Archive for July, 2006

gas tax

As the downtown train station nears completion, and the Music City Star (Nashville’s first commuter rail line) ramps up, questions are arising as to how the line will be funded. Metro is contributing $450K per year, along with $100K/year from the Lebanon, Mt. Juliet and Wilson County governments. These contributions, however, will end in 2011.

To make up the difference going forward after that, members of the metro planning organization are starting to advocate a gas tax to supplement the funds necessary to run the line. Normally I wouldn’t expect a gas tax to be a tough sell if it was used to fund alternate forms of transportation, but I think this in particular might be a difficult pill to swallow. The price of gas is pretty high, and with the middle east on the brink of exploding into WWIII, it may not get any better — and as I noted yesterday, Nashville is already an exorbitantly expensive place to drive.

All the more reason to subsidize alternate transportation, you say? Indeed — but residents may not be too impressed by the alternative, as the Music City Star line will be an option for a limited set of people: those living east of Nashville in Donelson, Hermitage, Mt. Juliet and Lebanon, with the rest of the city being stuck with the bill.

Personally, all in all, I think a gas tax subsidy would be worth it, even for those who may not see any immediate benefit. The eased congestion and lower maintenance/expansion of our interstates from those suburbs alone would be a benefit, and the success of this commuter line would expedite future expansion and opportunities for incorporation of an inner-city light rail system.

100 Things About Nashville (part 6)

  • While famous for the Parthenon, Nashville is also home to one of the few examples of Egyptian revival architecture in the United States: the Downtown Presbyterian Church.
  • A unique numbering system for charting songs was invented in and named after Nashville: the “Nashville Numbering System”
  • Nashville has the largest Kurdish population outside of the Middle East, and was one of the few locations in the U.S. where Iraqi expatriates could vote in the 2005 election.
  • Nashville is one of the largest cities in the United States not served by Amtrak.
  • Nashville is the third most expensive place to drive in the entire country. Light-rail, anyone?
  • The Battle of Nashville during the Civil War was the only battle of the war where an entire army ceased to exist.
  • Nashville is the second worst city in the country for respiratory infections.
  • Nashville is one of only four cities where 6 interstate legs (I-40E/W, I-65N/S, and I-24E/W) converge, and has the most miles (over 80) of Interstate of any city.
  • Nashville has more than 700 churches, more than any city per capita in the U.S.
  • Nashville is the only city in the country whose hockey fans have fewer teeth than their team. (just kidding).

100 Things About Nashville (part 5)

Alright… I tried to make this about things uniquely Nashville, and in a way where folks who aren’t from or haven’t been to Nashville might be able to see why we appreciate these things.

* Honkytonk USA. While many spend their time trying to show the world that there is more the Nashville than country music, there is no denying that is a huge part of our identity. Lower Broadway has been, and always will be, a popular destination for country music lovers around the world, and the CMA Festival is a huge reminder of the power it has on our city’s commerce.
* Marathon Motor Works. The only cars that were actually made IN Nashville. Marathon Village still stands today and is one of my favorite places in the city.
* The Buckle of the Bible Belt. With more than 800 houses of worship in the city, being home to The Baptist Sunday School Board, The United Methodist Publishing House, The National Baptist Publishing Board, and Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville is without a doubt the “big buckle” in the Bible Belt. We also are home to Free Will Baptist Bible College, David Lipscomb University, Trevecca Nazarene University, and Belmont University. Not to mention, the majority of the Christian music industry calls Nashville home and a lot of other stuff that I can’t remember.
* Varallo’s. One of my favorite breakfast spots in the heart of the Nashville on 4th Avenue and Nick is carrying on a wonderful family legacy. The original was located on Church Street. Varallo’s was Nashville’s original Chili Parlor(which was a popular gig back in the day). The Varallo family has been a part of Nashville’s commerce for almost a century. One of their first businesses was a chilled watermelon store. It was the first of its kind! Cutting edge!! The Scene did a great article about the family back in 1998.
* The General Jackson. A replica of a riverboat built in 1817, this model was launched in 1985 and was an attraction at Opryland USA. When Opryland closed, the General Jackson took to the waters of the Cumberland River, bringing identity to the river when most other things associated with it had faded away.
* Fat Mo’s. De-frickin-licious. Uniquely Nashville and a great story of the dream of America.
* Lawrence Record Shop. The other famous record shop in town. For more than 50 years Lawrence Record Shop has been owned by the same family, and it ain’t just country. They have tons of stuff from different decades and random genres. If you haven’t ever been in, drop by and let the Lawrence brothers tell you some stories. They know Nashville. And they know music.
* Opryland USA. I don’t know a Nashvillian that doesn’t miss it.
* WSM-FM. Whether you dig the format or not… it was the first commercial FM station in the country. That’s pretty dang impressive. Side note: WSM stands for We Shield Millions which was the slogan of former owner, National Life & Accident Insurance Company.
* Schermerhorn Symphony Center. While it may not be uniquely Nashville, it is certainly the first world class symphony hall to be in Nashville. I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am about its planned opening in September. It is surely to open the door for a bright future for the arts in our incredible city.

