Page 1

october

FOND OBJECT

2013


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114 12TH AVE N MUSICCITYPIZZA.COM 12THANDPORTERLIVE.COM

MUSIC CITY PIZZA

Sgt. Pepperoni' s Pineapple Jalape単o Band

has teamed up with NATIVE to help raise money for three local charities. Each organization has signed a three month "record deal" and created their choice pie for the debut menu. They will collect royalties from each pie sold, so go get yours pronto!

Notes for Notes Provides youth with free access to musical instruments, instruction, and recording studio environments so that music may become a profoundly

positive

influence

in

their lives

www.notesfornotes.org

W.O. Smith Music School Supplies affordable, quality music

instruction

available

to

children from low-income families. www.wosmith.org

YEAH! Builds a creative, connected community by connecting professional artists with students throughout Middle Tennessee to provide commercial/popular

music

programs,

music industry classes and theatre instruction. www.yeahintheboro.org

P.S. NASHVILLE NEEDS TO DANCE MORE # NAT I V ENAS HV I L L E

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THE GOODS

105

34

13

Lighting 100 thinks you oughta know about The Lower Caves

Defying the odds of a not-sopedestrian-friendly city

Not many can resist the charm of a European blonde. The same goes for Czann’s Blonde Ale

106

14

So outrageous we had to remind ourselves that yes, those things did come out of our mouths

BEER FROM HERE

Praise the Roof

We take a look at Adelicia Acklen’s grandiose gravesite

YOU OUGHTA KNOW

Overheard @ NATIVE

109

30

OBSERVATORY

No. 308’s Romero will take you on a spiritual journey to drunktown

112

Cocktail of the Month 33

MASTER PLATERS

Don’t be the guy who brings storebought punkin’ pie to the party. You want your pie to get eaten? Try this recipe from Silo

100

Hey Good Lookin’

This Halloween, ditch the costume and hit the paint

Nashville street style

Native Animal of the Month

For the Great Horned Owl, being wise isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be

Carless in Nashville 66

Writings from a Strange Island

Up and coming writer Justin Quarry shares his obsession with the strange and monstrous

79

The Inside of a Deadbox

Riding around in a hearse with film writer, actor, and director David Alford

90

If You Don’t Know Him

James Cox—the counselor, the dishwasher, the musician—the drunk and the divorcé

FEATURES 18

Eating Outside the System

Porter Road Butcher’s cut goes far beyond the blade

48

TABLE OF CONTENTS OCTOBER 2013

Fond Object

Like no place you’ve been and every place you want to go

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DEAR NATIVES, As we fade out of summer and into autumn, we lose the warmth and the green, and we lose the suns that set long and late. Soon enough, the leaves will tease us with their beauty, just before they shrivel like burning plastic and fall to their deaths, reminding us that life is full of precious color even in its darkest moments. At NATIVE, this year has been strange and beautiful, dark and real. And until now, we’ve had a hard time accepting the sometimes-harsh truths of circumstance. In our office, one of us lost his father without notice, one of us waits for news that he will receive a new kidney, and one of us found out that her parent was diagnosed with Leukemia. On October 17, my mother will undergo an operation for a bone marrow transplant—the only real cure for this disease. You might not know everyone in this issue, but their passion for life has flourished in the face of sacrifice, self-discovery, change, and loss. Their stories, inspiring and honest, show us that we are not alone—that the cold will pass and the sun will last. When the world around you appears to be in ruin, remember that love and optimism are powerful forces, that all of us need these things more than we’re willing to admit. And if we allow them to manifest and touch others, their strengths can fight our weaknesses.

president:

ANGELIQUE PITTMAN JON PITTMAN

publisher:    editor-in-chief:

creative director:

Sarah Sharp Editor-in-Chief

assistant editor:

ELISE LASKO CHARLIE HICKERSON

art director: 

HANNAH LOVELL

sales director:

  KATRINA HARTWIG CAYLA MACKEY JOSHUA SIRCHIO COLIN PIGOTT JOE CLEMONS ALEX TAPPER

web editor:

TAYLOR RABOIN

account executives:

music supervisor:

One sunny morning in September, we hustled across town to arrive at Fond Object with nine coffees and seven breakfast sandwiches. We were late, as always. And wrangling five people and three animals proved to be quite the task. Cheers to photographer Daniel Meigs (pictured here) and hair and makeup artist McKenzie Gregg for pulling it off.

film supervisor:

          writers:

JOE CLEMONS CASEY FULLER JOE ALLMAN LILY C. HANSEN NICOLE BURDAKIN CASEY FULLER ANDREW SULLIVAN MELANIE SHELLEY WELLS ADAMS ADAM LIVINGSTON KATE CAUTHEN RYAN GREEN DANIEL MEIGS CASEY FULLER ELI MCFADDEN JR JOLENO KATIE WILEY

design intern:

COURTNEY SPENCER

photo interns:

KEVIN PRESLEY KRYSTAL THOMPSON

pr interns:

DARRON HARRIS ALLISON LANCASTER CATHERINE PRATER

business management intern:

JENNIFER M. KIM

BEHIND THE COVER:

SARAH SHARP MACKENZIE MOORE

managing editor: 

photographers:

Live on,

brand director:

brand manager:

DAVE PITTMAN

founders: founding team:

CAYLA MACKEY ANGELIQUE PITTMAN JON PITTMAN DAVE PITTMAN CAYLA MACKEY

to advertise, contact:

MACKENZIE MOORE JOSHUA SIRCHIO TAYLOR RABOIN

for all other enquiries:

SALES@NATIVE.IS HELLO@NATIVE.IS

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WRITTEN BY

JOE ALLMAN

Czann's Brewing Company What is it that people like so much about blondes? We’ve said before (and breweries like Fat Bottom seem to agree) that a beer can be just as complex and beautiful as a woman. Czann’s Blonde Ale is no exception, so we wanted to take a look at what makes it—and blondes in general—so appealing. Maybe it’s their looks. Whether you picture a Scandinavian goddess or a Golden Retriever, all blondes are indeed eye-catching. This beer has a warm and sparkling golden hue, something it has in common with some of Europe’s finest brews. And in life, as well as in beer, everyone likes an attractive European. Maybe it’s that blondes are so sweet and charming. Czann’s Blonde is light and goes down easy, but it’s also got some real personality and substance. With prominent malts and light, fragrant hops, the end result is a balanced finish that sticks with you, making this beer marriage material. Or maybe it’s because they’re a rare breed. Natural blondes are few and far between, but owner Ken Rebman is an even rarer breed—he’s a solo brewer. Sure, thousands of home brewers go it alone, but Ken is brew master, salesman, delivery guy, accountant, keg cleaner, and everything in between. A wise man once said that it takes one blonde to screw in a light bulb. She holds it while the world revolves around her. Well, Czann’s revolves around Ken, and he’s hoping that Nashville can rally around this beer.

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PRAISE THE ROOF

Anyone that’s strolled through Belmont’s main quad has undoubtedly glanced at the Belmont Mansion. Constructed in 1853, the nineteenth-century Italian villa is now one of Nashville’s top tourist destinations. Countless weddings, performances, and dinners have taken place inside its antebellum walls. But whether you’ve toured the building or bought the t-shirt, there’s one piece of Belmont-related architecture you probably haven't come across—the Adelicia Acklen Mausoleum.

by charlie hickerson | photos courtesy of belmont mansion association

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Spanning over four plots inside the 250-acre Mount Olivet Cemetery, the mausoleum is home to various deceased members of the Acklen family, most notably Adelicia, the owner and original resident of the Belmont Mansion. Considering her life was relatively unorthodox (her first two husbands both died, leaving her millions), tragic (six of her children died under the age of twenty), and decadent (the estate included an art gallery, bowling alley, bear house, and zoo), it’s no surprise that her grave is a little grandiose. Completed three years before Adelicia’s death in 1887, the High Victorian Gothic structure is marked by the octagonal cupola that juts from its center. Although historians aren’t sure why, every building associated with the Acklen family has some sort of octagonal feature. Another notable aspect of the mausoleum is The Peri, a romanticized Neoclassical statue made of Italian Carrara marble that depicts a fallen angel who has regained entrance into heaven. Crafted by famed American sculptor Joseph Mozier, The Peri was inspired by Thomas Moore’s epic poem Lalla Rookh, and Adelicia’s will insisted its placement at her gravesite. The mausoleum and fallen angel statue are stunning tributes to a woman who was equal parts business tycoon, Southern aristocrat, and notorious socialite. Her strange and tragic life is a Southern Gothic legend, and her ghost allegedly roams around the grave and mansion to this day.

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HUNTER MATHIS

BUILDS TALL BIKES. You may have seen him cycling around town with other members of Rat Patrol, the bike club he founded about a decade ago. Together, they weld and contrapt double decker bicycles so tall that they can easily see above cars. Some of them are so unwieldy that they need to be leaned against a wall and climbed to ride. At the Rat Nest, their headquarters, they turn reject bike parts into spectacles that are hard not to notice. They’re bound to turn some heads when they're together. “People used to ask us if we were in a band,” Hunter says. Rat Patrol has elevated bicycling over the past decade. Now, Hunter also elevates coffee as a barista manager at Bongo Java Belmont. His favorite roast is Bongo Java’s single-origin Mexico, preferably hand-ground and brewed pour-over.

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EATING OUTSIDE THE SYSTEM Porter Road Butcher’s cut goes far beyond the blade by elise lasko | photography by adam livingston

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“You are not leaving this table until you eat your chicken,” my mother ordered as I stared loathingly at my plate. Instead of avoiding the carrots and wild rice, I refused to let my fork touch the meat. What was once my favorite meal had been ruined forever. It’s settled, I thought. I’m a vegetarian. I had come home from school after enduring documentaries about animal cruelty and unsanitary practices in slaughterhouses to make me abandon animal products altogether. And while my sixth-grade level of reasoning was founded mostly on naivety and melodrama, the intention was there. Over a decade later, it still is, and I recall my first purposefully meatless meal as I pull up to Porter Road Butcher’s new location.

Occupying a busy hub on Charlotte Avenue, the shell of Mrs. Winner’s chicken and biscuits joint still remains. The only indicator of its new tenant is a rain-gray sheet draped over the store’s main sign with Porter Road Butcher’s signature rust-orange butcher knife hovering mid-cut. It’s a far cry from their two-yearold Gallatin Avenue mainstay, where the employees are as much of a staple as the establishment itself. Instead, the West side shop is a blank slate with only two employees, two managers, and the two co-owners and founders of Porter Road Butcher, Chris Carter and James Peisker. But neither shop explains the name of the business itself, which was conceived during a night of drinking brown-bagged whiskey on Chris’s front porch on Porter Road.

