Monday update: Professional soccer comes to Memphis and more news

There will be a big announcement at AutoZone Park today at 4, welcoming professional soccer to Memphis. Fans are invited to the Brass Door at 3 for a few drinks, then over to the ballpark for the press conference. Details here. Follow the soccer league’s Memphis team on Twitter and Instragram at @uslmemphis.

If you’re going to WWE Monday Night Raw at FedExForum tonight, here’s a preview. The only title match announced is Enzo Amore defending the cruiserweight title against Cedric Alexander. In case anyone is wondering, I’m not going. RAW hasn’t been a great show lately and for the life of me I don’t understand what 50-year-old Kane is doing in the main event.

The South Main Association will have its monthly member meeting tomorrow at Carolina Watershed, the new bar and restaurant at 141 E. Carolina. Hear how the people behind Loflin Yard renovated this space. Featured speakers at the event will be Jennifer Oswalt, who runs DMC, and Penelope Huston, DMC vice president of marketing and communication. Topics include exciting developments Downtown, how the DMC and SMA can continue to work together, the proposed open container ordinance, and there will be a Q&A. Social at 6, presentation at 6:30. The meeting is free for members and $10 for guests.

The Memphis Medical District Collaborative will hold a day of service on MLK Day next Monday and is seeking volunteers to help clean up Morris Park at Poplar and Manassas. Two shifts are available: 10 to noon and 2 to 4. Please note which shift you prefer when registering.

The College Football National Championship Game is tonight on ESPN at 7. Georgia vs. Bama. I like both schools equally and will simply be rooting for good football.

Justin Timberlake has announced a May 30 concert date at FedExForum.

Drinks with Dems is coming Downtown. It will be Wednesday, January 24 from 5:30 to 8:30 at the Brass Door, and subsequent events will be held the fourth Wednesday of every month. Progressives, liberals, Democrats, and those resisting the administration of The Stable Genius are invited to attend.

Doesn’t The Stable Genius sound like the kind of name that would be given to the leader of an authoritarian regime? Kind of like Kim Il-sung was The Great Leader, Kim Jong-il was The Dear Leader, and when Kim Jong-un was being vetted as Kim Jong-il’s successor, the media referred to him as The Young General.

That’s it for now. I plan on watching Georgia-Bama at Blind Bear. Back tomorrow with more news.

Sunday update: Eduardo’s @ Las Margaritas, Jeff Jarrett, Grizzlies, soccer in Memphis

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to have lunch with my BBQ teammate who spends the most time in the kitchen of anyone on the team.

My troll spends anywhere from 10 to 20 hours a day standing on my kitchen counter staring at the wall, logging the most hours of anyone on the team. We have her disguised as Deputy Director of Public Relations so other teams won’t be aware how much time she’s putting in. She’s our secret weapon.

So anyway, we were dining at Las Margaritas yesterday, and I noticed a menu item called Eduardo’s. It’s your choice of chicken, steak or shrimp cooked with red peppers, squash, zucchini, onions, and carrots on a bed of rice topped with cheese. “We strongly recommend this dish,” it says on the menu. Taking the recommendation, I ordered Eduardo’s with the steak.

I’m learning to stray away from what I grew up knowing as Mexican – some combination of burrito, enchilada, taco, rice and beans – and experiment a bit. Eduardo’s was very good and I see why they recommend it. I’m down with some cheesy rice anytime.

In future trips back I want to explore two other dishes which seem to be Las Margaritas’ signature. One is three tacos with your choice of meat and grilled vegetables and melted cheese with Taco Roc seasoning on corn or flour tortillas. The other signature dish is a baked potato topped with salsa, shrimp and chicken fajita meat, grilled bell peppers, onion, butter, sour cream, and white or nacho cheese. I hope to convince my preferred dining partner to pry herself away from the kitchen for an hour to assist me in trying these.

