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The New American South...

September 23, 2007

The New York Times on East Nashville - The New Greenwich Village?

east nashville hula hoop hula-hoop tennessee hooprama
I find the creation of "perceived reality", (perceality?), through modern electronic media fascinating.

Three weeks ago when I came to visit from Belfast I had never heard of East Nashville - now it seems everywhere.  The New York Times has just weighed in and called it the 'New Greenwich Village'. 

Actually, that's not true.

In local author Ann Patchett's article, musician Todd Snider describes East Nashville as being the closest he'll get to his fantasy of the famed New York neighbourhood.  But, by creating a 'stripped of context' pull-quote/strapline from Todd's comment, (if he even said it - how do we know?), one begins to create the 'reality' of such a thing. 

Other blogs, (consisting perhaps mainly of bot farms dedicated to making money through Google Ads),  will pick up on this post and disseminate the idea of 'East Nashvillage'. 

Rather than being a 'living machine' for the the quick spread of 'truth' as some Internet Utopians in the 90's, (myself among them), predicted, the Interweb allows for the real-time manufacture and dissemination of narrative fantasies presented and consumed in place of actual 'facts on the ground' reality.

ast nashville hula hoop hula-hoop tennessee hooprama

If the people reading this have ever listened to the Show they know that Belfast has the world's largest ex-pat Moroccan community, (outside of Africa), in the world; with over 70 Mosques in South Belfast alone.  Because I commented on this fact in several shows, (not sure which ones, maybe this one, or this one, or even this one), I STILL get requests from mainstream media to talk about the impact of Islamic culture in Belfast.

Except, the thing is.  I made it up.  The show is a construct, a meditation on reality and fantasy and what drives a fantasist to live his life as art.  But, if people start to believe in the specific 'facts' you are presenting, and miss the larger message you're trying to get across, what are one's responsibilities, what does one do?

I ramble on in such a way because my natural inclination is take the techniques I developed in Belfast and apply them here in Tennessee. Rather than simply reporting on what I see around me here, why not implement Phase 2 of LTA and promote Nashville, East and West, North and South, Yankee and Southerner, 3 Meat and Veg and Provence Bread eating as the place to be?  As the New Greenwich Village of our time? 

Something for me to think about. 

OK, enough rambling, it's Sunday morning and I'm off to visit the local Iraqi diner for a classic 'Baghdad Breakfast'. 

Oh, didn't you know?  There's plenty of great Iraqi retaurants here; after all Nashville's got the largest Iraqi refugee population in the United States!

Update 23rd September 2007: I found out tonight from an unimpeachable source that Nashville actually has the largest Kurdish community in the United States!  So perhaps doing the show while in the U.S. there is no need for fantasy or exaggeration.

ast nashville hula hoop hula-hoop tennessee hooprama

(Special thanks to everybody at yesterday's East Nashville 'Hoop-Jam' for letting me take their pictures.  That's Sunny at the top of the post, of Hooprama - why not give them a call and learn to hoop?  Better for you than sitting around blogging).


September 17, 2007

Hoop Dreams; AKA Hula-Hooping Takes East Nashville by Storm


There's a phrase you'll hear in the New American South Dear Listeners.  You'll hear it whispered in hushed tones in seedy back-street bars by hipsters of all shapes and sizes:

"I'm hooped."

What's this you say?  Some new drug craze?  A more powerful, virulent form of Meth?  No, don't worry, it's nothing like that.  It's extreme hula-hooping, and it's taking East Nashville by storm.

You see, I was in East Nashville this very afternoon searching for 'I Dream of Weenie', the hot-dog stand I read about while preparing to leave Belfast, (and recommended by Emotional Mullet in this post).

After driving around endlessly in my rental vehicle I found 'IDoW', but, before ordering a dog I became distracted by what I observed in the car park next door.

A gaggle of hipsters, (or 'hoopsters' as the Tennessee media has taken to calling them), were limbering up for a 'hoop-off'.  Though notoriously secretive I was able to gain their confidence and they allowed me to take a few snaps.


The gentleman and lady featured above had already 'battled' and were in the final stages of winding down.  What I was interested in was an upcoming bout featuring a seasoned amateur and an up-and-coming pro.  The kid pictured below is the pro; he's just started in the game but has already picked up endorsements from a wide field of sport-related advertisers.

Look at that face.  The face of a competitor.  But is it the face of a champion?


Here's his opponent.  Tough.  Seasoned.  She's seen off a lot of young punks in her day.  But will this afternoon see her reign as 5-Points HH Champion end?


And they're off!

They battled like this for many seconds, Dear Reader.  The tension was palpable.  The only sound heard was the hypnotic 'whissing' of the hoops...and in the distance...faint, oh so faint, the bass-line from a passing vehicle playing 'Hip-Hoop' music...


Oh my god!  An upset!  The young challenger drops his hoop, experience beats youth!


The crowd is elated.  The kid seemed a bit uppity.


And with that I finished taking snaps and went next door to the Yellow Volkswagen Van that houses 'I Dream of Weenie'.

Oh, but it's a Sunday.

It's closed.

Well there's only one thing I can do to take my mind off the dogs.


(Special thanks to all the 'hoopsters', especially Cameron, Diane, Alisa and Meg, ((Meg's the Champion pictured above, owner of the Art & Invention Gallery and wife of the 'I Dream of Weenie' Proprietor)).  Also, upon reflection I may have exaggerated the afternoon's events for narrative clarity.  I am known to do this from time to time).

Update, Monday 17th 2007:  One of the pics above made the front of, (see below),  I couldn't be happier!:



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