Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Aerial Development has a wishbone where it's backbone oughtta be

If you have spent any time online in the past few days and you live in Nashville, you have probably seen this video from Aerial Development Group. Take a few minutes and watch it.
If you didn't watch it, it feels like the outtakes from a Mumford and Sons video. Maybe from the third single from their record. You know, the single that no one really cares about? That one.

I saw the above video on a friend's Facebook page a few days ago and wasn't sure if it was parody. Turns out that it isn't. It is, however, representative of everything that is wrong with "New Nashville" summed up in three minutes of everything I hate. Except for the part where people drink wine. Wine is pretty ok. 

As this video started making the rounds, the real parodies started rolling in. Good ones, like the one that my friend Casey made -- I'd post a link to it but he received a cease and desist letter from Aerial's lawyers and had to take it down. Of course, this just raised the level of awareness of the above video and led to Casey being featured on Channel 4 news yesterday (which can be viewed here) and an interview with The Tennessean. And, my, how the vitriol has poured in for Aerial.

This Nashville depicted in Aerial's video is not the Nashville that I know and love. I've lived here for a decade (yes, I am a dreaded 'transplant') and have lived in three different houses on the east side. When I bought my house two years ago, I looked at buying in East Nashville but it was largely out of my price range. Nothing but tall and skinnies as a far as the eye can see.

The Nashville I know and love are the artists, the creatives, the people that work 50 hours a week so that they can have a studio in their home. The people that bounce around in a van, driving from state to state for questionable at best return on their investment. The people that rebuilt this city on rock and roll five years ago. 

A perfunctory googling (hmm... didn't think that was a word but it appears that it is) of Aerial Development will lead you down a rabbit hole that has been carefully cultivated. You'll find pop music houses for the masses and designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator of out-of-state Nashville soap opera viewers. If you're lucky and haven't been banned from their social media pages (like I seem to have been), you'll find Ikea's wet dream full of Edison bulbs and oh so perfect shelving units fashioned from reclaimed barn wood.

Times change, neighborhoods change, and people change. But the best way to change time, neighborhoods, and people is to let a time, neighborhood, and person do it intrinsically. 

You can't will a culture into existence, Aerial. You can't sell a dream to people who are already living theirs. You can't shut people up with by banning them from your social media (some of us are pretty smart and can get the information other ways). You can't cry when the other guy hits back. And you can't have a wishbone where your backbone oughtta be.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Dear Councilman Glover

TL; DR: Councilman Steve Glover is threatening to withhold $28million for improvement projects for southeast Nashville if the plan that he supports to relocate the downtown jail is not passed by city council. Below is the letter that I wrote to him. He can be reached at if you are interested in contacting him.

Mr. Glover,

After reading the analysis of your plan for the relocation of the jail, I must let you know that I, as a resident, relatively new homeowner, and taxpayer of southeast Nashville, am very disappointed on a number of fronts. As an elected official, you work for the people that elected you. You do your best to serve the interests of the city at large at not just a part of it which is what you are doing here: namely the downtown area. You claim that the city would benefit greatly from the sale of the property of the current jail in downtown through not only the influx of cash from the sale itself but tax dollars as a long-term result. If the city were in dire straits financially, I might be inclined to agree. But the recent explosion of new buildings (both public and private) indicates otherwise.

You're still entitled to your opinion of where the jail should be (relocated or not) just as everyone else is. Your cavalier attitude toward not understanding "what all the ruckus is because there's already jails out here," is a shame. Just because a necessary evil already exists doesn't mean that it should be compounded. What grinds my gears, though, you threatening to block "funding for a new Cane Ridge Elementary School, a new community center in the Smith Springs area, a new Head Start facility and upgrades to Una Recreation park." (according to The Tennessean) if the plan to relocate the jail fails. You're threatening current residents by withholding a well-deserved community center. You're threatening current residents by withholding well-deserved upgrades to Una Rec Park. But more importantly than those, you're threatening children who certainly could benefit from a new Head Start facility and elementary school. If you were to ask anyone who lives in this community what they would rather invest in, I would wager that most of them would side with education and recreation as opposed to a correctional facility that would only seek to benefit future tax revenues of Downtown.

