Post-weekend catch-up

Wow, almost a week without a blog entry. I could say I’m building reader anticipation, but really I’m just lazy. Let’s see what has been going on.

– Went to the Court Square concert series Wednesday night. The Minivan Blues Band played and were quite good, one of the best shows of the year. Danced with two of my neighbors and a bum. The bum was the best dancer out of all of us. Another neighbor who usually attends the Court Square concerts missed this one because she had a date.

– Hmmm… there was something that I was asked not to mention in my blog, but I can’t remember what.

– Thursday night I re-joined Bravo. It’s cheaper to join as a couple, so I got on my cell phone and started calling people, looking for someone else who needed another half of a couple. Called my neighbor who had the date Wednesday night; she already had someone to join with, although it wasn’t the guy with whom she had the date. Eventually I called another neighbor, the one who I sometimes see on the rooftop in a bikini. (Actually, she’s an ex-neighbor now, she just moved) She needed someone to join with too, so we were a couple for 5 minutes while we filled out the paperwork.

– The kickoff party was in a very cool space, a converted warehouse called Memphis Ambiance on Webster, two blocks south of GE Patterson Ave. between Main and Second. It’s available for rental for private parties and seats up to 750. Definitely worth checking out if you’re planning a function.

– A lot of people noticed that Bravo raised its membership fees by a significant amount, while offering one less event than last year. This is the second fee raise in two years. I’d recommend that they don’t go for three in 2006-07 or they’re going to lose a lot of members.

– As I walked home, I discovered that Zanzibar is open again! Zanzibar is a hip little restaurant on South Main near Huling, next door to Wendell’s World Beat Grill. Incredible food, good wine selection, well decorated, run by good people. It was open in 2002-03 but up until two weeks ago has only been open for special events and salsa nights. But it’s back now, same great menu. I tried the black bean quesadilla appetizer Thursday night, and Saturday I went back and had the Z-Burger, which is among the best burgers in town. Can’t wait to go back again and have my first Cuban Media Noche sandwich in two years. They’re open for brunch Saturday and Sunday with a special menu and bloody marys and mimosas. If you go on a Saturday there’s a good chance you’ll see me there with my downtown drinking buddy Terry.

– Friday night I did the South Main Trolley Art Tour. The Recording Academy had its grand opening party and I talked with one of the board members for a while about the services they offer the Memphis music community. And I ate their free salmon and drank their beer and wine. They served Borgia Grenache (my red wine of choice), so these are obviously people of taste.

– Then I wandered down the street and ran into my neighbor who had the date Wednesday night. She was promoting some week-long movie thing that’s coming up in October. Maybe I’ll mention it in a future blog entry; too lazy to go find the flyer she gave me right now though. She told me that her date Wednesday night went very well, and that she hoped to be asked out on another date soon.

– The aggressive panhandler is back on the street. He has a new shirt, a striped T-shirt. I successfully avoided his wrath. I continue to meet people who have had really bad experiences with this guy. Can’t the cops do something?

– Saturday day I went to Zanzibar, and left my umbrella there. Then I went to the Flying Saucer to knock a few beers off the UFO club. As of today I’m at 145. 55 to go and I get my plate on the wall.

– That evening there was a goodbye party on the rooftop for two of our favorite neighbors: Paula, the karaoke queen and former building manager, who made me feel so at home when I moved in; and Linda, a beautiful person with a great and unique sense of style. I will miss both of them.

– My neighbor who had the date Wednesday night showed up, on another date with the same guy. She was absolutely giddy with excitement. It was good to see her happy.

– Then my ex-neighbor/Bravo partner showed up. My neighbor who was on the date pointed her out. “Look Paul, she has a tube top on.” NO! NO!!!!!! IT HAD STRAPS! IT’S NOT A TUBE TOP IF IT HAS STRAPS!!!!! “Well, it’s almost a tube top.” NO!!!! There’s no such thing as “almost” a tube top. It is or it isn’t! How many times are we gonna have to go through this until she gets it right?

– I know from my years of teaching that you have to reach people using a medium they can relate to… perhaps I should choreograph a modern dance performance entitled “If It Has Straps, It’s Not a Tube Top.”

