Wednesday update: Hard day to be a Grizzlies fan

Murphy’s Law – “if anything can go wrong, it will” – hit the Memphis Grizzlies yesterday. Jaren Jackson Jr. came down awkwardly in Monday’s game vs. the New Orleans Pelicans after contesting a shot, and a medical exam revealed that JJJ tore his meniscus. He will be out the rest of the season as he recovers.

Sucks for the Grizzlies. As one analyst noted after yesterday’s game, while Ja Morant has been garnering most of the media attention this year, Jaren has been quietly honing his craft, turning into one of those guys who’s consistently good for 25 points a night. The seeding games go on, but Jaren will be missed. We wish you a speedy recovery, JJJ. Also, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, in case we don’t see you again before that.

The Grizzlies play their former teammate Mike Conley and the Utah Jazz today at 1:30 in their fourth seeding game. Ja vs. Mike should be fun to watch. By the way, I installed the Fox Sports GO app on my iPhone and was able to stream Fox Sports Southeast, no problem at all, and then I did the same on my laptop, so theoretically I’ll be able to stream this afternoon’s game. It remains to be seen if I’ll get one of those “this game is blacked out in your area” messages though.

Looks like Central Station may provide an online stream of the game as well…

As of this morning, Portland trails the Grizzlies by only 1.5 games. Too close for comfort! San Antonio is 2 games back, New Orleans 2.5, Phoenix 3.0, Sacramento 3.5.

Other game of interest today: Denver at San Antonio, 3 PM, no national TV. We want the Nuggets to win.

Studies find that most restaurants fail within the first year of it becoming illegal to go to them. This is a story from The Onion, but a  few month from now it could be mainstream news. I would add the words “limited service” in front of “restaurants” in the article title.

Former Redbirds manager Stubby Clapp, now the St. Louis Cardinals’ first-base coach, is among those in the Cardinals organization trapped in Milwaukee, forced to quarantine in case he has been exposed to COVID-19. So far all of his tests have come back negative.

Among the Cards who have tested positive is Yadi.

From Makeda’s Cookies at 488 S. Second:

Every Friday is #PieFriday at #MakedasCookies
5″5′ Mini Homemade Pies made with the #buttercookie Crust
Only 7.99 ea
(Serves 1-2)
*No can! Fresh peaches picked at Jones Orchard
Pecan Pies and Peach Cobbler this Friday while they last😉
2p until 7p
**Sold in an oven safe aluminum pan so you can reheat all pies and Cobblers in your oven at home.
REHEAT at 350° for 8-12 minutes
*All Whole Pies are Only 24.99 during August (Black Owned Business Month)
Reg. 29.99

Keep scrolling for my coverage of yesterday’s COVID-19 task force press conference. Back this afternoon or tomorrow with more news.


Tue update #2: Shelby County COVID-19 task force press conference

Dr. Bruce Randolph, Shelby County Health Officer, led off the conference. He said there were some encouraging indicators, with average number of cases per day and rolling positivity rate down from a week ago. He attributed those results to improved masking and limited service restaurants being closed (although, that’s just conjecture; he offered no concrete data that closing limited service restaurants made a difference).

Hospitalization remains sufficient for both acute care beds and ICU beds for both COVID-19 patients and other patients.

Dr. Randolph said that while an executive order by Tennessee governor Bill Lee permits sports, including contact sports, in public schools, schools in Shelby County are not required to have them; it is a school-by-school decision. Randolph said that it is not the Health Department’s place to approve or reject individual schools’ plans to implement sports, but they will advise on plans if requested.

University of Memphis president Dr. M. David Rudd came up to speak. Last week the university announced a phased plan, with most instruction virtual to begin the fall semester. A major factor in this decision was the trouble conducting large number of COVID-19 tests and getting the results back in a timely manner – he said 7-11 days was the average.

Rudd pointed out that students are still housed on the university campus, and have been for the last six months. In addition, some small classes have been allowed to meet. A big reason for the continued activity on campus is that some students come from a background where access to computers, software, Wi-Fi and nutritious meals would not be possible otherwise.

Rudd said they expect instruction to be mostly virtual for 30 days, but they will monitor the situation and update on a weekly basis. They need to see 2-3 weeks of data pointing in the right direction before moving to the next phase of back-to-campus. They expect it to be a hybrid model.

Dr. Randolph was asked for an update on the “tripwires” document. He said it is still being prepared. He hoped to have it ready for the release, but could not promise it. When pushed further, he said the task force does not want it to be a black-and-white document that says, for example, if the positivity rate goes above X, then Y will happen. He says the document is intended to be fluid. (Like the Back to Business plan was?)

Dr. Randolph was asked if data on cases and tracing will be kept in schools, and he said yes, similar for how it would be tracked for any other venue. A decision has not yet been reached on whether to release that data to the public.

Another question: What about football games? What will be the plan to ensure social distancing and masking guidelines are adhered to? Dr. Randolph replied that because of the governor’s executive order, the Health Department does not have a lot of control over games and practices. However, the Department does have say over the venues and arenas, and will expect measures put forth in the health directives to be observed. Also the department will be involved in quarantining and isolating of athletes.

