The Boner Awards 2000 

Another year of questionable achievements

Another year of questionable achievements

Last year at this time, we were all convinced that at the stroke of midnight, Jan. 1, 2000, all hell would break loose. Computers would suddenly revert to the year 1900, crashing systems around the world. Commerce would grind to a halt. Banking would be a thing of the past. Martial law would rule, and the only ones prepared would be the folks holed up in underground bunkers, balancing their hand-cranked radios atop five-pound drums of Hormel Treet. People everywhere would take leave of their senses. As we now know, none of this came to pass.

Well, except that last part.

Yes, once again, we were not disappointed by the wide range of human folly on display this year. Bungled crimes. Bad choices. Business catastrophes. Add to this an extra element of tension created by the most contentious presidential election in more than a century—with our city at its hub—and you’ll quickly see why it’s a banner year for Boners, our annual recap of Nashville’s least shining moments.

We’ve said this every year since 1989, but this time we really, really mean it:

Have we got a Boner for you.

Electile Boners

The party that deserves Pat Buchanan

The Reform Party made headlines in Nashville when its national committee meeting went haywire at the Marriott Hotel. In February, faced with the high-profile withdrawal from the party of Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, the notoriously fractious Reformists gathered in Music City to discuss the party’s direction. It didn’t take long for them to demonstrate what kind of party is too contentious even for a former pro wrestler. By the end of the meeting, national chairman Jack Gargan had been voted out of office, two delegates had been ejected from the room, and police struggled to keep order while bickering Reformists wrestled at the podium. Shouted Gargan to a less than sympathetic crowd, “This was not the Reform Party I know!” Oh yes it was.

Exercising the ol’ pocket veto, or, They don’t call him ‘Wooden Al’ for nothing

How can an actual boner be left out of the Boner Awards? Tennessee’s own Al Gore, who graced the cover of his generation’s periodic music bible Rolling Stone this fall, apparently gave the impression of being, um, somewhat turgid during the photo shoot for the accompanying story. According to media reports, the magazine’s graphic gurus had to, in a word, dehance the image of the veep’s crotch region in a full-body photo that had him clad in khakis and an untucked shirt. The only thing missing was a bubble over his head reading, “I’ve got your surplus right here.”

Yeah, but if you dump him, he demands a hand recount

Of Al Gore’s shameless sucking up to breasted beings, syndicated columnist Maureen Dowd noted during the campaign that “the guy practically lactates.” But that apparently wasn’t enough to satisfy the Gore team last summer when the balding veep was trailing Republican rival George W. Bush among women voters in the polls. What did the Gore camp do? They convened a focus group asking women who would make the better date—Gore or Bush. The Wall Street Journal quoted congressional Democrats who were briefed on the results as saying the vice president was the clear victor of the all-important focus group session.

The guy’s obviously no brain surgeon

Tennessee Republicans insist that GOP U.S. Sen. Bill Frist was second only to Dick Cheney for George W. Bush’s vice presidential pick. But there’s a reason why Frist, who truly was on Dubya’s list of contenders, didn’t get more credit: He was too busy giving it to himself. His self-serving commentary was, to say the least, immodest. “My name is on a number of the short lists...that are floated around,” said Frist, exhibiting all the humility of a UT fan. “And I think that is in large part because of my focus in health care, my focus in education, and probably in part because of my State of the Union response.” Sadly, Frist never got the chance to fit his big head through the doors of the West Wing.

Are you sure we didn’t elect Dick Fulton?

Mayor Bill Purcell’s first budget address before the Metro Council in May went off without a hitch—unless you count the needless elbows he planted in predecessor Phil Bredesen’s ribs. While the mayor’s message was solid and meaningful, he undermined it with the kind of subtle and not-so-subtle petty jabs at Bredesen that have become his trademark—including gratuitous references to the city’s “problems and commitments of the past” and, of course, the promise that Nashvillians could “look forward to better stewardship.” Someone needed to tell him the campaign was over—and Bredesen wasn’t running.

State of the Boners

Honk if you love economic ruin!

