Bravo Memphis kickoff this Thursday

The annual Bravo Memphis kickoff party is this Thursday, August 25, at 6:00 at Memphis Ambiance, 136 Webster Ave. (Here’s the official announcement)

Bravo is an arts group whose members are mostly 21-40ish. In addition to the kickoff party, they have 7 outings between September and April to museums, the opera, the theater, and the ballet. It’s a great way to see some shows and exhibits at a discounted price. But best of all, each show is preceded by a reception the hour before, and there is generally free food, wine, and beer. It’s a great way to meet people if you’re new to the city, or if you want to make new friends. And I should probably keep this secret to myself, but what the hell – attention all guys – attendance at Bravo events tends to run about 65-70% female, so the odds are in your favor.

You’re under no obligation to sign up for the Bravo season membership at the kickoff party, so even if you’re not interested in the arts, why not come eat their food and drink their alcohol – it’s free to the public! But if you are interested, you’ll be able to sign up at a discount price that night. Best deal is to join as a couple – just grab someone else who is considering joining and be a couple with them for 5 minutes. Or longer, if they’re hot.

This will be my fifth season as a Bravo member and I’m looking forward to it. Hope to see you there.

Catching up

– Interesting fun fact to start off this journal entry: Hammond, Indiana once had an NFL team. No kidding. Look it up on the history section of the NFL’s site if you don’t believe me. I can’t even place Hammond on a map. Hmmm, where’s the road atlas… still don’t see it… oh, there it is, it’s a ‘burb of Chicago. I believe that’s where Hammond organs, which are played at ballparks across the country, are made.

– Been catching up on all the Little Rock news while I’m here. Little Rock may have its own Beale Street soon. They’re toying with closing off two blocks of President Clinton Avenue on weekend nights, and if the experiment is successful, they may make it permanent. If they do that, I wonder if they’ll sell drinks on the street and let people walk around with them as they do on Beale. I find it amusing that a street named for Bill Clinton is probably the hottest spot in the city to go pick up women.

– Then again… most big-town entertainment districts are places where people spend beyond their means, act stupid, and line the pockets of the big corporations that manage the bars and clubs… sounds like a good place for a George W. Bush Avenue.

– Why people read this blog… food, apparently. Last Monday at the Mpact board meeting one of the members stopped me. Said she had a friend in town, and the friend wanted to go to the Flying Saucer because she saw a recommendation for their wings on my blog. And I already know that Blue Coast Burrito has some new regulars because of my blog mention. Hopefully I. Siegel Culinary Productions will pick up some new catering customers because of me too.

– I’ve also been informed that I need to do some more research. I failed to take Black Diamond, King’s Palace, and TJ Mulligan’s into consideration when I did the wing report. Perhaps I’ll update it at a later date. Before the unexpected trip to Little Rock, I did some research at Black Diamond Friday night on the effects of PBR on the human body.

– I feel old: Also on Friday night, I was walking onto Beale Street when this group of 18-year-old girls approached me. “Will you walk in with us?” they asked. “If you say you’re our dad, the security guard will let us on the street. Otherwise, he won’t.” Ouch!

– Our poor troops: While sitting in my mother’s hospital room today, I was reading the Little Rock paper, and turned to the Weather section. Forecast for Baghdad: High 118, Low 93. Really gotta feel sorry for the U.S. troops over there, in full combat gear with no A/C.

– Also read the weather for my former home of San Diego: High 70, Low 67. What was I thinking when I moved back to Memphis?

– In the following bullet point I will give the controversy over renaming three Memphis parks the attention it deserves.

– And we’ll wind up this journal entry with another interesting fact: This was the first Sunday since February 22, 2004 that I did not set foot in a bar. Next week the streak begins anew. Although, since Christmas falls on a Sunday this year it will probably be broken again.

– That’s it for now. Most likely I’ll be back in Memphis late tomorrow afternoon.

Out for a few days

I’m writing this from Little Rock. My mother had a mild stroke Saturday morning. I received a frantic, confused call for help from her about 10:00. Luckily two of her friends who live nearby rushed over and called an ambulance. Looks like she’s going to be okay. She’s experiencing a little confusion, trouble finding the words she wants to say, but there’s no paralysis or other serious complications. She can walk and eat and do everything she could do before the stroke. They’re keeping her in the hospital for observation for another day or two but it looks like she’s going to be just fine. I’m taking the day off tomorrow to be with her, but if she continues to improve I’ll return to Memphis tomorrow night.

I know a few of her friends read this (I see Little Rock addresses on my tracker from time to time), so let me reiterate – she’s fine, don’t worry – but you can e-mail me if you want.

Back tomorrow with the usual stupid crap that attracts readers to this blog.

My latest website creation

I have to take a few minutes to brag about the latest website I have created, as well as the business behind it. Over the past few months in this blog, I’ve mentioned my neighbors who are caterers several times. This past Sunday they invited me up to the roof for a dinner of flank steak and linguini and clams, and as I ate I thought, this dinner matches up with any of the four-star restaurants downtown.

