Monday update

Exciting news! Yesterday I submitted a story to Age of Awareness, an online publication with more than 35,000 followers that features stories providing creative, innovative, and sustainable changes to the education system.

The author of the course I am taking encouraged students to submit to online publications early, and get used to being rejected a few times. I had an article about my experience skipping first grade in school, and searched for an education publication. I found AoA Saturday, and yesterday I submitted my story and had it accepted about 3 hours later. Not sure when it will appear on AoA’s home page; my stats indicate it has not been on there yet.

Hard to believe a guy who carries a troll around and who featured Tube Top Month in his blog for 9 years has an article being read by professors, teachers, principals, and other prominent folks in the education system… technically I guess I do have the street cred, though, having taught at the U of M and worked for the city schools back when they were still a thing.

I got the news about 5:30 PM. My first instinct was to go out and have a beer or two to celebrate… but the stupid rules would have required me to order a food item with those beers, and I had just eaten. COVID RUINS EVERYTHING.

Well, maybe not everything. The Memphis Tigers had a bye week due to Purdue canceling their scheduled matchup, and following a COVID-19 outbreak among football personnel, they had to cancel this coming Saturday’s game against Houston. Yet they entered the AP poll, debuting this week at number 16. Memphis is the third-highest-ranked non-Power 5 team, behind AAC rivals Cincinnati (13) and UCF (14).

The Tennessee Vols are 15th. This season is their best chance to go undefeated in a long time, especially if COVID-19 spikes in the southeastern states and cancels the SEC season in the next two weeks.

North Carolina FC came from behind to hand Memphis 901 FC a 3-2 road loss last night. Although still mathematically possible, for all intents and purposes Memphis is too far behind in Group G to make the playoffs this year.

Next match is another away match at Louisville FC 6:30 Saturday. Matches are televised on CW30.

The virtual version of Memphis’ 2020 Latin Fest kicks off tomorrow and lasts through the end of the month. There will be dance classes, artistic presentations, and discussions with experts on community topics.

Breaking news: Domino’s Pizza has pledged $100 million to St. Jude, the largest-ever gift to the children’s cancer research hospital.

Shelby County Commission will discuss police tactics at Monday meeting. Insider tip: For up-to-the-minute coverage of Commission meetings, follow @bdriesdm on Twitter. CAN YOU FEEL IT?

Since this is a slow news day, I want to talk a little bit more about the website I write for, Medium. Remember your first trip to a mall? The possibilities seemed endless. There was a Spencer’s and there was a Gadzooks and there was a Limited and Waldenbooks and Banana Republic and American Eagle and on and on… and then there was the food court. You could have pizza or ice cream or a Philly cheese steak or Chinese or a pretzel.

Medium is like that. It’s kind of a shopping mall full of really excellent writing. They have a list of 104 topics in which you can dig as deep as you want. If there’s any subject you’d like to read about that’s not in the topics list, type it into the search box and you’ll probably find plenty.

Medium also has publications built on its platform, including Age of Awareness where I recently got published. A few publications I think many of my readers would like include

  • P.S. I Love You – this pub is all about relationships and relationship advice.
  • The Startup – Medium’s largest publication with 700,000 followers. Entrepreneurs, techies, and those who are naturally curious will find plenty to read here.
  • Better Humans – writing on human potential and self-improvement.
  • The Ascent – storytellers documenting the search for happiness and fulfillment. I have been accepted as a writer to this one and am working on an article.
  • The Post-Grad Survival Guide – life advice, financial advice, stories of successes and failures aimed mainly at those between college graduation and age 30.

I first got into Medium when I still wanted a career in IT. Their stuff in that field is top-notch, particularly data science, Javascript, programming, software engineering, and UX. If you’re thinking about changing jobs, Medium is a particularly good investment: You’ll find plenty of questions asked in technical interviews at some of America’s best-known companies.

Things you can do if you really enjoy a post on Medium:

  • Follow the writer – this tells Medium you’d like to see more of what this author wrote on your news feed.
  • Clap for the article – this tells Medium that this article should be shown more frequently in people’s news feeds. Click the clapping hands icon next to/below the article to clap. You can clap up to 50 times for an article.
  • Highlight sections of the article – these highlights will appear when your followers read the same article.
  • Subscribe to the author’s email list, or to the publication’s – you’ll get notified when there are similar articles of interest. I’m thinking about starting an email list once I get my follower count in the 500-1000 range.

