From the Mailbox

Good questions from readers about some recent stories.

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Interesting stories usually prompt good questions and comments from Flyer readers. Last week was such a week. Here is a sampling of reader reaction that didn't make it into the letters section of this week's newspaper.

From "Jane Main" on my column last week about Steve Jobs being in Midtown Memphis in 2009 for a liver transplant:

"Just read your article and wonder if you do any fact checking? Like did you contact Carlos Esquivel, MD at Stanford, to find out the real reason why Steve Jobs came to Memphis?"

Dear "Jane," Fact checking, yes. Contact the doc at Stanford, no. BTW, glad to chat but what's your real name?

Jane: "Believe me, I would love to tell you but can't. I have first-hand knowledge of this entire situation but cannot share for not wanting to compromise my position."

Welcome to my world, Jane. Apple is notoriously secretive, Jobs was estranged from his father all his life, his presence in Memphis was a secret, and his funeral was private. I have no doubt that the full story on "Saving Steve Jobs" is as fascinating as Saving Private Ryan. From Jobs' transplant to his death, Apple's market capitalization increased $300 billion. I look forward to the Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson coming out October 24th.

From "lifespalette" on Loeb Properties seeking $12 million in public aid to go with its $19 million investment in Overton Square: "When does this city financing of private ventures end? I can see the city financing the flood containment structure ... but the new site for the Hattiloo theater group and a parking garage are private components."

Another reader, "Barf," responds:

"We have a choice. We can try and help create the types of places that will help change the level of play or we can sit idly by and follow the free market which dictates that the quality of life here is doomed to keep sinking."

As a Midtowner, I generally like to see progressive development in and near my neighborhood, and Loeb's plan meets the bill. But I don't like mixing up the debate and the funding for a flood-control project (the retention basin under the parking garage) and redevelopment of Overton Square. One is a classic government responsibility and the other isn't. And I don't like parking garages.

On colleague Louis Goggans' story about the $1,995 per person seven-day Mississippi River cruise from Memphis to New Orleans on The American Queen:

From Joe Spake: "For around $400 for the round trip, a private room, and all excellent meals included, two can do a Memphis-New Orleans round trip on Amtrak."

Right you are, Joe. The cost is $208 per person, or as low as $53 for a standard coach seat without meals. Bring a sandwich and a copy of Huckleberry Finn. Starting next year, the choice is yours.

From Whitney Canale-Gentry on "Ode to Justin Canale: A Gentle Giant is Dead":

"Thank you for the article about my Uncle Justin. He would have been so proud and honored. I would love to have the picture for my little boy."

Welcome, Whitney and Canales everywhere. Justin, 68, and his brother Whit, 69, died three weeks apart. They were among the greatest high school football stars in Memphis history and, along with four other brothers, were featured in Sports Illustrated.

What's a guy gotta do to get a special obit in The Commercial Appeal these days? Justin, one of the nicest guys I ever met, went on to play guard for Mississippi State, where he also kicked field goals and threw the shot put 58 feet. Then he played professionally in the NFL, AFL, CFL, and WFL — in Memphis no less. Not a word of this in the sports section of the CA, where the morgue holds many classic Canale photos.

From John Stewart on colleague Andrew Caldwell's story "Taking a Licking" on the Lick Creek drainage controversy:

"The project seems to be moving on unchallenged by a bureaucracy that does not seem to see and care. ... The proposed solutions to the flooding in the Royster Bayou area of the Evergreen Historic District are flawed and have been met with insensitivity."

Well, John, as a neighbor I know what you are talking about, but I don't think the majority of Memphians do. And I don't think this is another potential Interstate 40 through Overton Park battle. Bureaucrats and Midtowners have long memories. But we will see.

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