Tuesday, December 05, 2006


For those of you who don't know, that's the Mississippi River and the Hernando-Desoto Bridge you see off in the distance. Looks like a postcard, huh? It's not. It's a picture I snapped a couple of years ago from the roof-top deck of the Gayoso House (located in downtown Memphis, TN) where my old friend Stanford Lewis was living at the time.

Thus far, I've lived in eight different cities in the United States and one overseas (Wiesbadan Germany), but I doubt if I'll ever really consider any place outside of Memphis, Tennessee--home. I love the Bluff City . . . The Big M-Town . . . always have and always will . . . warts, flaws and all.

In 1991 I was invited to submit an essay to Memphis Magazine's 15th Anniversary Issue. Seven other Memphis-connected writers and I wrote about "the power of place." I was both tickled and honored to be included in the company of folks like Norm Brewer, Joan Turner Beifuss, Jerome Wright, Edwin Howard, Miriam DeCosta Willis (who went on to co-edit the ground-breaking EROTIQUE NOIRE), Levi Frazier and Margaret Skinner.

My essay was entitled "From Springdale to Walker." In the piece, I delved into how my experience riding the city bus to and from LeMoyne-Owen College forever shaped my view of both Memphis and my world. It comes as no surprise to me that much of what I wrote then still holds true today, fifteeen years later, including the following . . .

"I see Memphis as a kind of montage, a multitude of elements which coexist and which fall in and out of balance as we strive for more of some and less of others. It is the coexistence of poverty and prosperity, of splendor and squalor, of the lies of yesterday and the promises of tomorrow, of dreams fulfilled, dreams denied, and dreams yet to be realized, of Black and White and Blues all rolled into one. Yes, Memphis is a montage, painted in vivid, sweeping colors and strokes--a montage that I have come to recognize as home."

Quote Source ("From Springdale To Walker" by Lori D. Johnson; April 1991 Memphis Magazine).

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