Brad Broders of Local 24 pointed out that Corinth, MS schools opened last week, and there are already 5 confirmed COVID cases there. Can Shelby County expect something similar? Randolph noted that the coronavirus is here and we cannot get around it. We can implement standards, as has been done in the health directives, to reduce the risk of catching it, but we cannot reduce that risk to zero.

Broders followed up, asking what it’s important for parents to look for in returns to live instruction. Randolph replied to look for the safety measures spelled out in the health directive, including masking, six feet of distance, hand washing, sanitizing, cleaning, avoidance of crowding. He also said to look for how the safety protocols keep teachers safe.

Randolph said the backlog has gotten more manageable, down to an average of about 3 days for return of results, rather than the 7-11 days not long ago that Rudd talked about. 3 days allows for much more effective contact tracing. If results times continue to decrease, they will start allowing for the testing of asymptomatic people who have not been exposed to the virus.

U of M president Rudd was asked about keeping Tigers football players safe. He said protocols for voluntary and individual workouts were issued a few weeks ago and those are going well. Rudd said American Athletic Conference presidents meet tomorrow and we should see a fall football schedule not long after that.

That’s it for the recap. Back tomorrow with more news.


Tuesday update: Bardog is back

Bardog Tavern had reduced its business to take-out and delivery only the past month due to a rise in COVID-19 cases. However, Bardog is a full-service restaurant and the decision to reduce service was a choice, not an order from an outside agency. With enhanced employment benefits running out, and with COVID-19 new cases and positivity numbers finally trending in the right direction if only for a couple of days, the decision has been made to re-open for dine-in. They’re open for breakfast at 8 on weekdays and for brunch at 11 on weekends.

Keep in mind, though, Bardog still has to play by the (adjective deleted) rules that other full-service restaurants do under Health Directive No. 9. They still have to close at 10 PM. They can’t allow seating at the bar. You have to order food to be allowed to drink alcohol on site. Food service is limited to two hours. If you go there, please understand these new rules were not the choice of Bardog’s management, so don’t make a fuss and please tip well. And, of course, don’t forget to wear a mask anytime you are not seated.

Are we going to have to call the place Fullservicedog Tavern until this all blows over? Oh by the way… you remember how I left it as an exercise to the reader to figure out why I might not lead off at Slider Inn Downtown this coming Saturday? Well, there’s your answer. By the way, a couple of pieces of inside info I gleaned from the kitchen… the fried chicken sliders will make their way onto the full menu, and a pork chop may be added as well.

I will try to watch the COVID-19 joint task force press conference at noon and do a recap this afternoon, or tomorrow morning at the latest. Wonder if we’re going to hear about those “tripwires” today? Also, if there will be automatic triggers introducing more restrictions when the numbers get bad, will there be automatic triggers rolling back restrictions when numbers get better, triggers that could save local small businesses?

I learned something about shopping at Walgreens recently. If you have a Walgreens card, and find lots of stuff on sale in the weekly ad that you want to buy, don’t rush right in and buy it all. Instead make a small purchase, and see if the register prints out a “$6 in future rewards when you make a $25 or larger purchase” coupon along with your receipt. Then come back, buy the sale items you want, go over $25 and redeem your new coupon. Note the coupon is good for future savings – you don’t get it off the $25 or more purchase, but a subsequent time you shop there. I got lunch yesterday, lunch today, and a pint of ice cream for $1.12 having applied this strategy.

Zion Williamson looked like exactly the beast he is advertised as in a Pelicans 109-99 win over the Memphis Grizzlies last night. With 5 seeding games remaining, the Grizzlies hold a 2-game lead for the 8th spot in the West over the Portland Trail Blazers and the San Antonio Spurs, 2.5 over New Orleans, and 3.0 over the Sacramento Kings. Even the Phoenix Suns at 3.5 back could enter the playoff conversation. Notable games today:

  • Dallas at Sacramento, 1:30, no national TV (we want Dallas to win)
  • Phoenix at L.A. Clippers, 3:00, NBATV (we want the Clips to win)

13 members of the St. Louis Cardinals organization have now tested positive for COVID-19. If the late, great Gorilla Monsoon were alive, he’d have this to say about the 2020 MLB season: “Stick a fork in it, it’s done.”

If living within a short walking distance of Gus’s Fried Chicken is your Downtown Memphis dream, you will want to keep your eye on this new apartment development. Under a proposal, buildings at 316 and 324 S. Front, at the corner of Vance, would be renovated into 165 new apartments with attached parking of about 100 spaces.

Elmwood Cemetery is hosting an online Fare from Beyond tour tonight at 6 PM. They’ll have a look at those who fed Memphis over the years, exploring restaurant concepts of the past ranging from street vendors to fine dining. $10 registration fee gets you a Zoom link so you can follow along for the hour tour.

A photo of teenagers standing in long lines outside Incredible Pizza on Germantown Parkway Saturday night has Jeannette Comans, owner of the Blind Bear Speakeasy, questioning why that business is allowed to be open while her limited service restaurant is not. Many in the line were not wearing masks and the line was not appropriately social distanced. The executive vice president of marketing at Incredible commented they were very busy this past weekend. “Why can’t I provide food in very isolated, six-feet-apart tables?” said Comans. “People stay at their own tables, and everyone wears masks to come in.” If any news reporters read this, how about asking at the COVID-19 press conference today if there will be a path for limited-service restaurants to submit custom plans for reopening, the way large entertainment venues were allowed to in Phase 1.