The main door slowly shuts behind me as I begin perusing the preservatives, cheeses, and honey in the front of the store, stopping at the rosemary garlic chardonnay jelly. I invite myself into the kitchen where I find Chris and James in their shared office. There are utensils everywhere— crisp white chef’s shirts hang identically on a rolling wardrobe rack, and butcher utensils are delicately arranged in bouquets blooming with knives and bone saws. The bee-like hum of fluorescent lights is interrupted by calls and dings of incoming emails—a machine-made orchestra. In the room together, they look like cousins. Both around the same height, Chris is clean-shaven and quiet behind the computer, and James is bearded and expressive, leaning against the wall and adjust-

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ing his butcher apron. Both of them don worn baseball caps—Chris’s says, “Make Cornbread, Not War,” while James’s is the Porter Road Butcher insignia, the same one that’s on their makeshift sign outside. Another butcher knife peeks out from James’s sleeve. “I always thought I was meant to be a chemist or a chef, but I’m not quite smart enough to be a chemist,” Chris says shyly, intensifying his Southern twang as he answers my question of when he took an interest in cooking. He continues, “I’m also really inspired by architecture, and being a chef has architectural points— constructing what goes on a plate and layering flavors. You’re actually building something.” It also helps to have an ultra-Southern, homestyle cook for a grandmother. When Chris came over for dinner, he’d fish while she prepared the meal. She picked the sides, often having five or six options going on the stove at once, and he picked the protein. But Chris’s first hands-on cooking experience was grilling steaks in his backyard. “I’d put pineapple juice and all sorts of weird stuff on it,” he laughs, remembering his experiments on the grill. Raised in Hendersonville, Chris’s first job in the food industry was as a busboy during high school. After graduation, he moved a few hours west to attend the University of Memphis, where he got a taste of architecture, accounting, and marketing before deciding on hospitality management. While taking classes, he worked at Buster’s, a nearby wine store, to better understand the nuances of pairings. “I wanted to do my job better, and I knew this was the way to do it,” Chris confirms. His next food service industry gig was as a banquet server at Coletta’s, an Italian restaurant in a converted house on the outskirts of Memphis, before he fell into bartending. Only a couple of years later, Chris landed in Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Scottsdale, Arizona, majoring in culinary management. Impressively, his first kitchen job was as sous chef at Dragonfly Cafe, followed by Scottsdale

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restaurants Atlas Bistro, Twisted Eatery, and Fleming’s (where he mastered the art of grilling meat). In between high school, college, and culinary school, Chris would return to Hendersonville and spend time with close friend Kelly Farina. Kelly and Chris were roommates in Arizona while she completed yoga training and he attended Le Cordon Bleu, and soon enough, what had been a friendship turned into a budding romance. When Kelly moved to Nashville in 2008, Chris knew he had to follow. A couple years later, she opened Music Row’s Shakti Power Yoga (with sister, Lauren), and Chris began working as head of the meat station at Hermitage Hotel’s Capitol Grille. I notice their wedding date highlighted and written in all caps on their October office calendar. Chris adds, “She’s a vegetarian, too,” smiling at the irony. James’s story is strikingly similar to Chris’s. He was also inspired to cook by his grandmother, who claims the particular moment occurred when he was six years old and standing on a stool making brownies. “That’s the story she tells over and over again—sometimes even in the same night,” James smiles, shaking his head. Born in California, raised in St. Louis, James began his career as a dishwasher and host, and by sixteen, he was in the kitchen at The Gatesworth (an upscale retirement community) and participated in the American Culinary Federation (ACF) State Jr. Team club. “It’s teen Iron Chef, state versus state,” he explains. “We’d have to peel fifty-pound boxes of potatoes, and with less than an hour to do it. It gave me a great base of skills.” Next, James studied at Forest Park Community College before going on to the prestigious Culinary Institute of Art (CIA) in New York City a year later. He remembers the cutthroat environment, saying, “They’d line everyone up each day to make sure we were clean-shaven, our chef coats were ironed, and our chef shoes were polished. If you failed inspection, you got a zero for the day. And if you missed two days, you were out.”

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After surviving CIA, he spent two weeks at the Sichuan Higher Institute of Cuisine in China before working at a variety of St. Louis restaurants and kitchens, including a tapas restaurant called Modesto and the Old Warson Country Club as a roundsman. However, he didn’t fall in love with butchering until his stint as sous chef at Niche, a modern American restaurant in his hometown. But he didn’t begin with meat. “You always start with salad,” James says, referring to garde manger, or the salad assembly stage—a rite of passage for cooks to excel in the fundamentals of cooking. “That’s when I started to see food through the farmers’ eyes,” he continues. He began reading Joel Salatin books and learning more about the farm to table process. After helping to open Brasserie by Niche and spending a short time in Chicago to further his butchering skills, James moved to Nashville where his wife, Marta (whom he met in high school, too), is pursuing a PhD in chemistry at

Vanderbilt. The two budding butchers met at Capitol Grille where Chris served as the meat chef and James as the sautée and fish chef. Though James had been there for less than two months, he needed a change. And it turned out that Chris did too, having worked at the Hermitage for close to two years. Chris remembers, “We immediately clicked with our similar passions towards food.” While at Capitol Grille, Chris would cater holiday events and private dinners, and James joined in, naming it Local Catering, LLC. “I always wanted to work for myself anyway,” Chris confirms. “And after looking at my projected budget with catering, I knew it was a better option than what I was doing then.” But they experienced one difficulty with their side business—finding fresh, local meat. After looking into the resurgence of small, local butcher shops and noticing they didn’t have much competition, they considered opening one that provided

the highest-quality meat while directly supporting local farmers. The other option was opening a restaurant, and they almost did. It was going to be called ELE (Everybody Love Everybody), with a seasonal menu dictated not by themselves, but what the farmers could provide that week. But realizing the expense of opening a restaurant, Chris and James revisited the butcher shop idea by building relationships with nearby farmers. “When we initially told some of these farmers our plan, they thought we were batshit crazy. I think most of them still think we are,” James adds, laughing. Before approaching the banks or their families about their intention to open a butchery, Chris and James approached the people who they’d be sourcing from daily, including the farms they work with now in Tennessee and Southern Kentucky: Bear Creek, Tennessee Grass-Fed, Sequatchie Cove, and KLD (Ken and Lucy Drinnon) for beef; David Byler Jr. Amish Hog Farm for pork; Jolly Barnyard for

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chicken; Willow Farms for eggs; Hatcher and Kenny’s Farmhouse for dairy; and “Ed the Contractor” for honey. Between the meats, dairy, and other produce, Porter Road Butcher receives deliveries daily, and by the farmers themselves. “I like to say that the farmers do all of the hard work—we just take the credit,” James admits. While Chris and James may take the credit, they ensure that their sources are provided for (up to fifty percent of their profits go directly to the farmers), which helps explain their relatively steep prices, at least in comparison to grocery store chains. While shopping at one of these chains may be more convenient, you aren’t supporting twenty residents of Nashville and twelve nearby farms. Ultimately, Porter Road Butcher’s mantra is not only supporting local farmers, but also providing the highest caliber, best flavor, and best service possible, or “creating happier, healthier people,” in James’s words. “I’m not buying this chicken for ninety-nine cents and selling it for five dollars. Instead, I’m giving you

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a healthy, wholesome chicken.” Chris finishes, “From the beginning, we’ve stuck to the same concepts of staying local and seasonal. Don’t create something to eat—eat what’s there.” Chris goes on to explain the surprisingly circuitous journey that most consumer meats take in order to be sold in the average grocery store. “It doesn’t make sense that a cow that’s raised in Tennessee is shipped to Kansas to be force fed corn, slaughtered, vacuum-sealed and frozen, and then is sent back to us to eat.” James continues his thought, “If you buy a shitty computer, it’s going to break down. And if you buy cheap meat, your body’s going to break down—it’s the same thing. I don’t understand how people spend $150 on shoes, but won’t spend money on their dinner.” Aside from compensating farmers, there are regulations that have to be paid for, such as a USDA inspector that’s on site at their partnering slaughterhouse, Cherry Meat Company. However, while major slaughterhouses with maybe two inspectors slaughter nearly 5,000 head

of cattle per day, Cherry Meat kills about eight. “The cost of that process is more, but it’s worth the price for quality,” Chris reminds me. “What we do is so unique—it’s different from your conventional meats, even organic meat,” James continues. Assuming what they did was organic, I ask about the difference. “Many corporations have discovered loopholes in the term ‘organic,’” Chris begins. It turns out that organic chickens can be legally raised inside, just like conventional chickens, on what they call “organic grain mixture,” or formula. They never see the outdoors, and everything is automated: water, food, air, and temperature. Also, pesticides and herbicides can be used on organic vegetables, as long as they’re approved. “And the qualification of organic pigs to be ‘raised in a natural setting’ could be fulfilled by concrete pens, since it can be considered a form of rock, which is natural,” James illuminates. Instead, Chris and James both ensure that their animals are given proper at-


tention and actual time outdoors. James attests, “Our chickens are moved every day by hand to fresh pasture where they’re fed and watered. That’s what we’re paying for—for the birds to get nutrients to make them healthy.” Chris and James make sure that their staff are also educated about their meats by taking the entire team to visit each farm two to three times a year to speak with the farmers and check the conditions of the spaces. “We’re about local, pasture-raised, and hormone-free meat,” James explains.

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“In other words, we’re eating outside the system.” While Porter Road Butcher targets individual consumers, it sources to local eateries such as Barista Parlor, Marché, blvd, Fat Bottom, and several food trucks, including 200 pounds of ground beef per week to Hoss Loaded Burgers. Chris and James’ roles within the company are all-encompassing—Chris serves as head manager of both locations, while James acts as the correspondent with the farmers and meat cutters. They each work an average of ten hour shifts a day, six days a week, and hold very high expectations for their employees. “We have a saying at work,” James begins in all seriousness, “that if it’s not hard, it’s probably not right—that’s with our sausages, bacon, everything. We don’t ask a lot of our employees; we just ask them to be perfect.” Since the birth of their second store, the two are sharing their time between the East and the West, and will remain at their Charlotte locale through the end of the year. There, they work alongside managers Christopher “Hudge” Hudgens, a furniture builder of old bourbon barrels at R. H. Barrely, and “Tuna” Tim George, their highest-trained meat cutter and an Americana musician. But their new storefront hasn’t affected the sacredness of Saturday nights, when the entire staff meets at either M.L. Rose or No. 308. There are already plans for a Porter Road Butcher East versus Porter Road Butcher West field game competition every Sunday this coming spring. “We’ll always be one giant family, and we couldn’t survive without any of our employees,” Chris asserts. I’m not leaving Porter Road Butcher a renewed meat-eater, but my notions of animal treatment have been considerably rectified. Chris and James work tirelessly in an industry that is often corrupt in practice, regulation, and treatment of animals. They guarantee that not only are their farmers’ animals the healthiest and most wholesome they can be, but that their customers are, too.


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WHAT DO A ZOMBIE FILM GODFATHER, THE TORONTO BLUE JAYS’ PITCHER, AND AN ASSASSINATED CATHOLIC BISHOP HAVE IN COMMON? They all share the same name: Romero. But what you probably don’t know about George, Ricky, and Óscar’s Spanish surname is that it was originally used to describe Romans on their way to Jerusalem. The name stuck and is now used to denote anyone on a religious pilgrimage—which is why it’s the perfect label for No. 308’s new cocktail. The libation’s black pepper syrup and aged Hakushu whiskey will send you on religious pilgrimage to the mecca of good vibes. But please be careful, substanceinduced spiritual excursions can get a little weird (Enter The Void, anyone?).

*BLACK PEPPER SYRUP: 1 part sugar 1 part water 20 whole black peppercorns

Cook down and then crush. Let sit for twenty minutes.

THE GOODS: ¾ lemon freshly squeezed ½ oz.

black pepper syrup*

½ oz.

