Archive for March, 2006

Latte Loci

There was a time when we stayed in and had family breakfasts on the weekends, but no more. We now always get our weekend breakfasts on the outside. Part of it has to do with my own demand for good excellent coffee to go along with the breakfast, and no home coffee brewer that I’ve had compares to the formidable chrome-plated machines of the baristas, who have mastered the art of slinging java.

However, quality breakfasts do not always coincide with the presence of good coffee; and visa versa. I came up with a system for making the two coincide. I always pick quality breakfast places that are proximate to good coffee bars. I call those coffee bars “latte loci,” since they represent centers or citadels to which I may go and bring coffee back to complement our breakfast place du jour. All breakfast places we go must also have latte loci within walking distance so that, once we are seated, I can get up and go get coffee to go.

Here is a list of our breakfast stomping grounds and their corresponding latte loci:

  • Red Wagon (East End) — Bongo Java East
  • Alley Cat (East End) — Bongo Java East
  • Noshville (West End) — J & J’s Market
  • Le Peep (West End) — Cafe Coco

My plans have been generally undeterred, except for a few weeks ago when I overheard a server at Noshville tell a Starbucks cup-toting patron that local health codes prohibited restaurants from allowing outside drinks to enter their establishments. I haven’t a clue as to whether that is correct or not, but I do keep my smuggling of J & J’s java into Noshville on the down low, just in case. Otherwise, I have never had a problem with servers either at Noshville or elsewhere; they seem generally lenient, if not empathetic, with my coffee fix (caveat: we are good tippers).

And it’s not that those eating places do not serve adequate coffee. It’s just that I demand more than they can offer. It’s not them. It’s me. In the best of all possible worlds, the restaurants and the coffee places would coincide, and sometimes they do, namely in forms of Fido and Portland Brews (although the latter does not offer full breakfast options). But until that day arrives, I’ll get my coffee even further on the outside when we get our breakfast on the outside.

Big Nashville News!

When I started writing for this blog I understood that it was to be primarily for discussions of Nashville-related items. I’m cool with that.

But last night as I watched Channel 4 (The Office was particularly hysterical, what with the yellow-paper LiveStrong bracelet and “Luke Perry” poster) I realised that the definition of Nashville News has broadened considerably.

SUPERMODEL FIGHT screamed the graphics! Now of course this could have been one of Nashville’s many supermodels or a supermodel in town for the world-famous Nashville Pret a Porter show.

But no. It was Naomi “Russel Crowe Lite” Campbell, arrested in NYC for yet another cell-phone beatdown. (She and Cynthia McKinney have the market cornered on Cellular Assault. ) After the ruckus was fully covered in New York, we jetted to Fleet Street to hear some woman with a really cool necklace talk about how this would be front-page London news first thing in the British Morning.

From now on, please expect my blog entries here to be about Brangelina’s freakishly pretty children and whether or not Elisabeth Rohm is really a lesbian. That’s our Nashville News!

New airport volunteers

horse.jpgNashville International Airport will begin using equestrian volunteers to patrol the perimeter of the airport grounds. It sounds like a good idea where everyone wins, the airport gets added security and the riders and the horses get some exercise. I really like to look at the police department mounted patrol, the horses are beautiful, and, it looks like a good way to patrol crowded areas. I hope the airport program will be successful, as well.

Though I don’t plan to be skulking around the outer regions of the airport where I can actually see these volunteers, they sure will come in handy when its time to retrieve soccer balls lost over the fence.

He’s Leaving Me

Living in Hermitage has many upsides. But the biggest downside is the fact that there are few “hip” eateries in this neck of the woods. If you want tacos, hot wings or cheap steak, this is the place for you. But until a few years ago, anything out of the ordinary required a 15-minute drive to Downtown or Cool Springs.

Then Vinny’s Pizza opened up. They served the best pizza in town, fantastic salads and deserts that could move a grown woman to tears. Good restaurants open in Nashville all the time. Before Vinny’s they rarely gave Hermitage a second thought.

I was going to order a sandwich and salad for dinner tonight, in celebration of the nice day, the coming payday (tomorrow) and the fact that everyone needs some Vinny’s from time to time.

They’re closed until April 1. At which point they will announce their “new location”. I’d bet money the new digs are nowhere near Villa Gorilla. The phone message says they’ll be able to serve all of Nashville. I wonder what this means for those of us here on the other side of Old Hickory East.

I’m sad.

Si se puede!

p1010008

Wow, two protests in Nashville in as many weeks? Ah, the sweet smell of progress and protest. Thousands of people took to the streets tonight in a march from the Coliseum across the river to Legislative Plaza, sponsored by the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. They were marching to protest some of the more idiotic and draconian immigration legislation currently in draft form — for example the bill that proposes to make the lack of legal immigration status a felony.

The turnout was amazing — I am not any good with headcounts, but thousands of people showed up and marched, filling up legislative plaza and piling up all the way back to 4th or 5th. Various speakers took the stage to address the roaring crowd. They also closed the capitol again — same as they did during the ADAPT protests. How long before we hear complaints about how the protests were not productive because they “had” to close the capitol?

