Saturday, April 28, 2007

Music City Notes (from a weekend in November)

Country Music Awards weeked in Nashville

Saturday, November 4

A glorious day that was the perfect fall day that we enjoyed on a 4.5 mile walk through the Warner Parks. After working up a really good appetite we went to P.F. Chang's for dinner. The food, service and ambiance were top notch.

We wandered downtown aferwards and stumbled across a concert in front of the Gaylord Entertainment Center and there we saw Josh Gracin perform for the first time in Nashville with his full band. What a show they put on! He worked the crowd like crazy and kept them interested and excited. He did his own songs that most everyone knew but also did some cover tunes as well. They covered the songs “Working For The Weekend” by Loverboy and "Jump" by Van Halen and the whole place was loving every second of it.

His whole band was really good but the ones who got my attention were the guys on bass, drums and lead guitar. They were were incredible and the lead guitarist looked just like Jeff Daniel’s character in Dumb and Dumber. Big difference though this guy had talent and the ladies seemed to love him.

Gretchen Wilson played before Josh. She was a surprise guest and I don't believe she had a large crowd. We missed her entire show but heard that it was really good from a guy who went staggering past us.

The night was beautiful with a beautiful moon and all the lights on in Nashville to show off all the beauty we have.

After the concert we went over to Past Perfect and had a really nice time there listening to a local singer/songwriter who had a really soulful voice and provided great music for the setting. Talked a little bit to Matt Buttel, the owner, who was a wonderful host. Past Perfect has really blossomed into a nice place to stop in for a visit while downtown and you will always feel welcome there.

Nashville was truly alive all day Saturday!!

Monday, November 6, 2006
We went back to the G.E.C .to see Sugarland as well as Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora perform live for Good Morning America. We arrived at 5:45 and had to wait until around 7:45am before Sugarland finally walked out on the stage. They did wave a little to the crowd but that was about it. I was surprised at how the didn't really try to work the crowd like I expected but the boys from Bon Jovi had the crowd all worked up when they came out. Richie was hanging around the backstage area talking to people and seeming to be having a really fun laid back time while Jon hid in the tent until time to hit the stage. There were quite a few folks disappointed with that but once he hit the stage no one seemed to care. It was a lot of fun to see them in such an intimate setting and to feel the buzz off the crowd. I know I may not do that sort of thing all of the time but it was fun to be out there so early with everyone and watch it all happen.

I think as "Music City" it would be nice to have that sort of thing more often. Fun, talented bands that jam out on the weekends. Count my vote in for that.

Keep the Change

Have you ever gone to a restaurant and had a great experience? Imagine having a wonderful meal, really good service and good company but when your server brings your change they only give you the bills.

Now the reason I bring this up is when I have change coming back to me, I want it all. I will decide how much to tip depending on the level of service that was provided. Why are we seeing more and more servers keep the change and just assume we don't want or need it. Do they truly think this is a service to us?

C'mon servers, c'mon managers...Give me what is mine and I will take care of you accordingly. However, do not, I repeat, do not assume that anything is yours. All I ask and need from you is to provide good service. If you do that, than you don't need to keep the change because I will tip very well. If you wanna keep the 30 or 40 cents when you bring me my "change", well than that will probably become the only tip you get.

Thanks and have a wonderful day.

Pepsi 300 NASCAR Busch Series at the Nashville SuperSpeedway

Through the hotel that I work at I received some VIP passes for the Pepsi 300 NASCAR Busch Series. I had never been to a car race before and so I wasn't sure what I was in for but what everyone kept telling me was, "it's loud." We missed the beginning of the race since I got off work at the same time that the race started. We drove out to the Speedway and ask around until we found out where we were to park. Finally getting to our parking area was a relief but than we found out we had to ride a trolley over to the will call office to pick up our passes. We got there just minutes after the they had closed and I spent the rest of the race trying to find out how to get our passes.

The rest of our group went ahead and found some good seats in the stands to watch the race while I raced around the track time and time again, on the trolley. I saw most of the race from the trolley but I did see a few minutes from the stands and it was so incredibly loud and the smell of rubber and exhaust was everywhere. I still don't fully understand why most NASCAR fans are so rabid about the sport but it was a fun time for us all.

I just wish it had been a little warmer but hey they come back in June so maybe than I can enjoy the race in nice weather with seats VIP passes that I can actually get my hands on and enjoy the race from a comfortable area.

Something else that I saw and thought was really unusual was how many people were leaving the race with tires from the race cars. I know that is probably a thrill for race fans to be able to take home a part of the race but where do you put it? Do you make a lamp out of it, a coffee table or a chair? Another key thing to take next time...ear plugs. I realized that the quickest way to go deaf is to keep going to the races without ear plugs.

So hear is my checklist for my next race...

1. Ear plugs
2. Cooler with drinks (unless I get into the VIP area)
3. Make sure I know where I am going. (parking, seats, etc)
4. Take someone with me
5. Possibly stay to enjoy the concert afterwards (It was to cold this time around)

Thanks to Keith Coleman Racing for being kind enough for the VIP passes and being such a pleasure to work with at the hotel. Next time I take the day off and get there earlier. Maybe time I see what ESPN can do for some VIP tickets.....hmm.

Notes from Music City- (From December)

~~This past Saturday we went over to Corrieri's for a wine, cheese and truffle product tasting. The weather was perfect as the event was held outside in the "courtyard" in front of Corrieri's and we sampled some Australian wines while hearing fun stories about the vineyards and people that produced the very wines we were enjoying. It was a nice intimate setting with no more than 15-20 people at a time around talking and enjoying the wine which made it seem more of a pleasure. You know how it goes, we all love to be there when something is fresh and new and not yet "discovered" by the masses. Well, I know this is one of those things and I'm so glad to have been a part of it and plan on attending the next one as well, whenever that is.

After hearing the stories of Dave Bidelman, who works with wine and has toured quite a few vineyards, and getting all warm and fuzzy from the wine we wandered over to a table set up by Kenneth Jones, owner of SullaTavola, where he had all sorts of imported truffle products. He had an assortment of cheeses and some bread to dip in the truffle oils or spread truffle jelly on it.
My taste buds and senses were in a heavenly overload and I was loving it and never wanted to leave. After finally deciding I wanted to get something more to eat and since we were just around the corner from Mafiaoza's Pizzeria and Neighborhood Pub. There we shared a pizza, talked, laughed and just had a really good time. After we finished the pizza we went next door to Vinea wine shop and enjoyed a fine selection that they have and purchased a bottle of Marquis/Phillips Cabernet to bring home with me. Suddenly it hit me that I wasn't ready to leave yet and that I had to go back to Corrieri's to get some cannoli for dessert. As always, it was a little bit of heaven.

Thanks to Brett, Brandon, Mark and everyone else that made all the fun this past Saturday happen. I can't wait to do it again.

Some of the wines we enjoyed. They are all grown in the southeastern Australia.
Pipers Red Box

**Vinea wine shop carries all of the wines from this particular tasting so feel free to stop in there and ask them questions and enjoy.**

~~Restaurants visited~~~

Mafiaoza's Pizzeria~
"The Last Request pizza"A really delicious pizza in a warm and friendly atmosphere that is fun and keeps you around for a while just soaking it all in.

We had some cannoli after dinner that was excellent and Corrieri's is such a wonderful place to visit for imported cheeses, sandwiches, soups and they also offer things you can take home and prepare yourself.

~Hermitage Cafe~
This is a blast from the past kind of place where most everyone knows each other and you will feel like you are family by the time you leave. Two visits here recently allowed me to enjoy a chili cheeseburger with fries that was messy, greasy and so good. I ate a good bit of it with my hands but after they were covered in chili, I decided to use a fork for the rest and clean up a bit.

~Hot Diggity Dog~
I was there recently on a really beautiful day and sat out back on the deck in the sun and enjoyed the taste of the dogs with all the stuff that comes on them. Also thought the fries were a perfect combo of taste, crispiness and grease. Really good stuff that brings you back time and time again.

The U.S. Bank Derby Festival Great Balloon Race is Today in Louisville

The U.S. Bank Derby Festival Great Balloon Race® is one of Louisville's favorite family traditions. When the Balloons lift off, it provides spectators young and old with an exhilarating view of boundless colors and shapes. Click here to view a history of the Great Balloon Race.

How it works
The Great Balloon Race follows a combination of a "Declared Goal" and the traditional ballooning game of "Hare and Hound" race format. The U.S. Bank balloon leads the action as "the Hare". As any good hound would do, the other balloons spawn an aerial chase of the Hare, launching in a planned sequence minutes after the Hare.

The winds determine where the balloons fly. The Hare Balloon flies until it finds a suitable spot preferably in a vacant field. It lands and lays out a large fabric "X" as the target. In hot pursuit, the Hounds try to drop a small bag of Kentucky Bluegrass seed as close to the "X" as possible, all without landing. Race officials then measure the distance between the target and the bag of grass seed at the target zone and calculate points.

