Thur update: Make your neighborhood better with a very cool app, Bangkok Alley, rooftop parties, bus rides, karaoke and more

Mashable had an article about a VERY cool app this morning that I hope gets some use in Memphis. See Click Fix lets citizens report potholes, graffiti and other neighborhood problems. Officials in other cities have started paying attention to this app, and fixes/results seem to come much more quickly than through the old-fashioned method of reporting: phone calls to City Hall. I see that the Center City Commission and Memphis Public Works already monitor this app.

Speaking of Mashable, congrats to the folks behind local startup Work for Pie, which was featured on the site today.

Today’s Living Social deal is a good one: $10 for $20 worth of food at Bangkok Alley. Mmmm… haven’t been there in a while. I see some green curry and a sushi roll in my future plans.

’80s hair band cover band Aquanet plays the Peabody rooftop party tonight. I just cannot say enough about how awesome this band is. Def Leppard, Warrant, Poison, Motley Crue, etc. Food buffet (included in price of admission) will have an all-American 4th of July theme this week, with hot dogs with toppings, potato salad, corn on the cob, and watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew. The VIP section’s buffet will include burger sliders, potato skins, baked beans and potato chips. Arrive early for the chance to win a New Belgium Cruiser from Budweiser. Also, the Orpheum will be there distributing tickets and swag for its Summer Movie Series. $10 cover includes first drink, ladies free before 7. Since we’re halfway through the season, they’ve reduced the price of their VIP season passes to $50.

Over at the Madison, Grammy-nominated bluesman Preston Shannon will play tonight. Doors open at 5:30, party from 6 to 10. $7 cover. Cash bar, special rooftop terrace menu with tapas and small plates. If you’re a First Tennessee employee you get in free this week by showing your ID card.

25 cent rides on MATA buses and trolleys today, due to the ozone alert.

There’s a public meeting at BRIDGES, 477 N. Fifth, from 5:30 to 7:00 this evening. It’s the first of three meetings to plan for Uptown West, the section of Uptown between Second and the Wolf River Harbor.

Karaoke is evil, but if you insist on singing it, tonight is Downtown’s best karaoke night. Ferraro’s Pizzeria and Pub has karaoke tonight from 8 to 11, with $15 all-you-can-eat pizza and all-you-can-drink PBR. The pizzeria is located at the corner of Main and Jackson, across the street from Westy’s. Get your karaoke fix on a Thursday and you won’t have to waste a weekend night on it!

Dynaflow, well-known for their gigs in the South Main area, will make a trip to Midtown tonight to play the Buccanneer.

Smoke ’em if you got ’em: Today is your last chance to light up a cigarette at the Flying Saucer. I won’t miss the smoke at all, but I will miss the $2 Coronas at Bardog Tavern. Last day for those as well.

Plans for tonight: Haven’t made up my mind yet. I’ve really been enjoying poker at Max’s Sports Bar lately. On the other hand, I really like Aquanet, and there will be excellent tube top watching on the Peabody rooftop tonight. Who all is going? One way or another, a fun Thursday night is ahead.

Wed update: Dream Berry Groupon, Flyer poll nominations, BB’s/Itta Bena/Hustle & Flow, online poker, fireworks, Redbirds honor wounded warriors

Thur 7:15 AM: ARGH. I typed this yesterday after work and forgot to hit Publish. Sorry. Was freaked out by a bad wreck I saw on I-55, I guess.

I spent my lunch hour renewing my car tags, so no time for a lunchtime update, sorry. So nice to have that little red “12” sticker and be done with lines and inspections for another year.

Great Groupon today. $4 for $8 worth of frozen yogurt and toppings at Dream Berry. This is the new self-serve frozen yogurt place on Main across from Local. I tried it for the first time Saturday and it was very good.

The city’s only REAL Best of Memphis poll, the one conducted by the Memphis Flyer, will begin voting in two weeks. In advance, they are taking nominations for four categories: Best Restaurant Server, Best Bartender, Best Local Singer, and Best Local Band. Those with the most nominations will get on the ballot. Make your nominations here.

Earlier this week I blogged that Hustle & Flow will be shown at the Orpheum Friday night at 7:15, with a talk by filmmaker Craig Brewer. BB King’s and Itta Bena have deals for theater-goers that night: Show your ticket for free admission at BB’s, or show your ticket at Itta Bena for a free appetizer with the purchase of an entree.

According to the site, the 9th District’s Steve Cohen is on board as an original sponsor of Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-TX) bill to legalize online poker. Very, very happy to see Steve standing up for our rights, and participating in this bipartisan effort.

In the news: There’s a movement to get Third Street added as part of the Blues Trail. Of course, Third crosses Beale, home of the blues. It also is the western boundary of Uptown Square, formerly Lauderdale Courts, where Elvis lived when he was a kid.

