A Moore, Oklahoma Public Schools alumna explains what you can do to help rebuild

Last night I got an email from my friend Angie. Angie is a Downtowner who I’ve known for about 11 years. We first met when we were both involved in projects for the now-defunct young professionals organization MPACT Memphis. Angie was the one who got me into affiliate marketing. I don’t do much of it anymore, but it kept me afloat for the 5 months I was in between the last job and the current one in 2008-09, so I am grateful to her for that.

I knew Angie was an Oklahoma native, but I did not realize that she is a product of the Moore, Oklahoma public schools. The district has 22 elementary schools, 5 junior high schools, and 3 high schools. When Angie went to school there, the education was so sought-after that parents would try to “sneak” their children in by borrowing water bills from friends to prove residency. Angie credits the Moore school system for making her the person she is today.

As you’ve probably seen on the news, the tornadoes hit the Moore school system hard on Monday. Two schools will have to be torn down, the administration building was hit, and other schools were severely damaged. Angie’s parents were interviewed on the news last night. You can see the interview on her blog. Also on her blog, you can learn how to donate to the rebuilding of Moore schools in a way that is more direct than going through the Red Cross.

Angie is also looking for people in Memphis to help her put together a fundraiser for the Moore Public Schools. You can contact her at angela(dot)copeland(at)gmail.com if you are interested in helping.

Here’s a satellite map of the damage in Moore. Block-wide path of destroyed homes and buildings all across the town. Wow.

I want this to stand by itself as a post, so I’m delaying the daily news post until after work.

Wed update 2: Jobs, green bike lanes, course in pro wrestling, Max’s raises money, Club 152

(Forgot to hit Publish before going out, sorry)

100 jobs are coming Downtown as paper products manufacturer Kruger Products expands its production facility. White Cloud toilet paper is among the products they make here. The plant is at 400 Mahannah, near Second and Island Drive, so it would be a short commute for people who live on Mud Island. You can view a list of jobs here and there are entry-level ones available. Even the entry-level jobs pay well.

Mayor Wharton has committed to building 15 miles of green bike lanes over the next two years. Green lanes are protected from car traffic.

Interesting fact I learned on Twitter: Oklahoma University has a course on storytelling in professional wrestling.

Congratulations to Max’s Sports Bar on their fundraising for tornado victim relief. Bartender Michele posted that they raised $506 yesterday.

The Daily News reports that talks are underway for Club 152 to reopen. I have a couple of friends who work there and I know they must have hated missing that BBQ Fest weekend tip money.

Home from work, time for beer, outta here!

Wed update: Mayoral BBQ bet, a milestone, jobs at BRIDGES, Memorial Day cookout @ Twilight Sky Terrace, D.J. sets a record, and marijuana-fed pigs

If the Grizz don’t get it together, Mayor Wharton is going to be FedExing some BBQ. The mayor of San Antonio contacted him, bragging about Texas BBQ and asking Wharton if he’d be interested in making a bet. If the Grizzlies come back to win the series against the Spurs, SA’s mayor will send Wharton Texas BBQ from one of his favorite restaurants. Mayor Wharton accepted the bet and said that if the Grizzlies lose the series, Rendezvous BBQ will be on its way to Texas.

In other Grizzlies news, Saturday will be a milestone: The first time the Grizzlies have ever played a game during Tube Top Month. The month is a celebration of tube tops, and while it was originally June, it has since been extended to Friday of Memorial Day weekend through July 4. Why not show your support for the Grizzlies by wearing a tube top on Saturday?

There are jobs open in Uptown, at BRIDGES. From their website: “If you want to help us build a community of leaders to advance racial, economic, educational and environmental justice, you’ve come to the right place.” Jobs open include Development Specialist, Data Specialist and Helpdesk Resouce for Bridge Builders, Bridges AmeriCorps Full-Time Member. I have toured their facility a couple of times and it is fantastic.

Twilight Sky Terrace, the swanky new lounge atop the Madison Hotel, will have a cookout for Memorial Day. From 11 AM to 4 PM they will have burgers and hot dogs coming off the grill, as well as their regular menu items. There will be all-day drink specials too. The party will continue into the night after the grill shuts down at 4.

Former Memphis Tiger D.J. Stephens recorded a 46-inch vertical jump at the NBA Combine today. That’s the highest ever recorded in the NBA.