Scorpions in a Hotel

One Sunday night last year in a hotel in my fair city, a scorpion was found in a room. Yep that's right, a scorpion in Nashville Tennessee in a room on the third floor. No one knows how he got there but the lady got out of the shower and got ready in the bathroom only to find the scorpion in there when she was getting ready to go into the other room. So through all that time he was just hanging out in the same room as her. We assume someone brought him along on a trip and he got loose but we dont know. We were just glad she didn't get stung and he was promptly taken care of.

Just another exciting day in the hotel, gotta love it.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Swan Lake

We are going to see Swan Lake, performed by the Nashville Ballet, this Saturday. This will be my first visit to the ballet in...umm.....I don't even know how long. I look forward to a fascinating experience and performance. I will let you know what I thought either Sunday or Monday.

C. S. Webbspun
(creator of the Nashville Experience)

Swan Lake
Friday, April 27 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, April 28 at 7:30 pm
Sunday, April 29 at 2:00 pm
Andrew Jackson Hall at TPAC
Ticket Information

Perhaps the world’s best-known classical ballet, Swan Lake tells the timeless story of love found, lost and recaptured. Featuring a full cast of extraordinary dancers, beautiful sets and choreography, the ballet is accompanied by The Nashville Symphony, performing Tchaikovsky’s enduring score.

In the story, Prince Siegfried falls in love with Princess Odette after watching her beautiful moonlit dance. But Odette is turned into a swan each morning by an evil sorcerer. The spell can be broken only if a prince pledges eternal love to the princess. However, Siegfried is tricked into proclaiming his love for the sorcerer’s own daughter Odile, who is Odette’s evil twin.

For more than a century, Swan Lake has engaged audiences and inspired new generations of dancers, who are challenged by the ballet’s technical demands and full range of human emotions — from hope to despair, terror to tenderness, melancholy to ecstasy.

This project is funded under an agreement with the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission, the Tennessee Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Coffee and Travel

Pondering where to go while enjoying some coffee.

Fun Pics in Black and White

People and Horse at the TNRHA Show

Harriman Arena

Inside the arena

Prepping the arena for the next round of riders.

Tennessee Reining Horse Association Show in Harriman Tennessee

The Slide

One of the Competitors

What You Get When you Cross A Butterfly and A Light

Sights In A Hotel

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Perfect Pairing of Sandwich and Wine

We shared a 10K Lira Sandwich from Corrieri's Formaggeria and a bottle of Domaine Pichot 2005 Vouvray from Vinea Wines in the 12South area. It was a perfect combo that involved the consultation of the folks from both Vinea Wines and Corrieri's to create heaven on our tongues. It was a celebration of a busy day with completed works and orders shipped out.

It was blissful and you absolutely have to try them both, if you haven't already!!!

The 10K Lira is prosciutto cotto, salame toscano, mortadella, coppa and sopressata. For cheese they add provolone and mozzarella. For flavoring they add spinach and peppadew peppers. All served in a big hunk of foccacia drizzled with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper and italian seasonings.

Wine Spectator
J.-C. PICHOT Vouvray Domaine Le Peu de la Moriette 2005
(89 points, $15)
Off-dry, with enticing quince, fig and bergamot flavors, backed by a spicy finish. Nice definition from start to finish.
Drink now through 2009.
8,700 cases imported.

It is a French wine and region it is grown in is the Loire Valley; Touraine

Tuck Hinton Architects

Tuck Hinton Architects have created such beauty in and around Nashville and yet so many of us aren't even aware of who created such amazing architecture and beauty that compliments our city.

Some of their work is very subtle and the eye misses some of the specialness at first but upon further viewing you see so much and see the fun curves, shapes and such.

You see cutting edge yet you also see the nod to tradition and grandness of days gone by. I'm grateful to have such a talented architectural firm here in our own city who helps make Nashville such a wonderful place to visit and live.

Some of their works include:
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
Tennessee Bicentennial Mall
Frist Center for the Visual Arts
Nashville Public Square Park
Tennessee Aquarium IMAX Center
Tennessee World War II Memorial
Civil Rights Room at the Nashville Public Library (downtown)
Kennon Sports Hall of Fame at Middle Tennessee State University

"Architecture must have the religion of light, a sense of light as the giver of all presences."Louis I. Kahn

Friends on the road...

I have worked in the hospitality industry for many years and part of the reason I enjoyed it so much was that it gave me the ability to meet new and interesting people all the time. It would also give me the freedom to plan trips with vacation time or to use two or three days off at the end of one week and two or three days off at the beginning of a week. I have taken road trips all over, flown around the country and even took a Greyhound to a friends wedding in Omaha once upon a time.

The one and only trip on Greyhound and it is a trip that I will never forget. We went through many small towns and picked people up at gas stations, bus stations, KMart and fast food places. There was this one stop that a guy got off and stood next to the bus before suddenly kicking the sides of the bus. Now the bus driver had gone into the McDonald's and missed this little show and before he could come back out, the guy went running towards McDonald's and around it and than chased a car through a parking lot. Then he did one more lap around the McDonald's and back to the bus which he than climbed on went to his seat and acted completely normal. When the bus driver came out a few people met him outside the bus and told him what happened and he talked to the guy to make sure he was okay and since he seemed normal he let him stay on the bus.

Another leg of that trip we stopped at a truck stop for a pickup and the driver said we could get off for a few minutes to get food, drinks, bathroom breaks, etc. One guy goes inside and comes back out with some food and a few things in his pocket and after getting back on the bus started asking anyone and everyone if he could borrow their ticket which of course nobody would do that. Just as we were getting ready to pull off two of the workers ran out and told the driver the guy didn't pay for his food or the other things. So, the driver ask him about it and he denied it and than he finally admitted it and the was kicked off the bus and the police were called. While all this was going on the guy walked across the parking lot and talked to an old man who let him climb into his pickup truck and away they went. We finally had to get back on the road and we heard that they had caught him shortly afterwards and he was still with the old man.

I met a lady who had been riding the bus, with her 4 kids, since Mexico and was actually going somewhere in Canada and I couldn't help but feel sad for her because she was exhausted and still had a very long way to go. The whole trip seemed like we were going through the twilight zone and to top it all off, as we were coming back into Nashville our driver said he had never driven into Nashville and didn't know where the bus station was. Thankfully a few of us knew and we talked him in and gladly got off the bus and headed for home. I'm glad I did it but I don't know if I ever will again.

I used to run around with some great people named Chad and Leslie, who lived in Shelbyville Kentucky and we spent many days and miles going to see the Grateful Dead here and there. We always had a blast while seeing the country or just staying around their house and having fun. One of the trips from their house back to Nashville I picked up a hitchhiker on the road and while talking his experiences while hitchhiking we saw a cop behind us who after a few minutes turned on his lights and sirens, which freaked us out since we both had long hair, beards, tie-dyes, wild eyes and driving a '65 VW Beetle. He suddenly whipped around us and we saw Ky. State Troopers come out of nowhere and stop this car in the middle of the interstate and get the guy spread eagle on the road. Turned out he had lots of cocaine in his car and I'm sure served many, many years for that.

Chad once gave me a rain stick, that I still have to this day, and soon after that we lost track of each other. He had started to make the rainsticks along with didgeridoos and drums while going to shows and was becoming quite the artist the last time I saw him. I recently did a search online for him and came across his website and as it turns out he went on to became an amazing artist, got married and now him and his wife create these amazing pieces of art. I have yet to touch base with them but I will soon and perhaps think back to our adventures and all the good times we shared. I look forward to buying a didgeridoos from him since I had planned on doing that about 13 years ago.

Well, that is not even the tip of the fun times I have had with friends, family and strangers while traveling around this great country of ours and I hope to have more soon with even better stories to tell.

If anyone has a travel story they would like to share, please feel free. I would love to his quite a few.

How The Airlines Are Run

Working in the hospitality industry for a good many years now I have noticed how the airlines run their businesses and it surprises me they are able to continue the same way with no changes in the service.

After the recent outbreak of people being stuck on jets for hours and hours there has been another call for change within the airlines. I have seen this type of thing happen many times and normally they promise a fix after a short "study" of the problem. It seems like this gives them type to get past all the media hype and eventually people go back to business as usual and so do the airlines.

I don't know of any other industry that could continue to lose the property of its customers, delay or cancel services or keep you in an area and not have to let you out. If the hotel industry ran like that, we would be out of business in no time and probably have lawsuits like crazy.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not encouraging lawsuits against the airlines because I don't blame them for not trying to fly in bad weather and I sure don't want to fly in a jet that needs some work done on it.

The things that get me are not with the flight crews or having to pull a plane out of rotation. It is the overbooking, lost luggage or the bag getting broken or torn and the airlines try to say that it wasn't their fault.

