Sharp Dressed Bum

Just wondering if any other downtowners have had experiences with a panhandler who I refer to as Sharp Dressed Bum.

Here’s his description: Black male, about 35 years old, 5’9″, 150 lbs, goatee. Unlike most bums, he dresses very well, in neatly pressed casual shirts and slacks, and sometimes a stylish hat. If you see him on the street, you’ll probably be inclined to think he’s on his way out to a club for a night on the town – until you talk to him and realize he’s a bum! He usually covers a circuit on the Main Street Mall and Second Street betweeen Madison and Peabody Place, from about 4 pm to midnight. Very recently, he has started riding a bike, and he had one for a while last summer too. I think he may live in the Exchange Building but I’m not sure of that.

His modus operandi is to come up and ask you for money, often so he can buy a pack of cigarettes. If you refuse, he’ll make some comment like, “You better walk away, I’ll kick your ass, motherfucker” and he may even make a motion like he’s going to come at you. I honestly don’t think he actually would – he just gets a kick out of intimidating people a little. Most of the bums won’t mess with the downtown locals once they figure out who they are, but Sharp Dressed Bum continues to harass people who have said no to him 25, 50, 100 times.

He’s been doing his thing downtown for at least two years, and he seems to be gearing up for the 2006 summer season this month. I have absolutely HAD IT with him. It irritates me to walk out the front door in the evening and know that there is almost a 100% chance I will have to deal with him as I head to the Saucer, the Tap Room and my other downtown hangouts. He’s a nuisance and it’s time for him to go away.

Just wondering if anyone else has had dealings with this guy. Due to Memphis’ weak panhandling laws, the cops really can’t do much unless they catch him in the act. Is there anything else we can do to make his life downtown a little more unpleasant, so that perhaps he’ll find something else to do? E-mail me if you have comments or suggestions.

Couple more pics, and a digital camera alert

Here are a couple more pics I’ve snapped recently. Click on the pics for their full-size image. I didn’t downsize these at all, so the full-size pics are about a megabyte each.

Last weekend, the Budweiser Clydesdales were in town for the Redbirds’ opening weekend. This is a pic of them going down Second Street, taken from the window of the Flying Saucer.

This is a sunset pic, snapped last night from the rooftop of No. 10 Main.

Camera alert: My new web host has photo album software (Coppermine, for those of you who do web development) that I’m itching to try out, and I’ve been looking for an event where I can go out and snap a lot of pics. Looks like we’ve got three such events coming our way the next three weeks – Crawfish Fest, Wine Race, and Music Fest (although, as I’ve said previously, I won’t be going in the festival itself). So if you go to any of those, you’ll probably see me out taking pictures.

Looks like it’s going to be a beautiful day outside. I may have to walk down to Beale Street at some point this afternoon for a slurpee, and then tonight I’ll be at the Venus Envy art show at Glasshouse 383.

The Majestic: Initial impressions

I just got back from eating at the Majestic, the new restaurant in the former Gordon Biersch location on Main Street. I had high expectations for the place, and it met and even exceeded them.

The place is very tastefully decorated, and they have a very long bar (20+ seats) so it’s very accomodating to people like me who prefer to sit at the bar. It will be open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week.

The bartender introduced himself (his name’s Jeff – tell him you read about him on my blog if you go up there) and was very friendly and helpful. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted, just told him I was in the mood for a good after-work drink and he mixed up a couple of winners.

The food is very reasonably priced. Appetizers are $6-9, flatbread pizzas are $5-6, salads are $5-8, specialty dishes are $11-16, sandwiches and burgers are $5-9 and steaks are $17-28. I had a flatbread pizza with smoked sausage, roasted peppers and onions, and mozzarella ($6). A vegetarian friend of mine joined me, and he had a flatbread pizza with plum tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella for $5. One of those pizzas should be enough to fill you up unless you’re extremely hungry. A guy sitting down from us at the bar had an ENORMOUS salad with asparagus, cauliflower, and other vegetables, topped with salmon for $8.