100 Things About Nashville-Part IV

My first post for Metroblogging was so heavy, the site couldn’t even handle the words. Niiiice first impression. Let’s give ‘er another try, shall we?

Ten things that I think make Nashville so Nashalicious:

The Grand Ole Opry-Yes, it’s a dated format. Yes, it’s full of people most who were born after 1958 have never heard of. Even so, it’s a grand tradition that’s been going on for 80 years, making it the longest running radio show ever. There have been many other formats like the Opry, but, they have not survived. The REAL show is backstage. If you ever have the chance to go do that, do it.

The Nashville Striders has been serving Nashville area runners since forever. Any race that is either sponsored or organized by the Striders is a well put together event. Strider members are big on their running and they’re all a well rounded, diverse and neat group of people. (kinda like us bloggers) You spend a little time in a Strider’s presence, whether you are a seasoned marathon runner or a beginner, they are so encouraging, you feel like you’re ready for an ultra marathon. Not that I’ve had my running shoes on lately, but, last summer, I participated in three Striders related 5K’s and all three were great experiences. Makes me want to get out there again and hit the pavement. Doubt I will, but, it’s the thought that counts, eh?

If you’re a Death Hag, like I am, and like to walk through cemeteries looking at headstones, there are a plethora of famous grave occupants in Nashville cemeteries. I think Nashville has more famous people buried in its many cemeteries than just about anywhere, except Hollywood. Woodlawn on Thompson Lane, Spring Hill on Gallatin Rd., Forest Lawn on Dickerson Rd., Hendersonville Memory Gardens, Mt. Olivet on Lebanon Rd. all boast some big residents. Nice way to waste some time.

The Ernest Tubb Record Shop- Both of the locations (Music Valley Dr. and Broadway) are just cool places. You can find hard to locate recordings there and if they don’t have it, they can track it down somewhere. The original “E.T.” himself started this company way back in the 40’s when hillbilly records couldn’t be found all over the country and it’s still going on. Both of the locations also have mini museums with some neat artifacts (You can talk a walk through ET’s bus at Music Valley Dr.) and you don’t even have to buy anything to look.

The only good bluegrass festival I know of in Nashville is held every October at Smiley Hollow. The Nashville Music Classic is first class, put on every year in October by the Armistead’s. You can see large names in Bluegrass and this year, my girl, Patty Loveless is going to be there. Put it on your calendar. Smiley Hollow is one of Nashville’s best kept secrets…I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

The World Famous Station Inn-isn’t called “World Famous” for nothing. Not much has changed about the place since I first started going there in 1987 except the Gulch around it and they did make some new bathrooms a few years ago. The best in Bluegrass and Acoustic music (plus Western Swing on Monday nights with the Time Jumpers), you might end up sitting next to somebody like a William Shatner, Sheryl Crow, Mel Gibson or see Vince Gill jump onstage to pick.

One of the more memorable moments in my life was the day I was getting my nails done and saw Porter Wagoner sitting up in the pedicure chair getting his feet worked on. Picture it, if you will….Porter with no rhinestones and sequins, pants rolled up to his knees, the same feet that introduced the world to a girl named Dolly, being pumiced. . You are likely to see precious moments such as this, with all kinds of celebrity types, on any given day in Nashville and that is quite fun.

Reese Witherspoon was not the first Nashville native to take an Oscar home to her mantel. Claude Jarman, Jr. received a special Oscar for his role as Jody in the 1946 classic, “The Yearling.” That movie will make you cry a good, ugly cry.

Remember when the Nashville skyline consisted of the L & C Tower When Shoney’s brought you your food to your car, ala Sonic? Bunny Land? Were you ever on the Bozo Show?

Dan Miller-he’s kinda like everybody’s uncle. And he blogs, too.

