hometown pride

Join Elle during her Week of Trivia!

Did you grow up dying to fill that Trivial Pursuit pie? Ever stop into a bar unsuspectingly and end up winning a free round because you could recall Prince Mongo’s real name?

Well this week you’re invited to play every weeknight with Elle Perry, our local trivia glutton. Elle has selected five different hot spots known for hosting pub-style trivia around Memphis.

See the schedule below and show up to one or all: May 12 – 16. We’ll be live tweeting our adventures so follow along via #WeekofTrivia. And make sure to check back to memphismaverick.com for Elle’s recap and guest posts.

Elle Perry is taking Memphis trivia by storm THIS week! Up to the challenge? Join the fun!

Elle Perry is taking trivia by storm THIS WEEK! Join her for the challenge.

Memphis Mayor Listens to Millennials

Mayor A C Wharton of Memphis held a town hall reminiscent of Parks and Rec last Thursday to hear from the city’s young professionals. The auditorium at Memphis Bioworks Foundation was stacked with A-list members of his staff and divisional heads of parks and neighborhoods, the police department, public works, finance, and housing and community development.

Mayor Wharton’s presentation kicked off with…budgets! And income streams (taxes)! The audience appeared stoic, however, the mayor did stress one major expense: protection.

Of the $613 million budgeted, nearly two thirds is spent on fire and police services each year. And who could argue? A place that’s still reeling from a silver-medal ranking as one of the most dangerous cities in America? (Forbes, feel free to dial down the flattery next time.)

What’s $600 million, really? “That’s $2.50 per person, per day. The price of two cups of coffee,” said Brian Collins, the city’s finance director. Sounds efficient for a city with 650,000 residents. But, maybe not the clearest analogy for a 20-something who started his Starbucks kick at age 12. So for Gen-Y readers, that’s roughly two Redbox rentals.

Once the PowerPoint concluded, attendees started firing questions toward city hall leaders. Some asked about lowering the city’s poverty rate (27%). Others inquired about retaining talent. “That’s why we have a full-time chief learning officer, Doug Scarboro,” replied Mayor Wharton.

Memphis is actively trying to improve its workforce by increasing the number of adults who attend college by 1% in the next five years, according to Bernice Butler of Leadership Memphis. Scarboro’s team has partnered with the Memphis Talent Dividend (MTD) and 100 other organizations to create programs and public messaging about boosting education rates for the metro area. Their retention efforts could result in an economic impact of $1 billion, according to the MTD’s website.

In honor of asthmatics and my co-workers in New York, I asked if the city had studied the merits of banning bar smoking locally. The mayor et al. said it was a Nashville decision. But so were county school districts. And wine in grocery stores. While those decisions happened inside Tennessee’s Capitol, Memphis leaders were consumed with the legislative outcomes.

Even though the topic may sound trivial, bars do concern young professionals. It’s where we network, spectate, date, and catch up on the grit and grind. At least Mayor Wharton said he’d look into it. Yet, I prefer he just read this slant article about the improved health effects that resulted from the Giuliani-Bloomberg smoking ban.

The mayor said he planned to continue having these forums because “it’s important that we meet face-to-face.” Janet Hooks, director of parks and neighborhoods, was pleased by the attendance and participation. “It was excellent! The questions were fantastic, and they spoke to the future of Memphis. They were really thought-provoking,” she said.

Overall, the town hall seemed to resonate with those in attendance. “All of this was new to me,” said John Killeen, a Scranton, Pa. transplant who moved to Memphis last year. “I came here for the music. I love the openness and authenticity of the people in the city,” he said.

Killeen has been surprised by how quickly Memphians engage in meaningful conversation. “I’ve never encountered anyone who’s irritated to talk. That wouldn’t happen in Pennsylvania,” he said. The city’s culture, people, and various local initiatives like the Memphis Teacher Residency and Binghampton’s revival have impressed Killeen so much that he’d “love to stay here for the long term.”

 

P.S. A tip for future town halls: Promote a hashtag to crowdsource questions. While none were announced, Twitter-savvy Maura Black Sullivan did uproot #ACTownhallYP mid-presentation for the conversation streamers.

