Wed update: Gibson raided, Tiger basketball, Big Ono/lunch, Bardog poker/nachos, Monkey to expand lot, Mephit Furmeet, Westy’s deal

The Gibson Guitar plant was raided by federal agents this morning. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agency conducted the raid. This may be related to a raid on the Gibson plant in Nashville a few years ago, when the guitar maker was accused of illegal cutting and shipping wood from Madagascar for use in its guitars. More details on News Channel 3’s website.

The Memphis Tigers have released their 2011 men’s basketball schedule. It’s loaded with top non-conference opponents, designed to get us a higher seed than the Number 12 we had this year. Great job, Coach P! Great move hiring current Laker player Luke Walton as an assistant too.

If you work in the Downtown core, you’ll have a new place to grab lunch starting tomorrow. Big Ono Bakery, at the corner of Front and Gayoso across from Barton Flats, will offer to-go lunches from Miss Cordelia’s. There will be sandwiches, salads and wraps and nothing will be over $7.

If you play poker in the Underdog Room of Bardog Tavern on Wednesdays, you have the night off. Poker Jon posted to Facebook that there will be no game this week.

There’s still a reason to go by Bardog though… one of their specials today is Ultimate Memphis BBQ Nachos. I got these last night, and there was a ton of Memphis pulled pork over tortilla chips with tomatoes and fresh jalapenos. What really made the nachos special, though, was the homemade cheese sauce. A real value at $7.95. Like most specials, these will probably only be on the menu for a day or two, so if you’re a nacho fan get down there.

The Downtown Blue Monkey is going to fill in the hole next door (the location of the old Blue Monkey that burned in 2005) to expand parking, according to a regular who spends as much time there as I do at the Saucer. That reminds me… the annual Mephit Furmeet, the meetup of “furries” who dress in full head-to-toe animal costume, happens over Labor Day weekend. If I run into any of the furries I’ll definitely recommend they check out the Monkey’s karaoke night on Saturday. Furryoke! For furries who need help finding the Monkey, here’s a map. has a Downtown deal today: $10 for $20 worth of food at Westy’s.

That’s all for now. No set plans for tonight but I’ll be out somewhere.

Tue update: 5K results, CA comments, sad news re: Pat Summitt, Groupon/Indian food, Dejavu

The results of the Breakaway-Bardog 5K have been posted, and you can view them here. Congratulations to Lance Jones and Kris Huff, the overall male and female winners.

A really cool thing happened Sunday after the race. Jessica Grammer, who spent countless hours organizing the 5k, was excited about the raffle at the alley party that followed. “I really want to win that Fat Tire bike,” she told me over and over. When the winning ticket was announced, it wasn’t hers – but the winners gave her the bike. Classy thing to do. No one deserves that bike more than she does.

Blogger/CA writer Richard Alley has a post about anonymous comments on the Commercial Appeal website that I agree with 100%. Back when I was growing up, my mother worked in the newspaper business, and she explained to me that letters to the editor would not be published unless they contained a full name and address. People had to be willing to back up what they were saying with their names. If the CA adopted a similar policy for news article comments, a lot of the race-baiting, negativity and stupidity would go away. The comments they have now detract from the overall quality of the site.

Sad news today: Tennessee Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt has been diagnosed with early onset dementia. She has no plans to step down in the immediate future. When the time comes, I hope she gets the biggest send-off since Lou Gehrig Day in 1939. She’s a legend and deserves nothing less.

This isn’t Downtown, but there’s a really good Groupon today: Maharaja Cafe, an Indian restaurant on American Way. When I worked by the airport, I ate there now and then and the food was outstanding. There’s an Indian grocery next door that is a good place to buy snacks to take home, too.

One of my favorite food bloggers, Wendy, reviewed Dejavu, the Creole restaurant on Florida Street. I agree with everything she said – outstanding food, but be prepared to have to get take-out because the seating is rather limited.

Just saw on Twitter that the Eastern seaboard has been affected by an earthquake, believed to be centered in Virginia. I hope Air Traffic Mike and all my friends who live on the East Coast are okay.

I’ll be at the Silly Goose at 8 for trivia night. Undecided whether I’ll pre-game at Bardog or the Saucer beforehand, but I’ll be out at one or the other.

Bardog Tavern celebrates 3rd birthday with huge alley party, raises thousands for St. Jude

Bardog Tavern threw itself a third birthday party in Center Lane (known to Downtowners as Scratchy Alley) yesterday. The day started with a 5K, then at noon it was party time. In case people couldn’t find it, they made this helpful sign.

