Property taxes – I had no idea

Over the years, I’ve listened to friends who own homes bitch about their property taxes. “I don’t want an NBA team here if it means I have to pay one more dollar in property taxes…I’m thinking about moving to Eads so I don’t have to pay city property taxes…Developing the riverfront is nice, but not if it raises my property taxes…blah, blah, blah.” I must say, I’ve been unsympathetic to their complaints. Living in a town with culture and quality services costs money.

But yesterday, it hit home. One of my friends went condo-shopping at the Shrine Building, and found out that the property taxes on the unit she wanted would add almost $300 a month to her payment, thereby pricing it out of her range and forcing her to remain a renter for the time being. And I doubt she was looking at the penthouse – probably a studio or 1BR at the most. Three hundred bucks! I had no idea. I thought property taxes were like, 40, 50 dollars a month for an average homeowner.

(By the way, there was a party on my building’s roof last night, and this same neighbor showed up in a tube top. Just thought that needed to be mentioned.)

No wonder people complain. Now I understand a little better why people fall for the Republicans’ dog-and-pony show about cutting taxes. Of course, their portrayal of themselves as the party of fiscal responsibility is utter bullshit, but I can see why people would latch on to any fleeting promise of a plan to cut their tax bill. And now it makes more sense why people move to the far reaches of the county, to get outside of the city limits. And I thought it was just because they didn’t want to send their children to the horrible city schools.

All right, that’s it for now. I have ideas for at least two more journal entries, but it’s 11:00 on Sunday morning, so that means it’s time to go to church. The kind of church that serves mimosas and bloody marys. See you later!

Mail bag

Time to dip into the mail. Looks like we have a lot of correspondence this week.

Subj: does it squirm and not squirt

You know, where was this e-mail message in 1988? Back then, I was trying to wash the car, using the garden hose in the back yard. But somehow it had got a pebble stuck in it, and it did exactly what the message implied: it squirmed and never squirted. We eventually had to throw it away and go to Wal-Mart Garden Center and get a new hose. Too bad we didn’t have e-mail back then; perhaps we could have salvaged it.

Subj: naughty granny gets crazy on camera

You know, I remember a time when my grandmother went absolutely crazy. The garbage man had taken an alternate route in his truck and missed our street altogether. So, the bags of garbage stayed out on the curb all night, and the neighborhood cats got into them, leaving trash spread all over the yard. The next morning, my grandmother called the city to complain, and “crazy” was a good word to describe how angry she was. I thought she was somehow going to crawl through the phone line and rip the customer service rep’s heart out. We should have rented a video camera and recorded her, as this message suggests; now that Grandmama is gone, it would be a wonderful way to remember her as she was.

Subj: Find a Fuck Friend without leaving your home

Since this says, “without leaving your home,” I’m assuming this was sent by one of my neighbors in the building, although the return address of doesn’t ring a bell. But, I gotta ask… DON’T YOU THINK YOU’RE BEING A BIT FORWARD? I mean, come on, at least buy me dinner first.

…Oh, who am I kidding, the dinner probably isn’t necessary. Just come on over, naked, and bring liquor. Oh, bring some strawberries too, we can make chocolate-covered strawberries in my fondue pot. Note: disregard if you are ugly, or a guy

Subj: Your e-mail account has been disabled

This message came with a form for me to fill out, asking for information like my birth date and Social Security number, to get my account turned back on. But, first, I have a question… how would I have gotten this message if my e-mail account had really been disabled?

Subj: exquisite cherry piddle speaker Jack

10 o’clock pizza feature scooter icing on the dusty billboards. Grilled sheep lighting violets south asphalt oranges. Effervescent tube top parking dogs in the Space Needle. thinking, speaker phone showers, she said. Semolina pilchard climbing up the Eiffel Tower. I am the eggman, they are the eggmen, I am the walrus, GOOB GOOB GA JOOB!

Subj: very important e-mail


Subj: very important e-mail
From: Marilyn Ryburn

Probably telling me I should get a haircut, or dress more professionally, or go to church more often.


Subj: Hows it hangin, get the lowest m0rtg-age qu;otes here dafgqbvnm

Now I can tell this is a legit e-mail, because they started off with the traditional greeting used in the mortgage industry, “hows it hangin.”

Back when I was in sales, I was a member of a networking group that included a mortgage lender. One day he gave a presentation about his work. “The greeting ‘hows it hangin’ builds rapport with customers and lets them know that you’re serious about doing business. Studies indicate that lenders who open with this greeting close an average of 23% more loans.”

And, this must be a very creative company, based on their spelling of “mortgage quotes.” Bet they have some creative lending options to get me into that new home of my dreams.

Well, folks, that’s the mail bag for this week. Back soon with more Pulitzer-quality prose for your reading enjoyment.

