Wednesday, May 26, 2010

This Ain't Your Daddy's Burger Joint

Nestled in the heart of the trendy SoHo-esque part of Nashville, at 12th and Paris, is one of the city's newest additions, Burger Up. Opened just three weeks ago, Frothy Monkey proprietor Miranda Whitcome Pontes scores a "10" with this worth-the-wait-to-get-in upscale burger joint that's splashed with all the steel and clean lines of yuppiness. The oversized windows provide a great view of 12th Avenue South, and the local businesses and their greenscapes across the street.

Last week my friend, Erin, and I made a date to meet for dinner last night. At the last minute, we decided to try the 12th South eatery just for kicks. What we found inside was one single surf board embossed in red ink with the Burger Up logo as the venue's only artwork. Rows of heavy duty picnic tables, complete with comfortable individual bench seats, were filled with people throughout the restaurant. Never too close together, parties actually feel that they have some private space to chat.

Greeted by our server, Brian, we found that the restaurant is still in the process of "tweaking" it's menu. One glitch is that the burger section never mentions that fries are a standard side to the burgers. Brian forgot to address that little detail, so we ordered the onion ring tower which came as an appetizer.

The Fried Vidalia Onion Tower came with it's own dipping sauce, spicy lemon lime remoulade. The sauce added a zest to the lightly battered and fried rings, providing just enough flavor contrasts.

Our burgers came out fairly soon after finishing the rings. Erin and I ordered Woodstock burgers that come adorned with Benton bacon, Cabot white cheddar, and Jack Daniels maple ketchup. The all-organic burger comes sandwiched between the top and bottom of a homemade bun - a sure-fire hit. The burger's only drawback was that it needed more ketchup. Keep in mind, though, that I like condiments spilling out of the bun, so most other people will probably like the amount of ketchup that comes on the burger.

As the finishing pinnacle to our meal, we ordered the Smores Tiramisu. As a visual person, I imagined this dessert to be a layered concoction of graham crackers and marshmallow cream sprinkled with chocolate chips. Nothing could have been further from reality. Erin and I were totally surprised at the traditional appearance of the Tiramisu. The flavor of campfire smores was there, but with the tenderness and succulence of tiramisu. This tiramisu is Nashville's second best, deferring only to Amerigo's more classic version.

If you're vegan or a total organic eater, you'll find this place welcoming you with open arms. The food selection is also perfect for the person with an edgy palate. For a look at the current menu that they're still refining, CLICK HERE.

If you haven't been to Burger Up yet, you're missing out. Find it and go.

To work with a professional and knowledgeable real estate agent in the Middle Tennessee area, give Jack a shout. You can reach him at 615-373-3513 x3840 or through email:

Monday, May 24, 2010

Thomas Sowell and His Appeal to Truth

If you're not aware of who Thomas Sowell is, you're not alone. I'd never heard of him until several months ago when a friend offered to let me borrow the book, The Housing Boom and Bust, by Sowell. So far, I've found the book incredibly objective about the truth about the nation's housing market, it's ups and downs, and how it's directly and indirectly related to the rest of the economy.

Through an online search, I found Sowell's credentials to be second to none. He is well educated (Harvard, Columbia and University of Chicago), and appears to be a great defender of truth, not leaning in favor of one political party over another.

A "must read" for every U.S. citizen.

The Housing Boom and Bust can be purchased online through, or at Barnes & Noble. You'll find that Sowell is a straight-shooter, calling out former presidential administrations, as well as the current one, and the congressional bodies that supported each one. He points out discrepancies in policies on both sides of the aisle, and the committees and architects of those policies that are in error.

This book is definitely well worth the read. Sowell will enlighten you to the truth and the vast cavern of omissions that are apparent to him. Unlike a typical college-level economics textbook, this is a great 'anytime' read because the author makes it easy to understand, and puts all the pieces together.

To learn more about Sowell, check out THIS SITE.
If you're looking for a knowledgeable and professional real estate agent to help you with your real estate needs, then look no further. Contact Jack Jernigan, with Crye-Leike, Realtors, at 615-373-3513 or

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pac-Man Mania

Released in Japan on May 22, 1980, Pac-Man took off. Soon after, it was released in the U.S. Video arcade games were relatively new to the world, with Space Invaders and Aestroids as the two most popular. Video games were also mostly played by guys, but Pac-Man leveled the playing field, appealing to both genders.

