South Main Trolley Tour this Friday

With all the Labor Day stuff going on this weekend – people coming in town, people going out of town, the Center for Southern Folklore’s festival, college football – it’s easy to forget that this Friday is the last Friday of the month, and therefore South Main Trolley Art Tour.  Many of the art galleries and shops will be open from 6 to 9 PM Friday and some will be serving beer and wine.  There will likely be musicians performing on the street as well.  So, come on down if you’re looking for something to do Friday night.  Always a lot of fun.

If you’re a South Main Association member, you get free burgers, hot dogs, and Boscos beer, sponsored by Boscos and Shelton Clothiers.

Attn St. Jude PhDs: You just got your ass kicked at trivia by the legendary Rapscallions

So, about a month ago I met two St. Jude scientists, postdocs at St. Jude, at the window at the Saucer.

Hung out with them several times and they were very cool girls.  They told me they go to trivia nights around Downtown – recently they’ve been doing the Corner Bar at the Peabody.  Up until this week, though, they’ve known better than to challenge the Rapscallions at the Saucer.  Tonight they finally decided to give it a try, bringing 14 of their closest friends with them, including Stephanie from the CCC who named her cat June Bug after a bum.  Now, you’d think with all those Ph.D.s (and Stephanie) on the team, they’d get the job done.

They didn’t.  The Rapscallions coasted to first place.

Oh, man.  I’ve always considered the MBA to be the most worthless degree in the history of mankind, but after seeing how these Ph.D.s performed, I’m rethinking it.

The new three-month expiration period on the certificates begins today, so we’re looking at November 26 or before with a 50 in the bank.

Tue update: Gift certificate discount, Bon Ton Cafe, cooooold beer, Peabody wants its stuff back, Dial a Human

There’s a new promotional code for the restaurant discount gift certificates accepted by many restaurants Downtown – enter LABOR at checkout for 60% off.  You can scroll to the bottom of the right sidebar of this blog to get them.  Enter 38103 (or your zip code) in the box to search, or use the link that’s there to get to their website.  The $25 value certificates, which normally sell for $10, are now $4 with the LABOR coupon code through August 31.

I don’t have all the details, but apparently one of the people who worked at Bon Ton Cafe passed away.  A reader reported that there was much sadness and crying there today.  I’ll try to get more details.  My condolences to the staff at Bon Ton.

The Coors Light at Big Foot Lodge is apparently a bigger deal than I realized.  I knew it was a good deal – $3.99 for 34 oz. – but I didn’t know they exclusively have “super cold” Coors Light in this area.  It’s served below freezing.  Also, Bud Select is back on tap for people (me included) who prefer that to Coors Light.

The Peabody Hotel is making a unique offer – “Amnesty for Artifacts.”  Those who pilfered something from the hotel over the years have the chance to return it, no questions asked.  They figure there have been a lot of well-intentioned guests over the years who just wanted a souvenir to take home with them, and that some of those guests might like to give their souvenirs back to decorate the hotel’s new Memorabilia Room.  Artifacts can be sent to the Peabody Hotel, attn: Public Relations, 149 Union Ave., Memphis, TN 38103.  Call 901-529-4179 if you have questions.

Website I found the other day – Dial a Human.  It’s a guide for how to get past the automated phone directory and get straight to a human operator at many major corporations.

I’ll be at trivia tonight at the Saucer, 7:00.

My next two projects…

Neither of the two projects I’ve been working on is ready for launch this morning, but I’m ready to go ahead and tell you what they are.

Last Thursday I made the walk to Calhoun’s and stayed there for several hours.  “It’s a shame more people don’t know about this place,” I thought.  “Once in the door, people will find lots of reasons to stay… but I know what will get them there in the first place.  $1.50 PBR all day, every day.”

So the following morning I took a break from work and took a short walk, and as I did an idea came to me – how about a search engine for bars that sell beer for $2 or less all day, every day?  Hence my post around noon Friday asking people to recommend them.  That seemed like something that would be very useful – college students and people who drink on a budget would love to have that information at their fingertips.  And since the Internet is worldwide, I thought, there’s no reason to restrict the listings to just Memphis.  (I did decide to restrict it to the US, since prices will be listed in US dollars.)

So, Saturday I decided to take an entire day off from going out, and I started to program it.  About 6 hours in, I realized something:  It wouldn’t be terribly harder to program a second search engine, a happy hour/drink special search engine.  One that would let you input, for example, “Memphis, TN” and “38103” and check a “Monday” box, and find out that Sauces has a happy hour from 2 to 7, the Saucer has Pint Nite, the Tap Room has $1 PBR, Rio Loco has $6.50 jumbo margaritas 4 to 10, etc.  So I started work on that one.

I’ve thought about doing these before.  The reason I never finished them is, I’d basically be creating an unpaid full-time job for myself, entering the listings and keeping them up to date.  Even locally to Downtown that hasn’t worked too well; my existing Downtown happy hour page needs to be updated badly.