The bums, the irony

Tuesday night about 10:30 I decided to take a walk down to the Tap Room on Beale Street, to drink a beer and see if there were any cute girls in tube tops to talk to. As I was walking down Beale, the bums approached me with one of their most common gimmicks. “Free paper, sir?” they asked me. Of course, if I had accepted, they would have wanted a tip for their “free” paper.

But then I noticed what paper they were handing out – Employment Weekly. Doesn’t it seem like they should be reading that paper, rather than handing it out?

Hmmm… if the bums read Employment Weekly, would they find any jobs that are right for them? Let’s see…

Entry-level position. Must be honest, dependable…” No, that doesn’t sound like something they’d be qualified for.

Work for Fortune 500 company. Must pass drug test…” Well, I think that one can be ruled out.

Looking for self-starter with strong work ethic…” For some reason I just don’t think this would be a good fit for them.

Unique solicitation position. Must enjoy working outdoors, interfacing with the public. Gain valuable experience persuading people to make donations. Position offers flexible hours, and flexible breaks for morning, noon and afternoon trips to the liquor store. Dress code: what you wore yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that. Proper hygiene not necessary. Crackheads encouraged to apply.” I think we have a winner! See, there really is a job for everybody in this town.

"Will you put me in your blog now?"

So after work I took a walk around downtown, and as I got back to the building one of my neighbors called. “Want to meet me on the roof for dinner?” she said. “It’s leftovers, but I have couscous and nachos and tuna salad. And, I have a surprise for you. A new outfit. Do you prefer pink or blue? I have both colors.” I told her blue was my favorite color. I knew that she reads this blog on a regular basis, so I had an idea what she was up to.

(By the way… I won’t give away her identity… but I will say that I had a Caramel Frappucino at Starbucks the other day, and if you took an extra “a” out of “Caramel” you might be able to figure it out)

So about 30 minutes later, she shows up on the rooftop wearing a blue halter top. A blue halter top is basically a tube top with a strap that ties around the neck. “This counts, right?” she asked. No, I said, a tube top by definintion is strapless. “Well, look!” she said, and untied the strap. “See? The strap isn’t holding it up at all! The strap just makes it look classier.”

So, fine. You got mentioned. Happy? By the way, classy isn’t necessarily the way to go when it comes to men. As one of the most well-known residents of my building says, “Trashy is always a good thing.”

It’s only June 14, so she has plenty of time to get mentioned during Tube Top Month without cheating. Coco & Lilly down the street has plenty of tube tops (and pick up one of those really short miniskirts while you’re there) or visit

However, I also informed her that what she should not do is wear a tube top every day of the week. At most 10-15% of the time. Wear something else the other days, and let us wish that you had the tube top on.

On a different note: I’d like to send a shout-out to my friends Kit and Kelly, who gave me a vacuum cleaner and a Tupperware container full of blackeyed peas last night. (How to get mentioned in this blog: feed me, wear a tube top or bikini, or give me a vacuum cleaner.)

All right. Out for now. Back next time with more interesting and insightful commentary.

Rooftops and tube tops

…that’s what this blog is all about these days. It used to be about bums and pigeons. Is that an improvement?

Saturday night I was on the rooftop of my building, talking to a friend of mine, a caterer who had just moved in. I asked him if he had ever tried out the rooftop hot tub. “Hell no, I’m not going in there!” he said. “That thing’s fucking community bathing! It’s like dick cappucino!”

Dick cappucino. That’s great. I’ll probably never be able to set foot in that hot tub again.

Later that night, I took one of my neighbors to Earnestine & Hazel’s. He had just moved to town and had been to the places like the Flying Saucer, Pat O’s, etc. that everyone has heard about. Now he wanted to experience the REAL Memphis. He loved the place. I showed him the upstairs where the “businesswomen” used to perform their services (E&H was a brothel until about fifteen years ago). Russell, the manager, was there and gave us a 30-minute history lesson on the place. He told us that Germantown parents would sometimes bring their college-age daughters there to see the prostitutes so the daughters would understand that not everyone had it as well as they did. He also told us about some of the stars who would come there to relax on their nights off – B.B. King, Tina Turner, Ray Charles, Francis Ford Coppola.

I had forgotten what a special experience it is to listen to that jukebox and eat a Soul Burger. I see more nights at E&H in my future.

Today I took the elevator up to the roof about 11:45 AM. I had planned to just stay up there a minute before heading out to the Blue Monkey for my usual Sunday festivities, but one of my neighbors was up there, and for some reason I felt like I should stay for a while and talk to her. Perhaps it was because she had a bikini on.

(How to get mentioned in this blog over and over again: Feed me, or put on a tube top, or a bikini. I know some of my neighbors read this. Are you taking notes?)