Hakushu 12-year-old Japanese whiskey

1-2

muddled basil leaves

F Shake ingredients and pour over ice. F Garnish with basil leaf and homemade brandied cherry -Ben Clemons, No. 308

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intro by charlie hickerson | photo by kate cauthen


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MASTER PLATERS

RECIPE BROUGHT TO YOU BY

photo by kate cauthen

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CARLESS

IN NASHVILLE Defying the odds of a not-so-pedestrian-friendly city by lily c. hansen | photography by ryan green

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COMING SOON TO

10/15

FRANZ FERDINAND 10/17

TWENTY ONE PILOTS

AEG

WITH ROBERT DeLONG AND SIRAH

10/21

THE NEIGHBOURHOOD WITH LOVELIFE AND GHOST LOFT

10/23

NEKO CASE

WITH KAREN ELSON Like most decisions in my life, my move to Nashville was swift and spontaneous, with very little attention to detail. I grew up in the frenetic, cosmopolitan Chicago, and after spending only two days in Music City, I was charmed. It had the picturesque scenery, the Southern pace, and people who said “hello” and took their time with things. So when the opportunity to relocate presented itself, my boyfriend and I consulted Craigslist, secured the first available crash pad, and that was it—we packed our bags and headed south. When we arrived, we didn’t land dead center in the heart of Lower Broad; we settled for Bellevue. For $1,000 a month, we lived in a decent-sized apartment and enjoyed twentyfour-hour access to a workout room, pool, and tanning bed. But us Chicagoans came here to experience Nashville and all its clichés—endless music, whiskey, and entertainment. And in Bellevue, we were shit out of luck. With my boyfriend’s car, scarce public transportation, and no driving experience, that first month in Nashville was kind of like The Truman Show. I was a chain-smoking, sunbathing

10/24

MATT NATHANSON WITH JOSHUA RADIN

11/6

THE MOWGLI’S AND KOPECKY FAMILY BAND WITH THE ROCKETBOYS

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MORE INFO: nashvillemta.org native.is/carlessin-nashville

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COMING SOON TO

10/15

FRANZ FERDINAND

Monday, October 21 with SCOTT

MILLER

10/17

TWENTY ONE PILOTS WITH ROBERT DeLONG AND SIRAH

10/21

AEG

Wednesday, October 23

THE NEIGHBOURHOOD

with RUDIMENTAL

WITH LOVELIFE AND GHOST LOFT

10/23

NEKO CASE

Wednesday, November 13

WITH KAREN ELSON

10/24

with HURRAY

FOR THE RIFF RAFF

MATT NATHANSON

animal trapped inside of an apartment complex watching reruns of Anthony Bourdain. Two weeks in, I threw the remote at the wall and dialed the number for Brentwood Driver Training. Bellevue’s dawn and dusk bus routes just weren’t going to cut it. So, the girl who had never operated a vehicle was now forced to get behind the wheel. Rumor has it that Nashville is home to some of the worst drivers in America, and I was only validating that statement. In Chicago, driving is seen as a luxury, and walking miles to your destination is par for the course. Paired with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and cabs, I could get anywhere quickly without a whip of my own. Even when my high school friends screamed “Freedom!” as they sped out of their driveways for the first time, cruising around in the backseat was just as liberating. By my mid-twenties, I had traveled the world without having to put a key into an ignition and was proud of it. One breakup, three apartments, and eight months later, I was back at square one—standing on Briley Parkway one

WITH JOSHUA RADIN

11/6

Sunday, November 17

THE MOWGLI’S AND KOPECKY FAMILY BAND WITH THE ROCKETBOYS

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rainy Sunday morning, staring at a totaled Nissan Sentra. In a hurry to pick up a friend who hitched the Megabus to Nashville, I lost control of the car and spun around until I smashed into the side of the highway. The only car I’d ever owned had just been crushed like a pop can, and the police officers and AAA guys were commending me for how calm I appeared. What came off as “calm” was really this odd sense of relief—no more gas money, no more car maintenance, and no more fender benders. I was glad to be back to my pedestrian roots. When I tell people I don’t drive, they look at me like I’m a lunatic. But car culture in the South has long baffled me, much like guns in bars or pizza with ranch. Case in point: I became friends with someone who would actually drive across the street to buy cigarettes. The reason why I haven’t replaced my demolished tin can is because saving money being carless means I can live without roommates. Back home, this city slicker would beg her friends for rides, and they would just point to the CTA. But here, people are convinced the bus might suck them up into some menacing black hole. Ironically enough, Nashville’s public transportation is more posh than that of other metropolitan areas, yet there’s an unspoken stigma that you’re of lower social rank if you use it. Though I know that’s not necessarily the case, riding the MTA is inefficient and unfeasible, unless you live downtown or in the Vanderbilt area. Oftentimes, going from point A to point B takes more than an hour. Many of my carless compadres live on the fringes of the city or in pockets where public transportation is severely deficient. We travel forwards, backwards, and through the maze of bus routes to arrive at a final destination. I thought it was bad when the buses in Chicago ran slower on Sundays and during late night hours and when the Brown Line ceased service at 3 a.m. But Nashville patrons are lucky to even catch a bus on a Sunday. And in the evening,

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the buses stop running at midnight. But all hope is not lost. According to the Nashville MTA Strategic Transit Master Plan, by 2035, the city’s population is expected to increase by one million, and city planners aim to accommodate that growth with a 7.1-mile rapid bus transit system known as the Amp, at an estimated cost of $174 million. Running from St. Thomas in West Nashville all the way to Five Points (with a total of sixteen stations, or stops), the Amp will operate in a designated lane (like a tram or streetcar) and offer bike storage and wifi. Combining the quality of rail transit with the affordability of rapid bus transit, at more than 1.3 million trips a year, residents will be able to commute carless without so much carless trouble. Being carless in Nashville isn’t easy. It requires some serious strategizing, creativity, and legwork. I walk almost everywhere, ride my bike on occasion, and splurge on cabs when required to look

presentable. I’m fortunate to live on the East Side, so I haven’t had to twist too many arms to come to my side of the river. If I’m short on cash and flexible on time, I’ll often walk to Lower Broad and snag a cab to my destination. As Barista Parlor cook and close friend Campbell Craig puts it, “I tend to enjoy my commute, which I think is a rarity.” Campbell is one of those people you see in all corners of town, which is why I was surprised to learn that he has never owned a car. He casually talks about his 100-150 mile-a-week biking commute and motivated me to bust out my own Raleigh and tackle those San Franciscoworthy hills. We share a similar sentiment of impatience when it comes to waiting for the bus, so Campbell bikes year-round in all weather conditions. Reflecting on the sensory stimulation that occurs when you’re on a bike, he explains, “The liberating things abound: the money I save not driving, I’m in the

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...I BECAME FRIENDS WITH SOMEONE WHO WOULD ACTUALLY DRIVE ACROSS THE STREET TO BUY CIGARETTES. best shape of my life, and I frequently run into friends when I’m out riding. I feel more engaged with the world, because I see things I wouldn’t notice when whizzing by in a car.” I first bonded with Shane Tutmarc, another East Nashvillian, clinking glasses and high-fiving over our carless life-


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styles at The 5 Spot. “I’ve never owned a car, period,” says the Seattle transplant that has a similar disdain for Nashville’s subpar public transportation. “I’m lucky that where I live is centrally located,” he continues. But when Shane leaves the East Side, he opts for a cab or bus ride, or, “I’m going somewhere with one of my friends who are great human beings with cars,” he laughs. But like a drinking buddy who bums cigarettes and swears she’s not a smoker, how many free rides can you mooch before your friends kick you to the curb? Living in Nashville without a car has definitely resulted in some social sacrifices, but none so important that they left me bitter. Despite the ups and downs and admittedly ample embarrassing moments, I appreciate not owning a car. Sure, I’ve dropped my bike helmet in the Cumberland River and flashed Main Street wearing a dress on a windy day, but it’s all about perspective. Gazing at the road ahead offers a much-needed break from

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the constant bombardment of mental stimulation. Call me a hippie or relate it to the fact that I’ve been pounding the pavement since birth, but there’s something grounding about getting around on your own two feet.

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Hoofing it or biking around Nashville is an adventure. We’ve compiled a cheat sheet so you won’t look haggard from walking everywhere or find yourself stranded in a seedy part of town. 1. PREPARE FOR ALL WEATHER CONDITIONS, PARTICULARLY HEAT, RAIN, AND SNOW. Take ten seconds to check the weather. I preach from getting caught in torrential downpours and nearly passing out from heat stroke. Sunglasses, brimmed

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hats, umbrellas, waterproof ponchos, and rain boots are good things to pack with you. 2. WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES (AND A BAG BIG ENOUGH TO STORE THE FASHIONABLE ONES.) Nobody notices those Jeffrey Campbell wedges or Cole Haans with the brogue trim. Bring a change of clothes, throw on some sneakers, and save your best look for the final destination. 3. PLAN OUT YOUR RIDE. Nashville’s winding streets can be a doozy to figure out. Use MapQuest or Google Maps to map your route and write it on your palm, notepad, or iPhone. 4. THINK IN CAR TERMS. You change your oil, clean bird shit off your windshield, and check your tires. Bikers also invest in night lights and flat tire kits (an extra tube, tire levers, and a small pump or CO2 system), and make sure their frames are in rideable shape. A sturdy helmet, tights for winter, and a reflective windbreaker jacket are musts for safe and stylish cycling. s ve ar nn c s za ed Su nt th i pr be a nd liz a E h y b

5. MEMORIZE WHICH STREETS ARE THE SAFEST AND QUICKEST, AND DON’T FORGET TO TAKE THE SCENIC ROUTE. Like a pro drinker prefers Ketel One over house vodka, the pro pedestrian chooses streets based on safety and scenery over swiftness. I take 8th Avenue South instead of 12th, Woodland over James Robertson Parkway or Shelby, and Porter Road instead of Gallatin. Avoid Lower Broad by taking Demonbreun, Church, or Commerce Streets.

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6. USE MULTIPLE FORMS OF TRANSPORTATION. Bike to the bus station. Walk halfway, then catch a cab. Instead of transferring between multiple bus routes, take one and walk that extra mile. Experiment and find out what works for you.


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FOND OBJECT Like no place you’ve been and every place you want to go

by elise lasko | photography by jess williams by olive del sangro | photos by daniel meigs | hair and makeup by mckenzie gregg

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FOND OBJECT: fondobjectrecords.com Follow on Twitter and Instagram @FondObject native.is/fond-object 50 / / / / / / / / / / / / / / //

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TRIM On the corner of Riverside and McGavock sat a vacant building—white-painted brick, nothing extraordinary, except for a confusing mural on the wall facing the Citgo. Inside, stray hair lay still, no traffic to wisp it to the corners where dust collects, and the stench of dog piss hung heavy in the air, recalling its days as a pet grooming salon. For months, this empty building had no name, no business, no purpose—just a sign that read “For Rent.” Meanwhile, five friends were teetering on their own cliffs of change. Punk-rock trio The Ettes were approaching ten years as a band, and bandmates Lindsay “Coco” Hames, Jeremy “Jem” Cohen, and Maria “Poni” Silver wanted to channel their creative chemistry into something new. In Austin, longtime record store Cheapo Discs shut down, leaving record collector Jeff Pettit unemployed. And in Nashville, artist and designer Rachel Briggs left her position as Art Director at American Songwriter after seven years to go freelance. And so it was no surprise that, by their powers combined, Fond Object opened its doors on April 20, 2013— an opportune day to showcase the collective record store/ boutique/art studio/record label/vintage gift shop/outdoor event space/petting zoo. A certain energy radiates this corner in Riverside Village, this time not of angry dog, but that of five people who have found new purpose.

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JEM COHEN: Follow on Twitter @jemcohen 52 / / / / / / / / / / / / / / //

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Jem Cohen was born in the wrong era.

He could be from any time, but he’d probably choose the early ’60s—what he considers to be the birth of modern rock and roll. The Jersey-born musician, songwriter, and producer has been playing in bands since he was fifteen, working in the music business for the entirety of his adult life. Here, people know him as the bassist for The Ettes and Parting Gifts, and more recently the bassist and producer for the JP5. He’s also Fond Object’s “Man of Many Hats” (read: partner/manager), but he’s probably cooler than any boss you’ve ever had. As he takes on this new venture, he reflects on all that he’s done and all that he still wants to do. There’s an obvious ’60s mod influence in your sound and style. I got my first guitar when I was eight. I was listening to Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins, Everly Brothers, and I was a massive Beatles fan. I’ve always been obsessed with that time. It was the birth of rock and roll and psychedelic art. The musicians, songwriters, ideas, inventiveness in the studio. I mean, The Beatles still freak me out. I was always a guitar player and singer, but my favorite Beatle is Paul—his bass playing has always been an inspiration. What brought you, Poni, and Coco together? The crazy thing is that Poni and I were both born in the New Jersey/New York area, and moved to Florida around the same time, but were in different places. Coco and I both went to the University of Florida—she was actually a fan of my band in college. Then, we all moved to New York and L.A. around the same time, not knowing each other. In L.A., our bands would play shows together. I

