Saturday, November 10, 2007

Strolling thru the park one day

I suppose I have to record the experience, no matter how distasteful, of being led thru the park (formerly Libertyland) by a minion of Cindy Buchanan's, to see the dumpster that was once Midtown's pride and joy. There were half a dozen witnesses to this degrading group experience.

Now that criminals are getting gunned down in broad daylight in Overton Park, perhaps the city's O.O.M. department (Oppressors of Motherhood) will give us back the beautiful park that used to to delight the children of Cooper-Young, and elsewhere.

To see the 29 acres as a dump is rather depressing, and an insult to to taxpayer. As we watched valuable ornamental shrubs being trucked out, we could only ask, "WHY?"


The luxury of blogging has to do with convenience. Whereas previously, before 9/11 and the War On Tarrah, great Amurrrican families prided themselves on the luxury of their own (oftimes quirky) traditions -- ranging from touch football (a la the Kennedys) to observing 4:20 (as per the Clintons during their Arkansas governorship), nowadays, whatever suffices must suffice.

Steve Cohen was man enough to stand up for upholding our nation's constitution. Memphis needs more heroes like Steve Mulroy, Steve Cohen, and especially Steve Parkinson. Talk about even -Steven. If more people lived the Golden Rule, life would be hassle-free.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Like a Steam Locomotive

Thank goodness for Councilman Lowery, Commissioner Mulroy, and Man-With-the-Plan Erickson. They secured us a tour of the park to assess the condition of the historic rides. The little engine that could (Save Libertyland!) chugs onward.

But when things get rolling, there's no telling where they'll stop. In our case, our family is moving out of Memphis, due to a convergence of fate and opportunity. It will be interesting to see if we're still in town when the Zippin Pippin gets placed on the National Historic Register -- we may just have to celebrate from afar.

The rollercoaster ride continues!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Insult to Injury

It's been a long month, and finally Halloween sends us into the new phase, wondering what in tarnation is going on in this town.

As part of our ongoing effort to play by the rules and help save an historic park, Save Libertyland! has to date accomplished the following:

1) Rescued the Carousel & Pippin -- two priceless historic artifacts -- from demolition and/or auction

2) Helped secure votes in favor of preserving these artifacts, from both the County Commission and City Council

3) Helped provide for a feasibility study to be conducted on the historic Carousel & Pippin

So, with this in mind, imagine the flummox-ability of being told that Save Libertyland! can no longer take a walk through the park as has been done in the past to gauge condition of the rides.

Oh, and I almost forgot: We own the Pippin!

If it's a question of likability, that doesn't fly -- likability is certainly no deciding factor in Memphis. The recent election proves that.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Memphis Lost?

An architect living in Memphis suggested the title above as a possible name for our movie (Mike McCarthy's documentary, tentatively titled "Destroy Memphis"). It felt right last night, when we decked the garden in strings of lights and watched as Hermann Morris siphoned off just enough votes for the Mayor to receive an unprecedented 5th term. Carol was very gracious and brave in her concession speech -- it would have been nice to make history as the first female mayor of Memphis.

District 5 split half-a-dozen ways, with Lord Jim getting 20,000 votes, "Bob" got 3,000, I came in third with 1,794, and Mug-Shot Man got 1,000 or so! The others were in the 400s range.

When I am not so tired perhaps I can figure out the amount of dollars spent per vote. The top vote-getters spent over $100,000 dollars, with bus stops, billboards, TV spots, the works. We spent $500 on printing and gasoline... truly a grass-roots effort, down to the hand-painted signs w/vintage lettering and lots of family and friends getting very sweaty. Will this heatwave ever let up?


Tuesday, October 2, 2007


Today's City Council meeting was a GAS, GAS, GAS! The City Council voted to "preserve and protect" the historic landmark rides we saved -- Memphis's Grand Carousel and Zippin Pippin rollercoaster -- and we all went home with big smiles on our faces. Value vs. Vacancy -- that is our GOAL.

More later on the vision of Liberty Gardens, and our new non-profit coalition! Must go celebrate w/Team Liberty.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Home Stretch!

As we come down the track, the weather's Indian Summer and a change is in the air. We have heard of strange Internet rumors regarding the billionaire tycoon CEO of Graceland-E.P.E. -- could he want to finally step up and buy the Pippin, saving it from the rampaging developers? Or is he one himself, requesting $275,000 of YOUR tax dollars from the current council -- to build a giant gate to Graceland!

