Tag Archives: Martin Van Buren

Our Week With Eric Church, Carole King, the Bandit and the Nashville Predators

30 May

It has been an eventful week in the SBI World, and we have spent a lot of time in the city 30 miles to the west. For those not up on local geography, that city is Nashville.

On Monday night, we had tickets for Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals in the National Hockey League. The Nashville Predators have been on a magical run through the playoffs and have taken over the city. Long time Predator fans are not happy with the bandwagon people, but we felt that Game 6 was a must-see event. They clinched the championship, and I got to High Five the country music star who sat in front of us. I have no idea who he was, but my wife was not happy that I got to touch him and she did not.

On Tuesday night, I was back in Nashville for a fundraiser. Cumberland University, where I work, is the home of the Martin Van Buren Papers, and a Nashville attorney hosted an event to assist with that project. He has an amazing collection of historic artifacts and opened his office for tours. People paid to see documents signed by George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Davy Crockett, King George III and various other people. It was interesting to see everything and to hear the stories of how the collection came together.

On Wednesday night, I went with my brother and my nephews to a truly cultural event. We went to the theater to see the 40th Anniversary screening of Smokey and the Bandit, a movie that I have seen a million times.

It was great to see the Bandit, Snowman and Buford T. Justice on the big screen, but it was also great to see people with their t-shirts. As bandit tells Snowman when they get to the warehouse full of Coors beer, it was “redneck heaven.” After it was over, I wanted to get a diablo sandwich and a Dr. Pepper.

On Friday night, it was back to Bridgestone Arena, home of the Predators. However, we were not there for a hockey game. We were there to see Eric Church in concert.

I do not know much about the singer, but we had already seen him at a Kris Kristofferson tribute concert. This one was more rocking and raucous. Eric Church is known for wearing sunglasses, and it was funny to see all of the guys in the crowd wearing sunglasses. I reckon that thought some female would mistake them for the performer.

On Sunday night, we went to the Tennessee Performing Arts Center to see Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. It was a great show about the life of a prolific songwriter who also creating on of the great albums of all time. Through professional success and personal tribulation, she wrote songs that became part of the soundtrack for a generation. Now, we have to see the real person in concert.

At some point, I made the statement that I was not going to go into the city for a while. However, I will it will happen because there is too much cool stuff there to do. This week was just a small sample of that.

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Days Of Wine And Roses

9 Feb

Actually, there is nothing about roses in this post. I have been trying to find a way to steal that title for a while and finally figured out a way to do it. This post is entirely about wine and the growth of its popularity in the United States.Wine

Wine is everywhere. We have a wine fridge in the bonus room. There is a new store in town that focuses on wine. I have friends who are proud to wear the moniker of Wine Snob. I know a guy named Dave who makes homemade wine. Doctors tell us that drinking wine is good for our hearts. Restaurants have wine lists that match the wine that goes best with a meal. As I said, wine is everywhere.

I understand the love of what. However, I do not understand when that love began. Historically, the United States has been a nation of people who desire alcohol that is made from grain. Whiskey. Rye. Beer. Those types of things. This history springs, I think, from two places.

One, the United States was birthed from Great Britain and its tradition of grain alcohol. I am not an expert in the history of European agriculture, but I think grapes have always grown better in southern Europe. Great Britain was in a non-grape zone.

Two, Americans did not run into proper grape growing areas until someone figured out that it could be done in northern California. I am not sure when that started, but it was long after Americans had created a tradition of drinking something else.

I suppose that wealthy Americans have always consumed wine and saw it as a symbol of success. However, regular folks stayed mostly with the grains. This even became the focus on a presidential election. In 1840, William Henry Harrison was portrayed as a whiskey drinker who connected with the common voter. His opponent, Martin Van Buren, was portrayed as a drinker of wine and champagne, which meant that he was out of touch. Harrison won.

This is just one example of how American has generally been a grain alcohol nation, but there are probably others. As a student of the American West, I cannot imagine a cowpoke walking into a saloon and saying, “Give me a bottle of your house red.” Instead, I can imagine him saying, “Give me a shot of red-eye.”

Prohibition was a big event in American history. Alcohol was made illegal, but organized crime made sure it was available. I have read that an underlying reason for Prohibition was to take wine away from immigrants from southern Europe, but I have never seen a film of G-Men hacking through barrels of wine. It was illegal beer and whiskey that they were after.

This love of grains can also be seen in popular culture. Think back on some of those film noir movies. How many times did the detective or dame pour a glass of wine? How many times did they put some ice in a glass and pour some whiskey over it? I think about a movie called A Face in the Crowd when Patricia Neal goes to a bar and has a cocktail sitting in front of her.

It happened on television, as well. In the 1960s, a bunch of television homes had bars, and they were all filled with whiskey bottles. I can remember Darrin, or Derwood, getting a drink whenever the antics of Samantha and her fellow witches were driving him crazy on Bewitched.

I write all of that to say that wine is a relatively recent phenomenon in the United States. When did this happen? Why did this happen?

Did the economic boom of the 1990s make people want to grab wine as a symbol of success? The wealthy have been drinking it forever. What better way to prove economic success than to adopt a tradition sign of that success?

Was it the marketing of wine producers? Did they follow in the footsteps of the Ernest and Julio Gallo campaigns?

I know that people have always drank wine, but, at some point, it became the drink of choice for a vast number of people. Like with a lot of things, I have my opinion as to how that happened. It was not a booming economy. It was not an ad campaign. It was these women.Sex and the City

I know that the women of Sex and the City drank martinis and other types of cool drinks. However, the show also provided the idea that a stylish, successful woman about town knew her wine. This popular show introduced wine to a segment of the population that drives our sense of style, and that sense filtered to other segments of our society. Then, we Americans figured out that we liked wine. Apparently, we are not as crass as we are sometimes made out to be.

Am I crazy? Probably. However, the mass love of wine by Americans is a recent development, and it had to start somewhere.