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This hostel's been overrun by a horde of Canadians down from Toronto for Canada Day* and July 4. They have chosen to mark the occasion by growing big old moustaches† and chewing tobacco constantly, and having only stumbled to bed six hours ago their first act** on waking was to crack open another beer. I salute their dedication to the redneck cause.

*I have no idea why they thought Nashville was the place to spend it. These inscrutable Canadians and their mysterious northern ways.

†The none-more-redneck horseshoe

**They seem to do everything in concert, with the precision of an ant colony. Clearly Canadians have some sort of sinister hive-mind thing going on, and more study is required
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HAHAHAHAH FUCK YOU WORLD I HAVE A STETSON HAT. And a poseable Johnny Cash action figure, but that wasn't one of my primary mission objectives. I can now declare this holiday a success and head home†.

Today has mostly been about the rampant consumerism so far, in fact. But I did manage to get a pic of the previously-mithered-about Union Station building, which I am still disgusted is no longer a station:

Since we're on the subject of trains, a snippet of last night's beery tomfoolery: some Yanqui (New York, intelligent, well-travelled, should surely have known better than this) remarked off-hand that it wasn't surprising I hadn't been to mainland Europe much, what with the lack of rail connections. I asked him if he was joking. He wasn't. I asked him if he'd heard of this Channel Tunnel thingy. He hadn't. I told him we'd spent years building a giant rail link sweeping clear under the Channel from London to Paris. He laughed in my face. I recruited a nearby Glaswegian to back me up. He still didn't believe us, and continued to maintain it was all a giant wind-up until a chap from Minnesota allowed as how we weren't making the whole thing up.

Granted, inventing weird lies about Britain to feed to Americans is a fine sport (I think my brother managed to persuade someone that heroin was available in supermarkets and it was briefly fashionable to contract AIDS during the '80s). But the finest sport is when you tell them entirely true things and they will not be convinced. (Can't remember if the same brother ever convinced anyone that yes, all swans are owned by the Queen and it's illegal to kill them).

Nashville in numbers:

Confederate flags spotted: still 0. Seriously, what is wrong with you people? South ain't gonna rise unless you buck your ideas up.

Portions of grits eaten: 1. I have no idea why. I got terribly excited about the idea of eating grits last time I came to the south, and discovered last time that they're the sort of hideous slop you work hard and better yourself in order to get away from forever. Biscuits, on the other hand, remain fantastic.

Number of times I've been invited to have a great day: dozens

Number of times I've invited someone to have a great day: 3 or 4, but the phrase is tripping off the tongue more and more easily

Number of times I've forgotten to tip due to transatlantic cultural differences: 0. Score one for the downtrodden service workers of America!

Number of times I've bought the Tennessean newspaper: 1

Number of times I will be buying the Tennessean again: 0††

Number of times killed crossing the road due to instinctively looking the wrong way: still 0. Hooray!

*really 3 or kinda 4 and so on. We'll drop this footnote now, right?
†I should probably go to the wedding I actually came here for, I guess. But hey, STETSON**
**however, the damn thing's black, which may be the colour of awesomeness but is extremely impractical in 35-degree heat. Oh well
††seriously, no wonder the American newspaper industry is fucked***. Hideous page design and typefaces, maybe two original stories plus a bunch of rehashed AP tape, and a loathsome op-ed calling on Christians to beware the coming dark times now that sinister anti-American, anti-Christian, pro-world government forces control the White House? I wish I had a pile of Morning Stars to run around sticking into the newspaper vending machines†††
***granted, the British newspaper industry is also fucked, but for somewhat different reasons
†††which are the only thing I would keep about the American newspaper industry
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Late night porch on a hostel. Cold beer; warm breezes and mournful train whistles blowing in from downtown, all of them from freights or from Amtraks heading any place but here. How is it possible that a city built on country music, to which railroads are as misery is to the blues, has no passenger train service? Went past the old Union Station earlier, a massive old pile oozing grandiosity and Civic Weight, like all good railway stations, which deserves to be the heart and soul of the city. Making it a hotel is like turning Trafalgar Square into a car park†. Of all the many things I don't understand about America, how the railroads have fallen so far, so fast is the most baffling. Even if I understand the economics behind it... dammit, a city like Nashville needs a railway station, one as grand as the building it used to have. And maybe one day it will once again have one.

*except it's really day 2 etc and so on blah blah
†except that might actually be a goodthing
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For utterly inexplicable† reasons, Nashville has a Parthenon**. It is made of pebble-dashed concrete, built on land awarded to some woman for covering some Injuns in boiling water, and is probably not as impressive as the one in Greece. It did, however, give rise to the best sign ever:

$10 for bike rental at this hostel... and it'd be worth it.

Nashville in numbers:

Red necks acquired: 1 (note to self: buy Stetson)
Number of times killed crossing the road due to instinctively looking the wrong way: 0, but subject to change
Number of times a native assumed†† I was Irish: 1
Number of times I have had to pronounce "tomatoes" wrong because I could not otherwise make myself understood: 1
Number of Confederate flags seen: 0, disappointingly

*Technically it is day 2 in Nashville and day 3 in America but no-one wants to read about a 10-hour layover at JFK followed by 16 hours sleeping

†Well, OK, I'm sure there are reasons. But that would involve me looking it up on Wikipedia and then coming back here to explain them, and it seems easier to outsource the workload***

**I'm going back tomorrow to hack the marbles off. These foreigners can't be trusted to look after 'em, after all.

††This seems to happen to a lot of people. I'm guessing that calling someone English off the bat is a deadly insult round these parts

***Although as that second sentence suggests I went ahead and did some "research" on Wikipedia anyway
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As of yesterday, any substantive blogging (mostly pseudo-intellectual musings about old music) is rather more likely to be happening over here.

(belatedly erased, as I shut that blog years ago and it was only causing confusion)
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Overheard while disembarking from the spiffy driverless Docklands Light Railway at Stratford:
Whiny child turns accusingly to mother as she drags him onto the train. "You lied! You said it's a magic train! That's not a magic train!"
Kiddo, it's powered by invisible numbers sent flying ten miles through the air by a giant brain made out of sand. What do you want, dragons?


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October 2011

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