In June, as word got out that the Tennessee Legislature was considering an income tax on the state’s wealthiest citizens—those 42,000 households making more than $100,000 a year in adjusted gross income—the Capitol was suddenly besieged by angry motorists honking their horns in protest. They were quickly joined by protesters comparing Gov. Don Sundquist to a Nazi and themselves to fervent colonists at the Boston Tea Party. (Needless to say, the loudest protesters were those, like talk-radio demagogue-in-training Phil Valentine and car dealer Lee Beaman, who would have been taxed.) While the madhouse reinforced the power of Americans’ rights to assemble, it stampeded the sheeplike General Assembly into adopting a craven stopgap measure that set back the cause of tax reform another dangerous year.

The most important bill of the day

The gutless General Assembly may have stonewalled on the question of long-overdue tax reform, but legislators tackled head-on the issue of...breakfast. Since restaurants serving three meals a day get first crack at advertising slots on interstate off-ramp signs, some fast-food joints set out donuts and coffee just to qualify. A bill sponsored in the Senate attempted to establish hard and fast rules about what counts as breakfast. For obvious reasons, it was supported by McDonald’s but opposed by Taco Bell. Hey, it was more fun than dealing with real issues.

Far from the honking crowd

Another loser in the state income-tax battle was the Sunshine Law, the venerable statute opening government meetings to public scrutiny. As public outcry thundered, legislators took shelter in back rooms to hammer out compromises on the state budget. A Tennessean reporter was even barred from a meeting in House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh’s office. The flouting of the Sunshine Law became so blatant that the Scene joined a lawsuit to end the secret meetings.

It was only because Charlton Heston was busy

Earlier this year, a concerned citizen e-mailed state Rep. Ben West to oppose his legislation closing public records on who’s carrying concealed weapons in Tennessee. The next day, whom did the voter hear from—West? Think again. The response came from the executive director of the Tennessee Firearms Association. West himself never responded. We’re still waiting for the legislator to send a pro-life constituent’s comments to Planned Parenthood.

A picture is worth a thousand curses

In April, a Tennessean guest column by John Netherton, the president of Friends of Radnor Lake, swatted the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) for considering the closing of several state parks to help balance the state budget. The piece so miffed TDEC’s commissioner, Milton Hamilton, that he asked his assistant to remove several framed nature photographs taken by Netherton from his office and immediate surroundings on the 21st floor of the L&C Tower. “I did not want to walk out my door every morning and see John Netherton’s pictures,” the commissioner told the Scene at the time. He gets points for honesty, if not diplomacy.

TDOT: Those Damned Old Twits

This year, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) announced the second-largest civil penalty it has ever leveled against an industry or institution for environmental breaches. But the culprit was not a forest-destroying chip mill or a water-polluting textile manufacturer. The guilty party was the state itself—namely, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), which agreed to a combination of cash penalties and environmental cleanup totaling just over $3 million. The size of the retribution was second only to the fines and other corrective action TDEC has directed against the federal government for breaches in Oak Ridge.

Dial 1-800-BITE-ME

In April, the Tennessee Regulatory Authority announced a toll-free phone number that residents could call to restrict telemarketers from reaching them at home. Unfortunately, the phone number was just one digit different from a bank in Fargo, N.D., which was instantly deluged with more than 500 calls in one day.

Copping a Boner

Putting the ‘fraternal’ in the FOP

This past spring, Fraternal Order of Police chief Jimmy Wheeler seized an unusually high profile in Metro Government—leading rallies in support of suspended officers, asking Metro Council to fund a 14-percent pay raise for police officers in a tight budget year, and criticizing the assistant police chief for the force’s low morale. But the city soon learned this 13-year veteran of the force wasn’t exactly Officer Friendly. Wheeler’s personnel file documents a history of violent behavior, some of which he did not dispute—as when, in an argument, he pushed his girlfriend over the couch and held her down with his hand around her throat. According to a memo in his personnel file, Wheeler also confessed to firing a gun into the air to get her to talk to him. A few months after the story appeared, Metro police officers voted to oust Wheeler from his position.

Belle Merde

The year: 1998. The place: a lawless border town where human life is cheap—the city of Belle Meade. Don Harris, a local math teacher, pulls over Belle Meade officer Alexander Binkley to make a citizen’s arrest for speeding on Briley Parkway. Harris tells Binkley he works for Metro, which is in fact true. But when Binkley realizes that Harris works for Metro as a teacher, he angrily turns the tables and arrests his pursuer. The subsequent outcry makes the officer look like a hothead in blue, while the teacher becomes a fleeting local hero—especially when the charges are dropped. In the many months that follow, Belle Meade’s hapless gaggle of city bureaucrats never thinks to look into whether Binkley both broke the law and lost his cool. Fast-forward to this January: Criminal Court Judge Seth Norman spots a Belle Meade patrol car speeding on Hillsboro Road without its siren on. Not one to look the other way, Norman pens a letter to Belle Meade City Hall saying that the officer nearly caused a serious accident. The driver? You guessed it: our old friend officer Binkley—who is promptly fired.

