"Got a tip for you, sister,” rasped the hoarse, nicotine-stained voice. “Tip about a landscape crime.” After a long moment it came to me: Deep Throat.
“It’s been a while. Where’d you disappear to?” I asked.
“Rehab clinicAdirondacks,” he sighed in a weary staccato. “Overdosed on suburbia. Kept hallucinating I was locked up in Kmart and couldn’t find the blue light special.”
“There’s a lot of that going around here in Nashville. So what’s up?”
“That’s old news. The Budster installed security barriers without consulting Metroand billed the city for $1.4 million,” I recited in a bored tone.
“Have you seen the ugly things?” he hissed. “All 600 of ’em?”
“Look, the stadium’s a concrete ashtray on steroids. Maybe the Titans are into contextual design,” I said.
“Logo mania,” he coughed, almost gagging, and hung up.
I decided to head to the East Bank. After all, I thought to myself, it’s only 12 blocks from my house. And if the story was a red herring, at least I could check out the latest cracks in the Shelby Bridge.
I veered off the six lanes of the massive approach “boulevard” to the rising ramp of the Gateway Bridge and onto the asphalt of Titans’ turf. Up ahead I saw a string of concrete planters encircling the so-called Coliseum like a beaded noose. Screwed on each was a white plastic disk sporting, in alternating rhythm, a Titans logosword, circle, sword, circlein a seemingly endless repetition of shameless self-promotion.
Closer inspection revealed that each planter stands about 3 feet tall, with the spacing between of similar proportions. The quality of the aggregate, and the plantings, suggests the Kmart nursery.
“No wonder Deep Throat got so bent,” I murmured. “He must have thought he was trapped in the big box again.”
As I stood in the sunshine breathing in the acid tang of new mulch, I wondered why the Titans’ landscaper felt compelled to choose such high planters, and set them so closely together. You can barely walk between the tubs, much less drive a bomb-laden car. I imagined an emergency exit drill, with beery fans hurdling and stumbling over the tubs.
And I wondered who was going to draw the duty of plant care. With two nandinas and a holly to each planter, that’s a lot of (boring) horticulture. I thumbed my cell and got Jim Fyke, the head of Metro parks. His department is responsible for cutting the grass and maintaining the landscaping at the stadium site.
“To my knowledge, it’s not been determined who’ll maintain the landscaping in the planters, but I assume we’ll have to,” Fyke drawled with evident resignation. “I understand that they’ve adjusted some of the irrigation lines to water the planters, although whether it’ll be sufficient remains to be seen. And of course that doesn’t address the issues of weeds, and replacement when something dies. I guess this is just another thing that hasn’t been discussed with the city.”
As I headed home, I chanted the Titans’ financial fight song: Metro pays, and the Titans get. Metro pays, and the Titans get. Metro pays, and the Titans get. With such a mantra, I couldn’t see the Titans doing anything other than sticking Metro with the job of planter preservation. Only one question remains: When the white disks crackand they willcould the Titans at least be responsible for logo maintenance?
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