The hustle and bustle on a Saturday night in downtown Nashville, Tennessee.
Watch the video interview below:
Tattooed to the center of his chest was an "S," just like the original Superman logo.
I captured this photo in Nashville, 2014.
BONNAROO 2018: Ahhh, the family concert... the family who see's Eminem together at midnight sticks together.
BONNAROO 2018: She showed vigorous support for America with not only her outfit, but also her blanket as she sat in the midst of thousands of people walking from concert to concert.
Some may disagree as they were taught not to wear or sit on the flag. Others may high five her, which is the Bonnaroo way.
"How do I look," she asked. The shutter shut, "Great," I quietly responded as she handed me her cellphone. "Would you take my picture with my phone," she asked.
Another shutter click and I disappeared into the crowd where I next came across a large shirtless man that had a "Lost Soul" tattoo across his stomach. He was carrying a unicorn... I will get to that photo later.
BONNAROO 2018: Never get between a large tattooed man and his unicorn. Never.
Be who you want and dress as you like.
I took this photo of a friend of mine a couple of years ago on what was once the stage at Starwood Amphitheater in Nashville. The outdoor concert venue was alive with sound and people not to far in the past.
More on Starwood:
(1985 to 2007) What was is no more: Starwood opened in 1985 to the sounds of Van Halen, Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, and Motley Crew, just to name a few. Today, it looks like an epic ghost town of broken concrete, asphalt paths to nowhere, broken tiles that once lined the greenroom and overgrown grass.
Over the years, the concert venue changed names about three times. Up until 1999 it was called Starwood Amphitheater. The name changed in '99 to the First American Music Center. The First American name only lasted for one year. In 2000, it was renamed the AmSouth Amphitheater. It also closed with that name of "AmSouth" in 2007.
The vintage sign read, “Eldorado Motel, Room Phones, Pool and TV.” The sign still stands today in between 28th Avenue and Clarksville Pike in Nashville. However, the only sign of the motel is the sign itself.
I spoke to the owner of the property who said that her father was one of the first black men in Tennessee to receive a bank loan to build a motel.
What makes the motel history stand out even more, is that it was one of the few places in Nashville that allowed for men and women of color to spend the night.
During the changing times of the 1960’s, musicians like BB King, The Temptations, and even James Brown stayed at the motel while visiting Music City.
In the 1960’s, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) booked two rooms at the property for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and musician Harry Belafonte. King was good friends with Belafonte who supported the SCLC financially. Belafonte was in town to play at the Ryman Auditorium, but became too ill to play. So, he recouped at the motel until he was well enough to travel home.
Learn more by listening to the short interview below with the daughter of the man who built the Eldorado Motel so many years ago.
August 2017: Hippie Hill is known for bare feet and hippies. While it is true that not everyone on the hill is barefoot, the hippie ideals of accepting others has always been alive in the small community.
The future of the hill is somewhat up in the air as far as living arrangements go. It appears as if the government has been cracking down on their use of campers verses tent living.
It all has to do with zoning and it being called a primitive camping area verses a campground that allows for long term RV parking, etc.
Sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture… Government getting too involved.
While rules are rules, it makes sense to allow for special permits when many who would normally be on the streets are currently living in a community where they feel safe. It is hard to feel safe under a bridge by yourself.
Five people with three from Tennessee, one from New York and one from Colorado... One question asked: "What is the first thought into your head when you hear the words Racial Tension?”
When someone tells you they robbed 17 banks during their prime years… What’s your first thought? I guess mine was – Did you make a lot of money? My second thought… Sure, you can hop in my truck!
My friend Jerry and I were in Nashville when we met 64 year old Frank Webster. He talked about how he once robbed banks for a living while living in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. Of course, he only had to get caught once for him to receive a pay cut. Needless to say, getting caught also equals out of work.
Mr. Webster was all smiles and laughs. Hard to believe you could even smile after being in prison for so long and when you finally get released – you are literally an inmate trapped inside your own body.
Mr. Webster was known as inmate 00092428 when he spent the late 1980’s into the 2000’s locked up in West Tennessee. In 2014, he had a stroke while in prison.
After the stroke, Mr. Webster was transferred to the Lois M. DeBerry Special Needs Facility in Nashville. The specialized prison is for those with medical conditions, such as the aftermath of a stroke.
On December 29, 2017, just one day after his 64th birthday, he was released from prison. Finally, he was a free man. This would equal a wakeup call to a brand new world.
Nowhere to go he found himself on the streets of Nashville.