Then Jeff the bartender asked me, “Are you ready for dessert?” he said, and I said sure, and asked to see a dessert menu. “I’ll do better than that,” he said, “I’ll bring dessert to you.” Here’s what came out:

Click on the pic for a larger image – you really need to see this one at full size. He brought out these five desserts, in glasses a little bit larger than votive candle holders, and told me that each was $1.95, and I was welcome to have as many as I want. Pictured from left to right above are wild berry crunch, chocolate mousse (which I chose as my dessert), creme sofia (similar to creme brulee), carrot cake, and strawberry shortcake. Dessert selections change daily, he told me.

That dessert rack is the most brilliant thing I’ve ever seen. They’re little glasses so you’re not going to bust your diet by having one dessert. They’re inexpensive, so you’re not going to run up your bill by having one. On the other hand, if you’re someone who likes to sample a lot of different options, you could try three desserts at the Majestic for what you’d pay for one dessert at most restaurants.

When my bill came, it was $19.08 for a flatbread pizza, a dessert, and two very stiff mixed drinks. My friend had a tab of $24 for a vegetarian pizza and 4 glasses of wine. Not bad at all.

The Majestic is owned by a husband and wife who have been part of the downtown restaurant scene for a long time. That’s another reason it’s worth supporting – it’s owned by real people, and isn’t part of a chain or run by a management group.

I want to go back and try some other selections from their menu, but based on what I saw tonight, thumbs WAY up. Definitely a place you need to check out if you live, work or play downtown.

Couple more events to put on your calendar: candidate forum, CD release party

Couple more things I have learned about:

– On Tuesday, April 25 from 7-9 pm, MULYP and Mpact Memphis will be hosting a Candidates’ Forum at the Central Library, 3030 Poplar. This is your chance to meet the candidates who will be running in the May 2 city and county primaries. Don’t forget, early voting is going on now, and I personally recommend Kevin Gallagher for Criminal Court Clerk.

– On Sunday, April 30, blues singer Barbara Blue will have a CD Release Party at the Hard Rock Cafe on Beale. This is the same day as the Beale Street Wine Race, so it will be easy to attend both events. If you haven’t heard her before, you gotta… most incredible blues voice I’ve heard in this city.

And that’s the news… I’m off to the Majestic to see what’s for dinner.

Friday update: restaurants, vibrators, school food, and more

– I’m finding out that I need to give my posts more descriptive names than “Friday update.” The reason why is that the server that serves the ads at the top of this blog looks at my post titles to determine what ads to display. When I use generic titles like “Friday update,” I get lousy ads, meaning ones that don’t pay very well when people click on them. So, look for my titles to be more colorful (and incorporate some juicy keywords) from now on.

– The Majestic, the new restaurant in the former Gordon Biersch space, opens today. I’ve been looking forward to this for a while. I plan to be sitting at the bar there tonight no later than 6 pm.

– The building at Union and Cooper that used to be an antique mall will be demolished tomorrow morning at 9 am to make way for a new, larger Playhouse on the Square. There’s also a demolition party tonight from 5:30 to 7:30.

– I finally heard some news on the new downtown Blue Monkey… construction will begin next month, and it will indeed be 3 floors with a rooftop deck, seating twice as many people as the old Monkey. And it will have pool tables! Attn Terry aka Black Man… you can look forward to getting your ass whooped on those pool tables many, many times in the years to come. Back in the days of the old Monkey we had to tab out and go to the Saucer when Terry decided that it was time for him to lose some pool games.

– This one is for the ladies: The local chapter of Drinking Liberally is hosting a combination pleasure party/protest Sunday night at Neil’s at 7 pm. Last month, the Tennessee legislature dropped a bill that would have made the sale, advertisement, or exhibition of any 3-D object used to stimulate human genitals (e.g. vibrators, etc.) illegal. The Mississippi courts recently upheld a nearly identical law. So Drinking Liberally is inviting you to come out, purchase some new sex toys if you like, and protest these unbelievably stupid laws. State legislatures have no business in people’s private bedrooms. Bring the most friends to win a Silver Bullet; buy a raffle ticket to win a Rabbit.