A year later, Ms. Pac-Man was released, the most popular video arcade game in history. I must admit that less college spending money was spent on movies and eating out that year while more was spent on Ms. Pac-Man. I was addicted. In a new venue - the cocktail table version - it was easy to take on an opponent.

That love for Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man has never waned. From the original video arcade games to the PC and phone versions, I still find them loads of fun. And so does most of the world.

Want to play a game or two .... or more? Find a flash version for your PC by CLICKING HERE. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Helping Our Flood Victims

The United Way is up to it's eyeballs in requests for help from flood victims. They should be. That's why they're here. Many of us have volunteered to help our friends and neighbors and, honestly, we're getting spent from the efforts.

If you're not able to help people physically, then you can give them a hand financially. By purchasing posters and tee shirts, most of the cost will go toward a donation to a local charity, such as United Way, and the small portion of the cost will go toward the product itself.

Most of these items can be found online by googling the words, "Nashville flood tee shirts" or "Nashville flood posters". The "We Are Nashville" tee shirts can be found locally at Nashville Clothing Company, with two locations: One is at the Icon in the Gulch at 606 12 Ave South, Suite B. The other is in Cool Springs at 420 Cool Springs Blvd, suite 140, just across the street from PF Chang's.

My favorite poster is the a print of the artwork done by Kyle Jones. It can be found by CLICKING HERE.

This is my favorite Nashville Flood poster.

How about digging deep down into your pockets to give what you can? This is a great time to exercise kindness for our Middle Tennessee friends and neighbors.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bailing Out

The devastation is indescribable. Flood waters rose to above five feet in most places around Nashville. And now debris is piled as high as six to seven feet at curbside.

When I went to work at a friend's condo in River Plantation (in Bellevue) last week, I was shocked by what I saw. Pictures that were hung above the water line began to fall off the walls because the water moved it's way up toward the ceiling. Dead frogs were found on shelves the china cabinet. Accessories and pictures that had been positioned on end tables and bedside tables were now on the floor, sitting in water. The refrigerator was tipped toward the wall at an angle. Wood furniture began to warp, requiring a crowbar to open drawers and doors. Upholstered pieces were now drenched with dirty flood waters. Carpet and rugs were mud-laden, and soaked with water. Mattresses were so filled with water that it took four large men to move each one.

Twenty people went to help my friend. Soaked down to our skin, we kept on working, thinking that the work would never end. Garbage bags filled with wet linens and clothing were stacked in two corners of the patio. One was dry clean; the other was launder. Sorting through clothing, pictures, accessories became a major job. Moving is considered a big stressor on people, but this was 100 times worse. The loss that my friend has felt has been overwhelming.

Last Sunday my parents were in town, so we drove through River Plantation, the Opryland area, Pennington Bend, downtown Nashville, and parts of Franklin so they could see what had happened. My dad, 83 years old, remarked he'd "never seen anything like this." Having served in World War II, he'd seen devastation in Germany before, but nothing like this. My mother commented that, "this is indescribable." And she's right.

Thank goodness for volunteers. Without volunteers, so many people would never be able to bounce back. Sunday, we saw hundreds of volunteers helping homeowners clean out their homes, bringing load after load of wet drywall, carpet and other items out to the curb. ServPro trucks were everywhere, and from everywhere. Area codes such as 412 were painted on the sides of ServPro trucks. Waste management companies were working overtime to remove the debris from the curbs.

While it took a few days for us to make national headlines, it turned out to be a great thing. Our volunteer efforts and true unselfishness has been shown to the world. We're a relentless and strong community. We care about each other. And we also persevere. Nothing can come between a Nashville resident and his neighbor, especially a flood.

Have you taken the opportunity to help a fellow Middle Tennessean yet? Maybe your neighbor didn't suffer flood damage, but may need help with something else. Maybe it's time to volunteer to help a friend in need. Are you that person? Maybe it's time ....

