Stanley at Shiloh

September 30, 2007

The cover of today’s New York Times Book Review features a wonderful book review of Stanley: The Impossible Life of Africa’s Greatest Explorer by Tim Jeal. The reviewer is Paul Theroux, one of my favorite travel writers.

Under the heading of I Didn’t Know That comes the fact, revealed in the review, that the man who famously “found” Dr. David Livingstone (but never uttered “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”) fought in the battle of Shiloh. Theroux writes:

“. . . (Stanley) joined the Confederate Army, in a local regiment, the Dixie Grays, in 1861. He fought at the battle of Shiloh, was captured by a Union patrol, clapped into prison at Camp Douglas and given the choice of fighting for the North or rotting. He changed sides, marched under a Union flag, then deserted and sailed to Wales. . . .”


Florida sinks–Tennessee rises

September 30, 2007

The Wall Street Journal has an article that describes how retirees now prefer other states, including Tennessee, over the Sunshine State. The same qualities that attract tourists–controlled growth, pretty towns, parks and bike trails–will lure these out-of-staters who come to town with money to spend.

Lawrenceburg’s Fred Thompson

September 30, 2007

The Boston Globe has a nice piece today on Fred Thompson’s formative years in Lawrenceburg. Seems that his path toward the presidency began inauspiciously with his girlfriend becoming a teenage mother, which resulted in Thompson marrying into a family and becoming influenced by his wife’s grandfather, a Republican attorney known to his family as “Pap.” Writer Michael Kranish describes how the older man shaped Thompson: “The Lindsey household became an intellectual and political feast for Thompson. Pap engaged Thompson in conversations about the nation’s state of affairs, with Pap defending the positions of the Eisenhower administration. One day, Pap gave Thompson a book: ‘The Story of My Life,’ by Clarence Darrow.”

Can you imagine a Republican in our time handing out a book about evolution’s biggest foe?


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Grand new opera for Nashville

September 27, 2007

Coming on the heels of the Nashville Symphony’s triumphal opening of the $123.5 million Schermerhorn Symphony Center, the city’s major opera company has announced plans for a new, $6 million opera house.

The Tennessean has a story on Nashville Opera’s new digs, which will open in the Fall of 2008. Having these new structures–and the fundraising campaigns that built them–so close together demonstrates the health of the arts in Middle Tennessee, the generosity of donors, and perhaps a need to give Nashville its old nickname: Athens of the South.


Photo from Nashville Opera

Roger Brashears: keeper of the Jack Daniel’s fame

September 27, 2007

While in Chattanooga, I touched base with Roger Brashears, the head of public relations at the Jack Daniel’s distillery. He has worked for the distillery since 1963–Mr. Jack was only there for 29 years–and fits perfectly with the down-home image so carefully tended by Brown-Forman, the corporate owners since 1956.


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Red State Update: Is it good for the Tennesseans?

September 27, 2007

Every time there’s any sort of Tennessee or Southern-based humor, any laughter on my part is always followed by an unsettling thought: does this make us look bad?

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Smoking ban begins on Monday

September 27, 2007

Knoxville’s Metro Pulse has a good cover story today on Tennessee’s smoking ban, which begins on Monday.  Halting the smoking in restaurants and other public places is great.  Tennessee has such good food–and good cooks–that it has been shame to let smokers foul the air for so long.


New theme song for travel websites: “My Way”

September 25, 2007

Another of the presenters at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism was Ryan Bifulco, president of Travel Spike, a travel technology and travel marketing company based in Atlanta that provides custom online booking engines and technology for Destination Management Organizations and other travel companies.

Bifulco spoke of the value of podcasts for disseminating travel information, and referred to Journeypod, of which he is the executive producer, where visitors can listen to podcasts about luxury travel. The company also has a blog. Journeypod apparently worked up a music-oriented website for the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau. I checked out the “podcast” page, which seems like a good idea but does not offer much content.

Ryan Bifulco

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Eating up culinary tourism

September 24, 2007

One of the education sessions at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism held last week in Chattanooga was hosted by Erik Wolf, president and CEO of the International Culinary Tourism Association (ICTA), an Oregon-based organizations whose mission is “To help food and beverage manufacturers and providers, as well as travel industry professionals, to package and promote their culinary treasures as marketable and sellable attractions.”

Wolf defines culinary tourism as a subset of cultural tourism, yet made the point that everyone is a culinary tourist. We all eat three times a day, and one of the most frequent questions asked by visitors is “Where’s a good place to eat?” He said that he thinks Tennessee is ripe ground, so to speak, for culinary tourism, and I’d have to agree.

Erik Wolf of the International Culinary Tourism Association

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Governor’s Report: tourism by the numbers III

September 23, 2007

This is the last call on stats from the 2007-2008 Governor’s Conference Report issued by the Tennessee Department of Tourism Development. I promise.

Top 10 Tennessee Attractions

These numbers come from the attractions themselves and have not been verified. Two big players–Graceland and the Nashville Motor Speedway–got uppity and didn’t report anything.

1. Dollywood

2. Bristol Motor Speedway

3. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg

4. Memphis Zoo

5. Ober Gatlinburg

6. Grand Ole Opry House and Opry Museum

7. Tennessee Aquarium

8. Casey Jones Village in Jackson–this is the only one on this list with free admission

9. Loretta Lynn’s Ranch in Hurrican Mills

10. Memphis Motorsports Park

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