If UPS, FED-EX and those types of guys can keep track of the amount of boxes and packages they get each day than you would think the airlines could work on their system and make improvements.

Would I fly out today if I could? Yes...Do I hate the airlines? No, I just wish they would improve some of their practices.

Tennessee State Capitol

The Tennessee State Capitol opened in 1859 and is a magnificent tribute to the people of Tennessee.

The capitol was designed by architect William Strickland who considered it his crowning achievement. The architectural style is Greek Revival. Strickland began his career as an apprentice to Benjamin LaTrobe, who was the architect of the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C..
When Strickland died suddenly during construction in 1854, he was buried in the north facade of the Capitol, per his wishes.

The cornerstone for the building was laid on July 4, 1845, and construction finished in 1859. The grounds of the State Capitol contain statues honoring Sam Davis, Sgt. Alvin York, and Presidents Andrew Jackson and Andrew Johnson. The tombs of President and Mrs. James K. Polk are also located on the Capitol grounds.

The Capitol was used during the Civil War as a Union Fortress.

Guided Tours:
Guided tours are available on Monday through Friday at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m., and 3 p.m., beginning at the Information Desk on the first floor.

Groups of ten or more should make a reservation prior to their visit by calling the Public Programs Department at (615)741-0830 or toll-free 800-407-4324.

Carnton Plantation (Civil War)- Nashville History

~Built by Randal McGavock, Nashville's first mayor (1824-1825).

~The plantation house, which is late-neoclassical, is considered architecturally and historically one of the most important buildings in the area.

~In its early years the mansion was a social and political center. Among the prominent visitors attending the many social events were Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk and Sam Houston.

~The plantation was used as a Confederate hospital after the bloody Battle of Franklin on November 30, 1864. 12 confederate soldiers were killed.

~ In 1866 the McGavock family donated two acres adjacent to their family cemetary for the burial of some 1,500 Confederate soldiers.

~The McGavock Confederate Cemetary is the country's largest private Confederate cemetary.

~The book "Widow of the South" was written about it. It is a fictional book though.

Stones River (Civil War)

~It is near Murfreesboro, Tennessee

~A fierce battle was fought here between December 31, 1862 and January 2, 1863.

~General Bragg's Confederates withdrew after the battle, allowing General Rosecrans and the Union army to control Middle Tennessee.

~600 acres that is a National Battlefield~Stones River National Cemetary, established in 1865 with more than 6,000 Union graves.

~Hazen Brigade Monument, believed to be the oldest, intact Civil War monument still standing in its original location.

~Portions of Fortress Rosecrans, a large earthen fort constructed after the battle, still stand and are preserved and interpreted by the National Park Service.

~Much of the nearly 4,000 acre battlefield is in private hands.

~Abraham Lincoln told Major General William S. Rosecrans, "You gave us a hard-earned victory which, had there been defeat instead, the nation could hardly have lived over."

Fort Negley (Civil War)

~Reopened to the public on December 12, 2004

~Named for General James Negley, the commander of Union forces in Nashville.

~Fort Negley was the largest and most important fortification built by Union troops after the occupation of Nashville in 1862.

~The Union army was determined to hold onto Nashville at all costs because of its importance in the distribution of supplies by river and rail and so transformed it into one of the most heavily fortified cities in America.

~Built primarily by slaves and free blacks using stone, logs, earth and railway iron.

~Engineer James St. Clair Morton designed the polygonal shape and supervised its construction.

~It was the largest inland masonry fortification of the war. It was 4 acres and considered impregnable.

~The stone fort itself was 600 feet long and 300 feet wide; including outer fortification and earthworks over the brow of the hill.

Carter House (Civil War)- Nashville

~This 1830 brick house was used as a federal command post while at the center of fighting in the Battle of Franklin, known as the "bloodiest hours of the war."

~The Carter family, their friends & neighbors hid in the cellar during the battle.

~Built by Fountain Branch Carter and is a registered National Historic Landmark.

~In less than six hours, according to some official records, there were about 6,200 Confederate casualties(killed, wounded or captured), including 1,750 killed.

~The official Union count was about 2,579, which included 179 killed.

~Some historians, including Carter House officials, have documented at least 7,300 Confederate casualties, including more than 2,000 killed or mortally wounded. There were approx. 2,850 Union casualties, including about 450 killed.

~Capt. Tod Carter, the youngest son of the Carter family, died at the home 48 hours after being wounded in the battle.

Antique Shopping districts of Nashville

Here are some areas in and around Nashville that give the antique shopper a variety of choices to enjoy...

~~Downtown Nashville~~
~Ivy Crest Gallery
~Downtown Antique Mall
~Parker Virginia Antique Jewelry
~Pia's Antique Gallery
~Pre to Post Modern
~E. H. Sadler Furnisher
~Ejvind's Antiques Consignment
~Antique Merchants Mall
~American Classical II Antiques
~Sadler Antiques
~Cane Ery Antique Mall
~Dealer's Choice Antiques & Auctions

~~Green Hills~~
~Forsyth's Antiques
~Harpeth Gallery
~Green Hills Antique Mall
~White Way Antique Mall
~Carissa's Armoires & Antiques
~Leland Interiors
~Southern Splendor
~The Oriental Shop
~Corzine Inc.

~Battleground Antique Mall Inc.
~Antiques of Franklin
~Circa Antiques & Interiors
~Country Charm Mall~Hood's Retreat Antique's
~Iron Gate~J. J. Ashley's Antiques and Reproductions
~Jackson-Weeks Interiors~Junktique Shop
~Legacy Antiques
~Leipers Fork Antiques
~Rustic House Antiques
~Savannah West~Franklin Antique Mall
~First Place
~Heirloom Antiques
~Heritage Antique Gallery
~Harpeth Antique Mall of Franklin
~Magic Memories Inc.

~~Belle Meade~~
~Chancery Lane

Loss of Festivals and Starwood Amphitheatre

Nashville has experienced great loss over the years in the form of cultural festivals. In the last decade or so, we lost "Summer Lights", "The Italian Street Festival", "RiverStages" and "Dancin' in the District." They added so much fun and uniqueness to our city and were events geared toward locals instead of tourists, but they were fun for visitors as well. They provided great music, food, family-friendly activities and a great way to spend a day in the city without spending a fortune.

I see and hear about festivals, fairs, tours and all sorts of things in other cities and see them doing really well. I long for the days when Nashville had the same, and we went out and enjoyed it. I long for the days in the future when we have these sorts of things for everyone to enjoy again.

This also brings to mind Starwood Amphitheatre which was Nashville's only outdoor venue that could hold major events and concerts without using a stadium. It provided many incredible memories for us over the years as we saw concerts of every kind showcased year in and year out. It was far from perfect, but it could still provide a great time.

I hope we come up with someone to buy the venue or maybe we will have another one built in the next couple of years. Keep your fingers crossed and get out to hear all the great music that comes to town. It is up to us to keep our venues open, so that performers will want to come to Nashville for the best fans in the world.

"From the Nashville Post"- 2/13/07
Journalist Kay West spoke for many in 1998 after readers of Nashville Life magazine chose the venue as the "worst place to hear live music" in a poll of local bests and worsts. West's entry read: "Starwood, dear Starwood. How do we hate thee? Let us count the ways.

We hate the lousy drive on the ever-under-construction I-24. We hate the immobile stream of overheating cars in terminal holding pattern. We hate your exorbitant parking fees. We hate your Gestapo seize-and-destroy security force. We hate your carnival sideshow on the plaza. We hate your rip-off concessions. We hate your stinking bathrooms. And, come to think of it, we’re pretty damned sick of your music, too. Hank Williams Jr. again? Yawn."

Story of a Road Trip

I was going to see two Grateful Dead concerts in 1993 and a few of us were planning on going up for the shows. I let one guy ride with me and he was going to meet some friends of his at the show and than meet up with me after the second show to get a ride home. I met my friends ,at their house the day before the first concert, where we socialized and prepared ourselves for the concerts.

The day of the first concert we arrived in the parking lot of the arena at around 2:00pm. The reason we always went early was because we wanted to check out the "lot scene." People would set up kitchens and sell food of all kinds such as pastas, grilled cheese, burritos and a wide variety of other options. You could also walk around and find people selling jewelry, t-shirts, hats and all sorts or things. This area was known as "Shakedown Street" and was where most everyone went to meet and see the sights. Here and there around the parking lot you would here music blasting out of stereos or people sitting around making the music themselves. It was like being a part of the circus or a carnival.

We finally made it into the shows and these particular shows were fun but nothing incredible. Nevertheless, we danced, smiled and had such a great time. I remember after the shows walking out into the night air to smell food being cooked, incense burning and saw people hugging and dancing around while talking about the concert. I do remember after the second concert walking out and seeing a school bus that had been converted into a rolling disco with neon lights, disco ball, flashing lights and disco music blasting. The best part about it was that there were people all around it and even on top of it just getting down and shaking their booties to the music.

