Thursday update

Today is going to be a wet one:

The Dirty Crow Inn will continue its Sunday revival at the 40 et 8 in West Memphis this Sunday, January 3, and this week they’re bringing back a couple of blasts from the past! Bobbie Stacks and Jack Rowell will be there playing some tunes, and bacon-wrapped shrimp will be back. The address is 152 Legion Road in West Memphis, 72301, and I believe the Sunday hours are 3-10. If you’re there for the bacon-wrapped shrimp I’d recommend getting there much closer to 3 than to 10.

Here’s a link to data analyst James Aycock’s COVID-19 mid-week report. There will be a COVID task force press conference at noon but I doubt I will be able to listen and recap. I don’t expect this to be a very notable conference. We’re in the calm before the storm right now… numbers are trending downward, but there’s going to be another surge around January 5-6, as cases caused by transmission over the Christmas holiday start to trickle in.

The state of Tennessee has announced that people 75 and up will be eligible for the COVID vaccine sometime in January.

Amazon has a 2-month Kindle Unlimited subscription going on where you can read unlimited books for free. I just signed up. Being the end of the month, this may be the last day it’s offered although I don’t have confirmation of that. Here’s a link to sign up (that’s probably someone’s affiliate link but it isn’t mine). Just remember, if you sign up today, put a calendar entry on February 27 to cancel your subscription. Otherwise, you’ll be charged $10 for March.

It’s Liberty Bowl day! Good ole West Virginny vs. Army Black Knights, 3 PM, ESPN.

From Action News 5: Memphis anti-violence activist discourages celebratory gunfire on New Year’s Eve

That’s it for now. Y’all, be extremely careful if you celebrate tonight. Mask up, avoid people as much as you can, and avoid being on the streets at midnight when there will likely be gunshots. I could not care less about going out tonight, but I’m off work today so I’m going out to get some breakfast here in a bit. Back tomorrow with more news.

Wednesday update

Today is National Bacon Day. Here are a few thoughts on how to celebrate:

  • The “Usual” biscuit sandwich at Sunrise Memphis, with Petit Jean Farm bacon, egg, and cheddar
  • Huey’s – add bacon to any of their burgers. I like to get the Huey Burger made with the black bean patty because it tastes so good, but then add bacon to remind myself that I ain’t no damn vegetarian
  • The Blue Cheese & Bacon, Maple Bacon, or Yonge Street burger from Kooky Canuck (the Yonge Street would be my pick if you can’t decide)
  • One of Westy’s wild rice dishes topped with bacon. Just the simple wild rice, bacon, with cheddar dish would be enough for me. Perjorie T. Roll would add broccoli since she likes foods that are the same color as her hair.
  • And, of course, let’s not forget there’s a Wendy’s Downtown (Danny Thomas at Washington) where you can get a Baconator or a Breakfast Baconator

Felicia Suzanne’s has a New Year’s Eve dinner at home menu. Order by 2 PM December 31, pick up between 3 and 6 PM.

Ja Morant will miss 3-5 weeks with an ankle sprain. Thanks, 2020.

From USA Today: How the Nashville bombing exposed weaknesses in communications networks

From the Daily Memphian: Why the Liberty Bowl selected Army. It was a perfect storm. The bowl invited lovable loser Tennessee because their fans would buy a lot of tickets. But then Tennessee had a COVID-19 outbreak and had to withdraw, leaving Big 12 rep good ole West Virginny without an opponent. Around the same time, the Independence Bowl got canceled, leaving Army without a place to play. The Liberty Bowl, having wanted Army for years but normally tied to its SEC vs. Big 12 affiliations, jumped at the chance. Army still gets to play in a bowl whose name honors America’s heritage. Good ole West Virginny gets an opponent. Tennessee gets an ending to the season commensurate with the quality of its athletic program.

Arkansas won’t be bowlin’ this year. TCU had to cancel their Texas Bowl trip due to COVID issues and it’s too late to find a replacement.

The Tigers managed to be the second worst team on the floor last night, getting a sloppy win over USF 58-57.

From Fox 13: Beale Street New Year’s will go down in history, and not for good reasons. I absolutely do not recommend being on the streets of Downtown Memphis at midnight tomorrow. When businesses close up for the night, the thugs take over, and due to COVID businesses close at 10 PM these days. Best course of action is to skip the New Year’s Eve celebration this year, but if you must party, get your food and liquor and get where you need to be before 10, and stay there until the sun comes up.

May want to take a jacket for the commute home this afternoon, even if it doesn’t feel like you need one this morning:

The Grizzlies play the Boston Celtics at 6:30. Locally, you can catch the game on Fox Sports Southeast.

Florida plays Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl tonight at 7 on ESPN. That should be a good game.

