I Wanna Be in Pictures
It’s interesting what a little color can do for you. A lot of folks who’ve spent time on Front Street have seen the office with the Paramount Pictures logo over the door. It’s on my bike circuit, so I see it a lot. It’s also across from the MGLW parking garage, so I know there’s a lot of car traffic passing by too.
A lot of people even know that it’s tied in to the city’s history as a centrally-located distribution center. The studios needed a way to get their product to all the theaters they owned or supplied in a particular region.
It’s not the only example of old Hollywood in downtown Memphis.
There are a couple of other old distribution offices downtown. Both are on South 2nd, near Butler. In fact, they’re right next door to each other.
MGM’s old office is marked by a “Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer” above the door. It’s just the name etched in concrete, so it doesn’t stand out like the Paramount logo.
Right next door is an “FBO” logo. That stands for “Film Booking Offices of America.” It was one of the silent film companies that was later merged into what became RKO Pictures (a later version of which has its own history in Memphis, mostly as one-time owners of WHBQ-TV).
Anyway, it seems like a lot more people know about the Paramount logo than the MGM or FBO logos. It must be the color.
Saints Preserve Us!
And here’s another thing I’ve been complaining about since the first time I lived in Memphis (1990-1998). Is COGIC ever going to do anything about the Hotel Chisca? I mean, really, this big, empty thing, just sitting there on Main Street, looking a little worse every day.
I don’t want to sound so negative that I anger an entire denomination (especially since I know people who attend COGIC churches). But wasn’t one of the ongoing complaints every fall during convocation that there weren’t enough reasonably-priced hotel rooms downtown? What would be easier than renovating the downtown hotel you already own and block-book rooms every November? I know that it would be hard to do now, what with the economy and everything (also moot, since the event is going to be in St. Louis this year). But what about a few years ago, when all kinds of money was flowing into downtown development?
And here’s another thing. Maybe the thought was that a week’s worth of guaranteed business in November wouldn’t be enough to justify the cost of rehabbing the Chisca. But, when WHBQ-AM had its studios in the building, didn’t Dewey Phillips play Elvis on the radio for the first time there? And wouldn’t a recreated studio be a surefire draw for the faithful?
And it is just one block from Beale Street and two blocks from FedEx Forum. Oh, and it’s right across Main from the COGIC bookstore… which could have meant some extra business there when the Saints are in town. C’mon, fix it up or tear it down.