Strange phone calls from L.A., tomorrow's picket of the last day of the Fair (Honk if You Love the Pippin!)-- plus, very soon the word from D.C. on Elvis's Favorite Rollercoaster being placed by US on the National Historic Register!

Excitement! Tuesday's trip to the council (THANKS to Carol Chumney and Myron Lowery, plus Madeleine Cooper-Taylor, for pushing the resolution and doing the Lord's Work) -- we will finally see if the Council will follow the County Commission and vote to save our park. See you there!

Parks Committee Agenda Meeting -- 5th floor
City Hall
11:00 am
Tuesday, Oct. 2

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Un-Fair

Last night, Team Pippin went to the Fair. Since our Cooper-Young "war-room" is only a few blocks from the Fairgrounds, we strolled up the street and through the gate, paying our $5 because we really just wanted to see the band: The Sugar Hill Gang.

The Fair was very empty, and miniscule compared to other years. We joined about 100 folks sitting quietly on benches in front of an empty stage. A Bob Marley album was coming through the loudspeakers, which was nice. We listened to the whole album. Nobody ever announced anything over the loudspeakers, and the soundguys said they had no idea what was going on.

After at least an hour, everybody left. Someone made an announcement, but since they did not use the P.A. system, we couldn't hear what was said. No lights, no live music, no local band on hand to save the day -- just an empty stage.

Pathetic. No justice -- JUST US.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Letter to Editor, Commercial Appeal

Bring kids back into the equation

Since the Mid-South Fair is not returning and Libertyland is gone, what will our children have to look forward to for entertainment? When I was younger, I looked forward to being able to go to the fair in September. A Bass Pro Shop? Please. Then the Delta Fair is so far out that many inner- city kids can't get there (personally, I feel that was the intent).

This is the saddest city I've ever seen. Can anyone think about our children for once instead of grown people battling back and forth over foolishness? And we wonder why the kids get in so much trouble. If they aren't kept busy, they will stray.

LaFay Evans



Sad, indeed.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Dreamer of Dreams

If you have yet to catch local artist/genius Harlan T. Bobo in concert (he's on a European tour these days) -- there is a treat on YouTube: the song referenced above. Harlan has always been helpful throughout our effort to save our park -- he is a true inspiration!

I like the song-title because it reminds me of the first time I watched Gene Wilder in the role of Willy Wonka... also, there is a saying attributed to Walt Disney: "If you can dream it, you can do it."

Times like these, comfort comes from many precious illusions, including dreams. Yesterday's press conference was rather like a nightmare -- but it taught us a little more about this dream called life we are living at this time and place called "Memphis."

Save Libertylanders! Misty, Jessica, Tom, Edward, Nicole, Casey and Margo all caravaned to the press conference at the Parks Department on Avery, where we were prevented from entering the inner sanctum of said Parks Department by the Eva Braun of Midtown, aka: Herenton's Harpy.

We distributed copies of our FOI letter -- the letter with which Mayor Herenton sought to block the Pippin from its rightful place on the National Historic Register. Thank God the folks in Nashville have some spine -- they voted unanimously to override the Mayor's mean, spiteful attempt to stop our positive effort.

I just now got a phone call from a District 5 constituent -- the nice person thanked me for running.

Thank YOU for caring!!!

Friday, September 21, 2007


Today (Friday, September 21) at 12 noon, Save Libertyland! will hold a press conference at the Department of Parks and Recreation, 2599 Avery in Midtown, to announce some RARE GOOD NEWS:

Despite an extraordinary attempt by MAYOR WILLIE HERENTON to BLOCK the process, the Tennessee State Historical Commission in Nashville has just OVERRULED the city administration's written request to DENY the consideration of Elvis's Favorite Rollercoaster (the Zippin Pippin) for placement on the NATIONAL HISTORIC REGISTER.
HOW LOW can "King Willie" go in his attempt to block recognition of "The King"'s Favorite Ride?
WHY is the Mayor himself a "hater" when it comes to families, fun, and community?
WHEN will our Mayor stop lying to the community he was elected to represent?
These answers and more in the continuing rollercoaster ride of Save Libertyland!, the local community group founded to preserve the Fairgrounds' historic park. Although currently "Libertyland" exists as a state of mind, we continue to move forward to prove the value of our unique landmark tourist attractions. Value, NOT vacancy, is our goal.
*successes so far:
Grand Carousel: National Historic Register landmark saved from auction. Estimated value: $6 million (according to National Carousel Association)
Zippin Pippin: Donated to Save Libertyland! by Carolina Crossroads, the theme park that purchased the cars for $25,000. Approved to continue process toward being placed on National Historic Register by Tennessee State Historical Commission
Fairgrounds Park Feasibility Study: Approved by Shelby County Commission, August 27

