Next weekend: Arts In The Park

One of my favorite outdoor festivals, Arts in the Park, is returning after a two-year hiatus. Formerly in Audubon Park in East Memphis, this festival showcased the arts, with live performances and an incredible artists’ market. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it, and bring money because you will find some truly unique, one-of-a-kind items. I bought the clock that currently hangs in my living room, pictured below, at Arts In The Park 2002:

The dot on the triangle is the hour hand, and the dot on the circle is the minute hand. So, in the picture, it’s about 2:35. The piece hanging down from the middle of the clock is a pendulum. It’s powered by one AA battery. I’m fairly sure the clock’s maker will be back at Arts In The Park this year.

The festival this year will be on the CBU campus, and I’m pleased – I think Midtown is a much more appropriate venue. It will run Friday to Sunday, June 17 to 19. I will definitely be there Saturday afternoon. If I have a great time and find lots of art and cute girls in tube tops to look at, I may skip my Sunday drunken festivities at the downtown Blue Monkey and make a return appearance.

A self-challenge

I’ve decided to issue a challenge to myself.

Tonight is the kickoff party for Mpact’s program for summer interns. Every year we run programs for a couple hundred corporate interns who are in town for the summer. We take them out to sporting events, parties, networking events, etc. and help them put down roots in Memphis, so that they’ll consider coming back here to live and work full-time after they graduate. This year the kickoff party is at Autozone Park at a Redbirds game, with a reception upstairs the hour before.

So here’s my challenge to myself: I would like to meet, get to know, and really connect with as many of these interns as possible. However, this year I plan to do it without asking any of the following questions:
– Where do you work/what do you do there?
– Where are you from?
– Where do you go to college?
– What’s your major?

Those are the questions everyone asks and they’re BORING! So I’m going to force myself to think outside of the box. It’s going to be hard to avoid these questions, because they’re almost like an auto-pilot response at this type of “young professionals” event. But, I want to come up with more creative ways to really connect with people.

Sigh… I bet most of the people show up in business or business casual attire since it’s a “young professionals” event. Not me! It’s 90 degrees outside and that sounds like T-shirt and shorts weather (or tube top weather if you’re a female). At least the T-shirt will be an Mpact T-shirt.

Wow… this is going to be tough. I just realized that the interns will be asking me what I do, and it’s going to be awfully hard not to slip into the conditioned response of “how about you, what do you do?” I better go think on this a little bit before I head over there. I’ll let you know what happens.

Good Mpact event coming up: Social Security forum

If you haven’t decided where you stand on the issue of Social Security reform, here’s an event you should attend: the Mpact Memphis forum on Social Security, which will be held Monday, June 20 at 6 pm at the downtown Marriott hotel.

An economist from the Federal Reserve bank will speak about the issue. He is neutral and nonpartisan, so Mpact won’t be attempting to sway you to one side of the issue or the other. We just want you to be informed so you can make your own decision.

Personally, I’ve been in favor of some privatization of Social Security ever since I started listening to the Dave Ramsey Show about eight years ago. Dave interviewed the economist who crafted Chile’s plan to privatize their retirement program, which has worked very well.

I’m disappointed with the Democrats’ lack of leadership on this issue. Rather than keeping an eye toward progress and proposing a plan of their own, they have played on people’s fears, making the public believe that Granny will be eating cat food when the market goes down. I agree that the program must be implemented very, very carefully, but if done right, I believe that Granny will not only be able to eat and survive, but will have a little extra to take trips and buy her granddaughter her first tube top. (Whew, I wasn’t sure if I could find a way to work that in)

On the other hand, I’m really not comfortable with George W. Bush and Dick Cheney as the architects of Social Security reform. Every time they touch something, corporations end up benefitting, not middle-class America. I wish we would see a bipartisan effort between the “liberal Republicans” I talked about in last week’s post and moderate Democrats to come up with a plan we can all live with.

Hopefully the forum on the 20th will help me figure out exactly where I stand on Social Security. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Uber Phone 3000

So last week I was hanging out with my friends Angie and Chris at the Flying Saucer, and…

…hold on, let’s post a pic of Angie.

There ya go. Angie is the one on the left.

