Jul 312007
 

Today I got to take a tour of Itta Bena, the new restaurant on the third floor of B.B. King’s Blues Club, at the corner of Second and Beale. Just last night I heard good things about this place – “impeccable atmosphere,” I was told. Looks like they were telling the truth – check out the pictures below.






I asked for and received permission to photograph their menus and post them. Click the images below to view in full size and to check out what they have on the menu.



They want it to be a reservations-type place, but they say it’s fine if you’re downstairs at B.B.’s and you call upstairs to make reservations. They also understand that, although they have a fine menu, they’re on Beale and therefore you’re not required to be dressed to the nines when you come there.

They don’t plan to do any advertising – all word of mouth. However, they were happy to have me mention it on the blog, because they’re hoping the place will develop a following among locals.

Sounds like a great addition to Downtown.

Jul 312007
 

The following was sent to me by one of my readers who lives in Uptown Square – he and his girlfriend have adopted a dog who was running loose in the complex, but they need to give him away. You see, their cat has had the run of the house for the past 12 years and apparently isn’t too pleased about his new roommate. If you’d like to adopt this dog, e-mail me and I’ll pass on your contact info.

—————-

Well, Leigh and myself rescued this little “Rascal”
over the weekend and we are both slowly falling for
him. He had been running around the Uptown Square
apartments for about a week and we were afraid he
might fall into the wrong hands. The only problem is
we have a CAT. Right now we’re making do with sharing
the apartment between the two but I don’t think it
will last long seeing our cat is pretty much spoiled
having his own place for twelve years.

He is a wonderful dog. Very tame, and has obviously
been owned by someone at some point. He looks to be
mix Pit/Shepherd. He does not have a mean bone in his
body. I figure he’s about nine months old and has had
his ears clipped.

We’re going to take him to the Vet this week and have
him checked with shot’s if needed.

If you have a day with not much going on with your
blog it would be great if maybe you could post this
pic and help us either find the owner or find a new
one.


Jul 312007
 

Yesterday I was walking down Beale when I noticed the sign outside EP Delta Kitchen:


EP’s had been doing crawfish boils on Tuesday night, but I guess crawfish season is over so they’ve switched to all you can eat crab legs and shrimp, 6 PM ’til.

EP’s is REALLY tempting me to skip a trivia night and come down there for some seafood… not this Tuesday, but perhaps on a future Tuesday I’ll venture down there. This week we’ve got to concentrate on building our stash of gift certificate winnings back up (currently $35). The other Downtown trivia team disbanded and it looks like the Rapscallions will pick up their captain and Yoko as new members. Now our goal is to knock off the team of recent college grads who have had a good run lately.

Working, blogging, working, blogging… got a lot to do today. Got at least two more blog posts to come… when I get bored with my work I’ll log off the server momentarily and put a new post up. So be sure to check back…

Jul 302007
 

Tomorrow (Tuesday) one of my favorite ex-Sleep Out Louie’s bartenders, Josh, will be behind the bar at Superior Restaurant and Bar on Beale Street. I can’t resist the opportunity to sit at his bar one more time, so I’ll take the laptop up there to do my work. They don’t offer Wi-Fi, but it’s available from one of the surrounding businesses courtesy of MoochNet.

Josh will be working until 6 PM. They have $2 domestics and $3 import beers during happy hour (which lasts from open until 7), so come on by. I’ll be going real light on the beer since I’ll be working though. Been meaning to try their Eggplant Club sandwich, so maybe I’ll do that tomorrow.

Jul 302007
 

Checked my favorite blogger/MILF’s blog this morning… she’s coming Downtown for a job interview tomorrow and plans to do some shopping at American Apparel and Coco & Lilly afterward. I bet she’ll be coming back Downtown in the months to come to shop at…

TrackCouture, a store that sells NASCAR clothing to female fans. “Support your favorite driver. Look good doing it,” their site says. According to the Memphis Business Journal, TrackCouture, which “takes female race fan apparel up several notches with flattering cuts, popular styles and fun designs thus far unseen in the world of NASCAR,” will open up an 1,800 square foot store in Pembroke Square.

