January 21, 2010

January 19, 2010

Hole In The Wall: Gabby's Burgers and Fries

Nashville isn't short on great burger joints.  There are local establishments like Brown's Diner, Rotiere's, The Hermitage Cafe, and the Washington D.C. based chain, Five Guys Burger and Fries, just to name a few.  I had heard about Gabby's "over by the baseball stadium" a few times from my coworkers before deciding to check it out today but I honestly assumed it was overrated.  Here is the scoop:

1.  It's not overrated.  (It's GOOD.)
2.  It's not outrageously priced (although New Jersey Chris complained anyway.)
3.  It's not easy to get to because of construction (but it's worth the trip.)

The first thing I noticed upon entering the plain gray building was the 16-star American flag on the wall.

I liked that a lot and things only got better.  Although I had been warned about "lines out the door" there were only a few people in front of us and we were at the counter in no time.  I told the cashier lady (who perfectly matched the description I had been given) that it was my first time and asked if she could recommend something.  She recommended a Bacon Swiss Burger with Sweet Potato Fries so that's what I got.  It came in at $7.05 without a drink, not too bad, considering what else $7.05 will buy for lunch.  The burgers are made to order on the grill (visible from the counter) but the wait wasn't too long.

I took mine back to the office to eat it to make up for the time it took me to find the place.  The burger was seriously good.  The fries were really tasty but I couldn't finish them.

Bottom line:  Gabby's is the real deal.  It's a great place for you and a coworker to grab something other than fast food without a restaurant feel.  Try it and let me know what you think.

Gabby's Burgers & Fries
493 Humpreys Street Nashville, TN

January 11, 2010

The Truth: About Motorcycles

The only females who don't dig motorcycles are mothers.

January 10, 2010

Enrico Caruso (1873 - 1921)

I started out in college as a vocal performance major.  I was developing into what is known as a "lyric tenor" and I took my study very seriously for several years.  Sometime during these years, my grandmother, seeing my obvious enthusiasm for the arts, particularly opera, gave me a 78 rpm Victrola record that she said had been one of her father's favorites.  It was a recording of the legendary tenor Enrico Caruso singing "La Campana di San Giusto" (The Chimes of San Giusto) in Italian on one side and "A Granada" (To Granada) in Spanish on the other side.  Caruso is considered to have influenced nearly every male opera singer who came after him and one listen to one of his recordings will tell you why.  (And, according to the photos below, he also seems to have been quite the dresser.)  Egyptian cigarettes and lack of exercise (while maintaining a grueling performance schedule) took his life relatively early.  Luckily, a then young recording industry was able to preserve the genius of this one-of-a-kind performer.

January 9, 2010

January 8, 2010

Read: David McCullough

Photo by William B. McCullough

Pulitzer Prizes aren't like Nobel Peace Prizes.  They don't give them out to just anybody.  David McCullough has two under his belt.  He's the best thing that ever happened to the Historic Narrative genre and some of his books would fall under the "required reading for every American" category were I in charge.

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of hearing him speak at the Nashville Public Library.  It was a fantastic lecture.  Afterward, I shook his hand and told him how thankful I was for his books. He was a warm and genuine fellow.

If you want to learn about America from the master historian of our time, pick a book (they're all excellent) and dig in.

January 7, 2010

Shoes Of My Childhood

I grew up in a very small town.  My town did not have a shoe store.  Each year before school started my mother would take us to the next town over, which was also the county seat, and buy us the clothing we would need to make it through the next year.  As with most boys, it was rare for me not to have outgrown my shoes from the previous year by the time our annual shopping trip rolled around.  This meant that the local shoe shop, Don Stover's Shoes, was always a stop on our itinerary.  Don Stover's smelled of leather and polish and carried the moderately-priced and popular name brands of the time:  Florsheim, Dexter, Nike, Hush Puppy, and many different brands of cowboy boot.  Now, my parents were not wealthy but my sister and I never went without the things we needed.  On a lean year we might leave with one pair of shoes each, generally the only widely-available Nike at the time, pictured below:

On a normal year we would each get the Nikes for play and school as well as one pair of casual shoes and one pair of church shoes.  I have no memory of the shoes my sister wore at the time but I've recently recalled which styles I often walked away with and the reason is because the shoes of my childhood have turned up once again the last few seasons as popular choices amongst fellows in the know.