Anyway, I was hanging out with Angie and Chris at the Saucer. Angie has this new phone which is a combination phone and PDA, and for the past month I have been making fun of her nonstop about it. Seems like she can’t go 5 minutes without whipping out that phone and doing something. She took it out several times to text-message friends. Then she wanted to know the ingredients of a favorite drink, so she started up Uber Phone 3000’s bartender program. Then, one of us ordered a beer, and the description on the UFO club receipt read that the beer had “a hint of chicory.” None of us knew what chicory was, so out came Uber Phone 3000. She got on Google and looked it up. (In case you’re curious: here’s a link to a page about chicory)

Later in the evening, I was hanging out on my rooftop, as has been the case practically every night recently. It was Sunday, and one of my neighbors (the one who, later that night, put on a green tube top and went to Pat O’s) asked if Di Anne Price was playing at Huey’s this week. I didn’t know, and was too lazy to run 3 flights of stairs down to my apartment and pick up a Memphis Flyer to find out. But I thought to myself, if I had Internet access on my phone, I could hit Huey’s website and find out.

Then, another neighbor and I were waiting for the Redbirds game to be over, so the fireworks would start. We can see the scoreboard from the rooftop, but the numbers were too small to make out the score. I thought, if I had a phone with Internet access I could hit the Redbirds’ site and find out the score.

Later in the week, I was talking to a former student of mine. Like me, he’s a techie, and he was telling me about Bluetooth. “It’s real popular in Europe,” he said. “You can get into a chat-room type of environment with everyone in a certain radius who also has Bluetooth. So people will get on there and ask, ‘are you toothing?’ and total strangers will meet up that way and go have sex.” So now, not only do I want a phone with Internet capability, but Bluetooth as well.

Uber Phone 3000 has Internet and Bluetooth.

Hmmm. I have 13 months left on my current contract. Maybe Uber Phone 4000 will be out by then.

Attn Madison Hotel guests: close your blinds

Last night was Thursday night, which usually means Peabody rooftop parties. But I was in too mellow a mood to deal with seeing, being seen, and all that jazz. So I merely rode the elevator up to my own rooftop (No. 10 Main) where, not surprisingly, several of my neighbors were hanging out and drinking wine.

We were watching the sunset when one of my neighbors blurted out, “Is that guy naked?” She pointed at the 16th-floor penthouse of the Madison Hotel, and indeed there was a man walking back and forth in front of a window. For the next few minutes the conversation went something like this:

“Are you sure he’s naked?”
“He could have on flesh-colored boxers.”
“Flesh-colored boxers? They actually make those?”
“No, he’s definitely naked, I think I just saw ass crack.”
“Hope he doesn’t turn around.”
“Hey look, those people from the 15th floor (sitting at the other end of our rooftop deck) are watching him too! And they have binoculars!”
“Okay, he put a towel on.”
“He’s putting on DEODORANT right in front of the window!!! Ewww!”

By this point we were trying to figure out his room number, so we could call the Madison and ask for him. But none of us had been on the 16th floor in a long time, so no luck there. He was standing at the window, wearing a towel, talking on the phone, staring out, but he apparently didn’t see us, despite a couple of my neighbors waving at him and doing everything they could to get his attention.

So anyway… he clearly was primping and preening for a night on the town. He took over an hour to get ready. “Even I don’t take that long!” commented one of my female neighbors. So, after all that preparation, what did he finally put on? Khakis, and a white golf shirt. Over an hour to prepare, and a WHITE GOLF SHIRT is the best he could do. I mean, come on, dude. We asked the people with the binoculars to look and see if there was a copy of The Preppie Handbook lying on the counter. But that’s not all – HE TURNED THE COLLAR UP. I wondered if this guy slipped into a coma in 1985 and just recently woke back up, and still thinks that’s the fashion. But, if he hasn’t been working for the past 20 years, how would he be able to afford the Madison penthouse? I don’t get it.

Anyway, a cute woman came up and joined him (we wondered if he had ordered her from room service when he was on the phone earlier) and at that point, they moved away from the window. Show was over.