Also from WREG: Nearly a decade’s worth of Downtown parking tickets may be invalid. The tickets were written by employees of the Downtown Memphis Commission, who may not have had the authority to issue citations. Cheers to my fellow Bardog regulars for standing up for what’s right! A class action lawsuit is being considered to compensate other people who paid parking tickets.

Washington DC, Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston are under a tropical storm warning as T.S. Isaias blows through today. Donald Trump better stay indoors. Just think what Isaias could do to his comb-over!

Meanwhile, in Memphis…

That’s it for now. Check back this afternoon for possibly another post.

Monday update

The Memphis Grizzlies take the national stage tonight, playing the New Orleans Pelicans in a Ja vs. Zion extravaganza on ESPN at 5:30. The Grizzlies will need this win after suffering a second close loss yesterday afternoon to the San Antonio Spurs. With 6 seeding games remaining, the Grizzlies still hold eighth place in the Western Conference, with the Spurs 2 games back, the Portland Trail Blazers 2.5 games back, and tonight’s opponent the Pelicans and the Sacramento Kings 3.5 games back.

The Grizzlies didn’t win yesterday, but they scored more than 99 points, and that matters.

I noticed something… “all games televised on the (Fox Sports Southeast) network will also be available on the Fox Sports GO app.” I will have to give that a try after I was unable to stream FSSE on my laptop for yesterday’s game.

Other game of interest tonight: San Antonio at Philadephia, 7 PM, no national TV. We badly need the 76ers to win this one.

Tin Roof on Beale Street is hosting a Grizzlies Watch Party tonight at 5:30. $15 buckets of beers, and specials on chicken tender platters and wing platters.

BUT WAIT… NBA games run two and a half hours, three hours if there’s overtime, as there has been in both Grizzlies seeding games thus far. Don’t you know that if you linger at a restaurant for more than two hours, you can get COVID-19? Wonder how they’re going to manage that?

Let me use this to point out an opportunity for those who do catering, or for limited-service restaurants who might want a lifeline via starting a catering arm… if the health directive remains in place, no one is going to be able to go out and watch an NFL game at a restaurant this fall. The games are simply too long to fit the directive’s time window. Therefore, there are going to be a LOT of house parties on Sundays the next four months. Most limited-service restaurants had wings and tenders and other football food on their menus already… could be a way to get some revenue coming in.

As for college football, the American Athletic Conference still plans to play a slate of 8 conference games this year, as well as whatever non-conference games the Gods of Football (i.e. the Power Five conferences) will allow.

Rizzo’s by Michael Patrick is back open following a week’s closure. They will do lunch Wednesday-Friday 11-2 going forward.

Pyramid Wines on A.W. Willis has some new stuff in stock:

Here’s a fun nickname meme:

Donald Trump’s birthday is June 14.

Riverside Drive is open again. Only on weekdays though.

Chicken Piccata and seared ahi tuna are the entree choices for the $19.95 3-course dinner at Paulette’s tonight.

That’s it for now. Go Grizz and I’ll be back tomorrow with more news.

Sunday update: Has the final buzzer sounded for Max’s Sports Bar? Or will there be an overtime?

Yesterday was a sad day to be on social media here in Downtown Memphis. People were changing their cover photo and profile pic on Facebook to images of Max’s Sports Bar and posting “greatest hits” photo and video galleries, to commemorate what may very well have been the limited service restaurant’s final day of operation after nearly 13 years.

When most businesses close, there is a “but.” That is to say, if you weren’t familiar with the situation, you might wonder if people were saying stuff like

  • “A sports bar was a good idea, but Max just didn’t know how to run a business.”
  • “Having all the games on was nice, but Max had to charge really high drink prices to pay for all those TV subscriptions.”
  • “It was convenient to have a place to drink right in the heart of South Main, but Max’s wasn’t any fun.”

No. None of that. The only thing Max was guilty of was creating a place where people could enjoy a tasty adult beverage, get to know their neighbors, and cheer for their favorite teams. Well, that and being a limited service restaurant, but during the time Max’s was back open, COVID-19 protocols were followed much more strictly than even most full-service restaurants.

It’s not for sure that Max’s is gone for good, but think about its business model. Max’s was open 365 days a year, but there were about 30 to 35 of those days that really mattered. Specifically

  • The last Saturday in August to the first Saturday in December
  • The Sunday after Labor Day to the first Sunday in February

On those days, Max could count on having an ass in every seat from 30 minutes after open until the final whistle blew on the last game of the night. He could also count on there being a crowd 2-3 deep at the bar waiting to order drinks, and a packed patio out back. If you needed to get up and use the restroom, it took you 10 minutes to navigate the 30 feet from the farthest bar stool away because there were so many people. Such was football season at Max’s.

For that to happen, for Max to be able to make his money on the days that matter the most, we would need to get into and past Phase 3 and back to 100% capacity, no social distancing required, in four weeks. That is unlikely to happen. Even if we call the beginning of football season the first day of SEC conference play, now scheduled for September 26, we almost certainly aren’t gonna get there.

