I Don’t Understand

With a title like “I don’t understand,” this blog could be about practically anything in my life (especially women). However, that’s a topic I don’t feel particularly safe navigating at this time. Actually, it concerns a story I saw on WMC-TV’s website.  It seems that people are attacking Memphis Light Gas & Water workers. They’re getting beaten, robbed, their trucks are being stolen. And I have to say, I don’t get it.

Targets?

Targets?

Let’s look at what we know. They don’t carry cash. They’re instructed not to wear jewelry on the job. There aren’t any fancy electronics in their trucks. There probably isn’t much of an aftermarket for service trucks with an MLGW logo stamped on both door. Even if you’ve got a beef with the utility, there still doesn’t seem to be much reason to threaten individuals who are just doing their jobs. One of the incidents profiled in the Action News 5 story says the MLGW guy was going to a house to turn the power back on… That’s on, not off.

Let them work!

Let them work!

The people you actually see on the street are the ones that come out in the dead of night or during snowstorms to get us all back online when something happens to knock out power out. It would seem like you’d want to cut those kind of people a break. At this point, some MLGW workers are refusing to go to certain places alone. So, the actions of some of the city’s knuckleheads are going to make getting utility service in some neighborhoods as tough as getting Dominos to deliver there. Nice.

His fault

His fault

I’m not going to go on a “Memphis is riddled with crime” rant. I’m also not going to criticize the work the Memphis Police are doing. I’m laying this one at the very large feet of the former mayor. I know he made a point of saying that as mayor, there was very little he could do about crime in the city. To me, that was one more reason he probably should have left the 7th floor of City Hall a few years sooner than he did.

As superintendent of schools, he should have done more to make sure Memphis children had the best education possible. I know how important it is that parents play a role in their children’s education, but it is possible to help kids when their parents don’t want to (or know how). Are there concrete accomplishments to point to (besides the increased layers of bureaucracy) from his time as Top Teacher?

Get a job!

Get a job!

And as mayor, don’t you have a responsibility to bring jobs, jobs and more jobs to the city, to give your less-well-off citizens fewer reasons to turn to crime? And again, it’s not about white collar or tech jobs. Tailor the type of employment you bring to the type of unemployment you have. If you’ve got large, underemployed clusters of people — that’s where the jobs should go! Not to the clusters of devoted functionaries you’re trying to help get a big payday before you leave office… Geez, I thought I was done with this guy.

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Both Sides of the Coin

Miley!

Miley!

Tomorrow: Robbing Utility Workers – huh?

I wanted to skip my nightly run. After all, I’ve been out every day since Saturday. Well, I changed clothes and was out on the street before I could stop myself. Anyway, by the time I get around to Linden and Mulberry, I start noticing an awful lot of pre-teen girls heading in the general direction of the FedEx Forum. You don’t see a lot of suburban mom types shepherding kids through downtown at dusk. One of the young ladies was carrying a sign. Once I saw it, I realized what was going on. I had forgotten that Miley Cyrus was rocking the “X” tonight.

I’ve seen her on TV a couple of times, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually heard her sing. However, since she’s held onto her popularity as long as she has, I’m sure she has real talent. Hopefully, as time passes, she’ll be able to grow as an artist as her audience grows as their interests change.

On the other hand, even though I also pass by Spindini’s on my fitness-motivated nightly excursions, I kinda doubt I’ll be passing by during the “Kittens & Cougars” event on the 31st (I’ll be in Oxford for the SEC Cross-Country Championships). I found out about the K&C deal while reading Paul Ryburn‘s blog today. I try to keep up with what he’s doing, since he won the Memphis Flyer’s poll for best blog (gives me something to aim for).

Grrrrr!

Grrrrr!

Turns out that Spindini’s also won something in the Flyer’s poll — “Best Cougar Bar.”  That makes it about the best place to have a cougar-related costume party. I’ve been in the place enough over the last couple of years to have spotted a cougar or two in the joint. I’m not sure what I think of the term. It almost seems derogatory, but it the women it’s applied to don’t mind, I guess there’s nothing wrong with the name. I certainly don’t have a problem with the practice. Old guys have been scamming younger women forever — so if it’s good for the gander, etc…

Anyway, nice to know that there’s stuff for women of all ages to do in downtown Memphis. Always nice to see you ladies — have a good time while you’re down here!

