Friday, February 29, 2008

A Tempered Defense of Bill Hobbs

Posted By on Fri, Feb 29, 2008 at 2:38 PM

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Just bear with me here, and don't gloss over the word "tempered" in the headline. Sure, the Tennessee GOP's press release this week was colossally misguided, and the GOP's decision to use Barack Obama's middle name, Hussein, was an unconscionable gutter bomb. But before this runaway train gets too far down the tracks, it bears reminding that Hobbs hit send on the press release before John McCain issued a fatwa against any partisan use of Obama's middle name. Plus, the content of the GOP missive seized on a legitimate issue that even NBC's Tim Russert raised at the presidential debate Tuesday night—a handful of prominent anti-Semites are supporting Obama. Hobbs—who, by the way, our sources say isn't being canned because of the controversy, as one blogger suggested—tells the Scene, as he had Newsweek and other outlets, that he concedes the point about the name (although he manages not to sound the least bit remorseful). "Was it a mistake? Yeah, it was a mistake to use his middle name and photo, because it served as a distraction to the point of the release, which was raising questions about where Obama stands on the security of Israel." The release, titled "Anti-Semites for Obama," went out at 1 p.m. Monday, and on national television Tuesday night Russert asked Obama the very question at the heart of the state Republican Party's propaganda: about the support of the legendarily anti-Semitic and thoroughly whacked Louis Farrakhan. It was a story, and Hobbs recognized it as such. Obama, of course, answered that he didn't solicit and wasn't pleased by Farrakhan's endorsement. Moreover, it wasn't until John McCain on Tuesday repudiated a talk show host for using Obama's middle name that this story started getting coast-to-coast legs. There was silence within the MSM and even among Democrats about the release until that. In fact, GOP chair Robin Smith and state Democratic Party head Gray Sasser sat together on a panel Tuesday afternoon, and the issue never surfaced. Following McCain's statement, what got lost in the exuberance of reportage about Tennessee's admittedly cornpone GOP was the timeline. (Thanks, ACK.) By virtue of when media outlets began picking up the story of the press release, it seemed that the Tennessee GOP had gone and done something absurd (using the name Hussein) after their presidential nominee to-be had just castigated a talking head for that very act of stupidity. That wasn't the case. It just seems to me that these modest defenses of Hobbs, whose poor judgment the Scene hasn't been shy to chronicle in the past, are only fair. Incidentally, the last thing the state GOP should do is fire Hobbs, because they'd look like bigger morons than they already do. After all, they kind of knew what they were getting when they brought him on; it's not like his willingness to rip on Muslims publicly was some kind of secret. Beyond that, Hobbs has become the lightning rod here when it's his boss Robin Smith who should face the hot lights of scrutiny.

Travel Tip

Posted By on Fri, Feb 29, 2008 at 2:14 PM

I don’t know about you, but the next time my relatives hit town, I’m putting them up at the Days Inn on West End.

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Where Will Mexicans Go Next?

Posted By on Fri, Feb 29, 2008 at 8:15 AM

They're already in North Dakota, as The Mexican points out here. Hey, the Canadians have universal health care.

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Walker, Nashville Ranger

Posted By on Thu, Feb 28, 2008 at 3:10 PM

Come on Tennessean, have you no shame? If you want your website to be the No. 1 destination for kitten slideshows, that's fine by me. But someone's got to get a handle on the local yokels whose insensitive, revolting drivel passes as insightful community opinion on your site. Take Jack Walker's post about the freshman girl who told authorities that an 18-year-old student raped her on a Rutherford County school bus last week. The blog title was ominous: SCHOOL BUS RAPE? The inclusion of a question mark alone was problematic in and of itself. But it gets worse. Much worse. Walker apparently sees some injustice in the media's decision not to publish the name of the rape victim along with the name of the student arrested in the assault, writing “...his name goes in the news but hers does not. SHAME!” Walker's also offended that the boy was arrested and kicked out of school. “How could he be treated this way?” Then he quibbles with the fact that the incident was categorized as rape. “It was said to be rape when to most minds the word means forced sexual intercourse.” And as if Walker hadn't done enough to out himself as a callous yahoo, here comes this little gem from him in the comments section: “Still what did the girl say to the boy that led him to think he could act that way?” Really, Mr. Walker? You wouldn't be insinuating that this 14-year-old girl was somehow asking for a 15-minute sexual assault on her bus ride home, would you? Or that she somehow provoked the boy? If Walker had paid much heed to The Tennessean's own report about the incident, which ran the day before he crafted his blog post, he would've known that Murfreesboro police said a videotape of the incident shows that the girl “repeatedly says, 'stop,' 'no,' or 'leave me alone',” and tries to escape the clutches of a boy who trapped her in her seat and rubbed his hands all over her body and “private areas.” I'm not the most avid Walker follower (though his posts on vaginal yeast infections and how much he wishes pantyhose were still in style are riveting). The question is not how Walker became a part of The Tennessean's “team of locals” who “provide their thoughts and opinions on the things that affect Middle Tennessee.” (Our guess is that the paper doesn't set its blogger bar too high.) The real question is why he's allowed to keep posting there.

