Reader question

Question from one of my readers:

You’re highly complimentary of the Union Mission’s efforts to feed people (as evidenced by your recent dessert post), as well as clothe them and give them shelter. You’ve told us all they offer is free to those who check in for the day before 2 PM. So why are there so many people still eating out of trash cans and living on the streets Downtown?????

Great question.

My answer is based on personal observations only, not empirical data or interviews with Mission staff.

Let’s change “people” to “men” in the question above, because there is no women’s shelter Downtown that offers an array of services comparable to what the Mission offers men. And there needs to be.

One reason some men find staying at the Mission is not for them is they find the rules too restrictive. I’ll give you an example: If you play music or video with sound on your phone, you must use headphones. It’s a totally sensible rule, designed to prevent a guest from disturbing others. But some men don’t want to obey it.

A second big reason many men turn down opportunities to stay at the Mission is that you can’t bring alcohol or drugs in, and you can’t be obviously under the influence when you check in. If you get in for free and stay the night, you’re there from at least 2 PM to 5:30 AM. 15.5 hours is a long time for an alcoholic to go without a drink, or an addict to go without using.

A third reason is some men don’t want to attend the mandatory chapel service. Believe me, I sympathize with this point of view; if I had the option of skipping chapel, I would. But it’s a trade I’m willing to make for a hot dinner and a good night’s sleep in a safe environment.

A fourth reason some homeless men don’t stay at Union Mission is that they’ve been barred from coming in. On a previous stay there, they stole, fought, threatened another guest, blatantly refused to obey a supervisor, or committed some other egregious violation of the rules.

A fifth reason is fear of the unknown. Fear that the shelter will be unsafe, or filthy, or that the people running it will be abusive to the guests. These fears, which turned out to be completely unfounded, kept me from availing myself of the Mission’s services for about 7 weeks longer than I should have in December and January.

Sixth reason- Some homeless have mental health issues that are incompatible with a congregate shelter. For example, a man who wakes up screaming several times during the night. The Mission isn’t equipped to help him deal with his issues and he’d keep 40 other men from getting a good night’s sleep.

I’m sure there are other reasons as well, but these are the big ones that I have observed.

I’ve been offline and need a day to digest the Biden news. Back tomorrow.

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Sunday update

A man was shot at South Main and Pontotoc a little after 4 this morning following an argument. Seems like the police are getting a LOT of calls to that intersection lately.

There was also a fatal shooting at Beale and Ida B. Wells about 11 Saturday night.

Cops caught a man with a stolen gun on Beale Street Saturday morning.

Fox 13 has a look at the All-White Party held in Tom Lee Park last night.

It’s National Ice Cream Day. Celebrate at Margie’s 901.

The Grizzlies are hiring a marketing project manager and an A/V technician.

Memphis Medical District Collaborative seeks a real estate coordinator.

Back tomorrow with more news and a reader question.

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Friday update

As I was walking down the Main Street Mall this morning, I noticed a marker in the shape of a white cross in front of Downtown Walgreens. I went over to investigate.

Shoeshine (I think his real name was Dale) sat on that corner for as long as I’ve been a Downtowner. I never saw him bother people or ask anyone for anything. He just wanted to exist, to wave hello to his Downtown neighbors.

Rest in peace, sir.

NBA trade announcement:

  • Brooklyn Nets get Ziaire Williams, 2030 Grizzlies second-round draft pick
  • Memphis Grizzlies get Mamadi Diakite. This gets the Grizz $10 million under the luxury tax and $14 million under the first apron. It sets them up to re-sign Luke Kennard.

The CA has recommendations for where to watch the Olympics, and three of their picks are Downtown: Max’s Sports Bar, Loflin Yard, and Green Beetle.

Birdie’s is back open today and through the weekend so you can grab a drink and watch The Open Championship. Their sim-golf experience will be back online soon.

It’s National Daiquiri Day. A Call-a-Cab at Wet Willie’s is the way to celebrate.

It’s also Stick Out Your Tongue Day.

Bud Light has fallen to the third-best-selling beer in America. Mich Ultra climbed to second, and Modelo remains number one.

Bob Newhart has died at 94.

DJ Hush plays Eight & Sand Lounge tonight.

The DM has a preview of Memphis Made’s new taproom in The Edge. It overlooks The Ravine and has 16 beer taps. A game room will have video games and pinball.

The Cossitt Library is closed for the third consecutive day. So I decided to give the Cornelia Crenshaw Library at 531 Vance a try. I walked all the way over there in the sun and heat, only to be told by a maintenance man that Crenshaw is closed too – plumbing issues. So here I am, back at the Flying Saucer, spending money so I can use the Internet and charge my devices.

I seriously doubt I’ll have access to both Wi-Fi and a working power outlet to do a post tomorrow morning. I’ll be back when I get things figured out.