The right side of his body is about 75% paralyzed, so he scoots around on a wheelchair that was given to him. “I don’t have a doctor and I need help with stroke rehab,” he said with a thick mumble due to the stroke affecting his speech.
At night, Webster sleeps at the Nashville Rescue Mission. During the day, he watches cars go by while sitting quietly in his chair.
He pointed down the street suggesting there was a nonprofit he wanted to visit to get advice on where to go for help. It was obvious he could not make it in the wheelchair to 4th Avenue in downtown Nashville. So with a lift into the truck, thanks to Jerry Craddock, we headed towards his destination.
Imagine losing everything, battling an addiction and eventually living in the woods. That is basically what happened to Audrey and Steven. The loss of a job followed by pain pills which lead to heroin are just some of the details.
Hear their story below (5MIN and 37SEC):
Above are photos from inside their campsite.
I saw this man sitting on a bench as the day passed by. For some reason, the song "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" came to mind.
"Look like nothing's gonna change
Everything still remains the same
I can't do what ten people tell me to do
So I guess I'll remain the same, yes"
"Sittin' here resting my bones
And this loneliness won't leave me alone
It's two thousand miles I roamed
Just to make this dock my home"
-Otis Redding - "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay"
The song topped the charts in the United States and in the UK, but Redding would never realize the popularity of it.
“(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” was written by Otis Redding and Booker T. & the M.G.'s. guitarist Steve Cropper. Redding wrote a portion of the song while sitting on a house boat the he is rumored to have rented in Sausalito, California.
This was said to be the last hit song that Otis Redding recorded just two days before he died in a plane crash in 1967. The song was not released until 1968.
The charter plane that crashed while carrying the famous soul singer occurred over Madison Wisconsin. In addition to Redding dying in the crash, so were six others. Redding was only 26 when killed. If he were still alive today, the Dawson, Georgia native would have been 76 years old.
Sometimes nothing is best:
I once heard pastor Rick Warren talk about the gift of silence shortly after his son committed suicide. He talked about how hard it was to cope with the pain and loss.
Warren said that some people showed up telling him how sorry they were and how they remembered his son. Others talked about the pain that he and his wife were experiencing, but they didn't need to as the Warrens were in the the grasp of that pain and they knew it well.
The friends who did not speak other than to say they were there - were the most meaningful as no words can fill the void and those friends knew that. The gift of silence in powerful. Warren stated, "The deeper the pain, the fewer words needed."
Photo captured today... somewhere in the Nashville area.
A lot of people have seen and talked about the massive mural on an abandoned concrete silo in Nashville, but few take the time to properly jump the fence around it. The mural is in an area that is called “The Nations.”
Let me back up a little… Many people see it, but do they see the side of it that includes two curious children with one reaching for the sky? Do people know why a man is painted on the front or why kids are painted on the side?
Australian artist Guido Van Helten is known around the globe for painting massive portraits that eerily look real. One of his famous pieces is located in an industrial area of Nashville near the old and shut down Tennessee Prison.
On the front of the Nashville silo is 91 year old Lee Estes who is often referred to as LD. He grew up in the area around the massive silo. Mr. Estes is the kind of guy who volunteers to help others, is always walking the block to see what’s going on and more. But, why was he picked and why are two kids on the side of silo?
Mr. Estes represents the neighborhood, or so to speak. He represents the old, the original and the start of the area. Another question would be, “Why are kids on the side?” Simple, Van Helten painted two boys that live in the area to represent the new, the change, the growth of the area known as The Nations.
In case you’re curious, the area around the old prison and the silo is changing in leaps and bounds. Most would agree it is changing for the good. Old homes are being rebuilt while some are being completely replaced. Shut down factories and warehouses are being turned into new businesses. Buildings that were once industrial and now falling apart are being torn down while new condos are going up.
As for artwork, The Nations neighborhood has artwork everywhere. It is well worth the drive to explore. It kinda’ represents the change that we are seeing throughout Middle Tennessee. That change includes an appreciation for art that makes our world look a little nicer.
30 Year old Kimberly Lee and her family are about to lose their apartment in Murfreesboro, TN. Needless to say, she is having a tough time.
In September of 2017 she learned that she has cervical cancer. Doctors told her that she needed to be on medication and have surgery, but to date neither of the two have occurred. Kimberly explained, “It’s so expensive to get help, so I’m not dealing with it.”
She has insurance, but the co-pay is too high for her to make ends meet and pay for the treatment she needs. I asked, “Can you tell it is getting worst,” talking about the cancer. She said, “I can, because when I lay in bed at night – when I lay down – it gets worse and I cramp… everything’s just changing in my body (tears).”
