Friday, December 30, 2016

Crane Watch 2017

Now that the Not-So-Everlasting Living Room Project is completed, I've been able to open  my eyes a bit more and see Nashville.  My Home. And in looking out there, I see that Nashville is in the midst of a huge building boom.  Major buildings and complexes with big loading cranes have sprouted all over town in the last couple of years.  Just this morning, I took these pictures and highlighted all the cranes from just one window in our building, getting only 180 degrees.  (Red Arrows point out the cranes, in case you were wondering what I was up to. 
 In all, I counted 10 big cranes already at work as the sun was coming up, but that's not all.  Back in 2015, the public radio station listed these and even more. 
Here is their list with descriptions. 
Demonbreun and 12th Ave. S:
This entryway into the Gulch is the home of the 1201 Demonbreun project, a 15-story; 300,000 square foot office and retail space. Many of these spaces have already been leased by prominent organizations such as CapStar Bank and Eakin Partners.

9th and Clark Street:
This space, near the Korean Veterans traffic circle and Cummins Station, is the site of construction for the Westin Nashville Hotel, a 27-story hotel with 452 rooms and a pool and bar on the roof. The hotel is set to open in 2016.

Music Row Traffic Circle:
Among a slew of other just-finished apartment buildings in this area is the continuing construction on the 18-story Element Music Row Apartments. Its website describes these apartments as "palatial," "unparalleled," and very technology-friendly.

Divison and 21st:
This site is home to the Aertson Midtown apartments and retail space, across 21st Avenue from the Vanderbilt law school. The building will compare to the visible semi-circle Adelicia apartments in height and luxury, making it only the second high-rise building in the Midtown area - for now.

Demonbreun and 3rd:
This site is going to be the SoBro apartment tower, just one of Tony Giarratana's massive Nashville developments. The building will have 32 stories, topped with a rooftop pool and fitness center, as well as a public parking garage.

The Gulch, between 11th and 12th:
This lot, surrounded by 11th, 12th, and Pine Sreet, is the site for the Thompson Hotel, set to open in 2016. This hotel will be 12 stories high with underground parking. The Thompson will be only the third hotel in the Gulch, along with the boutique 404 Hotel and the Fairfield Suites.

Suites 35, 37, 39, and 41 Music Square East:
This will be the last large-scale construction project on Music Row for the next year, due to protest by local preservationists. The four sites will be consolidated as the SESAC offices, which currently has two buildings on Music Row.

Charlotte and 11th:
This terminal section of the Gulch is set to be a mixed-use project called Capitol View, which includes a 5-story apartment building, retail, and a grocery store. The full area of the project is around 30 acres, and could take over 5 years to complete.

Charlotte and 28th:
In this location, the beginnings of the OneC1ty project lie within the construction site that will eventually become over one million square feet of multi-use property. The project's goal is to create a cohesive community that brings retail, medicine, and living spaces all into one easily-accessible sphere.

Charlotte and 40th: This is yet another site on Charlotte Pike. Although relatively inconspicuous now, this site will become the Hill Center at Sylvan Heights, built by H.G. Hill Realty Co. The project is expected to be done by 2016, covering eight acres with residential apartments and 26,000 square feet of retail.

Vanderbilt University, 25th Ave.: Although not for commercial development, even Vanderbilt is bringing in the heavy guns for construction. This site is to become a new Engineering and Science building, and will partially cover Olin Hall - the archaic seventies-style engineering building behind it.

5th Ave. and Jefferson:
Just north of the new Sounds stadium, the Carillon apartments, set to be opening in early 2016, have begun construction. The property will ultimately contain 360 high-end apartments within the 3.9-acre parcel of land in between these two streets.

Downtown on Jackson St.:
First Tennessee Park is the new home to the Nashville Sounds, whose stadium was previously located along Chestnut Street. The stadium returns to the area where the Sulpher Dell Park once stood. The cranes are constructing a parking garage to accommodate large influxes of people to the area during game times.

Germantown, between 2nd and 3rd Avenue:
Broadstone Germantown is a new five-story apartment complex being constructed between 2nd and 3rd Avenues and Madison and Jefferson Streets. This view displays the parking garage, and there is also space for a restaurant on the first floor. It is located only a short walk from First Tennessee Park. Not one, not two, but six cranes dot the horizon.

