Wed night drunk post: Will Itta Bena be a new post-rooftop hotspot on Thursdays? Plus: Rooster, Dead Rock Star Ball, BFF crap, beer report

So tonight I went to Itta Bena for Downtowners Appreciation Night, and discovered that Downtown bartending legend Spindini Sam is now bartending at Itta Bena. I guess he’ll have to change his nickname since he’s no longer at Spindini. This is the same Sam who got his ass kicked playing pool and trivia by yours truly. One of the most colorful people Downtown. He’s already inventing signature drinks and will add a lot to the place.

So I was sitting there enjoying a bourbon and Coke when my friends Lauren and Jamie walked in. Hang on, let’s post a pic of Lauren and Jamie.


They were eating Itta Bena’s Filet Bites when this pic was taken. Hang on, let’s post a pic of the Filet Bites.  Jamie commented that they were “THA BOMB DOT COM.”


Lauren, who is bartender at Calhoun’s Sunday-Tuesday, tells me that Tuesday nights after 10 have turned into “C.C. 115 OFF DA G.E. PAT,” or “Cheesy Song Night at Calhoun’s,” whichever you prefer. Apparently new Itta Bena bartender Sam took most of his clothes off last night at the kick-off night of this event, and people wrote on most of his body with Sharpie markers.

I’ve been told that Itta Bena will be open after the Peabody rooftop party lets out, and could be a very good bar scene for those looking for something more sophisticated than Atlas or Alfred’s. Those clubs are fine if you’re into the whole I’m-a-21-year-old-girl-in-a-hot-dress-give-me-attention-give-me-validation-buy-me-drinks scene, but if you want to just have a good conversation and a quality drink while listening to some upbeat music, Itta Bena may be your spot. There’s a very good chance I may show up there tomorrow night.  Itta Bena is on the 3rd floor of B.B. King’s at Second and Beale.  Just enter through the main door, and head up the steps to the third floor (ask where the entrance is if you don’t know.)  Whatever you wore to the rooftop party should work just fine as apparel for Itta Bena.  Here are a few pics of the place, taken in 2007 right before it opened:




As you can see, it has a secluded, otherworldly feel to it – but all you have to do is look out the window and you will remember you’re on Beale Street.

Lots going on tomorrow night, by the way.  It’s the opening Peabody rooftop party of the year, with Dr. Zarr as the entertainment.  About a 75% chance I’ll show up.  Forecast is for rain, though.  If they move the party indoors I may not go – indoor parties at the Peabody kind of suck.

It’s also Dead Rock Star Ball at EP’s.  Interesting concept, but putting this up against opening night at the Peabody may not have been the best move.  This would’ve worked better on a Friday or Saturday.  Still, though, there will likely be some interesting costumes.  I’ll try my best to stop by.

Thursday is also a special edition of “Rock Out With Your Cock Out” night at the Red Rooster.  April 3 is the anniversary of the day the Unabomber was arrested.  So the Rooster will have $4.00 bomber shots and 50 cent draft beer all night.

Back to Lauren and Jamie for a minute.  I always carry pen and paper with me to take notes for the blog (which is why you’re reading what you’re reading right now, otherwise I’d forget more than half of it).  Lauren asked if she could borrow my note paper for a minute and wrote the note below.


If you read my post earlier today, you know that I’m considering kicking my current BFF to the curb and finding a better one.  Readers have expressed their opinion via e-mail, and currently their opinion is running about 70% in favor of dumping my BFF.  Looking at the image above, it looks like I’ll have no trouble finding new BFFs if I decide to go along with public opinion.

I want to include a conversation with my BFF that illustrates why I’m considering shit-canning her:

“Paul!  I’m hungry.  Walk up to Second Street Deli and buy me a sandwich.”

“I don’t have time!  I have to get back to work.”

“Paul!  You’re not being a good BFF.  This is the kind of thing BFFs do for each other.”

“If you’re such a good BFF, how come you’ve never bought me anything?”

“I’ve bought you lots of stuff, Paul, I just haven’t given any of it to you yet.”

