Good Lord Willin’…

The creek, in this case, the Mississippi and its tributaries, is rising. A lot of people who live in lower-lying areas of the city have already been forced out of their homes by the rising water. I read a few minutes ago that the Mississippi is swollen to 3 miles across at one point downtown. It’s usually only a half-mile across there. We’ve had a lot of disaster action lately. Just a few days ago, I was hunkered down in my living room, watching wind shear, tornadic rotations and watch boxes on the TV, poised to run to my “safe place” if the major storm blew up Carolina Avenue.

Photo by: Dan Price

The push of the river over its banks is nothing short of amazing. I jogged by Beale Street the other day, when water was just starting to back out of the storm drain. The southern half of Mud Island was submerged, as were big chunks of Tom Lee Park (thank goodness he’s got that row boat!)

I caught a little of Mayor Wharton’s appearance on the CBS Morning Show, assuring the national audience that the city is prepared for worst. I think that measured calm that Wharton exudes will be particularly helpful during this time. Not to slag the former mayor, I’m sure he could have struck the right notes as well – but I don’t think I would have had a lot of confidence in his people to help the population get through all this (I’d hate us to end up with one of those “you’re doing a great job Brownie” situations).

Fortunately, my house is about 20 feet higher than the part of downtown that’s getting wet, so I’ve put off plans to lug my downstairs valuables upstairs. The interest thing about the water downtown is how is attracting the looky-Lous. May is the busiest time in my part of Memphis, due to the Memphis in May festival. A couple of Fridays ago, I went to watch the Grizzlies eliminate the Spurs. The Forum was packed, there was a baseball game across the street in AutoZone Park, Music Fest was going on and the monthly Main Street Trolley Tour brought a few more people out. Naturally, we were all ignoring the storm warnings.

Honestly, do these slacks make my butt look big?

It could be my imagination, but it seems like nearly as many people are wandering to the heart of the city to see the flood water. I saw that Diane Sawyer will anchor ABC’s World News from Memphis tonight. I also see that the Corps of Engineers is already looking at action to try and protect New Orleans (considering the Corp’s track record with NOLA [see Katrina], they might want to consider other options).

I will keep checking the flood maps for zip code 38103 at the website of the Shelby County Office of Preparedness. Looks like the potential for water extends to the point where Riverside Drive starts climbing the hill toward South Bluffs. It could potentially get to Georgia Avenue, which would surprise me – but that’s still a block away. Worst comes to worst, I’ll be heading to Cordova till the levels drop.

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Credit Where Credit Is Due

He Gone

I’m one of those people who can admit a mistake (some of the time). I had been a tad critical of some of the local TV coverage of Allen Iverson’s exit from the Grizzlies. There seemed to be a bit too much supposition on his reasons for leaving without any sourcing.

My point at the time was that we should actually wait for something a bit more definitive before throwing AI under the bus. Sure, it was pretty likely that he had walked out on the team because he didn’t want to accept a backup role. But everybody thinking that doesn’t make it reportable, even if it happened to be true.

So, once the Grizzlies waived Iverson, we had a better idea that it was actually true. Of course, I have to note, that even though the team has released the reluctant player, there’s still no confirmation from the man himself that he’s not playing anymore.

Okay, I guess that whole multiple source thing is no longer applicable in journalism. I can accept that. Seems like in some cases, no source is okay too. Kinda cheapens the whole profession, but if that’s the way it goes, I’ll go along.

Making Progress

So Far, So Good?

The Grizzlies have gotten off to a bad start. The Tigers are 1-1, but that one in the loss column was pretty close, and a lot of observers have already accepted this season as a write off. The idea is that Coach Pastner has lined up one of the better recruiting classes in recent memory. So, no matter how the team does this year, they should be gangbusters by next year. Either way, it appears that people are coming to terms with the exit of the former coach.

I’ve only met Pastner once, but he is a pretty personable guy. I can see him being very convincing when it comes to getting recruits to commit to the University of Memphis. And even if he’s not the strongest floor coach, he’s got enough talented help to get by. So, will he be another John Calipari? Another Tic Price? Gene Bartow? Dana Kirk? Larry Finch? Way too soon to know, but I’m thinking that’s not going to stop some fans from building him up… while some others are waiting to tear him down.

This Just In…

Breaking News

Breaking News

Imagine my surprise Saturday night when I was watching Joyce Peterson anchoring WLMT’s 9pm news Saturday night. Not surprised that she’s anchoring, it was the breaking news that led the show. Here’s the headline: Allen Iverson Leaves Memphis Grizzlies.

According to the way the story was reported, Iverson asked the team’s owner for permission to “leave the team,” which was granted. He was then headed off to Atlanta to attend to family business. Peterson tossed to a live report, which basically repeated that bit of information with the promise of more to come.

After listening to the whole story, I had the distinct impression that the headline didn’t actually tell the entire story. It seemed that Iverson just needed some personal time off to take care of something with his family, not that he was “leaving” the team after complaining of having to come off the bench.

Gone?

Gone?

The Sunday edition of the Commercial Appeal was a little more informative, although its headline was also a tiny bit unclear: Allen Iverson leaves Grizzlies for personal reasons.

The CA report went on to say that Iverson had asked for an “indefinite leave of absence.” That’s a little bit different that him quitting the team in a huff, which is what the “myEyewitness News” story was still reporting into Sunday afternoon. While the team is not saying specifically when he’ll come back, the team owner says it’s nothing more than that.

