Buzzsaws and jackhammers and Friday news



Living on the Main Street Mall is nice in terms of convenience. I can walk to my favorite restaurants and bars, to sporting events, to live shows. However, sometimes there’s a price to pay for that convenience.

I have a sciatic nerve injury that first happened when I was in my 20s. I’d like to say it was a sports injury, but it first happened when I sat in the wrong way in my desk chair at the University of Memphis grading papers. About every 2 years it flares back up. This was the flare-up week for 2013-14. If you’ve had this injury you know it’s no fun. Pain in your lower back, shooting down your leg. I can control it somewhat with ibuprofen but the hard part is getting out of bed and to the medicine cabinet.

So this morning I contacted the office, saying I was going to take half a sick day in the morning and try to get some additional sleep to make the pain go away.

Well, that didn’t happen. Not 30 minutes after I sent the email, the sounds of buzzsaws and jackhammers fired up. There are holes all over the Main Street Mall with orange barrels around them. The drilling and hammering continued all morning and my four hours of sick leave amounted to maybe 10 minutes additional sleep. Paul Morris who runs DMC said that they are replacing the drainage system to keep standing water off the Main Street Mall. They are also getting rid of unsightly wooden boards that have been covering the old drainage system.

Back doesn’t feel any better but if there’s a silver lining to this morning it’s that I got crawfish etoufee from Court House Deli for lunch.

The Grizzlies take on the San Antonio Spurs tonight at 7 at FedExForum. Channel 5 reports that Marc Gasol has said he will play tonight after getting results from an MRI.

From the CA: Pat Halloran will step down as the head of the Orpheum in 2015.

Speaking of the Orpheum, tickets are now on sale for Sarah McLachlan’s April 1 concert.

Three sports rumors for today (remember, these are just rumors):

  1. The Cleveland Cavaliers are interested in Tayshaun Prince.
  2. Radio host Chris Vernon is reporting that the Liberty Bowl has informed the SEC of its order of interest in teams: Tennessee first, then Arkansas, then LSU. Possible opponents from the Big 12 would include Texas or West Virginia. I would love to see Arkansas-Texas, having grown up around that Southwest Conference rivalry. Please don’t send the Vols here!
  3. (Really take this one with a grain of salt) The Big 12 needs to expand to include two more teams so it can split into divisions and have a conference championship. Cincinnati is a natural fit for an 11th team. The 12th team is up for speculation – and some are saying it could be Memphis.

There will be a tribute to the life and music of Bukka White tonight at the Center for Southern Folklore at 7:30. Blues singer Zeke Johnson will host, joined by the Louisiana Mojo Queen Ms. Zeno on vocals and Paulette Regan on washboard and vocals.

This is cool: Your washer and dryer can text you when the laundry is done

That’s it for now. Back is still hurting but I’m going to try to make it to the Prohibition Repeal events tonight. I hope this rain is outta here by then.



Grizzlies news and more in this second Thursday update

Several Grizzlies items this afternoon for this second Thursday news post. First of all, some good news: The Riverfront Pop-up Fitness Park at Tom Lee Park has completed its three-month trial period successfully and will remain at the park until April. At that point it will be taken down to prepare for Memphis in May.

The Grizzlies have announced their 2014-15 season of giving plans and events.

Good article on SBNation: The Rise of the Grizzlies, from Gasol to Gasol

In not-so-good news for the Grizzlies, the team lost to the Houston Rockets last night at home. However, there was a silver lining, because we got to watch a couple of former Memphis Tigers playing for the Rockets doing well. Tarik Black, who played for three years under Josh Pastner, started as center and logged 23 minutes and 10 points. Joey Dorsey, who played on John Calipari’s 2008 NCAA Finals runner-up team, came off the bench as power forward and played 22 minutes, scoring 7 points. Congratulations to both of these men for making it to the big time.

All Huey’s locations, including the Downtown one, have added two new menu items: a pretzel burger and apple hickory wings.

From the MBJ: New homes are planned for a gated community in Victorian Village. Architecture will fit with the existing neighborhood. These will be the first newly constructed Downtown lots since the recession.

That’ll do it for this afternoon. Time for PBR.

Not one Prohibition Repeal Party tomorrow, but two… plus a lot more news

The big event happening Downtown tonight is the Bar-Kays 50th anniversary celebration at the Cannon Center. Doors open at 6 for cocktails, with red carpet 6:30 to 7:30. Performances will include The Dazz Band, Eddie Levert, The Mary Jane Girls, George Clinton, Confunkshun, Willie Clayton, Jazze Pha, Shirley Brown, Sir Charles Jones, and D.J. Quick. Tickets are $97.11. More info here.

