Tue update: Green Beetle, Stock & Belle, ILM podcast, and a couple of letters worth a read

The Green Beetle is having a party Friday to celebrate the 3rd anniversary of its re-opening by Josh Huckaby, and the 75th anniversary of its opening by original owner, Josh’s grandfather Frank Liberto. Party starts at 5. Wiseacre Brewery will be joining the fun and will have six of their beers on draft. The Po Boys take the stage at 8.

In other South Main news, clothing boutique Stock & Belle at 387 S. Main, originally a temporary pop-up shop, will remain there permanently.

The I Love Memphis latest podcast features Memphis Flyer editor Bruce vanWyngarden. Bruce is always a fascinating person to talk to.

Couple of letters that are well worth a read:

Letter from an Englishman to the USA soccer team

Letter from a filthy rich American to his fellow filthy rich Americans on what will eventually happen given current distribution of wealth

This has been a good week so far. A few more hours of work this afternoon, a quick errand I need to get done, and then I will be out at Bardog for another bonus edition of Melissa Monday on a Tuesday.

Mon update: Mojito Monday, Memphis Made dinner at Local, trolley meeting, Bon Ton grab & go, and mor

If you like mojitos, today would be a good day to go by Cafe Keough. It’s Mojito Monday there and Jai will be serving hand-crafted mojitos for only $4. Check out the food menu while you’re there – food is really good.

There will be a beer dinner by Memphis Made Brewing Co. tomorrow night at the Downtown Local Gastropub. It will be a four-course meal, with each course paired with a Memphis Made favorite or new arrival. Andy and Drew, the brewery’s founders, will be on hand to talk about beer, food, the brewery, U.S. soccer, or whatever you want to talk about. You can find the menu here.

Important date to put on your calendar: Next Monday, July 14. On that date, there will be a meeting about the trolleys at the Memphis Transit Board Room, 545 S. Main, from 6 to 8 in the evening. The meeting was called by state representative Barbara Cooper to discuss the status of the trolleys, which are supposed to be offline for 3-6 months. Will the existing trolleys be restored? Will other vintage trolleys be purchased? Will the trolleys be replaced with a more modern system? Or (as some suspect) is the 3-6 month window nothing but bullshit and MATA intends to get rid of the trolleys for good?

Bon Ton Cafe is now selling grab & go lunches for those who don’t have time to sit down at a table. Grab & go has been a popular concept lately, with eighty3 and City Market doing it as well. Bon Ton has both sandwich and salad boxes and there are boxes for vegetarians as well.

Yesterday was an awesome day to end an awesome weekend. The BBQ team prez arranged a get-together at Texas de Brazil for brunch. Since TdB doesn’t open until noon, I had an hour to pre-game at Bardog, where someone convinced me to have Fireball shots. By the time I got to TdB I was a little tipsy. You know what, though? I was an eating machine! Usually I eat like a bird and fail to get my money’s worth, but yesterday I was all over it. I had three bowls of lobster bisque, two helpings of those super yummy au gratin potatoes, lots of bacon, and of course lots of meat that the servers were carrying around. I outlasted my two table-mates, which almost never happens. Of course, I dipped damn near everything in the lobster bisque: The bacon, the grilled meats, the jalapeno I grabbed from the salad bar, the mozzarella balls. SO good! Afterward I spent the afternoon with friends at the Silly Goose and stopped by the Saucer as well. It was so wonderful to spend my Sunday in the best neighborhood in the city, Downtown!

I’ve received an insider tip about a new place to go that sounds like it has the potential to be very cool. It’s a place for the locals to chill out and listen to live music. I don’t want to blog about it until I have seen it for myself, but ask me about it if you see me in person, or text me. Perhaps we can get a group together to check it out this weekend.

Plans for tonight are the usual, first Melissa Monday at Bardog then Pint Nite at the Saucer. Can’t go wrong with the classics!

Last day of Tube Top Month

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Ciara and Roglly at the Silly Goose. Ciara knows what month this is!

On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me… twelve drummers drumming… eleven pipers piping… ten lords a’ leaping… nine ladies dancing… eight maids a’ milking… seven swans a’ swimming… six geese a’ laying… five gold rings! Four calling birds… three French hens… two turtle doves… and a partridge in a pear tree.

