midtown

“What to Do in Memphis” according to the New York Times

The New York Times published a travel article via their 36 Hours series, “What to Do in Memphis,”  by Colleen Creamer that highlights some of the favorite hot-spots around town. And locals would agree with their picks.

It features culinary favorites like the Beauty Shop, the Bar-B-Q Shop, and the only antidote to the Delta-summer heat: Jerry’s Sno Cones. There are also landmarks and attractions like Overton Park, the National Civil Rights Museum, and the quirkiest illuminated dance club: Paula & Raiford’s Disco. (Or as my friend Jasmine dubbed it, “Rai-Rai’s.”)

The article and its accompanying video squeeze in a convincing reel of content that portrays Memphis as a desirable and soulful destination. (Which of course is delightfully flattering to us Memphians.)

Yet, Paula Raiford summed it up best when people asked her about opening up another club elsewhere: “I’m not gonna move the experience. The experience is in Memphis, Tennessee.”

Amen, Paula. Amen.

The New York Times' "What to Do in Memphis"

A City Ignited.

A sold-out Ignite Memphis was held Nov. 18 at Bridges in downtown Memphis. The program was comprised of five-minute, swiftly-paced speeches that acquainted the 350-person crowd with topics from eradicating homelessness to the tribulations of owning a food truck.

Ignite Memphis is one installment of a world-wide movement that encourages cities to share inspiring and zany ideas in a format that’s reminiscent of TED Talks on speed. This was the eighth iteration of Memphis’ production that’s presented biannually by Undercurrent, the city’s monthly meet-up for young professionals.

“We always want Ignite to inspire people,” said Dan Price, a co-founder of Undercurrent and a producer of Ignite Memphis. “We work hard to pick talks and speakers from the submissions that are not only diverse and unique, but interesting, culturally relevant, and backed by passion,” Price added.

Wannabe speakers must apply and be selected to present. Presentations tend to highlight acquired hobbies, lessons learned, or experiences that are deeply personal.

“My heart got so much bigger, and I ended up loving people so much more,” said Joseph Miner while presenting ‘Everything You Aren’t Told About Grief.’ His story recounted the roller-coaster of emotions he experienced after his mother’s death. “As a culture, we don’t talk about grief that much, so talk about grief candidly and be open to share,” Miner said.

Because of the casual format, guests easily conversed with the speakers before or after the presentations while dining on hors d’oeuvres, wine, and craft beer. Some cherished the opportunity to connect with others through broad and meaningful dialogue.

“We live in a world that is so driven by connectivity and all things digital, so it was refreshing to do something that was, at least, a slight deviation from the norm,” said Jasmine Boyd, an Ignite guest. “Imagine, people actually talking about ideas instead of hiding behind Instagram posts and Twitter rants,” she said.

While the Ignite format has been replicated elsewhere, the Bluff City adds a distinct dimension, according to Dan Price. “It speaks volumes to the culture of change, creativity, and encouragement in Memphis right now.”

Here was the fall 2014 lineup. Follow Undercurrent or like them to stay afloat of ongoing events and next spring’s Ignite!

No-Holds-Bari

Bari Ristorante e Enoteca celebrated its 12th anniversary with a seafood-filled four-course dinner and wine pairing this past Veterans Day. The sold-out event, hosted by owners Jason and Rebecca Severs, delighted restaurant regulars and newbies (like myself) with an expertly-curated Mediterranean meal.

Located in Overton Square, Bari could be considered a fixture given its decade-long tenure in the revived arts, dining, and entertainment district. Typically known for skillfully crafted cocktails (Hey, Brad Pitts!) and artisanal cheese plates, Bari also offers noteworthy wines and high-brow fare.

The vino selection was moderated by Tiffany Werne of Frederick Wildman & Sons. Tiffany prefaced each course with a botanical and geographic description of authentically Italian wines. “Tonight is about giving and rewarding experiences…these types of dinners expose people to new things they won’t always get,” Tiffany said. “You end up learning about a new recipe and are able to be at eclectic and fun places.”

Her favorite pick? The pairing of the Le Ragose Amarone, Veneto with the pan-roasted barramundi and monkfish. A 1,200-foot elevated Ragose vineyard produced this bold, yet supple, red wine that complemented the pescetarian dish due to the owners’ “out-of-the-box thinking,” Tiffany said.

“They served red wine with two fish courses,” said Lee Eilbott, an event guest. “I was pleasantly surprised. I got to experience and taste things that you would never order on a menu,” she added.

The evening ended three hours later when Chef Jason Severs and his wife and co-owner Rebecca thanked the attendees for their support of the restaurant over the last several years. “I love it when the restaurant is full,” Rebecca said. “We host these dinners about twice a year. It’s always nice for others to get what you’re doing.”

