Camp Nashville 

These being the days of heat, humidity, thermal inversions, gray skies, brown grass, tick bites, snarling dogs, complaining children, poison ivy, and, may God bless, the gin and tonic, we hereby write to encourage the city to buckle down, get serious, and work your way through it. We’re talking about August.

August is tough. According to our sources at Webster’s, the word itself comes from the “augurs,” who were priests at various fertility rituals. They were highly respected in the Roman culture. Then the word “august” came to mean something that inspires awe and respect, because augurs were so important.

Augustus Caesar, of course, commanded respect, so he got tagged with the name. As for the month of August itself, it was so big, hot, and brutal, that it deserved respect. So, it got the name.

W.J. Cash, in his very important 1941 book The Mind of the South, which Scene staffers have read anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of before falling unconscious, posited the theory that air-conditioning was essentially the hinge in history that swung the states of the old Confederacy into the modern South. When we cranked up the British thermal units in our new, low-slung, energy-efficient, brick domiciles, we suddenly could do as much work as the Yankees. No longer could we sit around under a shade tree, complaining about the torpor of it all. No longer, sullen and depressed, could we drink ourselves into such a Gothic fuss that we would lose a war, repress an entire race of people, and give in to kudzu.

Shifting immediately to contemporary culture, let us say that it is our belief that while air-conditioning has had its ameliorative effect on the psychology and physicality of the place we call the South, and, of course, on Nashville, the summer in its late stages is still an awesome—and awful—thing. If you were wondering where this week’s editorial was moving, we artfully propose some suggestions for making it through the next four or five weeks until the heat and humidity break:

♦ Do as they do in the Szechuan province of China: Eat hot food. Strangely, cultures that are located in hot places often eat hot, spicy food, and it seems to help. Go to Prince’s Hot Chicken.

♦ Take repeated cold showers.

♦ Experiment with the cold soup section of The Joy of Cooking.

♦ It’s not just gin that tastes good with tonic water. So does white rum, vodka, and nonalcoholic things, such as any sort of fruit juice.

♦ Give in to that severe haircut thing.

♦ Finally, take it easy. Slowing down may be the best antidote of all. It may also, in the end, demolish Cash’s theory.


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