– Couple things I left off my schedule in the last post: On Sunday I will stop by Sleep Out’s for a quick drink before heading to Crawfish Fest (I figured people would assume that, but I’m getting “you’re not going to Sleep Out’s?” mail). Also, I’ve got to fit the upcoming Project: Motion performance in my schedule somewhere. Their only performance date that isn’t a conflict for me is Saturday, April 29, so I’ll likely go to their show that evening.

– As you can tell by the timestamp, I’m typing this during my lunch break at my job at the school board. The employee cafeteria is down the hall and the place smells of school food. I still have too many lingering memories of my junior high school cafeteria to eat there. There was the school food “pizza,” rectangular squares of dough covered with imitation cheese and imitation pepperoni. Then there was the school food “burrito,” which had the texture and aroma of an old sweat sock. The school food “sloppy joe” and the school food “barbecue sandwich” were the same thing, but by giving it two different names they could serve it two days a week instead of just one. I’ll never forget the time a friend of mine found an unidentified black metal object in his school food “fish.”

And then there was the all time worst… they only did this one time… the school food “taco dog,” which was a weiner stuck inside a taco shell. No toppings, no mustard to go with it, nothing. They must have been completely out of ideas that day.

I mentioned recently that I won a prize in a poker tournament, in which a chef will come over to my place and cook dinner for me and a few friends. I can assure you that taco dogs will NOT be on the menu.

– And that’s it for now. Time to get back to an exciting afternoon of sitting in a cubicle and writing SQL Server stored procedures. Four more hours…

Early Thursday evening drunk post

– I was on my way to the Peabody rooftop party, but I had half a magnum (1.5 L bottle) of chardonnay left and drank and it and never left my own rooftop. Therefore, you get a drunk post this evening.

– I’ll still make the Dempseys 9:30 show at the Saucer though. Unless I pass out first.

– I found a great shirt this evening: It’s a T-shirt from Target that says “i’m really excited to be here.” I’m considering wearing it to every Peabody rooftop party the rest of this season.

– So I work for the city schools now. Today I was walking the halls of the school board building and I noticed the following sign hanging prominently above the entrance: “Read at least two books a month, 25 in a year!” Great, a run-on sentence that teaches our children about multiplication. No wonder our schools are in such great shape.

– Also, as I walked around I passed a bulletin board where various notices were posted. There were a total of 24 thumbtacks holding these notices up. Six of them (25%) were holding up notices reading, “Please Do Not Remove Thumb Tacks.” The school system in a nutshell.

– Random comment I heard while at work yesterday: “It was the Easter Bunny who rolled away the stone covering the crypt that was Jesus’ tomb.” You learn something new every day.

– The University of Memphis’ campus paper, the Daily Helmsman, has an online edition with a link where you can rate your professor. I checked out some ratings of people I know there… There’s a local classical guitarist/professor who is considered a goddess/diva by most Memphians… but apparently her students don’t agree… quite interesting. Check it out af you know who I mean.

– I gotta admit, this thing would have worried me had it been around when I was teaching. If you have one bad day as a teacher the details could become public knowledge for all eternity, especially if you have students with a vendetta. One time I had a morning class that averaged 59% on a test (my afternoon class averaged 80, so it wasn’t that I made the test too hard). I went in and handed the tests back and told them, “The class average was an F. I’m not curving. The other class made an 80. You just didn’t try. Some of you need to think about whether you’re willing to put in the effort needed to pass this class, and if not, drop.” I got KILLED on the student evals that semester from that class. If RateYourProfessor had been around then, anything I said – any little quirk (and I had plenty) – would have been posted on the site for all to see. Glad I quit in the ’90s.

– One of my students wrote “dresses very unprofessionally” on the eval. That’s the one I’m the most proud of, of the entire 5 years I taught. (I tended to wear shorts to work every day from March to November, and sometimes even in the winter months when warm.)

