Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Downtown Additions - Nashville's New Amphitheater

Headed home in the bus the other day when I did one of those things I rarely do.  I looked up from my book to watch the city go by.  Well, I really wasn't day dreaming, I was trying to get a gauge on when the bus might actually be in my area of the city.  My lovely Mrs. likes to schedule dinner on the table practically as I walk in and my being able to pull myself away from my book to gauge the time helps her in this endeavor.  But, again, I digress.  

We hadn't even traveled out of downtown when I spied something new. A construction site where there used to be a big meadow. (Yes, a meadow just downtown, as odd as that might be.) It's something new and different, so I took a picture thinking "Oh, gotta add this to my blog..."  It was the next day when I had done the research to find out what exactly was being built next to the river.  A New Amphitheater.  

Oh.  Yes, Nashville needs one more venue for music down on the river.  Nashville is fairly starving for music venues.  (You catch the sarcasm?  Heavy on the irony?)  Ok, so we all know Nashville is "Music City" and there used to be a great Amphitheater many miles from downtown with acres of parking where all the greats once played and it's neat to see the city embrace this need and replace it.  In fact, here is a rendering of the new amphitheater:
You can see the river there on the right and downtown right smack dab there on the left.  Me? I love the idea of an amphitheater!  I have a background in music and the idea of natural acoustics has been part of my DNA ever since I first attended a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado. 

Now, I rarely question things southern, but I have to admit there are some puzzling aspects to this.  I know what you're thinking.  Parking.  Well, you'll be surprised to learn that the bridge you see upper right is a pedestrian bridge which leads across the river to the big parking lots adjacent to the stadium where the Titans play: LP Field. There is even the train station just the other side of the bridge (See the tracks there along the River?) where people can ride into downtown for a concert and then ride home.  You might also be thinking of the mosquitoes which would be living along the river in the summer.  Again, you'd be surprised to learn that this is not the case with a faster moving river like the Cumberland.  

No, all things being equal, the design and features of the Now-Being-Constructed Nashville Naming-Rights-To-Be-Sold-Later Amphitheater are pretty much a diamond in the rough.  Yeah.  Except for one little thing.  That low building there to the left?  It's right across the street.  And it's not surprising to learn that these are Condos. There have been a lot of new condos being built in the downtown area and these are some of the best. But, y'see, the people who live there will now have to live with live music from the new amphitheater.  Yes, acoustics may keep this to a minimum, but I'm not going to be laying any money down on one of these lofts just yet.  

As I said, the New Nashville Naming-Rights-To-Be-Sold-Later Amphitheater is in the works, but for the life of me I can't seem to find an estimated date of completion.  Now, my brother Bubba says that this means it will be completed on time. But, Bubba, WHAT time?  There is no mention of a date to enjoy the amenities at the  Now-Being-Constructed Nashville Naming-Rights-To-Be-Sold-Later Amphitheater.

I think I will just keep watch on the site.  Who knows, I may learn something in the doing. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Nashville - Home of the Goo Goo Cluster

It's been almost 30 years since I first moved to this great city.  I've been here so long I consider myself well versed in the lore and all things unique to my home: Nashville.  It amazed me then when my brother, who lives out in Sunny Southern California, called me one day to ask a favor.  He wanted me to send him some candy. Say What? 

He and his wife had been watching one of those shows about the origins of [whatever] and discovered a candy that's been around over 100 years and is made right here in Nashville!  It's called the GOO GOO CLUSTER and it was also the first combination candy bar ever produced!  To be honest (and in so doing, I will most assuredly lose some Good Ol' Boy Points I may have saved up in the last year) I'd never heard of the Goo Goo Cluster.  

In 1912, in a copper kettle at the Standard Candy Company at Clark & First Avenue in Nashville, TN, the world’s first ever combination candy bar was invented. A roundish mound of caramel, marshmallow nougat, fresh roasted peanuts and real milk chocolate; its renegade shape was more difficult to wrap than the conventional rectangular or square shapes of the day. More importantly, this was the first time multiple elements were being mass-produced in a retail confection. Previous to the advent of the Goo Goo Cluster, candy bar manufacturing consisted of bars solely using chocolate, caramel or taffy. The Goo Goo Cluster represented the first time a bar consisted of more than just one principal ingredient.

