No Russian bath house for Union & Main… but possibly another occupant

Bad news for those of you who were looking forward to authentic Russian banya in Downtown Memphis: It ain’t gonna happen. A businessman from Russia named Yuri, who moved here after studying aeronautic engineering at Georgia Tech, had planned to open an authentic Russian bath house, or banya, at the southwest corner of Union and Main (old Smooth Moves location). However, when he had to travel home to visit his sick mother, he encountered problems when he returned to the US. Customs agents in Atlanta told him his visa only allowed him to work as an aeronautic engineer here. He cannot legally open a bath house under his visa. His lawyers have been fighting it for the past week, but today he posted to Facebook and Twitter that his appeals have fallen upon deaf ears. He must go.

Thanks Yuri for trying to bring something different to Downtown Memphis. I wish you well, and hope that one day you get to fulfill your dream of opening a bath house in the city of Elvis Presley.

Yuri posted something interesting to Facebook this morning. He went to visit the property at 85 Union one last time, and there was “a most intelligent gentleman” looking around. Yuri posted, “here is business:” and a link to Thompson, an advertising agency located Downtown. Could Thompson have their eye on that space, now that it’s available? I’ve been familiar with the company for a while, since I judged an employee baking contest there in 2009. Very nice people, and I’ve heard from sources within the company that they have been looking to expand. That location would be ideal for a growing company like Thompson.

Monday update

Still sick… made it to work today though. Remains to be seen if I’ll make it until 5… sorry again for the lack of blog output this weekend, but when I’m not out talking to people and taking photos, that happens.

James Taylor is coming to the Orpheum February 27. Tickets will be on sale Friday, December 3, at 10 AM, through Ticketmaster or by calling the Orpheum at 901-525-3000 or 800-745-3000.

The Madison Hotel has started an afternoon tea from 2-4 Monday-Friday. You get your pick of the following teas: House blend spiced chai, dragon well green, Egyptian mint, citrus chamomile, wild encounter, sapphire Earl Grey, or Kenilworth Ceylon English Breakfast. Teas can be purchased with choice of sweets (scones or petit fours) or finger sandwiches, and you can add sherry or champagne. Live music, complimentary hot chocolate bar. Glass ornaments to benefit the children of LeBonheur will be available for purchase.

A reception for artist David D. Lynch’s latest show will be held at the Majestic Grille from 5:30-7:30 PM Tuesday, December 7. The show will be entitled “Memphis: A City for All Seasons” and will feature artwork from his 2011 Memphis calendar. Original artworks, prints, and the calendar, “Art & Anecdotes around the River City,” will be available for purchase. As always, the Majestic takes no commission, with all proceeds going to the artist. Validated parking can be found in any Peabody Place parking garage. Champagne and drink specials will be available, and there will be complimentary hors d’oeuvres by Chef Patrick Reilly. Free food? Wonder if the Nuh-Uh Girl will show up.

I’ve been asked several times about the annual Stumbling Santa pub crawl… it’s this Saturday, December 4. The absolute best way to get the latest and most up to date news on the crawl is to search for “BOB AND ROLAND’S 6th ANNUAL STUMBLIN’ SANTA!!!!!!!!!” on Facebook under Events. They’ll post the latest details there. Click Attending or Maybe Attending to receive any messages they send out. I’ll try to post a summary later in the week, but if you go there you’ll hear it straight from the organizers.

The Razorbacks made it to #7 in the BCS standing this week! Nice! If Auburn wins the SEC championship next Saturday, projections have the Hogs taking on Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. That will be a sweet game indeed.

If I feel up to it, I’ll be at Pint Nite about 6.

How. Bout. Them. HAWGS!!!

Defending the turf since 1871All season long I’ve watched LSU rise to an artificially inflated ranking due to fluke win after fluke win. They’re a good team for sure, worthy of Top 15 especially considering the division they play in, but Top 5? They were overrated. I wasn’t ever worried though. “Just wait until the last game of the season,” I thought. “Bobby Petrino, Ryan Mallett, and the Arkansas Razorbacks will take care of the problem.”

Take care of the problem they did. LSU played well, but a couple of big plays put it away for the Hogs. One was a surprise touchdown pass at the very end of the first half to send Arkansas into the locker room with a 21-14 halftime lead.

In the final minute of the game, LSU fumbled just outside of their own goal line with an 8-point deficit. So much for that miracle touchdown and two-point conversion! The Razorbacks probably could’ve run up another 7 points, but decided to just do the safe thing, down the ball, and call it a game.

