Category Archives: community

Steve Turner for the 58th…(Turn, Turn, Turn..a time to build up..)

I’ve lived in the 58th State House District for nearly 6th years.  For most of those years, I’ve struggled to see and understand what our current state rep – Mary Pruitt – is doing to represent the north side of town.  Pruitt has served the community for a long time.  Her laundry list of organizations and associations is impressive.  Her lack of presence in our part of the community and her apparent lack of interest in my (and surrounding) neighborhood(s) negates the resume’ for me.  Ms. Pruitt deserves respect for her past, but continuing to vote for someone I’ve seen in our community three times* in six years doesn’t work for me.  Especially when we once again have a good alternative.

Steve Turner exudes energy, and he knows the north end.  I don’t agree with everything he has supported (I am not a big convention center fan in regard to the revenue drain) but the disagreement, even on that issue, is not a litmus test. Going forward, issues such as the digital divide and community development including jobs and education are issues that Turner seems to not only ‘get’ but has the knowledge and know-how to pursue positively.  His background in technology fits with the 21st century needs of our community.  His knowledge of our community and its issues is in stark contrast with his opponent, who in a recent visit to our neighborhood association had not bothered to bone up on any issues affecting our part of town.

My reach and my influence are probably laughable, when it comes to endorsements, but I am happy to vote for Steve Turner, and I urge any of you who are uncertain about the 58th, or uncertain whether to vote, please consider voting for Steve.  We live in an interesting and evolving district.  Our potential is enormous.  Turner gets the future.  Pruitt lives in the past.

*two of those times were when she was running for re-election/campaign appearances.


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Filed under community, endorsements, Folks in Salemtown & Germantown, politics

Forced busing (Greyhound on our trail) or ‘Hush, hush, sweet Charlotte’, those convention center folks know what’s best..

If you missed the story, the Greyhound Bus Terminal down on 8th Ave South is in the big giant dinosaur footprint of the Nashville Convention Center.  Construction is well underway for the CC, and the only parcel of land not eminently domained into moving before now was Greyhound.

So, knowing full well that Greyhound had to make tracks, the city planning folks and the convention center folks decided to move the whole bus center grey and hound out to Murfreesboro Road around the Elm Hill Pike area.  They held some public hearings and the public hell ensued (jet-powered by some influential business-persons in the area), followed by the powers-that-be pulling up their tents and starting over..

It gets a little interesting (if lying publicly is considered interesting) at this point.  The Metro Convention Center (MCC) folks, in concert with Greyhound decide to opt for Plan B (more like Plan 9, but that’s another bad story), which was moving the bus-ers over to 11th and Charlotte where Hanson Chrysler used to peddle cars.   No public hearings this time…just an announcement via the Tennessean after all the decisions had been made.

Of course, a hue, cry and distress signals went up all over this part of town.  Local community organizers, chiefly Jason Powell over at Hope Gardens, pulled together a public meeting where we could question some of the decision makers.  It’s during this meeting (a meeting I attended, double-tweeting with Micchiato aka M. Byrd of Enclave), that the Metro Planning folks stated that the first move to the Murfreesboro Road spot was waylaid because of zoning.  This begs the question as to why the hell they planned the move over there in the first place (they didn’t know the zoning then???).

Meanwhile, our council-person, Erica Gilmore, who lives in Hope Gardens (one of the neighborhoods directly affected by the new location of Greyhound) apparently knew about the move, but chose not to share this information with anyone in her district until it hit the newspapers.

Obviously, there were not public hearings and there WAS plenty of hush-hush because the movers and shakers didn’t want a repeat of the shit-storm on the south end.  But, in the ‘hearing’ tonight, they claimed to be surprised at the opposition and thought that nobody would mind.   There was plenty of zoning mumbo-jumbo talk, after which we discovered (much to the surprise of community leaders who had supported downtown zoning changes) that the city could build/approve/encourage pretty much any dang thing they pleased and no one had to give notification.

Unbelievable.  So, when the convention folks were hard-pressed to explain why no notification was given to people who have businesses DIRECTLY ACROSS THE STREET from the proposed site, the response was: we were not required to give notification.  When in doubt always go for the flag or the bureaucratic answer.

Here’s a few other people who learned about the move in the paper: Precinct Police Commander Huggins, Councilman-at-Large Maynard, Freddy O’Connell (President of Salemtown Neighbors and a member of the MTA board), Jason Powell, President of Hope Gardens…the list goes on.

The good news..the move IS temporary.  They have a one year contract for the location (with the possibility of three consecutive one month contracts).  The bad news…there is a proposed final permanent location, but that location could not yet be revealed.  I think they learned a bit of a lesson here, but we’ll see.

Truth be told, I don’t think the Greyhound folks really are the culprit here…The MCC folks forced their hand and found a place for Greyhound to move, and told Greyhound to hit the trail.

