Archive for April, 2006

I Just Can’t Seem to Get over It

When I moved to this wonderful city in Spring of 1999, I fell immediately in love with the Tennessee Titans. I had been a lifelong Atlanta Falcons fan and was not one to switch allegiances arbitrarily. My years in Georgia thread back to the Hail Mary days of Steve Bartkowski, Alfred Jackson, and Alfred Jenkins. The rough and tumble days of Jeff Van Note, Fulton Kuykendall, and Buddy Curry. I was an Oilers fan as well–Dan Pastorini and Earl Campbell thrilled me. But Atlanta was my team up to and including the days of Jeff Chandler having his ass handed to him every other play.

However, watching the Titans suffer their way through brutal summer two-a-days on a makeshift practice field adjacent to Bellevue Center, I experienced a shift. In general, my loyalty is unshakable. That summer though, as Bruce Matthews, Frank Wycheck, Steve McNair, and company manhandled their collective way through pre-season practice, my loyalty was shaken. Coach Jeff Fisher–the face of the Titans for me–elicited then (and now) a respect I reserve for few people. His leadership skills were unparalleled. He radiated class–an attribute long displaced in the NFL. So then and there, my beloved Falcons fell to number two on the depth chart for the first time in the 20 plus years I’d been a serious fan. I was proud to now call the Titans “my team.” As the team moved its headquarters to MetroCenter, I was giddy as a schoolboy on summer break to see a McNair at McDonalds, a Brad Hopkins or Benji Olson at Jersey Mike’s, Coach Fisher on a morning run through the business park. And seven years later my affection runs deep still.

But along the way there was a glitch. One year ago, the Titans organization (the one that, to my thinking had dwarfed all others), did the unthinkable–or at the very least, the unreasonable. They drafted an overrated young man bereft of character named Adam “Pacman” Jones with their number one pick in the 2005 NFL draft.

As evidenced by his behavior both on and off the field (prior to be being drafted and from the very moment he set foot in Music City), Jones is the most undisciplined, selfish player in a generation. Forget Terrell Owens and Randy Moss. While they aren’t worthy of consideration in a discussion of class or loyalty, they at least possess a tangible skill set. Some pundits speak of Pacman’s “potential.” I say he has no potential beyond being another crime statistic. He has speed? There are a dozen prospects in the 2006 NFL draft alone who can match his speed. On the rare occasion that he finished a play last season, he inevitably self-destructed during the following one. Some players are possessed of such skill that their play outshadows their off-field indiscretions. Pacman does not fall within this category. His off-field persona accompanies him on the field and that simply won’t do. He has attacked businessmen, fans, players, officials, even his own staff. He appears to be a classless individual on a team that once prided itself on class above all else. Most of us go a lifetime without being mentioned in a police report. This guy, apparently, cannot go a full news cycle. Most recently his name and vehicle popped up in a large drug investigation; a week later, he was at the scene of a “shots fired” event. There is simply more at work here than bad luck and poor timing,

Pac is into the Titans for a figure reported to be somewhere between $13.1 and $15.1 million of sucker money. For that alone I congratulate him and give him credit for his business savvy. It’s just a shame it had to come at the expense of making a mockery out of my football team. The money invested dictates that Pacman will continue to play. And that is also a shame. But it is business and I understand. And while the Titans appear to have returned to their roots of recruiting and signing decent, upstanding players during the off-season (David Thornton, Kevin Mawae, and David Givens), don’t look for their influence to spread to Mr. Jones. If the respected Coach Fisher and GM Floyd Reese cannot rein him in, then simply put, he is unreinable, a petulant child in a man-suit.

The learning curve in the NFL is short. After playing the better part of a season, Pacman proved he is not willing to learn at all.

Again, he will play this season. Sadly, the Titans cannot afford not to play him. If he survives a drive-by shooting of his own orchestration between now and the season opener, he will likely make a few nice plays for the Titans. And, out of respect for the organization, I will cheer as loud as the next guy. But the knowledge that the following defensive series will feature an illegal hit, unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, or dropped interception will no doubt temper my enthusiasm. This is not mere negative posturing by a disappointed fan. It is a foregone conclusion of events to come put into play every time Adam Jones steps onto the playing field.

For some reason, I just can’t seem to get over it.

Quality of life after Purcell?

Call me a political naïf, but until I read this week’s cover story in the Scene, I was unaware of how much influence Purcell himself may have had on all the things I’ve come to love about Nashville since moving here in 2003. Things like an increased focus on adding sidewalks and greenways, like a strong sense of neighborhoods, like a good library system… you know, things like that.

And it’s hard to accept that, after his successor takes over, we may find ourselves heading in an entirely different direction.

Especially since, as the article points out, Purcell is behind the whole idea of getting our crap under cover at the Metro water treatment facility, which is mere blocks from my own home.

Nashville has been seeming to head in a very pleasing “quality of life”-oriented direction for some time now. Will it change after Purcell leaves office? What do you predict?

Nashville Gets Marathoned

DSCN2106a.jpg
The Country Music Marathon got started at 7:00 this morning. About an hour into the race it was streaming through the North End. I took pictures. For more, click here.

