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Best of Memphis 2019 Staff Picks


Best Conspiracy Theory

What we've thought to be true our entire lives was brought into question when a billboard popped up on Highland, emblazoned with one simple statement: Birds aren't real. If you ask "bird truthers" (we're told they're out there somewhere) or Memphian Peter McIndo, you'll find our feathered friends painted in a more nefarious light. McIndo told News Channel 3, "Every tweet by a bird is a lie." From the group's Twitter: "Don't be mistaken, they used to be [real]. Until 2001. When the last real bird died, allowing the U.S. government to replace the entire species with drone replicas." Tread lightly, my friends, "bird watching goes both ways."

— Shara Clark

Best Reversal

Many of us remember the 2017 4th of July viral video (now at more than 4 million views) of Antario "Terry" Davis, a Whitehaven resident whose electric wheelchair malfunctioned, failing to reverse, leaving him in the literal line of fire after lighting what was to be a celebratory firework. A bystander could be heard frantically exclaiming, "Back up, Terry! Put it in reverse!" This summer, Terry's mother started a GoFundMe for a new, fully functioning wheelchair, and his fans took notice. Nearly $33,000 was raised. Quantum Rehab and Team Adaptive heard the story and actually gifted him a brand-new chair. According to his mom, the donations will go toward the purchase of an accessible van and home modifications. Go (forward and backwards) Terry! — SC

Best Obstacle Course
  • Best Obstacle Course

Best Obstacle Course

A handful of planters caused one hell of a mess on Highland this summer. In the earliest stages of the installation of a new crosswalk at Highland and Walker near U of M, a few large planters, brimming with colorful flowers, were strategically placed to act as barriers on either side of the crosswalk. In a most impressive display of Memphians' driving skills, the planters were quickly demolished, leaving a sad scene of dirt and petals. Whoever was in charge of this debacle would replace them with freshly potted planters, only to have the same thing happen again, and again, and a- ... you get the picture. — SC

Best Unopened Bar

For months, there has been activity in the building at the northwest corner of Peabody and Cooper in the little space next to Cafe 1912. Mysterious lights, paper signs in the window, workmen coming and going, etc. Something was going on, but what? Earlier this month, we got a definitive clue when a "Bar Keough" sign went up. Turns out that Kevin Keough, of Downtown's Cafe Keough, is opening a bar in the space. That much we know. When? We don't know. Yet. — Bruce VanWyngarden


Best "Strip Club"

Sometimes people get a little mischievous with their votes in the Best of Memphis balloting. We were quite puzzled when a place called "Dickens Cider" came in as a nominee for Best Strip Club. No one had ever heard of it, and we couldn't find it listed anywhere. Our puzzlement ended when one staffer said the name out loud and then began blushing furiously. Try it. It's fun. You pervy rascals. Oh, and it turns out there really is a Dickens Cider. — BV

Best Beginning of the End

The Flyer began its coverage of the War for the Greensward in 2014. 2014! For five years, ink has flowed in buckets on the issue. And it will continue ... for a little while anyway. Crews are hard at work now to redo the Memphis Zoo's parking lot. Once it's done, parking will be forever ended on the Overton Park Greensward. Kudos to the protestors, zoo leaders, park leaders, elected officials, volunteer organizers, reporters, social media warriors, and Memphis Police Department helicopter pilots for making it possible to end a 30-year-old Memphis problem.

— Toby Sells

Best Thing That Needs to Be a Thing

Mane Street. When IMAKEMADBEATS petitioned to change our Main Street to something more, well, Memphis-y in February, I was On. Board. I also knew it'd never fly, no matter how great an idea it was. Can you imagine all the addresses and stationery and signage that would have to change? (Well, I guess we did just rename Third to B.B. King ...) But that didn't stop the artist (James Dukes) and his buddies in the Unapologetic collective. They made "S. Mane Street" signs, and you can buy them (like at Stock & Belle). When you do, the entire $20 goes to the Unapologetic Youth Scholarship Fund. Nice work, mane.

