Friday update: Food news, Grizzlies, COVID-19 numbers

Got a couple of culinary additions to the Downtown landscape to start off this post. No new restaurants opened, but a couple of existing restaurants have expanded in most delicious ways.

Rumba Room on South Main just south of Pontotoc is no doubt hurting. Social distancing has nixed their popular salsa dance nights on the weekends for several months now. So, they decided to try to bring in some revenue a different way, by offering lunch – a Guatemalan menu. A copy of the menu was posted to Facebook yesterday. On it were

  • Two Guatemalan sandwiches, the Del Campo and the Shuco
  • A chorizo chimichurri burger
  • Chicken chilaquiles
  • Fried chicken sandwich
  • Vegetarian wings
  • Chicken shish kabobs
  • A 3 taco flight (grilled chicken, adobo pork, churrasco)
  • A shuco BLT sandwich
  • Grilled chicken or fish with grilled yams, rice, cucumber salad
  • Rumba salad
  • Chicken, beef, or pork tacos

Anyone want to do a late lunch next week and meet up? The hours were not printed on the menu I saw.

From River Time Market & Deli on Court Square:

I got the baking bug! River Time’s 6 inch Mini Pies! $6.99 – Banana Pudding Pies, Cherry Pies, Peach Pies, Apple, & Chocolate. I will start taking orders on Monday or just come by the Deli on Monday and take a look at our selection in the store.

One more Downtown food announcement, this one from 117 Prime steakhouse on Union:

New to the menu!
Cioppino | mussels, clams, crabs, whitefish, tomato broth, capers, grilled bread
This classic seafood stew has its humble origins in late 19th century San Francisco. The poor Italian-American fishermen there would sometimes come back from a hard day of work empty-handed, and they would rely on the charity of their neighbors to help “chip in” whatever they could spare for a community pot of seafood stew. The same charity would be extended to any other fishermen who had empty nets at the end of the day. That spirit of community and humanity is something that strikes a chord with us now more than ever, and we infuse every bowl of this American classic with that same love and care.
Call us at 901.433.9851 or visit our website at to book a table. We can’t wait to see you!

Let’s get on to sports news… the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Milwaukee Bucks in the Grizzlies’ final seeding game yesterday, qualifying for a spot in the Western Conference play-in series for the NBA playoffs. Unfortunately the Portland Trail Blazers won their game too. Portland will therefore be the 8 seed and Memphis the 9. Memphis will have to beat Portland both Saturday and Sunday to steal their 8th seed and face the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round. If the Trail Blazers win either Saturday’s game or (if necessary) Sunday’s, they advance.

The Grizzlies made their 8th and-one (made free throw following a shooting foul on a made basket) of the seeding games yesterday, which qualifies app users for a free Chick-Fil-A sandwich. Check your app for details. The announcers said you had 24 hours to score your sandwich. Tip-off of the game was 3 PM yesterday, so the clock is ticking from some time after there.

NCAA president Mark Emmert has said there will be no fall championships in college sports this year, and that includes football. Bad news for Bama, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma, LSU, Baylor and other teams that are perennially in the conversation for one of the 4-team playoff slots.

Wonder of wonders, the graphs on the Shelby County COVID-19 data page are working this morning, and there are a couple of key points:

  • The seven-day moving average of number of new cases (third graph from the top) is down to 222. That’s only 42 above the the requirement to open the bars, at 180. It’s down from a high of 405 a month and a day ago. The daily average number of new cases, by date of testing, has been cut nearly a half in one month.
  • The seven-day rolling positivity rate (fifth graph from the top) peaked at 16.3% June 18-20, was still at 16% as recently as July 30, and was still as high as 15.3% four days ago. Since then it has dropped to 14.6%, to 13.9%, to 13.6%. The Health Department needs to see 10% or less to open the bars, so as is the case when the boys are thirsty in Atlanta and there’s beer in Texarkana, we’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there. However, getting there looks a lot more possible than it did at the beginning of the week.

Best pandemic DJ name: DJ DanceAlone. He’ll give a streaming performance from Health Sciences Park today from noon to 1.

The fairgrounds will be reimagined as Liberty Park with hotels and a sports complex.

That’s it for now. Keep scrolling if you haven’t read the recap of yesterday’s COVID-19 task force press conference. Back tomorrow with more news.

8/13 Shelby County COVID-19 task force press conference recap

Well this wasn’t the most exciting press conference. Just going to hit the high points.

Mayor Strickland started off. Said that the CARES Act allocated $12 million to the city for enhanced COVID-19 testing. Of that, City Council allocated $2 million for a pilot program for pooled testing. Pooled testing means you test multiple samples for the virus at one time, and if they all come back negative, individual sample tests are not needed. This has the potential to increase capacity, allow more asymptomatic people to be tested, and reduce costs.

A testing committee that meets 3 times a week was created. City employees were tested first, and after that program proved successful, it was expanded to include schools open for in-person learning, with the capacity to test 4000 students and teachers per day.

Strickland said he wanted to be clear that the COVID-19 task force is not recommending in-person learning at this point in time; however, for those schools and districts that adopt in-person learning, the expanded, pooled testing is one more tool that is available.

