Saturday update

The Shelby County Health Department issued Health Directive No. 9 Friday afternoon, and it is even more restrictive than the previous health directive. Limited-service restaurants (bars) and clubs must remain closed. Full-service restaurants must be prepared to show the paperwork they submitted the last time they applied for their license or had it renewed, proving that less than 50% of their total sales come from alcohol. Those full-service restaurants that cannot supply such proof of total sales vs. alcohol sales must close. This is apparently aimed at some businesses on Beale Street, which through a loophole in state law were able to be licensed as full-service restaurants despite alcohol counting for more than 50% of the total.

There are other new restrictions on full-service restaurants. First of all, bar areas will be once again closed for both seating and standing. Secondly, customers must be seated at a table and put a food order in before they are allowed to order alcohol. Also, food service for any individual or group seated at a table will be limited to two hours. Music (live or recorded) must be played at a level that can be talked over without people having to raise their voice.

The order goes into effect July 26, 2020 at midnight. Once again, I wish they would use 11:59 PM or 12:01 AM so the date isn’t ambiguous. I think they mean end of Sunday/beginning of Monday, but it could be interpreted as end of Saturday/beginning of Sunday.

According to a CA article, the Beale Street restaurants that will have to close because they don’t meet the 50% threshold include Silky’s, Mr. Handy’s Blues Hall, Club 152, and Coyote Ugly. Wait a minute… how in the ever-loving HELL are Wet Willie’s sales more food than alcohol? I mean, the food they serve there is actually pretty decent (years ago, I had a former student who worked there, which is how I know), but really, who goes there for FOOD?

Obviously this will further restrict my after-work and weekend activities. However, I am much less worried about how my social life is affected than I am about my three friends who still can’t operate their limited service restaurants Downtown.

And I’m worried especially worried about the employees of those three restaurants and the other 40 or so that were ordered to close except for take-out. I know well how it feels to have what it’s like to have a seemingly very stable source of income pulled out from under you. It happened to my mom in 1991 when the Arkansas Gazette closed, and I saw the emotional and mental struggles she went through. It happened to me in January 2018, and although it turned out to be the best thing that happened to me in a long time, I had to go through a lot of hard times before I got to that place of peace.

The worst thing for those employees has to be not knowing how long this will go on. If they could look into a crystal ball and see that limited service restaurants will be closed for 5 weeks, then the uncertainty would be removed. Then the time off could truly become a vacation, and they could do the things a service industry schedule never gives them time to do. Like going out west and hiking in the mountains. Doing some fishing. Going to the beach, if you can find one that’s open. Traveling to see family you haven’t seen in years. Going to a Memphis 901 FC game, if you can score tickets. Signing up for a free month trial of a streaming service and binge-watching everything you can.

However, there’s no end in sight. Local infectious disease expert Dr. Manoj Jain expects the average number of COVID-19 cases to continue to go up every month through November, peaking at about 670 new cases per day (currently we’re averaging about 400 per day). No doubt people are worrying, will the landlord work with me if I have to fall two months behind on my rent? What if an animal I own needs an operation that I can’t afford? How will I be able to hunt for jobs if my phone gets cut off? Having been through that kind of stuff myself, it breaks my heart to see a lot of really good people have to go through that due to a circumstance they couldn’t control.

On to the news… Memphis 901 FC hosts Charlotte Independence tonight at 7:30 at AutoZone Park. If you’re not one of the lucky 1000 to have tickets, you can watch the game on local TV station CW30.

Hey, cool! I just autoprogrammed my living room TV to make sure it picks up channel 30, and it’s now getting channel 7, Jackson, TN ABC/CBS affiliate WBBJ. What’s up Josh and Frenchie, I guess I’ll be keeping up with news from your neck of the woods now!

My apologies for not reminding my readers that the Grizzlies had a scrimmage streaming online yesterday afternoon. They looked like garbage against Philadelphia the first two 10-minute quarters, then nearly came all the way back. Kyle Anderson shoots threes now! Never saw that coming. Next scrimmage is Sunday night vs. The Beard, Russ, and the rest of the Houston Rockets, and you can stream it at 7 PM on grizzlies.com. Pete Pranica and Rob Fischer provide in-game commentary and Chris Vernon offers his thoughts at the half.

Wyly Bigger streams live from South Main Sounds tonight 5:30 to 7 PM.

If you want to support the National Civil Rights Museum and learn about an important figure of recent history, rent John Lewis: Good Trouble on Apple TV this weekend. The documentary chronicles the civil rights icon and later U.S. Representative’s fight for equality and justice.

Dinner and a show returns to Atomic Rose tonight. Dinner at 6, then at 7:30 there will be a viewing of the 1995 film To Wong Foo: Thanks for Everything. Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, and John Leguizamo star as three drag queens on a road trip.

This may be a little deep for a Saturday but I’m linking anyway because scientists are finally starting to get it. Could consciousness all come down to the way things vibrate?

