Wednesday, February 27, 2008

In Case You Missed It

Posted By on Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 9:21 AM

The only way to localize last night's presidential debate is to recall this line from Barack Obama, which goes a long way toward explaining why Nashville Congressman Jim Cooper would sooner Botox those signature chicken lips than support Hillary Clinton, his health-care-wonk enemy:
"What I have said is that the way she approached it back in '93, I think, was wrong in part because she had the view that what's required is simply to fight. And Senator Clinton ended up fighting not just the insurance companies and the drug companies, but also members of her own party. And as a consequence, there were a number of people, like Jim Cooper of Tennessee and Bill Bradley and Pat Moynihan, who were not included in the negotiations. And we had the potential of bringing people together to actually get something done."

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Bear Hugs or Bitch Slaps

Posted By on Tue, Feb 26, 2008 at 3:15 PM

This post violates most of my own Pith guidelines (not local, nothing new to report, no homegrown links), but what the hell. It's only 3 and I'm already thinking about tonight's presidential debate, wondering which Hillary will show up—the one who's honored to share the stage with Barack Obama or the one who's ashamed of his tactics—and whether wine or tea would better suit what promises to be yet another TV glimpse into this schizophrenic candidacy. Don't accuse me of being like this Obamabot just because Hillary is a little bi. Polar. I mean, bipolar. Probably polar too. Maybe bi, but I don't really care. OK, Pith Nation, who can predict the following story lines? Will there be an initial onstage hug or will they awkwardly creep separately to their seats like a pair of bitter exes running into each other at a movie theater? Will Clinton trot out a lame canned line—that's change we can Xerox!—or will she keep her attacks fairly authentic? Will she even attack at all or will she get all Laura Bushy on us like she did in that one debate in Los Angeles? Will Clinton rehash the loony plagiarism charge or will she let it go? Will Obama rise above it all or will he give us a "you're likable enough, Hillary" moment? Will Obama reference Clinton's Iraqi vote more than three times? Will he repeat the old JFK quote about about not negotiating out of fear, as he has in at least a half-a-dozen debates so far? Will Obama bring up the "politics of the past" more than three times? How many times each will Clinton and Obama pass on a question so they can outline the differences between their health care plans? How often will Obama, Clinton and the debate moderators say the words "road map"? Will there be a perfunctory post-debate hug or one of those long, cozy embraces where their faces are so close they're practically butterfly kissing? Will they hug at all? If you can accurately script tonight's debate based on the questions above, a $50 certificate to Sunset is yours. If you're an Obama fan, we know that's the type of trendy restaurant you wine-rack, Prius-driving liberals prefer. If a Hillary supporter wins this sort of debate bingo, we'll work on a Shoney's gift certificate instead. Now let's get to writing.

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The Love Line Is Open

Posted By on Tue, Feb 26, 2008 at 9:20 AM

Due to overwhelming demand, our loathsome yet lovable literary lothario, our resident ravisher of ribald riches, our cunning Casanova of the copulatory canon, Damian Winthrop—who's expounded on everything from college romance to autumnal love to Marcia Brady—is now a regular Pith contributor. So pour yourself a brandy, pull down your window shades, lock your daughters in their rooms and read on—Damian's back. Damian's Lair: Love Hunting Season Officially Opens! Dear Damian: My Valentine's Day was a total letdown. I took my girlfriend to a hoity-toity restaurant, got a box of Godiva, flowers, the whole nine yards, and—$280 later—we still wound up in a fight, and we're not talking to each other. Where did I go wrong? Broke-’N-Hearted

