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:, 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.

What the bums are drinking (and eating) this week

Yesterday I was sitting in the Tap Room on Beale, having a beer with some friends. A bum was walking around outside, and I decided to watch him for a while.

He’d lean against a trash can, and look around until he thought no one was watching. Then, when the coast was clear, he’d open the lid and dig through the can for buried treasure.

So he did this at the can outside the Tap Room, and – score! – an uneaten hot dog, inside a styrofoam box, and it even had a mustard packet inside. So he took the hot dog out of the box, put the mustard on, and ate it.

Then he moved on to the next trash can, again waiting until no one appeared to be looking his way. He opened it up, and – score again! – someone had thrown out half of a Big Ass Beer. So he took it out, sat on the ledge, and drank it.

Then he moved on to other trash cans. The next two didn’t offer anything interesting. Finally, he checked out one outside Silky’s. Another hot dog! This one wasn’t in a box and no mustard, but hey, you can’t always have everything. So he ate that hot dog as well. The trumpet player outside King’s Palace announced to passersby, “It’s dinnertime on Beale Street, folks.” Yes, it certainly was.

The bum then disappeared, but within 5 minutes he showed back up, playing guide to some tourists. “That place over there has the best ribs on Beale…and there are bands playing for free in that park…and they have an Elvis impersonator in that club at 6:00.” And then, of course, came the pitch: “Look here, can you help me out with a few dollars? I ain’t had nothing to eat in two days.”

So, if the bum eats for free out of the trash, what happens to the money? Look for the answer next week in my blog’s newest feature, “What the bums are smoking this week.”

The return of Professor Paul – almost

I had a chance to return to teaching this week…but I’m not going to take it.

A few weeks ago, I was sitting at the bar and got to talking to the guy sitting next to me. He was an instructor at ITT, a for-profit university offering associate’s degrees. He told me he’s leaving at the end of the current term, and suggested that I come in and interview for his position. He assured me that the pay was good enough to at least make it worth considering.

I do miss teaching. I think it is what I was meant to do. Six years after leaving the University of Memphis, I’m still in touch with many of my former students. Seeing them succeed has made me very happy over the years. I enjoy my current web development job, but I don’t think that sitting in a cubicle working on a computer from 9 to 5 every day is exactly my highest calling.

So Wednesday I took a personal day from work and went in to talk with the dean. I had a great conversation with him. He’s all about reaching out to the students where they are – and sometimes they won’t get it and will be very frustrated, and you have to pull them out and give them confidence. And that’s basically what I did for five years at the U of M. I took students who had “math phobia” or “computer phobia” and showed them that they COULD do it. So I found the dean’s outlook very encouraging.

I was also encouraged by the fact that I’d be teaching some multimedia classes: Macromedia Director, Flash, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and the like. I’ve always been a creative person but as a programmer there’s not a lot of opportunity for creative expression. I’m not a multimedia expert, but to teach you don’t need to be an expert in a subject – you just have to be a couple of steps ahead of the students, and willing to learn from them as well as them from you.

So they gave me a tour of the building and I met everyone. Then I drove out to the U of M to get a transcript of my graduate coursework, and then I went home to think. I decided to take a night to sleep on it.

The next morning my intuition rang out loud and clear: Don’t take the job.

Part of it was little things that I knew would add up to bug me. One of my greatest joys at the U of M was wandering the campus between classes, being outside. But ITT doesn’t have a campus, it has a corporate office building off Appling Road. The place just FEELS like a corporation, not a place of higher learning as I’m used to it.

Then there was the tour of the building that they gave me. They showed me the instructors’ office area, and it had cubicles almost exactly like the ones at my current job. Even less privacy, actually. I HATE cubicles. To be effective, to think well, I need to be able to walk around, even if it means pacing back and forth in a small office. Can’t say I loved everything about the U of M but I did have my own office there – and I hung a disco ball from the ceiling to make it my own. I shone a spolight on it, turned off the lights, and left it on all day. My students would come by to see the disco ball. And while there, they’d ask questions about their homework.

And all of the instructors were wearing ties. I am absolutely, positively NOT effective in a tie. It’s just not my personality. I can understand where they’re coming from, that dressing professionally and wearing a tie sets you up as the authority figure in the classroom. But when I taught at the U of M, I never had any trouble establishing myself as an authority figure, and my dress there was about as far from a tie as you can get. To be at my best as a teacher, I have to be comfortable – I have to be ME. And I can’t do that in a tie.

But the biggest deciding factor was that I’d be required to teach evening classes. That would put an end to the extracurricular activities that I enjoy so much downtown. Pint Night at the Saucer, rooftop parties on the Peabody. Just hanging out drinking wine with my neighbors in No. 10 Main after work. And it would curb my involvement in Mpact. I’ve really enjoyed my work with the Membership Committee this year: being a presenter at the Mpact 101 information sessions for new members, getting to know people at the Mvite new-member outings. And I’m also on the Social pillar, and I’m in my second year on the Board. I enjoy the life I lead, and this job would require me to give too much of it up.

So, I’m trusting my intuition. Later today I will e-mail the dean and thank him for the opportunity, but let him know I’m not interested.

Perhaps one day I’ll again get to teach in an environment where I can be myself and yet make a decent amount of money at the same time. Until then, guess I continue on as a programmer.

How people find this page

Been looking at my tracker, to find out how people find my blog. I had 23 hits today, which as far as I know is a record. Surprisingly, most of the hits weren’t from people in my apartment building, as I had thought. They’re from people searching on “Gloria Oliviae,” trying to figure out who the next pope will be.

Other searches that hit this page:

Various combinations of “memphis,” “downtown,” and “crawfish” – The downtown crawfish fest was yesterday, and for the record it keeps getting better as the midtown one keeps getting worse. Huge buckets of crawfish for $10, and they didn’t run out.

“Lots of bums” – probably came up ranked second on Google search, with ranked #1.

“How to make mimosas” – oh that’s funny. I guess I would know though. For the record: one part champagne, one part orange juice. This blog exists to inform.

“Motley Fool Hidden Gems” – these are people who are too cheap to subscribe to the $250-a-year newsletter, but still want to know what the picks are.

“Pimp and ho party” – someone’s probably searching for the pic of my dates to last year’s pimp and ho party, two hot girls wearing skimpy outfits. It’s on the first page of the archives. I talked to the organizer of the pimp and ho parties recently and he said the next one will happen in the fall and several downtown bars will be participating. Looking forward to it…

All right. Off to bed, because I have an exciting day of sitting in a cubicle for 8 hours ahead of me tomorrow. Yay!

Random kibbles ‘n’ bits for your Monday reading pleasure

– This weekend I found out that my journal has a significant readership from my building, Number 10 Main. I learned that the marriage rant hit close to home for one of my neighbors, and that another person is a regular at Blue Coast Burrito because of my journal.

– I asked how my neighbors knew I had a blog. “Paul, this building is the Melrose Place of downtown,” I was told. “Everyone knows everyone else’s business here.” Hmm, now I’m curious what the other gossip is about me, besides the fact that I have a website.

– My mother LIKED my “Popester in tha Hizzy” rap! She writes: “Good rap about the pope. Not offensive but trendy.” I thought for sure she’d send me a message telling me how sacreligious it is and asking me to take it down.

– WOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOO I just found out that the two vacation days I requested, Monday, April 25 and Monday, May 2 have been approved. I don’t have any special plans in particular, just wanted some long weekends. Going to work five days in a row every week kinda sucks. And I figure it would be good to have the day after Music Fest off since I’ll probably be out until the wee hours Sunday night.

– I’m NOT going to Music Fest though. I have a lot more fun hanging out on Beale than I do actually going to the fest and listening to the bands. Too crowded, too muddy, it rains every year, overpriced concessions, bunch of drunk-ass rednecks.

– Now, Sunset Symphony I like. Much more laid-back, and you can bring your own picnic baskets and coolers in.

– Some of the Sunday drunks are talking about moving our weekly alcoholathon from the Blue Monkey back to Sleep Out’s. I’m starting to miss Sleep Out’s, it has an open, airy feel with all those big windows. And it’s a much shorter walk home. And they’ve started doing $1 Pabst Blue Ribbon on Sundays.

– A friend of mine just started bartending at LoLo’s, the new place on Monroe that used to be Aristi’s. She made me promise to stop by this week. Great, because what I really needed was one more bar to sit at. I feel like I’m turning into Barney from “The Simpsons.”

– Bar TV: Thanks to hanging out at the Tap Room, I’m now addicted to “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” and that reality show where people compete to become an Ultimate Fighter. And, of course, I’m down there most Monday nights to watch wrestling with Darrell.

– Won’t be there tonight though. Last night I wandered by the Flying Saucer and ran into a friend of mine who I know through Mpact. She said, “You’re! Coming! To! Pint! Night! Tomorrow! Dammit!” as she pounded her finger into my chest so hard that it left a bruise.