From Chef Michael Patrick of Rizzo’s:

Hello,
We will be closing for a few days. Why are we closing you ask? Over the last 24 hours a employee called out sick feeling like they had some covid-19 symptons. His concern for his safety and the restaurants is just what we have been talking about since we opened back up. It is important to be a “circle of trust”. Especially in this Covid Environment we are currently in. This morning he has gone to get tested.
As a precautionary measure we will be closing over the next couple or few days until this employee gets their test results back.
We always want to do the right thing. We have taken all the necessary precautions, to keep our staff and the dining public safe when they enter this establishment. As they say you can never be to safe. With this being said we hope to get back to feeding you all very soon.
I will be posting again as soon as we know more. Love you Memphis. Stay strong, stay safe.

“Or until this employee gets their test results back…” You may be closed for a month, Chef.

Something I figured out yesterday: Doing a 20-count while washing hands is hard because most of us have trouble knowing how long a second is without looking at a watch with a second hand. However, if you do a 40-count without any pauses between the numbers, it works out to just about exactly 20 seconds.

From lifestyle website InsideHook: Threesomes may be on the rise during the pandemic

From Politico: 8 ways Election Day 2020 could be a disaster. I’ll give you the Cliffs Notes version:

  1. An uncontrolled pandemic
  2. A whirlwind of new technologies and new processes (remember the Iowa Dem caucus?)
  3. A drought of funding, causing a flood of delays
  4. A tidal wave of dislocated voters
  5. A storm of foreign attacks
  6. A blizzard of misinformation and disinformation
  7. Declining voter protections, increasing lawsuits, and no watchdog
  8. An unpredictable volcano in the Oval Office

All right, folks, Health Directive No. 9 is not in effect yet. So, my recommendation for today is to go out to your favorite full-service restaurant, sit at the bar, drink alcohol, and socialize. Since the school system is utterly fucked this fall, maybe do a shot in honor of each teacher you know. Just be sure to wear a mask, because that’s our ticket out of this year in hell. Also, if you discard a single-use disposable paper mask, be sure to place it in a proper trash receptacle. That’s it for now. I’m heading to Slider Inn Downtown at 11, then home in time to watch the 901 FC match. Back tomorrow with more news.

 

 

 

Friday update

Wiseacre Brewing Co. posted the following announcement to Instagram:

We’ve added Gotta Get Up to Get Down to the 12pk fam! We also have dock sales kegs available of Tiny Bomb, Ananda, GGU, Regular, Sands, and a few 5 gallon kegs of Lord Skylark. Our downtown facility will now just be open Fridays and Saturdays 3-8PM for pickup. Hours and details on Broad are staying the same for delivery + curbside pickup.

A zoning exception has been granted to allow a building at 7 Vance (at Wagner Place) to be renovated into 210 apartments. There was some concern by neighbors about increased traffic in the area, and a traffic light at Front and Vance was suggested. Maybe that would slow the weekend drag racers down.

Leadership 101:

A limited number of tickets to Memphis 901 FC‘s home match this Saturday will go on sale today at 10.

The Downtown Memphis Commission is considering offering a new pre-development grant to help businesses with expenses that pile up before the first shovel ever hits the ground: things like marketing assessments, environmental tests, and structural assessments.

From Chalkbeat Tennessee: I’m a teacher who survived COVID-19. I’m not ready to return to the classroom.

Grind City Brewery is unable to open its Taproom in the far north corner of Uptown, the Daily Memphian reports, because a utility pole stands in its way. A 3000 SF deck is sitting there, unable to be enjoyed by customers, because of the pole.

Local musician Jeff Hulett will play a virtual concert in Health Sciences Park today noon to 1.

54-year-old Mike Tyson makes a comeback in September in an 8-round exhibition match. Damn, he’s old enough to sit at the corner table at Max’s Sports Bar!

There was a lot going on in yesterday’s Shelby County COVID-19 Task Force update. Here’s a summary.

Mayor Strickland led off. He complimented Memphians on their vastly improved effort wearing masks recently. He said yesterday, Code Enforcement only received 3 complaints about masking while conducting 46 inspections and issuing 14 warnings and one summons. Since the mask ordinance went into effect, 214 violations have been found by Code Enforcement, and only one second summons has had to be issued for a business. Later in Q&A, Strickland said most businesses can be brought into compliance with education, but for those that refuse to comply, the city can issue fines and turn to the Health Department to shut businesses down.

Next up was city Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen. Chief McGowen explained that for now, the testing priority needs to be those who are displaying symptoms. He said that the lack of testing capacity, and the reason for backlogs, is supply chain issues not only locally, but around the nation and the world. He also said they are looking into saliva tests as a way to increase capacity (and not have to stick that damn swab 5 inches up people’s nose).

McGowen also said they are looking to bring on a testing czar to the task force, someone who lives and breathes COVID-19 testing and will leave no stone unturned.

Health Department Director Dr. Haushalter was up next. She said that the number of cases a day is about 400, which is significant, but it has leveled off the past week. Later in the questions she said the fact that it has leveled off might mean a less aggressive approach than if the number were still on the rise – it could be considered a “new normal.”

The average positivity rate for the past week has been above 15%, which is concerning. She said she has more concern over that number than the cumulative 9.8% positive rate since the pandemic came to Shelby County.