The Goo Goo Cluster recipe hasn’t changed over the years, although the cooking method has undergone a few tweaks. Goo Goos used to be hand dipped and sold without wrappers under glass at drug store candy counters. With the dawn of hand wrapping, ladies would swaddle the Goo Goo Clusters in tinfoil. Eventually, machinery was put in place to automate wrapping the Goo Goo Cluster. Today, the process of making Goo Goos is so streamlined that Standard Candy in Nashville can produce 20,000 Goo Goo Clusters an hour!

And what about that name?  The story of how the candy came to be named comes in many versions. Some people say that it was named Goo Goo because it’s the first thing a baby says. Howell Campbell, Jr., the man whose father invented the Goo Goo Cluster, says that his father used to ride the streetcar to work every day and he would talk the matter over with fellow passengers. Mr. Campbell was announcing to fellow passengers on the streetcar his newborn son’s first words and a school teacher made the connection with the candy. She suggested Mr. Campbell name his treat Goo Goo! It is so good, people will ask for it from birth. 

Although my brother had to get me to send him some, the Goo Goo Cluster can be found all over the US (and then some) and I recommend it for all candy lovers and for all Southern WannaBe's like me.  Just don't be calling me to send you some!  

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Southern Walker and the Puppy Popper

Headed off to the store the other day I see this couple walking down the street, both carrying very long walking sticks. It reminded me of a southern man I once knew who walked every day and who carried a stick much like that which he referred to as his "Puppy Popper." It was amazing to me to learn that this is a standard walking item here in the South - complete with the moniker. Now, before you start writing letters and getting all upset, let me at least digress a few times. 

You see, here in the south, there are a lot of dog owners who feel that they should allow their dog to run free, and therefore do not put up fences, use leashes or attempt to contain them at all.  Those who know dogs know that this means that the dog WILL run free and will consider any part of the adjoining property or roads to be theirs -AND, as it's theirs (or so they perceive,) they will protect it from any sort of attacks - such as that older couple walking calmly down the street.  

The Puppy Popper (no Trademark or Copyright on that name - that I know of...) is a defensive item, carried to ward off these over zealous animals and protect oneself from their protective endeavors. Myself, I think it might be better to use it on the owners who endanger their pets by allowing them to run 'free' but that might not go over well.

Once, not too long ago, on a walk when carrying my cane (don't start) I happened upon this very situation. As I walked by a house, the dog came running out (no chain, no fence,) hackles up, barking and baring its teeth. Now, the nurturer in me wanted to calmly point out to the animal that we were merely passers by and his (her) endeavors to get us to leave were rather overzealous to say the least.  The alarmist in me took over, however and I raised up the cane to protect myself.  To which the dog stopped and walked back to its home, leaving me rather confused as to what the frak just happened.

Perhaps the dog was intrigued by my all teak cane and came running out and shouting (in dog language) "What a neat cane!  What's it made of? SHOW ME SHOW ME SHOW ME!!"  And when I raised it up, he thought "Ok, cool.  Thanks. Seeyabye." And went back to protecting his house.  In truth, it could just be that the Puppy Popper did its job.  Others who carry them tell me that just waving the thing around can usually diffuse the situation and rarely (if ever) has any of them had to actually Pop any Puppies.

So, the next time you find yourself walking in the South, be sure to carry a Puppy Popper (or a nice teak wood cane) and you'll feel more southern in the doing.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I Didn't See You There - Foot Fetishist

Here in the South, Camo abounds. More and more I see the patterns on just about anything you can imagine. Camouflage, the design that helps hunters hide and blend in wit their surroundings and, well just about everywhere.  Case in point, this pair of Croc-like rubber shoes.

I just can't see some hunter, doing some sort of Mario Batali impression out in the wild, carrying his rifle over one shoulder, tromping through the underbrush wearing these shoes. (Mario wears Crocs, and they are bright orange anyway, but I digress.  Yeah, again.)

