Saturday update

So, let me see if I can recap what I did last night. Started out at 95 S. Main to drink some free beer… then I went to the Flying Saucer… then I walked down to South Main for Trolley Tour… had a beer at Nate’s bar at Earnestine & Hazel’s… stopped by 36 GE Patterson where there was a party going on… kicked some ass at pool… got my ass kicked at darts… walked back up Main Street toward the core of downtown… screamed at a bum who asked me for ’bout fitty-three cent… went back to the Saucer… then wandered down to Beale Street and hung out at the back bar at Blues City for a while… was on my way back to the Saucer for round three but ran into some friends and turned around and went back to Beale with them… we went to Silky’s… (edited to add: I left out the Tap Room, had a beer there too)… then Club 152… then Raiford’s. Here’s a pic of Dan from Nashville (who I met last night) and me in my ’70s disco hat:

I also took a pic of one of my regular blog readers with whom I was hanging out… someone I’ve mentioned several times the past few days. However, she failed to follow through on her promise to wear a tube top, so I’m not going to post the pic. Sorry… if you want free publicity in my blog, you gotta play by the rules.

Don’t forget, there’s some great live music by Ken & Robyn tonight at Sleep Out Louie’s from 7 to 11. I’ve raved about them in this blog several times. Just trust me, if you’re looking for something to do tonight, this is the place to go. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Romanian who works at Sleep Out’s will be there tonight. But go anyway.

Speaking of great live music: When people ask where to go to hear live music, the same places always get mentioned – the Deli, the Daisy, the Buc, Hi-Tone. But I want to bring your attention to one place that gets overlooked but nevertheless has some of the best music in the city: Memphis Originals, better known as MO’s, on Walker just east of Highland. There you can hear some of the city’s best talent in a chilled-out, laid-back coffeehouse setting. Click the link to hit their website, and check their calendar to see who is playing when. They also have “Campus Cooking Wok ‘n’ Roll,” a cooking class for college students, Saturday mornings at 11, which makes me wish I was still in college so I could go.

If you’re an artist or musician, you definitely need to visit MO’s just to meet the owner, Anita. She has a keen mind for business and is an expert on helping people in the arts put business plans together. Definitely a good person to know.

With all going on this week, I forgot to mention that my team The Rapscallions took third place in trivia Tuesday night, adding a $10 certificate to our stash, bringing the total to $70. However: Later in the evening I found out that the first-place team was a group of accountants. ACCOUNTANTS. Guys, losing to accountants is COMPLETELY unacceptable. We MUST do better next week. When I found out we lost to accountants I was so upset that I almost pulled a Mendi and walked out of the Saucer without my debit card.

… hang on, let’s post a pic of Mendi.

There ya go. That’s Mendi, on the left. I completely forgot that I took this picture until I found it on my camera this morning.

All right, that’s enough for now. Time to take a shower and go outside.

Friday update

Sitting here using the Saucer’s Wi-Fi to make a lunch post. I see they have a couple of new bottled beers: Eye of the Hawk Pale Ale and Tommy Knocker Dopplebock. No idea if I’ll like those but I’ll at least give ’em points for having interesting names.

There will be an open house tonight at 95 South Main from 5 to 8. It will feature photos by Monty Shane and Guillermo Umbria and food from Dawgie Style Hot Dogs. They’ll also be showing off the live-work condos at 95 South Main. So if you’re interested in buying a condo, come by. If you’re not interested in buying a condo, come by anyway and pretend to be interested while you eat their free food and drink their free alcohol. It’s between Union and Gayoso in the New Main block. You can park around the corner at Parking Can Be Fun on Union if you’re driving.

The Memphis Flyer Best Of Memphis party Wednesday night was a blast. The Flyer really knows how to throw a party – Blue Moon and Stella Artois on tap, food from some of the finest restaurants in Memphis, including my friends at Big Foot Lodge who won Reader’s Choice for Best Restaurant. Congratulations guys! You deserve it. Big Foot was one of five Reader’s Choice winners for Best Restaurant, and the only one that isn’t a white-tablecloth affair. Considering they’ve been open less than two years, their win is really impressive. The party also had catering by Gus’s Chicken and various other restaurants who took prizes in the award categories. I’m gonna have to find some good stuff to blog about for the next 12 months so I’ll get to go to next year’s party.

