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Guess Where I Was the Other Day

It is home to this fine monument:


And here it is in wider view:


Yes, that’s the Parthenon, but no, I was not in Athens, and no, Athens hasn’t rebuilt the thing.

I was in “the Athens of the South,” a.k.a. Nashville, Tenn., to give a talk at Vanderbilt University.

I have always liked Nashville and Vanderbilt in particular, and this was my favorite visit yet. I got to speak with a lot of students and they were without exception interesting, curious, and kind. (Maybe they just kept the rotten apples away from me.)

I’d never been to the Nashville Parthenon, which is a full-scale replica of the Athenian structure and was first built (in a different, wooden version) in 1897 for Tennessee’s Centennial Exposition. In fact, I hadn’t even known that it existed. So when I checked into my hotel and the clerk asked if I wanted a “football stadium view” (where the Commodores, which produced Jay Cutler, play) or a “Parthenon view,” I laughed at her — because I was sure she said “parking lot view.”

Why, I asked, would anyone want a parking lot view?

That’s when she straightened me out, and I took the Parthenon view. I was very glad I did.