Thur update #2: Local birthday party, Cardinals Caravan, VIP passes on sale for Music Fest and BBQ Fest

Correction: I posted a photo of the banner on the Silly Goose patio announcing a Grizzlies watch party for Sunday, January 6. Sunday is actually the 8th, and that is indeed the date of the game and the watch party. Tip-off time is 8:30 PM.

Local Gastropub is celebrating its 2nd birthday this Sunday. Starting at 5 PM there will be $2 domestics, $2 sliders, and $2 Fireball.

The following Sunday, January 15, AutoZone Park will host the annual Cardinals Caravan in the park’s club level. Former 2011 Redbirds Tyler Greene and Pete Kozma will appear, along with prospects Zack Cox and Ryan Jackson. Former Cardinals John Mabry, Alan Benes and Cal Eldred will also join the Caravan along with Cards broadcaster Rick Horton. Doors open at 5:30, program starts at 6:30. There will be a silent auction to benefit the Redbirds’ RBI and STRIPES Program. Season ticket holders and kids under 14 will be able to get autographs. Free admission, and there will be complimentary food and soft drinks. Free food? Wonder if the Nuh-Uh Girl will show up.

VIP Passes are now available for Memphis in May Beale Street Music Fest. The passes get you 3 day entry, with access to raised and covered platforms at the stages and a private area in the Blues Tent. You’ll also have access to complimentary light snacks, beer, wine, water and soft drinks. At the outdoor stages you’ll have access to private restrooms. You’ll receive a copy of the festival poster, autographed by artist George Hunt, and you’ll have in/out privileges all weekend. There are options with and without parking. Buy the VIP passes here.

If BBQ Fest is more your thing, there are V.I.Pit Passes on sale for that festival. Passes get you 3-day admission with in/out privileges. You’ll have knowledgeable guides to show you around, and you’ll be invited to up to 6 championship teams’ booths to eat BBQ and get grilling tips. There will be a private area with light snacks, soft drinks, beer and wine. You’ll receive a special welcome from the fest’s Volunteer Chairman, and you’ll get a goodie bag to take home with you. As with Music Fest, parking and non-parking options are available. Get them here.

The annual Pi Kappa Alpha convention is in town. Nothing against the Pikes – they’re nice guys – but from what I remember, last year’s convention packed the Flying Saucer with 100-200 extra dudes in the evenings. Not really what I look for in a bar. My plan is still to start at the Saucer for after-work beers, but if they arrive in large numbers the Blind Bear or possibly the Goose will be my backup plan. Time for beer!

Thur update: A. Schwab party, Union Mission, promote your blog, Santorum’s views on sex, and an unexpected trivia victory

Saturday night the public is invited to party at the oldest business on Beale. A. Schwab, the dry goods store that has been on the street since 1876, is throwing a 77th birthday party for Elvis from 6 to 10. Party will be in the newly cleaned-up second story, and will feature Amy LaVere, the Jason Freeman Band, the Memphis Dawls, Dan the Man, and Hanna Star. $5 cover. Beer and light refreshments will be sold.

The Memphis Union Mission is expanding. They go before the Land Use Board next week in an attempt to purchase the 3.1 acres behind their building at 383 Poplar. Best of luck to the fine folks at the Mission in expanding their capabilities to serve those in need. If you want to support the Mission you can do so in a variety of ways here.

Bloggers: If you want to learn how to better promote your blog using social media, you might want to attend the WordPress Meetup at EmergeMemphis tonight at 6. Details here. Even if you’re using a blogging platform other than WordPress, there should be plenty of useful info for you.

Not a local story but too funny not to link: A Colorado woman, believed to be drunk, visited an art gallery. There she proceeded to pull down her pants, punch a hole in a $30,000,000 artwork, then slide down the artwork and urinate on herself. The work was by Clyfford Still, one of the leading figures of Abstract Expressionism in the 20th century. She did $10,000 worth of damage. Full story here.

Those who hang out in the same joints I do: Anyone else read that and think that woman’s behavior is much like that of someone we know?