So I had been talking to my neighbor for maybe an hour, and she had to go downstairs for a minute. When she came back up, she had one hand behind her back, and she asked me when my birthday was. “If it’s nowhere near now, do I still get the present?” She promised that I would. So I told her that my birthday is in November, and she pulled out the present – a bottle of Boone’s Hill Raspberry Wine. Boone’s Hill costs $1.65 for a fifth bottle, and is in approximately the same class of wine that the bums drink. I think she gave it to me as a gag gift, but that didn’t stop me from unscrewing the cap and downing the entire bottle.

Her birthday is at the end of this month, so I suppose I’m under obligation now to purchase her a comparable present. I found this site which is a good list of gift ideas.

Later that evening, I re-appeared on the rooftop, and found that the caterer and his family had cooked bacon-wrapped shrimp, and they had extra. (Again: feed me, tube top, or bikini.) So I helped them get rid of all the food, watched the sunset, and that was the end of another glorious weekend downtown.

Next weekend: Arts In The Park

One of my favorite outdoor festivals, Arts in the Park, is returning after a two-year hiatus. Formerly in Audubon Park in East Memphis, this festival showcased the arts, with live performances and an incredible artists’ market. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it, and bring money because you will find some truly unique, one-of-a-kind items. I bought the clock that currently hangs in my living room, pictured below, at Arts In The Park 2002:

The dot on the triangle is the hour hand, and the dot on the circle is the minute hand. So, in the picture, it’s about 2:35. The piece hanging down from the middle of the clock is a pendulum. It’s powered by one AA battery. I’m fairly sure the clock’s maker will be back at Arts In The Park this year.

The festival this year will be on the CBU campus, and I’m pleased – I think Midtown is a much more appropriate venue. It will run Friday to Sunday, June 17 to 19. I will definitely be there Saturday afternoon. If I have a great time and find lots of art and cute girls in tube tops to look at, I may skip my Sunday drunken festivities at the downtown Blue Monkey and make a return appearance.

A self-challenge

I’ve decided to issue a challenge to myself.

Tonight is the kickoff party for Mpact’s program for summer interns. Every year we run programs for a couple hundred corporate interns who are in town for the summer. We take them out to sporting events, parties, networking events, etc. and help them put down roots in Memphis, so that they’ll consider coming back here to live and work full-time after they graduate. This year the kickoff party is at Autozone Park at a Redbirds game, with a reception upstairs the hour before.

So here’s my challenge to myself: I would like to meet, get to know, and really connect with as many of these interns as possible. However, this year I plan to do it without asking any of the following questions:
– Where do you work/what do you do there?
– Where are you from?
– Where do you go to college?
– What’s your major?

Those are the questions everyone asks and they’re BORING! So I’m going to force myself to think outside of the box. It’s going to be hard to avoid these questions, because they’re almost like an auto-pilot response at this type of “young professionals” event. But, I want to come up with more creative ways to really connect with people.

Sigh… I bet most of the people show up in business or business casual attire since it’s a “young professionals” event. Not me! It’s 90 degrees outside and that sounds like T-shirt and shorts weather (or tube top weather if you’re a female). At least the T-shirt will be an Mpact T-shirt.

Wow… this is going to be tough. I just realized that the interns will be asking me what I do, and it’s going to be awfully hard not to slip into the conditioned response of “how about you, what do you do?” I better go think on this a little bit before I head over there. I’ll let you know what happens.

Good Mpact event coming up: Social Security forum

If you haven’t decided where you stand on the issue of Social Security reform, here’s an event you should attend: the Mpact Memphis forum on Social Security, which will be held Monday, June 20 at 6 pm at the downtown Marriott hotel.

An economist from the Federal Reserve bank will speak about the issue. He is neutral and nonpartisan, so Mpact won’t be attempting to sway you to one side of the issue or the other. We just want you to be informed so you can make your own decision.

Personally, I’ve been in favor of some privatization of Social Security ever since I started listening to the Dave Ramsey Show about eight years ago. Dave interviewed the economist who crafted Chile’s plan to privatize their retirement program, which has worked very well.

I’m disappointed with the Democrats’ lack of leadership on this issue. Rather than keeping an eye toward progress and proposing a plan of their own, they have played on people’s fears, making the public believe that Granny will be eating cat food when the market goes down. I agree that the program must be implemented very, very carefully, but if done right, I believe that Granny will not only be able to eat and survive, but will have a little extra to take trips and buy her granddaughter her first tube top. (Whew, I wasn’t sure if I could find a way to work that in)

On the other hand, I’m really not comfortable with George W. Bush and Dick Cheney as the architects of Social Security reform. Every time they touch something, corporations end up benefitting, not middle-class America. I wish we would see a bipartisan effort between the “liberal Republicans” I talked about in last week’s post and moderate Democrats to come up with a plan we can all live with.