Where we go next is up to the SEC championship game, Auburn vs. South Carolina, next Saturday. If Auburn wins, they go to the BCS national title game, and the Hogs would have to be under consideration for the Sugar Bowl. If that does not come to pass, either Capital One or Cotton will be our likely destination.

Still feeling sick. I thought I was over it, but I’m not feeling well for the second night in a row. Eating a pizza I ordered, then will get in bed. Y’all drink some beer for me and hopefully I’ll be out tomorrow.

“Music for a Match,” to benefit National Bone Marrow Donor program, at Hard Rock Cafe tonight in memory of Chip Parkhurst

Tonight there is a benefit concert at the Hard Rock Cafe on Beale Street in honor of Chip Parkhurst. Chip had been battling cancer for 5 years, and two bone marrow transplants kept him alive far longer than anybody had thought was possible. He would have had his 30th birthday this week, and his wife, sister and friend are putting on this benefit show.

The event is from 9 PM to midnight, with a $10 cover at the door to benefit the National Bone Marrow Donor Program. There will be music by Jeremy Stanfill and Aurora and a silent auction.

For the second day in a row, I find myself apologizing for not making it to South Main last night. I’ve been fighting off a cold for the past few days. As I watched the Auburn-Alabama game at the Saucer, it became clear that the cold was winning. So I left at 6 PM, stopped at Walgreens for soup, and got in bed.

Although I missed South Main happenings, it wasn’t a terrible night, because I got to watch the Boise State-Nevada game. What a fantastic game that was… Nevada scored a touchdown with the clock running down

to tie it at 31. With nine seconds left, Boise’s quarterback threw a Hail Mary and the receiver did a spectacular job rolling on his back as he caught it, so that the ball never touched the ground, for a complete pass that got them within the Nevada 10. Two seconds left and easily within field goal range for the win… but the kicker missed the field goal, sending the game into OT.

Nevada won the toss and elected to go on defense for overtime. Again Boise couldn’t get to the end zone and had to kick a field goal… and missed again. Nevada took possession, and when they got to fourth down, it was their turn to kick a field goal… and the kicker placed it straight through the uprights. Nevada won 34-31 to dash Boise State’s national title/Rose Bowl hopes. If you get a chance, try to see a highlight reel of this game. It was one of the best football games I’ve ever seen.

I feel a little better this morning. Going to try to make it to the Saucer to watch the Arkansas-LSU game, although I don’t know if I’ll stay out much later after that. GO HOGS!!!

“Toe jam and belly button lint”: Annoying people in bars

Last night, I met my friends Shawn, Joe and Spiros at the Saucer at 5 for what we figured would be a quiet evening of Thanksgiving beer drinking.

It didn’t stay quiet for long. This guy came in, and I’d seen him in there a few times before, and had seen enough of his behavior to know to have as little interaction with him as possible, lest he start looking for me every time he comes in.

He took a seat at the bar and started serenading the bartender, singing in a voice loud enough to fill not only the main room, but the outside room (the Garden) as well. The bartender went to the other end of the bar to pick up a ticket and he followed her down there, still singing very loudly. “They certainly won’t be booking him to sing on stage on the weekends,” I commented on his singing.

Then he asked the bartender, “Is it okay if I pay you for this beer the next time I come in?” WTF? Does he think he’s Wimpy? “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” The bartender didn’t like that idea much and told him he had to pay now.

“Well, fine, then!” he said, anger showing in his face. “I guess I won’t be tipping you then!” He stormed off into the other room, and it sounded like he was arguing with the servers in there. He followed one of them back into the inside room and started yelling something about “TOE JAM AND BELLY BUTTON LINT.” Again, WTF?

“I’ll see you next time,” he then told the bartender. “There won’t be a next time,” she replied.

He stormed back into the other room, chugged his beer, then came back in to put his empty glass on the bar. He thought for a minute and then put his glass on the bar upside down, so that his slobber and germs could get all over the bar. Then he finally left.

You know, lately I’ve been thinking: Servers and bartenders have to take classes and take a test to get licensed to work at bars. Maybe there needs to be a license for bar patrons as well. Make people pass a test that demonstrates they have a basic understanding of things like proper manners when ordering a drink; tipping appropriately; personal space; body language; that it’s inappropriate to excessively mooch drinks from other bar patrons; not touching other people’s food without permission; and other basic etiquette. Everyone would have a better time if only those licensed to be in bars were allowed in.

Sincere apologies to those in South Main whose parties I said I’d attend, but didn’t make it. I really did want to come to the potluck I was invited to down there, but by 7:30 it was raining cats and dogs, showing no sign of stopping, and the trolley was on holiday schedule. Apologies as well for missing the annual Thanksgiving party at Earnestine & Hazel’s.