I’m not trying to make this sound like a commercial for a company that pays me money (just a teeny tiny bit so far, but I’m hoping that changes). I have only been a writer for Medium for half a month. I’ve been a paid subscriber on and off for the past two years.

I consider the quality and quantity of good articles to more than justify the $5 expense. That’s especially true during COVID-19, when “bored at home” is our status a lot more than we’d like it to be.

Put it this way, if I were forced to give up my Medium subscription or my WWE Network subscription, I’d give up WWE. Those of you who know me well know what a strong statement that is.

That’ll do it. Time to get to work. I don’t anticipate getting out until Wednesday unless fate intervenes. Back tomorrow with more news.

Sunday update

Normally I save the political stuff until the end of my posts, but this is just so damn funny I can’t help it.

I opened Twitter this morning and saw “Macho Man” as a trending topic. I thought immediately of deceased pro wrestler Randy “Macho Man” Savage, but no, he wasn’t the trend.

Rather, the Trump campaign used “Macho Man” by the Village People, a song by six gay men that celebrates being gay, as the background music for a rally in Nevada.

Now, I can believe the stiff, boring, old white men who run Trump’s campaign didn’t know the connotations of this song. But surely Trump himself would have known! After all, this song had to be playing when he did lines (I don’t mean line dances) at Studio 54 in 1980.

Now I see that the campaign used “YMCA” lyrics too. That song’s writer says he doesn’t mind as long as Trump does the dance.

Let’s have a look at the Shelby County COVID-19 data dashboard:

  • The 7-day rolling average of number of new cases, by date of test (third graph from the top) is 117. The COVID-19 task force needs to see a number at or below 180 to consider opening the bars and relaxing the stupid restrictions on restaurants.
  • The 7-day rolling positivity rate, by date of test (fifth graph from the top) is 9.8%. This is highly significant because this weekend, for the first time since June 18, the number is below the 10% threshold at which the task force would consider opening bars and relaxing stupid restaurant restrictions.

The task force does not plan on making any decisions for one more week, because they want the data to roll in from Labor Day weekend. However, absent a trend upward, it is possible and maybe even likely more businesses will be open, and with fewer regulations, soon.

Daily Memphian: Shelby County positivity rate near 10% for the past month. The article also reveals another important statistic that I wish the Health Department would do more to make public. R, the reproduction rate of the virus, stands at 0.87. R needs to be at or below 1 to open the bars.

On the flip side of the coin, I encourage you to read James Aycock’s weekly wrap-up of Shelby County COVID-19 data. Mr. Aycock would probably disagree with me on whether bars should open after one more week, but there is one point on which I completely agree with him: THERE IS NOT ENOUGH TESTING. We need programs to encourage people to go get tested for free. That means changing the perception that you’re going to be sitting in a hot car in line for three hours. This means first changing the reality that people are going to be sitting in their cars in line for three hours.

Back in early July, a friend of mine went to get tested. He did not have any coronavirus symptoms, nor was he aware of being exposed to a known case of the virus. However, he is a manager of a chain restaurant here in town, and so it’s his job to interact with the public 10 hours a day, 5 days a week.  He got the test done out of curiosity. Seems to me we need to encourage more than that these days.

In other coronavirus news, the Memphis Tigers have postponed a primetime game against the Houston Cougars next Saturday because of a COVID-19 outbreak among the team. The Tigers will have to go out to bars if they want to see any cougars this week… no, wait, they can’t even do that because the bars are closed. The matchup between two of the AAC’s top teams will hopefully occur later this fall.

A search is on for a man who went missing and whose belongings were found in Martyr Park yesterday. The man was released from Alliance Healthcare Friday around 8 PM and no one has seen him since.

More rain may arrive in Memphis mid-week. Tropical Storm Sally (no doubt named for Carmel’s cat) is expected to hit Louisiana or possibly Mississippi as a Category 1 or 2 hurricane tomorrow. September 13 and we’re already running out of storm names.

Is Schroeder on the list for male hurricane names? The other cat’s got to get his fame as well.

