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Sunday, May 20, 2007


- We're back from Nashville, and the return flight was only around 40 minutes late this time, all spent circling over New Jersey while some storms passed over LaGuardia. We ended up flying in over Lower Manhattan, and right up the East River, a route I don't ever recall taking before. It was quite a sight, but rather eerie too given the events of more than 5 1/2 years ago.

We had a great time in Nashville. The people there couldn't be more hospitable, including those who emailed me with advice, all of which proved to be helpful. The wedding took place in a beautiful private home that the owners rent out for ceremonies. There, I was reminded a bit of the one time I've been in LA. It was a business trip, and I was staying at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills (after a stop at Hollywood Park). When I went to the hotel bar on Saturday night, I noticed that every snippet of conversation that drifted my way had to do with the film industry; I felt as if I was in a movie myself. Similarly, it seemed that everyone at the wedding was talking about their latest music project, the one they hope will get them the big break.

Now it's true that both the bride and groom are talented singer-songwriters themselves, so naturally they had friends in the industry. But several of them had migrated to Nashville, drawn by the perceived opportunities that come with being in the center of the action. The aspiring musicians there reminded me of people in the racing business whether as owners, part-owners, and bettors and fans alike. Both music and horsepeople are passionate about succeeding at the pursuit they love, and for many, their chosen path is very much a way of life. And it's also true that for most of them in both businesses, success is elusive, and many toil on for years with little, if any tangible profits to show.

The music festival I referred to the other day turned out to be a Christian music festival, with some old fashion revival stuff by the event organizer Luis Palau. Oh man. They were expecting a huge crowd, but it seemed as if the city shut off about 1 1/2 blocks more than necessary and, in fact, it seemed less crowded downtown than it did on Friday. I considered stopping in one of the prayer tents in the hope of some luck at the track, but decided to pass. Instead, we checked out a few clubs - including Tootsie's, Robert's Western World, The Stage - and sampled a few of the bands. Country music, in all honestly, isn't my cup of tea, and I would have much preferred to be at the Bright Eyes concert around the block; but that was a non-starter with the Head Chef.

We got up early on Sunday, checked out, and took a drive to the Loveless Motel and Cafe for breakfast, and then onto the Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art. Cheekwood is a massive property featuring a grand mansion which has been converted to a museum while retaining many of the original details. And there were beautiful gardens and some cool outdoor sculpture. I'll leave you with a small gallery of photos, and I'll be back to resume our regularly scheduled programming shortly.