No big plans for today. I guess I’ll head to the Saucer at 1:30 to watch the Auburn-Alabama game. No disrespect to my friends from Bama, but I have to root for Auburn to win this one, as it is necessary for Arkansas to receive a BCS bid when they beat overrated LSU tomorrow. Later today I’ll head to South Main Trolley Night and probably the Jimi Hendrix party at the Warehouse. Enjoying the 4 day weekend… maybe I’ll see you out!

Pic: Me outside the Flying Saucer at 4:59 PM today

It opened at 5.

The guy to my left, by the way, is named Spiros and will probably be mentioned on my blog a lot the next two months. He is a character on the level of the Nuh-Uh Girl. Not obsessed with food though.

Thanks to my friends who invited me to their private party tonight and then gave me a generous shot of Jager in addition to the drinks and beers I requested. Thank goodness for the rain so people won’t see how I redecorated the Main Street Mall sidewalk on the way home.

Thanksgiving Day update

Last week at my birthday/plate party, myself, my guests and the Saucer girls enjoyed 11 cupcakes from Muddy’s Bake Shop. One of my favorite bartenders, Brittney, asked me if I’d ever had anything from Gigi’s Cupcakes. “I think they’re even better than Muddy’s,” she told me. “I’ll bring you one as a late birthday present.” So last night Brittney showed up with a cupcake. Look at this thing!

It’s more icing than it is cupcake! Which is fine with me. It was hard to eat, being so tall, but quite good. You can visit their website to see what Gigi’s has to offer.

As I was walking past Downtown Huey’s last night, I noticed that more has changed than just a fresh paint job and coat of varnish:

I notice that their bar and kitchen hours have been cut back an hour Sunday-Thursday. Just something to keep in mind if you get food from Huey’s on the way home – get there earlier or you’ll be stuck going to the Restaurant of Last Resort (Denny’s).

This has been all over Facebook in the past 24 hours, but in case you missed it: Sarah Palin says that we must stand with our North Korean allies. Good God, this woman is an idiot.

It’s shaping up to be a full Thanksgiving Day for me. Early this afternoon the owners of my apartment building are hosting a Thanksgiving potluck. They’re providing the turkey and ham, and residents who are coming are bringing other items depending on the first letter of their last name. My last name’s assignment included “beverages,” which is perfect since I don’t cook. Should be a good Thanksgiving dinner with my neighbors. Free turkey and ham? Wonder if the Nuh-Uh Girl will show up.

As I previously said, I’ll be at the front door of the Flying Saucer at 4:59 PM waiting for them to unlock it. Several beers there, then, weather permitting, I’ll head south, where I’ve been invited to a private, invitation-only potluck dinner. In previous years I haven’t attended this, saying it cuts into my Saucer time, but I’ve been told, “Pauly, PLEASE come. People want to see you there.” It’s nice to be wanted. That’s a hard invitation to turn down.

Later in the evening I’ll walk over to the annual Thanksgiving party at Earnestine & Hazel’s. It benefits CASA of Memphis. This is usually one of the best parties of the fall season. $5 donation at the door.

If you want to get out at 5 but want an alternative to the Saucer, Bardog Tavern also opens at 5 and will stay open until 3 AM. If you didn’t get Thanksgiving dinner at home, they’ll have turkey and ham with sweet potatoes, cranberries and stuffing. Be forewarned that the current mayor of Bardog on Foursquare may come over, look at your food, and go, “…can I have a biiiiite?”

Winter weather advisory for Memphis tonight. Whaaaaa? It’s 72 as I type this. Attn Mother Nature: Snow and ice should fall between the hours of 8 PM on Sunday and 10 AM on Friday. Never on holiday weekends, except Christmas because every kid should get to experience a white Christmas. Amount of snow and ice should be enough to close area businesses (including where I work), but not enough that the bars close. Please keep this in mind. Thanks.

Outta here for now. Time to get ready to eat some turkey. Hope to see you at the party at E&H tonight. It will be a good one!

Wed update: Shelton open houses, jobs, Chez Philippe, Kooky Turkey Tip-Off, Foursquare/TSA, Turkey of the Year glass and more

Sorry I haven’t been blogging much this week. The past 7 days have been filled with drama and I just want to forget about it all and eat some turkey.

First there was the can of worms I opened when people e-mailed me complaining about Downtown Dining Week hours at some restaurants, which thankfully has been smoothed over somewhat. Then there was the uninvited guest at my birthday/plate party, which I’m still pretty livid about.

