Nashville Notes

I’m on a business trip to one of my favorite places…Nashville. For many decades, this place has been called “Music City.”

The ‘opry,’ and the live-music scene have given the city a steady tourist trade that fills the hotels, concert halls and restaurants. Downtown is exciting, alive and full of folks til the wee hours. From BB King’s blues club to the Wildhorse Saloon, there is something for every body.

But, long before a country triad was ever strummed down here, Nashville was known as “The Athens of the South.” In fact that label led to the decision to build an incredible architectural feat for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition of 1897. Many of the buildings were based on ancient buildings but one, the Parthenon, was an exact reproduction. It is now an art museum and sits as the centerpiece of Centennial Park, a huge public park just west of downtown Nashville.

Check it out:Parthenon at Nashville

It was not meant to be a permanent fixture and was built with plaster, wood and brick. The locals loved it and when weather started to destroy the building, it was decided to rebuild the entire structure in concrete. It was a twelve year project from 1920 to 1931 and that is the present structure you see.

It was refurbished and cleaned in 2002 and now has colored lights on the columns for a beautiful nightly work of art.Parthenon at night





In the original Parthenon in Athens, the centerpiece was a statue of Athena Parthenos. It has been long-lost, but with the help of some scholarly people who knew what the dimensions were of the original, a replica has been duplicated. The artist, Alan LeQuire, finished the 42 foot-high statue in 1990. Here it is with a normal sized person standing beside it.

Athena Parthenos

This is just another very cool thing about Music City, the Athens of the South.

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Third Language

We all know the most common 2nd language in the USA is Spanish. But what is the third most common spoken language where you live?

Slate featured this interesting US map showing each state and the THIRD most common spoken language. I knew what it was in Texas. I thought I knew what it was in California. Boy, was I wrong.

Before glancing down to the bottom, make a guess.

I  even missed the answer in my birth-state. I thought the 3rd most common language spoken in Indiana was hillbilly. Sorry, that one’s second.



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Oh Really!

Some things are hard to believe. Even if they’re true. You first hear them, and doubt sets in.
“Oh, really” you say, or think.

It seemed to be my theme all weekend. I thought it at many emails I received. I thought it on items I read (and double-checked). I said it aloud to statements I heard.

Most don’t bear repeating, but I’ll write down a sample of my “oh-really?” statements and see if your reaction is the same.

I received an email from Southwest Airlines reminding me I had a flight to Nashville this Thursday morning at 6am from Los Angeles. In bold, bright, red letters they offered me quite a deal. It said for just $12.50 I could do an early online check-in. One way only of course. Another $12.50 and I can have early check in coming back to L.A. (Oh, Really!)

I stumbled upon a website accidently about psychotherapy and/or neural-linguistic programming having good results treating certain phobias. The phobias were listed and I’m not making this crap up. Here they are: Pentheraphobia – the fear of your mother-in-law. Vitricophobia – fear of your step-father, Novercaphobia – fear of your step-mother, and Soceraphobia – fear of your parents-in-law. (Oh, really?—so glad they are having good results treating these things)
Scared Man

I was reading a tidbit about Whitney Houston. She’s been gone 2 ½ years already. She’s the most awarded female act of all time…over 200 million records sold world-wide. She’s the only artist to chart seven consecutive #1 hits. Her smash hit “I Will Always Love You” was the best-selling single by a woman of all time.

One Moment in Time

One Moment in Time (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


And then the “oh really” statement slapped me in the face.
In the 2002 Iraq Presidential Campaign, Saddam Hussein’s campaign song was “I Will Always Love You.” (I guess it worked…he won)




One more psychological tidbit – -
In 1980 the American Psychiatric Association FINALLY changed the diagnosis of “hysteria” to “conversion disorder.” Okay, but the original treatment of “female hysteria” goes back over 2000 years. Until the 19th century, “hysteria” was thought to be caused by disturbances of the uterus. Europeans called it the “wondering womb.”
But throughout the latter half of the 19th century, “hysteria” was diagnosed when women complained of insomnia, anxiety, and a host of other symptoms. The treatment was vaginal massage and then vibrator usage when they were invented. This was usually done by male doctors.

Okay…you’re turn to say, “Oh, really?”

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The Bright Side of Life

Yes, I’ve always been a Monty Python fan. When “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” started on TV in 1969, I never missed a show. Their irreverent British humor, both on TV and their movies, was my cup of tea.

