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Flyer Flashback

To mark the Flyer's 20th anniversary, we're looking back at stories from our first two decades.

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"The planners say they want to revitalize Mud Island. The mayor says he wants a family-oriented attraction. Excuse me, but isn't Mud Island already family-oriented? How do we make it more family-oriented? Maybe some big cartoon characters — Mickey Memphis or Ricky Riverboat or Cathy Catfish. I can visualize them greeting the hordes of squealing little children at the doors of the already cartoonish Welcome Center, skipping gleefully, hand-in-hand, across the new land-bridge to the same old Mud Island theme park. ...

"Before I go any further, let me go on record: I like Mud Island. I realize that's kind of like standing up in church and admitting you'd like to boff the preacher's daughter. More often. But, hey, Mud Island is probably the only intelligent and well-designed piece of civic architecture this city has come up with since ... well, since. That doesn't mean it wasn't a flawed idea to begin with, just a well-designed flawed idea. Intelligent tourist attractions don't work. Tourists aren't intelligent. If they are, they're not in Memphis.

"You want a bold, innovative plan for Mud Island? Okay. Bulldoze it. Level it. Tear down the damn park and give the silly airplane [the Memphis Belle] to whoever is dumb enough to take it. Eat your losses and chalk it up to experience."

From "An Immodest Proposal," a September 26, 1996, commentary by Cory Dugan addressing yet more ideas to lure visitors downtown.

Dugan, former Flyer art director and art critic for the paper, was known for his frighteningly smart style.

As for an update: Mud Island was not bulldozed; the idea for the land-bridge may finally be dead; and the Memphis Belle was moved to Ohio in 2005.

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