December 31, 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 have been posting some nuggets from that variegated ribbon as time permits. This post is from Jim’s final entry of the year.

Dec. 31—It is a calmer city that greets what is actually the first day of the next century and the new millennium. In the early morning hours, a fine snow of glittering crystal flakes sifts through the beams of the Union Station train shed. Two months hence, the historic shed will be gone. A year passes, a year begins; the snow drifts down on us all. Whether asleep or awake in these last hours before dawn, we the living hang by a slender thread between our history and the unknowable future. Somewhere in the city is a child whose date of birth is 01-01-00 and who bears the name of the Christian savior. His first birthday is greeted by a flashing sign atop the Eighth Avenue Carpet Barn. Silently, it blinks its lonely question into the star-spangled night: What would Jesus do?