a look around the neighborhood

”money trickles up. give it to the poor fellow and the rich fellow will have it in his pocket by nightfall – but at least it will have passed through the poor fellow’s hands.”

-Will Rogers

There’s something you need to understand before reading much further, and that is simply this: I have the absolute best landlord in East Nashville. Hands down, easily several laps around the track from pretty much any landlord I’ve ever had – my rear view mirror is essentially a collection of long-distance, absentees who only really wanted a check in their mailbox every month and couldn’t be bothered to hear about much else…with the odd property management company and overly nosy micromanager sprinkled in here and there.

My current guy is the SHIT.

But – having put the miles on my odometer that I have, and becoming intimately familiar with the impermanence of these little snapshots of life that – once you’ve learned to recognize them – you can actually catch yourself looking around you from time to time and thinking to yourself, “I need to soak this in and remember as much of it as I can, as best as I can, because I’m gonna want to smile about this a few years down the line, and I don’t wanna forget the details.”

I think I’ve known for a long time that this whole Nashville adventure was a vacation stop, a layover on a longer trip…but I’ve actually enjoyed a lot about my time here in my current circumstances – with my son hunkered down in the basement apartment and my daughter less than a mile down the road. Even though I don’t see either of them as much as you might think I would under the circumstances, just knowing they’re within arms’ reach has been a source of comfort.

My landlord has an easy smile, he doesn’t sweat the small shit, he’s a great hang, and he’s extended me an extra day or two on the two occasions when I’ve needed it with barely a shrug.

Now, though, Nashville – in the midst of a sweaty fervor to destroy everything that brought people into its tax base in the first place – has rewarded folks like my landlord with a record property tax increase. A Google search of the phrase “Nashville Property Tax Increase 2017” will induce what’s become a familiar blend of rage and cynicism – alongside stories from April reporting “an average increase of 37 percent”, there are stories from January with headlines reading “Barry: No Property Tax Increase in 2017” (quite Trumpian, in retrospect…although I’m actually quite fond of our mayor and understand enough about how these processes work to know that it’s not the work of a lone assassin at the top of the political food chain. Still, best not to talk shit about things you don’t have control over.)

In talking to my landlord today, he pointed out that there are pitchforks on both ends of the handle of this club…because he’s getting calls from his insurance company now, saying that “gee, man…your property is actually worth THIS much? you’re underinsured…so we’re gonna need to raise your rates to get you up to where you need to be.”

He was incredibly gracious, and I could tell he was uncomfortable even having the conversation. “Hey, listen, man…I knew this day was coming as soon as I heard about this. I know the rent’s gotta go up. If you need to take some time to come up with a number, that’s fine, but I’ll try to be ok with whatever you come up with.” In the end, we actually came up with a number on the spot, and it was less than I expected it to be, frankly…but it feels like a sign of things to come.

I’ve perhaps been avoiding the subject internally, or fooling myself about it, or maybe just ignoring it altogether…

…but this is not sustainable in the long term.

I don’t know if it ever really was.

I’m waving goodbye to friends like Paul Griffith, who’s moving to the west coast, and will probably be gone by the time I get back to Nashville from a week of gigs and sessions in Philadelphia. I’m saying goodbye to places I’d fallen in love with – Charlie Bob’s, the perfect marriage of roadside diner and beer joint, a 5 minute drive from my house…Savarino’s, the closest thing to passable Italian food I’d encountered since I got here.

There’s still a lot to love about Nashville. It took me a minute to figure that out, but it’s not dead yet. My kids love it here, and that makes me happy. Having them close by makes me happy. The burgers at the Family Wash make me happy. Brown’s Diner makes me happy. Bumping into Phil Kaufman around town makes me happy. Carter Vintage and Fanny’s and Eastside Music Supply makes me happy. Dino’s makes me happy.

There’s a lot of good left around here.

But it’s definitely time to start thinking about what lies further down the road.

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