Sep 302011
 

Chef John Bragg has announced that he has sold Bar None, the chef’s pub on Main Street. The sale will allow him to concentrate on his East Memphis Circa location, as well as a possible location in Nashville.

He sold it to two Downtowners, he posted on Facebook, people “we will all know” and who will “transform the space into something else cool.” I have suspicions who the two Downtowners might be, but don’t want to speculate until I gather more information.

There will be one last blowout this weekend with happy hour prices all night Friday and Saturday – $3 beers, $4 cocktails and $5 wine.

Sep 302011
 

Got a couple of interesting events happening this Sunday afternoon. First of all, the Court Square Concert Series continues from 3:30 to 5:30. 2 Mule Plow will perform a free show. Blankets, coolers and lawn chairs are welcome. Friendly pets on leashes are welcome too, as long as you scoop the poop.

Also Sunday afternoon, Project Green Fork will have a fundraiser from 3:00 to 6:00. For $30 you’ll be able to enjoy local food, local beer, organic wine and local merchandise from Victory Bicycle Studio, Apothecary Fairy and Memphis Threat. Silent and live auctions featuring a new Kona bike. It will be at South Front and G.E. Patterson. Buy tickets here or at Victory Bike Studio.

Tonight is South Main Trolley Night, and the theme is Memphis Means Music. It happens from 6 to 9, and I hope to be down there by 7 to enjoy the fun.

Sep 292011
 

Not going anywhere for lunch today, so I have the full hour to blog. Longer than usual post as a result…

They’re having another Yappy Hour at the Memphis Animal Shelter tonight. From 4 to 7, all dogs and cats over 6 months old can be adopted for only a $10 fee. I heard they had a record crowd for last week’s Yappy Hour and I hope they set another record this week!

The Flying Saucer has its Cajun/Creole beer dinner tonight at 7 PM. 4 courses paired with 5 Abita beers (probably including beers not normally seen in Memphis). $35 for UFO members, $40 for non-members. As of last night, they still had some tickets left. If you’re interested in going call them at 901-523-8536 and see if they still have open spots. Seating is limited, so I expect that it will fill up at some point today.

This morning I’ve been listening to a fantastic webinar by marketing expert Scott Stratten. It’s about how to create awesome content and everything he says is pure gold. If you’re in marketing and not following him on Twitter, you need to do so at @unmarketing. If he tweets anything about another free webinar, sign up immediately.

College students: One of my favorite authors, former FBI agent Joe Navarro, published an article on non-verbal body language in class that is a must-read. As a former teacher at the U of M, I absolutely HATED it when students rolled their eyes at me. This is college: You’re going to have tests, you’re going to have homework, deal with it and stop rolling your eyes. Don’t give off an “I’d rather be anywhere than here” look. Don’t sigh. Also, don’t read the school newspaper while your professors are lecturing. This is the kind of thing I remembered when students finished the semester with a 79.4 average and I had to decide whether to give the extra 0.1 and round them up to a B.

The DNA has announced the schedule for Saturday’s Irish Festival in the Pinch. Here it is:

12:00 Bagpipes and Irish National Anthem

Music with Marie Mann immediately following the National Anthem

12:30 Irish and Pinch History Walking Tour with Jimmy Ogle

Enjoy music from upcoming Orpheum musicals and Irish Folk tunes throughout the day.

2:00 Irish Afternoon Tea (learn about proper prep of an Irish tea – I will get detailed verbiage from Andrea)

2:15 – 2:30 Irish Dancers

2:30 – 3:00 Music with Marie Mann and Kali Celeste

2:30 Irish and Pinch History Walking Tour with Jimmy Ogle

3:00 – 3:15 Irish Dancers

3:00 – 5:00 The Delta Project (Back Porch Blues Band) Westy’s Patio

5:00 Pinch History Trivia

6:00 – 8:00 The Mighty Electric St. Jude Band

There will also be games at the festival including a quarterback challenge, golf challenge, trivia, and cornhole. DNA membership or cover charge will get you into a VIP tent at the festival. There you can enjoy Rendezvous BBQ and Irish punch, while listening to musical entertainment and a presentation about the history of the Pinch District.

