Fri update: A Brass Note for DiAnne, replica jersey giveaway, Rocky Horror tonight, reasons to run the Bardog 5K, possible new hotel

Singer DiAnne Price, who passed away a few months ago, will receive a Brass Note on Beale Street to honor her contribution to Memphis music. The ceremony will be at 3 PM Sunday in front of B.B. King’s. It’s a shame she didn’t receive this honor while she was alive, but it will be a good opportunity for her many friends and fans to come together to remember her.

The first 3000 fans through the gate tonight at AutoZone Park will receive an Allen Craig replica jersey T-shirt. Craig is a former National League All-Star and Redbird. First pitch vs. Oklahoma City is tonight at 7:05, but the gates open at 5 for the Friday block party.

Rocky Horror Picture Show is tonight at the Orpheum. Highly recommended if you’re a fan of audience-participation movies. Even if you’ve seen it a dozen times, there is no experience like seeing this movie at the Orpheum.

The annual Bardog 5K benefitting St. Jude is less than a month away. The Girls Run the 901 blog has a list of 10 reasons to run the Bardog 5K. It’s Sunday, August 18 and there will be a huge all-day party after the run.

The MBJ reports that Downtown could get a new hotel at the site of the former Greyhound station across Union from AutoZone Park.

Time to grab a quick lunch. Normally I’m not a huge fan of fast food but those new Hot Shot Bites at KFC are really good. Few more hours at work after that and then I’ll be out at the usual spots.

Thur update 2: MATA to cut back trolley hours (affects commuters), Trayvon vigil, DMC hiring, Chris Carpenter to pitch for Redbirds

Scary drive home in the pouring rain. Water tends to pool in the right lane of northbound 240 right before the I-40 exit in Midtown. I had to slow way down to get through. I bet someone spins out in the next hour.

You may have heard that MATA plans to cut back city bus hours to reduce spending. Well, they want to cut back trolley hours too. This MBJ article has a complete list of proposed reductions in hours, but there’s one reduction that’s particularly troubling. MATA wants to change the start time of the Main Street Trolley from its current 6:25 AM time to 9 AM. That is terrible news for people who bought houses or condos or rented apartments down here planning on using the trolley to commute to work. If that change (or any of the others) affects you and you want to protest, the MBJ article linked here has info about two public meetings next week.

There will be a “Justice for Trayvon” vigil taking place at the National Civil Rights Museum this Saturday, July 20 from 11 AM to 12:30 PM. This is one of 100 vigils that will be taking place across the country at the same time.

Want to get paid to make Downtown even better? The Downtown Memphis Commission is hiring a planning and development analyst.

Three-time All-Star Chris Carpenter is set to rehab with the Redbirds this weekend. He’ll be the starting pitcher for the 6:05 game. He’s on the Cardinals’ 60-day disabled list.

I have a spare poncho left over from Memphis in May, so I’m heading out. Silly Goose is my likely first stop.

Thur update: New snack, John Paul Keith solo show, India.Arie, festival seeks vendors, Blues on the Bluff

This morning I had a snack at my desk that I picked up last night at City Market.

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Cruncha-Mame is edamame packaged for snacking. You don’t have to deal with the shells; just the peas are in the bag. The snack has more protein than an egg, and as much fiber as an apple. It’s available in multiple flavors. Beats getting a bag of Cheetos out of the vending machine! There’s always something different to eat at City Market.

John Paul Keith will play a rare solo show tonight at the Blind Bear from 10 until midnight.

Singer/songwriter India.Arie will perform at the Orpheum on Sunday, September 27 as part of her Soulbird Presents a SongVersation with India.Arie tour. Tickets go on sale at the Orpheum box office and Ticketmaster tomorrow.

Bluff City Oktoberfest is seeking artisan vendors for the new October 4-5 festival.

WEVL’s annual Blues on the Bluff festival will be this Saturday on the grounds of the Metal Museum. Enjoy music with a great view of the Mississippi, food by Central BBQ, and beer by Schlafly. More info here.

Time to get out in this hot sun and grab lunch. I’ll be out tonight after 5:30.

Tue update: Buttercup video, new burger bar, Sky Ride planned for the Pyramid, Pints for Pups

Buttercup, the duck with the prosthetic leg who has been in the news, made a march down the Peabody red carpet this morning. After he arrived at the fountain, he was named “Honorary Duck” by the Peabody Duckmaster. Here’s a video of Buttercup’s red carpet march.

