Fun with crackheads

Last night I was at the Flying Saucer, playing darts with one of my neighbors. Out the window I could see one of the neighborhood crackheads begging passersby for money. I’m so sick of seeing those guys downtown. They give people from other parts of the city the impression that downtown is unsafe, and they bother tourists who are here to have a good time.

So I waved and got his attention through the window. He came over and looked in, and held up a sorry-looking daffodil that he had picked from one of the city’s flower beds. I pointed at the daffodil like I wanted it, then took two dollars out of my wallet and held them up. He nodded with excitement. Then I shook my head and put one of the dollars back in my wallet, and held up the other dollar and pointed at it. Now he knew I was interested – I had negotiated him down a dollar! He was practically jumping up and down by this point.

I made a gesture that communicated “one minute” and pointed at the dartboard. Then I went ahead and continued playing. He stood outside the window and watched. And watched and watched. He watched through the window as we made futile attempts to shoot a bullseye. He watched as I went to the bar to get another beer. He watched as I talked to a friend of mine at the bar, a cute redhead who was looking extremely hot last night. He watched as I came back to continue playing darts. By now about 30 minutes had passed and he was starting to wonder if I was ever coming outside. He held up the flower again. I nodded and pointed at it and waved the dollar around some more. I was still interested! The crackhead was happy. He stood by the window and continued to watch the game.

Another 20 minutes passed. His interest was starting to wane. He disappeared for a couple of minutes as he attempted to bum money from other people walking out of the Saucer. But he kept coming back to the window. There are two windows near the dartboards, and every few minutes he’d go from one to the other and look in.

About 1:00 we decided it was time to head home. The place was clearing out, and the cute redhead had left. Probably not enough time for another game of darts before closing. So we handed in the darts and paid our tabs. I looked out the window and saw the crackhead walking up Second, wondering where we went. “Take a hard right as soon as you get out the door,” I told my neighbor, figuring we could cut down Peabody Place and Main Street and avoid him.

But we weren’t fast enough. He came running after us, or more like staggering as fast as someone who lives on a diet of crack rocks and Lord Calvert can possibly stagger. “Sir!… sir… sir… hey… look here… you was… uh… uh… the window… uh… dolla!” (Brookstone sells hand-held devices that translate Spanish to English, French to English, and German to English. Wonder if they have one that translates Bum to English.)

After I got home, I felt a little bit bad about it. The poor guy had spent an hour at “work” trying to cultivate a key customer relationship, and in the end had nothing to show for it. It’s as if I had gone to a restaurant and run the waitress around for an hour getting my food, and then stiffed her on the tip.

But then, waitresses perform a useful function that makes the world a better place. Crackheads, not so much.

Okay, I don’t feel bad anymore.

Tonight I’ll probably head back up to the Saucer to catch The Dempseys. Beyond that, plans for the weekend are undetermined, other than the Sunday Monkey brunch/drinking extravaganza. Duran Duran is playing the Orpheum Saturday night, but I don’t know whether tickets are still available, or whether I’ll go even if they are.

All right. Several more topics are swimming around in my head. There might be another post before the day is done.

Dreams, high school, and writing

Ever notice a recurring pattern in your dreams? Every few months, I dream that I’m back in high school. The latest dream in the series occurred a couple of nights ago. I dreamed that I was coming back to school after being out six days – an entire week, and a Monday. So in the dream it was Tuesday morning, and I really didn’t want to go back.

In this dream – and in quite a few others I’ve had – I had a term paper due for English class. The term paper to me symbolizes the ultimate in useless, waste-of-time busy work. When I was in 12th grade we had to write a 20-page term paper on a subject in British literature, and it couldn’t be about Shakespeare. We had to form a thesis, make three supporting points, and draw a conclusion.

If I had my way, the thesis I probably would have used was, “Making high school students write a 20-page paper about British literature is a sure way to make them hate British literature for the rest of their lives.” Of course, being a senior I was worried about keeping my GPA up, getting into Rhodes and all that crap. So I did what was expected of me and wrote a paper on the development of the King Arthur legend.

I can honestly say I do not remember thing one about that paper, other than the topic. And I can honestly say that I learned absolutely nothing about writing by doing that assignment. I was already a pretty good writer by that time. Know how I learned to write so well? It damn sure wasn’t from anything I did in English class. I became a good writer because, in junior high and high school, I was addicted to professional wrestling. I subscribed to all the magazines – The Wrestler, Inside Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Illustrated, and Sports Review Wrestling – and read them over and over again. Whether I realized I was doing it or not, I incorporated the columnists’ writing style into my own.