There were several followup questions on this topic. In response to one, Strickland said the $2 million pilot program is limited to testing within the city limits, but they hope to build best practices that can be replicated countywide.

Strickland was asked if there is a plan to maintain testing infrastructure beyond the expiration of spending CARES money on December 31. Strickland said, nothing definite yet, but they are looking to see if the stimulus package currently in Congress contains additional funding.

Strickland emphasized that the in-school testing will be for asymptomatic people only. That is because the tests will be administered at schools. If your child is sick, you shouldn’t send them there and should instead take advantage of external testing for the symptomatic. Same goes for teachers, who shouldn’t be coming to work sick.

Tiffany Collins, deputy director of general services for the city, said that kids as young as 2 went through the pilot testing programs, and the tests were more well-received than expected. Tests were administered by third-party medical professionals.

David Sweat of the Health Department said that with 8000 slots this week, if you want to be tested, you probably will be able to call one of the local testing sites and get in, even if asymptomatic. They prioritize those who have symptoms and/or have been exposed when testing is tight, but there should be enough testing to expand beyond that this week.

Sweat said we are down to an average of 256 new cases/day. (180 is the threshold to reopen limited service restaurants)

Dr. Bruce Randolph, Health Officer, reiterated comments that the Health Department will be happy to advise on schools’ plans to return to contact sports, but is not in the business of approving or disapproving plans.

Again shocked there were no questions about the trip wires in Health Directive No. 10. Back in the morning with more news.

Thursday update

This fall we will have one more delicious reason to be lucky to be Memphians. You remember MK who did those home-delivery Quarantine Cuisine dinners and Lockdown Lunches?

She and her business partner Kat have bought a food truck and will hit the streets in Fall 2020. “Like” The She Shed Food Parlor on Facebook to find out when the truck will be in your neighborhood, and what will be on the menu.

In other food service industry news, one heck of an opportunity has come open at the Memphis Airport:

Today is a huge day for the Grizzlies, who have a 3:00 game against the Milwaukee Bucks. It’s the final seeding game of the season and here’s how this works:

  • If the Grizzlies win, they are guaranteed an appearance in the Western Conference play-in game(s) as at least a 9 seed;
  • If the Grizzlies win and Portland loses, the Grizzlies are in the play-in game(s) as the 8 seed. That is advantageous because the 8 seed has to beat the 9 seed in only one play-in game, whereas the 9 has to win two in a row;
  • If the Grizzlies lose today, and Phoenix and San Antonio also lose, the Grizzlies are in the play-in as the 9 seed;
  • Any other result and the Grizzlies finish 10th or lower in the West and fall into the NBA draft lottery; however, unless Memphis gets extremely lucky (top six I believe) the team has to CONVEY THAT PICK to Boston to fulfill a leftover obligation from the Jeff Green trade.

You can catch the game on Fox Sports Southeast and the Fox Sports GO app. Other important games today:

  • Dallas at Phoenix, 3 PM, TNT (Go Dallas! …unless the Grizzlies win, then it doesn’t matter)
  • San Antonio at Utah, 5:30 PM, TNT (Go Utah! …unless the Grizzlies win, then it doesn’t matter)
  • Portland at Brooklyn, 8 PM, TNT (Go Brooklyn!)

Good news from the Memphis Flyer:

Good news about the public health crisis: In Tuesday’s COVID-19 update, Mayor Strickland reported that Shelby County is doubling its coronavirus cases once every 35 days, the longest duplication period since the pandemic began. The virus is having more trouble than ever finding hosts here.

The Daily Memphian’s Jennifer Biggs checked in with the folks at Bari restaurant in Midtown, and let me tell you, if you’ve ever wanted to dine with them but have not got around to it, now is the time. They only had two reservations the day Biggs spoke to them. They have about 38% of the revenue and 100% of the bills, pretty common for a restaurant in 2020. They are crippled seating-wise because of the Health Department requirement to close bar areas. They could seat 6 to 8 more socially distanced at their bar if allowed. That is such an arbitrary and unnecessary rule, the epitome of government bureaucracy making a regulation “so we can say that we did something” even if it hurts more than it helps.

The South Main Bumpus Harley-Davidson is the latest Downtown business to not make it amidst the pandemic, but the prime location at 525 S. Main already has a taker: ceramics business Paper & Clay will move in. Seems like a great fit for an art district and for South Main Trolley Nights the last Friday of each month. Check out the Paper & Clay website

The same Daily Memphian article that announced Paper & Clay’s move also said The Haven Memphis is set to move in next to Renee’s Sandwich Shop on G.E. Patterson Avenue. According to their Facebook page, The Haven is “a Safe Place to feel safe and empowered” and a “men’s drop-in facility that provides outreach services to men of color in the community. The Haven’s mission is to promote the physical, mental, and social well-being of men of color by educating, equipping and empowering them to embrace their worth in a safe environment.”

Elmwood Cemetery is back with Part 2 of its Memphis street names presentation tonight at 6:30. This is an online Zoom event and the fee is $10. Streets covered will include Park. Kate Bond. Bingham. Austin Peay. Dunlap, Overton, and Willis.

