No city is ever going to fully conform to its public stereotype.

This little axiom applies to people, too. And yes, I understand the fallacy of my broad categorization of people below. Thanks for noticing. Just read.

Los Angeles is not entirely glitzy boob jobs, New York is not entirely bitter cynicism, and Nashville is not entirely rhinestones and twang.

Actually, I've never met anyone in Nashville who actually listens to modern country music. Not voluntarily, at least. Maybe a bit of Johnny Cash here or there, but those tastes seem to lie in the hardest-core of punks and the elderly. The whole Southern hospitality idea is somewhat kerneled in truth- I'll personally give correct directions to any tourist who doesn't drunkenly ask me if I'm a skinhead. (And, for the record, NO. The Ryman Auditorium is five miles THAT way.) It is possible to have a fulfilling experience here, though. I've spent quite a bit of time in Nashville, and I'm not in any fashion neurotic.

Really.

Several coffeehouses, such as Bongo Java, cater to a hugely diverse but well-knit population ranging from Vandy students avoiding Greek society, high-school drop-outs-turned poet/guitarist/body piercers, the homeless, the talented, the addicted, and sometimes just those who appreciate a damn fine cup of coffee. Much of the cast of the movie Gummo was lifted directly from Bongo's front porch.

The top of the BellSouth "batman" building. For such a heinous structure, it sure is fun to spit off of. Rooftop access varies, as it's kind of not legal. As an example of security, these guys guard their dumpsters with hungry attack dogs that have been taught how to use automatic weapons. Believe me on this one. It's quite a view, though.

Dragon Park. But only if you're special.

Vanderbilt's Sarratt Cinema and the Watkins-Belcourt both play a host of incredible foreign, indie, and tastefully strange retro flicks. Plenty of midnight showings with rowdy audiences to be found here. Annual animation and film festivals, also- I saw Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Animation and a documentary about John Waters in the same night.

Bars. Lots and lots of bars. There's about 6 microbreweries in Metro Nashville, and I will soon node every place you can get a nice frothy Guinness on tap.
In the same vein, there's a few notable dance clubs worth checking out. The Underground is small, smoky, hot, and spins mostly Bauhaus or Atari Teenage Riot, which explains the heavy Goth ratio most nights. eXceSs is an after-hours house and trance club seemingly populated entirely by very nicely built, shirtless men and high school candyravers looking for X.

Musically, Nasville does seem to lack any kind of ambient or IDM fan base, but then again, this species is sometimes hard to find... we tend to sit at home in headphones, mostly.
Out and about, though. There's fifty billion places to hear mind-blowingly good *live* music for the price of a beer here. Windows on the Cumberland is a nice cozy place to start, struggling yet talented bands play here for peanuts, upon the same tiny stage graced by Robert Moog a few months ago. The Exit/In is pretty infamous, it's the venue shown in Robert Altman's film Nashville, and I'm not even going to begin listing the legends who have played (and still do) here. 328 Performance Hall is of the same esteem, but catering more now to a pretty decent punk and electronica base- Sunny Day Real Estate played last weekend, and Stereolab last month.

That's not nearly everything, but it's a start.

There is refuge from reputation, you just have to know where to find it.

Being one of the few people living Nashville that was born and raised here, I know of the forgotten and forbidden bits.

For example the ultra-creepy abandoned cement yard complete with spooky bunkers and the remnants of the satanists that were run out years ago. A great place to visit at dusk, swill beers and listen to the trains. There's also Bobby's Dairy Dip a relic of the fifties, it's a great walk-up burger joint with a gourmet sensibility. They serve the best Angus beef burger to be had in the metropolitan area. On your majestic tour of the city you definitely have to visit what is loving refered to as "The Cheese House". It's difficult to describe, but it's a private residence that strongly resembles two large wedges of Swiss cheese (complete with circular, boat-portal-like windows) placed side by side with an ice cream cone placed artfully off center. Another stop should be Love Circle, I know what you're thinking, it's like "make-out point", a moniker, but no, that's actually the name of the road that circles the hill (which is actually an underground resevoir) and it affords an amazing view of the city in all directions. The best is going up there right before the right sun goes down and watching the street lights come on one by one. Also a good place to watch the sun come up, but a warning, after staying up all night (the only way that I end up seeing the sunrise),the sun is very bright. The Ryman Auditorium is an amazing venue. The acoustics are incredible, when Elvis Costello played there, on several songs he performed without a mic. Again a warning, the seats are wooden pews, bring a cushion or ass paralysis is certain. Like my dear aphexious, there are a billion and one things I've left out, but this is a start.

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