Well, after enjoying the summer night after the show and all the festivies in the parking lot I decided to head back to meet the guy who would need a ride back to Nashville. I waited and waited until the police started to run everyone out of the parking lot at around 3 or 4 in the morning. I finally gave up and headed South back to Nashville alone.

I was balling that jack to make good time and still feeling so good after a great time with the music, people and the whole scene but I was ready to get home as well. I finally decided to stop at a rest area to use the bathroom, get something to drink and walk around for a minute to stretch my legs. When I got back in the car, it wouldn't start. I tried again and again, I begged with it, I prayed over it, I made deals with it but nothing worked. This was before cell phones were the hot thing and so I made a few calls on the pay phone but no one could help. I was either to far away or they were working or something and thus I had to fend for myself.

So I finally walked over to a big grassy area and layed down to take a nap and to give the car a rest to see if it would work later. After a 2 or 3 hour nap I woke up just in time to watch a VW bus pull into the rest area. When the side door opened 5 or 6 people poured out plus the two in the front seats. They went about doing their business for a bit and than they came over to ask if that was my VW bug. I told them it was, I don't know how they could have known except for the stickers on the back and my long hair, beard and funky clothes, but they seemed to know. I told them what had happened and so down we went to have a look at it. After a few pokes and prods under the hood, one guy said he thought it just got to hot and was cooling itself off. Turns out he was right because it started right up.

They were coming to Nashville for a day or two and than going to continue on down the road and were okay with following me to make sure the car didn't act up again. There was a beautiful young woman who came to me to ask if she could ride to Nashville with me and of course I was more than happy to accomodate. She said it was just to crowded in the VW bus and she needed a break. One of the guys in the group made necklaces, bracelets and peace pipes that he sold at shows.

So we finally headed for Nashville in a two VW convoy. I was relieved to have my car running again and to make it even better I had the company of a stunningly beautiful young woman along with a brand new peace pipe that was a gift to me. The rest of the drive was lots of fun and I went with them over to visit guy in Nashville named "Cowboy." We spent a good day around there just laughing, telling stories of the road and getting to know each other.

Finally everyone had to hit the road again. I drove across town and the crew in the VW bus headed out to who knows where. I never saw any of them after that but that was how we did it back then. We helped each other and made friends with everyone.

Those were truly some magical days.

The concert setlists:6-15-93 (Tuesday)
Set 1: Feels Like A Stranger, Althea, Wang Dang Doodle, Friend of the Devil, Desolation Row, Don't Ease Me In
Set 2: Victim Or The Crime> Crazy Fingers> Estimated Prophet> Spoonful> He's Gone> Drumz> This Could Be Last Time> Morning Dew
E: Gloria

6-16-93 (Wednesday)
Set 1: Cold Rain & Snow> Same Thing, Peggy-O, Tom Thumb Blues, Ramble On Rose, Eternity, Brown Eyed Women, Easy Answers> Don't Ease Me In Set 2: Foolish Heart, Saint of Circumstance> Lazy River Road, Corinna> Drumz> I Need A Miracle> Stella Blue> Good Lovin E: I Fought The Law

Changes in our local restaurants and businesses, 2006

We lost some older restaurants and other businesses and gained some newer ones. The ones we lost were some of the old guard and they couldn't afford to fit into the changing and growing Nashville. I think our biggest thing is to realize that we need to bring on the new cuisine from all over the world and open our palettes to new and creative things but keep some of the old guard here as well. I think we need to look at having the best of both worlds. Having the little diners and mom and pop places while also growing and expanding our food community.

I'm all for growth and to show the world the magic of Nashville but we have to realize that the reason we are such a wonderful city that people want to visit or live in is because we are unique. Let's not go crazy trying and stressing over what Atlanta or New York City has that we don't.

I will say it has been a real pleasure to be able to get out and try alot of the new restaurants and places but now it is even harder to get back to the places I hold near to my heart and like to go back repeatedly. I love the new flavors, tastes and creativity that is flowing in our city through business and food. We have long been a center of creativity but we are seeing it in more than just academics and music. As our artists of all genres and businesses and creativity is flowing through the veins of our city we see a wonderful vision of our city. It is a bit of our kind hearted, small town side that we still have where we all speak to each other and smile in passing. With the new we find new tastes, sights, accents and more options for us all to experience. I welcome this and I say lets enjoy it all and keep our city magical and special.

Let's bring in the new things but let's preserve our history and our legacy. Let it grow and become a thick rich branch on the tree of America as we reach new heights.

In 2006 we lost:
West End Hardware
Belle Meade Cafeteria
Belle Meade Hardware

We added:
Marché Artisan Foods
Flyte World Dining and Wine
Past Perfect
Stoney River Steakhouse
Vinea (wines and spirits)

Vinea (wines and spirits)

A New Dinner Theatre in Nashville

The Gibson Showcase:
Home of the Ultimate Musical Experience presents:"On Broadway"

Gibson's "On Broadway," is a trip down memory lane that highlights your favorite songs from the great white way. From the taxicab drive "On Broadway," the mischievious frollicking of "…Dolly." to "One Day More" of "Les Mes," Gibson Showcase provides the Ultimate Musical Experience with an evening of elegant dining and service to match!

Per Person Rates:
$35 Lounge Level
$45 Floor Seats
$75 V.I.P.
$100 White Glove Service
$150 Ultimate Dining Experience

Group Rates Available

Wine Tasting at Vinea this Saturday

Hey There Fellow Lovers of the Great Grape

Well it finally looks like we are going to have a beautiful Saturday this weekend, and it comes just in time for the 12th avenue south neighborhood tour. With hundreds of people walking around peeking into homes and coming by to sip some wine we thought we should show off some fantastic juice; the Foris Fly Over White, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir from Oregon, and a couple of my favorite wines from Australia, Green Point Chardonnay and Cabernet/Shiraz.

The tour takes place from 11:00AM to 5:00PM and costs only $8.
For more information on the tour call 292-5708.
The tasting however goes from 2:00PM to 5:00PM and is FREE.

Drink Great Wine
MJ the Sommelier

Foris Pinot Noir '04
$17.99 a bottle, $124.29 a case

Dusty aromas of bright red fruits and lavender with a subtle hint of oak. You can almost smell the minerals. Medium to lighter bodied on the palate. Flavors tend towards candied red fruits and stone fruits. Again, a beguiling minerality runs throughout. Subtle oak on the mid-palate. Succulent acidity. Elegant throughout. Just enough ripe, dusty tannins to enhance the complexity of this versatile, food friendly Pinot. Balanced well to drink nicely for the next 1-6 years.

Green Point Chardonnay '04
$17.99 a bottle, $194.28 a case

Light and refreshing, a spicy, toasty style with refinement, finishing with a pretty pear and citrus mix. Drink now through 2010. 350 cases imported. –HS
88 Points Wine Spectator

Foris Fly-Over White
$12.99 a bottle, $140.29 a case

Subtle aromas of bananas and citrus woven amid wet river rocks and minerals. Melange of citrus and melon on the palate, reminds me of the musque clone of Sauvignon Blanc. A fascinating mineral streak overlaid with lime and peaches. Light to medium bodied; crisp, focusing acidity.

Green Point Cabernet/Shiraz '04
$19.99 a bottle, $140.29 a case

Exhibiting earthy, oaky notes interwoven with bacon, black raspberry, and cherry characteristics, the medium-bodied 2003 Shiraz Reserve possesses crisp acidity as well as a zesty, elegant finish. Drink it over the next 3-5 years. -RP
89 points Wine Advocate

Fried Green Tomatoes

1 cup flour
1/2 cup corn meal
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
2 or 3 eggs (beaten)
3 medium green tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch slices

Mix dry ingredients. Dip tomato slices in beaten eggs then to dry ingredients; coat very well. Heat oil in large skillet on medium heat. Add tomato slices a few at a time; brown lightly on both sides. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.

Southern Food...a recipe to try with more coming later

Honeyed Collard Greens

2 1/2 lbs collard greens, tough stems discarded, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chicken broth
3 tbs vinegar, preferably cider
2tbs honey
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp drippings
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 medium jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add greens; cook until tender and deep green in color. Drain; rinse with cold water until cool, which should take about 30 seconds. Firmly squeeze dry. In a bowl combine broth, vineger, honey, salt and pepper. Set aside...
In a large skillet heat bacon drippings over medium heat. Add onion, jalapeno and garlic. Cook until onion softens slightly, 2-3 minutes. Add greens; cook until heated through. Add reserved broth mixture; cook until reduced slightly.