And now, a word from the people whose job it is to make sure nobody has any fun!

Recap: 12/29 COVID-19 task force press conference

Health Department Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter began. She informed us that this week there will be a press conference on Thursday as well as Tuesday.

There were only 371 reported cases today, but Dr. H warned us not to read a lot into that. It’s more likely a product of not many people getting tested over the holiday weekend than it is number of cases decreasing. They’ll watch the numbers carefully the next several days.

Most frequent places of employment for those who had COVID:

  • Manufacturing/warehouse industry 23%
  • Health care 21%
  • Schools 11%

There’s plenty of testing locally, so please get tested as often as you like. If you test positive, be sure you follow all isolation requirements.

Dr. H said they continue to do contact tracing even though the health department’s focus has shifted over to vaccinations.

She listed those in the 1-A-1 priority category for vaccines: anyone who works in a hospital or freestanding emergency department, staff who have direct patient care or contact, home care, anyone who does COVID-19 testing, health care in schools, staff and residents of long-term facilities, first responders who have direct exposure.

Within that category, those over 65 or with comorbid conditions are prioritzed.

Dr. H then answered a few common questions about the vaccines.

  • Are the vaccines safe? They came to market so rapidly. All vaccines approved in the U.S. by the FDA must go through a rigorous trial process, and that includes the COVID vaccines. They have come to market quicker than most, but they are safe.
  • Are there severe side effects? A small portion of trial patients exhibited mild side effects. This is normal for any vaccine.
  • Do the vaccines contain live virus? No, this is a new form of vaccine called mRNA that does not use live virus.

Dr. Bruce Randolph, the county health officer, came up to talk about Health Directive 16.

If your business is not one of the exceptions covered in the health directive, then you should be closed. Primarily entertainment and recreation venues are closed by the directive: museums, zoos, tourist attractions, arcades, movie theaters, hookah lounges, and cigar lounges to name a few. However, if one of the aforementioned businesses also serves food, it may do so provided it obeys the restrictions on restaurants.

Dr. Randolph reminded everyone that the stupid requirement for restaurants to close at 10 applies to New Year’s Eve.

Live entertainment or performances are not permitted at restaurants at this time. Hmmm. I wonder how aware restaurants are of this regulation, buried deep in the health directive. Several of them are advertising live music for NYE on Facebook.

Dr. Randolph reminded employers that they are required to supply personal protective equipment (PPE) for their employees to the degree that their profession requires. For personal care businesses like salons, this could include a minimum of a mask and a face shield. Other professions could require an N95.

David Williams, director of Vitalant, formerly LifeBlood, spoke next. He reminded us that COVID restrictions have not reduced the need for blood donations, but COVID has canceled blood drives all over the country. Schedule an appointment to donate at one of Vitalant’s 5 centers and receive a special T-shirt through the 7th.

Dr. H was asked about internal followup of the investigation of the In Love Memphis nightclub closure last month. She said they always look for opportunities to educate health department staff and improve processes. There was some confusion as to whether space inside a tent was considered indoors or outdoors. She also wished the club’s closure would have come sooner, but clarification was needed among department officials as well as legal staff.

Dr. H was asked who would come next after the 1-A-1 group was done being vaccinated. She said that because of the population size of the county, it may take a little while to get 1-A-1 done; stay patient and stay tuned. As for the next groups:

  • 1-A-2: All other healthcare workers with direct patient exposure, outpatient providers, pharmacists and their staff, patient transport, urgent care centers, environmental staff, dentists and dental assistants, behavioral health providers
  • 1-B: People with two or more high-risk factors

That’s it for today’s post. Back tomorrow with more news.

Tuesday update

Quick techie note: Everyone check your snail-mail regularly the next couple of weeks. Notices of data breach are being sent out. I believe these are related to the SolarWinds attacks that were announced earlier this month. AT&T and Comcast are listed among customers of SolarWinds, so if you use automated bank drafts to pay a bill to either of those companies, you might want to take steps to secure your identity.

2020 gave us a reminder the year’s not done: Ja Morant had to leave the court in a wheelchair last night following an ankle injury. On the good side, an X-ray revealed no fracture. He’s scheduled for an MRI today. One more bright side – the Grizzlies bested the Brooklyn Nets in overtime, 116-111, to pick up their first win of the season. Kyle Anderson looked like a beast with 28.

