Thursday update

Got a recommendation for you from the City Market grab & go case: Mediterranean Quinoa & Grilled Chicken. I took it home last night. It was so delicious that I could have devoured the entire thing. However, about halfway through, I thought, I bet there are 35 grams of protein in here. The body can’t use that much at one time, so I put the rest in the refrigerator and saved it for this morning. Give it a try if you’re looking to eat healthy without sacrificing yumminess.

22-year-old poet Amanda Gorman stole the show yesterday at the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris:

Gorman was so captivating that Morgan State University offered her a job as poet-in-residence. You can pre-order her books Change Sings and The Hill We Climb on Amazon. Both have already attained bestseller status.

The cocktail lounge going in at 631 Madison in The Edge District has a name now: Inkwell. The CCDC threw its support behind Inkwell and two other projects in The Edge yesterday. Interesting: There are four apartments behind Inkwell that connect to the former Spectrum/Six-1-Six nightclub. Never knew that.

The state legislature, with the support of Gov. Lee, is considering a measure that would endanger Shelby County Schools students, teachers, and employees: Require 70 days of in-classroom learning this year and 180 next year, or risk losing state funding. That measure actually threatens not only those involved with the schools, but the entire county community, as it would increase the spread of COVID-19.

Speaking of COVID, let’s take a look at James Aycock’s COVID-19 mid-week report. Reported cases are down 29% over one week, although more testing is still needed. The positivity rate has dropped from 17.8% to 12.5%.

Job news for number crunchers: There’s a Night Audit part-time position available at Hilton’s new Canopy Hotel Downtown.

CodeCrew, a Memphis nonprofit that helps kids and adults develop coding skills, has received a $300,000 grant from Niantic, developer of Pokemon Go.

Tigers on national TV alert: Penny and the team host Wichita State at FedExForum tonight at 6. Catch the game on ESPN2.

Today is Squirrel Appreciation Day. There’s certainly no shortage of opportunities to observe that holiday Downtown.

The Grizzlies had to postpone their game at Portland last night. Due to COVID-19 contact tracing, the team did not have the required 8 team members available at the start of the game.

Health Directive 17 has been formally issued. Note that Health Directive 16 ends at 11:59 PM Friday and Health Directive 17 is effective at 12:01 AM Saturday. Know what this means? We have a minute without a health directive, at midnight Saturday, to party like it’s 2019! SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS

Meaning shots of liquor, of course. In Memphis it’s necessary to clarify.

If you previously followed the @POTUS account on Twitter, you need to re-follow it if you want to keep seeing its tweets. Its followers were reset to zero when Biden became president.

Get to know Vice-President Kamala Harris in this podcast series by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Action News 5 has new safety guidelines you’ll need to follow at attractions reopening when the Safer at Home order ends Saturday.

I probably won’t watch the COVID-19 press conference at noon. We already know what’s going to be in the health directive. I will keep an eye on @shelbytnhealth around 10 for the daily case number and @local24brad at noon for press conference coverage.

Excited about my first full day living in a democracy since January 19, 2017. Back tomorrow with more news.

“America: The Reality Show” series finale day update

Health Directive 17, which will loosen restrictions a little for Shelby County, will be released today and will go into effect Saturday at midnight. Key points county health officer Dr. Bruce Randolph made yesterday concerning restaurants:

  • Capacity will increase from 25% to 50%
  • 6 people maximum per table. Tables must still be distanced so that diners not in the same group are 6 feet apart
  • Restaurants still have to close for dine-in at 10 PM
  • Live music is allowed, but performers must be 18 feet from the audience and 6 feet from each other
  • Dancing is only allowed outside
  • Smoking (including vaping and hookahs) is not allowed indoors
  • 2 hour limit on service
  • Dr. Randolph didn’t comment on whether bar seating would be allowed, but I’m fairly certain the answer is no

Health Department director Dr. Haushalter said the reproduction rate of the virus has dropped to 0.89, so COVID’s spread is no longer exponential. (Should we call a number below 1 logarithmic spread?) New case numbers are down. The positivity rate, although still too high at 14%, is substantially down from previous weeks.

