Nashville may have hosted its first Grammy nominations concert this year, but we've got some envelopes of our own to hand out. Yes, 2012 marks the 23rd edition of the Scene's Boner Awards, our yearly paean to incompetence, folly and indiscretion. And while Music City may be no stranger to hits, this is all about the misses — oh, the undeniable misses!
A fixture of local TV commercials packing illicit heat? On the playlist. A foot-licking tryst arranged through Craigslist gone haywire? About to come up on shuffle. Politicians crooning a wholesome family-values tune while trampling on law and decency like a bunch of slobbering lunatics? Queue it up. It's practically an infinite mixtape of larger-than-life chart-toppers and lower-than-dirt show-stoppers of all genres, from hyp-hocrisy to dumbstep.
So, like a DJ whose talk break has gone on too long, at long last we present a year's worth of goofs, mal mots and flops — ribbed, for your pleasure. Now that's what we call Boners!
And the ignominees are ...
Few political artists have been as transcendent in recent years as state Sen. Stacey Campfield. The Red Headed Strange Senator from Knoxville has hardly fallen from the top of the Boner charts since he came to office, and that didn't change this year. Who could forget classics like "It Was One Guy Screwing a Monkey," a concept piece in which Campfield, as only he can, told an interviewer that AIDS began when an airline pilot "screwed" a primate and then went on to have sex with other men — a novel interpretation that left people across the country rubbing their eyes and ears in astonishment? Or his characteristically informed take on the killing of Trayvon Martin: Soon after the story broke and the issue of so-called "stand your ground laws" became the subject of much conversation, Campfield declared he was "pretty sure" that Tennessee had such a law on the books. Oh, wait: He's the one who sponsored it.
More recently, this one-man Dr. Demento Show showed his range by appropriating the phrase "shuck and jive" — the origins of which date back to slavery — in a reference to President Obama's ... well, that wasn't really clear. Campfield appeared to be using the term in solidarity with former presidential candidate Sarah Palin (an eccentric political maestro in her own right), who had employed the phrase in a similar fashion days earlier.
But perhaps his greatest single performance came in late September, when he penned a composition titled "Let's Put Those Legal Boys to Work." In it, he called out those "not of the exclusive on line [sic] media community" who had apparently been "trying to profit" from his work — in other words, journalists directly citing the dumbfounding twaddle he posts on his blog, available for all to see on the Internet. But that didn't stop Campfield from threatening unspecified legal action if they continued to quote his prose. A brilliant work of satire, we're quite sure — or perhaps a concept album about a dystopian future where politicians attempt to prevent the press from accurately quoting their statements. Congratulations, Senator! You're No. 1 with a Boner bullet — aimed squarely at your own foot.
Hot Man-on-Manning Action!
WHEREAS, state Rep. Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby) took legislative absurdity to new heights by drafting a resolution urging the Tennessee Titans to sign Peyton Manning; and WHEREAS this is the same Jeremy Faison whose contribution to the House debate on cyberbullying was to suggest parents were to blame for teen suicides; and WHEREAS Faison's resolution includes language so fawning you suspect he might reverse his anti-gay-marriage stance so he can propose to the star quarterback; now, therefore, BE IT RESOLVED that Faison has a major boner for Peyton. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we've got a rock-hard capital-B Boner for Faison. Delivered herewith, this 13th day of December, 2012.
The first time state Rep. Julia Hurley made the news with her little dog Pepper, she was arguing that Pepper should be allowed to boldly go where no dog has gone before — into the Roane County Courthouse —because she was Hurley's service dog. Pepper's service? According to Hurley, companionship. Pepper made the news again when Hurley posted a video on the Internet of a man in her car holding Pepper completely outside of the moving vehicle while Pepper engaged in what Hurley called "air-swimming" and everyone else recognized as "flailing in panic." Hurley claimed the criticism she received for her treatment of Pepper was a "liberal ploy," but it was bipartisan concern for Pepper that landed Hurley in the doghouse — and ultimately, out of the House.
Come as you are, as you were
In the midst of a heated Senate debate earlier this year, state Sen. Mae Beavers was asked if a bill she was sponsoring — aimed at prohibiting anti-discrimination "all-comers" policies, like one in place for Vanderbilt University student organizations — would force a university to recognize devil worshipers or Klan members, if they cited religious principles as the basis for their membership policies. Small-government conservative that she is, Beavers said that choice would be left to individual schools. And that sounds reasonable enough — except that the bill Beavers was sponsoring would have done just the opposite. (Since the bill was apparently written with only Christian organizations in mind, few could blame her for being confused.) In the end, though, Gov. Bill Haslam sided with the Mae Beavers who was opposing the bill instead of the Mae Beavers who was sponsoring it, and issued his first-ever veto. Way to show some backbone, Guv — devil horns!
2 legit 2 quit
At this summer's Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., Rep. Joe Carr (R-Lascassas) engaged in a bizarre back-and-forth with the media over the female reproductive system. Carr first said he agreed with Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin that raped women possess a magical power to ward off pregnancy. Then, under criticism back home, Carr denied he said it, then said it again — or said that he'd heard it's true but couldn't personally vouch for it, not being a scientist himself. And besides, he didn't remember talking to any reporters about it in the first place. Glad he cleared that up.