From Yahoo! Finance: Here’s what $650,000 can get you in Memphis (as relates to buying a home). This appears to be part of a series on real estate in various cities. A Mud Island home is featured.

DittyTV will stream an online concert presenting United by Music North America tonight from 8 to 9.

I am taking a break from going out this week, with one possible exception which I’ll get to in a minute. Yesterday I signed up for a course on writing on the platform, presented by an author who is one of Medium’s top writers and also the co-editor of one of its publications, The Post-Grad Survival Guide. Not having tabs at restaurants this week will cover part of what I spent on the course.

It’s not so much that I feel like I need instruction on how to write, but rather on how to work the Medium platform to its fullest potential. The most well-paid writers are not the best writers, but good writers who cultivate the most connections. The latter half of this week, I have been working the “people” aspect of Medium in addition to publishing two new articles. My number of followers has increased 6x since Wednesday and my earnings have increased 11x. If this trend continues, by Tuesday of this week I’ll have earned enough to pay for a PBR at the Blind Bear, and by Wednesday I’ll have earned enough to pay for a PBR at Bardog.

Now, as for that one day a week when I may have to get out, want to or not… I may need to put out a fire with the trivia team. Last week I made a mistake. There was a bonus question: Name 10 states that have voted Republican every presidential election since 1980. I scratched Texas out in favor of Arizona because I thought Texas was more likely to have voted for Carter in 1980. I got that one wrong.

Apparently one of my teammates has his feathers all ruffled that I cost us 1 point of out a possible 100 points on a trivia quiz that at best could have resulted in a $40 gift card split among 6 people. So my error contributed 1/100th of a loss of a possible $6.67 windfall for him. Oh, by the way, I contributed five other answers, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Alaska, that were correct. But that doesn’t matter. Texas is all that matters.

In case you’re wondering, the correct answers in alphabetical order were Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska (statewide, although Obama won NE-02 in 2012), North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. Texas did vote for Carter in 1976, but that was outside the time frame of the question. Wikipedia entry for red and blue states with color chart of elections since 1972

That’s it for today. Happy brunching to those of you who do go out. Back tomorrow with more news.



Saturday update

Greetings, fellow citizens of Shelby County…

COVID-19 has made its way to the Memphis Tigers football team, which is suspending operations temporarily. Today is an open date for the Tigers, their game against Big Ten opponent Purdue having been canceled. Next week’s conference game against Houston is in serious doubt because of the incubation period of the disease.

I don’t see how college football is going to happen this season without a bubble, and I don’t see how you put college kids in such a bubble… nevertheless, let’s have a quick look at what games are might be on today.

  • Of local interest: Arkansas State vs. Kansas State, 11 AM, FOX.
  • Duke vs. #19 Notre Dame, 1:30 PM. NBC.
  • Georgia Tech vs. Florida State, 2:30 PM, ABC.
  • Damn, you know we’re hurting for football when UTSA vs. Texas State makes it onto ESPN2. 2:30 PM.
  • #1 Clemson vs. Wake Forest is probably the game of the week. 6 PM, ABC.

Potential big news: The capital management firm that owns Downtown Walgreens is asking the Downtown Memphis Commission for a grant to make improvements. That Walgreens is a cornerstone of the neighborhood and we must do whatever it takes to keep it here. Hey DMC, here’s an idea… give them what they ask for, but in exchange, they have to stay open until 10 PM weekdays. Sound fair?

Gang, I want to emphasize once again what a fantastic resource Quora is. You can ask any question, tag it with appropriate topics, and get answers from top experts.

So, for example, a couple of weeks ago I asked about updating my LinkedIn profile to reflect a career changed from web developer to professional writer. Within days I got answers from career coaches, recruiters, and LinkedIn experts.

This week I asked if people who have a particular personality order gravitate toward a certain career. Three hours later, I had an answer with a counselor who specializes in that personality disorder.

Why do people take the time to answer these questions? Because they establish themselves in their fields by doing so. Writers I follow on Medium jump over to Quora and answer questions, and that has led to their being asked to write articles for top magazines such as Inc. and Forbes. That’s the caliber of people who will answer you, for free.

Some parts of Downtown suffered through a second power outage in two days yesterday.