– For those of you who check this blog for news about Romania, here’s the forecast: Hot. Very hot.

– Oops, sorry, that’s the forecast for the girls in Romania. The forecast for the weather in Romania is partly cloudy with a high of 19C (67F) in the capital of Bucharest, 18C (65F) in the mountain city of Brasov, and cooler with rain in the Moldavian city of Iasi.

– Plans for the next two weeks:

Fri 4/21: If the new place is open downtown, go there, then the Saucer/Beale Street
Sat 4/22: Venus Envy at Glasshouse 383
Sun 4/23: Rajun Cajun Crawfish Fest on the river, then to the Saucer to watch the Memphis/Dallas playoff game at 8:30
Tue 4/25: Kick some trivia ass with the Rapscallions
Thur 4/27: Peabody rooftop, unless I get sidetracked again
Fri 4/28: South Main Trolley Art Tour
Sun 4/30: Wine Race on Beale Street
Tue 5/2: More trivia ass-kicking.
Thur 5/4: Madison rooftop party with The Dempseys
Fri 5/5-Sun 5/7: Memphis in May Music Fest. Not going in, of course, but hanging out on Beale, which is infinitely more fun.

Right now: Go have one more glass of wine on the roof, then hit the Saucer.

Wednesday update: Rapscallion record, blog opportunity, and more

– The Rapscallions trivia team, last night consisting of a two-man unit of myself and Chad, coasted to an easy victory at the Saucer’s Trivia Bowl, with a record 99 points. The two next closest teams (tied) had 71. We selected the Flying Saucer gift certificate as our prize, of course. The team now has a stockpile of 5 unused gift certificates ($125). One or two more and we’ll be ready to have a major party.

– I did have some unneeded “help” on one of the questions last night. The first question was, “What city was devastated by an earthquake a century ago, on April 18?” The guy leaning on the rail drinking a beer next to me said, “10 years ago… that’d be 1996… so the answer is California!” However, he had to take off for the Grizzlies game, depriving the team of his valuable insight for the remainder of the evening.

– Food recommendation: the Saucer’s Hippie Hollow wrap with chicken and a side greek salad. To be honest, I had never tried the Hippie Hollow because it sounded like the worst thing on the entire menu. But teammate Chad ordered one last night and it looked really good, so I got one too. It was probably the best wrap I’ve ever had there, and a lot healthier than most bar food.

– Congrats to the Grizzlies on winning last night and clinching the #5 playoff spot. I hope we can continue that momentum and win at least a game or two against Dallas in the first round.

– As you know, my Deal of the Week blog has moved to the Commercial Appeal website. Now they’ve offered me a second opportunity – the chance to blog for Music Fest. When they first proposed it, I turned it down, because I didn’t want to go to Music Fest – I have more fun hanging out outside, on Beale and the surrounding streets. “That’s okay, that can be your angle,” they replied. “You can be our man on the street, letting us know what else is going on downtown.” I told them I need a few days to think about it. On one hand, the fame associated with being a CA blogger is appealing. But on the other hand, the absolute LAST thing I want during Music Fest is responsibility. I told them I’d get back to them by the end of the week.

– The restaurant that used to be Cafe Samovar will reopen Monday. It will be called Meditrina.

– And now it’s time for me to go sit in a cubicle for 8 hours. True, it’s a bigger cubicle than before, and I get paid more money for sitting in it, but it’s still a cubicle. And I still have to be there at 8 in the morning. Grumble… Life is better than before, but this is still not ideal…

Go Clippers!

Memphis Grizzlies vs. Los Angeles Clippers, tomorrow night at 7:30 at the FedExForum. Whoever wins will be the #5 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. That puts me in the unusual position of rooting against my hometown team, because I want to see Memphis lose and fall to #6. That would put us up against the Denver Nuggets (44-36) in the playoffs. If we win and go in as #5 we get the Dallas Mavericks (60-21).