was a rhythm guitarist and singer, but What have you learned so far in the I’d help teach their bass players and or- process? ganize the songs. When their last bass I thought I knew how to arrange a player left the band—it was actually song. We’d go to Liam with all these Amanda Valentine (who was moving songs that we thought were great, we’d here)—they needed someone to play sit down with a clipboard—you know, for the recording session in London. Af- proper pre-production stuff. He’d say, ter that, I was in the band. “This verse should go here. Where’s the bridge? What’s wrong with you, there’s What did you study in college? no bridge?” There’s a pop format for a I went to UF for anthropology, then re- reason. It works, and there’s all these turned to New York to pursue law. My different ways you can mess with it. dad, who had always worked in the garment industry, said, “You gotta become What are you working on at the moan attorney. I don’t want you following ment? in the family’s footsteps.” I dropped out I just finished an Ettes single, and I’m after a week; it just wasn’t for me. So, working on Parting Gifts album with I went into music business. I’ve been Coco and Greg Cartwright. It’s like ’60s in bands since I was fifteen, so it just girl group pop, but our next album will made sense. And my dad always wanted be more folk-psych like The Mamas and to, so he lives vicariously through me. the Papas. It doesn’t sound like now, When I was in L.A., I worked in writer- but it sounds like it could be from anypublisher relations at BMI. time. I’m also working on a solo album that sounds like, you know, some run Rock and roll is a man’s game. How do of the mill bands. [Laughs.] I’m getting you feel about being the only guy in inspiration from Harry Nilsson, The The Ettes? Byrds, The Zombies, and The Beatles. I’ve seen the discrimination and the misogyny that exists. I mean, we have a The Ettes have been together for ten reputation for being difficult, but we’re years, and now you’ve got Fond Object. the most professional f*cking band. Be- Thinking about then and now, how cause Coco and Poni are so strong and have you changed together? have brains, people are scared of them We’ve had so many roadblocks and and think we’re difficult. failures. But we’re still boundlessly optimistic, just a little more dead in the You are spearheading the Fond Object eyes. As for The Ettes, we haven’t made label. How’d you get into producing? our defining album yet. I just really want I’ve always had a studio. With the label, to do something that is completely ours we want to put out what we want, and and say, “Here you go, motherf*ckers. not have to answer to anyone. I started Some of you might think we’re a joke with The Ettes, co-producing with Liam or a kitsch band. Bam, this is what we’re Watson [Grammy-award winning Brit- about.” With the shop, we want someish producer, most known for his work thing more stable. Let’s do something on The White Stripes’ Elephant]. Then else that makes no money! [Laughs.] I started doing demos for my friends’ But at the end of the day, you have to do bands. Three of them have turned the thing you love and never stop workinto albums for Hans Condor, JP5, and ing at it. Promised Land Sound.

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COCO HAMES: Follow on Twitter @cococommotion

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By birth, her name is Lindsay. By choice, her name is Coco. Like discovering your spirit animal, it’s a persona that can neither be shaken nor faked. Coco Hames is a born writer of songs and scripts, is the frontwoman of The Ettes and Parting Gifts, but before anything else, she is an opportunist who thrives on adventure. From growing up on a farm to touring all over the world, Fond Object’s self-proclaimed zookeeper, event planner, and “manager of saying no” funnels all of her adventures into this new undertaking. And now, she’s ready to let them come to her. How did the idea for Fond Object come about? We always wanted to do it—have a record store and a petting zoo. While The Ettes were on tour, we’d have these really long drives. It only takes a couple years before you tell all the stories and expose all the secrets. Eventually, you have to find new ways to entertain yourself. We played The Sims: Hot Date on this shitty Toshiba laptop. [Laughs.] We couldn’t have a store in real life, so we invented The Stone Owl. On my side of the store, you’d walk into the restaurant and a guy would serenade you with a guitar while people were making out. Poni’s side was a boutique. You couldn’t make a record store on The Sims, but it was there in spirit. We took it so seriously. [Laughs.] Why a petting zoo? I’m an animal creep, and I’ve always wanted a petting zoo. I scavenge Craigslist all the time, and that’s how I found Dottie the pig. I only had her for a couple months when I got the boys—the goats. Where does your animal obsession come from? I grew up in a small town outside of Orlando. There’s Disney and farmland. So I was always around animals, feeding them, rescuing them. I’ve always

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wanted to have a big farm of my own, but really, I just love elements of that lifestyle; I could never actually do it. I can’t full-on commit to anything. I run all the way up to the finish, then right before I cross it, I change my mind. If that’s the case, then why do you think you’ve stuck with music for so long? It was a born thing. Both my sisters took piano lessons growing up. I learned by ear and started playing guitar by the end of middle school. I think it’s also because I like being alone, and writing songs

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was something I did alone. I would write singersongwriter country songs. Is music the reason you left Florida for New York? I had just graduated from University of Florida, and I wanted to pursue screenwriting. I eventually got a job as a proofreader for scripts. Oddly enough, I wasn’t really playing music at the time. I still wrote, though. Later, I got into acting and actually played a part in The Sopranos in Seasons 5 and 7. I was cast as one of Meadow’s friends.


Did acting take you to L.A.? Yes and no, more writing and production, as I was turned off by acting. There are a billion girls that can play stupid roles and not have existential crises about it. Then I got job at Miss Sixty, where Poni worked, and we bonded because we hated L.A. and missed New York. So we were like, “Let’s start a band. Then we’ll get famous and leave!” [Laughs.] Why did you move to Nashville of all places? We were on the road, touring with The Black Keys in Europe. When we came back, we needed a place to crash for a while, and we knew some people in Nashville. A friend of mine who nannied for Ben Folds’ kids told us that his wife was looking for a house sitter while they were on vacation. It worked out, and we stayed in his amazing house on Belmont Boulevard for a month. We loved Nashville and realized that we could afford to live here. That was five years ago.

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You write consistently for Nashville Scene under Cahiers du Coco. What are you itching to write about? Anything bizarre in the arts and film world. I love oddball culture, like Tim & Eric. Sometimes my context as a musician or screenwriter makes for a better interview. As long as it’s not music, though. How has your experience with The Ettes influenced what you do at Fond Object? With The Ettes, we were always on the road. So, we’d go to all these other great cities that offered stuff that Nashville doesn’t, like late night spots or certain types of food or weird bars. I want to satisfy what we miss about living in cities like New York, L.A., London, Madrid, or Berlin. It’s taking all of our experiences from elsewhere and bringing them here to share with the community.

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PONI SILVER: blackbymariasilver.com Follow on Twitter and Instagram @ponisilver

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Four Trick Poni

As a wise, fictitious porn star once said, “Everybody has their one special thing.” For Dirk Diggler, it was his penis; for Jimmy Page, it was the guitar; for Aaron Sorkin, it was the walk and talk; for Al Gore, it was climate change. People like Poni Silver couldn’t exist in Dirk Diggler’s world. The Queensborn Dominican is a fashion designer, self-taught drummer, and former Broadway costume designer and Miami dancer. Now, after ten years playing with The Ettes, Poni settles down in her shop to center her focus on her first love—building out her fashion line, Black by Maria Silver. When did you discover your interest in fashion design? In high school. I took apart my great grandmother’s satin-pleated skirt and made this empire waist halter dress for homecoming. It was chiffon over black satin with a big bow, and I wore these combat-looking tap shoes. It was the ’90s. [Laughs.] Where did you study fashion? I left New York for Miami to study at this school outside of South Beach. Miami is responsible for getting me into costume design. I was designing for this dance troupe that I also danced for. Basically, we were glorified gogo dancers— like Vegas—with headdresses, skimpy bikinis, lots of rhinestones, and feathers. I was eighteen, dancing in like nothing. [Laughs.] Then I returned to New York to the Fashion Institute of Technology, where I studied women’s wear. I considered doing costume design, but NYU was the only school that offered that, and it was too expensive. After I graduated, I checked the job listings at the alumni department, and I saw a Broadway listing, applied, and got an entry-level job. How does one go about designing for Broadway? No one company does an entire show; you bid on scenes, and several different costume design houses will work on a show. I was in the millinery department at first. So, I made hats. One of my proudest creations was a tiara for one

of the strippers in Gypsy. There were photos of it in The New Yorker! Later, I moved into fabric sourcing for the costumes. The designer would show me a sketch, and I would search through the garment district and pull swatches for him. Then you packed up and moved to L.A. Why? I was twenty-four. My boyfriend at the time hated New York, and he followed me from Miami. I figured I would give L.A. a shot because he was working in film. I tried styling for movies, but it didn’t really interest me. Instead, I got a job at Miss Sixty on Melrose and fell into a really deep depression for about six months, because I left a great job doing what I loved in New York. If fashion is your first love, how did music come into the picture? Well, I was a modern and jazz dancer for about fifteen years, and I also played clarinet in high school—first chair in concert band. Maybe I’ll pick it up when I’m sixty-five and live in the woods, when my joints won’t allow me to play drums anymore. [Laughs.] How did you learn how to play drums? I was living in L.A., working at Miss Sixty with Coco. It was like Empire Records—we would fold denim for hours in the stockroom, and out of boredom, Coco and I started an air band. We talked about becoming a girl gang band, so when Coco left for Christmas, I put up an ad on Craigslist for drum lessons. I had never played before. Some guy that lived in Los Feliz answered the ad. I remember walking up this crazy steep hill to meet this guy. He opened his garage, and I walked in. He closed it, and it was dark. I was thinking, This is where it ends. He’s gonna skin me or something. This was in the middle of my depression, so my mindset was like, Whatever. Then he opened a back door, revealing his studio. I took three or four lessons with him and got tired of walking up the hill. By the time Coco came back, I was ready to play drums.

Where did the nickname Poni come from? My best friend gave it to me, because I’m small, I have this mane of hair, and I’m weirdly strong, like a pony. I think it’s upper-body drummer strength. At the time, I was obsessed with Switchblade Sisters, and when Coco and I met, we decided we needed code names. It was a defense mechanism against leachy L.A. manager types—a way of not letting them know who we really were. What’s your fashion philosophy? People are so used to immediacy. I take a Parisian approach—your closet is much smaller but your pieces are much more versatile. When I make something for you, it’ll be tailored to fit and will last longer. When I use fabrics, I’ll take a piece, wash or pre-wash it and steam it. That way, it won’t change shape or color when you wash or dry clean it. When you design clothing, do you design for yourself or someone else? I design for myself, but in a whimsical way, as if I live a much more elegant lifestyle. I also think in very situational terms. This collection I’m creating for St. Louis Fashion Week is for a woman traveling through Europe who’s going to Morocco. It’s very Marrakesh and ’60s Rolling Stones. All my designs refer to the late ’60s, early ’70s. What other projects are you working on? A friend of mine manages dance studios in Hendersonville and Mt. Juliet, and they have ballroom showcases. I’m making the ballroom dresses and costumes, basically to fund my line. I also play in a two-piece dirty blues band with my boyfriend, Chet Weise. We’re called Kings of the F**King Sea. With all the sacrifices of touring with The Ettes and starting your own fashion line, do you have any regrets? There’s this Woody Allen quote: “I never trust people who say, ‘I have no regrets.’” You have to regret something. I made some of the most interesting decisions, not always the right ones. I usually took the crooked, dusty path. But it brought me here.

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Jeff Pettit is a walking encyclopedia of music history. He might argue otherwise, though—a testament to a constant thirst for knowledge. His brain encases the kind of miscellaneous information you might define as etcetera. Jeff is the son of a rare coin collector and has twenty-plus years of experience in record stores. He always wanted to have a shop of his own, but it wasn’t until Austin’s Cheapo Discs closed in December 2012 when the opportunity presented itself. After only two short visits to Music City, the latter to see the Fond Object space, he decided it was time to put his 20,000-deep personal record stash to good use. How did you meet The Ettes? We met in Austin about seven years ago. I was reading The Austin Chronicle, and I looked at an ad for a club that I would normally never pay attention to. And they were playing a show that night. It just so happened that I bought their record a week before. I went up to them afterwards, and Jem looked all depressed. There were maybe six people in total at the show. Then I took them downtown, we had some drinks and became fast friends. That turned into us opening a record store. [Laughs.] When Cheapo Discs closed I was ready to leave Austin, and I couldn’t have done this there—more competition and rent is high. So at the end of January, I packed my 20,000 records into a sixteen-foot rider truck with all my media and hit the road. Where does your collector gene come from? My dad was one of the top ten rare coin experts in the world and a proofreader for the Standard Catalog of World Coins. Basically, if there was the wrong picture, date, price, or person on the coin—he knew. He was also a museum courier. What was the first thing you collected? Star Wars toys and comic books. I got into records around eleven. I had kid records and hand-me-downs from my older sisters. I probably listened to Weird Al or the Ghostbusters soundtrack. I also collect movies.