But then I thought of one of my favorite websites… Wikipedia.  Wikipedia works so well because every page is world-editable.  Every person can add new pages and update existing ones.  Why not do the same for the search engines, I thought?  Yes, I’m sure some problems will arise with immature people editing drink special listings for bars they don’t like, and with immature bar owners editing the competition’s specials (I’m purposely not giving users a “delete” option for this reason).  But, if the bar or restaurant has fans, they’ll see the altered listing and edit it to put the incorrect info back on there.  Wikipedia isn’t perfect but overall, it works.  I think these search engines will have about the same accuracy in the long run.

So, that’s why I haven’t been around as much lately – for the first time in a long time, I missed a Pint Nite in order to work on the bar search engines.  As of this morning, they’re both about 90% done.  I’m not going to miss trivia tonight, but I’ll load the laptop in the backpack and use the Saucer’s Wi-Fi to continue work on them after trivia is over.  I’m committed to rolling them both out before the end of the week.

I know I have a lot of calls and e-mails to return.  If you’ve contacted me over the past few days, sorry for the delay getting back to you, and I will eventually.  These two ideas were just so good that I had to put everything else aside and get rolling with them.

The cool thing is, I’m programming it in PHP and MySQL, which is exactly the platform I’m now using at work.  So my side projects are improving my skills on the job, and vice versa.  Shout-out to Otto, who I’ve learned a lot from about PHP and MySQL since he and I became co-workers a few months ago.

I have several items on my “to blog” list, so check back.

Where to watch college football Downtown?

I had a reader e-mail me, asking if any bars will be running food or drink specials for college football this Saturday, and also asking for my recommendations on where Downtown to watch college football.

As of yet I don’t know of any specials.  If you do, e-mail me at and I’ll post ’em.

As for my recommendations, here they are:

1) Calhoun’s Sports Bar. 5 LCD TVs, they’re getting the ESPN college game package, and they’re opening early for the games (11 AM; normally they open at 4:30 PM).  $1.50 PBR all day.  Free bar snacks all day.  It’s a small bar so get there a little while before the game to get a good seat.  At least one LCD TV is visible from every seat in the house.  Friendliest crowd of any bar listed here.

2) Red Rooster. They have the most big-screen TVs in Downtown Memphis, cold beer, and great food served in huge portions.

3) Flying Saucer. 3 LCD TVs and 2 CRT TVs; I hear the remaining CRTs will be replaced soon.  Largest selection of beers Downtown, hot waitresses in miniskirts, pool table, dart boards.

4) (tie) Jillian’s and Hooters. These places have a lot of big TVs, and are usually known to get all the game packages.  The only reason I don’t rank them #1 above Calhoun’s is that, quite honestly, these places both suck.  Mediocre food, high prices.

5) (tie) The bar at Big Foot Lodge. Note: The TVs are all CRTs, so if you have to see the game in HD, avoid this one.  Also, the TVs are not visible from the restaurant area.  Also, you have to put up with Meghan if she’s bartending.  So why would I bother recommending this as an option?  34 oz. Big Foot Coors Lights to drink while you watch the game, and a better food menu than any of the places listed above.

5) (tie) Downtown Blue Monkey. TVs are visible from most seats in the house, although if you’re sitting at the bar you’ll have to crane your neck to the left or right.  TVs are HDTVs.  Reasonable beer and drink prices, very good food menu.

That should be a good list to get you started.  Go Tigers!  Go Hogs!

NY magazine article mentions Handling-Panhandling group

A New York magazine called City Journal had a great article recently entitled The Professional Panhandling Plague, discussing how many cities are seeing professional panhandlers on the street in increasing numbers – people who are not homeless and who beg for money as a way of life.  Memphis is mentioned as one of the cities in which professional panhandlers thrive, and the author discusses the Handling-Panhandling forum among other ideas cities are using to thwart the panhandlers.

Check it out.  It’s an excellent read.


Maybe Downtowners need to be more like Germantowners

I heard that the fence has been taken down that blocked off the parking lot next to 88 Sports Bar, at 88 N. Main. A fence had been put up to keep the bums out. The bums are notorious for congregating in that block of the Main Street Mall, between Jefferson and Adams, where they loiter and panhandle and drink beer they buy from Jack’s Food Store.

A friend of mine told me he got mugged on that block of Main, walking home from work this weekend. He’s in the service industry, so this would’ve been late, probably around midnight or 1 AM. A bum approached him and asked him for money. He said “I can’t help you, sorry” and kept walking. The bum then ran up behind my friend and got him in a headlock. My friend pushed the bum off him, but failed to notice that he had been pickpocketed in the process.  He didn’t realize his wallet was missing until the next day.

That block of Main has always been a problem and seems to be getting worse. It’s leading me to the conclusion that maybe Downtowners need to be more like Germantowners.

Let me explain what I mean. Germantowners are all about property values. Property values, property values, property values. Don’t you dare do anything that might decrease their property values. Try leaving your lawnmower in the front yard overnight in Germantown. You’ll get a letter saying you’re making the neighborhood look bad and hurting everyone’s property values.

