About: Gabe Hart
Gabe Hart is an English and Language Arts teacher at Northeast Middle School. He was born and raised in Jackson, graduating from Jackson Central-Merry in 1997 and Union University in 2001. Gabe enjoys spending time and traveling with his daughter, Jordan, who is eight years old. His hobbies include reading, writing, and playing sports . . . even though he’s getting too old for the last one. Gabe lives in Midtown Jackson and has a desire to see all of Jackson grow together.
Check out Gabe's latest contributions to Our Jackson Home:
There’s a piece of land on the north side of Jackson that looks pretty much any other open lot. It sits at the edge of town just beyond an abandoned golf course and right behind VFW Post 1848. You could walk on that open lot and never have any idea that underneath your feet lay broken pool tiles, aqua blue concrete steps, maybe a piece of an old diving board—remnants of bright summer days, now covered in dirt and twelve feet below the surface.
Two or three times a week, I put my body through the ringer. For thirty minutes, I do exercises that a man approaching forty probably shouldn’t attempt. I throw my body to the ground and spring up as quickly as I can. I push a weighted plate across the floor. I crawl like a bear up and down mats made of rubber. After all that is finished, I put on boxing gloves and hit a heavy bag that sometimes feels as if it’s made of concrete. When I kick it, my foot and shin turn red and bruise. My shoulders and arms feel as if they’re weighted by stones.
In the last fifty-two years, the city of Jackson has had a total of three mayors. Robert Conger was mayor from 1967 to 1989. Charles Farmer succeeded him and served until 2007. That same year, Jerry Gist transitioned from county mayor to city mayor and will step down later this summer when Jackson elects a new mayor. There are a few possible reasons that only three men have held the most important position in the city over the course of half a century.
"I hope she knows you only like the beginnings of things." I remember hearing this line when watching Mad Men one day, and while it was referring to the breakup of two characters on the show, I couldn’t help but think how much it speaks to a greater human characteristic. Do we not all love the start of something new? Isn’t an infatuation with the promise of beginnings a universal condition?
When I was young, my family would take vacations to different cities to watch baseball games. While I loved baseball, the thing I looked forward to the most was seeing the skyline of whatever city we were visiting. In my single digit years, it was always St. Louis. Driving past the multitude of Drury Inns in the suburbs and waiting for the skyline to materialize in the distance never got old. Seeing the Arch stretch across the sky is something I can still see in my mind today. As I got older, the cities became larger: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York.
2018 has been a year to remember, and much of that is thanks to our talented contributors who have poured themselves into telling the stories of Jackson in such a compelling way that they become part of our lives. With that, we are proud to share this year's top ten stories from our blog, encouraging you to read any you missed and to high-five the writers, photographers, and subjects featured.
Three. It’s a magic number. It’s the Holy Trinity, symbolic of perfection and completion. There were three essential entities in Greek Mythology ruling the sky, the sea, and the underworld. “Third time’s the charm.” Throughout history, the number three has been revered in nearly every culture, even right here in Jackson. We have three governing bodies that have affected and will continue to affect our education system for years: the city council, the county commission, and the school board.
My daughter is in the fifth grade. She’s just beginning that transition from child to full-blown adolescent. And with that transition inevitably comes the time when I’m not fun enough to hang out with on a Friday night. I’m experiencing that right now. Sure, it wounds the pride a little, but I knew it was coming, so we’re dealing with it. By “dealing with it,” I mean that we’re inviting her friends to do stuff with us on the weekends now instead of putting a puzzle together or playing Mario Kart or watching Andi Mack.
My dad had a Jeep when I was very young. Riding in it was one of my earliest memories. I don’t remember the model or the color (it could have been brown) or if there was a lift on it. I only remember that it didn’t have a top and that the wind would blow in my face as he drove. The sky was over my head, the clouds directly above me. I knew that I liked the feeling of having nothing blocking my senses. Light poured in. The breeze slapped us silly. We could see everything above and around us.
