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Comment Archives: stories: Arts and Culture: Culture: Last 7 Days

Re: “White privilege, ethnic kabuki and old problems with the New Nashville

Here's the deal. When you've just gotten off the plane from the Bay Area, much less Tokyo, an overpriced, white-run, wannabe-Japanese kabuki place in East Nashville is transparently what it is, and what it is not:
at best a condescending commercial knock-off with no authenticity, at worst, an offensive contemporary parallel to black-face parodies.
Once I thought people in the South could learn. By mid-age, I've figured out, some of the them, simply are what they are. Dressing up in black face and making fun of others, or some equivalent of it, is simply their mode of existence.
Add two-plus hour wait time for what are almost always unremarkable meals by outside standards, and you've got some idea of the mediocre pretentiousness of much of the New Nashville: pay twice as much, to pretend you're waiting for something authentic and good (and *cultural*), when in fact-- it's little more than the standard white-run cabaret of decades past.
The good news? Nashville is no longer the monocultural limbo of twenty years ago. You can find a Palestinian and an Israeli, running a cafe together, chatting in Hebrew and Arabic. Some sort of diversity is on its way. There is hope of change-- if the bozos ever get pushed aside.
Plus, for the sophisticated outsider, there's the inherent humour, of good ole white boys with lots of access to local capital, running a faux kabuki joint, itself the natural habitat of wish-to-look-rich newly monied white ***** folks, engaging in good old conspicuous consumption (funded by a second mortgage on property they bought before the real estate bubble?), of faux cultural experiences.
That, as we say, is *so* Nashville. Personally, I'll choose the wonderfully unpretentious atmosphere of restaurants actually run by people who know how to cook the cuisine, the quiet class of places like Ellendale's -- and drop by Golden Coast, to suggest they ban anyone, obnoxious enough to demand they "speak English."

Posted by Kenneth Thomas on 04/16/2014 at 7:41 PM

Re: “White privilege, ethnic kabuki and old problems with the New Nashville

I don't get mad at at Rosepepper because the server is white. I get mad because the food is TERRIBLE!

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Rosepepper is terrible on 04/16/2014 at 6:42 PM

Re: “White privilege, ethnic kabuki and old problems with the New Nashville

Great article! It needed to be said, and it was said well!

Posted by Allie Marie on 04/15/2014 at 10:09 PM

Re: “White privilege, ethnic kabuki and old problems with the New Nashville

Steve, would you have written this if your party at Two Ten Jack had been seated in a timely manner? Why are you complaining about a $12 cocktail, featuring "orange shrub", that you apparently ordered without someone twisting your arm?

For the record, I've never eaten at Two Ten Jack, and never will if the wait is over 15 minutes. But this article is BS. Axe, grinded. People are prejudiced against each other for ignorant reasons, all over the world. Has always been that way and always will be. You have a strong voice in the paper and can pick your battles, maybe choose one that matters.

2 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by ryan on 04/12/2014 at 7:03 PM

Re: “White privilege, ethnic kabuki and old problems with the New Nashville

To further JW's point, I think it's kind of unlikely the restaurant turned down throngs of Japanese waiters and waitresses to keep the place more "white."

2 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by anonymous on 04/11/2014 at 6:02 PM

Re: “White privilege, ethnic kabuki and old problems with the New Nashville

Wow. Lots of troubling things here.. I agree with the idea that coopting culture for white people's benefit is problematic, but as a PoC female I have to question the author's POV .. are we to assume that japenese (a VERY misogynistic culture) is an ideal to be embraced?

Very problematic point of view.....

2 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by misstalenti on 04/11/2014 at 4:57 PM

Re: “White privilege, ethnic kabuki and old problems with the New Nashville

BTW, most of the Asian servers at Japanese restaurants in Nashville are not Japanese. If it's a family business and the family is Korean (or whatever) that's one thing -- but otherwise I find the fake authenticity of hiring an all-Asian staff more offensive than hiring the best available servers of whatever race (presumably not all white, but however that works out).

2 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Just Wondering on 04/11/2014 at 3:07 PM

Re: “White privilege, ethnic kabuki and old problems with the New Nashville

1. The guy said "authentic cuisine." With respect to the food (that's cuisine, right?) the writer seems to agree. So ...

2. What are the owners of Two Ten Jack supposed to do after they "don't forget" that Asians living in Nashville sometimes have to deal with idiots?