For those who want a good viewing spot for the July 3 fireworks (two shows – on the river and at AutoZone Park), the Peabody will have the rooftop open. No cover, and they will have a cash bar available from 8 to 11. Suggested attire: Red, white and blue tube tops. (My suggestion, not the Peabody’s.)

The Redbirds are partnering with the Lone Survivor Foundation for their Salute to Armed Forces game this Saturday, July 2. The foundation’s mission is to inspire, empower and renew hope for our wounded warriors and their families. It was founded by the only Navy SEAL to survive Operation Red Wing in Afghanistan. $5 of each ticket purchased for the July 2 game will go to the foundation.

Plans for tonight: Edit: Irrelevant since I forgot to hit Publish. Went to the Saucer, drank beer. Blah.

Tue update: Marc Gasol is #1, Thai Bistro, Slider Inn, Downtown to get more recycling containers, Aquanet to play Peabody roof this week, stuff going on tonight

Bunch of linky links in this Tuesday lunchtime post.

First up: posted a list of the top NBA free agents on their Eye on Basketball blog. Of the 40 free agents, who was number one on the list? The Grizzlies’ very own Marc Gasol. They cited his youth, talent, playoff run and the fact that centers are at a premium in the league. Congratulations to Marc on making the top of the list. Let’s get him signed!

Next up: The Memphis Flyer had an article about the new Thai Bistro to open on Madison. Super excited about this new restaurant. With Thai Bistro and Brass Door both scheduled to open next month, the block of Madison between Second and Third will finally rock after years of neglect.

The Flyer also had an article about Slider Inn, set to open next month at Peabody and Cooper. Bardog Tavern owner Aldo Demartino is the man behind the new restaurant. Midtowners, let me tell you, if you’ve never been to Bardog, you’re in for a treat when Slider Inn opens. Great food, and I would guess the service will be up to Bardog’s high standards.

The CA had an article about new Memphis and Shelby County Office of Sustainability administrator Paul Young, and his plans for his new job. He outlined some “low-hanging fruit” he intends to go after, and one of the items is Downtown-related. He wants more recycling containers down here. They will encourage apartment buildings and condos to adopt recycling plans. I think that is an EXCELLENT idea. He points out that tourists from other cities will come here and see that we take care of “the little things” like recycling. Very very good idea and I’ll be happy to use my blog to spread the word about future recycling efforts.

I’ll do a longer post about Thursday’s Peabody rooftop party later in the week, but for now I just want to mention that Aquanet is playing. They’re the ’80s hair band cover band that is just awesome. Lots of Motley Crue, Ratt, Poison, all the good stuff. Brings back fond memories of Kelly Bundy in a tube top. I’ve been playing poker at Max’s a lot on Thursday nights, but I may have to skip poker this week. Who all is going to the rooftop? Guess I’ll ask that question on Facebook.

The usual Tuesday night stuff happens tonight: Trivia at Ferraro’s Pizzeria with $15 all-you-can-eat pizza and all-you-can-drink PBR; pint night at Bardog from 7 to 3 with all draft pints $3; $5 half-yards of beer at Bar None; trivia at the Silly Goose, 8 PM start time. The Rapscallions team has re-formed at the Goose, and although last week we had problems getting answers in on time (totally my fault), we’re starting to dominate like we used to at the Saucer. If the new team member who joined us last week is reading this, you’ll be welcomed back if you decide to return.

Time for a quick bite. Thinking it will be a Big Mac today.

Silly Goose happy hour tip for PBR drinkers

The PBRtini (PBR in a martini glass) is a classic Downtown cocktail, but wait until after 7:30 to have one.

This is going to be a very surprising tip coming from me: Don’t drink the PBR.

The Goose’s happy hour is from Monday-Friday from 4 until 7:30. Last Tuesday I walked over to the Goose for trivia, getting there early, about 7:20. I ordered a PBR, which at the Goose is served in a 16 oz. can. I think they cost $3.50.

Then I looked over at the chalkboard. “$2 domestic longnecks during happy hour.” Since PBR comes in a can, it’s not on happy hour. D’oh!

I think PBR is a superior beer to Budweiser, but for the price difference, Bud wins. Same for Miller Lite and Bud Light. So during happy hour, I’m going to be ordering those beers from now on, then switching to PBR after 7:30. (I don’t think I’d pick a $2 Mich Ultra or a $2 Coors Light over a $3.50 PBR, however. Ultra is basically brown water and Coors Light is nasty. Then again, any beer is good when served by Brick in a tube top.)

Part of life Downtown is learning to drink for value. The $2 longnecks are the way to go.

Specials at BB King’s

I was walking around Beale yesterday and saw this sandwich board listing all the specials at BB King’s Blues Club. Figured I’d share, took a pic.

And in keeping with the theme of the month, here’s a pic of Chelsea in a tube top.

