millennials

“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!

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.

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.)

Patio Hopscotch across 38104

Springtime in Memphis summons the stodgiest from their cubes to outdoor dining. Fortunately, for self-professed people watchers and the light-depraved, patios are aplenty.

They’re in such abundance that I couldn’t begin to list them all. Each one offers up its own vibe, perks, and unique menu. So, I’ve narrowed it down to a dozen decks within the 38104 zip code:

These places pack patrons on weeknights and weekend afternoons. Below is an interactive map that includes individual descriptions for each and easy-to-map directions.

So bike, hopscotch, or stumble your way through Midtown (with shades and sunscreen, of course).

 

Take 5: Candice Briggie

Meet a hula-hoopin’ hippe-at-heart who enjoys fresh air, capturing candids, and serving up an exquisite French 75.

Candice Briggie Nocturnal Hooping

Nocturnal hooping is all the rave.

Stage name: Candice Briggie

Starring roles: Server at Restaurant Iris; Daily Helmsman photog and student at the University of Memphis

Favorite Iris drink? “I love making a French 75. It’s refreshing, and it’s topped with champagne so it’s bubbly and fun.”

Capturing the Scenes: “My ideal setting is outdoors. The first rule is to find your light and always keep your eyes open. Take as many shots as you can, and be prepared.” Candice photographs weekly for reporters at the Helmsman and uses a Canon 7D SLR.

More tips? “Refrain from chimping. That’s where you take a photo and immediately look at the camera rather than keep shooting.”

Impression of Memphis? “I loved it right off the bat! It’s been almost 10 years now after moving from Lafayette, Tenn. They’re a lot of transplants in Memphis, and I’ve made the best friends of my entire life. How did we all end up here? I love it.”

Next gig? “I’m going to the Grand Canyon this summer. I want to go to the bottom and climb back up, maybe find a campground.”

Out West?! “The scenery just blows your mind. It gives you a sense of a different time of the earth. Seeing those mountains is amazing.”

Why hooping? “I feel free and sexy.”

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.

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