Friday update

The NBA restart got off to a beautiful beginning last night as the Utah Jazz came from as many as 16 down to hand the New Orleans Pelicans a 106-104 loss. Why so beautiful? It means that now, Zion Williamson and the Pels have 7 games left to make up 4 games in the standings, where previously they had 8 games left to make up 3.5.

The Grizzlies play the Portland Trail Blazers at 3 on NBATV in their first of 8 seeding games. The Blazers are another team chasing the Grizz by 3.5 games, so shutting down Dame Time this afternoon would be a big step toward the playoffs.

Another game of note: Sacramento Kings vs. San Antonio Spurs, the other two teams chasing Memphis, at 7 tonight (no national TV). The Kings are 3.5 back and the Spurs are 4 back, so I guess rooting for San Antonio is the thing to do if you don’t have any other preference.

As expected, the judge in the second case brought by limited service restaurants, including Downtown venues Blind Bear, Silly Goose, and Max’s Sports Bar, and Midtown venue Alchemy, ruled against the restaurants. The restaurants sought a temporary restraining order to allow them to reopen in spite of Shelby County Health Directive No. 8. U.S. District Judge John T. Fowlkes, Jr. wrote, “As sympathetic as the Court is with Plaintiffs and other businesses adversely affected by COVID-19, sympathy cannot play a role in determining the legality of Health Order No. 8.” So, these businesses are closed indefinitely. With the positivity rate way above 10% and the number of new cases a day approaching 400, it could be months before the bars are allowed to reopen. All four of the places I named here are small, local businesses and may not survive, despite years of past success.

Following the ruling, Max posted:

Due to the Federal Ruling against us concerning the recent Health Department directives that shut down our dining room, we will be ceasing all operations after Saturday. Unfortunately, togo business is not sufficient enough keep the doors open as we compete with the other 97% of the county restaurants and bars still offering on-site dining. With no bench marked goal/data as to why we were shut down, we can only assume this does not exist for our reopening either. That said, we hope to open our doors for you again, let’s just hope we are allowed to before it really is too late.
You all have been unbelievably supportive through these last few months and the entire Max’s family truly can’t begin to show you our appreciation. If you can, swing by over the next few days and say hi/bye to the guys. Plus, all beer and slushies will be 50% off open to close!

The shuttering of all the bars makes their surrounding neighborhoods less vibrant, but the loss of Max’s Sports Bar, whether temporary or permanent, will be especially devastating for South Main. That bar became a hub for the community almost as soon as it opened 13 years ago.

Just think what Max must pay per month in TV digital boxes alone… imagine having to pay that while no one is watching sports. I think he has a total of 14 TVs, counting the outside ones.

To all those displaced by the closings of Health Directive No. 8, let me repeat what I said back in March… if there’s any way I can use my social media presence to help you in these difficult times, reach out to me at or on social media. Whether it’s posting photos of yummy to-go food you’re selling or helping you circulate a resume around, I’m happy to do it.

Also, if you just need a sympathetic voice to talk to, reach out. 15 months ago I was in such a bleak financial position that life didn’t seem worth living. I know how it feels. Please talk to someone if you have any thoughts of a permanent ending to these rough times which are temporary.

Cheers to MLGW for doing the right thing:

One more reminder that the Tennessee sales tax holiday is under way! Through 11:59 PM Sunday, purchase clothing up to $200 or computer equipment up to $3000 and pay no sales tax. Note that televisions and video game consoles are considered “computers & other electronics” for these purposes.

Oskar Blues Brewing Co. and French’s mustard are collaborating on a mustard-flavored beer.

The conservative movement lost one of its icons of the past decade as Herman Cain passed away this week. The 2012 candidate for the Republican presidential nomination was well-known for breaking conservative principles down into sound bites that could be easily processed by the smartphone generation, such as his “9-9-9” tax plan. Here’s a timeline of the 74-year-old Cain’s final days:

  • June 20: Attended President Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa. Cain did not wear a mask or social distance from other attendees.
  • June 29: Cain tested positive for COVID-19. Patients typically become symptomatic in the 7th to 10th day following transmission.
  • July 24: Reports came out that Cain was still suffering from COVID-19 on his 25th day for testing positive. Typical incubation period from the virus is 14 days. It was reported that Cain’s body was starting to fail due to the stress of fighting the illness
  • July 30: Cain passed away, 31 days after the positive test

Iron Tribe Fitness is coming Downtown. The franchise’s third Memphis location will be inside the old Gibson guitar factory, in the new FedEx Logistics headquarters. Construction should be done this fall. Iron Tribe offers high intensity training in a small group setting. Their workouts target many muscle groups and involve cardio training as well.

Loflin Yard has switched to an all-table service model, in compliance with Health Directive No. 9 foisting further regulations on the restaurants that were allowed to remain open.

And now it’s time for what you’ve all been waiting for… a recap of yesterday’s COVID-19 task force press conference. Presenting were Dr. Alisa Haushalter, Shelby County Health Department director, and Dr. Jon McCullers, Pediatrician-in-Chief at LeBonheur, and professor & chair UTHSC Department of Pediatrics.

Dr. Haushalter expects the “tripwires” document to be ready by the end of today. This document will specify additional regulations to be automatically applied if certain thresholds related to COVID-19 are hit.

Dr. McCullers was asked about kids returning to school in person. He admitted right now, we have no good answers. In some cases, virtual learning makes more sense, for example if a child lives with an elderly (and thus at high risk) grandparent. On the other hand, in-person learning benefits other household situations, such as one where the parent can’t afford child care during the day, or where the child needs school meals for nutrition.

A Back to School task force was formed at LeBonheur a few weeks ago. They look at four areas:

  • Communication: How to talk to schools, and to parents
  • Policies and procedures in written form
  • Infection prevention
  • The kids themselves: What about ones who are medically fragile? Special needs kids?

