Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Bar Stool Analysis

I have had few if any meaningful encounters on a bar stool, perhaps it is because I am a woman and frankly a woman on her own in a bar is there for two purposes, conversation is not one. So when I read this piece I thought of my own encounters and explorations as I have travelled in America to cities that are often neglected - Cleveland; on the edge of change - Pittsburgh, Memphis, The Low Country including Charleston and hopefully soon St. Louis.  Some are further along in the process and some have established themselves as tourism and the migration that results due to the jobs it creates changes the dynamics of the city.  Nashville is one such example. The largest sector of employment is in fact the medical industry and that includes the tech sector with the remaining employers connected to the hospitality industry.  There are two wage scales here - upper lower and lower - meaning working class run into the Government and Municipal jobs topping out at 50K and the few Surgeons and Lawyers hitting the six figure pay scale.  The rest are 35K jobs without insurance, job security or any long term financial growth as they require little education and training. That is the largest sector of the migrants in the region but to Nashville you would think everyone here is on the six figure pay scale with apartments renting at over 1500 a month, no public transport to reduce commuting costs, no benefits to aid in health care and of course the red state politics that press and repress everything from sexuality to voting.

I tried talking to those who live in Nashville but they are afraid and they are afraid that if they ask questions they will lose what tenuous hold they have on to their work, their security and their sanity. They are almost all functionally illiterate and despite the amounts of Ph.d's that adorn the walls of the schools here the education is lacking and largely secular.  Jesus rules in ways that lead the battle for civility and intellect.

So those who are educated are in positions of power but they know their audience and they know they are dumb so everyone is placed in crab lump salad of idiocy.  When you speak directly and honestly you are viewed with suspicion and distrust and no one trusts anyone here and with good reason.  Liar Liar Pants Afire in Nashville is akin to a forest fire as the truth is an elusive concept best saved for backrooms where they light it afire with trash talk and nastiness that dominates their world view. Church is about Christianity as defined by assholes with a superiority complex.

When I read the below essay I thought once again this a view from a man, a white man, who can walk into any space and make it their own. Then regale us with their insight and observations that of course rarely include women, women of color and those whose sexuality falls left of basic.  In my world view my conversations I call randoms and I try to simply strike up a convo wherever I am with whomever is closest.  That can be a street corner, a bus, a bar or somewhere where they are literally a captive as they cannot go anywhere.  My most recent was the Bouncer at a weekend bar in Memphis and we had an engaging conversation about race, drugs and yes Obama.  We truly parted warmly and I found myself once again relieved that I was able to strike up a convo with a man who was not like myself and in turn learn about views and thoughts that were not all that different than my own.  My last other random of depth was a Lyft Driver in New Orleans which led to a discussion on economics, and how politics and influence dictate how we earn, how we buy property and in turn how we move up a ladder to actually nowhere but the illusion there marketed as the "American Dream."

These are not necessarily hours long, often you find a point when you get to it and when someone says their thoughts it is not about those thoughts but how you respond to them.  Listening and hearing are two very different skill sets and few can actually do them well.  Hear that latest song by Taylor Swift? Sure but did you listen to it?  That takes more time and a larger investment but just that title alone says it all and the Me in me doesn't want to listen to the her in her.  The dropping it during the NFL draft shows what a savvy marketer she is and when you can exploit something for free and get the coverage you need to sell what you have to sell all I can say is Go Girl.  But then again I am a Queen B fan so tell me who wears it better?

When I read this once again I thought the obsession with the South is fascinating as in reality we think of it as some type of place we would visit but not want to live there unless of course you have a job with a great salary, are retiring or are black and moving to Atlanta.  The great migration has switched with many professionals finding themselves coming "home."  I wish them the best as the same reasons that a generation before moved North the same issues remain.  The reality is that many of the professionals I have met have no interest in improving the culture they simple are much like their white Carpetbaggers, they are there to take.   Equality achieved.

That is what our society has become, to take, not to give and not leave things better than when you found them.   I always thought that until I came to Nashville and then I found a clothing patch that says:  May the Bridges you burn light the way.  I think that says it all.

Can Bar-Stool Democracy Save America?
Honestly, I’m not sure, but I went below the Mason-Dixon line to find out.

By Tony Horwitz
Mr. Horwitz is the author of ““Spying on the South: An Odyssey Across the American Divide.”

April 27, 2019/The New York Times

Last week I saw my cardiologist. He told me I drink too much.

This wasn’t a shock. I live on Martha’s Vineyard, by the wine-dark sea, where drink animates the bleak winter months — and lays down a base for the heroic imbibing of the summer social season.

Also, I’m a writer, a trade unrenowned for temperance. William Styron, my former island neighbor, spoke of drinking “abundantly, almost mercilessly” as a “magical conduit” to his literary imagination.

Styron, however, was a novelist. I write nonfiction, on sober subjects like the Civil War and the abolitionist John Brown, a teetotaler. Nonetheless, I do feel the need to frequent bars. Frequently.

My latest book follows Frederick Law Olmsted, who became a landscape architect after an unlikely apprenticeship: touring the 1850s South as an undercover correspondent for this newspaper, which had just opened shop with a pledge “to be temperate and measured” in its coverage. My journey in Olmsted’s wake opens in a seedy tavern — O.K., two taverns — and a lot of beer flows before I drain the last, at a casino bar in Texas. My travels with Fred could reasonably be cast as a pub crawl across the old Confederacy.

“If you want to know about a culture,” Ernest Hemingway supposedly said, “spend a night in its bars.” Olmsted believed this, too. As a Connecticut Yankee in the slave states, he often felt stonewalled by “planters & gentlemen” he interviewed. Not so the plain folk he met at rough-hewed watering holes across the South.

“My best finds,” he wrote, “were coarse men with whom I could take a glass of toddy in the barroom,” including “third-rate tavern keepers” and itinerant peddlers. Also, “Innkeepers’ wives are not to be neglected.”

I didn’t consciously follow this bar stool guidance while trailing Olmsted from the Potomac to the Rio Grande. To get my bearings, I often stopped first at a chamber of commerce or small-town newspaper office. But my best sources were cultivated after hours, at dive bars and pool halls like those I visited upon arriving in West Virginia on Halloween night a few years ago.

“Don’t see many new faces around here,” a mechanic said, buying me beer before sharing tales of the state’s drug epidemic and mobile labs exploding in flames in midday traffic. A woman explained why I hadn’t seen any trick-or-treaters on the streets. “Parents didn’t want their kids out on a Friday,” she said, with all the “meth-heads partying it up.”

Material like this can be hard to come by at the chamber of commerce.

One of my frankest exchanges about race occurred at a black-owned bookie parlor and bar in Mississippi, where the proprietor said of his white neighbors, “we wave, make nice, and that’s it. We still don’t know each other.” He also felt a black president had failed to improve the lives of African-Americans in the Delta. “Moneywise,” he said, “we’re still at the bottom.”

At another back-room establishment, the only bar in an East Texas county with 87 churches, the white bartender told of her troubled marriage to a member of the Aryan Brotherhood — then giggled over puppy pictures with the bar’s black manager. Others regaled me with tales of the racial and religious intolerance that lurked beneath the county’s genial surface. “It’s somewhere between Mayberry and ‘Deliverance,’” the bartender said.

In a less Gothic vein, bars often introduced me to the patois and subcultures of a region that was never one South. At a tavern by the railroad tracks in Donaldsonville, La., I was met by drinkers who seemed to speak a foreign tongue, except for the barkeep, who gruffly demanded to know if I was “a tourist or Yankee,” with an expletive for emphasis. When I answered “both,” he piled plates with spicy shrimp, chicken and boudin sausage — on the house, along with the beer — while patrons jovially tutored me on Cajun lingo and customs.

