Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Rebuild This City on Rock and Roll

I've posted some more pictures of Nashville on my facebook for you all to see. Folks, the flooding is receding but the damage is only going to get worse. So far, TEN people in Nashville alone have been found dead from the flood with many more feared lost. The front page of USA TODAY is calling this "a catastrophe" and, friends, they are not kidding.

I know Nashville isn't as hip as New York or as sexy as Los Angeles and or as fascinating as Chicago... And I'm sure that's the reason why so much of the national media has been focused on what may or may not have been a bomb that didn't explode in Times Square. And I'm sure that's the reason why reading about Tiger Woods sticking his putter into someone's golf bag is more important than Music City, USA. And I'm sure that's the reason that Vinny Del Negro (the Chicago Bulls basketball coach) is trending on google. Yes, Nashville is the fourth coast. We're a city of artists who can't tell time. We're a city of photographers who understand light meters and shutter exposure speeds but not a Phillips Curve. We're a city of writers who can dole out pith by the bushel but can't compose anything much longer than a blog... Hmmmm... We're a city of flakes who don't keep our appointments. We're a city without much backbone. We're a city of transients, imports, and refugees from Bumfuck, Iowa. We're a city of people who, by and large, are unemployable if they were to move anywhere else in the world. How the hell "songwriter" is a job is beyond me.

That's been the boone of Nashville for the past several years. We've grown complacent with our twangy guitars and three and a half minute pop-country ditties. We've become so concerned with a $125 haircut [Writer's note: go to Cognito to get the best haircut in town and at a perfectly legit price.] and a black button up shirt with that sweet fuckin' eagle on the back of it so we can go talk to that long-legged blond over at the end of the bar that we don't give a shit about our falling down drunk friend who needs a ride home. We've been looking for the next best (no)thing when we've got something great sitting in our laps. We've become the mecca for the divine discontent seeking only the latest and greatest chart-topping, 10-years-in-the-making overnight success. To borrow from a much better writer than I am, we've had a wishbone where our backbone oughtta be.

Nashville is a much different environment than the one I grew up in. Being from southeast Michigan, I'm from an area where I got up at 6 a.m., worked my ass off until the sun went down, or until my fingertips froze, and then came home and watched the Tigers or the Red Wings or, God bless 'em, even the Lions because they were (and still are) my team. There's not much of that here in Nashville; it's not a whole lot of heads-down, all-hands-on-deck, swinging-hammers hard work. I've never seen it.

These past few days have changed my perception on this city.

I love living here. I love the pace (for the most part). I love my friends. I love that at any given time on any given night of any given week you can walk into any given venue and see and hear an amazing band made up of the woman who makes your coffee at Starbucks, a guy who works at Autozone, and two dudes who are "amateur chemists". And I love the outpouring of support that I've seen -- random strangers bailing out basements; urban boating so that Johnny Shotgun can save his mom's wedding dress; avoiding drinking water and consuming beer and calling it "water conservation" (which is actually okay with me). All this and so much more.

Hands on Nashville is full to the brim with volunteers. Metrocenter had over 150 people sandbagging for hours last night... to the point where they had to turn away volunteers. I know. I tried. I've seen the absolute best of the human condition in the past few days... And yet I feel like I haven't seen or done enough. There are only so many hours in a day and I still have a need to give back to the city that really has given so much to me in ways that can't be measured in money or units sold. So I did what anyone would do: I got involved.

On Wednesday night at Mercy Lounge, The Dozen Dimes, Hillbilly Casino, How I Became the Bomb, and Paper Route are playing a FREE show and I've been lucky enough to be involved with helping put it on. I'm not doing this for me. I'm doing this for my friends Matt and Maggie Kuyper whose home was completely flooded out. I'm doing this for Anne Marie Tucker whose backyard looks like a swimming pool. I'm doing this for Bethany Rabelhofer who had water literally flowing out her doors and whose house may have to be torn down. I'm doing this for Brent Okuley whose car has been submerged. I'm doing this for Ms. Rayher whose house in Newsom Station was completly washed away [I don't know who she is but I delivered flowers to her on Saturday]. And, yes, you can all blame me if the show is run for shit.

I'm not asking you to bring food or clothes or sticks of Old Spice (as delicious as it smells and as awesome as the commercials are) on Wednesday. What I am asking is that you bring CASH to be donated to either the aforementioned Hands on Nashville or The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. The show is FREE, folks. The least you can do is donate some money.

And my offer still stands to anyone who needs a place to stay, food to eat, and beer to drink.


  1. i swear, no one understands that city better than you do. i wish i could be there to support. best wishes from the desert.

  2. i've never been to that part of the U.S. but it is obvious that it is the sense of community in the city that will help ya'll get back on your feet. even if you can't go out and physically help, simply offering your home as shelter and food and beer to any fellow nashvillian (is that what they're called?) is a step in the right direction.


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