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Friday, March 02


March 2, 2007 — 5:09 pm
Comments: 13

Big fat hypocrite


Can’t stand it. I know it’s been blogged to death, but every time I think of it, I get another painful flareup. The burning. The itching. I’ve got to get this out.

On Monday, the Tennessee Center for Policy Research published a press release revealing that Al Gore’s mansion in Belle Meade uses more electricity in a month than the average family uses in a year. And I keep coming back to that. Belle Meade.

Belle Meade.

The words Belle Meade give Nashvillians a little involuntary shiver of class envy. Like Beverly Hills or Manhattan. It’s a startle response. Shhhhh…be still. Very large money is passing nearby.

I grew up near his farm in Carthage, but somehow I never realized he had a mansion in Belle Meade. There are no mere houses in Belle Meade.

Belle Meade is where the Nashville money is. Not the tacky hayseed country music money — that’s way on the other side of town, in places like Hendersonville. Belle Meade is lawyer money. Newspaper money. Plantation money. Gentile money. Multi-generational inherited money. Old money.

It’s a whole separate, incorporated township inside Nashville, with a mayor and a town hall and a police force. Residents pay taxes to both cities. They can afford to. I’ve heard it said Belle Meade is the fifth richest per capita city in the US. A membership in the Belle Meade Country Club would set you back thirty grand in 1978. God knows what it is now.

Belle Meade is the huge, snoring carcass of the old Old South. The Battle of Nashville, the South’s last gasp on the Western front, was fought in the front yard of Belle Meade Plantation; there are still bullet holes in the famous white limestone columns.

All down Belle Meade Boulevard, becolumned and verandah’d antebellum piles snooze in the hot Tennessee sun. I have stood, a poor and distant relation, in the vasty vastness of a few of those gilt and marble caverns. I was a small, gray, disconsolate object in a mad sea of European rococo excess.

When one denizen of Belle Meade bought an automobile in 1935, it came with the negro to drive it.

Now, I have no objection to the wealthy, on principle. Even those who inherit wealth they had no hand in creating. I find it rather irritating that I’m not one of them, but I don’t advocate hunting them down like dogs or anything. In fact, I’d feel better about Al’s house if he’d inherited it; I could forgive him preserving a bit of extravagant family history in an extravagant way. But he apparently bought his manse in 2002, and added to it extensively since. Without making it conspicuously greener.

But, damn it chaps my ass to be preached a doctrine of personal austerity by some ex-beardyweirdy who, it turns out, lives like Scarlett Bloody O’Hara befo-ah the wo-ah. Does anybody really believe you’re walking the conservation walk when one of your three houses uses twenty times the amount of energy the average family consumes?

Carbon credits? Kiss my ass! Putting money into renewable energy research doesn’t somehow, magically wipe away a lifestyle of gross waste and profligacy. If you really believe the earth to be in imminent peril, wouldn’t you invest in greenliness AND live modestly? He can live how he likes — he can obviously afford it — but he can’t live like the Sun King and hector me to turn out the lights when not in use or we’re all gonna die.

I’m waaaaay over on the skeptical side of the Global Warming teeter-totter, and this level of pointless improvidence makes me feel a little sick. Shouldn’t the True Believers be fucking furious?

And if they’re not, what exactly are they true believers in?

— 11:42 am
Comments: 24