Welcome back true be-loggers! Today is my last full day in Nashville (we are leaving tomorrow at 7 AM), my plan is to post the bulk of my thoughts today and perhaps offer a little epilogue tomorrow when we get home. We packed in alot today, so lets get to it. If you are just joining the blog this week and are wondering what I am talking about, here is PART 01 and here is PART 02. Let’s begin:
[The Big Bang]
I left you yesterday with Allison and I preparing to go to The Big Band Dueling Piano Bar in downtown Nashville. We were meeting up with my mom’s friend’s daughter (who moved to Nashville three weeks ago) and her (maybe) boyfriend (didn’t get a clarification and we didn’t ask). I realized late in the day yesterday that Big Bang was a chain which usually makes me less inclined to visit, but Allison used to frequent a dueling piano bar in Baltimore when she was in college and I thought she would like it. I wasn’t sure if the place served food which is why I was doing research online before we left. I didn’t get a clear answer but reviews mentioned dinner so I thought we were good to go. When we got there, the place was empty so we settled out on their deck facing Broadway and took in the mayhem below. Our dinner partners informed us that they didn’t drink alcohol which in turn, made me feel like an alcoholic asshole, but I got over that quickly and ordered some drinks (in fact, I was drinking when they found us at the bar next door… here’s to first impressions!)
As for the dueling pianos… it was fantastic. The players were talented and funny – one dude was BLIND and played awesome. The crowd started to shuffle in and it was clear that this was a bar for drunk girls to go to. I was one of the few men there. NATE IF YOU ARE READING THIS – YOU NEED TO GO TO NASHVILLE. I will make a quick note for anyone going to Big Bang, the food was terrible. Everything was deep fried and in nugget form. After a solid 4 hours we started to look for another place. At first I got the impression we were going to get into a car and go to a coffee house near Vanderbilt which I put the stop to – it was close to midnight, I was looking to wind the night down, not head off in a car and start up again (plus the prospect of being in a place that didn’t serve booze turned me off at the time – I wanted a final nite-cap). “Maybe Boyfriend” took this in stride and lead us down an alley into a respectfully dirty looking dive bar. I was into it until I walked in and smelled the smoke. You don’t realize how much smoke sucks until you are away from it. It didn’t help that “Maybe Boyfriend” enjoyed the cancer sticks and this bar allowed him to partake in his one vice right in front of my face. Add to the situation that we were immediately next to the stage and this crazy loud yet pretty awesome band was blowing my face off. I hung in for three songs and cut out. I felt bad to leave our company, but I had to get the hell out of there.
While walking back we mentioned that we were sort of hungry but sort of not, I suggested a pizza. We ordered from a place called New York Pizza (I know, I know…). It took them 40 minutes to get the pizza over and I almost vomited when I tasted it. They just dumped Italian style seasonings all over it, it had to be a total FU job, because there is no way this was an accident. It was that bad. So if you are in Nashville stay away from:
New York Pizza
2215 Elliston Place
Nashville, TN 37203
WORST PIZZA I HAVE EVER TASTED IN MY LIFE
I brushed my teeth and went to bed wondering what I did to piss those people off…
[Hatch Show Print]
Over the last few days, we have heard about this awesome printing place that did all of the original posters for the Grand Ole Opry and the artists when they were on tour. The big draw is that this place still operates with wood block printing press which looks awesome. Allison and I took a walk this morning to buy some posters and check out the operation. Of course it decided to rain but we were not deterred.
The press was right on Broadway and looked like it was there for a 100 years because it probably was (or damn close). We picked up some posters and got some ideas to use the service in the future 🙂
On our way to check out the “True South”, we came across a WhiteCastle. Ever since Harold and Kumor, we have wanted to go to a real WC and New Jersey doesn’t have one (yes the movie said Cherry Hill had a WhiteCastle, they don’t) Even though we knew we were eating lunch, we HAD to eat a real WhiteCastle slider.
I gotta say… The frozen burgers you can get at the store are just as good if not better and the fries suck.
I don’t know what they put in those microwavable frozen burgers to make them taste so good, but having had the “real” thing, my mind is blown.
