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Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Nashville Bloggers Lunch
Last week, while browsing Nashville Is Talking, I saw an entry and link to the Nashville Bloggers Lunch. Since I've managed to miss about every other real world opportunity to meet some of the people behind the words of the Nashville blog-sphere, I figured made plans to attend. The guest this month to the forum was Ed Bryant, who is running to be the Republican candidate to the U.S. Senate .

Now, as most of you know, I'm not a huge political blogger. So, when I saw that the guest of honor was from the political arena, I e-mailed those promoting it and made sure I wouldn't take up a space of someone who was really into the political blogging scene. After much reassurance from Sharon Cobb and Bill Hobbs that I wouldn't be doing so and was welcome to join the group (again...they'd not ever met me in person and so had no idea that I have the alarming bad habit of...well, that would be telling...).

So, today I went out and joined the group at the Sunset Grill for a pleasant lunch and some interesting political discussion with Mr Bryant.

First of all, I have to admit I was a bit nervous about meeting all these bloggers in person. I felt like I did when I was in high school, wondering if all the cool people would accept me? I decided what with the name of my blog being what it is, I'd go all out and wear something orange today, though I admit it's a more restraining pastel orange than the shirt I wear on Fridays in football season that needs to be recharged all week. (Also, let me add that it was really the first time I've felt like wearing something orange since Saturday night....). To add to the pressure, I made the mistake of trusting Yahoo Maps to help me find my way to the Sunset Grill. I've really got to stop doing that.

But, it all worked out for the best. I arrived only a few minutes late and before Mr Bryant arrived, so I didn't feel too bad. Also, no one had placed an order yet, so that helped. I pulled up a chair between Whitney, a woman from Belmont who is part of the college Republicans at Belmont and John Hutchenson who runs the blog Salem's Lots. After finding out who I was, John noted that he was happy I'd come out as a guy and said I liked Gilmore Girls as it made him feel better about admitting his love of the show in public. He then noted the best reason for watching it was the good writing, which I agree with....and again, Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel delivering those great lines doesn't exactly hurt.

But I'm getting off track here. There were a lot of bloggers there from all different walks of the blogsphere life as it were. I also admit I was worried I'd feel out of place or like a fish out of water, but everyone I spoke to was very pleasant and made me feel immediately at ease being there. It was definitely not like high school in that respect. Among those there were Jay Bush from Blogging for Bryant, Bruce Berry, Blake Wylie, Sharon Cobb, Bill Hobbs, Britney Gilbert, Jeff Vaness, David Bander, Toni Albani and Matthew White. (And I bet I am misspelling someone's name or leaving them out and I apologize in advance. It was done out of ignornace and not being able to read my own handwriting...) As I said earlier, it was interesting to put names with faces and voices.

After having some nice chatter with those near me, Mr. Bryant arrived.

I will tell you that I didn't much to the dialogue, but I certainly enjoyed sitting back and listening to the debate. Bryant talked very conversationally about the issue of the election in Memphis, where he stands on important social issues such as abortion and illegal emigrants and the work being done in relief for the victims of hurricane Katrina. He also spoke about social security reform and why he is running for the Republican nod in Tennessee. Now, I know there are a multitude of other blogs that will encapsulate what he said far better than I did (Sharon Cobb recorded the entire discussion).

What I found the most fascinating is in the day and age of soundbytes and seeing candidates for maybe fifteen or twenty seconds on TV, that to get a chance to sit down, break bread with Mr. Bryant and watch him share his ideas with us in a reasonable, polite and intelligent discourse was a refreshing change. So many times we sit around and say--I'd like to vote for so-and-so, but I am not sure exactly where he or she stands on this issue or that. And I think that those of us who came out for the luncheon meeting got a chance to get beyond the plain rhetoric and the political soundbyte speech that we live in today and to hear the candidate talk frankly, candidly and honestly about the issues he sees as important to our state and nation. And he came out and did it to a crowd that wasn't necessarily all going to be ardent supporters of him or his campaign. He came out to where there were going to be critics and those who'd ask hard questions and now allow him to give easy answers and then move on.

I have to admit, as the person who got his degree in communications with an emphasis in journalism, it got those juices flowing again.

So, I'd like to say a big thank you to Mr. Bryant for taking the time out of his schedule to come and meet with us and to those who arranged for this meeting to take place. And let me also send a bit shout out to the Sunset Grill for giving us space to meet at no charge to the blogging community. Thanks to all of you for a great time and for those of you I met and talked to, I enjoyed the expereince. And hopefully, I will be able to come back next month for more good food, conversation and company.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/21/2005 01:54:00 PM | |
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