Central BBQ Downtown is temporarily closed because an employee tested positive for COVID-19. The location will remain closed until all employees who had contact with the infected one are tested and the business is deep cleaned. The other Central BBQ locations are not affected.

Chris Hill plays Slider Inn Downtown tonight at 6 and he’s bringing a full band from Nashville to back him.

The Downtown Hooters will have the PGA Tour – Wyndham Championship on TV today.

I will very possibly be back between 1:30 and 3 with a recap of the Shelby County COVID-19 task force press conference, so check back.

Wednesday update

Want to play mini-golf without hundreds of screaming teenagers rioting, throwing furniture and Plexiglas barriers? Want to play mini-golf without leaving Downtown? Now you can. The Memphis Flyer reports that the Orpheum has set up 9 holes of mini-golf on stage. The course will open Saturday, and will be open Thursdays through Sundays through the fall. Each hole will represent a Broadway show that has played at the theater. $10 per person with a maximum four-person party. Register here. I want to do this! Let’s get a foursome together.

Bird scooters are off the streets for a week after the company disobeyed a curfew last weekend. The scooters are to be disabled 10 PM-5 AM in the Downtown area Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights to slow down traffic problems related to teenagers riding the scoots through areas of heavy drag racing and cruising. The Birds are gone for a week starting yesterday. Next Tuesday they’ll be allowed to bring 50 scooters back, and if they observe curfew the following weekend, they’ll be allowed to bring the whole fleet back. Spin and Ojo scooters will still be on the streets and operable during non-curfew times.

Yubu and the Ancient Youth Band will perform at Live at the Tracks at Central Station 8 to 10 PM Saturday. They’ll bring smooth pop, R&B, and reggae to the patio, and if you feel more comfortable at home you can catch the performance online.

Downtown agencies have approved changes for tax breaks to be received by The Walk on Union, formerly Union Row. This is the mixed-use complex to be built on the south side of Union between Fourth and Danny Thomas. The project will include at least one grocery store, retail, four hotels, and over a thousand apartments.

Today’s weather:

Yesterday was a pretty terrible day in the NBA. The Grizzlies lost and every other team in contention for the number 8 seed in the West won. Portland is now in 8th place in the West with Memphis, Phoenix, and San Antonio a half game back. The Grizzlies can make the play-in series with a win over Milwaukee tomorrow. None of the teams vying for the final Western Conference playoff spot has a game today.

The Big 10 and Pac-12 conferences have canceled fall sports, effectively ending any hopes for a normal college football season. ESPN has a look at spring college football scenarios.  Their idea for a 32-team playoff, with 11 Auburn vs. 22 Memphis in the first round, sounds appealing.

Dentists warn you could get mask mouth, affecting the health of your teeth, if you don’t wash your face masks frequently.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee announced his pick for his vice-presidential running mate yesterday: California Senator Kamala Harris. Coming into this week, I thought, you simply can’t go wrong with any of the four names most commonly in the VP conversation: Susan Rice, Karen Bass, Elizabeth Warren, and Harris. Any of those four could step into the Oval Office today without missing a step. However:

  • Rice has ties to Benghazi, which could lead to Republicans painting her as a surrogate for “Crooked Hillary.” Also, Rice has never held elected office.
  • Bass could have cost Joe Biden Florida due to pro-Castro comments she made a few years ago. RealClearPolitics currently has Biden up by 5 points in Florida, and if he wins that state, he will need only one of North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, Ohio, or Texas to win the electoral vote.
  • Warren would have made one hell of a president, but Biden would have perceived as being out of touch with the times for not selecting a woman of color when there were so many highly qualified choices available. Also, two 70+ year olds on a ticket isn’t a great look.
  • Harris, though… that’s like the Grizzlies selecting Ja Morant. There’s so much upside and very little downside. The knock against her is she’s “ambitious”… would you really want a president who’s NOT ambitious? Plus, the Republicans will probably be stupid to pin that term on Harris in the fall, driving the female electorate away from their party even more. One more bonus – you know Russian dictator Vladimir Putin HATES this pick.

The FiveThirtyEight presidential forecast launched today. As of this morning, Biden is a 71% favorite to win the election, to Trump’s 29%. Their “winding path to victory” shows Wisconsin as the current tipping-point state, with Biden a 70-30 favorite to win there.

That’s the news for today. If you’re interested in coverage of yesterday’s Shelby County COVID-19 task force press conference, keep scrolling.

8/11 COVID-19 task force press conference recap

Before we do the press conference recap, let’s have a quick look at the Shelby County Health Department COVID-19 dashboard statistics.

  • 7-day rolling average for new cases/day: 236 (180 or fewer needed to open the bars). Not there yet bur down from a high in the low 400s about a month ago.
  • 7-day rolling average for positivity rate: 14.5% (10% needed to open the bars). Down from a high in the low 16%s but we’ve still got a ways to go on this one.

All righty, let’s roll with the press conference recap. Dr. Haushalter, Shelby County Health Department director, led off today, and she had several pieces of good news. First of all, the COVID-19 mortality rate is low in Shelby County compared to national averages. That is in part because of a younger average age of COVID-19 patients here, but also attributable to strong local health departments.

Currently the health department is closing 59% of contact tracing investigations.