The more I review the conversation documented above, the more I agree with public opinion.  I’ll take a few more days to think about it, but my BFF may be history very soon.

After I left Itta Bena tonight, I wandered over to (can you guess it?) the Flying Saucer.  They have a new video crack machine at the bar, not that I have much interest in playing it.  Beer report:

Previous total:  $1,001.50

Beers 170, 171, and 172 (but 164, 165, and 166 according to the Saucer, with one still to be put back on.  Was too lazy to talk to the manager about it tonight):
Chimay Triple/Cinq Cents draft $7.00
Sierra Nevada Porter $4.25
Sam Adams White (Seasonal) $4.25
Tip:  $15.50 x ~30% = $5.00
Total:  $20.50

Grand total:  $1,022.00

And with the beer report out of the way, I’m done.  Off to bed to get about two hours’ less sleep than what I need.

Wed update: Vote for Pouncer again, Party at Quetzal, April Fool’s, and should I kick my BFF to the curb?

Time to ask you to vote for something yet again… the Memphis Tiger mascot Pouncer is still in the tournament for best mascot in the NCAA tourney, and he needs your vote to make it to the next round.  Vote here.  I’m pleased to see that Arkansas mascot Big Red is also still in.  (Edit:  Never mind.  Just found out Pouncer lost and they’re now on the Final Four.  Big Red lost too.)

Fellow blogger Mark Richens e-mailed me to tell me about LUSH LIFE, a party Saturday night at Quetzal (668 Union).  He writes, “I’ll be DJing a sophisticated blend of music, with styles from funk-soul classic to contemporary indie dance. Advanced lighting, video projections and a new, state-of-the-art sound system will be in effect, and the bar serves a huge selection of premium products. Party starts at 10 and goes until close. There is no cover charge, though reduced-price drink tickets will be available at the door.”  More info about the party on Mark’s blog.

Lots of April Fool’s jokes on the web yesterday.  Lots of people fell for them too.  Memphis Limelight posted that the Downtown Blue Monkey was to open its doors at 5 PM yesterday with free beer ’til 7.  My friend Mikey e-mailed and texted several people about it until someone clued him in that it was a hoax.  Dumbass.  Meanwhile, my friend Frank was calling everyone asking, “Has Paul lost his mind?  Is he really getting married?”  Come on, Frank, you knew me back in 2006 when she was here.  I’d definitely be open to marrying a hot Romanian girl, but I’d slit my throat before I’d marry that one.

The new Downtown security patrols started yesterday.  I had a huge day at work and didn’t get out to see them in action, but several people e-mailed or called and said they saw them out.  About 5:45 I walked down the block of Beale between Main and Second, and for the first time in a while I did not see any bums working a parking lot scam or parking meter scam.

Beer report:

Previous total:  $981.25

Beers 167, 168, and 169 (but 161, 162, and 163 according to the Saucer, and I plan to get that count adjusted up by one to compensate for the beer ticket that the mini-me lost Saturday):
Michelada $4.00
Dogfish Head Raison d’Etre $6.50
Mendocino White Hawk IPA $4.75
Tip:  $15.25 x ~30% = $5.00
Total:  $20.25

Grand total:  $1,001.50

Michelada is a beer mixer – pale lager with fresh lime on the rocks in a glass with salt.  That may sound something I’d like since Dos Equis Special Lager is my favorite.  But no.  Beer on ice with salt = nasty.  This is one to be avoided.

Raison d’Etre, on the other hand, is one of the best beers at the Saucer.  I remember having one at my first plate party while watching my friend Angie play with her phone, Uber Phone 3000.  Since then she’s gotten married, moved to Mississippi, had a baby, and upgraded to Uber Phone 6000.

People on my trivia team commented that they had seen me drinking White Hawk IPA before.  That’s because it’s one of the MANY beer tickets the Saucer lost.

Rapscallions suffered a rare loss at trivia last night.

