Whenever a smart-alecky, elitist member of the East or West Coast media comes calling on Music City, The Crier (your source for all the latest gossip) becomes more than a little agitated. A city slicker’s critical eye is rarely more myopic than when it narrows to a cynical Yankee slit and focuses on the South. Exhibit A: The New York Times Sunday Travel section of May 14”Menus for Hungry Rhinestone Cowboys“ by Bryan Miller, former restaurant critic for the Times.
Here is one of his insightful observations about Nashville restaurants in general: ”Portions are colossal, which may explain why some of these musical cowboys are bursting out of their rhinestone-studded shirts.“
The five restaurants visited by Mr. Millerat least one in the company of Thayer Wine, the never-controversial restaurant critic for The Tennesseanwere Capitol Grille (”...service slower than a cowboy ballad. Diners are not given the option of having buttermust have something to do with those tight country western jeans“); Bound’ry (”...the ambiance of Daytona Beach on the last night of spring break“); Zola (”I thought Bound’ry had a long-winded menu until I went to Zola“); Sasso (”I was certain that the waiter was playing a practical joke when he described the menu as a surreal blend of Southwestern, Asian, Cajun, and New Southern cuisines“); and Sunset Grill (”Nashville is a fairly busy lunch town, perhaps because most musicians wake up around noon and consider it breakfast“).
The Crier admires a scribe so enamored of the sound of his own keyboard that he refuses to allow the facts to get in the way of his fascination with his own cleverness. One would hardly expect more of a writer whose literary accomplishments include authorship of the critically acclaimed Cooking for Dummies. In response, and with good manners intact, The Crier must resort to that most damning of Southern euphemisms for a more ribald New York colloquialism: Bless his heart.
Speaking of restaurants, The Crier hears through the grapevine that a new bride isn’t the only thing the newly ineligible restaurateur Randy Rayburn is acquiring. To his enviable epicuridom of upscale eateriesSunset Grill and Midtown Cafeadd the recently revived PJ’s 106.
The primo Belle Meade location, vacant for several years as onetime leaseholder Jay Pennington was bodyslammed through divorce court, was redecorated, revamped, and reopened last fall by lounge singer John Jonethis and lounge Lothario/restaurant manager George Pinger. The duo managed to lend a certain cheesiness to the formerly sophisticated supper club; maybe it was the red lighting in the bar, or the preponderance of lifetime members of the Nashville Bachelor Club bellied up to it. In spite ofor because ofthe fact that P and J played host to such local luminaries as Police Chief Emmett Turner, his paisan Mario Ferrari, and some of Nashville’s busiest and most criminally priced divorce attorneys, the restaurant has been gasping for air since its attempted revival.
On the subject of acquisitions, divorce attorneys, and failed revivals, The Crier couldn’t resist slipping into the back pew of Judge Walter Kurtz’s courtroom last Friday to preview what promises to be one of this summer’s most overheated human dramas, the tragic dismantling of Peaches and Irby Simpkins’ holy matrimony. In short, it seems that the thrice-married Peacheswho is a walking, talking testament to the credo that when the going gets tough, the tough get goingisn’t the only thing going, going, gone from the couple’s brief, yet by-all-reports blissful, union.
It’s the money, stupid. Peaches doesn’t want Irby to spend one more red cent until she receives an adequate accounting for the $6 million debit from the $20 million Irby pocketed from the rape and pillage of the Nashville Banner in 1998, when the couple still shared a happy and mutually profitable home.
Irby’s attorneys claim that he used the dough to pay bills, including $1.125 million in household expenses. Apparently, with Peaches no longer available to provide traditional wifely services, the hapless Irby was forced to hire outside help. And we all know how expensive freelance wives can be. On the other hand, Peaches contends that Irby is spending an inordinate amount of time fishing and hunting, something she never seemed to mind back when she was using her position as a publisher’s wife to spend an inordinate amount of time hunting and fishing for a job in the public sector.
The former Mrs. Sheesley/Blank/Simpkins also claims Mr. Simpkins remains without gainful employment. The Crier has a tip for the Irbster: The Crier understands that Capitol Records chief-butt-kisser Pat Quigley is packing up the Ryder and getting the hell out of Dodge. Might there be room at the top for one more grossly over-inflated ego?
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