Of course, pro wrestling wasn’t what I was “supposed” to be interested in. I was supposed to be into Dickens and Beowulf and Jane Austen. That was what the school system deemed important. Trouble was, I HATED that stuff. Oh, I knew how to work the system – I read 22 pages of Pride and Prejudice and some of the Cliffs Notes, inserted a few quotes from the book because I knew the teacher liked that, and got an A+ on the paper we had to do on it. One of my classmates wrote the paper I dreamed of writing – he gave it an honest review, said he hated it and that writing a report on it was a waste of his time. The teacher called it a “temper tantrum on paper” and gave him a D. Schools reward students for conforming, not for original, critical thought.

What’s my point in writing about this? …Hell if I know. Just wanted to write something in my journal, I guess. How’s that for a conclusion paragraph?

What the bums are drinking this week

(Based on the empty 50 mL one-shot liquor bottles I saw cluttering the downtown streets last weekend)

– Seagram’s Gin and Juice
– Smirnoff Vodka
– Smirnoff Vanilla Vodka
– Strawberry vodka, some off-brand whose name escapes me
– Seagram’s 7

Seems like the quality of the drink goes up as the bottles get smaller. A few of those are ones I’d actually drink. Gin and juice though – that’s about as ghetto as it gets.

I have a story about those little one-shot bottles. A friend of mine used to work at a downtown liquor store (not the one around the corner from where I live). One day he closed the store for half an hour, went out on the street and picked up every empty bottle within a two-block radius. He filled up an entire garbage bag. Don’t any of the bums know how to use a trash can?

paulryburn.com blog hits down – why?

Just checked the hit counter. Up through the end of June, this blog was averaging about 30 hits a day. Since the beginning of July, the average has fallen to the upper teens.

I believe that this is due to the end of Tube Top Month. Let’s face it. Tube tops are a topic that everyone wants to hear about. Hmmm… maybe I’ll have to bring Tube Top Month back for August.

Was doing the drunk walk home with one of my neighbors last night, and he commented, “You mention the Tap Room almost as much as you mention halter tops.” Halter tops??? Get it right! It’s TUBE TOPS!!!!! Halter tops only got mentioned because one of our neighbors committed a major fashion faux pas.

All right. NOW I’m headed up to the roof to drink wine.

Mail bag

Time once again to read and respond to the mail.

Subj: Your $640,000 lo an
Subj: Your $210,000 lo an
Subj: Your $330,000 lo an
Subj: Your %RND_TOTAL lo an

What I learned from these e-mails: that someone out there doesn’t know how to use their spamming software, and that “loan” is apparently a compound word made up of the shorter words “lo” and “an.” Must be of Hawaiian origin.

Subj: Shoot five times as much

Now this is an appropriate message to send to a Memphian, Memphis being one of the gang capitals of the South. If this e-mail got into the hands of the Gangster Disciples, they’d have a definite advantage over their rivals the Vice Lords. G’s got’s ta know how ta bust a cap with a quickness, know what I’m sayin’?

I have to wonder if e-mail is the best way to reach the target market, though. I mean, yeah, G’s have a lot of disposable income, but they tend to spend it on bling bling, spinner rims fo they rides, gold teethes, and of course, ho’s. I’m not sure how many of them buy computers and get hooked up to the Internet. A better approach might be to print out this e-mail and tape it to sign posts all over Norf Norf Memphris. Anywhere along Chelsea Avenue would probably be good, as would Frayser.

Subj: Lozenges for Sylvester

Sylvester could definitely use some lozenges. You may remember his falsetto voice on the ’70s/’80s hits “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)”, “Dance (Disco Heat)”, and “Do You Wanna Funk.” After singing like that on these long songs (“Do You Wanna Funk” is 6-plus minutes) his throat has got to be worn out. Some lozenges would probably be a good idea. Don’t know why they’re mailing this to me, though, I never met the guy. Perhaps they know I like disco and figure maybe I have a connection to him.

Haven’t heard any of Sylvester’s songs in years, although I’m pretty sure there are a few bars in Midtown where he’s on heavy rotation in the jukebox, along with Cher and show tunes.

Subj: Re: Have leave do solemn tort

I have a Magnetic Poetry puzzle on my refrigerator, and my 5-year-old neighbor occasionally stops by to play with it. She doesn’t know how to read yet, so she has to ask me what sentences she made. “What’s that say, Paul?” she’ll ask. “Can I the your somewhere,” I’ll tell her.

She’ll realize that doesn’t make sense and try again. “Now what does it say?” she’ll ask. “Like this or is it you are,” I’ll read.