Good thing they weren’t in Belle Meade

In January, at the height of Super Bowl fever, a promotional stunt by country station Music City 103.3 FM intended to promote goodwill between Metro police and the community backfired. The station announced it was giving away two tickets to the Super Bowl, with one catch: They were hidden on the belly of a Metro police officer. Within minutes, the offer triggered a stampede around the city as alarmed police were suddenly accosted by ticket-crazed Titans fans. The station quickly called a halt to the promotion, but not before a police car was chased by motorists in morning traffic, and a civilian ran up and patted down a foot officer.

All the Boners fit to print

Setting the record, um, straight

Earlier this year, music writer Tom Roland told In Review media critic Henry Walker that he was leaving his job at The Tennessean to “pursue a relationship.” But when Walker, 1100 Broadway’s harshest nitpicker, wrote that Roland was leaving the paper to join his “girlfriend” in Los Angeles, staffers at the daily howled. Roland, in fact, is as gay as Walker is straight, and as he later told the Scene, he was departing Nashville to be with his boyfriend. What’s more, Roland brought his boyfriend to the going-away party the paper threw for him. Walker wasn’t invited.

At last, a meal even Thayer Wine couldn’t eat

Throughout the summer months, The Tennessean battered viewers with hype about the CBS TV show Survivor, starting well before the first episode aired and continuing well after the last. The nadir came with an above-the-fold front-page story trumpeting the nutritious effects of eating bugs, as the show’s desert-island castaways did. Readers who finished the article learned that waterbugs taste like lemon. Those who threw the paper down after the first graph wondered if they could vote managing editor Dave Green onto a desert island.

But reserve the Pinot Noir for weevils and deer ticks

In the same Tennessean article about eating bugs, the paper’s editor and wine columnist, Frank Sutherland, was asked to select a wine that goes well with fistfuls of grubs and beetles. His choice: a white zinfandel.

No matter how low you set the bar, your daily paper will trip over it

A correction from The Tennessean’s Nov. 17 edition: “In a feature about Tommy Chong in yesterday’s Weekend section, Abbott and Costello’s ‘Who’s on First’ routine was incorrectly attributed to Laurel and Hardy. The Tennessean regrets the errors.”

Shirt happens

In an incident that showed who really stops the presses at 1100 Broadway—marketing or editorial—The Tennessean’s “all Titans” front page was remade in January over the protests of the layout editor. The reason: A marketing executive said the page’s headline and top photograph were too horizontal to be reproduced on the promotional T-shirt accompanying the issue. Given the daily’s dismal track record this year, you could probably count on getting more news by subscribing to the T-shirt.

Funny, we’d always had them figured as proctologists

Thanks to a typo, the front page of The Tennessean’s business section offered tax info from “the Tennessee Society of Certified Pubic Accountants.”

Hey, writers—still waiting for your paycheck from In Review?

When In Review publisher and editor Boyer Barner refused to pay freelancer Joe Sweat for a number of stories he penned for the paper last year, Sweat took action. First he sued Barner and won a $2,000 judgment. But when Barner, who is no stranger to a lawsuit, again declined to make good on the debt, Sweat had the Sheriff’s Department prepare to seize 30,000 copies of the weekly paper right off the press. (It coulda been the first time every issue of In Review got picked up.) Barner hurriedly arrived and paid Sweat his debt in cold, hard cash. Barner then asked Sweat if he wanted to start writing for the paper again. Sweat eventually said yes—on the condition that he be paid up front.

Face down in the wedding cake

An item last June in the unsigned gossip column “The City Crier” became the Scene’s most infamous public screw-up since the days of pot-smoking senators and the Janet March “You Are So Nashville If...” entry. The item needled the gala Belle Meade wedding of Douglas Henry Jr., son of Lolly and state Sen. Douglas Henry, and Ashley Weigel, daughter of Patsy and Robert Weigel. Though the article contained some factual errors, readers were outraged more by the merciless ridiculing of the extravagant (but private) wedding party and its members—including Southern gentleman extraordinaire Douglas Henry, who was slammed for everything from his age and personal fortune to his “waddle.” Editor/publisher Bruce Dobie issued an all-but-unprecedented apology the next week, but the stink lingered. More than one Scene writer was approached tearfully by Belle Meade socialites fearing that their children’s own Ozymandian nuptials would be lampooned.