Olmsted had many such encounters, in an era when “ardent spirits” and “grog-shops” were so ubiquitous that even the landscape seemed tipsy to him. “The whole concern,” he wrote of a Virginia shanty, lurched to one side, “as if too much whiskey had been drank in it.”

Alcohol also lubricated political talk and campaigns for office. This remained true well into the 20th century, North and South, with ward heelers courting and sometimes buying drinkers’ votes. Not so long ago, presidential candidates flocked to working men’s bars, to be photographed downing a beer with “Joe Six Pack” — a name that connoted manual labor rather than gym-hardened abs.

Such optics are rarer now, for reasons that include abstemiousness, dying industries and a bar culture not always welcoming to women and minorities. Elizabeth Warren struck a blue-collar note by cracking a beer upon announcing her presidential bid. But she did so in her kitchen in Cambridge, Mass., for an Instagram audience.

This migration from social to virtual drinking spaces may be good for our livers, but not for our body politic. At a campaign office in Wheeling, W.Va., I met a veteran union leader who recalled the days when “folks watched network news and talked politics at the beer joint.” Now, he said, “everyone’s in the car or at home, tuning in their favorite rants. We’re just shouting past each other.”

Olmsted lamented this disconnect in his own polarized era, as Americans retreated into hostile camps that denounced and demonized each other. In going south, he sought “reliable understanding of the sentiments and hopes and fears” of Americans on the other side of the nation’s widening divide. He also hoped his factual, firsthand dispatches would “promote the mutual acquaintance of the North and South,” enabling reasoned dialogue rather than invective.

This literary statesmanship failed. Olmsted ultimately despaired of finding common ground with white Southerners he judged implacable on slavery. Instead, he decided the North should enlarge the freedom of its own citizens, by creating public parks and other spaces that would uplift and “assimilate” people of all classes and backgrounds. In designing Central Park with Calvert Vaux, Olmsted was in large part a social engineer, rebuking the slave South with a democratic space that The Atlantic Monthly hailed on the eve of the Civil War as “the most striking evidence of the sovereignty of the people yet afforded in the history of free institutions.”

Our current national fracture isn’t over slavery and freedom, or so clearly defined by region. But I came away from my travels feeling that there’s still great value in seeking, as Olmsted did, to cross geographic and ideological divides and engage with fellow Americans as individuals rather than as stereotypes.

Wandering into red-state Southern bars with a reporter’s notebook, to quiz drinkers about race or guns or immigration, isn’t always a walk in an Olmsted-designed park. I’ve been assailed as a “libtard” and an agent of the “lying media,” and once had to flee a biker bar in Tennessee when a leather-clad giant ate my notes and credibly threatened to beat me to a pulp.

But I can count such hostile receptions on one hand. In almost every other instance, I’ve been met affably, by drinkers open about their views and curious to know mine, as a visiting writer from “Taxachusetts.” Often I hear opinions I don’t expect, like self-described right-wingers dissenting from Trumpian orthodoxy on health care or a border wall. More often, we disagree across the board, vigorously. In two years of travel on Olmsted’s trail, I doubt I changed anyone’s mind, nor did they sway me from my political stance.

But I like to think we did our modest bit toward “the mutual acquaintance” of opposed Americans and lowered the temperature on the overheated national debate over our differences. This doesn’t mean accommodating or papering over hateful policies and speech. Like Olmsted, I sometimes felt we’ve reached an impasse that can’t be civilly bridged and despaired over what he called “the drift of things” in America. But shouting through bullhorns from our respective bunkers isn’t an answer. It only deepens hostility and hardens allegiance to modern-day “fire-eaters” who spout lies and divisive rhetoric.

Now that I’m back home in Massachusetts, I listen differently when I hear comments that cast blue-collar conservatives as some sort of alien, monolithic species. I conjure instead the three-dimensional individuals I drank and debated with in factory towns, Gulf Coast oil fields and distressed rural crossroads.

And I hope they occasionally remember me. Not as a Fox-induced boogeyman on the bar TV, one of those “coastal elites” dripping with contempt and condescension toward Middle America. But rather, as that guy from “up north” who appeared on the next bar stool one Friday after work, asked about their job and life and hopes for the future, and thought what they said was important enough to write down.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Memphis Bound

This last weekend I escaped Nashville and their endless self promotion coupled with the modern day slave auction, the NFL Draft.  An appalling spectacle that already has found one draftee shot and his teammate killed. This on the heels of other prospects having serious domestic violence issues in their history, an issue not new to the NFL the sport that exploits young men, abuse their bodies and further degrade their minds without any admission that the increased emphasis on violence in the sport itself is like a self feeding tool to further take it off the field as on.

It is not lost on me living in Nashville and just returning from Memphis and while the two cities could not be more different in personality, culture and history they share a trait when it comes to crime and violence.  Nashville buries it and covers up that on the same weekend that saw over 300K visitors just an hour away a young man killed his entire family; that a shooting on street within minutes of the main action seven people were shot or another nearby killed.  Then in a neighboring county two Elementary students were charged with planning a shooting.

Memphis has equally a significant problem with crime and violence and the weekend I was there a woman was killed in front of her apartment in the downtown area.  But Memphis is working and aware of the problem and are not in denial as they are in Nashville and seemingly that was acknowledged several times over the weekend with reports on violence. 

The culture and character of Memphis is literally night and day and the faces of the residents when you pass on the street reflect that, there are often random encounters with locals who introduce yourself or with service workers who are more than engaged with those whom they come into contact. I met more people and had more engaging if not highly amusing conversations with the locals in Memphis in a 72 hour time frame than I had living in Nashville coming on to three years in June. 

Memphis is a Chocolate City and that may explain why it has resisted gentrification despite the fact that the city is more interesting, demographically laid out well and has a striking waterfront that is well utilized and appreciated, unlike the filthy Cumberland which the city tolerates but tries its best to ignore as a pest that nearly brought the city to its knees a few years ago.  And like Nashville the division between the have and have not's has been well preserved over the last few years.  While Nashville has found itself outing the first Black Director of Schools under the belief it was racism versus overall incompetence, Memphis has had several. Their schools are no better but they have fewer options that the old money of Nashville have found with their numerous private academies that dot the landscape.   Memphis has its Beale Street like Nashville has its Broadway, it has the Rock and Soul Museum, the Civil Rights Museum, the Cotton Exchange and many others with of course the King of Rock n'Roll's land of Grace and all things Elvis within a 20 minute drive out of town and yet once through those gates is as if entering another world.   Nashville aspires to be any city it is not, Seattle is a coveted choice, Vegas another and it may explain its endless nicknames that they seem to affix with each passing fad.  My God Nashville is a shithole, they should try that one.

Memphis makes no apologies and no excuses they seem to be fine with who they are and the city has a flavor much like its sister City - New Orleans.   The high spirit, the energy and the sense of place perhaps has enabled it to just stay as it is despite the flows of the river and the riches that run through or past it. NOLA turned 300 this year and Memphis is turning 250 and she is not showing her age but is like a fine wine that needs to be opened and savored.  Nashville is yesterday's beer, flat and tasteless and has it self congratulates and humble brags about its varying "it" status they neglect the people that made it so and the arrogance and idiocy that line the streets only further demonstrates how clueless they are.    I sense that while Seattle the real city on the "rise" (which they say here endlessly) shows the risk with the crane collapsing yesterday and killing four is something again Nashville aspires to have. They want a mass shooting, they want a disaster, they need something to prove to themselves that they are worthy of all the lies they spout and bullshit they spread.