For those of you who have no medical background at all but nevertheless get on social media every day and preach that we aren’t doing enough in the way of COVID-19 restrictions, are you happy now? Is the CLOSED sign at Max’s a victory for you? Are you basking in the glory of your #PeopleBeforeProfit hashtag today?

On to the news… it’s National Coloring Book Day, so I will remind you that you can support local journalism and local artists by ordering the Memphis Flyer Coloring Book.

Memphis 901 FC picked up its first win of the season, defeating Saint Louis FC 1-0. The victory gives the club three points in league standings.

You can watch the final round of the WGC St. Jude Invitational today on WREG channel 3 locally. Brendon Todd, at 12 under, holds a one-stroke lead going into the day.

The Grizzlies play the San Antonio Spurs today at 3 PM in the second of eight seeding games. You can catch the action on Fox Sports Southeast.

Other NBA games of interest to the Grizzlies today:

  • Portland at Boston, 2:30, ABC (we want Boston to win)
  • Sacramento at Orlando, 5:00, NBATV (we want Orlando to win)

You can get a free mask in Fourth Bluff Park this afternoon from 4 to 7, as well as free hand sanitizer, free school supplies and a free snow cone courtesy of the city, Memphis River Parks Partnership, and One Memphis One Vision.

I was at Slider Inn Downtown yesterday between about 12:30 and 2:30, and discovered that the full menu is back! I ordered the shrimp po’boy sliders.

Cornmeal batter was excellent, as was the slaw that came on the sliders. I would definitely get them again, although it looks like I will not be at Slider Inn next Saturday. I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader to figure out where I might be instead.

There’s been a suggestion on Facebook that the e-scooters be disabled at a certain time on Friday and Saturday night so teenagers can’t ride around Downtown and weave in and out of the drag racing traffic and come close to crashing into people. I would totally support that. 9 PM?

That’s it for now. I have absolutely nothing to do today, so there could be another post. Otherwise I will be back tomorrow.

Sat update: Online tax holiday shopping, Health Dept. fails to deliver, Grizzlies, Max’s and more

I am pleased to say that the Tennessee sales tax holiday works like a charm at major online retailers. Yesterday I bought a pair of casual loafers from Amazon and a pair of sandals from Zappos, and both of them recognized I was in Tennessee and charged me zero sales tax when I checked out.

Tell ya a couple of other things I learned… Amazon defaulted to a $7 shipping charge, telling me I’d get the shoes on Tuesday, August 4. However, I looked around by hitting the “Place order” button and discovered my shoes were eligible for FREE shipping, although I’d have to wait all the way until Wednesday, August 5 to get them. Sure, I’m willing to look like a homeless person from the ankles down for one extra day to save $7.

I also learned that Amazon has an “Amazon’s Choice” badge they award to products that are rated highly and sold at good prices. My loafers averaged 4.7 stars out of 5, and after I placed my $41.21 order, I found the same shoes on the manufacturer’s site for $70. I am going to look for the badge when I shop on Amazon in the future.

The Health Department has been talking about a “trip wires” document for some time now, listing additional restrictions that will be triggered if certain thresholds related to COVID-19 were hit. Last week they said they expected to have a draft document ready for review this week. Tuesday they said it would be ready by the end of this week. Well, guess what, end of business Friday came and went, and there’s no evidence of a tripwires document on the health department’s coronavirus page.

Now, I don’t really care much either way, but it’s a bad look to promise and then not deliver. Also, I hope they realized they ruined the weekend for Facebook “medical experts” who were looking forward to writing 19 paragraphs and 32 hashtags about how the tripwires did not go far enough.

Meanwhile, I found this meme, which I think does a pretty good job summing up the Health Department’s position:

The Grizzlies gave a tremendous effort last night, but ended up falling to a more experienced Portland Trail Blazers team yesterday afternoon in Orlando, 140-135 in overtime. Looking at the standings, the Grizzlies now lead Portland by 2.5 games, San Antonio by 3 games, and Sacramento and New Orleans by 3.5 games. The next two games, against San Antonio and New Orleans, will be key in determining how solid or how tenuous the Grizzlies’ hold on the 8 spot really is.

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Los Angeles Clippers on ESPN at 5 today. The Clippers are already safely in the Western Conference playoffs, so we want them to win this one.

Memphis Spine and Sport, offering chiropractic services, sports rehab and wellness care, is expanding to South Main. The location appears to be at the corner of South Main and Talbot, across from the Slider Out yard (formerly the site of the bocce ball court).

Those of you who have a sentimental attachment to Max’s Sports Bar might want to get by there and pay your respects today. Although they are still holding out hope that Max’s will ride again, there seems to be a genuine sense of fear in social media posts by employees and regulars that today could be the last day. I believe Bjarni is working open to 5 and Mike 5 to close. It’s take-out only; see meme above for explanation why.

All we can do now is hope… I have a feeling that the Health Department won’t consider letting limited service restaurants reopen until the number of new COVID-19 cases plateaus or declines, and the average positivity rate is under 10% on a 7-day basis. We’re at about 15% right now.

Memphis 901 FC hosts Saint Louis FC tonight at 7:30 at AutoZone Park. They are doing staggered entry times for fans to try and keep people social distanced. Recommended entry times, depending on the first letter of the ticket holder’s last name:

  • All: 6:00-6:30
  • A-F: 6:30-6:45
  • G-L: 6:45-7:00
  • M-R: 7:00-7:15
  • S-Z: 7:15-7:30

Those of you who have a symbol for your name rather than letters (you know, like Prince did at one point) can enter whenever you want.

