[Editors' Note: Our newest contributor is a self-proclaimed "musician, filmmaker, writer, actor, visual artist, music journalist and all-purpose narcissist." We'd like to proclaim him Nashville's most skilled and ruthless free-stuff collector. These are the stories of our friend and hero, Seth Gravy. This is the Gravy Train Report.]


I assume lots of you readers are a young, impressionable, quixotic, wide-eyed, career-minded lot with your whole lives ahead of you, just looking to snag a free bite here and there till you hit the big time. However, if you love free shit as much as we do, if you feel it so ingrained into your very being that you can’t see leaving it behind any time soon, consider a career that involves getting free stuff all the time.

Basically, the rule of thumb is, by and large, all the folks who need free shit the least (i.e. the rich and famous) are the ones who get it the most. But, there’s a little runoff onto those of us who give those guys media coverage. Basically, anyone with a WordPress account these days can be a “journalist” if you sell yourself correctly. And that title will get you into any number of “VIP” tents, areas and events wherein nobody expects you to pay for a god damn thing. That’s right, drinks and eats are on the house and as long as you let your inner hobo start shoving hors d’oeuvres in your pockets like a mad man, you can get by with getting loaded and stuff on the reg while getting paid for it.

Hence, coverage of Next Big Nashville’s exclusive VIP free-for-some is not to gloat. We’re here to motivate. We’re to let you know what’s on the other side of the curtain and invite you do whatever the hell it is you have to do to come join us. We need more people like you in there grabbing all the free you can hold.

Last night’s opening party at The Hutton Hotel was pretty much par for the course – if not actually subpar. Given Magic Hat beer and Firefly Vodka were the sponsors, those were basically your two options. But again, I’m not the kind to snag free beer and then bitch that’s the “wrong brand.” Hors d’oeuvres were delivered by traveling servers which was kind of annoying given I walked in starved, ready to park myself at the buffet till I was full. That shit was mighty tasty, though, and I was definitely stuffed before I left. The best part is watching out-of-town industry schmoozers lining up along side local bands who could give a shit less about anything but the free.

If tonight’s Gibson Showcase party is anything like last year’s, I won’t remember enough about it to report. But that remains to be seen.

// Photos by Seth Graves and his iPhone.


In our especially unethical edition of The People of Craigslist, we’re bringing you one of the Nashville area’s most eligible bachelors in a segment we’d like to call “The Bachelors of Nashville.” Just because the adult services section is closed doesn’t mean the Internet has any shortage of weirdos looking for love. In the inaugural installment, we’d like to introduce you to Cody, a young man residing in Lebanon with a possible future in aviation.

Person of Craigslist: Cody

Category: Personal Ad Guy

Who Is He:

My Name’s Cody I’m 20 I Live In Lebanon,TN, I Work As A Grill Cook And I’ve Lived Here Pretty Much My Whole Life Or From Birth To 15, I Lived In Chicago For 5 Years And Got To Do Alot Of Cool Stuff. I’ve Travled To Montana 3 Times And Have Seen The Country On The Way There Once By Car, Train And Airplane, I Was Homeless For About A Year Were I Lived Between My Grandfathers And A Group Home Called Independence Place (YMCA Run) I Was Homeless Because My Own Actions Put Me In That Position. I’ve Been To Job Corps Were I Lasted Three Months Before I Jumped Ship Because I Was Home Sick.

I’ve Had Alot Of Good Oppertunities But I’ve Fumbled Almost All Of Them This Is My Way Of Not Fumbling Them Any More. Right Now I’m Living With My Mom And Her Boyfriend Charlie And Hopefully I Will Be Out On My Own Again Soon. I Have Alot Of Hopes And Dreams The Biggest Of Which Is Becoming A Pilot, I Love Aviation In All Aspects I’ve Had The Oppertunity To Fly With Countless Instructors And I’ve Had The Chance To Take My Mom, Great Grand Mother & Great Aunt Flying, I’m Writing This So I Survived.

I Look Up To My Grandfather Because He Helped Me Through The Toughest Parts Of My Life And Always Stuck By Me And Continues To, If I Could Be Half The Man He Is I Know I Will Be A Great Guy. I Have Bi-Polar And I Take Med’s So If You Can’t Handle That Don’t Message Me. Well That’s The Real Me, So If You Think I Might Be The Guy For You Shoot Me A Message.