Before I left for Memphis the adjacent developer to my apartment (now going condo whatever)  was planning on building more condos and units that were "affordable" and while most of his have sold many are still on the market or going back on the market.  The store that opened as a mini bodega closed abruptly leaving the owners bankrupt as the promised business and traffic never happened and may not despite the endless commercial structures now replacing the promised dwellings.  The neighborhood like many in Nashville has been designated an opportunity zone and that enables investors to build with little to no risk secured by tax breaks and write offs that residential building does not - an irony not lost that affordable housing should be the real development as it is needed but again does anything make sense here?  And this continues with another massive real estate deal that again changes the tune here in Music City.

What the federal Opportunity Zone program does it defers, reduces and, potentially, eliminates taxes on capital gains tied to development within such designated areas.   Gosh its good to be rich and most of it is tied to out of state investors with little to no skin in the game and no interest in what is good for Nashville or the people who live within.  Another absurd development is planned in a area that put in a branch of a coffee shop I go to and it too struggles to keep its roof but more are coming, with more and more money pouring it the cup its all too good to say no to a refill.

But the cup is not bottomless and the reality is that the growth and projections for the city to be some Class A metro may be ending.  The current Government is moving forward on School Vouchers, Anti Voting bills and anti LGBQT laws.  Then you have the move to destroy choice as we know it this states red colors will fly proudly as the Nathan Bedford Statue does off I-65. Memphis had the common decency to simply sell the public park its statue sat upon and the new owner promptly removed it.   This too led the state to completely adjust laws to prevent any other municipalities from doing the same as they do in pretty much every scenario here.  Self rule is sole rule and two cities have two different dynamics but much like the Slave Overseer they have little freedom to run to their own rules.  And the reality that race drives this cannot be overlooked but it is not the primary factor, it is and will always be money.  Then it is the Church which dictates the rules that govern the laws and then the tribe one belongs to and the family from whom one comes from.  I have been questioned in Nashville more times than I can count: Why did you come here?  More an accusation than an inquiry versus Memphis: Where are you originally from?  It takes a five minute encounter with me with a local to figure out I am not from here but in Memphis it was seen as welcoming and inviting, here in Nashville is like pointing to the zombies from the Night of the Living Dead.  It is a warning that another "outsider" a "carpetbagger" here is to take, take something that from what I could tell before I did get here was a shithole.  So don't worry I used to think that I should leave it better than I found it ruled, I have now found the exception. Nashville you will always be a shithole no matter how many fancy buildings or restaurants or conventions you bring as the source of shit is from within. What comes in must come out as they say

Go to Memphis and find soul, literally and figuratively. 

Sunday, April 21, 2019


Here in the buckle of the belt it is Easter and by, for,  and because of the LOVE OF GOD you will go to Church to believe the story of the day which is that a man who professed to be the son of God, born of a Virgin was crucified and three days later after his death resurrected back to life in order to cross over to the other side and rise to heaven to be with his dad.  So he was dead then alive to be dead again?  Okay, then.

Religion requires a suspension of disbelief that would be akin to Neil deGrasse Tyson watching The Martian.  The difference is that there are fewer scientists of his intellect in the world then there are believers of this book called the Bible, the Koran, the Talmud or any other religious text that makes one believe the stories told by men about visions or conversations they had with this God they call whatever name they choose to give.

This morning at dawn I awoke to BBC World News doing a story they called the Stations of the Cross. These were narratives told by women who had survived horrific lives to cross over to the other side of life in which to not just survive but to live.  Station 11 resonated with me as the narrator was so calm as she recalled her abuser taking her to a motel that the clerk asked no questions and only cared that the room was paid, where there was an elevator yet they never used as they walked up the stairs and there were thirteen, an irony not lost, and taken to a room where she serviced the sins of those who walked the same path.  No questions were asked and no one cared as long as the money was paid.   Ah yes ask me no questions I will tell you no lies.

This week again I found myself at a station myself where I  was asked a question and why I could not lie I wondered why I cared so much I was screaming at the top of my lungs to  a person who not unlike they many believers that align the pews of their place of worship wanting to believe whatever lies that they hear and in turn pay for them as a debt if not of gratitude but of obligation.

For me my home is my Sanctuary and my house of worship is the Theater. When the house lights go down and that moment before the first performer hits the stage there I see and experience a moment of excitement and pleasure that I feel in the early morning hours and that of the dusk when the light of day changes from night to day or day into night.  I am sure that is the moment when the air changes and all the goodness and darkness meld into one and I find peace.  Those are short time frames but yet they happen every day and it is every day I am grateful that I have another one to live and learn.  And I don't need to go to a place indoors to recognize the greatness of the world and its creation when it is all around me. 

Then I came to Tennessee a city on the rise, much like Christ, as there is little here they don't seem to appropriate that analogy when it comes to anything and everything here.  It is a sense of arrogance and entitlement that one would think would come from places that have rich histories, rich people and a rich culture that enables them to have that air of superiority; places like Manhattan  London, Paris and yes even like Moscow.   But there is little here to say that anything in Nashville is akin to these metropolitan cities, even Boston which I loathe, should be but really the people there are so horrific you rarely hear that city in the same breath unless it is about Sports, Marathons and Harvard.  Hmm that is  just like Nashville only we have a block of bars where the sinner go to wash away their sins down with cheap beer and really bad music that no church choir could ever replicate. To that I go, THANK GOD!

Perhaps why they lie here,  not like a rug as a rug offers decor, warmth and a sense of purpose, what lies that are on offer are just that lies.    When I came home to my place of peace and my sanctuary the other day I found a neighbor sitting aside the door to the unit below mine waiting for the real estate agent to let her in.  The same neighbor of the last two years who endlessly complains, whines and atones about the building, its neglect and the neighborhood all while having no reason to stay and who lives in a dumpier unit than mine for no other reason than this is convenient.  Almost everyone agrees this is a very convenient location.  If by convenient you mean "downtown" Nashville of which there is nothing for those who reside here unless honky tonks are your thing.    For the record there are better areas that are no less convenient but they are not as cheap and as a transient as this building.  So when we were told it was going condo someone forgot to tell the people who are still renting and the few that are buying that no one is going unless they are actually legally forced out and at this point reading laws and leases are seemingly beyond the capability of anyone who lives, runs or owns the building.  But the thought of this disturbing and bizarre girl living one step below was too much.  The six months I have left are my stations of the cross and each month I carry it one step at a time  to the end of the journey only with this cross I plan on dumping it at the state line as I am done abusing myself and being the victim.

I came here broken and I had an intent on fixing some of the things that mattered but the wound, the deeper wound I simply thought would heal as distance and time as we have been told often heals such wounds, had not.   Whoever said that must of been a Nashvillian as that is a big lie.  So while I have done little to nothing other than move here I do what I do best, keep busy, bury the dead and run from the living.   I should be a extra on Walking Dead as I have lived a life much like those survivors constantly on the move and on edge.

And while this week was the hysteria about the Muller Report I was in arms about my own rage and unhappiness that seems to never end. There are these brief moments where I feel that my cross has been lightened only to find another station around the corner and then up it goes on this back where seemingly no straw will ever break this Camel's.    So when I look up from the weight I cannot see the light as while I wear no crown of thorns my eyes are blurred not from blood or tears but of rage.
This is one cross that weighs a ton.