Interesting… this seems like a store that would do better in East Bumblefuck (where my favorite blogger/MILF lives) than Downtown. However, as evidenced by the Sunday brunch crew’s enthusiasm, there are quite a few NASCAR fans down here, too, and of course you have the tourists. So hopefully it will do well. Always good to have new retail Downtown, and it’s good to see Pembroke Square filling up.

Maybe I’ll get to see my favorite blogger/MILF in a Dale Jr. tube top as a result of this store’s opening.

Jul 302007
 

New Path Memphis will host a forum at the Central Library tonight, 3030 Poplar, Meeting Room C, where you can meet the candidates they’re supporting in the upcoming elections.

New Path is a group that started several years ago, to support and encourage candidates who run for office in order to serve their fellow citizens and their community, rather than serve themselves. One of their biggest accomplishments to date was to support Tomeka Hart in her successful election over a 17-year do-nothing incumbent for school board position 7.

They are supporting the following candidates for the upcoming City Council elections:

Bill Morrison = District 1
Brian Stephens = District 2
Davida Cruthird = District 3
Reginald Milton = District 6
Desi Franklin = Super District 9 Position 3

If you have questions for these folks, come on by tonight and talk to them.

I’ll also add that I know one of the candidates, Davida Cruthird, personally, having worked with her on projects for Mpact Memphis over the past 5 years. I can tell you that she would make a fantastic public servant, as I’m sure all the New Path candidates would. Please consider supporting them if you live in their district.

Jul 302007
 

Yesterday my friend Mike King, who co-moderates the Handling-Panhandling online forum with me, noticed the panhandler pictured below (white shirt) working Beale Street between Main and Second.


(Click the image to see it full-size, for a better look at him.) This guy was approaching people parking at the metered spaces on Beale, and charging them between $1 and $3 to park. This is illegal.

You only have to pay to park in metered spaces between 8 AM and 6 PM Monday through Friday. At all other times parking in these spaces is free. The city absolutely NEVER stations attendants at these meters to collect money from you. If someone approaches you and asks for a donation to park there, just say no! If they make you feel intimidated or threatened, call 545-COPS.

The guy pictured above has been panhandling Downtown for years and uses several popular gimmicks – the “tour guide” gimmick, handing out flowers to couples, carrying an umbrella to put over tourists’ heads when it rains. He also likes to use the gimmick I hate the most – the race card. If you refuse him, he’ll tell you that you’re racist and you hate black people. He tells people he’s homeless and I’m not sure whether that’s true. I know he was living in the Exchange Building at one point (and panhandling to pay his rent). I don’t believe he’s there now. He’s been panhandling Downtown for at least 5 years… seems like if he really wanted to turn his life around he would’ve gotten somewhere by now.

In other news… Downtown Night at the Westin tonight, 5:30-7:30. Come meet some of your neighbors and enjoy free appetizers and discounted drinks.

I hate it that I had to go out of town this weekend, and missed Snozberry’s first performance at Pearl’s Oyster House Saturday night. I hear it’s the band’s new favorite venue. Later this week I’ll post info on an upcoming benefit concert Snoz and three other bands are doing at the Black Diamond in August. ‘Til then I have two words for you – free beer!

The Dempseys will be back at the Flying Saucer Thursday night, 9:30. Seems like the Dempseys are getting booked Downtown a lot more lately… which is just fine with me.

Two more days (today and tomorrow) to take advantage of the Restaurant.com promotion offering a 70% discount on restaurant gift certificates. Just use the code PRESENT when you check out. Already a value at $10 for a $25 face-value gift certificate at normal price, when you factor in the 70% discount you can get most $25 face-value gift certificates for only $3! Some restrictions apply – for example, they generally can’t be used to buy alcohol – so make sure you read the offer before buying. Memphians can see a list of restaurants offering the promotion at Memphis Discount Dining. For my Little Rock classmates who found my blog, there’s a Little Rock Discount Dining site too.

… And that’ll do it for now, time to get some work done.

