on giving up
Billy Joe's Tattoo 301 Broadway Nashville, TN 37201 6152564278
Question: What’s wrong with the address above? Anyone? There is something terribly wrong with that address and the name of the corresponding tenant. Anyone have a guess? Okay, I’ll tell you.
What’s wrong is that 301 Broadway is the former American National Bank building — one of the many branches the company owned throughout Nashville long before it was consumed by AmSouth. It’s one of the coolest buildings in Nashville, in the heart of downtown on 3rd and Broadway, with a storied past steeped in the history of the city. What’s wrong is that it’s home to a place called friggin Billie Joe’s Tattoo.
Talk all you want about revitalizing downtown Nashville — the fact that there’s a tattoo parlor occupying this prime, historic real estate downtown is a tragedy, and it broadcasts one thing to both residents and visitors: we’ve given up. We can’t make it happen for downtown Nashville, sorry. I mean, it would be one thing if it were vacant. That would be okay. That says “rent is currently too high for just any tenant, because, come on, this is downtown here, not just anyone can move in.” But the existence of Billie Joe’s Tattoo says “well, I guess a tattoo parlor is about as good as it gets, and I need the money.”
But, on the other hand, rent is high everywhere else in the city. I got a haircut at Smitty’s — a great barber I found downtown, finally. Randy Smith owns the business, which was his father’s, dating back to 1965. He’s currently crammed in a tiny suite in the Financial Center on Church, with his original Belmont barber chairs, his father’s beautifully-restored mirror, and even a traditional striped barber pole, all sitting anachronistically in a suite that looks like something out of Office Space. He’s booked up with appointments all day, and even he can’t afford a place downtown that would be a little more suited to the character of a barber. So what’s the deal? Is the tattoo business really that good?
It’s a real shame. I don’t have anything against tattoo parlors, don’t get me wrong. I just think it’s a terrible sign for the state of downtown Nashville that this is even possible. I also think it’s an aesthetic abomination to have what is, in my opinion, one of the prettiest buildings in that area desecrated with that blaring neon sign. This place belongs in Printer’s Alley.
I hope, for the sake of downtown Nashville, that Billie Joe’s tenancy at 301 Broadway is temporary.
Side-note: What’s up with the little fish on the neon sign? Is this, uh, like a Christian tattoo parlor? Does such a thing even exist?