First At Last

March 19th, 2015

In category after category, Tennessee is getting better at bottom feeding than catfish, and if you like it down there, you’re well-represented.

As published in The Daily News, March 20, 2015, and in The Memphis News, March 21-27, 2015

(photo: Tennessee Representative and one of our very own in Shelby County, Curry Todd, poses for his booking photo. Makes you proud.)

Curry Todd


That’s our new slogan. Time to own it.

Some of you, my faithful readers, tell me I should be more positive about our prospects as a state. Look at the circus in Nashville – and remember how much fun I had at the circus as a kid, how hard I laughed at the clowns. Watch our march backwards, our retreat from progress – and think of it as a parade, marvel at how the marchers stay in lockstep with their eyes so firmly closed, applaud their speed and coordination.

As legislation is introduced to make the Bible the Official State Book, I shouldn’t think about official state religion but rather the fame Tennessee earned with the Scopes “monkey” trial back in the 20s – those halcyon days when we took a stand against science, education and evolution and the nation watched. There was a play, “Inherit the Wind” – the movie with Frederic March, Spencer Tracy, Gene Kelly. Wow, all right here.

As legislation is introduced to make a .50 caliber sniper rifle the Official State Gun, I shouldn’t be concerned our about our growing embrace of official violence, I should be proud of Tennessee’s official defense of the Second Amendment with a weapon that can blow somebody’s head apart a mile away. Wow, a whole mile, and I’m betting it’s a country mile.

As legislation is introduced by Curry Todd to drop the 75% rule in funding public defenders ­– not increasing it to 100% of prosecution funding but dropping it altogether – I shouldn’t worry about Tennessee forgetting what elevates American jurisprudence above the rest of the world. I should remember what a hoot ole pistol-packin’, drunk-drivin’, lobbyist-lovin’ Curry is – one of our very own in Shelby County. Remember his proposal to legislate an extra hour of daylight? Wow, an extra hour of daylight just in Tennessee.

That brings me to my proposal. We should be the first state to have an Official State Idiot.

Competition would be fierce. Knoxville’s Stacey Campfield would’ve been a favorite but, amazingly, he’s not in the legislature anymore. Mt. Juliet’s Mae Beavers is always a contender and she has a finger on the trigger of that state gun thing, but I really like our chances in Shelby County. Even though Memphis doesn’t have Ophelia Ford falling off Nashville barstools anymore, Collierville does have ole Curry who could not only compete for the first award but for lifetime achievement in the category. And then there’s Germantown’s Brian Kelsey who already has the votes of around 280,000 uninsured Tennesseans in the bag.

We have some real winners.

Since the southern states seem to be involved in a race to the bottom in things like education, health, voting rights – everything but grits – let’s just go ahead and win the thing. Let’s edge out our neighbors and be the first state to get to dead last.

I’m a Memphian, and I remain positive about that. And as long as the legislature is in session, I’m positive I’ll have plenty to write about.


I'm a Memphian by Dan Conaway

 If you don’t read it, I’ll read it to you.

The book is available in print online and all over town and now in audio online at Amazon, Audible and iTunes, read by the author – columns, comments and character references for a city filled with it and often absolutely full of it. Take a look or a listen.



Jerry Baxter: I wish I had said that.

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