Also on Saturday, Widespread Panic plays the FedExForum. Last time they played the Forum, some of the Spread-heads set up camp in a parking lot on Linden, which made for some quite interesting people-watching. Definitely worth a walk through if they do it again.

After work last night I grabbed a Flyer and a beer and made my way through the Best Of issue. I was extremely pleased to see two of my favorite Downtown bars get the Reader’s Choice award for Best Bar. For Bardog Tavern, it proves that a small neighborhood bar can successfully compete with the big dogs. Huey’s seemed to just overrun the competition in most categories this year, and I was worried they’d show up in Best Bar too. Didn’t happen. Bardog proved that great food, great service and a great atmosphere was enough to win.

The other Best Bar in the Downtown area was the Flying Saucer. By winning, the Saucer has proved that it didn’t hurt itself by going nonsmoking/all ages back in July. I’m not crazy about having the kids in there, but it’s a trade-off I’m willing to accept to get rid of the smoke. Yes, there are some people who were pissed off by the change, but they are a small minority. They tried to get revenge by campaigning for the Saucer to be voted “best place to take kids.” I guess the haters can discuss how their plan didn’t work Saturday at karaoke night at the Mon… oh, wait. If you haven’t seen the full Best Of 2011 results, you can view them here.

Just saw breaking news that a MATA bus and dump truck collided Downtown and 7 ambulances have been dispatched. Location was listed as “Second and N. Main,” but that can’t be right since those streets run parallel.

That’s all for now. I won’t be at poker at Max’s Sports Bar tonight. The Saucer girls talked me into buying a ticket for tonight’s beer dinner.

Sep 282011
 

It’s been KILLING me to sit out in the desert known as Horn Lake all day, without access to a copy of the Memphis Flyer’s Best Of issue. I’ve had to rely on pictures posted to Facebook and Twitter and the #BOM11 hashtag to get what results I could.

I knew I didn’t place in Best Blog, and as I posted yesterday, I’m OK with that. I have to admit though, I thought to myself, “If a blog that sucks beats me, I’m going to be a little upset.” Turns out that didn’t happen. Three of my favorite blogs took the top spots. I Love Memphis, Eat Local Memphis, and Dining with Monkeys were the winners. All three are deserving of the accolades they received today. Congratulations to Kerry, Thomas and Stacey!

I ordered a new toy today. The Amazon Kindle Fire was announced today and I couldn’t resist. It’s a 7″ Android-based Wi-Fi tablet selling for $199. It’s a justifiable expense in my opinion. Given my line of work, I need to be somewhat familiar with the Android operating system, but I don’t want it on my next phone. Can’t wait to play with my new tablet!

BRIDGES USA‘s headquarters at 477 N. Fifth St. (at A. W. Willis Ave.) is the first commercial “green” building in Memphis. Tomorrow night from 5:30 to 7 they are offering tours of their HQ. They’re requesting a $10 donation, and refreshments will be served.

The Madison Hotel has announced a new fall series, Autumn Fest Atop the Madison, which kicks off next Tuesday, October 4. At 6 PM Earthfolk Yoga songstress Ashlee K. Thomas starts it up, and then Bravo’s “Platinum Hits” TV star Karen Waldrup takes the stage at 7 and headlines the night until 10. $7 cover. A rooftop party on a Tuesday night is definitely something different and will be a welcome addition to the Downtown calendar.

The Flyer’s Memphis Beer Beat blog has a new entry recapping recent beer festivals and demos. Read it here.

CBS Sports’ Garry Parrish visited two of ex-UT coach Bruce Pearl’s former assistants in Florida to see how they are doing. View his report here. To summarize, they’re not doing well. They’re living on greatly reduced salaries, facing foreclosures on their houses in Knoxville, separated from their families. Meanwhile, Pearl landed a cushy marketing job in K-ville, took multiple vacations this summer, and held on to his mansion.

