Tue 13 Mar 2012
Greg Davis, mayor of Southaven, Miss., is in deep shit; in fact the term “embattled mayor” has become redundant in what’s called the Mid-South because of his (alleged) shenanigans. Southaven, by the way, abuts Memphis immediately to the, well, south, just on the other, the southern side of the Tenn.-Miss. state line.
Davis has been accused of padding his expense account; spending exorbitant amounts of dough on travel, wining and dining, as if he were some Wall Street money-bags; and douple-dipping on his expense reports, that is, submitting the same travel and entertainment receipts to the city and the bizarrely enabling Southaven Chamber of Commerce, a body whose striking naivete will go down in the history of wide-eyed innocence. Yolanda Jones and Marc Perrusquia, reporters for The Commercial Appeal, the daily newspaper in Memphis, delivered a wonderful story about the double-dipping last week, in which they reported uncovering 26 instances in which Davis submitted identical invoices to the city and to the Chamber of Commerce, which for two years paid Davis for expenses he incurred in accommodating developers and people in the tourism industry. It was all part of the job! And four months into this imbroglio, Davis declines to resign.
I was particularly intrigued by a credit card receipt for a dinner that occurred on August 17, 2010, at Mesquite Chophouse in Southaven. The bill for six diners — that is, Davis and his five guests — was $469.60, tax was $42.27, and to the $611.77 total the wildly munificent Davis — motto: “It’s only money, and it’s not mine!” — threw in a tip of $200, a whopping 42 percent of the pre-tax amount. An even more grandiose example of Davis’ city-backed largesse, also reported by The Commercial Appeal, was when he and a group of legislators and lawyers dined at The Mint Restaurant in Ridgeland, Miss., and he dropped a $1,000 tip for a bill that totaled $2,509.43, including two bottles of Opus One at $415 each. Damnit, I wanna have dinner with Greg Davis some night!
I wish I could photographically reproduce the credit card receipt for the Mesquite Chophouse affair from the newspaper, but I will instead write it out in similar form. It’s as strange and fascinating a document as Barack Obama’s birth certificate in the fevered imagination of a Tea Party fanatic. Here ’tis:
Jack Black (11 @$5.00) 55.00
MIC ULTRA (2 @$4.00) 8.00
Bud Light (3 @$4.00) 12.00
Crown Royal (3 @$6.00) 18.00
ABSOLUT VODKA (5 @$6.50) 32.50
And Tonic Water
GHOST RIVER DRAUGHT 5.60
LOS ROCAS GARNACHA (5 @$7.50) 37.50
BUFFALO MOZZ SALAD 10.00
GRILLED CATCH OF THE DAY (4 @$26) 104.00
ESTANCIA CHARDONNAY (4 @$8.00) 32.00
Jack Black (2 @$5.00) 10.00
KJ CHARD GLASS (2 @$9.50) 19.00
Buttery Nipple (8 @$6.50) 52.00
CHOPHOUSE SALAD (2 @$5.00) 10.00
Prime 8oz FILET 28.00
GARLIC MASHED POTATOES 6.00
BLACKENED CATFISH 24.00
Here is a text (or texte) worthy of the analytical mind of Claude Levi-Strauss, but I think we can dope out some significant aspects without unlimbering our well-worn copies of The Raw and the Cooked.
First, this party of six spent $188 on food and $281.50 on alcoholic beverages, and that’s without buying a single full bottle of wine. The breakdown in the beverage category is $25.60 for beer, $88.50 for wine by the glass, and a staggering — haha — $167.50 on booze. most in the form of shots or shooters. How much food did this party absorb to temper the effects of the alcohol? Not a great deal. Three salads, a bowl of soup, six entrees and a side-order of mashed potatoes. At least everyone had a main course, but, boy, how these boys could drink!
Did I say boys? Well, I don’t mean to be sexist; I know plenty of women who can drink men under the table and still recite a chapter of Finnigans Wake without missing a Gaelic pun. And of course many women work in the travel, tourism, entertainment and development industries, precisely Mayor Greg Davis’ booze-hound constituency. On the other hand, don’t women have more sense than to consume an amount of alcohol that would cement the party-animal reputation of an Ole Miss frat boy on a post-football Saturday night?
If the order of the receipt is chronological, I think that by the time Davis and his guests got to the task of eating, it was far too late; to paraphrase Dante: “No more business was done that night.” I like that in the midst of the meal, several diners returned to Jack Daniels. Was there a designated driver? A chauffered van? Think of the magnitude of boozing at that table: 29 cocktails, shots or shooters; six beers; 11 glasses of wine. That’s 7.66 drinks per person. Just the kind of table that waiters love.
Perhaps your eye was drawn, as mine was, to the term “Buttery Nipple.” I don’t get out a lot, I suppose, because that was a new one to me. A Buttery Nipple is, in case you don’t get out a lot either, a cocktail or, I suppose, a shooter composed of 3 ounces of Bailey’s Irish Cream atop which is carefully floated 2 ounces of butterscotch schnapps. A couple of those do wonders for your blood sugar.
Apparently all the instruments agree that a good time was had by all; we possess no reports to the contrary. And every drink and every dish was free! Well, free up to a point. The tax-payers of Southaven beg to differ.
Image of Greg Davis, AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis. Image of Mequite Chophouse in Southaven, Miss., from local.yahoo.com.