Rick Santorum finished a close second in the Iowa caucus this week. According to this article, Santorum wants to eliminate all birth control and believes that sex should be avoided except to procreate, even among married couples. Does anyone else read stories like this and think the GOP is playing mind games with us? They parade all these nut cases – Palin, Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Santorum – around the media. I think they’re hoping that the general populace will decide that the eventual candidate – Romney – seems downright sane and reasonable and centrist by comparison, convincing independents and conservative Democrats to vote for him.

Last night I was at Blind Bear when their weekly trivia started. The two people next to me at the bar asked me to play on their team. “I’m retired from trivia,” I told them. “I don’t do it anymore.”

“Come on, play,” they said. “We just want to have fun. If we win you can have the gift certificate.” So I relented and played with them. The result?

$50 will buy a lot of PBR at the Bear. Thanks to my teammates from last night for inviting me to play. Enjoyed it.

Plans for tonight: Just a quiet evening at home. And by that, I mean I’m going to go to the Saucer and drink a Moscow Mule. Haven’t had one since Sunday.

Wed update: Good BBQ blog, Noam Chomsky to speak, Tigers vs. Vols, Grizz watch party at Silly Goose Sunday

Breaking news: I’m seeing reports on Twitter that Zach Randolph will be out for 8 weeks. NOT GOOD NEWS AT ALL.

This weekend while I was at the Blind Bear, a local blogger approached me and asked me to take a look at his blog, Memphis Que. Niche food blogs are becoming more and more popular, and this is a good one. It will educate you about restaurants serving BBQ in the Memphis area that you never knew existed, as well as different styles of BBQ. Recent posts cover Vietnamese and Mexican BBQ, a West Memphis BBQ shop that uses CB radio to deliver to truckers, a soul food cafe on Brooks, a country bar in Millington serving ‘que, and well-known spots like Interstate and Cozy Corner. Writing style is laid-back and conversational, and photos of both the food and the restaurants let you know what kind of experience awaits you.

In the past I’ve butted heads with the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center about Downtown panhandling, but I have to hand it to them: They’ve scored a major coup for their 30th anniversary gala. Noam Chomsky will speak. Chomsky is a professor at MIT who has influenced the fields of linguistics, psychology, philosophy, computer science, and mathematics. He’s known for the Chomsky hierarchy and the universal grammar theory. No matter what you think of the MSPJC, this is a chance to hear one of the great thinkers of our era. See the MSPJC home page for more info/ticket purchases. Banquet is Saturday, January 14. Theme is “Living the Legacy of Nonviolence.”

It seems like the FedExForum is busy every night these days. Tonight the Memphis Tigers host the Tennessee Vols at 7. It will be a rematch of the Tigers’ 99-97 double OT win in Maui in November. Buy tickets here. It will be nice to not have Bruce Pearl’s douchey presence at the Forum. In the event the Vols win, I suggest a certain neighbor of mine keep her iPhone away from jukeboxes at bars.

Reminder to my friends who play poker: Bardog is closed today and tomorrow for renovations, so no poker in the Underdog Room tonight.

Last night I was walking down Peabody and I noticed this sign hanging on the Silly Goose’s patio:

Memphis will play a road game against the L.A. Lakers, and the Grizzlies will host a watch party at the Goose. Specials on Bud products. Game time is 8:30 Central.

Time for lunch. Plans for tonight: Bars.

Texas Toast Burger, add Chili, Onion Rings, Medium, Ranch instead of Ketchup @ Huey’s

Tonight I went to the Saucer for happy hour. Then I went to poker at the Blind Bear, where Bobby called my A7 with AJ hearts. By the turn I had two pair, Aces and Sevens. So what happens? Bobby hits his heart to win the hand on the river. Afterward, back to the Saucer for a couple more beers, then it was time to weigh food options.