They look nice and comfy and I'd consider buying them to add to my growing camo collection (which so far has only one item) but I wouldn't be able to wear them to work, and wearing them around the house would just lose the effect.  Besides, they are more than I really want to pay for a pair of casual shoes, so they will sit on the shelf, waiting for the right person to take them out and wear them properly - perhaps with a nice camo hat and pants. A combination truly made for the South.  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Southern Windshield Scraping.

This has been one long winter. Here in the south we've had cold blast after cold blast, while the north gets pummeled with snow.  Whew.  I'm so glad it's almost over.  Unfortunately, we are into that humid part of the spring where cold weather here in the south gives us a rather unique situation.  

It works like this:  I go out in the morning to head to work.  Because it was very cold overnight as well as humid, the windshield has frosted a bit.  No big deal, I know how to scrape it off. In no time flat I'm ready to drive. Only as soon as I pull out, the moisture in the southern air combines with the cold (and wind chill factor) to immediately fog up the windshield and ice over.  Using the wipers compounds this situation.  

So, now I"m stuck with one of two options - both stupid.  I can stop the car every hundred yards and scrape it until I can finally get my heater to warm enough of the windshield to keep this from blocking my view; or I can run the wipers on full, hoping that as the windshield warms, they will move the now warmed moisture over more of the glass to  help clear it so I can drive more safely.  

If I choose the second, I'm driving (slowly) down the street looking out a growing (albeit slowly growing) opening at the base of the windshield near the center and in order to see out of it I have to scrunch over and almost look through the steering wheel to see the road.  (Please, lord, let all the cops be at the doughnut shop where the doughnuts are fresh this time of day!)  I'm driving less than a couple of miles, just to the bus stop; but it seems like a heck of a lot further. And wouldn't you know it, the windshield is finally usable just as I turn into the parking lot where I meet the bus.  

Now, I hear what you're saying.  Why not warm up the car and get the windshield all cleared (and also warm the car) before I head off.  You're absolutely right, but I hate to waste the gas just sitting there, and it's warm in the house and let's face it, I really don't want to go to work. So in all, I usually don't have the time when I finally get my carcass off the couch out of the door and off to work.  More's the pity.  

My one solace is that this only happens in the spring, and hopefully next winter will be milder than this one. After all, one can usually count on mild Southern winters, and that is one of the main reasons I love living in the south!  

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Joy Riding in the South

The winter frost has almost abated and the spring is peeking its head out from under the frozen magnolia trees here in the Mid-South.  Headed over to the bus station downtown the other day, I came across a wonderful new way to see Music City. It was sitting at a red light and I caught this photo before it roared off down the street toward the Ryman.

It's called Joy Ride Nashville.  Basically it's just a big golf cart with a driver taking you on a visual sight seeing tour of the downtown area - microbreweries, show venues and the like, or it can be reserved/commandeered like a taxi. to get you from point A to point B.  (I wonder if they would take you to play golf?) Their website has a number and some great photos but after the winter we've just had I can only see the fact that this thing has no real protection from the weather! Canvas doors, Canvas roof and plastic windows.   I'm hoping that the seats sit right over the engine and keep you warm, because those light doors and roof surely won't.  

There is nothing on the signage there that tells you how much a ride might be, and there is nothing on the website which explains the cost. I suppose it's like a lot of things: If you have to ask, you can't afford it. But, I dunno, I think it might be a great way to travel around the city, take in the sights, stop for a bite or a drink (non-light beer, like a good southerner) and enjoy life.  Isn't that what we all want to do when we're visiting a  new city?  I live here and it's what I would do. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Invention Intervention - The Coat Hook

This is a great invention by a 19 yr old Southern Boy who just HAPPENS to be  my grandson.  He wanted a place to hang his coat in his room and at the same time easy to mount.  Now, let's take a look at this marvel of southern thinking.  

Do you recognize it now?

How about now?  Yes, that's right.  He salvaged the center of a 3 ring binder, took out one half of the binder clips and bingo, he's got a perfect coat hanger!  Hung it up with a couple of nails in no time flat!  It holds coats and backpacks and it's just the perfect thing for a student's room!  

Southern Thinking at its best!