My latest website creation

I have to take a few minutes to brag about the latest website I have created, as well as the business behind it. Over the past few months in this blog, I’ve mentioned my neighbors who are caterers several times. This past Sunday they invited me up to the roof for a dinner of flank steak and linguini and clams, and as I ate I thought, this dinner matches up with any of the four-star restaurants downtown.

So, last month when they approached me and asked me to put a website together for them, it was my pleasure. I tried to come up with something that was as elegant as their food. Check it out: I. Siegel Culinary Productions of Memphis Great menus! It was hard to do this site without getting hungry.

(If anyone is viewing this with a Mac: does their site look okay? I couldn’t get a hold of a Mac for testing)

Learning about their business as I built the site was fascinating. I learned about their experiences catering for the stars, including Elton John, Celine Dion, and David Spade. I also found out that they didn’t even intend to stay in the city – they were just passing through on vacation earlier in the year. But, they fell in love with Memphis and decided to make it home. Not long after they opened their catering business they landed the Court Square re-dedication and events with several other well-known clients.

It’s been a pleasure working with them on this site (especially since they bring food with them to the meetings). They’re going to be a force on the Memphis catering and event planning scene for some time to come.

Plans for this weekend

Friday night I’ll be going to the Center for Southern Folklore to attend a dance performance by Breeding Ground. My neighbor “Carmen” (mentioned in a recent journal article) will be one of the dancers. Her training is in ballet, but this, as she explains it, is a modern dance piece. That’s okay, I like all kinds of dancers – ballet dancers, modern dancers, belly dancers, flamenco dancers, table dancers, pole dancers, lap dancers… I like all of them.

Here’s a summary of the performance: “Six local musicians are collaborating with five modern dancers from an emerging dance organization, Breeding Ground, for a one-night only performance entitled Shapes of Blue. The performance will feature music from a wide variety of genres, ranging from blues and jazz to bluegrass and classical, including original compositions by well-known local pianist Gerald Stephens. Mr. Stephens will be joined by a cellist, fiddler, guitarist, drummer, vocalist, and the dancers to create what promises to be an exciting, dynamic evening of dance improvisation and music with Breeding Ground.”

After that: I may head to Midtown for a friend’s going-away party at the Beauty Shop, or I may just stay downtown and get drunk.

Saturday: No idea. The Corkscrew is having a wine tasting next door at Alice’s in the afternoon. Other than that, no clue. Wonder if my neighbor from the second floor will be on the rooftop in a bikini.

Sunday: Champagne brunch at Sleep Out’s, followed by who knows what. Probably I’ll end up at the Tap Room at some point to play that stupid video game with the polar bear and the fish.

Other than Friday night, it doesn’t sound like much of a weekend, does it?

A magazine every downtowner should subscribe to

Modern Drunkard << click the link, lots of good stuff to read online

Reminds me, one day a couple of years ago I was sitting around Sleep Out’s on a Sunday with my friends Kit and Kelly. We had an idea for a REAL magazine for downtowners – not the kind of fluff Downtowner publishes, not a bunch of ads like the Downtown Merchant Guide, but a magazine covering the issues that downtowners truly care about.

We were going to call it “Three Sheets to the Wind.” Articles proposed for the first issue included:

Drinking on a Budget: Happy hours, pint nights and other ways to get drunk downtown without breaking the bank

Open containers: Recommended ways to hide your alcohol as you walk around downtown

Trolley Tour: Which art galleries serve the best free booze

Bum of the Month: Profile of a Downtown Resident

Escape Routes: Best ways to get home without getting a DUI or Public Intox charge

This is one of these great ideas that never quite made it to fruition. Publishing a magazine takes a lot of time and money, and all of us had other jobs to tend to. But I’d love to see someone take this idea and run with it. I think it has potential.

Karma

One of my neighbors at No. 10 – I don’t want to use her real name so we’ll call her Carmen for the purposes of this post – had an office on the 28th floor of the SunTrust (formerly NBC) building. Her window faced north; therefore, she had a view of No. 10’s rooftop.