Just A Thought

Nashville has some outstanding architecture and I enjoy walking or driving around and seeing all that we have here. Some of the true jewels we save and preserve and others I see in different states of repair or slowly wearing. I'm struck by all the Greek Revival architecture we have in the area and how it is so ironic that we don't have the largest Greek population and yet they have influenced so much of our city and state. Thinking of how we are the "Athens of the South" and how we have cities and towns around the state that bear the name of Greek cities.

So many people that visit Nashville and Tennessee don't realize all of our history. Mind you, I don't get upset over it because I don't know all of the history of other cities and states but I wonder if the think Nashville is only like Hee Haw or something like that. We are so much more then that and yep the Schermerhorn Symphony Center is another jewel for Nashville.

So the next time you are out and about in Nashville, take the time to realize there is a lot more then you might think. Nashville is such a great city and is much more than a stereotype and when you see our beauty and grace while understanding how we have a much more complex history then just a bunch of country will see why people love living here and visiting here. You will see a great city to be proud of .

"Hoaxpitality" or fake Hospitality

Recently I went into a bank in Smyrna, Tennessee and found something that I have seen in to many places. I found hoaxpitality and I wasn't happy about it because it isn't real or genuine which means they really don't care. Companies today seem to think that if they give us the biggest smiles with their eyes open as wide as possible that we will feel like we had such a great experience.

I didn't have a deposit slip with me when I went in so I went to the counter to get a blank one to fill out and use. While I was filling it out I had a lady walk by and ask if she could help me, which I appreciated, but she did it with this smile that looked like it was those big wax lips. It was over the top and not natural and before I could finish filling out the paperwork another lady walked by and did the same exact thing. They both asked if I needed help or if I wanted to order any deposit slips to which I told them both no thank you because I still had some at home.

Once the paperwork was complete, I walked over to the teller and she had the same plastic smile and the big, bug eyes and the sing-song "Can I help you?" I told her yes and that I needed to make a deposit and gave it to her. She checked the date and found that it was dated for the next day. She looked up and gave me the bug-eyed look with the big super-sized plastic smile and in her best sing-song voice told me that she could not help me and handed the check back to me. I swear steam came out of my ears.

Now I have made deposits at different branches of this banking company before in the same way I did that day and never had any problems or weirdos to deal with. I know it doesn't go through until after midnight and saw it really shouldn't be a problem and I would have been okay if they would have told me the same thing or whatever in a very nice way but had been real and not trying so hard to be the perfect people.

I much prefer someone not give me a huge smile, be over-the- top in how the deal with me but rather be nice and genuine in how they serve me. I work in a hotel and consider myself an amabssador for my city and yet I think that "hoaxpitality" does more to annoy people than make them happy with the service we provide.

The hotel I work at is far from perfect and there are plenty of times we get frustrated and wish things were different or we struggle behind the scenes to make things happen and actually pull of a need or request but we always put on a game face for our guests. Through all of this we try to be "real" with our guests and our guest surveys reflect our passion and our dedication to our guests and people see it and we are always getting comment cards, surveys and letters that let us know how much they appreciate our level of service. We do smile alot but we put service and satisfaction before a phony smile or laugh that will make us "look" good. One of the things I like to say about our hotel is that a room is a room and a building is a building but it is the people who make the difference. Don't try to impress with fake smiles, laughs, big eyes or offering a service I don't need, just give me good service and show me you care.

My advice is to be yourself but also care about the person that you are working with and put yourself in the shoes of the customer. That is how you give the best service. So be genuine and truly care and I will be very happy with the services provided.

A Flying Club

Recently we had some people who were all friends stay at our hotel and the guys are all pilots and a couple of times a year they all take a vacation together. They fly to all their destinations themselves and they will go to 3-5 different locations and spend 2-4 days in each location. They usually make it a country trip normally staying in various cities and hotels while enjoying the local cuisine, music, culture and whatever else they can get into.

On this most recent trip they visited a small resort type town on the Texas-Mexican border. Than to Sedona, than to Sante Fe, than Nashville and I forgot where they were going to next.

They all have amazing times and were all smiles the whole time they were at our hotel. I think that is the type of thing that we all long to do but they decided years ago to make it happen and one by one they all took flying lessons. They were truly an inspiration for me.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Do You Have Any Good or Funny Travel Stories?

If you wanna share a good story or share something you learned on a trip, email me. I look forward to reading some of your stories.

Email me at I will give you full credit with your name unless you state otherwise.

Vanderbilt/West End Walking Tour

We had a splendid day to enjoy the architecture, food, sun, walking and history of the Vanderbilt/West End area. Lots of great conversations and laughs during the tour.

Some of the things we enjoyed.

Centennial Park & the Parthenon
Vanderbilt Campus
Hillsboro Village
Peabody College
Disciples of Christ Historical Society
West End Methodist Church


Savarino's Cucina

Drive-In Movie Theatres

What a great time drive-ins are/were. I remember going with family and friends and having such a good time in the comfort of our own cars. It was so cool to be able to have whatever kind of snacks or food you wanted during the movie.

The drive-ins were normally cheaper than the typical movie theatre and for one price you would normally get two movies. I look forward to hitting a couple this summer again with some friends.

Operating Theatres

Midway Drive-In Theatre 2133 Highway 30 East, Athens, TN 37303 (423) 263-2632

Twin City Drive-In Theatre2512 Volunteer Parkway, Bristol, TN 37620 (423) 764-8033

Pink Cadillac Drive-In 2506 Highway 100, Centerville, TN 37033 (615) 729-2386

Broadway Drive-In Theatre 3020 Highway 70 East, Dickson, TN 37055 (615) 446-2786

Dunlap Drive-In TheaterDunlap, TN 37327 (423) 949-3759

State Line Drive-In Theatre 2306 State Line Road # A, Elizabethton, TN 37643 (423) 542-5422

Sky-Vue Drive-InHelenwood, TN 37755 (423) 663-2277

Midtown Drive-in Theatre Its 30 miles southwest of Knoxville on I40 at exit 350 thats the midtown exit. phone 423-882-6119

Macon Drive In Theater 3570 Scottsville Road, Lafayette, TN 37083 (615) 666-4411

Highway Fifty Drive In 1584 Fayetteville Highway, Lewisburg, TN 37091 (931) 270-1591

Parkway Drive-In 2909 East Lammar Alexander Maryville, TN (423)379-7884

Southwest Twin Drive-In4233 South 3rd Street, Memphis, TN 38109 (901) 785-5450

Summer Quartet Drive In 5310 Summer Avenue, Memphis, TN 38122 (901) 767-4320

Valley Drive-In Theatre 106 West Court Square, Waverly, TN 37185 (615) 296-4500

A Meal Fit For A Pharaoh

How fun would this be for those of us who have such love for good food? Where are my millions of dollars when I need them?

The ultimate road food: A dinner for millionaires at Egypt's pyramids
The Associated Press

BANGKOK, Thailand — From the creators of the $25,000 dinner, there's another pricey gourmet feast on the horizon.

Wealthy foodies can mark their calendars for Dec. 12, 2008, when top chefs from around the world will be flown to Egypt to cook a dinner in front of the ancient Pyramids of Giza, organizer Deepak Ohri said today. This dinner will be a bargain, at least compared to the one in Bangkok last month that was billed as the meal of a lifetime and cooked by six 3-star Michelin chefs for $25,000 a head. High-rolling food lovers flew in from the United States, Europe, the Middle East and across Asia for the 40-seat dinner.

The price for dining beside the pyramids has not yet been set, but it will cost less than $10,000 per person, said Ohri, the managing director of Bangkok's luxury Lebua hotel, the event planner behind the dinners that are boldly titled "Epicurean Masters of the World."

Though cheaper, the upcoming feast is intended to be even grander than its predecessor.

"It will still be for millionaires, but this dinner will be for a lot of millionaires," Ohri told The Associated Press.

Some 500 tickets will be sold for the dinner to be cooked by 30 3-star Michelin chefs.

About a third of the chefs already have confirmed their attendance; each chef will prepare a meal for roughly 17 diners.

A kitchen half a mile long will be set up against the backdrop of the pyramids with equipment and the best ingredients jetted in from around the world.

Unlike the $25,000 dinner, which featured rare French wines and mostly French food, the next meal will be culturally diverse and paired with fine wines from around the world, Ohri said.

Just how close diners will be to the pyramids depends upon the Egyptian government and the U.N.'s cultural body UNESCO, since the pyramids are a World Heritage site.

Talks are under way with authorities, Ohri said, noting that organizers are "considering" giving profits from the dinner to an organization or charity that deals with conserving the Seven Wonders of the World. The pyramids are the only surviving structure from the traditional list of architectural marvels.

All profits from the $25,000 Thai dinner are going to two charities — Medecins Sans Frontieres, which will be sent a check for $15,000, and the Chaipattana Foundation, a rural development program set up by the king of Thailand, which will receive $46,000, Ohri said.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

Yet Another Change in Las Vegas

It seems like the only thing that stays the same in Vegas is change. The Aladdin hotel and casino is now going to become the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino.