Haushalter commented on guidelines for opening schools. She said there are two sets of guidelines, one of which is issued by the American Academy of Physicians, calling for 3 to 6 feet of social distancing. which differs from the CDC’s guideline of 6 feet, period. She said the Health Department concurs with the CDC on social distancing in schools.

Next Haushalter discussed the difference between the terms “isolation” and “quarantine” as relates to the pandemic:

  • Isolation refers to people who have either tested positive for COVID-19 or have suspected cases with symptoms. The recommendation here is that people return to work after 10 days of isolating and 1 day of being symptom-free without medication (previously the guidance was 3 days). Those who are symptomatic may have to take 20 or more days to become symptom-free and should not return to work until they are. Managers are asked not to require a second COVID-19 test for employees to be able to return to work, to preserve testing capacity.
  • Quarantine only applies to people who are contacts – not ill, not diagnosed. If quarantined, you must take a 14-day break from regular activities, including work. Even if you test negative, you cannot return to work until the 15th day.

There has been a resolution to re-establish the Board of Health, which was abolished in 1911 when Boss Crump was mayor of Memphis. This would be a permanent body which would do complementary work to the Health Department. It would be made up of a diverse array of opinions, including

  • 2 physicians
  • 1 pharmacist
  • 1 nurse
  • 1 dentist
  • 1 veterinarian
  • 1 citizen

This would be unpaid positions, but would be considered positions of great prestige that would serve as career highlights. The board’s role would be “a voice for public health.” To some degree, the purpose of the board would be to remove politics and add perspective.

Haushalter gave the example of Nashville/Davidson County, which has a Board of Health. Through this board they passed menu labeling, getting them ahead of both the state in the nation in terms of addressing obesity.

Strickland was asked if he had heard anything about federal agents coming to Memphis as they have some other major cities, and he said, not a thing, not a rumor.

Dr. H was asked about contact tracing within schools. She said tracing would be similar to any other facility. Tracers will work closely with schools to identify whether the transmission happened within the school or in a household. Tracers will work with schools to do additional testing when there is clustering within a classroom. The Department will learn as the school year goes on and will hone their tracing practices in this setting.

Haushalter now believes they will need as many as 250 contact tracers. They will have dedicated teams focusing on key vulnerable populations, and intend to have a “point person” schools can turn to.

The CDC advises prioritizing whose contacts are traced, since the number of cases is so great that it’s impossible to trace them all. Pediatric cases were said to always be a priority.

At first I found it odd that no one asked about the lawsuit by limited service restaurants to reopen, but I suspect Mayor Strickland advised prior to the press conference that they could not comment on pending litigation.

The panel was offered a chance to make final comments. Haushalter noted that flu season will soon be upon us, and encouraged everyone to get vaccinated early this year.

Oh, THIS should be interesting. People gon’ have some ‘splainin’ to do.

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

Thursday update

Jerred Price, president of the Downtown Neighborhood Association, announced yesterday that following a meeting with City COO Doug McGowen and others, that Riverside Drive will re-open on a limited basis Monday-Friday beginning August 3. Originally, the plan was for Riverside to open when the city entered Phase 3. However, it looks like the concept of “phases” defined in the county’s April Back to Business plan no longer mean anything; indeed, the Back to Business website has been taken down.  All the cool kids have moved on and are talking about “tripwires” now.

Per mediation and Mayor Strickland, Riverside Drive will remain four lanes, and the weekend closures will be lifted once the COVID-19 pandemic has passed.

The city has released new outdoor dining guidelines to help restaurants allowed to be open under Health Directive No. 8 expand their capacity. If restaurant owners want to expand their capacity by putting dining tables on their own property, such as parking lots, they can go ahead and implement changes now. If they want to expand onto city property, such as sidewalks or even streets, they can submit a proposal to the Health Department. The main things that the Health Department will look for are social distancing, access for the disabled, and access to restaurant indoor restrooms.

What about restaurant owners not allowed to be open under Health Directive No. 8? Is the health department going to do anything to help them?

River Time Market and Deli on Court Square posted about a couple of new things yesterday.

Not a pretty picture, but I sampled out this today which will be a to go Lunch or Dinner Starting next Wednesday or Thursday with a side. This is a Drop Biscuit Chicken Dumpling. It went over big today – thanks everyone that came over and tried.

 

This will be a Friday Grab n Go ! Red Beans and Rice – Vegeterian/Vegan Friendly.

For those of you still having trouble with fruit flies, my neighbor recommended this Fruit Fly Goodbye killer that you pour down drains. He said they were on the increase at his place, and this stuff got rid of them in two days. Fruit flies and gnats breed in drain traps. Make the environment inhospitable, and they will go elsewhere.

The Memphis Flyer reports that the Humane Society is looking for people to foster animals, particularly kittens. The facility currently has 56 kittens out in foster homes, and cannot accept any more kittens without foster homes in place. Fostering does not cost you anything – all you do is commit to playing with cute kittens for two to four weeks while the Humane Society supplies you with blankets, towels, toys, litter, food and medical needs. For those furloughed or working from home during COVID-19, this could be the perfect addition to your life.