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Town Without Pity

I recalled the classic Gene Pitney tune after yesterday's trip to City Hall to see what our tax dollars are paying for. Turned out to be yet another delay in the continuing saga of Fleecing the Fairgrounds & Looting Liberty (both Land and Bowl.) Our band of Midtowners witnessed some particularly odious shilling by one Councilperson, who complained that the bally-hooed Stadium Report could not be discussed, shown, or voted upon, as it was known to be "incomplete."

I remember reading the administration's quotes (reported by David Williams, a stickler of a writer). Robert Lipscomb called the report "ridiculous" and "plagued with mistakes," but not incomplete.

So the outcome: more time (and $140,000) wasted, no decisions made, no truth told. Years are going by, and our city has been hijacked by people who only cause DELAY.

And the latest indignity -- that the Mayor would even try to halt early voting -- just adds to the surreality. The Mayor is now trying to disenfranchise Memphians.

I hope enough people are as fed up as I am about this Logjam Administration and Weak-kneed Council that we can end this limbo and give our children a chance to live in a decent city. Only Carol Chumney spoke against further delay.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


The police officer who was hit as he was directing traffic last night is in critical condition today. The C-Y Festival was such a success, yet this tragic ending makes me all the more energized to work to re-open our closed park adjacent to Cooper-Young. There is simply no need to endanger people's lives by having a congested street fair in one of the busiest areas of Midtown when a ready venue sits unused three blocks away: the park at the Fairgrounds -- fenced, locked, and closed now for going on three years.

Today's forum at Idlewild school was well-attended, and I was glad that I brought some color photos of the Grand Carousel for the children to see. The candidates attending brought interesting (and sometimes unintentionally amusing) viewpoints to the discussion of what should be done about Memphis's steady decline. I was amazed to find that Barbara Swearengen Holt-Ware agreed with my call for an end to the Mayor's "sole contractual authority" -- I have often thought over the past two years that she did not like any of my ideas. Hope is alive, after all.

Perhaps the most stunning moment (actually, it felt like time stood still) came when an Idlewild student (he appeared to be a 6th-grader) asked candidate Kemp Conrad a question about how kids can make a difference in the world. Mr. Conrad froze and stood with the microphone in his hand for what seemed like a long, silent time. Then he tossed the question back at the young man, but the time allotted was up.

Moments like these make me realize the importance of fighting for quality-of-life for Memphis's young people -- truly the disenfranchised victims of our city's petty politics. When a city's vision degrades to the point that stealing candy from a baby becomes the modus operandi, a severe course correction is in order.

Another telling moment came when I asked district 5 candidate Bob Schreiber if he thought it was unfair for an arbitrary deadline to have kept our fellow opponent Richard Parks from participating in the forum. I consider Mr. Parks to be an "Atticus Finch"-style lawyer and it seemed mean to bar him from speaking.

"That's what deadlines are all about," Mr. Schreiber harrumphed.

Whatever. I still would have appreciated hearing Mr. Parks' ideas. Compassion is a dying artform these days.

Finally, I asked Mr. Strickland if, since the Commercial Appeal is endorsing him, and he has more money than God (well I didn't put it quite in those terms) would he still consider all the many reasons to re-open our closed Fairgrounds park if he wins the election?

He said yes, but seemed annoyed: "Didn't you already ask me that once before?" (I did, several months ago.)

"Just checking," I said.

Festival City

Yesterday's beautiful weather helped boost the turnout of the annual Cooper-Young Festival way above an estimated 60,000 people -- it was such a gorgeous day. Everyone I spoke with along the packed streets agreed that it makes no sense for our lovely Fairgrounds Park to sit locked away, while tens of thousands of people mill about a mere three blocks down Young Avenue.

