Tag Archives: Art

Picture This – New Mexico

24 May

We just returned from our annual field trip to New Mexico. For those who may not know, every spring another professor and I take students on a journey through the land, art and cuisine of the Land of Enchantment. This was one of our best experiences with great students and great learning opportunities. Instead of chronicling the entire venture, I decided to post my favorite photograph from each day.

On the drive out, we stopped at Cadillac Ranch, one of the most famous examples of Pop Art, and we all added our own touch to the masterpiece. 

On the second day, we made our way closer to the final destination of Santa Fe. However, we stopped at the home of artist Peter de la Fuente along the way. He is the grandson of Henriette Wyeth and Peter Hurd and does everything he can to carry on the family tradition. Currently, he does it on an 80,000 acre ranch.

Once in Santa Fe, we went on daily excursions that included hikes and moments of historical instruction. However, the highlight of the next say was our meal at Horseman’s Haven. If you love breakfast burritos covered in green chili sauce, then that is the place you need to go.

By far, my favorite hike is at Tent Rocks. It is a stroll through a slot canyon before a climb to the top of a mesa. Its true name is Kasha-Katuwe.

Our most time-consuming excursion is the drive to Chaco Canyon, the home of the Anasazi. No one knows for sure what if the canyon was a religious center, a commercial center or the home to thousands. It could have been all of that. 

We also drove to Taos. However, we did not stop in town. We went straight to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge and walked across to get some great pictures and some great shakiness over the height.

Acoma Pueblo is always one of our favorite stops. It is the oldest inhabited community in North America. There are great views from the top of the mesa on which the pueblo sits. However, I am always amazed by the streets within the community. I expect Henry Fonda to ride up on a horse at any minute. In fact, he did ride up on a horse in My Name is Nobody.

We also visited the ruins at Bandelier National Monument. Climbing the 140 foot ladders is always a highlight. However, it best moment is when we convince the students to sniff a tree.

On the final day, we did something completely different and new to our trip. A few of us went to Meow Wolf, an interactive art experience supported by Santa Fe resident George R.R. Martin. It was a weird and awesome thing to do.

After that, we made the long drive back to Tennessee. Hopefully, this trip to New Mexico was a learning experience for everyone.

A Brief Description of Our Arizona Adventures

20 Feb

We just returned from a trip into the Arizona Territory, which was lucky in one regard. While we enjoyed sunny days in the 80s, our hometown was buried under an ice storm of Biblical proportions. At least, it was the biggest thing witnessed in these parts.

Instead of making a series of posts out of this excursion, I have decided to write about the best thing that we did each day.

Friday – We escaped the freezing blast, but that was not the best part. That came when had dinner on the patio at Scottsdale’s Old Town Tortilla Factory. Enchiladas covered in green chilies. You cannot get better than that.

Saturday – Highlight of the day? Heck, this could be the highlight of the trip. As we drove through Cave Creek, Arizona, I looked to my right and saw a big sign that read True West Magazine Headquarters. This is one of my favorites, and I could not believe that we just happened upon it. Obviously, I had to get a picture.image-22

Sunday – We looked at a lot of art. It is everywhere in the Scottsdale area. On this day, art was purchased. Joe Deru makes bowls, pots and all kinds of things out of wood. This is not just any woodcarving. This is some elaborate stuff. His operation is called Windfall Woods, and everyone should check it out.DSC00378

Monday – This was road trip day, and we made our way to the Red Rock country around Sedona. I delved into some history that needed to be dealt with, but the best thing happened on the way back. We stopped at the Rock Springs Cafe for some of their famous pie.FullSizeRender

My wife got chocolate cream, and I got pecan with a little vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday – Food has been mentioned twice. In other words, we ate quite a bit. That is why the best event of this day was important. We hiked the trail at Squaw Peak. It must be written that peak is the operative word in that sentence. This thing went straight up. Once we got to the top, we had a great accomplishment and a great view.IMG_0637

It was on the way down when we realized that one couple did it twice to our once. Of course, once was enough.

Wednesday – Food has returned. For our last dinner in Scottsdale, we chose Barrio Queen, and it turned out to be the best place of all. My burrito was excellent, and my wife’s choice was just as great. However, neither compared to the fresh guacamole to start things off.IMG_0654

Thursday – It is always good to go somewhere, but it is also always good to return home. We boarded the plane at 70 degrees and landed at 9 degrees. However, that was alright. We had a great time and made it home safely.