By my figuring most of these are not visible in the photos I took this morning. Either the projects were completed, or they are farther north, south or east and as such,  out of view.

I'm not really sure what this means for the future, but I know it makes getting around in my 58' limo a study in patience. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Southern Christmas Traditions

There’s nothing like Christmas in Dixie, and the roots of Southern Christmas celebrations run deep. The American South was making merry long before it became the standard practice in other areas of the country. Alabama was the first state to declare it a legal holiday in 1836, with Louisiana and Arkansas following a couple of years later. Christmas wasn’t recognized as a federal holiday until 1870.

While some facets of Southern Christmas have been adopted outside of the South, many traditions and customs have remained unique to the South. If looking at a few of these fun Southern Yuletide customs doesn’t put you in the holiday spirit, you might need to check your pulse:
  • Citrus Fruit- When I was a kid, we always found oranges in our Christmas stockings. I would never have guessed that this is a long-standing Southern Christmas custom. This gift finds its origins in the previous rarity of citrus fruit and the expense of such a luxurious gift. The Southern Christmastime craving for the flavor of oranges influenced the popularity Christmastime recipe staple known as Ambrosia, and for many it’s just not Christmas without that citrus infused wonder.  Citrus also appears frequently in Southern holiday décor in the form of slices for fragrant potpourri or as whole oranges in garlands.
  • Pecan Pie- Due to the harvest season falling between September and December, pecans are a readily-available, favorite flavor for the Christmas season in the South. Folklore has it that the French settlers in Louisiana developed this holiday dessert staple. Divinity and Pralines are two other pecan-based treats of Southern origin that have become treasured holiday items as well.
  • Poinsettias– This beautiful plant with red blooms has become synonymous with Christmas cheer. Originally the poinsettia was a popular decoration for the Christmas season in Mexico, and the botany-loving U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett brought back clippings of the plant to his South Carolina home. The shape is said to be evocative of the Star of Bethlehem, and it’s popularity spread throughout the nation, especially after Congress declared Dec. 12 National Poinsettia Day. It’s just not Christmas without a cheerful poinsettia blooms.*
  • Magnolia and Pine Décor– We have the settlers that landed at Jamestown, Virginia to thank for this tradition. After they noticed pine was an evergreen, they began using it as a symbol of good fortune and hope in décor. First popularized in the South, it can now be seen in holiday swags, wreaths, and garlands nationally. Many widely-read styling magazines have also featured stories on how to best use magnolia leaves to achieve a rustic, country feel. It’s common to see wreaths out of these gorgeous, dark-green, shiny leaves than any kind of fir tree branches.
  • Deep-Fried Turkey- In the South we love to fry anything and everything, so why not fry the most delicious piece of poultry we can find? It leaves a delicious crunchy texture outside while keeping the meat flavorful and juicy. This tradition is starting to catch on in other parts of the nation, naturally.

The myriad of wonderful Southern Christmas traditions is long and varied, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Just like every other holiday event in our culture, Christmas in the South is full of beauty, fun, and delicious food.

 *Note to Cat Owners: Poinsettia leaves are poisonous to cats.  Best to buy fake Poinsettia plants if you have felines in the home. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

End of the Everlasting Living Room Project.

For just a few minutes, I'm going to be a bit insufferable as I brag on myself.  Two and a half years ago, I started a project - correction, I was FORCED to begin a project - my living room. For those new readers who have not read my trials and tribulations: back in May of 2014 we had major infestation of termites come marching across our living room rug.  Much wailing and gnashing of teeth and not a few tears. We ended up cutting out, in total, a 12 x 12 section of our house down to the foundations, spraying termite killer the entire time. We couldn't afford to hire professionals to do either part of the job, so it was my wife and I for the entire time.

The real problem came in that I'm not retired, so the whole amount of time I could devote to the project on a weekly basis was one to one and a half days - and those days usually were less than 6 hours due to my own stamina - or lack thereof. Couple that with my total lack of skills in such things as laying a floor, tiles and drywall and you have quite a learning curve. (I lost count of the number of bandaids used and the number of times I hit my thumb instead of a nail.) Separate projects included creating a affordable chimney cap and building a mantle from existing parts saved from the demolition.  