From Wiseacre and the Little Bettie pizza kitchen in Downtown’s Wiseacre2:

Downtown HQ:
Mon-Wed: 1pm-10pm
Thurs-Sun: 11am-10pm
Broad Ave OG:
Mon-Sat: 1pm-10pm
Sun: 1pm-6pm
Little Bettie:
Mon-Wed: 4pm-10pm
Thurs-Sun: 11am-10pm
Online Order starts at 4pm daily —>

Article I read on Medium’s History of Yesterday publication yesterday (it’s behind a paywall, but you get a few free reads a month): An idea considered ridiculous 50 years ago has become one of the world’s most successful businesses. You probably know someone who works in this business’s corporate HQ or who throws boxes in its international hub.

First responders lined up for the COVID-19 vaccine yesterday at two locations. If the vaccine is good enough for MPD Director Mike Rallings, it’s good enough for me. My turn probably won’t come for a few more months, but I’m ready for it. A sore arm and some mild side effects for a day or two are worth it if it protects my co-workers and friends.

Tigers on national TV tonight! Memphis hosts the USF Bulls at FedExForum at 6 in a game televised on ESPN2.

Penny Hardaway is installing a new offense called The Lion for the Memphis Tigers men’s basketball team. Penny had been mainly coaching defense and letting his assistants run the offense previously. The offense is one that Penny ran with his high school and AAU teams.

Sunrise Memphis GM Ross Vego was interviewed about restaurants being left out of the federal COVID relief bill. He believes many restaurants won’t be able to continue much longer without aid.

ASS UP, MASK UP: As of today, the Shelby County Health Department has the power to enforce a $50 fine per violation where employees or customers of a business are found without a mask on. If you dine at a restaurant, this means you must have a mask on anytime you are not seated with food or drink in front of you.

The weather looks to be a mess on New Year’s Eve, with rain starting Wednesday night, continuing all day Thursday and storms as the new year rolls in. Looks like Mother Nature wants people to stay home.

Back tomorrow with more news.

Monday update

The human remains found at the Nashville bombing site have been confirmed to be the remains of 63-year-old Anthony Quinn Warner, a resident of Nashville suburb Antioch. Warner is believed to have acted alone. Investigators have not named a motive yet, but one possibility is that Watner was a conspiracy theorist about 5G government surveillance. I bet investigators are looking for ties to QAnon.

I got a text from a friend of mine in Gallatin, another Nashville suburb, around noon Sunday, saying that his AT&T service had just now been restored after being on and off (but mostly off) for most of the two days before.

Nashville Metro PD released video of the moment of explosion.

The check is in the mail! The Trumpster signed the government funding and COVID relief bill yesterday. Most Americans will get a $600 stimulus check, with an additional $600 for most dependents.

Bruce V won the Internet Sunday with this comment:

From the CA: 5 Memphis movie and TV projects to look for in 2021

Liberty Bowl news: Sports Illustrated previews the Army Black Knights from the point of view of their opponent, good ole West Virginny. The teams play Thursday at 3 on ESPN.

PRO TIP: Keep the TV tuned to ESPN after the Liberty Bowl is over, because Arkansas takes on TCU in the Texas Bowl that evening at 7.

COVID Act Now reports that the replication rate in Shelby County is back below 1, at 0.97 as of this morning. If that number is accurate that’s a good sign.

That’s it for today. Truth be told, I’m astonished I gathered enough news for a Monday post. Back tomorrow.

Sunday update

The City Council has done something very, very cool, and it’s a piece of news that may have flown under the radar for many as we headed into Christmas time off. The Memphis Flyer has an article about the Council’s support for the Safer at Home Order, but read the last paragraph in particular. The Council supports the order cutting restaurants to 25% capacity through January 22. However, the Council members are putting their money where their mouth is. For the duration of the Safer at Home order, even if it gets extended, they will donate 75% of their salary to charity.

The Flyer notes that at a salary of $30,000 a year, the donation per member will be about $1800 (75% of $2500) per member. That’s a total donation of about $24,000 per month under Safer at Home.

Cheers to the City Council for sharing in the sacrifice. Shelby County Commission… YOUR TURN! Who’s gonna step up? Are the members who were most vocal about shutting everything down going to be the first to propose a 75% salary cut? This would be an ideal opportunity to show what it looks like when leaders LEAD!

An Antioch, Tennessee man’s home has been searched in conjunction with the Downtown Nashville bombing. A 63-year-old man has been developed as a suspect in the case. Neighbors reported that an RV similar to the one in the bombing had been parked at the home within the past two weeks. The man had recently gifted his $160,000 home to a 29-year-old woman living in Los Angeles.

This Twitter thread about possible suspects and motives in the Nashville bombing is well worth a read. Also a supplemental thread for December 26 has now been connected. The original thread was 67 tweets long, so you may need to click “Show replies” a couple of times to see it all. Hat tip to James Aycock (@firstresponses) for sharing the thread on his timeline.

Speaking of James, here’s his Shelby County COVID week in review Twitter thread. It’s not a very long one, as COVID case data this week has been affected by network outages caused by the Nashville bombing.

