Tag Archives: Barnes and Noble

A Friday in Nashville

1 May

On Friday morning, I headed to the large city to the west for some appointments. It was “reading day” at school – which meant no classes and students, ahem, studying for this weeks exams. The plan was to sleep late, but the appointments started coming at me on Thursday afternoon. So, there I was all dressed up with a bunch of places to go.

My first stop was at a lawyer’s office on Deaderick Street. Driving this street has always made me a little uncomfortable because it includes the word “dead” and my name, “Rick”. Bad omens everywhere. Despite my concerns, I made it to the parking garage safely and wound up the ramp until I finally found a spot. Upon hitting the sidewalk, the realization hit that I was in Nashville. A man walked briskly past me while muttering to himself. I picked up the words “God” and “Hooters” but couldn’t make out anything else. I am sure it was an interesting conversation, however.

After carefully crossing the dreaded street, I entered the building of destination and took the elevator to the 17th floor to sign some legal documents. There is one thing that you should all remember. If an attorney rents an entire floor of a skyscraper, then you are paying some big bucks. (Try googling “big bucks” and see what you get.)

After the meeting, I had some time to kill before meeting my friend for lunch. I drove around downtown and realized that it is a very different place during work hours. People were scurrying everywhere like worker ants carrying leaves. Except, the leaves were brief cases and boxes and all sorts of items. I like when women wear high heels, but, damn, it looks uncomfortable walking on a city sidewalk.

The hustle and bustle of downtown was getting to me, so I went to the Midtown area and the brand new Barnes and Noble at Vanderbilt University – otherwise known as my crack house. However, I passed a sad sight along the way. An entire block was being demolished. Happens all the time, right? Except, this isn’t just any block. It used to be home to Tower Records, a place that I have spent countless hours searching for music, both popular and rare. It is indeed sad to see the record store go away. It reminded me that bookstores are not far behind.

At the bookstore, I bought something. I don’t know what it is, but I can’t go into one and not come out with a book. Anyway, I bought Where the Tall Grass Grows: Becoming Indigenous and the Mythological Legacy of the American West by Bobby Bridger. I know – it sounds fascinating, but I haven’t started yet. I first had to finish riding out a starkblast with Roland Deschain and his ka-tet.

Ok, I killed enough time before meeting my friend at his office. He invited me to a meet and greet lunch at the swank Nashville City Club. Well, it’s swank if you consider early 70s decor to be swank. It is a private dinner club in a Nashville penthouse and has been the location of a lot of moving and shaking for decades. However, I get the feeling that it is struggling to maintain its grandeur.

We made our way back to the downtown area and found it more crowded than it was earlier. It turns out that they were preparing for the next day’s marathon. After struggling to find a parking place and ending up in the same garage where I had been earlier, we made our way to the swank. Surprisingly, my meal was good with fried chicken and waffles covered in raspberry syrup and a side of fried jalapenos.

More surprisingly, the meet and greet was good, and it included some interesting folks.

The Dean of the Business School from my university.

My friend who sells pencils and balloons.

There was a mason who works with historic preservationists.

Beside him was an owner of billboards.

Across the way were two guys who work for a linen company.

Next to them was a lady who works at the City Club and who was wearing some impossibly high heels.

Then, there was me. I didn’t talk about teaching. Instead, I talked about Hamilton Springs, a residential/commercial development based around a commuter train station that my brother and I are working on.

I don’t make it to the weekday, daytime version of Nashville very often. But, this day turned out decently.

A Sunday in Nashville

14 Feb

I must start out by bragging a little. Nashville is a great place to live. It has the feel of a small southern town combined with an eclectic culture. Sure, Nashville has country music, but there is much more – art galleries, dining, parks, interesting places to browse. The list goes on and on. I wrote earlier about some of Nashville’s coolness, and this past Sunday I immersed myself into some of it. Hopefully, this will give you an idea of how interesting Nashville is.