In the news: A Seattle butcher is taking advantage of legal marijuana by feeding it to his pigs. Wonder if any BBQ Fest teams will put in orders for 2014?

That’s it for now. I’ll be out at the usual places after work.

Tue update: Max’s and Double J collecting for Red Cross, Grizzlies open house and watch party, new Go South Main site, new Cuban restaurant on Madison

If you want to help those in Oklahoma who lost everything to yesterday’s tornadoes, two popular bars on the south side of Downtown have a way for you to do that. Both Max’s Sports Bar and Double J Smokehouse will be collecting clothing, food (non-perishable) and money. Everything they collect will go directly to the Red Cross. Both bars will have the Grizzlies game on.

The Grizzlies’ official Game 2 Watch Party will be tonight at the FedExForum, and it’s free to the public. However, you can get there early for an Open House happening from 11 AM to 6 PM today. You can get free playoff swag including a really cool Western Conference Finals poster. If you’re thinking about buying season tickets for 2013-14, you can test-drive your seats.

There’s a new Go South Main website that is very nicely done.

I’ve been wondering about a new restaurant called Havana Pilon that I see on Madison Avenue every day as I drive home down Second. They left some flyers in my building, and I got one and took a pic. (Click to enlarge)

Photo May 20, 5 09 48 PM

The upper left corner is a bit fuzzy, so here’s a list of the specialties they serve. Everything else should be readable if you enlarge.

MOFONGO – Fried green plantains mashed together in a PILON (which is a wooden mortar and pettle) with garlic and olive oil

ABACO – Cuban soup made with beef, pork, chicken, corn on the cob and vegetables

ROPA VIEJA/OLD CLOTHES – Shredded beef in tomato sauce and vegetables

CUBAN PICADILLO – Ground beef, potatoes, onions, garlic, bell pepper and olives

CUBAN FRIED RICE – Prepared as in Havana’s famous Chinatown

ARROZ CON POLLO – Yellow rice with chicken

EMPANADAS – Homemade empanada filled with shrimp, ham, or cheese

The restaurant is a tiny little place, so be prepared to get your food to-go when it’s busy.

Plans for tonight: The Blind Bear has been my Grizzlies watch spot, and I see no need to change that. Game is at 8 but I’ll get there early to get a good seat.

Mon update: BBQ Fest winners, SeriousEats.com BBQ Fest post, new bar on Front Street, SeedHatchery companies graduate

BBQ Fest has wrapped up and the winners have been posted. Here’s a list. My team the Moody Ques didn’t get any top-three finishes other than first in Best Booth. Chef David Scott Walker said that after the judging, one of the judges came by and offered very helpful constructive feedback. The meat was championship quality, he said, but the way we did the presentation needs some work. Chef commented on Sunday that BBQ Fest is addicting and added, “Can we start talking about next year?” When people are asking that question the day after, rather than saying “I don’t want to think about BBQ until at least September,” it’s a very promising sign.

There’s an article about BBQ Fest on SeriousEats.com today, with coverage of the Moody Ques booth. Thanks to Ben for coming by and talking to the team.

A bar named Prohibition may be coming to the Front Street space that was formerly Rehab Disco. The MBJ reported today that the owners have applied to the DMC asking for permission to put up the sign.

Six new companies have graduated from SeedHatchery startup bootcamp. The bootcamp is an intense 90-day process to guide entrepreneurs through the very early stages of their new businesses. Congratulations to all six.

I am WORN OUT. BBQ Fest has left me physically sick, and I know I’m not the only one on the team in that condition. Made it to work though. I’ll be out for a little while after work, but it will be a pre-10:00 night for bed though. Will probably lead off at Silly Goose because I haven’t spent much time there the past week and want to catch up on a few things.

Squeal Street BBQ wins second in Patio Porker



Even though I have a lot of hard work and responsibilities on my team The Moody Ques, I still find time at BBQ Fest to cheer for friends on other teams. Squeal Street is a patio porker team made up of a group of Downtowners that was founded in 2010. Patio porker teams are restricted to a 10 x 10 booth and have to cook ribs as their competition entry. Despite those limitations, Squeal Street has earned a reputation as one of the best places to hang out during the festival. They’re also one of the most well-organized and well-educated teams, with several members having been to BBQ judging school. Their hard work paid off yesterday with a second place finish among the patio porker teams. We love these guys and are so proud of them.