Sunday I caught one of our regular professional panhandlers, who we’ve nicknamed New Sharp Dressed Bum, out doing his thing. He’s one of the few we’ve never been able to identify by name, and as a result he has mostly flown under the radar. Since panhandling is now illegal Downtown except in designated areas, I called the Downtown safety patrol when I saw NSDB approach people. The good news is, they caught him, I ID’d him, and we got his name, which has been turned over to CCC safety director Larry Bloom and to Col. Shemwell of the Downtown Precinct. The bad news is that New Sharp Dressed Bum threatened me, and I have reason to believe he’s capable of carrying out his threats, so I really have to watch my back when I walk around now.

Tuesday morning I had “XP Anitspyware 2011” pop up on my work computer and tell me I had viruses. I knew immediately that “XP Antispyware 2011” was NOT my friend – it’s malware that runs a fake virus scan to trick you into buying the “full version,” which installs even more malware. Any program with a similar name and a logo with the Windows colors on a shield is malware too. It has many names. So, thank goodness it did not do serious damage because I caught it in time, but I had to get with our IT people and figure out what registry keys and files to delete to get that sucker out of there. That wasted my entire morning and was why there was no Tuesday lunchtime post.

And then during the day Tuesday, I heard details of heated arguments that took place at a Monday night election meeting of a neighborhood organization I belong to. Since I don’t technically live in the neighborhood boundaries, I’ll refrain from publicly taking sides. However, I do want to throw out a word of caution – I see this organization heading down a slippery slope if they stay on the course they set Monday. I’m afraid they will experience in 2011 the dissension and strife that another organization, the DNA, experienced during the tumultuous “Tommy V years” of 2007-08. I hope they can pull it together. It’s a great association and a great neighborhood.

So anyway, drama, drama, drama, sick of all the drama. I’m back now, though, and I’ll try to resume my regular blogging pattern.

Shelton Clothiers and Christine by Shelton Clothiers are having two Thursday night open houses in December, on the 2nd and 16th. In addition to 20% off purchases at both stores, there will be food, wine, giveaways, and sampler treatments from Mona Spa. Free food? Wonder if the Nuh-Uh Girl will show up.

I found another good Twitter account to follow if you’re job hunting – @JobsMemphis. This morning they tweeted that UPS is hiring part-time package handlers and delivery people, if you’re looking to pick up some extra Christmas cash.

Today’s Whining & Dining blog is full of useful information. It has a few paragraphs about Jason Dallas, the new chef at Chez Philippe. I’m sure the Nuh-Uh Girl will be quick to make his acquaintance and let him know she’s available if he ever needs someone to try samples. The restaurant has also announced that it will have a tapas menu in its lower tier and the Peabody lobby bar from 9 PM-midnight Friday and Saturday.

The Whining and Dining blog also has a list of restaurants that will be open for Thanksgiving tomorrow.

Kooky Canuck is having a Turkey Tip-Off today. 99 cent Bud Light draft all day; turkey dinner $5.99 for lunch and $8.99 for dinner. Includes fresh roasted turkey, garlic roasted mashed potatoes, green beans, roll, and cranberry sauce. Hmmm that may be an option after I get off work – this post is running so long that I may not have time to go out for lunch. Not that I want to face holiday eve traffic on Goodman Road much anyway.

On Foursquare? Did you get felt up by the TSA while you were traveling? There’s a badge for that.

I got my Conquistador badger on Beerby yesterday for completing 25 Mexican beers. I think it kinda sucks that I have to drink 10 of the Amber version of Dos Equis to get the “Stay Thirsty, My Friend” badger; I much prefer the Lager. With extra limes.

I will remain in town for Thanksgiving weekend. Tomorrow is the start of one of our three big yearly national tournaments at work. You may remember that I got to travel to the last one, in New Orleans. I’m not going to this one (in Orlando), but I have to be where I can get to a computer quickly to assist our tournament directors in case they have trouble uploading results. The Spring 2012 tournament, by the way, will be in Downtown Memphis.

Not that I mind being “stuck” in Memphis much, because Thanksgiving weekend is a big party weekend. Tonight is “Turkey of the Year” glass at the Flying Saucer. Every year they select a newsmaker and designate that person or organization as the year’s biggest “turkey” and put them on a glass. I won’t give away the surprise, but I will say that this year’s turkey killed thousands of its fellow birds through negligent practices somewhere south of here.

Speaking of the Saucer, they open at 5 PM tomorrow for Thanksgiving. Needless to say, I will be at the door with my nose pressed against the glass at 4:59.

They’ve told us the office closes at 3, so I’ll see you early for Happy Hour!