Sunday was not warm by anyone’s standards, but it was nice day nonetheless. Having spent most of the weekend around the house, my girlfriend and I decided to make our way into the big city and see what was going on. After some discussion about where to begin, I made an executive decision to head toward Marathon Village. This is an abandoned car factory from the early 20th Century that is being redefined as one of Nashville’s hip locations.

Marathon Village

I went to Marathon Village for a couple of reasons. First, we are going to a concert there in a few weeks, and I felt that some reconnaissance was in order. Second, this is the location of Antique Archaeology, a store that opened not too long ago. If you have ever seen American Pickers, then you know that this store is filled with stuff found by Mike and Frank. The store was filled with people and, to our surprise, had live music. After some browsing and listening, we crossed the street to a really cool art gallery.

By this time, we both needed to eat and have a few drinks. There are a variety of good restaurants to choose from in Nashville, but we went with an old standby. J. Alexander’s. The chain is based in Nashville and has several locations, but our favorite is on West End. I must admit that the food wasn’t great, but we had good drinks, good conversation and a good view because many of the tables, including ours, overlook Centennial Park.

Yes, we have a Parthenon. There is even a statue of Athena inside.

Centennial Park was created for an exposition to celebrate the city’s 100th anniversary. At the time, it was covered with buildings and exhibitions from throughout the world. The Parthenon is the only remaining building. And, why does Nashville have a replica of the ancient Greek structure? Before being known as “Music City”, Nashville was known as the “Athens of the South” because of the numerous universities in the area.

Speaking of higher education, our next stop was the bookstore at Vanderbilt University. It used to be a Borders, and my favorite bookstore in Nashville, but, as most book lovers know, Borders was killed by Kindle users. Barnes and Noble took its place with a hybrid public/university bookstore. It is a great place to browse the shelves, but, as a University of Tennessee fan, the black and gold memorabilia gives me the creeps.

After buying a few books, we found ourselves not wanting to go home. Instead, we headed to Whiskey Kitchen, one of the happening places in Nashville. It is packed most nights, but Sunday afternoon gave it a laid back atmosphere with people wanting have a few drinks and some comfort food. We drank the drinks but skipped the food.

As the name entails, they serve whiskey.

After watching the red carpet part of the Grammy’s, which made me drink more, we left the Whiskey and hit Midtown. This is an area behind Vanderbilt (Honestly, we did not make a complete circle around the campus.) that has a collection of small bars and restaurants. This is one of my favorite places to hang out, and a good time is always had in the area. Well, almost always. Loser’s, one of the bars, was one of the last places Steve McNair was seen alive. If you don’t who he is, then I suggest you Google it. The story captured our city for a long time. We didn’t go bar-hopping to Loser’s or many of the other places. We hit the Blue Bar.

I have no idea why they call it blue when it's really red.

Our Blue Bar experience is what makes Nashville special and different from other cities. There are parks, restaurants and bars everywhere. However, only in Nashville can you hear people sing and think they may be famous one day. Obviously, Nashville is full of people wanting to be stars. But, it is hard to imagine how many. There are bartenders and waitresses all over town who have more talent than many superstars. They just haven’t caught the break that everyone looks for. Talented people sing in small bars and venues throughout the city just hoping they will be seen. I have heard a bunch that never made it but a few that did. I saw Jewel open a show once and didn’t think she had a chance. So, my eye for talent may not be very keen. But, we saw a band on Sunday that may have a shot. In fact, it’s the only unknown band I have heard that hit me in that way. They were called Peter Terry and the City Profits, and I urge you to Google them. They have an album on iTunes that I have already bought. If they make it, then my girlfriend and I can always say that we saw them at the Blue Bar along with 15 other people.

After all this drinking, I needed some more food before driving home. This time we skipped the quaint bistros and went straight for the king of all Mexican food chains, Chuy’s.

Not real Mexican food, but it's good anyway.

The food is great, and half of the stuff on the menu is an homage to Elvis. How can you beat a combination of Mexican food and Elvis? Here’s a hint – you can’t.

That was our Sunday on the Nashville scene. If you ever get a chance to visit, then be sure to make it happen. You’ll have a great time.