Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Memphis Tale Part II: Secrets Revealed.

Our neighbor’s house is a duplex owned by two sisters as shown below:

As shown in the diagram, the sister also has three dogs. Not to worry, two are shaggy old, slow moving beasts, the 3rd is a cute little pug or something that yelps on occasion (btw, I did spray the old dogs once, they shook and tottered back inside. I felt awful.)
One day, the sisters’ boyfriend was outside, working on the fence. I saw him and walked out to put a garbage bag in the bin.
“Hello”, I said.
“Hey”, he turned to me, “I’m Bernie”
No need to be scared.
“Thanks for filling in the fence. The dogs were driving me crazy.”
“Oh, those are Jane’s dogs. They drive me fucking nuts. Damn pure breed terriers. I would never get a pure breed. We got dogs, but they’re mutts, they don’t cause no fuss. Jane don’t take care of her dogs. Women can’t discipline dogs. They’re not forceful enough.”
Sweet old Bernie. I had seen him before, the one adult male in the house, ambling around the yard, doing maintenance. Old Bernie, a pretty big guy, baseball cap, a little hunched over, just a big oaf. Up till now, I had (silly me) thought maybe he was mean or angry, what with me banging on Jane’s door all the time. It took a bit of courage to walk out there and say hello.
So it was a summer like November day here, brown leaves on the ground, and winter light, but temps in the 70’s. Bernie and I got to talking. I told him I was from California, and he told me about cruising around Cali with some buddies, on his motorcycle in the early 70’s, up Rt 1 to San Fran, visiting People’s Park. Marveling at the wild people.
Back in Memphis, he had been a truck driver. Eventually got his own rig. It was pretty good work, hauling shipping containers from the train yard to regional destinations. Also, did some odd hauls. One time he hauled a full load of Jack Daniels from the distillery in Lynchburg up north into Canada. He said that load was insured for like $10mil. In Canada, he got so lost that when he finally asked someone for directions, turned out he was 50 miles from his destination.
But the economy had taken it’s toll, as had his back, and these days he was pretty much retired. Now he just went on road trips on his Harley with his buddies. They’d go up camping and fishing in the Smoky Mountains. Beautiful up there. Always brought his pistol, just in case.
Then we got to talking about my building. “My landlord don’t take care of it,” I said. “She don’t do the maintenance. Look it the gutters all full of leaves and pine needles.”
Then Bernie told me a story. Turned out that just a few years ago our building was run by a slumlord. It was in pretty bad repair and occupied by drug dealers, etc. The back yard was a dumping ground. There was a trough of dog food on the back patio, and a couple of pitbulls would hang out back there.
When our current landlord bought the place, she kicked everyone out. A couple of day-laborers showed up and spent the day hauling junk out to the curb. By the end of the day, there was a mountain of trash and abandoned junk. Then a crew fixed the place up, painted it, did a few repairs.
Bernie went on: The neighborhood had been getting better as of late. Gangs of men used to walk around, scoping out the homes, seeing when people left and came home. Anything left outside would be gone. This began to explain the dogs and the fortress like enclosure around the house. Strange though: a few houses down the street from us the homes show no signs of fear, they don't even have security doors or bars on the windows (our house has both). But seems the neighborhood is improving. I haven't felt nervous outside, even at night. Anyway, Bernie agrees it's getting better.
Neighbors' fortress on left; Our place on the right

Monday, November 29, 2010

Low-Hanging Fruit

What follows is my reply to a colleague in the bay area who asked me how things are going in Memphis, thought my readers would be interested (at least those in the industry). I've annotated it in Red for those who aren't. Also, please excuse the bleak tone, most of my posts have been rather sunny about this town, so hopefully they balance themselves...