The Health Department folks say a list of businesses closed due to violating health directives is on the website. WHERE?????

The CA’s Jennifer Chandler has a look at new Downtown breakfast restaurant Sugar Grits. It’s run by the same folks as Zinnie’s and Ben-Yay’s is located in the ServiceMaster building on Second Street. For those who work nearby, note that they’ll have a grab & go. In my entire life, all but 6 months of which was lived in the South, I have never had grits and red-eye gravy. I’ll have to do something about that soon.

I want to take a minute to note the passing of Krazi Beckii, my neighbor, friend, and hairstylist, and an icon of the late 1980s Memphis scene. She was one of a kind and lit up every room she was in. My thoughts go out to all who loved her.

The Memphis Flyer reports that Sushi Jimmi is starting his own cooking channel on YouTube.

It’s always a pleasure to discover new writers on Medium, the platform where I write professionally. I discovered a new writer yesterday: Kamala Harris. (That article is not marked as behind the paywall, so you should be able to click through and read)

If you eat pepperoni Hot Pockets, might want to lay off them for a while. (hat tip to Morning Brew for the info)

Here are a set of articles on the history of Inauguration Day in the United States. Did you know the Trumpster is not the first president to skip his successor’s inauguration? These presidents skipped too:

  • John Adams, 1801 (Thomas Jefferson’s inauguration)
  • John Quincy Adams, 1829 (Andrew Jackson’s inauguration)
  • Andrew Johnson, 1869 (Ulysses S. Grant’s inauguration)
  • Richard Nixon, 1974 (Gerald Ford’s inauguration)

NBC News has a viewer’s guide to today’s inauguration.

The BBQ team made the decision this week that we aren’t going to do BBQ Fest 2021, to be held May 12-15. Because only about one-third of Shelby County will likely have been vaccinated against COVID at that time, there will be many restrictions and protocols in place – masking, social distancing, capacity limitations, and the like. Our team felt such restrictions would prevent us from offering a fun time for our team members, their guests, and our sponsors. The Moody Ques will be back in 2022, though.

I held off sharing my personal feelings about BBQ Fest being scheduled for its normal May slot until the team could figure out its plans. Now I will say it – I am relieved by the team’s decision and stand behind it 100%. If the team had decided to compete this year, I would have taken a year off. BBQ Fest is spring break for adults and I wouldn’t want to take part in it any other way.

Dignity, compassion, and competence will have returned to the White House by the time I get off work, and I am so ready for it, Wednesdays have been stay-home-and-write days lately but not this one. I’ll be out celebrating! Back tomorrow with more news.

Donald, you’re fired.

Monday update

The Memphis Grizzlies host the NBA’s 19th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration, tipping off against the Phoenix Suns this afternoon at 4. Related events today:

  • Virtual Coaches Forum – noon, YouTube Premiere
  • Earl Lloyd Sports Legacy Symposium – 2:30, Fox Sports Southeast

The National Civil Rights Museum will offer afternoon and evening live streams of their virtual celebrations of the life of Dr. King.

I received 5 scam voicemails between the 10 AM-11 AM hour yesterday from “Apple security” saying my account had been compromised. Most of the calls appeared to be from toll-free 866 U.S. numbers. However, one scammer didn’t have number spoofing set up correctly, revealing his true location: Bangladesh. Watch out for those kinds of scams this week.

The Tigers dropped a game to Tulsa for the second time this season yesterday.

That’s it. Slow news day.

2 more days.

Back tomorrow with more news.

Sunday update: We’re not gonna take it anymore

It is completely ridiculous that Memphis restaurants are forced to obey draconian COVID restrictions when any one of us can take a 20-minute ride to Southaven or Horn Lake and patronize a restaurant or bar where there are no restrictions at all.