If you’re looking for some good college basketball to watch tonight, turn on ESPN2 at 7. #18 Arkansas takes on #20 Iowa State. Bobby Portis is Arkansas’ big star, but keep an eye on Michael Qualls too. He’s the one who made that last-second putback last year to upset Kentucky. Given the state of Memphis’ basketball program this year I’m glad I have the Hogs as a fallback team to watch.

It has now been announced that BOTH the Blind Bear Speakeasy and the Silly Goose Lounge will be doing Prohibition Repeal Day parties tomorrow night. Here are the details, pasted from Facebook.

Blind Bear

Repeal Day Anniversary Party…Celebrating the End of Prohibition!!!! Dress up in your Best Speakeasy 1933 attire and be ready to Celebrate 81 years of Non Prohibited Drinking!!! Drink Specials!! Costume Contests!! Lee Taylor Band @10pm!! Photographer ready to add to the Dining Room Wall!! $4 Moonshine Shots in the cutest Mason shot glasses ever, $5 Moonshine Shooters, $6 Moscow Mules, Manhattans, Champagne Cocktails & Whisper Sisters (all on Giggle Water Cocktail list, with Yummy Brands, no well / house)

Silly Goose

Friday – REPEAL DAY! two days away. In spirit of America’s social culture the trinity of cocktail will be on special for $5 (Manhattan, Oldfashioned, and Martini) Dress it up as we will be awarding the most dapper couple with $200 second $100 and third $50 Gift Certificate. Cody will be mashing and mixing music from the Roaring twenties in Great Gatsby fashion.

Roscoe showing off his outfit for Friday night. Someone please explain "gangster attire" to Roscoe because this ain't it.
Roscoe showing off his outfit for Friday night. Someone please explain “gangster attire” to Roscoe because this ain’t it.

Both bars having repeal parties the same night is an excellent idea. It will allow patrons to bar-hop without looking out of place in costume. I plan on being at both events.

Rachel’s Salon, where I get my hair cut a few times a year, is having a special this weekend: Purchase $100 in Aveda holiday items or a gift certificate for $75, and receive a $20 gift card for yourself. The salon is also offering double Pure Points (don’t ask me what those are, no idea) on Aveda products and gifts.

You can get a free Grizzlies T-shirt tomorrow at C-spire locations around town. Closest location to Downtown is 1680 Union.

The Grizzlies are having a beer tasting night at next Friday, December 12’s game vs. the Charlotte Hornets featuring SweetWater beer. You can take part in the tasting with the purchase of a special $85 Club level ticket or $40 Terrace IV ticket.

Yesterday I reported that Trader Joe’s was scouting Germantown locations. That is true, but the chain has no immediate plans for Memphis.

Interesting graphic I found on FiveThirtyEight: How predictable is severe weather in your area? The West Coast (except Northern California), Alaska, Hawaii, and southern Florida are the most predictable; the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles, western Kansas, and western South Dakota are the least. Memphis is slightly less predictable than average.

Interesting conversations last night at happy hour… seems like damn near every time I go out, I hear a new story about the same person throwing things, starting arguments, provoking fights, throwing punches… and yet that person manages to charm bar owners and managers to the point that they are not only allowed back in, but welcomed. I just don’t get it.

Happy birthday to my BBQ team’s vice-president today… I’m sure “Mr. Load-in” will have a beer with you sometime this weekend. Back to work for now. Leading off at the Silly Goose after work as usual for Thursday. Possibly enough news for a second after-work news update, so check back.

Couple of pieces of grocery store news and more

In case you missed it, I posted a late-night “second Tuesday update” post with a ton of news (it actually went up a few minutes after midnight, so it has today’s time stamp). Be sure to scroll down and read it after you read this one.

Got a couple of pieces of grocery store news for you today. The one that’s being widely reported, that you’ve probably already seen, is that Trader Joe’s is scouting store sites in Germantown. I wish they were scouting Downtown or Midtown, but I totally understand their desire to go where the money is. Having lived not far from a Trader Joe’s for six months in San Diego, I can tell you, it would be worth the car ride to the ‘burbs.

For those familiar with both: If Memphis could have one, which would you choose: Trader Joe’s or In-N-Out Burger?

Now for a piece of lesser-known grocery news: City Market is coming to Cooper-Young. The neighborhood grocery, which has operated a Downtown location at Union and Main for about the past three years, is going into a building at 836 S. Cooper. If memory serves correctly, I believe that would be the former convenience store at Cooper and Elzey. City Market is a great little grocery that is known especially for its deli, its selection of international and specialty foods, smoothies, produce, and cheeses among other things. Its owners are Indian so if you like Indian food you are in for a treat. The market will be a real asset for the Cooper-Young neighborhood. “Like” the market on Facebook to keep up with when it will open and what it will carry.