Parrish points out that the assistants were really in a catch-22. The way college athletics works, you just don’t rat on your boss in the face of an NCAA investigation. You’ll be blackballed for being disloyal. Unfortunate but that’s the system. So they kept quiet, knowing they’d face sanctions that could destroy their careers.

You know, one of my favorite books is The 48 Laws of Power. One of the laws is that you must learn to avoid certain people who will send your life spinning in a negative direction. You have to develop what I call “craydar” (my new favorite word in Urban Dictionary) or in Pearl’s case, maybe “douche-dar” would be more appropriate. When your craydar goes off, you have to avoid getting tangled up with those people professionally, romantically, or however, at all costs. No matter how charming they are, good things will not come from being around them. They will take you down. Pearl’s assistants learned this the hard way.

That’s all the news I have for now. I received an invite to the Best Of party (thank you to the Flyer for that – I said for years that when I dropped out, I hoped I’d still be invited to the party), but I’m going to remain Downtown and let the winners have the spotlight. Time to grab a copy of the Flyer and a beer at the Saucer, and dig into the results.

Sep 282011
 

Who’s Bob Eoff, you might ask? He’s the vice president of communications, public relations and marketing at the University of Memphis. He was quoted in Geoff Calkins’ column this morning in the CA. He said that he was not aware of any plan to address the football team’s woes by asking for the resignation of athletic director R.C. Johnson, head coach Larry Porter or other staff.

I can relate to what Eoff and his team must be going through. Although my title at work is Webmaster, and I spend most of my day working with HTML, PHP and MySQL, I work in a Marketing department. As a result, I’ve learned a lot about brand management over the past three years.

One of the lessons that has been repeated in seminars I’ve attended, in books and in websites I’ve read, is this: The best marketing in the world can’t make a bad product look good. And the U of M football program is an absolutely horrible product. A-State put its second-stringers in early in the third quarter, and we still managed to score only three points. Then two weeks later, we posted a goose egg vs. a mediocre-to-below-average C-USA team. Eoff and his staff are in the unenviable situation of trying to present the football program in a positive light, when that just isn’t possible.

I mean, look at the mess the marketing/PR team at the university is facing. The #fireRC hashtag has caught on like wildfire on Twitter. People are trashing the AD, the coach and the program on the official Memphis Tigers Facebook page. Same thing on unofficial Tigers message boards. Every time a column or article about Memphis football gets posted to the CA website, hundreds of commenters call for Johnson and Porter to step down. There are @FantasyShirley and @FantasyRC accounts on Twitter reminding followers of the program’s incompetence on a daily basis. Then there are bloggers who post “Fire R.C.” in 40-point Arial and who are so fed up with U of M football that they put “FIRE R.C. JOHNSON!!!” in the footer of every post. :)

The thing is, though, this is a second lesson I’ve learned: Everything your company does is in fact marketing, whether you realize it or not. By not taking proactive measures to address the football situation, the university is producing bad marketing. They are communicating that either they aren’t aware there’s a problem with the football program; or that they are aware, and they don’t care how angry the U of M’s fans are.

Furthermore, they posted to their official Memphis Tigers Facebook page, reminding fans that the page is an official communication medium for the university, and that comments critical of the administration, coaches, and players would be removed. That’s bad marketing too. It communicates that they are trying to sweep the problem under the rug and hope it goes away. It won’t go away. The U of M has 8 more football games to lose. People are just going to get angrier and angrier.

I feel for Eoff and his staff. Their hands are likely tied. Shirley Raines, the president of the university, likely told them to censor the message board. She’s also the one who refuses to take steps to fix the athletic department. She could easily do so, and turn bad marketing into good. All she has to do is what Geoff Calkins proposes in this morning’s column – have R.C. announce his retirement, pending the hiring of the next AD; force Larry Porter to resign; and conduct a national search for a dynamic AD who will rebuild the program.

Until then, I guess it’s time to break out the 40-point type.

Fire R.C.!!!