You can sit at a bar area.

You don’t have to order food to have a damn beer.

There’s no limit to how long you can sit there.

You can sit with as many people as you like. Hell, you can even stand.

You don’t have to be kicked out at 10 PM if you’re in a restaurant or bar that stays open later.

It’s time for Shelby County to open things back up. Yes, keep the mask ordinance in place. That’s smart. But let adults make their own decisions about whether they feel a business is safe to patronize. We don’t need Dr. Haushalter and Dr. Randolph being our surrogate mommy and daddy and telling us what time we have to be home anymore.

Open things back up, one hundred percent.

If you agree, I ask that you go out to a locally-owned restaurant or bar between now and 11:59 PM Friday (i.e. before the expiration of the Safer at Home Order) and dine in. Take a pic of your food on the table and post it to social media, and tell the health department that you’re an adult and you’re not gonna take it anymore.

On to the news…

Exciting news coming out of The Edge District this weekend, according to the Daily Memphian. Sweet Magnolia Gelato Co., most recently in Puck Food Hall, plans to open a storefront at 655 Marshall. In addition, three other buildings are being renovated and “a locally owned cocktail bar” plans to relocate to the neighborhood. Very curious to hear more about the cocktail bar. The CA reports that the new cocktail bar will be located at 631 Madison and that a national tech company could relocate to the area as well.

Curfew, the restaurant in the new Canopy Hotel across from the ballpark, has announced a special dinner along with a cooking class.

We are excited to announce that our super-talented Chef Aaron will be hosting an amazing Cooking Class & 3-Course Meal on Thursday, January 28th at 5pm! 👏
🎟️ Tickets are only $65 per person with a $15 upgrade option for Wine Pairings.
📱 Give us a call at (901) 467-0308 to order your tickets!

The Memphis Tigers play their first game in three weeks at Tulsa today at 2. Premium subscription service ESPN+ will carry the game.

Yesterday was big for the Grizzlies. Ja Morant rejoined the squad and they got a win over the Philadelphia 76ers, clawing their way to .500 on the year. Don’t count Memphis out of a playoff berth!

Artist and metalsmith Ben Dory will present a free online talk about his exhibition, “Tributaries,” currently on display at the Metal Museum, today at 2.

For the first time since I joined Medium, I wrote about a political topic yesterday – specifically, my prediction that Donald Trump will die before the end of calendar year 2021 because he’s leaving office in disgrace and really has nothing left to live for. Yesterday was my highest-earning day so far on Medium. I don’t really aspire to be a political writer, but the earnings bump has been duly noted.

Edit: One of my Medium readers left a comment that is worth sharing here. Many elderly people lose the will to live after a loved one passes away. They no longer have the one they live and breathe for.

Donald Trump’s loved one is himself. And the Donald Trump who is the center of the world’s attention will be no more at 12:01 EST Wednesday.

Time to get to my length Sunday to-do list. Back tomorrow with more news.

Saturday update

We are now in the last 7 days of the Safer at Home order and Health Directive 16. Health department officials say all options are on the table for when the directive expires at 11:59 PM Friday – extending the restrictions, making some minor adjustments to them, or rolling them back in a sweeping way. However, this tweet from 117 Prime steakhouse is promising:

I don’t have this confirmed, but having observed many health directives come and go, it’s my theory that the restaurants have an “inside line” to the health department. Meaning, assuming current conditions remain largely unchanged, they’re given a rough idea in advance of what the health department intends to do. It gives them time to hire employees back and order inventory so they can hit the ground running.

117 Prime setting a reopening date seems like a sign that the ridiculously stupid 25% capacity restriction on restaurants is going away.

You know, a bartender friend of mine posted to Facebook that he received his W-2 yesterday. He made about 35% of what he would have reasonably expected to make at the start of 2020, but had 100% of the bills. That’s the situation our service industry folks have been in for 10 months now. A Shelby County grant of $1000 per worker is nice, but it in no way is fair compensation for what these folks have been put through. Enough is enough. It’s time to open up.