Take 5: Patrick Jones

Meet a laid-back biker who’s keenly interested in cityscapes, green parks, and cartography.

Patrick Jones

Patrick’s 10-speed includes “Warp.”

Stage namePatrick Jones

Some friends call him Pat Jones; but he honestly prefers Patrick.

Starring role: Legal Assistant with Miles Mason Family Law Group, PLC

Offstage: Patrick serves on the board of advisors of his fraternity’s local alumni association, TKE, and oversees the granting of scholarships to incoming CBU freshmen.

On the weekend:  “If it’s nice, I’ll ride my bike into East Memphis to see my parents, go shopping at Whole Foods, and then back. It’s a 20-mile loop.”

Biking for transportation? “It doesn’t take that much longer, and you see more because you’re not going as fast. It’s just pleasant.”

Scenic sights? “Right now I’m borrowing a Canon Rebel so I’m taking as many pictures as I can.” Check out his serene photoblog of cityscapes: MidCityScenes.

Favorite spot? “Overton Park. I like that quick transition from the hustle and bustle of Midtown to the calm and quiet. It feels like you’re in the middle of nowhere – an oasis in nature.”

That reminds me – your tweet: “Yes, I got over 40 retweets after pointing out that Parks and Rec used an old map of Overton in their last episode.”

But, HOW did you notice that? “I’ve always liked maps.”

5 Juke Joints where Memphians Jive

What’s a juke joint?

Some say it’s a law-breaking, rag-tag shack that can only be found by word of mouth. Yet, my expectation for any jukin’ hotspot is ironically lower.

It’s typically a grungy, after-hours place where music is a feature, the inebriated sporadically dance, and barflies just watch.

Memphis has been blessed with dozens of them. To begin, here are five places to impress your out-of-town guests if they’re seeking the scrappier side of the Bluff City.

5. The Buccaneer Lounge consistently delivers by showcasing solid musicians, must-see Tigers and Grizzlies games, and piratey decor. Permanently docked on Monroe near the shores of Midtown.

4. Wild Bill’s welcomes everyone…if you’re willing to boogie. Bill’s bands are rooted in soul and funk. Just past North Parkway on Vollintine.

3. The Blue Monkey: It’s okay if you’re already seeing double because there are two monkeys in Memphis: Midtown & Downtown. Bands, billiards, and local beer always flow on Saturday nights.

2. Kudzu’s Bar & Grill: You’ll feel like Robert Johnson when you step inside this bluesy hideaway in the Edge district. The patio-like atmosphere recreates what Clarksdale offers, yet Kudzu’s is conveniently closer.

1. Earnestine & Hazel’s, downtown on South Main, is best described in bullets:

  • Brothel (formerly)
  • Soul burgers
  • JukeSoul-box
  • Nate the Bartender
  • Spirits (shaken, stirred, and ressurected)

Memphis is full of authentic dive bars and this only scratches the surface. If you have a favorite for us to try, please comment below or via #MEMJukeJoints.

Social Media Schools TN Legislators

This week, Tennessee state senators considered a “religious freedom” bill similar to the one that passed Kansas’ House of Representatives: legislation that empowers business owners to refuse services to potential clients, especially gay ones.

Soon after news of the legislation sponsored by Senator Brian Kelsey, a Republican that represents parts of Memphis and Shelby County, was made public, a local restauranteur and chef, Kelly English, got political. Once English learned about the bill, he posted his dissent to Facebook:

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 12.21.13 AM

And what happened next can best be explained by Clay Shirky in Here Comes EverybodyHe described how barriers to collective action have been removed because of technology. In 2007, American Airlines passengers and many other fed-up frequent flyers successfully lobbied for the Passenger Bill of Rights after eight hours on the tarmac broke the camel’s back. Dissatisfaction and organizing via social media sparked Congressional change. (Today, passengers have the right to deplane if they’ve been sitting on a tarmac for more than three hours.)

