Archive for the ‘Tennessee’ Category

Jacqueline Smith

Apr 28

I can’t cover all of Charlie’s Angels, but when I get the opportunity, who am I to turn it down? 

Y’all met Kate Jackson earlier in Birmingham Alabama; which, all things considered, seems like a distant memory.  I pause now to reread my own post from several weeks ago, and encourage you to do the same.

Back to Jacqueline Smith. Any true fan of the Angels or of K-Mart will notice that this is not the spelling of the name of the actress and fashion designer. So what Jacqueline Smith am I talking about?  Well, Rob and I went to the Lorraine motel, where the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed in 1968.  It’s now the National Civil Rights Museum, and has been for many years.  As many years as Ms. Smith has been protesting its existence on a corner across the street from it. 

She was working as a maid at the motel at the time King was assassinated.  Afterwards, the owner of the motel kept the building, maintained it as working motel, but with one difference: he did not touch King’s room, which remained as it was the day of the assassination. 

But what of Ms. Smith?  In 1982, when the motel foreclosed and it was eventually turned into the museum it is today, Ms. Smith, who was living there as part of her payment for being an employee, was evicted.  She didn’t like that.  Not one bit.

And so, the vigil began.  Her neighbo(u)rhood of low-income housing was being turned into museums and more expensive buidlings.  She believed that these changes violated the message of Martin Luther King.  She wants to preserve his legacy. 

And so, every day, for 20 some odd years, all day and well into the night, she stands across the street at her corner with large banners of protest, selling books and fiddling with her cell phone, encouraging everyone to stay away from the National Civil Rights Museum.

Despite talking to her, I did not really get any of the information above from her.  The more lucid parts of this post I was able to cull off of the internet.  I guess after 20 years of protest on the street would make anyone lose focus.

Walking in Memphis

Apr 28

If there is one thing I love, it’s witty, wise, and wily people on the street trying to hustle me out of my money. And if, like me, you enjoy that very thing, may I suggest a nice trip to Memphis, Tennessee. Oh, and some guy named Elvis did some music stuff there a long time ago, too.

Graceland, the former home of this aforementioned Elvis character, is really quite epic; and, truly, the one place in Memphis where only Lisa Marie is trying to get you to part with your money.  However, unlike the other Memphisians, what she has to offer in the form of her father’s home, is spectacular.

I was not a big Elvis fan before going to Graceland.  I am not going to proclaim to be one now.  What I will say is that I have a new appreciation for the man.  I mean, anyone who has this kind of decorative sense must be respected.  I’ll let some pictures speak for themselves. 


In many ways, Rob is a lot like Elvis.*  Elvis played guitar.  So does Rob. Elvis travelled long distances for food.  Just like Rob.  Elvis likes things.  So does Rob.   And when they do like things, they buy them and display them or play with them. Yes.  You might even say that Elvis lives on in Rob.  Can’t wait until Neverland becomes a shrine to Michael Jackson.  Hope there are no similarities there. 

*I wish to stress that I was in no way coerced into making that statement.  Certainly, not by Rob, who designed this blog and who can wave the magic computer and make it all go away.  And he certainly didn’t buy my loyalty with this gift. 

Grand Ole Opry

Apr 14

When I was a kid, I always wondered what an opry was.  I still am not sure I know, but whatever it is, it’s a whole lotta fun!  With or without crackers.

Ending the trip with what is without question the most cliched Nashville experience, Rob and I attended the Grand Ole Opry. The seats were pews, I suppose, as a sign of the worship of the music we were about to hear.

On the whole, the music was okay.  There were 6 performers, some good, one a total tool who shouldn’t be a musician much less a guy who plays at the Opry (, and a very good-looking young gentleman singer who had me in his corner until his last song*; something about the Devil is a train and don’t get on the train because then you are on the train with the Devil.  I don’t do well with metaphor.  Obvious ones, at least.

The act of the night: 89 year-old Little Jimmy Dickens.  No more than a foot taller than a lawn gnome, this venerable old performer showed us all how it should be done.  89 years old.  I can’t even bend down to pick up a towel without squealing anymore and this guy is performing on stage.

Attending the Opry was the quintessential Nashville experience and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. 

Good-bye, Nashville.  You will be missed.

*Said singer is named Josh Turner.  He’s still a handsome young devil, and, I really like the first bunch of songs on his new CD.  So, my apologies for my initial judgment, even though I still don’t like the train thing.  Whatever.  I’m sure he doesn’t like my blog.

Y’all come back now

Apr 14

If you are anything like me (and I know you’re not) you used to dream about being a character in The Dukes of Hazard. You even tried to write a script for it. You cried when Bo and Luke left and were replaced by Coy and Vance (seriously?). Well, then you grew up, got a real job (hee), and never thought about your youthful dreams again. You never did, that is, until you went to Nashville.