It’s the equivalent of the 12th day of Christmas as far as this blog is concerned. It’s the 45th and last day of Tube Top Month for 2014. Let me make one thing clear though… although Tube Top Month is coming to an end, I am ALL ABOUT THE TUBE TOPS 24/7/365. Keep em comin’! I am definitely not opposed to posting tube top photos outside of Tube Top Month.

“I’m actually glad you don’t wear tube tops. Otherwise I would have died of a heart attack a couple of years ago.” -me, in a text message I sent yesterday. See, I know how to talk all romantic ‘n stuff to women!

Get ready, Memphis. From May 22 through July 5, 2015, this will once again be Memphis’ best fashion blog. For now, though, I’m headed out to Bardog and then Texas de Brazil for brunch. I’m bringing the camera in case anyone wants to close out Tube Top Month ’14 in style.

July Fourth recap

Yesterday was a demonstration of all that is good and right about life in Downtown Memphis. My friends on the Squeal Street BBQ team were doing a practice cook for Best Memphis Burger Fest on one of their team leaders’ parking lot at 3. Since my BBQ team doesn’t enter Burger Fest, they wisely acquired the services of “Mr. Load-in” for the practice cook. “We’ll have PBR in the cooler for you,” they told me.

“Since I’m advising them on their burgers, I need to not start drinking before 3,” I told myself. Then a few minutes after 11 AM, a friend texted me and said he was pretty much ready to roll. “I’ll be at Bardog in 30 minutes!” I replied. So much for taking it easy.

Bardog had one TV on Wimbledon and the other on the Nathan’s hot dog eating contest. My buddy wasn’t too thrilled about that considering the France-Germany World Cup game was on. However, Bloom was at the other end of the bar and he couldn’t get her attention to change the channel. Then I got a text from one of our BBQ teammates. “There’s a tube top in the stands of the World Cup,” she said. “It’s a classy one.” She thinks some tube tops are vulgar, and to be honest I prefer the vulgar ones, but given what I’ve seen of the World Cup, I’ll take any tube top I can get. “BLOOM!” I shouted. “WE NEED THE WORLD CUP ON!”

It was believed that the tube top was a Germany fan, so I rooted for Germany the rest of the game. They won. Deutschland, Deutschland, ja, ja, ja! I hope the tube top was very excited and jumped up and down a lot to celebrate the victory.

Several more members of the gang showed up, and we had a discussion of Downtown’s most annoying bar patrons. I made a trip to the restroom, and damned if “number one” himself wasn’t sitting at the bar when I came back. He was twisting and turning, trying to hear our conversations, aware that we had some kind of plan for the Fourth but not sure what. No doubt he wanted to find out the plan and inquire about it, in the hope that someone would feel sorry for him and invite him along. No one did.

We were going to leave a little before 3 to allow time to get down to South Main for the cookout. However, Panda, whose bar shift started at 3, posted this to Facebook: “TUBE TOP DAY!!!!!!! HAPPY 4th Of July!!!! Come Party With Me for HaPpY HoUr-”

“Maybe we should have one more!!!” I announced. It was worth it.

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We got down to the Squeal Street cookout about 3:30. The burgers hadn’t been put on yet, and everyone relaxed and enjoyed a few games of cornhole.

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While I was watching the cornhole game, I got a Facebook message from the star of the PG-13 video I blogged about yesterday. In the audio that went with the video, she explained that the PG-13 video was a do-over because no one wanted to see someone named Mike Hunt. I guess Mike must have photobombed the original non-PG-13 video. That’s a real problem these days. She challenged me to re-create her stunt but I didn’t have access to a kiddie pool and I didn’t have a skirt on so I couldn’t.

While waiting on the burgers to cook, I checked Facebook to see what everyone was up to. The BBQ teammate who told me about the tube top at the World Cup was at a cookout of her own, and she posted a pic of kabobs that are part of her native cuisine. Damn they looked good. Maybe we should let her enter those in Anything But next year. I mean, I know we have Best Booth and Best Microwave Popcorn locked down, but it might be nice to try and win other trophies too. Or if not a competition entry, just let her cook them to feed the team if she’s willing. It seems like we have a lot of team members with cooking skills that we could put to use.

About 5:30 the burgers started coming off the grill.

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The year I was a judge at Burger Fest, one of the four categories on which we had to judge the burgers was juiciness. Squeal Street nailed that part of it so well that I left the cookout with grease stains all over my T-shirt. On the scale of 2 to 10 that I used as a judge, I would have to give Squeal Street’s burgers at least a 9 and I might go all the way up. These burgers were better than any of the ones I sampled at Burger Fest ’12 or ’13 and I think they’ve got a good chance to win. The festival is on September 21 so they have a couple more months to practice.