I am not one who marches for a cause. I don’t exactly enjoy situations in which I have to follow someone else’s lead. I am not an activist. In fact, I think some activists can be detrimental to the cause for which they are advocating. At some point, it all becomes white noise, or worse, it becomes flammable to the ears of everyone else. At its best, activism can enact societal change for the better over a long period of time; at its worst, it can become divisive to the point of an irreparable dislocation.
I watched a film a few months ago that has more or less floated along the periphery of my thoughts ever since. It was titled A Ghost Story and was about the passage of time and the way humans seem to find a way to tear down and rebuild everything over and over again. More than that, however, it’s about one man’s attachment to a physical place. Throughout different scenes in the movie, a young couple is seen discussing the possibility of moving from the house where they live. The house is inauspicious.
2017 has been a year to remember, and much of that is thanks to our talented contributors who have poured themselves into telling the stories of Jackson in such a compelling way that they become part of our lives. With that, we are proud to share this year's top ten stories from our blog, encouraging you to read any you missed and to high-five the writers, photographers, and subjects featured.
Inevitability is the evil twin of hope. Hope is when we’re not quite sure what will happen, but we’re certain that we want it to happen. The mystery of hope and, to be quite honest, the appeal of hope rest in its uncertainty. There’s the idea that what we are hoping for will eventually morph into reality and, if we’re lucky, possibly exceed our original expectations. Hope is why the idea of something is oftentimes better than the thing itself. We survive on hope. Hope keeps us moving.Inevitability, however, is certain.
In May of 2016, there was weeping and gnashing of teeth—or so it would have appeared. Schools rich in personal and communal history were closing. Their doors were shutting for good, and the buildings would just sit there, rotting. There was no clear plan for what would happen to those buildings other than the fact that they wouldn’t house students.
“Are we broken?” I saw those three words at the top of an article a couple of months ago. They were referring to the current political climate in our country. Without delving into specifics, it’s safe to say that our present political situation is a bit perilous. Communication between parties vacillates between accusatory and defensive. The president is being investigated for obstruction of justice relating to a foreign country tampering in our election.
Balance. Poise. Grace. Stamina. All things that are waning for this thirty-seven-year-old man. Honestly, I never had a lot of physical grace or poise. In my athletic years, I generally excelled by crashing, slamming, and flinging my body all over the court or field in order to succeed. I was never a graceful athlete. Unfortunately, for me, the workout at Pure Barre required all of the aforementioned attributes.
I remember being in the locker room as a seventh grade basketball player at Tigrett Junior High School and coming to the realization that I was going to have a hard time keeping up with most of the guys on the court. I had some normal feelings of insecurity and nervousness, but nothing out of the ordinary for a prepubescent boy in 1992. Fast forward twenty-five years and those feelings came back in a hurry as soon as I walked into the CrossFit Jackson gym.
The first rule of Fightshop is: you don’t talk about Fightshop. Wait. That’s not it. That’s Fight Club, the Brad Pitt and Edward Norton film where dudes just generally beat the snot out of each other. The Fightshop is sort of like that, except you’re beating on bags, not people. And we can definitely talk about the Fightshop because it’s tough to find a better workout around town. The first thing I noticed during my first visit was the plethora of heavy punching bags hanging from a black, metal contraption.
Let’s suspend our thought for the next ten to fifteen minutes and imagine what could be. Let’s not think about dollars and cents or logistical structure. While those things are necessary, they’re not for us right now. What we need are open minds and unencumbered ideas about what our downtown might possibly be if we could just think a little bit beyond what we’ve always thought. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen beyond. I’ve seen what downtown Jackson could be if we could just all get on board.
Sitting in an intro philosophy class my sophomore year at Union University, I was asked a question: Would it be ethical to sacrifice a person (or a few people) in order to find the cure for cancer? Well, yes, of course it would, I said. We’re talking about cancer, right? I was nineteen and, apparently, omniscient—or so I thought at the time. The certainty of an arrogant college student is a certainty like no other.