The Evolution of a Masterpiece

15 Feb

There is this cool place in town called The Art Mill, where people can paint. It is owned by some friends of ours and has been quite successful. On top of that, it is easy. You pick out what you want to do, and they take you through a step-by-step process. Before you know it, you have become an artiste.

My wife thought The Art Mill would be a great place for us to spend Valentine’s Day as a family. My stepdaughter was not too fired up about it, but I was. I was so fired up that I picked out one of the hardest things to do. When we got there, they had to convince me that I should start off with something a little easier. That is when I spied a landscape scene that looked cool.

After a few brushstrokes, it looked like this.Art Mill 1

As I was instructed, a few more strokes were added.Art Mill 2

Now, it was time for a real color – orange.Art Mill 3

Next, I was told to add in some darker stuff.Art Mill 4

At this point, I was not sure how it would turn out. Then, the trees were added.Art Mill 5

The finishing touches were the branches, the shadows and the stars.Art Mill 6

Alright, it is not a masterpice, but it is decent coming from someone who did not know what they were doing.

A strange thing happened while I was painting this landscape. I began imagining someone living within it. Maybe a person coming from a distant place over the horizon. As the night passed, they moved closer to the dark forest. I pictured them moving slowly on horseback while they sensed the world around them. Where were they coming from? Where were they headed? I am not sure, but I think it is a strange world in which they navigated.

Is that what art is supposed to do? Bring out our creativity and imagination?

Anyway, we all had a great time painting, talking and laughing. That included my stepdaughter who wanted to know when we could go back. Next time, though, I do not think I am invited. It will be a girls only thing.

The Great Pumpkin Carving Escapade – The Sequel

30 Oct

Last year, we carved pumpkins for Halloween, and I wrote a post about it. That post has been getting a lot of hits lately because people are searching for pumpkin carvings. Unfortunately, it was not my best work. I forgot to take pictures of the pumpkins that we carved and had to resort to other means. This post is going to set things right.

I know that we carved pumpkins when I was a kid, but I don’t remember much about it. They were the simple kind with triangles for eyes and a mouth with jagged teeth. I guess that’s what most people did. That means last year was my first foray into fancy pumpkin carving with the tracing tools and the special implements.

Overall, it went well. Everyone’s carving came out like it looked in the picture. The only problem was that the cap of my pumpkin fell in. I was determined that nothing like that would happen again.

This year didn’t go as smoothly. My stepdaughter was in the middle of a book that she wanted to get back to. My wife carved in the wrong spot and decided to stop. Mine came out alright and ended up on the front porch. Obviously, they haven’t realized the trick that makes pumpkin carving a success. You stick your tongue out as you concentrate on your work.

The great think about this year is that I took pictures and am offering them up for your entertainment.

The pumpkins started out looking like this.Pumpkins and Dogs 001

Notice that one of them is sitting on the obituaries. Scary, right?

The next step is cutting out the top and pulling out the guts. Necole said something about this feeling like putting your hand in a human body. Hopefully, she doesn’t have experience in that field.Pumpkin 1

This is another view of the operating table.Pumpkin 2

Next, you are supposed to tape the picture to the pumpkin and prepare to trace the lines. This is my favorite part, and I have no idea why. I guess it’s the cleanest.Pumpkin 4

I don’t think I would make a good killer. Stabbing someone is messy. Maybe, I got perforate them to death by tracing the outline of a ghost on them.

Despite that, there comes a time when you have to dig in and start dismembering.Pumpkin 5

Necole is way better at this than I am. In fact, I think she stuck her tongue out a few times.

Carving up pumpkins is tiring, and we took a break. That’s when Daisy Dog studied the scene to see what we were up to.Pumpkin 6

I wish I knew what she was thinking. It was probably something along the lines of, “What are you stabbing those orange things? Just lie on the back of the couch like I do. It’s a lot more relaxing.”

She could be right. We cut and hacked and sawed and got one pumpkin completely carved.Pumpkin 7

We put it on the front porch and realized that we didn’t have a candle to put in it.