I post-gamed at the Silly Goose with some of my Moody Ques teammates, then called it a day. I missed the fireworks but I really didn’t mind. Awesome day. Thanks to all my friends for making the Fourth so much fun. ‘Merica!

Riverside Drive closed this evening

If you decide to put on a tube top and come Downtown to Tom Lee Park to watch tonight’s fireworks, you can come to the park but you’ll have to park your car somewhere else. The newly two-lane Riverside Drive will be closed to traffic tonight. Even when Riverside was four lanes, there were traffic problems. With two lanes, the drive just can’t handle it. Traffic will be re-routed to other streets.

More details here.

July 4 update: Another stupid MATA decision, paid family leave, Bardog, Facebook tip for restaurant specials, the #1 fashion blog in Memphis, and more

I slept in a bit this morning, getting up about an hour and 15 minutes later than usual. I got on Facebook and one of my friends on there shared a video with the comment, “I had to delete old and repost PG13 version.” Dammit! I’m never sleeping late again.

If you’re coming Downtown for the fireworks today, don’t depend on the green buses that are trolley substitutes to get you around the area. In a typically stupid move, MATA has the buses running a Sunday schedule today, with the Main Street Trolley running 10 to 10, the Riverfront trolley running 10 to 6, and the Madison line not running at all. MATA just doesn’t seem to care about its customers one bit. Sometimes I think the city should de-fund MATA and instead use the money as seed money for private companies who could do bus and trolley service better. They sure couldn’t do it any worse!

Geez… I kinda sounded like a Republican in that last paragraph… pretty scary.

Getting back to political views you’re more accustomed to seeing on this blog: From the Daily Beast: Hillary Clinton’s golden ticket to the White House is paid family leave. Totally agree. It’s not something I will ever have to worry about, but I have seen female friends of mine put themselves through financial hardship because they had to take unpaid leave to have a baby. It seems really unfair. As the article points out, France mandates 16 paid weeks leave and Germany 14.

Work let us go early yesterday, so I stopped by Bardog for some bonus Panda time. They just got a pasta-making machine in the kitchen and were trying all kinds of things out. They brought me a sample of what I guess was ravioli with one of Aldo’s grandma’s meatballs inside. Needless to say, it was delicious. Chef John is going to have fun with his new toy.

Facebook tip: If you “like” your favorite restaurants on Facebook and they post daily specials, you might not see them because not everything a page posts gets in everyone’s news feed. However, what you can do is visit the page, mouse over “Liked,” and click “Get Notifications” from the menu that appears. Then you will get a notification every time the restaurant posts. I have used this lately to keep up with the Slice of the Day at Aldo’s Pizza Pies.

A few days ago I took a “What career SHOULD you have?” quiz on Facebook, and got fashion designer. I got a good laugh out of that, but then I realized it does make a little sense. After all, from Memorial Day weekend through July 4 weekend every year I write the #1 fashion blog in Memphis. Yesterday one of our favorite bartenders got invited to the same July 4 event I will be attending today, and was told “dress appropriately.” She asked, “So I should wear a tube top then?” I’m glad to have such a positive influence on the city’s fashion.

I can’t post my exact plans for this evening because we don’t want a turd in the punch bowl, but if you’re curious hit me up on text or Facebook. If you come Downtown for fireworks tonight, be safe. Walk where it’s well lit, walk in groups, and don’t take shortcuts down alleys. Time to hit Publish and do a little day drinking at the Saucer and the ‘dog in preparation for tonight.

Book review: Memphis Barbecue: A Succulent History of Smoke, Sauce, and Soul

My friend and former student Craig David Meek was kind enough to give me a copy of his new book, Memphis Barbecue: A Succulent History of Smoke, Sauce, and Soul, to review prior to a booksigning and tasting event he is holding at the Cotton Museum on Thursday, July 10. All right, everyone. I am by no means a professional book reviewer. I can’t promise that this review is going to be any good.

But Craig’s book is. In fact, it is excellent.

Anyone who cooks BBQ, either professionally or as a hobby, needs to buy a copy of this book. You will learn something, I promise. There is no one “correct” way to make BBQ and Craig’s book pretty much runs the table of all the different ways it is done in Memphis.

