Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Music to Smash Pumpkins By

Posted By on Wed, Oct 31, 2007 at 4:36 PM

If you need a soundtrack for tonight's gruesome revelry, check out the sixth annual Halloween episode of Little Steven's Underground Garage, my favorite syndicated radio show, broadcast locally 10 p.m. Sundays on 105.9 The Rock. The garage-nugget show, hosted with cool-daddy zeal by Little Steven Van Zandt, is typically top-notch, but this episode is a pip: a haunted hayride through four decades of horror rock, from Screaming Lord Sutch's "Jack the Ripper" to Roky Erickson's "I Walked With a Zombie" to the furious hard-bopping version of "Sweet Transvestite" from the original Rocky Horror cast album (not the movie soundtrack).

You may have to register, but it's free and worth it for access to the show's voluminous archive. Can't wait for the annual birthday tribute to Martin Scorsese coming up in a few weeks, featuring songs from his movies' soundtracks. Time it just right, and you can cruise Nashville cranking up "Be My Baby" or the Stones' "Tell Me," just like Charlie and Johnny Boy.


Execution On Hold

Posted By on Wed, Oct 31, 2007 at 1:21 PM

Tennessee death row inmate Edward Jerome Harbison will not be executed Jan. 9 as scheduled, according to an order issued this morning by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The order ensures Harbison will not be put to death before the U.S. Supreme Court rules on a lethal injection case out of Kentucky this spring. In that case, the inmate is challenging the constitutionality of the three-drug cocktail used by most states—including Tennessee—in performing lethal injections.

Earlier this year Haribson raised that same claim, and U.S. District Court Judge Aleta Trauger barred Tennessee from using the current method of execution, calling it cruel and unusual. The state is appealing Trauger's ruling to the 6th Circuit, which today decided the appeal will have to wait.

Although the appellate court order gives Harbison a reprieve at least until the spring, it's unclear if the cases of two other death row inmates will be temporarily halted as well. The execution of Pervis Payne currently is set for Dec. 12, and Paul Dennis Reid is scheduled to die Jan. 3.

Tennessee Supreme Court Justice William C. Koch Jr. and several state lawmakers have voiced their belief that these inmates should instead be put to death by electrocution while the constitutionality of lethal injection is debated in federal courts.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a last-minute stay of execution to a Mississippi prisoner, suggesting that even if states attempt to proceed with executions, the high court might prevent further state killings until it rules on the current method of lethal injection.

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First Lady Bans Reporters From Mansion Meeting

Posted By on Wed, Oct 31, 2007 at 10:59 AM

First lady Andrea Conte is banning the media from tomorrow night's meeting with her neighbors about her idea to dig a hole in the front yard of the governor's mansion to construct a giant underground party room.

Instead, Conte has invited reporters to a briefing tomorrow afternoon to learn about the plans for what she's calling Conservation Hall, which would cost more than $4 million. Conte's neighbors are outraged by the project and have been plotting ways to stop it. They call it "Bredesen's Bunker."

It comes as no surprise that Conte wouldn't want reporters to attend the neighborhood meeting at the governor's mansion. It promises to be a lively affair, with residents complaining about potential disruptions to their lives on Curtiswood Lane and putting the first lady on the spot.

In a media advisory, the governor's office says, "Please note the meeting Ms. Conte has invited neighbors to attend for a private project briefing on Thursday night ... is not open to the media."

If the Iowa Polls Don't Change ...

Posted By on Wed, Oct 31, 2007 at 10:36 AM

Dick Morris describes a scenario that could force Fred Thompson to drop out of the presidential race after Iowa and New Hampshire vote.

Thompson is banking on a Southern strategy, but what if he finishes a poor third in Iowa behind Mike Huckabee, and Mitt Romney wins Iowa and then New Hampshire?

"Republicans would likely panic about the idea of a Mormon candidate and worry about his prospects," Morris writes, "making Huckabee and either Rudy or McCain viable as alternatives. Thompson will be forced out, having lost his position as the socially conservative answer to Rudy."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Matter of Splatter

Posted By on Tue, Oct 30, 2007 at 12:01 PM

As its Halloween feature, the Belcourt is showing Peter Jackson's hilarious early splatter movie Dead-Alive for two days only, tonight and tomorrow night. The Belcourt's Toby Leonard says this print is so pristine it's never even been projected before.

If you've never seen this, you're missing possibly the greatest gross-out movie of all time. Some 300 liters of fake blood were used during the climax alone. Heads roll. Hands roll. Arms and legs fly. At one point a zombie's reanimated skull skids around a bloody floor like an eye-rolling hockey puck. Even though Jackson didn't win for this movie, the idea that the guy who made this would someday deliver an Oscar acceptance speech almost singlehandedly redeems the awards. (And let's not forget his Meet the Feebles, the cinema's reigning venereal puppet movie.) Not for nothing is the Belcourt handing out free vomit bags with every ticket.

Above: the notorious "cream scene," which will either have you rolling under your desk or running to the nearest washroom. (A word of warning: as gross-out moments go, this doesn't even make the movie's top 50.) After the jump, here's the blurb from this week's Scene, which doesn't appear online.