Mark of the beast
If he had been paying attention, state Democratic Party chairman Chip Forrester could have yanked right-wing conspiracy theorist Mark Clayton's name off the ballot in the August primary for U.S. Senate. But Forrester said he was too busy to vet the candidates. So instead, Clayton — who believes the U.S. government is scheming to build a secret superhighway from Canada to Mexico and herd people into FEMA prison camps — defeated a field of nobodies, forcing the party to disavow him after the fact and making Tennessee Democrats a national embarrassment. When Clayton took a surprising 702,298 votes, or 30 percent, against Sen. Bob Corker on Nov. 6, Forrester shrugged. "Voters have a responsibility to educate themselves about candidates," he said. Since that apparently doesn't apply to party chairmen, consider the awarding of this Boner our civic duty, diligently performed.
Fowler than foul
In August, conservative activist and Family Action Council of Tennessee head David Fowler posted what he called a "lesson in irony" to his Facebook wall. The food stamp program, so the lesson went, is proudly distributing more aid than ever; at the same time, the National Park Service instructs us not to feed animals because "the animals will grow dependent on handouts and not learn to take care of themselves." Heh, heh — because poor people are wretched little animals, get it? O hilarity, Fowler is thy name. More than a few Tennesseans spent 2012 equating "family values conservative" with "jackass," but Fowler's food for thoughtlessness merits special recognition. Open mouth, insert Boner.
Suck his caucus
State Sen. Jim Summerville is the kind of guy who answers the door in underwear and boots, looks controversy straight in the face and says, "Make my day." Over the course of a single month, the Dickson Republican unleashed a tour de force of pot-stirring, in three acts. In late July, he was cited with a misdemeanor for "dogs at large," after allegedly letting his dogs run loose in the neighborhood and posting a sign threatening his irritated neighbors. Then he sent out word that for Senate members and staffers looking to celebrate Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, the anti-gay chicken was on him. For the finale, he sent an email to members of the state's Black Caucus, letting them know he didn't "give a rat's ass" what they thought. When asked about the comments later, he fired back, "Which part wasn't clear? The matter speaks for itself. Maybe I could have used a more artful term like a 'rodent's posterior.' " Get off his lawn. You've been warned.
Tharon lies the problem
Running as what we'll call an extremely independent candidate, serial office-seeker, buttocks-area-bone-marrow-harvesting conspiracy theorist — we wish we were joking about that — and all-around crazypants horndog Tharon Chandler actually attempted to challenge Marsha Blackburn for the 7th Congressional district seat this year. It's almost hard to believe he lost, considering the nifty bio on his blog: "I am a Man looking for a Woman with which to 'Procreate' or make or have children." But while he may not be your congressman, ladies, he could still be your main squeeze: "Now, it is not young teen girls i [sic] am seeking in my adventures around the country and recently on international treks," Chandler writes, "but 'Older' teen girls and young women; like the kind that every real man likes, unless he is a lier [sic]."
Democrats in Tennessee are not just marginalized — legislatively speaking, they're irrelevant! Yes, the party that once ran everything now has so few seats in the General Assembly that they're not required to be there for the body to conduct business. And the man to thank? The captain of the ship, party chairman Chip Forrester, whose Bonertastic tenure ended in the most fitting way possible: Twelve days before the election, he announced he was leaving his post, completely upstaging the party's efforts. Because nothing tells voters you're poised for success like being quoted saying, "Unless lightning strikes, we're going to be in the super-minority." As the old Democratic saying goes: Lightning never strikes once.
A state housing agency's officials admitted "we have fun" with public money. Channel 5's Phil Williams reported the Tennessee Housing Development Agency spent nearly $10,000 on an outing to Dave and Buster's, treated administrators to a stretch limo ride, and bought "drag queen boobs" for an employee talent show. The agency's new boss, Ralph Perrey, promised the party's over. "I think there are other ways that you can have a rewarding place of work and to show your appreciation for the hard work that's done," he said. Boners all around!
Who knew that sleeping with patients was a family value? In an electoral news season where it took real work to break through all the "legitimate rape" in the air, up stepped Scott DesJarlais. With tea party candidates across the land tripping over their Boners, Tennessee's 4th District congressman made headlines for not only shtupping a woman he had been treating in his medical practice, but also for trying to talk her into driving to Atlanta to have an abortion. (On that last point, the candidate explained he was pulling a ruse to get the woman to tell the truth about her pregnancy — like that makes it more honorable.) The ostensibly pro-life DesJarlais dismissed all of this as old news, the product of a decade-old messy divorce. For those keeping track, "my insanely hypocritical actions are irrelevant because they're old" is now a winning campaign strategy.
Back in the day, Paul Stanley used to be a state senator. But after his mistress/intern's boyfriend tried to blackmail him and the TBI had to get involved, Stanley has been reduced to making media appearances every time some political bigwig gets caught in a sex scandal. Fortunately for Stanley, this means he has pretty steady work. Unfortunately for Stanley, it means that he keeps saying things that seem to undermine his "I only made this one mistake and it was all my mistress's fault" story. This year, not only did he admit that he decided to have an affair with said intern "the moment I laid eyes on her" (which is pretty much the opposite of her seducing him), he also admitted to Politico that "my affairs were purely sexual. There was no emotion in them." Note the plurals.
We'd be remiss if we published a Boner Awards issue without mentioning a Metro councilman arrested for patronizing a prostitute — that would be District 4's Brady Banks, who was cuffed for just that offense in February. And we'd also be remiss if we failed to mention that said Metro councilman was both a Harvard Divinity School graduate and the married husband of a minister. And the fact that a Franklin Road Academy high school coach had been arrested the week before in a police prostitution sting — all of which add up to make this a crime of highly questionable passion, theological awkwardness and utterly staggering stupidity.
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