Let’s move on to the news. The Grizzlyweight Championship changed hands at Wrestling Night with the Grizzlies Friday night at FedExForum. Jerry “The King” Lawler wrestled Jeff Jarrett in what looked to be a tiny 12-foot ring at halftime. Lawler dominated Double J with an array of punches, but Jarrett shoved Lawler into the ref. Jarrett then retrieved his guitar and whacked Lawler with it. Jarrett then went for the cover and the ref, still groggy from the bump, counted one, two, three, giving Jarrett the title. Radio host Kevin Cerrito has video here.

The Grizzlies lost to the Washington Wizards 102-100. The Grizzlies are next-to-last place in the West and in line for a good lottery pick. Don’t be surprised if the Grizzlies trade Tyreke Evans for an additional pick or young talent here in the near future. It will suck to see him go but he has overperformed and the Grizz need to get value in exchange for him.

A celebration of soccer in Memphis is set to happen at The Brass Door at 2 tomorrow. At that time there will be an announcement about the future of soccer in this city.

Interesting revelation in the Russia investigation yesterday. Most of you have probably heard about the June 9, 2016 meeting in which Don Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort met with Russians. Well, now it has been revealed that after the meeting, IVANKA exchanged pleasantries with the Russians in the lobby of Trump Tower. “Exchanged pleasantries” implies that she knew them previously, and Mueller wants to know why. From what I’ve read, as many as 7 indictments or criminal pleas could rain down within the next month. Sure would be sweet if Kremlin Barbie is among them!

Sunday Fun Day! Back tomorrow with more news.

Saturday update: Big party at Max’s Sports Bar a week from today

Max’s Sports Bar recently turned 10, but their 10th birthday fell on New Year’s Eve, a rather awkward evening to have a celebration and surely a night when many of their regulars would have other plans. So they deferred the celebration to two weeks later, Saturday, January 13.

PRO TIP: Anytime you see “Food by Glaze” at Max’s, come hungry.

Friends for Life is throwing a big gay dance party at Stop 345 tonight. Ticket includes unlimited keg beer from local breweries. There will also be a cash bar. There’s also a VIP ticket that gets you open bar.

The Memphis Tigers men’s basketball team hosts Tulsa at 3 this afternoon at FedExForum. Oh reminds me… let me share a story with you I heard on GP’s 4 Notable Stories at 4:44 yesterday. Antonio Anderson, who played for the best Tiger’s basketball team in school history (the one that got to the NCAA finals) and who played the most games of anyone on the team all 4 years he was here, was going to be in New York City the day of the Memphis-Louisville game at Madison Square Garden. He called the U of M athletic department and said he’d be in town, and asked if he could get tickets. He was told he had to BUY the tickets. WTF? Any reasonable head coach would have got him tickets AND an invitation to the locker room to speak to the players.

Gary Parrish went on to say that Tiger alumni Anderson, Chris Douglas-Roberts, and Derrick Rose contacted the university and said if they could do anything for the men’s basketball program, they would. They got no response. Again, WTF. That’s it. I’m done with Tubby. He doesn’t get Memphis basketball in the least.

Bleus (& Blues) & Brews returns to Wiseacre on Saturday, January 27. The taproom opens at 1, but at 2 and 4 they’ll have pairings of blue cheeses from around the world with Wiseacre beers. In the evening, a blues duo featuring TO Crivens will play and there will be no cover. Tickets to the cheese and beer pairings are $20 and include a short brewery tour. Purchase tickets here.

Regina’s Cajun Kitchen at 60 N. Main has announced that breakfast will be available 8-10:30 AM Tuesday-Saturday starting January 9.

MemphisWeather.net has forecast highs of near 60 Wednesday and lower 60s Thursday. That is going to feel so good!