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Nashville Noir: Up and Out

Posted By on Mon, Feb 25, 2008 at 11:06 AM

Antonioni vs. De Palma: let the smackdown commence! Tonight's awesome double feature at the Belcourt starts at 7 p.m. with Michelangelo Antonioni's enigmatic 1966 whodunit Blow-up and continues at 9:10 with Brian De Palma's 1981 conspiracy thriller Blow Out (introduced by Rage/Tennessean critic Jason Shawhan). In some ways the movies are mirror images: an artist—David Hemmings' mod photographer in the former, John Travolta's sound man in the latter—uncovers what may be a murder and uses his chosen medium to find the truth. And in both, the slipperiness of reality evades the camera, even when the footage appears to be a Zapruder-like smoking gun. No Nashville theater or museum has ever screened artist Christian Marclay's 1998 experimental video Up and Out, which tests the dominance of image or sound by running Antonioni's visuals over the soundtrack to De Palma's movie. But anyone with a small portable DVD player and a headset could discreetly try the experiment on his own—even with the opposite mix of image and soundtrack. If anyone gives it a go, please report back. In the meantime, here's a cool video of Marclay demonstrating his proto-mash-up methods on objects such as sectioned vinyl LPs reconnected to form new sounds.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Ridley Me This: Oscar Preview

Posted By on Fri, Feb 22, 2008 at 1:53 PM

Mr. Pink, a.k.a. Jim Ridley, was a rock star on Channel 2 News at 10 last night. No surprise, Jim made us all look good as he waxed eloquently and humorously about the Oscar nominees. Like the other slobs in the Best Actor category with Daniel Day-Lewis, the panel of critics appearing alongside Jim knew they were just lucky to be sitting in his shadow, even if he doesn't like Juno.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Inside This Week's Scene

Posted By on Thu, Feb 21, 2008 at 10:26 AM

Jeff Woods this week examines the growing culture war between Nashville's homeless and those with whom they share downtown. The yuppies, of course, have an advantage in that they've been able to co-opt local lawmakers and the business elite in a sort of controlled and systematic harassment of those who have nowhere to go. Check out Elizabeth Ulrich's follow-up piece to last week's cover story about sexual abuse within Southern Baptist Convention churches. This week, she attended an SBC committee meeting, and if you imagine a bunch of middle-aged white guys sitting around offering her sideways glances—oh, and one woman who gave those Baptist gents just what they liked by offering up an exemplary performance as a mute—you're on the right track. Also from Woods is a story about the nursing home industry trying to insulate itself from paying out damages for poor care. Maggots in an open wound? It's just the price of getting old. One executive, whose 2006 company profit was $600 million, argues that the industry may in fact be offering poor care because it's spending so much money defending lawsuits. Among other stupid human tricks, Confederacy of Dunces details Rep. Stacey Campfield's proposal to let faculty and students go packing on Tennessee's college campuses. Finally, yours truly takes on a couple of the General Assembly's dimmest bulbs, who want to make it even more difficult for kids in state custody to be adopted. UPDATE: In my haste, I forgot to mention our new sports column, Off Speed, written by the inimitable Steve Haruch, who is a sort of Scene renaissance man. It will appear in our pages regularly, though not necessarily weekly. In his debut column, Haruch examines Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle and how it might apply to the recent UT-Rutgers game.

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Nashville Noir: Point Blank

Posted By on Thu, Feb 21, 2008 at 9:02 AM

For many people, I suspect, John Boorman's 1967 thriller Point Blank will be the discovery of the Belcourt's ongoing noir series. Stylish, brutal and brazen, this pulp phantasmagoria about a betrayed thug (Lee Marvin) dismantling a shadowy mob organization looks shockingly ahead of its time—in part for leaving open to infinite post-film discussion whether its numb antihero is alive or dead. Adapted from one of Donald E. Westlake's Richard Stark novels (the same one remade as the Mel Gibson vehicle Payback), it shows for three days starting Friday at the Belcourt. Brian Gordon, artistic director of the Nashville Film Festival, introduces the 7 p.m. screening, and The Rage's Jonathan Malcolm Lampley will conduct the post-film talk. (Lampley is also hosting the annual Oscar edition of Trivia Time! 4 p.m. Sunday at East Nashville's 3 Crow Bar.) In the meantime, watch the trailer above—and tell me this doesn't look hotter than any action movie you've seen lately. Steve McQueen always gets mentioned as the ne plus ultra of big-screen cool—hah! Lee Marvin used Steve McQueens as tooth floss.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Karl Dean and the Homeless "Safety" Dance