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Thur update #2: The Cossitt Library is unexpectedly closed again

STILL a power outage. This is the second day. That little library closes unexpectedly more than any institution I’ve ever seen. The closures aren’t the staff’s fault, but still, it’s frustrating. It means this post is gonna cost me $6.25 (cost of a Fire Sale + tip at Flying Saucer) rather than $0.00 to write.

Walking to the Saucer, I saw a car with license plate MUFF DVR. How did they get away with that?

Reminder: The Memphis Made taproom grand opening in The Edge is this Saturday from 1 to 10. The taproom is at the corner of Madison and Lauderdale. That’s sorta on my Saturday late afternoon walking route. Maybe I’ll stop by.

If you upgrade to VIP for Memphis Soul Remedy and DJ Jordan Rogers on the Peabody rooftop tonight, you’ll get a buffet of Mediterranean chicken kabobs, lamb meatballs, and red pepper hummus with pita bread.

Michael from Blind Bear, once upon a time the Easter Bunny, is now the Nestle Quik bunny. The man is a master of reinventing himself. He can’t get enough strawberry milk these days, according to one of his coworkers.

KIX on Beale: Travis Denning and Kelsey Hart play a free show in Handy Park tonight to celebrate the music series’ 20th anniversary.

All White Affair Festival, the annual Curtis Givens party, will be at Tom Lee Park this Saturday beginning at 4.

Front Street Deli, in addition to its sandwich menu, is being used to test a new concept called Pasta Cosa Nostra. Chef Nick Scott is said to be behind the pasta concept, while Chef Duncan Aiken masterminded the sandwiches.

The liquor rep down the bar from me is discussing peanut butter-flavored tequila. YUCK

Hulk Hogan, Kid Rock, and Dana White will speak prior to the Trumpster at the Republican convention tonight. My God what a lineup.

That’s all. No idea if the library will be open for me to do a post tomorrow.

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Wednesday/Thursday update

This began as a Wednesday post but I didn’t have time to finish it and hit Publish. The Cossitt Library was unexpectedly closed (power outage) and a thunderstorm was threatening to move through any minute, forcing me to hightail it back to the Union Mission for cover.


You wanna know what the hardest part of staying at the Memphis Union Mission is?

For me, it’s walking past the Wendy’s at Danny Thomas and Washington and seeing they have the Triple Berry Frosty for a limited time and not stopping in to get one.

Really, though, the desserts served in the Mission dining room with dinner are not bad at all. Some recent examples:

  • Chocolate mint cake with chocolate chips
  • A cinnamon roll with lots of yummy icing
  • 5 Oreos – and the guy next to me didn’t want his, so, 10 Oreos. That was a good day.

I’m going to get one of those Frostys before summer ends, though. Maybe this Sunday…. And now, on to the news.

Ja Morant’s second signature sneaker will be out in October, just in time for the NBA regular season.

There’s an emergency need for Type O blood right now. Make an appointment at Vitalant to donate.

There were 22 arrests in MPD’s “Saturday Night Live” traffic crackdown last week. The effort focused on the intersection of B.B. King and Gayoso. Charges included DUI, disorderly conduct, and possession of a stolen gun.

Today (which was Wednesday when I typed this) is National Hot Dog Day.

Leadership Memphis seeks a President and CEO.


That’s what I got done before the thunderstorm. And now, here’s the rest of the Wednesday news and the Thursday news.

CodeCrew seeks a Director of Development.

Ingrid Andress has announced she’s going into rehab after singing the national anthem drunk at Major League Baseball’s Home Run Derby.

The Downtown Sheraton Hotel is hiring an Assistant Director of Finance.

Ars Technica explores why major earthquakes occur in the middle of the U.S.

That’s it for today… and yesterday.

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Ben Yay’s drink specials, puff painting + lots more Tuesday news

New Orleans-style restaurant Ben Yay’s has some awesome new drink specials, and here’s the cool thing- you don’t have to show up a particular day of the week or during the narrow window of a happy hour to get them. They’re OPEN TO CLOSE, EVERY DAY:

(Click image to view it in a larger size.) Ben Yay’s is on the Main Street Mall between Monroe and Union.

This morning I learned what “puff paint” is: It consists of

  • Elmer’s glue
  • Shaving cream
  • Food coloring

My friend showed me a picture of an ice cream cone her 7-year-old painted at vacation Bible school with puff paint. “The paint stays soft even after it dries,” she said.

Grind City Brewing will host Harry Potter trivia Wednesday at 6:30, and they’ve brewed Butterbeer and Poly Juice Potion for the occasion. $50 gift cards for 1st place and for best dressed team. $25 gift card for second place and a six-pack for third.

Blind Bear specials this week 

  • Tomato basil soup
  • Philly cheesesteak tortellini
  • Citrus honey glazed chicken breast 
  • Molten chocolate mini layer cake 

The team redeveloping 100 N. Main wants some more money… $1.8M of it.

Wiseacre seeks a front-of-house manager.

The Downtown Sheraton Hotel seeks an associate director of events.

Central Station Hotel is hiring a general manager.