Sep 272011
 

Tomorrow the Memphis Flyer’s “Best Of” issue hits the stands. I didn’t receive tickets to their annual “Best Of” party two weeks prior, which means for the first time since 2005 I didn’t place in the Best Blog category. I’m actually OK with it. I’m not going to lie, winning is fun (TM Josh Pastner), but I’ve been there, done that enough times.

Tell ya a quick story. A few weeks ago, I was standing at my usual spot at the bar at the Saucer, and a guy came up and introduced himself. He had just moved from a new city (Miami I think?) because he had a job offer here. “I really wasn’t sure whether I wanted to take the job and move to Memphis,” he told me, “but then I found your blog and started reading it, and I realized there’s a lot going on here.” That’s really cool, to know that the good things I’ve written about Downtown Memphis made a big difference in someone’s life. At this stage in my blog’s life, that means more to me than winning the award. Thanks to all who read my blog, and those who did vote for me. As for my prediction who will win, I would be shocked if it’s not Kerry. Her blog has opened people’s eyes to a ton of cool things happening in Memphis.

I do think she’ll be knocked out of the top spot as best Twitterer, though. Grizzlies guard Tony Allen’s tweets are absolute works of art.

After voting closed, I meant to do a “who I voted for” post but never got around to it. Let me see what I can remember… I know I voted for the Majestic Grille in about umpteen categories (best restaurant, patio, martini and a few others I can’t think of right now). For Best Service, I had to go with Bardog, since it’s rare that I get more than a few steps in the door before the bartender is holding up a beer for me. Jean from Bardog was my pick for Best Server.

Saucer was my vote for Best Beer Selection and Best Bar.

For Best Lunch and Best New Restaurant, I went with LUNCHBOXeats.

I really hope that Michele Fields of Max’s Sports Bar gets the recognition she deserves as Best Bartender this year. She was my vote. Max’s was my vote for best place to watch sports.

For Best Memphis Success, the choice was clear – the Grizzlies. I didn’t vote for Best Memphis Failure, but I look forward to voting for R.C. Johnson next year if he’s still around.

It will be funny if the Blue Monkey wins Best Karaoke Bar two days after announcing they’re doing away with karaoke. If they do win, I hope they don’t take it as a sign that they should bring it back.

Can’t wait to grab a Flyer after work tomorrow and see who are the winners. Congratulations in advance to all who placed.

Apologies for the lack of a lunchtime blog post. Our fiber optic cable got severed at work, and we didn’t have Internet access until the cable was replaced around 4:15. I had Internet through my phone, but trying to do a long post via the WordPress iPhone app was more work than I wanted to attempt.

The Memphis Tigers Facebook fan page is censoring negative comments about their players, coaches, and administration. My prediction is that the page will have a starring role in “What Not To Do In Social Media” presentations over the next 12 months. I guess the U of M’s marketing department is as incompetent as their athletic department.

Time to go get a beer. If anyone wants to play trivia tonight, shoot me a text. If I don’t hear from anyone I’m probably not going over there.

Sep 272011
 

It’s 12:50, one of the earliest Tuesday updates I’ve ever done. However, there’s a reason I’m up this late: I won poker at the Silly Goose! $50 bar tab. I bought my runner-up Michael Bean a drink and have $35 left. That’s $79 total poker winnings and I’ll spend it one of these days when in the mood.

Trivia master Kevin Cerrito has announced something new for Tuesday trivia at Ferraro’s Pizzeria and Pub. During trivia, which starts at 8 PM, there will be $1 PBR. Hard to find a better deal on PBR than that! Otherwise, same format, prize for best team name and if there’s a three-way tie for best team name, there will be a dance-off.

This is pretty cool… replicas of The Nina and the Pinta, two of the three ships Columbus took on his first voyage to the New World, will be parked in the Memphis Riverboat Harbor October 14-23. These are said to be the most accurate replicas ever built. Admission will be $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $60 age 5-16, and school tours are available. More info here. Thanks to Jake for the tip.