0 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Just Wondering on 04/11/2014 at 2:40 PM

Re: “White privilege, ethnic kabuki and old problems with the New Nashville

People like to eat a variety of foods and restaurants try to create an ambiance. We're talking about decorations and outfits here? There's only so much a restaurant can do to educate the masses on an "authentic" Japanese cultural experience, especially to anyone who would yell at a waitress to "speak English." It all just seems like trying to dig to deep for content on something as simple as dinner.

0 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by anonymous on 04/11/2014 at 1:07 PM

Re: “White privilege, ethnic kabuki and old problems with the New Nashville

Okay . . . breaking an agreement w/ hell to the no to leave the thread be.

@daniel all I can say is jog on, lad. You know nothing about me, obvs.

@anonymous I've been to Japan a little bit. I ate in restaurants that looked like Denny's.

If everyone gets caught up on the word "authentic" Steve's point just glides right over you. Maybe if you read what he wrote ("I support chefs who admire, study and honor food traditions they weren't raised in.") you'd see there's a larger issue he's addressing other than simply bagging on Two Ten Jack or Otaku South. What he's saying is going to be especially obtuse to those who are simply posting in defense of an "attack" on the restaurant.

My friend CW stated baldly that all culture is commerce (as did Meacham in his fawning piece). I disagree. My culture contains experiences, events, totems, etc that has been commercialized in some respects (I'd count 12 YEARS A SLAVE in that tally). You can buy totems of the culture of another ancestor at a North Carolina tourist trap. But you may not purchase the effects of being a descendant of a slave or knowing that your ancestors were told to jog on to Oklahoma by foot.

There's nothing horribly wrong with buying a ticket to a great movie about slavery or copping a souvenir from your weekend in the Smokies. Both acts serve their purpose. Just so y'all know I'm attacking neither.

But this is where Steve's piece and Betsy's piece connect; Betsy notes that Meacham's new Nashville is Nashville, somehow soulful but edited with White-Out. Steve points to what he sees as an example of the edited version, repackaged to include culture commodified.

Of the many think pieces on the new hot cities, maybe you lot missed a great one by David Wondrich in ESQUIRE that mentions our fair city.

http://www.esquire.com/features/regarding-…

"Now you can find "Brooklyn" anyplace in the country — in the world — where a low-rise, run-down old neighborhood has been colonized by the pickle makers and baristas, the craft shoe shiners and the mustachioed young butchers. The YUTs, as Karen calls them: Young Urban Tradesmen. Nashville, Portland — both Portlands — the Northern Liberties of Philadelphia, Over-the-Rhine in Cincinnati, the Marais in Paris, world without end. Wherever you go, the faux-ethnic restaurants and the retro cocktail bars end up being full of pretty much the same (skinny, tattooed, meat-obsessed) people."

He goes on to argue that, while annoying, it isn't so bad, really. Worse things could happen to these neighborhoods. Really, in this city, East Nashville was no Brooklyn before the transformation, so in some respects it's better. Little lost, something gained. Good pizza place. "Hipsters might be parasites, but at least they leave the host alive, if only to feed off it." (ibid)

Culture is to be shared, not sold. One can't really do anything about what happens to culture once it's let loose. I mean you might get things like Japanese people rapping! Whut?

So whither Two Ten Jack? I dunno, go, enjoy, if the ramen is good (is it? different question from is it authentic). It's what you're used to, culture repackaged and commodified. Don't have to feel bad, have a good time. Maybe that higher price is the faux-ethnicity charge.

7 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Mark Mays on 04/11/2014 at 12:38 PM

Re: “White privilege, ethnic kabuki and old problems with the New Nashville

What is considered authentic white food? Or African American food? Are Chinese allowed to serve authentic Japanese food?

And Tarantino was paying homage to Bruce Lee by putting Uma Thurman's character in that suit, yes it is sad that most people don't recognize that.

5 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by guesthere on 04/11/2014 at 10:41 AM

Re: “White privilege, ethnic kabuki and old problems with the New Nashville

Is this "authentic" journalism? Is this "authentic" writing? Reads like a blogger with too much time on his hands. As painful it must of been to wait at that restaurant, it couldn't of compared to how painful it was to read this article. I am sure there are writing classes available in Nashville. Did the writer not come to the defense of the Chinese workers because he too barely has a grasp of the English language?