Conclusion: When this ad was brought to my attention, I realized that I clearly can’t poke too much fun at this kid. Listen, despite Mr. Cody’s, er, issues and unfortunate Tommy Boy allusions… I’m sure he’s a nice guy. When I say “I’m sure he’s a nice guy,” I mean that I’m acknowledging the fact that he mentioned his grandparents. Come on, that’s adorable and I’m a sucker for that sort of thing. The whole bi-polar/meds combo would probably send most females headed for the hills, I can roll with that. Believe it or not, mental illness is practically a requirement for me to date you. Let’s just be real. Those big dreams and aspirations with a dash of quasi-homelessness will work, too. Unfortunately, the real deal breaker lies in the eligible bachelor’s love affair with the shift key and poor understanding of punctuation. We wish you luck on your quest for internet love, young future aviator.

// Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Historical Images, from a time when the Internet wasn’t ruining your childrens’ brains, asbestos was.

…And you’re all invited! To celebrate the birth of Dixie Downturn, we’re hosting a little soiree at the most merciful of lounges next Monday, Oct. 4th. In true DD fashion, there will be drink specials and free live music from not just one, BUT EIGHT of the finest rock ‘n’ roll bands NashVag has to offer. The greatest part is that the Mercy Lounge crafted up this concept just for us.

…What’s that you say? It’s just another 8 off 8th? Oh, uh, well… here’s a little preview of the line-up.

POWERBRRD

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Powerbrrrd are three goofy mofos that play sloppy, infectious rock ‘n’ roll music in the vein of Superchunk and Guided by Voices. They also have a video that reenacts the opening sequence from The Adventures of Pete and Pete. They are obviously in the running for greatest band in the universe for that fact alone.


ACTION!

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Action! are a pair of disgustingly adorable East Nashvillians who just released, “Friend Weakend” a wonderful record engineered by Jeremy “Battletapes” Ferguson. On recording, they make lo-fi pop music. On stage, they magically transform into My Bloody Valentine. See it to believe it.


HEARTBEATER

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Yeah, you already know who Heartbeater is. It’s that band everyone fell in love with this summer, and we’ve somehow convinced them into celebrating with us this Monday. Not only that, but they’re releasing their long awaited full-length “Slow Waves” the day after.


SPANISH CANDLES

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Spanish Candles are a couple of Belmont kiddos who make way better than average Belmont kiddo music. They’re punk rockers in a Husker Du kind of way. When we saw them at a house party long ago, we kind of freaked out. So did everyone else.

Come back later in the week for the rest of the bands and maybe some other surprises. If we come up with surprises. Which we will. Or maybe not. STAY TUNED, NASHVILLE.

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This week’s installment of Urban Art Crawl lives only a couple yards down the road from the Dragon. We were still on our way to capture a really cool piece on Ewing Avenue when we stumbled across a trio of pieces: the quaint, yet brilliant, Graffiti Cat and his homeboys. Not everything has to be as detailed as cartoon versions of Street Fighter characters, y’all, sometimes it’s just good enough to draw a geometric looking kitty. And also what looks like a Don Hertzfeldt drawing gone horribly wrong. We don’t know what it means, but we think the one with the gills and the upside down cross on his forehead is named Lance. Creepy.

// Photos by Lance Conzett, who hopes that this isn’t some kind of graffiti voodoo doll.

Every year, a comic book convention lurks at the fringes of Nashville’s nerd populous and, every year, it’s just about the saddest thing you’ve ever seen.

Let’s get something out of the way right now–we are both enormous nerds. We’ve both worked at a comic book store (no, the fact that it was also a record store doesn’t make it any cooler). We both saw Scott Pilgrim in its first midnight screening (yes, one of us was proudly sporting a Scott Pilgrim t-shirt for the occasion). We both own and like comics. So please understand us when we say that we felt like the coolest people at the Nashville Comic Convention.

We left East Nashville around 1:30, hoping that we’d be able to catch the tail end of the costume contest since, let’s get real, there wasn’t much else being offered there. And in true “we don’t know how to get anywhere unless we can ride our bikes to it” East Nashville fashion, we wound up in Springfield somehow. One U-Turn and a couple of missed exits later, we discover the shopping center where the comic people have been sequestered, now that the fairgrounds isn’t an option. The Music Valley Event Center is holed up in the same shopping mall as a Grayline bus tour depot, an Ernest Tubb record store and a theater doubling as a church. As if our first Springfield omen was not enough, we already had a bad feeling about this.

