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Keeping Businesses Here With ‘Roses, Perfume and Sweet Music’

Earlier this year, Mayor Wharton likened his notion of what business recruitment and retention should be like to a marriage. “I don’t take roses home as often as I did – but you’ve got to take something home,” he told me.

Just like that point in a marriage where both partners might stop trying with the same effort they used to have – “They’re not going anywhere, so I don’t have to work as hard” – a city like Memphis and its businesses can reach that point.

“But there’s people bringing them roses, perfume and sweet music every day,” Wharton told me about potential suitors for members of Memphis’ business community, continuing the marriage metaphor.

“And I want to start taking them roses, perfume and sweet music.”

I had that in mind late last week, when Wharton told me the city has “all hands on deck” in an effort to keep Pinnacle Airlines in town. Pinnacle disclosed last week the state of Mississippi has offered a generous deal for the company to move to Olive Branch.

Controversial Cordova Restaurant Getting Busier?

Remember the Cordova restaurant that strip club owner Steve Cooper opened 8 months ago and which some people thought he might somehow turn into a strip club? The restaurant building, which is currently closed for renovations, doesn’t appear to be getting any bigger. But Cooper has filed a building permit, as The Daily News notes here, to add a new parking lot.

USA Today: Obama’s Cohen endorsement “unusual step”

USA Today’s political blog calls Obama’s endorsement today of congressman Steve Cohen in the ugly primary fight against former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton an “unusual political step” for the president.

The spin from Herenton’s camp is to go right up to the line of calling the endorsement the proverbial political ‘kiss of death.’

This AP story says Herenton, the underdog in the Cohen-Herenton race, is credited with “improving Memphis’ economy and its schools.”

Fan away the skeeters

The recent spate of rain is sure to cause new mosquito broods to hatch. People who don’t like using DEET repellents should consider putting fans on their front porches. Fans are effective in warding off the insects, according to an article in The New York Times.
Read the article:

www.nytimes.com/2010/07/13/health/13real.html?_r=1&ref=health

Robert Plant on Memphis, music and Led Zeppelin

Robert Plant plays a sold out show Tuesday at The Orpheum.

Memphis is the opening date on a 12 stop U.S. tour with Band of Joy. The players have been different in the various incarnations. The first Band of Joy was the band Plant joined as a teenager before signing on as the singer of the band that became Led Zeppelin.

In the city the day before the show, Plant said he was fired from the original Band of Joy in a dispute over the band playing too slow for Plant’s taste at the time.

“The whole deal about my doing this as a singer and writer, really, is can I walk and chew gum. Is it really such a big deal to be a great singer or is there something else about all this?” he said before remembering the band’s first incarnation. “We didn’t work a lot. We stole a lot of milk off doorsteps and siphoned a lot of gasoline. But we kept going and we believed.”

The band that will join Plant on stage at The Orpheum is the fourth incarnation.

“All these things that I’ve been able to do with such a limited gift – it’s phenomenal that I can get this far. … It’s not so much experimentation, it’s like just doing it. You can’t think about it really. You just do it and pray everybody gets off the same bus. Maybe they won’t.”

Plant has played Mud Island several times and has organized the Memphis dates with trips to North Mississippi seeking out the places in the Delta where both obscure and famous bluesmen lived and worked.

He recently took in Tutwiler, Ms. where W.C. Handy reportedly first heard the blues that he popularized and is credited with discovering.

“How can you actually discover something like that?” he wondered aloud. “I was thinking about the debt that the British musician owes to this town – to this area. It’s phenomenal.”

Plant talked about Memphis and more during a press conference at The Orpheum in which he was awarded a note in the theater’s walk of fame. He was also honored by the city with a proclamation proclaiming it Robert Plant Day in Memphis.

“Well, I wish I had had this a bit earlier in my life,” he said. “In fact, I think I did. But, that’s another story.”

The other story was the 1970 Led Zeppelin tour. The band played the Mid-South Coliseum on April 6 and before the show was honored with a proclamation and key to the city from then-Mayor Henry Loeb.

The Coliseum date was remembered in “Hammer of the Gods,” the 1985 unauthorized Led Zeppelin bio by Stephen Davis.

“That night the crowd went berserk when Jimmy (Page) pulled the trigger on ‘Communications Breakdown.’ It was a total Zeppelin blast off and soon ten thousand Southern kids were shaking like pagans,” Davis wrote. “The promoter lost his nerve when he beheld this frenzy and told Peter Grant, (the band’s manager) to pull the group off. Grant said, ‘Go and – yourself, I’m not pulling ‘em offstage.’ So the promoter pulled out his gun, stuck it in Grant’s ample ribs and said, ‘If you don’t cut the show, I’m gonna shoot ya.’ Grant stared him down and laughed in his face. ‘You can’t shoot me, ya –,’ Grant said. ‘They’ve just given us the – keys to the city.’”

Plant, who would have been onstage when all of that transpired, had a different memory 40 years on.

“About three hours later we were under house arrest for creating a riot,” he said. “I saw a cop hit somebody on the head with a night stick, so I hit him with a kind of Roger Daltrey swirl of microphone and knocked his hat off. But this time, I’m not going to do anything like that – an afternoon nap perhaps.”

Plant said he started the tour in Memphis because of the area’s musical heritage and his having a lot of personal connections to Tennessee lately.

“I’m finding it more and more difficult for people in England to understand what I’m trying to say or do. Perhaps, that’s a blessing,” he said. “So if you’re in Nashville, why would you start there? You’ve got to come somewhere where there’s a bit of pulse. Maybe I’m misguided but from what I can remember of being through here a few times, it’s a good place to be. … It’s a place where there’s a bit of soul.”

Some of the Zeppelin questions he fielded by saying he didn’t remember specific events.

“There’s a lot of pain in some of the stuff. It was not a joyride, in those days,” he said. “I guess in truth the best album for people reaching some kind of strange maturity was ‘Presence’ because that’s got a lot of pain in it. That’s got a lot of reality in it. It’s charged. And it’s uncomfortable. I had a girlfriend – I used to play ‘Achilles Last Stand’ really loud, not long ago. And she turned to me one day and she said, ‘I wouldn’t like to get left alone in a room with this.’’”

“What happens to me now. I don’t know,” Plant said at the end of the session. “I guess I’m in the same boat as this theater – they’ll paint me gold again in three years.”

Dansette

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