Some sales going on at Feelin’ Memphis, the Memphis-themed gift shop at 509 S. Main today. From Tawanda Pirtle:

OPENS TODAY DEC 26TH 1PM TILL 6PM and SUNDAY DEC 27TH 11AM TILL 4PM…………..40% OFF LEFTOVER SALE! ALL SEASONAL ITEMS and a few other select things. We are so THANKFUL for each and everyone that has accepted and made DOWNTOWN MEMPHIS newest lifestyle shop a HUGE SUCCESS. We opened our doors at 5pm OCT 7, 2020, yes in the greatest pandemic many of us have ever seen in our lifetime and now we are LOOKING FORWARD TO 2021. WE PERSONALLY THANK EACH AND EVERYONE THAT HAS BEEN APART OF OUR SUCCESS AND WE THANK ALL OUR FRIENDS AND OUR SOUTH MAIN FAMILY FOR YOUR ACCEPTANCE AND SUPPORT…’WE LOVE YOU ALL’ and we look forward to seeing 2021 unfold into a BEAUTIFUL HEALTHLY HAPPY YEAR FOR US ALL TO ENJOY AND LIVE IN. – Tawanda Pirtle with staff Maddy, Joyce, Alisha and my extra helpers! (FYI…Guys, I am just about out of carryout bags..unless order comes in today)

The Grizzlies lost to the Atlanta Hawks yesterday 122-112. Ja Morant got a tech for arguing about a call, and his postgame comments skated right on the edge of a fine for criticizing officials. The Grizzlies now travel to Brooklyn where they will face Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and the rest of the Nets Monday at 6:30.

Sad news for professional wrestling fans: Jon Huber passed away from a non-COVID lung condition at 41. In WWE, Huber was Luke Harper, a member of The Wyatt Family and former Intercontinental and tag team champion. In AEW, he was known as Mr. Brodie Lee, leader of The Dark Order.

That’s the news for now. Back tomorrow.

Saturday update

I don’t think I’ve fully experienced the activity known as “doomscrolling” until yesterday. Definition from Urban Dictionary:

When you keep scrolling through all of your social media feeds, looking for the most recent upsetting news about the latest catastrophe. The amount of time spent doing this is directly proportional to how much worse you’re going to feel after you’re done.

Did the Nashville explosion mentally shake other Downtown Memphians as bad as it did me? I mean, I know there’s a rivalry between the two cities, but really, can you name another city in the U.S. that is more like Memphis than Nashville? There’s an argument for New Orleans, but it’s the only other one I can think of.

As I read the reports coming in yesterday morning, I couldn’t stop thinking, that could have just as easily been Downtown Memphis. There are plenty of streets with tall buildings on both sides where the driver of that RV could have parked to maximize the explosion’s effect.

As of this writing, there has been no suspect or motive developed, or if they have, the info has not been made public. Let’s see what we can piece together:

  • The bomb went off at a date and time when the streets would not be well-traveled. An announcement warned all who could hear it to evacuate the area. Then there was a countdown by minute. So the intent was not to harm the general public, although first responders were certainly in harm’s way.
  • The RV was parked next to a building containing an AT&T network hub. Was that intentional? Was cutting off communications part of the plan? Or was it chosen because it was a tall building with few windows, perfect for magnifying the explosion’s effect?
  • Experts have reported there was no chatter on terrorist networks indicating an attack on Downtown Nashville was imminent.
  • Could this be the work of Trump supporters, letting the country know the kind of civil unrest that can be expected if their boy is forced to leave office on the 20th? That’s a scary prospect because it would indicate the possibility of similar explosions in other cities.
  • Or is it someone who is fed up with COVID restrictions, having lost close to everything? But then, someone who’s lost close to everything doesn’t have the money to go buy an RV full of explosives.

It sounds like the Nashville Metro Police officers did a marvelous job ushering people to safety while there was still time. Thank a police officer for their service if you see one today. As I said, that could just as easily happened here.

Nashville friends, my prayers go out to you, along with a belated Merry Christmas.

On to the news…

NBA teams are expected to stay in a “bubble” as much as possible during the season, protecting themselves from COVID-19. But, people gotta eat. People gotta live. The NBA recently approved four Memphis restaurants for team dinners, and three of them are Downtown. Chef Tam’s Underground Kitchen made the list, along with Catherine & Mary’s and Bishop in South Main. (The fourth is Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen.) The restaurants must meet certain requirements to limit the contact between team members and servers and other diners.

The Grizzlies host the Atlanta Hawks today at 4 PM. The game will be televised on NBATV and Fox Sports Southeast.