Although, I gotta say, a big part of the reason I enjoyed the Flyer party as much as I did was because my date turned out to be one of the most awesome people I ever met. For those not familiar with the backstory, about a week before the party I posted a blog entry saying I was dateless, and that if I had any secret admirers it would be a good time to reveal themselves. The next night at a Dempseys show, someone did. And so I ended up taking her to the party, and we had a great time. We’re going to hang out again tonight. Trouble is, she’s moving out of town this weekend. I should’ve posted that “secret admirers, reveal yourself” comment six months ago so I could’ve met her sooner. Never knew my blog would function as a dating service, but heck, if it works, I’ll take it.

My lunch just arrived… the Brat Con Queso. This is really cool. It reminds me of the Queso Flameado that they have at Cozymel’s, but with bratwurst rather than shrimp or chicken. It’s a tub of 4 melted cheeses with brat slices and pico de gallo. You spoon it onto tortillas and eat it. SO good. They’ve really done a good job with this new menu.

Mpact Memphis has a MySpace page now. Good God. Everyone and their dog has a MySpace page these days. Otherlands has one too. Maybe Residents for a Safer Downtown Memphis should have one. I’ll talk to my co-founder about it.

A few dates to put on your calendar:

Thursday, October 5: The Dempseys play the Madison rooftop party. I believe this will be the last rooftop party of the season. The Peabody ended theirs a month ago.

Sunday, October 15: The Dempseys play Downtown Huey’s, 9 pm to 1 am, as part of the location’s 10th anniversary celebration. Of all the venues where The Dempseys play, Downtown Huey’s is far and away my favorite.

Wednesday, October 25: Mpact Memphis’ 5th birthday party on the rooftop of The Lofts. They’ll also be presenting the winners of their Mpact Makers awards.

That’s all for now. Back to Cubicle World for four more hours, then it’s party time.

Reader’s Choice

I can finally make the official announcement: My blog is a Reader’s Choice Award winner in the Memphis Flyer’s 2006 Best Of Memphis issue, “Best Memphis Blog” category. I’m thrilled. I’m honored. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who voted for me. I really appreciate it.

Best of all, as a Reader’s Choice winner I got invited to the Flyer’s annual Best Of Memphis party, which is tonight. I got to go to the 2003 BOM party (didn’t win an award, knew someone on the Flyer staff who got me in) and it was one of the best parties of the year. So I’m really looking forward to tonight. I’m also thrilled that I have a date to the party, someone who has been reading this blog regularly since December but whom I only met 6 days ago. Oh, and she’s totally hot, by the way.

Since a lot of new readers are going to be finding this blog for the first time, I guess I’ll do an orientation session so people will know what to find here. If you’re new, read on. Regular readers, you probably know all of this already. Back tomorrow with a new post, and possibly some pics from the party.

My name’s Paul. I’m single, in my 30s, and I live downtown in a high-rise apartment building near Main and Madison. I don’t really think of my blog as “the downtown blog,” but I write about my experiences and I go out downtown 5-7 days a week, so I guess in a sense it is a downtown blog.

My two favorite hangouts are Sleep Out Louie’s and The Flying Saucer. You’ll also catch me from time to time at Raiford’s, The Tap Room on Beale, Big Foot Lodge, The Majestic Grille, Earnestine & Hazel’s, The Black Diamond, Blues City Cafe/George Paul’s Last Call, and heck, most of the other bars downtown. I loved the downtown Blue Monkey before it burned down. When The Dempseys play downtown I tend to show up. You’re also likely to see me at the South Main Trolley Art Tour the last Friday of every month, soaking up free wine at the art galleries.

I especially like bars and restaurants that hire waitresses from Romania.

If you’re looking for serious discussion of the day’s events, oftentimes you won’t find it here. One of my favorite features is “What the Bums Are Drinking this Week,” when I inspect the trash of the liquor store around the corner (which caters to the $2-and-under crowd) to report what the downtown panhandlers are spending your money on. Last year I declared June to be “Tube Top Month” – every post contained a reference to tube tops, or a pic of someone in a tube top, for the entire month. It was so successful that I did it again this year.

However – there was one time earlier this summer when I had to get serious. Many of my friends became crime victims downtown around May/June, and for the first time since I moved down here in 2002 I was afraid. Not so much for myself, but for my female friends who walk their dogs alone late at night, or walk home/to their cars after getting off work late at night. So for about a week I went absolutely nuts in this blog, listing every crime incident I had been told about, and calling on downtown developers and leaders to do something (see June 5 in the archives – the posts are still up). The movement led to the formation of a new organization, Residents for a Safer Downtown Memphis.