– Yesterday I went to Sleep Out’s and got drunk. It was raining in the afternoon. The bartender gave me an umbrella. You lose an umbrella, you gain an umbrella. Umbrella karma.

– Then I went to the Saucer and played pool and darts. You know, the Flying Saucer is one of the few businesses on this earth where I understand having an employee dress code.

– Then I went back to Sleep Out’s and got drunk some more and watched Hurricane Katrina coverage on TV.

– Meteorologists predicted Katrina would turn New Orleans into a giant cesspool. As opposed to what it was before?

– Another neighbor of mine told me about this guy in New Orleans who can wrap his penis all the way around a lamppost. That’s what they consider a tourist attraction down there?

– Why does all the good stuff have to happen the same day? In addition to the Mpact meeting and the Dempseys concert on Wednesday, now I’ve found out that there’s a Charlie Wood CD release party at King’s Palace Cafe that night.

– I’m still planning to go to the Dempseys concert though, since I can easily walk to Court Square with the beverage of my choice.

– All right, time to end this and head over to the Saucer for Pint Night. What a wonderful concept – customers can drink almost any draft beer on the menu for $2.50. And then they get up and leave and the waitresses bend over and clean off the table.

– Maybe I’ll do a drunk post when I get home, you never know.

Drunk post #69443

“You know, I used to have money and brain cells and potential. Now I have a mug at the Tap Room.” –me

So tonight I went to the Saucer to play trivia, then to the Tap Room where I got second place on their stupid video crack game (giving me 8 of the top 10 scores), then back to the Saucer where one of the Romanian waitresses waited on me, then home. They just put Freon in my air conditioner and it’s 67 degrees in here. I’m going to sleep like a baby tonight.

Can’t remember if I mentioned if before, but Romania is a WONDERFUL country.

So tonight I was playing trivia at the Saucer with my friends Micheal and Teresa, and they asked: “How many bras did (the world record-holder) unhook through one layer of clothing with one hand in one minute?” Now this is my kind of question. Unfortunately I got it wrong. I guessed 34 (and my team went along with it, figuring I was the expert). Correct answer was 42. This is the one world record I care about breaking.

However, my expertise did shine through later on. The question: What is the highest-selling film soundtrack of all time? Saturday Night Fever, of course! My teammates realized they were in the presence of the Disco God and went along, producing one of only two correct answers for us tonight.

I’m leaning more and more heavily toward doing the Beer Goddess outfit for Halloween. Not ready to promise it yet, but close. Then again, I could always promise it and back out. The way one of my neighbors did when she promised she’d model a tube top for me by the end of the summer, then backed out with a lame “my sister looks better in a tube top than I do” excuse. Won’t mention her by name, but as Alice once asked her boss on the hit TV show Alice, “Have you seen my car, Mel?”

Another random fact I learned at trivia night: The world record for vertical golf-ball stacking is 9. My team guessed 14.

The temperature in my apartment has now dropped to 66. I’m going to go enjoy the best night of sleep in my life. I have no idea what I typed here, hope it made sense. See you tomorrrow


A look at the polls

You ever wonder if it works when companies name themselves “AAAA Co.” or something similar to get to the top of the phone book listings? Well, maybe it does. There’s a great website I used to visit all the time last fall, called RealClear Politics. But I never go there anymore. Why? Because my Bookmarks menu is so long that it runs past the bottom of my screen, and the R’s are too far down on the list. Out of sight, out of mind, I guess.

RealClear Politics was a site I visited several times a day during election season. They had an electoral college map that was updated daily based on each state’s polls, and it was incredibly accurate. It called something like 48-49 states correctly. They also had links to polls for state races, and great commentary.

So, today, I thought of RCP and decided to surf over and take a look at their “Polls” section. And was it ever interesting. Here’s what I found:

  • Dubya’s disapproval rating is 10% higher than his approval rating.
  • But that’s nothing compared to Congress, whose disapproval percentage is averaging 26 points higher than its approval percentage. In a couple of recent polls, the disapproval percentage was more than double that of approval!
  • Our country is going in the… right direction, 37.5%; wrong direction, 57.0%.
  • All this bad feeling gives Democrats an advantage in the midterm elections, but surprisingly, it’s only a 5.7% advantage.

