I enjoyed in the past just makes me overwhelmingly sad. I don’t have any dreams for the future. I’m just trying to get by one day at a time, and that’s hard enough.” We’re dealing with trauma, stress, and unmet needs, particularly the lack of loving support and human connection. And “dreams” as a word is a long-inequitable and complicated term — dreams deferred, and dreams denied. It is easy, perhaps, to think of dreams and dreaming as an individual activity, something each one of us does, or doesn’t do, all in the privacy of our own individual minds. But dreams aren’t solo work. They’re too risky, require too much vulnerability for anyone to dare have one without the companion belief that something — or someone — will be there to soften the fall if the dream doesn’t come true. Loving, supportive human relationships are the safety nets that allow the risk of dreaming. Each of us has the power to be that safety net for the people in our lives, our intimate partners, our children, our family members, our colleagues, and our friends. Harnessing that power sometimes requires self-compassion and healing first. We have to be present for ourselves before we can be present for others. Love begins at home, metaphorically and literally. If we are truly to “reimagine” Memphis, then we must ensure every child, every parent, every person has what they need to make dreaming possible in the first place. Jennifer Balink is the executive director of Kindred Place, a counseling, coaching, and education center for confident parenting and healthy behaviors.

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Personal goals might seem like a solo project, but it takes a community support system to allow each individual to flourish.

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