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  • robertfarago1

Nashville is Austin (Nashville, Tennessee)

"This city is too big for the both of us," I told Fritz, surveying Nashville's skyline. "It ain't so big," he replied, channeling Elvis. "It's just tall, that's all."

Yes, I talk to my motorcycle; an inanimate object that does a pretty good imitation of The King (albeit in a German accent). And yes, Music City is literally building-up its population.

Kudzu Construction

In the last three years, Nashville’s added 20 high-rises to its urban core, taking the total to over 200. With another 20 under construction, 15 approved for construction and 25 on the drawing board.

In those same three years, Nashville’s added 37 new hotels, racking-up a total lodging count just shy of 100. With the same again in the works.

Were talking some 40k apartments, and an equal number of hotel rooms. Not to mention the burgeoning ‘burbs.

Tree Time

You wouldn't have any sense of Nashville's kudzu-like growth entering Vanderbilt University from Broadway.

They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway. I say the feeling of calm strolling through Vanderbilt's historic campus was the highlight of my visit.

I doubt you're going to watch a 5:37 video about Vanderbilt University's trees. Not when there's so much doomscrolling to do. But if you click here, you'll be a fully qualified tree nerd.

Cutting that content down to size, Nashville had no trees after the Civil War. They were all chopped down for fuel and battlements, and the homicidal desire to deny combatants cover.

The city's now a tree-lover's paradise, with the Vanderbilt arboretum as its a soul-soothing showcase. Unlike Austin, you're never far from a chance to linger under mother's nature's shade.

The University's 19th and early 20th century architecture (e.g., Kirkland Hall) are almost as impressive as the towering trees shading them from the searing summer sun.

And then I walked through the Old Quad onto the modern campus...

Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier – one of modern architecture's founding fathers – famously declared "A house is a machine to live in."

Vanderbilt's modern buildings embody that cold, boring, dehumanizing, cheap-to-build, machine-made, but it's BIG gestalt.

The concrete monstrosity above is only the most glaring example of structures designed by architects trained at The Hitler's Bunker School of Architecture.

As I left Vanderbilt to explore the surrounding neighborhoods, I began to notice that new Nashville has a similar vibe – which is pretty much no vibe. The buildings springing-up throughout the city lack anything remotely resembling character.

Nashville has its architectural gems, but they are few and far between, lost in the glamourless glitz of profit-seeking prolificacy. With one important exception...

Music Row

I can dutifully report that Music Row makes good use of historic downtown's turn-of-the-century structures. Even on a Tuesday, the clubs and juke joints were jammed with tourists paying for the privilege of enormously amplified country and country rock tunes.

After making sure all the bands were playing on key, or at least a few grams, I headed to The Listening Room Cafe.

On the positive side: the pulled pork put Austin to shame. On the negative side: a quartet – make that a coven of singer-songwriters specializing in melodic misandrist mishigas, served with a side of self-congratulatory banter.

Save an electronic sign promoting a new album (whatever that is) by someone suitably forlorn and clubs named after ye olde country singers, old Nashville was nowhere to be seen. By me, anyway.

I would've stayed to look further, but Fritz was feeling neglected and I'd answered my primary question: is Nashville the new Austin?

Not really. Aside from the temperature difference, Nashville is Austin.

To the point of quantum entanglement. To the point where there's no real point ditching one for the other. Aside from the temperature difference. And the trees! Injudiciously deciduous.

I’ve decided: it’s off to Knoxville. Or, as Fritz calls it, Knox Knox Who's There? Us, soon. Watch this space.

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Jun 14

Great travel report! think that modern building on the campus probably qualifies as Brutalist Architecture, but the rounded edges may disqualify it from that label.

I'm attaching a photo I took yesterday of my trusty old steed taking a rest break in the lovely Oregon metropolis of Dufur. It was about 74 degrees at 1 PM. Got there via a tiny paved road through the hills from the Hood River Valley. I've been wanting to check out that road for years, but never got around to it.

Jun 14
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