Thursday, July 11, 2013

We Say It "Leh-zhure"

 Offerings at the Nashville Garden & Antique show, the tony annual fundraiser for Cheekwood.

     Some inhabitants of the town I call home are “Bless their heart”-ing Travel & Leisure magazine right now; Nashville was recently named on its list of America's Snobbiest Cities (we're number 13!).
   Hold your outrage for 10 seconds, and think about that, Nashville: a magazine named Travel & Leisure thinks our city is snobby.
    Now, I'll say it with you: what the fuck? Sans the f-bomb, that translates to: exactly what parameters are the magazine's editors using to make this determination?

In the annual America’s Favorite Cities survey, we asked readers to rank 35 major metropolitan areas for features such as trendy food trucks or good-looking locals. To determine which city has the biggest nose in the air, we factored in some traditional staples of snobbery: a reputation for aloof and smarty-pants residents, along with high-end shopping and highbrow cultural offerings like classical music and theater.
But we also considered 21st-century definitions of elitism: tech-savviness, artisanal coffeehouses, and a conspicuous eco-consciousness (say, the kind of city where you get a dirty look for throwing your coffee cup in the wrong bin).
         People have long been bemoaning the dumbing down of America. The Closing of the American Mind was written in 1987. You know things are going really downhill, though, when someone names Nashville “Snobbytown USA,” partly because people are standing in line at food trucks. Come check out Nolensville Road, y'all, we stand outside there, too.
        Good looking locals? Things must really have changed on Dickerson Pike since I last travelled that road.
        Aloof? Okay, I'll cop to that, but I spent the first 30 years of my life in NY and VT, and sometimes I still can't stop people from telling me more about their personal lives within 5 minutes of an introduction than they'll learn about me in 5 years.
        Metro's public schools critics would be delighted to have a talk about “smarty-pants” residents. Travel & Leisure is actually right about that; I can't count how many times I've overheard a conversation between a 5th grader, trying to show off what they learned in school that day, only to be silenced by being told, “well aren't you smart ...”
        Yes, we have a Le Creuset store, and now, a Nordstrom's. But most of my friends and I do our shopping at TJ Maxx & Goodwill. I do have one acquaintance who has more than one pair of Imogen + Willie jeans and he got them free, for modeling. Gee, maybe we do have good looking locals, after all.
          Classical music? Okay. We love our Schermerhorn and our Symphony, even if they are having some financial difficulty at the moment. When our city flooded, our Symphony moved its show outdoors and played for free. What did yours do, T & L?
          Yes, we have theatre. That's theatRE. Unless, dear Travel & Leisure magazine, property of American Express Publishing Corporation, you're that afraid of showing your Gold Card roots. I'd like to move on, so let's just say: “everything else is priceless,” and skip on to why Nashville, specifically wound up on list.
“Long before the Grand Ole Opry came to town, Nashville was known as the Athens of the South, with its well-heeled and distinctly un-hillbilly crowd. Today, the foodie culture sometimes attracts celebrities; at sushi bar Virago, in the Gulch, you might see famous residents like Nicole Kidman or Sheryl Crow. Nashville also extends the red carpet to compulsive email-checkers: it won the survey for its excellent wireless coverage.”
         Wow. Nashville has excellent wireless coverage. How terrible? And seriously, is it so awful for a city to be called “home” by successful artists? When did that become a bad thing? How many young people flee their hometowns because the best jobs going are behind a counter at Golden Corral?
         Either “snobby” doesn't mean what these editors think it means, or somehow, it lost its negative connotations. Aspiring to something better is never going to be a bad thing, as long as you've got supporters who want to go with you. It'd be a bit disturbing to think the editorial staff at a magazine called “Travel & Leisure” didn't want America's cities to have any kind of cultural enrichment opportunities for the average Joes & Joans wouldn't it? Especially since the hotel that keeps earning the top spot(s) on their annual “Best of” list goes for $2k a night and offers rustic experiences that leave people breathless:
“The leopard hunt was the highlight of this safari for us. Even though we came back a little late in the evening the excitement didn't stop there. The lions were coming through the camp so we had to scamper to our tents very quickly. Lots of hippos outside as well and the elephant in the backyard never even bothered with us.”
         Okay, so maybe it's true. With an editorial agenda like that, maybe having a world class Symphony, with its own performance hall and cushy seats, does leave blue blood splattered all over downtown Nashville.
         I take it all back. Pass the Dom Ruinart, someone. And if there is none, I'll take a Yazoo. The criteria didn't say anything about craft brew. 

No comments:

Post a Comment