Sunday, September 24, 2006


In Nashville, Emily and I were lucky enough to stay with a friend from college (also named Emily) and her family in their BEAUTIFUL home.

On Monday we decided to take a little day trip to Lynchburg and visit the Jack Daniels Distillery. They have a free tour of the grounds.

This was our guide- He wore overalls and talked really fast. All these tours really started giving me flashbacks of my days as a tour guide...

Whiskey is actually clear until it goes through the barrel-aging process.

I wish cameras could capture smells- Every room was filled with a different pungent aroma. This is grain mash in a fermenter. It smelled very yeasty.

Did you know you can buy yourself a barrel of whiskey? It costs 7 to 10 thousand bucks,but if you drink a lot of whiskey it actually works out to 30-35 bucks a bottle. If you buy a barrel, they send you the barrel signed by the master distiller and you get your name on the wall of the distillery as a member of the "single barrel club." Most of the members are liquor stores and Costco stores, but George Strait was on the wall as well...

Walking around the warehouses where they age the barrels was like diving into a shot glass full of whiskey- the smell was overwhelming. Lynchburg is actually in a dry county, so they can't give out whiskey samples (just a glass of lemonade) -but they let us stick our fingers in puddles on leaky barrels...tasty!

Overall, it was a lovely tour- really interesting,and, as you can see, the grounds of the Distillery are really lovely.

On the way back, we decided to drop by Waterfall Farms- a breeder of championship Tennessee Walking Horses. The horses were really beautiful.

Hung like a horse? No kidding.

Labor day weekend there was an article in the New York Times about Tennessee Walking Horses. Apparently, there's a major controversy right now over abusive practices in training the horses. We didn't see anything crazy, but they do put a sort of platform shoe on the horses to train them to lift their hooves high.

Our last stop was in the breeding barn. If you've seen Jackass Number Two (which I obviously did Friday night), then you know what this thing is used for...

The final town we stopped in was lovely Bell Buckle, TN (not to be confused with Belt Buckle). We looked around at a few antique shops with weird shit (including another Mamie doll...), got some freshly-made ice cream and a moon pie.

That night we went out to a hip Nashville bar called Mercy Lounge. As it turned out, Emily (TN) knew the band that was performing, BANG BANG BANG-- I guess a few of them went to high school with her.

It was at Mercy Lounge that I really fell in love with Nashville. After the band played, a DJ started spinning and it became a big dance party. Now, the crowd looked like any hipster crew straight out of Brooklyn. But, NO, they were different. They DANCED. The hipster boys danced! I was in love immediately. And it wasn't any shifting side to side dancing either, it was balls to the wall full on dancing. AND they would dance to everything from Beyonce to Sir Mix-a-lot, they weren't ashamed- AND dance with each other- totally unafraid of being labeled gay, or, hell, even "uncool." Ugh, I love love loved it. New York boys, please take note: Boys dancing unabashedly is a wonderful thing.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


We started the day in the lobby of The Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum and bought the all-inclusive tour pass so that we could go to Studio B, Ryman Auditorium and the Museum.

Emily and I belonged on the Porter Wagoner Show with Dolly. Many people don't realize that Dolly actually wrote "I Will Always Love You" about Porter Wagoner. Actually makes a lot of sense when you listen to it.

Studio B: Elvis played this piano.

I danced my way out of Studio B and over to the Ryman Auditorium...The original home of the Grand Ole Opry (until the 70s when it moved to it's current home). Mr. Ryman actually originally built the place to house an old-time revival when he found Jesus.

AND finally back to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum-- the building is full of symbolism, and as you can see, looks like a giant keyboard.

They had video footage of one of my favorite people in the world, Miss Wanda Jackson. I've seen her live three times and I love her to death. She's a little pistol that one.

Wanda Jackson used to perform with Elvis (here's proof) and even has his ring-- she'll tell you all about it if you go to hear her live.

True country style: Webb Pierce's car as designed by Nudie (seriously, that is the name of the guy that makes all those flashy suits). Yes, that's a silver-plated rifle.

Not to be outdone, Elvis' goldplated piano.

They love Dolly at the Country Music Hall of Fame- as well they should-- she's all over that place.

I really dug this guitar of Emmylou Harris'.

That night, we went out on Broadway to all the classic (and yes, probably touristy) honky tonks. First we went to Tootsie's Purple Orchid. Check out this guy's red shorts. They're old fashioned baseball shorts. He was dancing, spotted a penny on the ground, got SO excited, picked it up and put it in his shoe-- his right shoe, as he told us, so he'd "always be right."

This man danced with every lady in the bar, but not really in a creepy way, just because he liked to dance...and I tell you, I sure had fun!

Our final stop was at Robert's Western World. Gee, I wonder why they call it that...

Overall, our first real day in Nashville was a success. I was really excited to spend two more days exploring.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Aaaand we're back. It may take me all year, but, dagnabit, I will finish my vacation recap!