Well, it appears that she now has a computer version of Magnetic Poetry, and somehow has got it hooked up to e-mail. I tell you, it’s amazing what kids can do with computers these days. When I was her age we had Pong and that was about it.

“Tort.” Looks like the lawyers in the building have taught her a new word.

Subj: Exclusive benefits

You know, I have a friend/former student who I’m trying to convert into a “friend with benefits.” She doesn’t seem to be getting with the program though. “I’m only going to have two drinks and that’s it – I don’t want to do anything I regret.” That sucks!

So when I saw this e-mail, I hoped maybe she was finally beginning to see the light. But it wasn’t from her – it was from someone named Arturo. I really don’t think I’m interested in Arturo’s “benefits.” Perhaps he’d have better luck shopping his “benefits” around at bars in Midtown that play Sylvester, Cher, and show tunes on the jukebox.

Subj: Viagg-ra is lousy gK

Your spelling is lousy too. gK


Subj: Become one of the low rates

Now here is new-age philosophy at its finest. It’s not enough to go out and get a low rate on your m0rt;gage. You have to BECOME the low rate. You have to step into it, abandon yourself and experience first-hand what it’s like to be a low rate. A few minutes ago I put myself in deep trance, stepped out of my body and experienced what it was like to be a 3.99% APR. And let me tell you, it was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. Now that I’ve stepped back into physical reality, I can’t wait to go out and get a m0rt;gage on a ridiculously-overpriced downtown condo.

And that’ll do it for the mail this time. Time to head up to the roof for some vino.

Anyone in my building have a Mac?

I know a lot of my neighbors read this blog… got a favor to ask. If anyone has a Macintosh with an Internet connection, could I use it for about 15 minutes to test a website I created? I used a rather non-traditional font and I want to make sure the look and feel of the site I created approximately matches up. E-mail me (paul at paulryburn.com) if you can help. Thanks.

Other news:
– I’ve told some of you individually that my mother had gone to Dallas to have surgery. She had it yesterday (I didn’t even know she had been scheduled, the surgeon had a last-minute cancellation and my uncle and aunt called me) and she came through with flying colors. I can’t say enough how sweet my uncle and aunt have been to her – they’ve made it more like a vacation than a medical trip in the 2 weeks she’s been down there. Haven’t met my aunt yet – she’s new to the family – but I hope to soon.

– 99 bottles of beer on the wall… I drank my 99th beer at the Flying Saucer day before last. Another 101 and I’ll get my plate on the wall. It will probably be 2007 before that happens. Trouble is, now I’m down to the dark beers (which I’m not a big fan of), the expensive beers, and non-alcoholic beers like O’Doul’s (yuk).

– My sober posts aren’t nearly as interesting as my drunk posts, are they?

– I’m once again leaning toward the Monkey for Sunday drinking tomorrow. Might stop by Sleep Out’s afterward for $1 PBR.

– And right now, I’m going to go work on that website some more. Hey, the Saucer has wireless, doesn’t it? May be time to knock out beer number 100. After my 100th beer hits the UFO computer I get a free biggy (22 oz.) beer. Any suggestions for what beer I should get? I’m leaning toward Paulaner Hefe-Weizen but haven’t decided for sure. Anyway, I’m out, see you later…

Drunk post #37468

– Both magnums of wine are gone now. Damn rooftop. Time to go to the liquor store.

Friday I’ll go to the liquor store. Tomorrow (Thursday) I’m determined to forego my own rooftop for the first time in a month and go over to the Peabody to hit on scantily clad bimbos. I know some of my No.10 neighbors read this; if anyone wants to come with me shoot me an e-mail or call.

– I saw a falcon. It perched on our roof for a while, then flew over to the Madison and perched there. All the other species of birds attacked it, except the pigeons which are too dumb. A few years ago the city bought some falcons to try and control the pigeon population. From what I can tell it hasn’t worked.

– Here’s a quiz. This will be a learning experience for all of you but for one of my neighbors in particular. Won’t say which neighbor, but I will say that she had a birthday in the past week. Okay, here goes. You’re leaving town, and you have a plane ticket to fly to another city. About 60-90 minutes before the scheduled departure time you should

A) take a nap because you’re hung over from the wine you drank 2 days ago
B) chill out to your Jack Johnson CD
C) GO TO THE AIRPORT!!!!!!
D) go to Memphis Pizza Cafe for pizza and beer, beer, beer.

– I mean, really. How do you FORGET to go to the airport… If they ever bring back the TV show Three’s Company for new episodes, I know someone who should try out for the part of Chrissy.

