Saturday update

The Blind Bear has a new garnish for cocktails: moonshine chocolate cherries. My troll tried one yesterday and thought it was tasty.

Tonight is Firefighter and EMS Appreciation Night at the Redbirds. Memphis Fire Department vehicles will be set up on site. Germantown firefighter and #3 ranked long drive golfer Will Hogue will be at the game and will do a meet & greet 6:30-7:30. There will also be pregame fire safety education, and firefighters will do a “fill the boot” campaign for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. $2 beer specials in left field prior to the 6:35 first pitch. Fireworks after the game. Tonight’s fire-related activities are part of Mid-South Heroes Weekend presented by Ford.

WREG has a report about MPD patrol cars left idling, unattended, putting the public at risk. One person interviewed said she saw a patrol car parked near the Orpheum, window down, laptop in the car. I am pretty sure I have see this near the Orpheum/MLGW HQ as well. If someone stole that laptop would they be able to run background checks?

If you’re trying to figure out what to do with your Memorial Day, and want to stay inside away from the pollen and the heat, let me remind you of one thing: There are only two weekdays a year when Bardog Tavern does not open at 8 AM, and those are Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you’ve never been in there that early, it’s a lot of fun to chill out and play the jukebox. They have all kind of random morning stuff on TV. You might get the Today Show or maybe one of the sci-fi shows on TNT. Good breakfast menu too. It differs from the weekend brunch menu, but they have breakfast sliders to which you can add your choice of meats, breakfast burritos, omelets, and I believe the steak & eggs is on the daily menu as well. You don’t have to imbibe in the early morning hours, but if you want to, you can.

(Bardog opens at 11 Saturday and Sunday by the way)

Carolina Watershed is back open to the public on Thursdays now, and they have some sweet deals: All the domestic beer you can drink for $15, and half-priced bottles of wine. Heck, I might go check that out next Thursday!

What the world was waiting for: Taco Bell is opening a resort in Palm Springs with poolside tacos and Baja Blast. There are people who will save for years to be able to afford their vacation of a lifetime to this place.

Salute to the Stars comes to the Halloran Centre tonight. Four tribute artists will honor Elvis, George Strait, and Adele.

Velvetina’s Blue Moon Revue, a burlesque show set to the sounds of Memphis, happens at Mollie Fontaine Lounge tonight at 7.

The Cousins Main Lobster truck will be back out at the Ghost River taproom today at 1. Good place to go get lunch and a cold one while waiting for Tom Lee Park to open. Got the family with you? No problem, the taproom is family-friendly. They sell non-alcoholic beverages, and there are plenty of board games you and the kids can play to pass the time. The outside is dog-friendly as well (although Celebrate Memphis at Tom Lee Park is not).

Sips and Spins, an end-of-the month DJ night curated by Goner Records, returns to Memphis Made  tonight at 6. DJ Alec and Meredith (Nots/Ex-Cult/Hash Redactor) spin the hits this month. The Memphis Made taproom is family-friendly as well, and this event is totally free of charge.

I watched an episode of Jerry Springer for the first time in 20 years yesterday. There was a man who cheated on his daughter mama – but what he didn’t know was, the woman he had cheated with had been born a man. The man and the woman who had been born a man got into a slap fight once he found out and had to be separated. Then the man told his girlfriend he’d do whatever it takes to change and be a father to their daughter, blah blah blah, and she of course believed him and took him back. The show ended with a twerking contest between the woman who was born a man and a woman from the audience who was born a woman.

Ah, 2019… when “have you always been a woman?” is a legit question to ask on a first date. Also, the next time I turn on the WWE Network I’m going to feel like I’m watching a screen adaptation of the Canterbury Tales after what I saw on TV yesterday.

That’s it for now. I’m going to lead Bardog at 11. I would really like to walk down to Celebrate Memphis, but I’m finally starting to recover from the upper respiratory tract infection caused by allergies at Tom Lee Park last week and don’t know if I want to aggravate it. Still, I haven’t made up my mind for sure and am open to invitations. Back tomorrow with more news.

Friday update #2

If you’re a fan of Memphis history, Backbeat Tours is offering two 2-hour tours this Sunday (1 PM and 3 PM): Memphis Bicentennial Tour: Memphis 200. Take a Memphis history bus tour and see the Mississippi River, Beale Street, Victorian Village, Court Square, Lorraine Motel, and Church Park, among other historical venues. Learn about Boss Crump, yellow fever, Memphis in the Civil War, an African-American businessman on Beale, politicians, civil rights crusaders, bluesman W.C. Handy, and more. $25 adults, $15 children.