I must say that carving pumpkins with my family is fun, and I wish it happened more than once a year. Next time, I am going to attempt a carving that looks like Daisy Dog.


30 Jul

We just finished walking around the neighborhood. As we did, I noticed a man through a window. He was working at his desk, and I began to wonder what he was working on. Was he writing the next great novel? Was he writing a letter? Was he blogging? At the moment, I am sitting by a window, and people are probably looking in and wondering what I am doing.

I like to think that people like what they read here. It’s a hodgepodge of stuff, but it comes right out of my head. Sometimes, It’s travel. Sometimes, it’s music. Sometimes, its stories from the past. All the time, it’s something that is stuck in my mind and needs to get out.

I am not sure what needs to get out tonight, so I will just go down the list of categories on this blog and type this first thing that fits.Scattergories

Academics – School starts back soon. That means inservice.

Agriculture – The other day, I got gas at the Farmer’s Co-Op.

Art – There is a guy named Art who works at Beauty Boutique, Necole’s store.

Biography – The last one I read wasn’t very good, It was about Ward Bond, John Ford and John Wayne. It should have been good.

Books – I just finished The Eye of God by James Rollins. It is the further adventures of Grayson Pierce.

Childhood Memories – Tonight, I mentioned that my parents had a Weeping Willow in their front yard, and I used to play under it.

Comedy – Nothing is funny, at the moment.

Community – I was named to the local Planning Commission. This afternoon was my first meeting.

Crime – Tonight, I found out that a guy I once knew tried to kidnap his wife and lock her in a closet. Hopefully, he will get what’s coming to him.

Did You Know? – I forgot about this category. It needs to be revisited.

Dining – Tonight, we had a home cooked meal of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese and green peas.

Dreams – Lately, my dreams have been less than memorable.

Government – Necole went to the DMV this morning. There is no reason they should be that slow.

History – I am getting my lecture voice warmed up.

Movies – We watched Batman Begins, and I realized that the guy who plays Joffrey on Game of Thrones was in it.

Music – We have a couple of concerts coming up – Don Williams and The Eagles.

Nature – There’s a great article about sugar in the latest National Geographic. Everyone should read it.

Photography – In a few days, we are getting more wedding photos made.

Rambling Ruminations – I think that is what this post is all about.

Relationships – I’m married.

Religion – I would like to write about it more, but a few things are better left unsaid.

Sports – College football is about to start, and my team, the University of Tennessee, is in the Southeastern Conference. However, you’ll never hear me chant S-E-C. I cheer for one team and hope the other ones lose every week.

Stupid Stuff – It’s an accurate description of this post.

Television – I’m waiting for Justified to crank back up.

Therapy – I used to go. I don’t anymore.

Travel – We just returned from California and will be heading to Arizona soon.

Writing – Am I the only person who doesn’t mess with those writing prompts?

A Monumental Post

1 May

I have this bad habit of planning one kind of post but ending up writing another kind. This serious post about prejudice has been floating around my head all day. It probably stems from Jason Collins, the NBA player who just announced that he is gay. However, it also stems from an article in The Tennessean, Nashville’s daily newspaper.

A monument is being erected to honor the young people who staged sit-in’s in Nashville during the Civil Rights movement. One of the artists who is being considered was born in China. Apparently, one of the original protesters believes that a Chinese kid from California isn’t qualified to create a monument to him and his fellow protesters. The Chinese part is the only thing he got right. The lady is middle-aged and lives in West Virginia. I guess prejudice can come from anyone – even those who faced it and fought against it.

People tend to get upset over monuments for some reason. Last night, there was a documentary on television about the Vietnam Memorial in Washington. People didn’t like it because they thought it ugly. Now, more people visit The Wall than any other monument in the city.Vietnam Memorial

Also, I seem to remember some people getting upset because the Franklin Roosevelt Memorial did not address his paralysis. FDR went to a great deal of effort to hide that from the public, but there is now a statue with him in a wheelchair.Franklin Roosevelt

I understand that activists for the disabled believe that his paralysis should be shown as an example that obstacles can be overcome. However, the monument honors him and he did not want that displayed. Are monuments about the person being honored or about the people who are doing the honoring?