For those who travel, here’s the current seating protocol for every U.S. airline.

For those looking for something to do tonight, it’s Girls’ Night Out at Loflin Yard with half-price wine and cheeseboards for ladies. If you prefer to do something at home, check out Cerrito Virtual Trivia presented by Riverset Rye at 8:30.

Opinion piece by Local 24’s Richard Ransom: The move to rename Poplar between Front and Danny Thomas to Black Lives Matter Avenue has good intentions, but it’s not the right street to rename

It’s Major League Baseball’s Opening Day, with the New York Yankees visiting the Washington Nationals at 6, followed by the San Francisco Giants at the Los Angeles Dodgers at 9. Both games will be on ESPN. It’s a shame Max’s Sports Bar can’t be open.

That’s it. Remember, folks, the more you wear your masks, the more we can get back to normal regarding businesses and schools. Back tomorrow with more.

 

Wednesday update

This morning I found a fantastic smartphone app called GoVoteTN. You enter your address and it will show you a list of all races in the upcoming election. It will also show you polling locations, districts, and other useful information to know.

Bad news for the Memphis Grizzlies: Justise Winslow, who was projected to be the starting small forward for the team in the seeding games starting nine days from now, is out for the rest of the season with a hip injury. Winslow was acquired from the Miami Heat in a trade back in February, but had not played for the Grizz yet this season. I wonder what the plan will be now? Start Kyle Anderson at small forward? Or start DeAnthony Melton at shooting guard and move Dillon Brooks over to the 3 position?

The news from the COVID-19 task force meeting yesterday was mostly not good. Testing is near 100% of capacity and therefore they are asking that you only make an appointment for testing if

  • You’re displaying symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever, a dry cough, or loss of taste or smell; or
  • You’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 – meaning, you’ve been within 6 feet of them for 15 minutes or longer, or had direct contact such as hugging or kissing.

They are asking people who are not displaying symptoms to hold off on testing right now. Also, the Health Department is asking employers not to require a second test for employees quarantined due to a previous positive test to return to work. If the employee has been isolated for 10 days and has shown no symptoms for 3 days, the Health Department deems them safe to come back.

Health Department director Dr. Haushalter said in the noon press conference that she had an afternoon meeting scheduled to discuss “tripwires,” thresholds at which additional restrictions would be automatically triggered, with Mayor Harris and the other mayors in the county. She expected to have a draft document by next week. She stressed, however, that if we all wear masks or face coverings when out in public, none of the additional triggers will ever be hit.

Dr. H encouraged those who are awaiting testing results to start making a list of anyone they had been in contact with over the past 2 weeks. That will help contact tracers hit the ground running should the test come back positive.

The Rendezvous has once again closed its dining room due to the increased levels of spread of the coronavirus, They will remain open for take-out and their shipping kitchen will remain open.

The creation of a commission responsible for renaming streets was approved yesterday by the Memphis City Council. However, the renaming of Poplar between Front and Danny Thomas to Black Lives Matter Avenue was shelved and referred to the commission.

Stats site FiveThirtyEight has released its Major League Baseball predictions for 2020. For fans of the St. Louis Cardinals, parent team of the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds, the forecast is pretty blah. The Cards are given a 37% chance to make it to the postseason, a 21% chance to win their division, and 2% to win the World Series. Three of the four other teams in the National League Central, the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, and Milwaukee Brewers, are higher up in the list.

The Grizzlies invite their fans to wear Grizzlies gear as they walk, run, or bike the riverfront, then report the number of miles covered here. Collectively, the goal is for fans to cover the 831.4 miles from Memphis to Orlando so Memphis can “Be There for Tip-Off” on July 31. Look for updates on Facebook and Instagram. Once the 831.4 is achieved, those who participated will be entered into a drawing for some sweet prizes.

If you want to try a beer from Uptown’s new brewery Grind City Brewing Co., head to Slider Inn Downtown where they have Viva Las Lager on tap.

Downtown Neighborhood Association president Jerred Price is forming a new committee to save the Mud Island Amphitheater.

River Time Market & Deli on Court Square is now offering grab & go meals that are always fresh, never frozen, and for which there is no contact after cooking. Below is a photo of their slow cooked beef with rice:

That’s it for today. Let me once again encourage you to PLEASE WEAR YOUR MASKS so businesses in Memphis do not have to close again. Believe me, I don’t like wearing a mask any more than you do, but I certainly prefer it to a second lockdown, which is where we may be heading if the numbers continue to go in the wrong direction. Back tomorrow with more news.

Tuesday update

No ruling has been issued in the case of a group of limited service restaurants, including Downtown venues Blind Bear, Silly Goose, and Max’s Sports Bar, in their request for an injunction allowing them to remain open following their closure by the Shelby County Health Department as a measure to reduce spread of COVID-19. Counsel for the restaurants argued that the difference between limited service and full service restaurants – whether their sales are less than or more than 50% of food – is irrational as relates to the spread of the virus. Health Department director Dr. Haushalter said the department was acting on the advice of CDC officials who came down the week of July 4. The judge said that he does not want to rule yet on this case because a similar case will be heard before another judge next Monday.