The owner of Primetime Movers has been charged in the Capitol riots. This is not the only time recently he has been in trouble with the law – he was featured in Scoop Memphis late last year.

You can order Girl Scout Cookies to be delivered through GrubHub for 2021. Even the Girl Scouts are pivoting to these pandemic times.

Neat site I discovered yesterday: Antiweather. You choose your location and it gives you the weather at your location and the exact opposite location on Earth by latitude and longitude. Let’s give this a try. As of 5:56 AM Central Standard Time:

  • Memphis: Partly cloudy, 33 F
  • Indian Ocean: Clear, 66 F

Apparently, nearly the entire continental US corresponds to the Indian Ocean, confounding a goal many children have of digging a hole so deep that they end up in China. The only US location I could get to correspond to land was

  • Honolulu: Clear, 74 F
  • Ghanzi District, Botswana: Overcast, 84 F

If you liked the two stories above, I got them from Morning Brew‘s Sidekick newsletter, a “newsletter full of ideas” that’s emailed Monday and Thursday afternoons.

The Memphis Grizzlies’ game at Minnesota was postponed last night after Timerwolves’ center Karl-Anthony Towns tested positive for COVID-19. KAT’s mother was one of the first in the U.S. to catch the virus and she passed away from complications last April. Get well soon, KAT, and we’ll see you on the court.

Look for a pop-up art gallery at 55 S. Main for the next 6 months, featuring regional artists. Cat & Nick Peña are the current exhibitors, and they’ll do a live Zoom interview next Friday 6-7. It’s part of the DMC’s Open on Main project to keep storefronts on the pedestrian mall occupied and open for business. You can safely view the artwork from outside if you’re scared of COVID. The pop-up gallery is just steps away from Ben-Yay’s, so my suggestion would be to stop in for some gumbo and the signature beignets before or after you view the art.

There’s a booklet that advises readers to remain 6 feet apart, to avoid shaking hands, and to send only one person from a household out to shop. What sets this booklet apart is that it was published in the 1580s. One can imagine the 16x-great-grandmother of Dr. Haushalter at a Renaissance-era podium telling people how to stop spreading the plague.

The Grizzlies host the Philadelphia 76ers tonight at 7. Catch the game on Fox Sports Southeast.

That’s the news today. Not much going on this cold late-pandemic weekend. Back tomorrow.

Friday update

The Daily Memphian reports that Ja Morant has been upgraded to questionable (subscriber-only link). That is fantastic news. The Grizzlies are still on the road at Minnesota and will play their second game against the Timberwolves tonight at 7. Catch the action on Fox Sports Southeast.

There will be two live streams (afternoon and evening) for those who want to participate virtually in the National Civil Rights Museum’s celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday.

The CA has 10 places to find Mardi Gras King Cake in Memphis. Your go-to spot in the Downtown area is Primas Bakery, 523 S. Main.

Happy 20th birthday to Wikipedia.

For $5700 a night you can stay in a house with 700 cats. I know people who’d pay an early withdrawal penalty from their IRA to make this happen.

A friend of mine told me she went to Atlanta for New Year’s. “I stayed out until 4 AM,” she said. “There’s hardly any COVID restrictions at all.” And here we are shutting restaurants down at 10 PM and limiting them to 25% capacity. It’s just ridiculous.

Twitter has created a @SecondGentleman account for Kamala Harris’ husband.

Five more days.

Back tomorrow with more news.

Thursday update

No Memphis Tigers basketball tonight, as another game, this one at home vs. SMU, has been postponed due to COVID-19. The last time the Tigers took the court was a December 29 win over USF. Hopefully, they’ll be back in action Sunday at Tulsa.

I’d like to mention that the Flying Saucer charges $5 for a 16-ounce can of PBR before presenting this historical fact:

The Grizzlies improved their record to 5-6 with a win over Minnesota last night.

