Friday, October 26, 2007

Societe Anomyme: Frisky at the Frist

Posted By on Fri, Oct 26, 2007 at 12:01 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 was most impressive about the exhibit—which has a permanent home in the Yale University Art Gallery—was its range. There is no unifying aesthetic, and works by veritable unknowns hang next to Kandinskys and Stellas. There was also a palpable sense of whimsy. The first room was 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 was art chosen and organized by artists, not curators. The collection felt 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 Anomyme runs through Jan. 28, 2008.

Lake of Fire

Posted By on Fri, Oct 26, 2007 at 11:41 AM

The issue, ironically enough, is choice. This weekend in local theaters, you can see Bella, a drama that's getting support from pro-life groups, or you can see Lake of Fire, a documentary on abortion that gives weight to both sides. I haven't seen Bella, but Lake of Fire is extraordinary. Here's what the Scene ran before its screening earlier this year at the Nashville Film Festival:

Beautifully (and ironically) shot in black and white over 17 years by director Tony Kaye, best known for the Edward Norton neo-Nazi drama American History X, this staggering documentary about the abortion debate leaves no position unchallenged—yet both sides may likely feel that it proves their point. Kaye talks without judgment to pro-choice and anti-abortion zealots, incorporates a spectrum of voices from Noam Chomsky to Nat Hentoff to pro-life activist Randall Terry, follows a clearly conflicted woman to her appointment at a clinic, and gives equal consideration to murdered clinic workers and the clearly human remains of aborted fetuses. The result is not a tendentious screed but an engrossing and extraordinarily rich examination of moral impasse. It forces both sides to grapple with the real issue: the sanctity of life.

I'd love to hear from anyone who sees either film over the weekend.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Spudz Owner Murdered

Posted By on Thu, Oct 25, 2007 at 11:18 AM


Eric Brown, owner of Spudz potato restaurant, was found fatally shot in the alley behind his Charlotte Pike store today, according to a report on WKRN. Brown later died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Brown, 36, studied hotel and restaurant management at TSU before launching into a series of restaurant jobs. Eager to start a business with a product that was affordable and unorthodox, he borrowed money from his aunt and launched Spudz, the one-stop potato shop, in June 2006.

See Bites for more.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Posted By on Wed, Oct 24, 2007 at 3:18 PM

As the city and the Predators flirt with deadlines, let's debunk a particularly specious argument for more taxpayer largesse that the local group seeking to buy the team has been offering. A statement released earlier this week by David Freeman on behalf of the buyers group said in part:

The lease changes we have proposed will make the franchise financially viable while accessing only money that would not exist in Nashville without the Predators and without substantial improvements in arena activity.

By "money that would not exist in Nashville without the Predators," Freeman is presumably referring to his proposal that the city let the team keep most of the state and local sales taxes and seat use fees paid by arena users (roughly $4 million in 2006). And, yes, it is literally correct that a given dollar of tax revenue generated by a Predator-related sale would not exist without the Predators. The same can be said of any revenue-generating business in the city.

But does Freeman think it sound public policy to prop up a private enterprise that cannot generate an operating margin by simply forgiving its tax obligations since those tax revenues wouldn't exist without that enterprise? Does he think that tax dollars generated by his profit-making business (and as we can see in the outsized capital gains about to be enjoyed by current Predators owner Craig Leipold, there are indeed handsome profits) are somehow less essential or more dispensable to the city than those raised by, say, residential property taxes? Seems like either kind of dollar will just as effectively buy replacements for outdated textbooks in Metro schools.

Diaper Duty

Posted By on Wed, Oct 24, 2007 at 12:44 PM

Would-be first lady Jeri Thompson is more concerned with making sure there's a changing table on her husband's campaign bus than she is with influencing political strategy, according to this story in The Washington Post.

At a forum yesterday with other wives of presidential candidates, Jeri Thompson said she was "not even qualified" to weigh in on campaign strategy, attempting to put an end to rumors that she's been too involved in husband Fred Thompson's bid for the presidency. When asked by moderator Maria Shriver if she ever argues with her husband's staff, Thompson confessed that she once insisted a tour bus they were traveling in have a place for her to change her baby's diapers.

The Post further reports: "Thompson rarely smiled and spoke only when Shriver directed questions to her. She said she is 'absolutely' scared of the campaign. 'I'm afraid of embarrassing Fred,' Thompson said. 'That would be my big fear.' "

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Activism: One Kroger-Brand Box of Oatmeal at a Time

Posted By on Tue, Oct 23, 2007 at 1:12 PM

Along with some friends, colleagues and strangers, I've signed on to take the so-called Food Stamp Challenge, agreeing to subsist from tomorrow through Oct. 28 on what the average food stamp recipient receives for a week. That means eating no more than $21 worth of victuals for five days—a small demonstration of support for the House-backed Farm Bill that would increase such meager allocations.