The MBJ reports that a new burger bar is coming to the Downtown core. The restaurant will be at 94 S. Main, in the space that is currently Dream Berry. It will be opened by Jeff Johnson, owner of the Local locations in Downtown and Midtown. Always room down here for one more place that serves great burgers!

Bass Pro unveiled its revised design plans for The Pyramid yesterday. Plans include a Sky Ride in the northwest corner of the Pyramid, a paid attraction similar to the rides to the top of the St. Louis Arch.

There will be a Pints for Pups fundraiser next Sunday, July 28 on the patio of the Green Beetle. A $10 raffle ticket gets you a craft beer and a chance to win some great prizes. Pets will be welcome on the patio. Party will start at 4, drawing at 7.

That’s all for now. I will probably hit the Silly Goose after work tonight and then figure out the rest from there.

Tue update: Candle sale, parking meters that take cards, Local, Yazoo beer, cars going the wrong way on Second, Silly Goose poker, and more

Sorry there was no post at lunchtime. I just didn’t have enough news to share to bother. I voted in the Memphis Flyer Best of Memphis contest instead. After the voting is over, I will share some of my votes. Right now, let’s get to the news.

Downtown Candle Co. is having a one-day-only sale tomorrow, Wednesday, July 17. You can get 3 candles for $25. In-store only, 10:30 AM to 6:30 PM.

The CA reports that electronic parking meters will arrive in Memphis in September. The meters will accept debit and credit cards.

The Downtown Local Gastropub is closed for lunch through Thursday while they plan some new things for the restaurant. The Overton Square location will still be open for lunch.

If you’re a fan of Yazoo beer, they’ll be doing growler fills this Thursday at the Cash Saver on Madison in Midtown. Choose from Rye Saison and Hefeweizen. $10 cost includes the growler.

Air Traffic Mike has a good blog post cars turning the wrong way up one-way Second Street. We see several of these every day. Part of the problem is that the “ONE WAY” sign is attached to the walk/don’t walk sign at the crosswalk, rather than on the pole next to the traffic signals where it probably should be.

I decided to play poker at the Silly Goose last night for the first time in a couple of months. That game had really frustrated me in the past – not because of the bar or because of the way Muruako runs the game, but because of some of the people who played there. I don’t mind new players who play badly because they don’t know better. What got irritating was experienced players who played recklessly for no other reason than to introduce chaos into the game. It got to the point where the skill level was about the same required to play bingo at the Brass Door.

I’m glad I gave it another try. The game was much better. The reckless players have either calmed down or stopped coming, and I had a lot of fun playing with my friends. I made it to heads-up and lost, and got ready to pay my tab and leave – and then I realized, wait, I’ve got a prize coming! The Goose is one of the few poker nights that pays two places. Second place pays $25, with $50 to the winner. The game is at 8:30 Monday nights. Come give it a try if you like playing cards. $2 PBR is an additional incentive!

On my way to the Saucer to get three more beers done for my 8th plate. After successive nights I’m rather pokered-out, but there isn’t much else to do so I may play the 8:00 Blind Bear game.

Mon update: Buttercup to be named Honorary Duck, TA gets married, Bass pro signs, Green Beetle party and more

You may have heard of a duck named Buttercup who has been in the news recently. Buttercup was born with a deformed foot and was unable to walk properly. A copy of his sister’s foot was created using 3-D printing technology, and from that he was able to be fitted with a prosthetic foot and can now walk normally. On Wednesday morning at 10:30, Buttercup will visit the Peabody Hotel. He will be granted the highest honor to which any duck can aspire, the title of “Honorary Duck,” by Peabody Duckmaster Anthony Petrina.

Grizzlies guard Tony Allen got married over the weekend. MemphiSport has some photos of the wedding.

The Design Review Board meets today at 4 to consider the signage Bass Pro has proposed for the Pyramid. The signage has been toned down considerably from the company’s original proposal.

The Green Beetle will have its 2nd Anniversary Bash this Saturday, July 20. Happy hour from 5 to 7, and The Po Boys play at 9.

Last night at Blind Bear poker, I took advantage of an interesting little twist Jamie throws into the game – the Seven-Deuce prop bet. For several blind levels, if you win a hand with 7-2 as your hole cards, you get 5000 extra chips. Why 7-2? Because it’s the worst possible starting hand in Texas Hold’em (at a full table, that is; heads-up, 3-2 is the worst hand). I was dealt 7-2 at the 50/100 blind level and figured I might as well see a flop with it. Flop came 9-7-2 and I went all-in. My hand held up through the turn and river, and in addition to the 5000 chip bonus, I got three callers and got all their chips too. I raked in over 25,000 in chips. It’s unusual to be sitting on top of 250 big blinds in a bar game!