Southeast Nashville is a growing and rapidly developing area in our town. There's an awful lot to offer here: excellent food that, thankfully, the culinary country at large hasn't found out about yet; homes for those of us, like myself, who recently bought their first house can afford (all those new private 'tall-and-skinny' homes that are popping up in East Nashville just look terrible and cost way too much money); improving recreational options (my dog loves the new William Pitts dog park that's just a few miles away); and a whole host of other things.

You said it yourself: "At the risk of sounding rude, I don't see where it's going to hurt anything." Your shortsightedness into investing into the community in the interest of tax dollars makes you sound smug, arrogant, and totally unconcerned with the thousands of people who live and work in this part of town. And I don't care in the least if that makes me sound rude.

I'd suggest taking a long hard look at your plan and re-evaluate where your priorities lie, Mr. Glover, and maybe take a visit to the southeast side sometime. You'll find out that we've got lots of good things going on here and would like lots more to happen in the future. You're in a unique position to help make that happen and I hope that you leverage that opportunity.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Return of "The Somethingth (sort of) Annual Give Flowers to a Single Lady in Nashville" Giveaway

Of course I have a date for Valentine's Day. It's February 14th.

- Or -

It's Valentine's Day again. Crap. I forgot to get a girlfriend.

Whichever makes you happiest.

Well, so here we are at the end of January... Two and a half weeks until Valentine's Day. Ah, yes... You know the drill. When a man puts on his finest suit, combs his hair, and reserves the finest table and waiter at the most hallowed of restaurants: White Castle. Candies are purchased from the finest chocolatier in all the land (that's CVS, by the way), a beautiful young woman spritzes on perfume, and waits patiently for Johnny Hero to show up in his mid-sized sedan for a night of romance, intrigue, and possibly a semi-drunken makeout session. Or whatever it is people do. I'm not sure. I don't have a date for Valentine's Day and (Tinder miracles not withstanding) that probably isn't going to change. That's ok.

The best job I've ever had, and let's face at this point in the game unless someone is going to pay me to be a combination Indiana Jones / beer drinker / nature photographer / hot tub tester, that's probably as good as it's ever gonna get for me. Plus, you know, I'm on Tinder and The Cupe so you can imagine how well my dating life is going. I pretty much just sleep on a pile of money with my dog comfortably nestled at my feet in front of my television... And... Uh... Why am I on dating sites again? Oh, yeah. Love.

As a result of my casual employment at A Village of Flowers, I've been asked to deliver flowers for them again this upcoming Valentine's Day. This is where things get awesome for you. IF: - You are single. - You are a lady. - You live in the Nashville area.

Why? Because you can enter the "The Somethingth (sort of) Annual Give Flowers to a Single Lady in Nashville" Giveaway. It's not a contest. It's a giveaway. You don't have to go out on a date with me. You don't have to cook me dinner. You don't even have to wait for me in my mid-size sedan. Well, actually, you kinda do. I'll be delivering the flowers that evening so I guess you'd have to be available to get them. But really, that's it. Pretty simple. One 'lucky' lady in the Nashville area will get a delivery of flowers from me delivered to them by me wearing a sport coat owned by me in a car being financed by me on the evening of February 14th.

You can send me an email at stephenpbohn at gmail dot com if you're interested in the giveaway. Or leave a comment below.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Home Alone

On December 23rd, someone(s) broke into my house. I was at work when it happened. Work. That place I go to so I can afford my (admittedly) modest house. I walked in the backdoor like I always do and noticed some of my guitars sitting on my dining room table. No one else has a key to my house, I live alone, and I always leave my guitars hanging up in my music room. Especially on Tuesday. I was very confused but rationalized that a friend had come into my house and played my guitars. Then I noticed my TV was gone. And then I noticed the cold air blowing in through the hole in my room where my a window used to be. And suddenly nothing else mattered. I was so concerned about my dog. The stupid little fleabag shitmachine money pit was the only thing that mattered. Normally, when I walk in the door, she starts barking. She's a lab-mixed-with-some-other-stuff, so what would one expect? She was silent. I figured that whoever stole my TV and moved my guitars had just killed my dog.

I don't love many things. I don't love many people. I am becoming more and more reclusive as I get older. I am terrible at relationships and dating. I pick the wrong women to date. They sleep with me (sometimes) and then I don't hear from them again. One of them last fall said she slept with me because she felt "comfortable" with me. Suffice to say, I won't be talking to her again. But I do love my dog.