But opponents of the legislation weren’t the only ones to show up. What would a rally for a progressive cause be without a bunch of yokels? There were 5 or 6 counter-protesters over by the capitol, including some amusing demonstrations of ignorance. There was this guy:
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Blog City, USA

Nashville’s gonna get a rep that finally moves us away from the cowboy-hats-and-Jack-Daniels fame we’ve known for the last, oh, eighty or ninety years.

We are becoming the Blog Metropolis. With yesterday’s announcement from WKRN about yet another paid blogger, Nashville has moved forward in the Blog Ranks. Pay attention, world. We have Bill Hobbs, Rex Hammock, Nashville Is Talking,Faith and Ethics and, soon, Kleinheider’s VolunteerVoters. Not to mention this humble blog and all of those who are aggregated into the happy Nashville Blog Family over at WKRN.

This is Blogtown.

Keep This Up and the Frists Are Gonna Be Broke.

Two weeks ago I was in the hospital. It was, of course, an HCA branch. The bruise from my (improperly placed) I.V. hasn’t even healed yet, but I received the bill in a timely fashion.

When they keep you in a room, there are several “goodies” placed there for your comfort. Soap, shampoo, socks with rubber backing on the feet and a tube of vaseline. Let me clarify that the soap and shampoo are actually one all-purpose substance.

According to my bill, these fine things are valued by the Hospital at 38.00. So apparently they don’t get them from Wal-Mart. The same three items there would knock you out of around seven dollars.

The five bags of saline they hung to rehydrate me and administer medicines cost 425.00 each. Pretty expensive salt water. The same amount of sterile saline, when purchased for my contacts costs $7.00 at Target. That’s one bag. All 5 would set me back $35.00.

Now, here’s the wierd part. All these expensive things are added up like the score in some mad Bunko game, but then there’s one minus line. “Contractual Adjustment”. Because of my health insurance they wipe out more than 80% of the bill. Not only do I not pay it, but the insurance doesn’t either. The actual cash they’re gonna get is paltry in comparison.

So why bother? Why charge those high prices at all, when you know you won’t have to pay them? Or are those the real costs of things? Does HCA make a profit on the greatly-reduced amount it receives?

I’m grateful to have health insurance. But I really wonder how high the cost of health care actually has to be.

monopoly

Mike has covered this as well. Turns out Nashville Gas customers in Metro-Nashville pay a fee that people in the ‘burbs don’t. Mike offers the “city residents subsidizing suburban sprawl yet again” angle. Here are the angles that fuel my irritation:

  • Small picture: The fee dates back to a an agreement that the Nashville Gas & Heating Co. should pay the city (and now Metro) government 5% of gross revenue. In fine form of any company charged a “fee” by the government, they passed it on to the customers, making it a non-issue for the company, but instead a cost borne by the customers. Those of you that have ever taken the time to peruse your multi-page phone bill are probably familiar with this phenomenon.
  • Bigger picture: a monopoly power granted to Nashville Gas by the state is being used to collect a fee — higher even than 5% — to subsidize infrastructure improvements in high-growth (and high-revenue) areas, by pricing predatorily on existing customers, who of course have nowhere to go. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
  • This is essentially a tax, since the money goes from citizens via a monopoly to the government. What kind of tax is one that weighs heaviest on citizens who pay a disproportionate amount of their income on essentials like heat because they are poor? That’s right, a regressive tax.

Welcome to the wonderful world of the “free market”, brought to you by utility deregulation. Metro Finance Director David Manning says that they’re fine with the fee: “We did not want to see them lower it, no,” Manning said. “We would have to raise the revenue somewhere else.”

Tough. Find it elsewhere.

Spring Better Hurry Up Already

Any of us older residents here in Music City knows that Nashville is just a different place in the summertime. It’s more accessible, more inviting and friendlier overall. I personally start coming out of my shell around the middle of March. I venture more downtown–toward Elliston Place, for the bookstore and a shake or to Second Avenue for people-watching and fondue.

This schizophrenic weather here is cramping my style. It’s not nearly as much fun to people-watch when everyone is huddled in coats and hurrying to the next warm storefront.

Adventure at Anatolia

anatolia.jpgNot to go all Citysearch on you, or, anything, but, I had the most excellent dinner last night with the fabulous Lesley. We went to the Turkish restaurant Anatolia on White Bridge Road. We were politely and promptly greeted at the door, and, seated immediately. I think I’m out of adverbs ending in “-ly” here for a minute, but, I will add that the atmosphere was quiet and relaxed and the service was great.

Lesley recommended that we begin with the sampler platter, and, oh, am I glad we did. The Sigara Boregi, feta cheese stuffed fillo dough, was particularly good. It comes with rose jam, that tastes just like (wait for it..) roses. For real. It was delicious. The Yaprak Dolmasi, or, grape leaves stuffed with rice, pine nuts, currants, parsley, and spices ranked right up there, too. I had a delicious beef kabob for dinner and Lesley had the veggie platter. Of course we had to complete this authentic experience with baklava, it’s like a rule or something. Holy moly was it good! I even got my recommended daily allowance of calcium by single-handedly consuming a big bowl of real whipped cream that went along with it.

Please refrain from telling me if this place is old news and you go there all the time, I just get excited when I get to eat somewhere that doesn’t involve a drive-thru and toys.

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