The Starry Road to Freedom, a one-man presentation about the life of Frederick Douglass, will be presented online tonight by Elmwood Cemetery. The show starts at 6 PM and tickets are $15.

A Downtown power outage has forced WREG Daybreak off the air. Power is on where I am, and looking out the window toward South Main I see plenty of traffic lights and street lights. Perhaps it’s only the area near Martyrs Park.

One of my very favorite authors, behavioral expert and former FBI agent Joe Navarro, offers a hint of what we can expect in the final 6 days of Trump’s presidency:

Pretty sure I made this prediction before, but I’ll say it again: I predict Trump will join James K. Polk (number 11, 1845-1849) on the list of presidents who die the same calendar year they leave office. Once a narcissist completely collapses, they don’t rally and come back, especially as one as old and feeble as The Donald. I think Trump will check out of this physical world the way Joe Paterno did when it became clear he had criminal liability in the Sandusky investigations.

That’s it for this post. I’ll try to give the COVID-19 task force press conference a listen at noon. Back tomorrow with more news.

Wednesday update

Health Department Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter started yesterday’s county task force press conference with some news that might not be great, but it offers hope.

  • The 7-day daily new case average is 623 and the 14-day is 638. That’s above the threshold of 450 where we want it to be, but there are signs we are past the Christmas surge, and the numbers have hit a plateau as we enter an expected New Year’s surge. Once the next several days are over and the New Year’s infections past, we’d hope to see that number decline.
  • R-nought, the virus’s replication rate, is 1.03. Growth is therefore still exponential; however, we don’t have far to go to get the rate down to 1 and then below.
  • The positivity rate is above 17%. This statistic doesn’t offer a lot of hope. Above 10% indicates that an insufficient number of people are getting tested, and therefore we are missing cases in the community.

Hospitals have seen some stabilization as well, Dr. H reported. They’re still in the red zone above 90% for ICU and acute care beds. However, they’re no longer up around 97-98%, where a victim of a car accident or heart attack might have to worry about being denied hospital care.

Testing is still abundant and Dr. H encouraged everyone to get tested frequently and know their status.

The health department will make contact tracing the new UK strain of the virus, called B117, the priority when it is discovered in Memphis. The department is also looking at innovations in tech to improve contact tracing.

Shelby County will receive 8900 doses of the vaccine per week through January. For a county with a population of 937,000, that’s really not very much.

County Health Officer Dr. Bruce Randolph encouraged fellow citizens of Shelby County to “remain steadfast” as we enter the last 10 days of Safer at Home. What will happen after it expires at the end of the day Friday, January 22? He and Dr. H said several options are on the table. They could extend the order, they could make some minor tweaks in the restrictions, or they could do a major overhaul of the restrictions. It all depends on individual behavior and the resulting numbers.

From 94.1 The Wolf: While COVID restrictions will make the traditional Soup Sunday inside FedExForum’s concourse impossible, Youth Villages is offering a variety of packages. The first option will allow you to enjoy a Soup Sunday experience at home, while the second will allow you to dine in at one of your favorite restaurants. Participating restaurants for the dine-in experience include

  • Char
  • Silky O’ Sullivan’s
  • Riko’s Kickin’ Chicken
  • Rizzo’s by Michael Patrick
  • Louie’s Deli & Meat Market
  • Amerigo
  • Vanelli’s Deli

Soup Sunday will span the weekend of February 27-28.

Today is National Rubber Ducky Day. Pick one up in the Peabody’s gift shop.

The Grizzlies travel to Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves tonight at 7. Catch the game live on Fox Sports Southeast.

Local business Mo’s Bows, founded by 19-year-old entrepreneur Moziah Bridges over a decade ago, is featured in a new GoDaddy commercial.

From Local 24: How will the Shelby County $1000 grants to restaurant employees work?