One day at work, Carmen looked out the window and saw a cute girl in a bikini sunbathing on the rooftop of No. 10.

She could have taken out a camera with a high-powered zoom lens and snapped some pictures, had them developed and slid them under the door of my apartment. But did she? No.

She could have called my cell phone and suggested I take a long lunch break, come home and go up to the roof. But did she? No.

She could have taken her lunch break and walked over to No. 10. She could have ridden the elevator up to the roof, taken some pictures of bikini girl using her cell phone’s digicam, and then used the Send To –> Paul option. But did she? No.

She could have called me, and said, “Paul, why don’t you come downtown and meet me for lunch? Come up to my office – the view is spectacular today, and I have high-powered binoculars for you to use.” But did she? Again, no.

Carmen did none of these things.

A couple of weeks later, she got reassigned to her law firm’s East Memphis office. So, instead of having a half-block walk as a commute to work, she now has to get up 30 minutes earlier, get in her car, fight rush-hour traffic, and stop-and-go her way to East Memphis.

I think this is karma. She failed to properly utilize her resources when she lived downtown, and therefore the universe took her resources away.

Perhaps one day Carmen will have another chance to work at the downtown office. Hopefully if she does, she will have learned her lesson how to be a good downtowner and good neighbor.

Weekend notes

– Slow posting week for my blog. I’ve been extremely busy at work importing files that a client sent over. It’s been stressful but I got some really valuable experience working with “cursors” which are a way SQL Server provides to manipulate data. I’ve also been developing websites for two friends who live in the building in my spare time. Can’t wait until they’re finished so I can show them off; they represent the best work I’ve ever done as a web developer.

– Last Sunday a friend called. “Paul, I need your help,” she said. “I have a pitcher of Bloody Marys that I need help finishing.” Now this is a job that is an excellent match for my skill set. I paid my tab at Sleep Out’s and headed right over.

– So I went over to her art gallery and we hung out and talked for a while. The heat index was up around 110, and it gave us an idea for a club called “Melt.” We decided that in the summer we’d advertise, “Come hang out in our sauna,” and the sauna would be the patio. She also said that a fondue night would go well with the theme of the club.

– A few minutes later we had an idea for another bar/club, whose name would only mean something to Memphians: “Pink Slime in the Ice Machine.” The signature drink would be a frozen, blended pink lemonade drink.

– Tuesday night I got to go to the cast party for Evita at the Orpheum’s Broadway Club. The caterer from my building was working the show, and he called and invited me down. Interesting mix of people, cast and donors mostly. I spent a lot of time watching the caterers’ 2-year-old son, playing with him on the computer. He was fascinated by some character named “Boohbah.”

– George Brown from Action News 5 was at the party. I should’ve told him about my “Pink Slime in the Ice Machine” bar idea.

– Wednesday I hung out with my neighbors on the roof and gof feedback on my recent blog posts. They thought “Proposal” was sweet. They thought “Fun with Crackheads” was mean. My neighbors asked me if I’d take a girl up to the rooftop and give her a marriage proposal. I said I would, but at the last minute common sense would prevail and I’d jump instead of proposing.

– What the bums are drinking this week, based on the empty cases outside the liquor store: Lord Calvert and Dark Eyes vodka. There was also a case of Jack Daniels, but since no one has come up to me and said, “Look here, mayne, I needs ta get about fiteen dolla and eighty-three cent,” I don’t think the bums are drinking Jack.

– Plans for this weekend: Tonight I’ll be attending the South Main Trolley Art Tour and the Mpact party at Earnestine & Hazel’s. Sunday I’ll be at Sleep Out Louie’s at brunch getting drunk. Other than that I don’t know, and I have Monday as a vacation day.

– This was a rather boring post, and my first in three days. Maybe I should bring back Tube Top Month. It was a stupid theme but I was absolutely on fire in June.

