Looks like trouble for Tommy. Well, actually his name's Ryan. And as The Who once sang, he's a pinball wizard. Well, actually he's a pinball repair wizard. But nonetheless, Ryan Kaldari learned a few weeks ago that in Davidson County, it's illegal for people under age 18 to play pinball. In fact, it's even illegal for them to stand within 10 feet of a pinball machine.
Here's the proof:
Metro Code 11.28.060 Operation of pinball machines.
A. It is unlawful for any person having custody or charge of any pinball machine where the same may be operated to permit any minor under the age of eighteen years to play, operate or use any such machine or to loiter about the same...
C. ...All such gaming devices shall be separated from other coin-operated devices by a partition to insure minors are not allowed nearer than ten feet to the gaming devices. Further, all such machines, as defined herein, shall have a sign placed on the upper right-hand corner of said machine, no less than five inches by eight inches in size, stating that said machine can not be operated by a person under eighteen years of age...
So what gives? Turns out pinball machines in the old daysold like 1940sused to dispense coins and not just replays, meaning they were gambling machines. So, the folklore goes, the Nashville legislative body outlawed them along with all the other vice in our virtuous southern city. To give you a sense of the level of policy antiquity we're dealing with, section B of the legislation says a legal-age person can establish his pinball eligibility by producing a selective service card on demand. Does anyone these days who's pinball-age carry one of those?
Kaldari noticed the strange piece of Metro code while restoring an old pinball machine for installation in the all-ages downtown coffeehouse The Muse. When he realized he'd be violating the law, he emailed Metro councilman Mike Jameson, who promptly drafted legislation to delete 11.28.060.
That legislation should be filed any day now, and if it passes, it will be a victory for common sense. But let's face it: common sense hasn't won many battles in this Metro council. From prominent penises to pesky poop, privileged parking to poisoned Perrier, the "40 jealous whores" of the Metro Council (as former Mayor Beverly Briley once termed them) haven't done too much right this term. These days they're racing to change zoning codes to ban duplexes from their districts, reducing urban density when they should be increasing it.
Long story short: pinball could be the pinheads' next big battle. Someone may have a bone to pick. (Pinball payback's a bitch.) Hell, Carolyn Baldwin Tucker might think the innocent arcade diversion is Satan incarnate. You just can't predict these folks. All you can do is cross your fingers and hope that the Metro Council's ready to move Nashville past the 1940s.
Now that's gambling.