While this was a special occasion, several items including the wines can be ordered on your next visit. But if you have a penchant for the connoisseur’s tour, be on the lookout for future wine dinners at Bari. This one cost $75 and was certainly worth it for the quality of rare ingredients, impeccably paired wine, and the familial ambience.

Special thanks to Lauren Edmonds for the food photography and Lisa A. and Catherine H. for this spontaneous house-warming gift.

Thousands Take the Ice-bucket Challenge for Good

While some like Brian Carney have written dissents regarding the forced altruism behind the viral “Ice-bucket Challenge,” one has to admit that this frenzied fad has made waves.

The ALS Association’s Ice-bucket Challenge has reached millions of viewers as thousands have participated, uploaded videos, and made donations to charity. Celebrities, presidents, school teachers, and even billionaires have been peer pressured into being silly for what will hopefully make a make long-term impact against a debilitating disease.

It’s no doubt that the ALS Association has benefited with a record-breaking $51.3 million raised, largely due to this campaign, in addition to the aided awareness.

What’s personally fascinating is the vast reach of young to old, rich to poor, popular to unknown…this social media tactic ignited a visible movement. People have openly expressed their support, financially contributed, had fun, and involved others. That’s exactly what nonprofits and many businesses strive for when engaging audiences.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (my employer) had a viral success earlier this year thanks to Ellen DeGeneres’ star-studded selfie that was retweeted by millions. The children’s hospital received more than $1 million along with millions of mentions because of a charitable social media push.

Although many folks challenged themselves and others for sport, I am glad to see strangers cheerfully uniting online for good causes. It sure beats the daily vitriol and mindless BuzzFeed posts that typically fill my newsfeed.

With that being said, bottom’s up:

It’s your turn to Judge our Judges

I was summoned last August and served jury duty in Shelby County. It was a criminal case that involved aggravated robbery and the process took nearly a week. TV court show myths were debunked, debates were waged in the courtroom (and in the jury chambers), and lots of clarification was provided by our presiding judge: James Beasley, Jr.

The incident that the case recounted happened in 2011, two years prior to the trial. It was evident that hours upon hours of preparation went into the trial on behalf of the prosecution, the defense, and the head jurist.

If there’s one thing that I took away from the experience, it’s the appreciation and faith I have in our local judicial system. In order to have a safe and effective city, citizens are forced to rely on the expertise of elected officials who must adeptly understand the Tennessee Code.

This leads into my “Be Prepared to Vote” public service announcement for Thursday, August 7, 2014. This election will feature Federal and State Primaries and the FINAL Shelby County General Election.

What might surprise you in addition to voting for Shelby County mayor and commissioners will be the 40 judicial races on the ballot. That’s a LOT of lawyers to parse through (81 to be exact). As you may be aware, judges are restricted from campaigning on platforms in Tennessee, so there’s less public information about them.

Since I’m not an attorney, I’ve sought out help from the Memphis Bar Association who has taken the time (and has the expertise) to rate each candidate.

The MBA tasked 1,383 active Shelby County attorneys to rate each candidate’s experience and qualifications. The resulting Judicial Qualification Poll has been immensely helpful to me as a layman.

I read the document and noticed that some candidates received less than a 10% vote of confidence. How ALARMING! I also read that some have little to no trial experience. One is campaigning to be the “Youngest Elected in History.” (Despite being a millennial, this race should be based on wisdom and experience.)

I have no connection to the courts or bar association but as a citizen of Shelby County, I have a vested interest in maintaining the integrity of our local justice system. Further, these judges are elected to 8-year terms. It’s one thing to elect a silly legislator for two years but entrusting someone to oversee dockets of civil/criminal cases for nearly a decade is a decision worth debating.

Please take the time to at least consider and read up on the candidates. I’m more than likely going to go with the convenient “cheat-sheet” provided by the MBA, which I’ll print and take to the voting booth.

Yes, there are always exceptions to lists and ratings – for instance, I’ve heard great recommendations about Danny Kail. Yet for the most part, the comprehensive picks seem sound.

Consider this a friendly and nonpartisan heads up.

You be the judge...of our judges!

You be the judge…of our judges!

Resources:
  • Judge James Beasley, Jr. of the Shelby County Criminal Court published this article in the Memphis Flyer about the importance of selecting experienced judges in the August 2014 Shelby County election.

Guest Post: “Week of Trivia” by Elle Perry

I had never done a trivia night, but always wanted to.

Traditional wisdom says that restaurants and bars do trivia nights during the week when traffic is slower. The trivia, with promises of cash, gift certificates, and fun bring in people who may be more reticent to go out when they have to work the next morning.