So, Sunday I sat at my friend/former Saucer Girl Amy’s bar, and had a great time.  She was so nice, even gave me candy.  Monday I sat at my friend/former Saucer Girl Lauren’s bar, and she was very sweet, was happy to see me and asked when we’re going to be pool partners again.  Last night after I left the Saucer, I stopped by former Saucer Girl my BFF’s new bar.  It was already 10 PM and I sacrificed a couple hours sleep by going to see her.  So what did I get in return?  She insulted me, flipped me off, and told me she hates me several times.

Therefore, I think it’s time to ask the question:  Is it time to kick my current BFF to the curb and get a new one?  I mean, I realize she doesn’t really hate me – if she did, she would not have made sure to mention earlier in the week that she’d be bartending Monday and Tuesday.  But still, if that’s the best she can treat me after I made a special trip there to see her… maybe it’s time for her to go.  Yeah I do pick on her too, but I’ve also been sweet to her at times (tipped her 100% on her last day at the Saucer, invited her to my plate party, brought her lunch from Second Street Deli, paid to have a T-shirt made for her that matches mine).  She’s NEVER sweet to me.  I once asked her to name one nice thing she’s ever done for me, and she told me one day she pointed to a sign that said Dos Equis Lager was the Fire Sale, like I don’t know how to read without her help.  That’s the best she can do.

I’ll think about it for a few days.  If you have an opinion whether my BFF should stay or go, or have suggestions for whom my new BFF should be, shoot me an e-mail at

Yay!  One of the recruiters we work with brought us pizza for lunch.  The thing about being an IT department is that a lot of the pizzas have to be vegetarian, because IT departments tend to have a lot of Indians who don’t eat meat.

Today I learned that one of my co-workers is moving to Seattle, because her husband got a great job.  The company found him through Facebook.  Social networking is SO important these days.  Recruiters for my current company found me through LinkedIn, and I also searched through a recruiter who found me on MySpace.

I’ve missed Downtown Night at Itta Bena the past few weeks, but it’s back on the agenda for tonight, if I don’t have to work late.  After that I’ll head to the Saucer to do my three plate beers.

Popular Downtown beer bar to close; rib restaurant to open in its place


I’ve just received some shocking news.  I’ve learned that Downtown beer bar The Flying Saucer will soon close its doors.  Owner Shannon Wynne has plans to remodel it and reopen it as a restaurant called the Second Street Rib Shack.

“There’s lots of good food in Downtown Memphis,” said Wynne.  “There are several chicken and waffles restaurants.  There are sushi places.  There’s even a steakhouse that opened on Union last year.  But one thing you can’t find anywhere in Downtown Memphis is ribs.  So I want to open up a restaurant that introduces Memphis’ residents and its tourists to really good barbecue ribs.”  The restaurant will also have other items on the menu that are hard to find elsewhere Downtown, such as mozzarella sticks and buffalo chicken tenders.

Wynne hopes that the new restaurant will “attract a different clientele” than what he currently has as the Flying Saucer.  Industry analysts describe the current Saucer patrons as “people who spend a considerable amount of disposable income on food and beverages.”  Looks like Wynne will aim for some other type of crowd with the new restaurant.

When asked if he thought the current Flying Saucer regulars would be upset with the closing of their beloved bar, Wynne said with a smirk, “They’ll get over it.  A few months from now, they’ll be saying, ‘We miss the Saucer’s happy hour, but we love the Rib Shack’s food.’  And besides, if the new place doesn’t work out, I can always change it back to the Flying Saucer and the regulars will all come back like nothing ever happened.”

Wynne does want to give regulars time to have one last beer at the Saucer, so he is keeping the place open until Wednesday, April 2.  “That will give those with plates on the wall time to retrieve them and take them home,” he said.  However, plate-holders may be disappointed, because many of the plates have been stolen off the walls already.  Other items including sofa cushions, billiard balls, and one LCD TV have disappeared as well.

The new restaurant is set to open June 1, or possibly months later if there are construction delays.  Reports are that $600,000 will be spent on extensive remodeling, and that in the end, the new restaurant will look almost exactly like the old Flying Saucer, but with ribs on checkered-tablecloth tables.

And that’s the news for today, April 1, 2008.

Familiar face to return to Downtown Memphis


I have some big news to reveal to you this morning, concerning a face from the past and concerning my own status.