JEFF PETTIT: Follow on Twitter and Instagram @theejeffpettit

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What’s your opinion on High Fidelity? When that movie came out, people would come up to me and say, “Dude, I saw this movie about you. It’s totally about you. Did they contact you or something?” I said, “Oh, you guys. It is kind of about me. [Laughs.] As a record connoisseur, what’s your research like? It’s all about the hunt. You can find a diamond in the back of an old crate. I retain the kind of knowledge like dates, labels, producers, personnel, pressing, band members, who went on to form other bands, what bands they came from. Is there a secret society of record collectors? I guess? There are record conventions, but people really come to me. I like the surprise of what I’m gonna see next. Like, what weird stuff are people gonna bring in. That’s what I love the most about it. Even stuff that I thought I didn’t like, I like now. I was never really a Smiths fan—now I can tolerate them. What’s something you don’t have that you want? I had lots of jazz, blues, reggae, and we blew it out really quickly. I’d like to order new stuff, but the profit margin on new stuff is shit. I’d rather sell used records. People are starting to get it and bring their used records. Some of it’s good, some not. You have to reach the squares—everyone’s got parents with an attic and bunch of records just sitting. That’s the good stuff.

You have some rare finds at Fond Object. What are your favorites? The Mars Volta’s Frances The Mute and Modest Mouse’s This is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About. With The Mars Volta, it’s a limited run, special packaging, double record, silver sparkle, and they’ve never repressed it on vinyl. The CD is worth dollars. But on vinyl, it’s special. Vinyl is back. Do you predict that CDs and cassette tapes will do the same? I don’t think CDs, because it’s already digital, and there’s internet streaming. Tapes are coming back, though. Kind of a weird novelty—impractical, and they break easily. Vinyl is making a comeback for a few reasons: one, the artwork; two, the sound is better; three, it’s very ritualistic. Whether people realize it, they like the ritual of putting on a record and flipping each side. What’s your bread and butter? I’m into soundtracks and instrumental music. I often collect those just for the covers, and I like soundtracks to movies I haven’t seen before because you can write your own story. Is this the first time you’ve ever been your own boss? Yes. I never thought it was going to be easy. I put in a lot of hours. I’m too busy to be happy—I kinda miss my old slacker self sometimes. I can’t smoke weed all day and run a business. But I’m so glad I moved here.

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RACHEL BRIGGS: rachelbriggs.com Follow on Twitter and Instagram @wiresandfires Rachel has a show with fellow Fond Object artists Rex and Shelby at the October Chesnut Square Art Crawl. Show at Cleft Studios, 444 Brown Street.

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Rachel Briggs is in motion. In May 2012, after seven years as Art Director for American Songwriter, the artist dove into the unfamiliar waters of the freelance world. Cardboard boxes filled with home trinkets line the entryway of her Lockeland Springs home. She’s getting ready to move, but in her compact home studio, it looks as if nothing has been touched. Hundreds of Polaroids of desolate places and blurred faces cover the wall behind the iMac she sits in front of, numerous posters in various stages of development are scattered about, and a copy of Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom rests on a book stand to her right. Between her work as an illustrator, graphic designer, photographer, set designer, art director, packaging designer—not to mention running the Department of Goods and Services at Fond Object—Rachel Briggs is learning that time and motivation are precious when life is work.

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What spurred your decision to leave American Songwriter and go freelance? The magazine and I both needed change, and you can only stay somewhere for so long. Something just needed to give in my life. I had wanted to go freelance, but I was terrified. It’s an interesting dynamic—you have to keep up, or nothing gets done. It’s a mind game. If you want to make a good living, you have to work every day and sacrifice a lot of free time. A lot of your work consists of album art and band posters. What’s your link to music? So much inspiration comes from music combined with image. I used to play guitar, mandolin, trumpet, and piano, and I still play a little. I moved here from Memphis to study music business at Belmont and quickly realized that in a place where everyone’s a musician, I wasn’t going to bank on it.

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If you studied music business, how did you break into art? My parents always put my sisters and me in art classes. But when all my friends went to art school, I wanted to go another route. At the time, I was playing music, but I knew I could come back to art. Having a business degree really helps—I know how the game is played.

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Most often when people think Rachel Briggs, they think the iconic psychedelic graphic look, like the Poetry Sucks! posters. But your aesthetic and skills vary. I’m experimenting more with charcoal and watercolor—less hand-rendered text, less pen and ink, and more illustrations. I come from a school of thought where I like to see how things are made, so if I want something that looks like embroidery, then I’ll embroider. I want to make everything look as real as possible. I can’t fake it. I’ve noticed a distinct darkness and mood that carries throughout your work. I’m a bit reserved in my feelings and emotions. My favorite children’s books were always set by the sea. And I’m not talking about the sea like the Gulf of Mexico, but haunting and moody, with raging energy. Lately, I’ve been exploring things that motivated me as a kid. It’s insane how much of my style comes from this one book in particular—Evaline Ness’s Sam, Bangs & Moonshine. I just love tragedy. I loved The Boxcar Children, Bridge to Terabithia, anything with orphans or death. [Laughs.] My sisters and I would actually play a game called “Orphans.” We pretended we were runaways living in trees. It’s kind of messed up. [Laughs.] Seeing as Nashville is landlocked, do you find yourself seeking out the sea? I’m always trying to find places I can escape to where I can paint and draw. I love the Northwest and Scandinavia, Iceland and Sweden. Every fall, I take a trip to the Northwest. It’s like my reset button. The first time I went, I rented a car and drove down the coast of Washington and Oregon by myself. It was October; it wasn’t tourist season. It was just me and the ocean. Then a few years ago, I found this cabin on top

of a coastal cliff in Oregon that was an art house where writers would come, like Frank Herbert, who wrote part of Dune there. Do you have a place like that here in Nashville? There’s a trail along the Harpeth River, Narrows of the Harpeth. It has cliffs that make you feel like you’re in the mountains. Radnor Lake is another. There has to be a natural element to my environment. And if I haven’t traveled in a couple months, I get moody. You’ve been primarily working at your home studio. What does Fond Object offer? I realized that I missed being around people; that was something I had at American Songwriter. Along with sharing the shop with Poni, Coco, Jem, and Jeff, I share the Department of Goods and Services with two other artists, Rex Runyeon and Shelby Rodeffer. Having that energy of the peripheral makes me work harder. I also hope to offer classes for adults and kids, like printmaking or papermaking. What would you say to artists entering Nashville’s freelance world? There are still so many jobs to be had. I love places like Seattle and Portland, but Nashville is great because everyone here is doing something creative and they want to collaborate. It’s also so important to take an hour every morning and work on nothing related to anybody’s commissions. That quiet time—drawing, illustrating, thinking about something else—warms up the brain. As an artist, you kind of scoff at routine. But it’s what you need.


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Up and coming writer Justin Quarry shares his obsession with the strange and monstrous by nicole burdakin | illustrations by courtney spencer

Five-foot-four with brown hair, save a white spot at the crown of his head, many recognize Justin Quarry from hot yoga, a concert at the Ryman, or even as their professor. An Arkansas native and

Vanderbilt graduate, Justin returned to Nashville after receiving an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Virginia. Now, he teaches a “Monsters in Literature” course and an intermediate fiction workshop at Vanderbilt. His fiction has appeared in national journals, including The New England Review, TriQuarterly, and The Normal School, among others. In 2008, he was writerin-residence at The Kerouac Project of Orlando, where he conducted a writing workshop in the same cottage where the novelist penned The Dharma Bums. Winner of the 2011 Normal Prize in Fiction and the Robert Olen Butler Short Fiction Prize in 2010, Justin focuses on broken families, homecoming, and Frankensteinian science in his work.

The accomplished writer is one of the first people in his family to leave Arkansas and the first to graduate college. He never wanted to stay, and college was his escape. But is Tennessee really all that different? “Nashville is,” he explains, “it’s sort of a strange island in the midst of a state that looks a lot like Arkansas.” It’s no surprise that he calls this “strange island” home, considering his fixation with the abnormal. He admits, “I still haven’t seen The Wizard of Oz, but I was a huge fan of Friday the 13th.” A self-described “comic book kid,” his first (and still favorite) “monsters” are the XMen. “In a way, science is a more realistic magic,” he professes. Or, a more realistic way to create a monster: “The more you know about a so-called monster—its motivations, its histories, its wants—the less monstrous it seems, the more like you it seems.” For the last five years, Justin has been writing a novel that explores the conscience of a relatable outcast, set in the

Arkansas backcountry. “In writing,” he says, “you get as much time and space as you need to say something exactly in the way you want to say it.” Telling stories offer Justin more than an escape; it is a way to confront his identity. “When I started writing as a college sophomore, I had reached a point in my life where I had certain things to say that I couldn’t voice. I was figuring out what it meant to be a misfit, not just because I'm gay, but also because of my social class, which made me a minority at Vanderbilt.” Because he was the first in his family to leave home and attend college, he had little support in the uncharted territory of the larger world— and soon after he left, his father died. All of these things were building up, and he needed an outlet for expression. He finishes, “In essence, writing was and is a lot about figuring out who I am.” Justin Quarry continues to plant his roots on our “strange island,” where he hopes to finish his novel and a collection of short fiction.

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AN EXCERPT FROM JUSTIN’S STORY, “HEART FARM,” ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN TRIQUARTERLY: The chimeras need feed. Their trough is empty except for pieces of orange rind strewn like busted taillights. They spit cud at its sides in protest. Their trough is an old fishing boat, Eddie’s dead father’s; the mushy lumps thud hollowly against the metal, inching the boat across the dewy grass at angles. Eddie goes to the barn to prepare their feed. A lump, greenish, clips his arm from behind on the way. Per Dr. Wu’s instructions, and the American Heart Association’s recommendations, each serving of feed includes a measured blend of fruit (primarily citrus), legumes (beans, peas), vegetables (broccoli, zucchini), and whole grains (such as oats), tossed with cod liver oil. The chimeras also graze the field around Eddie’s mother’s house, munching grass and preferring weeds, as all other sheep. The feed Eddie makes is supplemental, for the chimeras’ hearts, which are human. In the barn is hidden a UHaul that dominates the space and instills it with a warm metallic odor. Flabby sacks of oats slump under a long workbench. On top of the workbench, a commercial-size container of peanuts is overturned before stacks of the feed’s other ingredients. Peanuts sprinkle the dirt floor. Once again Eddie surveys the barn to see how the chimeras might have gained entry. There are only the doors, which are kept latched, and

a row of new freezers blocks the back one. This is not the first incident. It appears the chimeras are breaking into the barn, though Eddie suspects his mother Jan is responsible. Soon after he and the chimeras arrived two weeks ago, he caught Jan concocting them a snack, using incorrect proportions. Jan believes the chimeras get hungry in between feedings. In addition Jan thinks the chimeras may be humans trapped in sheeps’ bodies. This is why she feels sorry for them, this was why she was making them a snack in the first place. Just when Eddie has her convinced that they’re sheep trapped in sheeps’ bodies—except for their hearts—she circles back to the one with the thumb on its forehead. The thumb, not the hearts, is Jan’s real hang-up. The thumb is the government’s hang-up, too. Under Dr. Wu, Eddie works as a research assistant in a University of Nebraska lab that, for years, has developed human hearts in sheep so that one day livestock may act as organ donors. For a heart to grow, a subpopulation of adult human stem cells must be injected in the brain of a sheep fetus during a window halfway through gestation: before the fetus’s immune system learns to detect foreign cells, so it can’t reject them, but after the blueprint for its body forms, so it looks normal. The timing and site of each injection are the variables. These are being perfected. The current chimeras’ hearts are between eighty-nine and ninetytwo percent human. Also there is the one with the thumb, whose heart is more like ninety-seven. As soon as its head jutted out

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from its mother, thumb-first, Dr. Wu saw he had injected it too soon. Still the lab managed to hide it, studying it in secret for fifteen months. Then, three weeks ago, Dr. Wu got wind that the University was launching an investigation. Bioethics committees from the Department of Agriculture and the National Academy of Sciences would assist. Both had endorsed the cultivation of internal organs when Dr. Wu proposed the project, but anything visibly human they had advised against. Limbs and dicks, as one ethicist said, were yuck factors.