– I guess then I would have to be Larry, the horny neighbor. Actually, that’s okay, I could totally get into hanging out at the Regal Beagle. I need a good bar to hang out at.

– I mean, other than the Monkey

– And the Tap Room

– And the Saucer

– And Sleep Out’s

– And Swig

– And the Diamond

– And Earnestine & Hazel’s

– And Raiford’s

– (Interrupted this journal entry to go drink two mugs of beer at the Tap Room. But I’m home now, and damn glad that Sam Walton, genius that he was, decided to carry 12-packs of corn dogs in his stores before he died. Mmmm… corn dogs)

– Holy shit! Buckley’s closed! They had some really good steaks, and reasonably priced. The filet with a side of mushrooms… oh yeah. And the Buckley’s Buds? Good stuff. There’s a note on the door: “Thank you downtown for nine years… we’ve moved to 7213 East Bumblefuck Drive.”

– Or was it “Germantown Parkway”… meh, what’s the dif

– And changing the conversation to restaurants not nearly as good… did Taco Bell just totally run out of ideas with this new CrunchWrap Supreme? I mean, it looks like every bad idea they’ve had in the past 10 years, all wrapped into one. And, Taco Bell being part of a corporation, the CrunchWrap was probably one of several potential new items, and it was voted the best by a focus group. Just think how much the other items must have sucked!

– I miss retro Taco Bell… the original Enchirito topped with lots of cheese and a few black olives and onions… the Beef Burrito… the MexiMelt… the Mexican Pizza… that Mexican hamburger thing they had. The Taco Bell menu circa 1985 was damn near perfect.

– Then again… they have innovated over the years. When the 7-layer burrito came out I had to have one every day for about a month in a row. And the chalupa is a thing of beauty. Gorditas, eh, not so much, I could take or leave them.

– According to the Memphis Flyer, the new exercise craze is erotic dancing – dancing like you’re a stripper, with poles and everything as props. They wrote an article on it this week. Perhaps some of my neighbors who are classically trained in dance will consider branching out. It’s important to be well rounded, you know!

– Back to Three’s Company for a minute… Know who I really thought was hot on that show? Not Chrissy, but her cousin Cindy. Remember her? The tall blonde? Her legs went on for days, and she’d always wear those midriff tops what were just baaaaaarrrely long enough – until she got excited and started jumping up and down.

– And then there’s Janet… girl next door who could TOTALLY work a pair of tight jeans. Bailey Quarters from WKRP deserves to be mentioned for the same reasons.

– All right… just finished my corn dog, so it’s time for bed. Aren’t you glad you took the time to read this? Back tomorrow or the next day. Enjoy the rest of your week!

In search of the perfect hot wing

Okay, before I start this article I have to rant about something.

I was sitting in the Flying Saucer, doing research for this journal entry, sitting in one of the window seats. A car drove by. It had one of those high-dollar spinner rims, and one regular rim on the passenger side. Couldn’t see the other side of the car so I don’t know what the other tires looked like, but still… just when I thought this town couldn’t get ANY more ghetto, it does! What was this guy thinking? “Well, I can’t afford a whole set of spinners, so I’ll just get one.” And why anyone would put any spinners at all on the piece of shit he was driving is beyond me anyway – the car had a dented fender, and one of the bumpers had been replaced and was gray while the rest of the car was white.

Anyway, on to the topic at hand. I love hot wings. I could eat them all day long. In a typical place that has five varieties (mild, medium, hot, extra hot, and suicide), I usually get extra hot, with extra blue cheese dip. Carrots and celery are absolutely necessary.

So recently I went on a search for the perfect hot wing in my downtown neighborhood. I’m going to list restaurants that sell wings and rate their wings on a scale of 1 to 10. The gold standard to which I’ll be comparing them is a place I went to all the time in the mid-’90s – a place on Winchester called Buffalo’s. (NOT Buffalo Wild Wings, different chain.) They had Bash Night every Monday – all the wings you could eat for about 10 bucks. My friends and I would go every week and put away some wings. Eventually the restaurant left the chain and re-named itself Maverick’s, then closed sometime around 2000 when the neighborhood started to go downhill. I miss those wings. There are still some Buffalo’s locations in Alabama, and I’ve seriously considered road tripping over there.

But, in the meantime, let’s take a look at restaurants downtown and how close they come to the gold standard. I have a feeling I’ll ramble a bit in this journal entry, but what else is new?