I wonder if they gave it the slightly redundant name “Memphis Bicentennial Tour: Memphis 200” because a lot of Memphians don’t know that “bicentennial” means “200”?

Also on Sunday, you can join visual creatives for a walk around Downtown Memphis from 3-6 PM called Grind City Meet. The event will start at Madison Avenue Park (across from Brass Door) and end at Mud Island River Park. You’ll meet other creatives and will have the chance to win some great prizes. You don’t need to be a professional to participate. Just bring your phone or camera.

You can pack a patriotic picnic at the Memphis Farmers Market this weekend. They’ll have locally sourced meats and veggies, and if you don’t feel like cooking they’ll have pre-prepared foods as well. Doodlebugs, the Children’s Museum of Memphis arts and crafts studio, will be on hand with a fun fruit and veggie painting activity. Live local music all day long. The Master Gardeners will be there to answer any questions you may have. The Market runs every Saturday under the pavilion behind Malco Powerhouse at Front and G.E. Patterson, 8 AM to 1 PM.

Chris D’Elia comes to the Orpheum June 27.  One of the most in-demand performers in comedy today, I became aware of this show when several of my service industry friends said they were taking the night off work to go see it. Tickets are $28-58.

There will be a dance party all day tomorrow (11 AM-11 PM) on the lawn at 31 N. Front Street. The event is presented by a group named “Memphis Loves Chicago House Music” and DJs will include TJ Carter, Kelly Whigham, Rawhouse, Dantz King and Brandon. They will play Afro, Soulful Disco, and House music.

Nick Black will play the Soulin’ on the River concert series at Mud Island River Park on Friday, June 21. Free for all to attend and gates open at 6 PM. Music at 7. Lawn chairs, picnic baskets, blankets, and coolers are welcome.

Rizzo’s is having a Coppola Wine Dinner next Wednesday, May 29. Menu has not been released yet but any Michael Patrick dinner is bound to be a good dinner.

A dedication of the first historical market in Memphis recognizing Chinese immigrants’ contributions to Downtown Memphis will happen at the FedExForum plaza at noon on Saturday. Specifically the marker will commemorate the Lung Kong Tin Yee Association founded in the 1920s in Downtown Memphis. Following the dedication there will be a reception at Center for Southern Folklore. Parking at 110 Peabody Place, with a $2 discount if you have the Center for Southern Folklore stamp.

There’s a young professionals’ happy hour at Blind Bear tonight 5:30-8:30. This is a chance to socialize, make connections, build your professional network. The past several events have filled the entire bar with young professionals.

Some of these posts on the Save Tom Lee Park & The Festivals Facebook page are getting a bit ridiculous. “I traced the lineage back 33 generations to 698 A.D. and discovered that Carol Coletta is a distant cousin of Al Capone! Clearly her plan is to funnel Tom Lee Park construction money through The Outfit, the Chicago crime syndicate.” I’m exaggerating here but not by very much. Come on people, be better than that. You have a strong argument for leaving the park as it is. Resorting to personal attacks and loony accusations weakens your credibility.

Scroll down to read about Wiseacre’s groundbreaking on their Downtown facility this afternoon. Back tomorrow with more news.

Wiseacre invites public to Downtown taproom groundbreaking

Hey, gang. Highly time-sensitive item here, so I’m going to split this one off from the rest of the Friday update post.

Wiseacre Brewing Co. is celebrating the groundbreaking on its Downtown brewery and taproom this afternoon. The public is invited. It will be at 1 PM at 398 S. B.B. King Blvd. Come on out and watch one of the initial steps in the transformation of the South of Forum neighborhood.

Back in a few hours with the rest of the Friday news.

