- Alex Harrison
- If Memphis only had Elvis Presley and Willie Mitchell, we'd have plenty to be proud of. But over the decades the home of the blues has played host to B.B. King, Ike and Tina Turner, Jerry Lee Lewis, Rufus and Carla Thomas, Al Green, the Staple Singers, Alex Chilton, Johnny Cash, Jim Dickinson, Otis Redding, Three Six Mafia, Isaac Hayes, and a host of other artists too numerous to mention. And, if you take a little trip to MTV.com and watch episodes of Craig Brewer's $5 Cover, you'll discover that Memphis' rich musical history isn't all history. We're still making some of the sweetest sounds on the planet.
What ever will we do without Mayor Willie Herenton to kick around? He's been such good fodder for this section of Best Of, particularly this year, when his name, in all its various spellings, flooded both the "Best Success" and "Best Failure" categories.
The Herenton vote also is notable for its ecstatic punctuation. We counted 500 exclamation points (e.g., "Herenton Leaving! Blessed Be!!!!") in the "Best Success" category before giving up(!).
Best Category We Left Out
1. Best Park
2. Best Farmers Market
3. Best Nonprofit
It's not surprising that Memphians are proud of their parks, because our green spaces are so much more than green. From the fabulous free concerts at Overton Park's newly renovated Levitt Shell, to the cool Yvonne Bobo sculptures in Peabody Park and the calming Zen landscapes of the Memphis Botanic Garden our parks — quite literally — have got it going on.
1. A C Wharton
2. Steve Cohen
3. Justin Timberlake
Able and competent; always calm; and aiming for consensus: These are a few of the things A C stands for. Although he has his share of critics, Shelby County mayor and city mayor hopeful A C Wharton is the rare politician that people seem to like regardless of race, profession, or party affiliation. In Memphis, that's a certifiable miracle.
2. Central Gardens
3. High Point Terrace — tie —
Want to pick up a rare first-edition book signed by an author, have a perfect cup of coffee, and shop for a one-of-a kind piece of jewelry before sitting down to a fabulous plate of tapas or Thai? You must be heading toward Cooper-Young. There's a reason why the annual Cooper-Young Festival has become one of the biggest events of its kind. The tree-shaded neighborhood is one of Memphis' most walkable and boasts a variety of excellent restaurants, pubs, coffee shops, and boutiques.
Best Memphis Failure
1. Mayor Willie Herenton's Continuing Reign
2. Coach John Calipari's Departure
3. The Pyramid Remaining Empty
Psssst! Mayor Herenton resigned. Pass it on. And see "Best Memphis Success" for further details.
- Bianca Phillips
- Mayor Willie Herenton's Resignation, 1st place: "Best Memphis Success"
Best Memphis Success
1. Mayor Willie Herenton's Resignation
2. Hiring Josh Pastner
3. Memphis Farmers Market, downtown
On the day Memphis mayor Willie Herenton resigned, Shelby County mayor A C Wharton honored him by quoting the lyrics to "My Way," a song originally recorded by Frank Sinatra, operatically covered by Elvis, then savaged by Sid Vicious. Nothing could have been more appropriate for the towering political leader who would later dangle his letter of resignation above the head of his successor, Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery, and say, "I couldn't give you this when you were kind of demanding it." Although he won his last election with a plurality, Flyer voters sent a clear message: It was time for the mayor to go. In the end he agreed. And there was great jubilation.