She just sat there quietly in her cage. I immediately let her out.

I called someone to board up my broken window. Of course you know where this is going.

I left town the next morning for Christmas. Everything was fine. The family got along well, which is unusual for my family. Everyone kept asking me how I was doing and I told them (and genuinely meant) that I was fine.

I walked in the door on Sunday afternoon after Christmas to a cold house. I left the heat off. I expected a cold house. The first thing I checked was the boarded up window. The board was still intact. Or so I thought. The boards didn't stop anyone from coming in again. My computer with years of pictures and videos? Gone. Some of my clothes? Gone. Every guitar in my house? Gone. That hurt. That hurt the most.

I called the police. I called friends. I sat on my kitchen floor and cried for half an hour. The police came and took inventory. My friends came and brought me whiskey. One friend even stayed the the night in my spare bedroom. I passed out on my bed but didn't really sleep. I moved every time I heard a noise.

I opened my eyes at two am to find that I was, indeed, still alive.

I bought items to help secure my house. Security cameras. Security system. Security system. None of these in and of themselves have brought back the security I used to feel.

I spoke with the Detective. I gave her a detailed list of every thing that was taken from me. Things that I had had for 20 years. The piece of shit Peavey Fury bass that I haven't played in ages but am still holding onto so that, if I ever find a woman that doesn't sleep with me just to sleep with me because I make her "comfortable" and that really does love me and we have a son or daughter, I can give it to them and tell them of the days when their dad used to be pretty cool and played music and that I wasn't always the guy who wore the five fingered toe shoes and khaki shorts. I spoke with my insurance company and provided the same list. I read that 13% of all burglarized goods are ever recovered. I resolved myself to the fact that everything was gone.

I took to the anonymity of reddit to vent. I just got a bunch of smartass responses. I should have known better. I took to instagram looking for sympathy and got it. I researched ways to cope with violent crimes.

A week later, I received a notice that the police had a lead on several of my guitars and I was asked to meet the detective working on my case at a pawn shop. You know... Where you have to provide ID, are videotape, and are photographed if you are trying to sell something. I walked into the first store, met with the detective who informed me that the clerk had just gone back into storage to see if two guitars that were pawned here were mine. He came out a few moments later with two of them. I said "Absolutely. Those are mine."

We found five more of my guitars that day. Pawned with three miles of my house. Pawned within half a mile of each other.

The detective asked me if I knew the name of the person who pawned my stuff. I didn't. All three clerks at all three shops told us the same thing: that the woman who pawned them was being told what to do by two men that were with her. I saw the photographs of the two men and didn't recognize either of them. Random, run of the mill, common fucking thieves.

I got my guitars back today. Well, all of them but one. It's a Gretsch Electromatic. Bright orange with a Bigsby tremolo and dice for the volume and tone knobs. If anyone in Nashville sees this floating around, let me know. But I just acquired it a few months ago and if there were one that I had to lose, it was that one. I had very little emotional attachment to it.

But what I can't get back, in addition to the years of pictures and videos, is that peace of mind I used to have when I locked my door at night or when I left for work. That naivety.

I sleep with an alarm system now. I sleep with the surveillance cameras running. And I sleep with night lights on in my house. I forget to eat meals or I'm just not hungry altogether. I forget to go shopping. I forget that this is a process and not something I can just turn off. I'm a man who likes straight lines and this is a series of colors instead.

Things can be replaced. I still have my dog. One day, I'll get back to where I started.

Arrest warrants have been issued. Maybe these guys will get their day in court. Maybe they'll float on through life. Maybe they'll be flipping burgers or bagging groceries or building front end modules for an auto company and going home at the end of the day and watching my big screen TV. I don't know what people like that do. That's because I am still getting up early in the morning and going to work so that I can afford my meager house and my mutt of a dog and trips of a lifetime.

It's hard to resist the urge to check my surveillance cameras every ten minutes. It's hard to resist checking the burglar alarm every time I check my email. It's hard to leave my dog out in the house because she eats my shoes. But that's where I am.

Through this, so far, I think I am becoming a gentler person. The only way out is up.

Thank you for listening. Goodnight.