Coverage by Action News 5 references photos of large crowds on Beale Street this past weekend.

A few hours down I-40, Nashville is gaining national attention after TMZ named the city No Mask-ville. Bar closure orders are being flouted there, and many people aren’t following social distancing and masking regulations and recommendations.

Not a Memphis or even a Tennessee thang but worth an embed in today’s post:

Patios are now back open for dine-in at two Aldo restaurants: Aldo’s Pizza Pies Downtown and Slider Inn Midtown. Of course, Slider Inn Downtown has had the air-conditioned inside open for dine-in the past couple of weeks. If I have a productive day today, I think I may reward myself with a visit to Downtown Slider for happy hour.

The parking lot at Tom Lee Park has been converted into a pop-up skate park with help from the folks at Society Skate Park and Contact Skate Shop.

From the Daily Memphian: Former Memphis Tiger Jeremiah Martin plans to take advantage of his NBA opportunity. After showing out in the early portion of the NBA G-League season, the Brooklyn Nets signed Martin to a two-way contract in January.

Very good Twitter thread on COVID-19 precautions by Republican Mississippi governor Tate Reeves. There is nothing wrong with admitting that we are dealing with incomplete information when it comes to the virus. Sometimes it is necessary to change course with the guidance issued to prevent spread.

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

 

Sunday update

For the first time in 18 years, I decided not to attend an event Downtown because I felt it was unsafe to walk there and back. My friends had their wedding party at Loflin Yard last night. However, the past couple of months I have read reports on Nextdoor of people drag racing down Front Street, sticking guns out of their car windows and shooting them in the air. Between that, the 108 degree feels-like temperature, and COVID-19, I decided the risk was a bit high.

Looks like I did the right thing. From Nextdoor this morning: “On the negative side, I did witness about 7 or 8 gunshots from one car directed at the one behind it at 11:25. Called 911 and gave particulars.” Another post encourages Downtowners to send photos and videos to Steve Shular at the mayor’s office: steve.shular@memphistn.gov

It was the day of the displaced bar regulars at Slider Inn Downtown yesterday. Us Bardog people got there and claimed the bar a few minutes after they opened at 11. For the second week in a row, I want to commend Slider Inn for how they run their restaurant. Around 3:30 yesterday, a large group came in, and I just knew that if they could have, they would have crowded the people sitting at the bar, impatient for drinks, not caring about social distance at all. However, the hostess stopped them, and showed them all to seats. Since their group was larger than 6, she broke them up into two tables.

They’re doing Frito Pie as a side right now when you order three sliders! That is one heck of a good deal.

Memphis 901 FC picked up a point in league standings in their away match against Atlanta United 2 which ended in a 2-2 draw. Their next match is at home on Saturday.

If you want to get an idea of what Cerrito Trivia’s Matching in Memphis is like, they released a video of their July 17 game.

Staying home today, other than runs to Family Dollar and Walgreens. Sundays tend to bring out too many people who disregard COVID-19 regulations. Back tomorrow with more news.

Saturday update

I want to start off this post by saying congratulations to two of the most beautiful people I know, Alex and Mary, who tie the knot today. I’m sure the ceremony officiated by Rev. B-RAD will mark the start of a long and happy life together. I will try to make it to the party tonight, although I have plans with friends earlier in the day so we’ll have to see if I’m still standing by evening. Good news is, my plans with friends are at a full-service restaurant so there’s no chance I can catch COVID-19 there.

Bleacher Report has been doing a “30 Teams, 30 Days” analysis of each NBA team prior to the restart of the 2019-20 season, and by all means you should read Ja Morant Changes Everything, the piece about the Memphis Grizzlies. Ja has become a part of his community, dining at places like Arcade Restaurant, Huey’s and Majestic Grille. Even the Majestic owners’ son Seamus got a mention.

Fans – about 1000 of them – will be allowed in AutoZone Park for Memphis 901 FC’s home opener vs. Charlotte on the 25th. The seats will be an extra-safe 12 feet apart, double the normal social distancing recommendation. There will be temperature checks, digital tickets, limited concessions, and staggered exits to help keep everyone safe. Small clutch purses will be allowed but bags won’t. Season ticket holders will have first shot at the 1000 tickets.

Atomic Rose has dinner and a show tonight. Join them at 6 for dinner, then a viewing of Rocky Horror Picture Show at 7:30. This is a 21-and-up venue.

Due to COVID-19 ruining everything, there will be no live performances for Elvis Week this year. A virtual Elvis Experience pack will be sold for $50.

You just can’t fix stupid: A Utah meeting about masks in schools had to be postponed when almost no one showed up in a mask. Meanwhile, teachers are so worried about returning to school that they’re preparing wills.

AARP did an investigation into who hoarded toilet paper during the pandemic. The culprits tend to be older, worry warts, and those with highly “conscientious” personalities. Damn. If my mom were still alive, she’d probably have 200 rolls stuffed in her closet.