Trying to understand my anger means going back in history to study the past in which to learn for the future and try to cope in the present.  I have finally realized that all of this self analysis and self diagnosis is like the Bible it is just bullshit on a page that somehow is to supposed to explain, justify and excuse all the actions of man. Note man.  The men who write the stories rob those who surround them and take their strengths and make them their own.   Even the book of Psychiatric Disorders is called a "Bible" of mental health.  And when I read this story on NPR I could not ignore that this same Bible shares a common thread with the other as it too has labeled and mislabeled illnesses that had little to do with mental health and more about the personal issues of those who authored said bible.   Homosexuality anyone?  But there are many others that suddenly one finds oneself with a new label and fistful of pills in which to cure/treat/abuse or ignore. I found this essay on Bustle tries to explain what happens when you find yourself at a new station in which to place the cross.

 What defines us is often what destroys us.  We often choose that definition over time but often it is assigned to us and then we spend the rest of our lives trying to live it up, live it down or simply not live it.  We change names, we change spouses, we change gender and we change where we live.  We never stop changing and we never stop until we stop living.  But again this a CHOICE, we can choose our faith, we can choose our family and we can choose how we live our lives.  That is the purpose of free will.    Some are fine with who they are and they know that and like a tree they plant early put in their roots and spread and that they stand until the forces of nature or man choose to no longer wish it too.

 This past week found several cherry trees here in Nashville being dug up to be "moved" to meet the demands of the next biggest religion in the South - Sports.  The absurd NFL draft arrives here next week and to think that watching a bunch of men, pick a bunch of boys and paying big money for them to play on their teams is just another irony here in the South as it seems to remind me of a slave auction as most players are in fact Black and it cannot be lost that for many faces of color the only way to find success and wealth is from Sports  But the irony that this is also from Football, a sport that abuses the body and inevitably takes the mind as some reward for being the best at what you can do to entertain the masses.   And here in Nashville they are literally finding absurd religious analogies to this as some type of resurrection to the city.   To that I go MY GOD!  And yet I find myself using the same sporting analogy to define and understand my anger, that the perpetual state of offense in which I live has put me in a perpetual state of defense; that is anger's paradox - a strength and a weakness. 

The story of Jesus found himself with 12 Disciples and one willing to sell himself out for 30 Pieces of Silver, funny I think people in Nashville would sell themselves for less.  The obsession with money, the arrogance, the entitlement again shows itself in the children and their parents who cannot seem to function in the most basic of settings.  Yesterday at Yoga once again we found ourselves cleaning up after the previous class as if putting away the tools you use in which to keep God's body and mind strong and capable (as the walls at the YMCA are adorned with such scripture) is overwhelming.  Funny  that again that more than 3/4 of the people who live here are overweight and have massive health issues which is a  good thing that the major employers here are Hospitals, with Vanderbilt being the largest.

And  as we put away our tools another student and I spoke with the Teacher about the way people are here and the inability to listen and actually hear when you speak.  And when they do hear you they elect to select what you say and ignore it or misrepresent it.  My Yoga teacher was told to encourage the concepts of Yoga philosophy in her classes at Vanderbilt, which she did and was promptly reprimanded for teaching a "religion."  Which is odd as that was the same day the observer/evaluator commented that such a tool would be welcome.  So which is it?   Then  there was another time when asking students who were on their Menstrual cycle to advise her so she could accommodate. This was considered too personal a question.   Another strike.  Will the third be you're fired?  Doubtful this is not about anything that really matters as none of it is here it is simply to put people in their place, to reprimand and to scold is what they do, from the pulpit to the street it is a never ending struggle to listen and to be heard.    The fellow student, a trained and educated Nurse, was called addled by a Doctor there due to the meds she was using to offset knee pain which was why she was there in the first place in order to find another solution.  But rather that listen was instead  given a drug that she specifically told him she was allergic too leading to further major health issues and all accompanied by a bill.   So much for putting the Patient first.  She, as I did after my first go around with Vanderbilt, complained to all the executives and others in charge and in turn apologies offered but no real accommodation to resolve what brought her there in the first place,  so she moved on to another facility to find care.  In my case I decided I had to finish what I started  and see this as  just another station of which to stop with my cross but again it has been a lot to bear.   Vanderbilt has major problems and most of them surround communication, the word of Christ is one I have said many times during my encounters with the staff there.

Prayer is the drug, the message, the miracle,  and the tool used to salve the body and the mind.  Prayer is my conversation with God but in reality it is just to hear myself speak, to remind myself I am sane and yet talking to oneself is also a  sign of mental illness.  Ah yes another conundrum and another lie.   Faith is just that a belief and a choice.   That thing that Religion seems to want to take you away from, choosing to decide what one needs for one self.   But this same prayer to generate faith is used win a game, to get the lotto millions and to heal the sick.  So this gives you an idea how the tool that which is used to hammer a point home that only those who practice said faith matter and get what they deserve.  Funny about that prayer thing isn't it.    I have realized living here I don't get any of it.    I was told yesterday that the derogatory slurs, the ignorance and the failure to listen to me is not something I should take personally.  Well there is truth to that as there is again a presumption that everyone is an idiot and in turn need to be disrespected but when it is just coming at you non stop what choice do you have but to take it anything bu personal.  I see and that the reality that the idea of strength comes from this faith, from these teachings that fill this book that is of fiction. There is no way that all of this matters other than to those who wrote it and yet thousands of years later it is still literally gospel. Well I have taught history and literature for years and found strength in facts and from fiction but I know the difference.  And I know that when you speak to me personally it should be personal by knowing me and knowing of me.   So the only way I can cope is by withdrawing to my sanctuary and hiding in my home.  And the week that found the ways I do so falling apart (aka my Sonos system collapsing along with the thought of that lunatic nut living one step too close was another straw another station) and despite and finding others who have had similar problems doesn't make it better it just makes me less alone.  And I guess that is what wish to find in my Easter basket, Harvey, the invisible bunny that kept Elwood sane in a time of need.

 If you do not know the story it is about Elwood P. Dowd (played in the movie by James Stewart) a wealthy drunk who starts having visions of a giant rabbit named Harvey.   Elwood lives with his sister Veta  and her daughter; Veta worries that Elwood has gone insane. In the process of trying to have him committed, Veta admits that she occasionally sees Harvey herself. The director of the mental home, Dr. Chumley, tries to reconcile his duty to help Elwood with his own growing experiences with Harvey.

And that is what I wonder if being mad brings on the madness and that I will find myself crossing over to the other side where I cannot be rescued and in turn resurrected.   Life is like the water at the Baptismal fount and in turn gives life but faith that is intrinsic not extrinsic.  So sit in your pews and talk aloud and call it prayer and sing a song for the missing.  I will not be there and I know no one misses me and I will walk on with those who choose a different path to carry their cross.  I just keep reminding myself that this is not a place I plan on resting with mine. For a place of such Christians they are few and far between.   True Believers often are.   No wonder we walk alone.  But we are not missing we just have not been found, we too can be resurrected.

Monday, April 15, 2019

To Be Or Not

Is that not the proverbial question that Hamlet asked

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.--Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.

So that is all about living or dying only death is brought by one's own hand.  I do think we have all pondered that question when the darkest nights have become our dawns and I am no less guilty of it.  Mine was walking down a street as I looked at ways to kill oneself with over the counter drugs, such as Advil with other like medications or alcohol to act as a toxic poison.  I thought if I got high enough on Marijuana that I could manage then by finally pulling a Whitney and drowning in the tub.  As I was doing that it was the Gypsy  who walked up to me and said to me that day, "Whatever you are doing please stop." And then I jumped into a new place of worship and ran that for awhile until I decided that while she was cheaper than therapy she was just another port in a storm and like the cards she tossed I chose to toss another and move to Tennessee.  Little did I know how cards like ports were so cavalierly drawn and withdrawn when the holder has so many in their hands and yet they are not open unless like my Gypsy, cash is in the other on offer.