And Now for Something Completely Different…

Funny Guys

Funny Guys

If you’ve got IFC on your cable or satellite, you might be watching the 6-part documentary, “Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyers’ Cut).” It recaps the BBC series, the films and the albums of the British comedy troupe. Several years before the show was on TV over here, the albums were getting played on FM stations in the early 70s. My older brother picked up one of albums and played it… a lot. For visual comedy, it really came across as incredibly funny. I can even remember the first time American television tried to showcase Python.

ABC took a couple of episodes and played them in a late night slot, trying to squeeze in commercials. Always a bad idea to add commercials to a program originally shot without them. It was very funny, but I knew, still in my teens, that the show would never find a place on network television. That’s one of the good things about public TV – no commercials.

Still Funny

Still Funny

Hard to pick a favorite bit or character. Spanish Inquisition, Argument Bureau, the Fish-Slapping Dance, Bicycle Repairman. I like to think that I like Michael Palin the best, seems like a really nice guy. But, when it comes down to it, maybe Eric Idle or John Cleese. I was fascinated by Graham Chapman. Trained as a doctor, alcoholic, gay. None of those things are funny, but if you listen to the rest of the group now, the alcoholism made it a little difficult to get things done.

Don’t know if anyone is showing the series now, outside of the episodes airing on IFC. If you come across any original episodes, sit down and watch; it’s still silly good fun.

It’s Getting Tough to be a Kid

A pair of confessions to begin. I don’t have children. Like them fine, just don’t have any of my own. Also, I’ve never seen a second of any episode of “Jon & Kate Plus 8” on TLC (The “Learning” Channel? Yeah, right). However, between Jon, Kate and Balloon Boy’s parents, I’m starting to think there should be training and licensing before some folks are allowed to reproduce.

Run away kids!

Run away kids!

It’s a shame that the Gosselin’s marriage has fallen apart. Those things are always painful. Probably more if children are involved. However, the mere fact that these two adults were making their living by parading their children on reality television seems shameful. If you want to make a fool of yourself, have at it – that’s what TV is for. And even though having 6 kids at once is pretty amazing, it shouldn’t be fodder for weekly entertainment. I don’t care what led to the break up, but all of the money earned from the program needs to go into trust for those children and both of those “adults” need to get jobs!

Bad Dad!

Bad Dad!

If there’s a bad thing connected to the temporary success of the Gosselin’s program, it’s that other knuckleheads start thinking that their wacky lives should have a showcase too. That may be the case with Richard Heene, the father of “Balloon Boy” (how would you like to go through life with that nickname?)

"Would you like to fly in my beautiful balloon?"

"Would you like to fly in my beautiful balloon?"

When you work in the TV business, there are always TVs around, so when the giant Jiffy Pop balloon was streaking across Colorado last week, we were watching with interest at the office. Of course, having done my time in the cable news business, I was not at all surprised at the breathlessness of the coverage provided by CNN, Fox News & MSNBC. The middle of most days are the slowest part of the news cycle, so if something breaks, you’ve got to know that everybody’s jumping in with both feet.

An errant balloon is only so interesting. Add a 6-year-old child swept away from his frantic parents, with nothing between him and certain doom but some hot air and empty sky – that’s breaking news. And you might have noticed that  when they’re not covering anything political, the cable nets become interchangable.

Crashing Down

Crashing Down

Okay, the balloon comes down. A nation breathes a collective sigh of relief. Wait a tic, what do you mean there’s no kid in there? Did he fall out? Oh, he’s at the house – well, at least he’s okay. So of course, there’s the orgy of morning show interviews – they live for the aftermath interviews – as does Larry King (who amazingly, is still alive and on TV). Between throwing up, balloon boy drops a lead balloon when asked why he was hiding.  “You guys said we were doing it for the show…” and it turns out that dad was in talks with someone about a reality show.

Now it seems that the local law (and the feds) have had the wool lifted from their eyes and are convinced that a game was being run and both mom and dad could face a spate of charges.

Family of the Year?

Family of the Year?

Good. I’m all for that after hearing they drag the kids along while they go storm chasing (a dodgy proposition in the first place). If you want to endanger yourself, make your move. But leave the kids at home. At a minimum, agencies that have to launch incredibly involved search and rescue missions should charge the costs back to the people responsible for the messes in the first place (as many are actually doing). Interestingly enough, dad called the FAA first, then one of the TV stations, then the police (the sheriff said that made sense, since the TV station helicopter could go after the balloon right away – Hey sheriff – cops got choppers too!!!).