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Dr. Wu decided Eddie should take the chimeras on vacation. He said he would send Eddie a text message when they could return, when he was assured of the project’s future. But that was three weeks and three states and five dead chimeras ago. Now Eddie feels like a shepherd with a master’s degree. Eddie fills the wheelbarrow with its first heap of freshly mixed feed. He glides the load toward the door. In the corner next to the door lie three stray oranges. One of the oranges, as if stirred

by observation, rolls several inches toward the wheel then rests again. Outside, Eddie contemplates checking the chimeras’ breath for a nut or citrus odor. The chimeras gather around the wheelbarrow before Eddie makes it to the boat, gorging and butting. Predominantly the chimeras are Katahdin sheep, a hornless breed with hair instead of wool, selected by Dr. Wu for these reasons. This way the chimeras don’t need shearing, and the scientists don’t need gear to guard against ramming. Also Katahdin sheep possess a


natural resistance to internal parasites. Sometimes Eddie thinks of things like love and devotion as internal parasites. Abruptly he notices that one of the nine chimeras, the one with a thumb like a horn, is unaccounted for. Then Jan comes into view walking toward the field, inching bigger and bigger as she closes the distance. The missing chimera grows behind her. Jan is one strange-ass specimen. These are the words she uses to describe herself after she mistakenly dials her own phone number, accidentally throws away cash, or searches for her keys only to find them having been in her hand the whole time. Eddie doesn’t consider his mother that strange, though her hair is longer than that of any female he has seen past puberty. Jan is sixty-two. She wears a voluminous shirt that belonged to one of her three dead husbands; the shirt, unbuttoned, cocoons a white tank top and black leggings. Her body has been whittled thin by a bellydancing class geared toward widows. Recently, however, Jan has skipped several bellydancing classes to tend to a new hobby: aiding and abetting fugitive animals. “This one”—she points to the chimera following her—“this one came to the door crying. Crying, Eddie. It knocked.” The chimera sniffs Jan’s waist. Sure enough the hair under its eyes is matted against its skull, wet. Though pools could just as easily have gathered there from the sweat running from beneath its hood. Jan sewed the hood, which covers its thumb, to render it less conspicuous—and less self-conscious— among the flock. “It didn’t knock,” he says. “It butted.” “No, it was gentler than that. More like—it was tapping, Eddie. It must

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be starving.” “Tell me the truth,” he snaps, “are you feeding them yourself?” She looks incredulous. “You told me not to!” “I’ve been finding things left out,” he tells her for the first time. “Things spilled. Like someone forgot to clean up her mess.” “It’s not like a sheep to go wandering off by itself. It’s like a human.” She reaches down to rub the chimera’s ears, which protrude through perfect-size holes in the hood. She eyes the barn. “They could lift those latches on those doors with their noses. They

get out of that sorry-ass pen the same way.” He keeps studying her face. “One time, one of the freezers was left open.” Jan gazes at the field enveloping her house, the subtle hills rippling north. Farther away, a small forest swells west. Her searching eyes are almost hopeful, almost as though they expect something miraculous to emerge any second. “I wasn’t looking at what’s in those freezers.” Eddie considers the pen he and his mother rigged together. “Maybe we should keep the chimeras in the garage.” Though he thinks the garage is too small. He remembers the U-Haul, in which they traveled. The other five that didn’t survive the trip. The one with the thumb nibbles the ends of Jan’s hair just above her butt. The lab is a huge metal building on the outskirts of Lincoln. The lab also contains an office and a room with medical machin-

ery but above all it houses a stretch of simulated pasture. Tender grasses pave the floor, equidistant sprinkler heads popping up and retracting on a schedule. Synthetic trees crafted with the bark of real trees intersperse the setting in a calculatedly haphazard arrangement. There are imported boulders. Potted thickets lining the walls. And overhead hangs a computerized panel that glows with an evolving intensity to replicate the course of daylight. The trees reach precisely fifteen feet below the panel to prevent a fire. Now, in a sheep’s natural habitat, the chimeras act peculiar. When it rains they fall on their knees, tucking their heads between their forelegs, not baa-ing but screaming Bee-hee! Bee-hee! Often Eddie catches them staring at the sun. Their eyes begin to trail its path as it burrows through the sky, the blinding disc unlike any light they have ever seen. Eddie must slap them one by one to break their transfixion. The openness of the outdoors eludes

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them. The simulated pasture is fenced in a grid to inhibit overgrazing of any area. Now, without an alarm and the release of a gate signaling movement to the next cell, the chimeras sometimes remain in a single section of the field, their confinement imagined. When this happens, as it happens two days later, nothing short of terror can stir them to migrate. Eddie shouts at them to move. Eddie swings his arms as he shouts. And he bares his teeth and he kicks at the ground and his feet propel clods over the flock, a few crashing on it. The chimeras watch Eddie’s performance as they chew and blink heavily. These things have never worked. Still Eddie tries them to avoid the walk to the barn. From here the barn

is small enough to fit on a cake. The chimeras turn back to the barren earth, grass gnawed to roots. They scrape the ground with their teeth, taking in more dirt than greenery. Eddie returns from the barn equipped with an old air horn. Also, he is dressed as a toothbrush, or at least the head of one. He still wears jeans and a denim jacket. The mask is constructed from a box with hay painted white, sprouting from the front as bristles. The mask, which Jan made, is meant to be accompanied by a solid sweat suit, representing a handle. Jan thinks this is the beauty of the costume: one can wear it in different colors. In the ten years since Eddie wore it his senior year of high school, Jan has worn it twice: once as a pink toothbrush and again in aqua. As Eddie nears the chimeras

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he begins to run and sounds the horn. The chimeras jerk their heads up. Their chomping jaws freeze. The blast plows over the gaping field far past them. Birds erupt from a tree to the west like seeds blown off a dandelion. The chimeras catch sight of his spiny head and release a shriek not unlike the one they emit for rain. They stampede in zigzags with their eyes trained behind, Eddie barreling toward them, honking. Before Eddie loses his breath, the one with the thumb loses its hood, and Eddie stops to retrieve it. At once the chimeras reform their group, an explosion in reverse. Leery, they watch to see if Eddie will charge again. He jerks off his mask and they relax. Their fat necks elongate to the taller grass below. In a fit, Eddie chucks the toothbrush head at a small mound covered in a lace of clover. The head lands perfectly on its bristles, without damage, which irritates Eddie further. He storms over to the one with the thumb, who glances up, still skittish. The thumb, unresponsive

as ever, hangs limply from its forehead, knuckle bulging, nail in need of trimming. Eddie ties the hood back around its skull, cursing Dr. Wu. Two more days and still no text message. Though the phone Dr. Wu gave Eddie to receive this message only gets reception in certain spots. The recollection of himself wandering aimlessly in his mother’s yard, holding the phone out to detect a signal, as if he is searching for gold, nudges Eddie past the bounds of fury. He pinches a tiny piece of his wrist until he can’t stand the pain. The situation reminds him of the other Eddie. Months before, Eddie dated another man named Eddie. When it ended and the other Eddie wouldn’t speak to him, Eddie slept on the other Eddie’s doorstep. He had woken in the morning to the other Eddie’s pinstriped legs stepping over him. Without pause the legs strode forth in a linear flurry. And still Eddie had lain there. Eddie feels the doormat’s prickly ghost against his tingling cheek. He re-

RIVERSIDE

members opening the U-Haul to check the chimeras in Iowa. A U-Haul because Dr. Wu thought it more covert than a cattle trailer. Straw pillowed its bed, buckets of feed hugged its sides. Additional vents were slit in the roof. All the cabinets containing the project’s documentation had been secured against the walls with multiple straps. Still, behind an abandoned Exxon off Highway 80, Eddie discovered a chimera collapsed in the middle of the flock, dead, as if it had simply keeled over. The next day he had found another dead chimera, and then another. Back at the lab, Dr. Wu had instructed Eddie to simply drive: to keep driving. To inspect the chimeras every four hours. There was no destination. There were no provisions for glitches. In the U-Haul there was only enough feed, water, and space to confine the chimeras for days, by which Dr. Wu expected to send the return message. Plans had been made in haste, and Eddie had been eager to accept the duty. He had been trying

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… HIS ACTIONS

to remind himself he was dedicated to his work. He had been trying to escape the obsessive aftermath of his break-up. The thought of a dying man offered life in the shape of a homegrown organ once filled Eddie with an intense but reassuring weight, so physical that at times it was the weight itself, not work, that seemed to give him direction—feeling as though the weight were tipping him forward, onward. He needed to remember this feeling. He had sought greater responsibility in the lab. Dr. Wu had actually let him perform the latest injection. Eddie admired this control Dr. Wu wielded over the chimeras, over their organs. The influence he commanded on science, on other people’s lives, even Eddie’s. Each variation of his actions determined whether infinite patients would die or survive in the future. Dr. Wu had noticed Eddie’s dedication to the project, and it was because of this that Dr. Wu had trusted him with the future. Eddie tells himself he is dedicated to his work. Eddie is dedicated to science. But with each task Eddie performs in absconding the chimeras, he feels increasingly dedicated to Dr. Wu. And lately, Eddie has begun to wonder if this dedication rooted itself long before Dr. Wu handed him a U-Haul key. When it comes to the men in his life, it seems Eddie is dedicated to dedication, some controlling part of him involuntarily willing. Each blade of grass the chimeras remove from the field makes a popping sound as it severs. Collectively the noises give the same effect as standing in a giant crackling skillet.

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THE INSIDE OF A

DEADBOX RIDING AROUND IN A HEARSE WITH FILM WRITER, ACTOR, AND DIRECTOR DAVID ALFORD story and photography by casey fuller

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I’ve been looking forward to this interview for a long time. I arrive at the car lot to pick up my rental for the day, and it ain’t no Toyota Corolla—it’s a 1982 Cadillac Hearse. I figure, what a great setting for a conversation with film writer, actor, and director David Alford. David’s one of the hardest working guys in the film industry, and his resumé is proof. He’s acted in Nashville films such as Stoker, The Last Castle, Blue Like Jazz, Adrenaline, Prisoner, not to mention ABC’s hit series, Nashville. This farm boyturned-seasoned professional got his big break at New York’s famed Juilliard, and without a doubt, David has solidified his name on screen, while making a huge impact on Nashville’s theater community. In an industry where work defines success, his experience speaks volumes. The first time we met was in 2007 on the set

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of his indie feature film shot in Nashville, Deadbox. I hate that we didn’t get to talk more on set, but he was in character, and I had to respect that. I did have the pleasure of being the first cast member killed by his character, though. Every day, for two and a half weeks, David would murder me, slice up my naked body, then cram me in a sink. So the hearse is rather apropos. David pulls up and gets out of his ride. We shake hands, and he says...

DA: That one, Prisoner, and Deadbox. CF: What’s going on with that, by the way? DA: Pretty sure it’s dead...boxed. [Laughs]. With Prisoner, it was the classic story of money affecting things. Having directed, written, produced, and acted in multiple films, I’m amazed that anything good ever gets made. There’s so much that can go wrong. There’s so much liability that people don’t understand. We can’t all be Clint Eastwood, who treats movie sets like nine to fives.

David Alford: You want me to drive this thing? Casey Fuller: You cool with that?

Getting cast in movies with actors like Robert Redford, the late James Gandolfini, and Nicole Kidman often relies on timing or even sheer luck. But for David, sharing casts with notable actors is nothing new.

We hop in, pull out of the lot. As we cross the Woodland Bridge over the Cumberland, David merges lanes. DA: I’m a hearse. Let me over, dawg! CF: You should name her. DA: Morticia. CF: Strong name. Congrats on Stoker, by the way. DA: Thanks. After they called me back three times to play the sheriff, I didn’t hear anything. Then one day, they called and gave me the role of the preacher. We had a quirky Korean director, Park Chan-wook (director of the classic, Oldboy), and he had an assistant director that interpreted for him. He would give a thirty-second direction in Korean then look at the assistant, and the assistant would say, “Do it again, but faster.” I freakin’ knew the director said more than that. CF: Crazy. What about working with Nicole Kidman? DA: She was responsible for getting Stoker shot in Nashville. I made sure to thank her for that. CF: Tell me about working on The Last Castle. DA: I hijacked Robert Redford in the parking lot. I wanted to thank him for the movie and me being a part of it. And I had to tell him that one of my favorite films of his was Jeremiah Johnson. He lit up like a Christmas tree. I could tell he didn’t get that a lot. CF: The Last Castle was one of three you were in that was shot at the Tennessee State Prison.

