The Corner


Caring Less, and More

On Broadway in Nashville, Tenn. (Jaime Durkin / Getty Images)

In Impromptus today, I begin with the Beijing Olympics and move on to Elon Musk, Vladimir Putin, Jeffrey Epstein, Boris Johnson, and a host of others: people and topics. See what you think.

Earlier this week, I published a Nashville journal. The city, I noted, was named after Francis Nash (a Revolutionary War general). I went on to comment,

The big Nash in my life, I suppose, is George Nash, the historian — particularly of modern American conservatism. (He is also the chief biographer of Herbert Hoover.) Then we had the cars — the Nash automobile, made in Kenosha, Wis., about a hundred years ago.

A reader writes to say, “What about Ogden?” My young colleague Dominic Pino asks, “What about Steve?” To which I can only say, Homer Simpson–style, “D’oh!”

In my journal, I took up the question, “What ought to be called ‘western’? What is the American West?” It’s not a matter of geography, is it? What feels more western? Portland, Ore., or Nashville, about 2,500 miles to the east? How about Seattle versus Dallas?

A reader writes, “The Dallas Cowboys play in the NFC East. Just sayin’.” True. Cowboys in the East!

Also in my journal, I commented on the touchiness of certain music people. You have to get the terms exactly right: “country,” “western,” “country-western,” “jazz,” “blues,” “rock,” “indie,” etc. People go nuts if you slip up (trust me).

A reader writes to recall an exchange in The Blues Brothers:

Elwood: “What kind of music do you usually have here?”
Claire: “Oh, we got both kinds. We got country and western.”

(See it here.)

A reader writes,

I’m a Nashville native, whose career took him away 40 years ago. I enjoyed seeing my hometown through your eyes. . . .

You had a picture of the War Memorial. That building’s auditorium was the home of the Nashville Symphony when I was a kid and even into the ’70s when I was the recording engineer for the orchestra. . . .

The old Customs House was where I went to register for the draft. It’s also where my father had an office when he stationed in Nashville as a counterintelligence agent during WW2.

Wonderful stuff. Thanks to all correspondents, and to readers in general. End on a little language?

Hi, Jay:

I enjoyed your virtual tour of Nashville. Thanks! But you did it again, so I’ll ask again. You write, in a parenthetical aside, “I exaggerate a little bit.” Isn’t “little bit” redundant?

A little bit! But more seriously: Idioms are not subject to reasoning. They flavor a language, independent of reason. “I could care less” is an American idiom, and should not be rendered, in my opinion, “I couldn’t care less.”

Thanks again — and today’s Impromptus, once more, is here.


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