Thursday update

Celebrate Memphis, the free celebration of Memphis’ 200th birthday in Tom Lee Park, is this Saturday kicking off at 3 PM. Here’s a map:

Entertainment at the festival will include

  • Cornhole tournament at 4 with free cornhole before and after the tournament
  • World’s longest picnic table (going for a Guinness world record) at  5:15
  • All-Veterans Parachute Group landing at 5:30 followed by air show
  • Drone show and fireworks celebration at 9:30
  • Local bands on 5 stages
  • Sports Zone
  • Ford Family Zone
  • Touch-A-Truck
  • Creative Arts Tent
  • Global Community Expo & Market
  • Water on Wheels (a U of M mobile learning unit)
  • MATA Mobile Mural

The concession stand at River Garden, a modified 80 SF shipping container, has been approved to become a permanent fixture in the park by a 7-0 vote of the Board of Adjustment. I agree with some of the people who spoke in this article. Although I normally wouldn’t agree with shipping containers in parks, no one was using the park before. I also like that the clerks running the concession stand serve as ambassadors for our city.

The Puck Food Hall Grand Reopening is scheduled for May 30. This is the reinvention and rebranding of the 409 South Main food hall, with the number of restaurants expanded from 6 to 10.

Not all the new vendors are known but Edible Memphis posted to Facebook yesterday that Dr. Bean’s Coffee and Tea Emporium will be among them. Expect a pour-over bar and there will be classes, competitions, and throwdowns. Edible also shared some info on the change to the name Puck: The building in the early 1900s was a grocer and purveyor named Puck Brand Products in the early 1900s, and it’s a nod to Shakespeare’s Puck character. Puck is also the thing hockey players try to slap into the net, and was a character from the third season of The Real World who blew snot rockets.

DJ Epic brings hip-hop, dubstep, and mash-up style to the Peabody rooftop party this evening. $10 to get in $20 VIP. Your admission fee includes a buffet of catfish bites and remoulade sauce. Those in VIP get a second buffet of Ghost River brined pork loin with red onion and apple cider sauce as well as Memphis green tomato chow chow.

Poll I saw on Twitter yesterday: Would you trade Mike Conley to Boston for Gordon Hayward, Boston’s 20 and 22 picks in this year’s draft, and cancel out having to CONVEY THAT PICK that we owe Boston in either 2020 (top 6 protected) or 2021 (unprotected)? Hell yes, I would take that deal in a second. Assuming the Grizz take Ja Morant in the draft, they’ll be able to get by without Conley at PG, and Hayward was an All-Star two years ago at small forward, a position at which our team has been inconsistent since the Rudy Gay trade. Him plus three picks? Easy yes, especially since the Grizzlies 2020 draft pick will possibly be another lottery pick.

Go order a burger from Huey’s on Tuesday, May 28, National Burger Day, and it might be free. If your burger comes out with a Golden Pick in it, there’s no charge.

Memphis 901 FC drew with the Swope Park Rangers of Kansas City, 2-2, last night. Draws are not very sexy but as coach Tim Mulqueen pointed out, to get one on the road (and the 1 point in the standings that comes with it) against a very good team is something to be proud of.

Memphis Sports Hall of Fame has announced its inaugural class. Good group. The one person who had to be in there was Larry Finch, and indeed he was. Penny made it too – I knew he’d go in at some point, but I wasn’t sure it would be the first year. Glad to see late radio legend George Lapides made it. He was the role model for the current generation of radio. If he could speak from the great beyond through this blog, I’m sure he’d advise all my readers to go eat at Mister B’s.

A new visual and creative arts event called Creative Drip will happen inside the 507 lounge at Curry-N-Jerk, 128 Monroe, tonight at 7. Following tonight this event will happen the third Thursday of every month.

Crosstown Brewing Co. releases a new pilsner, Terraplane, today at 4.

Yesterday I got to see one of my favorite bartenders for the first time since BBQ Fest, someone who has no trouble getting invited to many of the booths in the park. “Y’all’s booth was the best one I went to,” she said, referring to the Moody Ques. YES! That’s what we like to hear. It still enamors me to think back to this time two years ago, when everyone was predicting our demise. Where da haters at now? The Moody Ques will be back for 2020.

You just can’t make this stuff up: While testifying before Congress, HUD Secretary Ben Carson was asked to explain disparity in rates of REO , a class of property owned by a lender after an unsuccessful foreclosure auction. It’s a real estate term that anyone in the business should know. Carson balked at the question, and Porter asked him, “Do you know what an REO is?”

“An Oreo?” replied Carson. The man in charge of housing in this country believes Congress  brought him in for his thoughts on the special-edition mint creme Double Stufs. My God. Sad thing is, he probably actually knows more about Double Stufs than he does real estate.