Read the school task force recommendations

The DM’s Omer Yusuf asked about yesterday’s positivity rate, a devastating 53.4% on a low number of tests, wanting to know if we could expect to see more of that. Haushalter responded that the tests are coming back at various intervals in terms of days. It’s more important to look at the 7-day rolling average and also the date the tests were sent to the labs.

Haushalter did say that the weekly positivity rate was a little above 14%. While that is still concerningly high, it’s down a little from the 16% we saw last week.

Yusuf then asked the medical officials where they stand on high school sports. Haushalter gave a typically political response, and McCullers parroted it. However, Dr. Mc then said that was his answer speaking as a member of the task force. Speaking as a pediatrician, it is not safe to let contact sports return due to community spread.

Haushalter said she would be willing to meet with full-service restaurant owners to hear their concerns as listed in a letter they sent her this week. Ultimately, she said, the goal is to reduce transmission with as limited an impact on the economy as possible.

WMC’s Kendall Downing asked if we were still doing phases of reopening, and if we could expect to ever get to Phase 3. Haushalter said they are staying consistent with national guidelines as much as possible. We will remain in a highly tailored version of Phase 2 for some time to come. Again, she advised to read the latest health directive.

Dr. H was asked if she had heard about folk remedies for COVID-19 being used in the Latino community. She had not but said she’d look into it.

Sam Hardeman from the CA asked about the number of contact tracers. Dr. H said it wasn’t just that – they also had needs for surveillance, epidemeology, community outreach, and education. If you’re looking for a career in public health, this remains an excellent time to jump in, a chance to get experience you’ll (hopefully) never be able to get again in your lifetime.

That’s it for today. Go Grizzlies! I’ll be back tomorrow with more news.

Thursday update

Last night I had a dream about the ancient Roman Empire. I saw examples of their architectural ruins, which resembled the abandoned 1960s bank buildings on Court Avenue around Second and B.B. King Blvd. Although, an abandoned 3-story building of theirs was not even as tall as I am. The pagan tribes that eventually conquered Rome after more than 1000 years got their strength by eating lots of chicken nuggets.

Doctors advise not consuming any caffeinated soft drinks within eight hours of bedtime. This is what happens when you don’t listen.

On to the news, and we have a lot of big stuff today. First of all, U.S. District Judge Jon P. McCalla denied a temporary restraining order allowing a group of limited-service restaurants (restaurants whose total sales are more than 50% alcohol) to remain open after being closed by Shelby County Health Directive No.9. He agreed that the plaintiffs would suffer “devastating economic injury,” but did not find that the Health Department’s closure of the restaurants was “arbitrary and capricious” or “unnecessary” in the face of a health crisis.

The group of restaurants that were plaintiffs in yesterday’s ruling do not include the Donwotnwn limited service restaurants and Midtown cocktail lounge Alchemy. However, Nick Scott, owner of Alchemy, believes it is unlikely that U.S. District Court Judge Fowlkes will rule the other way in their case. So the bars that sell less than 51% food will almost certainly be closed for the foreseeable future, unless some kind of reopening agreement with the Health Department can be reached.

One of the Downtown limited service restaurants, the Silly Goose, is remaining open for take-out, and has announced a new special through the end of August: When you buy one of the wood-fired pizzas between 4 and 8 PM, 100% of the purchase price goes to the bartender on duty. Cash is king, so don’t forget to hit the ATM before you come to the Goose. Note that shift change is at 6, so if you want to support your day bartender come before then, and if you want to support your night bartender come after.

In other Health Department news, owners of independent restaurants have delivered a letter to its director, Dr. Alisa Haushalter. In the letter they request

  • Same-day testing results for employees of restaurants, noting the devastating financial impact when a restaurant has to close for a week, awaiting results for one employee
  • Clear science-based guidelines from the CDC to follow
  • To re-open bar seating. Bar seating is a type of seating some customers prefer, just as others prefer standard tables, high-tops, or booths. The letter notes that for some restaurants, bar seating makes up a large part of capacity and is vital for the financial success of the business.

The restaurants also stated that they support masking and believe that being pro-masking is being pro-small business. The letter was signed by 27 owners of Downtown restaurants, including Bert Smythe (McEwen’s), Felicia Willett (Felicia Suzanne Restaurant), Michael Patrick (Rizzo’s), Michael Hudman and Andy Ticer (Catherine & Mary’s, Gray Canary, Bishop), Ryan Trimm (Sunrise, 117 Prime, 3rd & Court) and Patrick and Deni Reilly (Majestic Grille, Cocozza).

For my cigar-smoking readers, Robusto by Havana Mix, the cigar lounge on Peabody Place, now carries Southern Draw cigars.

Here’s info on how to watch the WGC-St. Jude Invitational which happens today through Sunday.

Make a difference while supporting your favorite golfer. Go to Birdies for St. Jude and make a pledge to donate for each hole on which a golfer of your choice beats par. Shout-out to Grizz announcer @PetePranica for tweeting.

The annual St. Jude Marathon, normally held the first Saturday in December, is going virtual this year. Participants can choose one of three options: Complete the 5K, half-marathon, or whole marathon on race day; complete two of the three up to and on race day; or complete all three up to and on race day. Runners will pick their own race route this year. If you don’t run, as always there will be an option to support a runner. Last year’s race raised a record $12 million for the children’s hospital that never bills families for treatment.

The Grizzlies and the American Red Cross will co-host a blood drive in the alley on the north side of FedExForum tomorrow, Friday, July 31, 9 AM-3 PM. Donors will be entered into a drawing to win one of two team autographed basketballs. As an added bonus, the Red Cross is testing all donations for COVID-19 antibodies for a limited time… so if you donate, you will get a report in about a week letting you know if you have ever been exposed to the virus and not known it.

Did you know that Presidents Island is a prized location for deer hunting? People from all over enter a lottery to bow hunt on the island, which is considered a place to harvest a large, mature buck. There is a 9-point or larger harvest rule.

From stats site FiveThirtyEight: MLB’s “Plan” didn’t pan out is the subject of the latest Hot Takedown podcast. National infectious disease expert Dr. Fauci says the MLB season could be endangered by the recent Miami Marlins outbreak but it doesn’t need to be stopped. Anyone suspect that Dr. Fauci has the same kind of blind spot about baseball during COVID-19 that I have about bars?