Maybe we shouldn’t put monuments up at all. Usually, the subjects are already dead, so they don’t mind. On top of that, do monuments really add anything to our knowledge of the people? Do we learn more about George Washington at that big obelisk or at Mount Vernon?Washington Monument

Also, monuments tend to turn humans into god-like beings. The Abraham Lincoln depicted at the Lincoln Memorial is this giant figure sitting on a throne. The Abraham Lincoln depicted at his home in Springfield, Illinois is quite a different character.

Thomas Jefferson has a bunch of monuments. Of course, there is the one in Washington, but did you know that the Arch in St. Louis in a Jefferson Memorial, too? I have never been in the Arch, but I have been in the underground museum that covers westward expansion. I get the feeling that when people drive by the Arch they don’t think about Jefferson. They probably think about him when they got to Monticello, however.

I have come to the conclusion that monuments cause people to get upset as much as they cause people to come together. A Confederate monument put up in the 1890s doesn’t convey the same message these days. The monument to the presidents at Mount Rushmore doesn’t make Native Americans very happy. After all, it was carved into one of their sacred sites.Mount Rushmore

It’s not like monuments are going to last forever, anyway. How many buildings named in honor of people have been demolished? How many graveyards have been forgotten and grown over? How many Indian mounds have been dug up? How many Pharaoh graves have been looted?

I’m not sure how to end this post, so I’ll do it with a quote by Tommy Douglas, a prominent Canadian politician.

“I don’t mind being a symbol, but I don’t want to become a monument. There are monuments all over the Parliament buildings, and I’ve seen what the pigeons do to them.”

Picture This – The Shidoni Gallery

25 Jan


Santa Fe is full of artisans and art galleries. This has made the city a destination for art lovers all over the world. A walk around the plaza is a walk from one impressive gallery to another. Paintings. Sculptures, Jewelry. Pottery. Everything can be found in downtown Santa Fe.

However, my favorite, the Shidoni Gallery, sits on the outskirts of Santa Fe. Anyone who likes metallic art has to turn onto the dirt drive of the gallery and explore the grounds. They will see art and art in the making.

The display room is filled with smaller pieces and serves as an entrance to the pouring room. That’s where everyone can watch liquid metal being poured into molds. Eventually, this metal will cool and turn into something cooler, like the giant skull in the photograph.

The skull sits in the sculpture garden that covers the complex. People can walk through the garden and examine the sculptures up close. They vary from the realistic to the abstract and everything in between. Although there is activity all around, it’s as if you have stepped into another world – a world where nature and art collides to create an unusual combination of beauty.

I Want My Tay Made With Really Old Water

9 Aug

We left the wheat fields and returned to Lewistown to get our tire fixed. In my town, it takes forever to get that done, but in Lewistown the job went lickity split. My nephews wanted to cross the street to check out a cool-looking store. Alas, it was closed, but there were some interesting objects outside.

Nice guy. He’s just a little stiff.

We followed Highway 87 westward through towns such as Moccasin and Geyser before reaching Great Falls. I’m not sure what we thought we would find in Great Falls, but it is a thriving city with all of the franchised amenities of other cities. We all assumed that this was because it serves as home to Mainstrom Air Force Base.

We checked into the biggest hotel room I have ever stayed in; my youngest nephew swam; then, we went out for dinner. This brought us to a problem that faced the expedition several times. No one cared where we ate. You must understand that this is coming from a group of individuals who like for things to go their way. Yet, we rode around while the SUV filled with indecisions.

Finally, we decided to try Jaker’s, a restaurant chain in that part of the country. My dad and oldest nephew had been to one before, so we figured it would be good. We got seated next to the slot machine room (most Montana establishments have slot machines), and the waitress came by to take our drink orders.

Brother: I would like iced tea, and my dad would like iced tea, as well.

Me: I would like tea.

Waitress: (confused look) What?

Me: I would like tea.

Waitress: I don’t understand. You want tay?

Me: (getting frustrated) I WOULD LIKE ICED TEA!

My brother said something to ease the tension, but she walked off. I understand that I have a southern accent, but I also know that my brother has the same one. She understood him just fine. On top of that, there are probably some southern people serving at the base. Anyway, I was tired and wanted food and drink. I probably overreacted because she never came back. Some other waitress worked with us after that. Oh yeah, the food and tay sucked.

We went back to the hotel, and I made the same mistake that my youngest nephew made earlier in the day. I used a toilet that didn’t work and ended up going to the front desk to get a plunger.

