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No Sears closings in Memphis – for now

For the time being, Memphis, you can still get clothing, housewares and the like at your local Sears store. None of the locations in Memphis are going to be shuttered as Sears begins winding down branches around the country.

The full list of closures released this week is here.

The Symphony Plays Union Mission

A few blocks from the Memphis Union Mission is the performing home of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra – the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts.

Next Tuesday evening, however, the symphony and its chorus will travel a few blocks east on Poplar and perform at The Memphis Union Mission’s Opportunity Center at 600 Poplar Avenue.

The free performance is Memphis philanthropist Gayle Rose’s way of marking the third anniversary of her son Max’s death.

“All of us need healing in some way: the homeless and those of us grieving loss of one form or another,” Rose posted on her Facebook page Wednesday morning. “So, what if we all came together and used the power of music to heal our wounded souls?”

The doors of the mission center open at 6:30 p.m. and the concert is free although seating will be limited. The performance begins at 7 p.m.

The concert is certainly not the only effort by the group called Team Max. Before Christmas, the group distributed about 1,500 Christmas baskets at the Fairgrounds and in South Memphis.

 

Carlyle sets up financial services buyout fund

According to Reuters, one of the potential suitors that participated in the auction by Regions Financial Corp. of its Memphis-based unit, Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc., has set up … a new global financial services buyout fund.

The Carlyle Global Financial Services Partners II will fundraise for more than a year.

Fun tidbit: Carlyle’s financial services group is headed by Olivier Sarkozy, the half-brother of French president Nicholas Sarkozy, according to Reuters.

If I had to guess, though, I don’t think Carlyle will be answering “oui” to the question of whether they’d like to buy a certain Memphis investment bank.

A Different Memphis Moment On Broadway

Memphis is back on Broadway in a very different way than the recent pair of musicals with Memphis as a backdrop.

“Million Dollar Quartet” and “Memphis” are built against the backdrop of Memphis in the 1950s.

The more recent arrival on Broadway is “The Mountaintop,” a play by Katori Hall featuring actors Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett.

It runs there through January 22 and comes to Broadway after opening in London in 2010. The play has also been translated into Russian.

It is a play built around Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s last night at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis in April 1968.

Earlier this year, Hall was in Memphis to talk about the play at the National Civil Rights Museum, built on the site of what was the Lorraine Motel.

She was on Charlie Rose on PBS this week as well with the play’s director Kenny Leon and Bassett and Jackson.

The play is a fictional encounter between King and a maid at the hotel after King arrives back at the Lorraine from making what would be his final and best known speech at Mason Temple in South Memphis. It departs from the reality of the moment as does the musical “Memphis.”

Hall is a Memphian whose mother was at King’s Mountaintop speech at Mason Temple as a teenager in 1968.

She admits to some literary license mixed with tidbits from King’s real life like King sending his wife plastic flowers.

David Gallo, the scenery and production designer, acknowledges the motel room — to this day the most anticipated part of the NCRM — had to be recreated with some degree of accuracy because of its own iconic nature.

For staging purposes, the location of the beds in the room were changed on the set. But otherwise, Gallo was scrupulous in his detail that included working with curators at the museum amassing what he termed the “world’s largest library of details of room 306” down to the upside down zero on the door of the room.

The Mountaintop is no musical. It examines a very real issue during King’s life and after his death on the motel’s balcony the evening of April 4, 1968. King’s own son, Dexter, wrote about it eloquently in his 2003 book, “Growing Up King.”

Hall told Rose she created the dialogue between the characters with a deliberate intention of departing from the King persona that has been idolized. She referred to making him “just a guy in the room.”

This is a bold departure but not unprecedented. Other attempts to recognize King as more human than idol have either been overlooked or have been very controversial.

Jackson said Bassett’s character brings up a lot of topics that King was probably well aware of but never “verbalized.” That includes the attack and criticism of his adherence to non-violent change that was never questioned more stridently than it was at the time of his death.

One of the other characters in the play is King’s partner in the movement and chosen successor, Rev. Ralph Abernathy.

Toward the end of his life, Abernathy offered a very controversial version of King’s last night in his 1989 autobiography “And The Walls Came Tumbling Down.”

He wrote of King’s sexual exploits as well as his own that night in a version widely refuted by others in King’s inner circle.

The controversy overshadowed a broader point Abernathy said he was seeking to make by telling his version of the final night. He said King was being too idolized, too deified and as a result he wasn’t a figure that Abernathy felt people discovering his life for the first time could relate to.

He and others who parted company with him over his autobiography also said King’s image in death has become easier to manipulate than it was when King was alive.

 

 

 

Memphis-area jobless rate drops to 9.2 percent

The Memphis area’s unemployment rate dropped to 9.2 in November from 10 percent in October and 9.7 percent in November 2010, according to figures out today from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

The Memphis area had a labor force of 628,630 in November. During the month, 570,630 workers were employed, and a little more than 58,000 were jobless.

Dansette

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