Time For What’s Next

November 16th, 2017

The wife of a friend of mine once told me something about his outlook, “Andy doesn’t see the glass as half-full or half-empty; he sees it as broken shards of glass on a kitchen floor he’s walking through barefooted – in the dark.”

While that seems to be the Memphis outlook more often than not, maybe we should just take the same glass and fill it in new ways.

As published in The Memphis Daily News, November 17, 2017, and in The Memphis News, November 18-24, 2017

(photo: Abe Goodman Clubhouse)

Abe Goodman Clubhouse


Just as we’re getting somewhere on Brady’s Parking Lot vs. Overton Park, Brooks decides to chase something bigger, shinier and newer on the bluff and the Memphis College of Art throws down their brushes.

The Overton Park Conservancy may be looking up through the Old Forest canopy and asking, “Why me?”

Some years ago when someone close to me fell victim to corporate America’s stock market shuffle – the dance that decimates whole departments to boost profits in advance of a quarterly report – he shared his job search frustration:

“If one more person tells me when God closes a door, God opens a window, I’m throwing a punch.”

God didn’t eliminate his job, nor find the next one. God isn’t moving Brooks or closing the Memphis College of Art, nor finding their replacements. People making bad decisions in the past, current market conditions, and our love of the big, shiny and new did those things and, God knows, people will be responsible for what’s next.

So, people, let’s get on with it. Here’s a thought or two.

The University of Memphis should take Rust Hall and Brooks and move as much of their visual arts and design programs as the new canvas can take. Or move the architectural program there. Or both. Their excellent graphic design program is currently in a basement with no windows and everything else is probably as crowded as a Jackson Pollock painting.

And kids could still be taught art here on Saturday mornings, and see the light.

The ninth hole of the golf course adjacent to Brooks should be made available for expansion of the building, a landscaped parking garage and roof gardens. Most of the first hole and second hole of the golf course should close and become additional greensward.

The beautiful old Abe Goodman clubhouse should become Abe’s bar and grill, turned over to private management – or any or all of our local brewers – and the area outside of it converted to a huge beer garden, all serviced by the new parking just across the street.

The remainder of the golf course should be turned over to private management – or the golf programs at the U of M and/or Rhodes – or all of the above – and converted to a championship-quality nine-hole three-par layout – challenging the best from the back tees and accessible as always to beginners from the front tees, instead of continuing to struggle as a badly-maintained, under-utilized nine-hole exercise in nostalgia. There’s more than enough room on the remaining six holes for an award-winning design wrapped around the trees over existing waterways, and the old clubhouse can still start things off. 

And kids could still learn to play golf here, and play golf with Mom or Dad for the first time here.

That leaves the maintenance area, and that’s exactly what we should do. Replant it and leave it alone to become even more greensward or to return to forest and trail.

I’m a Memphian, and I think that about does it.


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