The Festival will only get bigger, and the parking will only get more congested -- cars lined every street for many blocks in all directions. Meanwhile, just three blocks up Young Avenue, on the other side of a fence, thousands of parking spaces sat empty. Several people wondered why a shuttle bus was not in effect.

The effects of this congestion may have been what caused one policeman to get hit by a car as he was directing traffic -- my husband saw it happen at Cooper and Evelyn after darkness fell. I hope the officer is not injured, as I have not seen anything in the newsmedia yet about this tragedy!!!

Memphis can become a Festival City -- the only thing lacking is "political will." With Memphis's authentic cultural and musical heritage, it makes sense to fill the void created by the devastating loss of New Orleans as the festival capital of the South.

The only thing lacking about the C-Y Festival is the absence of offerings for young children. Once again, the little ones were left out of the equation. We will correct this deficit next summer when our Grandparents' Day Festival will be launched -- complete with a rain-date set for the Sunday after the C-Y Festival.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Beautiful Summer Rain

Well, even though our planned Grandparents' Day Festival did get totally rained out, we learned something: People with young children really do need venues for family fun in Midtown.

For example, a stop by the Rock-N-Romp yesterday revealed that the ongoing family-oriented backyard party/live music formula has proven so successful that now a larger venue is needed -- the lovely trio Those Darlins performed bluegrassy stomping music, but the place was much too jampacked for dancing! How wonderful it would have been to have access to the various amphitheatres locked away in our Fairgrounds park -- the continued closure is nonsensical.

Next September' s Grandparents Day will find our network of nonprofits way ahead of the game, so that when the National Carousel Association brings their annual convention to Memphis to congratulate us for saving the Grand Carousel, we will have a cool Festival -- with provisions for a rain date!

In other rainy Sunday news: The Commercial Appeal is (again) reporting on some rumors about an indoor theme park at the Pyramid -- but, for the first time, writing about the Grand Carousel being moved there. Meanwhile, Midtown families have nowhere to go with young children, while our lovely park sits padlocked when it could be generating fun, jobs and revenues for the city.

Meanwhile, out at the Delta Fair last week, some members of Save Libertyland! witnessed the dunking booth operator yelling racist slurs at African-American and Mexican families. Seems like these days the only fair going on is an UNFAIR.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

September, Thank Heavens!

The entire month of August has been one hot, baking ordeal, and thank God it is over. I have had a chance now to outline my platform at several forums and have met my opponents. Basically, my view is that we take back Memphis one park at a time. The bottom line is, if we don't then the city's parks department will continue to be used as a cash cow by the city's "leaders."

The current administration's policy of liquidating park assets is emblematic of how backwards our priorities are -- when mothers and children must go begging for what is rightfully and historically the "common ground" of the community, then something is dreadfully wrong.

I find my opponents to be skilled in their respective fields (they are all lawyers and/or various board members) but I have to ask: Where have you guys been for the past two years while our families have been fighting the most corrupt land-grab in Memphis history? We could have used the help of some heavy-hitters!

Currently, we're getting ready to inaugurate a new, family-friendly festival. It will be in honor of Grandparents' Day (the Sunday after Labor Day) and this year it will be from noon til 7 pm in Peabody Park in Cooper-Young (Cooper at Higbee streets) on Sunday, September 9th.

Next year, if we get another miracle, it will be held in the Fairgrounds Park adjacent to the Carousel and Pippin, so that we can welcome the National Carousel Association to town for their annual convention. They value our effort!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dog Days of Summer

For the past month and a half I have been working on an assignment. Scott McCormick, who chairs the Parks Committee of the City Council, said that he would bring a resolution to a vote before the council, if I could produce one. This would be a resolution to save Memphis's historic park, closed for two years now during the Fairgrounds redevelopment study. Our park has been the only thing to remain off-limits for this two-year period. Flea markets, gun shows, and even the MidSouth Fair are still ongoing through 2008.

So I got to work on a resolution. The document has been signed by a diverse mix of local non-profit directors, youth camp organizers, ministers, and community garden experts. However, it has been bumped from the agenda twice now down at City Hall.

Here is the resolution, for perusal and comment. Just to show that when I am charged with a task, I complete it. It's a tad long-winded, but I have never done this before, so apologies to all.


