Just back from vacation -- one of the many highlights of which was seeing a store sign that informed passersby that the shop sold Ladies Plus Size Clothes and Turkey and Dressing -- and I must say that I got back just in time for one of the most magical moments in Memphis history: the lighting of the Stax Museum of American Soul Music and Stax Music Academy Soulsville U.S.A. signs. Hundreds of people showed up. It was one of the finest neighborhood street parties this city has ever seen and is just further proof that at least some people in this city care about it and know what they are doing. Then, unfortunately, I started catching up on the news I d missed out on. First, there was the president s colon. What a lovely thought. And I did see a great newspaper headline that read, Jewish leaders generally pleased that Bush places onus on Palestinians. Had I been the proofreader, I don t think I could have helped changing that to anus. And then I found myself incredulous at something I read about some of the members of the Shelby County Commission, which I suppose is old news by now. I usually get a kick out of some of the things our local politicians do, but this county commission debacle, with them joining Joe Cooper in his insane idea to sell off some of the land at Shelby Farms and develop it into another freakin nasty, horrible subdivision of nasty horrible houses that all look alike and are all inhabited by a bunch of lemmings who, unfortunately, haven t jumped off of a cliff into the sea to their deaths yet, is just too much. The one place left in suburban Memphis that doesn t look like Stepfordland, and they want to destroy it so a bunch of developers can make a killing and, most likely, put some of that money in the campaign coffers of those on their side in this new argument that can only be described as something out of a science fiction movie shot in Bugtussle. Oddly enough, Commissioner Walter Bailey is against a private Shelby Farms Conservancy which wants to save the park, because he doesn t think rich people who want to donate money to save the land ought to have that right. I guess that same way of thinking doesn t include the millions that would be made by the developers. And then we have that pathetic, sickeningly melodramatic Marilyn Loeffel or Falafel or whatever her name is right in there with them, wanting to spoil one of America s best green spaces to build a pressboard, cookie-cutter metropolis to make us the laughingstock of the civilized, environmentally-aware world. If she s so concerned about developing land in Shelby County to reduce the debt and have more money for her little white-flight county schools, why doesn t she just persuade her precious Bellevue Baptist Church to donate to the county some of that ludicrously sized compound they have out there -- which I still maintain has an alien landing pad hidden somewhere on the grounds -- and stick her ugly subdivision next to her ugly church? And WHY is Commissioner Michael Hooks allowed to vote on ANYTHING? You d think getting caught with a bunch of crack paraphernalia would be enough to put an end to his being able to have any kind of say-so about this at all, much less proposing that 25 acres of the park be carved out. It s incredible. Just when everyone thought that Cooper s proposal to sell off Shelby Farms to make way for a bunch of strip shopping centers and ugly houses -- some of which are sure to have turrets, a scary trend in new houses here -- was simply a juvenile publicity stunt to get attention because he s not smart enough to do anything worthy of real attention, here come some of the commissioners actually agreeing with this preposterous idea. All I can say is thank God for people like Commissioner Tom Moss and Ron Terry and Jim Rout, who see this utter madness for what it is, and forget the rest of them until the next election. In the meantime, before there s an outlet mall where Patriot Lake used to be, here s a look at what s going on around town this week. If you happen to be reading this on July 3rd, as many of you do who get the paper early, tonight s big pre-Fourth festival is the WMC Star-Spangled Celebration at Shelby Farms (while it s still there), with a Saint Peter Home Picnic, a car giveaway, fireworks, and live music by Train. As for today, Thursday, it is, of course, July 4th. And tonight s big party is the Red, White, and Blues Celebration at Tom Lee Park and on Beale Street, with fireworks and plenty of live music. Tonight s Live at the Garden Summer Concert Series show at Memphis Botanic Garden is Pops With the Plants, featuring the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and the fabulous Stax Music Academy Rhythm Section. The Memphis Redbirds play Portland tonight. And speaking of the Redbirds, let it be known that Sadie Ware, the queen of soul cooking in Memphis and formerly at the Orchid Club, is now at the Redbird Cafe on Fourth Street, just a block from the stadium, cooking up breakfast and lunch. Phillip Barnes & Clamp Those Monkey Teeth are at the Full Moon Club tonight upstairs from Zinnie s East. And none other than the legendary Ms. Etta James is at the Lounge tonight at 7:30, followed later by The Reigning Sound.