So, last month when they approached me and asked me to put a website together for them, it was my pleasure. I tried to come up with something that was as elegant as their food. Check it out: I. Siegel Culinary Productions of Memphis Great menus! It was hard to do this site without getting hungry.

(If anyone is viewing this with a Mac: does their site look okay? I couldn’t get a hold of a Mac for testing)

Learning about their business as I built the site was fascinating. I learned about their experiences catering for the stars, including Elton John, Celine Dion, and David Spade. I also found out that they didn’t even intend to stay in the city – they were just passing through on vacation earlier in the year. But, they fell in love with Memphis and decided to make it home. Not long after they opened their catering business they landed the Court Square re-dedication and events with several other well-known clients.

It’s been a pleasure working with them on this site (especially since they bring food with them to the meetings). They’re going to be a force on the Memphis catering and event planning scene for some time to come.

Plans for this weekend

Friday night I’ll be going to the Center for Southern Folklore to attend a dance performance by Breeding Ground. My neighbor “Carmen” (mentioned in a recent journal article) will be one of the dancers. Her training is in ballet, but this, as she explains it, is a modern dance piece. That’s okay, I like all kinds of dancers – ballet dancers, modern dancers, belly dancers, flamenco dancers, table dancers, pole dancers, lap dancers… I like all of them.

Here’s a summary of the performance: “Six local musicians are collaborating with five modern dancers from an emerging dance organization, Breeding Ground, for a one-night only performance entitled Shapes of Blue. The performance will feature music from a wide variety of genres, ranging from blues and jazz to bluegrass and classical, including original compositions by well-known local pianist Gerald Stephens. Mr. Stephens will be joined by a cellist, fiddler, guitarist, drummer, vocalist, and the dancers to create what promises to be an exciting, dynamic evening of dance improvisation and music with Breeding Ground.”

After that: I may head to Midtown for a friend’s going-away party at the Beauty Shop, or I may just stay downtown and get drunk.

Saturday: No idea. The Corkscrew is having a wine tasting next door at Alice’s in the afternoon. Other than that, no clue. Wonder if my neighbor from the second floor will be on the rooftop in a bikini.

Sunday: Champagne brunch at Sleep Out’s, followed by who knows what. Probably I’ll end up at the Tap Room at some point to play that stupid video game with the polar bear and the fish.

Other than Friday night, it doesn’t sound like much of a weekend, does it?

A magazine every downtowner should subscribe to

Modern Drunkard << click the link, lots of good stuff to read online

Reminds me, one day a couple of years ago I was sitting around Sleep Out’s on a Sunday with my friends Kit and Kelly. We had an idea for a REAL magazine for downtowners – not the kind of fluff Downtowner publishes, not a bunch of ads like the Downtown Merchant Guide, but a magazine covering the issues that downtowners truly care about.

We were going to call it “Three Sheets to the Wind.” Articles proposed for the first issue included:

Drinking on a Budget: Happy hours, pint nights and other ways to get drunk downtown without breaking the bank

Open containers: Recommended ways to hide your alcohol as you walk around downtown

Trolley Tour: Which art galleries serve the best free booze

Bum of the Month: Profile of a Downtown Resident

Escape Routes: Best ways to get home without getting a DUI or Public Intox charge

This is one of these great ideas that never quite made it to fruition. Publishing a magazine takes a lot of time and money, and all of us had other jobs to tend to. But I’d love to see someone take this idea and run with it. I think it has potential.


One of my neighbors at No. 10 – I don’t want to use her real name so we’ll call her Carmen for the purposes of this post – had an office on the 28th floor of the SunTrust (formerly NBC) building. Her window faced north; therefore, she had a view of No. 10’s rooftop.

One day at work, Carmen looked out the window and saw a cute girl in a bikini sunbathing on the rooftop of No. 10.

She could have taken out a camera with a high-powered zoom lens and snapped some pictures, had them developed and slid them under the door of my apartment. But did she? No.

She could have called my cell phone and suggested I take a long lunch break, come home and go up to the roof. But did she? No.

She could have taken her lunch break and walked over to No. 10. She could have ridden the elevator up to the roof, taken some pictures of bikini girl using her cell phone’s digicam, and then used the Send To –> Paul option. But did she? No.

She could have called me, and said, “Paul, why don’t you come downtown and meet me for lunch? Come up to my office – the view is spectacular today, and I have high-powered binoculars for you to use.” But did she? Again, no.

Carmen did none of these things.

A couple of weeks later, she got reassigned to her law firm’s East Memphis office. So, instead of having a half-block walk as a commute to work, she now has to get up 30 minutes earlier, get in her car, fight rush-hour traffic, and stop-and-go her way to East Memphis.

I think this is karma. She failed to properly utilize her resources when she lived downtown, and therefore the universe took her resources away.

Perhaps one day Carmen will have another chance to work at the downtown office. Hopefully if she does, she will have learned her lesson how to be a good downtowner and good neighbor.

Weekend notes

– Slow posting week for my blog. I’ve been extremely busy at work importing files that a client sent over. It’s been stressful but I got some really valuable experience working with “cursors” which are a way SQL Server provides to manipulate data. I’ve also been developing websites for two friends who live in the building in my spare time. Can’t wait until they’re finished so I can show them off; they represent the best work I’ve ever done as a web developer.