The Trump administration has postponed the Harriet Tubman $20 bill until 2028. It was supposed to be issued next year.

That’s it for now. Still recovering from an infection, and may be coughing a bit when I get out today. Don’t worry, it’s not contagious. Back tomorrow with more news.

Wednesday update

The Daily Memphian has the news on a new organization that will make Memphis better: 275 Food Project. This organization has a few different goals. One is to increase the supply and demand of locally sourced food. Only about 1% of the money Memphians spend at groceries, restaurants, hospitals, schools, and colleges stays local; 275 Food Project has a goal to grow that number to 20%. They will establish a mentoring program for chefs and food professionals of color, and there will also be a mentoring program for women to become chefs and food business owners.

Downtown will see the fruits of 275 Food Project’s labor very soon. On May 30, the 409 South Main food hall will relaunch as Puck Food Hall and the number of businesses will expand from 6 to 10. All of the restaurants in this food business incubator have committed to locally-sourced ingredient vendor contracts.

They also plan to open a wholesale food market on Mud Island called 275 Food @ Harbor Landing. Its focus will be to move food to chefs and restaurants while still fresh. There will also be cold and dry storage for farmers and a space for pop-up food events.

I’m only scratching the surface of what is said about 275 Food Project, and recommend you click the link provided above to check out the full article. This article, by the way, is a perfect example of why The Daily Memphian is worth every penny of the $7/month subscription. Many other news outlets think a carjacking at a gas station at Holmes and Tchulahoma is news. They think the sheriff of some Arkansas town getting caught in the back of his squad car with a 15-year-old boy is news. That’s not news to me. People and entities that make my community better are the news I most want to read, and the Daily Memphian brings that kind of reporting better than anyone.

Also, if you’re a Memphis basketball fan (Tigers, Grizzlies, or both), you are ESPECIALLY missing out if you’re not a subscriber. First-class, in-depth reporting and analysis. I’m not a big podcast guy but I listened to the DM’s Grizzlies podcast a couple of days ago and it is outstanding too.

Until 11:59 tonight, you can get $2.00 tickets online (dugout or field box) for the Saturday fireworks game at the Redbirds. It’s their way of celebrating Memphis’ 200th birthday.

They have a second way of celebrating as well. Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, you can purchase 10 luxury suite tickets for $200, a savings of $360. Call (901) 721-6000 to take advantage of this deal.

There will be a DJ night at Mud Island’s Grove area this Friday, May 24, from 6 to 8 PM. There will be tire swinging, outdoor relaxation on new outdoor furniture, There will be music by DJ Chandler Blingg (that is a great name) and DJ Nya. You’ll also have the chance to get your picture taken with the new Memphis bicentennial sign. Walk across the pedestrian bridge to get to the event, or ride an Explore bike or one of those stupid scooters. This event is sponsored by Cossitt Library. They are looking for volunteers if you’d be interested in getting involved with programs like this one.

Green Beetle is closing at 5 PM for a private event tonight. They apologize for any inconvenience and plan to re-open for lunch 11 AM Thursday.

The One901 blog has a profile of Corey Hollywood. If your organization needs catering in the upcoming future, this is a man to get to know. He’s the owner and executive chef of Kitchen Guru Catering. Corey is also a man of style, which no doubt he gets from his legendary great-uncle, the late Robert “Hollywood” Raiford.

With next door neighbor Court House Deli recently shut down, and with heavy construction going on on the other side of the former deli, at the former Murray’s and Jerry’s locations, people have been asking if The Peanut Shoppe at 24 S. Main is closing too. The answer is no. They are open for business 10 AM-5 PM Monday-Friday and 11 AM-5 PM or later Saturday, and they would love to serve you.

Finally! A couple who accused former Memphis Tigers coach Josh Pastner of sexually assaulting a woman in a hotel in 2016 have been brought up on criminal fraud charges in Arizona.  As soon as I read those accusations, I knew they were complete baloney. Having recently read the manual on narcissistic abuse, The Gaslighting Effect, Pastner’s former friend Ron Bell displays a pattern of behavior in line with narcissism. Bell studied Pastner from afar, befriended him, ingratiated Pastner to him… then, when Pastner refused to go along with what Bell wanted, Bell turned on him viciously, willing to destroy Pastner’s career and reputation because he felt Pastner deserved it. Bell’s girlfriend strikes me as what’s known in the book as a flying monkey, someone the narcissist recruits to assist in the abuse.