From Comeback Coffee in The Pinch:

We’re coming back THIS Saturday! That’s right our team’s tests all came back negative and we are so ready to be back in the swing of things. We’re coming back with normal operations ( no curbside or call in orders. Just come in and order in shop.) which includes wearing a mask when approaching the bar and keeping a safe distance. Come hang out Saturday as we get back to “normal”.
ALSO!! We did some work while we were away. We installed a misting system in our alleyway and courtyard space. What does that mean? Basically, our outdoor space will feel *perfect*. The system is installed high enough to bring down the temp without getting the seating area wet. We are doing everything we can to beat the heat and make that space as comfortable as possible. Come check it out Saturday!

A virtual Memphis beer fest, presented by Cerrito Entertainment and Madison Growler & Bottle Shop, is coming October 3. A portion of funds raised will go to Memphis Food Industry Worker Assistance. More details to come.

The Memphis Business Journal has more information on Curfew, the restaurant to be opened by Chef Fabio Vivani, in the new hotel across B.B. King from AutoZone Park. The chef says to think “elevated sports bar fare” for the menu. He said the look would resemble “a modern foundry and leather shop” and that it wouldn’t be “your typical Miller Lite neon sports bar.” Glad to hear that, it will keep the old farts away.

The St. Louis Cardinals are the latest MLB organization to have to cancel games due to positive COVID-19 tests. MLB’s commissioner has warned the season will be shut down if the virus is not better managed. How much more proof does he need? The Cards are the sixth team to have games shut down by the virus.

DAAAANG Sonya Deville cut Mandy Rose’s hair last night!

I’m going to state a possibly unpopular opinion here: Liv Morgan is hotter than Mandy Rose. Liv just has a mysterious sexiness to her. Although, Mandy promised to take her guy Otis out for all-you-can-eat ribs and steaks, and there’s something to be said for that too.

I listened to the police scanner last night and about 11:35 it was reported that a large group of teenagers smoking weed was gathering near the bridge at Riverside and Beale. Just think, that could be your view if you move into the new apartments at One Beale when they open!

My plan for today is to be safe from Covid. Back tomorrow with more news.

Friday update

The NBA restart got off to a beautiful beginning last night as the Utah Jazz came from as many as 16 down to hand the New Orleans Pelicans a 106-104 loss. Why so beautiful? It means that now, Zion Williamson and the Pels have 7 games left to make up 4 games in the standings, where previously they had 8 games left to make up 3.5.

The Grizzlies play the Portland Trail Blazers at 3 on NBATV in their first of 8 seeding games. The Blazers are another team chasing the Grizz by 3.5 games, so shutting down Dame Time this afternoon would be a big step toward the playoffs.

Another game of note: Sacramento Kings vs. San Antonio Spurs, the other two teams chasing Memphis, at 7 tonight (no national TV). The Kings are 3.5 back and the Spurs are 4 back, so I guess rooting for San Antonio is the thing to do if you don’t have any other preference.

As expected, the judge in the second case brought by limited service restaurants, including Downtown venues Blind Bear, Silly Goose, and Max’s Sports Bar, and Midtown venue Alchemy, ruled against the restaurants. The restaurants sought a temporary restraining order to allow them to reopen in spite of Shelby County Health Directive No. 8. U.S. District Judge John T. Fowlkes, Jr. wrote, “As sympathetic as the Court is with Plaintiffs and other businesses adversely affected by COVID-19, sympathy cannot play a role in determining the legality of Health Order No. 8.” So, these businesses are closed indefinitely. With the positivity rate way above 10% and the number of new cases a day approaching 400, it could be months before the bars are allowed to reopen. All four of the places I named here are small, local businesses and may not survive, despite years of past success.

Following the ruling, Max posted:

Due to the Federal Ruling against us concerning the recent Health Department directives that shut down our dining room, we will be ceasing all operations after Saturday. Unfortunately, togo business is not sufficient enough keep the doors open as we compete with the other 97% of the county restaurants and bars still offering on-site dining. With no bench marked goal/data as to why we were shut down, we can only assume this does not exist for our reopening either. That said, we hope to open our doors for you again, let’s just hope we are allowed to before it really is too late.
You all have been unbelievably supportive through these last few months and the entire Max’s family truly can’t begin to show you our appreciation. If you can, swing by over the next few days and say hi/bye to the guys. Plus, all beer and slushies will be 50% off open to close!

The shuttering of all the bars makes their surrounding neighborhoods less vibrant, but the loss of Max’s Sports Bar, whether temporary or permanent, will be especially devastating for South Main. That bar became a hub for the community almost as soon as it opened 13 years ago.

Just think what Max must pay per month in TV digital boxes alone… imagine having to pay that while no one is watching sports. I think he has a total of 14 TVs, counting the outside ones.

To all those displaced by the closings of Health Directive No. 8, let me repeat what I said back in March… if there’s any way I can use my social media presence to help you in these difficult times, reach out to me at or on social media. Whether it’s posting photos of yummy to-go food you’re selling or helping you circulate a resume around, I’m happy to do it.