Monty Python Flying CIrcusThe television show ended in 1974. (A few months later, The Rockford Files started which also became an addiction…loved James Garner like everybody else)

The Monty Python Group was six of the most talented guys to ever form a troupe. After “Python” they each became successful in their own pursuits.  If you Google each of their names: Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, John Cleese or Eric Idle you will be amazed at their body of work. The sixth member of the troupe, Graham Chapman passed away in 1989.Monty Python

So, it was a fun time to be able to see their final “get-together” that was recorded live from the London O2 Arena. It was shown three times this week at the Edwards Theaters.  They titled the show—“Monty Python Live (Mostly) – One Down, Five to Go”

Their crazy live skits were intermingled with old “flying circus” cuts and huge live dance reviews leading into another skit. The show lasted almost three hours with a 30 minute intermission.

For me, it was just so wonderful to see those guys, who are all my age, together, on stage, for the last time.

When they announced this FINAL SHOW, it sold out in 43.5 seconds. Another nine dates were added, which quickly sold out in a few hours. Every show filled the 20,000 seat capacity arena. The night of the July 20th “live” telecast at Edwards there was over 700,000 folks around the world tuned in to watch.

After the close, there was an encore with many celebrities joining them on stage (Mike Myers, Harry Shearer to name two) to sing their tongue-in-cheek song from “Monty Python’s Life of Brian.”  “Always Look At The Bright Side of Life”

Someone already posted it in YouTube so if you didn’t get to catch the live telecast, here is the grand finale.



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I Remember Those Wide Streets

I haven’t talked about my mom lately. Not since her 99th birthday in April. There will be more forthcoming. I talk to her almost every day. But yesterday she mentioned something that is directly tied to recent national news about Bakersfield.

Mom told me she had a visitor from out of town asking about me. The lady said she didn’t know where Bakersfield was located in California. Mom said she knew it was north of Los Angeles but the main thing she remembered was Buck Owens and those wide streets everywhere in town.

Yeah, Buck was still kicking and he gave my mom a big hug and he and the Buckaroos sang a Happy 90th Birthday to her (9 years ago.)

But the wide streets are a phenomenon to most visitors. Not just the main arteries, but most neighborhood streets. I believe that is one of the main reasons Bakersfield made a Top Ten List recently.

When Bakersfield makes a list it’s usually about the bad stuff…and there’s plenty of that. I’m tired of talking about those things. But this Top Ten list is a good one.

A website called “Nerdwallet” (go figure) listed the Top Ten Cities in the USA to Drive (like, your car)
Traffic Jam
I don’t know where the population cut-off was—I’m guessing about 300,000 population and over.

The criteria were rather strange. The ‘list-makers’ used insurance and gas costs, safety, commute time and traffic delays. I don’t understand how any of those have anything to do with each other. Each city is chosen based on total points scored in the combined categories.

So, Bakersfield was named the 7th best “driving” city in America…one ahead of our dreaded rival to the north (Fresno).

But when one looks into the individual scores, Bakersfield in the NUMBER ONE major city with the least traffic delays in America.  Mom was right….wide streets. Fresno was number two in delays and it, too, has huge streets throughout the city. Traffic can move.

Every time I return to my birth city in Indiana, a small place of less than 70,000, I have to check my road rage.
Angry Driver

I can get from east to west or north to south in Bakersfield in less than 25 minutes. It takes at least that long in my Indiana town that is 5x smaller.

Bless those Wide Streets.

The Top Ten list: Albuquerque – Tucson – El Paso – Phoenix – Colorado Springs – Wichita – Bakersfield – Fresno – San Antonio – Oklahoma City.

The difference in the annual delay times of driving is the main thing I’m interested in. Here are the differences from #1 to #10

#1 Bakersfield has 12 hours of driving delays annually

#10 San Antonio has 38 hours of delays annually


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Strange Goings On

I’ve been a Yahoo user since they first started yodeling. It’s my home page and I like their sports, weather and finance news. I don’t use their search engine. I’m a Googler. And I have a “Chrome” page full of apps.

A few months back, I received an email from Yahoo (in my Gmail box) and asked if I would be interested in taking part in a series of studies and questionnaires regarding my computer use. I replied, Heck Yes, and I instantly became a designated “Yahoo Yodeler.”

Seriously that’s what we are called. We Yodelers helped in picking out the newest “yahoo” logo.
yahoo logo

We also tested new formatting of their video app and many other things. Currently I am also a beta-tester for Yahoo of some new Android apps, but that’s another story.

Being called a “yodeler” is pretty kooky. I realized I hadn’t heard that stupid Yahoo commercial on radio for a long time…you know, the one where it ends with the guy yodeling…Yaaaaaaahooooo.