The NBA announced this morning that the December 16 Memphis vs. Golden State game will now be nationally televised by ESPN. Tip-off is 7 PM.

From the New York Times: Bass Pro Shops to add a Memphis Pyramid to its empire

I have qualified for the Blind Bear’s 16-week poker league final table tentatively to be held Sunday, December 14. Since I can’t be knocked out of the top 10 I am going to sit out the remaining two poker games between now and then and let the others fight it out for the points. I won a gong at the April final table this year and I won an iPad at the first-ever final table in April 2012.

That’s it for now. Barring any work-related complications I should be out tonight, leading off at the Silly Goose around 5:30.

Holiday shopper rant and a second helping of Tuesday news

(Editor’s note: It may be a few minutes into Wednesday morning despite the Tuesday news title. I stay up late.)

I’m Rob Lowe.

And I’m Holiday Shopper Rob Lowe. I stand at the cash register with my weekly ad circular, quibbling over the price of each of the 50 items in my cart, handing the cashier 13 different coupons (half of which are expired or for the wrong item), while my 4 kids drool all over the place, oblivious to the fact that there are 9 people behind me in line who are trying to buy a couple of necessities on their lunch break and need to get back to work soon.

Such was my life at Horn Lake Target today.

Don’t be this me.

Seriously, why do people lose all standards of decent human behavior when they’re in a big-box retailer between Thanksgiving and December 31? It’s nice to have a Target I can get to in my work lunch hour, but I’m happy there’s not one Downtown.

Earnestine & Hazel’s will introduce a sister restaurant in the back bar called Hole in the Wall. It will be headed by Kelly English and will be a separate space with different hours and offerings than E&H. Also, E&H will be acquiring a liquor license because of the sister restaurant’s opening.

The Flying Saucer is planning four beer dinners next year, in March, June, August, and November, with breweries Schlafly, TN Brew Works, Lazy Magnolia, and SP Brewery. At least five beers will be sampled at each, with food pairings to match. If you want to go to all four dinners, a $150 value, you can purchase a “season pass” for $99. Ask your Beer Goddess for details. Beer dinners are something the Saucer has always excelled at, making the pass a very good value.

In other Saucer news, the bar has offered some suggestions if you are looking for a toy to bring to the Stumbling Santa pub crawl that departs from the Saucer Saturday at 7. Wooden puzzles with the big pieces, African-American dolls, Transformers, Spiderman or Batman toys, color rings that infants stack to develop motor skills, letter number toys and blocks, toy trains, and mini footballs and basketballs. Toys will be collected and donated to the children of Porter-Leath.

Also note that there are certain toys they can’t take to Porter-Leath: toy guns or knives, games that involve play money or throwing dice, or food.

There will be another Memphis Type History book signing Downtown. It will happen Friday at the High Cotton Brewery tap room at 598 Monroe. If you buy the book, they’ll give you a free High Cotton pint. 4-8 PM.

Know someone in Memphis who is active in health and fitness issues? You can nominate them as a Memphis Grizzlies/Blue Cross Tennessee “Shape the State Hero.”

Gizmodo reports on an interesting thing some restaurants in New York are trying: Instead of taking reservations, they are selling tickets to dine. Whereas in an arena you would pick your section and seat, in a restaurant, you pick your table, date, and time. This is good for the restaurants because the ticket system eliminates no-shows and last-minute cancellations: The diners pay for their ticket up front. Also, just as some seats in an arena are better than others, some tables, dates, and times are more in demand than others, and the restaurants can upcharge for those “premium” tickets.

Aldo’s Pizza Pies will be closed this evening for the annual employee Christmas party.

The Belz Museum is offering $1 admission 7 AM to noon Saturday. You can come by during or after the St. Jude Marathon, and there will be free coffee and hot chocolate for visitors. The museum is in Pembroke Square on the Main Street Mall.

Off to bed. Back tomorrow or when more news comes in.

Lots of Tuesday news

Last night my friend Bob and I were at the bar at Bardog for “Melissa Monday,” so named because it’s the one day a week bartender Melissa works a happy hour shift. Bardog’s owner, Aldo, was there hanging Christmas stockings on the bar. Each employee – each bartender, server, barback, kitchen employee, and manager – had their own stocking, their name written on it in glitter.

