Maggie H. Isabel Street, the alley that runs from Monroe to Union on the block between Second and Third, will soon be renamed Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous Alley. This alley, of course, contains the hard-to-find entrance to legendary Downtown Memphis BBQ joint The Rendezvous.
Pulse, the Pink Floyd tribute band, will play Neil’s music room in Midtown (Madison at McLean) Saturday night. Their shows usually start at 9 and run until about 1. I don’t have a confirmed amount for the cover charge but it’s been $7 recent times they have played. If you’re into Floyd this band is absolutely amazing. A former co-worker of mine is the drummer and I’ve been out to Neil’s to hear them – 8 piece band, serious musicians playing top-notch equipment, and they nail Pink Floyd’s songs TO THE NOTE every time. It’s the next best thing to actually being at a Floyd show.
I’m looking for one or two people to proofread my blog. Specifically, I’m looking for people who a) read this blog pretty regularly, at least once a day; and b) work in the service industry. There’s a specific kind of mistake I’m looking to be warned about, one I’ve made a couple of times recently. It isn’t something obvious like spelling or grammar, and 98% of the people who read this blog wouldn’t notice it at all. But the other 2% would. If you’re willing to help shoot me an e-mail at email@example.com. Compensation: I’ll buy you a beer or a drink now and then when I see you out.
So last Thursday I did an interview for the “Q&A” section of next month’s Memphis Magazine. We talked about all the stuff I expected – how Downtown has changed since I’ve been down here, the panhandling problem, those kinds of things. At the end, my interview complimented me on being one of her easiest interviews ever. “I’ve got to tell you, though,” she said, “To a large extent you were the person I expected to meet after reading your blog. But in some ways you’re not. It seems like you play a character on your blog to some degree. A persona.”
It’s funny she said that, because it’s a topic I had thought about blogging about for some time anyway. So, in this two-part series, I’m going to explain the difference between the character I play on this blog, and who I am in real life.
If you read this blog, you read things like, “I went out to the Saucer on Pint Nite and drank 10 Dos Equis Special Lagers.” (Side note: When the interviewer sat down and ordered, “Dos Equis, the one on the green tap,” I knew we were going to get along.) You read stuff like, “I stayed out at Hoop’s Bar until 1 in the morning and drank 7 Coronas, and I would’ve been fine if people hadn’t bought me those shots of Jager.” And, “Looking forward to the next Tuesday night at Circa, where they have $2.50 Chimay.” Seems like it’s all about the drinking. Drinking drinking drinking.
I’ll let you in on a secret: It’s NOT about the drinking.
It’s about the PEOPLE. That’s why I go out every night. That’s why I stay out as late as I do.
Tell ya a quick story. Saturday night I was at Hoop’s Bar with a group of people. We were all tired from a week of Christmas parties and none of us intended to make it a late night. Several of the gang left early and by 12:15 it was down to Mikey the Camera Nazi and myself. “So you said you were tabbing out after your finish your beer too,” he asked me.
“Well, I’m thinking about having one more,” I replied. People were starting to wander in and out through the door to EP’s, and I had a feeling the night might get interesting if I stayed just a little bit longer.
“Asshole,” said Mikey, realizing I had just talked him into staying for one more beer too.
Sure enough, about 1 it got interesting. A friend of mine, who has been a blog reader for several years, came through the EP’s door. I knew she had wanted to live Downtown for quite some time, and the last time I talked to her, in mid-October, she had told me she had finally found an apartment about a block from mine and would move in December 1. So I asked her how the new apartment was and she was just GLOWING. She told me all about it, its cool, funky amenities, decorating ideas she had.
Then she asked Mikey and me a question. “So I’ve been down here three weeks. But I’m not quite sure what to do. I mean, you guys seem to have something fun and interesting to do every night down here. How do I get involved in that kind of stuff? Should I join the Downtown Neighborhood Association? Are there other organizations you’d recommend?”
“No. Don’t join DNA,” I told her. “Nothing against DNA, they’re a great organization. But I joined them when I moved down here in 2002 and it did not exactly lead to a full and exciting social calendar. I only started to really meet people and have fun when one of the Sleep Out Louie’s regulars invited me to Sunday brunch. Then I met his friends, and his friends’ friends, and they told me about other cool places to hang out, and it took off from there.
“Look,” I continued. “I know you read my blog. Not trying to sound like I’m bragging, but I’m gonna be honest… you want to find cool, fun places to hang out where you can meet Downtowners and make friends? Note the places I mention in my blog and GO THERE.” Mikey nodded his head in agreement.