There’s now a course that teaches dogs how to behave in breweries. Currently it’s only available in Fort Collins, Colorado. I hope they franchise this and expand it to Memphis.

Construction on Tom Lee Park has been pushed back from June to an ambiguous “the fall” start date. The reason is that the Army Corps of Engineers has final say on any changes to the park, and the approval process has not even begun. If construction does begin in the fall, that could potentially push Memphis in May out of the park for not one year, but two. Don’t forget there’s an event at Rizzo’s tonight 5-7 where you can share your feedback on proposed changes to the park.

Congratulations to the Grizzlies’ Jaren Jackson Jr. on making the all-NBA Rookie Team for his first season. For the first time since 1984-85 the top five draft picks all made the team, Jackson being joined by Luka Doncic, Trae Young, DeAndre Ayton, and Marcus Bagley.

Pro wrestling fans: An evening with Dutch Mantel is coming to the big room at the Hi-Tone Sunday, June 9. The Dirty Dutchman is a longtime performer and sometime booker in the old Memphis territory and has appeared all over the world. He is known to be a great storyteller, his motto being “if you can’t dazzle ’em with brilliance, baffle ’em with bullshit.” $20 in advance, $25 at the door, $50 for a VIP meet and greet.

Also, don’t forget that The Bar Olympics happens at the Hi-Tone two weeks after the Mantel appearance, on Sunday, June 23. It’s not too late to sign up a team. Bar Olympics has a more diverse array of games than other events of its type, and is the only one to have Hungry Hungry Hippos as the finals. Come on out and show Crosstown what you’ve got!

Huey’s has a job opening for a kitchen manager.

Memphis Magazine’s Vance Lauderdale has a look at Riverside Drive in the 1930s.

Grub will be the truck tonight at Cordelia’s Table Food Truck Wednesday.

That’s it for now. Back tomorrow with more news.

Tuesday update

First news item isn’t Downtown news, but it involves a Memphis institution that is well worth a drive. The legendary Fino’s Italian Deli at Madison and McLean will re-open June 6. They will offer breakfast as well as lunch and will be open 7 days a week.

Max’s Sports Bar, recognizing that many of its cornhole tournament participants are on BBQ teams, has decided to delay the start of its summer tournament from this Tuesday to next Tuesday so people have recovery time. That means you still have time to sign up. Team applications will be accepted through Sunday, May 26.

Max’s will soon see more of me. I love watching the NCAA Regionals, the Super Regionals, and the College World Series there, especially when Arkansas is doing well. Most people don’t care about college baseball so it’s fun to be in a bar full of people (including the bar’s owner) who do.

There’s an opening for a full time cafe team member at Cordelia’s Market. The job description reads, “Looking for someone with an anything it takes attitude to do things like cook, clean, make sandwiches, package food and give great customer service!”

The Redbirds will have a specialty ticket that includes an all-you-can-eat all-American hamburger and hot dog buffet for both Sunday’s and Monday’s games.

FiveThirtyEight has an interesting article on how Americans tend to discriminate where they live by their political views. Republicans and Democrats generally choose to live among their own. Memphis came in as America’s sixth-most segregated city by politics. Most segregated: Jackson, Mississippi.

What you’ll find at the Great American River Run post-race party:

Today is the 100th anniversary of the House passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. Thanks @RepCohen for tweeting that information.

There will be a JustMyOpinion Happy Hour tomorrow, May 22, at Rizzo’s from 5:00 to 7:00 PM where you can voice how you feel about the planned changes to Tom Lee Park. Video cameras will be rolling.

That’s it for now. Back tomorrow with more news.

Sick

I got 12 hours sleep last night and hoped I would feel better today. I do… a little. However, my throat is still scratchy, my nose is still running a bit, I’m still coughing and hacking up phlegm, and my vision is a bit off – in particular, looking at things that are brightly lit (like this computer screen) is uncomfortable. I feel a bit out of it despite all the sleep, and I’m running a fever although a very slight one. I don’t think I am contagious so I will probably still go out for a little while late this afternoon. I will keep an eye on my temperature and if it hits 100 I will reconsider going out.

I really, really, really don’t want to retire from the BBQ team. It gives me so much joy throughout the year and especially the week of the festival. However, what it does to my allergies the week after is devastating. If I were working I’d have had to take two sick days. At some point I have to ask myself, is this worth it?

