Pedaling forward for 40 years

When Memphis magazine first appeared on newsstands and in mailboxes, I didn’t read it. I turned 6 years old in 1976, the first year of Memphis, and I was busy learning to ride my bike across a weedy patch of lawn in front of my family’s small bungalow on Central Avenue in Midtown.

I would ride a parade of bicycles through elementary and high school but, as a child of the 1970s, I was promised jetpacks and flying cars as a means of travel into the distant future. Those promises have yet to be realized and, at 45 years old, I instead rode my bike to work today.READ MORE


Mind’s Eye: Bob Williams

About this series: Memphis has played muse over the years to artists across the spectrum, from the music of Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Al Green, and the collective at Stax Records, to the prose of Peter Taylor, Shelby Foote, and John Grisham. But what about visually? The look of Memphis has been described equally as gritty, dirty, active, eerie, beautiful, and captivating. 

In this series, titled “The Mind’s Eye,” Memphis magazine will be taking a closer look at some of this city’s most prominent photographers, a few homegrown, many transplanted, but all drawn in by that grittiness, that activity, that beauty. 

Is there something special about the look of Memphis? We’ll ask each and, along the way, learn what makes these photographers tick, what got them started on their professional paths, and what it is that keeps them looking around every corner and down every alley. We’ll turn the camera on the cameramen, as it were, capturing their portraits and seeing what develops. 

At the same time, we will be showcasing each photographer’s own remarkable work. Hopefully, that will speak for itself. 

Richard J. AlleyREAD MORE


Remembering Franny and Zooey and Jim

Wrapping paper. Sugar-sweet carols. Televised cartoon specials. Noise-making toys. Tinsel everywhere. I have four children, so this is how my Christmases have looked and sounded for the past 17 years. And that’s great. This is just how it should be — loud and colorful and joyful.

But I need my alone time, so every year I’ve managed to carve out a little space just for myself during these end-of-year celebrations. While the kids are watching those television specials or playing with their toys or baking cookies, I’ve made it a point to take a book off the shelf, sit, and read. And for many years — more than I can remember, really — that book has been Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger.READ MORE


Q&A with Charles Lloyd

Charles Lloyd was born in Memphis on March 15, 1938. In his formative years he played with B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf, and Johnny Ace, among many others. It was a time of mentoring under Phineas Newborn Jr. and with the strains of Willie Mitchell’s horn in his ears, Lloyd left for California and USC before making his way to New York. His 1966 album Forest Flower: Live at Monterey became a sensation and was one of the first jazz albums to sell a million copies. Along this meteoric rise, he was asked to play the Tallinn Jazz Festival in the Soviet Union in 1967 and his quartet was the first jazz group to play the storied Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco. At the height of his career, in the early 1970s, he walked away from it all, retreating to Big Sur to lead a reclusive life. In the past years he’s come out of that self-imposed exile to again tour the country and the world. He is the subject of the 2012 documentary Arrows Into Infinity, was named an NEA Jazz Master earlier this year, and was invited last month to Rhodes College to work with students and to perform at the Levitt Shell. This interview about his early life in Memphis took place in his suite at the Madison Hotel with a view of the Mississippi River.READ MORE


Managing birthdays and inflated expectations

It shows up before noon, spread out on the front lawn like an oversized, rubber area rug. I look to the darkening sky and am told I have to help. None of the heavy lifting, mind you. I’m put into service locating an accessible electrical outlet to plug in the motorized thing that causes the inflation. This is why I can’t be entrusted with anything mechanical. This is why the man in charge tells me: “Stand back.”READ MORE

Somerset & Joshua

Overton Square reborn to touch yet another generation

We recently spent a drizzly Sunday afternoon at a Rock-n-Romp, the annual series of live music events presented in a family friendly atmosphere. The program is in its 10th season, and the Alley family has been to nearly every show of the decade.

This was the first one held at Overton Square. On the back side of the Square in the courtyard with its built-in stage, we watched our kids visit and laugh, play games and dance to live music (but not kids music).