Memphis Tigers alumni report from yesterday:

  • Precious Achiuwa got 19 minutes coming off the bench for the Miami Heat yesterday vs. New Orleans. He scored 11 points on 5-of-7 field goal shooting and 1-of-2 free throws. 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block. On the negative side… 6 fouls in 19 minutes. He’ll need to work on that. Miami won 111-98.
  • James Wiseman saw 25 minutes as starting center for the Golden State Warriors as they played Milwaukee. He scored 18 points with 5-for-11 field goal shooting, 3-of-4 from the three, 5-for-6 free throws, 3 blocks. Despite his good game, Golden State got blown out 138-99.

This is good news for Penny Hardaway. Future recruits are going to look to see if Penny can groom talent to become NBA-ready in only one year. Of course, Wiseman left early on in last year’s season and is just an all-around natural talent. But the fact that Achiuwa is doing well should bode well for Penny’s recruiting.

“Club Kids” co-founder Michael Alig was found dead of an apparent heroin overdose at age 54. I remember reading about his group’s antics in the early ’90s. They had a magazine covering them as well as similar groups in towns like Miami and L.A. It was very much like a national version of RSVP Magazine, but for weirdos.

Christmas pictures!

First time since July that I could legally sit at a bar and Perjorie T. Roll could legally stand on a bar. Despite the coaster, we were not at Bardog.

Not my usual beverage but damn tasty. Tequila lime crush. Perjorie liked it because the can was the same color as her hair.

Christmas dinner: Prime rib, corn casserole, stuffing, twice-baked potato casserole, green beans

Hog & Hominy peanut butter banana pie (left) and Memphis Bourbon Cake made with Old Dominick bourbon (right)

Thanks to my friends for an awesome afternoon of food and good times. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

That’ll do it for this post. Staying home and working on professional writing today. Back tomorrow with more news.

Friday update

And so this is Christmas… and what have we done… another year over (thankfully)…

Did you know Cordelia’s Market has a wine & cheese club? Members get monthly boxes of 4 to 5 items, perfectly matched, curated by Cordelia’s staff. The monthly selection always includes wine, cheese, and crackers, as well as 1 to 2 seasonal items. It’s $40 a month to sign up, with a 3-month minimum. Boxes are available for pickup or delivery (38103 delivery only) the first Thursday of the month, which would make January 7 the day for the next one. They can work with you on dietary restrictions. Sign up here

B.B. King’s has decided the health department’s stupid 25% capacity restriction on restaurants is not worth the bother. They will temporarily close their doors following Sunday, December 27, their last night of operation.

Kooky Canuck will be closed today and tomorrow (25th and 26th) for the holidays.

The Nine Thai & Sushi is taking a holiday break and will return for curbside pickup on January 5.

Cocozza Italian-American Kitchen inside the Majestic Grille is also taking some time off and will reopen January 5.

Forbes: Memphis maps out its coronavirus comeback. Kevin Kane, president of Memphis Tourism, was interviewed for the story, as is Dean Dennis, senior VP of the Renasant Convention Center, and Malvin Gipson, VP of Sales, Sports, and Tourism from Memphis Tourism.

Hooters will have a $1 off burger special Tuesday, December 29.

The Daily Memphian has a look at the problems a ninth-grader at Hamilton High faces as he tries to do his assignments online, on a school-issued laptop that sometimes does not work.

A man has been charged with breaking into 8 cars in the 200 block of G.E. Patterson.

Great news for Memphis Tigers football: Arizona Wildcats sophomore quarterback Grant Gunnell is transferring to Memphis. He’s the leading passer in Texas high school history, and should be able to step into Brady White’s shoes quite nicely.

The Grizzlies don’t play on the NBA’s Christmas slate of games, but you might get a peek at a couple of former Tigers today:

  • New Orleans at Miami (and Precious Achiuwa), 11 AM, ESPN
  • Golden State (and James Wiseman) vs. Milwaukee, 1:30 PM, ABC

Draymond Green, who plays center when Golden State uses small-ball lineups, will be out with an injury, increasing the chance that Big Ticket will see some time on the floor.

I read a very interesting article on Medium yesterday. It was written by a creative writing teacher who took a job this year as a COVID contact tracer. When he was a teacher, he advised his students to cut back on the amount of prescriptive language – words like “should,” “must,” and “need” in their writing. Prescriptive language communicates that the speaker/writer’s advice is right and the reader/listener is wrong if they do not comply. He found that the more he avoided prescriptive language, the more successful he was as a contact tracer. What I’ve Learned from Being a Contact Tracer is behind Medium’s paywall, but you get to read a few free stories a month.

