Saturday, April 23, 2011

Saturday Doesn't MatterDay

With tomorrow being Easter, Sunday FunDay will just be Sunday.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I survived a meatless Good Friday, but barely.

My plan was simple. Go home early, make a cheese lasagna, have a couple of toddies (vodka/soda/lime), and chill out.

The plan worked well. Except I have a package of hot Italian sausage in the freezer. The temptation was huge. I actually took them out to thaw. In the end, the toddies won out. The sausage was this morning's breakfast.

One can be forgiven for eating a pound of hot sausage with peppers and onions for breakfast.

On a humorous note, I was given some Good Friday instructions as I walked home yesterday to make my meatless dinner. A young friend told me that as a Catholic I should actually be fasting on Good Friday and also abstaining from the use of alcohol.

If she hadn't been sitting at a patio bar I might have given the alcohol statement some credibility.

Bar side preaching really is a turn off.

Now, as to "fasting" as defined by the Catholic Church.

"Fasting" can consist of up to two small meals according to the Church teachings.

I was observant in that fashion.

Wonder what "Twenty something Uber Catholic Girl" had after her Happy Hour?

That's just a rhetorical musing. Honestly, I could really care less.

Today, Max's Sports Bar is having an outdoor music/patio party. Our good friend Shane Morrell's band, "Dynaflow" is going to be there.

"Dynaflow" kicks ass!

In the meantime, a ride to the Memphis Farmers Market is in order.

Until the next time, all y'all take care of yourselves.

Air Traffic Mike, ret.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Wow, What A Weekend

There's a lot to do in Memphis during the Spring months. It's about the only time the weather is nice enough to get in some festivals.

Mind you, the blistering heat starting in May lasting through October doesn't stop folks from participating in festivals. It just makes it a bit unpleasant.

That wasn't the case this weekend past.

The weekend started off with our friend Allison's 30th birthday party. For the record, Allison's birthday is/was not considered an official "festival". It was a lot of fun though.

The lovely Miss Allison showing off her birthday chalice. Snoop Dogg would be jealous.

A look down the hallway at Number 10 Main's center hallway. The party room is adjacent this hallway.

Winn kindly offered his services as bartender for the evening.

Chad and Shaun offering the "Birthday Girl" congratulations, Otto holding court in the background.

Erin and Eric joined in on the fun a bit later.

Paul, Gary, and Buddha enjoying some libations.

I'm not sure what was going through Clay's mind, but Rebecca (The "Nuh-Uh Girl") seemed to like it.......

Otto, strategically seated near the food table.

I have a lot more pictures, including one of the gang taking a "power nap".

I'm not inclined to post pictures like that.

Fortunately, I know someone who is.

Always good to know one's resources.

Saturday bought not one, but three different events. The Southern Hot Wing Festival, Africa In April, and the 2011 Memphis Brewfest.

A guy can only spread himself so thin. I threw "Africa In April" under the proverbial "social bus" and went for hot wings and cold beer instead.

The day started off cold and cloudy. Not an auspicious beginning, but there were wings to be cooked and eaten.

The Wing Fest is one of the better festivals in that you can sample wings from any team for a small donation. Usually it's a dollar for two or three wing pieces with the money going to the Memphis Ronald McDonald house up by St. Jude's Children's Hospital.

Dining for a worthy cause is a beautiful thing.

Seeing as how it was not going to be a healthy diet sort of day, I walked the one mile and some change to the event.

Before settling in at some friends' tents, i decided to stroll the grounds to see the sights. With three music stages and nearly 60 teams, there was a lot to see.

I never get tired of seeing hearses recycled for happier uses. However, if this one is available at the time of my demise it would be most appropriate for me.

You can read all about Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken by clicking on the link.

A look back towards the Central Train Station and the entrance to the event on Main Street.

It takes a big man to wear a chicken suit. It takes a bigger man to make fun of that guy and maintain a level of safety.

I suggested to the team he was with that next year they cut the "wings" of the outfit and hire a double amputee to don it.

Just one more reason I'm not in marketing.

A look at one of the side streets the festival encompassed.

One of the three music stages this year.

A bunch of mutual friends had their teams placed side by side by side once again this year. "Max's Sports Bar", "Team Pluck U", and the good folks from 730 AM Fox Sports. The common thread here is the South Main folks. Max's is located in the South Main area, "Team Pluck U" is full of South Mainers, and the sales rep from 730 AM is a South Mainer, as well as Max's best customer.

Standing in the 730 AM Fox Sports tent, looking at Tom and Christine Shelton (Owners of Shelton Clothiers and Christine on Main Street in downtown Memphis) in the "Pluck U" kitchen, and back further Max's Sports Bar's kitchen.

Gary and Stevie G. promoting their new breakfast energy drink called "Beer".

Gloria, "Pluck U"'s head chef takes a sample while Christine washes her hands for the 100th time.

Anyone who's ever cooked at an outdoor competition can tell you that you will wash your hands over and over and over again. There's no getting around it.

First run of the day on Max's grill. They cook theirs in a unique fashion. First they deep fry them a bit, drain them, season them, and grill them while saucing them on the grill. The result is a crispy, moist wing. They had a number of sauces, but for my money nothing beats Max's Honey Habanero sauce.