 Life is a river that flows with the currents and while I continue my swimming here in the deep red sea of the Cumberland River in Nashville I wonder what other shores can offer and if there is a dock or pier I can emerge and find respite.  It is not here and it seems that when you are an outsider there is only so long they will allow you stay on board the cruise ship that sails these waters.

This past week the Director of Schools found himself on the other side of the school door and was ceremoniously shown the exit.  Naturally the waters were black and dark and that was the reason that many came to the conclusion he was asked to leave, they failed to note he was leaving with over a quarter of a  million dollars and was so happy to go he chose the Twitter handle "JosephUnchained,"  a note to Django Unchained, a horrifically over the top movie that Quentin Tarantino did as some sort of whitewashing black culture.   I guess he is not racist in the least as the Director seemed to believe all his challengers were,  as anyone daring to question a black man failing at his job is.  And Nashville Schools are awash with many who have tried to navigate said waters only to fail and leave on the next ship out of town so while he may be a "first" he is not the last.    Like Othello his Iago failed him but then this Prince did not suffer the same fate as he sailed away with his hands full.

 I mention the Director as we arrived at the same moment in time and it appears we are leaving in the same time frame.   He was thought of as a Savior in every sense and I arrived as the Carpetbagger with nothing more to offer but thought of one who is here just to take.     I finally gave in  and placidly accepted each slur and derogatory glance and whisper as that that is how it is here.   I did not see behind it darker references to my gender, age or place of birth as I accepted it as the "Nashville Way."  Ah the slings and arrows of God's Army.   For a city of Christians it fails to act in every concept of the word.

This is Nashville,  a city that faces a body of water,  but that turns its back upon it.  And to Nashville the pulpit is their prosperity and to enter the city you must either drown it or brings to the alter the sole matter of import - money.   From fame, from fortune, from greed or from need without money there is no welcome mat to await you when you come to the shore.  That dock or that pier is there for rental, a brief place to refill, refuel and to then leave, ensuring still that an offering on the plate was made but they have no plans on offer  to reciprocate or thank you for your donation.    There are however false smiles, nods of heads and promises that like the Country Music that fills your ears which are nothing more than lies and broken promises.   The smell that dominates the air is not of hot chicken but of desperation and that is what one feels from everyone you pass on the shore.  They are there like you in search of some permanence, a place to rest and a place to be,  but as they find one door another closes and after awhile you jump back in the water just to feel something, to feel clean and pure again.

Water is symbolic of washing away one's sins.  The Baptismal fount that is to clean a baby and anoint it a child of God is to of course introduce said baby to the faith it will practice for life  This idea of holy water as a sacramental for protection against evil is common among Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and varying other Christian faiths that align the shores here in Nashville like fast food restaurants along a highway.  But water has a role in many religions for two reasons:  First, it cleanses and washes away impurity.  It makes something appear clean and new again.  But this is not just physically but spiritually as well.   The second reason is that is the building block of life. For without water there is no life.  Water can create but it can destroy and the very Cumberland of which I swim nearly did to this city a decade ago.  It may be why the city simply ignores the threat and goes on with songs that fill the honky tonks align the street that once became filled with water and not tourists; however, those are the kind of Carpetbaggers they love here.  Come stay and leave your money at the door like sins left at a confessional.

In Christianity there is a story of a flood and about of God's decision to return the Earth to its pre-creation state of watery chaos in which to remake it in a reversal of creation.  In  Zoroatriansim, they  are very specific as they take that same story and believe that it was a threat to the sinful world where there was a need to build a ship  in which to put specimens of all animals, humans and foods in pairs in which to survive the flood and in turn build this new purer better world.  In Nashville where the way of Broad sits it is the King of Churches in which all donations are made of free will and without demand, a street was once a place of sin and now it is salvation for this the city of it. Funny how from sin all is excused when money is on the offer.   And yet all of this could once again be washed away when the river rises to seek its wrath again in the future.  Or is that to clean and to purify?

All stories have a central role and place in all faiths and all of them have stories about the power and significance of water.  From Babies in baskets to save the world to the waters that drown it? Who wrote such stories, how did they come to be so believed?  So many questions, so few to no answers.   No one cares as we only care about those that are own.  Religion is the foundation of confirmation bias and that extends in to all phases of thoughts and beliefs in one's life be they learned from both the informal and formal ways one does learn such things.    Despite all this water we have seen of late there is little good when water arrives without invite and fish like company stink after three days.  So is this for cleansing or for punishment?  Hmm... more questions no answers by either human or spirit.

As a woman I think of how the role of women in the Church have been portrayed and yet even today women cannot enter their homes or places of worship during their menstrual cycle as they are thought of as impure and unclean.  And this crosses faiths and believes in all the texts that preach the dogma, the stories and rules for which the followers interpret and believe as their own.   Funny that in reality and in science (which must be suspended in disbelief in order to believe in this higher power)  blood is not dirty when it comes from the body and yet it is thought of as such when it comes from a women, the same blood that enables life and yet these same people will go out of their way to prevent women from choosing and deciding about their bodies and life.   So who wrote these passages, made this dogma that let women die in isolation when it is a function of life?  The same that believe to take a life for a misdeed, for an infraction, for advocating war and violence to resolve a conflict where more blood is shed.  So is that blood clean and good as it was for the good of all and yet the blood that comes from the source of all life is unclean; and let us not forget when a woman no longer is biologically capable of shedding blood she too is no longer valuable.  Our worth is tied to fertility and it imprisons and isolates us in ways more than that the three stations of the cross we bear. 

 I feel this essay covers many of the issues that surround faith and women and how it lends to the behaviors and attitudes around what it is like to be a woman in the world regardless of faith. And the irony again that here in Tennessee the Domestic Violence numbers are wash upon the shore like plastic bags in the ocean that choke the fish and kill our marine life.  To be or not death is not a choice for those who forget that being a steward of the faith means loving all that lives and breathes, man or beast.  Stewardship is not just an act of benevolence it is an act of Christianity.

As  these shores align with the Churches that mask as lighthouses and they each use their own light in which to signal who is to enter and more importantly to note who is to remain in the water.  For them the water is the life and the blood is of Christ and it is shed with limitations and restrictions and it is there to both give and take.  For those who have little to offer from a life born into circumstances less than those they are deserved of less and the endless beliefs that come from mantras and dogmas are as false as those who wrote them.  And he who accuses excuses as it apples to those that stand outside buildings that help the needy in less Biblical sense shouting profanities and hurling names, as they know they have God's forgiveness regardless of their acts.   

The moral superiority is the act of entitlement that demonstrates itself in the rudeness, the general unkindness, the dismissveness and the odd baiting of you like a fish that they pull ashore and play with only to neither eat nor toss back but just let it flop and die.  Fish another symbol that again represents Christianity is just that a symbol like a tattoo you have but forgot what it meant that drunken night it was permanently affixed to your skin.  And like the original symbol that pagans and Greeks and Romans used it to represent fertility or, more specifically, the female reproductive organs. As once again it is all about water and life and blood and what defines women's worth.    Later the Christians used it as a symbol to message the followers as unlike say, the cross,  it attracted little suspicion, making it a perfect secret symbol for persecuted believers. 

Ah that defines Christianity the persecution complex and nowhere seems to envelop that better than Nashville. The have, the have nots, the racial disparities, the newcomers versus the natives and the seekers of fame and the singers who align the river like choral messengers of a choir to call the congregation into the hall of worship and leave their sins at the door but bring their wallets within. The cry of the battle is the message that defines history and tells the story about those who fought and who one. The arrival of the messenger be that the face of the pulpit or of the politic in the South they are often one in the same. 