There needs to be a transcript-on-demand service for people who don’t have time to listen to podcasts.

The NBA seeding games start tonight with two games broadcast live on TNT. At 5:30, Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans host Mike Conley and the Utah Jazz. I bet all of Memphis will be rooting for Utah in that one, not just because of our love for The Conductor but because we’d like to see the Pels fall further back in their race to catch the Grizzlies for the 8 seed. At 8:00 a crosstown L.A. rivalry comes to Orlando as the Lakers host the Clippers. Wait, don’t they both use the same stadium? So it’s an intrastadium rivalry rather than crosstown… look, don’t get caught up in words and just be glad there are sports to watch.

Hygiene theater is the latest new term to spring forth in the midst of this COVID-19 crisis. People are sanitizing and scrubbing, scrubbing and sanitizing, yet the vast majority of the effort may be nothing but a big waste of time. Surface transmission is now believed to be far less a transmitter of the coronavirus than was originally believed. The studies that said sanitizing was a valuable weapon in the virus fight were said to have “stacked the deck to get a result that bears no resemblance to the real world.” Perhaps history books will use “value signaling and hygiene theater” as the heading to introduce readers to the summer of 2020.

Six hours late is better than never… back tomorrow with more news, and I can already tell you I will have numerous topics to rant about.

Wednesday update

Hola! Today’s post may be relatively short, because I went ahead and posted a recap of Shelby County’s COVID-19 task force press conference yesterday afternoon. I’m tired of leading off with the virus, so let’s start today’s post with something fun. From STIX, the new Asian, sushi, hibachi place across from the Flying Saucer on Second:

Cheers, Memphis. Sake Slushies are now available for YOU at our Downtown location! We have wine and a few other fun adult beverages available, too.
Come see us! We’re here from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

WREG has everything you need to know about the two upcoming sales tax holiday weekends (clothes and school supplies this weekend, computers  next weekend). Both my sneakers and sandals are nearly shot so I plan on doing a little tax-free shopping myself.

The Grizzlies looked great as they beat the Miami Heat in yesterday’s scrimmage, putting up 41 points in the first quarter alone. The first three seeding games are against Western Conference opponents who are chasing the Grizz for the 8th spot. A 2-1 record in those games would just about punch Memphis’ ticket into the playoffs, even though mathematically they’d have a bit more work to do.

The one thing about that scrimmage, and the two before it, that was disturbing is that JJJ still fouls out of games. He can’t seem to avoid giving up those silly fouls in the first three periods. We need to have him in there and able to go balls-to-the-wall in the fourth. I would appeal to Jaren’s own best interests here: When the time comes for the Grizzlies to offer him a contract extension, it shouldn’t be a max unless he has learned how not to foul out. I would not be surprised if the Grizzlies drop one of the next 8 games because he is unavailable in the final six minutes.

For those of you who were unable to watch the scrimmage yesterday, Grizzly Bear Blues has a recap.

No NBA basketball today, so why not watch some baseball instead… ESPN has a tripleheader today, with the Colorado Rockies at the Oakland Athletics at 2:30, followed by the L.A. Dodgers at the Houston Astros at 6, then the Seattle Mariners at the L.A. Angels at 9.

Daily Memphian subscribers: Don’t miss this article about River Oaks sous chef and aspiring artist Emily LaForce. I met Emily the day my mom passed away and she is a great friend as well as a great chef.

An off-duty MPD officer was shot early yesterday morning near the I-40 overpass over N. Lauderdale Street Downtown. He was working security for St. Jude at the time and he saw two men attempting to break into cars. The officer was hit in the arm and is expected to recover. There is a $5000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the two suspects.

Edit 7:23 AM: It’s National Chicken Wing Day. Hooters is giving away 10 boneless wings when you buy 10 wings. Other deals

Well, I had a couple of coronavirus-related links in my staging area in Evernote, but you know what? I’m sick of writing about the virus. If you’re not sick of reading about it, keep scrolling for yesterday’s task force recap. Back tomorrow with more news, or later today if anything important comes up.

Tue update #2 – Shelby County COVID-19 task force press conference

Dr. Bruce Randolph, Shelby County Health Officer, led off by saying we’ve seen a little improvement in recent days, as positivity rates have leveled off and actually decreased a little. The amount of time it takes for the number of cases to double has increased from 26 days in early July to 30 days now.

Dr. Randolph brought up Gabby Dowdy, a public health student at the University of Memphis. She and her group conducted a masking study and were there to present their findings. They counted the number of individuals wearing masks in large retail locations and on video footage provided by the MPD Real-Time Crime Center. They found that indoors, masking had gone up from 51% pre-ordinance to 92% post-. They offered the following guidance:

  • Ensure correct mask usage, meaning both nose and mouth covered, Recommended commercials and Internet ads as reminders.
  • Recommended education for 2-18 year olds who had lower compliance. Ads on platforms they use like TikTok.
  • Make observations at smaller retail stores, gas stations. Help people understand even if they run inside a place to pick up to-go food, they need to have a mask on.

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris was up next. He said that although we are seeing improvements in some measurements, the number of confirmed cases is still high, and that things may darken before they get better.

Q&A started, and Dr. Randolph reminded everyone that although we’re seeing big improvement in masking, we cannot forget to give six feet of distance and avoid large crowds.

In response to a statement that he’d like to see more statewide action taken, Mayor Harris said there is little the Shelby County Health Department is precluded from doing, but they will be unable to bend the curve down to 0 due to border issues. True; I have had friends who have gone out drinking in West Memphis since the bars closed here. I also see Facebook posts from Memphians drinking in North Mississippi.

Mayor Harris was asked if there are updates on when the “trip wire” document will be ready. Harris said measures are already in place, and to look to Health Directive No., 10 see that. Trip wires are just an additional precaution. Dr. Randolph said the document is being finalized and should be ready sometime this week.