Hopefully the forum on the 20th will help me figure out exactly where I stand on Social Security. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Uber Phone 3000

So last week I was hanging out with my friends Angie and Chris at the Flying Saucer, and…

…hold on, let’s post a pic of Angie.

There ya go. Angie is the one on the left.

Anyway, I was hanging out with Angie and Chris at the Saucer. Angie has this new phone which is a combination phone and PDA, and for the past month I have been making fun of her nonstop about it. Seems like she can’t go 5 minutes without whipping out that phone and doing something. She took it out several times to text-message friends. Then she wanted to know the ingredients of a favorite drink, so she started up Uber Phone 3000’s bartender program. Then, one of us ordered a beer, and the description on the UFO club receipt read that the beer had “a hint of chicory.” None of us knew what chicory was, so out came Uber Phone 3000. She got on Google and looked it up. (In case you’re curious: here’s a link to a page about chicory)

Later in the evening, I was hanging out on my rooftop, as has been the case practically every night recently. It was Sunday, and one of my neighbors (the one who, later that night, put on a green tube top and went to Pat O’s) asked if Di Anne Price was playing at Huey’s this week. I didn’t know, and was too lazy to run 3 flights of stairs down to my apartment and pick up a Memphis Flyer to find out. But I thought to myself, if I had Internet access on my phone, I could hit Huey’s website and find out.

Then, another neighbor and I were waiting for the Redbirds game to be over, so the fireworks would start. We can see the scoreboard from the rooftop, but the numbers were too small to make out the score. I thought, if I had a phone with Internet access I could hit the Redbirds’ site and find out the score.

Later in the week, I was talking to a former student of mine. Like me, he’s a techie, and he was telling me about Bluetooth. “It’s real popular in Europe,” he said. “You can get into a chat-room type of environment with everyone in a certain radius who also has Bluetooth. So people will get on there and ask, ‘are you toothing?’ and total strangers will meet up that way and go have sex.” So now, not only do I want a phone with Internet capability, but Bluetooth as well.

Uber Phone 3000 has Internet and Bluetooth.

Hmmm. I have 13 months left on my current contract. Maybe Uber Phone 4000 will be out by then.

Attn Madison Hotel guests: close your blinds

Last night was Thursday night, which usually means Peabody rooftop parties. But I was in too mellow a mood to deal with seeing, being seen, and all that jazz. So I merely rode the elevator up to my own rooftop (No. 10 Main) where, not surprisingly, several of my neighbors were hanging out and drinking wine.

We were watching the sunset when one of my neighbors blurted out, “Is that guy naked?” She pointed at the 16th-floor penthouse of the Madison Hotel, and indeed there was a man walking back and forth in front of a window. For the next few minutes the conversation went something like this:

“Are you sure he’s naked?”
“He could have on flesh-colored boxers.”
“Flesh-colored boxers? They actually make those?”
“No, he’s definitely naked, I think I just saw ass crack.”
“Hope he doesn’t turn around.”
“Hey look, those people from the 15th floor (sitting at the other end of our rooftop deck) are watching him too! And they have binoculars!”
“Okay, he put a towel on.”
“He’s putting on DEODORANT right in front of the window!!! Ewww!”

By this point we were trying to figure out his room number, so we could call the Madison and ask for him. But none of us had been on the 16th floor in a long time, so no luck there. He was standing at the window, wearing a towel, talking on the phone, staring out, but he apparently didn’t see us, despite a couple of my neighbors waving at him and doing everything they could to get his attention.

So anyway… he clearly was primping and preening for a night on the town. He took over an hour to get ready. “Even I don’t take that long!” commented one of my female neighbors. So, after all that preparation, what did he finally put on? Khakis, and a white golf shirt. Over an hour to prepare, and a WHITE GOLF SHIRT is the best he could do. I mean, come on, dude. We asked the people with the binoculars to look and see if there was a copy of The Preppie Handbook lying on the counter. But that’s not all – HE TURNED THE COLLAR UP. I wondered if this guy slipped into a coma in 1985 and just recently woke back up, and still thinks that’s the fashion. But, if he hasn’t been working for the past 20 years, how would he be able to afford the Madison penthouse? I don’t get it.

Anyway, a cute woman came up and joined him (we wondered if he had ordered her from room service when he was on the phone earlier) and at that point, they moved away from the window. Show was over.

And that’s my Thursday night downtown. Exciting huh? I did go out briefly afterward, went to Earnestine & Hazel’s for a beer, sitting next to three cute girls at the bar, one of whom had a tube top on. But I didn’t get to talk to them (“hey, I saw a naked guy tonight on my roof” didn’t seem like a very good opener), and they left. And that was the night.

Onward to the weekend. Fun times!