I do have to wonder why Councilwoman Gilmore chose not to share the news.   I do wonder if some of the folks behind the ‘dais’ really believed what they were ‘selling’, and I really wonder how that Korean Restaurant on 11th that never has any customers will handle their new clientele…

Post-script: As always, Mike Byrd has the adult perspective on the story.  I do like my title though..


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Filed under blows against Nashville, community

The Appreciative Arts – A few sketches of appreciation…

After my friend Robert died and I wrote a heartfelt eulogy, containing thoughts and feelings that I had not bothered to share with Robert openly and completely before he died, I vowed to at least attempt to show my appreciation for the living, the people who love me, move me, kick my ass when it needs to be kicked and who, though certainly not perfect, appear to be well-centered, not just in their words, but in their actions. So far, I’ve written appreciations for a singer I don’t know and for this crazy, wonderful and wacky country that I love dearly. Now it’s time to move to a few folks I DO know.

Exception to the previous paragraph: My dad
My dad died at the RiDICuLous age of 59. I’m not that far away from that terminal year of my dad. I do not obsess about this..I don’t understand the complexity of genetics, but it does give me pause. My dad was an art teacher, and fashioned a world where respect for his Maker, love of sharing his passion about his art and his spirituality lead him to live one of the most blessed lives I’ve ever known. He was the child of the great depression and he wasn’t good at saying ‘I love you’ often. What I’ve come to learn (yeah, I got a piece of his wisdom)is that his every waking step with me though his life contained the words ‘I love you unconditionally’. He taught me that a man who understands and gives boundaries to his passion (a good number of feet from addiction), but who lives in his passion is a lucky man indeed. Ironically, this lead me to understand why Keith Richards is still alive. Watch the man when he is playing his guitar mid-song. You’ll understand.

My wife: I’ve told a few people this already, but I pulled the anti-Oedipal bit off..I married my dad. And I mean that in the highest extent of honor. My dad and wife, Lynn, were and are both incredibly hard working people. As an avid practitioner of one of the seven deadly sins (sloth), this has worked out quite well for me. I am as moved by her touch as when we were married almost 32 years ago (she may have touched me before that..) and I have come to understand, with some of that inherited wisdom, that I myself am a lucky man because of her. We’ve had some rough months, and even a rough year or two, but we both know it matters, and despite my occasional inanity, she puts up with me. Lynn, like my dad, is an artist and a true lover of the arts. When she is caught up in her painting, she glows, just like my dad in a classroom.

A few friends:
Roger Dinwiddie. I came to know Roger because my daughter is his daughter’s best friend. We spent some time together and I immediately was impressed. Sadly, when I was, in my younger years, around people who REALLY impressed me off the bat and seem to carry themselves in ways I can’t begin to attain, I often become aphasic and begin flapping and stuttering. Then I realized that the guy was way more impressive than I imagined. He’s a nationally known figure in education, the effects of bullying in education, substance abuse..and he’s the president of STARS. Look it up sometime..If I didn’t get aphasic when I met you, it’s because I’ve grown a bit, thanks to this guy!

More importantly, in my life (hey, this is still about me), he has been an incredible friend. Fierce, funny, inspirational and wise. If for no other reason than one phone call I made to him in anger (anger not directed at Roger), and he called ‘bullshit’ on my anger (I was actually totally irate with the person in the previous ‘sketch’). I was throwing verbal punches and just feeling so sorry for myself, the victim, the victim, the victim, and Roger called me on it, and told me that I had to get myself (he perhaps used another word at this point) together, and then proceeded to explain how to start. And he helped me walk through the fire to the beginnings of the truth (I didn’t have myself together, and like the cliche’ goes, when you are pointing one finger there are more pointing right back at yourself). It took a friend to get me to that point, and I am honored by his friendship. Plus he has one amazingly wonderful and talented and clever wife, Suzanne!

Dennis Dumbauld: Dennis is retired military. He’s in great shape, both mentally and physically. We don’t think alike or process alike. When I was getting whiny in something I wrote, he called me on it. I didn’t necessarily like his wording, but it didn’t take me long to realize something way more important. He was being a friend, and friends who are true, will call you on the things that need to be said.

Much more importantly, for his family, Dennis and his beautiful and wonderful and generous wife Josie, have molded a family that is individualistic and as healthy (in all aspects of life) as any family I’ve ever known. His kids are not perfect (similar to most kids), but they are so together. They have certainly figured a lot of this on their own, but it came to them quickly, because of Dennis (and Josie’s) completely unconditional love for those kids. His friendship is unconditional too. We process differently, but there are not many men I admire more than Dennis.