When you think “comic book convention” (and we know you think “comic book convention” constantly), the San Diego orgy of Hollywood blockbuster consumerism and occasional stabbing victims. Unless you’re counting the topless psychic from Mallrats as a Hollywood big-shot, that’s not exactly what you get at the Nashville con. Nashville’s convention is little more than an excuse for retailers to hawk their longboxes full of Spider-Man comics to a room full of similarly minded geeks with more dollars than sense. Have you even wanted to spend $30 on a Darth Maul action figure? Or have a man try to sell you really hard on spending $20 on Death of Superman? Then have we found the place for you. Oh, have we ever.

For everyone else though? It’s probably not even really worth the spectacle. You have to be a hardcore comic dork to get the most out of a room full of people trying to sell you stuff. Although, on the other hand, we got a lot of amusement out of doing laps of the room and eavesdropping on nerd BSing. Here’s a couple of choice excerpts:

“Ooh! A tauntaun sleeping bag!”

In response to a “how’s it going:” “[totally deadpan] I’m having more fun than I deserve.”

From a guy in full Iron Man gear: “Can you scratch my eye? … No, that didn’t help.”

Honestly, we had a flicker of hope for the con. Our understanding was that Wizard, the Rolling Stone of comic book rags, had bought this particular convention and was going to make it a little better than the geek flea market that it currently is. Clearly, we were mistaken. At least we got to see a guy in a pretty sweet Iron Man get-up.

// Photos by Lance Conzett. The shrugging inflatable Spider-Man says it all, doesn’t it?

When Free Stuff Goes Wrong: Labor Day at Grimey's

Look upon my works and despair, faithful Dixie Downturn readers (we’ve got more than one now, right? I can totally use the plural of “reader,” right?). Earlier this month, I tried to snag some free barbecue and failed utterly. This is my story.

EXT. GRIMEY’S NEW AND PRELOVED MUSIC.
DATELINE: LABOR DAY

The last time I stood in line outside of Grimey’s, David Byrne was signing records and taking pictures. This isn’t quite the same. Instead of waiting for Byrne to sign my vinyl copy of Stop Making Sense, I was in line for a band I don’t even like.

That’s overstating it a bit. I like Anberlin just fine. Somewhere in my house exists a signed copy ofBlueprints for the Black Market I won in a Tooth & Nail Records raffle, from when I was the kind of person who would enter a Tooth & Nail Records raffle. I also liked “Foreign Language.” Don’t you judge me, Internet people, I also liked Brand New and won’t apologize for it. Given the opportunity, though, would I stand in line for them with the midday Labor Day sun bearing down on me? Not a chance. Jimmy Carl’s Lunch Box, however, can cause a man to do crazy things.


Qu’est-ce que c’est?

For the uninitiated, Jimmy Carl’s makes barbecue that’s so delicious that it should be regulated by the DEA. If you’ve seen the big smoker outside of Station Inn, that’s them. They’re only open for four hours, Tuesday through Friday, and, if I could, I’d eat there daily. Unfortunately, with a day job in Williamson County, it ain’t exactly easy to get down there. When Grimey’s announced that the lunch box was providing free food after the Anberlin in-store, I knew exactly what my Labor Day plans were: come hell or high water, I was getting some barbecue.

You know how people say you should never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry, because you wind up buying all kinds of crap you don’t really need? The same thing applies to getting free food. You’ve got to go in with a plan.

My first mistake was underestimating the draw of Anberlin. They’re a Christian* rock band playing forfree within biking distance of a school that’s main export is music-loving fans of the big J. I got to Grimey’s about a half hour before the show was scheduled to start—usually early enough to get through the doors, but not early enough to stake out a place in the front. What greeted me was a line stretched to what was going to be Video Culture, full of people who had no chance of getting in. But we didn’t know that yet.