“It’s the little things like this,” Aldo told Bob and me. It’s just a stocking, he explained, but it tells the employees that they’re cared about, that they are part of the family. “Making money is nice, of course, but it’s also showing respect” to the people who work for him, Aldo said. It’s a winning strategy. Because Aldo shows his employees respect, turnover at Bardog is very, very low. And because employees at Bardog tend to stick around for years, they have time to develop relationships with customers. Which creates more and more regulars. Which is good for business.

Yeah I’d come to Bardog a lot in any case, because I like the bar. But why am I there most Mondays for happy hour? To see Melissa, who by the way has been there since the day the place opened, more than 6 years.

Why is Bardog my first stop on Saturday mornings? To see Panda, who has been there since the day the place opened.

Why is Bardog usually my first stop on Sunday mornings? To see Bloom, who has been there since the day the place opened.

It’s a strategy that makes a lot of sense. Treat your employees like they are valuable, not expendable, and your employees will build your business for you.

On to the news… AP has an article about coaches who could be moving up in the college football world soon. Memphis Tigers head coach Justin Fuente was among those mentioned. This is the first time Memphis football hasn’t sucked in many, many years. The university may need to make some moves to retain his services. If Nebraska or Florida came calling, could you blame Fuente for at least considering it?

Another local coach is in the news too… Dave Joerger has been named the October/November NBA Western Conference Coach of the Month. The CA’s Chris Herrington pointed out that the Joerger has been coach seven months that the award was handed out, and he has won it three of those seven times.

Cafe Pontotoc has announced that it will start serving brunch beginning this Saturday.

Friday is the 81st anniversary of the end of Prohibition. The Blind Bear Speakeasy will throw a Repeal Party that night to celebrate. Ever seen the black-and-white photos on the wall of the back dining room, and wanted your picture on there? Dress in your best gangster or flapper attire, because the Bear will have a professional photographer on hand. (Look for a pic of me sitting at the poker table on the wall.) There will be drink specials, costume contests, and live music by the Lee Taylor Band.

The Rendezvous is hosting an Official Grizzlies Watch Party tomorrow night at 7, with the Grizzlies’ away game at Houston on the TVs. There will be beer specials and giveaways.

There’s a Groupon for the Madison Hotel with dates into March. $129 for a queen bed room, $139 for a king bed room, or $195 for a suite with king bed and sleeper sofa. Interesting note: I took a peek at the available dates and Valentine’s Day weekend has NOT been blacked out as of yet. That could make a thoughtful getaway weekend with your sweetheart.

The Tigers men’s basketball team hosts Stephen F. Austin tonight at FedExForum at 6. First 5000 fans get a free Shaq Goodwin poster.

I want to give a shout-out to the folks at Bluefin. The past two Sundays I have eaten there late afternoon. Those are the only two times I have been in the sushi bar in the past eight months or so, and yet everyone there knew my name and treated me like a king. Much appreciated.

From the Flyer’s Hungry Memphis Blog: Arcade applies for liquor license, plans nighttime business. With Double J, Max’s Sports Bar, Earnestine & Hazel’s, and the Blue Monkey nearby there’s already plenty of foot traffic in the area at night.

That’ll do it for now. In the middle of a fun project so I’m ready to get back to work. I will probably play poker at the Blind Bear at 8, with stops at nearby bars before to pre-game.

Monday news

The developers of the Chisca Hotel want to close Mulberry Street between MLK Jr. Avenue and Pontotoc Avenue to support a 144-space surface parking lot across Mulberry. The Design Review board will hear the proposal to close Mulberry at 4 PM on Wednesday. The DNA and SMA oppose the street’s closure. Read the staff report here. The meeting is open to the public and will be in the DMC’s conference room at 114 Adams Avenue.

A new food site called The Fork launches today. The Flyer has an interview with the site’s creator here.

From today through the 22nd, the Peabody will have choirs singing in the Grand Lobby from 11 AM (after the morning duck march) to noon.

From the Daily News: Chef Michael Patrick is ready to cook at the newly relocated Rizzo’s Diner at South Main and Butler. The larger kitchen will allow him to offer menu items that weren’t possible at the old location around the corner, and the new location will have a bar with a couple of TVs.

Central BBQ is running a gift card promo this week. Buy a $100 card and get a $20 card for free. Central is also collecting toys for Toys for Tots, if you want to make a child’s Christmas a happy one when you stop in to get your gift card.

Bluefin has a gift card sale as well. Buy a $50 gift card and get a $10 card for free, or buy a $100 gift card and get a $20 gift card for free.

The Rendezvous is having a Cyber Monday special until 4 PM today. Place a rib or shoulder order on the restaurant’s website and they will throw in a free pint of beans and slaw.

That’s it for now. Out at the usual spots after work.