Dr. Randolph: Whether you are a school official or employer, when someone in your facility tests positive, you need to inform the Health Department. Also, you need to inform the Department who might have come in contact with the infected person. That will save the Department several days’ time contact tracing, and help ensure that people who may also be infected are not out walking around transmitting the disease to others.

Randolph said we are starting to see lab turnarounds of 3 days in some cases, where it was 5-7 days or longer a week ago. 24 hours or less is still ideal though.

In a closing statement, Mayor Harris reminded everyone to wear their masks, covering their nose and mouth – not on their chin, not hanging from their ear.

Back in the morning with more news.

Tuesday update

In an extremely wise move, Shelby County Schools have announced classes will be all virtual when school resumes August 31. Teachers will have the option of teaching from the classroom or remotely, but all students will be remote. This was the right thing to do, not only to prevent hotspots of COVID-19 in schools, but to protect teachers who are at risk due to their age or medical conditions.

This does create a hardship for parents who need to get back to work, and can’t afford to be home during the day as their children learn virtually. Centers are being set up around Shelby County where children can be dropped off for safe virtual learning.

The Downtown location will be the Fogleman YMCA at 245 Madison. As Commissioner Sawyer said in the tweet above, there is no signup yet but this can help you plan. Note that the capacity of Fogleman YMCA is only 72 for virtual learning, so this is something you’re going to want to keep attuned to if it sounds like an option that could help you.

Despite the announcement today, the die-in marking the death of healthy safety in public schools proceeded as planned last night on N. Main in front of the Shelby County building. Despite going virtual, SCSD has a lot of ground to cover in a month to get prepared to open. Many school districts in the country will not be as forward-thinking about letting kids go virtual, and/or won’t have the resources to make that happen. I would bet part of the protest was to acknowledge that the nation’s Secretary of Education has both the intelligence and compassion of a potted plant.

In other COVID-19 news, eight more players and two staff members of the Miami Marlins MLB team tested positive and therefore Monday’s home opener against Baltimore had to be canceled. That brings the total to 14 Marlins employees, and also potentially affects the Philadelphia Phillies, who hosted Miami over the weekend, and the Atlanta Braves, who had an exhibition game with the Marlins six days ago. The Marlins will be able to keep playing, calling up members of their 30-man taxi squad to replace those going on the newly created COVID-19 disabled list, but it is not clear if games missed will be made up in an already very short 60-game season.

I have a feeling the MLB season will be called off by mid-August. Pro sports can operate in a bubble, as the NBA has proven, but traveling to each other’s stadiums when you have a new opponent every 3 days is going to prove too much of a challenge. The NFL better be watching this carefully. As for college football, no way it gets beyond week three, and it shouldn’t even get to week one.

The Grizzlies have the Miami Heat in their final scrimmage game today at 1 PM. You can stream it on or watch it on NBATV.  The advantage of streaming the game on the Grizzlies site is you get commentary from local announcer Pete Pranica. The Grizzlies will be the away team, meaning the Heat will have their signage, floor announcers, and music.

How I wish I could watch the scrimmage at the Blind Bear…

Worth a read: Eyes on the NBA bubble Part 1 from Grizzly Bear Blues

The first pediatric death related to COVID-19 in Shelby County happened over the weekend, doctors report. Doctors admit that the patient died from an underlying condition that was probably not aggravated by the coronavirus; nevertheless, the patient had a positive test so it had to be reported that way, giving Facebook “medical experts” one more thing to talk about.

From Cocozza, the ghost restaurant operating in the kitchen and on the patio of the Majestic Grille:

Your safety and our staff’s safety is our main priority. We require our staff to be tested every two weeks for that very reason. One of our staff, who has no direct contact with guests, unfortunately tested positive for COVID-19. Therefore we’ll be closed for the upcoming week to allow our staff to self isolate. We will reopen next Tuesday, August 4, following a negative test for onsite employees.
If you care about our industry at all. If you’d like to be able to pick up food curbside, enjoy a date night at your favorite restaurant or host your rehearsal dinner or retirement at a restaurant ever again…..please for the love of all things holy…write your Elected Representatives & shout it to the mountain tops: MAKE SAME DAY TESTING & RESULTS READILY AVAILABLE. SPREAD THE WORD THAT WEARING A MASK IS SMALL BUSINESS FRIENDLY. STOP POLITICIZING A HEALTH CRISIS & START TAKING IT SERIOUSLY.

Speaking of masks… Mask Up Memphis will be a free event happening at Fourth Bluff Park Saturday from 4 to 7. Stop by and pick up a free mask, free school supplies, and a free snow cone.

You’ve heard of drive-in movies. Now you can try drive-in trivia:

First day in a while that the forecast has not mentioned a heat index, and the last day for a while the high is expected to be above 90. 40% chance of showers and thunderstorms this afternoon, and then we are expected to get 2 to 4 inches of rain the rest of this week.

… Well, never mind that part about not mentioning a heat index. Just found this:

That’s it for now. I will try to catch today’s COVID-19 task force committee press conference and take notes to publish tomorrow, or possibly after the Grizzlies scrimmage today.

Monday update: Nachos for the People @ Slider Inn Downtown

Big week coming up for the City of Memphis in the national sports spotlight. The 2020 WGC – St. Jude Invitational tees off Thursday. Most of the big-time golfers, minus Tiger, will be here. Here are a few links to get you more familiar:

There will be no spectators this year and volunteers are limited to those with “essential” functions.

The remaining group of Shelby County limited-service restaurants closed by the Health Department has a hearing before a federal judge this morning. A ruling should come down this week. The limited-service restaurants seek an injunction allowing them to reopen, and seek to be treated no differently from full-service restaurant. Whether 50% or more of a restaurant’s sales from from alcohol determine whether a restaurant is deemed limited service or full.