Inside the alley was a dunk tank, booths selling Fat Tire and PBR, a band playing inside a garage, and John Haley cooking sliders on the grill.

We decided to go inside to get beer, because there was air conditioning and because there were no drink tickets to deal with inside. Enjoying the comfort of A/C, we remained inside all the way through our first beer until we ordered a second one. This turned out to be a huge mistake. While we were inside, two of the servers at the Flying Saucer, Whitney 2 and Stacey, got in the dunk tank. We missed it. DAMMIT!

Later in the day: Whitney 2 takes aim and fires

More dunk tank pics:

Each ball cost $1 for the dunk tank, and a lot of balls were thrown, raising hundreds for St. Jude. At the back of the alley, even more money was being raised with a raffle. Here are some of the prizes that were raffled off:

One of the most sought-after prizes in the drawing was this beach cruiser bike:

Meanwhile, plenty of people were partying inside the bar too. I made frequent trips inside to get beer, although after missing Whitney 2 and Stacey I was careful to never spend more than 10 minutes inside. I’ve got to give props to Amanda “Panda” Parks, who was bartending. Despite the total chaos of the party, she seemed to have a sixth sense for when I had an empty beer cup. Meanwhile, Brittany Bloom, who cut her hair for St. Jude last year, was on the bar with a bullhorn raising donations. Here’s a pic of Buddha and Chris at the bar. Have we had a few Fireball shots gentlemen?

I went back outside and ran into former Sleep Out Louie’s bartender Scotty the Body. He had on a BBQ Fest-themed T-shirt.

Scotty the Body and Uncle Ray

At 5:00 it was time for the meatball eating contest. Nine people entered, and each of them were brought 40 of Aldo’s Grandma’s balls. Aldo got on the bullhorn and announced the rules.

“When a contestant gets up and leaves the table, spectators are not to eat his leftover meatballs,” Aldo announced. Hey I wonder why THAT rule was added this year??? As it turned out, that rule was unnecessary: The Nuh-Uh Girl was in New Orleans this weekend.

The rules were different this year. No time limit, eat as many meatballs as you can. Contestants were eliminated when they either gave up or threw up, last man still eating wins.

By the 15-minute mark, contestants were starting to slow down, and the first few began to throw in the towel.

At the 23-minute mark, we had a winner.

Then it was time to move to the front of the alley for the last event of the day. It involved my landlord, Jay Hollingsworth, seen below with the ponytail.

If $2,000 was raised for St. Jude, Jay agreed to cut the ponytail off. By 5:30 we were still about $600 short. Brittany and Brooke got on the megaphone and encouraged last-minute donations. 100s and 20s stared pouring in.

As much as I love Bardog, I have to claim that a little false advertising occurred. “If we get $100 Brooke will take her shirt off,” announced Brittany on the bullhorn. Needless to say, $100 made its way to the collection bucket very quickly.  So did Brooke take her shirt off? No, we got this instead:

“I’ll give $100 if he puts it back on!” yelled someone in the crowd. A few minutes later, the $2,000 goal was reached, and the tail came off.

A stylist was on hand to help Jay trim up:

Inside the tavern a little while later: Jay’s new ‘do.

I have to admit that my photos don’t adequately cover a HUGE part of the party and fundraising for St. Jude: The Breakway Running/Bardog 5K. At 9 AM several hundred runners gathered outside Bardog and went on a three-mile run, each runner’s entry fee going to St. Jude. I didn’t get there until 12, after they had already handed out the awards, so I didn’t get many photos of the runners. Their connection to Bardog started about two years ago, when a small group started calling themselves the Salty Dogs began meeting at the tavern. Every Monday they go on a run, then relax afterward with beer in Bardog’s Underdog Room. The group has grown to the point that they’re partnering with area businesses and sponsoring 5K events. If you run and want to meet people, the Salty Dogs are a great way to do it. Join them Mondays at 7 at Bardog.

I haven’t heard a final dollar number raised for St. Jude, but all signs indicated that they far exceeded last year. Thanks to Aldo and everyone at Bardog for a fantastic party, and for giving us such a wonderful place to hang out for the past three years.

I took so many photos that I had to break them apart into two photo albums on Facebook.

