I expected writers, discussion of books and the philosophy of literature….
I got bottles of whiskey, reproductions of ancient Greek temples, and Japanese World War II rifles.
Welcome to Nashville, baby!
I’ve been to 24 or 25 convention and yet had never been to Killer Nashville. Seeing as how we have friends in Nashville who I hadn’t seen in ten years, we decided to go. After all, it would be a nice, easy seven hour drive through beautiful country.
The drive down was a disaster. First of all, I have back problems and as I get older, they get worse. So the fabulous little Mustang with bucket seats…that rides like a fabulous little Mustang with bucket seats…kills me worse every long trip I take in it.
And then, along a particular stretch of interstate in southern Illinois, the Illinois State Police had gone berserk. In a twenty or thirty mile stretch, they were stopping everything. Hmmm, we were close to Kentucky, the capital of the meth world? Uh…yeah.
Once we got through that, we hit the worst construction in the history of man. We were stopped more than not and crawling when not. It was the worst I’d ever been in and I lived in Denver for ten years so that’s quite a feat.
But…we also got to see the cross.
I’m not really sure what it is, or why it’s there, but it’s big. You can see it for miles. We didn’t have a place to pull over so I could get my gear out so I snapped a few with the phone.
Eventually, we made it to the hotel, got checked in, and realized we were starving. When we went food-trolling, we immediately came across a Famous Dave’s. Yes, it’s a chain, but it’s not bad and I had no clue where there might be any nearby Mom and Pop barbeque.
So we did that. But during the weekend we also had some great Mexican, Sonic burgers, and Schlotski’s sandwiches. Food-wise, the weekend rocked my black little heart.
Friday afternoon I gave my cold case presentation and it went swimmingly well. The audience, made up of writers, wannabe writers, and cops, were mostly three steps ahead of me the entire afternoon. Lots of questions, lots of interaction. It was great.
But we did have to start late so I filled the time with cop jokes. The writers tittered nervously while the cops laughed their asses off.
Friday night we went to see some dear friends, Randy and Stephanie Fox. Randy is one of the greatest writers in the history of…well, certainly Nashville, maybe all of Tennessee…(who doesn’t write enough fiction!) and we hadn’t seen them in ten years.
And, fabulously, it started as a meeting of whiskey. Randy works for Jack Daniel’s and I’d asked him to pick up a bottle of something for a friend’s birthday, and another pint of something for a friend who drinks Jameson’s because ‘merican hooch is too rough.
He’d brought those but also brought me a bottle of high-dollar Woodford Reserve.
Ahh…writers, barbeque, and lots of whiskey. So far so good.
After dinner, we went to Casa Fox to hang. During the hanging, Randy showed me his collection of World War II rifles. It was sort of odd to sight in a Japanese rifle that still had the chrysanthemum stamped on the barrel, but sort of cool, too.
Late Friday night I spent hanging in the hotel bar where a ton of people who’d seen the presentation bought me drinks and gave me their theories. And a bunch of people who hadn’t seen the presentation bought me drinks, asked me about it, and then gave me their theories.
But I also drank with young writers who believed I knew something about everything because I know people. It’s great to be a bit older and have met just about everyone in the industry. See, the young kids who don’t know any better think I actually know these people. That I call them and hang out and eat at their million dollar houses. Shhhh…don’t tell them otherwise….
Saturday dawned as a day of no panels and no requirements. Good thing, too, because LuAnn ended up quite ill. She wouldn’t have been able to make it through any panels. (though how hilarious would it have been for me to make a statement and LuAnn vomit at exactly that moment…sort of metaphoric and gastric all at the same time!)
Saturday afternoon I spent with Bill and Lisa Garramone’s house. Bill I’ve known since the 5th grade and his wife Lisa for about five weeks. My dear friend Brad was there from Atlanta, too. Sadly, my schedule had changed at the convention so I didn’t get as much time for them as I’d wanted.
But the time we did have was great. I walked in the damned door and Bill – who’d played for the opposing high school’s drum line when we were in school – cranked up two videos of their line at contests from 1983 and 1984. And yeah, both were tapes of contests THEY won, not us so that was nice for the old ego. Thanks, Bill!
And while I watched, his wife tried to get me drunk on vodka punch. She’s a beautiful woman no doubt, and normally I’d love a big, Amazonian blonde getting me drunk, but I just kept thinking about how to get my current high school line to play like the Midland High School line circa 1983.
Hehehe…how’s that for priorities?
After the video, Bill said, “Let’s go to the Parthenon.”
Seeing as how he’s a professional musician who’s played everywhere and knows everyone, I figured it was a recording studio or a club.
No, it’s the Parthenon.
You know…Greece? Big building, mostly fallen over? Foundation of western civilization blah blah blah?
Yeah, Nashville has one.
Why? Who the hell knows. It was built in 1893 or some shit, out of chicken wire and plaster of Paris for some low-rent World’s Fair or something, alongside a reproduction of a pyramid. For whatever reason, Nashville decided to rebuild it in stone. But they let the pyramid go because that would have been to gauche or something.
But this thing is absolutely incredible!
The scale is 1:1. That is, it is exactly the size of the broken-down old one in Greece. Let me tell you, standing next to the outside columns was delightfully humbling.
Much like my ego, this thing is gynormous! And when you walk in, you come around a corner and see a 41 foot tall statue of Athena. And doors that weigh about 3.75 tons each.
But the experience was marred, as so many of my experiences are, by the cops. There was a moment when I thought we’d get arrested (and how come I always assume I’m going to get arrested when I’m hanging with Brad?).
There’s no photography or cell phone usage in one particular part of the museum, see, and Brad yanked his phone out. Lisa had called him, see, to talk to Bill…who’d left his phone at home. I assume he did that so he wouldn’t have to talk to Lisa. But see, she was smart enough to call Brad and demand he give the phone to Bill.
At which point a security guard strolled by. I think she was swinging her baton like an old beat cop and she might have growled deep in her throat once or twice. Brad’s eyes swelled up like he’d been punched and we all started digging through our pockets for bail money.
But rather than hauling us in, she snapped a finger toward the exit. While we didn’t speed out, we certainly moved quickly.
Though the building was amazing, every once in a while I’d laugh because come on…in Nashville? Just randomly? There is one exact replica of this thing in the world and it’s Nashville? The absurdity of that just makes me laugh.
After, we went back to their place and I don’t think Bill or Lisa were particularly pleased with my instructions to their 2-year old daughter on how – exactly – to best dance a pole…you know, should she ever need to.
I had to leave to go check on LuAnn and her condition made it such that I couldn’t get back to them, which left me sad. But for the few hours I had, they were great fun, which is exactly how I remember Bill.
Sunday morning was my panel with other cops. It was great, except for one little problem that needed tweaking. And no, I won’t mention that tweak publicly, but if you buy me a beer or a shot in San Francisco, I’ll tell you all about it.
Great questions and the audience seemed very hip to learning about law enforcement. It was a great panel, too, because the other guys were retired and had worked different areas of large departments. I was active duty and with a small department so the audience go a great breadth of experience.
Overall, it was a great convention. Sold a few books, met a few fans, made a few more. And met some very hip writers and people. Gina Shade and Matthew Funk, Jessica and Lee Verday. Gary Jones. Ernie Lancaster. It was a good weekend, just what I needed.
Oh, wait, I almost forgot. I also saw a lady who’s fast becoming one of my dearest friends. Margery Flax, the biggest of the big wheels with MWA. It was great seeing her. And while she did kiss my cheek at one point, she also knocked me up for a hundred bucks.
Man, with friends like these….