I feel the need to say a few words about Jason Doty, recently sentenced to 25 years without parole for assault and neglect of his 3-month-old son. Jason reached out to me in 2012 on Twitter and struck me as a friendly fellow trying to make a name for himself in the Memphis food scene. He introduced himself as a big fan of my blog, and a baker at Bluff City Coffee. He asked my help getting the word out about food and events he was associated with. I told him I’m all about promoting good things happening in my neighborhood, so absolutely. He sent me a friend request on Facebook, and although I had never met him in person I felt completely comfortable accepting. I heard about random acts of kindness associated with Jason, of him randomly showing up at offices Downtown with gifts of muffins and baked goods. When he announced he’d be opening a bakery in Midtown, I hoped for his success.

But then I began to hear things. Or rather, read things. People started posting on Twitter that Jason had a history of violence against women. Now, when I heard the first claim, I dismissed it. But many other women tweeted similar stories. Some of the women were friends of mine in real life. Others were women I had never met, but their reputation on Twitter was solid to the point that I took their claims very seriously. I unfriended Jason on Facebook, never mentioned anything he was involved with on my blog again, and had no further contact with him. In an early #MeToo victory, the combined force of the women on social media convinced his investors to pull out of the bakery they had planned.

Since his recent conviction, I have learned that other people, people well-respected in the community and who I would in most cases consider good judges of character were fooled by Jason too. He reached out to them, as he did me, and put on a friendly face, investing time and even money into their endeavors. They were as shocked as I was when the accusations came out. It’s a lesson to be remembered – sometimes the most awful people on the inside can be the most charming on the outside.

In recent years (and in part because of who occupies the White House) I’ve done a good bit of reading about how to recognize a sociopath. I’m not saying Jason is a sociopath, because I do not have the clinical degrees and experience to make that diagnosis. However, I would encourage all of you to do some reading on this topic. It might save you a lot of grief and energy further on down the road.

All right, time for me to go put in some hours of service at an animal-related organization ’round the corner. I’m all about the service, you know. Back tomorrow with more news.

Friday update

Yay! My copy of Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House dropped to my Kindle app. Can’t wait to start reading it. For those of you who prefer to hold a physical book in your hands, South Main Book Juggler will have it in stock as soon as their distributor drops it off.

It’s Wrestling Night at the Grizzlies with a match for the Grizzlyweight world championship belt at halftime, an appearance by Jerry “The King” Lawler, and a crown for the first 5000 fans. 8:30 PM tip-off.

Drizly, an online alcohol market, is now operating in Memphis. Order beer, liquor, or wine online via the app and it will be delivered to your door within an hour. Downtown is among the neighborhoods covered. Drizly’s partners in Memphis are Buster’s and Arthur’s.

There will be two public meetings on Thursday, January 11, at 3 and 5:30 PM about the proposed amendment to the open container ordinance at One Commerce Square, corner of Monroe and Main. Currently, open containers in public are only allowed in the Beale entertainment district. The amendment would make open containers legal on Main from A.W. Willis to G.E. Patterson. The intent of the amendment is to add vibrancy to Downtown and increase commerce. At the meetings, Councilman Martavius Jones will explain the current ordinance and the proposed amendment, and receive feedback from neighborhood stakeholders.

The players and alumni have been announced for Cardinals Caravan at AutoZone Park on Friday, January 12 at 6:30 PM. Tommy Pham, Jose Martinez, Mike Mayers, Stubby Clapp, and Danny Cox will make appearances and Mike Claiborne will be the emcee.

A topic of discussion lately among Downtowners has been the bath bomb scent at the soap store near Main and Gayoso that “smells like a stripper.” Last night the scent was identified. It’s called Love Potion.

BBQ teammates: The 2018 dues payment widget has been activated on the Moody Ques website. Don’t want to pay online? Email moodyques@gmail.com and we’ll arrange payment. Not a team member but interested in becoming one? Hit us up at that email address.

