I Could Be Wrong, But I Doubt It

You can never really be certain of any situation or what it looks like viewing it from the outside, no matter how closely you feel connected. I am a native Memphian… born and reared on that city’s South Side… Elliston Heights. 

Elliston Heights Forever….!

But I moved away in April of 1980… which means I have not been a permanent resident of that city now for more than thirty-seven years. Seems almost impossible to contemplate, but oh how time does fly. Oh I’ve been back to visit any number of times over the years- but visiting just isn’t the same as living it… everyday. Even for the almost three years I lived in Nashville, just a few miles up and over via the I-40 interstate. But it was probably during that time that I got to see what the city looked like to an outsider, with a relatively close proximity. Nashvillians are, or at least were at that time, very aware of everything Memphis . But I get a sense that that is less the case, if at all now. Nashville as a major urban center of commerce and culture has out-stripped Memphis, and the gap appears to be widening on an almost daily basis now. And more than anything else, that fact is reflected in the overall quality of life. And on that score is where the talk finally gets to all things not just trendy and chic, but critical. And critical is what it seems like when I think of Memphis is.  And I’m talking critical as in: in ICU at The Med kinda critical. Somewhere between losing out in that on-going battle between West Tennessee vs. Middle and East Tennessee, West Tennessee- Memphis has lost its focus as well. So the city has failed woefully in an ability to attract major partners in the public and private sectors to employ people and provide for a decent tax base that could then fund better schools, providing the educational framework which would inevitably result in less crime on the street. And less crime on the street means fewer murders… which seems to be the only number that continues to rise in that God-forsaken Hell-Hole. I mean— is that too harsh an assessment? Maybe. But that is what it looks like from the outside, and trust me- what it looks like to outsiders is another hurdle to overcome when you’re trying to attract industry to come in. 

  And if you ask me, your leaders have let you down. Or more to the point, you have let yourselves down by allowing the city’s leaders off the hook in spite of the state of affairs there by continually putting them in place and in positions of leadership over and over again. But everyday your mayor or somebody from his office, along with a group from the chamber of commerce isn’t on a plane to another state, another country and in D.C. tracking down business links, they are letting you down. Every afternoon your city’s emergency management services isn’t devising and communicating new and better plans to protect the citizenry they are letting you down. Every night your community leaders and clergyman aren’t meeting to come up with solutions to attack the rampant violence and murder rate surge…. They are letting you down. Your communities and neighborhoods have become statistically on par with if not worse than any in the nation. Even their names tend to bear an ominous foreboding. Scutterfield… Hurt Village… Bearwater… P-Valley (OK, maybe not that one… :) ), but Box-Town… Bunker Hill… New Chicago (as if they aren’t killing enough in the original)

 And speaking of Chicago— YES, it is being plagued with a murder and violence problem of epic proportion, but for the most part it is confined to one side of town and doesn’t infect the whole of that city’s vitality and reputation. And so ‘The City with Broad Shoulders’ remains one of the premier cities in America. Memphis on the other hand does not share in anything like that same brand of vitality, and the mayhem seems to only be confined by natural boundaries, the river and the county line. 

 And as for the thing with Nashville, look… this happens everywhere you go where there are at least two major urban centers. I live in Houston, the nation’s fourth and soon to be third largest city. It is an amazing metropolis to experience from every possible consideration. But just a few hours to the northwest, up I-45, is the hamlet of Dallas… need I say more. If I do need to say more… sorry, cause I try not cuss like that. But In Ohio its Cleveland v. Cincinnati. In Missouri there is St Louis and KC. In Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh and Philly, and in California, it’s a whole regional thing as in: No-Cal anchored in San Francisco vs. So-Cal anchored in L.A.. But in all those instances, any one of those cities that might be considered the 2nd City, all have viable enough economies and foundations to at least hold their own in the rivalry. Memphis in floundering in that aspect and must do better to forge alliances both inside and outside that state to fully rebound. Nashville won’t respect you until you force them to respect you; and then they’ll do it because they have to… which is the way it should be.

 As I said from the top, this isn’t necessarily the way it is… I can’t be certain. But it is the way it appears… from everything I see reported or whenever something happens there that gets national attention, or even in so many of the posts I see here on Facebook from so many friends. But even if it isn’t quite as bad as I have painted it, still some of what I’ve said would go a long way in improving the overall ‘QOL’- quality of life issues, and in the end that’s what it’s all about. And even as an Outsider, I’m really more like an Insider- Outsider. And I want to see that city returned to its mantle of ‘City of Good Abode’. I may rag on you, but if I do it is because you are my ‘Tobacco Road’. I despise you because you’re filthy… but I love you because you’re my home.

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| 215 views | May, 23rd, 2017

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