The world is going to have a new continent and ocean in only 5 to 10 million years. Water from the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden will flood a basin, separating Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya from the rest of Africa. This 2018 article has more details. Shall we start a naming contest for the new continent and ocean?

There’s a proposal in City Council to rename Poplar between Front and Danny Thomas, which would include the portion of Poplar that runs past the jail, to Black Lives Matter Avenue. I support this one million percent!

The Grizzlies have released their television schedule for the remainder of the 2019-20 season. They will play three scrimmages and all will be broadcast live on grizzlies.com with commentary by Pete Pranica. The scrimmages are

  • Friday, July 24, 2:30 PM, Philadelphia 76ers
  • Sunday, July 26, 7 PM, Houston Rockets
  • Tuesday, July 28, 1 PM, Miami Heat

All 8 seeding games will be broadcast on Fox Sports Southeast, but the following games will also be televised nationally:

  • July 31, 3 PM, vs. Portland Trail Blazers (NBATV)
  • August 3, 5:30 PM, vs. New Orleans Pelicans (ESPN; no doubt because of Zion vs. Ja)
  • August 7, 3 PM, Oklahoma City Thunder (NBATV)
  • August 11, 5:30 PM, Boston Celtics (TNT)

For those on Xfinity, Fox Sports Southeast was moved to a different tier of channels earlier this year, so you might want to check if you have it in advance of the start of the season.

The Cousins Maine Lobster food truck is at the Memphis Farmers Market this morning… although, I will once again remind folks that you can get a mighty fine lobster roll anytime a few blocks away at Slider Inn.

Blind Mississippi Morris plays Blues City Cafe at 5.

Well, they closed my rooftop last night. It was the absolute proper thing to do, because they had a positive test in the building. On the positive side, they finally fixed my air right, and it’s below 70 in my apartment for the first time in July. I slept well last night.

Yesterday I tried a couple of menu items from STIX. This time I ventured beyond hibachi and got creative in my choices.

Above are the sushi tacos, tuna tataki and avocado topped with spicy aioli and sweet soy, in a crunchy wonton shell. You get 2 of them for $5.

This is their shrimp bun, crispy shrimp tempura in a creamy, spicy sauce with apple ginger slaw on an Asian bun. You eat it like you would a soft taco. You can get one for $5 or two for $9.

I need to get super rich so I can donate $10 million to a university and get naming rights for a building or large lecture hall. Imagine your kids starting the fall semester and having a class in the Perjorie T. Roll Hall of Academic Achievement. You know I’d do it too… now I just have to figure out where to get $10 million. Launder money for Russians?

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

Friday update

A new grocery delivery service, Bluff City Greens, has the potential to be a game-changer for those Downtown, on Mud Island, and in Soulsville. This is an employee-owned grocery delivery service. You pick what you want online, and they do the rest. Their selection is quite extensive and includes a lot of items you can’t find at Walgreens, Family Dollar, and City Market. Really, their selection reminds me of a combination of the former Jack’s Food Store and Easy Way at Main and Jefferson. There’s free delivery on your first order. After that delivery is $3.99 (Downtown) or $0.99 (Soulsville).

This is a game-changer for Downtowners who don’t have a  vehicle, or who have a vehicle they’d get rid of if not for runs to Kroger. It’s also a game-changer for South Memphis, which Bluff City Greens wants to expand into as they hire more delivery drivers to address food desert issues in that neighborhood.

A hearing for bars limited service restaurants closed by the Shelby County Health Department has been rescheduled for Monday. The bars seek an injunction allowing them to reopen as they build a case to show that they are no more the cause of COVID-19 than full service restaurants. Judge McCalla will hear the case at 2 Monday. The rescheduling allows two separate lawsuits to be combined.

Recap of the COVID-19 task force press conference yesterday: Health Department director Dr. Alisa Haushalter said it is now taking 5-7 days to get reports of new cases back from the labs. This makes it harder to do contact tracing, because those infected have been infected for up to a week before the Health Department is informed. It also makes it more important to look at a 7-day rolling average of new cases, since the number of new cases on any one day cannot be assumed to be yesterday’s tests.

She said the task force is working on “trip wires” on advice from the CDC. These are conditions under which new restrictions would be automatically triggered, speeding up the process of implementing them, if certain thresholds were crossed. She said they expect to have a draft of what the trip wires will look like in 1 to 1½ weeks. A reporter asked if Haushalter could give an example of a potential trip wire. Haushalter did not want to, because she wanted yesterday’s message to remain on masking. If we get more Memphians to cover their faces, she said, none of these trip wires will ever get triggered. She did say the trip wires would be a “laser-focused approach” that would have the most impact.

Haushalter said the results are preliminary at this point, but so far we are not seeing as big an impact from people going out and socializing on the July 4 weekend as we had around Memorial Day.

