Monday, November 12, 2012

Rebirth of Cars and Neighborhoods in Midtown

There are two major reasons why I have been updating this blog a lot less frequently lately. One is that after more than a year on my quest to try as many barbecue and soul food restaurants as possible it is getting increasing harder to find places I haven't been to yet. The other is that I have been getting deep into my project of bringing my '55 Ford sedan back to life.

My '55 at a car show before someone pulled out in front of it in traffic about a year and a half ago.

What started as a decision to fix the car myself has spiralled into a frame-off rebuild where I am using a different, more valuable, Fairlane body in place of my original base-model Mainline body. Last Saturday, before heading over to the Crosstown area to join in the celebration of plans for a dramatic rebirth of the commercial part of that neighborhood, I also reached a major milestone in the rebirth of the old Ford.

I finally pulled the stripped-down original body off the frame on Saturday. Just a little more work to go before this thing can finally start going back together. I want to reuse this frame since I have already done so much work updating and improving its suspension and drivetrain over the years. This is actually my third time redoing the car over the past 20 years, but this is the first time I've gone full frame-off.

On Saturday I also pulled the stripped-down body I am going to use off of its frame. Being a gearhead means having friends respond with a nervous, "Why?" when you ask, "Are you going to be busy this weekend?" With enough people pulling the bodies was quick work, especially compared to the months I spent getting them stripped down and ready for this.

Few things in life excite me more than seeing cool-looking old things being brought back to life. So it made for a perfect day when I finished getting the '55 bodies pulled in the early afternoon with plenty of time to head around the corner from my house to the old Crosstown Sears building where the MemFIX event was celebrating the aging commercial district's potential. This event came on the heals of the recent major announcement of plans for the reuse of the giant Sears building involving the Church Health Center, St. Jude, Le Bonheur and others.

The fall leaves around the building made it look even more impressive.

I was surprised by just how large the turnout of both vendors and spectators ended up being. All the vacant commercial buildings surrounding the old Sears tower where opened up too with temporary makeshift retail businesses and music venues occupying them.

Bike lanes had been added to the street similar to the ones used in the "guerilla renewal" of Broad Avenue.

There was a great assortment of bands playing at the event with one stage set up on the side of Sear building in addition to the indoor venues. As the sun went down the Dead Soldiers, one of the best recent additions to the city's music scene, closed down the outdoor stage. The band is a traditional country group made up of musicians from the local metal scene using a wide variety of traditional instruments. Their sound is extremely tight and there is a definite metal sentiment to a lot of the lyrics while the sound is pure real country. The shows are always fun for both the band and the audience. Check out their music here.

People who stuck around outside after the show where treated to a showing of The Princess Bride.

But my wife and I headed down the street to see an electrifying indoor performance by local nerdcore rapper Adam WarRock. Whoever booked all the music for the event did a great job of featuring a wide variety of artists that would appeal to anyone who enjoys good music.

If you aren't familiar with WarRock's work take a minute to listen to his rap anthem devoted to the Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation. Then go to his website to check out more of his work. And to download the Ron Swanson song since it will be completely stuck in your head anyway.


  1. Since you just re-watched The Princess Bride, I think you'll enjoy Miracle Max (with cats).

    Congrats on your car progress!

  2. If you're for new Soul Food restaurants to visit, try these:

    1. Alcenia's, 317 N. Main St. - Been there once for fried chicken that was slightly burnt. Overall, the food is decent.

    2. Ellen's Soul Food, 634 S. Bellevue - It's located on the corner of Lamar & Bellevue, behind a convenience store. Haven't been there but heard great things about it.

    3. The Cupboard, 1400 Union Ave. - I'm surprised you haven't visited this place. I've been there a couple of times for food that was somewhat bland. Of course, my opinion might be in the minority.

    4. Family Bar-B-Q & Snack Bar, 2457 Chelsea Ave. - One of the first places I reviewed on my blog, this place has a wide variety of food. The menu is listed on a wall and it's hard to follow. Its pulled pork barbecue sandwich is okay.

    5. The Little Tea Shop, 69 Monroe Ave. - Not counting Ellen's, this is by far the best on this list. I have been there many times for meals that are fantastic. I especially love the cornbread sticks. It is owned by a charming Lebanese lady who showers Southern hospitality on all her diners, making them feel at home. While I will stop short of making a challenge similar to what I gave Seth regarding Cave's burger, I believe you will really like The Little Tea Shop.

    1. Alcenia's, Ellen's and the Little Tea shop have all been on my list of places I want to try. I hadn't heard of Family Bar-B-Q so that is a good one to add to the list. I haven't been back to the Cupboard since starting the blog but I have eaten there in the past and thought it was pretty bland too.

    2. There is one more restaurant that I forgot to mention. A "temp" co-worker mentioned it a while back, so I listed it on Urbanspoon. This place has gotten a lot of positive feedback since its listing. I am very anxious to try it and will do so when the time is right. It is:

      Madea's Restaurant
      2665 Overton Crossing St. (near Joann Family Affair)
      Memphis, TN 38127

      From what I know, it is only open on the weekend, although that might have changed. You might want to call before going. Bon appetit!

    3. That explains why I haven't been able to catch them open. I've only been by on weekdays. Luckily Joann's is right around the corner. I'm curious if it is the same people who ran Madea's in West Memphis.

      Another place in Frayser I need to try soon is the new soul food place that moved into the old Frayser Maid spot on 51.

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