In that respect I read a piece in the The New Yorker, Why Facts Don't Change Our Minds, and there is no greater divide in the grand canyon of life that fact versus faith.  Perhaps that is why the population is so resistant to education as facts make one question ones beliefs in search of truths.  I have my truths as we have come to say of late and yes they are yours and yours alone they may not be mine.  But to divide is to conquer and to conquer is to assimilate and in turn be homogeneous as when we are all indistinguishable other than the color of our skin and our gender we can pretend we share a set of values and their is then no threat to the order.  Conformity is like sheep and lets keep the sheep herded.

And that is why I find myself constantly swimming upstream and why the Director of Schools and the Former Slattern/Mayor found themselves pushed back in the water. They did not know their place and when in power, power corrupts absolutely and that flood will come to cleanse you and wash away your sins.  The only problem with some water is that what brings things to the shore has an undercurrent that can pull things away.     The tow is always strong, it is seductive and the choral messenger of the Ocean often has a seductive song.  The idea is to get there without drowning or again to be or not an allow yourself to sleep with the fishes.   Seduction is powerful and sinful and yet without sin we have no life.   Ah to be or not.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Deep Dive

I feel as if I am swimming in the roughest of waters and if I don't keep swimming I am afraid I will drown.  I try to cry but there seems to be a shortage of tears and perhaps I need them to keep me restored for if I do I will fill these waters and surely I will in fact drown.

This morning I actually woke up sane and rested and I can't recall the last time I felt that way.  It was a feeling that doesn't last long so I elected to avoid the news with the daily shooting, car jacking and robbery reports to instead watch Seth Myers and really laugh out loud.  I need to hear myself laugh to remind myself I am capable of making sound.

As one ages one loses ones mind, ones looks and in my case my teeth.  The later is being repaired beginning next week so the next 6 months are highly essential for me to remind myself there is a shoreline where I can finally land and that should be enough to keep afloat here in these deep red waters.  As for my mind I have been upset for forgetting names of the numerous Musicians, Authors and Actors that fill my head and in turn my life so as I try to cope with what that means I think it means I just have a lot going on in my head.  As for looks I have never been a looker but aging removes even that potential to cover it with makeup and a stellar personality.  No kids having a personality is about the same as being good looking as that too fades over time.

As I write this I have a sign on my desk that says"  IF YOU KNOW TEACH! IF YOU DON'T KNOW LEARN!  It is on a clipboard where a bookmark I got at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville that says FIND GREATNESS WITHIN. I cannot say that these are two beliefs/mottos/expressions that have guided me these near 60 years and even now they too seem to fade in meaning.

One reason is that I have found myself placed in the schools here in the "vile and the city of it which comes from the word BullshIT as the city again prepares itself for another cluster fuck - the NFL Draft.   The reality is that within less than a mile of the center of activities resides not one but two major draft picks that define Ghetto Housing - Cayce Homes and Napier Place.  They are the center focus of crime and social ills that plague this city.  A few miles West and North mark more dilapidated projects that ring the city of IT to remind people of the poverty and desperation that enabled this city to qualify for loans and grants under the varying Government programs that were designed to lift the city from poverty. Those coupled with the FEMA grants and loans from the flood of 2010 it enabled this city by the river to be rise above the flood lines and became awash with a ton of outside money and investment. From this rose the Ascend Amphitheater, Music City Convention Center and in turn all the corporate greed that played that field better than any Titan has ever played.

Follow the money is one expression I use now more than any other.  It is the beacon in my lighthouse as I ask questions and try to dive deep to find funding, owners, foundations and others that appear on the landscape to build varying ports and piers and places of rest only to suddenly withdraw when another ship appears on the horizon.    Jumping ship here is a necessary survival tactic if one is to make it in this city of it.   I have seen the varying players of the stage jump on one issue take on the matter often tossing cards and flags that are awash with color and use those colors to lead ones to another path or away from the reality of the rings that line the city.  For as long as you are in the race and in the lane you are still in the game. And this race is full of many runners.

The transit bill was one that I had the most vested interest and the swimmers in that race suddenly emerged to take the lead and one stands out - jeff obami carr.  I had never heard of him and I found someone who knew him as this city of it is a small pool and many waders know all the swimmers at some point or another.  This many was an activist back in his college days and now runs a theater group and what better an actor to the stage than a man who can say the script while cashing the checks sent to him by the founding fathers, all white, all male and all with vested interests that have nothing to do with bettering their community or the people within; however, their wallets is another type of life preserver they will cling tight.   Mr. carr then ran for Mayor for a hot minute and then retreated behind the curtains like one of the many demons summoned by Oz to pull new strings.   The transit bill died and the handlers of the puppet, the "beards,"  and the men behind the curtain withdrew to come another day when a show is needed.   New performers will be found or the same old faces newly done to make them seem as if they cared all along will be there to ensure the audience is held captive to feign off disbelief. 

We have those faces of Oz and new Captains of ships that arrive almost daily to capture the attention and more importantly the support of the true crew that keeps the ships afloat and in turn if you recall those were the ones who died on the Titanic.   The poor, the faces of color, the immigrants, the laborers are all disposable as they can be replaced.  Hands out and arms outstretched is the face of Liberty and in America freedom comes from money.

Nowhere I have I really seen how money empowers and enables a community like I have here in Nashville.  Perhaps being surrounded by wealth that came from the Gates, Paul Allen, Jeff Bezos and the other billionaires and millionaires that align the shores of blue waters where I came from allowed me to focus on those issues that mattered in the bigger waters.  I could teach and I could learn and I could find my greatness within as being rich in Seattle was no different that being less rich or less famous, you are are what you make yourself and that may explain some of the character of Seattle that defines it "weirdness" from the Seattle freeze to the Seattle Process.  Waters that are colder lead people to jump out sooner and find their shores and ports to stay warm and often hide when it becomes too dangerous in which to swim.  But from that comes from the chance to restore and revitalize.   Not here in this vile the red waters are constantly churning but they are warm and in turn they are divided and as deep as the blood that poured into them from the endless battles that formed the landscape. And everyone here tries to stay afloat.  And perhaps that is why there is such a deep divide more a canyon than a river which marks those who come from outside the South.  We had battles, we had wars but the coolness of the climate, the longer winters and the shorter summers make people more willing to withdraw and to retreat to those safe spaces for which we have become so well known.   We don't hug, we don't touch, we ask for consent and we ask permission. We clutch pearls and agree upon a plan that we debate, discuss, agree upon and in turn negotiate and then change when we realize that we failed to consider and we consider everyone at the table. That is why it is a process the winters are long.

At that defines Politics herding Cats versus Sheep. Funny as neither are known as water animals.  I have said many times here observing the behaviors of this city of it and the people who have come here in search of the buried treasures that they believe align these shores that they are akin to sheep.  They follow they run around and ultimately have no clue what the hell is going on.  Cats on the other hand are annoying, smart and duplicitous, all while being adorable - when they choose to.    At times amusing, at times fascinating but at most times it is tragic in both cases.  What it shows is that the natives, the locals much like the Indians that were the true residents of this region and the one from which I came were the true holders of the map. They were the original migrants who understood the moves that were needed to stay alive and the reality of the climate in which they lived. They adjusted and they accommodated the environment and each other and yes they had their tribe and they were willing to shed blood in which to protect it.

Today we have our tribes and our nativism but it comes less with arms but more with words and that too shows the divide in my two waters.   The ones here are full of guns and weapons and perceived threats and dangers and that is the way to resolve the problem through violence.  In the other water from where I came it was through words and the same attacks came through those of the scholars of Latin via Ad Hominem ones that were thrown out with a life preserver but to remind you that you are less and unless you are willing to join one you will be one alone on your dock.  There is no less tribalism but less nativism (funny when you spell check this word the alternative is negativism)  as that defines the two - a willingness to let someone inside from the outside if they agree to never disagree.