There will be a DVD release party for Memphis Heat: The True Story of Memphis Wrasslin’ at Central BBQ on Central, 4-7 PM, Friday, September 30. The event is free and open to the public. You’ll be able to enjoy the best of Memphis wrestling from the ’50s to the ’70s while enjoying sausage and cheese plates. Free food? Wonder if the Nuh-Uh Girl will show up.

Flying Saucer turned on the sound for the Monday Night Football game tonight. Glad they finally got a clue. Football draws customers, not a roast of Charlie Sheen.

Going to bed. 0 dark 30 comes awful early in the morning.

Sep 262011
 

Right as I was leaving for lunch today, I got a text from a friend of mine. This particular friend is the Foursquare “mayor” of the Downtown Blue Monkey, and he probably spends as much time there as I do at the Flying Saucer. He was having lunch, talking to one of the owners, and he shared some interesting news with me.

The people at the Monkey have decided that their Saturday karaoke night, which has been going for about the past year, has run its course. For now they’re just going to focus on being a great little neighborhood bar with good food, good service and good regulars. Eventually their plan is to have live music on Saturdays.

I think this is an EXCELLENT move by the Monkey. Although some people like karaoke, it doesn’t appeal to everyone, and former regulars who gave up Saturday nights there may well come back. And what a great space to have live music! Kudos, kudos, kudos on a top-drawer idea. Best decision any Downtown Memphis bar has made since the Saucer went nonsmoking.

I just realized, it’s been nearly six months since I last stopped in. Maybe this Saturday I need to go in and hang out at Leigh-Ann’s bar, chat with my buddies Clay and Robo, and take a pic of their hot wing egg rolls or their Cuban sandwich for my “Paul’s Food Find” blog feature.

Their decision is music to my ears! Great job!

Sep 262011
 

Friday is September 30, the last Friday of the month, and that means it will be South Main Trolley Night time! September often has the best weather of any Trolley Night of the year, and organizers are planning a big night, with a lot going on. Here are some of the activities that will happen from 6 to 9:

– Amy LaVere and John Paul Keith and the 145s will play at Earnestine & Hazel’s, for a fundraiser for Mayor Wharton

– A tentative appearance by Al Kapone has been scheduled; a rare chance to hear the creator of Hustle & Flow’s hit songs

– Rizzo’s Diner, Chef Michael Patrick’s new restaurant, will open. Call 523-2227 for reservations. Seating will be limited.

– Keith Sykes’ CD release party will happen at The Warehouse ($5 cover)

– Kyle Garriga will play on the deck of Max’s Sports Bar

– Mid-South Fashion Week kickoff at Sache

– Many shops and galleries will be open, some with complimentary wine, beer and appetizers (free food? Wonder if the Nuh-Uh Girl will show up.)

– The South Main Association will sell all-you-can-drink Ghost River beer for $5. They’ll also be selling wine and champagne ($4 and $5 respectively; unfortunately not all-you-can-drink like the beer).

– If all-you-can-drink is more than you need, Whitney and Brittney will be selling individual Ghost River beers at their stands for $3 a cup.

The trolley night is a celebration of Memphis music, kicking off the Memphis Music Foundation’s “Memphis Means Music” month. I’ll be down there and hope to see you there as well!

Relaxing Sunday Fun Day yesterday. Started the day with a few beers at the Saucer. Then I headed south to Max’s Sports Bar, where I was treated to a second BBQ discussion with members of Squeal Street. The rain started and I went inside and pretended to care about NFL football. Once the storm passed, I headed back north for a few more beers at the Saucer. I finished the night with Paul’s Drunkass Food at Wang’s, where I ended up watching “Hilbilly Handfishin'” with the owner and the bartender. As a friend of mine likes to say, don’t judge.

Plans for tonight: Well, it’s Monday, so Pint Nite at the Saucer of course. I’ll play it by ear whether I feel like going next door to the Goose for poker at 9.

WOOOHOOO! Just got some fantastic news! Details in this evening’s blog post.