Another father and friend: Phil Kendrick

Phil is the brother of Robert, whose passing made me want to appreciate others in a more visible way while they are still here on earth. Phil has one of the greatest blueprints I’ve ever known for being a dad (his own dad). A brilliant combination of wisdom and humor cannot be repressed. He and his also-wise and wonderful wife, Karen, have fathered 5 boys and are now grandparents. I’ve told more than one person this bit: If a space alien landed and for some reason asked me to show him what a family should look like, I’d drive him out to Phil’s and tell the alien to shut up and observe. Seriously.

Another friend:
Susan Barber. Susan is the most generous person I have ever known (and it’s not like I wasn’t parented by generous people). She is steady and smart and funny and I have eaten lunch with her more times than anyone on the face of this earth, and I’m ready to go again (she’s out of the country and I’m missing her!). She gives her time and much much more, even though she keeps long work hours and participates (and has participated) in most every sport known to (wo)man. Leg and knee surgery have slowed her pace, but they have not stopped her from marathoning, playing soccer, playing tennis, playing golf, playing ultimate frisbee, inventing other games, and so many more things that I get tired just thinking about it.

At a time in my life when my wife needed a friend to help deal with me (I have been a pill more than once), Susan gave great assurance and friendship to Lynn, and had a lot to do with the healing process. There are many more, equally impressive deeds, but that is one that I will never forget, and one for which I am eternally grateful.

There are many many more of you out there. I plan to do keep this series going. But it’s late and I’m really missing my out-of-town wife and I can’t put off sleep much longer. Also, if you are on the list, I’m not asking for a loan or a reference.

In closing, I’d like to say a word about Don Finto, the man who led Belmont church from a small smattering of folks to a wondrous group of sojourners. Don spoke at Robert’s funeral.Even if you are not nearly on the same page spiritually with this man, and I really haven’t been around him much in years, and differ greatly in places, you cannot help but be moved by this guy.

My dad taught me something with his artistic eye that many people have heard, but few understand as well as a man of his observational powers. He explained that a person gets the face they deserve in the later years of their life. We’re not talking superficial standards of beauty here, but you probably know what I’m talking about. A negative person will have lines in their face that a centered person cannot (and should not) dream about. A centered person may be disguised as someone not so beautiful, but if you keep looking, you see untold depths. The fact that I may not be in the same place as Don Finto is not the primary point. The fact is that there is not a more beautiful 79 year old person on this planet…outside, in.


Filed under community, friends and family, golden rule stuff, journey

State-ing the obvious, or, grill my landlord, grill my landlord

Dining in?

Dining in?

I walk to work each morning through one of the most beautiful blocks in Nashville – 5th Avenue through Germantown between Madison and Monroe. Greenery and gardens abound. Friendly faces, hot dogs, Germantown Cafe and front porches. But then, I cross Jefferson. Take a look at the picture. This is what I see when I cross Jefferson. This is what many thousands of people see when they cross the Jefferson Street bridge into our side of town.

The blight in the picture does not stand alone. It seems that a certain landlord purchased every business between 4th and 6th on Jefferson and every business between Jefferson and Jackson (going south from Jefferson) with the intent of tearing down the existing structures and building bigger and nicer structures.

But, and this is quite a but..the businesses moved out, leaving their concrete behind, and the new owner didn’t bother to tear down the abandoned buildings..didn’t bother to clean up the lots, check to see if the buildings were being used as temporary shelter, check to see if a rodent infestation had begun, or check to see if fires started in the vacant lots by squatters might be a little dangerous.

Come on landlord..clean this up, NOW! Not just for my view, but for the fact that this blight is next to the beautiful Bi-Centennial mall, for the fact that people are now living nearby, for the fact that blight begets blight, and for the fact that by God, it’s the right thing to do.

Oh yeah..the landlord. Who is the landlord????

It’s my employer, the wonderful state of Tennessee. Come on Mr. Bredesen, come on general services and public works, take CARE of this mess. I understand (how I understand!) that we don’t have the money to build the new archives and state library and state museum slated for the purchased land, but you need to spend the money to at least level the blight and remove the unsightly and dangerous shelter for homeless who don’t need to living there.

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that there has been a rash of burglaries and car-break-ins in the last few months. Our neighborhoods and cars are tempting targets for dwellers in this sad threshold.


Filed under community, Huh?, politics

Endorsements and tough choices – Briley for Mayor

I feel compelled to say that I have no pretense that my endorsement of anyone via my blog, Salem’s Lots, has much more meaning than my yard sign. I don’t pretend that the citizens of Nashville are waiting, breath bated, for me to pronounce who they should vote for in the coming election.

So, here’s my blog yard sign, with a few more words than can fit on an actual sign.