I went on the monthly art crawl this Saturday and found myself immediately pulled toward my favorite place in Nashville, Hatch Print.  I bought something as I almost always do on these ventures as oddly here there is a strong art community that is more a little bit rock and less roll. But the history behind Hatch is one that for all the history that aligns the streets and buildings here has relevance to me.  And the piece I bought was from a woman with great wit and since her training there has ironically moved to Washington State. It was as if I had no other choice but to buy the piece as I knew again that waters flow in a singular direction for a swimmer and swimming against the current is often more challenging but always possible. But for me be it age or the fact that they are waters of which I am more than familiar no longer hold appeal; however,  I do want to move back into colder bluer waters for many reasons as those are ones when I know to get out and when to get in.  Warm waters are deceptive and that marks perhaps the most distinct tell about these waters is that lying here is not stillness not calmness but a perpetual state of the water beneath the shores.  It is the deep center that runs the core of the South  the ability to misrepresent, exaggerate, confabulate which marks the true culture of the South.    It is a production of fabricated, distorted, or misinterpreted memories about oneself or the world, without the conscious intention to deceive that seems to be why I find myself at odds in the world and with my view.  I used to say lying was an act of cruelty and to harm but an act of storytelling is an act of creation and not of harm.   And this Libra finally found a place that checks that balance in ways that makes one rethink that belief.   No Church nor Prayer can offer a place of rest for this exhausted swimmer as I met my match in these swimmers who would exhaust Michael Phelps and make him leave the pool.  These are waters that for the inexperienced requires a patience and training that I neither have nor want.  From the Politics to their Religion, the expression that any port in a storm is one that is not applicable here.  They offer no respite no place to rest and no chance to breathe.  The air here is hot, sticky and it envelops you in a way that is not cooling in the least.  A glass of Sweet Tea is hardly the refreshment one seeks after an exhausting race for survival and it is one drink I elect to pass on. It is as artificial saccharine as the one who proffers it.  I am parched here body and soul and as the waters stay calm I am not.  Once again I wonder if  I should try a new stroke or just dog paddle as I await to finally swim out and away to find my shore and a place to finally rest. 

I have many questions, no answers as that is the South, they never will not for failing to know the answer but to fail you in providing a resolution.   And that is why I know that the South and its waters will rise again and with them bring much harm to those not willing to take a deep dive. 

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Views From A Broad

I have spent the better part of the last week trying to stay rational and calm as I get down to the wire with my implant surgery coming up and the final six months to my exodus from this place I call the "vile.  Sorry there is nothing good about "it" as they call this city, Pennywise was it too and that was not a good thing. I cannot think of anything I love here. There are some charming things and they fill a small gap but this is a wide gap and I do mind it.

This morning I awoke to full Police presence at the corner of my street as a shooting had just taken place. Another just a few blocks away and this was neither the first nor last but this one was serious enough to block the entire street from vehicles entering or exiting the area.  Funny how relieved I was to see the park field lights left on all night as yesterday my neighbor as he was moving out a woman with a dog just waltzed past him and his friends and walked right into his unit.  As we all stood incredulous with this brazen act another of his friends inside saw her and told her to get the fuck out and she just did the Nashville smirk (of which I am very familiar) and a waltzed out and up the street. Good times here in the "It" city. 

And yet the week is not yet over and once again the hysteria over the Director of Schools reached new heights with a Council Member proposing a resolution to stop the Board from doing any firing or such until the State has finalized its recommendations on his license given he failed to follow protocol regarding notifying the State about all the Teacher abuse, sexual allegations and other shit that dominated the last year of the Directors contract.  The motion was tabled as oddly the same council member failed to show up so okay then.  But every day another scandal on top of another and all of it by faces of color to faces of color so again tell me about Race. 

But the City is too up in arms over the Cherry Tree scandal that dominated the headlines.  A row of trees that align a street that the NFL is using to set up for the draft permitted to have them cut down which the parks department agreed to do and mulch them.  This was months ago and then the day of someone realized this was too much and histrionics ensued and the trees not being actually cut down but removed to be replanted.  I am sure a decade old tree can withstand that or not and again this is the It city so it has to go, out with the old in with the new.  Some new trees will be planted there after the draft but hey what matters here is money bitches and the draft brings all kinds of that to all the right people and places.

I have repeatedly wondered why companies would relocate here and mostly that centers around Alliance Bernstein and its white collar business then I looked up said business on Indeed and Glassdoor.  This stood out:

Nashville Move Destroying Company
SVP (Current Employee) –  New York, NYFebruary 11, 2019
The company is in the middle of moving their headquarter's from Manhattan to Nashville (for cost savings). To say the move has been poorly handled and extremely poorly planned would be an understatement. Morale is absolutely horrendous. Leadership has no idea what they're doing and no business being in this business. I would stay as far as away from this train wreck as you can. Meanwhile a small handful of executives (who never bother to even show their face to the average employee) make ill-informed decisions that financially benefit themselves at the expense of absolutely destroying (for not good reason) good, long-tenured employees. This should be a case study in how NOT to manage a business. I cannot say that strongly enough. Absolutely disgraceful.
Suddenly all was clear like glass that they underpay their workers, have an intense culture and will likely not be transferring any workers as they primarily do what all companies do today - contract out workers.  So the dreams of six figure salaries are just that dreams as the reality is that they will still make six figures, pay no income tax on it and set up a mansion in one of the better areas and live the necessary six months or so to qualify as residents and the rest of the time be in the city of York to the north.  It is good to be rich and in the South follow the money.

Yesterday I had a chat with the most engaging Lyft driver ever and we talked about the dynamics of Southern Culture and we agreed it is about money. Then it is about your "people" and a type of tribalism that dominates the culture, followed by Religion and then Race which is not as large a component as believed.  I do think there is a strange co-dependency between Black and White Southerners that is aligned through the Church and again the "people" thing that defines the true almost co-conspirator style dynamics that enable the same few families or dynasties to run their respective communities.   Here in Nashville it is the Frist's, the Ingram's, the Freeman's,  and the Beaman's who rule the roost.  He said in Memphis it is five families and they have been at the helm of it all keeping Memphis largely poor and segregated not because of race but because of money.  I had no reason to disbelieve him as I see that here in spades.  Oh whoops is that a racist phrase?

The next matter of import as is always a matter of import is the never ending debate over the cost of housing, the failing, fading infrastructure and how it puts lives at risk. Someone was killed crossing or walking along a railroad track trying to cross a street and catch a bus.  Know it, been there and done that as it is by a school in the elite Belle Meade area and I no longer go there unless I have a car as it is not safe.  But then again right at my corner I have tracks and trains and guns and Cops so go figure is anywhere safe in this town?

And to think we don't have enough guns on the streets or in cars for kids to steal and use to kill and rob well don't worry they will be able to get them directly from the Teacher's desk!  

And lastly the Politics of the Red States veer largely with regards to both money and religion and I see it here in full tilt boogie. From School Vouchers to Bathroom Bills the never ending cycle of oppression and repression with the addition of another Voter Bill that further will restrict and suppress voting.  Hate Gays? We got that too.  All under the guise of Jesus.  Welcome to the New South same as the Old South just with cars. And plastic bags to put inside said cars as we won't be having any of those bag bans here, y'all!