The Wizard of Oz. That’s my earliest memory of the power of a tornado. From the time I saw that witch riding a bicycle in the air with that house spinning out of control, the power of a tornado had me under its thumb. As a five-year-old, I had no idea how close I would come to that dominance that struck so much fear in me as a child. West Tennessee, and Jackson in particular, is no stranger to tornadoes. As much as we think tornadoes are an indiscriminate act of nature, they’re not.
2017 is not even a week old yet. The taste of black eyed peas and turnip greens may still linger in your mouth. The ink on that list of “resolutions” is barely dry. Thoughts of a future dance in your head as you sneak that last bit of Christmas candy from the aluminum foil-wrapped plate from your in-laws’ house. Maybe you’re not a candy person but a leftovers kind of guy. I mean, who wants to waste food, right?
The precious things are always removed first. They’re handled with care, preserved, and safeguarded so as not to disturb their history or perceived beauty. Careful hands wrap them in padded blankets or quilts and gently set them in an arrangement that will in no way cause a fracture. The pieces that are disposable or not as aesthetically pleasing are swept into a pile or thrown away or burned or sold. And so goes the process of preparing for the demolition of a building.
I was never a baller. I wanted to be one, though. The grace and fluidity with which truly great basketball players move is unparalleled in any other sport. I was jealous. I’m tall and used to be pretty thin, but I never had the grace the true athletic players seemed to have. Gravity appeared to have a stronger hold on me than it did my teammates and my opponents. Sure, I was able to dunk a ball for a period of time in my 20’s and early 30’s, but it was off one foot and more of a “rim grazer” than a true “flush.”
I still remember the conversation I had with my mother after I got my first tattoo. It went a little something like this: Me: So, I need to tell you something. Mom: What happened? Me: Nothing happened. I got a tattoo. Mom: WHAT?! Me: I said, I— Mom: WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?!! Me: I just wan— Mom: THAT’S JUST STUPID! You know those things never come off! Me: Yes. I know, but— Mom: So, now you drink beer AND have a tattoo?! Well, you’re just white trash!
On Sunday afternoons during the months of September through January, odds are, someone you know is watching football. In fact, in the fall of 2015, twenty-six of the twenty-seven most-watched shows on television were football games. The one exception was the Republican primary, which was the thirteenth most-watched show over that time span. Football is, unquestionably, the king of all sports in America right now. One could argue that it is the most popular form of viewing entertainment, period.
A few years ago I was talking to a friend of mine who lives in Denver about her plans for the evening. She told me she was going on a bicycle pub crawl. I had no idea what she was talking about. She explained that she and a group of her friends would rent bicycles and ride around downtown Denver and visit the local pubs and bars in the area. The idea was to have one drink at each location and then move on to the next place via bicycle.
I still remember my last day of high school. I remember leaving the parking lot and listening to the Dave Matthews song “Number 41,” and I still remember the lyrics that were blaring from the speakers of my Nissan Maxima. “I will go in this way, and I’ll find my own way out. . . .” They seemed poignant at the time, though I’m not sure in what way exactly. As a matter of fact, I’m not really sure that I even liked Dave Matthews. I think I wanted to like Dave Matthews because all my friends liked Dave Matthews.
We live in a critical society. Social media is mostly to blame for that, along with twenty-four-hour “news” networks and talk radio. Everyone has a voice whether they have anything worth saying or not. If you have a bad experience at a restaurant, Tweet about it. If your hotel bed isn’t as comfortable as you think it should be, grab your phone and give it two stars on Google. I don’t exempt myself from taking part in the reactionary culture in which we find ourselves.
In 2005, Bruce Springsteen went on a tour with just himself, an acoustic guitar, a harmonica, and a pump organ. This tour was in support of his album entitled Devils and Dust. It was a follow up to The Ghost of Tom Joad, which was released in 1995, and was a sequel to Nebraska. On each of these albums Springsteen wasn’t backed by the E Street Band.