Spinach crawfish dip and drunken chicken @ Johnny G’s Creole Kitchen

Last night after drinking umpteen beers at the Saucer, I thought to myself, “It’s time to get something to eat.” I’ve been meaning to try Johnny G’s, the new Creole place around the corner on Beale, so I walked over there.

Johnny G’s is in the old Alley Katz space next to Miss Polly’s Fried Chicken, and it’s run by the same people who run Miss Polly’s, Club 152, Shadows, and Blues City Cafe. After looking over the menu, I decided to go with the spinach crawfish dip as an appetizer, and the Drunken Chicken as my entree.

Spinach crawfish dip

I love anything with crawfish in it, and I lapped up every last bite of the spinach crawfish dip. The consistency of the dip was a little more liquid than the crawfish dip I’ve had at Bar None, different but still quite good. The dip was $7.95 if I remember correctly.

Drunken chicken

The entree I ordered, the Drunken Chicken, was a real bargain at $6.95. I forgot to take a note on exactly what kind of liquor the chicken was cooked in, but it was damn tasty, a unique flavor that immediately brought New Orleans to mind. There was easily enough of it that I could have made a meal of it by itself, without the appetizer. Halfway through, I was stuffed, and the guy in the kitchen looked a little disappointed that I hadn’t finished it. I assured him it wasn’t due to the quality of the meal. The chicken really was hush-yo-mouth, slap-yo-mama, pull-down-a-tube-top good. (Sorry, but it’s the only way I could think of to connect a restaurant review to this month’s theme.)

They have several other Cajun entrees for $6.95. That’s a deal that’s hard to beat, a delicious sit-down dinner on Beale Street for under seven dollars.

My only criticism of the place is that I can’t find a menu online anywhere! Most of the time, when trying a new restaurant, I’ll pull up their menu in advance, and have an idea what I want to order before going in. I probably would have gone in Johnny G’s a lot sooner if I’d seen a menu. If they don’t plan to have a website of their own, I wish they’d at least upload their menu to Mark’s Menus, which they can do for free.

Very impressed with both the taste and the price. I’ll be back for another visit to Johnny G’s soon. Here are a few more pics I took of the place.

New start time for Silly Goose poker on Mondays: 9 PM

Last week, Poker Jon announced that the Monday night poker game at the Silly Goose will have a new start time: 9 PM. Previously it had been starting at 10.

For me, this is great. The amount of time needed to finish a game depends on the number of players, but the last time I made it to heads-up it took 3 hours to get there. It’s nice to win the $50 prize, but staying out until 1 while having to be at work at 8… OUCH. Now the game should be over around 12, so I will only miss a little sleep if I go all the way to the end.

There’s also another benefit for me. The earlier start time means one less hour drinking Pint Nite beers down the street. That means I’ll show up at the Goose with more acute mental capabilities than in most weeks in the past. Hopefully that will translate into more final tables and more wins.

I can see it being not so good for others who play, though. A lot of service industry people get off work around 10 on Mondays and come over to play. Now the game will already have been going an hour. Poker Jon lets people enter the game late, but at that point the blinds will be at the 4th level, leaving little opportunity to play solid poker given the size of the starting stacks relative to the blinds.

Maybe they should offer additional incentive to get people to play. Have Brick wear a tube top, for example.

End of an era

After a delicious breakfast at the Majestic Grille, the gang migrated to the Flying Saucer at noon yesterday for one last smoke-filled Sunday Fun Day. The Saucer goes non-smoking July 1, and the smokers in our group took full advantage of their last Sunday, filling the air with nasty cancer-causing cigarette smoke.

“Where are we going to go next Sunday?” asked one of the group. I don’t know where the smokers are going, but I’ll go ahead and release my agenda for next Sunday: Majestic, then Saucer. In other words, business as usual. 200 different beers to choose from, Saucer girls, tube top watching and bum watching at the window seats. Pool, darts. No need to go anywhere else. My guess is the smokers in the group will put a new plan together, try it out for a few weeks, then realize it sucks and come back to the Saucer.

Most everyone has Monday, July 4 off, so come join me at the Saucer on the Third for the first smoke-free Sunday Fun Day!

Sun update: Trolley stops, online poker, beer education event

You know, I’ve given MATA a lot of flack over the years on the inconsistency of their trolley service. Now, however, I have to congratulate them, because they did something right.

They’ve installed electronic message boards at all the trolley stops, informing passengers when they can expect the next trolley to arrive. This is great. The pic above is of the southbound Peabody Place trolley stop. If I were taking the trolley to the end of the line to hang out at Max’s Sports Bar, for example, now I have information. The trolley is due at 11:23. If it’s 11:18, I’ll wait on it. If it’s 11:03, I know that I might as well walk down South Main, because I’ll get there before the trolley.