Twenty minutes pass. I commiserate with my fellow line-standers (including some who also were just in it for the BBQ), I observe the Homo Belmontus in the wild, I bake in the sun. Some people gve up, losing faith that they’ll be able to get in to hear some Jesus inspired alt. rock jams and spreading a rumor that the show had already finished. After a while longer, a Grimey’s staffer informs us that Anberlin has decided to play a second set and everybody in line is getting in after the band finishes and staff clears the store.

My second mistake was not realizing the make-up of Anberlin’s fans. They’re a Christian* band, which means they’ve got a large contingent of families and cash-rich teenagers, whose parents blessed their decision to see good clean music with a stack of bills. That meant a back-up at the register and another 40 minutes in line after the initial announcement. By then, I wasn’t feeling so great about going in half-cocked. I had already tried to beat the system by going around back to see if I could score some food without having to take up space that, honestly, should go to somebody who actually likes that band. It didn’t really work out so well.

After another couple of “hang in there”s from Grimey’s staffers, I decided to leave, white flag lifted and tail between my legs. Think of this as a cautionary tale. When you’re trying to score free food in an environment where you don’t really belong, think about what you’re getting yourself into first and make a plan. Don’t just show up like a jackass, it doesn’t work so great.

// Top photo by Michelle Korn. David Byrne photo by some dude at Grimey’s. Both with my camera. Can you tell that I learned my lesson about handing my camera to someone without instruction?

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When we went out to collect photos for this Urban Art Crawl feature, we wound up with so much that we had to have a bonus installment featuring in our first week. For our second edition of Urban Art Crawl, we bring you possibly the most majestic beast of 8th Avenue.

We set out to get photos of a massive piece near Dury’s on Ewing Ave., but we were so excited when we stumbled across the ridiculous Fabry Dragon (who lives just a few blocks past the Mercy Lounge), we had to pull a U-Turn to capture his essence right then and there. As you can see, not only does the mystical creature have a giant eye-ball protruding from his torso… but he totally has a dog riding on his back, making this the ultimate 2-4-1 in the world of bizarre murals. Even better, the dragon’s got a total lackadaisical expression on his face, as if saying “yeah, I know I’ve got a Scottish Terrier chillin’ on my back, whatevs bro.”

We’d also like bring attention to the baby dragon embroidery on the Fabry Dragon’s cloak. A sharp dressed man, indeed.

// Photos by Lance Conzett. Find anything interesting? Upload it to Flickr and tag it #UrbanArtCrawl!

There are two kinds of attendees at downtown’s monthly First Saturday Art Crawl. The vast majority of onlookers are artists and art lovers, attracted by the promise of new exhibitions in the 20 galleries lining the Arcade and Broadway and a lurid use of the word “mingle.” Then there’s the rest of us. Look, we like art. Some of our best friends are artists. We just happen to like free drinking more.

We figure that, if you know how to play it, you can reach the end of the art crawl with a satisfying buzz. Think of it like a scavenger hunt, but instead of trying to find a Garth Brooks lookalike on Broadway, you’re trying to booze it up. Ain’t nothing wrong with that (alright, there are a few things wrong with that, but we choose to ignore it). We decided to test our theory on September 4. Let’s just call it a success.

