The latest trend in gang symbols

About 10 years ago, one of my hobbies was driving through the ‘hood (with windows up and doors locked) to look at gang graffiti. I’d see a lot of six-pointed stars, winged hearts, and pitchforks, signifying the Gangster Disciples; and five-pointed stars and canes, indicating the Vice Lords.

Somtimes the symbols would be more elaborate. A picture of a joint next to a dollar sign indicated “drugs for sale at this location.” The number 187 next to someone’s name was a death threat (187 is the California criminal code for homicide). A six-pointed star next to an exploding cane or exploding five-pointed star would indicate that the Gangster Disciples were declaring war on the Vice Lords (“6 poppin, 5 droppin”).

Well, Sunday I was talking with a friend at Sleep Out’s, and he told me that these days, gangs have a new way of identifying themselves: specialty license plates.

One gang apparently uses the Tennessee Walking Horse plate to indicate membership. My friend commented on seeing a tricked-out Caprice Classic with risers and spinner rims rolling down the street. “You know he ain’t got no damn horse,” he said.

Another gang uses the Tennessee Arts Commission Fish plate to mark their vehicles. Not sure which gang goes with which plate.

So the next time you see one of those plates, it may not indicate that the driver has a love for horses or the arts, but rather a love for crack cocaine, bling bling, ho’s, and 9 mm semiautomatic pistols.

Wednesday evening update

– This blog broke the threshold of 100 visits per day for the first time this week, with 139 hits on Monday and another 110 on Tuesday. Recently I was looking at the entry where I posted pics of the Romanians, which would have been mid-September, and speculated that the pics of pretty girls might bump the visits per day to 30-35. This thing has really caught on for some reason…

– An organization called Diversity Memphis was featured Monday in the Commercial Appeal. Looks like a good group, providing a viewpoint that is much needed in a city that badly needs to embrace racial and cultural differences. Here’s a link to their site.

– A few weeks ago I posted a blog entry about downtown attorney Stephanie Calvert, and offered a memory trick – Lord Calvert is what the bums drink, and Stephanie Calvert is the person to go to for legal advice. Well, as it turns out there’s more of a connection there than I realized. The real-life Lord Calvert founded the colony of Maryland, and the Calvert family seal is Maryland’s state flag. Perhaps Stephanie should hand out miniature bottles of Lord Calvert with her business cards. Every bum in town would want her as their lawyer.

– Had a really good time at Drinking Liberally at Sleep Out’s last night. It made a few of us wonder if downtown is ready for its own chapter of Drinking Liberally, independent of the one that meets in Midtown. I mean, when I first heard about the organization, I meant to attend at least a couple of times a month. But how often have I actually been to the Midtown meetings? Once. It’s just a matter of logistics – if I drove my car there I’d have to limit myself to one beer so I’m not driving home drunk (and that’s no fun). I could ride my bike out there, but that’s an awful lot of work. If there were a chapter downtown I’d go all the time. A few of us are talking about it, we’ll see what happens…

– The latest news on planned upgrades for Sleep Out’s: New sound system, new big screen plasma TV (yes!), Guinness on tap (they better not get rid of the PBR to make that happen), new barstools (BADLY needed), and NTN Trivia. NTN Trivia is not like trivia night at the Saucer and Mulligan’s where there’s a human announcing the questions… instead, it’s computer-controlled, you get a keypad to play on, and a new game starts every half hour. When I was a corporate trainer traveling out of town, I played it a few times. It’s highly addictive. Sleep Out’s made a good move getting it – people will stay longer and run up bigger bar tabs.

– Speaking of Sleep Out’s… if you’re looking for a place to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday, it would be a good choice. They’ll have beer specials and I think I saw a sign saying free hot dogs and popcorn. They will also be drawing for some AWESOME prizes. However, I won’t make it to Sleep Out’s for very long that day, because I’ve been invited to a Super Bowl party at Barton Flats. At some point I may take a break for half an hour to walk over there and enjoy one of Lisa’s bloody marys.