We told her that the Saucer would be opening at 5:00 on Christmas, and we’d be there at 4:55, peering through the glass, waiting for the manager to come unlock the door. “You should join us,” we said. “Also, trivia is at 7. Be on our team.” Within the next few minutes, we also invited her to our regular Sunday brunches. Then I asked what she was doing for New Year’s Eve, and invited her to join the gang for dinner at the Majestic and the private party we’re going to afterward.
She was so excited. Mikey the Camera Nazi took off at 2, and I stayed and talked to her for another hour after that about the fun places to go Downtown, places Downtowners don’t go, tips to stay safe, ideas for her apartment, and so on. The next hour flew by and then it was 3 and the lights came on and security kicked us all out.
That story illustrates why I go out. The PEOPLE. I love getting to know the people Downtown and connecting them to other people Downtown. Yes I was sipping a beer but that wasn’t the main point.
Sunday I had to drive home to Little Rock. Before I left I walked to the Saucer to say Merry Christmas to the brunch crew. “Come on, Paul, at least have one beer before you go,” some of them said. If it was all about the drinking, I probably would have taken them up on that offer, and then had one more and another and so on until I would have been too drunk to make the drive, which would have made my mother VERY upset. But I had no desire to do that. I later found out they stayed at the Saucer until 9 and then moved to the Tap Room after that, and I was a little sad that I was not there with them. But I was sad that I was missing out on time spent hanging out with four of my good friends, not the alcohol.
I keep a full bar in my apartment. Mainly it’s there so I have something to offer friends when they come over. Otherwise I rarely touch it. What’s the point of drinking if you aren’t being social? That’s also why I didn’t feel the need to go buy a 12-pack for the fridge in Little Rock. I’ve been drinking Mountain Dew most of the day, and have now switched over to ice water so the caffeine won’t keep me up.
When I did the Memphis Magazine interview, I went through her standard list of questions, and afterward she asked if there were any questions I thought she should’ve asked but didn’t. “Yeah, one,” I replied. “I’m surprised why you didn’t ask why I choose to live Downtown.” And I made it clear that it’s not the restaurants or the bars or the nightlife, but the people, that make this place my home.
Coming soon: Personas, part 2: This blog and feminism.
(From Little Rock) Since I have to drive back to Memphis tomorrow, we did Christmas a day early. Among the presents I got:
– A spare battery for the digital camera. That’s a GOOD THING because I was down to one battery, which limited photo albums to about 125 pictures per event. This new battery is supposed to be high-capacity, so if I take both batteries to an event I’m looking at potentially 300 pictures. Larger photo albums!
– A stuffed Razorback that plays the Arkansas fight song and says “Woooooooo pig sooieeeeee!” This will come with me to future Arkansas-Tennessee game viewing parties for the purpose of annoying my friends.
– A magnetic Arkansas Razorback drink coozie. The label reads, “Attaches to cars, trucks, campers, lawnmowers!” There’s a joke in there about Arkansas and attaching a drink holder to a lawnmower, but it’s just too easy.
– Several trivia books. The book I really need, in order to figure out the trivia questions we get asked on a weekly basis, is “Inside Pete the Trivia Guy’s Mind.” That would probably be found in the horror section of the bookstore.
Tomorrow’s the last day I can wear my Santa hat for another 11 months. I’ll probably wear the exact outfit on my profile pic, the hat and my Romanian Girls shirt. Back in Memphis by 5.
Just walked up to the Saucer to say Merry Christmas to the gang before heading to Little Rock. On the way down there, I saw the following sign on Bluefin’s door:
Open 5 PM – 12 AM Christmas Eve Monday 12/24$1 Jager shots
$2 Featured beer
Dollar Jager. Oh my God. That crowd is going to get real stupid real fast. Oh how I wish I could be in town for this. And you know what? If I were there I probably WOULDN’T drink. I’d probably people-watch and sit around and watch everybody else act like drunk, crazy fools.
I have a request if you go: Take pictures. Lots of pictures. And send them to me. In particular take photos of 1) my Sunday brunch crew/trivia team; and 2) current and former employees of the Flying Saucer. The Saucer is closed all day tomorrow so I have a feeling a lot of them will be there. That also means Pint Nite is not an option for those remaining in Downtown Memphis on Christmas Eve.
If you go, keep in mind that 1) a designated driver or money to pay for a taxi home would be a very wise idea; and 2) excessive use of Jagermeister can lead to temporary insanity. Jagermeister: For the best times of your life that you’ll never remember.
Time to hit the road. If the car starts. Haven’t driven it in two and a half weeks.
If you know of more places that will be open, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll add to this list.
Wang’s China Bistro will be open regular hours.
I believe Westy’s also stays open all day on Christmas. Westy’s delivers so that’s an option if you don’t feel like getting out.
The Flying Saucer will open at 5 PM. Tuesday night trivia will proceed as normal at 7.