Hollywood celebrities and superstar athletes turned out Tuesday for a flashy presentation to announce that the former Aladdin hotel-casino would stage its grand opening as the rebranded Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino on Sept. 28 and 29.

"We will be throwing the biggest party that Las Vegas has ever seen," said actor Bruce Willis, who was joined by actress Carmen Electra, Roger Clemens, Pete Sampras and "Sugar" Ray Leonard in introducing the revamped resort.

A $1 billion makeover of the Arabian-style resort has been in the works since private partnership OpBiz bought the Las Vegas Strip bankrupt property in 2004 for about $500 million.

The finished Planet Hollywood property is expected to have 2,600 movie-themed guest rooms and suites, along with two 50-story towers with 1,200 time-share residences, set to open around the end of 2009.

Opbiz co-chairman Robert Earl, who founded the Planet Hollywood International Inc. restaurant chain, also introduced several nightclub and restaurant offerings from New York steak house Strip House to L.A. celebrity hangout and pan-Asian restaurant Koi.

"We scoured the planet and found some great attractions," Earl said.

A touring rhythmical show created by the producers of "Stomp," called "Stomp Out Loud," has opened at the property in a new $28 million theater. Also the property has added a show by magician Hans Klok, who will have Electra as an assistant for three months.

TV newsmagazine "Extra" will open a lounge to conduct celebrity interviews and keep patrons up to date with entertainment news, while Panasonic provided 5,000 plasma displays in public areas and guest rooms.

Last month, investment partnership Boulevard Invest announced that the shops in the attached Desert Passage shopping mall at the property would begin operating as Miracle Mile Shops in May.

OpBiz is a partnership that includes Earl, private equity investor Bay Harbour and Starwood Hotel and Resorts Worldwide. Earl and Bay Harbour Management have a joint venture with an 85 percent interest in the property while Starwood holds the remaining 15 percent.

Las Vegas Sun newspaper is the source for this information.

"Kindness of Strangers"

The title comes from a book I read back in the late 1990's that told of Mike McIntyre traveling across the country with no money and simply relying on the kindness of the people he met to feed him, give him rides and whatever else he needed. It was a really good book that provided an idea of the kindness of people that we so often take for granted or assume doesn't exist anymore.

I know during my travels around the country I met many people who had to rely on the kindness of strangers to get from one place to another. I met hitchhikers and people at concerts carrying hand-made signs with the city that they wanted to get to written with an offer to help with grass, gas or whatever they had to spare.

I saw people outside of concerts with their index finger hold up to show their need for a "miracle." A "miracle" was when someone had an extra ticket and was willing to give it away to someone wanting to get into the concert. You could see in most peoples eyes the desire to get into the show and the belief that someone would come along to make their day.

I saw people that were hungry being fed by people who had kitchens set up to make and sell food in the parking lot. I saw many people sharing kindness and blessings with others and often saw that good deed paid forward by the person who received it and they couldn't wait to do the same for someone else.

I've seen the kindness of strangers while on a mission trip to New York City, in my own city, on the road and everywhere else. I see how most people truly want to help others and hope that kindness will be there during their time of need.

Can you share some kindness with a stranger today? Could you buy a sandwich for someone hungry or pay a bill for a needy family? Could you find a way to make a difference today?

Chiropractic Nashville

If you want to feel better without having to takes lots of medication and pills than a chiropractor is what you need. Dr. Chad McClellan is the best in Nashville and can help you feel better and become healthier.

He will never prescibe drugs and only uses his hands and knowledge of the body to align your body and bring you total wellness.

Dr. Chad McClellan

"The Long Way" by Bernard Moitessier

A fantastic read that gives you such a desire to hop on a boat and attempt to sail around the world and just get lost in it. After putting the book down I had to remind myself that I just wasn't that kind of person but I truly did get swept away by the book and the stories or his adventures.

The Long Way recounts the incredible story of Bernard Moitessier's participation in the first Golden Globe Race – a solo, non-stop circumnavigation rounding the three great Capes of Good Hope, Leeuwin, and the Horn. For seven months, the veteran seafarer battled storms, doldrums, gear failures, and knock-downs, as well as overwhelming fatigue and loneliness. Then, nearing the finish with victory in hand, Moitessier suddenly pulled out of the race and sailed on. His 37,455-mile journey continued for another three months, finally ending in Tahiti. Never once in all that time had he touched land. ~Sheridan House Publishers

Quotes from Bernard Moitessier:
"You do not ask a tame seagull why it needs to disappear from time to time toward the open sea. It goes, that's all."

"I am a citizen of the most beautiful nation on earth. A nation whose laws are harsh yet simple, a nation that never cheats, which is immense and without borders, where life is lived in the present. In this limitless nation, this nation of wind, light, and peace, there is no other ruler besides the sea."

Bernard Moitessier-
April 10, 1925 Hanoi, Vietnam – June16 1994 near Paris, France

Also by Bernard Moitessier:
~Sailing to the Reefs~Cape Horn: The Logical Route
~Tamata and the Alliance
~A Sea Vagabond's World

Goodbye Old Friend: The Loss of the Stardust Hotel and Casino

Some video of the implosion of the Stardust Hotel and Casino. Lots of cool video, pictures and memories that hopefully will not be forgotten.

A nice respectful look at Stardust before it came down.

Another respectful video of the Stardust

How it came down...March 13, 2007

View from a local building

Yet another view of the implosion from the Wynn Hotel parking garage:

Now there are only memories

Unstable arches close Encounter restaurant at LAX

This is sad to hear of another landmark that has not been properly taken care of. I sure hope they repair it and keep the well-known arches in better shape.

Here is a story from the L.A. Times

Officials shuttered the Encounter restaurant in the iconic Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport today after workers discovered the space-age arches that surround the eatery are unstable.

Inspectors uncovered the problem after a 1,000-pound piece of white stucco fell off the underside of one of the arches and smashed into the eatery's roof. No one was injured.

The arches, which don't provide structural support for the glass-encased restaurant, haven't been renovated since they were erected in the late 1950s.

Officials said the restaurant closure, expected to last at least six months, is a psychological blow to LAX, which is eagerly awaiting intense worldwide media attention when the massive Airbus A380 arrives March 19 on its first U.S. test flight.

The Theme Building — along with the Hollywood sign — has long been considered one of Los Angeles' signature landmarks.

By Jennifer Oldham
LATimes Staff Writer

Joe's Place Family Restaurant

We stopped in around 10:00am to get a bacon biscuit or something to hold us over for a while and stumbled across a gold mine of good food. They had just opened and we had the place to ourselves and we were treated like royalty. Our server Tammy told us about how they use only fresh meats and vegetables, the specials that day and showed us the homemade pies.

They had 8 or 9 pies that looked like they had been delivered from heaven that morning. Perhaps the most unusual one was a strawberry jello pie. Yeah, you read that right, JELLO. Maria, the cook, uses it for flavoring and a bit dusted on top for decoration. I didn't try it because I wanted the chocolate/coconut pie and I was happy that I did because it was incredible. I looked good and the taste was unbelievably good.

I had the beef enchilada which the only have on the second Thursday of each month. Now Maria is from Mexico originally and she puts her all into her food, especially this one since it is the only Mexican dish they have, which made the meal so refreshing and pleasurable. The meal included two beef beef enchiladas, a creamy Spanich rice, Mexican corn, refried beans, spicy cornbread and homemade salsa. The salsa was so good with lots of taste and just a hint of heat while the cornbread has a phenomenal taste and nice texture.

The salmon was fresh and we received two patties along with fresh turnip greens that were so full of taste and you could tell the difference from the canned greens that are just cooked. These were made with love and oh how it makes a difference.

I highly recommend this place. Be sure to talk to Tammy and Maria and tell them Corey says hi.

Where we ate:
Joe's Place Family Restaurant
2216 Stop 30 Rd
Hendersonville Tn.
10:00am-3:00pm Monday thru Friday
10:00am-2:00pm Sunday

What we ate:
~Beef Enchilada w/ Mexican corn, refried beans, Spanish rice, spicy cornbread and homemade salsa
~Salmon patties with fresh turnip greens, mashed potatoes and corn bread
~Chocolate/Coconut Pie
~2 Sweet Tea w/ Lemon

1,000 Miles From Nowhere

This is such a great song by Dwight Yoakam and the video always makes me wanna hop on a train and just goooo. It gets the vagabond in me stirred up.

1,000 Miles From Nowhere

Katie Couric Gets Trashy with The Jugg Sisters

You have to see this while in Nashville. It is truly a tour that you won't forget.