– Ow! I think I knocked out a filling eating fajitas Monday night. My tooth hurt a little Tuesday, and I shouldn’t have eaten anything (which I knew would make it worse) but I had leftover food and it was too good to throw out. Well, I paid for it today – the tooth hurt like hell and by 2:00 I had to tell the boss I needed to take the rest of the day off. When I’m in pain, there’s nothing worse than sitting in a cubicle counting the minutes until quitting time. So I came home and tried various attempts to make the pain go away. Advil (I now have Advil that’s not past the expiration date)… didn’t work. Anbesol… didn’t work. Ice… didn’t work. By late afternoon I was practically screaming in pain, and starving. But I realized ice cream was about the only thing I could eat (I really wanted Gus’s chicken but knew better), so I walked to Walgreens. Half an hour later I had finished a pint of chocolate mint, and the tooth pain was gone. Hopefully a good night’s sleep will put an end to the pain for good, and I’ll avoid an unwanted trip to the dentist.

Pink flamingos

I just got home from Drinking Liberally at Sleep Out’s and I can honestly I don’t remember one damn word of Bush’s speech. We played the State of the Union Drinking Game. I had 4 PBRs, then I got smart and just ordered a pitcher.

The artist I mentioned in the post from a couple of days ago is Lawrence Edwards. The particular piece I referred to, with the flamingos and pigs on the roller coaster, is Night Carnival (1999). If anyone wants to buy me a piece of his work, in appreciation for all this blogging, I’ll accept it.

Thanks to dwayne Butcher for the info.

I’ll be hung over tomorrow, so if I post anything intelligent it will be a surprise.

Looking for an IT job?

The following ad appeared in Sunday’s Commercial Appeal:

WEB PROGRAMMER/ DATA ANALYST National Advertising Services Company currently has the following opening in our IT Department for a Web Programmer/Data Analyst. Qualified candidate will work with IT Manager and Client Services Manager to maintain and enhance high profile, high traffic Website with ASP classic and ASP.NET front end , and MS SQL Server backend. Qualified candidate will have substantial practical experience with these technologies, and should include specific description of such in response to this posting. Email or mail resumes to: The Advertising Checking Bureau, Inc. 1610 Century Center Pkwy., Ste. 104. Memphis, TN. 38134 No Phone calls/EOE

This is the company I work for, an open position that is equivalent to mine. The company has a very laid-back atmosphere – we wear jeans to work most days, business casual when clients are in the office. It’s a 7.5 hour work day – I usually get in at 9:00 and leave at 5:00 with a ~30 minute lunch. In the year and a half I’ve been here, there have been very few instances in which I have had to work overtime (although it can happen when we take on new clients or roll out new programs). The boss is a very good about giving you projects that will help you grow as a programmer. Most likely you’d be developing rebate and spiff web applications for major companies. Some of our clients include GM, Panasonic, Whirlpool, Xerox, and Shell. Our office is in a corporate office park near I-240 and Whitten Road. Pay tends to be about average, but this is a great place to learn and is about as free of stress as you can hope to find in a corporate setting.

So if you’re looking for an IT job, I encourage you to apply. If you have questions you can shoot them to paul at paulryburn dot com.

Tastings: A Wine Experience

Recently a couple of friends of mine returned from a trip to St.Petersburg, and they told me about a very interesting place they visited down there. It’s called Tastings, and it’s a wine bar – but it’s different from any wine bar we have here in Memphis.

The atmosphere, they tell me, is much like Le Chardonnay here – comfortable, with couches and chairs, very easygoing, conducive to conversation as you sip your wine. But the difference is how you go about getting your wine.

When you go in, you put money on a debit card, much like you would to use the copier at Kinko’s. Then you get a glass and go to one of the kiosks found throughout the restaurant. The kiosks offer various wines – merlots, cabernets, chardonnays, etc. When you decide on the one you want, you insert your debit card and the kiosk pours an ounce of that wine.

The prices of the wine samples vary. A cheap wine might be only a buck or two for a sample. A more expensive wine could run you $8.

There are stations where you can wash your glass out with water between tastings, and you can get a new glass if you don’t want to keep using the same one. There’s also a full bar where you can buy full glasses or bottles of the wines, and there’s a food menu. The kiosks offer a very diverse selection – over 120 wines to choose from, according to their website.