And I went back and found this article from The Atlantic about how people view public transportation and their relationship to cars and like everything it is about a cultural perspective so no this won't change and never will.  I am leaving and it cannot come soon enough

Why People Don't Ride Public Transit in Small Cities

Booming regions like Charlotte and Nashville are stuck: Residents love their cars, so support—and justification—for expanding bus and rail systems is hard to find.

Alana Semuels
Oct 28, 2015
The Atlantic

NASHVILLE—This is one of America’s booming cities. An average of 82 people move here every day, amounting to a growth rate of 12.7 percent between 2000 and 2013.

And, as is the case in many booming cities, the traffic is terrible.

Congestion costs the average Nashville auto commuter 45 hours a year, according to an annual Urban Mobility Scorecard prepared by Texas A&M. There’s little public transit in Nashville, and most people get around by car: Drive around one of the city’s hot areas—The Gulch, Germantown, Downtown—on just about any night and you’ll see parking lots chock full of giant cars and people driving around in automobiles, looking for places to put them.

There’s agreement among just about everyone in Nashville, including the new mayor, Megan Barry, that the city needs more public transit, and it needs it now.

“I want to hear from you, Nashville, on how we can improve our transit and transportation infrastructure so that you can get out of your cars if you want to,” Barry said, in her inaugural address in September.

Barry is hiring a transportation czar and told me, on the phone, that she will look for federal and state funding for transit projects. The mayor and civic leaders have traveled to cities such as Charlotte, Denver, and Vancouver, she said, to see how those car-centric regions were able to expand their transit options over the last decade.

But the mayor, and the region, have a big challenge ahead. Putting in new light rail or even bus rapid transit is costly, and can take away space currently used by cars. And it is difficult to find funding in Tennessee, a state where there is no income tax and municipalities have to depend on sales tax for revenues.

“If we had a dedicated revenue stream right now for transit, we would be building it,” JoAnn Graves, the executive director of the Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee, told me. “We have not been willing to go into debt to fund any kind of transportation system.”

But, even if the city could find the money for a new light-rail line, would people use it? Like most Americans outside the biggest cities, people in Nashville are accustomed to using their cars. According to Census data from 2009, fewer than 3 percent of workers in the Nashville metro area used public transit to commute to work, making the city less public-transit-friendly than Houston, Richmond, Memphis, Tampa, and Kansas City, to name a few.

Evidence from other cities indicates that even if Nashville somehow finds the money to put into light rail or bus rapid transit, it could be challenging to get people to use those systems. And though transit may reduce congestion temporarily, commuters will return to the roads once they see traffic is down.

In most metro areas of less than 1 million people (Nashville has roughly 659,000), just 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent of residents use transit, according to David Hartgen, a emeritus transportation professor at UNC Charlotte. Many of these places have tried to increase the share of their population that use transit, but few have succeeded.

“It’s an extremely difficult thing to do because we have this minor detail in this country called freedom,” he said. “You can live where you want, you can work where you want, you can commute how you want.”

Even Charlotte, which is seen as a poster-child for public-transit advocates because it invested heavily in transit over the last two decades, has not seen a significant increase in ridership when compared to the region’s astronomical growth, he told me. And, when gas prices go down—as they have in recent months— ridership decreases.

Charlotte came to terms with the idea that it needed to add transit in the 1990s as the city grew, and in 1998 passed a half-cent sales tax to fund transit. A light rail line, the LYNX Blue Line, started running in 2007, and it is currently being expanded. A 1.5-mile streetcar line opened in July of 2015, and the city is planning on expanding it. A regional plan seeks to establish 25 miles of commuter rail, 19 miles of light rail, 16 miles of streetcar, and more buses throughout Charlotte and its suburbs.

But ridership has remained essentially flat, even though downtown Charlotte has grown by about 50 percent in employment, Hartgen says. Average daily ridership of CATS, the Charlotte Area Transit System, peaked at 95,484 in July of 2008 and has hovered around 90,000 ever since; its most recent 2015 figures were down a little, at 84,889. Average daily ridership of LYNX, the light-rail line, jumped to 16,895 when it first started in 2008 and has stayed around there, reaching 17,868 in September.

The case of Charlotte shows that, even when there is transit available, the vast majority of people won’t leave behind their cars and embrace public transportation, Hartgen argues. In many cities, the average commute time by public transit is about twice what it is when driving your own car. And in many cities, including Charlotte, only about 20 percent of the operating costs of a transit line come from ridership; the rest come from government dollars. What's more, Hartgen says, as population increases, a city's transit costs rise much faster than revenues from transit do, ​as the city tries to expand its service to new neighborhoods​. In Nashville, for instance, the population grew 9 percent between 2007 and 2013, while operating costs grew 66 percent.

Meanwhile, the amount of wasted time spent in traffic in Charlotte has decreased since 2005, even as the region’s population has exploded, according to Texas A&M’s Transportation Institute. That’s because the region has added and improved existing roads, not because more people are taking transit, Hartgen says.

Nashville’s lesson from Charlotte should be that it could make more financial sense to improve existing roads and bus lines, Hartgen says, rather than seeking funding and political support for a new line.

“Don’t go shooting the moon on a quixotic effort to try and get the last $2 billion out of Washington and the state capitol—instead use your local money to improve your own transit service and make it better for the people who need it,” he told me.

This is, of course, not a sentiment that most transit advocates would agree with. People can be converted to mass transit, especially if it's done incrementally, said Jarrett Walker, a Portland-based transit consultant and the author of Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking About Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives.

In the 1970s, Portland was much like Nashville, Walker said, with parking lots and cars everywhere. But after the region introduced new laws preserving existing land, which limited road construction, Portland had to reassess. In the 1980s, the city redesigned its bus system, establishing lines along a grid that made service more frequent and widespread. After bus ridership increased, the region was able to muster the political will to put in light rail.

“The fundamental message here is that the bus system really, really, really matters,” Walker said. “The success of transit is going to ride heavily on the success of a bus system.”

Barry told me that the region still wants to build new infrastructure, especially as people move there from other cities where transit is more commonly used.

“I think it’s a chicken-and-egg-thing,” Barry told me. “You get in your car because you don’t have transit options. If you have transit options, you get out of your car.”

Many Nashville residents do not have those options. In 2014, it seemed as if Nashville was on track to launch a new bus rapid-transit line. Mayor Karl Dean has secured funding from the White House to build the Amp, a “trackless trolley” between the city’s east and west side. By January of this year, the Amp was dead, derailed by either the city’s failure to communicate with residents about the project, or by meddling from the Koch brothers, depending on who you ask.

Barry says she’s planning on getting the local and state leaders together to discuss transit options, and Nashville’s business community is already deeply involved in advocating for transit. Local residents might be the most difficult to convince.

I stopped by a station of the Music City Star, Nashville’s only commuter-rail line, which opened in 2006. The Music City Star runs on existing rail lines, and was one of the most-cost-effective new commuter-rail lines in the nation, costing just $41 million for 32 miles. But daily ridership is low, with, at most, 1,370 people riding the train a day. Many days, ridership is half that.

Cristy Cross has lived near the commuter rail since it opened in 2007, and says she has never taken it, once. It doesn’t run on the weekends, which is when she usually goes downtown. And then, she says, it’s pretty easy to just drive.

And those who do use it don’t have the easiest time. Jason Guthormsen takes the train most days, he told me. He loves the train—avoiding traffic and having some downtime.

But when he gets to downtown Nashville, he walks 1.2 miles to his office rather than wait for a bus there, since the buses don’t go where he needs to go. It’s not a commute most people would relish. And on days when he misses the train, or just gets up late, he joins the rest of Mt. Juliet residents, hopping in his car where he’ll make his way to work, albeit slowly.