I left an event off my recent event calendar post: The Beale Street Wine Race will be Sunday, April 30 in the afternoon. Teams from various bars and restaurants compete in contests. I overheard “they’re trying to not make such a big deal about the nudity this year,” which makes me think I’ll have to show up. That means I’ll have three weeks in a row (Crawfish Fest, Wine Race, Music Fest) where I have to skip my usual Sunday ritual at Sleep Out’s. No bottle of champagne. I may stop by for one bloody mary, but that’s it.

I came home this afternoon to find that the weather monitor on my computer (which gets its readings from AutoZone Park) displayed a temperature of 93. 93 is a normal high for the last week of July, the hottest part of the year in Memphis.

Too sleepy to type any more… this is going to have to be a short one. I’ll probably be at the Saucer tomorrow night for trivia, although I’ll have to fight the Redbirds and Grizzlies crowds for a good seat.

What I learned while drinking at Sleep Out’s today

While drinking at Sleep Out’s today, a debate arose as to whether there really is an animal called a “liger.” I knew that there was and got out my laptop to prove it.

A liger is the offspring of a male lion and female tiger. Adult ligers are considerably larger than adult lions or tigers.

What I did not know is that there is also an animal known as a tigon. Tigons are smaller than lions or tigers and are the offspring of a male tiger and a female lion.

There was also a question that came on NTN Trivia that I particularly liked. “Ion Antonescu was the leader of what country in the 1940s?” GOT THAT ONE!!! Don’t mess with Romania!

Upcoming events: Music, art, ho’s, crawfish, and dance

First of all, if you’re looking for my Deal of the Week, it has moved to my new blog on the Commercial Appeal. I’ll be posting my first Deal there later today, after I spend some time going through the Sunday paper.

And now, down to business. Here are some upcoming dates to put on your calendar:

– If you like the Flying Saucer and you like The Dempseys, this is the week for you. They’ll be playing the Downtown Saucer Thursday night the 20th at 9:30. I’m gonna have to leave the Peabody rooftop party early to make it to this one. For those of you who live in Cordova, Germantown, and Collierville, they’ll be playing the East Bumblefuck Flying Saucer on Germantown Parkway Friday night the 21st at 9:30.

– Saturday the 22nd is the fifth annual Venus Envy show, starting at 7 pm at Glasshouse 383 on South Main. Venus Envy is an all-female show of visual and performing arts. I’ve been to three of the previous four Venus Envys (I had to miss last year due to a schedule conflict) and it is one of the best art events of the year. In addition to art, they’ll have female bands, poets, and belly dancers performing. This will be a fun night. Admission is $8 in advance (tickets can be purchased at Glasshouse 383 or online) or $10 at the door. All proceeds fund the Venus Envy Memphis scholarship for a female student at Memphis College of Art.

– The 22nd is also the Pimp and Ho party at Senses. As much as I like dressing up in the blue leisure suit, dollar sign medallion and gold teetheses, I’m probably not going to make it to this one.

– Sunday the 23rd is the Rajun Cajun Crawfish Fest downtown, on Wagner between Union and Beale. It runs from noon to 6. Needless to say, I’ll be there. In addition to the food, there will be bands and crawfish races.

– The dance troupe Project:Motion presents Metallurgy: The Properties of Dance at Theatreworks later this month. Dates are April 28-29 and May 4-6 at 8 pm, April 30 and May 7 at 2 pm. I’ll be there on one of the days that doesn’t conflict with Music Fest, not sure which day yet.

Our Big Fat Greek Festival at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church is Friday-Saturday, May 12-13, from 11 am to 8 pm at 573 N. Highland. Delicious food and Greek culture.

– Memphis in May Music Fest May 5-7, BBQ Fest May 18-20, and Sunset Symphony May 27. Visit their website for more details. The country they’re honoring this year is Costa Rica.

– Last night’s fireworks display at the Redbirds game got cancelled by the fire marshal because it was too windy. No word yet on whether it will be rescheduled.

And of course, the Paul Goes To Sleep Out Louie’s And Gets Drunk Festival kicks off in about an hour, so I better get going. Happy Easter, and if there are any events not on here that the world needs to know about, drop me an e-mail!