December 12-13, 2000

The late John Egerton and I co-edited Nashville: An American Self-Portrait, an “intentional artifact”  documenting the city’s remarkable year 2000 through the work of scores of writers, photographers and other contributors. The book went to press in August 2001 and reached stores in late September. It thus became not just a multi-faceted portrayal of one of the most news-filled years in our history but also a portrait in deep detail of an American city at the moment before terrorism transformed the country.

Jim Ridley, now editor of the Nashville Scene, penned the day-by-day chronicle of the year that ran as a ribbon alongside the book’s essays, photos and art. I am posting some nuggets from that variegated ribbon as time permits.

Dec. 12—Clean, green and lean. Those three words are used to describe the city’s long-awaited solid waste plan, to be presented tomorrow by Mayor Bill Purcell. Among the recommendations: converting or shutting down Nashville’s 26-year-old Thermal Transfer Plant, and using natural gas instead of garbage as fuel to heat and cool downtown office buildings. The proposal is applauded by some environmentalists, even though the plant was hailed as a major advance by that group a quarter-century ago. Recycling advocates love the proposal to triple the city’s recycling under the new plan.

Dec. 13—In Washington, D.C., Vice President Al Gore puts an end to the closest and most bitterly contested presidential election in American history. He sets the tone for his concession speech by announcing that he had just called President-elect George W. Bush to offer his congratulations, “and I promised him that I would not call him back this time.” The veep is reportedly still devastated by losing his home state. His succinct, eloquent speech shows the humility and warmth his detractors claimed he lacked. Within weeks, this bumper sticker will be circulating: “Re-Elect Gore in 2004.”