CF: It’s a shame about Gandolfini. DA: I had several scenes in The Last Castle with him. It’s funny—so many people I’ve worked with have said they want to work with me again but they keep dying. It’s ironic that we’re in a hearse. Is this a metaphor for my career? We pass a neighbor watering plants. She smiles and waves. DA: How ya doin’? We’re dead. CF: So, tell me about studying at Juilliard. DA: When I was there, it was difficult. Not the training, but the psychological terror that we all lived with. There were regular intervals where people would get cut, and if you survived, you kept going to school. CF: You made it! Tell me you had good weed. DA: Oh, man. You had to, to blow off steam. That’s why acting students are crazy. I came off a farm and went to New York City. At the end of every semester, I couldn’t wait to come home and mow the yard or do something where I wasn’t thinking about myself. We take Morticia through Shelby Park. A cop starts following us. DA: Great. I got no license on me. Just two dudes in a hearse, before noon, in East Nashville. That looks kinda shady. CF: How did you even get in to Juilliard? DA: I was in college at a small two-year

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DAVID ALFORD: Catch David every week on ABC’s Nashville or in his most recent film, Stoker. native.is/davidalford

school in Pulaski, then two years at Austin Peay. I was a music major and switched to theater my third year. Arthur Kopit, a well-known playwright, said I could have a career in New York or L.A. He said, “Juilliard is the place to be. They’ve closed the auditions, but they’ve agreed to see you based on the strength of my recommendation. So don’t suck.” CF: Great advice. DA: So I go up there, and all these stuffy people with accents were on the other side of the table. I had never auditioned for anything in my life. After I do my thing I say, “So, I just hang out or….” They all just looked at each other.

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CF: That must have been a horrible feeling. DA: I was sent upstairs, and this guy comes in and says, “We would love to have ya.” I didn’t know it then—I was just a farm boy from Tennessee. But that just doesn’t happen to anyone. CF: So, you came back to Nashville eventually. DA: Yeah, I started the Mockingbird Theater Company, and later was director of the Tennessee Repertory Theater. It’d be nice if the melting pot from music would bleed over into the arts more. It’s happening but it takes time. There’s no reason Nashville can’t be like Austin—with music, theater, and film.

CF: Well, we gotta chat about Nashville. DA: Ya know, the local attitude about Nashville comes with some eye rolling. It’s television; it’s not cool, blah blah blah. But the amount of money and jobs the show pumps into this area…that alone makes it a good thing. It’s well shot, and I’m tickled pink to be part of it. I don’t have to make any decisions, which I like. People tell me where to go, what to do, where to stand, and they pay me. We pull into a car wash. CF: When we worked on the set of Deadbox together, I remember you tell-


ing me a story about going to “Heaven.” Heaven is what the late Larry Hagman named his home in Ojai, California. He’s famous for his roles as JR Ewing in Dallas and Major Anthony Nelson in I Dream of Jeannie. David and his writing partner, who was Larry’s godson, were esteemed guests at his home. David recounts his most memorable experience in Heaven, as he was given the opportunity to write the Deadbox screenplay there (another break that doesn’t just happen to anyone). DA: Larry enjoyed his weed and made no bones about it. He built one of the most amazing homes. I was warned. “This place is going to destroy your mind,” my writing partner told me. We meet Larry. He says, “I loved your work in Adrenaline.” Then he breaks out the weed and says, “Alright, let’s get high.” I don’t know where he got his stuff, but I could barely move. Then he goes, “Let me show you the house,” which was designed to jack people up when they’re stoned. There were giant glass walls that opened with the touch of a button. We saw a shooting star that burned across the horizon. It was so intense, I think we heard it. We walked past a stuffed mountain lion, and his head moved with us as we walked by. Then Larry showed us the bottle from I Dream of Jeannie and his Civil War weapon collection. Then he goes, “Y’all wanna jump in the hot tub?” And there was a tree in the hot tub! I’m sitting there, and I have never been this high in my life, my eyes at water level. I look across the water, and there’s JR Ewing looking back at me. It was unreal. We walked outside, and there were clouds as far as you could see. And because we were on a mountain, they were below us. This is the reason Larry Hagman called this place “Heaven.” CF: What a hero. His career

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spanned his entire lifetime. You’ve also been performing for a long time. Have you been challenged? Any particular projects? DA: From an acting standpoint, Hamlet. There’s a reason people go crazy playing that character. At the top of the play, he’s ready to kill himself. And that’s where the play starts! CF: What about your character in Three Days of Rain, the one with the stutter? DA: The stutter was challenging because it was scripted. I had to memorize every single one. CF: I noticed that, and it got better as it went. DA: When you get a script that good, the writer puts those things there for a purpose. CF: Adrenaline won the Tennessee Independent Spirit Award at Nashville Film Festival in 2007. Would you call that a challenge? DA: Adrenaline nearly killed me. I was on camera for an hour and fifteen minutes straight. No cuts. At the time, no one had ever done that. Most film culture is like, “Let’s just get there, and we’ll see what happens.” Not this—it was all in one take. It was really rehearsed. But since we didn’t have a controlled environment shooting in downtown Nashville, we shot it five times and took the last take. CF: What kind of challenges did you encounter with Deadbox? DA: It’s a disturbing movie. We tried the single shot again. CF: You were running around the Tennessee State Prison barefoot. DA: I don’t know why, it was probably very unsafe. But I was playing a homeless, paranoid schizophrenic, ex-special forces guy. For that character, wearing shoes would have been a lie. CF: How do you become your characters? DA: I take on the rhythms of the people I’m around. I tend to be a chameleon. Not on purpose. As actors, we try to relate to people and communicate. I have gotten to be a lot of different people. The challenge is getting your brain to a place where you’re thinking as another person while retaining a sense of reality.


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JAMES COX—THE COUNSELOR, THE DISHWASHER, THE MUSICIAN, THE DRUNK, AND THE DIVORCÉ by andrew sullivan | photos by kevin presley childhood photos courtesy of james cox

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If you don’t know him, then you don’t know of him. I, for my part, can only say I made his acquaintance through circumstance. I was sitting in some bar, listening to another songstress play what can only be described as that certain Nashville brand of bland. “One song will be about empowerment—‘you go girl,’ that sort of thing; all the rest will be breakup songs. How much do you want to bet?” He leans towards me. We bet on a round of drinks. I think I ended up paying. There’ve been a lot of bets between us since then, and without a tape recorder, I’m an unreliable narrator. And even then… He introduces himself to me as James C. The C is for Cox. Welsh and phonetically unfortunate, some would say. Not that he’s ashamed of it; it’s just a surname he’s learned to grow apart from, especially during his time as a mental health professional for disturbed children in Portland, Oregon, and during his recent stint as a counselor for maladjusted teens here in Nashville. “I had to quit that job,” he tells me in the dimly lit kitchen/living room of his apartment. “The kids were fine. I actually miss them.” (Which is of note, considering an explicit little story he once shared with me.

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JAMES COX: jamescox.bandcamp.com native.is/james-cox

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But let’s finish out this quote first.) “In spite of everything they’d been through, they still had a chance. There was hope.” Alright, time to share this story—a true story, mind you. Though, I must warn you, it is graphic. I’ll withhold the kid’s name; I’ll call him “Ben.” When James met Ben, the boy demanded a kiss on the lips. He was adamant about it. Now, at the center, the children’s histories were almost always filled with lacunae, gaping or otherwise. Each kid came with their own Dark Age, and doctors did what little they could to put down a record. Ben was no exception, and though it is impossible to confirm, James believes the child had been the recipient of sexual abuse for quite some time before entering the clinic. He was violent, prone to fits, and a full-time resident at the center. Most kids were only institutionalized for a few months; Ben had been there for nearly two years. He was happiest when torturing little creatures—plucking the wings of flies or ripping earthworms in two. He would scoop spiders, the kinds even some adults fear, out of their webs, systematically pulling off their spindly little legs one by one. One day, Ben was having a particularly violent episode. And in this fit, he’d stripped off all his clothes. James was the only supervisor on the floor at the time. He recalls leading the other kids out of the room and clearing out all the toys, all the chairs, the bean bags, everything. Then, he stood in the doorway with his arms crossed, ignoring the boy. This infuriated Ben, stuck in an empty room with nothing to throw and nothing to break. James’ plan should’ve worked, and it would’ve worked if not for one simple mistake. In the far corner of the room, James had overlooked one seemingly insignificant thing—a little Lego piece, a two by four block. “I’ll never forget the look on that boy’s face.” James almost shudders, “There was pure evil in it. Like, he knew he was going to do a terrible thing, and he was going to love every moment of it.” That terrible thing? One fluid motion, like a pitcher with a baseball behind his

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GETTING SMACKED IN THE FACE WITH A SHITGREASED LEGO, THERE’S A METAPHOR FOR LIFE SOMEWHERE IN THERE.

back—only instead of cradling the Lego in a glove, Ben was furiously wiping his ass with it. And when he let it fly, he hit James square in the head. Getting smacked in the face with a shit-greased Lego, there’s a metaphor for life somewhere in there. Ben’s is only one of a dozen stories James has told me about the center. There was the boy who would communicate with his dead grandmother, the boy who believed the President was watching him outside his window, and the girl who would defecate on her mattress, in her lunchbox, by the door, anywhere but the toilet, really. Enough stories to encapsulate a whole volume of work. You may have come to the conclusion that James is taking these experiences and creating a center of his own here in Nashville. That would certainly be a testament to your critical thinking skills, seeing as NATIVE is a magazine

that tends to focus on individuals who are innovating, providing, or building something in the community. But you’d be wrong. James isn’t even associated with the field of counseling at the moment. He even quit his job mediating troubled teens at the blah and blah center in East Nashville. He now washes dishes at the Turnip Truck in the Gulch. He says he finds a certain Zen in thoughtlessly cleaning plates. James Cox—the counselor, the dishwasher, and the musician. On June 13, he released his first solo record, ANNA. Yet it wasn’t his first musical endeavor. James was born into a talented family: his mother was a music teacher, his father a music minister. At an early age, he was singing hymns on Sundays and practicing piano alongside his older sister, who went on to graduate from Belmont University and is now an accomplished instructor in her own right.