If you'd like to try it, it's available on the menu at Max's Sports Bar on G.E. Patterson.

Chief cook and all around good guy "Bicycle Bobby" Vichie tending the grill for Max's.

Bobby knows wings.

Mikey holding down the 730 AM Fox Sports tent.

Clay enjoying his last week of unemployed freedom. I'd like to take this opportunity to say that the company that hired him did themselves a huge favor.

If Nick ever lost a hand he'd have nothing to say.

Actually, Nick and Sarah came in from Chicago for the weekend. It was really good to see them again. Hopefully they won't stay away so long the next time.

Tom enjoying a well deserved cigar break.

My friend Maury. We share the same birthday, just one year apart.

Once upon a time, we were 2/3's of a really awesome Italian Fest cooking crew. We also made a bratwurst that won the St. Francis Oktoberfest Bratwurst competition. It was odd for us to be actually standing around at a cooking competition instead of competing.

Such is life.

By 2:00 pm a bunch of us made a command decision. The teams were getting ready for the judging portion of the competition and as Otto pointed out, "I can't feel my hands.".

We bid adieu to the wing festival and headed over to Max's Sports Bar for additional libations and warmth.

Paul and Otto got to talking about the Beer Fest. It didn't take much to talk me into it.

In spite of some incompetence on the MATA trolley driver's part in the loading and off loading of a wheelchair passenger, Paul and I arrived there just after opening. Paul had his ticket, but mercifully the ticket line for me was short.

So many beers, one two ounce tasting cup, so little time.

However, by this time the sun had come out.

One of the most beautiful baseball stadiums in the minor leagues, Autozone Park.

Paul, our friend Darrin and his wife (who's name I can't remember, mea culpa).

The turnout was terriffic!

A bit later we ran into our friend Ruchee.

The plaza was equally as full.

All good things must come to an end. Saturday was no exception. I stopped off at Majestic, grabbed a bite to eat, and headed home.

The full moon was kind enough to see me home.

Sunday FunDay was an extra fun day.

The annual "Ragin' Cajun Crawfish Festival" was held down by the river.

I don't mind the crowds, but an offer to hang out on a nearby roof top patio at our friend Chad's place was too good an offer to pass up.

A sunny Spring day, nice breezes, a great view of the Mississippi River and the festival, plus coolers of beer made for a terriffic day.

Our host Chad holding up what might be the largest crawfish at the festival.

Looking over the festival and down river. Notice the idiots sitting on/standing on the trolley tracks. Amazingly it happens every year. We're all just waiting for some moron to get run over.

A look back towards town and the Peabody Hotel.

The Mississippi River is currently rising due to heavy rains up north.

Going downriver, not much of a problem. This large tug and its barges went by very quickly.

Going upriver on the other hand.......

I timed this guy and his barges. It took 15 minutes from the south bridges until they cleared the north bridge. The distance between them is about two miles.

Everybody really enjoyed the afternoon.

Even the folks taking a river cruise on the Memphis Queen.

Today is chock full of fun with things like laundry and cleaning the bathroom.

Looks like a quiet week going into Easter Sunday.

I'll be working on some projects for the rest of the time.

Until the next time, all y'all take care of yourselves.

Air Traffic Mike, ret.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Goodnight, Coach

Some background. When my mother was dying of cancer, I never said "Goodbye" as I left her room. I always said, "Goodnight".

I never wanted her to think it was her last day.

Even when it was.

My friends who don't live in Memphis can't really grasp just how much former coach Larry Finch meant to the University of Memphis and the city itself.

Click here and you'll see why.

And yes, that really is Boston Celtic great (and Hall of Famer) Bill Russell pushing Coach Finch's wheelchair onto center court at the FedEx Forum.

About 10 years ago, my friend Dave (who graduated from the U of M around the same time as Coach Finch) said, "Larry Finch saved this city!". He was referring to the manner in which Finch's play brought so many folks together at a time when racial lines were VERY divided.

I thought that was a bit dramatic then.

Then I learned some Memphis history.

Dave, you were right.

Folks, click on the link above and learn something that was good in the world.

Until the next time, all y'all take care of yourselves.

Air Traffic Mike, ret.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Goodbye Larry

Once upon a time, in a town that had little to be proud of, a kid walked out of the ghetto and into the hearts of his city.

This city.

He didn't have some made up name, that wasn't the style then.

What he had was "mad skills" in basketball. He was the nucleus of a Memphis State team that reunited white and black Memphians, and shocked the nation, going all the way to the NCAA Men's Basketball championship final.

It took Bill Walton and a gutsy UCLA team to finally derail them.

He came back to coach (then Memphis State) first as an assistant under Dana Kirk in 1979, taking over as head coach in 1986.

With a record of 220 wins to 130 losses he remains the winningest coach at the U of M.

The under reported statistic of his player's graduation rates is even more impressive.

Read it here.

I'm having a tough time typing through the tears.

Coach P., I hope you really know what an honor it is to wear that title.

Read about that here.

Godspeed, Coach.