Last day of vacation. Going to relax for a while, eat lunch and then get an early start on Pint Nite. If anything comes up I’ll do a lunchtime news post before I go out.

Scratchy invites you over to his place for a party tomorrow

Tomorrow, Sunday, August 21, is Bardog Tavern’s third birthday party. There will be a 5K at 9:30 AM, and then at noon the big party kicks off in Scratchy Alley (Center Lane, the alley next to the tavern). If $2,000 is raised, Bardog regular Jay Hollingsworth will cut off his ponytail. There will also be a meatball-eating contest, live music by The Evil West, raffles and a dunk tank. One of the best parties of the year! Don’t miss it!

Soccer @ Brass Door

One of my favorite bosses ever was a big soccer fan. We’d be in his office, discussing a SQL Server stored procedure, when he’d hit F5 and say, “hang on.”

“Reloading the football scores,” he’d tell me. “Arsenal is up, 1, nil.” Meaning, he was reloading the soccer scores, and Arsenal was up 1-0. (This is America dammit.)

This morning the Brass Door opened at 6:45 for the Arsenal-Liverpool match.

I wasn’t actually there at 6:45. About 8 my friend Lauren tweeted “where are you?” and the notification woke me up. I put on yesterday’s drunkass clothes (complete with beer stains) and walked down there. For 8 AM the bar was pretty full: All the bar seats with a view of the TV were taken, except one which I took, and two tables were occupied. I did a head count and 17 people were there, most in Arsenal jerseys. Glad I was on the right side. Unfortunately Arsenal lost 2-0.

Mad props to Katie, who was a cheerful bartender (can you imagine how bad the Saucer girls would bitch if they had to open at 6:45 AM) and to Seamus, who recognized that Downtowners would get up early in the morning to watch soccer.

I hung out at Brass Door til 1 then hit Bardog for Panda Manda’s brunch. It’s now 3:30 and I’ve done none of the three Ss. Time for a nap.

PR position open at ALSAC

A friend of mine just emailed and asked if I’d get the word out about an employment opportunity Downtown. ALSAC, the fundraising arm of St. Jude, has created a new position called Regional PR Liason. They’re looking for someone who develop strategies to drive PR efforts at the local level. View the listing here. They don’t say it in the listing, but I’ve heard you have to have excellent credit to get on at ALSAC. Makes sense I guess, since their business is fundraising and they don’t want anyone skimming off a little for themselves.

I know people who work at ALSAC and say it’s a very good place to work. Plus it’s Downtown (and in a couple of years you’ll be able to walk to Bass Pro Shop at lunchtime), and you’ll be doing work that will help children get the care they need. Fantastic opportunity for someone with a background in PR.

Atomic wings @ Flying Saucer

Yesterday for lunch I decided to try another of the Flying Saucer’s new wing sauces. I like my food spicy, so the hottest variety, the Atomic wings, seemed like a natural pick. There was a warning on the menu about how hot these were, but I wasn’t scared.

The wings were slightly crispier than the average hot wing, which is just fine with me because it’s a sign that they’re well cooked all the way through. Like the Mojo wings I tried a couple of weeks ago, they were lightly sauced. That’s good too because you won’t go through an entire roll of paper towels eating them.

How hot were they? Well, they definitely stung, and three minutes after eating a wing it still stung. On the usual hot wing scale of mild-medium-hot-extra hot-suicide, I’d rank these as extra hot. They’re fiery, but not quite as much as the Holy Smokes wings down the street at Kooky Canuck.

The wings came with generous amounts of carrots and celery, and blue cheese for dipping.

Would I get these again? Yes, in the future when I’m at the Saucer and get hungry, the Atomic wings will be one of my go-to items on the menu. On the other hand, I don’t know if I’d make a special trip there just for these wings. The reigning champion of wings Downtown, for those who like the super-hot variety, in my opinion is still the Honey Habanero Wings at Max’s Sports Bar. Rich in flavor, and yet they set your mouth on fire at the same time.

One variety left to try: The Saucer’s new Asian wings. I’ll try to get to those in the next week or two.

What I did on my first day of vacation: Busted a fake parking attendant

So, yesterday was the first day of my 5-day staycation, and about 2 PM I showed up at the Saucer for lunch. After finishing an order of Atomic wings, I walked outside to get a Memphis Flyer to read. I looked across the street, and noticed a guy at the entrance to the Tri-State Bank lot run by Premier Parking. Just standing there. I got suspicious. That lot is a common target for scammers.

