Downtown on fire

I got a call about 5:30 this morning from my neighbor Carmel. “Paul, get up to the rooftop! Downtown is on fire! You gotta come see!” So I threw some clothes on and raced up there. This is what I found:

This is the old Jolly Royal building, next door to the Lincoln American Tower on Court Square. I was told that the First United Methodist Church at Second and Poplar (which is several blocks away) had burned, and embers from that fire had blown over and caught this building on fire. I can believe it; embers were blowing all over the place, and we’re lucky my building and many others downtown didn’t catch on fire too. For a while we had to remain in the glassed-in part of the rooftop because of the embers.

A few minutes after I arrived on the rooftop, the burning building collapsed, sending a fireball nearly the size of the 20-story Lincoln American Tower into the air. Here’s what the building looked like afterward:

Here’s a pic of what it looked like in the morning. Several small fires started in the Lincoln American Tower, but were confined to the wood window frames and some paint on the roof.

About 7:30 I walked up to Court Square. The sidewalks were covered with ashes, as shown in the pic below. I talked to Tom Shelton of Shelton Clothiers, and he said the sidewalks were covered with ash as far south as his store, about 5 blocks south of the fire.

The firefighters were on the ground, inspecting the damage.

Then the Lowenstein Building, on the other side of the Lincoln American Tower facing Main Street, caught on fire.

The shell of the building that burned and collapsed looks like it may fall on the law office next door. When I left Court Square, the firefighters were discussing the best way to safely pull it down.

A view of the shell of the building from the other direction:

A close-up of the corner of the destroyed building:

Firefighters and Red Cross representatives survey the damage.

Whew. What a mess. But like I said, we’re lucky that all of Downtown didn’t go up in flames, and we’re lucky that no one was injured.

House-hunting? Might want to look at this

I was flipping through the new issue of the Memphis Flyer this afternoon, and I noticed a house in Cooper-Young which appears to be selling for an incredibly good price. I’m too attached to Downtown to consider moving, but if you’re house-hunting and are considering Midtown, this might be something you want to look into.

It’s a 2BR/1BA bungalow at 2061 Evelyn for $109,500. You can see a pic of it at the bottom left corner of p.61 of this week’s Flyer (October 5-11 issue). The ad says it has a bonus room, all appliances stay, hardwood floors, separate living room and dining room.

This house, on a corner lot at Evelyn and Tanglewood, is a one-block walk from Cooper. You’d be able to walk to Celtic Crossing, Young Avenue Deli, Dish, Do, The Beauty Shop, Jasmine, Casablanca and all the other hotspots in the area. You’d be able to walk to Black Lodge Video to rent DVDs. You’d be able to walk to Square Foods and pick up dinner at their deli. You’d be able to walk to Java Cabana for coffee, and to Goner Records for some tunes. If you go to church at First Congo, you’d be able to walk there too. And of course, you’d have Cooper-Young Fest a block away every September. And you could walk to Tiger football games. This is in a great location and is in the most desirable quadrant of Cooper-Young – it’s not too close to the ‘hood in any direction.

It’s been a long time I’ve seen a house in such an ideal location at such an affordable price. Someone ought to jump all over this. The only negative mentioned in the ad is that the house needs some painting. At this price, I think I’d hire an expert to take a look and verify that there is nothing else wrong with it. But assuming it passes your expert’s inspection, this looks like a heck of a buy.

I’m not affiliated with the seller or realtor or anything, just saw what looked like a good buy and thought I’d bring it to the attention of my readers – kind of like I do with my Deal of the Week column but on a much larger scale.

(Disclaimer: I have no real estate background and am basing this post on nothing but my own intuition. If you buy this house and something turns out to be wrong with it, I’m not responsible. Consult experts before you buy.)

Lunchtime update:, live music at Sleep Out Louie’s, Halloween

If you live or work downtown, you gotta check out this site: It’s a website that takes a different tactic to draw attention to the homeless problem in Memphis, by turning the homeless into celebrities via the Internet and fighting homelessness with humor. In addition to a photo gallery and special features on the homeless, it also contains “Bum Finds,” where they auction off items the homeless have found around town. The site also allows street people to make money by creating their own clothing lines. This site is starting to get attention (both positive and negative) in the local media. Check it out and decide for yourself. Personally, I applaud them for thinking outside the box in dealing with this issue.

Here’s another event to add to an already jam-packed calendar for this week: Josh Lemons, Bobby Durango, and Crash Kole perform at Sleep Out Louie’s this Friday, October 6, at 7:30 pm. You may remember Bobby from the ’80s band Rock City Angels. You may remember Josh as the guy behind the bar at Sleep Out’s. You may remember Crash as the guy who frequently sits at the bar at Sleep Out’s. No, not me, the other guy.

Speaking of Sleep Out’s – I’m sitting at the bar right now as I type this. The lunch special is chicken alfredo pasta, which I got with a side of broccoli. Yummy. On the downside, there doesn’t appear to be any Romanian representation among the staff this morning.