  1. Rymer Gallery – You basically have two options for how to start off an art crawl drinking excursion. You can work your way inward from the Broadway galleries—Estel, Tennessee Art League, International Art Gallery—or you could just get straight to the good stuff. The Rymer Gallery is your home base for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they consistently show the best stuff if you’re a fan of off-kilter pop art. A sculpture of Barack Obama made out of crayons? BAM. A deer made out of scaffold jacks? No problem! Blood preserved on plexiglass? Creepy, but totally there (and kinda cool looking)! So, they’ve got that going for them. But more importantly, they also usually have the best drinks. On that particular warm September evening, they were churning out frozen margaritas. Frozen margaritas! But that kind of thing goes quick, so you’re going to want to get in on it before the crowds descend upon the drink table, unless you’re into lukewarm margarita juice. In the winter months, they sometimes break out the warm boozy cider and you’ll never want to leave.
  2. Twist Gallery – From Rymer, we went through the Arcade and upstairs to Twist, which has become Rymer’s partner in weirdness. We’re talking a small child playing drums beneath a suspended hamburger while men in Mexican wrestling masks tattoo people next door. Comparatively, their offerings were pretty weak; Low key art and Dixie cups with some kind of blue Kool-Aid concoction in it. We still sampled both varieties, clinging to a hope that one would possibly be spiked, but there was no such luck. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that most galleries offer you tepid wine in tiny cups. Not every place is going to ply you with extravagant drinks, which means you’re going to need to pay attention if you’re going to be effective with your time.
  3. Animal Art Photography: Christian Sperka – Speaking of paying attention, it was hard not to notice the fact that people were wandering around with what looked like beer from a tap. We didn’t think much of it until we discovered a keg of Yeungling disguised with a leopard print shawl in the corner of Christian Sperka’s gallery of safari photos. Jackpot. We skipped the wine and cheese plate in favor of the beer, sponsored by the Nashville Zoo’s Animal Art Auction (as in art by elephants, not paintings of elephants). Did we mention that we were served beer by real live Zoo Keepers? Because it happened.
  4. “O” Gallery – Another reliable source of free drinks is around the bend a bit in “O” Gallery, tucked away in the back corner of the gallery. The bartender was serving up a few different canned beers, including PBR and Miller High Life (our poisons of choice), and wine. This should go without saying but TIP THE BARTENDER. If you’ve followed our path, you’ve saved enough money that you can stand to toss a few bucks into the tip jar. Don’t be that guy who doesn’t tip.

The remaining galleries were offering your typical art crawl selections of wine in increasingly smaller cups. Blend was the most generous with their cup size and lack of wine-bottle supervision, while others… not so much.

The crawl closes down at 9 p.m., which gives you three hours of drinking if you get there on time at 6 p.m. You can do it, we believe in you. And when you’re done with that, you can soak up that booze tempest in your stomach by ordering way too much food at San Antonio Taco Company on Commerce and 2nd.

// Photo by Lance Conzett. It’s a PBRt crawl! Get it? Get it? Oh, whatever.

There are two kinds of attendees at downtown’s monthly First Saturday Art Crawl. The vast majority of onlookers are artists and art lovers, attracted by the promise of new exhibitions in the 20 galleries lining the Arcade and Broadway and a lurid use of the word “mingle.” Then there’s the rest of us. Look, we like art. Some of our best friends are artists. We just happen to like free drinking more.

We figure that, if you know how to play it, you can reach the end of the art crawl with a satisfying buzz. Think of it like a scavenger hunt, but instead of trying to find a Garth Brooks lookalike on Broadway, you’re trying to booze it up. Ain’t nothing wrong with that (alright, there are a few things wrong with that, but we choose to ignore it). We decided to test our theory on September 4. Let’s just call it a success.

Rymer Gallery – You basically have two options for how to start off an art crawl drinking excursion. You can work your way inward from the Broadway galleries—Estel, Tennessee Art League, International Art Gallery—or you could just get straight to the good stuff. The Rymer Gallery is your home base for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they consistently show the best stuff if you’re a fan of pop art. A sculpture of Barack Obama made out of crayons? BAM. A deer made out of scaffold jacks? No problem! Blood preserved on plexiglass? Creepy, but totally there (and kinda cool looking)!

So, they’ve got that going for them. But more importantly, they also usually have the best drinks. On that particular warm September afternoon, they were churning out frozen margaritas. Frozen margaritas! But that kind of thing goes quick, so you’re going to want to get in on it before the crowds descend upon the drink table. In the winter months, they sometimes break out the warm boozy cider and you’ll never want to leave.

Twist Gallery – From Rymer, we went through the Arcade and upstairs to Twist, which has become Rymer’s partner in weirdness. We’re talking a small child playing drums beneath a suspended hamburger while men in Mexican wrestling masks tattoo people next door. Comparatively, their offerings were pretty weak; Low key art and Dixie cups with some kind of blue Kool-Aid concoction in it. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that most galleries offer you tepid wine in tiny cups. Not every place is going to ply you with extravagant drinks, which means you’re going to need to pay attention if you’re going to be effective with your time.

Animal Art Photography: Christian Sperka – Speaking of paying attention, it was hard not to notice the fact that people were wandering around with what looked like beer from a tap. We didn’t think much of it until we discovered a keg of Yeungling disguised with a leopard print shawl in the corner of Christian Sperka’s gallery of safari photos. Jackpot! We skipped the wine and cheese plate in favor of the beer, sponsored by the Nashville Zoo’s Animal Art Auction (as in art by elephants, not paintings of elephants).