Brunch starts at Ben-Yay’s today from 10 to 2. 51 S. Main St. Click or tap menus to see in a larger size:

Looks like the building next door to McEwen’s is getting a new roof:

The National Civil Rights Museum will host a webinar next Wednesday, September 16, 3-4 PM on understanding white privilege. Free to participate, but you must register in advance.

Paid poll worker jobs are available for Election Day on November 3.

In closing, I just want to remind citizens of Shelby County to wear your masks and your face coverings… maintain your six feet of distance and your hand hygiene. Back tomorrow with more news.


Friday update

Pontotoc Lounge at 314 S. Main announced a dinner special for this weekend: fried catfish tacos with jicama-corn salsa and cilantro-lime creme. It’s a perfect dish for date night, and your expert bartenders can recommend a cocktail or a glass of wine to pair with the dish.

Save the date: Bardog Tavern will have its 12th birthday celebration Wednesday, September 16 from 6:30 to 10 PM.

Much of Downtown lost power for a second time Thursday evening, forcing many restaurants to close. At fault was an underground network fire at Second and Gayoso that damaged MLGW equipment. As of early Friday, most customers have had their power restored.

Skating is back on the riverfront and there are free skate rentals at Beale Street Landing tonight 6:00-8:30.

As your number-one source of news and information about The Edge District, I would encourage all of you to check out Commerical Appeal food writer Jennifer Chandler’s review of Edge Alley.

1989 movie Harlem Nights will be shown on the big screen tonight at the Orpheum with socially distanced general admission seating. Pick a seating area to accommodate the size of your group (6 or fewer). $8 adults, $6 children under 6 but the movie is rated R so you might want to think about not taking the kids.

The Memphis Flyer has a very helpful frequently asked questions about voting in the November 3 election. If you can’t wait until the Third to flush the turd, early voting begins October 14.

Memphis 901 FC picked up a road win in North Carolina last night. The playoffs still look unlikely with only five matches remaining to catch up 8 points. Next match is Sunday at North Carolina FC, 5 PM.

Two Millington men have been charged with repeatedly targeting a homeless man with abuse in Downtown Memphis, allegedly shooting fire extinguishers and throwing rocks at him on multiple occasions. Since those men like coming Downtown so much, I hope the courts reserve a room with all the amenities for them at 201. Dropped the soap, I’ll get it!

A pedestrian died after being struck by a vehicle at North Main and A.W. Willis last night.

Jon Mullins & Ryan Clark play Dinner & Tunes this evening at Tin Roof.

And now it’s time for what we’ve all been waiting for…

Thursday 9/10 COVID-19 press conference recap

Programming note: From now on, I’m only going to do same-day recaps of these task force press conferences if there is significant news about reopening limited-service restaurants or lifting the stupid restrictions on full-service restaurants. Otherwise, I will roll the recap into the next morning’s post.

Health Department Deputy Director David Sweat says there is broad availability of testing right now, with up to 9500 available slots per week. Therefore, anyone who feels as though they should be tested should not hesitate to avail themselves of community testing sites.

Sweat offered the following about trends in the spread of COVID-19 within Shelby County: Inside the I-240 loop transmission is decreasing, but when you go eastward and northward out toward the ‘burbs the opposite is happening.

Sweat said the biggest concern as we pass the 6-month milestone of the first positive test in the county is that complacency or fatigue will set in. We have to stay the course to beat this disease.

Sweat was asked about the city of Los Angeles’ announcement that trick-or-treating will be canceled for Halloween this year, and if such an announcement was possible for Shelby County. Sweat said he did not anticipate anything of the sort. He did say that there will be communication packets distributed to parents, as well as to organizations that might choose to host Halloween or fall celebration parties.

County health officer Dr. Bruce Randolph was asked if he had heard any word about Shelby County Schools resuming contact sports. He said the health department had not been in contact with SCSD about the matter, but it is still the department’s position that contact sports are high-risk at this time.

Doug McGowen, city COO, and Dorcas Young-Griffin, director of the Division of Community Services for Shelby County, offered resources to those in need of financial assistance because of the pandemic.

