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no room for hipsters

the occupation of Ashley and Levon

Tuesday was my first day of self employment.   Instead of moving to New York we went on a little road trip.  Before we left we showed the house seven times so we knew, just knew, that someone would sign a lease when we got back.  So we went to Nashville.

our old place on 20th Ave

our old place on 20th Ave

We lived in the back apartment here that was the original utility room, I think. 

location, location, location

  We took Let somewhere exotic,


From here we shot up into Kentucky to see my parents in Madisonville, KY.  Then to Salem, KY which is in Livingston County to see my Memaw and Papaw.  Then Paducah, KY for dinner with some more family.  Then down to Dukedom, TN to see my grandmother and a quick trip to Dresden, TN and back to see my great aunt who is 96.  We stopped again in Nashville on the way home and got back to Knoxville last night.

I’m glad I went and spent time with family and the places where I am from.  Let me say something about them.  Everyone  farmed in my family, including us until I was about 4.  We had small family farms, where you’d still have to do something else to make it.  My grandfather welded and my papaw core drilled.  My dad farmed and sold insurance.  Finally it got too hard to have a small farm anymore and we went to Madisonville to live in town.   My grandmother still lives on hers and rents the land out.  My papaw sold his when the core drilling became a larger operation.  My dad built one of the largest State Farm Insurance Agencies in the region and my brother will soon be doing the same. 

Elton John’s song “Levon”, although the lyrical credit must go to Bernie Taupin, is about the passing on of heritage. 

Alvin Tostig had a son today.  And he shall be Levon, and he shall be a  good man, and he shall be Levon, in tradition with the family plan.

 Listen to the song on Elton’s 1971 “Madman Across the Water”.  Tiny Dancer is on that one, too. 

Levon came up from humble roots in hard times and is trying to teach his son to understand the importance of where has come from.  I’m not using the song as a metaphor for myself and my family but it does hit enough points to inspire me.   My grandfathers worked the land and worked for themselves.  My father made a new way and helped us get on our feet.  He even sent us around the world.  Now I’m going to Brooklyn as an artist and it doesn’t look that much different to me.  There is an art to welding, there is an art to drilling, and there is an art to building a good business in a community.  Our world is smaller now and if my fathers were standing in my shoes today, I believe they would go for it.  They came home from war in hard times and got started.  Dad sold the farm in the recession of the 80’s and hung a shingle downtown.  I guess I’m a traditional guy in my own way.

Granddad's tractor

Granddad's tractor


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