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Blu Season

Posted By on Thu, Feb 28, 2008 at 2:42 PM

On the heels of Blu-ray officially winning the HD disc format war, Walt Disney Studios comes to Cool Springs Galleria through March 1 with its Magical Blu-ray Disc Tour, sponsored by Panasonic Plasma. I checked it out this morning at the media reception.
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Continue reading »

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What We're Writing About This Week

Posted By on Thu, Feb 28, 2008 at 10:55 AM

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This week's Scene contains its usual blend of bleak, depressing news, stories about irritating loons and no coverage of bands that I like. Which speaks very highly of our music writers. Here are a few highlights: In her story “Death Row Lotto,” Sarah Kelley spent nearly two months interviewing attorneys and judges, listening to state committee hearings on the death penalty and reviewing dozens of old capital cases. What she found is that in Tennessee, the death penalty is no more than a guessing game. There's no logic behind the sentencing and, in fact, one prosecutor even admitted that the decision to pursue the death penalty is often based on nothing more than a “gut feeling.” A man can be present during the death of a drug dealer and wind up on death row while someone else can shoot and kill four people at close range and get life. Even if you support the death penalty, you probably want it carried out with some degree of consistency and order, right? If something horrible happens to a child, chances are it happened at Hermitage Hall. In her latest story on the alleged treatment facility for young male sex offenders, Elizabeth Ulrich chronicles a distraught boy who somehow managed to flee from the place to the Hamilton Avenue overpass over Interstate 65. There, he dangled his legs over the rushing traffic and threatened to jump before a kind trucker positioned his trailer below him, allowing him to climb down. In a more upbeat piece, Jim Ridley writes about how the upcoming Nashville Film Festival offers a little more of everything—more premieres, more celebrity guests and more in-demand films from the international festival circuit. In festival news Ridley somehow omitted, Scene editor Liz Garrigan will be introducing a special, uncut version of The Bucket List. Carrington Fox will make you hungry for the Parco Style Cafe. Here's a taste: “a sushi roll with two skewers of grilled shrimp basted in a rich paste of Japanese mayonnaise, garlic and chili,” a Parco veggie burger featuring a “revival of the flavorful patty made of mashed potato, mushrooms, celery and tofu and served on a lightly grilled Tuscan bread.” This week's Spin covers its usual assortment of cool musical acts including Down, a New Orleans super group that played at the Cannery, Caitlin Rose covering the Misfits in Murfreesboro, and singer-songwriter Parker Gispert “shaking us like the nearly extinct Polaroid picture.”

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This American Live!

Posted By on Thu, Feb 28, 2008 at 8:31 AM

When I get in my car on the weekend and flip on the radio, it's typically tuned to our local NPR affiliate, 90.3-WPLN. Go ahead, make fun of me. I'm not a devoted This American Life fan, but if it happens to be on, I sometimes get drawn in, even sitting in my car in the driveway until it's over. I've heard a total of maybe six or seven episodes, and I find myself fascinated by what happens when you hold the mundane lives of average folks under a microscope. Maybe it's a sign of how mundane and average my life is. TAL is planning a live satellite broadcast to theaters around the country, so if you're a fan and would like to see Ira Glass beamed across a silver screen in Nashville (the Belcourt, perhaps?), here's their pitch:
We're planning a This American Life stage show that would be filmed and sent live—live!—via satellite to movie theaters across the country. It would include Ira performing a radio piece, never-before-seen stories and outtakes from the second season of our TV series, audience Q&A, and more. No other public radio program has tried this before, and we're very excited about it. But to make it happen, we need to know if you're interested. We'd also like your input on how to craft the event. Please take this short survey; it'll take about two minutes. Thanks!

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Coming Unglued on Curtiswood Lane

Posted By on Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 12:29 PM

The overprivileged occupants of Curtiswood Lane, unfamiliar with the sound of the word no, have met their match in Tennessee first lady Andrea Conte, and weird things are happening in the neighborhood as she digs a big hole in the front yard of the governor’s mansion for Conservation Hall. Cats are talking, one neighbor is throwing hissy fits on the street, and another is fretting that Osama bin Laden has placed “Bredesen’s Bunker” on his list of targets. The unraveling of sanity on Curtiswood Lane is the subject of this story in this week’s Scene. As an added bonus, watch this video from a camera outside the governor’s mansion. The screams you will hear are those of outspoken bunker foe Lorelee Gawaluck.

Dead Ahead: Romero at the Belcourt!

Posted By on Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 11:54 AM

Calling all gutmunchers! Tickets go on sale Friday for a midnight preview screening of George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead at the Belcourt, with director Romero in attendance. It'll be held on Friday, March 21, the same weekend the legendary horror filmmaker will appear at Nashville's Full Moon Tattoo and Horror Festival. Tickets are $12, with a second preview screening midnight March 22; the film begins a week's regular run at the Belcourt March 28. Check out the movie's MySpace page, where you have until Friday to vote for four fan films that will appear on the Diary of the Dead DVD release. And to see how it all began, the Downtown Presbyterian Church hosts a free screening tomorrow night at 7 p.m. of Romero's original 1968 Night of the Living Dead—a provocative choice for the church's current Lenten Film Series, organized around the topic of emancipation. Arrive early at 6 p.m. for a light meal, also free—though I'd be kinda wary of the meat.

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The Mexican Does YouTube

Posted By on Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 10:07 AM

This is probably the start of a Comedy Central sensation. The print medium simply can't contain my buddy Gustavo Arellano, the guy readers know as The Mexican. As you can see here, he's going to start taking video questions, which we'll bring to you here on Pith every week. These will be different than those found in his column. (Here's this week's, by the way.) Consider it a bonus. Oh, and for those of you who are still writing us with your objections about Arellano's weekly commentary, saying we're bigoted immigrant haters—you just don't get it. Go back to reading Mother Jones.

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