And that’s my Thursday night downtown. Exciting huh? I did go out briefly afterward, went to Earnestine & Hazel’s for a beer, sitting next to three cute girls at the bar, one of whom had a tube top on. But I didn’t get to talk to them (“hey, I saw a naked guy tonight on my roof” didn’t seem like a very good opener), and they left. And that was the night.

Onward to the weekend. Fun times!

June is tube top month at paulryburn.com

After writing the last two journal entries, I have decided that I am going to declare June to be Tube Top month. Every journal entry I write from now until June 30 will contain a reference to tube tops, no matter how little they have to do with the actual subject matter at hand.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to clean the mildew off the lid of my garbage can. I bought some heavy-duty mildew remover at Target, where they also sell tube tops.

Liberal Republicans: a reader responds

Frequent journal reader Ed Raper responded with an excellent reply to “What is a liberal Republican?” and I asked his permission to quote:

“Liberal Republican is used to describe those of us who are socially liberal, but fiscally conservative. I can’t speak for folks involved in the conversation you overheard, but typically liberal republicans agree with the republican principles of less government is better; less government programs, grants, social security reform, lower taxes, more fair taxation (regardless of income bracket). Liberal Republicans believe in the American Dream, and don’t think there should be a penalty that comes with it.

Liberal Republicans differ from the Republican agenda on issues like abortion, stem cell research, prayer in schools, display of 10 commandments in government buildings, gay marriage, & the war on drugs.

Noticeably missing from this list is military action. I’m not sure where that should fall.”

Okay, that makes a lot of sense. You know, since I’ve been listening to Air America maybe I’ve forgotten a little bit that most Republicans are really good people who do want to see others, and their community, do well. There are quite a few Republicans I know personally here in Memphis who I would vote for if they ran for office.

I consider myself a liberal who generally leans Democrat. But, if a liberal Republican actually ran for office, I’d seriously consider voting for him. For example, if John McCain runs for president in ’08. Trouble is, it doesn’t seem possible for a Republican to get elected without pandering to the far right and to big corporations, so if I support a Republican who has a plan for Social Security reform, I’m likely also supporting someone who is pro-life, anti-gay-marriage, pro-bombing-whoever-the-hell-we-want whether the rest of the world likes it or not, etc. and I have a lot of trouble doing that.

A couple of months ago, I was drinking wine with one of my neighbors (who, incidentally, was the one who had on the green tube top Sunday night, as mentioned in my last entry) and we were discussing this very issue. I’m wondering if the elected-representative system that has been in place for 200+ years in America is getting a bit out of date. People are considerably better informed than they were in 1776. There’s near-universal access to TV, radio, the Internet. I’d like to see us move more toward a true democracy like they had in ancient Athens, where every citizen voted on the issues, and making an informed vote was considered one of a citizen’s highest duties. Then I could vote yes to Social Security reform, no to attempts to ban gay marriage, no to attempts to limit or reverse Roe v. Wade, yes to give more funding to education, yes to get our troops out of Iraq, etc. rather than having to settle for a candidate whose slate of positions I feel is somewhat close to mine.

Whaddya think? Would that work? Would it be possible to set up some kind of Internet-based voting that is secure enough to keep people from voting more than once? Would doing it on the Internet disenfranchise the poor? Would that reduce the influence of big money in politics, or would vote-buying reach a whole new level?

"Liberal Republican" – WTF? and other random thoughts

– Last night I was hanging out with some of my neighbors and their friends, and two people described themselves as “liberal Republicans.” How is that possible? For the life of me I can’t understand how someone could describe themselves as liberal and yet support George Bush. I’m not trying to be sarcastic or insulting here, I just don’t get it. If any liberal Republicans are reading this, could someone e-mail me and explain?

– Also, an interesting rumor I heard last night: The 2008 presidential election may turn out to be Hillary Clinton vs. Condoleeza Rice. Now, I’ve never liked the idea of Hillary running for president, because I don’t think she’s electable. But given the choice between her or Condi Rice, she just might be.

– Of course, in Tennessee the big political news is the downfall of John Ford. I remember seeing him at Seessel’s (now Schnucks) in Midtown about 10 years ago. He was walking down one of the aisles, and a clerk who was stocking the shelves apparently didn’t get out of the way fast enough. Ford was extremely rude to him. I’ve never liked him since and wasn’t a bit surprised to hear about all the scandals he’s caught up in.

