Well, another Christmas in the books, folks. It was quiet, with a huge asterisk - I'll come back to the asterisk in a moment.
We opened gifts, ate a lot of good food, enjoyed cards, the tree, the dog, talking with friends and family. It was pretty much perfect.
Except for the asterisk. On Christmas morning, a bomb detonated in downtown Nashville. I mapped it - it's right at three miles from our house. So - close, but not especially so. We slept through it. Not to sound cavalier, but they're doing construction near the house, so a little AM noise wouldn't register with us. Also, I'm not sure that we would have heard it from that distance, regardless.
They have determined the identity of the man who did it. He drove his RV up to 2nd Avenue N. Parked it. Called the police to report shots fired. When the police arrived, the RV began broadcasting a recorded message counting down 15 minutes to detonation, interspersed with Petula Clark's "Downtown". You cannot make this shit up.
|When you're alone, and life is making you lonely...|
The police were able to evacuate residents - it's a mostly commercial area - and there were only three injuries- none life threatening.
Yesterday afternoon, they announced that their person of interest, Anthony Quinn Warner, age 63, was positively identified via DNA from the human remains found at the scene (which is to say, he was inside the RV). They were also able to identify the vehicle and trace ownership back to Warner.
One of outcomes of the event is that it affected the AT&T building downtown - to the extent that phone and internet services were down for about 48 hours. Thankfully, my work phone is on Verizon, and our internet is through Comcast. So I could use my phone for FB Messenger, and I could call and text on my work phone.
It is disorienting to have people checking in with you on your safety Christmas morning. It's strange to delay looking at your stockings to watch CNN coverage on a street you've walked up and down for years. It has been a tough year for Nashville - this was the cherry on top.
But, you know - I'm not affected materially or physically. Emotionally, it makes me sad. Not especially surprised. They haven't determined that it is terrorism...yet. To qualify, they will have to tie his act to an ideology. I suspect they will. I mean - that's a pretty elaborate suicide, if that's all it is. But I am not an expert. About anything. Well, maybe about the movie Airplane.
That said, we had a nice Christmas, and I believe staying put was the right move. The virus is rampant, and I cannot chance getting my mother or her boyfriend sick.
Yesterday would have been my father's 80th birthday. My sister and I agreed that even under the best of circumstances, my father would not have lived to see 80. We got 73 years of him, and that's pretty damn good. But being me, I had to do something to mark the day, and I did that by giving blood. Dad was O+, and so am I. I know he had transfusions over the years, and particularly when he had his quad bypass surgery. So it's critical to me to give back. And yesterday, I did. For my efforts, I got a t-shirt, juice and cookies, and just missed a celebrity sighting. It's nice to know that Nashville artists give blood, too.
I also, earlier in the month, donated some money to a cause I know to have been near and dear to him. Manuel's Tavern.
Manuel's is a bar in Atlanta, not too far from the Georgia Tech campus. It is a Democratic HQ of sorts, and it's an institution. I used to go there for iimprov rehearsals with Gorgeous Ladies of Comedy. I used to go there after Thursday night student shows with Dad's Garage. I performed there. I went there with my parents as a kid, and with friends as an adult. It was my father's bar. It was my bar. Well, Brian Maloof (grandson of Manuel Maloof, after whom the bar was named) was struggling to keep things going with the bar in the era of Covid - and this bar has been in business since 1956. A long-time friend and patron asked if he could set up a crowdfunding request on the bar's behalf, and said he'd only collect if the amount was raised ($75,000). Maloof reluctantly said yes. Not only did they make the goal within the first 24 hours - they exceeded it - $180,000 was raised in about four days.
I donated a small amount, and I did it because I knew Dad would have liked that.
My favorite Manuel's Story is that one Saturday morning, I was having rehearsal/breakfast with Gorgeous Ladies of Comedy. Side note - they had a killer breakfast - at a BAR! Anyway, we're in a back room that they let us use, and two guys in suits walk in the room, look around, then leave. It was weird. We asked our server, and she said, "Oh - that's Secret Service. Jimmy Carter's grandson is having his wedding reception here this afternoon."
It's that kind of place. Magical. Like Dad was, actually.
So, that's kind of my Christmas/Holidayish round-up. I feel good about things. I feel optimistic about 2021, and I feel hopeful that once again, Nashville will come together and rise up to fix 2nd Avenue. We're Nashville, dammit.