4 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Paul Kim on 04/11/2014 at 9:27 AM

Re: “White privilege, ethnic kabuki and old problems with the New Nashville

"You can walk the streets of Nashville without being interrogated about where you're from — no, where you're really from. You know, where your family is from."

Not true.

Every time I open my mouth all I get back is "fucking Yankee...."

2 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Marble Mouf on 04/11/2014 at 8:07 AM

Re: “White privilege, ethnic kabuki and old problems with the New Nashville

There is no place to go in Nashville that even remotely reaches authenticity in Japanese cuisine, certainly not the Golden Coast or any other Asian themed buffet. So it's better that we all just eat hamburgers and hot dogs? I wouldn't have known the chef was white unless you did the work to find out and make it known (maybe because I'm an ignorant Nashvillian). Also, I wouldn't be mad if a Japanese chef worked hard to make the best pizza slice in Kyoto. I certainly didn't go into Two Ten Jack and feel as if the Japanese culture was turned into a cartoon for my amusement. I've been to Japan and been in restaurants (no, not all) that didn't seem vastly unlike Two Ten Jack. I just can't get behind this outrage.

9 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by anonymous on 04/10/2014 at 9:33 PM

Re: “White privilege, ethnic kabuki and old problems with the New Nashville

"Late Night with David Letterman" has not been on the air since 1993. The Late Night program has since been hosted by Conan, Jimmy Fallon and now Seth Meyers. David Letterman's show is called "Late Show."

0 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by ChadRiden on 04/10/2014 at 4:27 PM

Re: “White privilege, ethnic kabuki and old problems with the New Nashville

waiting 2 hours for overpriced ramen noodles is f*ckin whack brah...

white people problems. dude prolly bought all the decor in that place from world market anyway...

13 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by hot dog champ on 04/10/2014 at 3:54 PM

Re: “White privilege, ethnic kabuki and old problems with the New Nashville

I love as a native, having people from Chicago tell me what the "New Nashville" is. And though he says "I have no problem with white people making Japanese food" I doubt he would have written this rant were that true. I happen to be half Hispanic and I don't feel the need to whine because my waitress at Rose Pepper is a white girl from Brentwood. Also, I generally don't trust the opinions of people willing to wait 130 minutes for service. This whole thing lacks focus, is it a poor review or just a poorly written social commentary?

15 likes, 10 dislikes
Posted by Nashville Native on 04/10/2014 at 3:34 PM

Re: “White privilege, ethnic kabuki and old problems with the New Nashville

Someone should tell Rick Bayless and Alex Stupak to stop with their Mexican restaurants. They should be more passionate about white people food.

7 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by whiteperson on 04/10/2014 at 3:23 PM

Re: “White privilege, ethnic kabuki and old problems with the New Nashville

This reminds me of the time I visited a mall in Amsterdam in 2001. I stumbled upon a store--I can't recall the name--that sold "American" goods. I think it was just called "America!" or something equally comical. Once inside, I saw shelves of Pringles, peanut butter, Oreos, and other junk foods along with "American" styled clothes and a wall of basketball and running shoes. And some other general junk. I was generally kind of stunned. This stuff, which was apparently uniquely "American" was being sold in a totally kitchsy manner, not unlike a Cracker Barrel that represents the whole country, modern day.

I browsed for a while, just marveling at what they think of as American and when an employee approached me to ask if he could help (in Dutch) and I responded in my American accent, his eyes widened. "You're American?" And then he proceeded to ask me how authentic just about everything in the store was. "Yes, we eat a lot of peanut butter. Yes, I love Pringles. No, I don't listen to Kid Rock, but a lot of people do. Yes, I have running shoes even though I don't run." and so on. It was both amusing and kind of sad.

9 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Lesley Eats on 04/10/2014 at 3:14 PM

Re: “White privilege, ethnic kabuki and old problems with the New Nashville

I agree with the author. and all these comments are proof that nashville's new 'elite' population is clueless... nashville is in dire need of true diversity.

8 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by jabba jabba on 04/10/2014 at 3:07 PM

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