Posted By on Wed, Feb 20, 2008 at 7:53 PM

In this week’s cover story—"Outlawing the Poor"—Jeff Woods tells of the conflict between downtown Nashville’s homeless population and the newly arrived high-rise condo dwellers. In an address to the Young Professionals cohort of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce tonight, Mayor Karl Dean spent the better part of his speech rightly pointing out how tremendous the resurgence of downtown has been for all of Nashville and how he hopes such growth will continue. Then someone in the crowd asked him about his decision to allow the anti-panhandling measure to pass without his signature, despite his own law department saying it might have First Amendment issues. Mainly, they wanted to know whether his questionable decision might be “all connected” to his plans for a new convention center and the hope that tourist revenue might bolster Metro coffers. Dean responded by saying that the panhandling measure is a “compromise” worked out by the Metro Council and is constitutional. He also took issue with the implication that tourists and their dollars influenced his decision to let the bill pass. He indicated that his motivation for not stopping the measure was downtown residents who were “concerned for their safety.” While stressing that the city should treat its homeless with “humanity,” he pointed out that for downtown to prosper, “You must have the sense that you can go downtown and be safe.” He reminded the assembled that he’d gone to Columbia University in New York City during the ’70s and had seen what happened when a sense of safety was lost there. It seemed an odd comparison. Even with its significant homeless population, there is a galactic difference between downtown Nashville today—with its few bums asking for change or a smoke—and uptown Manhattan in the late 1970s, which was then engulfed in a heroin epidemic. Still, Dean probably said the word “safety” half-a-dozen times in his answer. While it’s unclear how much violent crime is the result of the homeless, many of the crimes that they are charged with—as our story points—out aren’t that scary.

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Baptism by Fire

Posted By on Wed, Feb 20, 2008 at 4:42 PM

When I settled into my seat at Tuesday's meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention work group—convened to discuss its study on the feasibility of a database to warn churches of known sexual predators among SBC clergy—I figured most of the members had read last week's cover story. And those who hadn't certainly had an opportunity to do so when the chairman of the committee gave the crew a good 15 minutes to read it in the middle of the meeting. The sideways glares that followed were an indication of the hellfire and condemnation to soon come the way of this reporter. For the entirety of this post, you won't read any direct quotes. And you certainly won't find any of the indirect quotes attributed to SBC officials. When it comes to reporting on meetings of the executive committee, those are just the rules. We can't report exactly what was said by whom. But you can check out the entire roster of the SBC executive committee and guess. A handful of these folks are a part of the work group that met Tuesday. But it's just as well that we can't report on this meeting in the way we're accustomed to because there wasn't much news to report anyway. The whole meeting was a lot of talk about why the SBC's hands are tied: polity, the autonomous nature of Southern Baptist churches, the potential legal ramifications of creating a database that fingers credibly accused sex offenders—most of which was covered in last week's story. Several on the committee even raised concerns about whether most Southern Baptist church officials were computer savvy enough to navigate an Internet database in the first place. One member said many of the denomination's constituents either don't have a computer or wouldn't know what to do with one if they did. Some committee members did have suggestions for alternatives, providing more adequate counseling to victims and starting a campaign to raise awareness about clergy abuse, namely by setting up a booth at the denomination's annual meeting and passing out pamphlets, to name a few. But the committee didn't make any concrete recommendations or vote to take any specific actions to protect the people in the pews. They're saving that divine knowledge for when they report back to SBC churchgoers at the annual convention in June, and they say they won't reveal their findings until then. But the members of the committee certainly didn't shy away from expressing their distaste for the Scene cover story. And there was plenty of that to go around. More on that after the jump.

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Guerilla Warfare

Posted By on Wed, Feb 20, 2008 at 2:58 PM

You have to love Tennessee Guerrilla Women (TGW), the ardently feminist blog that's far defter at sticking up for Hillary Clinton than the candidate herself. And that's not to say they do a good job really, just better than the tired folks the Clinton campaign trots out to spin away another lopsided defeat. Now let's get jumpy.

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