Jul 302007
 

Yesterday during the day I got to thinking… if you give money to a panhandler on the street, there’s a very low probability that your money will be used for food or shelter, even if that’s what they say it’s for. There’s a much higher probability it will be used to support the illegal drug trade in Memphis, or to buy a drunk a drink.

But, people have a natural desire to want to help others. When they see a panhandler on the streets, it reminds them of the issues the homeless struggle with, even though the panhandler approaching them probably isn’t homeless himself. It puts them in a “helping, giving” frame of mind.

So, I have an idea.

Take a look at the list of the charities at the end of this post. All of these do good work to feed, shelter and support the homeless. If you give money to these organizations, there’s a 100% chance your money will be put to good use, as compared to (this is a guesstimate) ~10% if you give to a panhandler on the street. Wouldn’t you like to see your money go 10 times as far?

So, let’s play a game. Research the charities at the end of this post and pick the one that you like best. Then make a commitment to yourself that every time you get panhandled on the street, you will donate an amount you determine – a quarter, a dollar, etc. – to your selected charity.

Then go about business as usual. When a panhandler approaches, politely say no with a smile. Then, when you get home, drop a quarter or dollar or whatever your designated amount is into a cup or jar. If you get panhandled four times during the day, you owe four donations to your private fund.

When the cup or jar gets full, it’s time to make the donation to the charity. If you’re really busy, you can put the money back in the bank and write a check. But if you have time, it might be more meaningful to actually take the money down to the charity yourself, take a tour, get familiar on a first-hand basis with the work they do.

Let’s play The Panhandling Game and support the street people Downtown who truly want and need our help.

——-

This is a list of resources Downtown to feed and aid the homeless. As you can see, those on the streets have access to at least two free meals every day, sometimes more. Downtowners who wish to help the homeless are encouraged to support these organizations, rather than give money directly to panhandlers.

Calvary Episcopal Church, 102 N. Second – Hospitality HUB, open Wednesday and Friday, 1:00 to 4:00 PM, offers worship; spiritual guidance; traveler’s aid; help getting birth certificates, driver’s licenses, and state IDs for employment; lockers; computer access; and coffee and conversation. Free breakfast offered on Sunday mornings.

First Presbyterian Church, 166 Poplar – Soup kitchen every Sunday afternoon; clothes closet for the homeless Sundays 1:30-3:30 PM distributes work clothes and hygiene kits; vouchers for three area shelters handed out on Sunday afternoons.

Memphis Union Mission, 383 Poplar – Dinner + chapel + night’s shelter + breakfast for $6 a night, with four nights free a month, and free when below 32 degrees. Check-in by 6 PM. You can buy voucher books to hand out to panhandlers in lieu of money. Free lunches daily.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 155 Market – Soup kitchen 6 days a week, Monday-Saturday, with praise songs at 6:30 AM; coffee and cookies 7:30 AM; a meat sandwich, soup, and a treat between 9 and 10 AM; patrons may come back for all the peanut butter sandwiches they can eat.

The Street Ministry, 600 Poplar – Assistance for those with substance abuse, dependency, and mental illness problems. Participants are given vouchers for the Union Mission in exchange for their willingness to enter treatment, seek employment, support others, and address their primary issues.

Jul 292007
 

Quick link: If you are fed up with panhandling in Downtown Memphis, join our Handling-Panhandling online forum and let’s discuss what we can do about it.

Amos Maki’s article on panhandling ran in today’s Commercial Appeal. I’m quoted in it several times and this blog’s URL is mentioned. The article also has a good quote from Sgt.Vince Higgins from the MPD explaining why the way the laws are structured enables the panhandlers in Memphis, and it talks about what the CCC is doing to combat the problem as well.

The article also has a photo of panhandler Kevin Adair, who is one of the group that hangs out in front of Walgreens every day. In 30 minutes he made $13 begging, and it looks like he’s in his usual location. One of my readers pointed out that that’s $26 an hour, tax free. No wonder these guys panhandle! It makes me wonder why I bother having a job.