Dr. H had some excellent news on testing. Lab turnaround is back in the 1 to 3 day range for most tests, and there are over 8000 open slots per week now to be tested.

Community based testing sites will post what age groups of children they are taking to test, as we anticipate the start of the school year. Go to the city COVID-19 website for then whens and the wheres.

The department is exploring new testing modalities including saliva testing and antibody testing. These too are in anticipation of the school year. In Q&A Dr. H said the saliva tests are pool tests and need to remain below a certain positivity result rate to prove useful.

As far as hospitalization, despite acute care and ICU beds being over 90% full, Dr. H said the county has ample bed capacity available at this time, with the surge facility on Union available if needed.

The COVID-19 team has moved to their new facility on Dividend Drive. 125 of the 141 new positions have been filled, and the remainder are mostly highly specialized positions. Dr. H does expect there to be some part-time contact tracer jobs opening for evening and weekend shifts in the near future.

County Commissioner Mickell Lowery took the podium. He noted that certain businesses defined as close-contact businesses – barber and beauty shops, nail salons, tattoo parlors – had to reconfigure to be able to reopen back in May. They had to distance customer stations, implement shifts in which employees could work, limit access to waiting rooms, purchase disposable capes, and impose other restrictions. The new rules caused considerable financial difficulty for those businesses, and Lowery noted that while restaurants can serve to-go meals, there’s no such thing as a to-go haircut. Therefore, Comm. Lowery said, every owner of one of those brick-and-mortar locations is invited to apply for a $2000 grant to offset expenses. He stressed these did not have to be paid back and said to go to the Shelby County COVID-19 website to apply. In a followup question, Dr. H said she expected applications to be open today and processing to be expedited. Comm. Lowery said $1 million has been set aside to support 500 businesses.

Next up was Dr. Jack Shannon, president of CBU. He said the semester starts Monday. This year there will be no fall break and final exams will be over before Thanksgiving in the hopes of minimizing travel to and from campus. Other CBU notes:

  • Resident advisors are already moving in and are going through COVID-19 protocols and extra steps in addition to their usual beginning-of-the-year checklists
  • International students have returned and are currently quarantined in off-campus housing
  • Dorm rooms will be single-occupancy
  • Cafeterias will focus on meals that can be taken outside or back to dorm rooms
  • Students will be able to chat virtually with staff like librarians and career counselors
  • Classes other than the nurses’ and physician assistants’ programs are 80% online or hybrid. Of those in-person, only 5% have enrollment more than 16 and there’s always 6 feet of distance.

Haushalter was asked what her message to parents would be as the school year begins. She said to be attentive to what your child’s school is doing to reduce transmission, because while you can’t eliminate transmission you can drive it down. She said ideally you want to see kids and teachers in masks, and parents can help by teaching kids how to wear a mask and what to do if their mask is soiled. Teach your kids proper hand washing. Be attentive to their health and don’t send them to school if you suspect they are sick.

Dr. H was asked about nightclubs serving food, no doubt referring to the Hughes Nightclub shooting last weekend when the owner said he served the victims ribs about 4 AM. She said sometimes there are venues not licensed as restaurants that serve food anyway, and to let the health department know. She said that some venues think they can skirt health department inspections by being open at 3, 4 in the morning but inspectors can work 24/7.

Dr. H was asked, other than masking up and not going to bars, if there’s anything else people can do to drive transmission down. She said to consider social activities in your personal lives. If you have people over, how many will come, how long will they stay, will you require masks, will everyone be able to keep 6 feet of distance, how will you ensure proper hand washing. She advised against going to visit family and friends in other communities, where you might bring COVID back to Memphis with you. She said to be aware of activities involving alcohol, and the resulting behaviors – talking louder, singing, forgetting to mask.

I am really surprised Haushalter didn’t get drilled on some of the ambiguities in the trip wires in Health Directive No. 10. The Facebook and Twitter “medical experts” need to find an ally in the media who will ask those questions, or find a way to get media credentials themselves.

That’s it for today. Everyone remember to mask up and keep your distance so school can start this month! More importantly, everyone mask up and keep your distance so teachers can go to bars and enjoy an after-work cocktail. Back tomorrow with more news, and Thursday with another recap. Go Grizz!

Tuesday update

Fudge brownie M&M’s. You need these in your life. Do yourself a favor and stop by your nearest drugstore or convenience store after work and pick some up. Don’t bother with the single-serve packs. Get one of the 9.05 ounce “share packs” with the resealable top. You will thank me for this later. They’re in the light purple package.

The CA’s Jennifer Chandler listed five must-try dishes for Elvis Week and two Downtown restaurants made the list. Arcade restaurant’s legendary fried peanut butter and banana sandwich was on there, a favorite of not only Elvis, but of Ja Morant as well. Also on the list were the Elvis pancakes, banana pancakes topped with a peanut butter sauce and sliced bananas. They are served only at Slim’s brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.

Good Morning America has a deal on BBQ from the Rendezvous that can be shipped anywhere in the country. The Taste of Memphis Box, on sale for $88 (50% off), comes with two slabs of Rendezvous ribs, two pounds of BBQ pork shoulder, BBQ nachos ingredients, mustard-vinegar slaw, and baked beans. Reheating instructions are included and you can choose any shipping date between August 19 and September 4.

