Boxing on Beale

I got a real treat Tuesday night. I was sitting in Empire Coffee when retired boxer Bruce “Double Trouble” Card (“bad man…pretty as a girl”) came in. Bruce is also a regular at the coffee shop. He asked if I wanted to go to pro boxing at the New Daisy as his guest. There are boxing matches at the Daisy the first Tuesday of every month. I had never seen boxing live, and I figured there would be no better way to see it than sitting next to a retired boxer. So we headed down there and got seats in the front row of the balcony.

There was a kid, probably still in high school, in his first match ever in the opening bout. “His opponent could probably knock him out in 30 seconds,” explained Bruce, “but the promoter told him to put on a show for the fans.” The kid had a lot of heart and kept going well into the third round, when the ref stopped it and gave it to his opponent by TKO. The fans applauded the kid for a good first outing.

The mid-card bouts saw some guys really going after each other with all they had. I can’t believe we didn’t see a single knockout. One was a TKO, the others went the distance and were decided by the judges.

The loudest applause came during the next-to-last match, when the ring girl came out of her top as she bent over to get through the ropes.

The main event was a disaster. It was a title match, for a federation’s cruiserweight title. The champion was having all kinds of equipment problems. The ref had to temporarily halt the match three times – twice because he lost his mouthpiece, and once because his gloves came off. How did this guy get to be champion? The crowd was booing unmercifully and chanting “this match sucks.” Finally, in the 7th round the challenger got the better of him and the ref stopped the match. The champion protested to the ref. It was a display worthy of Tonya Harding. “Worst main event ever,” commented Bruce.

The mid-card bouts made up for it though. Definitely an experience worth repeating.

Plans for this weekend

Tonight I will probably head down to Beale Street. On Fridays you can buy a $10 wristband that gets you into all the clubs. A lot of Memphians avoid Beale, but I really enjoy it. There are a lot of tourists there who are in a happy mood because they’re on vacation, and it’s fun to talk to them and give them an insider’s perspective on Memphis.

My friends in Turbo 350 are playing the Tap Room tonight, so I’ll probably end up there. They play a lot of Johnny Cash, Elvis, Eddie Cochran, pre-1960 rock and rockabilly. Probably your best bet for seeing some authentic Memphis-style music on the street tonight.

Tomorrow there’s a party on the roof of my apartment building, No. 10 Main, that is being thrown by 7 of the residents – DJ, dancing, drinks. At some point I’ll probably try to round up some people to walk down to Swig. Swig is a martini bar with about 40 different signature martinis and a great food menu (get the stuffed olives – excellent). One of my favorite DJs, Mr. White, will be starting a new Saturday night residency there, and his mixture of house and nu:jazz should provide a nice setting to sip a martini and chat with friends.

When I go out I don’t get the classic martinis with gin and vermouth – I’ve tried them and they taste like radiator fluid. I drink the flavored martinis instead. At Swig my favorite is the Junior Mint, a chocolate mint martini. Instead of olives, they garnish it with actual Junior Mints, the candy you buy at the movies.

Of course, all of the plans listed above are subject to change if I find something more interesting to do.

Pic: Pimp and Ho Party

This is a pic from a Pimp and Ho party I attended on March 20 at Earnestine and Hazel’s. The two women pictured below were my ho’s for the event.

By the way, the brunette pictured here is the former calculus student mentioned below – the one who got a job as an AutoZone financial analyst because of the Memphis Really NETworks event. (Yes, she gave me permission to put this picture on the Web. She probably won’t appreciate me mentioning her AutoZone job in the same post though)

Didn’t get a picture of myself, but I had on a blue leisure suit, denim pimp cap, blue feather boa, gold medallion and cheetah platform shoes.

Was a little disappointed at the turnout for the party – not a lot of people there, and many of the ones who were there were not dressed up. We only stayed about an hour, then hit the downtown Blue Monkey for some food, still in our pimp and ho attire, followed by visits to the Flying Saucer and Beale Street.

Catching up: What I’ve been doing with Mpact

I’m still active in Mpact Memphis, the organization of 21-40 year olds interested in leadership, promoting the city, politics, community service and networking. Probably more active than ever, in fact.

I got elected to an At-large position on the Board of Directors, which means I get to attend an additional 8 meetings a year. Yay, more meetings! Seriously, though, I’m thrilled that the premier young-leadership group in this town thought enough of me to put me on the board. My term runs through the end of 2005.

At the beginning of March, I coordinated a Community Involvement event called Feast for Friends. Mpact members volunteered at a biweekly dinner put on by Friends For Life. The purpose is to invite all in the Memphis community who are affected by HIV/AIDS – those who have the virus, caretakers, case workers. They all come together and have a chance to talk and get to know each other, while volunteers serve them dinner.

The Feast was about as easy an event to coordinate as you could ask for. 11 Mpact members showed up, as well as a couple of people from Hands On Memphis. We served them dinner, refilled their tea and bussed the tables. We also got to grab some dinner ourselves, grab an empty seat at one of the tables and get to know the dinner guests.