Here’s the link. I’m going to promote this site to a higher place in my bookmarks. One to watch as the elections draw closer.

Beer Goddess

I’ve decided what I want to be for Halloween: A Beer Goddess. Meaning, dressed up as a Flying Saucer waitress. I’ll buy the largest Beer Goddess tank top they have for sale there (which will still be way too small for me, but that’s kind of the point). There’s a store at Wolfchase called Torrid which is like the Hot Topic for plus-sized girls; I should be able to find a miniskirt that fits me there, and I can get thigh-high stockings from Target. I don’t plan on wearing makeup, shaving my legs, or anything else to look feminine other than the outfit. In fact, I’m considering growing a goatee again for contrast.

I’ll definitely take pictures if I do it, and will post them somewhere on my site. Halloween weekend is a Friday-Saturday-Sunday-Monday (October 28-31) this year, so I’ll probably have time to fit my two costumes from last year (the vampire and Big Paul the pimp) in there as well. Hmmm… tentatively, Beer Goddess on Friday, vampire on Saturday, pimp on Sunday, and my choice (but probably Beer Goddess since it’s Pint Nite) on Monday.

Got a couple of months to think about this… but it could be fun.

Aggressive panhandler update

More info on the extremely aggressive panhandler I wrote about in the last blog entry…

I got e-mail from a downtowner/blog reader that he and his wife were approached by the same guy, about 6 hours after I ran into him on Saturday. He explained that he couldn’t read or write, and he asked them to write a note saying that he needed money to get to Jackson because his sister just died. (not sure if it was Jackson, TN or Jackson, MS)

Hmmm… if that’s the truth, then I do feel for the guy, and understand why he’s so angry at the world for being unwilling to help him. However, from what I’ve heard he was going around the previous weekend doing the same thing. So he’s been doing this for over a week, and even the worst panhandler can collect enough for a $30 bus ticket in that amount of time. Hell, in that amount of time he could’ve walked to Jackson.

Several of my downtown friends have reported very unpleasant encounters with this guy similar to mine, where they were cussed and threatened. I don’t know about him; he’s a hard one to read. On one hand, he doesn’t strike me as the typical downtown bum/crackhead who begs for money to buy alcohol and drugs. On the other, I’m not sure I totally believe his story, and I definitely see a potential for violence in him.

If I run into him again, it might be worth it to take him to the bus station and buy him a ticket to Jackson, though, just to get him out of town. Or just to be nice, on the off-chance that his story is legit.

(Update 10:40 pm Monday night: He’s still walking around downtown, not bothering people though.)

Attn downtowners: aggressive panhandler, be careful

Fourth post of the day, but I didn’t intend to have to write this one.

There is a very aggressive, possibly dangerous panhandler in the area. As I was walking home from the Saucer about 4:00 this afternoon, I was approached by a white male, short blond hair, starting to bald, about 30-35, 5’7″-5’8″, stocky build like he works out, carrying a note that he tried to show me. I just said, “No, man” and kept walking, as I do for other bums who use “the note” to get people’s attention. (Usually “the note” means they were either just released from jail or a mental institution.)

Usually they’ll just realize they’ve hit a dead end and continue on to the next person. But not this one. He started cussing. “Faggot-ass bitch,” he said. I continued to walk on, and as I did I looked back to make sure he wasn’t coming after me. Well, when he saw me look back it provoked him, and he did come after me. “You better run, motherfucker, I’ll fuck your ass up.” He chased me about 50 feet down Main Street between Union and Monroe; luckily, I was able to get a trolley in between him and me. After that he continued cussing and threatening to come after me until I got about a block down the road, then he lost interest and moved on to other people. I got the Downtown Precinct on the phone (I have them on speed dial) and followed him from a safe distance, but I lost him in the area of Main and Peabody Place before the cops could pick him up.

In 3 1/2 years downtown, this is the first time I’ve ever felt seriously threatened in broad daylight. This guy was not your typical bum/crackhead. He looked like he eats well (another sign that he had possibly been locked up recently) and works out. And I could tell by his demeanor that he was legitimately crazy. Also, I had my laptop computer in my backpack, and I definitely didn’t want to risk it getting broken or stolen.