If there’s a news post today it will be up between 2 and 4, same as yesterday.

Monday update

Yesterday I went to see B-RAD for Sunday brunch at Pontotoc Lounge. “So, Paul, how’d your team do?”

(Barely audible voice)
“We gotCOUGH COUGH COUGH”

I tried again.
“We got nineCOUGH COUGH COUGH”

“Nineteenth COUGH COUGH COUGH COUGH COUGH”
A big piece of phlegm came flying out of my lungs and onto my hand. I wiped it on my pants. That’s how yesterday went. That’s how much of the weekend went.

For the first time ever I’m considering retiring from BBQ Fest. It just takes so much out of me. My body’s reaction to all of the dust and pollen prevents me from fully enjoying an experience for which I paid a lot of money.

I probably won’t retire. And I certainly don’t have to decide now. I can put off my decision as late as February probably. If I left the team I would want to do it by then so a new Director of Public Relations would have time to take over.

Whatever my decision, I want to make it clear that it will have nothing to do with my teammates. I love being on a team with all of you. If I come back in 2020 it will be because of you.

On to the news…

The Daily Memphian reports that there is a lot of concern over the plan to demolish the parking garage at Front and Monroe to make room for the Brooks Museum. Losing those 600 spaces would affect valet services for hotels and restaurants, the Little Tea Shop, Bardog Tavern, and other businesses on Monroe and elsewhere nearby.

looking for some action? A Nextdoor contributor reports that a lot of prostitutes work Saffrans Avenue, 3 blocks north of A.W. Willis. I have not been up there so I can not attest to the quality of these prostitutes.

Idea for Malco Powerhouse, from Distractify: A movie theater replaced its seats with double beds

Local poker league the River Rat Rounders have announced their first-ever Pot Limit Omaha tournament Downtown, to be held at Sleep Out Louie’s on Saturday, May 25 at 7 PM. This is different from the No-Limit Texas Hold’em usually played in bar games. You are dealt four starting cards rather than two. You must use two of your four cards and three from the board to form your best hand; you cannot use one of yours and four from the hoard. That can trip novice players up and make them think they have a straight or flush when they actually don’t, so be careful. Also, realize that AAAA is not a good starting hand because you have a pair of pocket Aces that won’t improve. AAKQ double-suited is much better, with the possibility to improve to three or four of a kind, a flush, or a straight.

As for betting, you can’t go all-in at any time as you can in Hold’em. The maximum bet is the size of the pot. All-ins are only allowed if you have less than the size of the pot in your chip stack.

The Saturday night game at Sleep Out’s will feature double starting stacks and 5K more than usual bonuses for shots. If you’ve never played Pot-Limit Omaha before, this guide can help.

The Brass Door is looking to hire a skilled line chef/cook.

As your #1 source of news and information about The Edge District, it is my pleasure to link to this release by The Daily Memphian saying that a Nashville hip-hop themed pizza restaurant is coming to the neighborhood. Slim & Husky’s Pizza Beeria, a gourmet pizzeria, is rumored to be coming to the building at 634 Union.

Cheers to my friends on Squeal Street BBQ, who celebrated the end of their 10-year run as a team with a sing-along at Max’s Sports Bar yesterday evening. Newer people Downtown may not be aware, but our team and theirs were once one. We all competed as the Ques Brothers 2007-09, then they split off as patio porker team Squeal Street in 2010 while we transitioned  to The Moody Ques in 2012. Squeal Street moved up to the Shoulder division in 2016, competing alongside us. They brought many good times, tastes, and memories to Downtown. I’ve been told that it is likely a new Patio Porker team will rise from the ashes, if wherever BBQ Fest is held in 2020 has space to accommodate patio teams.

Allergies are bad to the point that staring at a computer screen is tough, so that’s it for now. Back tomorrow or Wednesday.

The results are in….

2019 BBQ Fest shoulder final results (shoulder is the category in which my team competes)

2019 BBQ Fest full list of winners

I was encouraged coming into BBQ Fest ’19. You never want to get arrogant and automatically assume you’re going to get a trophy, but there were signs that we might move up from our seventh-place 2018 finish in shoulder.