What you see above is the near completed living room. To keep the house dust free (and to keep the cats out of the project) we erected a temporary wall between the living area and the 'Everlasting Living Room Project.'  The weekend before Thanksgiving, the wall came down.  It was a momentous occasion and I'm very disappointed in the city for not having marching bands, ribbon cutting, and long-winded speeches for the unveiling.  

My readers also need thanks, for putting up with my constant crying, wailing and self promotion in relation to the Everlasting Living Room Project - which I guess now needs to be renamed the Not-So-Everlasting Living Room Project.  

Anyone wanting pictures can message me direct. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Shock and Aw in the Election of 2016

The US Election of 2016 is over and I don't know whether to be sad or elated.  Sad that such a man was elected and scared for the future of both the US and the world. Elated to be glad that the Election Ads are now over (for 4 years anyway.) 

At the heart of the debate over what the election results mean is the feeling that we, as a country have taken a large step (or maybe a huge leap) backward.  Where PC - politically correct - were the words of the day, we now have a man  who says what he wants.  People are afraid this means violence is just around the corner.  In fact, we've already seen demonstrations and calls for both impeachment (he's not even sworn in yet!) and succession from the Union by more than just a couple of states.  

It is really too soon to tell.  But for the life of me, I can't see things spiraling down to such a degree and to where things become too ugly to go on.  Perhaps I was raised differently.  We were taught to smile at adversity, tolerate differences and support our elected officials.  My mother grew up in the age of FDR. To her, he was more King than President.  The only president to be re-elected twice (this means three full terms, or 12 years.) In my life I've seen 11 different presidents, now 12, and there will be more.  Perhaps that's what we need to keep in mind here, that the man elected today may not really be in office 5 years from now.  I take solace in that, I really do.  

There is also something else.  At its heart, America isn't that type.  We're not all misogynistic, intolerant, haters.  We really do want everyone to be happy, live a good life, be prosperous.  We are a melting pot and there is little one man can do to upset that pot.  

As you know, I ride the bus.  Riders come and riders go.  A couple of weeks ago, I took note of a woman getting off the bus right behind me.  She had a toddler in tow and a baby carriage with another riding in it. she had her purse, a diaper bag and her lunch on one arm and was working the carriage out onto the sidewalk, about a foot drop.  I'm carrying my briefcase and a bag with my lunch and a few things.  Even without much thought I reached back and with a 'Here let me help you with that..." I  took the carriage front in my hand and lifted it down.  She smiled, I smiled and we went on with our day. 

As it turns out, she and her two little ones got on the bus at the same bus stop I did early in the morning.  Each  time I saw the little group, I smiled, she smiled and her oldest gave me a wave.  We were merely riders on the same bus. A couple of times when she had the buggy folded, I'd help her get it off the bus. I knew she needed help and I was willing to give a hand where I had it.

Then, without warning, one morning she came up to me in the pre-dawn light, to say that she was not going to be riding the bus anymore, at least not from here.  She was moving and wanted to say goodbye on her last day.  I wished her well, asked a few questions about her move and future and we parted ways.  The little ones gave me a smile, too.We didn't even exchange names.

Why do I  bring this up? Not to toot my own horn, but to mention how this interaction was so dissimilar to what our new president would represent. Me, an older man, riding the bus and taking just a moment out of my day to help a young woman with her two little ones whom she had to take with her every morning to get to day care and then to work.  Why so dissimilar?  As I said, I'm older, employed in a white collar job and she younger working a more menial job.  Oh and if it matters to the president, I'm white and she's black.  

Tolerance is really what's missing in our new president; but I feel that the country can continue as we were without becoming what we fear he is or wants. We can continue to grow and be tolerant of each-other's differences in spite of what we see in our leaders. 

This is not to say that hate and intolerance don't exist, I'm sure they do. It's up to each and everyone  of us to keep this next four years as we have striven to be: tolerant. Color, sexual orientation, religion.  It's all such an arbitrary distinguishing factor; but regardless of these factors, we all deserve respect. We all deserve happiness. We're all humans. We should continue to act like it.  I know I will.