Regular blog reader Mallory writes, “Hi, I hate to be selfish and take the fire out of anyone else for Halloween. So, with my encouragement, I would like to extend the invitation for Paul Ryburn Halloween costumes. You have become so diverse over the years, and it will be interesting and beneficial to see which ‘Paul’ different people may come up with!” So there ya go. Carmel and other readers, you’re free to be me for Halloween without stepping on Mallory’s toes. Although, Carmel told me last night she has an alternate costume in mind, an ultra-tight outfit with very short skirt. Can’t remember who she was going to be exactly, but who cares. I encourage her to continue on with that costume instead of dressing as me.

Can’t believe I didn’t get an “Oh Paul, I wish you wouldn’t drink so much” e-mail from my mother after last night’s drunk post.

Semi-Charmed Kat has posted a pic of herself with Elmo and the Cookie Monster. She needs to upload a video of herself doing her Microsoft Excel dance with her big boss and her mini-boss. That would be entertaining. Well, not really, but I’d still watch it.

Back to the rat race. Although, I have to say, the City Schools are not a bad place to work at all. They’re sending me for three days of Microsoft SQL Server 2005 training next month. First programming/web development job I’ve ever had where management saw the value in spending money to train employees on the latest technologies. And, I suggested they might want to send us to a class on Visual Studio 2005/ASP.NET 2.0 as well, and it looks like they’re going to take me up on it. Cool.

Weather trivia

The Weather Channel is predicting a high of 94 for Memphis today. In OCTOBER.

Weather trivia: Today, October 4, is the last day of the year that the normal high for Memphis is in the 80s. It won’t be “normal” for it to be above 80 again until May 13 of next year.

Of course, Memphis weather is rarely normal. I still can’t get over Halloween 1993. It snowed that day. And it actually stuck to the grass for a little while. Bet there were a bunch of little kids who screamed bloody murder when their parents told them it was too cold to go trick-or-treating.

Off to work.

Drunk post: St. Jude, Chicago, Romanians, Blues Ball

Hi there. I’m Paul, and this is my blog. And I’m drunk. My trivia team the Rapscallions took home a first-place ($50) victory in trivia this week at the Flying Saucer. Although, Team Accountant got all excited when a question about GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) came up. Doesn’t matter; they still lost.

One of my teammates, from Chicago, told me I need to come visit him back home. “There’s entire neighborhoods in Chicago, with nothing but Romanians,” he said. “It’s like a Romanian village. You go into the bars and restaurants, and half the people don’t speak English.” Dude, I am SO there. Romanian women are hot. I understand there’s a Ukranian village as well. May visit that one too.

If you’re downtown tomorrow, it might be worth it to drive by the intersection of South Main and GE Patterson. Apparently MATA has brought in a light rail train to show people what the future of Memphis transportation will be like. I mean, assuming they don’t fuck it up like they did the trolley. The goddamn thing derails every other time it turns the corner from Main onto Madison. Anyway, the light rail train took an entire day to unload from the truck from what I hear, so go by and appreciate MATA’s efforts. It’s like 100 feet long, so it’s quite a spectacle.

Congrats to St. Jude, which was recently named the #1 place to work in academia. I have several friends who work at St. Jude, and I’ve never ever heard anything negative about the place. St. Jude’s is an employer who gets it. Treat your employees well and in turn your customers (patients) will be treated well. Thumbs up.

The Cordova Fox & Hound has experienced a rash of car break-ins. Just a heads-up for those of you who thought it was safe out in East Bumblefuck, unlike Downtown and Midtown which are practically third-world countries according to those living in “teh 018” and “teh 016.” (Wannabe hipster slang for the Cordova 38018 and 38016 zip codes. Oh, and please learn how to spell “the”) They also have had problems with “solicitors,” or “bums” as we call them downtown.

The Blues Ball is this Saturday. Now, the Blues Ball itself can be missed (like I could give a shit about what gown Pat Kerr Tigrett shows up in, and otherwise what point is there in going), but I will point out that there’s usually a Blues Ball after-party at Earnestine & Hazel’s at Main and GE Patterson, which is free except for your tab for beer. I’ll likely show up sometime between 12 and 1:30.

I’m wasted. I’m going to bed. Tomorrow there will be entertainment in Court Square from 6 to 8 – The Billy Gibson Band with special guests The Bums and The Pigeons. Afterward I’ll hit the Flying Saucer for Buy The Beer, Waste Money On The Glass night where the featured beer/glass will be Abita Turbo Dog, and live music will be provided by Whoever The Hell Is Playing This Week. But that’s tomorrow. Right now I’ve got to go lie down. My head is spinning.

Amendment 1

So, on Election Day next month Tennesseeans will vote on Amendment 1, which if it passes will ban gay and lesbian marriage.

I’m a straight guy. I like women. A lot. And only women. And yet, I can’t figure out how my lifestyle would be threatened one bit if Bob and Steve (or Maureen and Tabitha) who love each other very much were able to marry each other.