In checking out what happened to the real yodeling, I found another crazy story. It seems the original yodeler is named Wylie Gustafson. He was paid a flat rate of $590 to record his “yaaahoooo.”

Wylie must have went crazy hearing that commercial every time he turned around so he sued Yahoo a dozen years ago for more money.

I just read he settled for an undisclosed amount. I feel better now, but still, I’m an unpaid yodeler. Anybody else out there a yodeler?


I wanted to share a musical treat (Just 2 minutes….you can spare that). My Hoosier buddy sent it to me. I have started saving my empty beer bottles, but I’m not sure I can get the rest of our band to join me.

Check out the Bottle Brothers…fantastic stuff! (It’s OK…it’s church music)

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In Memory of Dancing and Dynamite

Pete Douglas died. What a great guy…a true gentleman. I can’t fathom walking into the Beach House and not see him sitting at his desk. Appropriately that is where he died last week.
Pete Douglas
I lived in Half Moon Bay in the late ‘90s. In the summer of 2000 I was long-distance dating my wife to be, Amy. I told her about this club I belonged to, the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society. I think the only thing about that weird name she liked was Bach. And the fact that it was 108 degrees in Bakersfield and barely 60 degrees in Half Moon Bay. She drove the four plus hours for a Sunday afternoon date.

The ocean was roaring and splashing up on the walkway, just a few yards away.  We walked out on the patio, with our wine, quietly watching the incoming tide, listening to the seagulls squawking at the skate-boarders, bicyclists, and dog-walkers along the narrow coastal trail. Amy met Pete Douglas, sitting at his desk and we chatted about the long drive she made for our date. The venue is intimate, about 150 seats, no seat further than 35 feet from the stage.The acoustics are as perfect as any musician could dream of.
Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society 2Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society
We then took our seats and listened to the incredible St. Lawrence String Quartet. (Yes, I scored some major points with my pretty little fiddle player.)

We have returned as often as possible over these past 13 years for great intimate jazz and classical concerts.

It won’t be the same without Pete.

In the ‘60s, Pete bought an old beat-up beer joint on the beach and moved in. He loved jazz, chamber music and partying. (Now you see why I loved the guy). In 1963 he was having a big party and his stereo was blasting the Brandenburg Concertos. One of his friends stated that the Bach was in 4/4, why not dance?  A few couples started swing-dancing. A few crazier friends had brought some dynamite to liven up the party and proceeded to light it and toss it out in the ocean. One other person yelled…”Hey, we’re the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society.”

In 1964, Pete Douglas remodeled the old place, and started a non-profit private club to bring live music, jazz and chamber music, to appreciative audiences. And it’s been happening ever since. Ticket prices were usually $35(for club members) and Pete always insisted the bands play two complete sets…not a one hour plus show. He knew small audiences would talk among themselves and relax along the ocean front. They did. We did. Every great musician in the area wanted to experience playing there and most did.

Dizzy Gillespie to Stan Getz spread the word about this perfect small venue with warm appreciative audiences and most musicians considered it a privilege to book this gig.
Pete never tried to sell booze or food. He had a catering company that prepared a buffet and sold wine and beer. For Pete, it was just the music he cared about.

One other great feature was the downstairs club, The Ebb Tide Room. It was free and open seven days a week to members to bring in friends and family (limit of four) anytime to enjoy the ambiance. You could bring food and drink and have the ocean beachfront club to enjoy.
Dougla Beach House

We will return again this year, but something very important will be missing. Hopefully the great music will continue. Rest in Peace, my man, Pete Douglas.

Some of the best comments about the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society were made from the musicians who played there.

*Pete’s place is hands down the best music venue anywhere in the world! – Bob Sheppard (sax), 8-9-09

  • I can’t imagine a more ideal environment for making beautiful music – great food, awesome ocean, and warm-hearted and attentive listeners. Thanks. – Bayla Keyes, classical violin (Triple Helix), 4-5-09
  • You play better here because of the history. This place is a legendary club – the level that you aspire to get to – the dream! I mean, all my heroes played here. – Rachel Z, 3-18-07
  • This is the best jazz place in California – confirmed every time I come here. – Bryan Gould (Swing Fever), 3-9-08
  • Best place I played in the United States. – Phil Markowitz (piano), 11-2-08
  • My favorite place in the world to play jazz (#2 is Ronnie Scott’s in London). Great audience, great food, great vibe. – Victor Jones (drums), 2-15-09
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