The Memphis Grizzlies play the Boston Celtics today at 4 PM on Fox Sports Southeast and the Fox Sports GO app. The Celtics are first in the Eastern Conference, so this won’t be an easy game. However, with their seed secured, Boston may rest its players for next week, giving Memphis a chance to pick up another crucial win.

Western Conference standings as of this morning: Memphis in 8th place, Portland 0.5 games back, Phoenix and San Antonio 1 game back.

Other games of interest today:

  • Houston at San Antonio, 1 PM, NBATV. We want the Rockets to win.
  • Phoenix at Philadelphia, 3:30 PM, no national TV. We want Philly to win.
  • Portland at Dallas, 5:30 PM, TNT. We want the Mavericks to win.
  • Sacramento at New Orleans, 8 PM, TNT. This is a meaningless game but worth watching to see the sad expression on Zion’s face, knowing he won’t be going to the playoffs.

From Fox 13 Memphis: Downtown restaurants expand outdoor seating

Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States of America.

What’s especially appalling is that this week many people observed the 75th anniversary of the events that really did end World War II, the dropping of atomic bombs on two cities in Japan. And yet Trump and his base have the gall to insinuate that Joe Biden is not mentally all there. This is called “projection” and is a classic behavior of a narcissist.

I’ll try to recap today’s Shelby County COVID-19 task force press conference this afternoon. It’ll be the first press conference since the tripwires were released in Health Directive No. 10 and I have a feeling the news reporters will have some juicy questions awaiting.

Monday update

The Grizzlies lost to the Toronto Raptors yesterday, 108-89, but let’s look at the bright sides.

First of all, with 2 seeding games remaining, the Grizzlies still sit atop the 8th position in the Western Conference, and control their own destiny. The Portland Trail Blazers are 0.5 games back, followed by the San Antonio Spurs at 1 GB and seeding game Cinderella team the Phoenix Suns at 1.5 GB. That’s close, but if we take care of Grizzness the last two, we won’t need help from other teams to advance to the postseason.

Secondly, the New Orleans Pelicans lost to the Spurs yesterday, and Portland won. Mathamatically, that puts the Pelicans out of reach of a play-in series. The NBA will be denied of its wet dream of Zion in the playoffs, and the Grizzlies are safe from the nightmare of Zion in the play-in series.

That play-in series for the Western Conference is now guaranteed to happen, involving two of the four of the Grizzlies, Trail Blazers, Suns, and Spurs. According to ESPN, the play-in game happens Saturday, West #8 vs. West #9. If the #8 team wins, they advance to round 1 of the playoffs where they’ll have a date with the Lakers. If the #9 team wins, they play again Sunday, winner of that game advancing to the playoff spot.

Game of interest today:

  • Oklahoma City at Phoenix, 1:30 PM, no national TV. As much as everyone loves an underdog, as impressed as we all are with Phoenix battling from 6 games back to remain in the playoff conversation, we need the Suns to lose today. Three teams competing for two play-in spots is better than four teams, plain and simple.

Tony Manard will make his way to South Main Sounds for a livestream event Friday night from 6:30 to 9. There’s an online tip jar if you feel inclined to support live music in our city in the middle of a pandemic.

Cover story from today’s Daily Memphian: This year the “ghosts” of Elwood Cemetery can visit you at home. The “residents” of the haunted cemetery will give virtual performances you can watch from the safety of your home beginning October 10.

I’ve been trying to track the spread of COVID-19 on the Shelby County Health Department’s data dashboard over the weekend, but most of the charts aren’t there, reading, “No data is available for this selection.” This is not the first time I have seen that message, or even the fifth or tenth. How are we supposed to track how far or close we are from the new tripwires if the data page isn’t working half the time?

A man is dead after a shooting near the Hughes Nightclub in North Memphis. Wait, how are nightclubs even open right now? A Facebook discussion indicated that the club is BYOB and therefore there was no liquor license to pull, but still, shouldn’t the Health Department have some kind of monitoring authority? I guess maybe Code Enforcement doesn’t want to work the wee hours of the AM.

WREG has coverage of the debate whether or not to reopen Riverside Drive to vehicular traffic 24/7. Closing Riverside has diverted the problems that previously happened their onto neighborhood streets full of homes and businesses.

Kamala the Ugandan Giant, a professional wrestler played by former truck driver James “Sugar Bear” Harris, died over the weekend at the age of 70. The Kamala character was created by Jerry “The King” Lawler in 1982 and enjoyed success in the Memphis, Mid-South, and Dallas territories before making his way to the WWF in the late 1980s. The storyline was that Kamala was a former bodyguard of dictator Idi Amin. Growing up in Little Rock, I watched many memorable battles between “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan and Kamala, managed by General Skandor Akbar, on the weekly Mid-South Wrestling TV show.

Local musician John Paul Keith hosts Mondays in Memphis, a virtual concert from his home, tonight at 8.

Grilled brochette of chicken and seared salmon are this week’s entree choices for the Monday night 3-course dinner for $19.99 at Paulette’s this evening.