Chez English instantly became a social media influencer by encouraging others to follow suit and vehemently rebuke the bill. And rebuke they did! Online protests, trending hashtags, and calls to action flooded posts and networks. (See Mashable’s engagement tips for help.) This resulted in two key developments: Senator Kelsey dropped his sponsorship of the bill, and the legislation was indefinitely sent to a subcommittee for the remainder of 2014.

While traditional news organizations delivered the information, the scene was filled with “alternative voices.” Not media outlets or the powers that be. We’re talking about the hoi polloi of the Internet who got offended and spoke up. While legislators and the bill’s supporters could chalk this up to public griping, English’s camp could liken it to an Egyptian revolution.

Score for this round? 1-0 with “No Bluff” English in the lead.

Take 5: Hayley Isaac

Hayley Isaac

Hayley goes for gold everyday. 

Meet a half-Venezuelan, Midtown chick who binges on the Olympics and works full time sending snail mail.

Stage Name: Hayley Isaac

Friends call her: Smart and silly

Starring Roles: Sr. Specialist for ALSAC/St. Jude; formerly the Associate Director for the CBU MBA program

Daily script: Developing the strategy behind one-time mail donations for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Like free labels? Give her a call.

Good gig? “I know what and who I come to work for everyday: the kids.”

Behind the Scenes at St. Jude: “All I can think about is the number of children that will be saved because of the new proton beam. It’s overwhelming.”

Hometown Reminder: “Proud Mary”

To improve Memphis, Hayley would focus on transportation. “We need something that better connects the burbs to the city.”

If at the Olympics…“I’d be cheering for Lolo Jones,” (the track star turned bob sledder). “She’s made a huge jump!”

Favorites to Follow? @MakeMemphis, @AmuricaPhoto, and @SochiProblems 

“I love Memphis” may sound cliché, but these three don’t care.

You’re 26. You live in Midtown. You boogie downtown. You go to tweet ups and meet ups. You volunteer. You happy hour. You hum the blues. You grit. You grind. You are Memphis.

So, what?! Along with the thousands of other folks? I’ve never been shy of the bandwagon, so it’s refreshing to see what will hopefully evolve from a cultural fad into lasting civic pride.

That pride is palpable, and there are entire sites dedicated to it. Let’s review a few: Choose901, I Love Memphis, and theGRIND.

Choose901 offers a robust terminal for navigating the city. Whether it’s restaurant picks, prominent local blogs, or job openings, you can find many up-to-date tidbits. Choose901 is more down-to-earth than an “official visitor’s guide” in that it includes the most interesting part of our city: the people.

  • My favorite feature is Choose901 TV where you can meet residents like Samilia Colar, an entrepreneur-seamstress, or Kevin Mattice, a math teacher turned coffee-lover. Well, maybe you can’t meet them here, but that’s my point. I feel like I have; this site builds community!
  • Helpful tips? I have no clue who’s in charge of Choose901. I want to learn about the writer(s), publisher, photographer(s), developer(s), owner(s)…some bios or added detail on the about page would suffice. Also, its “enjoy” tab leads the user to a gargantuan listing of past and upcoming events. It would be nice to have them categorized by type (e.g., music, sports, and fundraisers).

The I Love Memphis blog is operated by the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau and one of its staff: full-time blogger Holly Whitfield. The blog’s extensive posts span the gamut from Elvis-related to highlighting local causes and needs (Project 50). I Love Memphis has been an activity portal for locals and visitors since its founding in 2009 by Kerry Crawford, and it’s still charming.

  • My favorite feature is 5 Things to Do This Weekend which provides a heads up on the cool and quirky events (along with schedules, venue information, and pricing) every week. If you ever come up short on plans, check it out.
  • Helpful tip? A plus to this blog is that most of its content has a long shelf-life. However, it would be nice if the latest and greatest was identified with more chutzpah. The homepage begins with page one and goes to 549; all the posts look the same. Maybe some type of color-coding or highlighting would help the reader distinguish between the new and old (rather than a fine-print dateline).

theGrind is an online magazine published by students of Rhodes College that launched last month. It presents profiles of residents, events, art, music, and photography that is unique to the city. theGrind’s crisp layout and striking imagery allows the reader to nearly feel the pulse of the city through the lens of Midtown millennials.