I decided to make a build-your-own sandwich at Huey’s – and what a build-your-own sandwich it was! I ordered the Texas Toast burger, served medium. I dissected it for this photo, and you can see the jalapenos lying atop pepper jack cheese along with grilled onion on Texas Toast, waiting to be placed atop the meat patty, cooked medium. And although I’ve been into the black bean burger lately, not tonight. That right there is 100% dead cow. I got a side of chili (65 cents extra) to top it. I also paid an additional 40 cents for onion rings instead of fries, and I got ranch for dipping because ketchup sucks. Granted, some people would disagree. Ketchup is the Nuh-Uh Girl’s second favorite topping, after any topping that’s free. “Whaaaaaat? You’re not going to eat that? Can I have it? :-)”

Walking home with drunkass to-go food from Huey’s is one of the perks of living Downtown. So what are you waiting for? Get down here!!!

Tue update: Primary season idea, bologna sandwich, Grizzlies, Black Diamond, poker night

The caucus and primary season for the Presidential election kicks off tonight in Iowa. Many people complain that the early states like Iowa and New Hampshire have too great a role in selecting the candidates. Well, I saw a comment on Twitter that is a great idea: Let the state that had the highest % of voter participation in the previous general presidential election be first to hold their caucus or primary… then second highest would go next, and so on. It would encourage citizens to go out and participate in the democratic process, to try and get a reward for their state. By using the previous general election participation numbers, you’d have almost 4 years to sort out the next election’s primary dates.

Of course, it’ll never happen. The chance of politicians doing something that makes sense is about as low as the chance of the BCS selection process making sense.

I ate at the Blind Bear for the second time last night. This time I chose one of the “Bear Cat” menu options, the Fried Bologna sandwich and a side. Since I didn’t have any black-eyed peas on New Year’s, I chose that as my side item.

Other choices for sides include sweet buttered corn, french fries, mac & cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, and green beans. The bologna sandwich was topped with cheese and BBQ sauce, and sells for $8. You can get a plate of four sides for $6.

The word I’m now hearing is that the Black Diamond closed because next-door gift shop Tater Red’s plans to expand into the space. That’s not officially confirmed but I heard it from a source who talked to Diamond doormen and bartenders this weekend.

The Grizzlies are at home at the FedExForum tonight, taking on the Sacramento Kings at 7 PM. Get tickets here.

Tonight’s the second week of poker with Jamie at the Blind Bear. Starts at 8, so come on by, I’ll be there! Trivia nights at Saucer, Goose, Green Beetle and Ferraro’s if that’s more your thing.

WWE Raw Supershow at the FedExForum tonight

The weekly broadcast of WWE’s Monday Night Raw will happen right here in Downtown Memphis tonight, from the FedExForum. Superstars from both the RAW and Smackdown brands will perform.

The main event is advertised as C.M. Punk vs. Dolph Ziggler for the WWE title. Having followed wrestling for years, I think there’s a good chance Ziggler wins the title here. He dropped the U.S. title to Zack Ryder at the last PPV, which could mean they’re getting that belt off Ziggler to prepare him for bigger and better things. A lot of people are saying he will be the breakout star of 2012. Tonight may be the night he gets to the next level.

Another advertised match is a battle of the announcers, Jerry “The King” Lawler vs. Michael Cole in a street fight. Applying the longtime booking logic of “Lawler doesn’t lose in Memphis,” signs point to Cole getting his ass kicked tonight.

The third event announced is John Cena vs. Kane (who is back under the mask again) in a RAW Challenge Match. Other wrestlers – er, WWE Superstars, Vince McMahon hates it when they’re called wrestlers – include “World’s Strongest Man” Mark Henry, R-Truth, The Miz, Big Show, “Celtic Warrior” Sheamus, Kofi Kingston, “Dashing” Cody Rhodes, Jack Swagger, The Bellas, and Kelly Kelly. Get tickets here.

Shout-out and thank-you post: New Year’s Eve recap

Just wanted to post a few thank-yous and shout-outs to people who made my New Year’s Eve a fun one.