See Al Roker, from the Today show, take the tour with the Jugg sisters.
Jugg Sisters on the Today Show

To visit the website click here ---> Nash Trash Tours

John Hartford Is Still Gentle On Our Minds

John Hartford was a funny, talented, songwriting giant of a man. I had the great pleasure of seeing him in concert at the legendary Ryman Auditorium and he just knocked me away. He understood the power of music, words and that sometimes less was more powerful.

"There ain't nothing like a crooked old river to straighten my head right out." John Hartford


Enjoy one of his greatest songs performed live: Gentle On My Mind

Classical Nashville

Guided Tour of Classical Nashville
Wednesday June 27, 2007 - 12:00 - 4:30 pm

Sites include:~Tennessee State Capitol, by William Strickland
~War Memorial
~Public Library, by Robert A. M. Stern
~Frist Center for the Visual Arts
~Peabody Campus of Vanderbilt University

Tour led by Christine M. Kreyling:M.A. in Art & Architectural History, Vanderbilt University Architecture and Urban Planning Critic for the Nashville Scene Contributor to Architectural Record, Competition and Planning Co-Author & Co-Editor of Classical Nashville Athens of the South Transportation is included in the tour. Participants will receive a copy of Classical Nashville: Athens of the South, Christine M. Kreyling, Wesley Paine, Charles W. Warterfield, Susan Ford Wiltshire. Published by Vanderbilt University Press, 1996

Cancellation may result if tour falls below minimum of 20 participants.

Party at the Parthenon

If you like classic architecture, this might be something to check out.

The American Classical League

60th Annual Institute
84th Annual Meeting

Party at the Parthenon
Vanderbilt University
Nashville, Tennessee
Thursday June 28 - Saturday June 30, 2007

The 60th Summer Institute of the American Classical League will take place Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, June 27-30, 2007. Plans for this institute are still in the very early stages, but we know that the institute will include tours of the Parthenon and its replica of the statue of Athena and various festivities to celebrate sixty years of summer institutes.

We would like to commemorate this milestone in a number of ways. First of all, there will be a special display in Nashville of memorabilia from previous institutes. There will also be a memory book about earlier institutes, so ACL members are being asked to put on their thinking caps and recollect memorarable events, both serious and funny, from previous institutes. Please do not underestimate your own experiences. If you attended an institute, you must have something to remember.

Submit your memories

Please share these memories with others. You can submit these recollections online or by sending e-mail to or snailmail to Tom Sienkewicz, ACL Vice President, Monmouth College, Monmouth, Illliois 61462.

Also if you have any photos from previous institutes which you would be willing to share, please send them as well. They will be scanned and returned to you. All attendees at the 2007 Institute will receive a copy of this memory book! And get ready to party at the Parthenon in 2007!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Wig Wam Village #2 on 31-W near Cave City, Kentucky

Wig Wam Village

Energy Vampires

There isn't much you can do about an overly demanding boss, or clients who move up the deadline unexpectedly. But it is possible to remove "energy vampires," people who "suck the life out of goals, dreams, and plans for success," Jon Gordon writes in MOTTO, "if we let them."

The trick is not to let them,. The easiest way to do that, of course, is simply to avoid these people in the first place.

If that is impossible, Mr. Gordon says, do not take personally their comments, like "you can't do that; you should do this instead." And understand that the problem lies with them and not with you.

"They are limited by their own vision, doubt and fears," Mr. Gordon writes. "They think that dreams were meant for others but not for people like you and me."

Paul B. Brown
What's Offline
New York Times
March 24, 2007

The Original Nooley's

New addition to the Farmer's Market serves Louisiana cuisine.

Located at the north end of the Market House, the menu features muffulettas, gumbo and, on Thursdays only, Jambalaya.

900 8th Avenue North.
Hours are Mon - Sun, 10:30 am - 2:30 pm.

Full Moon Tattoo and Horror Festival

The Millenium Maxwell House
MAY 11-13 2007

More Info Coming Soon

Thunder Over Louisville

This Saturdsay, April 21, is Thunder Over Louisville. Rated as one of the top 100 events in North America, the Derby Festival’s Opening Ceremonies is truly a sight to behold.

Each year more than 500,000 eager thrill-seekers do just that. The day-long event kicks off the two exciting weeks of events that are part of the annual Kentucky Derby Festival. The Thunder Air Show dazzles the crowd with more than 100 planes, aerobatics teams, daring sky diving teams and breathtaking stunts. When it gets dark, the Thunder rolls. The fireworks will feature the latest in pyrotechnic power from Zambelli Internationale, America's "first family of fireworks”.

Eight 400-foot barges assemble on both sides of the 2nd Street Bridge to form the stage from which the fireworks spectacular ignites. The breathtaking and mind-numbing 28-minute show includes Thunder’s signature one-mile “waterfall” effect off the bridge.

After more than a decade, the show remains the largest annual pyrotechnic display in North America.

April 21 at 9:00pm
Ohio River waterfront in downtown Louisville.

Irish Interns at the Hotel

When I worked at a very large hotel here in Nashville, we had some intern from Ireland who were hard working and really fun people to go out with. They loved to have a good time with food and drinks and friends.

We had many good times in and around Nashville but one particular night we all went down to Mulligan's Pub and proceeded to drinks quite a bit until we finally hit the street to head somewhere else and before we got to far down the sidewalk a couple of them decided they wanted to try and take down the Irish flag that flies in front of Mulligan's.

As you can imagine, when you have a guy on another guy's shoulders and trying to pull a flag off the front of the building, word got out quick. Soon there were people from the pub wanting to know what was going on and the interns yelling that it was f'ing flag and they were going to take it with them.

Next thing you know the cops show up and the interns are talked to and after they explain that it is there flag and they have every right to it the cop explains why they can't and won't if they want to stay out of jail. Luckily the interns saw the logic in that and they decided to call it a night and off we went....zooming right out of the city and back to the quiet suburbs, without the flag but quite a story to laugh about for a long time.

PRINCE Extends Through April 28 At RIO in Las Vegas

Prince has extended his engagement at the 3121 showroom at the Rio through April 28.

His final dates, according to a media release from Prince's camp: Friday, April 20; Saturday, April 21, Friday, April 27 and Saturday, April 28.

Tickets are on sale and can be purchased at the Rio Box Office by calling (702) 777-7776 and through Ticketmaster at or (702) 474-4000.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Great Quote

I have so many things to think about but nothing to worry about.

-Matt Koepke

Home is where the carnival is

From The Richmond Times-Dispatch

Fair workers enjoy freedom of nomads, just enough comforts

In the shadows of the blinking Ferris wheel and with the aroma of funnel cake wafting by, 40 trailers are home to the people who keep the popcorn popping and the roller coasters rolling at the State Fair of Virginia.

The workers who erect the rides, push the buttons and hand out the furry prizes are nomads. Some spend almost all year on the road. The locations blur: Charlotte blends to Cincinnati, Baltimore gives way to Biloxi. But the layout of the temporary village is consistent.

"There's a pecking order to where the trailers park. The higher-ups [game and ride owners and managers] set up closer to the fair. The bunkhouses are farther away," said Jason Floyd, who with wife Angela owns six games and a ride that spins patrons swinging on a pendulum.

The Floyds have one of the bigger mobile homes. A picnic table outside the pop-out porch provides a shady spot to settle down and talk about their lifestyle. A shiny SUV is parked nearby.

"I've never had a real job, never worked for anyone else," Jason said. "I have a lot of flexibility and freedom.

"The Floyds travel more than 10 months a year, packing up their home and amusement ride and driving it around the country by tractor-trailer.

The walls in their three-bedroom, two-bath mobile home are painted in bright pastels. The couple check e-mail on the Internet and watch satellite TV. .These amenities go a long way to making life on the go bearable, they say.

Andy Deggeller works for the family business, Deggeller Attractions, which owns and operates the traveling fair. He often sets up a hot tub and tiki torches outside his mobile home. "Pretty much anything you need travels with us," Deggeller said, pointing to a cargo trailer filled with stuffed animals and other belongings.

Deggeller and his wife often spend evenings with the Floyds.

Day-to-day life is "pretty normal stuff; the only difference is we move our house every two weeks," Angela said.

Jason is a fourth-generation carnival worker. His family once ran a traveling fair based in Tennessee. As a kid, he spent every summer on the road. Some kids grow up attending carnival schools in trailers - such a school operated here until three years ago - but Jason went to public school in Tennessee.

Angela's father worked for a few years at a fair in Canada. She saw how much he enjoyed it, so when she graduated from college, also in Canada, she went to work for a carnival.

She and Jason met five years ago at a trade show. He was really quiet, she recalls.

Now the couple work as a team.

"I get tired of being in the same place," Jason said. "We were in Virginia Beach for five weeks, and I was ready for something new."

Angela, too, said she gets bored when they stay too long in one place.

But the job isn't often boring. Angela collects the cash from the games, restocks the prizes and helps in other ways as needed. Sometimes she has to settle disputes with agitated patrons. "One upset customer called me 'carnie' and 'white trash,'" she said, and smiled.