Hoop’s Bar will be open regular hours. I believe EP’s will be open too.
Walking down the New Main block yesterday, on the Main Street Mall between Union and Gayoso, I noticed that two apartments had “for rent” signs in the window. All the apartments on that block are new conversions and are VERY nice. It’s quite rare indeed to see even one up for rent, much less two.
One is a two bedroom/two bath on the third floor of the building that houses Sauces. The other is on the second floor of 105 S. Main and the sign didn’t say how many bedrooms or baths.
Not only are the apartments really nice, but the location is ideal. You’d have less than a two block walk to Sauces, Rio Loco, Sawaddii, Huey’s, Automatic Slim’s, Cafe 61, Big Foot Lodge, a convenience store, the Flying Fish, Encore, McGuinness, the Peabody Place mall, Flying Saucer, Swig, Majestic Grille, Bluefin, Circa, Cayenne Moon, and the Butcher Shop. You’d also be right on the trolley line for easy access to the Pinch/Uptown and South Main.
If you’re considering moving Downtown, this would be an opportunity to jump on. If interested I suggest you drive down there today and get the phone numbers to call, because these units will not stay available for long.
Not sure what the rents are, but in that area they tend to average about $1/square foot. My guess would be in the $800-1,050 range for 1 bedrooms and $1,100-1,400 for 2 bedrooms.
Consider this scenario: It’s 3 AM on a Sunday morning/Saturday night, whichever you want to call it. You’re walking home, going north on Second, approaching Union. You see a guy crossing the street, approaching people, crossing back, changing direction, looking people over good, not appearing to have any destination in particular.
What could this guy be up to? Here are the possibilities that run through my mind:
1) He’s panhandling, which is illegal after dark;
2) He’s trying to get people to pay for something illegal, such as drugs or a hooker;
3) He’s sizing people up, seeing who might be a good target to rob if they turn down a dark alley;
4) He’s legitimately lost and/or in need of assistance.
In the last case, he would be delighted to talk to a police officer if one were to roll up to him. In the other three cases, of course, he definitely would NOT be interested in interaction with a police officer.
But the thing is, you see these guys on the streets ALL THE TIME in the wee hours, doing exactly the kind of activity I described above, because the police DON’T roll up and ask them what they’re doing, where they’re going.
In my opinion, doubling back across streets several times and approaching people and casing people out qualifies as “suspicious activity.” Then again, I haven’t been through the police academy so I don’t know the official definition. But it sure seems suspicious to me. It’s not that the cops necessarily have to arrest these guys for anything; just roll up to them and say hello. Nothing wrong with saying hello to one of your town’s citizens, after all. Maybe drive by a couple of times in the 10 minutes following, to communicate, “I’m watching you.” If the cops did that, I promise you, these guys wouldn’t find Downtown Memphis such a hospitable place to conduct their activities, and they’d move on.
It makes my blood boil that Memphis is so permissive of this kind of behavior. I’m about to go home to Little Rock for Christmas, and I can tell you, you never see that kind of activity on the streets of Downtown Little Rock.
I had one of these guys look me over good last night as I walked home from Beale Street. I made it home safe and sound but this morning I learned that one of my neighbors, who had also been on Beale Street, had been mugged walking home.
The police need to be proactive.
Today I’m replacing all the light bulbs in the apartment with energy-saving EcoBulbs. An EcoBulb that burns as brightly as a 100-watt regular light bulb uses only 23 watts of energy.
Actually, being kind to the environment is only half the reason I’m changing bulbs. The other part of it is, EcoBulbs last 5 times longer than regular bulbs. In an apartment with 12-foot ceilings, changing the light bulbs in overhead lights can be a real pain in the ass. I want to do it as little as possible, so I want bulbs that last as long as possible.
Had so much fun at the office Christmas party at E&H last night that I never made it to the Sleep Out Louie’s reunion. They brought out a big plate of Soul Burgers and I POUNCED on it. Boy were those good. The party ended about 9 and some of the sales and marketing people invited me to continue the good times at the Midtown Blue Monkey, but I could tell that staying out late every night this week was starting to take its toll on me. I could see myself falling asleep at a table at the Monkey if I went. So I walked home. Well, not straight home, because the Saucer was on the way. Hung out with the gang there and watched Memphis play in whatever bowl game that was. Was home by 11.
In basketball, (2) Memphis plays (4) Georgetown at 11 AM today at the FedExForum. The gang is meeting at the Saucer about 10:45 (the Saucer is opening an hour early) to watch the game. Gonna be weird being in the Saucer that early. I hope they have a good Fire Sale today.
Finally done with all the Christmas parties. No idea what I’ll be getting into tonight. Since I’m not doing Sunday brunch tomorrow, I’m giving myself permission to stay out extra late if I feel like it.