A hunting cap for Holt, a dunce cap for Ridley

In an article about WDCN-Channel 8 changing its identity to Nashville Public Television, Scene writer Jim Ridley drew clouds of buckshot from loyal fans of The Tennessee Outdoorsmen, the WDCN hunting-and-fishing show that had recently gone off the air. Not only did Ridley bungle the name of the show and cohost Glen Smith, he unfairly dissed the show’s following as an aging audience of armchair Elmer Fudds—which prompted said audience to hunt Ridley with a vehemence reserved for the wily raccoon. Host Jimmy Holt had the last laugh: The Outdoorsmen moved to WTVF’s cable channel FivePlus, where it flourishes today in its Thursday-night time slot. Ridley wears lots of orange these days and stays away from duck blinds.

But that thing about Bellevue Mall turning into a dildo superstore, that was true

A bogus February news item in the Scene’s humor column “The Fabricator” bamboozled a number of readers into thinking the new Opry Mills megamall would include a gigantic adult bookstore and sex-toy warehouse. Readers weren’t the only ones fooled: The item took on a life of its own when Baptist preacher and political hopeful Rev. Paul Durham warned listeners about the threat on Teddy Bart’s Roundtable morning radio broadcast.

Open mouth, insert ball

Pat Ryan, color analyst for Titans Radio, is nobody’s intellectual. In fact, were he not an ex-jock himself, he’d probably be an assistant manager at a chain steakhouse. But even if his listeners expect very little of him, he still managed to lower the bar at the recent Titans game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Near the game’s end, Ryan lamented that a hotly contested game was about to be decided by a couple of “foreigners,” referring to the team’s respective field goal kickers, Mike Hollis and Al Del Greco. Leaving aside the fact that both players are as American as Ryan, his painfully biased remark was the kind of thing you’d hear only in a Pat Buchanan stump speech. Almost immediately, the Titans color analyst was clobbered by the national media, who, thankfully, did not see Ryan’s xenophobia as a reflection of local attitudes. A parting irony: How interesting is it that Ryan would denigrate the efforts of so-called part-time players like field goal kickers, when he himself was little more than a bench warmer on some mediocre Jets teams in the 1980s?

The unthinking man’s G. Gordon Liddy

Giving well-reasoned, articulate commentators like Forrest Shoaf a bad name, WLAC-1510 AM’s right-wing talk-radio host Phil Valentine did his best this year to tar his fellow conservatives as foolish loudmouths. Just before the presidential election, Valentine aired an unsubstantiated allegation that Al Gore hung out with a rowdy biker gang when he was a young scribe for The Tennessean. Valentine went on to report that Gore smoked pot with the gang, fired a pistol in the house, and spent hours alone with a biker chick shortly after he wedded Tipper. (The truth of the matter is, this could only have helped Gore’s persnickety public image.) Shortly after airing that journalistic gem, Valentine reported breaking news about a Florida plane crash and joked about the possibility that it was carrying overseas absentee ballots.

The Boner bureau

A simpleton plan

Saltillo, Tenn., residents Timothy Creasy, Brian Justin, and Corey Smith each received jail terms for their roles in the killing last year of their drinking companion, Paul Farrar Jr., and their bizarre subsequent attempts to cover up the crime. After a night of drinking and fisticuffs got out of hand, Farrar wound up getting his throat cut with a broken whiskey bottle. Panic-stricken, Farrar’s three companions strapped his body to the top of their station wagon to avoid getting blood in the car. The corpse fell off as they were driving down the road and had to be hoisted back up. Then, because the clueless conspirators mistakenly thought that a headless body could not be identified, Farrar’s head was removed with a samurai sword and placed in a Coleman cooler. After being perforated and weighted with concrete blocks so it wouldn’t float, Farrar’s body was tossed in a creek, and his head was pitched in the Tennessee River. The crime was discovered, however, when the creek level dropped after a few days, revealing Farrar’s body. Police then found Farrar’s bloody, partially burned clothes and an untouched green tennis shoe where one of the defendants had tried to torch them—on his outdoor grill.