I do wish the article had drawn more of a distinction between the panhandling problem and the homeless problem. The most aggressive panhandlers Downtown are generally NOT homeless. For them, panhandling is a business. However, they do know that most people who come Downtown can’t tell the difference between a homeless person and a career panhandler, and they use this fact to hustle passersby. They’ll say, “Can you make a donation to help the homeless get a meal,” and then use they money for anything but food – usually liquor, beer or drugs.

I’ll close this post with the contents of a page I wrote for the Handling-Panhandling forum: A list of organizations Downtown who do good work to help the homeless – the legitimate homeless, not the street hustlers. Giving money to these organizations, instead of giving to the panhandlers themselves, would be money well spent.

——-

This is a list of resources Downtown to feed and aid the homeless. As you can see, those on the streets have access to at least two free meals every day, sometimes more. Downtowners who wish to help the homeless are encouraged to support these organizations, rather than give money directly to panhandlers.

Calvary Episcopal Church, 102 N. Second – Hospitality HUB, open Wednesday and Friday, 1:00 to 4:00 PM, offers worship; spiritual guidance; traveler’s aid; help getting birth certificates, driver’s licenses, and state IDs for employment; lockers; computer access; and coffee and conversation. Free breakfast offered on Sunday mornings.

First Presbyterian Church, 166 Poplar – Soup kitchen every Sunday afternoon; clothes closet for the homeless Sundays 1:30-3:30 PM distributes work clothes and hygiene kits; vouchers for three area shelters handed out on Sunday afternoons.

Memphis Union Mission, 383 Poplar – Dinner + chapel + night’s shelter + breakfast for $6 a night, with four nights free a month, and free when below 32 degrees. Check-in by 6 PM. You can buy voucher books to hand out to panhandlers in lieu of money. Free lunches daily.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 155 Market – Soup kitchen 6 days a week, Monday-Saturday, with praise songs at 6:30 AM; coffee and cookies 7:30 AM; a meat sandwich, soup, and a treat between 9 and 10 AM; patrons may come back for all the peanut butter sandwiches they can eat.

The Street Ministry, 600 Poplar – Assistance for those with substance abuse, dependency, and mental illness problems. Participants are given vouchers for the Union Mission in exchange for their willingness to enter treatment, seek employment, support others, and address their primary issues.

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Jul 292007
 

Been sitting here trying to type up my experiences at my 20-year high school reunion this weekend. I keep typing partial paragraphs and then not liking them and hitting Delete. So I’m going to keep this brief:

- One of the high points was running into a girl who, like me in high school, tended to keep to herself. She didn’t go to the 10-year reunion (I did go), thinking, what’s the point. And then in her 30s (like me) she blossomed and became totally happy and fulfilled… and she just gave off the BEST energy. It was great to talk to her. And it was interesting because we took two different paths – she got married, had a kid and found her ideal job; I moved to Downtown Memphis and found an incredible group of friends/social network and started a blog. But even though our paths were different, I could recognize it in her, and she in me.

- MySpace is awesome. From 1997 to early 2007, our class had virtually no contact with each other. Then around March of this year, a member of the class put up a MySpace page and 40 of us added the “Class of ’87” page as a friend. Now we can all stay in touch with each other, and it will carry on beyond the reunion. I think that’s really cool. I have a lot of friends over 30 who can’t understand why they would want to be on MySpace… trust me, you’re missing out.

- As thrilled as I was to see everyone, it was rather surreal being in a room full of people where the factor that tied us all together is that we’re all within about a year of each other in age. It was a bit weird because one of the main lessons I’ve learned over the past 20 years is that age doesn’t matter. I have friends within weeks of my own age; I have friends in their 50s; I have friends who haven’t turned 21 yet; and all points in between. Age is only a big deal if you make it a big deal.

- To close… to my classmates who found this blog… welcome, and stay in touch. I’d like to say that most of my posts are more intellectual than the one from last night (in which I mentioned panties), but no, last night’s was pretty typical.

I hope to be back in Memphis tomorrow by 2 at the latest.