– I hope New Path, the group that backed Tomeka Hart for the school board, fields a candidate for the now-vacant District 29 Senate seat. To go from the values that John Ford stood for, to the values that New Path stands for… now, that would be a real win for Memphis.

– I also hope this mess doesn’t affect Harold Ford Jr.’s Senate run. He’s nothing like his uncle and I have tremendous respect for him. By the way, there’s going to be a “young professionals” fund-raiser for him next Sunday, June 5, from 6-8 pm at Felicia Suzanne’s. Tickets are $75 each. If anyone is interested in going, e-mail me and I’ll put you in touch with the people selling the tickets.

– Okay, on to more superficial matters… for the first time in four years, I actually went to Sunset Symphony. Saw some old friends, and mentioned that I have a blog. “It’s about the things I see downtown,” I explained. “Bums and pigeons and the bars I go to.” My friend Anna told me that pigeons make their nests out of their own poop. Gross.

– And last night, my neighbors and I went to Pat O’s, but they stuck with their usual closing time of 12:00 despite it being a holiday weekend. I don’t understand that… Beale Street was packed and they would’ve had a license to print money until 2 or 3 if they had stayed open.

– One of my neighbors had on a green tube top last night. Just thought that needed to be mentioned.

– And now it’s Monday, and Memorial Day, and I’m starving and in the mood for the fried crawfish tails at Sleep Out’s, so I think I’ll head down there. However, I don’t think I’m going to turn today into a bonus Sunday and get a bottle of champagne. I’ve had enough for one weekend.

– Later on I’ll probably head up to my roof and hang out with whichever neighbors show up. We were commenting last night that the building is like an expensive dorm for adults.

– And later on I’ll stop by the Tap Room, since it’s Monday and they usually have wrestling on. By the way – word is that NWA:TNA is close to negotiating a Monday night spot on WGN, so very soon we may have two wrestling shows on Monday night for the first time since WCW went out of business.

– All right, I’m too hungry to continue. Happy Memorial Day everyone.

Court Square

Court Square park a block from my apartment building finally does appear to be turning around. I went to the first of their new music series last Wednesday, and it was well-attended, maybe 200 people. I talked with people from the Center City Commission and they hope to have the park entirely full by the end of the summer.

The event runs from 5 to 7 each Wednesday evening, and then will move to a different downtown nightspot each week. Last week the after-party was at Swig, and they were handing out coupons good for a free appetizer at Swig. Not a bad deal. I keep meaning to sample more of their menu, but for some reason I always seem to come back to the fried olives.

They were also handing out other goodies, in particular pedometers with the Definitely Downtown logo on them. The downtown hot dog vendor and a snow-cone vendor were there, and they were selling beer, although I think $4 is a little pricey for a 16 os. cup – not even Beale Street charges that much.

A few days later, on Saturday, I walked past the park and saw something I had never seen before. People were in the park, sitting on blankets, picnicing. Even a couple of families. It’s so nice to see some activity in the park that isn’t the bum-and-pigeon show. Didn’t see anyone with a laptop trying out the new wireless, though. Of course, it was in the 90s outside and laptops shouldn’t be used in that kind of heat. It may be September before it’s laptop weather in the park.

Other downtown news: Wang’s Mandarin Bistro is now open at Main and Gayoso, and it’s a nice-looking place. Haven’t been in to eat yet, just peered through the window. And there’s now a Corky’s Express location at Third and Peabody Place, in the Hampton Inn where the beignet shop used to be. Catacorner to the Hampton, a Hooters is scheduled to open next month. And two new clubs are supposed to open on Beale by fall.

Meanwhile, I’m finding that I don’t even have to leave my building to get a good meal. Was walking through the lobby the other day, when I ran into a caterer/professional chef and his family who just moved in. “Paul, are you going to come eat with us? We’re grilling sea bass on the roof and we have plenty.” I already had dinner plans with a chef – Boy-ar-dee – but I decided plans could change. It was delicious.

All right, that’s enough for now. I’ll try to post a little bit more regularly to make up for the lack of material the past two weeks.