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The Daily Memphian | The Early Word
The Early Word: Taking a mulligan on masks, Malco; plus, a math problem

Happy Friday, friends! Today is May 14, and tomorrow we’ll know all the winners of this week’s ongoing Barbecue Fest. And our newest Health Directive will go into effect

But today, today a Memphis man is scheduled to be in court for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Amy LaVere will perform a “Candlelight Concert” tonight on The Orpheum Theatre campus, and the Grizzlies will face off against the Sacramento Kings for the second time in two days but you might not expect them to win. Or even try real hard — for a good reason

And if you want to get out and about this weekend and need other ideas, check out The To-Do List.



For roughly a year, people in Memphis have had to wear masks indoors and in public, like at East Memphis’ Gibson’s Donuts. But that could be changing. (Mark Weber/The Daily Memphian file)

More guidance on masks: Yesterday the Centers for Disease Control offered people their best carrot yet for getting vaccinated: the chance to not wear a mask indoors in most situations. (Yes, I do think that’s better than the car giveaway and probably Ohio’s million-dollar lottery, except for the five people who actually win that money.) And, given the CDC’s confidence in the vaccine and its new mask guidance, “there is a high probability” that the Shelby County Health Department will review the area’s latest Health Directive and may make some tweaks.

Logistics gap: If roughly 50,000 vehicles were using the Hernando DeSoto bridge every day before we discovered the crack, and a third of those were tractor-trailers, and each one of those was loaded with 80,000 pounds, well, you don’t need to do the math to know “that’s a lot of freight” moving over the bridge. Businesses, some of which have already had problems managing their supply chains in these late days of the pandemic, and consumers can expect to see a ripple effect from the bridge being shut down. It’s already impacted corn futures.


A small child adjusts his mask while his mother voted in the August 2020 primary election at Arlington United Methodist Church. (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian)

Do it for the kids: As the area begins vaccinating people as young as 12 against the coronavirus, the local COVID-19 task force said yesterday that almost 25% of the area’s most recent cases had occurred in children under age 18. And they expect that number to continue climbing. While 15% of Shelby County’s kids have already had the coronavirus, the overwhelming majority — 85% — are still at risk. (Here’s where I have a plea as a parent of young children, especially given the new CDC guidance, if you’re not vaccinated, please get vaccinated or continue wearing your mask.)

City’s surprise surplus: With just under two months left in the fiscal year, the City of Memphis is looking at an estimated $27 million in unspent funds. The money could be put into savings with the city’s reserve fund or it could be used for projects in the next fiscal year. But, with an extra $27 million at the city’s disposal, it makes a tax increase for the next fiscal year more unlikely. 




Leslie Murphy poses for a portrait inside her design studio in April. (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian)

Leslie Murphy has a background in business and art so, in 2013, she launched Murphy Maude, a full-service residential home design firm. Since then, she’s expanded the business into a full-blown architecture and design company with a staff of 11, a showroom and a warehouse — and her latest offering is a new textile company that creates original wallpaper, pillows and bedding. “We’ve been developing this during the pandemic behind closed doors very quietly,” Murphy said. “It just felt like we as a design team, and me as a creative, were ready to see this fresh, bold product on the walls and to feel inspired by it and let it be a nod of what is to come and brighter days.”




This one-owner, midcentury modern house in East Memphis is going on the market. (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian)

Modern art: A roughly 60-year-old midcentury modern home in East Memphis that has only had one owner is for sale and, as Tom Bailey says, it’s “not so much a house as a time capsule.” And it’s in a condition that a local architect (who literally wrote the book on Memphis’ midcentury modern homes) calls “amazing.”


Rendering of Malco’s proposed (and denied) miniature golf facilities in Collierville. (Courtesy Town of Collierville)

Giving Malco a mulligan? I’ll admit I was sort of disappointed that the Collierville Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted down a proposed mini-golf course from Malco. (And I wasn’t the only one; Collerville, we see you.) I’m not a huge miniature golf enthusiast, but I thought it was an interesting, perhaps COVID-19-driven, experiment from a Memphis company that I want to see survive and thrive. But even though the BMA vote against the project was unanimous, one of the town’s alderwomen is hoping the company will resubmit its application.

Gate is a no-go: A popular East Memphis cut-through off of Poplar Avenue will remain open. Residents of Saint Nick — a street, I’ll admit, I do traverse from time to time — were hoping to get their road gated, but the Land Use Control Board suggested that the problems cited by the neighborhood could be solved without closing the street. And they thought that the gate would potentially create more problems than it solved.



I’ve been meaning to talk about FedEx’s new commercial for almost a week now, because, well, I love it. And how could I not? It’s got sustainability initiatives, giant FedEx boxes and Willie Nelson


Man, it has been an eventful week. I hope you have an enjoyable weekend and we’ll return, bright and early, next Monday morning.