That’ll do it for now. I’ll hit Pint Nite after work and get three more beers done toward my next plate at the Flying Saucer for $3 each.


Recently I was invited to join Nextdoor, a social networking service for neighborhoods. Once you join your neighborhood’s Nextdoor and get verified, you can see posts from your neighbors on your news feed which is similar in look to a Facebook or Google+ feed. Looking at Downtown Nextdoor’s feed, I see posts offering bar stools for sale, asking about a wandering dog on Mud Island, and asking for recommendations for a carpet and area rug cleaner. It seems to be a very useful way to connect with other Downtowners.

The site is still a trial site because we don’t have enough verified members. We need two more verified members in the next 21 days to make the site permanent. Nextdoor wanted me to send out a blanket invite to my Facebook friends, but that seems a little spammy and besides, 70% of my Facebook friends (estimated) don’t live Downtown. However, if Nextdoor sounds like something you would be interested in, hit me up and I will invite you. You can contact me on Facebook if we’re friends there; if not email and I’ll get you invited. (Allow me until Monday to work on the invites. On the weekend I spend long periods of time away from the computer.)

You have to be verified as a resident of the neighborhood you live in. There are multiple ways to do this, including calling a home or mobile phone registered to an address in the neighborhood. However, current members of the community can verify you as well. If I know you personally and know for a fact you live down here, I can verify you.

In addition to the website, I found a Nextdoor app for my iPhone and downloaded it. I could not find the Nextdoor app in the store for my Kindle Fire. Not sure if that’s because the Fire doesn’t have a GPS, or if there’s not an Android version yet. At any rate, you could still view Nextdoor on those devices via web browser.

So like I say, if this is of interest to you, hit me up; if not, I won’t keep bugging you about it. If you’re here for the Saturday news update, scroll down, because I’ve already posted it.

Sat update: Downtown recommendations, Dishcrawl, food drive, South Front train bridge, South Main Design Challenge and more

One of the fun things about living Downtown is giving tourists the locals’ perspective. Last night I was sitting at the bar at the Flying Saucer with my friend Air Traffic Mike. A few seats down, a couple from Chicago was asking the manager-in-training where would be a good place to eat. He told them he liked Double J Smokehouse. “This new guy is going to work out,” I thought. “Too bad they’re transferring him to Cordova when he’s done training, and out there he’ll be recommending Chili’s and Applebee’s.”

Ait Traffic Mike joined the conversation. “While you’re down near Double J, check out Earnestine & Hazel’s too. It’s a dive bar that used to be a pharmacy and then a brothel. They have a good burger, the Soul Burger. But if you want a burger that’s really unique, go to Dyer’s on Beale Street. Get a Double-Double and watch them wipe it through the grease. And if you want another great meal, check out the chicken at Gus’s. If you want to hang out at a place where the locals go, walk a few blocks the other way down Main and turn left on Monroe and look for a sign that says Bardog. Also, there’s another place on Main called the Blind Bear where I just had a great dirty martini with blue cheese-stuffed olives. They have all kinds of hand-crafted drinks. Pauly, jump in here.”

“I don’t need to jump in!” I replied. “You’re telling them pretty much exactly what I would tell them.” The only comment I had was that sometimes people miss the Blind Bear because, in keeping with their speakeasy theme, the sign is not super-huge and super-noticeable.

From what I saw on social media, not many people appeared to be out, so I called it an early night. I realized I have a new definition of “early night.” If I leave the bars in time to stop at City Market and get food to go, it’s an early night. If I stay out past the time City Market closes, it’s a late night. Last night I took home a bowl of their white bean and steak soup, which was delicious.

You know, looking back, it’s hard to believe I spent my first nine of my 11 ½ years Downtown griping that we didn’t have a real grocery store. We are so lucky to have City Market right in the heart of the core now. The only thing it’s missing is a meat section, although that doesn’t bother me since I rarely cook at home. If you shop at City Market but need a place to get fresh meat, go to the Memphis Farmers Market on Saturday mornings. Vendors from local farms show up with great cuts of meat to sell. Get there early, though – every chef in town knows about this, and they sell out the meat trucks by mid-morning some weeks.

I found a really good blog post about Wednesday night’s Dishcrawl in the Downtown core. (The organizers called it the “North of Beale crawl,” and I have no problem with that. Just please please please do not call my neighborhood “The NOB,” which is one of the stupidest names ever.) The stops, not revealed to crawlers in advance, were Automatic Slim’s, Aldo’s Pizza Pies, Local, and Tamp & Tap. Keep up with future Memphis Dishcrawls here.