If you see anyone fitting this guy’s description, I recommend crossing the street, doubling back, changing course, whatever you have to do to avoid talking to him. If you can’t avoid him, and you’re not among a LOT of people, I’d recommend giving a dollar or two to appease him. I’m really afraid that he’s going to hurt someone if the cops don’t get him off the streets soon.

Sorry to alarm everyone, but if you live or work downtown, you need to watch out.

Third post of the day – random thoughts

– I’m sitting in the Flying Saucer typing these blog entries. Yay for free wireless Internet. Yay for beer. Yay for cute Romanian waitresses. Romania must be a wonderful place.

– Plans for the rest of this weekend: Sit here in the Saucer and drink until the laptop’s battery dies. Tonight, probably come back to the Saucer and drink, then go to the Tap Room and drink, then go to Earnestine & Hazel’s and drink, possibly pop over to the Monkey for a drink if E&H is slow, then to the Black Diamond to wrap up the night with a drink.

– Then home for a few hours’ sleep, then it will be time to get up and go to Sleep Out’s for Sunday brunch, and of course more drinking. After that I’ll wander down to the Saucer and drink for a while, then maybe stop by Silky’s to have a drink while I listen to Barbara Blue. Then I’ll wrap up the evening with a few drinks at the Tap Room while I waste money on that idiotic Gone Fishing game.

– I haven’t kept count but I bet I’ve been in the Saucer 27 of the past 30 days. There always seems to be one place where I go almost every day. Before the Saucer it was my apartment building’s rooftop. Before the rooftop it was the Tap Room. Before the Tap Room it was the Blue Monkey. Before the Monkey it was Empire Coffee.

– I went in Empire yesterday for the first time in two months. New item on the menu at Empire: Smoothies. The pineapple coconut one is especially good. They were happy to see me and said, “Welcome back!” (Translation: “Oh, wow, we have a customer for the first time in four days!”)

– I’ve decided what to do about August 31. That evening there will be a very important Mpact general membership meeting, where they set the direction of Mpact for the next year and get people to sign up to work on projects. I’m on the board and I’ve never missed a general membership meeting in 3 1/2 years, so I feel like I should go. But… that evening is also the last night of the Court Square concert series, and will feature the best band in the city – The Dempseys. I rarely miss the Dempseys when they play nearby. So I’ve thought it over, and the deciding factor is going to be location. The Court Square event is half a block from where I live. The Mpact event is at the Botanic Gardens, and even though the Gardens are a very nice facility, it’s still in East Memphis, and East Memphis sucks. The Dempseys win.

– I went to a grand opening reception for I. Siegel Culinary Productions (yep, another shameless plug) Wednesday night. The owners gave me 25 invitations to hand out, saying that they want to do business with the kind of people I spend time with. I guess that means “people who go to bars a lot” are their target market. Reception was very good, with baby lamp chops and miniature beef wellingtons being the standout items.

– Thursday night I went to a Downtown Neighborhood Association meeting. They had a speaker from the U of M’s earthquake center. We learned that because of the makeup of the earth, a low-6 magnitude quake here could have as much impact as a 7.5 quake in California. We also learned that older brick buildings’ abilities to withstand a quake is mainly related to the age of the building. That doesn’t sound good for my apartment building, No. 10 Main, which is 101 years old and wasn’t originally designed to be a residential building.

– All right. Battery’s almost dead. Beer’s almost gone. Romanian waitresses’ shifts are almost over. Guess I’d better pack up and go home. See you later.

Since people get food recommendations from this blog….

Here’s one for you. This morning I ate breakfast at Blue Plate Cafe on Court Square. I got the Mexican Roll-Ups for $6.99, and it was enough food to last the rest of the weekend. Just listen to all I got

  • Two sausage, egg, onion, and pepper breakfast burritos topped with cheese
  • A side of black beans, also topped with cheese
  • Sour cream and salsa for dipping
  • Choice of biscuits with sawmill gravy or toast (I went for the biscuits)
  • Choice of hash browns, grits, or 3 buttermilk pancakes (I chose the pancakes)

I could barely finish half of it, and I’m stuffed. Enough food for two probably, and really good. If you go to the downtown Blue Plate location, get a table overlooking Court Square on the second level, and you can watch the bum-and-pigeon show going on outside while you eat. They serve breakfast all day, so people like me who arise fashionably late on the weekends don’t have to worry about missing out.