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

Thursday update

IMPORTANT: If any device you own – computer, tablet, phone – says that a security update is ready to install, do it immediately. Do not put it off, even for a little while. A serious vulnerability that has existed in processor chips for 20 years has been uncovered, and operating systems are having to be redesigned to patch the vulnerability. Details here (of several articles I read, this one explains it best in layman’s terms).

Legendary North Memphis blues club Wild Bill’s has closed after a 24-year run. The club was a well-known hole-in-the-wall in Memphis, considered a great place to hear the blues. It had been profiled in national publications including the New York Times.

Also closed is DejaVu. The Cajun restaurant on Main just wasn’t drawing enough business, and Chef Gary Williams said he just couldn’t do it anymore. However, he has plans in the works to get his old Florida Street location back in the next few months.

That shitty Econo Lodge on North B.B. King Blvd. between Court and Madison is being converted into a boutique hotel called Hotel Indigo.

Memphis Magazine has a requiem for late pro wrestling announcer Lance Russell. The article author notes that Russell called the 1979 Tupelo concession stand brawl with all the gravitas of Walter Cronkite reporting the news from Vietnam.

Ghost River has a book club. First meetup is two weeks from today in the taproom:

Most college football coaches have bonuses written into their contract if their team achieves milestones like winning a certain number of games, winning a conference championship, going to a bowl and so on. Undefeated UCF, winner of the Peach Bowl but shut out of the college football playoff, announced yesterday that it will pay its coaching staff the bonus for winning the national championship. Very, very classy, especially considering many of the coaches have departed to Nebraska.

For those of you familiar with the name, Jason Doty has been sentenced to 25 years without parole for aggravated child neglect and reckless aggravated assault. He had a history of violence against women. Doty was a baker for Bluff City Coffee several years ago. He won’t get out of prison until he is in his 70s.

I’ve been trying to keep up with coverage of the winter “bomb cyclone” moving up the East Coast on The Weather Channel’s site, but their constant use of “Winter Storm Grayson” sounds so foolish that their content is almost unreadable. They even compare “Grayson” to past winter storms, referring to those storms by names no one but the Weather Channel used. Do they not realize how stupid they sound to everyone not working for Weather Channel corporate?

I pre-ordered Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff. Cannot wait for it to appear on my Kindle app next Tuesday. White House officials are questioning Wolff’s credibility, but he is said to have dozens of hours of tapes to back up what he wrote.

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

Wednesday update

Smithsonian.com has an excellent article on the 1968 sanitation workers’ strike that brought Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Memphis, as well as how Memphis has progressed since 1968. If you’re a fan of history and/or of Memphis, this article is worth a few minutes of your time to read.

It’s not going to affect us, but a major weather event is brewing off the East Coast today. A storm will bring snow to Florida and Georgia, then will intensify into what weather people call a bomb cyclone in the next 24 hours as it makes its way up the coast. Forecast models have pressure dropping up to 53 millibars in 24 hours, creating hurricane-force winds. Some models have the pressure dropping as low as 950 millibars, comparable to what was seen with Hurricane Sandy. Fortunately it is believed that the worst of the storm will remain out to sea.

This is a great deal! Tickets to a Memphis Hustle game, a Memphis Grizzlies game, and WWE Monday Night Raw all for one low price.

The Brass Door still has tickets available to its women’s only event Saturday 11-2. Boozy yoga, appetizer buffet, a la carte brunch, back and neck massages.

My friend Angela Copeland of Copeland Coaching recently had one of my favorite authors, Joe Navarro, on her podcast recently. Navarro is a body-language expert and will help you understand how to send the right signals with your body in business situations.

Max’s Sports Bar has expanded their list of whiskeys.

Food Truck Thursday in Court Square has been canceled for tomorrow due to cold weather. The event will return January 11.

