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Letter from the Editor

The 12 Days of Christmas, Josh Pastner, and the Memphis Airport.


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I'm not a swami, but here are some things I can predict with confidence ...

Every year about this time, an article will appear chronicling the cost of the items in the song "The 12 Days of Christmas." This year's total, according to PNC Wealth Management, is $107,300. That seems a little high to me. I'm pretty sure, for example, they could have gone down to Brooks Road and gotten a better deal than the $6,294 they spent on "nine ladies dancing." But I digress.

I can also predict that the basketball Tigers will underperform in the early season, and everyone in town will start doubting Josh Pastner's ability to coach and/or motivate his highly rated players. To which, I say, chill out. Look at the big picture: He's an amazing recruiter, he's averaged 25 wins a year, he's 34 years old, with a young family. And, yes, it's weird that he doesn't drink or cuss, but so what?

I remember being 34 with a young family. I had a nice editing and writing job at a national magazine. When my boss suddenly resigned, I was made managing editor. It was a great opportunity for me, but recalling the stress of those first couple years in management still gives me nightmares. I didn't know how to hire or fire or motivate; I made a lot of mistakes. And I drank and cussed. A lot. But eventually I learned what was important and what to let slide. I learned that hiring talented people and letting them perform was better than trying to do it all yourself. Give Pastner a little more time. I predict he'll get there (though I can't promise I won't cuss at him now and then).

I also predict that Delta Airlines will continue screwing over Memphis by raising airfares, then cutting flights, then citing a "lack of demand" as a reason to cut more flights. Just as predictably, each time this happens, airport chief Larry Cox and the rest of the Airport Authority board will hum along to Delta's tune, adding that "market forces" are responsible.

Delta is "doing" Memphis an enormous economic disservice. They have broken promise after promise and are abandoning the city piecemeal. I wish Memphians worried as much about the performance of the Airport Authority as they do about Josh Pastner's coaching skills, but that probably won't happen.

If it will help, just imagine the increase in cost of "The 12 Days of Christmas" over the past few years if "nine flights from Memphis" was a line in that stupid song.

Bruce VanWyngarden



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