The Downtown Neighborhood Association is conducting a food drive for the Mid-South Food Bank this month. Kids are out of school during July, and for many Memphis-area kids the school breakfast and lunch were the only nutritious meals they could count on. Bring non-perishable goods and help these kids stay healthy. The collection points are Bluf City Coffee, 505 S. Main; The Office at Uptown, 594 N. Second; and Little Cafe Eclectic, 111 Harbor Town Square on Mud Island.

A truck was stuck underneath the bridge on South Front Street, just north of the Blue Monkey, for many hours Wednesday-Thursday disrupting traffic. If you drive a tall truck, Front is not the way to get out of town heading south! Get over on Riverside.

BR:CK, a group of young architects, has won the South Main Design Challenge. They will receive $5000 to transform the Buffalo Mural lot into their vision, which is a short-term neighborhood gathering and performance space as a venue for artists, events and community groups. Their long-term goal for the space is Roam the Market, a year-round store that would serve as an extension of the Memphis Farmers Market.  The long-term concept would also include an art and sculpture garden, patio and deli. Congrats to the BR:CK folks and thanks for making Downtown an even better place to be!

Got another post coming, one more thing that I want to stand on it

Fri update: Tamp & Tap, duck march, beer and salmon tasting, Sound of Music, pop-up clothing shop, Swamp Katz CD release party

Yesterday I tried Tamp & Tap for the first time. It is the new coffee and craft beer shop on Gayoso between Main and Second, in Van Vleet Flats. The place reminds me of coffee shops I visited when I was in Cambridge, MA as a corporate trainer years ago. I bought a Stone Levitation Ale for $4.92, which seemed like a very good value. It seemed like it would be a good place to bring a laptop or iPad to work while sipping on a beer and maybe eating a sandwich (I don’t drink coffee). I probably wouldn’t hang out there for hours drinking beer like I do at the Flying Saucer, but when a coffee shop environment works better than a bar, it’s a great space.

For those of you who have never seen the famous duck march at the Peabody Hotel, here’s a video that was shot by a guest.

Cash Saver on Madison in Midtown is having a Schlafly can sampling this afternoon until 4:00. They will be serving fresh Alaskan salmon with the beer. Free salmon? Wonder if the Nuh-Uh Girl will show up.

The Orpheum is having a Sound of Music sing-along tonight as part of its summer classic movie series. Before the movie there will be a concert by a capella quartet Decades at 6:30.

There will be a Dare Threads pop-up shop at Corked Carrot tonight, 314 S. Main.

The Swamp Katz have a CD release party tonight at the Brass Door, 9 PM.

More news than I have time to post, so I may do a second after-work post. If not I’ll get the rest of the news online tomorrow.

Ropa Vieja with Congri rice and fried plantains @ Havana’s Pilon

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Havana’s Pilon is a tiny restaurant serving authentic Cuban food that opened in the Downtown core a couple of months ago. Located on Second just east of Madison, across from the Mad Earl, the restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Owner Maryalis Gonazles promises on the restaurant’s website to bring Cuban food to Downtown while saving her customers money and time. Based on my first experience today, she has lived up to that promise.

I checked out the restaurant’s menu before I went down there, and I really appreciated the photos of the food since I had never heard of some of the dishes before. However, I let Foursquare choose my meal. My friend Justin had left a tip about the place recommending the ropa vieja with rice and fried plantains. I decided that sounded like a fine lunch, although I selected the Congri rice (rice with black beans) rather than the regular rice as a side.

As I mentioned, the restaurant is tiny. I counted 18 seats, and you’re going to be real cozy with your lunch and dinner mates if you dine in. Since I live less than a block away, I asked for my food to go. With tax, it was only $8.19, very reasonable for quality Cuban food. They had my order out to me in only about 5 minutes. I expected a 10 to 15 minute wait and was pleased to get my food so fast.

Ropa vieja is shredded beef in a light tomato sauce with green and red peppers and olives. I first had this dish several years ago when the Rumba Room had a lunch buffet, and loved it. Havana’s Pilon’s ropa vieja was every bit as good, and the Congri rice complemented it well. The fried green plantains were similar in taste and texture to fried bananas, and their sweetness was a nice counter to the flavor of the shredded beef and rice. Overall, I was very pleased with my lunch in terms of both taste and value. I will be back soon. Next time I will probably try the picadillo, a Cuban-style hash made with ground beef.

I’m very happy this restaurant is here and I wish them success. If you haven’t tried Havana’s Pilon yet, you are missing out on some delicious food.