24 January 2009

Nashville's architectural penis makes me want whiskey

This post comes to you in two parts, both of them elaborating on our time in Tennessee, birthplace of lots of people, including Steve.


Nashville is a silly place. It claims a cultural heritage as the South and the West* and the downtown bar district is covered in bluegrass and Elvis souvenirs. Nevertheless, we found a dyke bar** (empty) called the Wild Beaver and a really, really nice queer bookshop called Out Loud with an attached coffeeshop called Revive. They had loads of queer movies I haven't seen, and I've devoured all of Netflix's GLBT section. And great sales. And cool people; both of the guys on duty were former Pittsburghers, which was cool. The barista said two days was about as much as you could spend in Nashville, and he'd been there 20 years. Ouch.

But all of that is outclassed by the Parthenon. You may think we have a teleporter in the back of Steve's Civic and we clearly took an afternoon side trip to Greece, but such is not the case. Nashville has its own Parthenon, built out of cheap yellow pebbly stone I recall from the construction of part of my high school. It's columns are constructed out of three pieces, too, instead of the requisite six.

It was also closed. Who closes the Parthenon? What about all the worshippers of Athena in this town who need to pray for deliverance from Elvis-based tourist shops?

Nevertheless, the Parthenon led us to The Coolest Guy in Nashville. This man was just hanging out among the columns, enjoying the view and his magnificent suit. That enormous beaver-tail hair of his took 15 years to grow. Steve and I stand in awe of this man and someday hope to be half as cool as him.

And then we left Nashville, which leads us to...


Despite our current desire to stay in New Orleans for awhile, this endeavor has been primarily a road trip. And what's a road trip without stops at absurd roadside tourist traps? So obviously, when we passed a sign directing us off I-65 to the Jack Daniel's Whiskey Distillery, we had to go. Neither of us is all that wedded to Jack, but we'd passed the Maker's Mark distillery too late in the night to get a tour and we didn't realize that the Jack Daniel's distillery was 40 miles off the highway. Steve's a whiskey snob, and he's been training me in the ways of such things. (I am more of a stout lover, myself.) We have plans to start properly training up our whiskey palates once we have a nice cushion of income. I can promise you we're not alcoholics because we're too damn poor to afford the stuff we'd like to pass across our taste buds.

Nevertheless, we stopped to see the home of the corporate tool of the whiskey world. It's located in a dry county; Jack's successor spent Prohibition drafting local laws allowing whiskey to be made there, and for the employees' wages to come as part cash and part whiskey. (True fact: To this day, Jack Daniel's employees receive a bottle of Jack on the first Friday of every month with their paychecks.) Therefore, we weren't allowed any samples; they could only sell us "commemorative" bottles of regular Jack.

One of the highlights of the tour was the statue of Jack Daniel himself outside the spring whose naturally purified water is why he settled the distillery there. The statue is called "Jack on the Rocks," but we saw something else. Jack's got a little Captain in him, too.

Look again at that photo. Jack's statue may seem a little small, but it's actually 5 inches taller than life size. Jack Daniel stood 5'2" and weighed in at 120 pounds soaking wet. And he was killed by a safe! He couldn't get it open one morning, kicked it, broke his toe, got embarrassed, told no one until the gangrene set in, and died of infection. Seriously.

What's even more impressive is that you can buy an entire barrel of Jack for approximately a year's income on the poverty line. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of, hopefully, a whole lot of friends to help take care of the burden of this much fine drink.

And that's the Jack Daniel's distillery and the absurd Nashville architecture.

*It is my personal belief that you can't call yourself "West" when you're due south of Ohio and Illinois. When Chicago starts peddling cowboy hats for $5, then you can start doing it too.

**It's okay, guys. I'm bisexual, I'm allowed to say these things.

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