Great moments in the history of the tube top

In honor of tube top month here at, it is my pleasure to present this look at one of the great moments in the history of the tube top.

The year was 1979. Hollywood, California. The game show The Price is Right was filming an episode. This was back when Bob Barker still dyed his hair, and the original Barker’s Beauties – Diane, Janice, and Holly (was Holly one of the originals? not sure) were still on the show.

But this story isn’t about them. This story is about an unsuspecting woman in an audience of maybe 250, who just thought she was there to watch a game show taping. But then the announcer told her to COME ON DOWN! And she was thrilled beyond belief. And come on down she did. And as she screamed and jumped and squealed, the tube top she was wearing came on down as well.

And that was a beautiful moment in the history of television, and the history of the tube top.

Social Security forum

Tonight I went to the Social Security Forum at the Marriott, presented by the Federal Reserve Bank and sponsored by Mpact. This was a nonpartisan attempt to explain to the public what is going on with Social Security reform. It was the best Mpact event I’ve been to this year, except for Impacto (where there was free liquor and one of the Promote Memphis pillar chairs had on a tube top). Here are highlights of what I learned:

– When Social Security payroll taxes exceed paid-out benefits, the extra money goes into a trust fund by law. But the government simply buys T-Bills and in fact uses the excess for current federal spending. So the “trust fund” is nothing but debt – the government takes out loans to itself.

– Right now, payroll tax revenue > benefits paid out. But by 2018 (assuming no change in payroll taxes or benefit formula) benefits will be > payroll tax revenue. At that point the government will begin cashing in the IOUs to itself – which means it will have to come up with extra money through higher taxes, reduced spending or more debt.

– In 2041, the trust fund will run out. At that point, benefits paid will amount to 74% of scheduled benefits, if payroll taxes and benefit formula remain as they currently are, because income will have to equal expenses. By 2079 it will go down to 68%.

– One proposal is not to use private accounts, but to do one or more of the following: increase the payroll tax, increase the retirement age, raise or eliminate the $90,000/year income cap on Social Security payroll tax, reduce benefits for higher-income earners, or switch benefit formula from wage indexing to price indexing. We learned that, although the cost-of-living raises for retirees and the maximum yearly contribution cap are indexed by inflation, the benefit formula determining how much you get as you’re about to retire is indexed by wages. In general wages grow more quickly than prices. This proposal would preserve the current system for at least another 75 years.

– Other proposals allow for a portion of your 6.2% old-age Social Security contribution to be invested in financial markets – generally 2 to 4 of the 6.2%. People will have options in terms of risk, but options will be limited. The private accounts could be either voluntary or mandatory – under the Bush plan, they’re voluntary.

– Diverting dollars to private accounts will mean less money is going into the trust fund – so the government will have to borrow even more over time.

– Some people feel that the no-privatization plan will reduce economic growth because it will mean increasing taxes and increasing the cap on contributions.

– On the other hand, there’s a public fear about retirement income depending on the market.

– Private accounts will be able to pass from one generation to the next, as 401(k)s do.

– Private accounts are not guaranteed to restore the long-run solvency of the system – we can’t be sure the market will actually go up.

– The reform plan most likely to pass is the one that is favored by the age/income cohort wielding the greatest political influence. As we move closer to 2018 this is going to become a hotter and hotter political issue.

– In the long long run, private accounts will almost certainly outperform the non-privatization solution. But in the gap between now and then, it will cost trillions.

And those are the notes I took. I’ll maintain the nonpartisan stance from the presentation and let you draw your own conclusions. Thanks to the Federal Reserve Bank for a most informative presentation. I learned a lot.

Father’s Day

I’ve told this story before, but it’s worth repeating. It’s an annual tradition, like Miracle on 34th Street and the Rudolph cartoons for Christmas.

The year was 1972. This was back when tube tops were high fashion the first time around. I was a toddler. I decided that I wanted to be a big boy. So I went into Daddy’s closet and tried on his clothes. Then I wandered into the kitchen. “Look, Mama,” I said. “I’m wearing a sport coat, just like Daddy.”

“And I have liquor bottles in my pockets, just like Daddy!”

Mama and Daddy had a big argument that night. It wasn’t a very happy Father’s Day.

Happy Father’s Day.

Something I just thought of

For months now, I’ve heard a rumor that Emperor Bush is going to find a way to amend the Constitution or otherwise rig the election process so he can run for a third term. Up until today, I thought that would be a bad thing.

But today, as I was sitting at the Monkey drinking my champagne, I realized something. If the Constitution were amended to allow presidents to run for a third term, then Bush could face a challenge from the man who would kick his ass all over the electoral college.

Bill Clinton.

Now I could totally deal with a third Clinton term. Balanced budgets… compassion for everyone not just corporate billionaires… protection, rather than evaporation, of people’s civil rights… respect on the world stage through diplomacy rather than bullying… and I have a feeling Bill Clinton is a man who appreciates tube tops as much as I do.

Clinton in ’08! Bring it on!

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.