Also, if you just need a sympathetic voice to talk to, reach out. 15 months ago I was in such a bleak financial position that life didn’t seem worth living. I know how it feels. Please talk to someone if you have any thoughts of a permanent ending to these rough times which are temporary.

Cheers to MLGW for doing the right thing:

One more reminder that the Tennessee sales tax holiday is under way! Through 11:59 PM Sunday, purchase clothing up to $200 or computer equipment up to $3000 and pay no sales tax. Note that televisions and video game consoles are considered “computers & other electronics” for these purposes.

Oskar Blues Brewing Co. and French’s mustard are collaborating on a mustard-flavored beer.

The conservative movement lost one of its icons of the past decade as Herman Cain passed away this week. The 2012 candidate for the Republican presidential nomination was well-known for breaking conservative principles down into sound bites that could be easily processed by the smartphone generation, such as his “9-9-9” tax plan. Here’s a timeline of the 74-year-old Cain’s final days:

  • June 20: Attended President Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa. Cain did not wear a mask or social distance from other attendees.
  • June 29: Cain tested positive for COVID-19. Patients typically become symptomatic in the 7th to 10th day following transmission.
  • July 24: Reports came out that Cain was still suffering from COVID-19 on his 25th day for testing positive. Typical incubation period from the virus is 14 days. It was reported that Cain’s body was starting to fail due to the stress of fighting the illness
  • July 30: Cain passed away, 31 days after the positive test

Iron Tribe Fitness is coming Downtown. The franchise’s third Memphis location will be inside the old Gibson guitar factory, in the new FedEx Logistics headquarters. Construction should be done this fall. Iron Tribe offers high intensity training in a small group setting. Their workouts target many muscle groups and involve cardio training as well.

Loflin Yard has switched to an all-table service model, in compliance with Health Directive No. 9 foisting further regulations on the restaurants that were allowed to remain open.

And now it’s time for what you’ve all been waiting for… a recap of yesterday’s COVID-19 task force press conference. Presenting were Dr. Alisa Haushalter, Shelby County Health Department director, and Dr. Jon McCullers, Pediatrician-in-Chief at LeBonheur, and professor & chair UTHSC Department of Pediatrics.

Dr. Haushalter expects the “tripwires” document to be ready by the end of today. This document will specify additional regulations to be automatically applied if certain thresholds related to COVID-19 are hit.

Dr. McCullers was asked about kids returning to school in person. He admitted right now, we have no good answers. In some cases, virtual learning makes more sense, for example if a child lives with an elderly (and thus at high risk) grandparent. On the other hand, in-person learning benefits other household situations, such as one where the parent can’t afford child care during the day, or where the child needs school meals for nutrition.

A Back to School task force was formed at LeBonheur a few weeks ago. They look at four areas:

  • Communication: How to talk to schools, and to parents
  • Policies and procedures in written form
  • Infection prevention
  • The kids themselves: What about ones who are medically fragile? Special needs kids?

Read the school task force recommendations

The DM’s Omer Yusuf asked about yesterday’s positivity rate, a devastating 53.4% on a low number of tests, wanting to know if we could expect to see more of that. Haushalter responded that the tests are coming back at various intervals in terms of days. It’s more important to look at the 7-day rolling average and also the date the tests were sent to the labs.

Haushalter did say that the weekly positivity rate was a little above 14%. While that is still concerningly high, it’s down a little from the 16% we saw last week.

Yusuf then asked the medical officials where they stand on high school sports. Haushalter gave a typically political response, and McCullers parroted it. However, Dr. Mc then said that was his answer speaking as a member of the task force. Speaking as a pediatrician, it is not safe to let contact sports return due to community spread.

Haushalter said she would be willing to meet with full-service restaurant owners to hear their concerns as listed in a letter they sent her this week. Ultimately, she said, the goal is to reduce transmission with as limited an impact on the economy as possible.

WMC’s Kendall Downing asked if we were still doing phases of reopening, and if we could expect to ever get to Phase 3. Haushalter said they are staying consistent with national guidelines as much as possible. We will remain in a highly tailored version of Phase 2 for some time to come. Again, she advised to read the latest health directive.

Dr. H was asked if she had heard about folk remedies for COVID-19 being used in the Latino community. She had not but said she’d look into it.

Sam Hardeman from the CA asked about the number of contact tracers. Dr. H said it wasn’t just that – they also had needs for surveillance, epidemeology, community outreach, and education. If you’re looking for a career in public health, this remains an excellent time to jump in, a chance to get experience you’ll (hopefully) never be able to get again in your lifetime.

That’s it for today. Go Grizzlies! I’ll be back tomorrow with more news.

Thursday update

Last night I had a dream about the ancient Roman Empire. I saw examples of their architectural ruins, which resembled the abandoned 1960s bank buildings on Court Avenue around Second and B.B. King Blvd. Although, an abandoned 3-story building of theirs was not even as tall as I am. The pagan tribes that eventually conquered Rome after more than 1000 years got their strength by eating lots of chicken nuggets.

Doctors advise not consuming any caffeinated soft drinks within eight hours of bedtime. This is what happens when you don’t listen.