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Flooding in Franklin

Rain on Friday, April 30 was no surprise. Weather forecasters predicted it would come and the sky was evidence of the inevitable. A typical spring shower watered plants and lawns of grass, and then let up a little.

Little did I know that when I took my car to be serviced at noon on May 1 that I would drive home in lakes that had formed on Highway 96 in Franklin. While waiting for my car, I watched rain grow stronger and stronger during that 90 minutes of talking on the phone, checking email and trying ot watch the satellite TV in the customer waiting area.

I had already committed to going to hear a band with friends at 3rd and Lindsley that night, but at 3 p.m., I cancelled that daredevil decision. No way was I trading my 2nd floor condo for a trek in the downpour to hear any group.

Around dinner time, I spotted the creek behind our building as the once calm flow of water was now a roaring, rushing river, with an increased height of at least 15 inches. No worries, though, as weather predictions did not include a flood.

Weather forecasters finally admitted we were getting more than we bargained for. Franklin was the first area to be mentioned in a list of damaged locations. Flooding had been evident that afternoon on Highway 96 as I spotted 10-foot lakes in front yards along that road. Even the park next to the Harpeth was flooded up to the entrance. Franklin's Mayor had issued a 6 pm to 6 am curfew for the safety of it's residents.

By late Saturday night, the rains were coming down pretty hard and it was inevitable that Nashville and other parts of Middle Tennessee were going to experience a new kind of disaster.

After staying up late and watching the three major networks turn their broadcasts over to the latest in weather, I finally went to bed. Church hadn't been cancelled yet, so maybe it wasn't really that bad. Things changed at 7:35 the next morning as I heard a voice mail telling me that all church activities had been cancelled that day. The rain kept coming down in sheets so thick it was almost impossible to see anything. The darkness reigned over the entire area, and at 8:30 am, it looked as if it were midnight.

The rain eventually let up long enough Sunday around 11 a.m. for me to run out and get some gas. Surely I'd have enough time to get gas, a few movies from Red Box, and then get back home. I was wrong. While at the Kroger on Columbia Pike, all heavens broke loose. Getting gas wasn't a problem, but even while using an umbrella to run across a flooded parking lot to the Red Box, I was almost soaked. Standing in line behind five other people proved to be an impatient wait as the rain came down harder and faster. Will this EVER let up at all?

After retrieving three flicks, I ran back across the lot. It was a little better now, and I thought I'd take a quick drive around my area of Franklin. Little did I know that I would see streets turned into lakes. Fair Street was now a swimming pool at the dip just past 9th Avenue. 5th Avenue/Hillsboro Road was now an ocean of water as Sonic and Alexander Used Cars were both submerged under the water. I'd seen enough. Home I wanted to go.

Later that afternoon, the rain finally did break for a while and the sun started to shine. I decided to take a tour of the area to see how bad things were. Apparently a few other folks had the same idea.

Out of the four main ways to get out of Franklin, three were completely shut down. Third Avenue (which turns into Highway 96) was blocked. Just a few hundred feet from town was the bridge that crossed a western branch of the Harpeth River. No vehicles were going to get through there as police had taped it off and were blocking all traffic.

Main Street (which turns into Franklin Road going toward Brentwood) was just as bad. The Harpeth is crossed there, too, and police had blocked it off. Just west of there is First Avenue, which had turned into a lake. Only the street sign was visible.

Down the road were 3rd and 4th Avenues, which ran into North Margin Street. Just past North Margin the water had covered graveyards and parking lots. Nowhere was there any way to drive or even walk down those streets.

Just south of 3rd and 4th is 5th Avenue (which turns into Hillsboro Road). As a second visit to this street, I saw even more water this time, and I knew that plenty of damage had been done. Driving on Highway 96 West (toward Bellevue), front yards were flooded to capacity. Owners had parked their vehicles next to the road so they could eventually get out. I just hope they had a rowboat, kayak or canoe to get to their cars.

In almost a half century of living, I've never seen anything like this. Over the last few days, we've heard reports that so far, there is over $1.5 BILLION in damage. Who knows what the final total will be?

My heart goes out to those who have lost so much. This is one of those times I wish I had lots to give to people. It's devastating, heartbreaking and sad. My prayers continue to be with the over thousands of people who are currently homeless. Only God can take care of us.