  • Went to Chicago a few weeks ago to the annual USGBC conference (the people who do the LEED green building program), was a huge event with 30K attendees. Greenbuild was awesome, it was my first one. I couldn't afford the $1000 registration, so I just spent two days on the expo floor, but that was good. There were like 1000 vendors there. So many great people, products, ideas out there, was inspiring. I was asking everyone I talked to where they made they're products, and most everthing was made in the midwest. Apparently the manufacturing sector is not dead! I guess they don't make cars up there anymore, but a lot of small, innovative industries seem to be thriving. The great lakes states have formed a consortium organization to help them become the heart of the green manufacturing economy. It makes sense, since the rust belt has such a strong tradition of manufacturing, they can't compete with other regions or countries to make cheap, mass products, but they seem to have an edge in the innovative, start-up sector. Anyway, Chicago was a blast (one of my favorite towns), there was 5 of us there from Memphis, so it was a good bonding experience, also hung out with xxx from SF. He's a very green minded architect and great guy, do you know him?
  • The engineers association seems weak here. They don't do any committee work, and don't seem to work with the city or state on any projects. In general Memphis is the ugly step-child of TN. Nashville has all the money, power, and fame, and for some reason looks askance at Memphis. To some extent, it's a difference in culture and history, but also this city may have not quite every have gotten over the assassination of MLK. It's a very poor area, the surrounding delta never recovered from the collapse of small farms, and the rural regions are stagnant. Memphis itself is secure as a distribution hub for fedex, ups, trains, river, and highway, but the best and brightest tend to go elsewhere. I heard a statistic that Memphis loses 5 people with college degrees every day. (Memphis does feel like it's on it's own, I've never heard of help from Nashville (i.e. the State); simultaneously Desoto County, MS is siphoning our life blood, even as they rely on our infrastructure; not to even mention the battle between County (suburbs) and City, as we all fight over a shrinking pot (declining metropolitan population overall)  
  • A little about the building industry here: earthquakes aren't taken seriously at all, partly that may be based on reality, since the New Madrid faults are poorly understood, and the scientific community hasn't reached a consensus on exactly what's causing the seismic activity, and therefore there is doubt about the size or timing of the threat. We know there won't be the 'big one' for 200 to 300 more years, but the probability of a smaller one (a 5 or 6 richter) is unclear. But...a 6 would be devastating here. There are thousands of old brick building that have absolutely no earthquake design, not even floor to wall anchorage, many of these buildings are not in great shape, and due to gentrification downtown, many have been converted to condos, apartments, and retail. The building department is weak, not sure why, but everyone says the developers and builders run the show in town. There isn't even a structural review for most projects (essential facilities get a peer review), so calculations aren't even submitted. An engineers stamp basically means that the engineer takes responsibility for his work. (In California, every project needs to have engineering calculations submitted to the city for review, pages and pages of analysis of each beam and column, which the city engineers (or subcontractors) go through with a fine tooth comb looking for mistakes) The only review of buildings is for plumbing and electricity. It sounds like they don't have anything equivalent to Title24. (The california energy code, which sets a minimum standard for building efficiency. I was talking to some of my Memphis arch colleagues at Greenbuild, apparently the energy consumption (per capita) in TN has been increasing steadily through the years, even as CA energy consumption leveled off in the '80s and has been basically constant since then) On top of all this, they haven't adopted the IBC (the building code that has now been adopted by about 99% of the country) until just recently (it kicks in in Jan), they were using the old southern building code because developers don't want to do seismic design. They finally caved because insurance companies got tired of Memphis not adopting the now standard IBC, and jacked up the rates. Combine all this with a rather poor tradition for quality construction, and a rather severe climate, and you can imagine some of the condition of older buildings. 
  • Ok, so that's the bad news. The good news is that the people here are genuinely warm and friendly, and we've made a few friends already. And there are a handful of folks I've met who are passionate about green building. Add to that, the pace of things is a lot slower and more relaxed, expectations are lower, competition is less, as is traffic. Parking is never a problem, and rules and regulations aren't enforced anywhere near like the Bay Area. Also, everything is substantially cheaper, especially housing. We've been looking at houses and you can buy a nice bungalow for $120 k or less (just be careful to pick one that's quality built and well maintained, of which there are a few) and there are houses for sale literally on every block: another statistic is that this is the #1 foreclosure market in the country. Well, we haven't bought yet, but it is nice not having so much financial pressure, it's given me time to work on some interesting projects, such as the strawbale tutorial for the WHE that's been hanging over my head.
  • The other good thing, or the wild card, is all the low-hanging fruit of opportunity out here. There are so many things Memphis needs that other cities already have. For instance, a re-use depot, like Urban Ore, Memphis definately needs one. An opportunity for entrepreneurs.
  • I was thinking a little of following in your footsteps and getting involved in energy modeling (and building science). There seem to be some good opportunities here because of the severe climate, and lack of understanding, innovation, and will that leads to uninspired construction. There are very few interesting contemporary buildings, especially houses, (there are of course a handful, and stand out all the more because their rarity.) It seems like there are lots of opportunities to build good quality, inexpensive, environmentally friendly buildings. For instance, insulated metal panels may be a good fit, they are extremely durable, low cost, and inorganic. The trend toward industrial, loft spaces, could make these a good solution. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Memphis Tale in Two Parts, Part I: A Dog's Life