The Redbirds will be back in town Friday, hosting the Iowa Cubs at 7:05 PM. The first 1500 fans will get a vintage-inspired snapback rope hat. There will be inflatables and face painting for kids on the left field bluff.

A cave has been discovered on the moon. It or others like it could be used as a base for astronauts in the future.

Birdie’s is closed through Wednesday as they upgrade their golf simulators. They’ll open again Thursday morning.

From Vox: How computers made poker a game for nerds

The Trumpster has made his veep pick: 39-year-old Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio. It’s believed Vance will appeal to voters in the Rust Belt swing states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

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

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Monday update

Folks, we lost two TV icons over the weekend. RIP sex doctor Dr. Ruth and fitness guru Richard Simmons.

And another one – Shannon Doherty. “Brenda” from 90210. It always happens in threes.

Vegan restaurant RawGirls is closing August 1 as its owners plan to leave Memphis.

The MLB Home Run Derby is tonight and it has a new format. 7 PM on ESPN.

POLITICO Playbook reports that the Trumpster will shift to a message of unity at the Republican convention this week. Ever the showman, Trump understands that his assassination attempt survival opens the door for a sympathy play.

I’ll make an outlandish veep prediction – Joe Manchin, senior senator from good ole West Virginny and DINO (Democrat In Name Only), completes his heel turn on his party this week and becomes the Trumpster’s running mate.

The urban burrito bike ministry that rides Saturday mornings and hands out food to the hungry had a supersized delegation this week. They were joined by Houstonians displaced by Hurricane Beryl.

Diamond Baseball Holdings, parent company of the Memphis Redbirds, seeks a marketing manager.

First Horizon seeks a marketing coordinator.

The heat index will approach the danger level of 105 today and tomorrow. Stay cool, everyone.

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Sunday update

The Trumpster was shot at Saturday at a rally in Pennsylvania. A bullet is believed to have grazed his ear, but he is fine. The Secret Service piled on top of Trump, protecting him, and the apparent shooter was killed.

The attempt happened just two days prior to the Republican National Convention, where the Trumpster will be named their nominee. We’ll also learn who Mr. Tangerine Man has picked as his vice-presidential running mate.

Memphis Soul Remedy, a band made up of doctors, nurses, and other lifesavers, headlines Thursday’s Peabody rooftop party.

The DM has a gallery of yesterday’s pole-vaulting competition on Beale.

S’mores-flavored ramen is a thing

Beale Street Bears looks at potential Grizzlies starting units.

Useful: 35 phrases to set boundaries firmly and fairly

Back tomorrow.

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Saturday update

Congratulations to Makeda’s Cookies, which has plans to expand to Atlanta in 2025. Visit Makeda’s Downtown Memphis location at 301 Jefferson.

The federal government is coming through with a huge grant to replace the I-55 Mississippi River bridge at Memphis. The new 55 bridge would be slightly south of the existing one.

Moneybagg Yo is opening a restaurant in the ReNew Riverview (99 N. Main) apartment building. It’ll be open for lunch and dinner.

It’s National French Fry Day. The Brass Door (where they’re called “chips”) and Flying Saucer would be my recs to celebrate.

Elmwood Cemetery will host a Memphis music history tour the afternoon of Saturday, July 21. $20 to attend.

Soulsville Foundation seeks a development manager.

Short on time today, gotta go.

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Thursday update

I stopped by Flying Saucer yesterday and had a Hi-Wire Vietnamese coffee beer.

At 8% ABV, it’s a beer that packs a punch.

While at the Saucer, I got the schedule for Belgian Beer Week next week.

There’s a beer on the Saucer’s Just Landed board called Tripping Animals Hop & The Penguins. Sounds like the name of a British Invasion band from 1966. A band that would’ve fit in with the Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields”/“Penny Lane” era and Pink Floyd during the Syd years.

KIX 106 Country on Beale returns tonight with Elvie Shane and Kylie Morgan. Free all-ages show in Handy Park. 7:30.

Sunset Jazz returns to Court Square Sunday with Stephen M. Lee from 6 to 8 PM. There will be food trucks and door prizes. You can bring blankets and lawn chairs.

The Hi Neighbor Cafe, under the wooden pavilion in Tom Lee Park near the Huling Avenue entrance, has new hours: 12 noon to 8 PM.

Penny Hardaway’s Memphis Tigers will host Arkansas State on December 8 at FedExForum.

The City of Memphis seeks a Creative & Cultural Economy Director.

Today is National Mojito Day.

If you happen to live in a city that has 7-Eleven locations, it’s also Free Slurpee Day. Free food? Wonder if the Nuh-Uh Girl will show up.

North Main brewery Soul & Spirits will have its 2nd annual book fair Saturday, August 10.

Action News 5 has a look at yesterday’s Alley Dayz event and how it’s part of the Downtown safety plan.

Craig Brewer’s first movie, The Poor & Hungry, is now available for free on YouTube.

That’s it for today. Reminder: There may not be a post tomorrow because I have lunch plans.

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