A friend of mine posted a link last night, and since his story is similar to mine I wanted to share it too. He commented that his parents gave him a Commodore Vic-20 computer when he was 11 or 12 and it opened up a world of opportunities for him. Same for me, except I got an Atari 400 for my 13th birthday. Code Crew is a great organization that helps make sure kids from all backgrounds in Memphis are opened up to those same opportuntities, providing computer science training, serving as a resource for educators, and spreading the word about the importance of diversity in tech.

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

I have no words for this so I’ll just post Brian Klaas’ analysis on CNN. It may be time for Pence to get together with the Cabinet and think about invoking the 25th Amendment.

Now Trump and Bannon are bashing each other… time to pop some popcorn. Back tomorrow with more news.

Tuesday update

Well, I guess I lied about more posts to come yesterday. Shortly after I published the New Year’s Eve recap, I saw a tweet that Bardog was serving their brunch menu until 2. For some reason I thought they were one of the bars that didn’t open until 5 on New Year’s. “I better get down there!” I thought, and hurriedly showered and got dressed and enjoyed Monday Fun Day with friends.

The main thing I was going to do in the second post that never happened yesterday was wish Max’s Sports Bar a happy 10th birthday. December 31, 2007 was the day they opened. One of my Facebook friends said it better than I could – the place is the true definition of a neighborhood bar. Congratulations to Max and the staff there and I hope there are many more years to come.

Also a happy birthday, today being the actual day in this case, to my buddy Rahul. I mess with him a bit on here and on social media, but he is a good guy and a true friend.

After Bardog yesterday, I walked over to the Blind Bear and discovered that they had a New Year’s blackeyed peas, collards, and cornbread plate. I got it for my troll so she’ll have good luck this year.

Apologies for not letting my readers know about this special but I didn’t know about it myself until I got there. Here’s a Southern Living article on why we eat blackeyed peas on New Year’s.

Outback is giving away free Bloomin’ Onions today. Just say “Outback Bowl” to your server.

The Rendezvous is closed for repairs and vacation this week. It will reopen Tuesday, January 9.

Two teams that lost to Auburn in the regular season are going to play for the national championship. A team that had a perfect season, including a win over Auburn, is not.

Back at work. Thinking about taking MLK Day off so I can have one last three-day weekend. Back tomorrow with more news.

New Year’s Eve dinner @ Itta Bena

After my Nashville plans fell through, I figured I wouldn’t do much for New Year’s Eve. My plans were to do Sunday brunch then go home about 5 and hibernate into the new year. However, things took an unexpected turn Saturday afternoon.

I was sitting at the bar at the Blind Bear Saturday afternoon, my troll standing next to my beer as always. Owner Jeannette, having traded shifts with B-RAD, was tending bar. “Hey Paul, would you be interested in going to dinner with us for New Year’s Eve?” she asked. “A group of us are going to Itta Bena. We have the private room reserved. It seats 25 and so far we only have 16, so you’re welcome to come. After dinner we have the back room reserved here.”

I pulled up Itta Bena’s New Year’s Eve menu on my phone, and it looked good. Four courses with options for each course. Having private rooms at both the restaurant and the bar sounded good too. We’d have a barrier between us and the amateurs who come out to “party” on New Year’s Eve. I told Jeannette I was in. Some of us met up at the Bear a little before 7 and walked over together. Here’s a look at dinner.

First course: Java Crusted Lamb Lollipops with red bell pepper jelly and a Balsamic reduction

Second course: Itta Bena’s famous She-Crab Soup. This is widely considered to be the must-get item at the restaurant.

Main course: Six-ounce filet, lobster claw and knuckle, smoky bacon potato hash, bordelaise, and hollandaise.

Dessert: Bananas Foster Bread Pudding with a rum and brown sugar butter sauce and vanilla ice cream

What a great dinner with awesome people. Service was excellent too. Afterward we walked over to the Bear and watched the ball drop in New York City at 11, then rang in the new year in Memphis at midnight. Couldn’t have asked for a better way to start 2018. Happy New Year everyone, and check back because I’m not done posting today.