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City Without A King
Photo by Joshua J. Cotten / Unsplash

City Without A King

馃憫 A reflection on Memphis 路 "Gun violence" 路聽Tainted gas 路聽Planet of the Apes 路聽Much more!

Good afternoon, everyone.

I know we're a Nashville publication that typically centers our concerns around Middle Tennessee, but I was sent this essay on Memphis from Roland Gunn that I could not turn down. It's a lyrical reflection and celebration of the city with lessons for Nashville embedded in it. Hope you enjoy.


[The Egyptians] have also another sacred bird called the phoenix... Indeed it is a great rarity, even in Egypt, only coming there in five hundred years, when the old phoenix dies.


Country people are always wary of cities as dens of vice and crime, the creation of the sons of Cain, but no civilization was great without great cities, and the South is no exception. The 20th century was not kind to our cities. First the deluge of the 60s hollowed them out. Later an influx of new money began to fill them up again with strange people with strange customs, driving the wedge between the city and the country deeper still. Some of our cities, Charleston, Asheville, Savannah, have been loved to death. Today they are overflowing with snowbirds, halfbacks, yuppies, and every other manner of carpetbagger. They come here because they like our tax rate, or they鈥檙e tired of the cold, or because $500k goes a lot further in Tennessee real estate than it does in San Francisco. Memphis is not one of those cities.

Cities rise and fall and rise again. Memphis is no different. The city began as a settlement of the Mississippian civilization, colloquially known as the 鈥淢ound Builders,鈥 though this is something of a misnomer; in their heyday, before erosion took its toll, these structures were earthen pyramids. Some say that great first nation of America鈥檚 Nile was visited by ships sent out by the ancient Pharaohs, and that those visitors left a trace of their own spirit here in the new Egypt. Whatever the case, the Mississippian civilization would collapse before European settlers arrived on these shores. In the post-apocalyptic void left in its wake, a tribe of survivors known as the Chickasaw established themselves on the bluffs above the great river. It was from the Chickasaw nation that three of Tennessee鈥檚 founding fathers, Andrew Jackson, John Overton, and James Winchester, purchased the land which would become the city of Memphis.

The young city perched atop the Chickasaw Bluffs grew rapidly. By the time of the Civil War, it was a bustling river port, home to the infamous cavalry commander Nathan Bedford Forrest, 鈥渢he wizard of the saddle,鈥 who was elected a city alderman in 1858. Due to the Confederates鈥 poor planning for the defense of Tennessee against Union armies under General Ulysses S. Grant the city fell on June 6th, 1862, and would remain in Union hands through the rest of the war. By 1870 Memphis was a city of some 40,000 souls, second only to New Orleans in the entire South. In 1878 over five-thousand Memphians died of yellow fever; half the surviving population fled the city during that time. With over fifteen-million dollars in losses, the city went bankrupt, and the Tennessee General Assembly revoked its charter. Yet Memphis didn鈥檛 stay dead for long.

Big wheel keep on turnin! Proud Mary keep on burnin!
Rollin, rollin, rollin on the river.

John Fogerty

By the turn of the 20th century Memphis had clawed its way back from the dead to become the largest cotton market in the world and the largest lumber market as well. Some of the South鈥檚 first skyscrapers would begin to rise from the Chickasaw Bluffs. In 1893 a young man named Ed Crump would arrive in Memphis from Holly Springs, Mississippi to take a job as a cotton trader on Front Street, in sight of the cobblestone landings where giant bales of cotton were unloaded from paddlewheel steamers. Edward 鈥淏oss鈥 Crump would quickly rise through local Democratic politics to become the city鈥檚 mayor in 1910; he would build a political machine in Memphis to rival the legendary Tammany Hall and retain near absolute control over the city鈥檚 politics for the remainder of his life. Crump鈥檚 Democratic machine would reach so far across the state that it would trigger the famous Battle of Athens far away in East Tennessee, a region long dominated by Republicans. Boss Crump was the first king of Memphis in our historical record, though doubtless many had come before in the forgotten mists of the age of the Moundbuilders.

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馃挜 Tensions High Following Bellevue Shooting Fifteen year-old De'Anthony Osasosifo is now in police custody after fatally shooting Aayden Hayes, 13, and injuring Hayes鈥 16-year-old sister. Shots rang out after a group of teenage boys intervened in a fight that broke out between teenage girls on Wednesday night at Red Caboose Park in Bellevue. Osasosifo has been charged with criminal homicide and attempted criminal homicide.

鈥淢y heart breaks tonight for the families who experienced firsthand the tragedy of gun violence in a Bellevue park,鈥 posted Mayor O鈥機onnell in the wake of the tragedy on X. 鈥淚鈥檓 grateful to first responders鈥攊ncluding [the Nashville Fire Department]鈥攚ho immediately rendered aid as well as [MNPD] officers who quickly apprehended a possible suspect.鈥 He also expressed his resolve 鈥渢o invest in strategies to reduce gun violence and expand youth opportunity.鈥

Not everyone appreciated O鈥機onnell鈥檚 response. 鈥淥f all of the teenage shootings we have weekly in Nashville, [Freddie O鈥機onnell] decides to issue a statement on the one that occurs in Bellevue,鈥 posted Jason Steen, Editor of Scoop Nashville. 鈥淲hy now? This is out of the ordinary for those not paying attention.鈥 He continued, 鈥淢r. Mayor, would you like a list of the other teen victims?鈥

Nashville Representative, Bo Mitchell, posted and deleted a different kind of reaction to the tragedy: 鈥淏ellevue, I am so sorry that there has been another fatality of our youth with firearms. Please either support me or work with the dark side to determine the direction of our community!! I am sick of children dying in the name of a redneck cause.鈥 There was significant blowback in the comment section regarding Mitchell鈥檚 reference to the 鈥渄ark side鈥 and the 鈥渞edneck cause.鈥 MEGAN PODSIEDLIK

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馃挜 Shootings Plague Napier  South Nashville鈥檚 Napier neighborhood saw four shootings over the long weekend, inspiring the police to take action. 鈥淓nhanced precision policing strategies to dissuade violence in that area are being put into place,鈥 MNPD told WSMV .