Friday, November 4, 2016

The CMA Awards 2016

The CMA Awards were this last week (I swear it's like every year!) Wednesday night as a matter of fact which means only one thing to someone like me...traffic getting home would be a bitch.  And to top it off, as if that weren't enough, on a Wednesday night, when my wife makes her famous Chicken Fajitas.  (Yes, every Wednesday. Yes, I know you're jealous.) One of my favorite meals, postponed due to a bunch of rich folks patting each other on the back for making a music video which made them more money.

Here in Nashville, you'd think that most employers downtown would let their poor employees off early to get ahead of that traffic, but you'd also be wrong, at least at my office. This is nothing against my boss, it's just that Country Music is nothing new and this is a usual occurrence in Nashville, so we learn to roll with it. Expect late buses, postponed dinner (rats) and hot tempers.  

So, I left work at the usual time, and made my way to Music City Central, the main Bus station which is just a couple of blocks from my office.  Oddly, no traffic.  That's ok, I says to myself, all the traffic must be a few blocks the other direction from work, over at the Bridgestone Arena, where the CMA Awards are being held.

Now, things take a strange turn. The bus, usually late due to CMA Traffic, is - on time? Our bus is known to be late because someone had a hangnail on the I-24 corridor (and no, it goes nowhere near the I-24 corridor.) We get on the bus and leave - on time! Getting through downtown only takes a few minutes extra and I'm home only about 5 minutes later than usual. Even the traffic along the way seemed ...well...normal.

It's enough to make one wonder at the strangeness of it all.

And then, after dinner, things get a bit stranger as my rocker-chick wife with the skull tattoo on one leg says we should watch the opening of the CMA awards and I'm really wondering if I've entered another realm. My wife is not one for Country music. She says it makes her want to drive her car off a cliff, so this was a  monumental moment.

And it was surely a moment to watch.  You see, this was the 50th Anniversary of the CMA awards and they brought out a seemingly endless parade of country legends and contemporary chart-topping stars to sing a massive medley of country classics.

Vince Gill was the first to take the stage, and he was joined by Ben Haggard, son of late country icon Merle Haggard, to sing the immortal "Mama Tried." After that, Roy Clark and Brad Paisley paid homage to Buck Owens, who died in 2006, by singing "I've Got a Tiger By the Tail." Over the next few minutes, Carrie Underwood sang "Stand By Your Man," Charlie Daniels delivered "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," Dwight Yoakam sang "Guitars, Cadillacs," Charley Pride crooned "Kiss An Angel Good Morning'," and Reba McEntire sang "Fancy". But that wasn't all. There were song segments from Alabama ("Mountain Music"), Ricky Skaggs ("Country Boy"), Alan Jackson ("Don't Rock the Jukebox") and Clint Black ("Killin' Time"). At the end, they all took the stage together to sing Randy Travis' "Forever and Ever, Amen." Travis himself -- who suffered a stroke in 2013 -- took the stage to massive applause and sang a line of his 1987 classic. If you know anything at all about Country Music and it's stars, this was the medley to see.

And when that opening medley was over my wife said change the channel, that's enough of that!  Ah, good, all is right with the world.  My world anyway. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Get the King to Marry You.

When my wife and I were married, we joked about going to Las Vegas and getting an Elvis Impersonator to perform the ceremony.  We never really were able to carry through on that, but I recently found this new business in down town Nashville that really bears some scrutiny.

Ok, so it's a wedding chapel located in the center of downtown, in the center of The Arcade, but more than that, there's an honest to goodness Elvis Impersonator (gold rimmed glasses and all) performing the weddings. I'm not trying to advertise the business but I just find it so incredibly southern.  
It's apparently quite popular with tourists (who don't realize that Elvis is really more well known in Memphis) and though I took this picture with the intent of showing off the 'store front' I noticed that the sign holds one more oddity. "Lunch Hour Specials."  Now there's a thought.  Quick bite to eat at one of the many eateries in the downtown area, and stop by to get married. 

Then again, it might be a good idea to call first...make sure their open....