I guess people want me to believe that the woman of my dreams would see that gay marriage is allowed, and think to herself, “Oh! It’s OKAY to be a lesbian! I think I’ll give it a try!” and maybe she’d like it and never become attracted to me and marry me. But, you know, I’m pretty sure that the woman of my dreams likes men. And if I do one day marry the woman of my dreams, I can’t see how our marriage will mean any less because Bob and Steve are married as well.

If one day I have children, I don’t think they’ll be more likely to “decide” that they’re gay because they see that gay marriage is permitted. However, if my children DO turn out to be gay, I would want them to live their lives in an environment of comfort and acceptance – an environment they’re more likely to have if this amendment fails.

And it seems to me that if Bob and Steve are lifelong partners who love each other as much as a man loves his wife, Bob should be able to add Steve to his insurance policy as his spouse. If Bob becomes gravely ill, Steve deserves to legally be his “next of kin” who can make life-and-death decisions if the need arises.

As I said before, I’m straight. Several of my friends are not. Legislation that says that they are less of a human being than I am offends me to the highest degree.

And if I ever have children, intolerance, prejudice, exclusion, and minding other people’s business are not the kind of “family values” I plan on teaching them.

Stupid, stupid, unnecessary amendment and proof that this country is heading in the wrong direction. We need to be creating legislation that addresses people’s possibilities, not their fears.

Vote No on 1.

Sunday update: Theater trivia, the Goodwyn, Halloween costumes, etc.

I was flipping through the Memphis Flyer and noticed that Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot was performed at Rhodes College this weekend. A little trivia for you: In the 1950s, Beckett gave one of his neighbors’ children a ride to school every day, because the boy had grown too big to fit on the school bus. The neighbor boy went on to become famous as professional wrestler Andre the Giant.

Now, see, that’s the kind of insightful trivia you won’t find anywhere else. Bet not even the Commercial Appeal’s theater reporter knew that little fact.

The building next door to mine, the Goodwyn, that is being converted to condos and sold, now has a website. Check it out. The developers are the same people who converted No. 10 Main into apartments and are just super good guys.

Got an e-mail from another regular blog reader, Carmel, who said, “Damn! Someone stole my Halloween costume idea!” Apparently she was also going to dress up as me for Halloween, but blog reader Mallory (see the previous post) beat her to the punch. Maybe I should create a Paul Ryburn Halloween costume and get it in Party City. Not that I especially want to be a Halloween costume, but if I can collect royalties then I’m all for it.

So it’s a little after 9 on Sunday night and I’m home from the day’s drinking festivities, which were pretty boring today. Trying to decide if I want to go back out. I need to find a girl to kiss who won’t be leaving town in a few days, or a few weeks, or a few months. That seems to have been a challenge for me this summer.

My latest Deal of the Week column is up – dress your dog up like a bee! Or if you’re really adventurous, your cat! I’m trying to inject more humor into Deal of the Week because frankly, I’m getting bored with it. When I agreed to start writing the weekly column, I did it for the fame/notoriety of being a Commercial Appeal writer much more so than the money I get for writing it. But, six months in, my personal blog draws 10 times the traffic that Deal of the Week does, even with the CA’s name behind Deal. I don’t know… I’ll keep doing it for now, but I suspect I may lose interest by the end of the year.

Eh. I think I’ll just stay home for the remainder of the evening. I’m sure I don’t need to mention that I’ll be at Pint Nite at the Saucer tomorrow after work.

Second Saturday update: Brat con Queso, Architect’s Party, Halloween

Back on the computer for a second post. My apologies to Ken & Robyn for missing tonight’s performance at Sleep Out’s, but it’s been a wild week and I really just needed a night off.

I went back to the Saucer for lunch and had the Brat Con Queso again, and this time I took my camera. Here’s a pic:

It’s hard to see here, but there are slices of bratwurst mixed in with the four melted cheeses and pico de gallo. You spoon it onto the tortillas and eat it. A little messy but oh so good.

You may also notice that I was drinking a Coke with lunch. I didn’t want to even touch a beer after last night’s drinking extravaganza.

When I was posting “Dates to remember” earlier today, I left a big one off the list: The semi-annual Architects’ Party, Friday, October 6 from 8:30 pm to 1:30 am. Dr. Zarr’s Amazing Funk Monster will provide the entertainment, and I’m always in the mood to get down to a little disco when they play. This is usually one of the best parties of the season. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door. Check out their ad in the Flyer (p.12) for more info. Proceeds benefit the International Children’s Heart Foundation, so you’ll be supporting a good cause and partying at the same time.

Regular blog reader Mallory came up to me last night and asked permission to dress up as me for Halloween. I’m not quite sure why anyone would want to do that, but I said sure, go ahead. Now I’m looking forward to see what she comes up with (and a little scared, too).

Regular blog reader Chris sent me this link to a playlist of downloadable songs by artists who performed at this weekend’s GonerFest in Midtown.

If any of my neighbors in No. 10 Main are reading this, there’s a keg on the rooftop.

And that’s the news. I’m going to sleep. I’ll postpone my Saturday night partying until Sunday.