Don’t say I never told you anything

logo-coinstar.gif Turn your spare change into gift certificates at a Coin Star machine and you don’t have to pay the coin counting fee.

Of course, if I use a Coin Star machine, I usually need to turn that money into groceries and gas.

Nashville Originals

Possibly as a response to the influx of chain eateries, Nashville’s local restaurants are banding together.

Motorcycle helmet law

[begin former ER nurse soapbox]

Don’t even start me on the effort to repeal Tennessee’s motorcycle helmet law. Yes, I know, the government shouldn’t tell us what to do, yadda, yadda, yadda. But, in this case, riders without helmets may cost me money and that makes me mad. The local trauma unit is full of comatose people who were exercising their right to do as they please. Having $10,000 in insurance won’t even cover the labor for cleaning these people’s brains off the road, much less the cost of lifetime care.

Sure, riding a motorcycle or driving a car can be inherently dangerous and, you could end up in the hospital, anyway. But, not taking reasonable precautions is irresponsible (cue people who maintain helmets and seatbelt cause more injuries and deaths) and it affects more than just that person.

[/former ER nurse soapbox]

The Lure of the Country Music Medal

I first ran in Nashville in 2000. My friend Brad and I decided running a marathon would be a good idea. We were proven otherwise.

Initially, we began running as a way to stay in shape. We soon became committed to running every day, side by side, or rather, stride by stride. This type of commitment was a trophy in itself, especially since we were college sophomores. Waking up at 6 AM every morning was a feat of will and perseverance, the likes of which our fraternity brothers had never seen before. After pounding the pavement for a solid two months, we got the crazy notion of running a marathon. Skip the 5k, the 10k, or any other sane, normal, Saturday morning beginner run. We went straight for the granddaddy of them all.
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One ringy dingy…

call.gifI had no idea this fine institution was in our vicinity. I can name a few places that need to use it.

No Home Like Dalton’s

I’ve been going to Dalton’s Grill on Highway 70 South in Bellevue for several years now. Regularly for the past two. According to the plaque on the far left wall, they opened just prior to my moving to Nashville in 1999. Business is good. Dalton’s is a casual family restaurant with a fine long bar. I think of it more as a bar than I do a restaurant, but most people do not. We tend to see things in the light of what is most personally appealing I think. I like a bar. Therefore, Dalton’s is a bar. They have only Miller Lite on tap, but it is always cold and is my standard choice anyway. They offer many other bottle beers and decent house wine. Also, they serve most liquor you could think of (and some you couldn’t). You can get a cruise-ship, girlie shooter or a real shot of what works for you. For me the order is a draught and Woodford Reserve neat. The two work together and make an enviable team. Occasionally, the Woodford will get a touch obstinate and demand center stage. This is to be overlooked at all times as it is quite deserving.

The food is almost always outstanding. And though I rarely order anything besides the Frisbee-sized cheeseburger and hot wet wings to go, the Boy swears by the spaghetti and chicken fingers. Also, the ribs, catfish, and steak and biscuits are, apparently, worth the drive from wherever you may be. Not once in all my visits have I seen or heard anyone complain about the quality of the food. But I’ve heard many sing its praises. The lone oddity–menu-wise–is that Dalton’s tends to run out of certain items on any given night. It is common to overhear bartenders E. or J. or any of a number of waitresses telling patrons, “We’re out of [sweet potatoes…baked potatoes…green bean casserole…etc].” I’ve never understood how a restaurant runs out of food–especially when Kroger is a brief walk down the sidewalk. But, they do. And the customers, although disappointed, seem to accept this without question and move down the menu with little more than a sigh, finding something equally desirable and in stock.

The servers are always friendly but the service itself is inconsistent at best. The dazed look of a patron with an empty tea glass looking to and fro for any sign of life is to be expected. As someone who frequents the place, I must admit there is something a little satisfying about seeing some guy or a gal accustomed to having their rear ends kissed waiting at the bar to cash out for dinner because his or her waitress has forgotten them entirely. I’m not sure why it is satisfying, but it is. And then there is the occasional awkwardness of seeing first-timers standing clueless just inside the front door trying to figure out whether they should seat themselves or remain perfectly still and confused. Once you find your zone though, this becomes part of the Dalton’s charm. When you eventually realize that you are part of a well-orchestrated whole and no different from anyone else in the place, you begin to make your own comfort. At that point, you have become a regular. Everyone is treated just the same–with friendly disregard.

Good food, good drinks, often good people. It’s quite like home.

And who doesn’t like the idea of going home again?

In the middle of the road

What is the deal (sorry to be so Jerry Seinfeld) with the orange-vested people standing in the intersections waving buckets to collect money for whatever church or charity? Every now and then, I recognize the name of a group, but, how do you know they are who they claim to be? Is this really an effective way to raise money for a legitimate group? Is it even legal?

Even if I were inclined to give money out my car window, I probably wouldn’t because it’s irritating to have people walking around the busiest intersections in town. It seems that if you are a legitimate organization, there are other avenues for raising money. Maybe I’m just uninformed, but, it sure looks like there’s a fine line between fundraising and panhandling.

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