Ballistic Bingo comes to the Green Beetle tonight at 7. Every bingo winner gets an entry into the monthly drawing for a Yeti beer cooler. Prizes are awarded with every bingo as well.

Donald Trump enters the history books today, as he is set to become the first president to be impeached twice. The question will not be whether the House votes to impeach, but how many House Republicans will join the Deemocrats in voting to bring the articles of impeachment. The earliest the trial could happen in the Senate would be January 19.

Senate Majority Leader (soon to be Minority Leader) Mitch McConnell is pleased the Democrats are bringing articles of impeachment. He believes that a conviction and removal from office, even if technically after the presidential term has ended, will make it easier to purge the Trumpster from the Republican Party. Could that be the beginning of the splinter of the party into conservative and fascist-racist-QAnon-kook wings?

1974: Republican U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater visits Nixon and tells him that he’s doomed, that the Senate will vote to remove the president if he doesn’t resign. McConnell may have a similar conversation with Trump this week. It is possible Biden will be the 47th president, following a few days of Pence?

That’s a wrap. Back tomorrow.

Tuesday update

A historic building in the Pinch District was heavily damaged by fire Saturday. It appears a homeless person started a warming fire in the two-story structure at the southwest corner of N. Main and Overton. The damage was extensive and it’s unclear whether the building will be able to be saved.

The County Commission approved the $2.5 million relief fund that will award $1000 grants to restaurant and hospitality workers who have lost income due to the COVID restrictions. The vote was along party lines, 8 Democrats for, 5 Republicans against. The Republicans said they agreed with the principle of the proposal, but couldn’t see tapping the county’s general fund and favored eliminating COVID restrictions on that industry as a way to stimulate the economy.

From the website Downtown Memphis offers plenty of romantic date options

The Grizzlies defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers last night. That improves their record to 4-5 and puts them 1.5 games out of playoff contention at this early point in the season.

Congratulations to national champions the Alabama Crimson Tide, who handled Ohio State 52-24 last night. Nick Saban now holds the sole distinction of most titles by a Division I college football coach.

Be careful not to lose your vaccination card after you get your first dose of the COVID vaccine.

Muck Sticky will celebrate the 20th anniversary of his first live performance with a free online concert tonight at 8.

The Trumpster and Vice-President Mike Pence kissed and made up yesterday.

That’s the news on this cold, slow Tuesday. Back tomorrow.

Monday update

The County Commission votes today on a $2.5 million fund to support restaurant workers while their hours and capacity are reduced by COVID-19 regulations. The fund will provide for $1000 grants to go to 2500 workers – the $1000 amount is described as “the equivalent of what most of the workers make in the local restaurant industry per two-week pay period.” But the Safer at Home order and the 25% capacity restrictions last for a four-week period.

To make it personal, read this letter to the editor by workers at a dozen Shelby County restaurants.

StyleBlueprint has a profile of JoBeth Graves of South Main’s Grecian Gourmet.

From Showbiz Cheat Sheet: Ann-Margret describes the affair she once had with Elvis

From the Morning Brew newsletter: Search engine with 2 million recipes

There’s a wine dinner tonight at Catherine & Mary’s. Deets pasted from Instagram:

Join us for the first Enjoy AM wine dinner of 2021!

📅 Monday, January 11 at Catherine & Mary’s
🍷 Welcoming glass served 6:00pm-6:30pm.
🍝 Dinner starts at 6:30pm. Enjoy four courses with wine pairings selected by Ryan Radish for $75/person + tax and tip.
🍷 Joe’s Wine & Liquor will be present to take wine orders at 15% off or purchase 6 or more bottles with a wine club membership.
🇮🇹: theme: Trentino-Alto Adige

Call (901)254-8600 or email to reserve your space.

That’s all for this Monday that’s rather slow on news. Watching the radar. It’s snowing in North Mississippi. I wish some of that snow would find its way up here. Back tomorrow with more news.