On to the news, and we have a lot of big stuff today. First of all, U.S. District Judge Jon P. McCalla denied a temporary restraining order allowing a group of limited-service restaurants (restaurants whose total sales are more than 50% alcohol) to remain open after being closed by Shelby County Health Directive No.9. He agreed that the plaintiffs would suffer “devastating economic injury,” but did not find that the Health Department’s closure of the restaurants was “arbitrary and capricious” or “unnecessary” in the face of a health crisis.

The group of restaurants that were plaintiffs in yesterday’s ruling do not include the Donwotnwn limited service restaurants and Midtown cocktail lounge Alchemy. However, Nick Scott, owner of Alchemy, believes it is unlikely that U.S. District Court Judge Fowlkes will rule the other way in their case. So the bars that sell less than 51% food will almost certainly be closed for the foreseeable future, unless some kind of reopening agreement with the Health Department can be reached.

One of the Downtown limited service restaurants, the Silly Goose, is remaining open for take-out, and has announced a new special through the end of August: When you buy one of the wood-fired pizzas between 4 and 8 PM, 100% of the purchase price goes to the bartender on duty. Cash is king, so don’t forget to hit the ATM before you come to the Goose. Note that shift change is at 6, so if you want to support your day bartender come before then, and if you want to support your night bartender come after.

In other Health Department news, owners of independent restaurants have delivered a letter to its director, Dr. Alisa Haushalter. In the letter they request

  • Same-day testing results for employees of restaurants, noting the devastating financial impact when a restaurant has to close for a week, awaiting results for one employee
  • Clear science-based guidelines from the CDC to follow
  • To re-open bar seating. Bar seating is a type of seating some customers prefer, just as others prefer standard tables, high-tops, or booths. The letter notes that for some restaurants, bar seating makes up a large part of capacity and is vital for the financial success of the business.

The restaurants also stated that they support masking and believe that being pro-masking is being pro-small business. The letter was signed by 27 owners of Downtown restaurants, including Bert Smythe (McEwen’s), Felicia Willett (Felicia Suzanne Restaurant), Michael Patrick (Rizzo’s), Michael Hudman and Andy Ticer (Catherine & Mary’s, Gray Canary, Bishop), Ryan Trimm (Sunrise, 117 Prime, 3rd & Court) and Patrick and Deni Reilly (Majestic Grille, Cocozza).

For my cigar-smoking readers, Robusto by Havana Mix, the cigar lounge on Peabody Place, now carries Southern Draw cigars.

Here’s info on how to watch the WGC-St. Jude Invitational which happens today through Sunday.

Make a difference while supporting your favorite golfer. Go to Birdies for St. Jude and make a pledge to donate for each hole on which a golfer of your choice beats par. Shout-out to Grizz announcer @PetePranica for tweeting.

The annual St. Jude Marathon, normally held the first Saturday in December, is going virtual this year. Participants can choose one of three options: Complete the 5K, half-marathon, or whole marathon on race day; complete two of the three up to and on race day; or complete all three up to and on race day. Runners will pick their own race route this year. If you don’t run, as always there will be an option to support a runner. Last year’s race raised a record $12 million for the children’s hospital that never bills families for treatment.

The Grizzlies and the American Red Cross will co-host a blood drive in the alley on the north side of FedExForum tomorrow, Friday, July 31, 9 AM-3 PM. Donors will be entered into a drawing to win one of two team autographed basketballs. As an added bonus, the Red Cross is testing all donations for COVID-19 antibodies for a limited time… so if you donate, you will get a report in about a week letting you know if you have ever been exposed to the virus and not known it.

Did you know that Presidents Island is a prized location for deer hunting? People from all over enter a lottery to bow hunt on the island, which is considered a place to harvest a large, mature buck. There is a 9-point or larger harvest rule.

From stats site FiveThirtyEight: MLB’s “Plan” didn’t pan out is the subject of the latest Hot Takedown podcast. National infectious disease expert Dr. Fauci says the MLB season could be endangered by the recent Miami Marlins outbreak but it doesn’t need to be stopped. Anyone suspect that Dr. Fauci has the same kind of blind spot about baseball during COVID-19 that I have about bars?

There needs to be a transcript-on-demand service for people who don’t have time to listen to podcasts.

The NBA seeding games start tonight with two games broadcast live on TNT. At 5:30, Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans host Mike Conley and the Utah Jazz. I bet all of Memphis will be rooting for Utah in that one, not just because of our love for The Conductor but because we’d like to see the Pels fall further back in their race to catch the Grizzlies for the 8 seed. At 8:00 a crosstown L.A. rivalry comes to Orlando as the Lakers host the Clippers. Wait, don’t they both use the same stadium? So it’s an intrastadium rivalry rather than crosstown… look, don’t get caught up in words and just be glad there are sports to watch.

Hygiene theater is the latest new term to spring forth in the midst of this COVID-19 crisis. People are sanitizing and scrubbing, scrubbing and sanitizing, yet the vast majority of the effort may be nothing but a big waste of time. Surface transmission is now believed to be far less a transmitter of the coronavirus than was originally believed. The studies that said sanitizing was a valuable weapon in the virus fight were said to have “stacked the deck to get a result that bears no resemblance to the real world.” Perhaps history books will use “value signaling and hygiene theater” as the heading to introduce readers to the summer of 2020.