There’s a Beating Procrastination event for writers and artists this morning at 9. If I didn’t have somewhere to be, I would sign up.

Today is a good day to stay indoors!

That’s it for now. Stay cool, wear your masks, keep your distance, and I’ll see you tomorrow.

Grizzlies vs. Raptors at 1 PM today

Great news! The Portland Trail Blazers lost yesterday!!!

That loss puts the Grizzlies in 8th place in the West  by 1.5 games, with Phoenix and San Antonio 2 games back, New Orleans 2.5 games back, and Sacramento out of the playoff race at 3.5 games back.

The Grizzlies play Marc Gasol and the Toronto Raptors today at 1. The Raptors are pretty much locked in to the 2 seed in the East at this point, so they may choose to rest some of their best players in anticipation of round 1 of the playoffs. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Southeast and the Fox Sports GO app.

Other games of interest today:

  • San Antonio at New Orleans, 2 PM, ABC (Too bad they can’t both lose… despite the Spurs having a half-game lead, I will be rooting for them, because I don’t want to see Zion in the play-in series)
  • Philadephia at Portland, 5:30 PM, NBATV (We want the 76ers to win and further sink the Trail Blazers in the standings)

That’s all the news I got this morning. Let’s all remember to wear our masks, social distance ourselves, and wash our hands, because we have a goal to shoot for… can you imagine if we get the average number of new cases below 180 and the positivity rate below 10% in a couple of weeks AND THE BARS OPEN BEFORE SHELBY COUNTY SCHOOLS DO??? The social media “medical experts” would have a shit fit!!! Just think of the tirades we would see on Facebook and Twitter! You know Mayor Harris would try to walk it back somehow, but how could he, when he signed the health directive! Please, let’s make this happen!

That’s all for now. I may do a second post later today. If not, see you tomorrow.

Saturday update: Health Directive No. 10 spells out “tripwires”

Advance warning: This is going to be a looooong post. Lots to talk about, and some of it in substantial depth. Better go get a fresh cup of coffee, open a fresh pack of cigarettes, pour yourself some cereal, pack you a bowl or whatever you need to accompany you through this.

Advance warning #2: Some of the news items I have for today’s post are going to make the use of spicy language unavoidable.

Yesterday the Shelby County Health Department issued Health Directive No. 10, implementing the “tripwires” that can either tighten or loosen restrictions on area businesses, based on COVID-19 data. Let’s have a look, starting off with the goals we as a community want to attain.

GOOD: If the following criteria are met

  • Average of 180 or fewer new cases per day over a 1-week period, based on the date of testing
  • Downward trend line (I’m assuming for new cases) over a 2-week period
  • Rate of new cases decreasing by 30% per week or more over a 2-week period
  • Reproductive rate less than or equal to 1
  • Positivity rate less than or equal to 10%

THEN the following restrictions are relaxed:

  • Limited-service restaurants are allowed to reopen, as well as other food/drink establishments currently closed

BETTER: If the following criteria are met:

  • Average of 75 or fewer cases per day over a 1-week period, based on the date of testing
  • Downward trend line (I’m assuming for new cases) over a 2-week period
  • “Rate of cases decreasing by ≤ 30 per week over 4 consecutive weeks” I wonder if this is typo and means rate of new cases decreasing by 30% or more per week over a 4-week period.
  • Reproductive rate less than or equal to 1
  • Positivity rate less than or equal to 5%

THEN the following restrictions are relaxed:

  • Allow increased gathering sizes
  • Allow increased capacity within businesses
  • Allow special events, subject to submission of a plan

Got a few questions about the above:

  1.  Does “positivity rate” refer to the cumulative positivity rate since over the entire run of the virus, or over the past week?
  2. Would it be possible to get the reproductive rate added to the health department’s COVID-19 dashboard?
  3. What about restrictions on full-service restaurants? (two-hour windows to order food, no bar seating, must order food to be served alcohol, 10 PM closing time) What’s the trip wire for those being relaxed?

Of course, not all the tripwires can be positive, because as the song goes, you take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and then you have, The Facts of Life. The Facts of Life. When a girl never seems… to be living… up to her dreams…

Oops, sorry, but I bet wherever they are these days, Natalie and Tootie are wearing their face masks. Anyway, let’s take a look at things we DON’T want to happen.

BAD: If the following criteria are met:

  • Average of 450 or more new cases per day over a 1-week period based on date of testing
  • Rate of new cases increasing by 40% or more over 1 week
  • Reproductive rate 1.4% or higher
  • Positivity rate 18% or higher

THEN the following restrictions are added:

  • Limited-service restaurants close
  • Restrictions imposed on full-service restaurants
  • Curfew
  • Restrictions on sports-related events
  • Increased enforcement
  • Increased education

WORSE: If the following conditions are met:

  • Average of 650 or more new cases per day over a 1-week period based on date of testing
  • Rate of new cases increasing by 40% or more over 2 weeks
  • Reproductive rate 1.4% or higher
  • Positivity rate 20% or higher

THEN the following restrictions are imposed:

  • Decrease gathering sizes to no more than 10
  • Increased, targeted enforcement
  • Increased education

WORST: If the following conditions are met:

  • Average of 750 or more new cases per day over a 1-week period based on date of testing
  • Rate of new cases increasing by 40% or more over 2 weeks
  • Reproductive rate 1.6% or higher
  • Positivity rate 25% or higher

THEN we go back to life in hell, meaning

  • Safer At Home house arrest order
  • Closure of schools

Overall I think the goals are very reasonable. They give us reasons to wear our masks, social distance, and wash our hands whether our primary concern is getting kids back to face-to-face instruction or being able to sit at a bar and drink a cocktail. It’s up to us now. We can decide how much freedom we want to have, and what kind of freedom, until COVID-19 dies down.