My friends were initially disappointed when their first samples dribbled out of the kiosk. These are experienced drinkers we’re talking about, and an ounce isn’t very much. But by the time they had spent 15, 18 dollars, they began to notice the effects. “Hey, we better slow down,” they said.

What a great idea. We need something like this in Memphis. As much as I love downtown, though, my intuition tells me this would work best in Midtown. Not sure if she still reads my blog, but if you do: ATTN TONYA: quit your job, move back to Memphis, let’s find a financial backer and open a franchise location of this place. We’d make a FORTUNE.

That is, if this place would even be allowed under Tennessee’s liquor laws, and I’m not sure it would. A bartender can cut you off when you’ve had enough; a debit card can’t. For that reason I’m not even sure it could get a license to operate here.

Hmmm… maybe I should drive down to St.Pete and do some research. No, that would take too much time, and I’m too busy at work to take off right now. Maybe I’ll do the next best thing and just buy a bunch of bottles of wine and drink them.

Link to website for Tastings: A Wine Experience

Drinking Liberally comes downtown

For one night only tomorrow night, Drinking Liberally will meet downtown at Sleep Out Louie’s. It will be a special event, as we watch Captain Dumbass – er, I mean, President Bush – fumble his way through the State of the Union address.

Drinking Liberally is a group of people who come together once a week to drink, socialize and discuss politics. They generally hold a liberal/progressive point of view but have been known to welcome open-minded Republicans (I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but there actually are some, I’ve met them) as well.

Event is at 7:30 pm Tuesday, January 31 at Sleep Out Louie’s, on Union between Front and Main downtown. There’s parking across the street at Parking Can Be Fun.

TRIVIA TEAM: Guess what, this means I’m going to miss another week.

Wine post still to come.

I can’t believe I’m promoting Valentine’s Day but…

A friend of mine who recently got her MBA from Pepperdine has made her first foray into the entrepeneurial world with Valentine Gift Boutique. She has partnered with sites like Red Envelope, Macy’s, 1-800-FLOWERS,, and more. You should be able to find whatever you need to take care of your Valentine’s Day gift-giving.

All right. Lunch break’s over, so back to work. I’ll be back this evening with a longer post, and this time I’ll even give you the theme in advance: wine.

Sunday night update

I made the 8-ball on the break today in a game of pool at the Saucer. (On bar tables it’s considered an automatic win if you make the 8 on the break.) Only the second time I’ve done that in my life. Hopefully that’s a sign of good luck for the week. Thanks to my friend Kenny for teaching me how to do the 8-ball break shot years ago: You hit the cue ball slightly above center, which puts “follow” on it. The cue ball hits the 1, then rolls forward and hits the 8.

I know you all are sick of hearing about the place by now, but I went back to Rio Loco today and ordered Juliza & Kristy’s Special – chicken, steak, pork ribs, shrimp, Mexican bacon and vegetables cooked fajita style. It’s more than enough food for two people and I was by myself. I had to box up two-thirds of it and take it home. Man it was good though. I wish I had thought to take a pic of it with my digital camera before I started to dig in. At least I have some good eatin’ to look forward to tomorrow.

People who went to the International Blues Challenge told me it was the best blues they had ever heard in their lives. I’m sorry that I didn’t make more of an effort to attend. Next year I’ll be there.

And now it’s Sunday night and I’m sitting at home enjoying my latest addiction, the History Channel. I just turn it on and watch whatever program is on as I do work on my laptop. I’m considering heading back up to the Saucer to visit my plate and my waitresses, but I kind of like the idea of getting a restful night’s sleep without alcohol coarsing through my system. That hasn’t happened in a while on a Sunday.

Well, this post certainly wasn’t one of my more interesting ones, but I have some good stuff planned for this week – I came up with 4 or 5 good blog ideas just over brunch this morning at Sleep Out’s. Gonna cover quite a variety of topics (there are actually OTHER THINGS to write about besides Mexican food and Romanians), so check back frequently this week.