I’m happy to report that the situation has turned around since those posts. My RSDM co-founder Mike King and I met with the police, and since then they have put a lot more walking, bike, and scooter patrols on the streets of downtown. We’re also working on ways to raise awareness of steps to take to stay safe downtown, and to encourage people to report ALL crime and suspcious activity.

What else… well, I do web development for the city schools. I also write a blog called Deal of the Week for the Commercial Appeal, where I pick the best consumer-electronics deals from the ads in the Sunday paper. In the late 1990s I was on the faculty at the University of Memphis, teaching math and computer literacy.

Some of the blogs I read regularly are

* Semi-Charmed Kat
* Life In and Around Memphis by Philip
* Rock & Roll Minor Planets by Serrabee
* The Memphis Scene by Mark Richens
* Thursday Night Fever by Mr. Roboto (Nashville)
* The Homeless Guy (Nashville)

This is not a political blog, but I will say that I’m a huge fan of Steve Cohen, who is running for the TN 9th Congressional district seat. I will also say that I think George Bush is a dumbass. (Here’s a link to the Drop a Brain in Bush video game)

Last Halloween I dressed up as a Beer Goddess (which is what they call the waitresses at the Flying Saucer). It was my most successful Halloween costume ever, and people were tipping me so it practically paid for itself. There are pics of it here. This Halloween I plan to retire my other two costumes (pimp, vampire) and be the Beer Goddess all weekend.

One last thing before I go… I want to mention that I have the greatest group of friends a guy could ask for. They’re the reason that downtown is not only my neighborhood, but my home.

That’s enough of an orientation session… the best way to figure out what this blog is all about is to scroll down and read some of the previous posts. Hope you enjoy it, and hope to see you again soon!

Lunch post: New Saucer menu, Cohen fundraiser, Ken & Robyn, and more

Today’s lunchtime post is being brought to you by the free Wi-Fi at the Flying Saucer. Their new menu is officially out today. Some of the new items:

  • Brat Con Queso – beer brat broiled with four white cheeses, served with pico de gallo and tortillas
  • Rocket Tots – cheese & pepper tots with Habanero sour cream dip
  • Chicago Brat – basically a bratwurst dressed up like a Chicago-style hot dog.
  • Chicken Philly – I’m assuming this needs no explanation.
  • Smoked Salmon Wrap – with goat cheese, cucumber, capers, onion, lettuce, tomato.
  • And, of course, the Young’s Double Chocolate ice cream float I mentioned in the previous post.

They also have a daily “Brewmaster’s Board” pairing food with beer. Pretty cool. I like the upgrade.

My waitress (who, by the way, is from Romania) just brought the Rocket Tots out. They’re dressed up real pretty in a Chimay glass. Best presentation of tater tots I’ve ever seen, but then again I haven’t been to Sonic in a while, they may be doing something even fancier there.

The Steve Cohen fundraiser Sunday night at Pembroke Square was a blast. Steve spoke for about 15 minutes and really sounded like a statesman. He’s gonna be something rarely seen in Congress: A man of integrity. I bet the special interests are going to HATE it if he gets elected.

You know, I was doing my usual Sunday drinking thing, and about 6:30 I realized it was almost time to go to the fundraiser. I had on a black shirt with a collar, and shorts. I really didn’t feel like going home to change. So I called the organizer of the event (who, by the way, is a great kisser). I told her what I had on, and asked if I needed to put on something dressier. “Of course not!” she said. “You’re fine. Come on over, dressed as you are.”

I couldn’t help but think, if I had been going to a fundraiser for a Republican, I would have been expected to go change into a button-down shirt and khakis, at a minimum. This is another reason why I’m glad I’m not a Republican.

Ken & Robyn will be performing Saturday night, September 30 at Sleep Out Louie’s, and they will also be recording their show (audio) for an upcoming CD release. You’ve GOT to go see them if you haven’t already. Incredible vocals. Incredible violin. Incredible repertoire of songs. GO. Go go go.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for a BIG announcement about this blog. I’ve already told some of you, but tomorrow I’ll be able to go public with it.