The one thing the sheriff said that I agree with was when he noted that Heene was no “nutty professor…” Nutty yes, but certainly not any kind of professor.

Love your kids, pamper them, spoil them, squeeze them, have big dreams for them… but folks, don’t take advantage of them because you’ve got some unfulfilled dream for yourself. There’s enough involved in growing up. Don’t make your failings their problems.

It’s all about the “new” at this point

100,000 and counting

100,000 and counting

TOMORROW: Balloon Boy’s Dad & other poor parenting examples

I’ve been in and out of town a lot over the last couple of weeks. Once I got back, two big things happened.  One, the odometer in my 10-year old Toyota Celica rolled over to 100,000 miles.  I was on my way to Memphis International Airport when it happened, on my way out of town again. That trip pushed me over 40,000 combined Northwest & Delta miles in my frequent flier account, which was enough to score me a free ticket home for Thanksgiving.

Well, okay, three things. A small percentage of voters residing in the city of Memphis elected AC Wharton to finish out Willie Herenton’s term as mayor. While AC (what does that stand for, anyway?) is a capable man and should do as well in his new job as he’s done in his current job as county mayor, I’m not sure whether he’s necessarily going to inspire the residents to carry our fair city to new heights. Of course, I don’t know whether it’s possible to any one person to do that, even if they’re loaded with charisma.

Meet the New Boss

Meet the New Boss

He's a Keeper

He's a Keeper

Mayor (and Mayor-elect) Wharton can busy himself with the nuts and bolts of running the city, but if he’s smart (and he is), he’ll put capable people in as division directors, avoiding all the charges of cronyism that plagued the last terms of Mayor Herenton. Of course, Wharton and his people say that’s what he’ll do. There might actually be capable leadership in some of those jobs now (Larry Godwin, yes, Veronica Coleman-Davis, also yes. Elbert Jefferson? Maybe not). While the mayor is the chief administrator of the city, he’s also the moral leader of a town that’s got some serious problems. These do not all stem from the fractious leadership of the former mayor; many of our problems pre-date Mr. Herenton’s 5 terms in office.

While my advice has not been sought (although, as a note to Cato Johnson, who will be on the incoming mayor’s transition team, I know you remember me from my channel 3 days; feel free to give me a call), I would offer this to start. Forget consolidation for now. It’s not a bad idea for many municipalities; cost savings, efficiencies in operations, etc. Things are just too jacked up in this town to make it work – and that’s going to be the case for a while. Instead, focus on the things that we can get together on. Combating crime. Cleaning up neighborhoods. Providing quality city services. Making the parts of the city without economic investment attractive to people with money. We don’t need more industry on the outskirts of town or out by the airport. If companies want tax breaks to bring their business to Memphis, offer them – only if those new businesses are put in economically deprived parts of town. That will force additional economic development to make it possible for those areas to support new business. That, in turn, gives people opportunities where they don’t have any now. With jobs come taxes and improved neighborhoods.

Be the mayor who turns the city into what it can be. People live in the unincorporated parts of Shelby County because they don’t want to be in a city. Which is fine. The people who live in other municipalities don’t want to feel any more connected to Memphis than they currently are. Which is also fine. There’s enough to fix to make Memphis work. There’s a pretty good focus for you right now. And since you’ve already said you don’t expect a honeymoon — Get to work!

WTF?

I don’t pay Comcast for the Big Ten Network, so I couldn’t watch Purdue shock Ohio State on Saturday. But as one of the Buckeyes said post-game, their biggest concern is the Big Ten title now, since the national championship is out of the question. Heck, the way they laid down for USC told me that a few weeks ago.

When Florida (or the University of Tebow, as some call it) could only win by 3 in the final ticks of the clock, I knew there was a good chance they’d lose the #1 ranking. I’ll be interested to see how long Alabama lasts in the top spot. They should be able to handle Tennessee this week.

You're Hurting Me...

You're Hurting Me...

And what is going on with the Titans? They’re letting the Patriots walk all over them right now, including allowing Tom Brady to set a record for touchdown throws in a single quarter. It’s just painful to watch what was a great team just last season look so pitiful (it’s 52-0 right now in the third).

Edit: By the time I got back from my afternoon run, the game was over and the Pats had run up the score to 59-0. Maybe the back luck streak the Lions had going last season has drifted to Nashville. Of course, my co-worker Joe Stuber has a reasonable explanation for why the Titans might be seeing such tough times.