Hold on. Hold on. Hold on. Why is there this sudden rush to demolish the Mid-South Coliseum? Can't we all just get along? Okay, so maybe there's not a rush, but it looks like the horse is out of the gate. And I'm going to be a total idealist on this one and plead for it to stay right where it is and get a facelift of some kind. I know, I know, I know. I've read the redneck roster of comments on various sites and social media outlets. I know Memphis already has the Pyramid arena sitting basically empty and unused downtown. Why do people feel that they have to constantly point that out, like they are the only ones who realize it? It's not like the Pyramid gets lost in the skyline. We know the Pyramid is sitting there. Please stop pointing it out in your comments, people.
Obviously, keeping up a building like the Mid-South Coliseum is no easy task. It's big and it's old (well, kind of old, like me) and it hasn't been used for some years now. It would cost money to do something with it to make it an attraction again. But hey, look at Sears Crosstown. It's a huge building, and some folks are in the process of making it into a very cool artists' community, which is something Memphis could use.
I have zero brains for business. But on a purely sentimental level, I hope the Coliseum never sees the wrecking ball. I'm one of those Seventies children who got to see lots of great concerts there: the Doobie Brothers, Yes (first laser light show!), Diana Ross, Cat Stevens, Edgar Winter, Aerosmith, the Isley Brothers, David Bowie twice, and about 100 more that I can't remember. Like I said, it was the Seventies. Of course, the Beatles and Elvis performed there, which, in theory, should be reason enough to save the building. Not to mention all of the wrestling matches that took place there.
You'd think that the wrestling fans would get on the bandwagon for this one and show some clout. And maybe they have, and I missed it; sorry if that's the case. I sure don't want to make that crowd mad. I hear there's been talk of trying to use part of the building for a wrestling museum. I think that would be just wonderful. I would love to see part of it also come back to life as a multimedia venue where all of us who went to concerts there could experience them again. You know, go and sit in the seats and watch those same David Bowie concerts again on a giant screen, or something like that. Surely, they were filmed. Concerts there were such productions. They were like giant parties — from the day the tickets went on sale until the show was over and everyone congregated on the Highland Strip afterward.
Okay, so I am old. Whatever. But I remember the Hill Mansion and the Taliesyn Ballroom on Union Avenue, now replaced with fast food joints. Sid Vicious and the Sex Pistols played the Taliesyn the year after I went to a prom there (a memory I DON'T want to relive), and the Hill Mansion was one of the most beautiful homes in the country. And now they are gone, and it's too late to do anything about it. Same with most of Union Avenue, which used to be a lovely street. Same with the Big Shoe on Lamar. If you didn't live in Memphis as a child and never got to see the Big Shoe, you really missed something cool, because it was just that: a huge shoe in the form of a building — or is that a building in the form of a huge shoe? — that housed a shoe store. How on earth could anyone have torn that down? I don't even remember a lot of discussion about it. It was just gone one day. Lamar was shoeless.
And don't even get me started on all the landmarks Walgreens has demolished so that there can be one of their stores every few blocks. Leonard's Pit Barbecue at Bellevue and McLemore. The original Grisanti's at Lamar and Airways. The list goes on and on. How can one city support so many drugstores? Are we that sickly?
On a final note, thanks to everyone who came out to another historic site this past weekend for the "Stax to the Max" festival, where I work my day job. Talk about a landmark people miss. At least we didn't let Walgreens invade that corner. And now there's the Stax Museum and its associated buildings.
The festival drew a few thousand people to Soulsville, and the crowd was great and happy and all was good. Four Stax Music Academy students were presented with scholarships to the Berklee College of Music City Music Program in Boston this summer, and two academy alums, who are at Berklee now on full scholarships for four years, came back to perform. It was a great feeling to have Carla Thomas and David Porter and William Bell and some of the other Stax greats there to see what's up for the future.
Maybe someone can do something similar with the Mid-South Coliseum. I just want to see David Bowie again.