Woof, woof. Woof!
6:00am. Still night. I get out of bed, take out the earplugs, put on my headlamp, slowly open the  backdoor and step out into the cool, moist air. I grab the 'Stream Machine', dip it into the bucket and pull up the grip handle to fully fill the 2ft long tube with a quart of (mouthwash fortified) water. All this quickly, quietly. I walk over to the ladder at the property line fence, climb, preparing to quickly spot my enemy and discharge the entire contents at the hateful beast.
But as I reach the top, a middle aged woman's voice says: "Hello?". There standing just feet away is our neighbor, staring right at me.
"Hello", I say.
I gingerly descend the stair, put the 'Stream Machine' back on the bucket by the door, walk into the house, lay down in bed and stare up at the ceiling.
So it goes. Since we arrived here our neighbors dogs have been trying to make my life miserable. Three black little Scottish terriers: but one in particular (a young male, reckless, impulsive. Through the doggie door he runs out into the backyard whenever he pleases. Running this way and that. And barking! Barking at this, barking at that. But always barking! Sometimes an intermittent yip, sometimes a full on volley or two. Even a plaintive baying song.) One thing I know: he is my enemy, he must be destroyed.

Things have gotten quieter. In the last few weeks since I've acquired the 'Stream Machine'. A well made and effective weapon on the one hand. But up to the task? Not sure.

At first it was wonderful! The surprise attack! The 3 beastly hounds ran for the doggie door and crashed into each other trying to get inside. Oh joy (when I told m., she said this had been  the happiest she'd seen me since we arrived here). Again and again I repeated the attack! Within a few days there was peace and quiet hardly a woof. The bliss lasted for all of two weeks. I got lazy and stopped spraying! Then one day, the barking was back, and (like the vengeful bronchitis I had in college, when I spaced on taking the full regimen of the antibiotics) it was trouble.
I ran out to spray, but my wet volleys were now only marginally effective. The beast had grown bold! Sure he ran inside, but an hour later, a mere 30 minutes later, he was back at it: disturbing my peace! Now I was a slave to him, running out again and again to disgorge the now feeble seeming wet missiles!
O' FURY! No peace! The time had come...for Chemical Warfare. The plan simmering deep in my cortex, now took me by storm. To the bathroom! Under the sink, the cleaning supplies: detergent, ammonia, bleach. WAIT! DON'T LOSE YOUR HEAD! Start small, then escalate...It worked in Nam. Look around: there! There it is: Mouthwash! Harmless...but irritating. Appropriate! Worth a try, I dare say.
How did it come to this? A brief background, a little context: Memphis is a city of dogs. When I go jogging, the barrage of barking coming from each yard is operatic, dynamic, symphonic. Dogs run out their yards, chase me down sidewalks, snapping at my heels! Driving through town, dogs in 2s and 3s are ambling across main streets, stopping traffic.
Why? People say it's for protection, there are lots of burglaries around, and dogs are known to scare away intruders. My friend Paco from back in Cali said it sounds like Mexico: it's a cultural thing, people have a different attitude about their animals. They let them run free. Pick up the doggy poop? Nah...
But I think the attitude toward dogs also characterizes Memphis as a whole. This city is unruly. It can't be disciplined like most major cities that are trying so hard to make a good impression. (Of course, officially, Memphis is trying too, but people's hearts aren't really into it, their just hunkering down, carving out their turf. "It's got problems, but it's home.") There's also a streak of anarchy and libertarianism here: each family takes responsibility for their own protection: where there's barking dogs, I'm sure guns aren't far away. Finally, I don't think making an impression is the first thing on most people's minds. (Despite the pressures to conform in places like Central Gardens).
Essentially here (at least in midtown) you can do whatever you please: essentially no-body cares. A whole city of a million people slipped through the cracks of American ambition! Memphians: is this true? Are we like our FedEx, a place on the map where good things pass through on their way to  or from more fruitful locales?
Here in the Bible belt where I would expect morality and conformity to have a more prominent public face? (Maybe it's more so in the suburbs?) So is this the protestant, grass roots religious realm where privacy and property are king? And each man answers only to his god?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Then there's the Music