The NFL has instituted rules to protect its players and staff from COVID-19. While the season is ongoing, players must obey the following:

  • No going out clubbing
  • No hanging out at indoor bars, except to puck up food
  • No going to indoor parties of 15 or more
  • No indoor concerts
  • No professional sporting events as a fan
  • No indoor church services at more than 25% capacity

If a player comes down with COVID-19 and is found to have violated the rules, he won’t be paid for the games missed due to illness.

An Arkansas state senator who called COVID-19 a “hoax” and refused to wear a mask has tested positive for COVID-19. Idiot.

The $19.99 three-course dinner at Paulette’s is back this Monday. Today’s entree choices are smoked salmon cakes and grilled brochette of beef.

Secrets of The Apprentice: This podcast features a freelance talent logistics coordinator who worked on the show that made Donald Trump a reality star. Part 1 is especially worth a listen.

There’s a Refuse to Return “Die-In” outside the Shelby County building at 160 N. Main tonight at 6. This event is said to “mourn the death of safety in public schools” as teachers and students are being pushed to return to in-person instruction in the middle of a pandemic. Masks are required, mourning attire is encouraged, face paint is encouraged, and participants may bring tombstones.

But, let’s look at the bright side… if public school reopening goes as badly as expected, Trump might have to make a sacrificial lamb out of Betsy DeVos in October to try and save his election chances…

This was the last “normal” weekend for full service restaurants before Health Directive No. 9’s new restrictions kicked in. Therefore, I decided to make it a day for the entire family Saturday at Slider Inn Downtown. Mendatius and Socially Distant Perjorie were happy to get out of the apartment.

As of Saturday, I was not yet required to order food to have my PBR, but I chose to. One of the menu items I hadn’t tried yet was Nachos for the People, nachos topped with melted cheddar cheese, black beans, pico, sour cream, and jalapeños. For a dollar more you can add Slider Inn’s famous Exhaust Pipe Chili or chicken. I added the chili. “Do you want a half order or a whole?” asked the bartender.

I was pretty hungry, so I told her I’d take a whole order. I had no idea what I was getting into!

They brought me out a pan that looked like it was intended for baking a 12-inch pan pizza. It was loaded with chips and toppings. It looked like it should have its own zip code!

Now, remember, I did say I was pretty hungry as I started on PBR number 3 at Slider Inn. Let’s see how much damage I did before I threw in the towel:

Roughly one quarter of the plate, if even that. The bartender boxed up the rest of the nachos for me to take home, giving me leftovers for yesterday and today.

Huey’s might have lost its status as my pick for best (traditional, not BBQ) nachos Downtown. The Nachos for the People were cheesy and gooey and so good. They didn’t skimp on the jalapeños, either! Very highly recommended.

After lunch, my friends Randy, Theresa, Big Papa, and I had shots of Jameson. The bottle was pretty low before we ordered, and we finished it off.

When you or your group finishes a bottle of Jameson at Slider Inn Downtown, you get to sign your names and decorate it, to be displayed on the wall. I signed my name in blue, which has always been my favorite color. I then got a lime green marker, the color of Socially Distant Perjorie’s hair, and signed her name.

I then signed in an orange marker for Mendatius. Randy signed “Billy Joel,” his favorite musician, and Theresa and Big Papa signed too and we dated the bottle.

The others commented that if Mendatius’ hair were slicked back and we applied a fake tan to him, he would look like Donald Trump. That prompted the bartender to ask if I was a Trump supporter. That’s it. MENDATIUS IS NEVER GOING OUT WITH ME AGAIN.

Time for another workday, followed by leftover nachos and WWE Monday Night RAW. Back tomorrow with more news.

Sunday update: Lobster roll brunch special at The Vault today

I want to start off this post by alerting everyone to a delicious brunch special going on today at The Vault at 124 G.E. Patterson. Chef Steph Cook of RAWK’n Grub is spending some time in the kitchen at The Vault as he waits for his next plan to come together. This is what he has in store for diners today:

Doing a lil special for Brunch at the @vaultmemphis for this amazing RAWK Lobster Mane Lobster Roll! Sous vide lobster poached in @bealestbrewingco Love & Hoppiness with citrus and butter and tossed in a dry BBQ rub from @rendezvousmemphis for a BBQ aioli and Payne’s BBQ mustard slaw! If Mempho had a Lobstah Roll this would be IT!!! #supportlocal #cheflife🔪 #collab #ediblememphis #fooddrankculture #901eats

Sounds like the place to be today… just don’t take over two hours to eat your Lobstah Mane roll or you will be an OUTLAW!!!

I mean, really, how are they going to enforce that part of the health directive, put a stopwatch on every table? This in addition to collecting contact tracing information, not being able to serve alcohol until a food order is in, having to use single-serve condiments, and all the other hoops full-service restaurants are now required to jump through, just to be able to operate at 50% capacity. Is anyone actually making any money doing this?

In other restaurant news, a sponsored post appeared on my Facebook news feed yesterday, for a new restaurant called Curfew Memphis that is supposed to open soon in Downtown Memphis. The restaurant will be a new concept by celebrity chef Fabio Viviani. Vivani, a native of Florence, Italy, moved to Ventura County, California in 2005. He competed on the Top Chef reality series in 2008 and was voted fan favorite. Since then he has been a television guest and cookbook and e-book author, and he operates restaurants across the country. The address is 164 Union, which means it will be in the hotel being constructed across B.B. King from AutoZone Park. Well, that certainly will be an improvement over the Denny’s that was in the old hotel!

So anyway, if you’re looking for a job, they posted the following:

CURFEW is a new restaurant concept from Celebrity Chef

Fabio Viviani

that is coming to Downtown Memphis soon, and WE ARE HIRING for the following positions:

• Executive Chef
• Sous Chef
• Line Cooks
🔜 Email your Resume to &
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I found this on the Public Domain Review site yesterday and it may be of interest to Memphians who love the river: Ancient Courses: Harold Fisk’s Meander Maps of the Mississippi River (1944). To use a quote from PD Review: “Fisk dreamed up a captivating, colorful, visually succinct way of representing the Mississippi’s fluctuations through both space and time.”