Now let’s have a look at what happened on our own team. I stayed out of the booth until 3:00. Presentation is a significant part of the judging, so I tend to stay away to avoid making a bad impression. Besides I had work to do holding the fort at the Flying Saucer, and when our sponsor the Blind Bear opened early I stopped by there too.


Chef taking a well-deserved break after handing in the championship shoulder. We really hit a home run with David Scott Walker in the kitchen. The team was well-fed and happy at all times. Thanks so much to Jamie and Jeannette for making the introduction.


With all the BBQ excitement going on, let’s not lose sight of the fact that Tube Top Month starts in 5 days and THIS IS HOW IT’S DONE.


Beauties in our booth on Saturday


Cap’n Ron


I don’t think anybody could deny that Danielle is looking damn hot in this pic, but she asked if this counts as a tube top and the answer is no. Tube tops do not have straps.




Squeal Street members prior to their appearance on stage


The Nuh-Uh Girl. “I’m not a member of Squeal Street but if you feed me I’ll wear your shirt”


WordPress rock stars @nacin and @otto42 with Nikki


It just wouldn’t be BBQ Fest without this happening at least one night. Thank goodness he didn’t bring the fluffy white hat this year.


Corey serving the shoulder


Matt and the WordPress crew enjoying the second-story view of the river


10 PM: Frank makes the announcement that the park is closing. “We need all hands on deck for load-out in the morning. Except Paul. Paul, we need you at the Flying Saucer at noon to hold things down there.” Got it.


Post-festival, Lauren chows down on a Soul Burger.


Later at E&H this happened.

Full photo album (132 pics) here.

What a great year. About 5:00 yesterday I was leaning against the rail in the booth and looking around. I thought, “This is my booth and these are my friends. If I die today I will be proud of what I did with my life.” Between my own team and my friends on Squeal Street, I just couldn’t ask for better people to be around.

Now it’s time to turn our attention to the Grizzlies. Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals is today at 2:30 on ABC. The Blind Bear is gaining national attention as THE place to watch games Downtown, and that’s where I’ll be. They are opening early at noon, and after a brief stop at the Saucer to fulfill my BBQ team duties, that’s where I’ll be.

BBQ Fest 2013: Friday

Okay, I feel really bad right now. It’s about 9 Saturday morning and our team treasurer Frank just sent out an email. Our booth is “an unholy mess” right now and judging is in two hours. He needs help immediately. Now, you all know what a hard worker I am. I want to be down there cleaning up the beer and mud so bad. But there are only so many 24-hour park passes allotted per team, and I don’t have one. So I can’t get down there to work. I have to wait until the park opens at 10, and actually I can’t go then either because I have to check and make sure everything is under control at the Flying Saucer when it opens at 11. Not being able to be there for my team is a terrible feeling.

An example of my hard work happened yesterday when the ice truck came by. The woman driving the truck saw me standing near the front of the booth and yelled, “DO YOU NEED ICE?” I pointed at Frank, who proceeded to buy 8 bags, and he and John D carried them in as I took another sip of beer and checked Facebook on my phone. That was a total team effort making that ice purchase.

All right, let’s take a look at the camera so I can remember what happened yesterday.


I got to the booth about 11:45 and breakfast was being served. I am really digging this concept of “something to eat in the booth before 7 PM” which is a new and different thing for the team this year. Above: Bacon. Not pictured: Sausage, English muffins, hashbrowns, eggs.


Another example of Moody Ques teamwork at its finest. Frank and John D shoveled the mud off the sidewalk while I stood there and took pictures.




The Best Booth trophy


Our entry for Seafood


The Best Booth sign


Buddha and Uncle Ray


There was plenty of Fireball in the booth.


Mid-afternoon four of us made a call to Air Traffic Mike‘s 1-800-BAD-IDEA hotline.


Only the finest ingredients for our beer-can chicken.


The Nuh-Uh Girl wearing her dinner


Corey putting the beer can chicken on the grill


Team T-shirt


As with any competition, practice is important. This was our “practice shoulder” which came off the smoker yesterday.


Ribs, fresh off the smoker.