Personal Business

Leave Him Alone

So why the breathless reporting that AI is gone? I know the guy has had a sometimes tense relationship with this previous teams, but why write the story in a way that even suggests that he’s not coming back? I know that occasionally, an incomplete story comes into a newsroom. I also know there’s a pretty big urge to report what you’ve got and go with the rest when it comes in. Still, I consider myself a fairly experienced news consumer and the headline left me with the impression that Iverson was gone for good. The story itself managed to be incomplete and confusing.

How about this? Next time, report the nugget you’ve got, without sensationalizing it. After all, at the time of the original story, it’s obvious that no one at “myEyewitness News” knew the extent of Iverson’s absence. Why not make that part of headline, as in “Iverson Goes, Return Unknown,” to indicate the fact that you don’t know all the facts? I’m not trying to be too critical, but the story on 30 and the myEyewitness.com site made Iverson out as a bad guy who just up and left after complaining about his playing time. If that turns out to be the case, so be it. But the CA story makes this point: “the veteran guard did not ask for a trade or request to be waived. Team owner Michael Heisley said the team knew about Iverson’s issue before signing him to a one-year, $3.1 million contract in September.”

Most of the stories on other sites are making the case that no one knows whether Iverson will play again or not. Seems like nobody knows enough about this story to report it accurately.

Edit: Just watched Fox 13’s Sunday night report. Scott Madaus went out for man on the street reaction to Iverson “leaving the team,” and how people are “fed up” with his antics. Nothing from the team or the player on what his plans actually are. Doesn’t anyone get facts before going on TV anymore?

On the Run

Another ridiculously high hit count on the blog today. Nearly 500 hits again. And again, it’s driven by searches for “Lucy and the football.” What’s going on? I haven’t got a clue. Thing is, just because someone clicks on the blog, that doesn’t mean any of those folks are actually reading the blog. Besides, all those hits are to one page from June, and it doesn’t seem that anyone is clicking through to anything more current.

GrizzcityheaderAnyway, I got miles to go before I sleep. Spent all day Wednesday in West Memphis, Arkansas. Front half of Thursday on a shoot in the old Federal Reserve Bank in downtown Memphis (it’s now Grizzlies Academy). Second half of the day trying to manage two video edits, plus getting ready for a two-day shoot in Oxford, Mississippi. I don’t mind going; after all, I might get the chance to eat at City Grocery, which is worth the drive by itself. It’s just that it’s supposed to rain all day tomorrow, and most of what I’m doing is outside. After working a couple of weekend days lately, I’m thinking I’m going to need a couple of days off next week.  I’ve got to get a flu shot, give blood, get the 100,000 mile service on my car, plus a couple of other things.

Oh Katie...Because of that, I’m going to be short today. Also, the hundreds of new readers are only seeing that one page from July. There is one thing. My good pal Joe Larkins was opining on the way HD is affecting how some news anchors are using make up. He mentioned he’s not actually seeing the news in HD yet. Lemme tell you, when you do, you’ll really notice some changes. I watch Katie Couric most nights. She looks fine the way they got the cameras set up in the studio. But when they shoot her in HD, without the special studio filters and lighting, you really notice the age lines on her upper lip. Okay, that’s not a current picture.

Gone Fishin’

No pictures available, but congratulations to Glenn & Nicole Carver on the birth of their daughter! Now on with your regularly scheduled blog:

Are we finally getting to a point where something (anything) is going to happen to the Pyramid?

On the Hook?

On the Hook?

There are a spate of stories indicated renewed activity in the talks between the city and Bass Pro Shops. There might be a hit of desperation in the negotiations — if interim Mayor Lowery can do a deal quickly, it could be a big help in the approaching special election to fill out  the former mayor’s term in office.

Am I Blue?

Am I Blue?

Among other things, the failure to do anything with the Pyramid had to be a blot on the record of Mayor Herenton. The thing’s been sitting empty and unused for 5 years now, almost half the time it was open for business. Can’t blame its problems on the last mayor though. It wasn’t his idea, and he certainly wasn’t to blame for the economic slump that kept Sidney Shlenker from realizing his grandiose schemes to develop the property.

Still, 13 years is a pretty short life for an entertainment venue. The also-closed Mid-South Coliseum, once called “The Entertainment Capital of the Mid-South.” opened in 1963 and held its final show in 2006 — 2 years after the final event at the Pyramid.

Helllooo?

Helllooo?

I saw Luther Vandross at the Pyramid (I went for En Vogue, the lady I was with wanted to see Luther). I also saw the inaugural Memphis Grizzlies game at the Pyramid. That has been the only time I’ve seen a live performance by Justin Timberlake, who sang the national anthem. It would seem strange to see it as a hunting and fishing emporium, but better that than leaving it empty.

It would also be nice to bring a going concern to that end of downtown. The ‘Mid was supposed to turn the Pinch District around. The Uptown development has done a lot more to bring people into that part of town. Large-scale retail would certainly be a good thing to have around there. That might actually get someone to move into the old Chism Trail supermarket (which was a Kroger before that). I’m all for full-service grocery stores downtown.

Ready to Go

Ready to Go

I hope that if there is a plan nearly completion, it doesn’t fall victim to the usual “let’s not rush into anything” impulse that a lot of elected officials seem to have. It’s been 5 years. Anything you need to know about a deal to unload that triangular-shaped white elephant has been on the table for a while. I don’t care whether action now would be interpreted as a boost for Lowery’s candidacy. It’s time to get something done.