I bet you didn't know that Loretta Lynn has been hosting the National Amateur Motocross Championships for the past 25 years...Well, neither did I until I was researching places to visit on the road trip. As a lover of Loretta Lynn, I checked out to find out about visiting her Tennessee ranch- which, as it turns out is an hour or so west of Nashville. I happened to notice an "events" section- where I soon learned not only that Loretta hosts the motocross championship, but it was going to be during the time of our trip. Now, you should also know that Emily and I spent a good part of our senior year of college watching motocross races on ESPN2. Emily is the only other girl I know who can list the prominent motoX racers. Obviously, I emailed Emily right away and we both (with sheer excitement) added the race to our agenda.

We were giddy like schoolgirls on our way from Memphis to the ranch. When we arrived, we paid the $20/vehicle admission and were directed up a large hill toward parking. As we came over the top of the hill, both Emily and I honestly got a bit choked up. There was just something completely awe-inspiring about the giant track with what seemed like hundreds of motocross bikes racing around it, creating a huge buzzing chorus like a giant swarm of bees. Just amazing. We parked our car and found ourselves a spot in the bleachers to watch the heats.

One amazing thing about motocross is the whole family affair. Everyone in these families is involved-- dad, older brother and even the tiny tots race. The youngest age group we saw was 4 to 6. 4 to 6! These kids might not even be able to read and write yet, but they can ride a motorcycle?! Insane.

It was about 115 degrees out, so after a few hours of sitting out in the sun watching races, we decided to check out the rest of the grounds. There were 5 different gift shops, a "Coal Miner's Daughter" museum, and a replica of Loretta's original Butcher Holler home.

I believe this was taken outside of the gift shop where I saw an entire line of Mammy doll products on sale. Next to the cookie jars, there was a sign that said, "Careful: Black lady's head comes off." I was pretty much horrified and left very briskly- which is why I don't actually have a picture of said sign.

The great thing about country singers is they are totally tacky (hence the "tack" tour). Loretta has this gorgeous house and gorgeous property-- and yet her yard is filled with just about every tacky lawn ornament you can think of-- from porcelain kissing children to cement geese.

On our way out, we noticed a sign for Loretta Lynn's "Family Flea Market" so we clearly had to stop.

This awesome old "Loretta Lynn Ranch" fire truck was "parked" on the lawn.

The flea market itself was pretty hilarious. It was as if someone has just emptied out their attic and/or junk drawer into a shack by the side of the road. As it turns out, Loretta really likes signing things. Just about everything in the gift shops had her signature on it, and the "flea market" was no different. Yes, you too can have a Loretta Lynn autographed water bottle or, you betcha, even a salt shaker! I selected a "mint" Coal Miner's Daughter album and we headed on for Nashville.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Again with the bizarre music choices on Dancing With the Stars...Shanna doing the mambo to "Criss Cross'll make 'ya JUMP JUMP!" as performed by a big band and some showtunes singers...? WEE-erd

AND when did Joey Lawrence decide he was Ricky Martin? Could his jeans GET any tighter? Has he come out of the closet yet? Oh well, I'm too busy dreaming about my own private dancing session with AC Slater- I mean, Mario Lopez- and planning my wedding to Emmitt Smith.

Monday, September 18, 2006

God Bless San Gennaro and God Bless sausage.

Working in Soho is pretty great when it means you can go to the San Gennaro festival every day for a week for street meet. AND today I discovered the best sausage sandwich EVER. I just had to get fair food for lunch today, but because I usually end up getting the first thing that looks tasty only to see something better five minutes later, today I decided to walk through the whole street fair before purchasing my meal. Alright, so I was pretty sure I was gonna get sausage, because, let's face it, sausage is my favorite food-- BUT, I just wanted to be sure...Anyway, as I walked down Mulberry Street, I saw this giant line outside one of the sausage booths. Since every other booth at this thing is a sausage booth, I figured if one was going to have a giant line it was probably the best sausage on the planet...and I certainly didn't want to miss that- Besides, these were normal New Yorker-type-folks,not tourists, so I definitely trusted their choice. SO , I got in line and hoped that my powers of deduction were as good as I thought they were.

WELL, John's sausage definitely did not disappoint. Probably the best street sausage sandwich I've ever had. The sausage was thick and meaty- not greasy at all. Now, I love grease, but this sausage packed all of the flavor with none of the grease. It was super salty and extra tasty. The bread was nice and squishy and had a little bit of a sweet flavor to it. Yum. Anyway, head down to Little Italy and hit up John's Sausage. You'll know it by the long line- but it's well worth it. I might be there every day for lunch this week...

Otherwise, all that's new is: I'm sore. Very very sore.

This is due to:

a) The fact that I walked around Brooklyn for roughly 10 hours this weekend.

b) The fact that the softball season for Darryl and the Strawberries started yesterday-- Yes, now I'm playing Soccer AND softball. I got a triple (a single plus two bases cause the ball was overthrown into the dugout) and I made a play at home (I tagged the guy right in the crotch), so for me the season started off great. Unfortunately, we lost due to the mercy rule in BOTH games....ah well....