Liana, one of the Romanian girls who worked here summers 2003-06, will be returning to Memphis soon. Liana has been mentioned many times in this blog before, usually under the nickname The Romanian Sensation.

Since leaving Memphis in October 2006, she has since graduated from medical school and has become an MD. That means she’s no longer eligible to live in America under the college student/cultural exchange visa that she used for four years. Really, the only way she would be able to come to the States and live here long-term is if she were engaged to be married to a U.S. citizen. Which brings me to the big news, and I know this will shock some of you.

I’m getting married.

I know that will come as a huge surprise to most of you, considering that I routinely refer to marriage as “The Ultimate Mistake,” and also because Liana and I did not exactly part on the best of terms when she left 18 months ago. The last night she worked at the Saucer I ran up my highest tab to that point – $48 – and left her a horrible tip, out of anger at her for the way I perceived she had treated me that summer. The nasty exchanges continued once she returned home to Romania, as she and I exchanged insults via e-mail and Yahoo Messenger for a period of several months.

But late last year things began to change. She began to send me Yahoo Messenger text messages telling me that she missed me, and how sorry she was that things had ended on such a bad note. Eventually I downloaded Skype, bought a webcam and moved the conversation there. “Paul, I would really like to see you again,” she said. “And I really wish I could live and work in Memphis. I am so bored here in Romania. But there is no way. I cannot get a cultural exchange visa anymore. There is no way your country will let me come back.”

Being the Wikipedia junkie that I am, I pulled up its page on the different types of U.S. visas. There I learned that as a U.S. citizen, I have the right to petition the USCIS for a K visa for a fiancee, allowing her to enter the states, giving her 90 days to get married and adjust her status to permanent legal resident. And I got to thinking about all the good times we shared together… such as the way she stared deeply into my eyes at Rapscallion Party I (where the pic shown above was taken). I knew I had to do it. So I got on Skype, pointed the webcam at myself, got down on one knee, and asked, “Liana, will you marry me?”

She was thrilled and accepted right away. “Paul, I will be so happy to be your wife,” she said. “You are exactly the kind of man I always wanted to marry. Because, you are not jealous. You know that I have many… friends in Memphis who I like to see, and I know you are okay with that.” She did express a concern that the adjustment could be a little bit difficult, with her moving from a country 5000 miles away. “Your apartment is only 900 square feet,” she commented. “Don’t you think that we might get in each other’s way sometimes? It would be good for me to have my own space to go to, for times when I need it. Of course, I plan on being with my husband most of the time.” I told her I understood completely and got on Craigslist. I found an open condo in Barton Flats that is being rented back out for $1700 a month, and signed a lease for it, while at the same time keeping the lease on my own apartment. The Barton Flats condo will be her own space that she can go to when she feels she needs it.

I told several of my close friends about the wedding plans earlier this week. I’d like to say I have their full support, but unfortunately I don’t. A few of them scrunched up their faces when I told them, and one of them even made a snide “not good enough for you” remark. I was a little hurt. However, I feel sure that once they are around her a little more, they will see all the good qualities in her that I see – her tactfulness, her honesty, her courtesy, her trustworthiness. My God I am so lucky to have her.

I’m trying to pick out a location for the wedding. There isn’t a Romanian Orthodox congregation in town, and I’m nonreligious, so getting married in a church is out of the question. I was thinking of maybe renting out the Metal Museum. They have that beautiful gazebo in the back yard (and it’s not full of bums like Court Square’s gazebo). If you know of other locations around town I should look into, let me know. I never thought I’d be planning a wedding, so this is all new to me. One thing I absolutely demand, though, is an open bar at the wedding reception and a budget for cab fare/car service home for any guest who needs it. I discussed it with Liana, and she is fine with that.

Liana is undecided whether she will get a job as an MD at one of the local hospitals once she’s legal to work in the US, or go into private practice, or return to her old job as a waitress at the Flying Saucer.

Liana, I know you’re reading this at home in Romania. I love you more than the moon and stars and can’t wait to spend my life with you.

And that’s the news for today, April 1, 2008.