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Nashville is a vacation must. If only the airlines would realize this, too.
Nashville is a vacation must. If only the airlines would realize this, too.

What happens in Nashville, stays in Nashville

This is a plea to the airlines: please reinstate the direct flights connecting Milwaukee to Nashville.

For Milwaukeans, a long weekend getaway often translates to "Vegas, Baby Vegas." Which is totally understandable, especially in the deep freeze of winter when going west can offer warmth, sunshine and a "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" guarantee for alleviating cabin fever.

But right under our Midwestern noses, pretty much a straight shot south, is a city so full of culture, entertainment, food, sports, art, community and music that it’s almost a transgression of good tourism not to visit Nashville.

The city stole my heart about a year ago and I’m on a mission to position it side by side with Las Vegas as a preferred travel destination for Wisconsinites and beyond.

Although it’s a totally doable drive of nine-ish hours from Milwaukee, that’s still pretty much a whole day of travel. Unfortunately, about an equal amount of time can be eaten up by the inconvenience of having to take two flights to get from MKE to BNA.

Until the airlines wise up and restore the direct flights, it’s still totally worth the time and effort to investigate this booming city that has garnered the nickname "NashVegas." While a few days only allows for scratching the surface of the place that has become even more popular from its namesake TV show, Nashville truly has something for everyone.

History buffs will love the Civil War monuments / plaques documenting battles and notable sites across the landscape. Sports fans can take in a Predators, Sounds or Titans game. Nature lovers will relish spots like Radnor Lake, Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Percy Warner Park.

Fans of quaint towns will fall in love with Historic Downtown Franklin and Leipers Fork and foodies will have constant full bellies from legendary establishments like Arnold’s Country Kitchen, Monell’s, Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, The Pancake Pantry and the Loveless Café.

Music lovers will be sonically…

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Lindsay, put down the scissors.
Lindsay, put down the scissors.

Someone please take the scissors out of my snip-happy hands

In my eternal battle of "Bangs or Botox," bangs won yet again after months of growing out my fringe through every stage of awkwardness. I seem to be in this eternal pattern of grow out / cut / push to the side / repeat. And more than rarely and quite dangerously, I am the one wielding the blade for these front-view revisions. 

The latest chop happened was while I was traveling. My bangs had finally gotten to the point where I could tuck them behind my ear – kind of the Holy Grail of patiently maturing a fringe. All it took was one "bad hair day" combined with a shadow cast across a rivet in my forehead and I started snipping.

I am sure you are wondering where I sourced scissors appropriate for trimming human strands while I was traveling, as hotel rooms are not typically equipped with barbering shears. I have that covered. I always travel with professional hair cutting tools and styling razor. Always. Because I never know when the urge to clip is going to hit me.

I am therefore a professional stylist’s nightmare due to this self-snipping tendency. My future stylists be warned; eventually I will altar any haircut I receive on my very own.

This behavior started very early. And my family took note of this. My paternal grandmother to this day will not allow me to have scissors. She took them away from me as a punishment when I was about 5 years old, after I transformed the loft in her condo into a hair salon. My first client was my little brother, who was just three years old at the time.

I played out the entire salon scenario, setting the scene for a true hair design experience. I greeted my brother with a big welcome as I had him crawl up the stairs to enter my den of beauty. I took his tiny hand and walked him around while I indicated the imaginary shampoo bowl and retail products. 

The overhead ceiling lights were off and the space was only dimly lit by the late-afternoon gray haze pouring in the windows from the cloudy, Wisconsin fall day. There was a s…

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Don't like your birth date? Pick a new one.
Don't like your birth date? Pick a new one.

How to change your birthday

Over the weekend, a friend posted a picture on social media that was taken at her birthday dinner with the caption "Birthday drinks with the birthday girls."

In the photo, I was seated at the forefront, snuggled into a curved booth and flanked by four lovelies. The occasion was in fact, in celebration of two beautiful birthday girls. However, I was not one of them. 

I was tagged in this photo on Facebook and it has resulted in yet another episode of "everything happens for a reason." 

I have made both a verbal and internal wish to change my birth date for the last few years. I am part of a little club of humans whose birthdays exist on or are close to calendar holidays or what could be considered, overshadowing events. 

There are the people who get a dual celebratory energy being born on Christmas or Fourth of July. A tinseled six-foot tree and fireworks to crown your special day are kind of a cherry on top of the birthday sundae. Decorations and entertainment that are a bonus "gift with purchase."

However, there is the diametric double-birthday, where a more somber holiday or event falls on or around your birthday. A festivity of being born coupled with a national tragedy or personal loss has an undertone that is hard to overcome, no matter how positive or optimistic the person is. 

I fall into the later category. My brother passed away just two days before my actual birthday. The glow from a thousand candles cannot fully illuminate the darkness of having the anniversary of his departure so close to the celebration of my arrival.

September, the month that once brought the beauty of changing leaves and the anticipation of "doing something special for my birthday," now ushers clouds of memories that are difficult to escape no matter how many years pass or how hopeful the affirmations.

While I have never been one to throw a big celebration in honor of myself, this duality has forever changed the tone for a day that is supposed to be full of confetti and ca…

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Gretchen and the Pickpockets is a family affair.
Gretchen and the Pickpockets is a family affair.

Gretchen and the Pickpockets on tap at Jazz Estate

Tossing the van keys in the trash at a truck stop in the middle of nowhere is just one of the notches in the "first national tour" belt of Gretchen and the Pickpockets. While it may not be the typical tour debauchery of bygone days, it’s just one anecdote this band is collecting along the way.

The Jazz Estate will host the up and coming group on Thursday, July 3 at 9:30 p.m. The band was chosen as New England’s no. 1 best new band by the Hard Rock Café’s Battle of the Bands. Its unique blend of rock, pop, jazz and Motown will provide a Summerfest alternative for those looking for a musical option outside of the Big Gig.

Wallet chains can safely be removed. Vocalist Gretchen Klempa and her bassist brother, Mike, hail from Pick Pocket Woods, N.H., hence the group’s name. They both attended the University of New Hampshire where they met and formed the rest of the group two years ago. 

The sibling element doesn’t necessarily make for a Partridge Family experience on the road. Guitarist Richie Smith had a messy run in with some dog waste departing from his house to the tour van, but the band sees these sorts of little mishaps as "a good omen."

According to Matt Turner, manager of The Jazz Estate, audiences can expect to be wowed by the show, which is in support of the Pickpockets' recently released self-titled debut LP, out now.

Turner continues, "We are excited to be adding to the music in Milwaukee during Summerfest time! It's also our weekly "Jazz In The Dark" Thursdays, partnering with Lakefront Brewery, so the first 15 paid get a free Riverwest Stein."

The band has become accustomed to packed houses in venues both big and small but they are especially looking forward to the intimate environment The Jazz Estate offers because, "engaging and connecting with the crowd lets us give a unique, energetic and memorable performance every time we play."

The tour will be the band’s premiere beyond the borders of New England. Mike Klempa says they are especia…

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