You’re walking around Nashville, minding your own business, when all of a sudden you see an ad on a pamphlet.  In bold, bright letters, decked out in the colo(u)rs of ye ole confederate flag, is the name: COOTERS. You do a double-take.  It’s true.  It’s really not Hooters.  It’s Cooters; the name of the lovable mechanic with the wide grin and helpful hand always at the ready to help the Duke boys out of their latest jam.  When you investigate further, you find out what you have always dreamed: that Ben Jones, who played the aforementioned Cooter, opened a museum dedicated to The Dukes of Hazard and within driving distance of where you are standing right now!

So you drive there, and in the parking lot, just being freshly washed, is one of the authentic General Lee cars used in the show.  Also on display, Cooter’s tow truck, Roscoe’s sheriff car, Daisy’s jeep, and some of her short-shorts.  The mother load!  There are lunch boxes and big wheels and board games and McDonald’s collectible cups and everything you can possibly think of putting the Dukes on, all of which you remember as a kid and some of which your mother actually let you have!  The magic of the moment consumes you.  A tear slowly flows down your cheek. Life, as it happens, is finally complete.

The lesson for today: dreams do come true.  If you water them down at least, you’ll still be fairly satisfied.

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Wrong Turn: We’re Now in Greece?

Apr 13

In my 4th year Metaphysics class, Dr. Griffin gave us a hypothetical case. Suppose some guy named Sam sneaked (as my mother always said, there is no such word in the English language as snuck) into the grounds of the Parthenon and took, every night, one brick, while replacing it with another identical brick.  Eventually, he took and replaced all of the bricks that make up the Parthenon. Sam used the ones he took and rebuilt the historic building in his backyard.  Question: which one is the real Parthenon? The one he left behind in Greece, or the one he built in his backyard?

Well, years after graduating, I finally know the answer:  The Parthenon is in Nashville, Tennessee. 

What does a town that wants to get recognized do to, well, get recognized?  How about promote.  And I mean, promote the hell out of yourself.  In 1897 , Nashville had a 6 month exposition to put themselves on the map and let everyone know they were there.  This is long before Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, or Dolly Parton bringing the mountains with her.  And what was one of the things that Nashville built for this exposition?  Why, the Parthenon.  No.  Really.  It’s a full scale replica of the Parthenon.  And it is incredible!

The outside is impressive enough.  But spring for the whopping $6.00 to get inside, and you will be knocked over.  On the upper floor, they have recreated a 42 foot high statue of Athena.  So outrageous is this statue, even Rob was moved to worship our favo(u)rite Goddess of War. 

Lesson: if you want to promote yourself, DO IT RIGHT!

*Lisa knows there are really no answers in metaphysics.  That’s why she did so well in it.

Everything is served with Crackers

Apr 13

Rob and I love to eat.  America is the place to do it.  I mention this today only because our first night here in Nashville, we ate at a great two-level restaurant/bar. On the bottom level, there was live country music playing. We opted for the view upstairs, where we could sit outside overlooking the full main street. Inexplicably, they were playing 80’s pop songs (I love Howard Jones). I guess it wasn’t inexplicable: the 80s were great. 

I took a chance and ordered something called smoked sausage with cheddar cheese.  Okay. Neither one of these things is strange, but what are they going to serve me?  First, came the crackers.  A heaping pile of saltines.  As Rob and I pondered this development – and I contemplated stuffing the crackers in my purse so as not to offend our Tennesseen(?) hosts – my food arrived. It was a basket filled with slices of delicious smoked sausage, large chunks of cheddar cheese, mild peppers, and dill pickles. 

As ‘I’ll Tumble for Ya’ (nothing more Southern or Country than Boy George) wafted in the background, I discovered that taking all the pieces of my meal and piling them on the crackers was not only practical, but enhanced what was already wholly satisfying.

Lesson: in Tennessee, they serve many, many meals with crackers.  Find a way to use them.  They know what they are doing.


Apr 12

Tenneseeing really is Tennebelieving. I thought I was long passed the time where I could be surprised. You know what should keep that surprise alive? Travel. Nashville was supposed to be some hick hillbilly cowboy lovin’ hee-haw knee slappin’ country music hoe down (I don’t know how to spell hoe when it comes to a down). Let me tell you, Nashville ain’t any of that. It’s a very beautiful modern city that is far more interesting than, let’s pick on Toronto, would ever hope to be. Now that sounds condescending. I don’t mean it to be. All I really hope to express in the posts to follow about Nashville is that it defied my expectations and is turning out to be a really great time; just the opposite of the one I expected.

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