I just finished It Came From Memphis by Robert Gordon, first book I've read about Memphis, and I hope the beginning of a new journey. I never paid much attention to the blues (in particular old 'country blues'), accepted it as the backbone of rock and moved on. It sounded sonically narrow (due to poor recordings), thematically repetitive (the stuff most commonly played is the most straight-ahead), and distant, inaccessible (like from a different era)... But, I'm finding (from hours on youtube, WEVL, and a few new CDs), one can 'sink into it', that is, it sounds foreign at first, but becomes familiar and comfortable over time. With a little effort up front, it soon becomes seductive and addictive. Suddenly, a wild, free, and deep universe presents itself.

So this book is my doorway into Memphis music, a love letter by a native Memphian to his hometown, and its most fruitful (and powerful) art form. Gordon grew up here, in the 60's and 70's surrounded by a breathtakingly wild sub-culture that fed his soul. The story starts with a chronicle of the generation just before his, which took the first stabs at a new music back in the late 1940's. In particular a bunch of adventurous high school white kids: curious, rebellious, picking up old instruments and trying to play forbidden black music. They spent weekends driving their parents' cars across the river to Arkansas (because in Memphis white people were not allowed into black clubs). Even there, in the swampy, decrepit, and lawless hamlet of West Memphis, only one club, the Plantation Inn, would allow it (even there the white audience and black performers were separated by a high railing). But booze flowed like water and drinking age was an oxymoron. And after the show, in the parking lot, the black musicians and white kids would finally mingle, smoke weed, and drink more... thus began a conversation.. and conversion of these white middle class kids (Gordon calls them 'the witnesses'- I think he means they were here in a remarkable moment in history- an epic moment when a new art was born, an art that from such humble roots would quickly seduce and conquer the globe).  These kids raised on what? Bing Crosby and Judy Garland? The big-bands from Glen Miller to Dizzy Gillespie(already influencing each other)? All the recordings of 'black music' coming out of New Orleans and Harlem? Now under the spell of this ecstatic, soulful, and ragged music the local poor, Delta raised, black people played. Here is a great example of one of the (now passed) Memphis blues greats playing:

That's Furry Lewis, who I had never heard of before, living here in town, in a tumbledown little shack.
The book's opening anecdote describes the Rolling Stones' Memphis concert in 1975. They called up Furry, and had him open their show- all alone, on stage, seated on a stool, 82 years old, he wowed the crowd of 50,000. After that he had a small revival and got to gig around town more often, sometimes jamming with the young white kids (the witnesses) in the new cafes. Other times, they would drop by his house with a bottle of whiskey to entice him to play for them.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I've been volunteering at this Community Development Corporation called Gig(not real name), one of a large, loose band of CDCs of various stripes and levels of accomplishment that work in the poor neighborhoods throughout the city. Gig works in a neighborhood not at all far from where we live. It's a neighborhood, like many in Memphis, that's black and poor, with small, uninteresting looking houses on small uncared for lots. This neighborhood traditionally housed servants of the rich white people who lived in big houses less than a mile or two away. Perhaps the rich were even proud that the poor blacks lived in such 'nice' communities, renting small, shotgun homes with front yard and back. I don't know. But the people there now mostly seem to have a chip on their shoulder. And the pleasantly proportioned, rhythmic, and mildly urbane, wide porch shotgun homes have been replaced with little rectangular brick amoeba houses with shallow hip roofs and slab-on-grade floors; arranged carelessly, haphazardly.
Three of us walked down the street to open up the teen center. Halfway down the block, a basketball hoop was set up at the roadside, facing the street. A black teenager was at it alone, shooting from the middle of the asphalt, looking like a closed door, a kid who should be in school, learning. "He's suspended", said the education director, a youngish, affable white woman, transplant from Kansas City (and a Reverend, as this is a faith based CDC). She waved and said Hi to the kid as the three of us walked along. The third person with us, a volunteer, a divinity student from the seminary college just up the road, was an attractive young black woman, energetic, and charming.
We opened the door, walked in the teen center (a small, renovated house), but no kids were showing up for tutoring. 300 kids in the neighborhood, didn't they have homework? How about preparing for college? So the three of us stood around the dark little house talking; I asked questions about seminary, church, and Memphis. We gathered casually between the pool table and the Golds gym workout station that took up most of the floor plan, with a makeshift kitchen beyond it- full of donated clothing in piles. The tutoring room, off to the side, with long dining table stood empty of students. One kid walked in, a no-nonsense young man, a bit angry and closed-off. I have seen him there each day I volunteer. Why did he alone walk in, and of all his peers, not a sign?
We kept talking as he walked past us and sat down at one of the computer stations and started listening to music over the web. At first I thought: 'Shouldn't we be tutoring him, the three of us using our talent to inspire him and fill him with knowledge? Lazy us, ignoring him! Content to waste time indulging in idle chit-chat.'  Then I remembered last time I was there, he had been in the tutoring room working half-heartedly on beginner algebra, I had sat next to him, trying to help. He paid little mind to me or the problems, would copy them from textbook to notebook in a scribbly hand, jot down a few calculations, followed by a wrong answer, then turn to the back of the textbook to look at the correct one. Was this the faintest of interest, barely a spark, searching for nourishment? Why was he here, while the vast majority of his friends were somewhere out there on the street, or at home? Was this a haven?
But today he was on the computer while the adults chatted each other up. On the other hand maybe this place is a safe, quiet, haven. What if it's what he needs now? He's got a long road ahead. I hope someone, the right person takes his hand soon, and offers to be a guide.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Blues in Arkansas

Drove down to Helena, Arkansas, yesterday, with m. and a new friend (another SF Bay Area transplant of a few years prior, and an amazing blogger), for the annual blues festival, about 70 miles south of Memphis, just west of the Mississippi river, and not far from the famous Clarksdale, MS (home of the mythical blues 'Crossroads'). 
This was our first trip out to the rural and small town Delta- the deep south. I was extremely curious, having heard about the poverty, the economic decline: mostly due to family cotton farms put out of business by large growers.... Sure, the town was in quite a state of decay, sweetly crumbling and sagging, with honest-to-god ruins. Yet preserved amid these melancholy dregs, life was continuing in a variety of forms and institutions, some apparently preserved in amber, like above: 'Fonzie's Blues and Jazz Club'; yet others that were brand new- signs of gentrification even out here, and I imagine in large part supported by tourist dollars, as there doesn't seem to be any viable industry in sight; other than the people-free, industrial scale cotton fields. Bottom line, this town isn't quite ready to give up, and life is strugglin' on.