WHEREAS, the historic park located at the site of the former Libertyland has been closed, resulting in the loss of 500 summer jobs for youth; and

WHEREAS, the sudden closure has not been offset by any indoor/outdoor,
history/art/culture/theatre/music-oriented comparable program for youth; and

WHEREAS, the local effort to preserve this historic site has resulted in the preservation of Memphis's Grand Carousel and Zippin Pippin
rollercoaster; and

WHEREAS, the assessed value of these twin historic landmarks is $6
Million; and

WHEREAS, a well-documented "public process" has for two years sought
"public input" on the outcome of an ongoing re-use process for this area and surrounding acreage; and

WHEREAS, a well-documented rise in violent crime threatens local
families due to loss of secure areas within Midtown and surrounding
neighborhoods; and

WHEREAS, the existing site described herein is ideally located as an enclosed, centralized gathering-place for surrounding residential neighborhoods, including but not limited to: Beltline, Orange Mound, Cooper-Young, Idlewild, and others; and

WHEREAS, restoring this existing park to the public for purposes of
year-round recreation and summer programs for youth, built around the
Creative Arts Building, Grand Carousel, Zippin Pippin, and existing
pavilions, outbuildings, walking trails, and parkways, would thus fill
the vacuum in youth and family services created by the sudden closure of this venue; and

WHEREAS, the re-branding of this park as a memorial to Mike Crockett,
the young African-American employee of Libertyland who died in a tragic
accident aboard the aforementioned Carousel, is a crucial step in honoring African-American contributions and sacrifices at this historic site; and

WHEREAS, no stated plan exists for this historic site beyond demolition
Of the site by the City of Memphis; and

WHEREAS, the City Council has appropriated $137,000 to keep the aforementioned site closed, a figure that is not subject to oversight;

WHEREAS, repeated visits to the site by local elected officials have found no sign of a paid, professional guard;

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT the area described, comprising the former
Libertyland acreage on the Southwest corner of the Fairgrounds, be
re-named the MIKE CROCKETT MEMORIAL PARK; be re-opened and returned to its historic use as a centrally located park for families and children; and be utilized for future Summer Programs for Youth as a venue available to local non-profit groups and citizen's networks operating as supporters of youth, family, culture, history, the arts, and recreation; and that the aforementioned $137,000 be directed toward re-opening and securing the site, with additional monies for the site and future Summer Youth Programs to be raised on-site through existing venues (Creative Arts Building, stages, outbuildings, pavilions, the Carousel, etc.) by affiliated non-profits discussed herein, including volunteer efforts and associated outreach.

** These figures based on National Carousel Association information and
information provided from on-site inspection by George Laibe of
International Amusement Alliance, LLC.


Denise Parkinson
founder, Save Libertyland!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Posted by Picasa
Now is the time for all good Memphians to come to the aid of their city! With the upcoming local elections October 4, 2007, we have the opportunity to chart a new course, set new priorities, and bring Memphis into the 21st Century. Here’s a few things I’d like to see happen:

1) Inclusiveness vs. Divisiveness: Let’s view Memphis as a collection of hardworking families dedicated to making a better world. Let’s replace negative rhetoric with meaningful communication – starting in City Hall, where civil discourse is sorely needed.

2) Ethics, Above All: Our city’s leaders project Memphis’s image to the world. Let’s set higher standards and become a beacon of hope, not an abyss of cynicism.

3) Do A Lot With A Little: Huge, costly public projects that divert millions of tax dollars MUST take a backseat to bread-and-butter issues like crime prevention, clean streets, and reliable services.

4) Job Creation vs. Cronyism: Job creation can no longer be restricted to an elite few at the expense of the taxpayer.

5) Parks vs. Pavement: Memphis’s parks have been neglected for far too long. It is time to reawaken our sense of civic pride and tend our garden.

6) Promotion, promotion, promotion: Let’s promote Memphis’s authenticity, ingenuity, creativity, and talent. Our location as the nation’s hub for commerce by rail, road, and river must be maximized to accommodate emerging technologies. Memphis’s historic place as the nation’s most diverse and productive Southern city must be honored and supported.

I urge you to challenge the status quo and help take Memphis to a higher level so that we can all be proud of our home and make it a destination for the world. I pledge to do my part and this is why I want to represent the heart of Memphis as your District 5 City Councilperson. I wish to express the utmost gratitude to everyone who has encouraged our local effort to lift up our city over the past two years. This campaign is the next step in seeking justice for all Memphians. Welcome to this forum for discussion and action!