She talked of her childhood and said that she was born into this world as an alcoholic with fetal alcohol syndrome. At age 14 Kimberly and her six siblings were placed into the Tennessee Foster Care system. By 15, she turned to alcohol and eventually aged out of the system only to learn how to live life on her own at 18.
Life was not easy and by 24 she was pregnant with her first child. The following years grew harder and she told me the father of her children abused her . One time was described as a living hell… “He held me down in the garage during the winter and I was naked as he poured cold water on me.” She said there were worse things that she went through as well while swallowing tears.
Twice she went through rehabilitation for addiction, but she failed to address childhood trauma and abuse as an adult. Her past likely has a direct link to her stress, depression and anxiety today.
Most recently, that anxiety got the best of her. Explaining, Kimberly stated, “I actually just got out of the hospital three days ago from having a bunch of mental breakdowns and I went and turned myself in to TrustPoint down here and I stayed for a whole week.”
Her husband is working extremely hard each day at Nissan to make ends meet, but past medical bills, rehab, apartment rent, utilities and now a repossessed car have taken quite the toll on them. Kimberly said her husband is now paying to get rides into work each day because they lost their car. To add stress to them, an apartment eviction may leave them on the streets while searching for a new place to rent. They have to be out on Sunday (2/4/18).
Currently, her children are staying with a relative in Nashville. Remember, she does not have parents to call on for help like most of us do as she was placed into the foster care system by age 14. Her stepson in high school remains in school locally as the younger children are too young for school and are 6 or under.
I asked what people can do to help and she said, “You know what, I don’t know – I don’t have an answer for that because I don’t really get help… I don’t get help from nobody.”
Listen to the interview below:
Helping Kimberly and her family:
I had a few ideas of what could be done so I contacted a friend of mine who is a local pastor. He called some friends and now they have the money to make a deposit on a new apartment – if they can get approved for an apartment. I asked if I could name the folks who helped and with a laugh my friend responded, “Sure, tell them a bunch of folks that love Jesus and love how to believe wide open helped!”
I then turned to another friend to get help for treating her cancer, which she shared medical records with me to verify the damage that was found about 5 months ago. The friend I shared that information with just happens to have the exact same OBGYN. But, we don’t have an answer yet on IF medical help is available for her – However I hope to have information on that soon.
Counseling is something else that is needed, which I think I already have someone to call on who will be more than happy to help in a major way.
What can you offer?
- Confirmed help with cervical cancer – Keep in mind she has insurance through Blue Cross, but no money for co-pay. So, do you know of a medical group willing to help?
- Gift cards for grocery visits or restaurants would be positive.
This photo is the most recent in the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center “Hand Project.” The goal is to show the wicked face of domestic violence without actually showing the face of those who suffered.
This woman, who is 53 today, talked about her ex and the violence and torment he caused in a way that would make one vomit. At one point, he broke her ankle so that she could not run from him. When her left ankle finally healed, he broke her right ankle.
To hear a short clip of her story, listen to the audio below:
Everything looks a little more faded in the winter. The sun appears a little whiter as opposed to yellow or orange. Leaves from trees are almost a shade of gray painted with touches of brown.
Some think only third world countries live in total filth on mounds of trash… but. that would be a mistake to believe such. In fact, most third world countries are far cleaner than this homeless camp located in Nashville, Tennessee.
“Clean up your camp or leave,” the government authorities say without understanding. Who would not give such orders after seeing such a mess? Living in such scattered throw-outs does not make sense. Of course it fails to meet any logical explanation – only because there is not one.
Those with non-imaginable mental illnesses find themselves unable to muster the energy, the know how to search for a place to dump trash, so some live among the debris, the clutter and even the human waste.
"That is what madness is, isn’t it? All the wheels fly off the bus and things don’t make sense any more. Or rather, they do, but it’s not a kind of sense anyone else can understand."
—Audrey Niffenegger, Columbia College, writer
From the outside looking in: It is probably a $350,000 slice of land they live on. Too small for a high rise, but perfect for a small home a townhouse. It is walking distance to the finer dining experiences, baseball and football games.
They live in downtown Nashville, but lack running water, electricity and plumbing. It is a neat and tidy place with a third world setting.
The men who call this their home are kind, gracious towards guest and outgoing.
"The only thing you sometimes have control over is perspective. You don't have control over your situation. But you have a choice about how you view it." -Chris Pine, Hollywood Actor