Memphis 901 FC led for most of last night’s match, but Charlotte scored a goal in the 83rd minute to make it a draw, giving Memphis 1 point in the standings rather than the 3 it hoped for. Action News 5 has video as fans returned to AutoZone Park.  Local infectious disease expert Dr. Jon McCullers performed the pre-match guitar smash. Calkins: 901 FC proves that fans in the stands can be done

The Shelby County Health Department issued guidance about a certain type of masks:

Exposure Memphis is an annual event held on 9/01 Day, September 1, and it’s an opportunity to expose Memphis to many of the ways to get involved in their city. Typically 150 or more organizations participate. This year, for the first time Exposure Memphis will go virtual. The event will be streamed through the Hopin platform 4 to 7 that afternoon. Register for the event and get access to a virtual swag bag full of discounts and freebies. They have a survey that can help make you aware of Memphis organizations they think you would like to connect with during the virtual event.

Health Department Director Dr. Haushalter’s push to re-establish a county Board of Health is meeting some criticism from suburban mayors in the county.

The Memphis Police have GOT to get this situation Downtown on the weekends under control. Last night I heard drag racing outside all night (and in fact I hear it now, 7:27 AM as I type this). At 3:15 AM I heard a series of gunshots near Second and Monroe. For the next hour and a half I heard more distant gunshots that sounded like they were coming from Riverside Drive multiple times. To put things into perspective, living Downtown prior to this year, I heard a gunshot on average once every five years.

I guess I should look at the bright side… all this crap will depress the market value of living space Downtown, keeping my rent down.

Yesterday would have been a very sad day for my mom, if she were still with us: Regis Philbin passed away.

I have food pics (and troll pics) but I am going to push those back to tomorrow’s post because I want Facebook to pick up the image of Steph’s lobster roll when I share today’s post. Everyone PLEASE WEAR YOUR MASK so Health Directive No. 10 will be less restrictive, not more than No. 9. Back tomorrow with more news, or later today if I get bored, which I probably will.

Saturday update

The Shelby County Health Department issued Health Directive No. 9 Friday afternoon, and it is even more restrictive than the previous health directive. Limited-service restaurants (bars) and clubs must remain closed. Full-service restaurants must be prepared to show the paperwork they submitted the last time they applied for their license or had it renewed, proving that less than 50% of their total sales come from alcohol. Those full-service restaurants that cannot supply such proof of total sales vs. alcohol sales must close. This is apparently aimed at some businesses on Beale Street, which through a loophole in state law were able to be licensed as full-service restaurants despite alcohol counting for more than 50% of the total.

There are other new restrictions on full-service restaurants. First of all, bar areas will be once again closed for both seating and standing. Secondly, customers must be seated at a table and put a food order in before they are allowed to order alcohol. Also, food service for any individual or group seated at a table will be limited to two hours. Music (live or recorded) must be played at a level that can be talked over without people having to raise their voice.

The order goes into effect July 26, 2020 at midnight. Once again, I wish they would use 11:59 PM or 12:01 AM so the date isn’t ambiguous. I think they mean end of Sunday/beginning of Monday, but it could be interpreted as end of Saturday/beginning of Sunday.

According to a CA article, the Beale Street restaurants that will have to close because they don’t meet the 50% threshold include Silky’s, Mr. Handy’s Blues Hall, Club 152, and Coyote Ugly. Wait a minute… how in the ever-loving HELL are Wet Willie’s sales more food than alcohol? I mean, the food they serve there is actually pretty decent (years ago, I had a former student who worked there, which is how I know), but really, who goes there for FOOD?

Obviously this will further restrict my after-work and weekend activities. However, I am much less worried about how my social life is affected than I am about my three friends who still can’t operate their limited service restaurants Downtown.

And I’m worried especially worried about the employees of those three restaurants and the other 40 or so that were ordered to close except for take-out. I know well how it feels to have what it’s like to have a seemingly very stable source of income pulled out from under you. It happened to my mom in 1991 when the Arkansas Gazette closed, and I saw the emotional and mental struggles she went through. It happened to me in January 2018, and although it turned out to be the best thing that happened to me in a long time, I had to go through a lot of hard times before I got to that place of peace.

The worst thing for those employees has to be not knowing how long this will go on. If they could look into a crystal ball and see that limited service restaurants will be closed for 5 weeks, then the uncertainty would be removed. Then the time off could truly become a vacation, and they could do the things a service industry schedule never gives them time to do. Like going out west and hiking in the mountains. Doing some fishing. Going to the beach, if you can find one that’s open. Traveling to see family you haven’t seen in years. Going to a Memphis 901 FC game, if you can score tickets. Signing up for a free month trial of a streaming service and binge-watching everything you can.

However, there’s no end in sight. Local infectious disease expert Dr. Manoj Jain expects the average number of COVID-19 cases to continue to go up every month through November, peaking at about 670 new cases per day (currently we’re averaging about 400 per day). No doubt people are worrying, will the landlord work with me if I have to fall two months behind on my rent? What if an animal I own needs an operation that I can’t afford? How will I be able to hunt for jobs if my phone gets cut off? Having been through that kind of stuff myself, it breaks my heart to see a lot of really good people have to go through that due to a circumstance they couldn’t control.

On to the news… Memphis 901 FC hosts Charlotte Independence tonight at 7:30 at AutoZone Park. If you’re not one of the lucky 1000 to have tickets, you can watch the game on local TV station CW30.

Hey, cool! I just autoprogrammed my living room TV to make sure it picks up channel 30, and it’s now getting channel 7, Jackson, TN ABC/CBS affiliate WBBJ. What’s up Josh and Frenchie, I guess I’ll be keeping up with news from your neck of the woods now!

My apologies for not reminding my readers that the Grizzlies had a scrimmage streaming online yesterday afternoon. They looked like garbage against Philadelphia the first two 10-minute quarters, then nearly came all the way back. Kyle Anderson shoots threes now! Never saw that coming. Next scrimmage is Sunday night vs. The Beard, Russ, and the rest of the Houston Rockets, and you can stream it at 7 PM on Pete Pranica and Rob Fischer provide in-game commentary and Chris Vernon offers his thoughts at the half.

