Boner Awards 2007 

Pacman makes it rain in our annual cloudburst of the year’s worst

What do a trio of hapless state legislators, the reigning bad boy of the NFL, and some of the most lame-brained low-rent criminals to sully a cell have in common? These lucky lunks made our 18th annual running of the Boners, our wrap-up of the year’s sorriest, silliest and scurviest newsmakers.

by the Committee of Inbreds

What do a trio of hapless state legislators, the reigning bad boy of the NFL, and some of the most lame-brained low-rent criminals to sully a cell have in common? These lucky lunks made our 18th annual running of the Boners, our wrap-up of the year’s sorriest, silliest and scurviest newsmakers.

Named for former Nashville Mayor Bill Boner, who set a high bar for low deeds during Music City’s dark days of the late ’80s, the Boner Awards have taken on a life of their own over almost two decades. That’s because greed, bad judgment and epic bungling never go away, despite our fondest hopes. Looking back over this year’s rancid harvest of goofs, gaffes and grotesqueries, one thing is clear: Boners are a renewable resource.

And here they come now. Rise and salute them, with however many fingers you find appropriate. We know for a fact, ladies and gentlemen, these Boners will stand.

Pac on the Chain GangTitans cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones would have led the NFL this year, if stepping on your dick counted toward yardage. Flaunting an appetite for destruction as insatiable as his dot-gobbling namesake, Pacman became 2007’s poster boy for the declining morals of pro sports figures with a steady string of police beefs and blunders. As the masterwork (so far) in his outlaw oeuvre, Jones was at the center of a melee last February involving a Las Vegas strip club with $80,000 in cash flying around the stage, which resulted in three shootings and the paralysis of a security guard. After Jones and his companions started “making it rain” by showering bills from a bag, they attempted to stop dancers from picking up the money, explaining later that it was only intended as a “prop.” Police have still not determined who fired the shot that left the security guard paralyzed. But while attempting to keep a low profile after the incident, Jones managed to be charged with possession of marijuana in Georgia. The Nashville pastor who started a “Pac Man Fan Club” to “salvage him” would have an easier time making Ted Nugent a vegan.

A BONER IN EVERY POT

Even without 2007’s municipal casebook in electile dysfunction, our public officials both past and present apparently took a pledge of allegiance to the Boners this year. And oh God, did they ever serve. Some lowlights:

Mr. Smashed Goes to WatertownState Rep. Rob Briley’s shenanigans rival those of the namesake of these awards. He rear-ended a truck with his SUV, then led police on a 100-mph chase through Watertown. After he finally stopped, he took a final swig of bourbon as officers approached with guns drawn. The police video, widely viewed on YouTube, shows Briley on his knees, crying and screeching as he’s handcuffed. Later, he checked himself out of rehab, rented a red Mustang and left the city worrying over his whereabouts while he went gambling in Tunica, Miss. When he finally returned to Legislative Plaza, he played the misunderstood victim in interviews, claiming he cracked up because he suddenly remembered that he had been abused as a child. Dude, tell it to Oprah. Briley’s words to live by: “I may have come in smelling like alcohol at times but was never intoxicated while I was here [at the legislature] or I never consumed alcohol here.” Spoken like a true Boner.

I’d Rather Push, Pull or Drag a Ford...Extending what has become a true Boner dynasty, state Sen. Ophelia Ford joined the top ranks of legislative goofballs with her absolutely bizarre three-minute rant against Ramtha knows what during a committee session. That was followed shortly thereafter by her fall from a bar stool while appearing to be intoxicated, followed shortly thereafter by a cab driver’s accusation that she ripped a button off his shirt while he was driving her to her hotel. Ford, a Memphis Democrat, later claimed she had multiple strokes during the legislative session, which she says explains her weird behavior—but she’s all better now. “Girl, I got so much strength in my legs it’s just amazing, amazing,” she told a Memphis TV station. “I prayed to the Lord about it. God, what’s happening you know. I can stomp around, girl.” Even with both feet in her mouth.

The $94,000 QuestionState Sen. Jerry Cooper had a very eventful year. He got caught pilfering $94,000 in reelection campaign contributions, drove knee-crawling drunk, smashed up his car, and nearly killed himself in the wreck. Yes, into every life a little rain must fall—and Cooper wasted no opportunity to drizzle all over voters. But every dark cloud has a silver lining. First, Cooper was acquitted in a trial on charges of bank fraud, mail fraud and conspiracy charges. Next, Cooper dodged another falling anvil when the Registry of Election Finance, which is supposed to enforce campaign finance laws, fined him a record $120,000 for transferring contributions to his personal account—then backed off and asked the attorney general whether it could really levy such a large penalty. Cooper, a Democrat from Morrison, resigned from the Senate and said he couldn’t remember how he spent the missing contributions: “Can you remember what you did a year ago?” We could if we spent $94,000 on it.

An Inconvenient GoofAl Gore hadn’t even come down from his Academy Awards high—what with winning an Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth, being sweated by Leonardo DiCaprio and having Ryan Seacrest ask who he was wearing—before the dung-based biofuel hit the fan. When a Tennessee think tank released stats on energy use in Gore’s Belle Meade mansion, which sucks up 20 times more juice than the national average, it became clear that Captain Planet had some ’splaining to do. Sure, he made Tipper screw in some more compact fluorescent bulbs and paid penance with carbon offsets, but the Goracle of Green missed the downsize-and-conserve point entirely. Gore’s camp blamed everything from his home office to frequent party hosting—in that heated pool, perhaps? Which reminds us, Al—we’re still waiting for an invite to a slippery game of Marco Polo with Tipper, in that steaming pool of hypocrisy.

My Darling ClementBob Clement: where do we begin? Starting with his many inanities during community forums—”Cleanliness counts!” and “Let’s turn lemons into lemonade!”—and ending with his bizarre comparison of himself to Jesus lost in the wilderness, Clement’s entire mayoral campaign was one long senior moment. It must have been embarrassing for the lifelong Democrat to run as a right-wing Republican, palming himself off as the Buford Pusser of immigration reform while castigating Karl Dean as a tax-happy criminal coddler. In an interview with the Scene, Clement actually tried to make the case that Dean, as Metro public defender in the ’90s, should have given accused criminals something less than his best efforts. Who needs the Bill of Rights, anyway? The good news? There may not be an office left he hasn’t run for.

The Full ConteTennessee first lady Andrea Conte needs to get over herself. She’s getting ready to chop down stately oak trees and dig a gigantic hole in the front yard of the governor’s mansion to build an underground banquet hall. Her neighbors, worried about additional traffic in their bucolic little part of town—not to mention the possibility of dynamite blasting during construction—are up in arms, but Conte seems bent on having her way. Neighbors point out the Bredesens don’t live in the mansion and therefore won’t have to endure the dust and noise of the great excavation. Note to the first lady: Chuck E. Cheese rents great party rooms.

And Speaking of Giant Rats...Got a black hood and an ax? Loan them to state Correction Commissioner George Little, who did his best to return Tennessee to ye good olde days of drawing and quartering the condemned in the village square. With the blessing of the governor’s office, Little torpedoed the recommendations of a committee appointed to review the state’s methods of carrying out lethal injections. His reasoning? He was afraid the change, which was intended to help ensure more humane executions, might prompt new legal reviews and slow the pace of state-sanctioned death in Tennessee. Later, also apparently to avoid snags in the execution schedule, Little tried to mislead a federal judge about much of what had happened. Good thing that’s not a capital offense.

The Thin Red LineweaverThe thing about being juvenile court clerk is, well, you gotta do more than show up at any rubber-chicken dinner that has more than one voter—which, in all fairness, is Vic Lineweaver’s forte. But there’s also that niggly “clerk” part of the job—you know, keeping files and shit. And in this regard, the mighty Vic proved he could lose a bowling ball in a manila envelope. By August, his chronic incompetence had become such a butt-ache that his colleague, juvenile Judge Betty Adams Green, actually had him arrested for failing to produce records the court had requested. He was booked in Metro’s jail for the offense, which, um, will go down in his permanent record. And get lost with all the others.

Aporkalypse NowTennessee lawmakers grandstanded against pork-barrel spending this year, but that didn’t stop them from tossing $20 million in taxpayer cash into a pot for so-called “community enhancement grants.” Right—and bribes are “facilitation enhancement grants.” Only a few legislators refrained from staking claims to the money. “I’m not going to call any names, but they’re all lined up,” says Secretary of State Riley Darnell, who’s parceling out the cash. “The folks who railed against it the most are right in there with the rest of them.” Soo-eeee!

WE DON’T NEED NO STINKIN’ BONERS!

As resentment of illegal immigrants reaches an election-year fever pitch, it’s worth pausing to recognize those hombres locos who are working to make the world a more divisive place.

Broken EnglishOh, Eric Crafton, why did you do it? Your “English only” amendment in Metro Council this year was the legislative equivalent of the Maginot line: a useless, expensive monument to irrelevance. “This bill says we’ll simply do the governmental business in English,” you told us at the time. But guess what? Metro government already does business in English! Why not make it a law for humans to breathe oxygen, or dogs to have tails? This being the council, though, the damn thing passed—and we all had to slog through months of hot air, nationwide scorn, and hand-wringing from both sides until the bill mercifully died with a slash of the mayor’s pen. Gracias, muchacho—por nada.

The Man Who Puts the Panic in HispanicTake Alan Keyes, subtract the major-party backing but add 10 tons of crazy, and you’ve got Jim Boyd, the Paul Revere of Brown Peril. In his crapper-bound bid for Metro Council, Boyd tried a novel tactic to scare local voters to the polls: invoking (cue crash of thunder) the myth of Aztlan! This ooh-scary “theory” alleges that Mexican immigrant laborers—which he refers to loudly and often as “the illegal immigrant invasion”—are really one vast sleeper cell waiting to rise up and re-conquer the American Southwest. (That explains why so many are living in Nashville.) He peddled the theory on his website, in spooky homemade YouTube rants, on any blog that would have him, and even once on local TV. Alas—at least where Boners are concerned—Boyd got trounced at the polls, but he’s now pondering a suicide run at either Jim Cooper’s congressional seat or Gary Odom’s in the state House. “So what office will I run for next?” Boyd says. “Who knows?” Who knows? That’s easy (crash)—Aztlan!

Aztlan, Meet AztholeWhat’s Spanish for “sleazebag”? Don’t know, but we bet the picture next to the definition is that of Ismael “Robert” Chavez, former head of the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. A Scene investigation found out that Chavez pocketed a $25,000 small business loan meant for two immigrant business owners, ripped off hundreds of undocumented immigrants by renting them housing at above-market rates, and engineered a wholesale takeover of the Chamber by assuming the role of treasurer and vice president. The chump-change Scarface tried to give himself a $10,000-a-month salary with a $450 car allowance on the chamber’s dime. About a month after the story broke, he was fired from his chamber position and called “a cancer” on the Hispanic community by board members. We think “Boner” also fits the bill.

BONERS DON’T PAY

Take this rogue’s gallery of 2007’s dumbest crooks, dopiest deeds and most dim-witted criminal dumbasses downtown—and book ’em.

Hey, I Didn't Order a Knuckle SandwichA couple at an Arby’s on Gallatin Pike learned the hard way that you don’t stand between a woman and her Roast Beef Deluxe. A customer in the parking lot, evidently experiencing Horsey-Sauce withdrawal, went ballistic when she received someone else’s order by mistake. She approached the couple and demanded they hand over their grub, and when they demurred, she did what any dejected roast-beef lover would do: She grabbed an aluminum baseball bat and charged. Police said the victim’s boyfriend drove out of the parking lot with the angry Arbyphile in pursuit, and he kept going until he slowed to stop for a red light—at which point the 26-year-old suspect rammed into the back of the couple’s car and sped away. Police tracked down the woman, still hungry, and charged her with aggravated assault and vandalism. She may have been thinking Arby’s, but apparently not much else.

They’re Used to Bombing on Dudley FieldOn Sept. 15, an anonymous caller phoned police and claimed a bomb was going to go off at the Vanderbilt University football game already under way. The call was traced to a cell phone, and officers quickly located the suspect driving along Shelby Avenue in East Nashville. After he was arrested, the perp admitted to placing the phone call but denied making a bomb threat. Instead, he said, he was calling for help and was very angry at the time. The suspect claimed he told the dispatcher that “he felt like a bomb” and that he was going to “go off.” The 56-year-old went off, all right—to jail for making a false report.

A Blunt ConversationAfter her boyfriend came home late one night, police say an enraged 28-year-old woman began chasing him around the house, trying to brain him with a ceramic statue. According to the report, when an officer responded to the domestic dispute and attempted to cuff the suspect, she screamed, “Get your motherfuckin’ hands off me, you cracker-ass cop motherfucker.” Not even that polite entreaty dissuaded the officer from searching her purse—where he found marijuana rolled in a cigar. Luckily, she had a level-headed explanation for that too. “It’s just a motherfuckin’ blunt,” she hollered. “It ain’t no kilo, you cracker-ass cop!” The cracker-ass cop charged her with domestic assault, resisting arrest and drug possession.

Cruising for a BruisingPolice received a report that a black PT Cruiser had just crashed on the 1400 block of Eastland Avenue. When they arrived, a woman claimed she had been shopping at a nearby Kroger when someone stole her PT Cruiser and wrecked it. When she was unable to explain how she got to the accident scene, police noticed her slurred speech and unsteady moves and arrested her. “I didn’t do nothing,” she told the cops—but after admitting to being on several different types of prescription medications, she gave up the truth: “Alright, I wrecked my fucking car.” But the night was far from over. As the officer examined the accident scene, the suspect, 28, managed to escape from the back of the police car while handcuffed. She was located at a friend’s house about two hours later, where she was in possession of 36 pills—including a variety of painkillers—that were prescribed to someone else. The perp was booked for theft, evading arrest, drug possession and driving under the influence. Police also noted in their report that the handcuffs she was wearing were never returned.

Ashes to AssesAfter coming home from vacation, a woman found burglars had ransacked her trailer, stealing a bizarre array of items. The list included dog food, canned goods, frozen food, an extension cord and a videotape—oh yeah, and “an urn containing human remains.” A few days after she filed a police report, officers say the victim was visiting a friend’s apartment when she saw the stolen videotape sitting there. The male suspect, 38, admitted using a screwdriver to break in and steal items with the help of his 19-year-old fiancée. The victim told him she would not prosecute if the urn were returned intact—an extremely generous offer, under the circumstances. Unfortunately, the numbskulled burglar said he got creeped out when he realized what it was, and he gave the ashes their final resting place—in a Dumpster. A corpse-abusing charge was tacked onto the burglary beef.

Bringing a Whole New Meaning to ‘Pissed OffPolice got dragged into a tussle over toilet rights at the Pull-A-Part auto supply store on Centennial Boulevard. The trouble apparently began when a 61-year-old customer asked to use the facilities. According to police, she was told to use the Port-A-John outside—but when another customer asked if a small child could go indoors, the store let them use the employee rest room. The irate woman began berating the employee on duty for the perceived double standard, and when she refused to calm down or leave, the manager called the cops. Because she refused to stand up and place her hands behind her back, the activist for equal-rights peeing was charged with resisting arrest in addition to criminal trespassing.

Lip Him to ShredsInstead of taking a bite out of crime, Lenora Swanson did just the opposite, netting arrest on domestic-assault charges in the bargain. After a heated argument last April between Swanson and her boyfriend, Darry Phillips, about how late he’d been staying out, Phillips reportedly leaned in to kiss and make up. Not only didn’t she pucker up, Swanson, 51, responded by chomping down on Phillips’ lower lip, drawing blood as well as the cops. Remember them both fondly next Valentine’s Day.

The Sword And The StonedPolice responded to an apartment just off Elliston Place after receiving a call about a man threatening two acquaintances with a “long Japanese sword.” The 32-year-old suspect barged into the apartment after a long night of partying, grabbed the sword and “chased both victims into the kitchen area and pinned them in the corner,” police say. But when one victim grabbed a meat cleaver off the counter, the would-be samurai decided to walk the earth like Cain—or more accurately, run like hell. When officers apprehended the perp as he bolted from the scene, they say he voluntarily offered that he had to “take care of some drug dealers tonight.”

Shakes on a PlaneA drunken traveler didn’t get to join the Mile-High Club after a string of soused misadventures at Nashville International Airport. Already three wings to the wind, the tippler started the night by blundering through an emergency door at one of the gates, setting off alarms and sending security guards running. Police arrived at concourse C, only to find the suspect sitting nonchalantly on a counter in the rest room. An officer escorted the man, 24, to his gate, where he was declared too drunk to board—but that didn’t end his travels. Told to take a hotel shuttle and come back for a later flight when he’d sobered up, the boozy suspect said he’d have a friend pick him up instead—but an hour later, the suspect was still wandering around the airport. Exasperated, the officer walked the man outside and put him in a cab. “When the cab driver asked him where he wanted to go,” the report stated, “he replied, ‘Here!’ ”—then stepped out. That won him an expense-paid one-way trip to Metro’s Graybar Inn.

CELEBRITY BONER SHOWDOWN

In which we stumble down the red carpet with some of Music Row’s finest and not-so-finest, as they hit No. 1 with a Boner.

Never Mind the BollocksPerformers and politicians alike would do well to remember that in the age of video-enabled cell phones, anything you do onstage can make its way to YouTube quicker than you can say “Macaca.” Faith Hill should have learned this lesson last year, when a clip from the Country Music Association Awards in which she jokingly feigns (or sincerely expresses, depending on whom you believe) outrage at losing Female Vocalist of the Year racked up more than 2 million views at the video-sharing site. But at a July 28 Lafayette, La., concert with husband Tim McGraw, Hill leaped into action after a front-row fan reached for a handful of the McGraw family jewels. Hill was not amused. “Somebody needs to teach you some class, my friend,” she informed the ’nad-nabber. “You don’t go grabbing…somebody’s husband’s balls, you understand me? That’s very disrespectful.” So a firm junk-squeezing isn’t an acceptable greeting in Louisiana?

Saith the Lord, ‘I Prefer Her ’70s StuffOutside that whole “promised land” thing, God is usually silent on the topic of real estate. But now it seems clear that the Almighty wanted Tanya Tucker to stay in Nashville. The singer sold her Music City home, loaded up a cross-country caravan and headed for Malibu in July. The first hitch came when a U-Haul truck full of jewelry and clothing being driven by her former fiancé, Jerry Laseter, turned up missing. (Laseter and a girlfriend were arrested in Las Vegas six days later; the goods were returned.) Then in October, the area around Tucker’s new home was devastated by the Southern California wildfires. The theological implications were obvious. “It looks like Armageddon,” Tucker told The Tennessean. “It concerns me about what it says in the Bible about earthquakes and fires in the last days. If you believe the Bible, those things are starting to happen, and more frequently. Maybe we should just get ready to go.”

Save My House—Oh, and Don’t Ride a CowboyResidents of Love Circle were incensed to learn in January that John Rich, half of the country duo Big & Rich, intended to build a 73-foot tall, 11,000-square-foot mansion there. The plan inspired a city council proposal to limit the height of area homes to 35 feet—alas, too late to prevent the erection of “Villa Rich,” set for completion in mid-2008. And in October, Rich made certain that roughly 10 percent of his neighbors would like him even less when he equated gay marriage with incest during a radio appearance promoting Fred Thompson’s presidential campaign on The Steve Gill Show. This was indeed surprising, considering Big & Rich’s motto is “Music Without Prejudice” (and let’s not even discuss the implications of Rich’s Village People mustache). Rich quickly half-recanted, explaining that his “father and minister brought me up to believe that marriage is an institution for the union of a man and a woman. However, I also believe that intolerance, bigotry and hatred are wrong.” We read you loud and fuzzy.

Speaking of Showing Your AssDarryl Worley became a right-wing media darling when his flag-waving 2003 hit “Have You Forgotten?” helped them do the hard work of selling Middle America on the notion that in order to avenge the Sept. 11 attacks, we just had to go to war with a country that had nothing to do with them. Sadly, history has not recorded whether Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh has taken a gander at the July issue of Playgirl, which featured the buff 42-year-old singer entirely in the altogether. (Local gay conservative blogger Michael Bassham wasn’t afraid to weigh in: “He needs a haircut. Otherwise, that’s one fine hunk of a man.”) Worley explained that the shoot was an attempt to tweak what he felt had become his “clean, pristine, all-American” image. The photos featured a full rear view and some daring hip cleavage, but stopped just short of revealing the full Worley—which, if the legends are true, would have required a wide-angle lens.

Next Time, Try ScattergoriesIn Mindy McCready’s world, even a friendly game of Scrabble with your mom ends up looking like an episode of Cops. McCready, who has surely become accustomed to seeing her name prefaced in print by the phrase “troubled country singer,” was matching wordplay wits with mother Melody Inge at the latter’s Fort Myers, Fla., home in July when discussion of a family matter got a little heated. McCready allegedly scratched Inge’s face, and was soon being charged with domestic battery and resisting arrest by Florida sheriff’s deputies (whom she in turn accused of breaking her nose during the arrest). She proceeded to cause a disturbance while being booked at the police station, which ended only when she was pepper-sprayed. McCready happens to have been on probation in Tennessee for a 2004 drug conviction at the time, and so found herself on a plane back to Tennessee, where she was sentenced in September to a year in jail.

ATHLETIC BONERS

Alright, you maggots! Drop and give me 20—Boners, that is.

Then Goodell Made It Rain on His Whole SeasonSummoned to New York City to meet with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell over his chronic inability to avoid late-night visits to strip clubs—and to show cause why he shouldn’t be suspended for the year—Adam “Pacman” Jones visited a strip club in the hours before his appointment, apparently unaware that his whereabouts were known to Goodell. The commish gave him plenty of time to hit the pole: a season-long suspension that put Pac’s NFL career in traction.

All Bals, No BrainsBlackBerry baron, would-be buyer of the Predators, and possessor of the most ridiculed name on local sports radio, Canuck amok Jim Balsillie—a.k.a. Silly Balls, etc.—put his Boner on ice this year when he effectively killed his chances to seal a deal for Nashville’s NHL team after much fatmouthing. His high-sticking masterstroke? His pledge that he would keep the team in Nashville—which sounded somewhat hollow when he announced plans to sell ticket options to fans in Hamilton, Ontario.

Gimme a C! Gimme an H! Gimme an O! Gimme a K! Gimme an E! What’s It Spell? VANDY!Fielding their strongest team in years, Vanderbilt was poised to anoint Dudley Field with their first winning football season since 1982. And if you thought they’d pull it off, your ancestor was probably Custer’s military advisor. Proving they are truly destiny’s redheaded stepchild, the Dumbledores squandered a good start by blowing three games, in all-too-familiar fashion, against Top 25 opponents. Against Georgia, they fumbled away a chance to score the winning touchdown on the Bulldogs’ five-yard line with less than two minutes to play. Despite outplaying Kentucky, the ’Dores missed two field goals and an extra point, and were guilty of a mindless unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that allowed the Wildcats to kick a field goal at the end of the first half. The 10-point swing was decisive in Kentucky’s 7-point win. In Knoxville, Vandy wasted a 15-point lead, then missed a last-second field goal attempt to lose 25-24.

THE INSTITUTE OF BONER RESEARCH

From collegiate shenanigans to corporate blunders, area institutions supplied plenty of grubby grist for the Boner mill—and that includes the Scene itself. Here are a few sticky pages from the annual report.

For Sale: One Legacy, CheapSince Georgia O’Keeffe gave cash-strapped Fisk University a hand-selected collection of artwork in 1949, the university has had a boner it just can’t shake. Fisk decided to house the collection in a gym-turned-gallery with climate control so screwy that a peeved O’Keeffe took the works away, refurbished them and returned them. But it’s Fisk’s desperate attempts to sell the most lucrative works at bargain basement prices—coupled with a public-relations flair worthy of the Nixon White House—that have landed Fisk here. University President Hazel O’Leary has tried not once, but twice, to sell O’Keeffe’s Radiator Building for about one-third of its market value. State and county officials blocked the deals, but there’s really no helping those who refuse to help themselves. O’Leary’s not even trying to conceal this boner anymore: Now she’s championing a deal with Wal-Mart heiress Alice L. Walton to sell the entire collection and Fed-Ex it back and forth from the Fisk gym to small-town Arkansas. What, couldn’t she spell eBay?

A Whole Lotto TroubleEarlier this year the Tennessee Lottery lost its balls. In lieu of the live Ping-Pong-ball drawings it had used since its inception, lottery officials opted to begin using computerized drawings in the name of cost saving. But there were suspicious foul-ups, several of them, that meant players in certain games had no chance of winning. That made the government-backed lottery suddenly look as shady as a backroom poker machine. An $80,000 audit ensued, followed by assurances from lottery officials that the glitch had been fixed. But players are still complaining, and state lawmakers are being ballsy, suggesting that they might demand a return to the Ping-Pong system. Even Congressman Steve Cohen, a former state lawmaker who trumpeted a state lottery for years, got in on the debate. “There’s no reason to have left the Ping-Pong balls,” Cohen told the Scene in October. “Integrity is what the lottery is about. If you’ve got something good, you don’t mess with it.”

Balk Like an EgyptianThere’s nothing like a bracing dose of chemical seepage to clear the old sinuses—which means some residents along the Harpeth River near downtown Franklin may want to market their neighborhood as a spa. Last February, after much hemming and hawing, the Egyptian Lacquer Manufacturing Co. admitted that their leaky underground tanks have been dosing the Harpeth and nearby Liberty Creek with acetone, toluene and other chemicals—a hemlock cocktail that, when mixed with algae feeding on the goop, can blanket backyards with the sweet smell of Garfield’s unchanged litterbox. (Or it can make people physically sick.) After years of fruitless complaints, homeowners were relieved to have someone finally pay attention—although both Egyptian Lacquer and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation insisted that the chemicals were not at toxic levels. Gee, that’s reassuring. They did not, however, volunteer to take a sip of creek water.

Train in VainResidents of the Sadler Avenue neighborhood wish they could give railroad giant CSX a swift kick in the caboose. That’s because their quiet little slice of Nashville can only be reached by crossing a set of CSX-owned train tracks—and sometimes the company will park trains there for hours at a time, effectively turning the cozy residential area into walled-off East Berlin. This has resulted in countless missed appointments and late arrivals to work and school. One man nearly died because he couldn’t get to his heart medication, which at the time was located on the other side of a very long chain of boxcars. CSX insists it’s trying to remedy the situation. But like the trains it parks in the neighborhood, the process isn’t moving fast enough.

God Help You, Tiny Tim!When Tennessean columnist Tim Chavez got the word from his doctor earlier this year that he would survive his two-year-long battle with leukemia and could resume his writing, the folks at 1100 Broadway responded with the warm bedside manner of Dr. Mengele. Why send flowers or hugs, after all, when it’s much more meaningful to dispatch an email saying your job has been eliminated? But of course there was a bright spot: as a reward for loyal service—and for continuing to breathe—the veteran staffer could apply for any open position, unlike, say, anyone else walking through the front entrance. Thanks, and don’t let the door hit you in the catheter on the way out. Meanwhile, to fill the void of a conservative voice on the op-ed page, the paper decided to start buying a weekly freelance column—Rush-lite drivel—from talk-radio blunderbuss Phil Valentine. But Chavez may have the last word yet. While he’s now healthy, The Tennessean’s relevancy is on life support.

GentryficationIn June, the Scene reported about mayoral candidate Howard Gentry’s “urban plunge,” a challenge from homeless activists for all mayoral candidates to spend a night on the streets. The story, by lightning-rod political reporter Jeff Woods, quoted an activist as saying that on the night the then-vice mayor took the plunge, “a disgruntled Gentry” sought out a bed at the Rescue Mission with no success. The Scene tried to reach the candidate to corroborate the anecdote, but in a grievous error the story ran without hearing back from Gentry. When it turned out the information was bad, Gentry was given a legitimate (and opportune) reason to play the victim, while Woods’ persistent online critics, some from other campaigns scorched by his caustic coverage, seized upon the single incident for months as payback.

GRAB BAG OF BONERS

Unclassifiable entries from a year of weirdness—and you get to watch.

Run, Rudolph, RunWhen Carol Kueny saw a deer fall from an I-440 overpass near West End last June, she placed a 911 call hoping that someone would give the suffering animal a quick and painless death. And when police officers and a TDOT road crew arrived on the scene, she felt certain that the deer would be swiftly put out of its misery. Instead, to her horror, a Metro policeman refused to shoot it, reportedly because that would require a long report—which left a reluctant TDOT crew member to bludgeon the wounded animal 11 times with an aluminum shovel. As if the roadside spectacle of someone pulling a Rodney King on Bambi weren’t awful enough, a sledgehammer was required to finish the job. “If I’d known that was what was going to happen,” Kueny told the Tennessean, “I would’ve found the strength to twist that deer’s neck and kill it myself.”

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?Maria Calderon is Nashville’s very own Paris Hilton wannabe, complete with purse-sized dog, swell-looking friends and a not-so-great solo album. But if conscience were looks, she’d be Leona Helmsley. Unlike Paris or Leona, Calderon has invested over a million bucks in East Nashville real estate. But while she jet-setted to Rio, San Fran and New York, her tenants shivered through a freezing winter without heat or hot water. That’s because the pipes burst after Calderon attempted to install a jet-tub in her own apartment. The flighty slumlord didn’t return their phone calls for weeks, leaving renters to spend most of January huddled under electric blankets. Now her holdings include the building that houses the beloved Family Wash and a building across the street, and the tenants of that property also had major problems with Calderon that almost ended up in court. On second thought, Leona Helmsley was cuter.

Six Flags Over JesusIn a story that kept the national media in loaves and fishes for weeks, the SafeHarbor Holding company announced its intent to build Bible Park USA, a biblical theme park costing upward of $150 million, in the Blackman community outside Murfreesboro. Those who feared an amusement park might be, um, an unconventional means of worship were not appeased by plans for a “Bible Fly-Through Ride” over ancient Jerusalem, a thrill-a-minute Exodus between 25-foot walls of water, a Noah’s Ark staffed with actors in animal suits, or “a delicious meal in the Agape Tent.” In keeping with the religious theme, the proposed park brought down swift Old Testament wrath from neighbors, who worried about traffic, noise and already taxed community services. God, predictably, was mum on the topic, but only weeks later the world was smited with Evan Almighty.

BELOW-THE-BELT BONERS

Put on a little Barry White, light some candles, and wear something filmy as the Boners come to a climax. Was it as good for you as it was for us?

F Trooper James Randy Moss, a Tennessee state trooper, declared himself a candidate for the Boner Hall of Fame—in every sense of the term—last May when a speeding stop turned into a perfect media storm of sex, lies and videotape. After pulling over a motorist for doing 92 in a 70-mph zone, Moss apparently thought he’d hit the jackpot when the driver turned out to be Justis Ellen Richert, a.k.a. Barbie Cummings, a Knoxville-based porn star who said she was en route to a shoot. After a search turned up suspicious “happy pills” in her car, Cummings wound up in Moss’ cruiser—not under arrest, but to view clips on a laptop from her Oscar-caliber oeuvre, which includes Ass Juice Junkies, Black Cock Addiction 3 and Frat House Fuckfest 6. Before long, she wrote on her blog, Moss discreetly tossed the pills, and Cummings orally polished his nightstick while the trooper filmed away with his dashboard camera. The incident might have vanished into seedy oblivion, had Moss not sent Cummings clips of the encounter—and had Cummings not posted them on her blog along with (ahem) a blow-by-blow description. In the ensuing media avalanche, Moss was fired and eventually faced charges including evidence tampering. And in a related story, every 15-year-old boy and Maxim reader in America wants to be a Tennessee state trooper.The Blue-Balled CafePolice were called earlier this year to the scene of an attempted makeout session. A male victim called to report that the woman he picked up at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge earlier that evening freaked out when he put the moves on her back at his place. He was giving her a massage, he said, when she suddenly “went wild and began pulling his hair.” The woman grabbed a mike stand and chased her thwarted paramour into a closet, then bombarded the door with anything at hand until he made a break for the exit. The man returned to his Second Avenue apartment a short time later, only to find his would-be hookup had busted two laptops, torn down curtains and broken the shower door. She also made off with his cell phone, two cameras, car keys, a pair of cowboy boots and all his credit cards, which she used to go on a $3,000 shopping spree the next day. When police finally caught up with the 47-year-old suspect, she was charged with aggravated assault, vandalism and theft. The moral of this story: Honky-tonk does not necessarily guarantee badonkadonk.

