I'm so happy that you wrote about MATA ("MATA's Moment of Truth," June 26th issue). I pass double-length buses, one after the other, with fewer than 15 folks riding, even at so-called peak times. Where are the single-length buses? Where are the even smaller ones that serve specific areas? What's the gasoline tab for each of these "accordian-pleated" buses that move around only one-fourth full?
Let's get as practical at the city level as we are beginning to be in private life. We need to stop whining and begin to act like responsible citizens.
I sell real estate in Memphis, and I focus on the downtown market. Almost everyone, without exception, who lives downtown would love to ride the trolley — to work, to go out to eat, to go see friends — but it is impossible because they have no schedule!
MATA claims that a trolley comes by every 10 minutes. They don't! I cannot tell you how many times I have waited for a trolley for 30 minutes or longer and finally just given up. Or worse, waited for one for 30 minutes only to have it whiz past me without stopping. Or when one finally does come, it has five other trolleys riding its bumper.
Each stop should have a schedule displayed that would say, for instance, the trolley stops here at 7:30, 7:45, 8 and then actually have it do that. We have spent countless dollars revitalizing downtown — millions on the trolleys alone — only to have the trolleys be completely useless because somebody hasn't got enough common sense to put them on a dependable schedule. I have had clients buy condos and houses on the trolley line so they could ride it to the Medical Center for work, only to find out that it is a total impossibility. All it is now is an amusement ride for extremely patient tourists.
An Urban Market
In regard to your "Bright Ideas" article (June 12th issue), the best idea came from editor Bruce VanWyngarden: Memphis needs a true and permanent urban market.
Many U.S. and international cities are identified with their great urban markets: Seattle, San Francisco, Paris, New Orleans, Baltimore. They're a destination for tourists and a routine stop for city residents. They support local goods and small businesses and raise tax revenue. They create opportunities for people to interact in a culturally diverse setting.
The Fairgrounds is the ideal location for a permanent Memphis urban market. (The downtown Farmers Market is a wonderful thing, but its limited hours and location make it difficult for the majority of Memphians to patronize it on a regular basis.) Thousands of people drive by the Fairgrounds every day to and from work. The University of Memphis, UT, Christian Brothers, and many other institutions as well as a large residential community provide a huge customer base within a small radius. Envision a stop on the way to work for coffee and pastry, on the way home for fresh-made pasta or bread. Imagine a weekend shopping trip with out-of-town friends.
There's a great PBS film called To Market To Market To Buy a Fat Pig, which celebrates and applauds the culture of the urban market. Our city leaders need to watch it.
E.W. Brody's grammatical criticism of a recent Flyer headline (Letters, June 26th issue) would be perfectly valid if the Flyer were published in Latin. But as an English word, "data" is obviously and widely used as a collective noun, and the subject-verb agreement of the recent headline is sound. We English speakers have a long history of borrowing words from Latin (and other languages), retaining their basic meaning, discarding their morphology in favor of our own, and ignoring their gender. I often hear versions of Brody's argument for applying Latin grammar to modern English but never for words like "table" and "cent."
Fly on the Wall pokes fun at the local media's abuse of our mother tongue, and I suspect this is the basis for Brody's implication of hypocrisy. However, the Pesky Fly is typically tuning in to humorous and ironic misusage or malconstruction, not nit-picking the debatable topics of spelling or grammar. I like to think the Fly believes in clarity of thought and word above all else, and that the endless supply of CA quotes are datums that help prove his point.