– That’s all for now. Maybe there’ll be a post over the weekend if I think of a topic.

Downtowner needs your support: A Dinner for Luke

Saturday night I went to my rooftop for a birthday party for Henry, the building’s owner. Los Cantadores provided the entertainment, and the rooftop was a perfect venue for them. McEwen’s and Stella provided great food, and plenty of neighbors and friends came out for the party.

However, it was more than a birthday party, it was a fundraiser. Luke Greika, daytime chef at McEwen’s, suffered a freak accident on June 17. He was hiking near Heber Springs, Arkansas, when a large boulder fell on him, crushing his pelvis and breaking his leg, ankle and tailbone. Needless to day, he’s incapacitated, and he has a two-month old son at home. The party was a fundraiser for him. I had never met Luke but I talked to some of the other McEwen’s staff and it’s obvious they all care about him very much.

If you want to help him out, and eat some fantastic food at the same time, consider coming to A Dinner for Luke on Sunday, August 7 at McEwen’s, 122 Monroe Ave. For a $65 donation you get a four-course meal, each course paired with a wine. All proceeds and tips go to take care of Luke and his family. For more information, here’s a link to A Dinner for Luke info on the restaurant’s website. Should be a good one – McEwen’s is one of the finest dining spots downtown, and no one is better at picking wines to really bring out the taste in food.

As Chris, one of the McEwen’s staff, told me Saturday night, “Downtowners have a way of pulling together and looking out for each other – that’s just how it is.” Let’s look out for Luke on the 7th.

House wines

After extensive research, I’ve decided upon my red and white “house wines” – wines I’ll always try to keep stocked in the apartment for when guests come over. I’ll still experiment and try different things, but these two represent the tastiest I’ve found so far.

Red:
Vina Borgia Grenache. This wine is from Borja, Spain and tends toward the sweet, fruity end of the red wine spectrum, slightly sweeter than merlot. I discovered this one by accident; one of the local bars was taking it off their wine list (why?) and the bartender gave me a half bottle to take home. Best bottle of red wine I’ve ever had, at any price. I can’t find it in any of the liquor stores downtown, but Joe’s in midtown has it – $7 a bottle or $13 for a magnum. An incredible value.

White:
Lindeman’s Bin 65 Chardonnay. This is simultaneously light enough to be a great summer wine for the rooftop, yet fruity and full of flavor at the same time. It’s a blend from Australia, and is the most exported of all the Australian wines. Sells for $8-9 a bottle and $14-15 a magnum. Both Frank’s and Corkscrew downtown carry it.

Both of these wines are fully flavored, so they’re probably best standing alone rather than complementing a meal – although, next time I run into my caterer friend, I’ll ask him to recommend foods that each of these two wines will go well with (I’ll give him a sample of the grenache – he’s already tried the chardonnay).

Proposal

Tonight I was up on No. 10’s roof, and I noticed a nicely-dressed couple on the roof of the Madison Hotel. At the exact time sunset occurred (which couldn’t be seen due to a lightning storm in Arkansas) the guy got down on one knee and proposed to the girl. Apparently she accepted, because they kissed and hugged for 10 minutes before heading downstairs.

Maybe one day they will Google the hotel and find this site and realize that someone recorded the event for posterity in a blog. Congratulations, you two, whoever you are, if you’re reading this.

Plans for this weekend, and some Mpact events next week

(Edited about 6:30 pm Friday night to add more details about Saturday night’s party and another Mpact event. Additions are in bold italic)

I’m going to run an experiment for the next 7 days (Friday-Thursday): I’m going to count how many bums approach me for money as I go about my business downtown. I’m not going to alter my behavior at all – meaning, if I see one coming, I’ll cross the street to get away from him as I normally would, rather than stay on the same side to run up the count. Any guesses as to how many I’ll encounter? Maybe I should give away a prize for the closest guess.

All right. Plans for the weekend.