One reason was a conversation I had with our team secretary Drew a week ago yesterday as we were at the Blind Bear handing out team bags. He told me that at one point cooking the 2018 competition shoulders, the smoker’s temperature got way too high. The issue was quickly corrected, but still, there’s almost no room for error when you’re competing against so many great teams. Having still got seventh after the temperature problem, I thought, if out pitmaster takes steps to assure that won’t happen this year (which I knew he would), maybe we would have the potential to move up even higher in the 2019 standings.

I led off yesterday morning at Bardog and Blind Bear, then got down to the park a little after 2. Our team’s ambassador had not come back by after the 11 AM-noon judging session to tell us to prepare for a second round of judging. That meant we were out of the top three. However, trophies and cash prizes are awarded 4-10 as well, so we still had a good chance at finishing in the money and possibly eclipsing last place’s finish.

Good news: All three of our judges came back to the booth and asked to speak to our pitmaster Kris. That’s a good sign, when they think enough of you to come back by and share feedback. Even better, one of the judges asked for a to-go bag of our competition shoulder to take home to his family. That is a great sign.

One of our cooks, Mac, told me, “all three of the judges told Kris they gave us their 10.” Judges are allowed to award only one of the teams they judge their perfect 10 score. There are only so many 10s to be handed out, and if we had them across the board, we had likely beaten a lot of the other shoulder teams.

Of course, there was one element from which we couldn’t get feedback before the awards: the blind boxes. This is where teams put competition meat into a nondescript box, with only a number on it. Blind judges have no idea what team’s meat they were eating.

The 4:00 hour came and went, and that was a letdown. What happens at 4:00? If your team has a trophy awaiting, your ambassador will come by and strongly suggest you have a presence at the awards ceremony. That didn’t happen, letting us know we’d dropped out of the top 10. We didn’t even bother going to the awards. We were all dead tired and just didn’t feel like standing there for over an hour.

As you can see from the results, we got 19th out of 49 teams. I’m still puzzled how that happened. I’m not the foremost expert in BBQ Fest math, but either we misunderstood about one of the judges giving us their 10, or we got murdered on the blind box component of the competition.

Still, though, even though it’s not the result we were hoping for, I would not say I’m disappointed. I am so proud to be on a team with Kris and the other cooks and all my teammates who went out of the way to make life easier for the cook team. We still finished in the top 40%, damn good compared to most of our team’s historical results. Plus our cook team is really good at avoiding the #1 thing that torpedoes team results, which is what I call “doin’ too much.” We learned that principle about 2 years ago – I’d say Burger Fest ’17 was the first competition at which we applied it – and our results have seen a world of difference. We haven’t had a bottom 50% finish in a major competition category since then.

The most important thing is, we all had fun, we bonded as a team, and many, many people told us that the food they had was amazing. Also, we had a beautiful space in which to party and break bread, although it finished fourth in Best Booth, one spot shy of getting a trophy. Still, I am pleased that we honored The South’s Grand Hotel.

The one result that really surprised me was the turkey ancillary category. If there really are 27 teams that do it better than we do, then there is a lot of damn fine turkey in Tom Lee Park. I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that people who cook BBQ do turkey well: I’ve long said that the turkey is the sleeper item on Central BBQ’s menu that too many people overlook.

About 5 it started to rain. Thank goodness the park wasn’t so full that AT&T’s LTE grinded to a halt like it did the previous two days. I checked the MemphisWeather.net radar and saw that the showers we were experiencing were advance cells of a strong line of storms over Little Rock at the time. When I looked again at 6:15, the line had advanced to Brinkley, half the distance to Memphis. That was quicker than I expected and I realized I had at most two hours to get out of the park. I grabbed a “roadie” beer for the mile walk to the north entrance and made my way to the safety and comfort of the Blind Bear.

Thank you to each and every one of my teammates. Love you all, and if you have feedback on what you’d like to see for 2020, share it with me and I’ll make sure it gets to the other team leaders.

I want to apologize for being a bit quiet and introverted at times in the booth, especially on Thursday. My back was killing me to the point that I could barely even pick up the shampoo bottle in the shower that morning. Allergies were killing me and the effect was compounded by an eye infection. For a couple of hours there I just needed to sit there and drink bottles of water until I got to feeling human again.

Out and about today, then tomorrow I’ll start getting back in the groove and figuring out what to do with my life. Applying for jobs, getting my hair cut, connecting with a couple of key people I couldn’t meet with last week due to BBQ. Hopefully I’ll be back with a news update post no later than Tuesday.