In the interest of illuminating just how little food that is, here's a list of what I got this morning at the Bordeaux Kroger, where we all gathered to do our shopping for the week. I made it out of there with a $21.66 tab, $1.65 of which was tax—which is to say, I came under budget by only a penny. In my basket:

� A 5-pound bag of Kroger potatoes (marked down to 50 cents, as they were approaching their sell-by date. Metro Council member Jason Holleman spent $4 on a 10-pound bag.)
� A box of Kroger-brand bowtie pasta
� 1 carton of eggs
� A bag of dried kidney beans
� A box of Kroger oatmeal
� 3 cans of Campbell's soup
� 1 can of Kroger spaghetti sauce
� 1 can of Kroger coffee
� 2 green bell peppers
� 2 packs of Ramen noodles (Howard Gentry's idea, by the way)
� 1 bag of Kroger white rice
� 4 bananas
� 2 half-gallons of milk (cheaper that way)

Nothing particularly glamorous, in other words. If you don't want to live on Ramen noodles and baked potatoes for a week but want to advocate for the hungry, send $21 (or more) to the Second Harvest Food Bank, 331 Great Circle Road, Nashville, 37228 (or call 329-3491). Or you could call your Tennessee senators and urge them to support the House version of the Farm Bill. Reach Sen. Lamar Alexander's local office by calling 736-5129 and Sen. Bob Corker's by calling 279-8125.

Meanwhile, someone needs to check Charlie Strobel's sodium levels. He had five frozen dinners in his basket.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Another Phil Bredesen Non-Scandal

Posted By on Mon, Oct 22, 2007 at 3:06 PM

One pastime of mine is watching how hardcore grassroots-y Tennessee Republican types try to tar Phil Bredesen, a man who is about as Republican as a person running under the Democratic banner can get without getting excommunicated from the party. Really, if it weren't for the "D" next to his name, I suspect that most of these folks would be embracing him, or, at least, they wouldn't be as comically hostile to the guy.

There was, for instance, the drastic-cuts-to-TennCare episode of a few years ago. A number of self-styled Republican conservative types were up in arms about this. They were outraged about these cuts, and for some reason expected everyone else to be outraged, too, never mind that they had been beating the drum about how grossly expansive (and expensive) TennCare had become in the years preceding. Last I checked, Republicans generally liked cutting government programs (certain current presidential administrations excluded).

And let's not forget the Great Christmas Card Controversy of 2006, which was so phenomenally stupid I refuse to discuss it further (if you want details or a refresher, start here.

And now we have the "coolie" controversy. Now, this one has some merit to it, on its face anyway. In a dispatch from the trade meeting in China, Bredesen wrote the following:

\\The scale, the energy, the focus of this place is astonishing. I've thought of China as a giant, poor third world country (remember those Chinese coolies who built the railroads?) now charging onto the industrial stage for the first time.\\

Hmm, "coolie...." Well, yes, in many circumstances that term can be considered offensive, so it's worth looking at the context, which, in this case, absolves the governor, who is pretty clearly using the word in its historical context to make a larger—and complimentary—point. Now, if I were advising the governor, I would have told him to change the word just to avoid this kind of nonsense, but I'm not, so I didn't. Anyway, one of the more refreshing things about the governor is his sometimes-not-very-well-hidden distaste for the niceties of everyday politics. He's a policy guy, not a political guy. Which, to my mind, is to his credit.

Here are three things that are especially chapping my ass:

Continue reading »

Tonight: Law Enforcement Talent Showcase at The Wildhorse

Posted By on Mon, Oct 22, 2007 at 11:48 AM

I admit that when we first received word of this event I envisioned a kind of police rodeo: cuffing contests (like hog-tying), sharpshooting, door-busting, fingerprinting, Miranda Rights speed-reading, etc. But it turns out it's a benefit show featuring the non-policing talents of Nashville's finest. And the mayor's going to be there:

The Nashville Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department have teamed together to hold the 1st Annual Law Enforcement Talent Showcase. The event will be held at the Wildhorse Saloon Monday, Oct. 22 at 6:30 p.m. and will feature employees of the Metro Nashville Police Department who have special talents in singing, dancing and comedy. Families and children are welcome at this event. Tickets are 100% tax deductible: $15/person for general admission and $50/person for VIP seating (assigned tables up front). All proceeds will go to the Nashville Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Metro Police Officer Danita Marsh who was injured in the line of duty while working a domestic violence incident. Mayor Karl Dean is confirmed to open the event at approximately 6:30 p.m.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Hottest First Lady in U.S. History?

Posted By on Fri, Oct 19, 2007 at 5:05 PM


Finally, we understand Fred's appeal. Courtesy of The Onion.

My Boss Was in the Clink

Posted By on Fri, Oct 19, 2007 at 10:46 AM

This just in.

Village Voice Media executive editor Mike Lacey and chief executive officer Jim Larkin were arrested late Thursday night in Phoenix for publishing this week's cover story in Phoenix New Times.

That story revealed that a county grand jury had issued subpoenas demanding documents and notes regarding more than 30 stories the paper had published about controversial Maricopa County sheriff, Joe Arpaio.

Prosecutors also issued subpoenas demanding detailed personal information about anyone who had visited the Phoenix New Times website since 2004.

Lacey and Larkin were arrested by sheriff's deputies at their homes and led away in handcuffs. Both have since been released.

To read coverage of the arrests, visit this link. And to read this week's cover story, go here.

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