Friday night: I’ll be getting together with my church’s young-adults group for Bible study and fellowship. It will be good to get together in a nurturing environment with others to share in God’s grace and the glory of Jesus Christ.

Just kidding! Bar-hopping, probably. Not sure where I’ll end up.

Saturday day: Gonna head back up to Otherlands and get some more work done on my friend’s website. Was debating whether or not to ride the bike to Midtown, but since the predicted high is 101 I have a feeling I’ll take the car.

Saturday night: There’s a birthday party on my rooftop for Henry, the owner of my building. They’re asking for a $20 donation to help out a friend of his who was injured in an accident, but it’s actually not a bad deal – it’s catered by McEwen’s and there’s a bar. There’s also going to be a band, I think. I’ve talked to other people in the building and some guests and it sounds like this is going to be a really good one.

Edit: I just ran into Henry the building owner in the elevator and he gave me more details about the party. McEwen’s and Stella, two of the best restaurants downtown, will be providing food. Sounds like one will bring a paella and the other, an antipasto. There will also be a 7-piece band. They were taking flowers up to the roof to decorate. This is going to be quite the party – well worth the $20 donation. It starts at 7 pm. Fellow building residents, get your ass up there! Downtown friends who don’t live in the building, call my cell or e-mail me if you want to come.

Sunday: Champagne. Orange juice. Mimosas. This week I’ll probably do Sleep Out’s rather than the Monkey, just to mix things up.

And a couple of Mpact events coming up the following week:

Wednesday 7/27: Mpact will be at Court Square for their weekly concert series. The artist this week is Candice Ivory, so it should be a really good one. In case of rain everything will be moved to the Cadre Building at Second and Monroe – the music, the food vendors, the beer, the FM100 both, the pigeons, the wino who sleeps on the park bench, everything.

Friday 7/29: Mpact will have a farewell party for the interns they hosted this summer at Earnestine & Hazel’s. This will coincide with the monthly South Main Trolley Art Tour, and the party will start at 7 pm. Feel free to come out even if you weren’t involved with the intern program. Mpact parties at E&H are always a lot of fun – everyone loosens up and gets away from stiff “young professional” behavior. And of course they have beer and soul burgers. If you’re a downtowner, walk down the street to Etched Art at 505 S. Main during Trolley Tour and buy a “38103” shirt.

Edit: Monday, August 1 there will be a “Big Idea” meeting at Bosco’s in Overton Square from 5:30 until 7:00 pm. Mpact has decided to take on one big idea and make a big difference in the community over the next 6-12 months. The Big Idea, the issue they’re taking on, is financial literacy – educating the community about predatory lending, credit card debt, credit scores, etc. Anyone who wants to help plan programming around this idea is invited to attend. They’re asking those who plan on coming to RSVP to rsvp@mpactmemphis.org. I probably will NOT be there, because I have that day off and I’ll probably find more interesting things to do on my vacation day than attend a meeting. (Then again, they do have beer at Bosco’s…hmmm…) But I fully support the Big Idea and think it’s much needed in this city.

And that’ll do it for now. I’ll know I’m in trouble when the “plans for the weekend” and “what the bums are drinking this week” journal entries look alike, but fortunately I’m not there yet.

Black Hawk Down

I’ve mentioned how I’ve recently become addicted to this video game at the Tap Room. Fish jump out of a hole in a frozen lake, and there’s a polar bear who hits them down the lake with a bat. Score is measured in number of feet the fish travel. It’s generally better if they bounce off the ice a couple of times. The top five swings (distance in feet) is taken for any round as the score. If you score over 1,000 points, you get a bonus round.

Up until tonight, the high score had been held by Darrell, or “Night Hawk” as he is known, a bartender there. “NIGHT HK” he abbreviates it. 2090 was his score.

Until tonight. Now, when you look at number-one, you see “PROF PAUL.” “NIGHT HK” is number two. The new high score is 2093.

I promised everyone for weeks, once I mastered that game it would be Black Hawk Down. And now it is.