Six hours late is better than never… back tomorrow with more news, and I can already tell you I will have numerous topics to rant about.

Wednesday update

Hola! Today’s post may be relatively short, because I went ahead and posted a recap of Shelby County’s COVID-19 task force press conference yesterday afternoon. I’m tired of leading off with the virus, so let’s start today’s post with something fun. From STIX, the new Asian, sushi, hibachi place across from the Flying Saucer on Second:

Cheers, Memphis. Sake Slushies are now available for YOU at our Downtown location! We have wine and a few other fun adult beverages available, too.
Come see us! We’re here from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

WREG has everything you need to know about the two upcoming sales tax holiday weekends (clothes and school supplies this weekend, computers  next weekend). Both my sneakers and sandals are nearly shot so I plan on doing a little tax-free shopping myself.

The Grizzlies looked great as they beat the Miami Heat in yesterday’s scrimmage, putting up 41 points in the first quarter alone. The first three seeding games are against Western Conference opponents who are chasing the Grizz for the 8th spot. A 2-1 record in those games would just about punch Memphis’ ticket into the playoffs, even though mathematically they’d have a bit more work to do.

The one thing about that scrimmage, and the two before it, that was disturbing is that JJJ still fouls out of games. He can’t seem to avoid giving up those silly fouls in the first three periods. We need to have him in there and able to go balls-to-the-wall in the fourth. I would appeal to Jaren’s own best interests here: When the time comes for the Grizzlies to offer him a contract extension, it shouldn’t be a max unless he has learned how not to foul out. I would not be surprised if the Grizzlies drop one of the next 8 games because he is unavailable in the final six minutes.

For those of you who were unable to watch the scrimmage yesterday, Grizzly Bear Blues has a recap.

No NBA basketball today, so why not watch some baseball instead… ESPN has a tripleheader today, with the Colorado Rockies at the Oakland Athletics at 2:30, followed by the L.A. Dodgers at the Houston Astros at 6, then the Seattle Mariners at the L.A. Angels at 9.

Daily Memphian subscribers: Don’t miss this article about River Oaks sous chef and aspiring artist Emily LaForce. I met Emily the day my mom passed away and she is a great friend as well as a great chef.

An off-duty MPD officer was shot early yesterday morning near the I-40 overpass over N. Lauderdale Street Downtown. He was working security for St. Jude at the time and he saw two men attempting to break into cars. The officer was hit in the arm and is expected to recover. There is a $5000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the two suspects.

Edit 7:23 AM: It’s National Chicken Wing Day. Hooters is giving away 10 boneless wings when you buy 10 wings. Other deals

Well, I had a couple of coronavirus-related links in my staging area in Evernote, but you know what? I’m sick of writing about the virus. If you’re not sick of reading about it, keep scrolling for yesterday’s task force recap. Back tomorrow with more news, or later today if anything important comes up.

Tue update #2 – Shelby County COVID-19 task force press conference

Dr. Bruce Randolph, Shelby County Health Officer, led off by saying we’ve seen a little improvement in recent days, as positivity rates have leveled off and actually decreased a little. The amount of time it takes for the number of cases to double has increased from 26 days in early July to 30 days now.

Dr. Randolph brought up Gabby Dowdy, a public health student at the University of Memphis. She and her group conducted a masking study and were there to present their findings. They counted the number of individuals wearing masks in large retail locations and on video footage provided by the MPD Real-Time Crime Center. They found that indoors, masking had gone up from 51% pre-ordinance to 92% post-. They offered the following guidance:

  • Ensure correct mask usage, meaning both nose and mouth covered, Recommended commercials and Internet ads as reminders.
  • Recommended education for 2-18 year olds who had lower compliance. Ads on platforms they use like TikTok.
  • Make observations at smaller retail stores, gas stations. Help people understand even if they run inside a place to pick up to-go food, they need to have a mask on.

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris was up next. He said that although we are seeing improvements in some measurements, the number of confirmed cases is still high, and that things may darken before they get better.

Q&A started, and Dr. Randolph reminded everyone that although we’re seeing big improvement in masking, we cannot forget to give six feet of distance and avoid large crowds.

In response to a statement that he’d like to see more statewide action taken, Mayor Harris said there is little the Shelby County Health Department is precluded from doing, but they will be unable to bend the curve down to 0 due to border issues. True; I have had friends who have gone out drinking in West Memphis since the bars closed here. I also see Facebook posts from Memphians drinking in North Mississippi.

Mayor Harris was asked if there are updates on when the “trip wire” document will be ready. Harris said measures are already in place, and to look to Health Directive No., 10 see that. Trip wires are just an additional precaution. Dr. Randolph said the document is being finalized and should be ready sometime this week.

Dr. Randolph: Whether you are a school official or employer, when someone in your facility tests positive, you need to inform the Health Department. Also, you need to inform the Department who might have come in contact with the infected person. That will save the Department several days’ time contact tracing, and help ensure that people who may also be infected are not out walking around transmitting the disease to others.

Randolph said we are starting to see lab turnarounds of 3 days in some cases, where it was 5-7 days or longer a week ago. 24 hours or less is still ideal though.

In a closing statement, Mayor Harris reminded everyone to wear their masks, covering their nose and mouth – not on their chin, not hanging from their ear.

Back in the morning with more news.