Personal announcement: I’m taking a break from going out for the next four weeks. It’s not so much the Safer at Home order as it is that I really need to focus on my professional writing career on Medium for a while. I tried to do that after Thanksgiving, setting a goal to write 92 stories on Medium in the 92 days between the Thanksgiving weekend and March 1. However, the death of a friend and the uncertainty about whether the health department would close my friends’ businesses interrupted that plan. Now that the uncertainty has been removed, I’m going to try again.

So, if you don’t see me out between now and late January, don’t worry about me. I’m in a good place. This blog will continue to operate as normal.

To those who work in my favorite places to go: Don’t pop a PBR the minute I walk through the door in the coming weeks. I’m probably there to order take-out.

That’ll do it. Christmas is typically the slowest news day of the year, so I’m not sure I will have anything to post tomorrow. Then again, I didn’t think I’d have anything to post today, and look what happened. I’ll be back when there’s news to report.

Downtown restaurant holiday hours and more Thursday news

Let’s start off with a list of what restaurants are open today and tomorrow.

Bardog Tavern 8 AM-10 PM Christmas Eve, 5 PM-10 PM Christmas Day

Blind Bear 10 AM-10 PM Christmas Eve, 3 PM-10 PM Christmas Day

Blue Monkey 11 AM-5 PM Christmas Eve, closed Christmas Day

Flying Saucer 11 AM-8 PM Christmas Eve, 4-10 PM Christmas Day

Green Beetle closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

Huey’s 11 AM-8 PM Christmas Eve, closed Christmas Day

Local closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (but the Midtown location will be open)

Max’s Sports Bar closed Christmas Eve, open 4 PM-10 PM Christmas Day

Momma’s 6:30 AM-4 PM Christmas Eve, closed Christmas Day

Silly Goose 12 PM-10 PM Christmas Eve, 12 PM-10 PM Christmas Day

Wiseacre2 11 AM-4 PM Christmas Eve, closed Christmas Day

I’m sure any of the restaurants listed above would be happy to sell you a gift card for a last-minute Christmas gift, or as a way to treat yourself next year once the pandemic is a little closer to winding up.

Also, one more reminder:

Y’all, the lack of tourist foot traffic and Downtown office employee foot traffic has really hurt the Peanut Shoppe’s business this year. If you have any need for Christmas chocolate, nuts, or candy, please get by there and see them today.

And now, a few announcements local restaurants posted to Facebook recently.

Blind Bear:

Hey cubbies so we’re not totally going into hibernation with the new directive but we are limited to 25% capacity. So you can still come try our new sandwiches, soups or one of your all time favorites. But if you don’t wanna risk the crowds we’re offering our Hungover Like A Bear Brunch Box or our Hibernation Helper Meals, which includes our house made Lasagna, that feeds 4-6 with Salad and Garlic Bread. So either way we have the Bear essentials you need during this Difficult time.

Aldo’s Pizza Pies:

Still looking for stocking stuffers? Of course you are, and we’ve got you covered.
For our annual stocking-stuffer sale, we’re offering 20% off all gift card purchases (min. $25) thru 12/31/20. This means $25 gift cards for $20, $50 gift cards for $40, and so on & so forth! Come in today to get yours.

Carolina Watershed:

Hey Memphis we’re back open 2pm till 10pm with limited menu options with the full menu coming soon! We have a new fully enclosed heated patio to keep you warm on cold nights! We also have fire pits ready if you want to sit outside and enjoy the waterfalls! House wine specials all week $3.00 house red and white! We’re offering the entire Cutwater canned cocktail line too! #cutwater #watershed #chasingwaterfalls #winelover #tuesdayfunday #datenight #tipsytuesday #memphisbar #saveourrestaurants #socialdistancing #maskup

Public service announcement: If you go out to these restaurants, please think twice about taking photos of you and your buddies who don’t live in the same household, not socially distanced and without masks, and posting them to social media. The goody-goody preachy-preachy Facebook/Instagram “health experts” who think we should lock down until June see these and forward them to the health department.

Mayor Strickland: “I probably would have handled restaurants a bit differently” in the most recent health directive. Strickland thinks the overall intent of Health Directive 16 is correct, but he would have kept restaurants at 50%. Thank you, Mr. Mayor!

In-person court appearances have been suspended through the end of January.

The Memphis Tigers football team got a win in the Montgomery Bowl yesterday, topping FAU 25-10.

The Grizzlies lost their season opener to the San Antonio Spurs, but Ja Morant had a career-high 44 points. Remember about 10 years ago, when Steph Curry was the hot new point-guard in the NBA, and there was that commercial with Chris Paul riding down the escalator and encountering Curry on the way up? Ja appears to be on the way up that escalator now.

Ja has his own mural now, on the side of Slim & Husky’s in The Edge District. Must be nice to be only 21 and already have a mural and a ‘raffe.