Mayor Strickland took the stage to present some data. Since the making ordinance went into effect, the city has received 324 complaints about lack of masking in area businesses. Investigation by Code Enforcement officials found 229 of those businesses to be in compliance, 124 warnings were issued, and two businesses were issued summons to court, meaning they had three strikes. One of those businesses was a Kroger, which will nationally implement mandatory masking for customers starting Wednesday. The other was a neighborhood market. Strickland said those businesses as well as convenience stores are the subject of many complaints.

Strickland said there has been a big improvement in the number of Memphians wearing masks, and echoed that statement in his daily COVID-19 online update, encouraging everyone to keep it up. Hey, remember when Haushalter announced the closing of the bars limited service restaurants? She said the restrictions didn’t have to stay in place for long if we did better on masking. Well, we’re doing better, so…….. ?

Strickland said the city and county are working on reducing the amount of time you have to wait in line to be tested. He encouraged anyone who is symptomatic to not let the wait in line discourage you from being tested.

This wasn’t discussed in yesterday’s press conference, but UPI reports (UPI still exists?) that a COVID-19 vaccine candidate is looking really strong and enters its third phase of testing next week.

Early voting for the August elections begins today and continues through August 1. You can early vote at any location and here’s a list. Downtowners will want to go to the location at Poplar and Second. It’s open 9-5 Monday-Friday, 10-4 Saturdays, and 8-4 the final day of early voting Saturday, August 1. Note that if you vote absentee, you MUST mail your ballot to the Election Commission. You cannot hand-deliver it. If you do, your ballot will be stamped “not counted.”

The Daily Memphian’s Bill Dries is back with his outstanding ballot basics article.

The Commercial Appeal has an update on Cafe Lit that is coming to 111 Madison. The space will be part performance venue, part soul food restaurant. The owner plans to tell the story of African-American history through food, art, and entertainment. “Lit” is short for “literature” and African-American literature will be a major theme. The building was an Overstuffed Deli location years ago.

To my fellow Downtowners who spend their evenings on rooftops: Be on the lookout for a comet about 45 minutes after sunset. Space.com has viewing information. Bring binoculars if you have them.

There’s an open house at 266 Lofts apartments, 266 S. Front, today from 10 to 7. They’ll show off 266 as well as their other properties and there will be food and giveaways.

Yesterday I returned to STIX, this time to try something from their hibachi grill. After looking at the options, I selected the Sukiyaki steak. It comes with Julienned scallions, onions, carrots, broccoli, and steak tossed in teriyaki sauce. You can choose your temperature of meat (I chose medium rare) and your preferred rice (I got steamed; fried is $1 extra).

It was as delicious as it looks. It came with yum yum sauce (which Perjorie T. Roll is standing on) and soy sauce packets, which I poured on the rice.

Next up I plan on trying the shrimp steamed buns, the Asian versions of sandwiches. They sound good because they come with sriracha ginger slaw.

I ordered online, and don’t forget there’s a STIX901 promo code that’ll get you 10% off.

Time to put in some work and then the weekend is here. Back tomorrow with more news.

Thursday update

I hate to speak ill of a legend, but after watching last night’s match, I have to wonder whether it’s time for Memphis 901 FC to bring this “Tim Howard in Goal” experiment to an end. He looked sluggish last night against Birmingham, giving up 3 goals in 30 minutes. Having Howard as an active player was more of a marketing ploy to put butts in seats, and COVID-19 has prevented that from happening. Maybe it’s time for the next Memphis 901 FC goalkeeper to take over while having the best mentor he could possibly ask for.

Former Grizzly player and Tigers assistant coach Mike Miller has been introduced as the new head coach of Houston High boys’ basketball. He will coach his sons there. This is surely a stop on the way to an NCAA coaching career. Don’t high school coaches have to teach? How cool would it be to say that you have Coach Miller for third period P.E.?

For those wondering if Coach Penny still has the golden touch now that Mike Miller has left his coaching staff, wonder no more. Yesterday five-star center Moussa Cisse announced that he will reclassify to the class of 2020 and play for the Tigers this coming season if college basketball actually happens. He will help fill in a big hole in star power in the front court created when James Wiseman and Precious Achiuwa departed for the NBA.

Willie Nelson has rescheduled his Orpheum date for Monday, November 16. I wonder if the Orpheum takes out death insurance when a performer the age of Willie is booked?

Speaking of old people, the folks who own downtownolympics.com certainly took down their new website quickly after I linked to it in yesterday’s post! For those of you who missed it, it appeared to be a WordPress template for a company to which other companies outsource HR functions.

The Flyer’s Bruce V weighs in on the county’s plans to close the bars limited service restaurants and open the schools.

The Commercial Appeal asks if we will ever see buffets again. Marketing director Kelly Brock is interviewed about the Peabody’s brunch buffet, but there’s another reason Downtowners will want to click through to this article… SHORTY!!! The man who drew a crowd at the Silly Goose’s pasta bar for years has also drawn a crowd at Owen Brennan’s omelet bar for years.

Chef Michael Patrick of Rizzo’s was interviewed in this Fox 13 report of the Health Department looking for creative ways to allow restaurants to re-open at a higher capacity, including putting tables on sidewalks and parking lots.

