I’ve been off the grid for a few days, driving my car to Nashville, Tennessee, which is a pretty foreign place. I’m struggling to set up my apartment here. My wife got a teaching job at Vanderbilt University and I’m coming along as a good spouse. I can draw cartoons anywhere. Here are some first reactions to Nashville …
The newspaper, Gannett’s “The Tennessean” is little, light and slight – like a ghost of what it surely once was. I can crumple the whole newspaper into a little ball with one hand. I saw bigger, thicker, healthier looking newspapers in smaller towns on the drive out. On newstands I see an altie paper called, “The City Paper” with a black front cover and reversed type displaying the headline “Why Nashville Needs Newspapers.” I arrived for “The City Paper’s” angst-filled last issue as they are going out of business.
I’m in a giant apartment building in “Germantown” which is near downtown, and seems to be newly gentrified with yuppies and lots of construction of other, giant apartment buildings like mine. There are plenty of payday loan/check cashing stores, bail bondsmen, fast food fried chicken and a dearth of supermarkets here, so the gentrification has a way to go. I guess it’s fine.
My apartment has a view of a truck yard with rusty roofs and burly men who work very hard washing and loading heavy construction equipment onto trucks. It is a view I would have enjoyed when I was five years old.
I also have a view of impressive thunderstorms, which seem to pass through here every day. As I write this, there are booms of thunder. The humidity is fantastic; I feel like I’m swimming everywhere. And the plants are all healthy. Even the weeds that battle with the concrete and asphalt are a healthy, bright green. When the zombie apocalypse comes, the plants will claim Nashville back from the concrete in just a few months.
In California, the weeds look unhealthy. When I neglect my lawn in California, it turns into a blotchy beige. Here, when people don’t tend their lawns, the lawns just get bigger and bushier and even more bright green. This place really wants to grow. I’ve read that this is the worst place in America for hay fever.
I’ve spent my life as an urbanite living around New York or Southern California, so there is some culture shock. People here are unusually friendly. There seems to be a lot of smokers here. There are certainly a lot more trucks and ads for gun shows. Everyone wants to recommend restaurants to us, and the recommended restaurants are really quite good.
There is a music theme to this place, with guitar logos everywhere. There’s a huge, ugly, convention center that looks like it is styled after a colossal guitar. The music is a part of the culture that I don’t really understand or appreciate, but I can ignore the music. I guess I can ignore the truck yard too. It is harder to ignore the fried chicken.