Hey, the Sign Said ‘Job Opportunities!In an incident bizarre even by the standards of Bonerdom, security guards were summoned to a third-floor conference room in Cummins Station when a horny nutcase barged in on a business meeting. To the astonishment of the gathered workers, he asked if anyone wanted to give him oral sex. Having tried the subtle approach, police say, he demanded a blowjob, then dropped his pants and brought the meeting to disorder with his manly gavel. Guards caught the 25-year-old with his pants down and detained him until police arrived to arrest him for indecent exposure and trespassing.

Chronic OffenderPolice received several calls about a woman exposing her breasts to customers at a Mapco on Gallatin Road. Officers found the female suspect with her shirt partially pulled up and acting as though she was about to drop trou. When asked what was wrong, the 20-year-old woman said she was “high on life” and that the only thing she had smoked was a little marijuana. She kept shouting, “I am woman,” adding that she was of Native American descent, her “soul was buried in the earth” and she was “of the water.” The cops figured she was of something a little stronger. She was booked for public intoxication, along with disorderly conduct and indecent exposure.

If We Wanted Smoked Meat, We’d Go to Jack’sA male perp was sitting on a bench at Third and Broadway completely nude, genitals exposed, prompting several alarmed pedestrians to call police. When an officer approached, the 39-year-old suspect explained he was simply “sunning the untanned areas.”

TEST YOUR BONER I.Q.

1. Vanderbilt Chancellor Gordon Gee stunned students and faculty alike this year when he:A) cut a hole in a box.B) put his junk in that box.C) made them open the box.D) abruptly departed his post for Ohio State University, just a month after he affirmed his “unwavering and unshakable” commitment to Vanderbilt.

2. Mike Sartain Jr., a Cooperstown resident serving in Iraq, received a bonus for reenlisting in the Army. Last January, evidently moved by the example of his son’s service, Mike James Sartain Sr., 59, decided to:A) enlist himself.B) create Operation Sunshine, a support group for soldiers’ families.C) write the patriotic anthem “Freedom Isn’t Free (Or Dumb).”D) steal a chunk of the money, along with jewelry, guns and savings bonds from his son’s house, and hightail it to Tunica.

3. The Palm, one of Nashville’s ritziest and priciest steakhouses, made the news this year. The reason:A) Steak is full of juicy goodness. This answer is brought to you by the American Beef Council.B) The key to a centuries-old mystery involving Opus Dei, the Vatican and the descendants of Mary Magdalene was found in a caricature of Charlie Chase.C) Lee Greenwood.D) It made a health score lower than a Nolensville Road taco joint, then failed reinspection.

4. Nashville, a glitzy reality “docu-soap” following music-biz hopefuls in Music City, was supposed to bring major-network attention to Middle Tennessee when it premiered last fall on Fox. Unfortunately, the show was:A) aired.B) cancelled for bottom-basement ratings after only two episodes.C) a piece of crap.D) All of the above.

5. In March, a Clarksville woman had nearly $5,000 in goods stolen from her house, including a digital camera whose serial number she had registered with the National Crime Information Center. Police picked up Justin William Toland, 20, after:A) William Petersen constructed his profile from a nose hair and three sweat molecules.B) David Caruso dramatically removed his sunglasses and said, “Crime—it’s not a pretty picture.”C) Gary Sinise said, “Hey, remember me from Reindeer Games?”D) the pinhead posed for a picture for the pawnshop owner who bought the camera.

6. Dotson Randolph, a Franklin alderman and real-estate broker, was hit with a 28-count lawsuit in August after an investigation raised allegations that she:A) wore white after Labor Day.B) failed to recognize Jefferson Davis as the nation’s ruler.C) sold a house in Williamson County to a minority.D) engaged in multiple “crimes of moral turpitude,” including forgery, stalking as many as 10 people, and bombarding one Franklin couple with more than 200 phone calls in December 2005 as well as emails of a “graphic, sexual and vulgar” nature.

7. In one of the sillier legal tussles of the year, William J. Hoak sued state officials last August because he argued the Tennessee Department of Revenue had overtaxed him for something. What was it?A) His stake in the Porter Wagoner rhinestone mines.B) The 28,000 pounds of Wrigley’s gum that actually spilled on an interstate median outside Murfreesboro.C) Scalped Hannah Montana tickets.D) The pot-laced Rice Krispie treats he got busted with at Bonnaroo.

8. Last April, to raise money for his prom tuxedo, a 17-year-old hit upon the masterstroke of sticking up a pizza deliveryman with a BB pistol. Unfortunately for him, the deliveryman was really:A) Walker, Texas Ranger.B) a tuxedo salesman.C) Uthruhu, Hellfire God of Pepperoni.D) an undercover Metro cop, who pretty much canceled his prom plans for the next several years.

Answers: 1-8, D.

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