Anyone who is on a Memphis in May BBQ team needs to buy a copy of this book for the same reason. It could very well put a few ideas in your head for the preparation of next year’s competition entry.

Anyone who lives in the greater Memphis area who likes to eat BBQ needs to buy a copy of this book. You will discover new places to try, and you will learn how your favorite restaurants prepare your food.

Anyone who likes to read about the history of Memphis needs to buy a copy of this book. The history of Memphis and its BBQ over the past 90 or so years are tightly intertwined. You will learn things about Memphis you didn’t know.

Craig starts out with a discussion of the origins of barbecue and the first restaurants that appeared in or near Memphis in the 1920s, including Leonard’s and Pig-N-Whistle in Memphis and Bozo’s Hot Pit Bar-B-Q down highway 70 in Mason. The chapter also touches on the history of the Memphis tradition of putting cole slaw on BBQ pork sandwiches.

The book then goes on to discuss BBQ as history moved into the blues and rock’n’roll eras. I had no idea West Memphis was so prominent in the development of blues and ‘cue. Then Craig progresses into the 1960s with a look at the early days of The Rendezvous, which is still around, and Loeb’s and Coleman’s, popular chain eateries that have since gone away. He also gives a tip on the one place in town where you can still get an experience much like eating at an early ’60s Loeb’s. Sorry, you’ll have to buy the book to find out. (Hint: It has the only surviving Loeb’s pig-shaped sign with the pig painting preserved.)

Next Craig discusses Tops, and the decadence of topping a burger with BBQ pork. Tops’ Bellevue location had a very famous regular customer in the ’60s.

Next Craig moves into the decline of Memphis, with the shooting of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the demise of STAX. Craig points out that the restaurant that is now The Bar-B-Q Shop opened during this period under another name, and BBQ spaghetti is discussed.

The book then moves on to the late ’70s and ’80s, and the rise of Gridley’s, Corky’s, and the Neely family restaurants. Craig has a tip on how to feel like a caveman at Cozy Corner, and talks about Payne’s.

The origins of BBQ Fest and the rebirth of Beale Street are discussed next, as is the birth of BBQ nachos at Germantown Commissary.

Restaurants with their own smokehouses/pits are discussed next in a fascinating chapter. BBQ team pitmasters will love this part of the book.

The book then comes back to BBQ Fest, which by the 1980s was drawing hundreds of teams. Craig interviews several teams, with discussions of budgets, serious competitor teams vs. hobbyists, how teams find members, and many other insights into how BBQ teams work. He also talks about restaurants that have been opened by people who are were on BBQ teams, including Central BBQ. The next chapter goes on to discuss cooking techniques at BBQ Fest, and again is excellent reading for pitmasters. The only thing Craig didn’t mention about BBQ Fest that I would have included is that it is a great place for tube top watching.

Chapter 11 opens with a look at the Moody Ques team (!!!!!!!!!!! hey Squeal Street, I don’t see YOU mentioned in here) and a discussion with David Scott Walker about soon-to-open restaurant Schweinehaus, then segues into a discussion of Memphis music, and then a look at Alex’s Tavern on Jackson Avenue. There are many other tips for good places to eat as well. Find out where to get rib tip fried rice! Many “secrets to the perfect barbecue” are shared, and they’re all different.

Memphis Barbecue Co. in Horn Lake is one of my favorite places to eat lunch. It’s owned by BBQ Fest Grand Champions. I love what Craig had to say about the restaurant: “Despite its location flanked by national chains like Applebee’s and Cracker Barrel in an overdeveloped suburban commercial center off Goodman Road next to I-55, it represents an oasis of quality and service in a desert of corporate mediocrity.” Craig absolutely NAILED it there.

Later in the book, learn which well-known Memphis rapper wants to own his own BBQ joint. He already has sauce and rub in stores.

Craig goes on to discuss a one-page pamphlet called How to Clean Your Smokers and Grills for Dummies. You can get it at the corner of Macon and Oakland.

In short, this book is well worth the money. I wish I could buy a copy for every member of my BBQ team. The book is available at Booksellers at Laurelwood, the former Davis-Kidd bookstore in East Memphis. Craig is working to get it in other local booksellers as well. (In case anyone from Center for Southern Folklore is reading this: The book would be a great fit for your store.)

