Raised From The Dead

September 21st, 2017

There are old ghosts here.

The births of self-service shopping and entire music forms, of reliable hospitality and overnight delivery. The deaths of famed entertainers and assassinated leaders. The dichotomies of medical breakthroughs and apocalyptic plague, of generous hearts and abject poverty.

And there is new spirit.

As published in The Memphis Daily News, September 22, 2017, and in The Memphis News, September 23-29, 2017

Crosstown Concourse


I walked through the town at mid-morning. Like any town you spend a lifetime in, you know people.

I spoke to the guy that owns the coffee shop, Jimmy Lewis, as he walked between customers over cups and conversation. He and I went to the same high school, and I see they’re building a new high school right here in town – going to be trying all kinds of new ideas in there, a public/private, secondary/higher education partnership model for the country I’m told.

I spoke to Peter Schutt, the owner of the newspaper I write for, as he passed on his way to the new market he’s opened here in town – stocked from his own farm, and from a lot of other farms around here.

I ran into John Burruss, one of my Eagle Scouts when I was a scoutmaster and now an Episcopal priest, on his way into Jimmy’s coffee shop for a meeting about a new community initiative – and into Rabbi Micah Greenstein coming from the new branch of Temple Israel here in town.

I ran into a doctor friend of mine, Scott Morris, who’s also a Methodist minister, who’s also the founding force behind the new center he was standing in front of – Church Health they call it – apt for the bright, shiny hope and help it offers the least of these suffering the most here in town.

I saw another high school friend, Martha Boyd, and her husband Jim and saw their brand-new apartment – inviting space filled with light and imagination and re-imagination – you see things in new ways from here.

I saw a brand-new bank branch around the corner, next to the brand-new burger place, just down the way from people in the window at the brand-new Y on the brand new treadmills, right above the brand-new juice bar, right across the way from the big windows of the brand-new demonstration and teaching kitchen.

And I had a beer Next Door – don’t know the owner of the place, Kimbal Musk, but the farm-to-table example he’s planting here he’s planning to plant across the country I’m told, and his brother has reinvented electric cars and builds spaceships.

Those are the kind of genes worn in this town.

This town, Crosstown Concourse, is built under a single roof, on the giant skeleton of a million-plus-square-foot warehouse, distribution center and retail store left for dead decades ago. The ghosts of a zillion packages and those who packed them, of all the dreams in all the Sears catalogs since 1927 and of those who saw them delivered from here – the ghost of what Sears was and what Crosstown was and of what once was – can now rest in peace.

That old ghost has been replaced with a new spirit – a new promise made to the future – a promise, I submit, our town can make like no other:

Take what we have and build something like the world has never seen from it.

I’m a Memphian, and that’s the spirit.


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