We here at the Memphis Flyer are not know-it-alls, but that's never stopped us from giving advice. And in our first issue of the new year, it's become something of an annual tradition for our staff to offer suggestions to you for ways to enhance and revitalize yourselves as we begin another lap around the calendar. So, without further ado, advice from us to you. Ignore at your peril.
Edgar Mendez will transform you from a couch-tuber who sits around watching Dancing with the Stars into a smooth dance-floor operator in just a few short lessons. Need inspiration? Go down to the Rumba Room, Mendez's club on South Main, on Saturday night and find your groove by watching men and women of every stripe, hue, size, shape, and ethnic variation spin and swirl and move their hips to the rhythms of salsa, bachata, merengue, etc. At 9:30 p.m., there are free lessons, which, along with a couple of Rumba Room mojitos, can help get you loosened up and well on your way to finding your inner salsero. — Bruce VanWyngarden
Volunteer at a Theater
Admit it. You've always dreamed of having your big moment in the spotlight. Sure, you tell all your pals who hate musicals that you hate musicals too, but you've already got orchestra-seat tickets to Kinky Boots and secretly belt out "I'm Still Here" like Yvonne De Carlo whenever you're sure nobody's paying attention. Unfortunately, your brilliant stage career was sidetracked early in life because you were born tone deaf, with two left feet.
Never fear. Having no talent whatsoever in no way precludes you from being a star in Memphis' ever-expanding theater community. A star volunteer, that is. From the Orpheum downtown to Germantown Community Theatre on Forest Hill-Irene, volunteers work both in the front of the house and backstage. Every theater uses volunteers differently, but almost every day in Memphis there are opportunities to stage-manage, run lights and sound, set props, sew costumes, and hand out programs. Even if you weren't cut out for the spotlight, with all the theaters in Memphis, there are still a lot of opportunities to at least operate a spotlight. — Chris Davis
Resolve to start each morning (or at least a few mornings each week) with a tall glass of veggie and fruit juice. Not the commercial, sugary, bottled kind but fresh, homemade juice made using a juicer. Don't have a juicer? Stop by Cosmic Coconut or Whole Foods and get your juice fix there. Or order juices from the Memphis-based Raw Girls vegan food delivery service. Juicing is a great way to fill your body with concentrated vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Go for a full-on juice cleanse if you'd like, but it's also just fine to enjoy a juice as part of your balanced breakfast. — Bianca Philips
A New Uke
Are you feeling insufficiently musical? That's sad. Let's fix this immediately by enrolling you in group ukulele lessons taught by Misti Rae Holton at Amurica. Release your inner Don Ho. And mo'. They make bass ukes now, which is totally insane. Pick up a ukulele at any of the local instrument stores. Search for "group ukulele lessons" on Facebook to sign up. Learn music with new pals in a cool place. — Joe Boone
Lower the Bar
So you say you can't keep your New Year's resolutions. Every year you make up a list of stuff to do: Quit drinking turpentine; eat only vegan animals; free yourself from the tyranny of pants. But before the Super Bowl, you're back to guzzling turpentine and wearing trousers. Why not lower the bar? Instead of listing specific things that you need to improve, adopt a vague slogan, like "Try to do better," and then declare victory. For example, a few years ago, my "resolution" was to Get My Shit Together. About March, I arbitrarily declared my shit to be together and then went on with my pathetic life. This year, I'm going to "Take Care of Business." I foresee great success. — Chris McCoy
Do It Now: The Book
If you've ever thought about it, now's the time. Now. Not later. Set a goal for starting, managing, and completing a book-length manuscript this year. What book? C'mon, you probably have one in mind. Or several. Pick one, be it fiction, nonfiction, or just whatever. Work some time into your normal schedule, somewhere from an hour to three hours a day, when you sit at the computer and don't browse, check your email, go shopping for stuff, or upload your selfies. Write. Period. And according to a rational goal of so many words (or chapters) at such-and-such a rate. Then see what you have a year from now. — Jackson Baker
Have Healthier Hangovers
You explain your New Year's resolutions over beer, wine, cocktails, and, or course, the champagne toast at midnight. Then you wake up on New Year's Day — the very first day of your brand-new promise to yourself — with a booming, gritty, inescapable, hangdog hangover.