Root beer float without the root

Yesterday afternoon I got some Sudafed and brought my allergies under control, at least to some degree. Feeling better, I headed to the Flying Saucer for Pint Nite.

The waitresses were all oohing and aahing at an advance copy of the Saucer’s new menu. Since I’m on friendly terms with them (well, almost all of them) they gave me a peek.

One of the items is a variation on a root beer float, but without the “root.” It’s chocolate ice cream and Young’s Double Chocolate beer. Ummm. Beer and ice cream. I don’t know how I feel about that. I guess I’ll keep an open mind and give it a try though.

They also have Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale back in stock, in bottles. That was one of my favorites last year. Of course, I didn’t drink one last night because it’s sacrilege to order bottled beer on Pint Nite. I’ll have one tonight when I go back for trivia night though. Seasonal pumpkin ales make me wish it could be Halloween/Thanksgiving season year ’round.

Time to pop a Sudafed and turn myself into Crackhead Paul and head to work. I have more stuff to post, so look for a lunchtime update.

Recommended reading

Been catching up on some of the other blogs around town… while cruising RachelAndTheCity’s site I read a post of hers entitled “Remembering September 11th.” (edited: Crap. That link isn’t working. Just click on the link to her main site and scroll down to the September 10 entry.) Rachel lived in New York City at the time, two blocks from Ground Zero, and was at home with her boyfriend when the attacks happened. Her post is a really good first-hand account of what she saw and heard and what she was feeling at the time. I recommend you check it out if you haven’t seen it already.

Plans for this week:

Tonight – my allergies are killing me to the point that I may not go out at all. But if I do, Pint Nite at the Saucer, of course.

Tuesday – trivia night at the Saucer. Susie, you coming?

Wednesday – the big party I’ve mentioned a couple of times. I’ll post more about this the day of.

Thursday – dunno.

Friday – South Main Trolley Art Tour.

HUGE news: Downtown Blue Monkey to reopen by Thanksgiving

This weekend I heard some GREAT news. The space formerly occupied by Alice’s, next door to The Corkscrew on S. Front near GE Patterson, is being taken over by the owners of the Blue Monkey. They will remodel it and reopen it as the temporary Downtown Blue Monkey while the real Downtown Blue Monkey is being rebuilt. From what I hear, the plan is to have it open in the old Alice’s space by Thanksgiving. Having our Monkey back (in any form) will truly be something to give thanks for.

That’s all I know for now, but I ‘m going to try to get out to the Midtown Monkey for lunch tomorrow and talk to the owners and get additional details.

My schedule for today: Bouncing back and forth between Sleep Out Louie’s and the Flying Saucer between now and about 6:30, then heading to the rooftop of Pembroke Square for Steve Cohen’s fundraiser. My allergies are really acting up today, so expect to see Sneezy Paul if you run into me today, to be replaced by Crackhead Paul tommorow after I run by Walgreens to get my allergy medicine.

(Edited to add a note for Philip)

Ole Miss lost yesterday, 27-3, to football powerhouse WAKE FOREST. Great job guys!


Now go write a blog post about how your team at least beat the Memphis “Tiggers.” Like I care.

Memphis dining: Quetzal, Destiny Diner and more

I may not be Leslie Kelly from the Commercial Appeal, but at least for this post and the next one, this will be the Memphis dining blog.

My friend Mikey (who, by the way, says hello to everyone) tells me that Quetzal at the corner of Union and Marshall plans on remodeling. They opened about a year ago as an Internet cafe, and have since extended their menu and got a liquor license. Now they plan on building a bar in the middle of their big room and serving liquor there. Sounds good. Quetzal is a huge space and there’s so much they can do with it. In the back they have a pool room and a private meeting room. They also plan on staying open later. Last night they were open until at least 11:45 even though they officially close at 10. “We stay open as long as there are people here,” they said.

With Quetzal expanding and Hattiloo Theater planning on opening a cafe, The Edge neighborhood in the Madison/Marshall/Monroe area is becoming quite the destination. Of course, you also have the Complex for live music, Kudzu’s as the neighborhood bar (which now has a neighborhood to go with it), and various art galleries.

Oh. And of course we can’t forget Downtown Dolls, the new “adult” club in the old Six-1-Six building. One Downtowner told me, “The trouble with going there is, you see people you know, and you don’t want to be seen there and they probably don’t either.” Downtown may be a walking neighborhood, but if that’s your kind of entertainment maybe you’d be better hopping in the car and driving out to the Mt. Moriah Center for the Performing Arts.