Right across the Main Street Mall from the parking lot where the bums hang out is a very nice condo building, the Claridge House. It just went condo 2 years ago, and is nearly full with new owners now. My question to those new owners is, why do you put up with the bums across the street? Don’t you realize how much they decrease your property values? And if so, why aren’t you all up in arms about it, like the folks in Germantown would be?

By the way, when I say that the bums are decreasing the Claridge’s property values, it’s not speculation, it’s fact. I know this because I had someone e-mail me about six months ago, seriously looking at the Claridge and a couple of other buildings in the Downtown core, intending to buy. This person asked me questions about the neighborhood, and I talked up all the benefits of living down here. “Let me know which building you chose, after you make your decision,” I wrote in my last e-mail to him. But, it was not to be. He e-mailed me a couple of weeks later and said he had walked around the neighborhood, and was so disturbed by all the bums hanging out and arguing and drinking and bothering people that he decided to stay where he was in East Memphis. Wonder how many other potential buyers have been lost?

Another thing: I’ve decided I’m not going to go in 88 Sports Bar as long as they continue to allow bums, vagrants, and panhandlers to congregate anywhere near the entrance to their business. I’ve been meaning to give the place a try, because I’ve heard the people who run it are friendly and the happy hour specials are good. It’s also currently the closest “neighborhood bar”-type place to where I live, and I’ve thought it would be fun to hang out there and maybe meet some of the people who live in the Claridge, and also the Renaissance Apartments on that same block. But as long as there are bums outside the front door, sorry, not gonna happen.  I’ll just wait patiently for Bardog Tavern to open, and keep hanging out at the Saucer in the meantime.

One of the projects I’ve been working on will be ready for launch tomorrow.  In the meantime, expect at least one more post from me today.

Sun update: Pigeons, Gandhi-King conference, Dempseys @ Huey’s, festivals, and more

As a Downtown Memphis blogger, it’s my duty to post a link to articles about the neighborhood’s most visible residents, the pigeons, from time to time.  Here’s an article about monks in France who are going green by turning pigeon droppings into food. Yuk.

The 5th annual Gandhi-King Conference on Peacemaking happens October 17-18 at CBU.  The focus this year will be “Continuing the Dream: Constructing the World House.”  I like that theme… I’ve been thinking for the past few years, we need to loosen the tight grip we have on our view of ourselves as U.S. citizens, and start thinking of ourselves as world citizens.  Cover charge is $70 adults, $30 students and low income, $20 high school students.  Includes 2 day conference admission, Friday night reception and performance event, Saturday breakfast and lunch, and Saturday banquet dinner.  More details and registration available here.

Don’t forget, The Dempseys play Downtown Huey’s tonight.  This is in my opinion the best place for Downtowners to catch a Dempseys show.  They’re winding down the week and have a fun time interacting with the locals and fooling around onstage.  And, you never know who’s going to show up.  Last time they played there, an Elvis line dancing troupe from France showed up and line-danced to “All Shook Up.”

They take the stage at 8:30 and play until 12:30.  “But Paul, I can’t stay out that late, I have to work tomorrow.”  Oh, get over it.  Tell ya what.  Come see the show, don’t turn on your alarm when you get home, sleep late, show up late to work tomorrow.  You can tell your boss you had trouble starting the car.  It doesn’t have to be a lie.  In my experience, it’s very hard to start a car if you don’t put the key in the ignition.

Really looking forward to next weekend for two reasons:  Number one, it’s a three-day weekend, and number two, the Center for Southern Folklore’s annual festival is next weekend, out on the Main Street Mall between Gayoso and Peabody Place.  One of my favorite festivals of the year… hugely diverse array of musical acts, diverse crowd, good food and beer, and I get to hear the puppet guy do the “I’m the top cat, I’m a saber-toothed cat” song.

And two weeks after that is my favorite fest of all, Cooper-Young on September 13.  I’ll be there from as close to opening time (9 AM) as possible until close at 7.  This year I need to bring a pedometer to measure how many steps I take… I tend to stay on my feet the entire time at C-Y, talking to people I haven’t seen in years and eating gyros and BBQ nachos and other festival food.

Didn’t go out yesterday, and I’m skipping brunch again today.  Here’s why:  Thursday night I had an idea for a new website.  This one isn’t an Amazon store like the ones I’ve been doing, but rather a web application, and readers of this blog will find it incredibly useful.  So I spent all day yesterday programming it… it’s 98% done, just gotta put a few finishing touches on it.  But yesterday, while working on that project, I had an idea for a second, even more useful web application that readers of this blog will absolutely love.  So I’m getting started on that one day.  Should have both of them rolled out sometime this week.

I’ll get as much programming as I can done by 1 or so, then head to the Saucer to play pool and drink beer with the gang.  Gotta have some fun, you know.  Besides, if I don’t, John D will send me text messages: “Where is our leader?”  I’m the leader now?  I don’t know if I like that, it sounds like a lot of work.  Anyway, I wouldn’t want to disappoint John D, so I’ll be at the Saucer.

I have tons of pics on the camera that I need to download and post.  One of these days I’ll get around to it.

One more week in August… that means it’s almost time for me to select a BFF of the Month.  If you think you should be the September BFF, it’s time to state your case.

All right.  Time to get started.