- Sbukley | Dreamstime.com
First of all, allow me to be totally self-serving and talk up the big "Stax to the Max" festival happening Saturday, April 26th, from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music (my real job). There's free admission, food trucks, vendors selling all sorts of things, and all-day live music by the likes of Singa Bromfield, the Stax Music Academy Junior Academy (I guarantee they will be the big surprise of the day), the Daddy Mack Blues Band, the Bo-Keys featuring John Nemeth and Percy Wiggins, Swingtime Explosion, Toni Green (be still my beating heart), and Stax legends William Bell, the Mad Lads, the Temprees, and none other than Sam Moore of the most soulful duo ever, Sam & Dave.
Sam will perform as the Stax Music Academy's special guest. Saturday is also the grand opening of the new Memphis Slim Collaboratory at the original site of bluesman Memphis Slim's house next door to the Stax Museum (yes, the one where the sign with the message "Renovations Coming Soon" has been posted for about the past 10 years). It is way cool and open for tours that day. So I want everyone who reads this or uses it to line the litter box to come out for this festival. It's a trip.
And do you know why they let me get away with writing this kind of self-promotional article? It's because I've been writing for this paper for more than 25 years now. For a long time, as its founding editor, it was every week. So let's say for the first 15 years, I wrote somewhere in the range of 780 columns for the Flyer. And let's say for the past 10, at every other week, that's somewhere in the range of 260. No one ever accused me of being a mathematician, but I think that comes to 1,040 columns in 25 years. That is absolutely frightening.
We were here for the fall of the Berlin Wall and the fall of John Wayne Bobbitt's penis, when his wife Lorena chopped it off with a kitchen knife, put it in her purse, drove off, and tossed it into a field. The penis was found and reattached, and she was found not guilty by reason of insanity and ordered to spend 45 days in a mental institution. He subsequently tried to make money in a couple of porn films but ended up delivering pizzas and doing other odd jobs.
We were here for the first George Bush presidency with his sidekick Vice President Dan Quayle. Then we were here for the eight Clinton years, the eight George W. Bush years, and now going-on-six Barack Obama years. If you had told me 25 years ago that the United States would have an African-American president, one who got reelected to a second term, I would have been more than a little skeptical that Amurika would have the wherewithal to do that.
We were here for all of Cher's final concert tours. We were here for wars in Kuwait, Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. (There were probably others I can't remember.) We were here for the deaths of Lucille Ball, Jackie Onassis, Audrey Hepburn, Kurt Cobain, and a slew of others that we covered in one way or another. We were here for Lobster Boy trying to kill his wife by rolling across the room as fast as he could and repeatedly head-butting her. We were here for the construction of the Pyramid, FedExForum, National Civil Rights Museum, and aforementioned Stax Museum, along with its Stax Music Academy and the Soulsville Charter School. Heck, the Flyer was around for the demolition of the original Stax studios building. Who would have thought that at the original site of Stax Records, there would be an academic college prep school whose every senior has not only graduated but has gone to college with some kind of scholarship or grant.
Funny, the Flyer has had just three editors in its quarter-of-a-century lifetime: yours truly, the late and much-loved Dennis Freeland, and its current editor, some guy named Bruce VanWyngarden. The staff is much larger than the two and a half of us who originally put out the paper by carving the copy into a concrete pad and running ink over it, and the paper is all the better for it.
No, we didn't have the internet, or even email in the very beginning. Nor did we have cell phones or iPads or iPods or much of anything in the way of being able to mass-communicate anything. No Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, texting, sexting, or Google Glass. But we could smoke at our desks during work, and there's something very, very valuable about that. So there.
Come to "Stax to the Max" Saturday, April 26th, and tweet, text, Facebook, and Instagram 'til your heart's are content. Just don't forget to listen to the music and get a hot dog.