Dude, where’s my car?

A maroon 1989 Cadillac belonging to Gallatin Mayor Don Wright was stolen from the driveway of the mayor’s home—after the mayor left the keys in his car overnight. Wright, an author of historical fiction, told the Gallatin News-Examiner he had been to a book fair the night before, and on chilly mornings his wife, who gets up earlier, frequently warms up the car for him. The thief made off with an empty money box, some posters, and a loaded Smith & Wesson .38 revolver kept for protection. However, the thief apparently dumped three boxes of Wright’s novels, along with two orange raincoats labeled “Mayor.”

Sittin’ on the dock of the jail

Jeremy S. McClendon, 21, and James E. Blythe, 29, earned their Boners as criminal masterminds in a burglary attempt at Dale Hollow Marina. McClendon and Blythe were charged with breaking into four boats in July and stealing an assortment of equipment, including fishing rods and lifejackets. Unfortunately for the two, when they tried to make their getaway they couldn’t get their boat untied from the dock. After struggling with the ropes for several minutes, police said, they just turned off the motor and got out.

A home fit for a vice president

Overnight, Carthage resident Tracy Mayberry became the possessor of the most famous clogged toilet in the country after WTVF-Channel 5 ran a story in June on the decrepit house she and her family rented. Mayberry told WTVF that she, her disabled husband, and their five children were served an eviction notice after she complained about faulty plumbing, peeling linoleum, and other problems in their $400-a-month rental home. What made this a national news story was the identity of the home’s “slumlord” owner: Vice President Al Gore, whose family estate sits within sight of the crumbling house. As conservative pundits nationwide gleefully pounced on the story, Gore tried to spin the situation, culminating in hastily negotiated offers of dinner and homemade peach cobbler.

No, wait, that was Al Gore’s concession call

A Columbia, Tenn., third-grader ended up in juvenile court after he deluged the city’s 911 emergency service with 91 separate prank calls, tying up operators for more than six hours. During the ordeal, E-911 director Freddie Rich told The Tennessean, “Sometimes there would be dead air, or he’d burp in the phone, or holler or say he wanted to order a pizza.”

Boner country

Where men are men, and horses are nervous

While Faith Hill has cultivated a hip, sophisticated image, husband Tim McGraw and pal Kenny Chesney brought back every embarrassing stereotype of country music in one fell swoop—or rather, one failed gallop. In June, the duo was arrested by Buffalo, N.Y., sheriff’s deputies after Chesney took a ride on a police horse. Not knowing he had been given permission, a deputy jerked him out of the saddle, while McGraw stepped in to save his friend, putting a deputy in a headlock in the process. The two pseudo-outlaws made out like bandits in the national press, with Chesney even rehashing the incident for Jay Leno on national TV.

Is he now eligible for A.A.R.P discounts?

For the second time in his 30s, Garth Brooks announced his plans to retire. This time, Garthzilla made the announcement in October, just before a black-tie party to celebrate his 100 million in sales. Of course, this retirement includes making another album, and perhaps a soundtrack for his long-delayed cinematic ego opera The Lamb. And he still wants to make a duet album with Trisha Yearwood. But when he’s not working, he’s definitely retired.

Hit and run

Several years ago, Garth Brookswouldn’t deliver his new album to Capitol Records until the label replaced president Scott Hendricks with someone he liked. In came Pat Quigley to make Garth happy. Quigley, who had done marketing for skis and beer, didn’t know Shiner Bock about country music and was vocal about his dislike of Nashville. True to form, during his tenure as Capitol’s president, Quigley proved himself an expert beer marketer: While he hawked some of Brooks’ lamest records as if they were cases of discount suds, hitmakers John Berry and Tanya Tucker left the label. Quigley’s hotheaded management style drove several employees away and left others extremely unhappy, to the point that insiders say Brooks met with staffers to apologize for bringing him aboard. Quigley left the label earlier this year and recently joined DataPlay, a Colorado company that makes data storage discs (a competitor to the CD), as senior vice president and chief marketing officer.

His career’s in the toilet

Rising country star Chris Cagle said his current hit “My Love Goes On and On,” an insipid ditty currently being lapped up by the tastemaking pooh-bahs at country radio, was partially inspired by the length of time it once took him to urinate. At least nobody can accuse him of pissing away his money.