Ja stole a record last night: He surpassed Shaq to become the youngest player to score 40 or more points on a team’s opening night.

Downtown’s Slave Haven Underground Museum has announced a temporary closure due to COVID-19. Also closed until further notice is the W.C. Handy Home at Fourth and Beale.

A rogue road sign, installed by an artist on the 800 block of North Parkway and taken down by the city, has found a permanent home at the Metal Museum. The sign was one of about a dozen installed by the artist in cities across the country. It reads, “When you were still young / Did you ever dream about / Being who you are”

If there’s any news tomorrow, I’ll be back with it. Otherwise, Merry Christmas and I’ll see you Saturday.

Wednesday update

Let’s get the Downtown news done and then we’ll dive into the recap of yesterday’s COVID-19 press conference.

The Memphis Grizzlies are in San Antonio to tip off the regular season tonight against the Spurs at 7. Catch it on Fox Sports Southeast or ESPN 92.9.

One Beale developer Chase Carlisle announced that 9-story Hyatt Centric will offer “unparalleled” river views despite being next to the much taller Grand Hyatt.

Check out Chris Herrington’s Early Word column in yesterday’s Daily Memphian if you haven’t already, because if you’re a long-time Downtowner, there’s a face in there that will probably be familiar…


78-year-old carved wood artist Luther Hampton was one of the first people I met when I moved Downtown. His work is not well-known outside of Downtown, but that is about to change. His art is about to be featured at the Brooks, as well as the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Tennessee State Museum. Congratulations to Luther on some well-earned recognition. To see his work locally, visit Tops Gallery at 400 S. Front.

Edible Memphis reported yesterday that you can now order The Brunch Box from Chef Tam’s website. Chef Tam, owner of Chef Tam’s Underground Kitchen out in The Edge District, offers Shrimp & Gtits Brunch Boxes, as well as Brunch Boxes featuring Chicken & Waffles, Biscuits & Sausage Gravy, or vegan brunch food. The boxes can be bought in servings for 1, 2, or 4.

From Nextdoor: Someone stole the wheels off a Corvette in broad daylight this week on Tennessee Street.

Happy Festivus! CNN has 5 steps to making the most of this holiday.

Memphis Tourism president Kevin Kane shared his experiences with a bad bout of COVID-19 last summer.

All right, people. I subjected myself to 51 minutes of this crap early this morning. Let’s do this…

12/22 COVID-19 task force press conference recap

Dr. Haushalter, Health Department director, started off with some statistics for Shelby County.

  • The COVID-19 replication rate is 1.03. That’s a little better than previously, but we really need to get it below 1 to stop exponential growth of the virus.
  • The positivity rate has been above 12% the next week. We need to shoot for a rate below 10%, and then below 5%.
  • The 7-day rolling average of new cases is 786/day, well above all the tripwires
  • The 14-day rolling average is 754/day, above all the tripwires
  • These numbers predict a total of 16,986 cases over the next month

Dr. Manoj Jain, infectious disease advisor for Mayor Jimbo from Mempho, was next up with some projections.

The worst-case scenario, where we do little to nothing to prevent COVID and therefore see a rise in cases similar to North Dakota in October, one of the worst known outbreaks, predicts for the next 2 months for Shelby County:

  • 986 deaths
  • Average of 16 deaths/day

The middle-of-the-road scenario sees us staying the course with the preventative measures we have now, resulting in the following for the next 2 months:

  • 659 deaths
  • Average 11 deaths/day
  • 327 lives saved

If we really all work together to bend the curve downward, as we did in Shelby County back in August, we could expect

  • 439 deaths
  • Average 7 deaths day
  • 547 lives saved

What tactics would be used to bend the curve down? Dr. Jain cited the CDC recommendations:

  • Mandatory masking
  • Increased restrictions
  • Required closures

Dr. Bruce Randolph said “Greetings, fellow citizens of Shelby County” and then encouraged them to go to and get their own copy of Health Directive 16 to read. He summarized the directive:

  • Encourages people as much as possible to stay home. Spend the holidays with your immediate family. Try not to gather with other households or in crowds.
  • Retail 50%
  • Indoor dining 25%. it is the Health Departments’s opinion that on-site dining is a high-risk activity; however, if you choose to do so, do so safely by wearing a mask until the food is at your table
  • Gyms 50%
  • Asking that social activities related to entertainment and recreation be curtailed, especially receptions and parties
  • Encourages employers, if possible, have employees work remotely
  • Curbside service, takeout, delivery encouraged to continue
  • Some businesses are allowed to open, but with special requirements. That’s why he encourages each citizen to get a copy of the health directive.

