As has been noted elsewhere in this issue and online (and in various other places outside our own editorial purview) the Flyer's Mary Cashiola is taking her leave — having been drafted, as it were — to apply her talents to the rescuing (call it what it is) of our fair city's image.
That Memphis needs such repair work is undeniable — and this is notwithstanding the fact that our star still shines high and bright in the annals of American music, both in history and, at the moment, on Broadway.
The reality is that not all of our warts can be disguised as beauty spots. There is no gainsaying the facts of bankruptcy and infant mortality and poverty rate, among numerous other negative particulars — "metrics," as they say these days — where we don't exactly shine.
Mark Keenum, the president of Mississippi State University, read off some statistics to members of the downtown Rotary Club Tuesday, demonstrating that Mississippi still "leads" Tennessee in such respects, but not enormously and not, we suspect, by much at all regarding our own corner of his neighboring state. And such schadenfreude as we might be able to take from the comparison is diminished considerably by our knowledge, attested to by a thousand documented testimonies, that the Magnolia State is outdoing us in locating new industry — and in the enticing of some of our own existing industry — south of our border.
Offsetting all of that somewhat is the palpable improvement Memphis has made in such areas as crime control, where the stats have begun to swing in our favor, and education, where the city is now in harness with the Gates Foundation and with the state of Tennessee via the Race to the Top program to make rapid strides if we but have the will — and if we can somehow resolve the disputes currently raging between our several governing entities regarding school funding and jurisdiction.
The aforementioned are all areas that are less subject to image manipulation than to demonstrable real results. But there remain matters in which our light is somehow residing under the proverbial bushel, and a little attention to that fact could help. By whose edict or insistence or by what logic is it, for example, that the many ongoing media promotions about St. Jude Children's Research Hospital customarily omit any mention of that uniquely beneficial institution's Memphis location?
We're not making this up or being overly sensitive. Only this week, both the Today show and Fox's NFL contingent devoted considerable time to St. Jude, without the word "Memphis" materializing in either presentation. And these are not exceptions. This is the rule. Even the hospital's website is mysteriously negligent — or, at best, indirect — on the score.
Yes, we are the "Home of the Blues" and the "Birthplace of Rock and Roll," as the silos rising from the soon-to-be-demolished Lone Star Cement plant proclaim. But we are in fact more than that, and now that we'll have a pro on the job, maybe the rest of the world will find out just how much.