  • My favorite feature is the overall design and the photography section. It’s up-close and stunning! For those of you who’ve moved away from Memphis, just visit this site every once in a while to cure your homesickness.
  • Helpful tips? Overall, the navigation is straightforward and the content is organized, however, the transitions can be jarring. Several of the sections have different looks and styles to display content so it can give the impression that you’re jumping to another site. Also, Humans of Memphis does not list the names of the subjects that I assume it’s quoting. (Maybe it’s intended to be gallery-esque and not the typical interview profile?)

Super Social: Choose901 and I Love Memphis do an excellent job of engaging readers through social networks. @Choose901 recently had a t-shirt promotion where it announced a code via Twitter for people to purchase an exclusive run of shirts. They sold out faster than a Justin Timberlake concert. @ILoveMemphis has done an excellent job of responding to reader questions and sending timely reminders about events. @TheGrindMemphis is still working up its Twitter following, yet its Facebook page is loaded with content and has more than 1,000 likes.

This trio promotes Memphis and provides a service to the city. These sites are more than a billboard or brochure, they engage and listen to their audiences through social networking and fun promotions. While it may be confusing to some to see multiple Memphis-centric sites popping up, they each have a niche to fill for our natives, transplants, and passerby. Kudos to each of you and keep the hometown love comin’.

Overjoyed with Undercurrent

“Find a job. Find a date.” Memphians have done both at events hosted by Undercurrent, a free networking organization that brings together more than 100 twenty and thirty-somethings each month. “We’ve been laser-focused on what we do best: creating a social space for people to make meaningful connections,” said Patrick Woods, the founder of Undercurrent.

Local Gastropub served as the downtown venue for the first Undercurrent event of 2014, which marked the sixth in the series.  Beer flowed freely from the communal table taps as newcomers and veteran attendees greeted one another. They stood shoulder-to-shoulder similar to a New Year’s Eve countdown, while the proximity provided a respite warmth on the 20-degree Monday night.

Millennials are not the only ones involved, companies have also found it beneficial to align with Undercurrent. “It’s an H.R. decision for companies; the city needs to attract and retain young talent,” Woods said. Launch Tennessee, Start Co., and Christian Brothers University have sponsored previous events.

Chase Gil, a manufacturing engineer at Smith & Nephew, recently returned to Memphis from Fort Lauderdale for his career. “I didn’t realize how much Memphis had to offer for twenty-somethings, let alone that Midtown was home to many places that were strikingly similar to where I would spend my free time in Florida,” Gil said.  This was Gil’s third time to attend Undercurrent. “I love the concept, since it is encouraging the development of connections with other like-minded people in our city,” he said.

When people purposely want to engage with one another, the possibilities are aplenty. Alliances forged from these face-to-face encounters could later result in big-screen ventures. Two filmmakers in Memphis met at Undercurrent for the first time and have since considered collaborating on a project, according to Patrick Woods.

Whether or not another Bluff City film surfaces, Undercurrent will “continue to produce excellent events…that focus on connecting big ideas,” Woods added.

 

The images were pulled from Undercurrent’s Storify. To learn more about Undercurrent and the upcoming February event, follow @GetUndercurrent or visit the Facebook page.

The Memphis Beat: For Millennials

The Bluff City can be a tricky network to navigate socially and professionally. It can seem a little bit country-club in a rock-n-roll town. However, the crux behind knowing  who, what, when, and where is being tackled on many fronts, especially for millennials.

Recently, there’s been a surge of hometown pride injected into Memphis. Natives and transplants alike are choosing to live and work here. Startups are staying put. Chic, hipster, and gritty “901” looks have invaded wardrobes across the Mid-South. Needless to say, the pride is visible.

The bias of this blogger is that Memphis is a funky town that’s worth touting. This blog will feature posts about interesting millennials residing here, networking opportunities, fun events, and articles that young professionals might enjoy.

Posts for this Millennial-inspired beat will be tagged with #MillennialMEM. Future story suggestions are appreciated; feel free to mention me every minute: @MemphisMaverick.

I Love Memphis Mural

Photo by Courtney Lynch