Assistance for individuals:

  • MIFA offers grants of up to $800 to assist with rent, mortgage, and utility expenses
  • Welcome to Memphis offers up to $300 for those in the hospitality industry who lost work
  • ArtsMemphis offers Artist Emergency Fund grants of up to $1000
  • can offer assistance with rent payments. Young-Griffin cautioned that although evictions will not proceed (where tenants have income of $99K or less and have notified their landlord), rent and fees will still pile up and will still be there at the beginning of 2021.
  • MLGW moratorium ends Monday. You’re encouraged to call 901-544-6549 and work out a plan. If you can give them a partial payment or work out something monthly, they want to work with you.
  • If you need help with utility payments beyond working out payment, contact the Shelby County Community Services Agency or MIFA.
  • The State of Tennessee emotional support hotline can connect you with a counselor 24/7: 1-844-507-0144

For businesses, the City of Memphis Office of Business Diversity and Compliance offers grants of $10K-$25K through its Small Business Stabilization Program.

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

Thursday update: Power outage on Main

Looks like there’s a power outage on South Main Street. Blind Bear has posted a sign in their window that they will be closed until 2 PM. A commenter said it’s out in the area of Main and Pontotoc too. It’s working in my block of Main, between Madison and Monroe. Nothing on Nextdoor about it so far, so maybe it’s not too widespread.

Blue Monkey Downtown has reopened and the hot wing egg rolls were said to be flying out the kitchen window yesterday because there were so many orders.

It’s official: Varsity Spirit, a company that runs band and cheerleading camps, has signed its lease to move to the Snuff District in the far north part of Downtown.

Memphians turned out last night to a special movie screening at the Orpheum in memory of Chadwick Boseman. Apologies for not alerting you to this event before it happened; by the time I became aware of the event, it had “full capacity reached” on social media listings. COVID RUINS EVERYTHING!

The NCAA is discussing “bubbles” similar to the NBA playoffs bubble for the 2020-2021 college basketball season. How’s that going to work when those kids are required to attend classes? It’s like everyone is practically admitting that “going to classes” is nothing more than checking a box on athletic department compliance forms.

The 2020-21 Broadway season at the Orpheum has been rescheduled again and will now run into 2022. We live in strange times.

7:31 AM: Now I have a text from a friend saying that there were many fire trucks at the intersection of Main and Gayoso around 5:30 this morning. Not sure if this is related to the power outage. The TV stations don’t have anything about the outage on their websites and nobody has posted about it on Nextdoor. Going to go ahead and hit Publish since this is time-sensitive news. If I hear anything in the next hour I’ll post an update. Otherwise, I’ll either be back this afternoon with a COVID-19 press conference recap or tomorrow morning with more news.

Updated 7:34: Friend could smell smoke at Main and Gayoso when fire trucks were there around 5:30. Power was still on when trucks left. Trolleys are running. Light at Main and Union is out.

Update 7:40: Nextdoor post says the fire was at Van Vleet Flats.

Update 8:33: Power said to be out as far south as G.E. Patterson. Confirmed from a resident there was a fire at Van Vleet.

Wednesday update

The Daily Memphian updated its list of restaurants that received surprise COVID-19 inspections over the weekend. Complaints had been made against all 13 businesses. Eight of the businesses were found to be in compliance, or were convinced to get into immediate compliance at the time of the inspectors’ arrival. Five others were found non-compliant and closed. They must remain closed until given permission to open by the health department. Scroll down to my COVID-19 recap yesterday for more.

The five businesses that were closed down were all on a section of Winchester between the 5900 block and the 7100 block. The health department seemed to have a particular interest in inspecting hookah lounges.

Six of the eight businesses that were either found in compliance, or which were given opportunities to immediately get into compliance to stay open, were on Overton Square. One of the six is the business I heard had been running illegal late-night hours.

So tempted to comment on the optics of this but I’ll refrain… okay I’ll allow myself one word… demographics.

Voting is ongoing for the Memphis Flyer’s Best of Memphis poll. You have until September 16.

From Rizzo’s by Michael Patrick:

Something special is getting started at Rizzos this week. City approved us a non-permanent patio. To help with increased dining options in our decreased dining room. Thanks Jerri Pesci for your assistance and the city of Memphis for approving.

Remember how I tell you how I have Google alerts set up for “downtown Memphis”? Well, now I’m getting emailed ads for escorts in the alerts. You stay classy, Memphis, you stay classy.