Of course, the social media “medical experts” are already calling the tripwires “bullshit.” I am so sick of hearing from them. It’s almost like, they want to measure success by how many businesses are forced to close by the time the pandemic is over. And yes, five weeks was a long time to produce this document, but to me the thresholds seem well thought out, taking into account both what’s happening in other large cities and conditions locally here in Shelby County. Kudos to the task force. It’s a shame you guys receive so much criticism and so little praise. I’m not saying you’re perfect – and I’m not even promising I won’t make fun of you next time I recap a press conference – but the hard work you’ve done the past 5 months is noticed and appreciated.

After reading all the complaints about drag racing and large groups congregating Downtown, and MPD saying they don’t have the manpower to do anything about it, I decided to try an experiment last night to determine: Is MPD doing ANYTHING about cruising and drag racing Downtown? Or are they just completely letting the problem run haywire? So about 9:45 I turned the police scanner on and listened until about midnight. All of the locations listed below are traffic stops unless otherwise noted. Times are approximate give or take a few minutes.

  • 9:46: Second at Pontotoc.
  • 9:48: Officer put out a bulletin about someone “driving like a fool” at corner of Second at Lt. George W. Lee Ave.
  • 9:53: Front at Gayoso
  • 10:08: Second at MLK
  • 10:26: Peabody Place at Rufus Thomas
  • 10:27: Main at Beale
  • 10:45: Second at MLK
  • 10:46: Peabody Place at Main
  • 10:53: Adams at Riverside, noted as “special,” whatever that means
  • 10:53: Peabody Place at B.B. King
  • 11:00: Peabody Place at B.B. King, possibly same call as above
  • 11:17: Jefferson at Main
  • 11:17: Peabody Place at Front
  • 11:18: Front at Court (dispersed group that had been gathering)
  • 11:24 Beale at Front (2 wreckers ordered and a third requested)
  • 11:37: MLK at Danny Thomas
  • 11:53: Peabody Place and Second
  • 11:56: 150 Peabody Place (possibly a continuation of the call above)

Based on what I heard, I think it is safe to say that MPD is making an effort to control the problem with the resources they have available.

Also, this was tweeted by Memphis Bike Ped last night:

I looked out my window near the intersection of Second and Monroe about 10:15 last night. I did see a couple of teenagers on scooters, but they were moving slowly enough that they could have been operating under human power. Their lights were still on, but even if the electric motor was disabled, for safety reasons you probably wouldn’t want to disable the lights.

From Memphis River Parks Partnership:

Surprise! Skating is back on the riverfront. ⠀

(It is just a liiiiiittle different).⠀

With the closure of Riverside Drive to vehicles this weekend, skates are available to rent at the bottom of Vance Avenue Bluff Stairs, next to Beale Street Landing. Grab some skates, and hit the road. Read on for some important notes: ⠀

Masks required to rent a skate: no mask, no zooming!⠀
Bring a bag to keep your shoes in while you skate.⠀
Plenty of space to keep six feet apart (Riverside Drive is closed to vehicles from Georgia to Jefferson), so please explore and keep socially distant. ⠀
Skates are free, but first come, first serve. If you aren’t able to get a pair tonight, take a sunset stroll, stop by one of @downtownmemphis’ businesses for dinner, or sit and watch folks zoom by! ⠀

Free skate rentals during the times below:⠀
Friday 6 – 8:30 PM⠀
Saturday 6 – 8:30 PM ⠀
Sunday 4:30 – 8:30 PM⠀

Not into skating? There are yard games popping up in the park this weekend, too. #cometotheriver to see!

The Memphis Grizzlies earned their first win in the Orlando bubble yesterday, handing the Oklahoma City Thunder a 121-92 loss. With 3 games left, the Grizzlies still sit in playoff position in 8th place in the West, with Portland back 1 game, San Antonio 1.5 games back, New Orleans and Phoenix 2.5 games back, and Sacramento 3.5 games back. Despite a rough start, the Grizzlies still control their destiny. Also, it looks more likely than not that the NBA won’t get Zion Williamson in the playoffs and the resulting ratings bonanza that would come with it.

The Grizzlies don’t play today. Games of note:

  • L.A. Clippers at Portland, noon, TNT (Coooooome ooooooon, Clips!)
  • Phoenix at Miami, 6:30, no national TV (Go Heat!)

Memphis 901 FC has its last home match for several weeks this afternoon. They take on North Carolina FC today at 4 PM at AutoZone Park. If you can’t be there in person for the match, you can watch locally on CW30.

