Is this the Ides of May? I'm not sure, but if not, it should be. There are so many things going on in Memphis this weekend that you need a schedule to keep up. And they're not just ordinary things, either. Each one has the potential to be not only an event in itself, but the beginning of something newer, something different, something better or worse than we dreamed possible. Since it's Sunday, I'm simply going to give you a list of the goings-on, with a comment or two on each one. Then in the coming week, I plan to step back and look at the meaning of each one in its turn.
1. First on my mind this afternoon is basketball. Now anyone who knows me realizes that I'm not much of a sports fan. But like the majority of Memphians, I've been caught up in the excitement of watching the Grizzlies make their way through the playoffs. Game 7 of their semi-final series against the Oklahoma City Thunder tips off within the hour. What will the outcome mean for them and for their fans?
2. When the wind is just right, you can catch a whiff of sweetly tangy smoke still floating up from the site of this year's Memphis in May Barbeque Contest which wrapped up very late last night. The rising Mississippi drove the contestants out of Tom Lee Park and onto the Tiger Lane tailgating area outside of Libertyland Stadium. What did the change mean for the organizers and the participants? Will the change be an aberration or the start of a new tradition?
3.This is also graduation weekend for thousands of students. Rhodes College, Ole' Miss, Lemoyne-Owen, and the Memphis College of Art all held their ceremonies yesterday, many of them outside despite the unusually cool weather. And now all eyes are turned to Booker T. Washington High School, where tomorrow at noon, President Obama will deliver the graduation address. We'll ponder the meaning of graduations later.
4. Of course, there's also the omnipresent flood. The surge is now moving away from Memphis to threaten Mississippi and Louisiana, but the water is still here and will continue to be for weeks. On Friday, I was part of a group that delivered a sizable check to the Mid-South Food Bank to aid in recovery efforts. In our talk with the director of the agency, I learned a lot about the problems of dealing with disasters. One of the greatest, I found out, has to do with the human need to "do something now!" in the face of knowing that the greatest need may come much further down the road.
5. And finally, I have been struck by the constant intersection of good news and bad news. Two messages arrived yesterday. One, from a research buddy, brought the announcement of a new web-based archival collection of newspapers from Civil War Beaufort, S.C. The potential contribution it may make to my next book is almost limitless. But just a few minutes later came a phone call with news of the death of a dear gentleman, who was once very kind to me. And just that fast, my intention to delve into my new treasure took a back seat to plans to travel to pay our last respects.
So there you have what's on my mind this week. Look for a blog on each one.