My normal choice for casual shoes was a leather blucher like the one above.  When I was younger I wore them with socks but when I got a little older I lost the socks and rolled up my khakis to show off my skinny ankles.  Sometimes instead of a blucher I would go with a deck (boat) shoe in a gray or brown (never blue) with white siped soles.  These were mostly school shoes but could sometimes be worn to casual church events.

My church shoe was always a Norwegian (weejun) style "penny loafer."  I considered these to be stiff and uncomfortable so the idea of wearing them by choice with jeans never occurred to me.  Also, the leather sole was slick when new so getting any traction when running was impossible.  Because of this, the first thing I would do on the initial wearing was drag the soles over as much concrete as possible in order to scuff up the bottoms.  The "cordovan" or burgundy color was normally a safe choice because it would go with khaki, blue, or gray pants (which were the only three colors worn by boys at the time.)

My grandpa considered it his duty to make sure that I always had a pair of cowboy boots that fit as well.  These are the shoes that carried me through my formative years.  The Nike Cortez was reissued as a retro style some time ago.  Versions of the blucher are available from L.L. Bean and Quoddy.  The omnipresent Weejun (originally from Bass) is now available from J. Crew as well as other outlets.

What are your childhood shoe memories?

January 6, 2010

The Weekly Wearable: Weather Advisory

80/20 Wool Union Suit by Stanfield's Ltd

British Wool Bobcap by J.Press

Vintage Chambray Utility Shirt by J.Crew

Norwegian Sweater by L.L. Bean

Trace Carrier Belt by Leather Man, Ltd

Dry Selvedge Jean by Nudie

Italian Vest by Crescent Down Works

Heavyweight Primaloft Sock by C.C. Filson

Bison Boots by L.L. Bean 

January 5, 2010

S.N.S. Herning NAVAL

James Dean gets his calcium.

Somebody told me a long time ago (when I was a "husky" in Sears and Roebucks terms and much too young to be worrying about these sorts of things) that vertical stripes are the way to go and horizontal stripes are not my friend.  Today, I enjoy the look of vertical stripes to a tremendous extent, not so much because I suspect it makes me appear thinner but because it evokes a traditional, "university" feel that I am very much comforted by, perhaps because I associate the time I spent in college with the total absence of technology in my life and the constant company of books and music.  In any case, I'm too far gone to try horizontal French naval stripes.  (Or navy stripes, depending on where you are.  In Canada, they call their bacon "bacon.") However, I think it's a cool and timeless look and I would like to see it adopted more by young and adventurous people this year. The NAVAL (below) from S.N.S. Herning was first issued in 1979, sewn in Denmark on old imported German machines and is available in two color patterns from one of my favorite stockists, Inventory.

January 4, 2010

The Hat Conformator

I like wearing hats.  A lot.  All year long.  The only problem is that I have an oddly shaped and somewhat small head so I can't just order any hat I see online or grab one off the rack and expect it to fit.  If a hat reads "One Size Fits All" what it really means is "One Size Fits Everyone Who Has A Head The Size Of This Hat And That Doesn't Include You, Small-Head."  Wow.  That kind of hurts my feelings just thinking about those kinds of hats.

So someday I might go to the big city and have a custom hat made.  I'm sure there now exists some modern method of accounting for the odd shape and small size of my noggin, unlike the old days when I would have had to put one of these beauties on my head in order to get a good hat:

Today, the hat maker who pulls out the patented Hat Conformator reveals two probabilities about himself:

1.  He's not afraid to go 19th century on your misshapen cranium if that's what it takes.
2.  He has a dungeon below his shop full of scarier stuff than this.

Not sure how it works?  It's simple.  Take a look at figures 1 through 7:

Still not sure?  Might be simpler just to wear the Conformator as a big brass (or wooden?) hat.  It actually looks kind of tough with the mustache.

Once the Hat Conformator has done its job and all the vital distinctions of your melon are locked in, the work would be transferred to something that looks an awful lot like the HC only too big to put on a customer's head.

So I've got this to look forward to someday.  But like I said, it's probably all done with lasers and computers now.  Plus, I'm guessing they never made a Hat Conformator that would properly fit my head to begin with.  I'm sure it was One Size Fits All.