For the past six months, I have been on sabbatical. Which is a fancy way of saying I haven’t been doing shit. I quit my job in January and started traveling—up the West coast, then to Chicago, then back to Colorado.
But unless I can find a way to monetize watching episode after episode of Bones on Netflix, it’s pretty clear that Snoop Doggie Dogg is going to need to get a jobby job. For my last hurrah, I attended the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Tennessee. Since I was going to be in the area anyway (and I can watch Bones anywhere with WiFi), I extended my trip to check out Nashville and Memphis.
After Bonnaroo (Bonnaroooooooo!) I hopped a bus to the downtown Nashville hostel. Then I hopped off the bus and puked on the side of the road. Then I caught another bus, checked in to the hostel, and puked some more. Then I laid in bed for two days, shivering, feverish and fairly certain that I had contracted SARS or a virulent strain of bird flu from camping with all those glow-sticked, hula-hooping trustafarians. Thanks a lot, hippies!
But then I got better, and I set out to explore Nashville.
The first thing I discovered is that Nashville is just like Austin, in that it has a downtown full of theme bars and cover bands, where all the tourists go.
And then it has the East Side where you will find all the bike shops, food trucks, and semi-ironic dance parties.
The East Side is just a quick 30-minute walk from downtown, and I was feeling pretty cocky for about the first 25 minutes because even in the Tennessee sun, I was barely breaking a sweat. I thought all those summertime bike rides in Austin had permanently acclimated me to the heat. I was like, c’mon wimps! This isn’t HOT. The minute I stopped walking, I was instantly sopping wet and tying my shirt around my waist junior-high style to cover the probable ass-crack-sweat marks coming through my pants. (I then dubbed this a “sweatkini”).
In the midst of my sweat-shaming, I happened upon this awesome shop and chatted with the owner, Greg Sturgeon. Greg gets discarded wood and found objects and turns them into new furniture. And he sells knives. So, if you’re ever in East Nashville and you a) need a new table, or b) need to cut someone/thing, Greg’s your guy.
Of course, the main attractions in Nashtown are the historical music sites. Like the Country Music Hall of Fame:
And the Ryman Auditorium, where they filmed The Grand Ole Opry:
And the new Johnny Cash Museum:
Here, you are reminded that, in addition to his brilliant music career, Johnny made appearances on some shitty, shit-tay film and television shows, i.e., the show Renegade starring Lorenzo Lamas.Finally, Nashville is home to the Hatch Show Print shop, which has made iconic music posters for everyone from Duke Ellington and James Brown to Merle Haggard and WIlco.
Next up: MEMPHIS! In the meantime, let me remind you of this song, which was in my head pretty much the whole time I was in Tennessee (Tennessee)… YOU’RE WELCOME.