– Last Sunday a friend called. “Paul, I need your help,” she said. “I have a pitcher of Bloody Marys that I need help finishing.” Now this is a job that is an excellent match for my skill set. I paid my tab at Sleep Out’s and headed right over.

– So I went over to her art gallery and we hung out and talked for a while. The heat index was up around 110, and it gave us an idea for a club called “Melt.” We decided that in the summer we’d advertise, “Come hang out in our sauna,” and the sauna would be the patio. She also said that a fondue night would go well with the theme of the club.

– A few minutes later we had an idea for another bar/club, whose name would only mean something to Memphians: “Pink Slime in the Ice Machine.” The signature drink would be a frozen, blended pink lemonade drink.

– Tuesday night I got to go to the cast party for Evita at the Orpheum’s Broadway Club. The caterer from my building was working the show, and he called and invited me down. Interesting mix of people, cast and donors mostly. I spent a lot of time watching the caterers’ 2-year-old son, playing with him on the computer. He was fascinated by some character named “Boohbah.”

– George Brown from Action News 5 was at the party. I should’ve told him about my “Pink Slime in the Ice Machine” bar idea.

– Wednesday I hung out with my neighbors on the roof and gof feedback on my recent blog posts. They thought “Proposal” was sweet. They thought “Fun with Crackheads” was mean. My neighbors asked me if I’d take a girl up to the rooftop and give her a marriage proposal. I said I would, but at the last minute common sense would prevail and I’d jump instead of proposing.

– What the bums are drinking this week, based on the empty cases outside the liquor store: Lord Calvert and Dark Eyes vodka. There was also a case of Jack Daniels, but since no one has come up to me and said, “Look here, mayne, I needs ta get about fiteen dolla and eighty-three cent,” I don’t think the bums are drinking Jack.

– Plans for this weekend: Tonight I’ll be attending the South Main Trolley Art Tour and the Mpact party at Earnestine & Hazel’s. Sunday I’ll be at Sleep Out Louie’s at brunch getting drunk. Other than that I don’t know, and I have Monday as a vacation day.

– This was a rather boring post, and my first in three days. Maybe I should bring back Tube Top Month. It was a stupid theme but I was absolutely on fire in June.

– That’s all for now. Maybe there’ll be a post over the weekend if I think of a topic.

Downtowner needs your support: A Dinner for Luke

Saturday night I went to my rooftop for a birthday party for Henry, the building’s owner. Los Cantadores provided the entertainment, and the rooftop was a perfect venue for them. McEwen’s and Stella provided great food, and plenty of neighbors and friends came out for the party.

However, it was more than a birthday party, it was a fundraiser. Luke Greika, daytime chef at McEwen’s, suffered a freak accident on June 17. He was hiking near Heber Springs, Arkansas, when a large boulder fell on him, crushing his pelvis and breaking his leg, ankle and tailbone. Needless to day, he’s incapacitated, and he has a two-month old son at home. The party was a fundraiser for him. I had never met Luke but I talked to some of the other McEwen’s staff and it’s obvious they all care about him very much.

If you want to help him out, and eat some fantastic food at the same time, consider coming to A Dinner for Luke on Sunday, August 7 at McEwen’s, 122 Monroe Ave. For a $65 donation you get a four-course meal, each course paired with a wine. All proceeds and tips go to take care of Luke and his family. For more information, here’s a link to A Dinner for Luke info on the restaurant’s website. Should be a good one – McEwen’s is one of the finest dining spots downtown, and no one is better at picking wines to really bring out the taste in food.

As Chris, one of the McEwen’s staff, told me Saturday night, “Downtowners have a way of pulling together and looking out for each other – that’s just how it is.” Let’s look out for Luke on the 7th.

House wines

After extensive research, I’ve decided upon my red and white “house wines” – wines I’ll always try to keep stocked in the apartment for when guests come over. I’ll still experiment and try different things, but these two represent the tastiest I’ve found so far.

Vina Borgia Grenache. This wine is from Borja, Spain and tends toward the sweet, fruity end of the red wine spectrum, slightly sweeter than merlot. I discovered this one by accident; one of the local bars was taking it off their wine list (why?) and the bartender gave me a half bottle to take home. Best bottle of red wine I’ve ever had, at any price. I can’t find it in any of the liquor stores downtown, but Joe’s in midtown has it – $7 a bottle or $13 for a magnum. An incredible value.

Lindeman’s Bin 65 Chardonnay. This is simultaneously light enough to be a great summer wine for the rooftop, yet fruity and full of flavor at the same time. It’s a blend from Australia, and is the most exported of all the Australian wines. Sells for $8-9 a bottle and $14-15 a magnum. Both Frank’s and Corkscrew downtown carry it.

Both of these wines are fully flavored, so they’re probably best standing alone rather than complementing a meal – although, next time I run into my caterer friend, I’ll ask him to recommend foods that each of these two wines will go well with (I’ll give him a sample of the grenache – he’s already tried the chardonnay).