Some of you may not know that Memphis magazine is produced out of an ancient building downtown on Tennessee Street. It's not something we like to brag about. According to company lore, the three-story structure, painted the color of a used Band-Aid, originally served as a coffee-bean warehouse back in the late 1800s. Nobody has ever wondered why our city needed such a large building to store so many coffee beans, but that's our story, and we're sticking to it.
We moved to this location in the mid-1980s, and were pioneers in this part of town. No other businesses or residences were around us. We chose the place because it was cheap rent. Let's face it, when you're surrounded by abandoned warehouses, and an overgrown patch of woods frequented by hobos blocks your view of the river, it's not exactly high-dollar accommodations. But we took the old building, with its massive beams and exposed ductwork and all sorts of "retro cool" features, and slowly made it into our home.
Sometimes, though, that home — like any old building — can create special challenges. In the winter, the furnace — which must be equipped with coal-fired boilers salvaged from the Titanic — often fails to bring the inside temperature above, oh, 45 degrees. In the summertime (or even early spring), the air conditioning system (apparently a prototype invented by Willis Carrier himself) fails, and the thermometer inside can soar to 150 degrees. Oh, it gets toasty.
Today, however, was extra-special. Some employees thought they smelled gas, and even though MLGW came out, found no evidence of a leak, and reassured everyone they were safe and told us, "No, you can't go home early today," some people remained jittery. So we opened up our FEMA emergency kits (stuffed with life rafts, parachutes, Meals Ready to Eat, and — in case of the worst — cyanide pills for the top management) and had everyone wear gas masks while we grabbed a quick lunch in the lavish company breakroom.
This photo, taken during lunch today, will be included when we finally get around to publishing Bound for Glory: The Official History of Memphis Magazine. Look for it on newsstands next year. If we live that long.