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“A lot of classical elements were instilled in me when I was young. But, being the rebellious little brat that I was, I had all but abandoned the piano by the time I left high school. It was obvious that I wasn’t going to follow my sister’s path,” he says, “but music was and is a part of me.” And even though James doesn’t have a college education in music, as he puts it, “I’m still quite sensitive to certain subtleties and dynamics of sound.” Since then, he’s been teaching himself other instruments, like vibraphones, but guitar is his main vessel. “And I never stopped singing,” he adds. Now you may have come to yet another conclusion that James is throwing in his lot with the influx of songsters that wash up on this town like dead fish. Yet, you’d be wrong again. James has no intention of getting signed and no intention of touring, no intention to do much of anything with ANNA, except put it out there for whoever may wish to hear it. Even the impetus behind his

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move to Nashville has nothing to do with current trends. He hasn’t come here to chase delusions; rather, he has come to escape very real episodes of delusion, misery, and a fair dose of self-loathing, all wired up in this ostensibly serene man of twentyseven. ANNA is an egress for all that malaise, a dead light bulb of Portland noir with no detective, no clue, and no crime. Darkness seems to dog every sound that emerges from this record. “Morning Moon,” the opening track, sets the scene: It’s the fourth hour of the fourth

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day of your insomnia, and the monks have started their chanting, and somewhere in this blackness, you suppose the sun must be rising. Layered vocals, Buckley-inspired guitar, and lyrics that beg your reconsideration. I’m listening to his record for the first time over at his place. We’re drinking very late in the night, excusing ourselves for cigarettes whenever the time feels right, which for James comes often. There are always a handful of neighbors sitting on the rusted stairs that line his apartment building. They have stories themselves. The man across the hall is wheelchair bound, the product of a few bullets flirting with his spinal column. He’s on pain meds all day, has odd patches of white hair, and is never really there. After midnight, a junkie comes around with a few bags of groceries. He

picked them up from Kroger, maybe stole them, probably just picked them out of the dumpster. He drops them off, makes a quick seven bucks, and doesn’t hang around. A few months back, I read that this sort of business was a thing of the past. I suppose that makes South Inglewood East Nashville’s historic district. Hipster, know thy roots. Even though James sticks out like a sore thumb, it’s plain to see that he’s accepted. Now, he’s smoking a cigarette and talking with the lady upstairs; she’s thanking him for the red chard. Back inside, he confides in me what absolute hellions her youngest are. “They’re up at seven every morning, jumping on the floorboards,” he says. “It sounds like the world is ending on the obverse side of the ceiling.” And it looks like the world has already ended on the reverse. His carpet has been sliced up, and what I can only describe as a factory grade fan is blowing a steady stream of air, puffing up the floor


in rolling waves of rug. There’s a constant om, droning om, droning om, droning om. He tells me that a few days prior, a clog in the plumbing sent all the refuse from the surrounding units up through his sink and subsequently onto his floor, from the living room to the bathroom. “Maintenance didn’t come around till a few days after.” He laughs, “The first guy came in here, took one look at the place, and then I didn’t see him again for two whole days. I lost a pair of shoes and a book. It could’ve been worse.” There’s a collection of Rumi poems, wet and with what looks like pasta bile caked around the corners, sitting in the trash. “I loved that book,” James says, “stole it from a friend. I wrote a song about that book a long time ago.” The decor in the apartment is sparse: a beat up record player, a couch the color of a coffee stain, a sketch of a Chinese woman with a cob pipe, and one fantastic collection of books. The complete works of Faulkner, Poe, and Eliot riddle

“I don’t blame her for what happened.” the shelves, to name the least obscure. “I’ve been trying to digest Henry Mill- He says this with a straight face. “I’m er, but I haven’t been able to find a copy dumbfounded as to why she married me of Crazy Cock.” He says this while crush- and led me on this grand lie.” They had only been married for a few ing a spider under the weight of Tropic months when he suspected she’d been of Cancer. The book doesn’t quite kill the thing. having an affair. And after much pressIts legs are still twitching away in its ing of the matter, she finally confessed. own goo. Another laying down of text “I’m such a masochist sometimes,” he does it. James looks at the dead thing, says with a blue-noted chuckle. “I made and I can’t help but feel a connection be- her say it right to my face. She was packtween the two of them. The spider with ing up her things, saying she needed her food stuck in the corners of her web, space. Ridiculous really, she wanted to James with his own bugs in the corners slowly distance herself from me, just of his mind. They’ve been dodging the peel back piece by piece and leave me weight of their worlds in their own ways, behind. She didn’t want to deal with the telling their stories in drunken bits and misery she’d brought into this world. bites, leaving behind little cobwebs of But I made her say it. I made her say she their own. Well, the spider has had her wanted a divorce, and I do take pleasure last rendezvous with a hardback, and in in that.” “I believe she was in love with me—or, turn, James begins to feel the pressings at least, this idea of me as an artist. She of my own will. didn’t know what that meant though, “Tell me about your marriage.” James—the counselor, the dishwash- to be with someone like that, like me. er, the musician, the drunk, and the di- What’s hardest is thinking about what could have been.” He’s tearing up a bit vorcé.

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now, but he’s pretty practiced at hiding it. A pause. “And that was that.” James shaved his head, left Portland, and headed to Oklahoma to be with his family. “They kept all the alcohol away from me. I think they thought I might try and kill myself,” he laughs. During his retreat in Oklahoma, James began to work on what would become ANNA. It’s his attempt at moving forward, to put his experiences into context. “I have a goal in life, and it’s centered in myself. I can only know myself, what I feel, what I see, and I will make no compromises in relaying that to the world. If that means obscurity, so be it. It makes no difference to me.” Then in November 2012, he migrated to Nashville, where his sister lived. ANNA is just the beginning; ANNA is Portland. James plans on writing an album in every place he lives, leaving a breadcrumb trail for anyone who cares to follow it. Already, he’s working diligently on accruing funds for his Nashville album, Cabbage, which he hopes to have recorded by the end of January 2014. Upon completion, James plans on moving to Bangkok where he will teach English and study Mandarin. That should make for an interesting record. It’s still dark, but the birds are beginning to chirp outside. James is reading a poem to me. He’s forbidden me to put it into print. Addressed to his ex-wife, the poem is poignant, cutting straight through my bullshit and my jaded day-to-day little nothings. If I outlive him, and I probably will, I will publish this poem. I don’t really know him, and I don’t really know of him. He is soul moving through space, he is Shams reversed. In this American dream we are all forced to participate in, James is subtly committing suicide, like a black-eyed Susan, slowly losing its petals to the wind, not giving off a bit of fragrance. It’s a beautiful thing to watch; it’s a beautiful thing to listen to.

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YOU OUGHTA KNOW: THE LOWER CAVES

by Wells Adams, Lightning 100 | Photo by JR Joleno I’m a radio guy: I listen to music; I spin music; I talk about music; I talk to musicians about music. I’ve found that there’s a common denominator that separates the good from the great. Ever wonder why Justin Timberlake is one of the world’s biggest stars? Yeah, he can sing, act, and damn, that dude can dance, but the reason he’s hosted SNL more times than Miley Cyrus has twerked in public is because he doesn’t take himself too seriously. Mix that with talent, preheat the oven to awesome, and voilà—you have six Grammys and four Emmys. But I digress.

There used to be a Nashville band called Eastern Block. They won Music City Mayhem a couple years back and shared the Live On The Green stage with Here Come The Mummies and then…they were gone. But just like a caterpillar undergoes metamorphosis, Eastern Block simply needed to transform into something else to survive. Eastern Block returned as The Lower Caves, but they came out a little more badass than a butterfly. The guys still channel the mystique and edge of bands like The Features and My Morning Jacket and

broke into fits of musical joy comparable to Dr. Dog and Modest Mouse. To put it simply, this band that I thought was gone is now back, and they’re even better than before. But for me, it’s more than that. The biggest stars I’ve interviewed all share pure talent and showmanship. In radio, your listeners can hear them both, and fans want to grab on to that persona. This is the case with The Lower Caves. I don’t know if they’ll ever appear on SNL, but nothing’s impossible. Until then, keep your eyes peeled for their debut fulllength, Turquoise Blues.

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Five Points: 1008 Forrest Ave. (Backside of Building) (615) 228-9249

Hours for both: Weekdays: 10am-8pm Saturday: 10am-6pm Sunday: Noon-5pm

WagsAndWhiskersNashville.com


What Is your

summer-tofall must

OBSERVATORY: BY KATIE WILEY LE-MINIMALIST.BLOGSPOT.COM FOLLOW ON TWITTER @LE_MINIMALIST INSTAGRAM @LEMINIMALIST

have?

AMANDA, 19 “Oversized sweaters and dark lipstick!” Shoes: Converse; leggings: American Apparel

DOUGLAS, 25 “Socks.” Hat: Vintage

MEGAN, 30 “Every kind of hat.”

AARON, 25 “Hoodies.” glasses: Henry Holland for Le Spec

Urban gridded necklace: Aminimal Studio; Sleeveless robe: Urban Outfitters

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DISCOUNTS FOR YOUNG MUSIC LOVERS

FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS

FOR MUSIC LOVERS 30 & UNDER

NashvilleSymphony.org/soundcheck

NashvilleSymphony.org/wavelength

Purchase a Soundcheck season pass for just $25 and enjoy unlimited access to the Nashville Symphony’s 2013/14 Classical Series!

Purchase a Wavelength season pass for just $85 per person or $150 per couple, and enjoy unlimited access to the Nashville Symphony’s 2013/14 Classical Series!

FOR MORE INFO 110 / / / / / / / / / / / / ////

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615.687.6400

MEDIA PARTNER

CLASSICAL SERIES


T HE N AS H VI L LE SYM P H ON Y P R E S EN TS

DUELING PIANOS

October 25-26 SCH E R M E RH O R N SYM P H ON Y C E N TE R Sibling pianists Christina and Michelle Naughton will leave you in awe when they tackle Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos. The orchestra will also perform two breathtaking choral works by Beethoven and Vaughan Williams.

BUY TICKETS 615.687.6400 NashvilleSymphony.org

CLASSICAL SERIES

Lawrence S. Levine Memorial Concert # NAT I V ENAS HV I L L E

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animal of the month by Charlie Hickerson illustrated by Courtney Spencer Not all owls care about being wise. Tony has a bone or three to pick with his philosopher family. Read a farewell letter from our October Animal of the Month, the Great Horned Owl. Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Aves Order: Strigiformes Family: Strigidae Genus: Bubo Species: B. virginianus

Yo,

The Great Horned Owl

I know that ya wanted a son that’d be all smart and shit—ya know, ya typical “Wise Old Owl”¹ that’s been around for sixty million years.² And no offense to those nerds, but Imma’ do me. I mean, I ain’t some loser that sits on Greek goddesses’ shoulders and predicts emperors’ deaths, ya know?³ I’m getting out of this forest and heading to L.A., where I’m gonna be the new spokesman for Tootsie Pop. I know youse guys keep saying stuff like, “But Tony, Tootsie Pop discontinued the whole owl marketing campaign in the ’90s.” Whatever. Imma’ do me. I’m also tired of gettin’ chased down by crows, and honestly, the whole “let’s swallow rats, squirrels, mice, lemmings, and voles in one bite” thing is nasty. Plus, when I eat the bigger stuff like rabbits, bats, armadillos, or weasels, I gotta max out on the bench afterwards so I can get swole. Lookit, it’s like that ornithologist Arthur Cleveland Bent said: “Almost any living creature that walks, crawls, flies, or swims—except the large

mammals—is the Great Horned Owl's legitimate prey.” That means owls eat owls. I mean come on, bro, cannibalism isn’t chill. Everybody knows that. Here’s another thing: why should a young owl on the top of his game waste his time being all wise and stuff? I mean, we can turn our heads 270 degrees, see from, like, real far away, and hear better than humans. So uh, why do youse guys just wanna sit around and be smart? Also, it’s like, if our talons can crush shit with 300 pounds of force per square inch, why don’t we just go all Hitchcock on these humans, ya know? Anyways, back to the point. I’m goin’ to L.A. to be the next Tootsie Pop sensation—deal with it. Ma, I know ya gonna worry ’bout ya baby boy, but listen: I saw that owls who live in captivity live hella longer than wild ones, so I’ll definitely outlive you hicks in the country.⁴ Also, we’re like, one of the most adaptable species in the world, so I think I’ll adjust to chillin’ with the Horned honeys on Rodeo Drive just fine. Hoot hoot, motherf*ckers,

Tony ¹An allusion to the English nursery rhyme “A Wise Old Owl,” dating back to the early 19th century. It’s probably part of the reason why the West views the Great Horned Owl as allknowing. ²Tony’s not kidding: sixty-million-year-old owl fossils have been found around the world, revealing that the bird has evolved very little over time. ³ In Greek mythology, an owl is usually perched on Athena’s—the goddess of wisdom—shoulder. In ancient Rome, the owl’s hoot was a symbol of impending doom, and it’s rumored that Caesar’s death waspredicted by the call. ⁴ Wild Great Horned Owls can only live up to thirteen years, while those in captivity can reach thirty-eight.

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GET YOUR IDEAS OFF THE GROUND WWW.MOONBASE.IS

Proud home of Native since its launch, Moonbase is a collaborative workspace for digital creatives, small companies, and startups where advice, skills, and ideas are openly exchanged. We are located near downtown in Marathon Village. Membership packages start at $100 a month. # NAT I V ENAS HV I L L E / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

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Native | October 2013 | Nashville, TN  

Feautring Nashville's Fond Object, Porter Road Butcher, David Alford, Justin Quarry, James Cox, and more!

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