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.

More random kibbles ‘n’ bits

– For those of you who hit the Peabody and/or Madison rooftop parties on Thursday nights, I’ve found a couple of good pre-party places to hit. One is LoLo’s table, on Monroe near Second in the space that used to be Aristi’s. They have happy hour from 4 to 7… I went there last week and got a gin & tonic for only $2.50 – not bad at all for downtown. But an even better value was the mussels – a bowl of about 15 mussels in a butter sauce, with bread for dipping the extra sauce. The price? Six bucks. You’d pay that much for a combo meal at Back Yard Burger! Well worth checking out.

– Another option… I haven’t personally checked this one out yet, but I have it on good authority from one of my neighbors that this is the deal… Martini Thursdays at Cafe Samovar – two martinis and an appetizer for $10. What a deal! It’s been too long since I’ve been to Samovar, and their food is among the best in town. I used to go all the time when I had former students that belly danced there on the weekends, but they’ve since moved away. According to my neighbor Martini Thursday goes from about 6 to 9. Will stop by in the coming weeks and verify for myself.

– So after LoLo’s I hit the Peabody rooftop, and lasted all of 30 minutes before I got sick of the crowd. Alpha-male/goomba looking guys with gel in their hair and those trendy shirts with the diagonal stripes, worn untucked over $150 jeans, up there looking to “get some pussy.” Overly made-up bimbos in tops that scream “look at my boobs” and slacks that scream “look at my ass”, on the rooftop looking for attention and free drinks from men, to validate that they are indeed attractive (and, in particular, more attractive than the girlfriends they came with).

– On to a different topic… Court Square is now a smart park. Meaning, the entire thing is set up for wireless Internet. So last week I took my laptop up there to try it out. After a couple of minutes of surfing the web, my MSN Instant Messenger popped up. Somebody wanted to talk. Transcript of the conversation:

eBum38103: Big time
eBum38103: Hey
eBum38103: Hey man
eBum38103: Hey, big time
eBum38103: Look here
eBum38103: Lemme holla at you for a second
eBum38103: I need to get about sixty-three cent
eBum38103: Come on, dog, help an Internet panhandler out
eBum38103: Sixty-three cent, man. Please.
eBum38103: You hear me?
eBum38103: You can wire it to my PayPal account, dog

– In a related note, the liquor store around the corner now accepts payment via PayPal.

– The Center City Commission has announced a series of concerts in Court Square on Wednesday nights from 5 to 7. So the bums and pigeons will have good music to listen to, in addition to wireless Internet.

– And they have catered meals… a couple of local churches bring sack lunches to Court Square every day.

– Speaking of churches… the Jesus freaks showed up on Beale Street for Music Fest. Close to a hundred of them, carrying those huge obnoxious signs. They make for fun people-watching though… I bought a Call-a-Cab and leaned against a barricade and listened to them for a while. Some dork in a tie tried to hand me some literature and asked me if I was saved.

– I passed the Jesus literature on to my bartender at the Tap Room. She read it: “Jesus died for you, filthy rotten you.” To which she responded, “Nobody calls me ‘filthy, rotten you!'” If I ever call her “filthy, rotten you” she’ll enjoy it and there’ll be a spanking involved. Love ya mean it!

– All right, this is long enough, and there have been 21 hits already today, so I guess I’ll cut it off here and post. Never ceases to amaze me that this crap-fest of a blog out-draws actual useful sites like Memphis Wallpaper and my mother’s site. But, whatever. As long as people continue to read, I’ll continue to write. Until next time…

Quiz: Are you a neoconservative?

Here’s a quiz to keep you busy: Are you a neoconservative?

This quiz will tell you whether you are a neoconservative, that is, whether you follow the global politics of people like Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld. Answer 10 questions about your views on world situations, and it will tell you whether you are a neocon, isolationist, realist, or liberal.

Not surprisingly, I turned out to be a liberal.

Music Fest: not this year

Well, a couple of days ago I found out that I have once again been invited to the Memphis Flyer tent for Music Fest this weekend, which means free beer, free Corky’s BBQ, and clean restrooms all weekend, and I can bring a guest. However, this year I’m going to decline the invitation. I’d still have to buy tickets for each day to get in, and I’m not paying $60 to tromp through the mud, get rained on, and bump through a crowd full of drunk rednecks. Instead, I’ll be hanging out on Beale most of the weekend, having a much better and cheaper time.

If anyone really, really wants a weekend of free beer and food at Music Fest, I’ll make you a deal: buy me a one-day ticket. I’ll go in with you, take you to the tent, and sign you in as my guest (I have to show photo ID, which is why I can’t just give it away). You’ll get a wristband that gets you weekend access to the tent. $20 for free beer and food all weekend – not a bad deal. Any takers? E-mail me: paul@paulryburn.com, or call my cell if you know the number.

Now, although I’m declining the Flyer tent invitation for Music Fest, I’m DEFINITELY accepting invitations to tents for BBQ Fest, which is two weeks away. Anyone reading this part of a BBQ team?

Downtown dweller

Wow! 37 hits so far today! Is this journal really that interesting?

Today I got e-mail from a reporter from the Commercial Appeal. She wanted to interview me for Downtown Dweller, a regular feature in the Downtown/Midtown Appeal section that profiles a downtown resident. So she sent me 10 questions and I answered them, and she’s going to photograph me sometime this week. I’ll let you know when it appears.