– She also reminded me that Tuesday night we’re doing salsa lessons as a way for new Mpact members to get to know each other. She and I then proceeded to bust out some salsa moves (read: drunkenly stumble around) right there at the Saucer.

– If it weren’t for alcohol, bums, and pigeons, I’d have nothing to write about.

– What the bums are drinking this week, based on the empty bottles lying in the alley behind my apartment building: 50-cent, 50-mL bottles of Lord Calvert.

– When we did the Easter egg hunt a couple of weeks ago, I suggested buying some of those little bottles, putting them in plastic eggs, and hiding them in Court Square for the bums. But it was Sunday and the liquor store was closed.

– And that’ll do it for today. I need to go check the news and see if a new Popester is in the hizzy yet, they were supposed to start the election process today. See you later…

Popester in tha Hizzy

As I write this, we are currently without a Pope. The college of cardinals will meet in the coming week to elect one. In this transitional time, I’ve been thinking what the next pope can do to reach a 21st-century audience.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time for the pope to update his image a little. Instead of appearing on the balcony and chanting a blessing in Latin, it’s time to turn to the medium of the masses: rap.

(c) 2005 Paul Ryburn. All rights reserved.

Listen up, party people, on your spiritual search
Listen to the grandmaster of the Catholic Church
‘Cause the Vatican is where I make my home
And some people know me as the Bishop of Rome

I’m the P-O-P-E to tha S-T-E-R
And the Popemobile is what they call my car!
The windows are covered in bulletproof glass
So can’t nobody bust a cap up in my ass

As I ride through the crowd, and preach the Word loud
And try my best to make St. Peter proud
‘Cause Peter was the first, he was Popester number one
And a personal acquaintance of God’s only Son

So listen up, party people, you women and you men
I will tell you what is righteous, I will tell you what is sin
Let us all come together on this most holy day
Bend down on our knees, bow our heads, and let’s pray.

Heavenly Father
Heavenly Father
We love thee
We praise thee

You GO God!
You GO God!
Get down
With yo bad self

Get doooooooowwwwwnnnnn……..

The Catholic Church, in its infinite knowledge
Brought its leaders together in the Cardinal College
And they elected me, they said I be’s da man
Who can lead the church like no one else can

So I come with blessings for each and every one
The bishops, the priests, the cardinals and the nuns
Looking mighty sexy in my flowing papal robe
I give shout-outs to my dawgs across tha globe

You Italian priests and you bishops from France
Shake it down, shake it like you got a bee in your pants
And you American priests, stand up and make some noise!
You ain’t Michael Jackson, stay away from the young boys

My name is the Pope, I bring the world hope
If you ain’t down with Jesus, you must be smoking dope!
So spread the word across the Holy See
That the man they call the Popester is in tha hizzy!



Popester in tha hizzy fo shizzy in tha zero zero five, dawg
Know what I’m sayin’?


I have a new favorite T-shirt…it’s a black shirt with “38103” printed on the front with big, bright digits. 38103, of course, is the Downtown Memphis zip code. It’s a great way to show pride in the neighborhood that has truly become my home. If you want to see what it looks like, come to the Rajun Cajun Crawfish Fest tomorrow on Wagner place – I’ll be sporting it.

You can get your 38103 shirts at Etched Art, a gallery at 505 South Main. Actually, though, the shirts are probably the least interesting items in the store. They etch photos – new or old – onto marble, granite, glass, wood or acrylic using laser technology. I bought my mother a 4-pack of coasters with historic Memphis photos etched onto them, and she loves them.

So check out Etched Art next time you’re downtown, and look for people wearing 38103 shirts this summer.

The mathematics of Mountain Dew

Here’s something I just realized.

On average, I drink two 20-ounce bottles of Mountain Dew a day. Each 8-ounce serving has 110 calories, so that’s 550 calories a day that I consume by doing the Dew.

So I decided to whip out the calculator….if I switched to Diet Mountain Dew for a year, I would save over 200,000 calories. It’s generally accepted that 3,500 calories equals one pound of body weight, so I could lose 57 pounds in one year. And I wouldn’t have to give up the burgers, pizzas, fried bar appetizers and all the other crap I eat. Nor would I have to give up the voluminous amounts of alcohol I consume on the weekends, and sometimes during the week. All I’d have to do is switch to Diet Mountain Dew.

57 pounds. Wow.

But, Diet Mountain Dew tastes like piss. So I probably won’t do it.