Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lunch in the park

Nashville has Centennial Park. It'll never be mistaken for San Diego's Balboa Park. Or the Boston Common. Or Central Park in NYC. But its ours. We don't have a world famous zoo in our park. No one took all our metal chains and poles to melt down for war armament. And we don't have a section in our park named for a song penned by a dead Beatle.

But its still a pretty neat park. Like all city parks, it gathers a wide variety of folks. People who like to run. Bicyclists. Moms with strollers. Inner-city childrens' field trips. Tourists. The homeless. Floriculturists. Baptists, Catholics, and Oldsmobile men.

Centennial Park also has one thing these other parks don't - the Parthenon.

Sure, Athens, Greece has one too, but theirs is all falling apart and everything. We fixed ours up real nice like. I'm not sure what the ancient Athenians paid for their Parthenon, and I'm not really sure what Nashville paid for ours either. The city spent a fortune about a decade ago carefully cleaning years of grime and pigeon poo from around the exposed privates of all those mythologial Greek fellers and womenfolk. What I do know I reckon then is maybe Nashville has taken better care of their 150-year old version than Greece has of their 2,500 year-old one - so there.

Another cool element of the park is that its just across the street from work. I really don't take advantage of it as much as I should. I generally hustle off to lunch, meetings, happy hour, scout meetings, Friday night Mexican dinners, etc. rather than take the time to enjoy a bit of time away from the cubicle farm.

Lots of folks use the park for exercise. Some ride around thinking they're destined to be Lance Armstrong's teammate. Some change into shorty-shorts and sports bras and spend their lunch hour jogging. Some leave on their work clothes and just change their shoes to tennies.

As for me, I use the park as a cut-through to the barbeque joint on the far side of the park.

With everyone else busy today, I was on my own for lunch. My initial reaction was to hit the company cafeteria, but it was simply too nice a noon hour - about mid 80s with low humidity - to waste it on Lunch Lady Land. So I headed off in my Dockers and wing-tips for a rendevous with pork.

I read an article several years ago about how to ID a top-notch barbeque joint. The writer suggested an acid test of 3 questions:
  • Does the place have a corny name? The cornier the name, the better the Q. On the frontside of Centennial Park sits...Hog Heaven. PASS

  • Does the place have a wood pile scattered about? If it does, it means the pitmaster and his crew are slinging wood around for true smoked flavor. If the wood is too neatly stacked, its simply a cosmetic addition to the location and you should avoid eating there. At Hog Heaven, the wood pile is inside a screened area where I couldn't get a good picture. I suppose they do so to minimize the risk of having the homeless snarf it for a pillow or an energy source. But it is there, and the wood is scattered about. Plus, they had two guys working on the roof today with an open-flamed, long-handled, propane torch which was cool. So PASS.

  • Does the place have a variety of vehicles parked outside - from a rusted pick-up to new a Benz? Hog Heaven is primarily a walk-up joint with a handful of picnic tables inside a screened-in covered area. The employees are covered in tats and piercings. The patrons wore everything from button-downs and chinos to jeans, wife beaters, and hard hats. White guys, black guys, Mexcian guys. Young folks. Thick folks. Blue collar. White collar. No collar. PASS
I'll put HH's Q up against just about any other place in town - Jack's, Whitt's, or Jim & Nick's. Famous Dave's? Fuhgetaboutit - you fail on all 3 tests.

Plus, Hog Heaven sells those great Zapp's chips.

So after an hour of chowing down, people watching, picture taking, and strolling peacefully back to the 2nd floor, its now back to the realities of ... blogging.


  1. where are the pictures of the shorty-shorts and sports bras? and Oldsmobile men?