Wyly Bigger streams live from South Main Sounds tonight 5:30 to 7 PM.

If you want to support the National Civil Rights Museum and learn about an important figure of recent history, rent John Lewis: Good Trouble on Apple TV this weekend. The documentary chronicles the civil rights icon and later U.S. Representative’s fight for equality and justice.

Dinner and a show returns to Atomic Rose tonight. Dinner at 6, then at 7:30 there will be a viewing of the 1995 film To Wong Foo: Thanks for Everything. Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, and John Leguizamo star as three drag queens on a road trip.

This may be a little deep for a Saturday but I’m linking anyway because scientists are finally starting to get it. Could consciousness all come down to the way things vibrate?

From Chef Michael Patrick of Rizzo’s:

We will be closing for a few days. Why are we closing you ask? Over the last 24 hours a employee called out sick feeling like they had some covid-19 symptons. His concern for his safety and the restaurants is just what we have been talking about since we opened back up. It is important to be a “circle of trust”. Especially in this Covid Environment we are currently in. This morning he has gone to get tested.
As a precautionary measure we will be closing over the next couple or few days until this employee gets their test results back.
We always want to do the right thing. We have taken all the necessary precautions, to keep our staff and the dining public safe when they enter this establishment. As they say you can never be to safe. With this being said we hope to get back to feeding you all very soon.
I will be posting again as soon as we know more. Love you Memphis. Stay strong, stay safe.

“Or until this employee gets their test results back…” You may be closed for a month, Chef.

Something I figured out yesterday: Doing a 20-count while washing hands is hard because most of us have trouble knowing how long a second is without looking at a watch with a second hand. However, if you do a 40-count without any pauses between the numbers, it works out to just about exactly 20 seconds.

From lifestyle website InsideHook: Threesomes may be on the rise during the pandemic

From Politico: 8 ways Election Day 2020 could be a disaster. I’ll give you the Cliffs Notes version:

  1. An uncontrolled pandemic
  2. A whirlwind of new technologies and new processes (remember the Iowa Dem caucus?)
  3. A drought of funding, causing a flood of delays
  4. A tidal wave of dislocated voters
  5. A storm of foreign attacks
  6. A blizzard of misinformation and disinformation
  7. Declining voter protections, increasing lawsuits, and no watchdog
  8. An unpredictable volcano in the Oval Office

All right, folks, Health Directive No. 9 is not in effect yet. So, my recommendation for today is to go out to your favorite full-service restaurant, sit at the bar, drink alcohol, and socialize. Since the school system is utterly fucked this fall, maybe do a shot in honor of each teacher you know. Just be sure to wear a mask, because that’s our ticket out of this year in hell. Also, if you discard a single-use disposable paper mask, be sure to place it in a proper trash receptacle. That’s it for now. I’m heading to Slider Inn Downtown at 11, then home in time to watch the 901 FC match. Back tomorrow with more news.




Friday update

Wiseacre Brewing Co. posted the following announcement to Instagram:

We’ve added Gotta Get Up to Get Down to the 12pk fam! We also have dock sales kegs available of Tiny Bomb, Ananda, GGU, Regular, Sands, and a few 5 gallon kegs of Lord Skylark. Our downtown facility will now just be open Fridays and Saturdays 3-8PM for pickup. Hours and details on Broad are staying the same for delivery + curbside pickup.

A zoning exception has been granted to allow a building at 7 Vance (at Wagner Place) to be renovated into 210 apartments. There was some concern by neighbors about increased traffic in the area, and a traffic light at Front and Vance was suggested. Maybe that would slow the weekend drag racers down.

Leadership 101:

A limited number of tickets to Memphis 901 FC‘s home match this Saturday will go on sale today at 10.

The Downtown Memphis Commission is considering offering a new pre-development grant to help businesses with expenses that pile up before the first shovel ever hits the ground: things like marketing assessments, environmental tests, and structural assessments.

From Chalkbeat Tennessee: I’m a teacher who survived COVID-19. I’m not ready to return to the classroom.

Grind City Brewery is unable to open its Taproom in the far north corner of Uptown, the Daily Memphian reports, because a utility pole stands in its way. A 3000 SF deck is sitting there, unable to be enjoyed by customers, because of the pole.

Local musician Jeff Hulett will play a virtual concert in Health Sciences Park today noon to 1.

54-year-old Mike Tyson makes a comeback in September in an 8-round exhibition match. Damn, he’s old enough to sit at the corner table at Max’s Sports Bar!

There was a lot going on in yesterday’s Shelby County COVID-19 Task Force update. Here’s a summary.

Mayor Strickland led off. He complimented Memphians on their vastly improved effort wearing masks recently. He said yesterday, Code Enforcement only received 3 complaints about masking while conducting 46 inspections and issuing 14 warnings and one summons. Since the mask ordinance went into effect, 214 violations have been found by Code Enforcement, and only one second summons has had to be issued for a business. Later in Q&A, Strickland said most businesses can be brought into compliance with education, but for those that refuse to comply, the city can issue fines and turn to the Health Department to shut businesses down.

Next up was city Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen. Chief McGowen explained that for now, the testing priority needs to be those who are displaying symptoms. He said that the lack of testing capacity, and the reason for backlogs, is supply chain issues not only locally, but around the nation and the world. He also said they are looking into saliva tests as a way to increase capacity (and not have to stick that damn swab 5 inches up people’s nose).

McGowen also said they are looking to bring on a testing czar to the task force, someone who lives and breathes COVID-19 testing and will leave no stone unturned.

Health Department Director Dr. Haushalter was up next. She said that the number of cases a day is about 400, which is significant, but it has leveled off the past week. Later in the questions she said the fact that it has leveled off might mean a less aggressive approach than if the number were still on the rise – it could be considered a “new normal.”

The average positivity rate for the past week has been above 15%, which is concerning. She said she has more concern over that number than the cumulative 9.8% positive rate since the pandemic came to Shelby County.