You think Memphis has problems controlling COVID-19? You ain’t seen nothin’ compared to our state’s capital. Last Saturday a party happened at a venue called The Fashion House in East Nashville. Many, many photos of the party went viral, showing no social distancing, very little masking, and most notably, a video that went viral in multiple senses of the word, showing a man performing analingus on a woman in a window of the house, in full view of everyone. Public health officials discourage eating ass during the pandemic, citing fecal matter as a possible point of spread of the virus.

The cops showed up around 1 AM and shut down the party. They did not cite individuals for failure to wear masks, nor did they cite the house’s owners for having more than the maximum number of individuals allowed by the health directive in the house. However, on Tuesday the city of Nashville’s law director indicated a possible intent to prosecute the violations as Class C misdemeanors. In addition, the Fashion House has been found to be a commercial business in an area zoned for residential only, so it is unlikely that more parties will be held there in the future.

The folks at Bluff City Soap are brainstorming ideas for the company’s Downtown location since curbside pickup is not possible at a storefront on the Main Street Mall. The company overall has seen an uptick in business since the pandemic started, since anything that cleans is flying off the shelves these days. If you’re a fan of their products, keep an eye out for flash sales liquidating the Downtown location’s inventory.

Midtown Crossing Grill is the latest restaurant to become a victim to the pandemic. A post yesterday indicated the business would be permanently closed.

Kennard Farmer performs on the patio of the Central Station Hotel tonight from 7 to 9. You can come listen in person or catch the show online.

There will be a spin class by Spin n’ Out at Fourth Bluff tomorrow, Sunday, August 9, at 9:15 AM. $15 fee.

Virtual Elvis Week begins today. Here’s the schedule.

That’s it for this post, and I’m off to Bardog for brunch. Everyone please remember your masks and face coverings, maintain your 6 feet of social distance, and practice proper hand hygiene. Let’s get those COVID-19 numbers down so our friends who own or work at limited service restaurants can make some money. Back tomorrow with more news.

Friday update

Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings says the force doesn’t have the manpower to crack down on drag racing that has happened Downtown and many other parts of Memphis this summer. City COO Doug McGowen said the kids behind this activity are very well organized. They travel around town in packs, have lookouts and are prepared to pick up and move their operation to another part of the city anytime. Sounds like donuts and gunshots are on this weekend’s menu Downtown once again.

The Memphis Business Journal reports that apartment developers who have received financial incentives from the Downtown Memphis Commission often have not lived up to their end of the bargain to make a certain percentage of the units affordable for low-income tenants.

As your number-one source of news and information about The Edge District, it is my pleasure to link you to a Memphis magazine article entitled Rewriting the Recipe. It discusses how restaurant owners are changing their business models to keep pace with COVID-19, and it features Tamra Patterson of The Edge’s own Chef Tam’s Underground. Changes included safer ways for people to enter and exit, a move to to-go only, and adjusting the menu so there wouldn’t be a large amount of unused ingredients. The story also takes a look at another Downtown restaurant, South of Beale, which successfully opened a second location out East during the pandemic.

As I was sorting through Downtown Memphis news, this job came across my feed… a Downtown company needs a human resources assistant. It’s a contract-to-hire gig and pays $16 to $20 an hour. The job was just posted yesterday, so you can be one of the first to get a foot in the door.

The Memphis Grizzlies play the Oklahoma City Thunder today at 3. You can catch the game on Fox Sports Southeast, the Fox Sports GO app, or Antenna TV. This is a must-win, as they all are with the Grizz only holding on to the 8th seed by half a game. Other games of interest today:

  • Utah at San Antonio, noon, no national TV (we want Utah to win)
  • Sacramento at Brooklyn, 4 PM, no national TV (we want Brooklyn to win)
  • Washington at New Orleans, 7 PM, no national TV (we want Washington to win)

Neo-soul artist Jordan Occasionally performs a virtual concert from Health Sciences Park today from noon to 1.

The Little Tea Shop has always been famous, but even more so these days. The firm about the Monroe Avenue lunch spot has been accepted by the Nashville Film Fest, the Portland Short Fest, and the Muslim Film Festival.

Celebrate Primas Bakery + Boutique’s 2nd birthday tomorrow, 9 AM to 6 PM.

A man who recently robbed Independent Bank in One Commerce Square was arrested in Southaven.

Free MemPops! The Downtown Neighborhood Association will give away 100 of them tomorrow beginning at 11 AM as part of their Saturday Shenanigans in Court Square. Come on out and meet some of the organization’s members and board members.

Don’t forget, you can dine at Memphis restaurants tax-free this weekend!

Keep scrolling for a recap of yesterday’s COVID-19 task force press conference. Health Officer Dr. Randolph was asked the question the health department has been dodging, what kind of trend would the department need to see to consider allowing limited service restaurants to reopen? Dr. Randolph said they would need to see 28 days of a downward trend, and that the steepness of the trend would matter. Their data dashboard page indicates that number of current cases began trending downward July 20 (18 days ago), number of new cases by specimen collection date began trending downward July 16 (22 days ago), and the 7-day rolling positivity rate began trending downward July 19 (19 days ago, although the curve isn’t exactly steep).

Back tomorrow with more news. Go Grizz!