If there were a trophy for Best Bartenders we would have won it.


Dusty getting ready to serve the beer-can chicken




So, among all the drunk photos there is actually going to be some useful information in this post. This is Craig and he writes a blog called Memphis Que. There is a lot more BBQ to eat in this city than Corky’s and The Rendezvous, and Craig is your guide.


Katie Mac and a rack, part 2. Normally I make fun of people who wear heels to BBQ Fest, but I’ll give Val a pass on account of Val’s hot.


Early in the day Krista (in the middle, with beret) came by and congratulated us on Best Booth and I thought to myself, “Is that the really loud girl who hangs out with Ashley?” Later in the day she came back and commented, “You only recognize me when I’m with Ashley.”

Full album (115 photos) here. You may notice that in all the pics that made the blog, the sun is up. That is because the after-dark pictures (with a couple of exceptions) are REALLY, REALLY BAD. We’re getting to that point of BBQ Fest where the patrons are as messed up as the park is. I am worn out and need a vacation from my vacation. I may have to call in to work Monday with some lame excuse like “my dog died” or “I forgot to put gas in the car and now it won’t run” or “Bill the horse stepped on my foot” so I can get some rest.

It’s not over yet though. The judges come by the booth at 11 to sample the championship shoulder. Awards ceremony is at 6. We also have a blogger from Serious Eats coming today. Time to put an exclamation point at the end of an awesome year at Tom Lee Park.

Moody Ques wins Best Booth



Early yesterday afternoon I posted “Who the real and who the jabroni at BBQ Fest?” It’s a question retired pro wrestler The Iron Sheik asks on Twitter. A “jabroni” is someone who loses all the time, and is the opposite of “the real.” Last night, the Moody Ques proved we are the real, taking home the first-place trophy for Best Booth.

Our booth facade is a tribute to the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm. Memphis in May always brings in dignitaries from the honored country to help with the judging. I’ve been told that any Swede would instantly recognize what we were doing with our booth.

Huge thanks to Brent, Travis and the team at Holliday Flowers who made this awesome booth happen. They weren’t even going to do it this year, but they got excited and jumped on board. If you need an event designed, these are absolutely the people you need to call.

Let’s see what else we have on the camera:


Chef David Scott Walker working on the fish fry for lunch


Chef DSW’s hot sauce was amazing on fries.


Here’s a pic of the Nuh-Uh Girl eating, two booths down the sidewalk from ours. She tried not to get caught eating. Thank goodness for my 10x zoom lens.


Greene family portrait




The guest of honor


Due to injury Puckett couldn’t talk for a while yesterday. Puckett not talking is about as rare as the Nuh-Uh Girl not eating.


Ciara and Christina


Our inspirational leader


Our bartenders


Before I started this post, I uploaded yesterday’s pics to Facebook. Air Traffic Mike commented, “Katie Mac and a rack” on this one. I can’t do any better for a caption than that.




Roglly and the Nuh-Uh Girl


In the evening I paid a visit to my friends at Squeal Street BBQ, where an ice luge was happening.

Shout-out to the LOSER who flipped me off in Squeal Street’s booth, by the way (not pictured above and not a team member). You are insignificant to me, so flip me off all you want. Then go get your foot stepped on by Bill the horse again. Or whatever today’s crisis of the day is.

Okay. Sorry about the brief rant. Let’s get back to the Moody Ques. As we all know, 2012 was not exactly our best year, and 2013 was sink or swim time. We could not afford to disappoint this year, and if we did the team was likely done. So far, we’ve brought a first-place trophy back to the booth, kept our team members well fed, and kept the door free of drama. And the way Chef DSW has been cooking, I have a feeling our work hauling trophies around the park is not done yet. We have redeemed ourselves and our team is now poised to be a force at BBQ Fest for years to come. I am proud to be on the team and proud to be associated with my teammates.

Here’s the full Thursday photo album (130 pics).

Plan for today: Pre-gaming at the Saucer at 11, park at 12. Another fine day at BBQ Fest.

Thur update: Bones and Brews, Real 2 Reel sale, BBQ icons pass away, Alzheimer’s night at the Redbirds, Peabody rooftop party, Court Square events

If you’re looking for BBQ Fest pics, scroll down to the next post. I got them up earlier this morning. Time to bang out a news post while I wait for the bars to open.