The next morning was spent visiting the tourist sites of Great Falls. First, we went to the Lewis and Clark National Trail Interpretive Center.

For some reason, I like to take pictures of signs.

The center was pretty cool, with a couple of good films and a decent museum. Most of it focused on the Corps of Discovery making its way over the waterfalls of the Missouri River, from which Great Falls gets its name. The group had to tote their boats around the falls, and they covered many miles.

Fake people taking a fake boat over fake land and around a fake waterfall.

Honestly, I had more fun looking over the real Missouri River behind the center.

Lewis and Clark passed by here. Of course, they passed by a lot of places.

Next door was a place that our wheat-growing friends told us to visit, and it turned out to be very interesting. This thing flows at over 330 million gallons of water per day and forms the Roe River, the shortest river in the world. It has been determined that the water travels for 3,000 years from its source before reaching this point.

This water has been around since they were counting years backwards.

Then, we made our way to the C.M. Russell Museum, which displayed the works of Charlie Russell – cowboy turned artist. It was a huge museum that showed works by many artists and had an excellent exhibit on the story of bison, a symbolic animal of the West. It was also the location of Russell’s home and workshop. My youngest nephew is an aspiring artist, and I took a picture of him in front of the shop.

One day, people will be taking pictures in front of his workshop.

In the next post, we will journey north.

Pueblos, Pottery and Captain Vla

22 May

I have returned from the sojourn into New Mexico with fellow faculty and a class full of students. Fun was had by all, and it would be impossible to cover everything we did in a blog post. With that in mind, I will provide a brief synopsis by describing my favorite activities from each day. Hopefully, this will provide an entertaining glimpse into our adventures.

Day 1 – The beginning of a trip is always the best part of the first day. The students are anticipating the places that they have yet to see, and the teachers are anticipating the return to an interesting part of the country.

Day 2 – We can’t drive vans to New Mexico in one day, so we check out some things along the way. My favorite part of the second day is driving through Hereford, Texas, the citizen-proclaimed “Beef Capital of the World”. I don’t know if that is true, but there are definitely more cows in Hereford than there are people. Holding pens line the highway and railroad as thousands of head of cattle wait to be shipped to the plates of America. The students could only discern the smell, but I find the beef industry, both its past and present, interesting.

Day 3 – We made it to Santa Fe, our ultimate destination, later this day, but we had one stop along the way where I had the chance to talk about some history where that history took place. Billy the Kid is buried in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. Well, most people think he is buried there. Conspiracy folks believe he survived instead of being killed by Pat Garrett. Anyway, I was able to tell the students about Billy the Kid next to his grave.

Day 4 – Our plans to hike Chaco Canyon were rained out, and our leader had to develop a day full of activities on the fly. We went to the Santa Fe plaza, but my favorite part of the day was spent at the Shidoni Gallery. The building and surrounding grounds are full of metal artwork that has been forged at the on-site foundry. It is interesting to see what people consider art and the prices they are willing to pay for it.

Day 5 – On this day, we went to a few places that we had never taken students before. The Very Large Array, or VLA, was the best. This is a series of giant satellite dishes used to study the far reaches of space. I don’t have a good picture of these, but if you have seen Contact with Jodie Foster, then you have seen the VLA.

It was cool to walk around them, but the real fun was on the periphery. On the way, we drove through sunshine, rain and hail. On the way back, we drove through snow. This is the first time we have seen precipitation in New Mexico – much less three different kinds. Also, one of our students, with my help, began calling himself Captain Vla. He imagined himself a superhero who could fly through space, powered by the satellite dish that emerges from his butt. His only weakness would be his limitation to travel by rail while on Earth, just like the VLA dishes. He even had a theme song – Super hearing! Super sight! He can travel through space at the speed of light! (For those readers who know the students who went, I will give you one guess who turned himself in Captain Vla.)

Day 6 – We visited my favorite place on the entire trip, the Acoma Pueblo. The oldest continually inhabited place in the United States, Acoma is located on top of a mesa and has a history of survival from the elements and European invaders. Native American docents take groups on a tour through their pueblo and their culture. Along the way, tourists can buy pottery from local artisans. One of our teachers, who shall remain nameless, buys pottery from the same lady every time we go. He also gets a hug.