Google "healthy hangover" and you'll find "miracle" foods like quinoa, spinach, and cayenne pepper. You'll also find "miracle" beverages like tomato juice, tea, coconut water, and, of course, regular old water water. You'll also find things to do like exercise (no joke), have sex, or hit the local sauna.
Many medical practitioners (and your mother, college roommate, boss, boyfriend, mailman, and Instagram follower) believe hangovers are linked to hydration. Over the holidays, I tried the recommended 1:1 ratio. That is, one alcoholic drink to one glass of water. I drank less alcohol (maybe because I was in the bathroom all night) and did, indeed, feel better the next day, lots better. To simplify, drink water as you drink alcohol and you'll feel better.
But if you must get drunk one night and have stuff to do the next day, Atlas Men's Health will hook you up ... to an IV ... for hydration therapy. The Midtown "casual clinic" says the therapy can "bring about a quicker recovery period." — Toby Sells
Be a Mentor
Showing an at-risk kid that you're concerned about their well-being and future could have a life-changing effect. Studies show that mentoring a young person can significantly increase their chances of completing school, pursuing a career, and staying away from crime. Various agencies offer mentoring opportunities in Memphis including Youth Villages, the Boys and Girls Club, Memphis Athletic Ministries, and the Grizzlies' TEAM UP initiative. Use your spare time to make a difference in someone's life. — Louis Goggans
Did you vote in the 2014 midterm elections? Only 36.4 percent of eligible voters did last year, down from 61.6 percent in 2008. Voter suppression is real. For the past six years, those who do not believe in government have been monkey-wrenching the lawmaking process on the national level to convince the people who showed up to the polls in 2008 with hope in their hearts to not bother any more. The demoralization campaign has been quite successful, and the party that pretends to believe government is evil is proceeding to use government regulation to restrict women's reproductive choices and sell off public assets to the highest bidder.
We're voting for mayor and city council in Memphis on October 8th this year, and if you want things to change for the better in this city (however you define that) you should educate yourself, get off your duff, and cast a ballot. — CM
Get Your Music On
Memphis is, as we say, "blessed" with everything you need to upgrade your listening experience. You can buy a turntable at Halford Loudspeakers' showroom and listening salon in Cooper-Young or from George Merrill's Analog Emporium out in Cordova. Records? Millions of them: Audiomania, Shangri-La, and Goner Records are open for business. Vinyl has fewer military uses today, and new pressings are better than they ever were. Feeling creative? Make your own record: Get Jeff Powell to run your master lacquer and press the fool thing out at the newly christened Memphis Record Pressing. That's a better-sounding you! — JBoone
Drink More Water
Reaching past that soda or brew for a bottle of water when you open the fridge brings several health benefits. According to fitness and health website greatist.com, drinking water regularly can help aid weight loss, strengthen the kidneys, prevent constipation and headaches, and lessen the chances of developing certain cancers. — LG
Plant a Tree
There's no shortage of bad news for humans who want civilization to continue on earth for a little while longer: Greenhouse gas emissions are rising again after plateauing during the recent recession, and 2014 is looking like it will tie or exceed 1998 as the hottest year on record. But there is also some good news to be had on the climate front: Solar and wind power have reached price parity with coal in many states, which means cleaner, renewable energy supplies for the grid are going to be a reality sooner than many had predicted. Another speck of good news is the recovery of the world's forests. Brazil and Costa Rica, for example, have gotten their deforestation problems under control, and tree cover in the United States has rebounded to a level not seen since World War I. So if you want to take direct action and suck some CO2 out of the air, plant a tree. It's a practical symbol of your commitment to the future. — CM
That's it. Just go. To the City of Light. To the Palace of the Doge. To Wrigley Field. Or if you're truly adventurous, to the immortal George's Majestic Lounge honky-tonk in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Pick out a place you've always wanted to go to but never have. We're talking about a year's worth of time to do it, so you've got time to lay away the right kind of cash and calendar space and make your reservations. Once you do it this year and do it right, you may find that you've developed an addiction to travel that requires at least annual satisfaction. That's a good thing, not a bad thing. — JBaker
Get Crafty with Beer
If you've been intimidated by all the new brews available, here's a place to start: Walk into a growler shop or a brewery tasting room and say, "Hello, I'd like to try a new beer but I don't know what to try. Can you help me?" They love to hear this.
They'll likely ask you what you drink now. Tell them you drink Bud Light, wine, vodka/Red Bull, or whatever. They want to know what you like already so they can recommend a beer that you'll like. Many places around town will let you sample their stuff before you make up your mind.
