We've said it before, and we'll say it again: If you want to take the pulse of the city of Nashville, don't bother conducting an online survey, building a bank of robocallers or spending a fortune on a public-opinion poll. All you have to do is ask people to complete a sentence starting with these five little words: "You are so Nashville if ..."
That's what we learned when the Scene launched its first YASNI contest some 22 years ago. Since then, the five-word phrase has become a kind of shorthand for the only-in-Music-City passions and peculiarities that make us who we are. Some of these are so rote and unchanging that we habitually weed them out: bad drivers, big hair, the name-changing shape-shifting wonder that is Old Hickory Boulevard.
But if you want to know what's on the public's mind in the Year of Our Lord Help Us 2011, just start with this year's winning entry — made up entirely of the word our State Senate told the world was unspeakable. From those red-eyed menaces filling the air with their infernal screeching and whining — wait, we already mentioned the General Assembly — to a certain SNL vet whose footsteps onto the Ryman stage ended up in his mouth, you found no shortage of material. We learned that you're getting your news from street vendors, your books from the Internet (but not by choice), and nothing but static from WRVU.
Longtime participants in the contest will see lots of familiar faces. Between them, Wando Weaver and second-place finisher Zack Bennett contributed an estimated 20 percent of the printed entries, and special mention goes to Bill Hench (with 11, including an honorable mention) and Meredith Hunter (with 10). We also thank those whose hostile, irregular, and just plain inscrutable views on everything from tattoos to local public art stoked the beloved category known as the Weirdies.
What, you're still reading this, just to be polite? That is so ... never mind. Just keep going. We won't hold it against you. Until next year.
You are so Nashville if... Gay gay gay, gay gay; gay gay gay gay gay. —Dana Delworth
Winner: Dana Delworth Was that a squeal we heard when Dana Delworth got the news she had won first place in the 2011 "You Are So Nashville If ..." contest? Believe it. A native Nashvillian, Delworth says she has entered the contest since the very first one in 1989 — where she says she embarrassed her kinfolk with an entry that suggested you are so Nashville if instead of "Yes!" during orgasm, you holler "Okey-dokey!"
Delworth, a veteran of the local rock scene whose husband John played in Lambchop for several years, was motivated this year to be funny by more serious concerns. "It's my personal response to the 'Don't Say Gay' bill," she says, watching her two daughters frolic in the pool at the East Nashville YMCA. "I am the mother of two young girls, and the idea that they can't openly discuss all aspects of society at school is appalling to me."
In days past, Delworth says, she and several friends kept a YASNI box going throughout the year so they wouldn't forget potential entries. She's too busy to maintain that kind of diligence anymore, but she says the lack of preparation made her come up with more topical entries. And even though she's proud of a third-place finish in 2004 ("You intentially drive drunk in hopes of promoting your new album"), she's basking in her rise to the hall of YASNI glory.
"I feel pretty and witty," she says — "and GAY!"
2nd place: You are so Nashville if... Your mayor never smiles, but your governor never stops. —Zack Bennett
3rd place: You are so Nashville if... You refuse to buy The Contributor because of its liberal bias. —Chuck Arnold
Honorable Mention: You are so Nashville if... The only jobs your legislature created this year were for late-night comedy writers. —Ilissa Gold
Honorable Mention: You are so Nashville if... You demand to see Darius Rucker's birth certificate. —Bill Hench
Honorable Mention: You are so Nashville if... Your state legislature did WHAT, today?!? —Mark Reddick
Honorable Mention: You are so Nashville if... You wish the annoying creature that only appeared in Nashville once every 13 years was John Rich. — Daniel Spartan Smith
Honorable Mention: You are so Nashville if... Shutting down college radio stations is the only way you can get an erection. —Luke JSchneider
You think of Springwater Supper Club as a lifestyle choice and not a dive bar. —Billy Wayne Davis
You move out of Davidson County when your child gets ready to start middle school. —Shelley Heile
You think the Predators' next move should be to send Taylor Swift to hook up with Sidney Crosby. —Ilissa Gold
You took a photo of Taylor Swift at Fido and paid off your entire college tuition with it. —Troy Akers
Burger Up is your girlfriend. —Troy Akers
Your next-door neighbor is a predator or fan of one. —Wando Weaver
Your comments have been redacted by The Tennessean. —Wando Weaver
You know that only John Rich could bring a square project to Love Circle. —Wando Weaver
Your religion preys on others. —Wando Weaver
You've noticed that Chris Bostick is always pimping his ride, his wife. —Wando Weaver
You stalk the Grilled Cheeserie every day. —Becky Stephens
You or someone you know drops bombs in Belmont's restrooms daily. —Wando Weaver
All of the things that your religion condemns are found along Church Street. —Wando Weaver
Bill Haslam fucked you without your consent. —Wando Weaver