A few minutes later, a metered space opened up across the street on Peabody Place, and the guy went over and stood there. That was all I needed to see. I called the number of the safety patrol (901-281-9146) run by the Downtown Memphis Commission (formerly CCC) and gave a description. They said they were on their way.

Before they could get down there, a car pulled into the Tri-State Bank lot. The guy chased after it, trying to wave it down and convince the driver to park in the metered space instead. He was unsuccessful and went back to his spot. He tried to wave a couple more cars in, then the safety patrol rolled up on their bikes. He talked to them for about 5 minutes, went back to the entrance to the Premier lot, and stayed there for about 10 minutes. When it became clear that the safety patrol was not going to leave until he did, he walked away, heading north through the entrance to the Peabody Place parking garage.

I later heard that he’d told the safety patrol he worked for Premier Parking. OH REALLY buddy? Then

1) Where’s your uniform?

2) Where’s your work ID?

3) Why are you waving people AWAY FROM THE LOT to park in metered spaces instead?

Classic fake parking attendant scam. Thankfully, I had my 13x zoom camera with me and snapped several pics of him while the safety patrol was talking to him. Those will be shared with the proper authorities today, so they can keep a watch out for him.

Later, I saw another of Downtown’s well-known scammers attempting to sell copies of the Memphis Flyer. He had a new sidekick with him who was acting as a lookout. They saw me take out my phone and knew what was about to happen next. They skeedaddled north on Main, out of my sight.

Although I had plenty to see from the window of the Saucer, I was rather disappointed… I thought the Downtown safety patrol had the panhandling/scamming pretty much under control. From what I saw yesterday, though, it looks like they’re back and as bold as ever. Guess I’ll have to do some more “urban hunting” on my second day of staycation, and see if I can get a few of these idiots in the back seat of a police car.

77 emails in the box. Sorry if I’m slow to respond to communication this weekend, but that’s how vacation goes. I’ll take a look and see if there are any events I need to blog about. If so there will be another post.

Thur update: Madison party, Redbirds food drive, Mollie Fontaine’s, West Memphis 3 and more

Above: Photo of Dynaflow playing last night at Earnestine & Hazel’s. I took a break from drinking a Mississippi River-sized amount of beer at the Saucer to walk down Main and catch their first set. As always they were excellent.

First day of vacation. How lovely to wake up at 8:30, hear the sound of thunder and of rain pattering against my window, and then to fall back asleep until 10.

Peabody rooftop parties are done for the season, but the Madison’s series rolls on… tonight the Memphis All-Stars play Sunset Atop the Madison. Doors open at 5:30, music from 6 to 10, sunset at 7:45. $7 to get in, with sophisticated drinks and tapas menu available.

It’s also the Third Thursday block party on Main between Gayoso and Peabody Place. Here’s an insider’s tip for you… Bar None will be selling grilled beef skewers on their patio for $1 each. I’ve had them before and they are outstanding. Can’t beat the price.

The Redbirds will hold a food drive at their game tomorrow night. Bring canned goods and receive a chance to win prizes that will be awarded throughout the game. Their goal is to try to completely fill a Subaru Outback with canned goods. Also, Save-A-Lot will present a $2,500 check to the Mid-South Food Bank during the game. Because of the Food Bank’s purchasing power, that will allow them to buy $10,575 worth of food.

Foursquare has added checkins to events. That’s pretty cool, and good to see the platform evolving.

Mollie Fontaine Lounge will have DiAnne Price and Amy LaVere play back-to-back tomorrow night. Two of the finest artists on the Memphis music scene, together in one place.

Looks like the Jersey Shore cast is having the last laugh on Abercrombie & Fitch, after A&F tried to bribe the cast to stop wearing their clothes. They make a good point – if A&F doesn’t want to be associated with the show, why do they sell a “GTL” shirt?

In case you’ve missed the news: A judge has set an unexpected hearing this week for the West Memphis 3 in Jonesboro. There’s a gag order on all sides but this is said to be “huge” news.

Today is the first day of a 5-day staycation. I plan to see the sights of Downtown Memphis during this extended weekend. I hear the tap handles at the Saucer are absolutely breathtaking to see this time of year, so I’ll definitely check those out. Tentative plan for the afternoon (subject to change, depending on where people check in on Foursquare) is Saucer at 2, Bardog at 4. Later I’ll probably hit the block party and get some of those $1 beef skewers.