On May 17th, Mayor O鈥機onnell briefly discussed how wraparound approaches鈥- including precision policing鈥 can have a positive effect on high-crime areas. 鈥淭he efficiency approach that the police department has had to keep more officers available to be on patrol and respond to requests for service where officer attention might be necessary has also had an impact, I think,鈥 he said. 鈥淏ut鈥. having represented the Napier community for a long time, that as we saw how some of those community-based approaches come online, when they focus on an area that had been high crime, you also do see the impact there.鈥 MNPD Public Affairs Director Don Aaron says the police department is 鈥渨orking to identify and hold accountable those persons in the community who are committing acts of violence.鈥  Read more about Operation 72 and the goals of MNPD鈥檚 approach here. MEGAN PODSIEDLIK

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鉀斤笍 Tainted Gas?  An investigation by the The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is underway after customers reported car issues after filling their tanks with a 鈥渕ysterious substance鈥 at an East Nashville gas station

This isn鈥檛 the only gas 鈥渕ix-up鈥 that鈥檚 been reported over the last few weeks: customers of  鈥淭hat Damn Store鈥 off Highway 70 East in Humphreys County had car trouble after filling their tanks last week. The county sheriff, Chris Davis, believes the regular fuel may have been replaced with diesel.  鈥淭here [have] been several people that have been reporting problems with their vehicles after purchasing fuel at this location,鈥 reads an announcement issued by the Humphreys County Sheriff鈥檚 Office. 鈥淸Sheriff Davis] is asking if you have had issues after purchasing fuel there this past week to please make a report of any damages.鈥 MEGAN PODSIEDLIK


Via NBJ Take a look inside AJ Capital Partners' latest Wedgewood-Houston project (More Info)
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  • On-site work starts for West End Park project (Post)
Off the Cuff


(PG-13 路 2h 25m 路 7.2/10) Directed by Wes Ball

It鈥檚 conventional wisdom that the movies of 1968 were as polarizing as its politics鈥揳 time of assassinations, 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Chicago DNC riots, and Rosemary鈥檚 Baby. But the year's most enduring Hollywood property played it right down the middle, a cautionary allegory about nuclear war starring the future savior of the NRA. 

The mangled Statue of Liberty and groveling Charlton Heston at the end of Planet of the Apes have become singular pop culture images that the four ensuing sequels and 2010s reboot trilogy have never come close to rivaling. But that was before the latest ape king called his brethren to order with an eagle on his arm. Though it could have been yet another feeble IP resuscitation, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes strives to be much more. And despite being mired in Hollywood鈥檚 worst tendencies, it flourishes.

Dispensing with most of the lore established in the 2011-2017 Apes cycle, the film picks up 300 years after the simians鈥 rise. When a radicalized cult of monkeys invades the rural village of the Eagle Clan, teenage Noa sets off to rescue his family and friends. Along for the ride are a human woman hiding her motives and a wise old orangutan, the last of the Jedi-like 鈥淥rder of Caesar.鈥 This new ape army led by Proximus Caesar has perverted the legacy of the previous film鈥檚 hero and aims to open a bunker filled with military toys to cement his power. 

The greatest strength of this latest Apes is its focus on intraspecies conflict. By escaping easy 鈥渉umans bad鈥 ecocriticism, director Wes Ball makes a profound statement about our natural desire to conquer and the moral codes integral to notions of freedom. Noa may be carrying a franchise, but he owes as much debt to the westerns and war movies of classic Hollywood as the previous installments. Bridging the power of cinematic story with seamlessly CGI, Apes is a reminder that Hollywood isn鈥檛 dead鈥搃f it can keep its stinking paws off its best filmmakers鈥 visions. JEROD HOLLYFIELD



View our calendar for the week here and our weekly film rundown here.

馃搮 Visit our On The Radar list to find upcoming events around Nashville.

馃帶 On Spotify: Pamphleteer's Picks, a playlist of our favorite bands in town this week.

馃懆馃徎鈥嶐煂 Check out our Nashville farmer's market guide and yearly festival guide.


馃獣 Colebrook Road @ Station Inn, 9p, $20, Info

馃幓 Carmina Burana @ Schermerhorn Symphony Center, 7:30p, $29+, Info

馃 Live Jazz: Parker James, Paul DeFiglia & Anson Hohne @ Vinyl Tap, 7p, No Cover, Info 馃

馃帣锔 Andr茅 3000 @ The Blue Room, 9p, $164.02, Info

馃幐 Jason Eady @ 3rd and Lindsley, 7:30p, $29.91, Info

馃崁 Live Irish Music @ McNamara鈥檚 Irish Pub, 6p, Free, Info

馃幐 Kelly鈥檚 Heroes @ Robert鈥檚 Western World, 6:30p, Free, Info

馃幐 Open Mic @ Fox & Locke, 6:30p, Free, Info
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