Ok, I will readily admit that I'm not as cool as I used to be. I'm forty. I have two young kids. Sorry. I try my best.
But as a once-hip indy-record-store-dwelling post-collegiate goof-off of some notoriety, I feel that even in my advanced middle-aged state, I can appreciate a good thing.
During my recent trip through the mid-South, I stopped in Louisville one evening for dinner and a stroll and happened up a great neighborhood along Bardstown Road that featured lots of urban hipster eye-candy in the form of cool bars, restaurants, and shops, live musicians playing outside a coffee shop in what I think is called Deer Park, and just a really nice neighborhood, with many friendly folks out and about.
Lots of cool signage in this area. I'm a sucker for creative and retro signage.
I had some food, which didn't actually impress much (maybe Louisville isn't a barbecue town, despite its proximity to Owensboro, which happens to be one of the great barbecue regions of the US), so I'm not really going to speak to the restaurants much with this post. But the neighborhood and the people really struck a nice tone for me on a warm late-Spring night.
Walking a block or two off the main strip, I found a nice neighborhood with old trees and architecture very reminiscent of Chicago bungalows. Lots of brick, limestone, and squared-off corners which are everywhere in the Midwest and always give me a very comfortable and familiar feeling.
A little further off the main shopping drag, there are some amazing turn-of-the century mansions, too. You'll have to crane your neck out your car window to see them, since the most ornate and stoic examples sit perched way up on their own little hills, but park real quick and get out and look around at these beauties. They're amazing.
I was amazed at how, only five hours south of Chicago, Louisville felt so positively southern. Despite the quick drive, I was in The South; people had accents, every restaurant served cornbread and biscuits, and it was so much more warm and humid and green. This would be a nice place to live, I think.
The proof that I'm old, of course, is that I came back buzzing about Louisville and the impression it made on me, but instead of suggesting to my wife that we pick up and move there right now, as I might've done when I was in my 20's, my thought was that it would be a great place to retire to someday. Sad, this getting old thing. But also kind of cool.