You can get banned on some Facebook groups for talking about this, but this week Mendatius T. Roll and I tried the new Wendy’s Baconator flavored Pringles:

They’re good, but in no way do I think I’m eating a Baconator when I munch on them. Maybe Pringles will come out with a Mrs. B’s Sub flavored chip soon so Memphis Sandwich Clique will have something to talk about.

WMC Action News 5 has a look at the official report from the CDC’s visit to Memphis around the July 4 holiday. The report discusses the “trip wires” Health Department director Dr. Haushalter has talked about, conditions under which tighter restrictions would be immediately triggered. Dr. Haushalter is going to discuss the trip wires in today’s noon press conference.

Back tomorrow with more news, or later today if anything important comes up. WEAR YOUR MASKS!

 

Wednesday update

Memphis 901 FC kicks off the regular season tonight with an away game at Birmingham at 7 PM. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2. The soccer club released their TV schedule for the 2020 season.

Daily Memphian: Get to know the USL’s Group G

Apple has reached a settlement regarding slowing down of iPhones with older batteries, and if you were an iPhone user a few years ago, you may be eligible for a payment of up to $25.

I see the downtownolympics.com website has a new look…

The current debate on Facebook is about businesses going cashless. I can really see both sides of this discussion. On one hand, if a business does not operate in cash, robbers won’t have any incentive to hold the place up. Also, money is indeed dirty (I’m talking physically, not psychologically), even before you take the pandemic into consideration.

On the other hand, it seems like one more way the poor are (perhaps unintentionally) discriminated against. If those who don’t have a bank account want to buy from a cashless business, they have to go buy a prepaid debit card. They might have to pay $3.95 to load $50 on a card, so they’re paying an 8% premium for being poor. There needs to be a way to create a level playing field so poor people don’t get left further behind.

Another thing about cashless, what do you do when there are temporary card network outages? About a month ago, I went to pay my tab at Blind Bear, and my card got declined. No problem, I had cash. I had just deposited two checks, so I knew I had  plenty of funds, and the card worked the next morning at Walgreens. But, in the moment, how do cashless businesses handle that kind of thing?

Stix, the new Asian place on Second, is hiring a sushi chef. Here are the details:

We are looking for an energetic employee willing to learn how to be a highly-skilled sushi chef. The responsibilities include preparing rice, chopping and slicing various meats and vegetables. They should be detailed-oriented as you will be preparing orders and take into consideration food allergies. The sushi chef should be able to work well under pressure and maintain high quality standards for the dish being served.
Sushi chef responsibilities:
– Inspecting the quality of the ingredients used to prepare sushi (fish, vegetable and fruits)
– Prepare various sushi dished according to quality, portion, size, presentation and food safety
– Maintain clean work environment
– Sterilize all equipment before very use
– Effectively communicate with staff to ensure orders are prepared properly
Sushi chef requirements:
– High school diploma or GED
– Able to work under pressure
– Excellent customer service and time management skills
– Knowledge of food safety
– Stand for long periods of time

They also posted a link to their online ordering and said to use the coupon code STIX901 for 10% off.

I think I previously mentioned that @kendall_downing is a great Twitter account to follow if you can’t livestream the Tuesday/Thursday COVID-19 task force press conferences at work. Yesterday I found another one: @Local24Brad. Both of these guys start a thread for each press conference and tweet important announcements in pretty close to real time.

Uh oh, looks like one of South Main’s favorite bars may put its to-go operations on hiatus. Max’s Sports Bar posted the following last night:

Grab our signature blood orange margarita and dinner. We have some great sandwiches ready for pickup! This might be your last chance for a little while.

From Yahoo Sports: It’s time to face reality. No one is playing college football in the fall. Want to prove the analysts wrong? WEAR YOUR MASK!!!

My rooftop continues to be a fine alternative to the closed bars. My neighbors had extra food last night and made me a yummy plate:

I had eaten twice already yesterday, but I rarely say no when offered international food, particularly from a culture whose food I have never tried before. That’s Persian rice on the upper left and Persian brisket/corned beef on the lower left, along with BBQ chicken and a marinated tomato. Yummy. Thanks everyone for dinner! I am dealing with this round of the bars being closed much better than the first days of the house arrest back in March.

There was a shooting inside the Exchange Building at Second and Madison around 3 this morning.

Ever woke up from a dream, and been ashamed of the person you were in the dream? I dreamed I volunteered at a Donald Trump rally. Trump himself checked me in, looking up the origins of my name to determine my value to his campaign. “Paul… good Biblical name dating back to Roman times. Welcome aboard, Paul.” I got the sense I would not have been as welcome if my name was Amir or Devonte.

Today’s the deadline to file your taxes if you haven’t done so already.

Wonder what’s going to happen to Halloween this year? It could be a big spreading point for COVID-19. Even if bars and clubs are closed, or are open but banned from having Halloween parties, there will still be house parties all over the city. Education seems like the Health Department’s only tool in that fight, but how do you educate people who can’t be educated? Really, not just with respect to Halloween, that’s the million dollar question for the Health Department right now.

Time to go to work. Back tomorrow with more news.