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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Postcard from Memphis: Airballs and ribs

The last time I was on Beale Street, it was warm, the music was loud, and the overall atmosphere was festive.

But a Monday night in late December? … Er, not so much.

The cold snap here in Memphis is apparently having an effect on even the social atmosphere, as many were not brave enough either to venture out, or if they did, to stay out long. Plus, it’s a long week ahead, so Monday night was one of those that for me and my friends, if you’re not feeling it, don’t push it. Conserve energy.

But we wanted ribs, so we had to at least do that.

As I’ve elucidated already, I didn’t have a great start to my Liberty Bowl week: A canceled flight led to a late arrival, though without my luggage. The suitcase finally arrived late on Monday night, but not before I went out and bought a new pair of clothes and shaving equipment, because I was sick of people stopping me on the street and putting change in my coffee cup.

(If they were giving me dollars, I would’ve run with it.)

Armed with the new apparel, I schlepped to the FedEx Forum for the evening’s designated bowl activity. Georgia and UCF’s players were invited to attend a game from the National Basketball Association, featuring two of the league’s marquee teams: The Memphis Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors.

(Seriously, can you think of two less-renowned teams in the league: Sacramento? New Jersey?)

The game apparently didn’t interest the Georgia and UCF players much either. About half the Bulldogs showed up, then began to fill out during the first half. A few just wandered the corridors, while most bailed to hit Beale Street, which is right next to the arena.

A.J. Green and Washaun Ealey first had an obligation: They were the designated duo to take on two UCF players, Marquee Williams and Latavius Murray, in a shooting contest. The players had 45 seconds to make as many shots as possible, alternating between each player.

Green, a fairly good high school basketball player, whiffed on a couple 3-point shots, but he did hit one. In all he was 1-for-5 from beyond the arc. Ealey hit a couple layups, which he settled for after missing two 3s, including one airball.

Luckily for the Bulldogs, the men on the other side of the court were struggling too, and Georgia was awarded a 9-8 victory. So an ugly, slogging victory for Georgia over UCF … A harbinger?

An awkward moment came at halftime: Mark Richt and George O’Leary were supposed to be recognized at midcourt The only problem: O’Leary wasn’t there. Richt did, and patiently waited on the side during the first portion of halftime activity: A little-league basketball game.

When that was finally over, Richt was introduced to the crowd, and it was clear that as many as seven people in the half-filled arena knew who he was. Richt, as always, remained a good sport.

At that point, I departed the arena with colleagues Gentry Estes and Marc Weiszer, ready for some ribs. After wandering a bit, and going in and out of several establishments – including one with a very persistent greeter – we settled on one place, based on the stringent criteria that Gentry was hungry and sick of walking.

So how good were the ribs? Well, let’s just say one member of our party, who fancies himself a rib connoisseur, was not suitably impressed. But the service was good, especially considering the pregnant waitress looked ready to pop at any moment.

No doubt, there will be more barbecue sampling throughout the week. Yes, Rendesvous is on the agenda at some point. And we've had no shortage of other suggestions, so it promises to be a busy week.

Today’s schedule for Georgia: A morning FCA breakfast, where the guest speaker was Dan Reeves. Then it’s a mid-day press conference, followed by a second day of practice. The evening activity is supposed to be a pro rodeo. I’m sure the Georgia coaches will be just fine with Green, Aaron Murray and Justin Houston trying to wrestle a bull. Should be fun.


Anonymous said...

As someone who travels to Memphis regularly for business, the only rib/BBQ place I frequent anymore is Central BBQ. Everything there (ribs wet or dry, sandwich, BBQ nachos!) is fantastic and among the top 2-3 of their category in the city. Please do yourself a favor and put Central high up your list. You will regret having spent money and time anywhere else. Everyone should go to Rendezvous once to cross it off the bucket list, but don't expect too much...

Anonymous said...

I can't Imagine why Boykin was not in the shooting contest. Kid is a stud in basketball.

BulldogBry said... O'Leary just never showed up? What the deuce? Must have been embellishing his resume.

King Jericho said...

@Anon 10:50

I thought the same thing. I've seen some videos of him playing b-ball and he could play.

And I would feel very bad for that bull having to take on Justin Houston.

Anonymous said...

Rendezvous can be amazing but is inconsistent these days.Central BBQ is great, but my favorite ribs (and smoked cornish game hen) is at Cozy Corner. Not too far from downtown Memphis. Don't miss Gus's Fried Chicken (spicy) or Soul Fish for fried catfish and the best wings you have ever had.