— TS

Best New Source

Reporters get to meet inspirational people every day — mighty politicians, amazing artists, successful business people, and everyday heroes. Kayla Gore is an activist working to make Memphis, and the world, safer and easier for what she simply calls "trans folks." I interviewed her for our Memphis Pride cover and was struck by her honesty, bravery, dedication, and kindness above all else. Advocates tell her she could be murdered for speaking up, but she does it anyway. She can't do it any other way, she says. It's the power in bold authenticity that makes history, and Gore is a history-maker. — TS

Best Stage Presence

On May 17th, A Weirdo From Memphis played his first solo show at The CMPLX. He was on fire, jumping from ladders, belting out jams from his new album You Goin' to Jail Now, and trading verses with Boss Lady Angel on the obscenely catchy brush-off "Waffle House." Behind him the whole time was a girl holding an axe. She didn't flow, she didn't sing hooks, she didn't dance, she didn't play an instrument. She just stood there, glaring at the audience as if to say, "Give me an excuse to chop yo' ass." It was magical. Keep choppin,' Axe Girl! — Chris McCoy


Best Night of Memphis Music

August 10, 2019, will go down as a red-letter day in the annals of Memphis music. First, Amy LaVere celebrated the release of Painting Blue. She fronted a band of Memphis all-stars, including her husband Will Sexton, who produced the album, on guitar. To a packed Crosstown Theater, she played her classics, new songs, and covers of David Bowie, Captain Beefheart, and Elvis Costello. It was carefully arranged perfection that showed why LaVere continues to be one of our city's greatest musical exports. Then, a quick bop across Midtown to DKDC took you to Marcella Simien's tribute to the late, great Dr. John. She brought along her dad, Zydeco legend Terrance Simien, and The Sheiks featuring Jesse James Davis, Memphis Flyer music editor Alex Greene, and the rockin' dentist John Whittemore, to interpret The Night Tripper's debut album Gris Gris. Marcella sang in an ecstatic trance as the band played through one psychedelic funk mashup after another. It was order and entropy, the two sides of Memphis music, in one fantastic evening. — CM


Best Thing Memphis Never Knew it Needed

Scooters, scooters, and more scooters. They're ubiquitous here now. First there was Bird. Then came Lime, then more recently Spin, and finally, the newest and most advanced yet, the Bolt Chariot scooter. The Bolt scooter tops the rest with well-thought-out design and amenities. It's got a cupholder and phone-charging capabilities, for goodness sake! These babies are top-notch, and Memphis was only the fourth city to get them. We didn't know we needed another scooter company here, but turns out we needed Bolt. If for no other reason: because they are badass. — Maya Smith


Best Act of Vigilante City Maintenance

This May, an enterprising Memphian looked at a pothole and saw an opportunity. Someone planted daylilies (in full bloom) in an admittedly rather large pothole on S. Tucker, between No Regrets Tattoo and First South Credit Union. I snapped a photo while tattoo artists wondered who the mysterious hero could be. She (he?) is the gardener Memphis deserves. — Jesse Davis

  • Andrew Hamilton
  • Chanelle Benz

Best New Book by a Memphian

Chanelle Benz released her debut novel The Gone Dead in June of this year. The literary thriller is a riveting meditation on race, justice, and memory, and I couldn't put it down. Don't believe me? NPR, Entertainment Weekly, and The Washington Post thought so, too. — JD

Best New Urban Development

The University of Memphis has made some huge updates in the last month, with a new parking garage and a pedestrian bridge. Students can now "beat the train" and safely cross over the railroad tracks that divide this new parking area from campus. And, dare I say, it's about dang time! It seems we students will need this additional parking with all of the additions yet to come, like the new wellness center on the south side of campus and new music performance space on Central.

— Julia Baker

Best Bluff City Morning

Some say that the clothes make the man. "Pah," said one Central Gardens resident to the old adage. Dressed in naught but shoes, socks, and a hat, this gentleman leisurely strolled around outside his house, buns out on full display for all the neighborhood to see, as he watered the plants and exchanged cheerful greetings with neighbors and passerby. (Many thanks to Facebook poster Audra Eickhoff for sharing this brave soul's glory with the world.) — Samuel X. Cicci

Best Bringing of the Musical to the Mundane

Every day I go into the office, I gain a little spring in my step. That's because Parking Can Be Fun's elevator music is not your standard issue Muzak: It's some of the finest jazz ever recorded. Trip the parking ramp fantastic to the sounds of Miles, Mingus, Monk, or many others, and your day can't be half bad. — Alex Greene

Best Bringing of the Memphis Sound to the World

Many a musician has expressed a kind of awe lately, when facing an imminent tour. They've noticed that a guardian angel now has their back, and that angel has a wallet. Subsidizing traveling bands in various ways, the nonprofit Music Export Memphis granted $15,000 to local bands in 2018, and they are set to double that this year. — AG

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