The book will also be available Downtown at a reception at the Cotton Museum on Thursday, July 10, in the evening. Craig will sign copies of the book and talk BBQ with guests. BBQ will be served to eat, naturally. I will post more details about this event as I get them.

Five stars out of five for the book, which Craig clearly put months and months of research into. Check out his Memphis Que blog as well.

UPDATE: Here is more information on the Cotton Museum event. The book is available at Burke’s and Barnes and Noble as well.

Wed update #2: Graceland/Elvis’ planes, possible Brewery Untapped news, new club going into former Club Crave, WWE film crew coming to town

For thirty years, guests at Graceland have been able to see two jets that were once owned by Elvis, the Lisa Marie and the Hound Dog II. However, Graceland plans to remove the planes by spring and a lot of people are not happy. There’s a Keep Elvis’s The Lisa Marie at Graceland Facebook page you can “like” for updates.

Possible good news: Brewery Untapped may be back this fall. Keep in mind that this is a big MAYBE. A Halloween event there would be very cool.

A building I’m less happy to see occupied again is 380 Beale. The space formerly occupied by Club Crave is being redeveloped as, you guessed it, another nightclub. It’s said to be “a very different type of club” than what Crave was, but haven’t we heard that before? I think a wrecking ball and some bulldozers would do a fantastic job remodeling 380 Beale.

WWE is sending a film crew to Memphis on Thursday, July 10. They plan to film a day in the life of Jerry “The King” Lawler, probably for content on their new WWE Network. Lawler will be main-eventing Memphis Wildfire Wrestling that night at Minglewood Hall, facing opponent “Big Poppa Pump” Scott Steiner. I’m a big fan of “The King” and he and I share an appreciation of 20-year-olds in tube tops.

I’ll have the review of Craig David Meek’s book up tomorrow, so check back.

Wed update: Hard Rock Cafe, July 4 at AutoZone Park, walking tour Groupon, crosswalk signals, High Cotton taproom, Google Images: your fashion advisor

The weekend is drawing closer. Friday-Sunday three-day weekends are much more rare than Saturday-Monday. I’m getting excited although I don’t yet have much of the weekend planned out… perfectly okay with that, because the spontaneous weekends are often the best. The one thing I do have planned is finding out if some friends of mine cook burgers as well as they cook grilled ribs with mustard sauce.

I polled my Facebook friends on whether they thought locals will go to Hard Rock Cafe more often once it opens in its new location at Second and Beale (former EP Delta Kitchen building). The response was a resounding YES. Downtowners seem to be very excited about Hard Rock. The times I went to the old location, the food and service were both well above average.

You probably already know that there will be fireworks following the July 4 Redbirds game. However, a lot else will be going on too. The first 1000 fans in the park will get a red rally towel. Before the game (4:00 to 6:00) there will be a block party in the plaza with live music and $2 Coors Light. There will be an all-you-can-eat dinner buffet ticket package, and there will also be baby races sponsored by Fertility Associates of Memphis.

There’s a Groupon for Sunset Walking Tours’ Historic Downtown Memphis Walking Tour. $29 for two ($58 value) or $49 for four ($116 value).

From Gizmodo: Why countdown clocks for pedestrians cause more car crashes. You may have seen the newly upgraded crosswalk signals Downtown, which tell pedestrians how many seconds they have left to get across the street. These signals also tell drivers how long they have, which can lead to tailgating as drivers try to make it through. I have to admit I’m guilty of this at the last light before I get home from work, the one at Second and Madison.

High Cotton has announced its plans for the weekend for its taproom at 598 Monroe. On Thursday, Taco Shack will be there. On Friday, there will be special Fourth of July hours of noon to 7, with fresh gulf shrimp. Saturday the taproom will once again open at noon, with food trucks in the afternoon, in celebration of the 60th anniversary of Sun Studio around the corner.

From Lifehacker: Use Google Image search to match unmatchable clothing. Of course, you don’t have this problem if you wear tube tops. Tube tops match everything!

The Brooklyn Nets are said to be close to signing a deal with Lionel Hollins to make him head coach. It didn’t work out with the Grizzlies but I’m happy to see Hollins get another opportunity to be a head coach. He’s a fine coach and a fine man.

Way too much news to post in a lunch break, so check back. There will be an evening post. Topics will include Graceland, the possible return of a beloved social space, the possible return of a not-so-beloved social space, Jerry “The King” Lawler and possibly more.