Speaking of your mind, keep it open. Don't worry if you get a pint, six pack, or a growler of something you just don't like. It's going to happen. But don't let that dismay you from new beers altogether. Drinking beer is tough work, but with a little determination, it'll pay off. — TS
Purge Your Facebook Friends
Do you really need to be friends with that stoner dude who sat next to you in high school English class and copied your answers? Ditch him. And get rid of any family members whose political beliefs just irritate you. Isn't dealing with them at Christmas enough? And ditch all those people who still send annoying invites to play Candy Crush or Texas Hold 'Em. And 86 anyone who still "pokes" you. Would you be friends with someone who pokes you in real life? Didn't think so. — BP
Try a New Restaurant
Memphis is globally known for its barbecue, but there's much more the Bluff City has to offer. From Mexican to French-Creole to down-home Southern cooking (and everything in between), there's a restaurant for everybody. Instead of routinely hitting your usual spots, read reviews, look around, check the Flyer dining listings, and diversify your restaurant selections this year. — LG
Make a list of all the places you've taken out-of-town relatives when they visit, and then set a goal to visit those places, sans relatives. How many times have you driven past Graceland and thought, Man, it's been years since I've been in there? Be a tourist in your own city. Visit the Crystal Shrine Grotto. Eat at the Arcade. Take a tour of the Stax Museum. Check out the changes at the National Civil Rights Museum. — BP
Stop crabbing about the rascals you want to throw out every time there's an election and become one of the rascals. They say the grass really is greener on the other side. It may not be grass, exactly, but you'll definitely be in the way of some green if you get elected. I kid. If you do run for something, your motives should be pure. But you will need some start-up cash (i.e., fund-raising) to do it right. And some good helpers. And, yeah, a network — be it a political party or some other well-established group of people with a track record. And, really, you should have run on that track yourself a few times, trying to help get some other rascal into office. It may take a few years or a few elections to develop the right connections, but you can get started this year. — JBaker
Hit the Street
You want to know something that would make Memphis streets safer? More pedestrians. People who walk and bike get to know their neighbors and their neighborhood more intimately than those who treat all points between their homes and their destinations as flyover country. And with so many tree-lined streets and sidewalks and an expanding bike-lane system, there's never been a better time to explore your own backyard. Think of the exercise as a fringe benefit. — CD
Host a House Concert
Looking for motivation to attack that tottering heap of dishes in the sink? How about 10 or 20 pals coming over with potluckery in arms to hear some live music? House concerts are a grievously under-traveled road to the good times. Find an up-and-coming artist whose game is good enough to keep the neighbors dancing, or at least listening. All of the idiotic volume levels and unwashed sorts clamoring for drinks and attention are a thing of the past. You call the shots. And if somebody there has a good time and likes your idea, you have a decent chance of being invited to something cool soon thereafter. Masterfully played. — JBoone
Stop with the ridiculous Memphis/Nashville rivalry thing, okay? I mean, it's probably okay to tease "Music City" about its adequate barbecue, and its bro-Country, and the fact that the state capital's collective IQ plummets every single time the legislature convenes for business. And yes, they probably deserve a rib tickling for all those downtown Elvis statues and for Kenny Chesney's muscle shirts, and for providing a safe, affirming environment for mullet-users well into the 21st century. But engaging in a Twitter war every time Memphis gets an Ikea and Nashville doesn't is just silly. — CD
Push It Real Good
By which, I mean eat right, exercise, and otherwise work yourself into a fine lather. No, you won't get to be Arnold Schwarzenegger (for which, thank your lucky stars). But you can be fit and healthy, at least in a way relative to your age and station. Everything is relative, but if you can find your own God-given center and keep it tuned, you won't be running second to anybody else, living or dead. There are scads of good gyms out there now; if you can't find one that fits your means, you're just not paying attention. As for running, the world is your track. — JBaker
Put Your Phone Away at Restaurants
Don't be that guy who goes through the entire meal with his face buried in his phone. It's rude, especially if you're only dining with one other person. Your dinner date is left with no choice but to bury their face in their phone, too, since you're too busy checking your Twitter feed to take part in normal dinner conversation. If you need to Instagram your meal or photograph it for Yelp later, fine. Take your pic, then put your phone in your purse or pocket. — BP