"People don't use the word carnie much anymore."

Angela, who handles the hiring and firing, said she used to hire Americans but that many were drunks who disrupted other workers and perpetuated the stereotypes of carnival workers as dirty, cheating types.

Now she relies on six South Africans who travel here on visas to work year after year.

Deggeller is not among the carnivals that allow workers to live in tents. Angela houses her workers in a bunk trailer that has eight private entrances, showers and laundry facilities.

Peter Nickiel, who runs the carnival's rock-climbing attraction, hails from Poland. This is his second summer with the carnival and he hopes to be back for a third.

"I came here to improve my English, mostly," he said, slightly out of breath from riding his bike across the midway. Asked whether he eats the carnival food, he was quick to answer. "Noooo. Would you eat it all the time if you worked here?"

Jason and Angela Floyd avoid the food, too, as well as the rides.

"I don't do well on rides," Angela said.

Gibson Showcase- On Broadway

I went to see the show "On Broadway" at the Gibson Showcase and enjoyed the quality of the singing and dancing as well as the song choices. They didn't sing all of the biggest songs from Broadway but they covered some of the favorites from over the years.

There are only five entertainers and a really good band but they give their all and show their talents and truly shine.

Included with the show was dinner and it was a salad, entree, dessert and drink. The salad was good with lettuce, nuts and fruit. The entree was a grilled chicken breast with wild rice and green beans and it was juicy and full of taste but the beans were nasty. My advice to the kitchen, work on those or find something else. The dessert was a biscuit-type bread with strawberries, strawberry sauce, ice cream and whipped cream and was the showstopper. It was fresh, delicious and refreshing. I would have been happy eating a couple of those for my meal.

Overall, the show was very entertaining and is good for all ages. They currently are having a hard time getting crowds because there was only a couple of other tables being used during the show. Take the time to check them out when you don't know what to do over the weekend with your family.

"On Broadway"Gibson's "On Broadway," is a trip down memory lane that highlights your favorite songs from the great white way. From the taxicab drive "On Broadway," the mischievious frollicking of "…Dolly." to "One Day More" of "Les Mes," Gibson Showcase provides the Ultimate Musical Experience with an evening of elegant dining and service to match!

Doors Open at 6 p.m.
Show begins with first course 6:55 p.m.

Per Person Rates:
$35 Lounge Level
$45 Floor Seats
$75 V.I.P.
$100 White Glove Service
$150 Ultimate Dining Experience
Group Rate Available

Tuck Hinton Architects

Tuck Hinton Architects have created such beauty in and around Nashville and yet so many of us aren't even aware of who created such amazing architecture and beauty that compliments our city.

Some of their work is very subtle and the eye misses some of the specialness at first but upon further viewing you see so much and see the fun curves, shapes and such.

You see cutting edge yet you also see the nod to tradition and grandness of days gone by. I'm grateful to have such a talented architectural firm here in our own city who helps make Nashville such a wonderful place to visit and live.

Some of their works include:
-Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
-Tennessee Bicentennial Mall
-Frist Center for the Visual Arts
-Nashville Public Square Park
-Tennessee Aquarium IMAX Center
-Tennessee World War II Memorial
-Civil Rights Room at the Nashville Public Library (downtown)
-Kennon Sports Hall of Fame at Middle Tennessee State University

To see all the many wonderful examples of their design, please follow the link to their website:

"Architecture must have the religion of light, a sense of light as the giver of all presences."Louis I. Kahn

What is Nashville in Need of or is Lacking?

I ask that question and some of the responses I received are....

-Uno's Chicago style pizza
-N.Y. Bagel Shop
-Downtown movie theatre
-A "real" club...a mix of all kinds of people and music.
-Winchells or Fosters donuts
-In & Out burger
-Drive-in movie theatre
-Six Flags amusement park
-Upscale Chinese restaurant
-Upscale Mexican restaurant
-1/2 price ticket service for shows and events
-Nordstroms-Better public transportation
-A real N.Y. style deli with a perfect Reuben.
-More sidewalks around the city.

High on the Hog by Ella Mae Tucker

"Lickin Good Eatin"Hillbilly Recipes

Looking for interesting recipes? Have a look at these...

-Watermelon Rind Preserves
-Corncob Jelly
-Buttermilk Fudge
-Rabbit Pie with Hot Biscuits
-Squirrel Pie
-Saurkraut Cake
-Burnt Sugar Icing
-Pumpkin Cake
-Apple Dumplings
-Molasses Pie
-Vinegar Pie
-Huckleberry Muffins
-Candied Yams

Mint Julips for the Kentucky Derby

For nearly a century, the mint julep has been the traditional beverage of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby. The Early Times Mint Julep Cocktail is a ready-to-serve beverage that has been the "The Official Mint Julep of the Kentucky Derby" for over 16 years. Over 80,000 Early Times Mint Juleps are served over the two-day period of the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby, requiring 8,000 liters of Early Times Mint Julep Ready-to-Serve Cocktail, 2,200 pounds of freshly harvested mint, and 80 tons of shaved ice.

The mint julep is a tradition as old as the Kentucky Derby itself, as much a part of Derby tradition as bugles and roses. Rarely seen the rest of the year, this potent concoction is the national drink for a few hours every first weekend in May.

The julep is the official toast to the winning horse, but fans at Derby parties tend to start long before the finish. Most Southerners will admit that it's an acquired taste, at best, this mixture of bourbon, sugar, mint, and ice.

"I like the taste. I grew up with them," native Kentuckian Norma Taylor says with a smile. "You have to like bourbon...and mint."

Like another Southern delicacy, Coca-Cola, the julep was concocted to mask the taste of medicine. It caught on among the healthy.

Legendary U.S. Sen. Henry Clay served juleps on his Kentucky plantation, and introduced Northerners to the beverage when he went to Washington. In the 1850s, Clay brought his recipe to Washington's Willard Hotel.

Willard bartender Jim Hewes still makes juleps based on Clay's recipe: "A teaspoon of sugar, six or eight red-stem mint leaves, and a small measure of bourbon," Hews says.

He churns that mixture, then adds a lot of ice, more bourbon, a splash of water, a sprig of mint and a sprinkling of sugar on top.

Controversy rages over the minutiae of a proper julep -- chipped or shaved ice, crystalline or boiled sugar -- but julep purists agree that a real mint julep must be served in a frosted silver julep glass. And, of course, made with the finest Kentucky bourbon. Moonlight and magnolias are optional.

The Grade II Early Times Mint Julep Stakes on May 24 at Churchill Downs is sponsored by Early Times, the time-honored ingredient in mixing an authentic mint julep. If the Early Times Mint Julep Ready-to-Serve Cocktail is not available from your local retailer, you can make your own with this recipe:

Early Times Mint Julep
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
Sprigs of fresh mint
Crushed ice
Early Times Kentucky Whisky
Silver Julep Cups

Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool and place in a covered container with six or eight sprigs of fresh mint, then refrigerate overnight. Make one julep at a time by filling a julep cup with crushed ice, adding one tablespoon mint syrup and two ounces of Early Times Kentucky Whisky. Stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the cup. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

The source of this information is

Sunday, April 15, 2007

RAF war drawings found at mid Wales hotel

Drawings of planes and technical details about wartime aircraft were found scribbled on walls at the Belle Vue Royal Hotel in Aberystwyth.

The RAF said pilots trained in Aberystwyth during the war and were probably billeted at the hotel.

It has sent details of the find to its air historical branch in London.

The RAF's spokesman in Wales, Squadron Leader Peter Sinclair, described the drawings as an "incredible piece" of wartime history.

Pictures of wartime fighter aircraft and bombers, one complete with a pilot smoking a pipe, were discovered when the hotel stripped the walls of the room to decorate.

Technical data about the wingspan of British and German planes and dates from 1943 and 1944 were also uncovered.

"We know that during the war years, Aberystwyth was the home of No.6 Initial Training Wing (ITW)," said Sqn Ldr Sinclair, who has visited the room.

"My research leads me to believe that the hotel was used as billeting for the students of the training wing and may even have been used as a classroom or some other type of learning centre.

"Certainly this would explain why they took great trouble to record aircraft data on the walls of the bedroom - they would retire to rooms to do homework and revision and the data they needed to absorb was recorded on the walls."

Phrases, such as Bing for king and Joe can't sing, were also discovered daubed on the walls.

These may have been used as a training aid to remind pilots about a certain procedure, added Sqn Ldr Sinclair.

The hotel's owners now plan to re-decorate the room.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Hotel website:

Saturday, April 14, 2007

It's a Car, It's a Boat, It's Both

The Food of Marche in East Nashville

The Meal

Proscuitto with shaved asparagus and parmesan cheese

Croissant French Toast with Apple Bacon

After Dinner Coffee and Biscotti