Bravo Memphis kickoff this Thursday

The annual Bravo Memphis kickoff party is this Thursday, August 25, at 6:00 at Memphis Ambiance, 136 Webster Ave. (Here’s the official announcement)

Bravo is an arts group whose members are mostly 21-40ish. In addition to the kickoff party, they have 7 outings between September and April to museums, the opera, the theater, and the ballet. It’s a great way to see some shows and exhibits at a discounted price. But best of all, each show is preceded by a reception the hour before, and there is generally free food, wine, and beer. It’s a great way to meet people if you’re new to the city, or if you want to make new friends. And I should probably keep this secret to myself, but what the hell – attention all guys – attendance at Bravo events tends to run about 65-70% female, so the odds are in your favor.

You’re under no obligation to sign up for the Bravo season membership at the kickoff party, so even if you’re not interested in the arts, why not come eat their food and drink their alcohol – it’s free to the public! But if you are interested, you’ll be able to sign up at a discount price that night. Best deal is to join as a couple – just grab someone else who is considering joining and be a couple with them for 5 minutes. Or longer, if they’re hot.

This will be my fifth season as a Bravo member and I’m looking forward to it. Hope to see you there.

Catching up

– Interesting fun fact to start off this journal entry: Hammond, Indiana once had an NFL team. No kidding. Look it up on the history section of the NFL’s site if you don’t believe me. I can’t even place Hammond on a map. Hmmm, where’s the road atlas… still don’t see it… oh, there it is, it’s a ‘burb of Chicago. I believe that’s where Hammond organs, which are played at ballparks across the country, are made.

– Been catching up on all the Little Rock news while I’m here. Little Rock may have its own Beale Street soon. They’re toying with closing off two blocks of President Clinton Avenue on weekend nights, and if the experiment is successful, they may make it permanent. If they do that, I wonder if they’ll sell drinks on the street and let people walk around with them as they do on Beale. I find it amusing that a street named for Bill Clinton is probably the hottest spot in the city to go pick up women.

– Then again… most big-town entertainment districts are places where people spend beyond their means, act stupid, and line the pockets of the big corporations that manage the bars and clubs… sounds like a good place for a George W. Bush Avenue.

– Why people read this blog… food, apparently. Last Monday at the Mpact board meeting one of the members stopped me. Said she had a friend in town, and the friend wanted to go to the Flying Saucer because she saw a recommendation for their wings on my blog. And I already know that Blue Coast Burrito has some new regulars because of my blog mention. Hopefully I. Siegel Culinary Productions will pick up some new catering customers because of me too.

– I’ve also been informed that I need to do some more research. I failed to take Black Diamond, King’s Palace, and TJ Mulligan’s into consideration when I did the wing report. Perhaps I’ll update it at a later date. Before the unexpected trip to Little Rock, I did some research at Black Diamond Friday night on the effects of PBR on the human body.

– I feel old: Also on Friday night, I was walking onto Beale Street when this group of 18-year-old girls approached me. “Will you walk in with us?” they asked. “If you say you’re our dad, the security guard will let us on the street. Otherwise, he won’t.” Ouch!

– Our poor troops: While sitting in my mother’s hospital room today, I was reading the Little Rock paper, and turned to the Weather section. Forecast for Baghdad: High 118, Low 93. Really gotta feel sorry for the U.S. troops over there, in full combat gear with no A/C.

– Also read the weather for my former home of San Diego: High 70, Low 67. What was I thinking when I moved back to Memphis?

– In the following bullet point I will give the controversy over renaming three Memphis parks the attention it deserves.

– And we’ll wind up this journal entry with another interesting fact: This was the first Sunday since February 22, 2004 that I did not set foot in a bar. Next week the streak begins anew. Although, since Christmas falls on a Sunday this year it will probably be broken again.

– That’s it for now. Most likely I’ll be back in Memphis late tomorrow afternoon.