We are lucky. We have more than one strong candidate for mayor. In the 19th District, I think we have THREE good candidates to suceed Ludye ‘cris’ Wallace*. Two of our mayoral candidates come from political lineage. One of them wouldn’t be seriously considered, in my opinion, if his father had not been a former governor of our state. The other candidate with said political ancestry, is David Briley.

Briley’s grandfather was the first mayor of Metropolitan Davidson County/Nashville. David Briley has been hearing about politics in Nashville from the time of his first steps. His step into the mayoral race is not based on political legacy, even though he was ‘to the manner borne’.

Briley probably knows as much about Nashville as anyone living here. The difference between him and many of us who call this city our home is that he has been THINKING about Nashville for most of his life. He’s a genial political wonk, who somehow has been able to transcend his ‘wonkdom’ into everyday English.

Briley’s followup to Purcell’s excellent commitment to neighborhoods is important to many of us. His commitment to environmentalism as it relates to government facilities and our city should be important to ALL of us. His courage to raise the issue of ‘environmental racism’ shows that is willing to speak out on issues that will not win him votes in all parts of town.

Briley was part of a team that performed an educational ‘miracle’ at Lockeland School and his knowledge of what it is going to take to make schools meaningful for ALL students is refreshing.

I mentioned earlier that we have hard choices. Karl Dean, if elected, will make an excellent mayor. He is probably the strongest executive ‘type’ in the bunch, but I believe Briley’s lifetime of envisioning Nashville is the best followup to two strong effective mayors.

Update: Liberadio has posted a list of bloggers for Briley. As Braisted said in the comments, the only blogger we can find who has come out for anyone else is the ‘Buck Dozier Blog’.

*I can’t speak to Ludye’s early years representing the North End, but I can honestly say that he has been the invisible man for most of the three years I’ve been living north-side. Of course, I don’t run late night poker games out of my house.

I endorsed Freda Player for the 19th in an earlier post, but am not reluctant to say that Erica Gilmore and David Shaw would serve the 19th well, if elected.


Filed under community, politics

Clique-ity clack, or Ridin’ the Bozo bus

I was cool for about three minutes once when I lived in New York. Sadly that was over 30 years ago. I have a cool Keith Richards t-shirt and I know a few cool folks, but I’m about as cool as the current side of the pillow. I hear talk about blogging cliques and how people feel left out of things.

I know a lot of people in the so called Nashville blogging clique. I really like most of them, but folks, these people generally aren’t your party, seen in the Scene, Ricky Lee Jones Coolsville denizens. They are wonderful and many of them write as if they were born to the craft, but folks, there are a lot of social wallflowers in that patch. Many of us blog because we don’t really know how to say out loud what we think we know or what we know we feel. I was frankly beyond terrified the first few times I went to blogger shindigs, because I genuinely felt that THEY were all going to be Dorothy Parker or Robert Benchley (yeah, my references date me) or Cary Grants dripping bon mots as if they were to the manner borne. But guess what…most everyone I’ve met felt the same way. I think that’s one reason why we get along.

Not that all of you are social rejects are social ‘tards. It’s just the idea of a clique that cracks me up. Here’s how you get to be one of ‘us’. You blog. You show up. You say hello. You’re pretty much in like Flynn (or Flint). There are some cool bloggers around, to be sure, but one thing that makes them so cool is that they aren’t exclusionary in the least.

Music City Bloggers started because we missed the communal blogging spirit once the domain of NIT. Somebody had to start it. Those folks couldn’t wait until all 600 Nashville bloggers got together and decided what they wanted to do. Nobody asked me to join. I just did. You could have too. Maybe we didn’t do a good job of making that clear to begin with, but hey, in the words of the great Firesign Theater – we’re all just bozos on this bus.


Filed under blogs about blogs, community

What S-townMike said – Freda for the 19th

The political fortunes for those of us in the 19th district of Davidson County are going, in the words of the fabled cliche, from famine to feast. We’ve been under-represented by our current city councilman Ludye ‘cris’ Wallace for the past few seasons (honestly, I’m being kind with the hyphenated ‘under-represented’).

Ludye’s time is up, thanks to term limits. Normally, I’m not a fan of term limits (except for executive positions), but honestly, for once I’m grateful for this non-democratic law. We have a wonderful panel of candidates to choose from this year, including three very strong contenders, each of whom would serve our district well.

As impressed as I am with Erica Gilmore and David Shaw, I will be voting for Freda Player for basically the same reasons outlined in this ‘Enclave’ post by Mike. Freda has worked the neighborhoods and listened well. She understands our issues and has the capacity, energy, and political savvy to work the council.

Many of us in the Salemtown/Germantown area were impressed when all five candidates appeared at a recent forum both neighborhoods jointly sponsored. No matter who wins this race, our neighborhoods will be represented and heard. I appreciate the time, effort and spirit that each candidate has poured into this campaign.


Filed under community, metro council elections, politics