Incongruous, obtuse, annoying, insulting, reneging, baffling, rude, phony, sanctimonious, unemploying for a “Yankee”, nice and folksy are some of the words that come to mind about my eleven years in Nashville (or as one of my college buddies described it back in 2008, “Hootyville”, in a partial-reference to the old TV sitcom, “Petticoat Junction”), Tennessee. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all negative, in fact I hurdled many obstacles, wrote and published two books among them, which satisfied a long-held goal of mine. But I never “medaled” there.
It was the first time that I heard people really talk like the characters on one of the main TV shows that I grew up watching, “The Beverly Hillbillies”!
Until then, I guess nobody ever suggested that this was even close to a real way of life for a segment of the USA population to me. Even the Black people still act subservient, slavery-like to the whites there in talk, word and deeds! For example, if your name is William Jones, they say stuff like, “Hello, Mista William” instead of “Hello, Mr. Jones…” I never liked that.
I learned there some things I wanted to, some things I didn’t want to about human beings and life.
On the positive tip, I found out that I like hot, Slavic chicks and how cool it would be to merge cultures with one like Lenny Kravitz’ parents did in producing him! I Gardened, landscaped, removed trees on the property that I rented and even had a consistent handyman client who brought out the hammer and “DYI” in me; got darker-skinned under the Tennessee sun on the tennis courts (though hard to find a consistent partner) and cycling the rolling hills on my ole ten-speed! Endured toil, strife and was dragged into court room drama due to NO fault of my own and yet enjoyed many peaceful evenings on my front stoop at the end of my street without neighbors who could spy me – even if I came outside buck-naked. Here now is my “Olympic” top eleven:
11 – That a radio General Manager of the radio station that recruited me to Nashville in the first place can suddenly and without any provocation on my part, fire you at gun-point, in front of witnesses during a bogus staff meeting and that upon filing an assault complaint, local, Nashville lawyers will be reluctant to defend you because, “Hey, he didn’t shoot you, so what are you complaining about??” [For more, please read my Memoir book]
10 – That because of number eleven, I’d become well-versed in drawn-out courtroom proceedings in the southern United States – and probably elsewhere in the country too. [Again, see my Memoir book for more] Even have considered becoming an “Advocate” overseas!
9 – The fulfillment of being a Volunteer English Tutor. Even though I did it as “therapy” for numbers eleven and ten, it vicariously reawakened the “English Major and Teacher” that I originally went to the University to become back in the 1970s! It also lead to and dove-tails with the fulfillment of being a Community Volunteer radio Dee Jay on Vanderbilt University’s former over-the-air college radio station which reawakened the kid who was supposed to become an English teacher, but who became sidetracked by the lure of music, money and show business fame on the airwaves.
8 – That I could successfully manage a two-bedroom house on ¾ acre of land by myself. It was like living in a park [I also mention this in a chapter in my Memoir book]. From clearing brush to mowing for hours at-a-time, to seeing snakes initially while I was hacking away at overgrown vines and tree limbs and jumping back in horror! lol I did it all and got the compliments from those who had lived and worked in the neighborhood, because now they could finally see the nice little cottage. Thanks also to the two property management companies who helped me, especially ERA Woodmont, the original guys who put a new, stable roof on the house, circa 2003 and always came to fix stuff for me, the “low-maintenance” tenant. Prior to moving there and being from New York City where my parents bought the house I grew-up in, I didn’t know one could rent a house! By the time I put Hootyville in the rear-view mirror of my moving Budget rent-a-truck, I wished I had known about renting with the option to buy going in!! [See previous posts on this blog for more on that about-face by the landlord].
7 – How to endure obtuse incongruence, defacto racism, people telling me what they thought I wanted to hear instead of what would move the envelope forward progressively in the midst of some genuinely good, folksy people and government workers who actually provided a safety net for me not to totally fall though the cracks into the abyss of poverty or worse because, in large part, of my ability to articulate verbally and communicate in-writing.
6 – My way around a personal computer. One of the best purchases I ever made was back in 2002 when I had a serious monetary windfall come my way and purchased my old Dell 4400 Dimensions desktop computer and workstation (both which I assembled myself). It would prove to be a life saving educational tool for me in the ensuing years and is one of the reasons I am writing this blog right now!
5 – How, through almost two years of unemployment, I could teach myself to be a social media “expert” (not my term, but others who know me before and since)! Humbling experiences like having to go to the local Food Bank, work my way through the maze of social services safety nets that are not obviously for single men in the USA via my ability to research via internet and then interview and apply, taught me that I can help other people similarly once I get funding for what turned into my current entrepreneurial goals that will save/give me a reason to have a life!
4 – I rekindled my photographer juices via a neighbor lending me her brand-new digital camera, which I ended up showing her family how to use it. I vicariously tapped into the person who learned to develop via chemicals old film the “Kodak way” back in the day. Now, able to produce and help those who are not so You Tube savvy, I have found yet another possible money-earning channel and like being called a “videographer”!
3 – Found out that my Grand Aunt and Grand Mother were correct when they advised me “You’ll be lucky to have as many true friends as you can count on one hand – and will likely have fingers left-over in life…” Not that everyone who did not come to visit me during my suffrage in Gooberville is not a true friend, but only four people from “back home” did (including my Mother, and that was upon a ticket I bought for a supposed “girlfriend” who punked-out and never showed-up to fly to me!), and I like to think that I would have gone more out my way to visit me similarly if I was one of the many acquaintances I amassed in all of my beautiful years. Having said that, I understand my fellow native New Yorkers’ bent that “there is New York, and then there is everywhere else” mentality.
2 – Just because you are an east coast star Dee Jay and bartender, doesn’t mean that will translate into success in the USA southeast. “Is it because I’m BLACK?” lol (a song) It was the first time I ever experienced nightclub owners not wanting to promote me and use my “name-recognition” to attract party-goers. Instead, they wanted me to have a local “following” in a place I was not native to!! Incongruous!! My reputation, previous gold medals and DJ skills had always been enough to pack a joint! However, because I got to DJ early in my stay there at the club NV, which was managed by a guy from The Bronx (which was why I got into the Dee Jay mix), I met and came to admire Slavic women because the manager hired a few of them to dance in the street viewed window of the club and they sure did attract the guys! I’d come there on nights that I was not spinning, just to hang out and listen to them!
I had never seen exotic beauties like these chicks in my life, and I just had to find out about them! When I sat down and talked to Katyia, the first one I met and heard her Russian accent, it just embellished the beauty and style of a class of females and I’d never known previously, that I decided then and there (circa 2006) that had to have one of them for my own!
1 – Finally, and this one is not possible without #2, living in Nashville allowed the circumstances that lead my Ukrainian beauty and love of my world, Inna, to find me. This singular experience has opened-up the world to me where my home family and country never did in almost six decades! I now have a Passport, and am out of debt because of her and my long-time Attorney, Bruce’s help over the past two years. I have a life and for the first time want to have a wife! It IS a “pity”, as she says, that it is taking me so long to raise the money to fly over to her. [Update! I now have my ticket to go to her! [8-10-2012]
Nashville, Tennessee: A Nice place to visit, but do not get stuck there unless you are FROM there! Maybe, given the same “circumcisions” and choices I had when I moved there, I guess I might do it again.
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