Reminds me… someone told me that the Center for the Performing Arts has some Romanian girls dancing there. Let me make it clear that these are NOT the Romanians I’m friends with, who live and work downtown. But still… even though I’m not a fan of strip clubs, the thought of Romanians taking it all off may be enough to convince me to pay a visit to the ol’ Purple Church.

Last week at the Cooper-Young festival, someone handed me a menu for a new restaurant in Midtown that looks really interesting. It’s called Destiny Diner and is at 326 S. Cleveland, which I believe would put it right next door to Printer’s Alley, just south of Vance. They have the most unique menu I’ve seen in a while. They have the usual stuff like appetizers, pizzas, and sandwiches, but they also have something called “Destiny Dining.” You pick chicken, shrimp, vegetables or tofu sauteed in one of their marinades. The marinades include a Spanish one, an Indian Tikka Masala one, a garlic/oregano one, a super-hot jerk one, a mango/honey/ginger one, and a lime/cilantro/garlic/red pepper/mustard one. I’m really not doing them justice here with my descriptions. You gotta see the menu. You get a choice of rice or garlic mashed potatoes as the side.

They also have some unique burgers, including a Paradise (cooked in jerk sauce with three cheeses and onions), the Piggy Back (topped with bacon, ham, and cheddar), and the Old McDonald (topped with chicken, ham, American and Swiss – I don’t think I’ve ever seen chicken as a burger topping before).

And, they have a “Creative Dept.” where they invite you to design your own plate. They list their breads, meats, cheeses, veggies, specialty items, and sauces, and invite you to design your own dinner. Very cool. I gotta give this place a try. Anyone want to head out there with me and check it out?

The past couple of times I’ve walked down Madison, I’ve noticed that King of Wings has been closed. Anyone know the story? Is it closed for good, or are the owners just taking a break?

One other note – I’ve been told that the restaurant that used to be Elvis Presley’s Memphis will reopen next month (I’ve been trying to get the name of the new restaurant off the site, but it looks like their server is currently bogged down). They reportedly plan on catering to locals, and have told several Downtowners, “The upstairs bar, that’s for you.” Very cool. Now we have several Downtown business going after locals – Sauces plans to, the Majestic Grille always has, and BB King’s is trying to come up with promotions to get more locals in the door. Downtown – it’s not just for tourists anymore.

Oh that reminds me – I have several VIP passes to BB King’s to give away – was told to give them to people who are local and will actually use them. If that sounds like you, get in touch with me and I’ll give you one.

I have one more Memphis dining-related announcement to make, but this one is such big news that it’s going to get its own post. Check back later tonight or tomorrow – I have some very, very good news.

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto

I have a friend who is in Nashville this weekend apartment-hunting… although I just met her she has apparently been reading my blog for some time. Just wanted to let her (and anyone else who has a connection to Nashville) know that the Nashville version of me is Mr. Roboto, who writes a blog called Thursday Night Fever. Roboto comes to Memphis now and then and he and I have hung out at Earnestine & Hazel’s and discussed blogging. Good guy. Roboto is also good friends with the elusive Master Polo/Chuck D, and anyone who hangs out with Chuck D has gotta be good people.

Instant Karma’s gonna get you

I’ve been on a John Lennon kick (his solo post-Beatles stuff) lately. The song I currently have stuck in my head is “Instant Karma!”

Instant karma’s gonna get you
Gonna knock you right off your feet
Better recognize your brothers
Everyone you meet

You know, now that I think about it, the lyrics of that song are a good start at summarizing my religious/spiritual beliefs.

Why in the world are we here?
Surely not to live in pain and fear
Why on earth are you there?
When you’re everywhere
Come and get your share

Interesting fact about “Instant Karma!”: John recorded it on January 27, 1970, and it was in the stores on February 6, a mere ten days later. Five days after that, John performed it on the British TV show Top of the Pops. He was still officially a Beatle at this point (their breakup was not announced until April), but nevertheless he released this single which more or less defined the kind of work he’d be doing during his solo career.

How in the world you gonna see
Laughing at fools like me
Who on earth do you think you are
A superstar?
Well, right you are

Well, we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Well, we all shine on
On and on and on, on and on

Well, we all shine on…