“O” Gallery – Another reliable source of free drinks is around the bend a bit in “O” Gallery, tucked away in the back corner of the gallery. The bartender was serving up a few different canned beers, including PBR and Miller High Life (our poisons of choice), and wine. This should go without saying but TIP THE BARTENDER. If you’ve followed our path, you’ve saved enough money that you can stand to toss a few bucks into the tip jar. Don’t be that guy who doesn’t tip.

The remaining galleries were offering your typical art crawl selections of wine in increasingly smaller cups. Blend was the most generous, while others… not so much.

The crawl closes down at 9 p.m., which gives you three hours of drinking if you get there on time at 6 p.m. You can do it, we believe in you.

People of Craigslist: Volume 1

We’re all aware of the power of Craigslist. Without it, I’d be out a house, a cat, and a job. It’s also the magical tool that allowed a Vandy student with no apparent taste in home décor to actually pay me for a hideous Formica coffee table. All this being said, we’re also aware that you can get a lot of other really cool things from Craigslist. Like a hooker! Or, uh, killed.

We have a strong love for the absurdity of the site and it’s people. We’re also the kind of people who mourned the closure of the adult services section and the comedy gold that inhabited that bizarre corner of the Interwebs. These are the stories of your everyday Nashvillians with Internet connections. The ones that write your missed connections, give away free litter boxes, and want to be your sugar daddy.  It is our honor to introduce you to the People of Craigslist.

Person of Craigslist: Amy*

Category: Panty Seller

Amy* is a foxy tattooed twenty-something that is currently crashing in her parents’ basement due to the financial woes of student loans and an ugly break up.  She’s educated and relatively sane. She’s between jobs. She’s also selling her panties to strangers on the Internet. Yep.

How She Does It: “When I first started doing it a few months ago, I thought it was going to be pretty simple. Like, I’d get thousands of responses and hundreds of dollars immediately. That was not the case.”

Bottom line: panty selling is serious business. Amy spends a majority of her days posting ads and avoiding creepy responses on her fake email account (“It’s an essential panty selling tool”).  When asked about her success rate, she reveals, “It’s pretty obvious that 90% of the dudes that respond want either sex or free panties. It takes a really long time to sift through the emails and find a legitimate person… and they all want to haggle a price.”

Once she finds a non-threatening and serious bidder, she offers to meet in a safe public place to do the exchange. Though I still think this all sounds terribly awkward, Amy promises that she always has a “safety plan” when meeting the internet-panty-dude of choice.  “I always pick a public location like a coffee shop, and have a friend waiting for me outside.”

Weirdo Factor: As for the aforementioned internet-panty-dudes, she informs us that most of them end up being kinda/sorta normal. “It’s almost always an average looking guy in his twenties or thirties. The guys usually want to get out of there as quickly and subtly as possible, so it’s pretty painless,” she says.

And the creepers? “I had a Vanderbilt kid one time that asked me for a ride to his parents house. I refused that offer. I also had an older gentleman that tried to take me lingerie shopping.“

Conclusion: “I really don’t make a ton of money, but let’s just say my bills are paid.”

*Name has been changed to protect identity and stuff.

// photo by Reinis Traidas. Your guess is as good as ours.

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Graffiti has an unfair reputation in most cities in America. If people aren’t swearing up and down that a hastily scribbled tag on a Stop sign means the Crips are moving in on their neighborhood, they’re complaining about the eyesore of some kid’s writer pseudonym being drawn everywhere. The point of Urban Art Crawl is to prove that graffiti in Nashville can be cool. We’re going to regularly feature the best vandalism Nashville has to offer, before some buzzkill goes and paints over it (we miss you most of all, Bruce Lee mural at The Muse).

We’re starting this thing off right with a handful of Street Fighter characters painted on a wall near Yazoo’s new location on Division. Yes, those are life-sized renderings of Zangief, Blanka, Dhalsim and Akuma. You’re welcome. Thanks to Nate Baker for both tipping me to this and the use of the name “Urban Art Crawl.” You can read his blog at NateNe.ws.

// Photos by Lance Conzett. Find anything interesting? Upload it to Flickr and tag it #UrbanArtCrawl!