BBQ Fest will be over Saturday and there will still be a day left in the weekend. Looking for something to do on Sunday? South of Beale is having a “Bones and Brews” party from 1-4 Sunday. It will be a benefit for Mid-South Spay & Neuter Services. Pay-what-you-can donation gets you complimentary appetizers, $3 mimosas, $3 Bloody Marys, and $3 pints. The parking lot will be blocked off and dogs on leashes will be welcome.

Real 2 Reel Photography is a great place to buy art to decorate your walls, and now is a good time to do it. They have a buy 2, get 1 free special that will continue through this weekend. Real 2 Reel is at 523 South Main, just north of G.E. Patterson Avenue.

Sad news: Two BBQ icons have passed away. Don Pelts, founder of Corky’s, and John Willingham, founder of Willingham BBQ, have died. These two men were cornerstones of the city’s rich BBQ tradition.

If you know someone with Alzheimer’s, then August 1 would be a good night for you to come to AutoZone Park. The first annual Alzheimer’s Association Night with the Redbirds will happen that evening, first pitch at 7:05. Tickets can be purchased for $15, $5 of which goes to the association. Fans are encouraged to wear purple to show their support for the fight against the disease.

The San Antonio Spurs play the Golden State Warriors tonight at 9:30 on ESPN. If the Spurs win, they play the Grizzlies in the Western Conference Finals. If the Warriors win, they force a Game 7 with San Antonio. The Grizzlies will have home court advantage if Golden State advances to the WC Finals.

Party Planet plays the Peabody rooftop tonight with special guest Brit Nicole. If you’re not going to BBQ Fest, you can get some BBQ on the rooftop. The buffet will have BBQ pork sliders, slaw, and baked beans. The VIP buffet will have BBQ ribs, slaw, pulled pork potato skins, and biscuits. Doors open at 6, ladies free until 7, $10 cover includes first drink.

Two events in Court Square today: Memphis Music Foundation Showcase featuring Chris Johnson & Lights as Lenses at 11:45, and Zumba at 5 PM.

That’ll wrap up the news. Time to put on sun block and head to the park.

BBQ Fest: 2013 Friends & Family

Last night was the first night at Tom Lee Park, for Friends & Family Night of Memphis in May BBQ Fest. It’s a night to get acquainted with new teammates and the booth.


Our booth facade


Jeremy and Graham in front of the WordPress logo


Our pitmaster, Chef David Scott Walker






The “burger dog.” Chef DSW kept it simple with picnic fare last night, but today things get fancier with a fish fry and a whole hog luau.


Members of Voodoo Que stopped by


Jello shots made with Fireball


We have all the accessories needed for a good time at BBQ Fest


A familiar sight


Puckett getting down


Tube Shots. Wear a tube top to our booth and you might get a Tube Shot.


Moody Ques after dark


Many of the team left early to watch the Grizzlies. I walked to our sponsor the Blind Bear to watch the Grizz advance to the Western Conference Finals for the first time ever.

Complete photo album (62 photos) here.

Okay, a couple of “first impression” comments:

1) I entered the park at 5:30 and it’s about a 15 minute walk south to our booth. When I got there there was already food coming off the grill. Seems like the previous two years at Friends & Family Night there was nothing to eat before about 9 PM. Chef DSW is serious about feeding us, and winning. And it seems like he’s having a really good time doing it.

2) In the seven years I’ve been a BBQ team member, this is easily our best booth design ever. Both upstairs and down are open and spacious. One person commented, “It’s not a maze like it was last year.” That downstairs space is going to make a great dance floor tonight, with playlist by DJ Cody. Also note that we hid the bar from the sidewalk while consuming the minimum amount of space doing it. Visible bar from the sidewalk is tantamount to announcing “Free Drinks Here; Come Mooch.” Absolute A+ to the people who designed the booth.

And we flew the flag right side up!

Two former team members told me “Oh my God, Paul, if we had any idea it would be this awesome, we would have joined this year. We’re back next year.” Also, I already had a new team member saying she has a friend who is a prospect for next year’s team. BBQ Fest never goes perfectly but I think it’s safe to say we are on an upward trajectory this year.

Today is going to be a blast. I’ll pre-game with a beer or two at the Flying Saucer at 11, then hit the park.