No Rimes or reason

The Rimes family Christmas may be a bit tense this year, since the lawsuits are flying between singer LeAnn Rimes and her father, Wilbur. Now 18, LeAnn sued her father and former co-manager Lyle Walker in May for allegedly stealing more than $7 million from her. Her father recently responded with an early Christmas present: a countersuit. As if that weren’t enough litigious activity for one year, LeAnn also filed suit against Curb Records to get out of her deal with the label, which she claims obligated her for an unheard-of 10 albums and which she signed as a minor. All that legal wrangling, and she’s not even of legal drinking age yet.

...and elsewhere in Boner news

Beware the ideas of March

In June, Perry March filed a barrage of legal motions from his home in Mexico asking Davidson County Circuit Court Judge Frank Clement Jr. to recuse himself from the wrongful-death suit lodged by March’s former parents-in-law, Lawrence and Carolyn Levine. Among the unproven accusations made by March in the motions: that Judge Clement’s late mother, Lucille Clement, had been involved romantically with March’s father, Arthur March. Imagine a woman resisting that devilish March charm.

Tourists’ll get a charge out of it

The Tennessean reported an unusual item up for sale on the online auction house eBay: “Old Sparky,” the electric chair used by the state of Tennessee to execute 125 men from 1916 to 1960. The seller, Florida-based dealer Arthur Rosenblatt, said that he purchased the chair from “engineer of execution technology” Fred A. Leuchter Jr., who was hired by the Tennessee Department of Corrections to restore it. The chair eventually went for upwards of $25,000 to Ripley Entertainment Inc., which expressed plans to put it in its Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum in Gatlinburg. Failing that, it could make a hell of a ride at Dollywood.

Come for the state-Sanctioned killing, stay for the food

The execution of Robert Glen Coe, the first Death Row inmate to be killed by the state of Tennessee in 40 years, was nothing to be proud of—but one enterprising go-getter got some good out of it. Sherman Novoson, a fringe member of the Capitol Hill press corps, used the occasion to sell beef stew out of his car in the prison parking lot for 2 bucks a bowl. What, no commemorative plates?

Smells like teen shrinkage

Taking his cue from a Blink-182 video, Adam AnKarlo, 18, son of former WWTN-FM talk-show host Darrell AnKarlo, ran into a Franklin High School pep rally in February and suddenly stripped naked, streaking through the crowded gymnasium. Police caught up with AnKarlo outside, where he was cooling his heels—and everything else—in 40-degree weather.

Not everything was two sizes too small

Local newscasts had a field day when parents complained about a merchandising tie-in with the Jim Carrey vehicle How the Grinch Stole Christmas. A furry green Grinch doll was being sold to kids with the added feature that his heart lights up when his belly is rubbed. As red-faced parents discovered, though, it wasn’t the Grinch’s belly that activated the light but his crotch.

Consider it payback for the Little Pepsi Girl

The two movie chains that rule the Nashville market, Marietta, Ga.-based Carmike Cinemas and Knoxville-based Regal Cinemas, both drifted into dire financial straits this year, sapped by building too many megaplex theaters too quickly too close to each other. Carmike filed for bankruptcy protection and closed four theaters, including its Harding Mall and CoolSprings Galleria locations. Meanwhile, amidst talk of its own woes, Regal closed the FunScape, its multimillion-dollar money pit at the habitually underperforming Green Hills ’plex.

A few grits shy of a Smokehouse Breakfast

Lebanon-based Cracker Barrel Old Country Store had “aig” on its face this spring when its book giveaway to libraries across the country ended in a PR snafu. After some large contributors used the restaurant’s chain-wide literacy drive as a dumping ground for unwanted books, libraries were deluged with hundreds, even thousands of copies of the same titles. One Arizona library opened a shipment of 15,000 books to find 11,796 copies of the children’s book What Would Happen If....

George Bailey, meet Mr. Potter

As if Gaylord Entertainment needed any more black eyes this year, the company bought itself another PR fiasco with its unceremonious layoff of popular Grand Ole Opry House manager Jerry Strobel, a 30-year veteran who served as the Opry’s ambassador to the community. That the company rewarded an employee as loyal as Strobel with the door—and just before the holiday season, to boot—made Gaylord look both heartless and clueless.

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