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Blanket Invitational

There is a family down the street which are the epitome of Southern.  He is rarely in a suit, wears Titans' jerseys most of the time and works in his garage - literally, he works out of his garage. At work he wears mostly grease stained camouflage. His wife wears pink camouflage and cowboy boots and their kids have such thick southern accents I'm not sure they speak English at all.  

But beneath all that they are some of the greatest people I know. They'd give you the shirts off their backs.  They are always volunteering for church dinners, city clean-up drives and school fundraisers.  They are nearly perfect.  I said nearly.  

You see, they have this policy of never 'inviting' anyone over. They just expect that if you want to see them, then you'll make the effort to drop by their place and see them.  They also seem to complain a lot about how no one ever comes to see them - especially family.  

I blame the Beverly Hillbillies.  

Yeah, that's right, the 1960s TV show "The Beverly Hillbillies."  The show ran 9 seasons here in the US and has been seen across the globe.  The story of a poor Suthun Man out hunting who discovers oil on his property is the 'rags to riches' story we'd all like to live.  There's a catchy theme song too.  (The Ballad of Jed Clampett)   The song was written and composed by Paul Henning, and sung by Jerry Scoggins, who was accompanied by bluegrass musicians Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. At the end of the show, there is an instrumental reprisal of the song and, here's the hook, at the end, Scoggins says "Y'all come back, now, Y'hear?"

This is the 'laid-back, come-on-over-anytime' attitude that everyone attributes to the South and to Southerners. "Hey, my door is always open. Just come on by any old time!" You visualize people dropping by non-stop, every night a different friend or family member, the sweet southern tea flowing and kids running wild in the yard. And in fact, it may at one time have been so.

Today, sorry, this just doesn't  work.  I know, I've dropped by my neighbor's house several times just to chat and found them not at home! (Reference above mention of church functions, school fundraisers and city clean up drives.)  In fact, anytime I want to go by and see him (outside of business hours,) I know to call first and see if he's home AND see if he's up to receiving guests.  Most often, the answer is no.

This whole "if you want to be  part of my life, you'll make the effort" is not only impossible, it's just lazy. Yes, Lazy.  You want to see people, but you don't want to go to the effort to call them and set up a time to see them. Let them play the 'are they home' game and hope to catch you.  Lazy AND disrespectful. Southerners are not that lazy or disrespectful.

This is why it's better to set a time and INVITE someone over specifically rather than just some blanket "Y'all come back, now, Y'hear?" Due to the complexity of our lives, (yes, even in the laid back south) the idea of inviting someone over for dinner, or to sit a spell and visit may seem old fashioned, but there is a deeper reasoning that needs repeating.  RESPECT.

When you go to the effort to set aside a period of time and invite someone over to visit, you show them more respect than just "Yeah, we'd love to see you, but you'll have to drive by our house and catch us at home knowing that at any time you drive by we could be at church, or the school, or grocery shopping, or some other people may be visiting or heck, we may just not be in the mood for company."  Who is going to do that 'hoping' they might catch you at home? Thanks to this, my neighbor and I rarely see each other. And people who live further away than a "let's drop by since we're in the neighborhood" are just not going to spend the time and gas to 'hope' you're home - and up for company (regardless of what your 'open door policy' says!)

Inviting someone says "We want YOU to come by and we can ALL enjoy some time together."  (The unspoken part says 'yes, we will be home, no church, or school, or shopping and yes we are in the mood for company, but not just any company, we want YOUR company.') Yes, it's also takes some work, and yes, you may need to reschedule some church or shopping trips, but if you want to see people, this is what you have to do. You don't' have to cook dinner and you don't have to have a reason other than just "We'd like to see you for a visit on this date." Respect.

My neighbor is stubborn and says  he really doesn't understand the difference (he breathes car exhaust all day.) I have to admit, however, that at my insistence, he recently called and set up an afternoon for his parents to drive across town and see the kids. Lots of smiles all round and I heard they had a mess of fried chicken his mom had made and brought along. It was a great afternoon.

But then, as the parents were leaving,  I heard him shout, "Drop by any time!"
I gotta work some more with that guy. 

I hope you'll all take the time to invite someone over soon, maybe even me.