Day 7 – We always eat well in New Mexico, and this trip was no different. The New Mexican cuisine is wonderful, especially the sopapillas that are always served for dessert. On the seventh day, we ate at Rancho de Chimayo, one of the great restaurants of the area, but dining was not the only enjoyment. There is a pottery shop inside, and two of the faculty members on the trip are addicted to buying Pueblo pottery. It so happens that the shop had a pot that they were lusting after. As they bickered back and forth about which one was going to purchase the $1,400 piece of pottery, the third teacher, not me, stepped in and said he would buy it. They both stood there with their mouths hanging open.

Day 8 – This was an easy day with little driving and little expended energy. Believe me when I say that everyone was ready for it. We were also ready to visit Madrid, New Mexico, an old ghost town that was resettled by flower children in the early 1970s. It is like going back in time to a place where peace, love and other things were still possible. The guys found a blonde in the ice cream parlor/art gallery that they wanted to find peace with. I found the first person to move to Madrid in 1973 and had a discussion about his life.

Mel Johnson was a dean at the Art Institute of Chicago and gave that up for a life in Madrid. In the following years, other people followed him until the town was filled with artisans and free-thinkers. Before I left his studio, I had found an interesting story and bought a painting.

Day 9 – Once again,  I was able to talk about history where it actually took place. We visited Los Alamos and a museum that is housed in the only remaining building from the days of the Manhattan Project. I find World War II history interesting and have a special interest in the building of the atomic bomb. One reason is that Oak Ridge, Tennessee was one of the secret locations. Another reason is that my mom’s uncle worked in the Manhattan Project and told a lot of stories about it. People have different opinions about the use of the bomb on Japan, and it is great to discuss the different views of the students. In the end, we agreed that hindsight is 20/20, and we can’t place that hindsight on people who were making decisions in the moment.

Day 10 – This was our last full day in New Mexico and was really a time to wind down. We hiked the mesa at Ghost Ranch and spent some time back on the plaza in Santa Fe. On top of the mesa, the students and I spent a spiritual moment reading a Native American poem, an ode to the land of New Mexico. I think we all felt a twinge of sadness because we were soon leaving and a sense of happiness because we had a great time throughout the trip.

Day 11 – We left Santa Fe at 5 am and drove over 700 miles to our original hotel in Sallisaw, Oklahoma. After a meal at Western Sizzlin’, the professors pulled chairs from our rooms into the Super 8 parking lot and discussed the trip. We deemed it a success.

Day 12 – We left Sallisaw at 5 am and headed home to Tennessee. It seemed that we got faster the closer we got to home. Like most trips, we were glad that we went but also were glad to get home.

Nashville Nights (And Days)

12 Jan

As my last post indicated, I have been lucky enough to travel throughout the United States and struck up conversations with people from all regions and all walks of life. When I speak, they never fail to ask where I am from. I suppose it is due to my southern accent. Although I live in a suburb, I always say Nashville because most everyone knows where that is. Most everyone has a preconceived notion of it as well. Either, everyone here wears cowboy hats and sings, or everyone here wears cowboy hats and watches Hee Haw. Well, there are plenty of people here who have jobs outside of the music industry. Hee Haw hasn’t been on television in decades. And, the only people I see wearing cowboy hats are the tourists.

Obviously, Nashville, nicknamed Music City, is known far and wide for country music and it has been the driving force behind the city for decades. However, there is more to our fair city than that. It is a cosmopolitan city with a thriving scene built around art, dining, and various forms of entertainment that includes all kinds of music. I have written a couple of posts about places to which I have traveled. Now, I want to tell would be travelers what they may find around here.

What Every Tourist Must Do

People come to Nashville to discover the roots of country music and maybe see somebody famous along the way. The quest needs to begin at the Ryman Auditorium, the mother church of country music, where the Grand Ole Opry was broadcast for decades. The radio show made Nashville the country capital of the world, and a backstage tour of the music hall is essential. Behind the Ryman sits a row of Honky Tonks that have become favorite tourist hangouts. This is where you will see the cowboy hats. Each bar is essentially the same with live music and plenty of alcohol. However, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge is the destination for most. It gained fame as the place where Opry performers spent time between sets. Legend has it that Willie Nelson was so despondent about his singing career that he walked out of Tootsie’s and laid in the middle of the street. There are no famous people there now, but it is a fun place to go.