100 Things About Nashville (part 3)

  • Nashville evolves. What was once a row of too-tacky-to-be-believed souvenir shops is now a run of too-trendy-to-be-cool bars and eateries.
  • Supply and demand. You can get a fully produced, nearly radio-ready song demo done here for a fraction of what it would cost in other cities, and here you can get some of the top session players in the world because they happen to be between tours or studio recordings.
  • Black bean nachos at Calypso Cafe. Need I say more?
  • Radnor Lake. It just rocks. I saw a tussle between two slider turtles there once, and that’s better entertainment than you can get at any writer’s night in town.
  • Live entertainment. Almost everywhere you go, almost any night of the week, almost any day of the year. But it does sometimes mean having to sit through umpteen tear-in-your-beer ballads about cheatin’. All with the same chord progressions and strum patterns.
  • You can party with elephants. The Nashville Zoo’s Adventure Socials series is all about getting adults as excited about the zoo as their kids already are. Works for me, because I’m a huge fan of the zoo.
  • Art scene small but strong. There isn’t as much of an art scene as I would prefer, but things are happening and when events are scheduled and well-organized, they’re well-attended and a lot of fun.
  • Sunday brunch at the Pineapple Room at Cheekwood. Delicious French toast, tomato salad, cheese plate, fresh berries, chocolate cake, etc. Some of the best eatin’ I’ve ever enjoyed.
  • One very influential family. The ubiquitousness of the Frist name can be a bit daunting (particularly if your politics lean left), but their charitable and humanitarian efforts are certainly laudable.
  • Urban living for half the price. You can still get a deal on living downtown or near downtown in Nashville relative to what you’d pay in other cities with as much to offer. And Nashville was rated the “smartest place to live” by Kiplinger’s.

100 Things About Nashville (part 2)

– Nashville played a pivotal role in the civil rights movement with protests and sit-ins happening downtown. When Dr. King visited, he said, “I came to Nashville not to bring inspiration, but to gain inspiration from the great movement that has taken place in this community.”
– It sucks that West End is starting to look like Anytown, USA.
– The newly renovated Centennial Park
– The upcoming school board race may well be one of the most important elections in the last 20 years. Even if you don’t have kids, or if you pay to send them to private schools, you have a chance to make sure that Nashville’s schools become more equitable and supporting for all students.
– The Tennessean has got to be one of the worst newspapers in the top-30 US media markets.
– Take your pictures now, because downtown will not look the same in ten years.
– I wonder how awesome it would have been to hang out on Jefferson Street before they dumped an interstate there and killed a culture and a community.
– The world is at our doorstep. Take a drive down Nolensville or Murfreesboro Road if you’re not sure.
– Who the hell is buying all these lofts?
Yazoo Beer

100 Things About Nashville (part 1)

  • Old Hickory Blvd forms a circle around Nashville. Unfortunately it is not a very straight circle.
  • Briley Parkway is a smaller circle around the city, but it changes names (Briley Parkway, Thompson Lane, Woodmont Blvd, White Bridge Road)
  • The best cheeseburgers in town are at Rotiers and are served on french bread
  • The Loveless Cafe is not as good as it used to be
  • Half of the people at any given concert are thinking they could do a better job than at least one member of the band on the stage
  • Half of those people might be right
  • Nashville has a great library that is under-utilized
  • The Titans and The Predators have changed the National image of Nashville (though Branson helped too)
  • Nashville may have the most cohesive blogosphere of any city on the planet
  • You are so Nashville if… you only read The Scene for the “You Are So Nashville If…” competition

More to come…

Disclaimer: There was no research in the making of this post. Any actual facts in this post are here by sheer luck.

Mumbai mass transit attacks

Please send your thoughts and prayers (or whatever it is you do, work with me here) to our Metroblogging colleagues in Mumbai, India, and, to their country during this terrible time.

Sports Central!

I have to be honest and tell you that I didn’t know there was such a thing as the North American Football League or that Nashville has a team in that league called the Nashville Storm. A couple of years ago I found out about the Nashville Dream, part of the National Women’s Football Association. I know both of these teams are still active and playing at local high school stadiums in Middle Tennessee. The Nashville Rhythm, part of the American Basketball Association, made a run at enticing basketball fans for their 2004-2005 season which ended with some drama. The owners of the team say they plan to have an active team again, but that is yet to be seen. The Tennessean recently had a great article on the Nashville Roller Girls that I mentioned in my blog last month.

It never ceases to amaze me all that’s going on around this place. I love the Titans, the Predators, the Sounds, and of course I follow the colleg teams… but I’d love to see what else is out there. Are there any other teams you guys know of, active or defunct? Give me a history lesson!

Shameless Self Plugs

Kat has been doing a great job over at Nashville is Talking this weekend. I couldn’t imagine keeping up with all of that and manage to have a life as well!

If you are a regular reader of MetBlogs or are just discovering what’s here, I think you’ll be thrilled to read not only each writer’s personal blogs, but to check out some of the other places they write. From multiple blogs to periodicals of different styles, there is a ton to enjoy. Click HERE to learn more about them!

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