I thought it would be fun to do an entire week of trivia. More accurately, Monday through Friday. I tried to pick a mix of restaurants and bars around town. All where ones I had been to before. In the future, there’s other trivia nights not included here that I would like to try including Blind Bear Speakeasy (because it’s a speakeasy! nuff said) and Flying Saucer.


On the first night (Monday) we went to the infamous adult trivia held by Slider Inn. Slider Inn, located at the corner of Peabody and Cooper, is one of my favorite restaurants/bars. However, I had only previously visited at lunch time (the have great specials and the wait staff are supremely friendly). Oh yeah, the have an awesome patio, that is zipped up when it’s cold outside.

Anyhow, I heard about the trivia from a former fellow graduate student who managed to stumble in with her dad one night they were doing trivia.

Our total group was made up of eight fearless citizens. We picked a great, evening-appropriate team name, which I will not mention here. Of the 11 teams that took part in trivia, there were several that cause the whole crowd to laugh uproariously when called out.

The questions were tough! There were several questions that came from recent news stories. The format is three rounds followed by half time then another three rounds. During half-time we were pleasantly surprised by getting small shots of an orange vodka poured in our mouths.

Though we fought valiantly (and bet the whole farm on the bonus question), we ultimately did not prevail.

Fortunately, though good times were to be had by all trivia participants. I will definitely be back and I suspect the same of my fellow trivia mates.

And I will never look at pop rocks in the store again without secretly cringing.


On Tuesday night we ventured out to The Cove on Broad Avenue. The Cove is an awesome pirate/oyster bar. They’re known for great made-from-scratch cocktails.

Out of all of the trivia nights that I found locally, The Cove has the latest time. Especially given that it takes place on a Tuesday night.

When I put the together the schedule, trivia was listed at 9. However it actually started at 9:30. Given experiences with Slider Inn and The Cove, it appears that the bars wait until as many people are in place as possible before starting. So the time trivia gets started seems to be fluid within about 30 minutes or so.

As it turned out, the trivia guy was the same as Monday night’s trivia at Slider Inn. I started off alone answering questions, because teammates had not yet arrived. I actually answered all of my solo questions correctly.

About four additional folks showed up. I do think that the late time was a deterrent.

Unlike Slider Inn, there were about six or seven teams competing. We were in first place after the first run, but ended up falling the fourth after the second. We wagered all of the possible points of the bonus question (which revolved around ranking the order of creation of toys from the 1980s). We ended up answering the question correctly and winning the whole game!

They actually played part of Bandz A Make Her Dance in honor of our team name (selected by me)

We ended up closing our tab too quickly however because the grand prize was $35 on our tab. So one of our team members got some pineapples soaked in tequila while the rest of us scarfed down deluxe shots of some sort of cinnamon flavored whiskey (not Fireball). I am pretty sure I teared up immediately after.

Due to the lateness in the evening, I ended up using Lyft service for the first time. It was great, except that the driver had not yet received her pink mustache for her truck, which is part of the appeal, to be honest.


On Wednesday we ventured to Tamp & Tap downtown. Tamp & Tap is a super cute coffee and brew (read: beer) restaurant. They also have soup and sandwiches. (And brunch!) Their trivia is hosted by MemphiSports’ Kevin Cerrito. There is an 8-person limit for teams, and the trivia changes themes every week.

That night the theme was Disney. I’m not a huge Disney person, but the questions were broad enough that generally someone on our team had an idea. In case you’re wondering there were about 6 or 7 teams.

We ended up in a tie for best team name (Books A Make Belle Dance), which had to be resolved via Mario Kart. One of our valiant teammates won, which gave us a free pitcher. We ended up saving that for a future trip.

At the end of trivia we ended up in a tie again. This time for second place. So more Mario Kart. Same teammate won again, which earned a $25 gift certificate to local t-shirt shop Sache. We gave him the shirt since he put in so much effort.

Upcoming trivia weeks at Tamp & Tap are Memphis trivia, logo trivia (sounds intriguing), and Friends.

I know my friends are particularly interested in the last one. 🙂

And they will have their trivia tournament in June.


On Thursday we went to Cooper-Young favorite Young Avenue Deli. (Known as “the Deli” by frequent patrons.)

The place was packed. Not sure if it was due to trivia or because it was Thursday. There were about 15 teams though.

Like the first two nights, there is no limit on team members. However, there is a limit on space at any given time. Deli trivia is part of Memphis Trivia League so things seemed more formal, with printed out slips of paper to keep notes on. The top five teams also went on to future rounds (carrying their points with them).

Out of all of the nights so far, these seemed to be the most difficult questions. The questions ran the gamut.

To do well here, a group would need to have a team with a lot of different expertise.


On Friday, me and a handful of friends headed to Ubees, which is located on the Highland Strip.

