Fri update: Grizzlies playoff schedule, Beale Street Wine Race, Charlie Wood, tomorrow’s Arsenal game, new coffee shop

The Grizzlies did it! We beat the Orlando Magic last night, securing home court advantage versus the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the playoffs. Here’s the schedule for the first three games:

Game 1 – 8:30 PM Sunday April 29, TNT
Game 2 – 8:30 PM Wednesday May 2, TNT
Game 3 – 11:30 AM Saturday May 5, ESPN

Remaining game times and TV are still TBD. Sunday’s game will not overlap with Beale Street Wine Race. That’s a good thing because it will mean less traffic congestion Downtown. It’s a bad thing because it means it will be a LONG day for us Downtowners. Wine Race means consumption of Call-a-Cabs from Wet Willie’s is pretty much mandatory (unless you’re a wussy) in the hot sun, in the early afternoon. Then we have to stay up until nearly 11 PM to watch basketball.

For those of you not familiar with Beale Street Wine Race, here are the details. About 20 Memphis bars and restaurants compete in various events, starting around 1 PM. The first event is a parade, when the teams line up and file in to Handy Park, judged on best float/presentation.

Next up is Queen of the Vine, a beauty pageant for the ladies. Skimpy outfits are the norm – in fact, there was one year when Wine Race was banned due to “too much nudity” the year before. It’s been toned down since then but not terribly much. There’s also an interview portion of the competition which turns into a gigantic shitshow every year. They narrow it down to finalists and then the judges select the Queen, who is given flowers and a trophy.

Next event is a grape stomp. Bar and restaurant representatives stomp tubs full of grapes. Largest output of juice within the given time wins. Thank goodness this is not how they really make wine in Memphis restaurants.

The final event is the wine relay itself. Teams of 4 compete in a relay of about 50 yards. First team member starts out with a bottle of wine on his tray. It’s handed off to the second team member, who adds a second bottle of wine. Then a third bottle, then a fourth for the last two teammates. If you drop the bottles, your team is disqualified. There are many heats – 3 teams race at a time – and it takes an hour or two to determine the final winner. Some restaurant teams actually practice for this. Huey’s in particular is known to dominate this event.

I know I’ll be asked this question, so I’ll go ahead and address it: I’m bringing my kids down for the Grizzlies game. Should I come early and bring them to Wine Race too? Answer: It depends.

If you live out in the suburbs, and you take your kids to church every Sunday in an SUV with a “Baby on Board” decal, and you’re horrified at the thought of a unified city/county school district, and you try your best to shelter your kids from black people, Democrats, bloggers who dedicate an entire month to tube tops, and anyone else who you think might be a negative influence, no, you should not bring your kids to Wine Race.

On the other hand, if you’re cool parents, and your kids have seen Mommy and Daddy drink a beer before, and you’re comfortable bringing them into an adult environment, taking them to Wine Race is probably OK. I think I’d still keep them away from the Queen of the Vine contest though.

In other news: Longtime Downtowners will remember musician Charlie Wood. When I first joined the Sunday brunch crew in 2003, Charlie played every Sunday at Sleep Out Louie’s. He was also the house musician at King’s Palace Cafe for several years. Charlie has been living in London the past several years. Catch up on what he’s been doing in this Flyer article.

Soccer fans: The Brass Door will have the Arsenal game on tomorrow at 9 AM.

Just saw on Facebook that Qahwa, the new coffee shop at Main and Adams, is now open. Coffee, pastries, bagels.

Plans for tonight: Quick stop at the Saucer to defend my mayorship, then south for Trolley Tour. What to do after Trolley Tour is up in the air – maybe Max’s or Double J, maybe back to the core for one (or more) of the bars close to home.