Next up was Reginald Coopwood, CEO of Regional One Health, and his wife Erica Coopwood. Over the weekend they brainstormed what they can do to help people who will be furloughed or have their hours cut by Safer at Home. As a result, they created Pay It Forward Mid-South, a fund set up to disburse money to those workers. Lead-off gifts of $100,000 have been made, and leading Memphis corporations are being asked to step up. Mayor Harris has made a challenge that when the fund hits $750,000, the county will kick in at least another $50,000.

Question time! Dr. H said that Shelby County is on track to receive its first doses of the vaccine this week, and they will be distributed to first responders, those classified 1-A-1 (as opposed to A1A, a highway in Florida that Vanilla Ice rapped about), beginning Monday.

Dr. H was asked why the Safer at Home order did not go into effect until several days after it was issued. She said it was to give affected businesses time to adjust. In particular, restaurants need time to plan their inventory. She noted that in the past, restaurants have had a 2-3 day warning that a new directive was to be put in place.

A question was asked about two businesses that violated rules by having patrons meet in one secret location and then proceed to a second one. Dr. H said both businesses were closed. They were not fined, because at the time the Health Department did not have authority to do that (they now do).

The Tennessee Medical Reserve was again mentioned as a way you can volunteer to serve your community in the middle of a pandemic.

Jacob Steimer of the Memphis Business Journal asked about a “particularly skeptical” difference between the draft Health Directive 16 that was leaked over the weekend and the one that came out Monday. Okay, before I get to the answer – WHO IS THIS GUY? This is like the third press conference in a row when he’s asked a question smacking of, “Why don’t we just go ahead and shut everything down now?” For someone who works for a business publication, his questions sure seem anti-business.

Dr. H answered by describing the process of meeting with different groups, including doctors on the task force and public officials at different times, to craft a final document. The document that was leaked was a draft and was never intended to be seen as a final document – she called it a “straw man” put forward for feedback.

Dr. H was then asked why the health department sees restaurants as a source of transmission. She said a big problem is that people continue to live their normal lives 1 to 3 or even 4 days after becoming symptomatic. They continue to go to work, they continue to socialize, and they continue to go to restaurants. She also said it’s incorrect to compare a small restaurant to a big-box store. The air flow is different, and in big-box stores you’re not 6 feet away from the same person or people for 90 minutes to 2 hours.

Whew… that’s it for today. Back tomorrow if there’s any news to report. There won’t be a COVID press conference Thursday, which is good because I don’t think I could handle another one of those this week.

Tuesday update

Health Directive No. 16 for Shelby County dropped at about 4 PM yesterday. Here are the main points.

  • Effective dates are Saturday, December 26-Friday, January 22 (so 4 weeks, or 2 COVID incubation periods)
  • Residents are encouraged to shelter at home as much as possible during this period
  • Only essential businesses are allowed to stay open – but the list of essential businesses is so long that it’s hard to think of what would qualify as a nonessential business
  • Employers are asked to keep non-essential employees home and implement telecommuting where possible
  • Restaurants can keep indoor dining at 25% capacity. Foodservice is limited to 90 minutes (down from 2 hours) and no more than 6 people from the same household at a table (they got rid of the stupid 4 adults, 2 kids thing)
  • Retail at 50% capacity
  • Gyms at 50% capacity (including staff) and masks must be worn at all times
  • Personal care businesses (barbershops, nail salons, etc.) may operate by appointment only

Meh. I guess it was the least bad option on a buffet of bad options.

Suburban mayors were caught off guard by the new health directive. Discussions within the COVID task force were for restrictions lasting two weeks, and Arlington mayor Mike Wissman said the additional two weeks were never discussed.

The Shelby County Commission gave inspectors a new tool in enforcing COVID rules yesterday: By a 9-4 vote, they can now fine businesses $50 per violation. So, let’s say inspectors walk into a restaurant and find 6  customers standing at the bar, unmasked. The individuals would not face a fine, but the restaurant could be fined $300. It gives the health department an intermediate option between giving a business a warning and shutting it completely down when violations are found.

In typical Vols fashion, the University of Tennessee had to pull out of the Liberty Bowl because too many players and staff have COVID. Army will be UT’s replacement, and that is a serious upgrade. The Black Knights will take on the Mountaineers of good ole West Virginny the afternoon of the 31st.

The Memphis Air Traffic Control Center has reopened after a COVID-related cleaning. Surrounding facilities provided support during the time the center was cleaned.

Penny Hardaway scored a 5-year, $12.25 million contract extension yesterday. His team lost to Tulsa last night though.

That’s the news for this morning. I’m not sure I will get a chance to listen to the noon COVID task force press conference, but if I do and anything important comes up, I’ll be back with a recap this afternoon.