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Thompson's Roll-of-the-Dice Southern strategy

Posted By on Tue, Oct 30, 2007 at 11:07 AM

Influential Des Moines Register columnist David Yepsen trashes Fred Thompson today and hails the underfunded, Chip Saltsman-managed campaign of Mike Huckabee. Yepsen says Thompson "has fallen flat."

"After Thompson's late start, he's lighting no fires in Iowa," Yepsen writes. "His speech at the big Reagan Dinner Saturday night was a boilerplate thing he could have given anywhere. Romney didn't show. Huckabee got the only standing ovation."

The Wall Street Journal today reports on Thompson's risky Southern strategy and points out that he's all but bypassing Iowa and New Hampshire. Yesterday, he made only his second appearance in New Hampshire since announcing his candidacy. " ... [H]e faced pointed questioning from the local media, which hasn't seen him in six weeks, asking how he expected to win if he wasn't going to campaign there."

Junior Sees Into Future

Posted By on Tue, Oct 30, 2007 at 10:48 AM

In a Newsweek interview, Harold Ford Jr. discusses the future of the Democratic Party and his own political plans. His comments on the latter are a little disingenuous. He says he's "read some of the speculation" that he might run for governor, as if he's had nothing to do with creating any of that speculation. In fact last month, he sent an emissary to report his interest in running to Democratic pols. Here's an excerpt from Ford's interview:

Q: Looking forward, what are your political plans? Some say you're interested in the Tennessee statehouse.

Ford: I've read some of the speculation in the last few weeks. I'm a big believer that my governor, who has now been in office less than a year in his second term ... we should give him a chance to govern out the remainder of his term. If there is anything voters are sick of, more than anything, it's people running for office two, three, four years out, particularly when there are big obstacles, challenges, opportunities on the table that need to be addressed. So there is no race in my immediate future. What happens three years from now is hard to say. As you know, now I'm teaching at Vanderbilt University, I'm vice chairman at Merrill Lynch, I'm chairman for the DLC, and I have a relationship with the Fox News channel and the Fox business channel, where I make some political and business commentary.

Q: But you do hope to get back into politics, right?

Ford: Yeah, I wouldn't be surprised if I ran again a few years down the road. [Chuckles] But I'm enjoying what I'm doing. I don't wake up every morning with chills or longing or regretting. Naturally, I wanted to win, but that's behind me now.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Revisionist History

Posted By on Mon, Oct 29, 2007 at 12:46 PM


One way to run for president with a thin record of accomplishment is to toss a little well-placed exaggeration into the mix. A piece in Sunday's Los Angeles Times catches some Fred Thompson campaign revisionism regarding his stint as a federal prosecutor in Tennessee early in his career.

According to the Times, the Thompson campaign plays a video at events describing his three years in the job of Assistant U.S. Attorney as time spent "attacking crime and public corruption." But the paper's review of all of Thompson's 88 criminal cases reveals that two indictments against county sheriffs involved in moonshining were the only public corruption cases he handled. One, brought against the sheriff of Stewart County resulted in a conviction; the other, involving the sheriff of Cannon County, ended with a mistrial and dismissed charges.

No word on whether our fearless crusader against public corruption wore a cape to court at the time.

Never and Nothin'

Posted By on Mon, Oct 29, 2007 at 10:20 AM


Congratulations are in order: Scene music editor Tracy Moore and frequent contributor Chris Neal have been selected for inclusion in Da Capo's Best Music Writing 2007.

Moore's "Never in Nashville" cover story chronicles the '80s punk scene in Music City, while Neal's "Nothin' but a Good Time" examines the return of two of the era's hair metal acts, Poison and Cinderella.

This year's Best Music Writing was edited by none other than the Dean himself, Robert Christgau.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Societe Anonyme: Frisky at the Frist

Posted By on Fri, Oct 26, 2007 at 12:02 PM


Yesterday, a small group of brave Scene travelers trundled over the Demonbreun Street bridge to the Frist Center for the media preview of their new touring exhibition Societe Anonyme: Modernism for America.

As we learned from our very knowledgeable tour guide—spending six years curating one collection does that to a person—this assemblage of art and artists was the brainchild of Katherine Dreier, Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray. They hoped to bring contemporary art, specifically the energy of modernism, to American audiences. They organized exhibitions, concerts, performances and lectures over the course of more than 20 tumultuous years encompassing The Great Depression and World War II.

What is most impressive about the exhibit—which has a permanent home in the Yale University Art Gallery—is its range. There is no unifying aesthetic, and works by veritable unknowns hang next to Kandinskys and Stellas. There is also a palpable sense of whimsy. The first room is a re-creation of the group's first show in 1920, right down to the blue walls and the paper doilies around the pieces.

This is art chosen and organized by artists, not curators. The collection feels no need to fit into a cohesive narrative. And you can sense the organizers' enthusiasm—they really thought art could change the world. It kind of makes you want to be a part of something larger than yourself. I'll have to make a new Facebook group later today....

Societe Anonyme runs through Jan. 28, 2008.

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