News about the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament Penny Hardaway’s Memphis Tigers are scheduled to compete in this year:

This year’s tournament field for Battle 4 Atlantis sounds amazing! Teams include

  • Creighton
  • Duke
  • Memphis
  • Ohio State
  • Texas A&M
  • Utah
  • Good ole West Virginny
  • Wichita State

Couple of wins there would look great on the nonconference resume. Man, it’s gotta suck though, thinking you’re getting a trip to the Bahamas and instead going to South Dakota.

Let’s have a look at the Shelby County COVID-19 data dashboard, shall we? Numbers are as of 7:30 this morning.

  • 7-day rolling new case average: 127 (180 or fewer needed for limited service restaurants to reopen)
  • 7-day rolling positivity rate: 10.4% (10% of less needed to reopen; 10.4% represents a drop of an entire percent in the last two days)

Things are looking encouraging. Again, the health department won’t make any decisions about reopening limited-service restaurants, or loosening restrictions on full-service restaurants, until two weeks after Labor Day weekend.

From Texas de Brazil:

Wolf River Conservancy hosts a turtle talk this morning at 9:30.

That’s it for this post. I’ve got a writing webinar at 6, then later in the evening I will get out and see my Blind Bear folks. Back tomorrow with more news.

Five businesses in Shelby County closed due to COVID-19 noncompliance (updated)

In today’s COVID-19 task force press conference, it was announced that there were complaints of businesses – particularly restaurants – open when they should not have been over the Labor Day weekend.

The health department has had inspectors out the past few weekends. Initially, the inspectors’ role was education and engagement, attempting to assist facilities with coming into compliance. However, for businesses that have been through that phase, the inspectors came back with enforcement in mind. They visited 12 establishments over the weekend, and found 6 to be fully in compliance, and 5 not in compliance. (No idea what happened to the other one – they didn’t say.)

The 5 businesses out of compliance were closed, in a coordinated effort with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, MPD, and local police departments within the county. Health department director Dr. Alisa Haushalter said those businesses must remain closed until given permission to open by either Dr. Bruce Randolph, county health officer, or herself. If they reopen before receiving such permission, they can be charged with a misdemeanor.

Kendall Downing of WMC asked if a list of those 5 businesses will be released. Health department official David Sweat said they had been given permission to release the list and that the department’s communications officer will get that out. I will have the list on this blog as soon as I am made aware it has been released.

(Edit: That list, per The Daily Memphian: The Indulge Lounge, 5959 Winchester; In Love Memphis, 7144 Winchester; Dubai Hookah Bar, 6700 Winchester; Menue Club, 6642 Winchester; and Height Lounge, 6813 Winchester. The place I heard got shut down is not on this list.)

Dr. Randolph advised business owners to read Health Directive No. 11 and let that be your guide as to whether you can be open, and if so what precautions you must take. He pointed out that several categories of business including limited-service restaurants, beer gardens, wine bars, and those f*cking party pedal bikes that Downtowners hate are supposed to be closed right now.

Dr. Randolph reminded patrons of full-service restaurants that they should keep their masks on until their food arrives. When seated at a table of no more than 6, you can be within 6 feet of those in your group but should not be within 6 feet of any other person at a table.

Mayor Lee Harris stressed that the main focus is on schools and education, and that getting other businesses open and increasing capacity at football games are secondary goals.

David Sweat discussed a glitch yesterday where 125 new cases were reported yesterday out of only 160 tests. There were actually more than 1500 tests reported yesterday.

Sweat said the numbers are trending in the right direction, except the positivity rate which has stuck stubbornly around 11%. He reminded the public that no contemplation of additional reopening will happen until two weeks after Labor Day weekend.

Sweat addressed a question about COVID-19 concerns as the temperature begins to decline during the fall months. He said that the virus is very little susceptible to weather, climate, temperature. However, he noted that as temps cool off, people will spend more time inside, which could lead to additional spread of the virus. He said it’s currently flu season in the Southern Hemisphere, and the same practices that have slowed the spread of COVID have been found to slow the spread of the flu (social distancing, masking, hand washing).

That’s it for today’s recap and I will be back with a list of the five businesses that were closed as soon as that information is put out there. (Now out there; scroll up to view.)