1) The Flying Saucer. I’m as surprised as anyone that this place came out of top, because I’ve never considered the Saucer a dining destination. But I was up there last week with my neighbor Paul Two, and he ordered the wings and I tried one. They were so good that I went back today for an order of my own. The wings are delicious – naked (not breaded) and slathered in spicy sauce. They come with a generous amount of celery and carrots, and a good-sized container of blue cheese dip. The fact that the wings are served by waitresses in miniskirts doesn’t hurt either. Rating: 9.5 out of 10

2) Jillian’s. I have to make a disclaimer here: I’ve never ordered the wings off Jillian’s menu. But I have eaten them numerous times, thanks to bowling events sponsored by Mpact or by my apartment building. Like the Saucer’s wings, Jillian’s are spicy and good. Rating: 9 out of 10

3) King of Wings. This is a little take-out place on Madison between Second and Third. Sauce is probably the best of any of the places listed here: the extra-hot wings bring tears to my eyes, which is what should happen. They have whole wings rather than wing sections. Pulling the wings apart can get messy. They need bigger containers for their blue cheese dip: three dips and it’s gone. Still, some damn fine wings. Rating: 9 out of 10

4) Huey’s. These are my drunk wings, meaning when I’m stumbling home from other bars downtown I often stop and pick up a batch. Like King of Wings, they give you whole wings, an order of 6 I believe. Huey’s wings are lightly battered and only available in one grade of spiciness, which is about comparable to King of Wings’ hot. Good-sized containers of blue cheese. Huey’s also gets points for being open late, so I can get wings as late as 3 AM. Rating: 7.5 out of 10

5) Hooters. I had the “3 Mile Island” variety, which is the equivalent of extra-hot. I was a little disappointed; they didn’t set my mouth on fire. Next time I’ll try the 911 wings, which are the hottest. Wings are breaded and slathered in a thick sauce. The thing I hate about this place is that everything is extra. Want celery? It’ll cost you. An extra blue cheese dip? 55 cents, please. And they try to sell you fries to go with it, and then cheese sauce to dip the fries in. The Hooters Girls aren’t nearly as pretty as the waitresses at the Saucer, or as intelligent. Rating: 6.5 out of 10

That’s my top five. There are probably some places I missed that serve hot wings, some of the bars on Beale or in the Pinch. Then there’s Denny’s, whose wings were actually not bad but the 50-minute wait to get them to the table was unacceptable. And, of course, the excellent Hot Wing Rolls at the Blue Monkey (both locations, but only the one on Front Street is in a neighborhood that matters).

That’s all for now. I still have a couple of Life Lessons posts in the works, and a rant about my new pet peeve.

What the bums are drinking this week

Absolutely NOTHING!!!

Here’s why: Today’s Monday, and a holiday. That means the liquor stores are closed today. They were also closed yesterday, because it was Sunday. The last time the liquor stores were open was Saturday.

Now, I went to the liquor store on Saturday. Knowing that it would be my last opportunity to buy for the weekend, I picked up a magnum of wine (50 oz.) rather than the regular-sized bottle. Then I remembered that I tend to share wine, and thought about how many drunks live in my building. So I made it two magnums of wine.

Bums, however, do not have the presence of mind to plan ahead. They can’t see beyond their next purchase. And even if they did think to buy extra for the holidays, where would they store it? Bums usually do not have access to refrigerators. And believe me, you REALLY do not want to drink Night Train or Wild Irish Rose or T-Bird warm.

So a lot of bums are on the wagon this weekend, not due to any choice of their own. They’re welcome to join me on the rooftop for some of my wine, but since it’s a controlled-access building, I don’t think they’d get in. And I don’t think they’d like wine that doesn’t come from a screw-top bottle.

All right, time to go enjoy the rest of the Fourth. I have several good blog entries currently saved in drafts, including one about hot wings and a couple more Life Lessons. There’s an old quote, “He who goes forth on the Fourth with a fifth, may not go forth on the Fifth.” But what if you go forth with a magnum of wine? Guess I’ll find out tonight.

Wallpaper

I have new wallpaper on my cell phone.

Today at the Blue Monkey I took out my camera phone and wiped off the lens (it gets dusty even after a day). I snapped a pic of my Sunday champagne bottle, with the Blue Monkey trolley logo in the background. I saved it as the wallpaper on my cell phone. I don’t think any pic could more eloquently represent who I am at this point in my life. If I can figure out how to upload it to my website without paying Verizon’s $2.95 fee (it’s not that good a pic), I will.

Heading up to the roof, where I will watch tonight’s fireworks. The caterer who lives in the building is cooking gumbo tonight. The mosquitoes have arrived and will be here until mid-October, so it’s time to bathe myself in Deet before going up there.