The other big event I worked on was called Memphis Really NETworks. Its purpose was to teach college students how to network and tap into the hidden job market. Since I had a lot of experience with college students, they put me in charge of content for the event. For a few weeks I was freaking out! If this event sucked, it would be MY FAULT!!! Fortunately, that didn’t happen, and I learned a valuable lesson – assemble a great team, and your job is easy. A professional business coach volunteered to talk about the ABCs of networking, and the guy who created Mpact’s awesome welcome program offered to emcee.

The event came off without a hitch. It was on a Sunday evening at the Pink Palace, with free refreshments. It was a beautiful 81-degree day. I was the only one who wore shorts.

Since then I have learned that three IT students got internships as a result of the open networking part of the event, and a former calculus student of mine ended up getting a financial analyst position at AutoZone. Success! We made a difference in people’s lives. That makes me feel great.

My next project will be to serve as a Memphis Orientation Leader (MOL), where we’ll take corporate interns in town for the summer under our wing and show them the city. Will let you know how that works out.

Catching up: Finally out of the rat race

The biggest news is that I quit the job I had held for 2 1/2 years. Since June 2001 I had been working as a programmer/IT consultant for a clothing storage company in Earle, Arkansas. They were really nice people, but the 8-to-5 schedule was driving me nuts. I’m just not cut out to sit behind a desk 5 days a week, 51 weeks a year. I enjoy people too much, and I enjoy variety too much.

For a long time I was looking at Moneytecture, the financial software I co-developed, as my ticket out of the rat race. However, we’re finding that marketing an entirely new type of software is not an easy task. So we’ve been through some necessary missteps, and although I am seeing some royalty income trickle in, it’s hardly enough to make ends meet, and not enough to hire me as our company’s first employee.

So, around October I got to thinking…I enjoy meeting new people. I have a lot of teaching experience. I enjoy being on my own – I will gladly trade the “stability” of a job with benefits at a good company for the opportunity to set my own schedule. And, I’ve always thought people should be paid for performance, not for showing up to work at a specified time and sitting at a desk all day. One day the light bulb went off. Hey, how come I’ve never thought about doing SALES?

Suddenly I realized that I had always had a mental block against sales. When I heard the term “salesman,” I thought of someone like Herb Tarlek from WKRP, with slick talk and an ugly sport jacket, out to make a fast buck all the time. But that’s just a stereotype. The best salespeople, I’ve been told, have the hearts of teachers, and always have their customers’ best interests at heart.

So I began to scan the paper for sales jobs, and I looked on Monster.com. Many of the positions required experience. Some didn’t. I called the ones that didn’t, most of which were insurance companies. The people who answered the phone seemed like the slick, fast-talking salesmen that I have always found so revolting. I never bothered to follow up and set interviews. In one case, the guy on the phone was such an ass that I just hung up on him.

So, on November 18, my 34th birthday, I was sitting at work, depressed, wondering if I’d be sitting behind the same desk until age 65. I decided to give Monster a look. There was a sales position for “credit card merchant services.” Meaning, someone who contacts new businesses and sets them up to accept credit and debit cards, and who helps existing businesses get better rates on their credit card processing. And I knew the company was not a slick fly-by-night, because it was a subsidiary of iPayment, a company I recently owned in my IRA, a company with an excellent business model. Their low overhead allows them to offer lower rates than the big processors. And it said “no experience required,” so I applied and got the job.

Initially I planned to quit the Earle job in early December, but I noticed that the company had scheduled an all-you-can eat holiday dinner at Texas de Brazil on December 17, so I gave an extra week’s notice and made December 18 my last day. Hey, Mrs. Ryburn didn’t raise any stupid kids.

So I rode out my unused vacation time through the Christmas season, and started for the credit card company in early January. How’s it going so far? I’ll be making posts about that in the near future. Let’s just say that I’m not yet earning as much in commission as I was making in Earle, but the potential is there and I feel good about it. As I said, the company is great. They offer suggested sales scripts when I make calls, but they don’t require me to use them word-for-word; their instructions were “adapt them to your personality, and if you find something that works well, please share it with us.” My regional manager is great and I can go to him anytime for advice and help closing deals. In addition, in the past month I’ve found an excellent networking opportunity downtown which has made a huge difference – more on that later, it’s worthy of a journal entry all its own.

I’m starting to warm up to blogging. I’m sitting outside Empire Coffee with my laptop, happily typing away. It’s a warm Thursday night and I had planned to go hang out on the Peabody rooftop, but I’m feeling too mellow to deal with the see-and-be-seen scene. I’ll try to get one more entry done tonight, then go fire up the VCR and find out who was voted off Survivor tonight.

My journal is now a blog

After resisting for a couple of years, I’ve decided to give in and do a “blog” like everyone else. It’s a lot less work to update and maintain than my old journal was. The downside is that I’ll lose the cool notebook-paper background and pencil dividers that characterized my old journal. The upside is that I’ll probably post more often. I would like this journal to be more stream-of-consciousness than it has been in the past. Look for a few paragraphs a few times a week, rather than larger entries on a more sporadic basis.

I decided I kind of liked this format after frequently visiting another blog, written by The Homeless Guy. He lives in Nashville and has provided his readers with a lot of insight into the lives of the homeless. I will have more to say about him in future posts.

All right. It’s been nine months since my last journal entry and I have a lot to talk about. More to come soon.