May 29, 2001


OK, the day has improved. No one has said (or emailed) anything particularly nasty to me for at least the past several hours, I’ve been getting to do some work that I think is useful, and Yngvie Malmsteen’s music (specifically Concerto for Electric Guitar and Orchestra turns out to be as cool as I had thought it would be.

So now I’m in the proper frame of mind to talk about the very pleasant weekend we just spent in Nashville. I liked Nashville itself (and it didn’t hurt that the weather was perfect, pleasantly cool and sunny, for most of the trip) but it was getting to hang out with Mechaieh & co. that really topped off the weekend.

We got to sample the Essence of Nashville: we encountered whiskey (the Jack Daniels distillery tour), live music (the Bluebird Café), pop culture (the Country Music Hall of Fame) and history (Andrew Jackson’s home, the Hermitage). Granted, we didn’t ride any walking horses, so I can’t say we tried the full spectrum of Tennessee, but we did get to eat homemade wontons, which is more than adequate compensation, as both of us are much better at eating wontons than riding horses, anyhow.

(Question: “walking horses” as opposed to what? Or is this like the distinction between trotting and pacing horses?)

A potpourri of impressions: the fumes at the JD Distillery are intense; you could get drunk from breathing. I’d been hearing about the Bluebird Café from my years on Alan Rowoth’s folk_music newsgroup, and, though I’d never heard of any of the three songwriters playing in the round that night (Walt Wilkins, Nick Pellegrino, & Jon Randall), there was some very fine guitar work and some great songs there. (Actually, Pellegrino does sound familiar.) On the other hand, while the Flying Saucer bar looked like a good place to hang out, the seventies-song-cover guy playing there was fairly mediocre. Now, all of those guys were more in the singer-songwriter folky-guy-with-a-guitar genre; I’m not particularly fond of modern country music with the self-conscious twang and the overproduced backup, but I did like the Country Music Hall of Fame. For one thing, they dwelt more on the history than the business of Nashville music, and for another the acoustic engineering was superb. You walk in and out of speech and songs, but none of them overlap unpleasantly, and the conversation of other patrons never gets in the way. Wow. They use a very wide definition of “country music” which is reflected in the gift shop, so if you’re in Nashville and want to buy any CD from Hank to…well, not Hendrix, but at least Dylan or Queen Ida, they’ve got it. I picked up Nanci Griffith’s Other Voices, Other Rooms and Other Voices, Too, which I’d been wanting to hear. The Hermitage was interesting, but we cut it a bit short when it started raining on us.

Mechaieh and the BYM graciously fed us and drove us all over town, but we also enjoyed spending one evening at their bungalow, which has all the original wood floors, odd corners, and unexpected doors our house is so notably lacking. It’s odd (but good) meeting someone I’ve known for a couple years but never seen before. There’s always a bit of awkwardness – you have plenty of common acquaintances to talk about but you never know whether to hug goodbye or how to sense what people want to talk about when. And of course there was the embarrassing bit when I missed a quote from Gaudy Night, since the Lord Peter Wimsey discussion group was where we’d met! Still, Internet communities are real communities; what a feeling of new-found friendship to have someone you’ve never even talked with on the phone go so much out of their way to make your visit fun.

And this is one of the things for which I appreciate T; he was the odd one out, since Mechaieh and I were discussing everything Wimsey to Alfred Noyes to mutual acquaintances, while the BYM and his friend who was visiting from Detroit talked about cars and motorcycles and their old neighborhood. It is one of the joys of being married to him that he can deal with a situation like that, without needing me to babysit him, and can even have a good time at it. I used to babysit him anyway in situations like that, but he’s convinced me it’s much better to just talk about what I want to talk about, and let him find his own way into a conversation. Anyone who’s ever dated someone who couldn’t be comfortable with strangers will understand.

By the way, I’m still looking for a better nom for T: ideas so far are Petrus or The Mensch. Or maybe Flyboy. Suggestions?

Oops, almost forgot to say that Mechaieh’s puppy Abby is much cuter than her picture even, and that she’s so sweet that T (and I) completely fell for her. He doesn’t normally even like dogs, but I believe I saw a gleam of puppy envy there.

Posted by dichroic at May 29, 2001 11:31 AM
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