Tuesday update

Headline story in this morning’s Daily Memphian: Most bars remain closed after two months; a few have reopened with a new license

Notable quotable: “Having us closed makes it look like they’re doing something when in effect they’ve just shut down a handful of places. They use us to look like they’re making a difference, but having us closed isn’t doing anything.” – Tami Montgomery, owner of Dru’s Place

From Bardog Tavern:

The Bardog Beer Dinner series is BACK with half the capacity & all the fun! We’re hyped to highlight some new brews from our friends at Grind City Brewing Company, paired with a special menu and a some surprises along the way. 🍺
We‘re closing to the public on Wednesday, Sept. 16 from 6:30 – 10:00 p.m. for this event, so call us 901-275-8752 before Sept. 13 to purchase your ticket and tag your friends! 🎟⤵️

GoFundMe: Save the South Main stray dog “Stan.” Stan is a female. She has been hanging out in the area of West Carolina Avenue for a few months and was trapped last week. The money is needed for vet bills to treat her for infections, get her fully vaccinated, and get her spayed so she’ll be ready for a forever home.

If you only check my blog on weekdays, you don’t want to miss this video from my Saturday post: Brawl Leads to Shooting in Downtown Memphis. This was not the shooting that was reported at MLK and Orleans over this weekend; this appears to be at the intersection of Second and Peabody Place. Where were the police? Pretty sure there’s a Blue CRUSH camera on that block.

I’ve had the song “Train Kept A’ Rollin'” stuck in my head all weekend, so you get a video.

This is the 1968 version of The Yardbirds, shortly before they broke up. Jimmy Page shows early flashes of the brilliance he would later display in Led Zeppelin.

Ever wanted to be a volunteer gardener at Elmwood Cemetery? There’s an introductory webinar tonight.

I plan on going out a lot less this week. Probably Wednesday night at Blind Bear and Saturday at Bardog will be it. All these stupid health department regulations at full-service restaurants mean half the fun at twice the cost. I’ll be better off staying home and working on my writing.

If there’s a COVID-19 task force press conference today, I may be back this afternoon with a recap. Otherwise, I’ll be back tomorrow with more news.

Labor Day update

RIP Lou Brock. He was a base-stealing wizard who I thoroughly enjoyed watching when I was little.

My friend Katie (not Mac) posted something yesterday on Facebook that I feel is worth repeating on here. Raffe’s Deli & Beer Garden in the U of M area recently lost its lease and is looking for a new location. If you’ve never had one of Raffe’s deli sandwiches, let me use three words to describe them.




So, I want to echo Katie (not Mac’s) sentiment that Raffe’s would be welcome Downtown. Like the U of M neighborhood, Downtown is one where there is a sense of community, where you see the same people week after week for years. Raffe’s would fit right in, and believe me, Downtown would certainly provide a built-in audience for a beer garden.

A friend of mine had to walk two miles to the train station this morning because the cab she had ordered never showed up and there were no Uber or Lyft drivers working. We will never be a world-class city until we get our transportation figured out better than this.

LOL I learned something about social media this weekend… doesn’t affect me personally but let’s just say that hot young girls have a better idea which creepy old men are stalking their profile than the creepy old men realize. Since one of my regular blog readers is a creepy old man, I won’t divulge the secret.

Quiz time: Let’s say that a full-service restaurant has signs all over the place saying that you must be seated at a table and order food to be served alcohol, as required by Health Directive No. 11. The bar area at the restaurant is covered in yellow CAUTION tape. What does this mean?

a) If you’re sitting on the patio and don’t feel like waiting for your server to come out there, it’s totally OK to walk up to the bar to order a drink

b) If you’re friends with the bartender, it’s OK to hang out at the bar and have a long conversation with them


d) All of the above

c). The correct answer is c). It seems like most everyone does as they’re asked, but a small number of people, I’d guess 5-7%, don’t get it at all. It’s not that they’re bad people or don’t care about COVID-19 spread, it’s just that they’re such extroverts, so interested in connecting with other people, that they forget there are rules. You can tell these people to put their mask on, get away from the bar, and sit down a dozen times, and two minutes later they’re right back up.

Oh, man. Another RIP. Mike Sexton passed away at 72. He was the lead commentator on the World Poker Tour shows.

I get about 10 emails a week like the one below.

