Big Joe on the Go

A Letter To My Hometown

Okay, we can file this column under “Old man yells at cloud.”  Or even this one–“Get off my lawn!”  Either way, this is something I have to get off my chest.  I am writing this to my hometown.

Hey there, Nashville, we need to talk.  I got some things I need to say.  No, I am not moving, at least not now.  I am talking about the You we knew, even ten years ago, is long gone.  For those who grew up here in the 80’s and 90’s, this hits us hard

I was in your downtown recently at an event on Broadway and it was eye opening.  Fighting.  Yelling.  People shoving each other and on and on.  I do not see how any of that is enjoyable and the people I was with from out of town asked me if this happens all the time.  Sadly, Nashville, I said yes.

Then comes word on the same day that famed hamburger joint Rotier’s and the whole block where it was located was torn down to make way for more condos.  This coming on the heels of the former Ace of Clubs building on 2nd avenue getting bought and will be torn down.  Drive down Broadway or Division street and you will see cranes and places that were here forever that are now only serving memories.  I know you see and feel it as well.  It is not your fault, at all, and I am not mad at you.

Should we start about traffic now?  My goodness, they spent all this money fixing 440 and it still feels as if it will take 440 days to get through that place.  Driving through downtown is equally as bad and you just pray you don’t get crushed by a semi who just got cut off by someone who wants to cross eleven lanes and they are seething.  Even on a midday during the week approaching downtown on the interstate, even miles out, is usually at a standstill or moving as fast as I run the 40-yard dash.

Again, this is not your fault.  None of it.

Now here is something we can laugh at, or cry at, or both.  This is a part which our new friends have not yet figured out.  There is no plan to alleviate traffic.  Zero.  Nothing.  Which means it will get far worse before it improves any.  A rail or subway system?  Ha.  The only subway coming to town are the ones already here that are on every block of every street in town.  Someone suggested building a rail system from all parts leading into town and that is feasible in about five years.  I said listen, we can’t even figure out where Old Hickory boulevard beings and ends, you think we can get a rail system in five years?

East Nashville, west Nashville, Donelson, Bellevue and other parts of the city is just one big traffic stop with construction as far as the eye can see.  One that makes me laugh is that they are building these condos in Donelson, almost on top of shopping plaza and that about 75% of them, will have balconies that overlook the Dollar Tree roof.  Imagine that view from May to September when it is a million degrees outside.  You can throw a frozen hamburger on that hot tar and it will be done in seven seconds.

Now I am not talking about the suburbs, they have their own problems going on, this is all about you, Nashville.  Some have commented on how no one smiles anymore and no pleasant words are exchanged.  I disagree with that because I still see and talk to great people all around our city.  This is more on the cosmetic of the city.

What irks me a lot is that many of the people who I have talked to that have moved here in these last ten years, do not care about your history.  I am just wired differently because I crave information and history and legacies and everything that went in to making you special.

I get that progress happens and there is nothing we or you, can do about.  If someone offered me millions for a piece of property, I would sell it as well and that is where the consternation comes.  I understand the person selling it, but I do not need to like it.  I know there will be more and more places that will get torn down and who knows what will be built there.

I am not sure if you what you see saddens you like it does us.  This is all very new because change is inevitable but this just seems way overboard.  Look at Germantown.  Every square inch has been taken up. It seems like yesterday that your dog could run away over there, you could see him go and go because nothing was built there.  Completely flat.

Again, it is not your fault.  A lot of us still love you with all of our heart but I am seeing more and more of us that grew up here, moving away.  As one friend told me, “I just don’t recognize any of it anymore, and I work downtown.”

My son has two more years left in high school before I make any rash decision to leave but if things stay the same way, then my hometown will become just another town to me.  That makes me sad.

Signed, an old friend.

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