Haushalter commented on guidelines for opening schools. She said there are two sets of guidelines, one of which is issued by the American Academy of Physicians, calling for 3 to 6 feet of social distancing. which differs from the CDC’s guideline of 6 feet, period. She said the Health Department concurs with the CDC on social distancing in schools.

Next Haushalter discussed the difference between the terms “isolation” and “quarantine” as relates to the pandemic:

  • Isolation refers to people who have either tested positive for COVID-19 or have suspected cases with symptoms. The recommendation here is that people return to work after 10 days of isolating and 1 day of being symptom-free without medication (previously the guidance was 3 days). Those who are symptomatic may have to take 20 or more days to become symptom-free and should not return to work until they are. Managers are asked not to require a second COVID-19 test for employees to be able to return to work, to preserve testing capacity.
  • Quarantine only applies to people who are contacts – not ill, not diagnosed. If quarantined, you must take a 14-day break from regular activities, including work. Even if you test negative, you cannot return to work until the 15th day.

There has been a resolution to re-establish the Board of Health, which was abolished in 1911 when Boss Crump was mayor of Memphis. This would be a permanent body which would do complementary work to the Health Department. It would be made up of a diverse array of opinions, including

  • 2 physicians
  • 1 pharmacist
  • 1 nurse
  • 1 dentist
  • 1 veterinarian
  • 1 citizen

This would be unpaid positions, but would be considered positions of great prestige that would serve as career highlights. The board’s role would be “a voice for public health.” To some degree, the purpose of the board would be to remove politics and add perspective.

Haushalter gave the example of Nashville/Davidson County, which has a Board of Health. Through this board they passed menu labeling, getting them ahead of both the state in the nation in terms of addressing obesity.

Strickland was asked if he had heard anything about federal agents coming to Memphis as they have some other major cities, and he said, not a thing, not a rumor.

Dr. H was asked about contact tracing within schools. She said tracing would be similar to any other facility. Tracers will work closely with schools to identify whether the transmission happened within the school or in a household. Tracers will work with schools to do additional testing when there is clustering within a classroom. The Department will learn as the school year goes on and will hone their tracing practices in this setting.

Haushalter now believes they will need as many as 250 contact tracers. They will have dedicated teams focusing on key vulnerable populations, and intend to have a “point person” schools can turn to.

The CDC advises prioritizing whose contacts are traced, since the number of cases is so great that it’s impossible to trace them all. Pediatric cases were said to always be a priority.

At first I found it odd that no one asked about the lawsuit by limited service restaurants to reopen, but I suspect Mayor Strickland advised prior to the press conference that they could not comment on pending litigation.

The panel was offered a chance to make final comments. Haushalter noted that flu season will soon be upon us, and encouraged everyone to get vaccinated early this year.

Oh, THIS should be interesting. People gon’ have some ‘splainin’ to do.

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

Thursday update

Jerred Price, president of the Downtown Neighborhood Association, announced yesterday that following a meeting with City COO Doug McGowen and others, that Riverside Drive will re-open on a limited basis Monday-Friday beginning August 3. Originally, the plan was for Riverside to open when the city entered Phase 3. However, it looks like the concept of “phases” defined in the county’s April Back to Business plan no longer mean anything; indeed, the Back to Business website has been taken down.  All the cool kids have moved on and are talking about “tripwires” now.

Per mediation and Mayor Strickland, Riverside Drive will remain four lanes, and the weekend closures will be lifted once the COVID-19 pandemic has passed.

The city has released new outdoor dining guidelines to help restaurants allowed to be open under Health Directive No. 8 expand their capacity. If restaurant owners want to expand their capacity by putting dining tables on their own property, such as parking lots, they can go ahead and implement changes now. If they want to expand onto city property, such as sidewalks or even streets, they can submit a proposal to the Health Department. The main things that the Health Department will look for are social distancing, access for the disabled, and access to restaurant indoor restrooms.

What about restaurant owners not allowed to be open under Health Directive No. 8? Is the health department going to do anything to help them?

River Time Market and Deli on Court Square posted about a couple of new things yesterday.

Not a pretty picture, but I sampled out this today which will be a to go Lunch or Dinner Starting next Wednesday or Thursday with a side. This is a Drop Biscuit Chicken Dumpling. It went over big today – thanks everyone that came over and tried.


This will be a Friday Grab n Go ! Red Beans and Rice – Vegeterian/Vegan Friendly.

For those of you still having trouble with fruit flies, my neighbor recommended this Fruit Fly Goodbye killer that you pour down drains. He said they were on the increase at his place, and this stuff got rid of them in two days. Fruit flies and gnats breed in drain traps. Make the environment inhospitable, and they will go elsewhere.

The Memphis Flyer reports that the Humane Society is looking for people to foster animals, particularly kittens. The facility currently has 56 kittens out in foster homes, and cannot accept any more kittens without foster homes in place. Fostering does not cost you anything – all you do is commit to playing with cute kittens for two to four weeks while the Humane Society supplies you with blankets, towels, toys, litter, food and medical needs. For those furloughed or working from home during COVID-19, this could be the perfect addition to your life.

For those who travel, here’s the current seating protocol for every U.S. airline.

For those looking for something to do tonight, it’s Girls’ Night Out at Loflin Yard with half-price wine and cheeseboards for ladies. If you prefer to do something at home, check out Cerrito Virtual Trivia presented by Riverset Rye at 8:30.

Opinion piece by Local 24’s Richard Ransom: The move to rename Poplar between Front and Danny Thomas to Black Lives Matter Avenue has good intentions, but it’s not the right street to rename

It’s Major League Baseball’s Opening Day, with the New York Yankees visiting the Washington Nationals at 6, followed by the San Francisco Giants at the Los Angeles Dodgers at 9. Both games will be on ESPN. It’s a shame Max’s Sports Bar can’t be open.

That’s it. Remember, folks, the more you wear your masks, the more we can get back to normal regarding businesses and schools. Back tomorrow with more.