Thanks, Memphis

November 25th, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.

As published in The Daily News, November 26, 2010, and in The Memphis News, November 27-28



I'm in a serious relationship with this city. Unlike our casual visitors who have their one-night stands on Beale Street, love us and leave us during Memphis In May, lust after our barbecue from afar and sing our songs around the world, I wake up every day with Memphis.

I've seen the dark circles under our collective eyes caused by endemic racism. I know what we look like unshaven, without makeup, disillusioned and angry. I've seen us fight about insignificant trivia while the bigger things are burning in our kitchen. I've seen us neglect our children and leave them to the streets. I've watched as we've ignored symptoms that could one day cost us our life as a viable city and region.

But, like in any serious relationship, I also continue to see the beauty, personality, charm and promise that attracted us to each other and has held us together to face it all as one.

And, like in any serious relationship, I don't say, "I love you" and "thank you" enough.

So, thank you, Memphis for those unique things about you I love the most. To name a few:

I love the people. Warm, funny, creative, caring. All my life, I've marveled at how Memphians of every ilk can sit around somebody's table and talk about anything, work anything out, and probably laugh about it in the process. If only we could do that publicly.

I love the river.
The view from the Chickasaw Bluffs is unmatched among cities on the Mississippi. When the water's up in the spring, it looks like a great bay out there. From a bench in a park or through a Downtown window, you can lose a lot of stress watching that current.

I love Overton Park. It's home to so much I love. Our world-class zoo. The old growth forest in the middle of the city. The College of Art. Brooks. The Levitt Shell. And the golf course where I met my wife.

I love the arts. Memphis may have more talent, more creativity, more artistic spark per capita than any other city in the country. Painters, sculptors, potters, actors, dancers, musicians, writers, directors, designers, filmmakers and quilt makers regularly ply their talents here across the whole creative spectrum.

I love April and October. I'll put ours up against those two months anywhere.

I love barbecue.
I know it's a cliché, but there's a reason it became one. When you've had it that good your entire life, you don't know what you're missing. The world does.

I love the spirit.
Amid the great bitch and moan that is public discourse of late, Memphians remain busy doing great things. Shelby Farms. The Greenline. UrbanArt. Riverfront Development Corporation. Center City Commission. The coalition that landed Pinnacle Downtown, the grant application that brought Bill and Melinda Gates to town.

Returning from the Army, Elvis was famously asked, "What did you miss about Memphis?" "Everything," he replied.

Thanks, Elvis.

I’m a Memphian, and thankful for it.


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