So what could draw tourists to a place like this? Well, the Blues Fest for one.

And the people, 80,000 of them, (many of them apparently staying at the Tunica casinos, the new little Las Vegas on the Mississippi river, just a few miles away) were out having a good time, enjoying the perfectly hot October weather, eating greasy fried food from colorful street stands with quirky names, drinking cheap light beer, and listening to a variety of blues music coming from several stages and buskers on every corner:

'Turkey Legs To Go'

The one above is a sanctioned cart on the main drag. Meanwhile down side streets, locals were setting up their own BBQ smokers and food service spots, some pretty spare, bare bones. But this one below had an extensive and good looking selection of cakes and canned goods, and they looked like a serious operation. Unfortunately, I did not stop to try their food, which I honestly regret. (sometimes I feel like a fly on the wall taking all these pictures). Next time I will stop, chat with these people (and get their portraits!), find out what they're favorites are, and try as many items as I can....But I did try at least one new dish this day- deep fried alligator kabob- tasted like a swordfish and a chicken had a lovechild- anotherwords- Yum!

 Meanwhile, just for fun: ATV hauling miscellaneous cases of light beer following an ambulance.....

Walking around, I practiced my technique of taking snapshots from the hip...it's not too hard. Although I'm still not sure how useful a skill it is:

The ruins make for stunning photo opportunities.....melancholy, cool, ghostly... softened and stilled by the sands of time. Why are they strangely inspiring?
Eventually, we made it back toward the main concert stage where local business people and promoters were hucking their town. 'It's a great place to live; poised to make a comeback; find new life; reinvent itself!' One young guy spoke about how he had relocated here from Brooklyn after coming to the blues fest and becoming inspired. Him and his partner had started a non-profit design shop to help local business with branding, marketing, web-design, etc. Called Thrive, (I just emailed them today, curious about the situation, wanting to contribute...anyone up for green, alternative housing made from recycled and donated materials??) here's their storefront on Cherry St. (aka Main St) behind a couple of hard working buskers. (Who weren't bad, but need to change their name: 'Tyrannosaurus Chicken'??):

Speaking of Buskers, this guy was on the street all day playing his home made guitar/bass, and telling stories about the roots of music in the delta: crude instruments made from common hardware, but played with an abandon and depth of feeling that makes it hard to look away. His name is Richard Johnston and he seems like the real deal to me.
Finally, we made it back to the lawn at the main stage where the sun was setting, the air cooling, and music sounding good. Then, Taj Mahal came out to perform and blew my mind- the guy is so damn good. He is a complete master of the guitar, yet his singing is equally stirring and virtuosic...and he was doing both simultaneously! It was a trio: drummer, bassist, with Taj playing rhythm, lead, and vocals! Why bother with the backing band, Taj? YOU ROCK! Takes just one genius to turn ragged, kudzu infested countryside into world class music event. (Alas, we missed BB King, and Dr. John on the previous two nights of the fest.)

Bonus Track: Here's a nice video of Richard Johnston at the same Blues Festival, except about 10 years ago (ignore the dorky looking guy in the beginning, and the french sub-titles):

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Color and Eclecticism

Just back, and feeling refreshed and more optimistic, after a weeklong trip to Connecticut to visit family and friends, preceded by a couple of days walking around NYC and marveling at the stark, unmitigated vertical density of Harlem:

The bucolic, sophisticated urbanity of Brooklyn Heights:

The eclectic grittiness of eastern Brooklyn:

Then driving around central Connecticut with my dad and being frustrated by often repetitive, stultifying blandness and lack of imagination of upper-middle class contemporary CT subdivisions [...and so close to the cultural capitals of NYC, Boston, and New Haven!]:

And the consistancy of the colonial and ranch styles in even the older, more interesting and charming CT suburbs:

So I was thinking again about one of the neighborhoods I jog through- Glenview, about a mile south of our apartment here in Memphis, which is clustered around South Parkway. The Memphis Parkway system was the original, ambitious outer beltway [basically a rectangle: 4 Parkways, 3 miles long on each side. The area inside the Parkways is now known as Midtown] of tree lined boulevards and parks developed around the city at the turn of the 20th century-part of the City Beautiful movement and a response to the devastating local yellow fever epidemics of the previous generation; they ended up being a model for similar development around the country. (Of course, the city has now extended far beyond this original boundary, with a freeway loop a few miles further out, and an outer-ring loop planned- this city, low in density from the beginning, has never lost it's penchant for large lots- and the attendant feeling of sprawl....)

But the original Parkways are still important arteries, and give the city a lot of it's character. Each parkway seems to have it's unique characteristics and ambience. What strikes me about S. Parkway is the eclecticism of the houses along it. The north side of the street is defined by enormous [for an 'urban' area] front yards, and gracious houses in a variety of styles. I guess the eclecticism is not surprising because my "Field Guide to American Houses" calls this era (1900s-1940) the 'eclectic period'. Here's a few examples:

Colonial Revival
Blob with Italian Rennaissance Portico
Craftsman with weirdo 'Memphis' roof? (Historic Neighborhood sign proudly displayed in front yard)
Crazy steep roof Tudor [In TN gigantic, steeply sloped roofs are still popular, and referred to as 
'ego pitch']
The older houses are punctuated by various midcentury-ish houses like this genteel ranch. (Were the original houses torn down? Probably- houses don't last long here if they're not properly built: moisture and bugs get 'em right quick, or perhaps it was just due to changing tastes....)

And... on the south side of the street, the lots and houses are smaller, but the eclecticism is unabated:
Colonial Revival with Gambrel Roof
Tudor Revival Hybrid with Colonial shutters, and big southern porch with New Orleans style decorative metal posts and rails.
Gracious modern ranch
Tumbledown spanish eclectic
and my personal favorite- Craftsman Log Cabin.

The side streets do not disappoint either, with various smaller, funky, folky eclectic offerings like these:

Glenview is now primarily a black neighborhood, the result of white flight of the '60s and '70s. A few weeks ago I was at a party talking to a young academic couple, apparently liberal, and also Midtown residents, about jogging in the neighborhood. She was surprised I ran south from my house. She said she was told not to go south of Southern Ave., the words 'ghetto', 'sketchy', and 'blight' were used. There is large-scale blight in this city, but not in the part of Glenview near S. Parkway, which I imagine is due in part to higher incomes (i.e. large houses), but also to the beauty of South Parkway and the houses along it. There is certainly a sense of pride in the neighborhood, although a few of the houses look ill-maintained. One thing I noticed here-  a lot more bright color than in other good neighborhoods in town (such as my own, sedate, neutral 'Central Gardens' which is exclusively white). I'm seeing the prouder black neighborhoods in town are accentuated by the use of color in trim, shutters, and eaves- greens, blues and yellows are especially popular. I also noted rustic stone cladding, statuary[lions at entrances], and fountains in the front yards. These are folk patterns I find charming [particularly the use of colorful trim] and wouldn't mind seeing more of around town.
One thing I'm not sure of is why some neighborhoods of about the same era in Memphis are not nearly as interesting as Glenview. [A google search revealed nothing, even though this is one of 8 Memphis neighborhoods with status 'Historic Residential Suburb' on the national register] I'm guessing that the since South Parkway area was undeveloped at the time, it was therefore more liberal and eccentric as frontiers tend to be. 
Last point: this neighborhood reminds me a bit of a few of the same era neighborhoods in Berkeley and San Francisco- funky, colorful, folksy eclecticism- again- individuals making their mark at the frontiers [...and as I'm learning, Memphis was most definitely a frontier...] during an era when one's home could express one's style and personality by unashamedly choosing from the pallet of history and whimsy.