Even though the rain was coming down, Allison and I wanted to do things outdoors today (because we didn’t have much of a choice). We read about Bellemead Plantation and decided it would be a nice place to spend the day. After a short drive, we were on the Plantation. We heard there was a restaurant on site and we hoped we could get a seat because we really haven’t had anything but bar food or BBQ since we got there. We managed to get a seat with 20 minutes left to spare on lunch seatings. I am so glad we were able to eat there. We had a great southern lunch: Biscuits, Fried Green Tomatoes, home-made cheese and fresh ham sandwich, Buttermilk Fried Chicken (we split all of this and the portions were not out of control thankfully) and we topped it off with a boysenberry tart with fresh ice-cream.
After a heavy lunch we were glad to be able to do a walking tour of the plantation. We signed up for a guided tour and got an educational 45 minute walk-through of the main mansion by an informative older woman named Anna. The Bellemead Plantation was the premiere horse breeding farm in the United States until the 1950’s. Almost every championship horse since 1870 can trace it’s bloodline to the first stud at Bellemead (which was one of five prize horses given to the US by Europe). We weren’t allowed to take pictures in the house, but if you have ever seen antique furniture from the late 1800’s you have see what is going on.
Once the house tour was done, we were free to roam the grounds which were massive and beautiful. Yes this plantation was host to slavery and I think it might have partook in what I call ‘the revisionist history” that I have seen in Nashville in regards to its involvement in slavery, but we will get to that later. In regards to the plantation and slavery they took pride in mentioning that their slaves were educated since the house hosted so many US and foreign dignitaries. The one remaining slave hut looked downright lovely, but the other five I saw in the pictures seemed to be missing…
Regardless, the Bellemead Plantation was educational, beautiful, and a great way to spend a few hours in Nashville.
Five minutes down the road from Bellemead, Cheeckwood Gardens resides. If Bellemead was a beautiful girl, this place was the hottest woman on the planet. We arrived at 4 PM and were told we only had a half hour before it closed, so we were rushing through the several garden areas until we reached what is now called the Cheekwood Museum of Art. This massive, beautiful mansion was built on what became the Maxwell House Coffee Fortune. The home and the lands were eventually given over to the state to become a fine arts center. You have to see this place to believe it – the fact that anyone called it home is insane. I have see huge houses before, but nothing like this.
On the way out we checked out more of the gardens. I made a point to see the Japanese garden which didn’t look very Japanese to me. Regardless, this place was incredible.
[Passing Thoughts on Nashville]
My opinion of Nashville is that it is a city in transition. It is struggling to come to terms with it’s past involvement with slavery (they are softening up the exhibits to slavery, making it seem less harsh, they name streets after Rosa Parks and MLK) while trying to be this clean-cut family friendly country music haven. Even the music scene is shifting as more “mainstream” artists are moving into town and putting their stamp on the future. I think Nashville has the potential and will become much more. But as new sources of interest and income flood the city, it also had an odd influx of poverty.
In the three days I have been here, I have never seen so many homeless people. I am no stranger to the homeless, I do live near and work in Philadelphia, but homeless people are everywhere and there are two very distinct classes. It is clear that the arts community is bringing in a younger, artistic class of homeless that probably pass through for a while doing their music thing (or following a music scene) they reminded me very much of “Phish Heads” or “Dead Heads” (people who follow jam bands around). On every level I viewed these people as harmless and part of the Bohemian vibe the town was generating. But there was another plentiful group of angry older males who were obviously abusing drugs or alcohol. They were on every corner and sleeping in every nook; Did they bother us? No. But the sheer number had me concerned and curious. “Maybe Boyfriend” told me at the Big Band that Nashville is a big train hub and these men ride the rails to whatever their final destination is. My guess is the number of churches in Nashville means there are quite a bit of soup kitchens that will feed them which makes them stay a little longer.
In order for Nashville to become a truly great city, they need to address the homeless situation (and I don’t mean making them disappear NYC style). I hope these people get the help they need to get off the streets for good but they don’t crack down to the point where the artistic hippie vibe gets crushed.
Overall, Nashville has been a great city and I look forward to the next time we can visit (hopefully with Nate who can take advantage of the copious amounts of friendly girls in this town).
We are going to finish off our night with a nice dinner (hopefully) and then check out a few bars and finish the night at Big Bang. We have to be up at 4:30 AM to go home, so it will be an early night. Thanks for reading this week – but remember if you aren’t reading at my blog, you are not getting the full experience. Speaking of which… here are some pictures: