Mules, Mom and Apple Pie. Lately, some big-city papers have called into question the importance of some of our small-town traditions. Last week, The New York Times ran an incredulous story about how Mule Day had been placed on the Department of Homeland Security’s National Asset Database. Mule Day, held annually in Columbia, Tenn., is a celebration of that trusty and underappreciated beast of burden that helped build a nation. The National Asset database is a list of thousands of events and locations that are possible targets for terrorist attack. The Times expressed horrified surprise when it learned that Mule Day had made the list. After the story broke, the New York Daily News printed a scathing, sarcasm-laced editorial, excoriating DHS and demanding an immediate revision of the list. Ostensibly, such a revision would mean removing Mule Day from the database. Here at the Scene, we cherish our mule-based heritage and don’t wish to see festivals honoring this fine animal attacked by terrorists or under-informed Yankees. For the record, one of the basic criteria for an event to be included in the database is that it draw more than 10,000 people, according to Rick Shipkowski, deputy director of the Tennessee office of Homeland Security. The folks down at the Columbia Chamber of Commerce say that the annual Mule Day celebration, which is held over several days, draws between 150,000 and 200,000(!) mule enthusiasts. If 200,000 patriotic mule lovers all gathered in one area isn’t a potential target for al-Qaeda types, then we don’t know what is. Other Tennessee events on the list are the Memphis in May music festival as well as Tennessee Titans and UT football games, Shipkowski says. He also says that DHS is revising the database so that some potential targets that no longer exist, like a chemical plant that went out of business, are removed. Let’s just hope that, no matter what the folks in New York say, the targets close to our hearts and homes don’t get short shrift.
Politics in the Crapper. Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howard Switzer has an old-world way of fertilizing his garden at his 65-acre home in Linden, Tenn. Even though the house, which he’s remodeling, has indoor plumbing, Switzer and his wife, Katey, prefer to go to the bathroom outside. The waste, rich in nitrogen, isn’t actually wasted at all. “The Chinese have been doing it for years,” shrugs Switzer, who indulged in ’60s-era nonconformity as a member of The Farm, an “intentional” commune in Summertown, Tenn., where he lived until 1983. Switzer, who has no illusions about unseating Gov. Bredesen in the November election, composts the waste to get rid of pathogens. He says Dems and Repubs often co-opt ideas from Greens after elections. Here’s guessing Switzer’s bathroom routine won’t be one of them.
Dirty Dancing. A man kicked out of a dance club recently for allegedly “groping two individuals in the rest room” just wasn’t ready to call in a night. Anthony Taylor refused to leave Play Dance Bar and instead began arguing with police outside the Church Street night club. Taylor “adamantly denied” fondling anyone and instead claimed his two accusers were “doing drugs” in the bathroom. When officers explained that they couldn’t randomly search patrons for drugs based on his claim, Taylor reportedly became irate and repeatedly called 911 in front of police, demanding to speak to supervisors and narcotics officers. Taylor then refused a taxi ride home and, not surprisingly, he finally was arrested for public intoxication.
The Metro school board’s final decision on a new school uniform policy is still at least a week away, but students may soon be wishing they had already joined the khaki-clad army of polo-shirted clones.