The performers of the past no longer haunt Tootsie’s, but they can be learned about at the Country Music Hall of Fame, a great museum with priceless artifacts. To find singers in their natural habitat, a trip to Music Row is required. If you are lucky, then you may be able to see someone going in or out of a recording session. More than likely, your sightings will only include some giant statues of nudes. However, I have seen more celebrities at Green Hills Mall, an upscale shopping destination, than anywhere else.

Being a historian, I must mention some locations that do not involve history. Nashville was prominent city long before the music industry existed, and several historic sites reflect this. The first would be the Hermitage, home to President Andrew Jackson. It is a good place to learn about one of our most powerful presidents and of life in the south before the Civil War. A second would be the Belle Meade plantation. Like the Hermitage, it is a pre-Civil War home with a distinction. Every Triple Crown winning horse is descended from a horse on the plantation. Our legislature, in its infinite wisdom, outlawed gambling and drove the thriving thoroughbred industry to Kentucky.

What the Locals Do

Nashville residents like live music as much as tourists do, but it may not be country or at Tootsie’s. There are several options that locals enjoy.

The Bluebird is pseudo-touristy and fun. Songwriters sit in the round; talk about their songs; and play them. Plenty of alcohol is served, but it is more of a classroom atmosphere as talking is not allowed. It is an intimate setting of the true music industry.

Sambuca, in the Gulch, is one of my favorites. A restaurant but more bar, it has a live bands of different genres throughout the week.

Bourbon Street Blues Club sits in Printer’s Alley, an area with a history of underworld mystique. For good blues and fabulous guitar playing, this is a great place to go.

However, the Schermerhorn Symphony Center is my favorite place to listen to music. A state of the art music hall, it is home to the Nashville Symphony and hosts performers, both classical and otherwise, from all over the world.

Of course, Nashville has a lot of watering holes where live music is not played, but they are cool hangouts nonetheless. Many of these are located in Midtown. Losers. Winners. Broadway Brewhouse. South Street. The list goes on and one. Taylor Swift also lives in the area, so a sighting could take place.

Up the street, there are other great hangouts such as Tin Roof and Whiskey Kitchen.

What Locals Do for Non-Music Entertainment

Obviously, man cannot live on music and liquor alone, and Nashville provides other forms of diversion as well. Small art galleries dot the city map, but the Frist Center remains the center of Nashville’s art community. Housed in the old post office, it hosts collections from the best museums in the world. Cheekwood Mansion also hosts artistic and historical collections and currently houses an exhibition of western artifacts from the Buffalo Bill Cody Museum.

Nashville is also home to many parks, the most famous of which is Centennial Park. Created during the city’s centennial celebration, it is home to an exact replica of the Parthenon in Greece. Why is the Parthenon in Nashville? Because the city has another nickname, Athens of the South, due to the number of universities in the area.

However, for a really good time, go to the Belcourt Theater, an old movie house that has been refurbished. It now serves as a viewing room for independent films, documentaries and movie classics. Also, there is a stage for intimate musical performances by some very famous people.

Where the Locals Eat

Visitors to Nashville can always eat at the Hard Rock Cafe, Margaritaville, or Cracker Barrel, which was founded in my hometown. However, to get a true taste of the city people should branch out. The following are a few of my favorites.

Bricktop’s – Americana food with a little flair. It is a great local hangout with a cool bar.

Virago – The best sushi in the city and a porch/bar with a great view of downtown.

Tayst – Serves organic food produced by local farmers. The best dish is the bread pudding made from a Krispy Kreme doughnut.

Rotier’s – Legend says that Jimmy Buffett wrote “Cheeseburger in Paradise” about this place. Enough said.

Pancake Pantry – Nashville’s favorite breakfast spot. Be ready to stand in line.

Eastland Cafe – Americana food with a lot of flair.

I Dream of Weenie – Any kind of hot dog you want served out of a 1960s mini-van.

There you have it – a guide to the Nashville experience from a person who has been around Nashville all of his life. Nashville has changed a lot in my lifetime, and it keeps changing for the better. Everyone is always welcome, and they can even bring their cowboy hats if they want.