This will also be helpful for letting people know when trolley service is interrupted due to malfunctions, and to let people know when the trolley is out of service. There’s nothing worse than seeing tourists stand helplessly at a trolley stop at 7 PM on Sunday, when service ended at 6. Now they’ll know. Good job, MATA.

In other news, a bill has been introduced in the House to permit licensed, regulated Internet poker. Please let’s push this through! Currently it’s legal to play online poker in the US, but illegal for financial institutions to conduct transactions with online poker sites, which is just ridiculously stupid. The bill won’t allow credit card transactions, which I think is a good thing because it will prevent people with gambling addictions from getting themselves in trouble too easily. The only think I don’t like is that states will be given permission to opt out, and our ass-backward Tennessee state legislature will probably do just that.

I’ve blogged time and time again how good the Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest was last year. One of the beerfest committee members, Drew Barton, will give a talk Saturday, July 9 at the Cooper-Young Farmers Market in the parking lot of First Congo. At 9:30 and again at 10:30 he’ll give a homebrewing demonstration. He’ll answer any questions you have about brewing, be it at home or commercial brewing. If you want to get started making beer, Mid-South Malts will be on hand with kits for sale.

It’s the last-ever Sunday Fun Day that my friends will be able to light up their nasty cigarettes at the Saucer. I hope they enjoy their filthy, disgusting habit one last time today. As usual, I’ll start at the Majestic at 11 for brunch, then on to the Saucer.

Speaking of the Saucer… as I was drinking a beer last night, I thought of something. If there are any ladies who see me at the Saucer and want to meet me, the following pickup line would probably be pretty effective:

“Come here often?”

Wearing a tube top would help too.

Outta here. Time to munch a brunch. I have a couple of posts saved in Drafts, may publish one from my iPhone later this afternoon.

Dog of the Day: Tijuana Dog @ Bardog Tavern

Every day Bardog Tavern has a “Dog of the Day,” an enormous gourmet hot dog. I went there for lunch and had today’s dog, and since it’s still fairly early in the day, I figured I’d post a pic.

This is the “Tijuana Dog,” with white queso, red chiles and jalapeno peppers. It sounded good when I saw it on their chalkboard last night, and I hoped it would re-appear as the Dog of the Day today. When it did, I knew that would be lunch.

In honor of the Dog of the Day, I present the following list: The three nastiest cities I’ve ever visited:

3) Los Angeles. Visited in 1998. I was trying to book a hotel, and while searching online I saw an Econo Lodge at Melrose and Vine. “I’ve heard of both of those streets, it must be a good neighborhood,” I reasoned. Nope. Wrong. I walked out of the hotel and there were people of every ethnicity except American hanging around. I thought, it’s too bad I’ve never done any drugs, because I was pretty sure I could score a bag of anything I wanted within two blocks of the hotel. I walked all the way down Melrose to La Cienega Blvd. and back, about a 6 mile walk. Tons of shops full of rude people and overpriced crap. There was a store selling nothing but condoms which was rather interesting. I saw a Jack in the Box with the counter area totally encased in bulletproof glass. The Shoney’s had valet parking. I was scheduled to stay there three days but left after one. There may be nice parts of L.A. but I sure didn’t see them.

2) Tijuana. Went there with a co-worker and two of his friends in November 2000. We parked in San Ysidro, the southernmost neighborhood of San Diego, and walked across the border. There were third-story apartments with bars on the windows despite no apparent way to get to them. The party strip, Avenida de la Revolucion, exceeded Beale Street’s filth by a factor of 100. “You gentlemen get in free if the senorita with you dances,” offered one strip club owner. The club we went to had $10 all-you-can-drink and was full of undergrads from Arizona State who came down there to drink at 18. One of them grinded her ass all over me, and I told her from the way she danced, I could tell she was a virgin. I think I made her cry. On the way home we stopped at “The Real Taco Bell” which was selling pork adobada tacos 3 for $1. I suspect the pig I was eating may have been named Rover or Fido, but I was hungry so I went with it.

1) Spartanburg, South Carolina. My sincere regrets to anyone who has to visit this God-foresaken shithole. They like to say they’re located in the “upstate” of South Carolina, but “armpit of the world” is more accurate. I had the misfortune of teaching a class there when I was a corporate trainer in 1999. The class was actually the most interesting part of the day, because there was NOTHING to do after work. There were a few country buffets full of fried chicken and ribs and that was about it. I was there five days and did not see an attractive woman the entire time. For anyone who complains about Memphis, I recommend vacationing in Spartanburg. You’ll appreciate our fair city so much more. For those familiar with other mid-sized Southern cities, this place makes Pine Bluff, Arkansas look like Paris by comparison.

Yep. I’m back. Hope the four posts today make up for the four days without a post. I’m hanging out at the Second Street Branch Office and I have the netbook with me, so if I hear about anything interesting I’ll post again.