But alas, the trivia person had a tent down at Memphis in May Barbecue Fest and there wasn’t a backup person. To say the least, I was disappointed.

It was also two hours before their infamous Power Hour (insanely cheap drink specials, I’m talking 3-for-1 type deals).

The only other night I knew about was T.J. Mulligans, but no one was willing to drive to Quince or Cordova to take part.

And that was my week of trivia. It was a ton of fun, and honestly got a little bit tiring towards the end.

I definitely will be doing trivia again. Just not for a week straight. See you around town!

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Thanks to Elle Perry for initiating and enduring the “Week of Trivia.” Drinks were won, egos were shattered, and new friends were made. By day, Elle coordinates the Teen Appeal; every other second, she’s a Memphis super-connector. 

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.

Take 5: Adam J. Maldonado

Meet an actor turned street poet who’s fascination with people’s stories has secured him a place in the hearts of mothers, scorned lovers, and many others.

Adam the Poet

Adam flawlessly strikes another’s inspiration into his Underwood Champion typewriter.

Stage name: The Poet Adam

Starring roles: Poet Laureate of the People; numerous Mid-South stage productions including Jerre Dye‘s debut of Cicada.

Daily script: Adam takes cues from philosophy, literature, and life as he welcomes each client with, “What’s your story?” He can bee seen around town at events like Tennessee Brewery Untapped,  Broad Ave artsy happenings, and poetry slams. Folks typically approach and hire him on-the-spot for “personalized poetry.”

Behind-the-Scenes: “All the writing done for events is stream of consciousness.” His hands glide across an antique portable typewriter to capture one’s thoughts and feelings onto a crisp page.

Yet, don’t mistake his talent for dictation or caricaturization.  Adam’s empathy guides him toward creating three-minute masterpieces.

How? “The shortest distance between two people is poetry. What separates people is the lack of speaking what is honestly on their heart.” According to Adam, there’s far too much sarcasm and cynicism that hinders relationships. Thus, he bridges sincere communication.

Cool typewriter but what about the web? “For millennials, the power lies within social media. We can have an immediate impact on the culture around us.”

His dream? “For poetry to be pervasive throughout our culture. Turn it into an industry. Something where you can make money, work hard for, and it benefits people.”

e.g., Think personal poet-consultant. Call upon Adam to provide perspective on that difficult life transition or for everyday humor. Only time limits the quantity of muses. So, give him a shout.

(P.S. I purchased my first poem at Overton Square’s Crawfish Festival. My inspiration? Getting lost in crowds. Here’s (part of) poem #981.)

A Mayoral Mutiny: Foursquare’s Diabolical Distraction

Location apps are looking for you. And me…and us. Restaurants are employing them to reward patrons. Tourists are connecting with local mavens for parking tips. Coworkers are battling for badges. There’s no more hiding.

It’s been two weeks since I’ve rekindled my relationship with Foursquare (after a two-year hiatus). Never have I encountered a more coy application. Foursquare gently nudges the user to let the neighbors know that you’re home. It invites one to leave tips about jogging in city parks. She (yes, she) even whispers alluring “Welcome back” greetings and flattering accolades.

How is Foursquare so sly? Because it’s barely been 14 days, and I’m consumed with the possibility of a claiming a mayorship. Mayor of my own neighborhood?! That doesn’t even take creativity, but I crave it nonetheless. A mutiny is brewing for John D.’s coveted title. (I shan’t friend him for risk of exposure.)

Tips? I’ve been generous – more so than the supposed mayor – in assisting fellow Central Gardenites with their safety needs and scenic running routes. Even photos have been included to increase likes and click rates.

I bet he receives Foursquare’s “passive” recommendations that were enabled last fall. It prompts users with tips about a particular area or business without having to officially check in, according to WIRED. No fingers needed. Very clever, Mr. Mayor.

Foursquare has also probably been granting him access to the area’s most renowned residents. If one is curious about a particular place, the investigator can simply review the venue’s list of frequent visitors. Excellent for questioning, err, I mean interviewing the superusers (Never fear, I’m onto his antics via Mashable‘s guidance.)

So, how does one gain a competitive edge? By diversifying! I’ve employed the help of Jelly, which now allows users to ask nearby experts for counsel. The sporty geo-location feature could breathe new life into this app that was once left for dead by John Biggs, an editor of TechCrunch.

However, not one native has responded to my inquiry about holiday garbage pick-up. I just don’t think my fellow residents are ready for that Jelly. Ergo, Foursquare remains the preferred local choice.

Mayor John, forget Game of Thrones, this is the evermore dastardly “Game of Mayors,” and you shall be usurped.

Mayor Memphis Maverick

(Future) Mayor Memphis Maverick

 

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.