Hi Paul,

I would be interested in an opportunity to write a guest post for Paul Ryburn’s Journal. On page 3 of your archives from May 2014, I see that you mentioned bicycles. I have an article entitled “Best Bicycle Seats for 2020” that I believe would be of great interest to your readers. Would you be interested in such a post?

I will check back with you in a few days to make sure you received this communication.

Best wishes,


The best one of these emails I received was from someone who didn’t understand how to fill out a spammy marketing template, and the email I received was


I would be interested in an opportunity to write a guest post for BLOG_TITLE. On REFERENCED_POST, I see that you mentioned TOPIC. I have an article entitled ARTICLE_TITLE that I believe would be of great interest to your readers. Would you be interested in such a post?

I will check back with you in a few days to make sure you received this communication.

Best wishes,


Now, while I turn down every one of these generic requests, I have to say there is a guest post I would totally allow. I’ve been noticing something on Facebook. There are people who go for YEARS without posting a clear picture of their face as their profile pic. They might make their profile pic

  • a sports logo, like Tigers or 901 FC
  • their pet
  • a logo of the company they work for
  • a blurry photo
  • a photo where half their face is cut off
  • a logo of a community organization they hold dear

However, in 2020 these people, for the first time, post a photo of their face… and it’s behind a mask. I would love to have a psychiatrist or psychologist write an analysis of such behavior. Why have a social media presence if you’re going to hide who you are?

In a few such photos I’ve seen, the wearer of the mask gets double bonus points for hiding who they are and value signaling at the same time.

That’s it for today. I was going to stay home today and focus on my writing, but I am getting a strong intuition of “no, go out today, there’s something for you out there.” I have learned not to doubt my intuition, so out I go. We will see if there is indeed a payoff. Probably back tomorrow with more news, but the day after Labor Day tends to be a slow news day as well, so it could be Wednesday.

Sunday update

Let’s get right to the good stuff.

Video: Brawl leads to shooting in Downtown Memphis. I believe this is the intersection of Second and Peabody Place. Is that the Saucer in the background?

Gossip on the street (which I have not confirmed) is that a Memphis restaurant got busted Friday night for running an illegal speakeasy. Meaning, at 10 PM, the mandated closing time for restaurants under Health Directive No. 11, they turned off all outward indications that they were still open, but if you knew, you could still get in and drink. I won’t name the restaurant, but it is not located Downtown.

4537 fans watched the Memphis Tigers struggle to pull out a win against the Arkansas State Red Wolves yesterday at the Liberty Bowl. I am not surprised it was close. A-State is a good team! They will likely get to a bowl, if there are bowls this season, which there probably won’t be.

Leave it to the Tennessee Vols to screw up the first Saturday of college football season without even playing a game. They had to cancel scrimmage yesterday because 44 players were unavailable. The head coach said “seven or eight” (you’d think he’d know the exact number) players had tested positive for COVID-19, and others were out due to contact tracing concerns or injuries. Sounds like the ‘rona is tearing through Tennessee’s team in a way that usually only the Florida Gators can.

Memphis 901 FC drew with Birmingham last night at AutoZone Park.

I saw an early draft of the Blind Bear’s new menu, set to roll out toward the end of this week. Just let me say this… the past 8 years, people walking out of the Peabody Place parking garage onto the Main Street Mall have asked, “Where are we going to go drink, Blind Bear or Silly Goose?” The new question is going to be, “Where are we going to go eat, Blind Bear or Majestic?”

News from the World Championship Hot Wing Contest, whose People’s Choice award went virtual last weekend:

I have to brag for a minute. Overnight, I TRIPLED my lifetime income as a paid writer for! Readership of the articles I wrote caused four cents to trickle into my September earnings, on top of the two cents I earned for the month of August.

Here’s the way I look at it… that 16-foot-long, 1200-pound crocodile who lies in wait in the Nile River and dines on an endless buffet of wildebeest, zebra, and antelope was once a 3-inch long hatchling. He struggled to learn how to close his mouth at precisely the right time, and one day he got it right and caught his first prey, a dragonfly.

My time as a well-paid writer will come, but for now, I gotta eat my dragonflies.

And with that, I will bring this post to an end. Labor Day can be a slow news day, so it may be Tuesday before I’m back with more news.