Rather than venture out to Amateur Night at the bars, I had a fantastic house party to go to. Every year in February, my friends Robin and the Bartons invite everyone to their condos in Barton Flats for a Super Bowl party. When no good option for New Year’s had emerged a couple of weeks prior, they said, “Why don’t we have another party? Like our Super Bowl parties, but with dancing instead of football.” They did and it was a wonderful evening with good friends, good food, and champagne at midnight. And good beer – they had a keg of PBR! Thanks to our hosts for providing us with the best kind of environment for ringing in the New Year.

On New Year’s Eve, I had several people approach me (both at the party, and earlier when I was day drinking at the Saucer) to say they wanted to meet me, because they read my blog. Shout-out to my readers who I met this weekend. It makes me very happy to hear that people have a better experience Downtown because of things they read here. If you’ll keep reading, I’ll keep writing.

Usually I take a lot of pictures at these parties, but for some reason I just plain forgot to do it on New Year’s Eve. The only photo I took was of the Mad Hatter and me, which we texted to a friend who spent the New Year in Dallas.

Obviously this was taken well after we tapped into the PBR keg, and after I’d discovered the Jello shots in the freezer. I think there might have been some Fireball consumed prior to this pic too. Anyway, I wish I’d taken a few more photos. This is first time in at least 3 years that I’ve been at a party with Uncle Ray and failed to get at least one bad photo of him to post on the blog.

After midnight a few of us decided to venture out to a couple of clubs. We went to Paula & Raiford’s, which was packed to the gills. After one 40 we’d decided we’d had enough. Good to see the club doing so well though, not that I had any doubt it would. Our next stop was Rehab Disco. J.J. was so excited to see us and treated us like royalty, which is what happens pretty much every time. I regret that I haven’t spent more time there. J.J. and Mo and the staff there have created such a wonderful, positive vibe in that place. Looking for reasons to go back – if anyone feels like going hit me up on text or Facebook or whatever your communication method of choice happens to be.

Also wanted to give a shout-out to my next door neighbors, who had a house party of their own and were gracious enough to invite me. I didn’t make it – by the time I left Rehab I was just completely spent physically and mentally – but I really appreciate the invitation. Hope to see you guys soon.

As for yesterday, my day went Blind Bear, Saucer, Johnny G’s Creole Kitchen, Saucer, Blind Bear. A palindrome of Downtown bars and restaurants. The Bear didn’t yet have their brunch menu – that will start next Sunday. Nevertheless, they opened at 3:00, and by 3:20 every bar stool was taken and there were people at both poker tables. It was so busy that Jamie, who’d just made a brief stop in, had to get behind the bar and help Jeannette pour drinks. Later in the evening I was back and Colin had one of the TVs on Adult Swim, which brought back memories of watching cartoons with Maurice and Niles at the Tap Room.

Last day of a 3-day weekend. My tentative plan is to hit the Saucer 2:30 to drink some $3 drafts for Pint Nite. When the Blind Bear opens at 6, I’ll make a stop there. Then at 7:30 I’ll be Goosin’ it for poker night. Time to hit Publish and go drink some beer!

Black Diamond closed?

Last night about 8, I wandered down to Beale Street to eat. I ordered New Orleans Nachos and their Bucket House Greens, and pulled up Foursquare to check in. I scrolled through my friends list to see where everyone was, and saw a comment from a bartender who works nearby about Black Diamond being closed forever. After I ate and paid my tab, I walked back out on Beale Street and indeed, the Diamond was not open (it should have opened at 6). Can anyone confirm it’s closed for good/provide details? Email me at if you can. If there are details you don’t want made public on the blog, just say so and I’ll respect that request.

The Diamond is one of those places I never thought would close. I haven’t been there much in recent years, but in my first few years Downtown when I had a good friend working next door at Tater’s, I went there all the time. It had decent bar food at reasonable prices (the pizza in particular was better than I expected) and beer and liquor. Much of its regular crowd was bartenders and servers who’d gotten off work at other bars on Beale. Sad to see it go. Thanks for the memories.

I never got around to the New Year’s Eve recap post yesterday… it will probably go up today.