Friday, September 30, 2011

I Am a Representative with a Very Small Constituency

Posted By on Fri, Sep 30, 2011 at 8:32 AM

In Thursday's Tennessean, there's a story about how only "37.7 percent of Tennessee citizens over 18 voted."

This is disturbing. I mean, I'm cool with it, because that's just more power for me. My vote makes a decision that I, some dude, and a third of another dude should be making. You know how many opportunities I have to say, "This is what I and that guy and part of that guy want!" without having to ask or consider that guy or the bit of the third guy?

Never. In my real life, when I make decisions for other people, I have to talk to them about it and get them all on-board with my way of thinking — or else everyone gets pissed.

But wow, when I go to vote, I sure to have the power to make a decision for me and others, because those others decline to participate.

If you don't vote, I could be your unelected representative at the polls. If that doesn't bother you, you should know that I voted for J.R. Lind in last year's primary. Wrote him in as a candidate. And because y'all don't vote, that was like you, me, and your buddy's torso voted for J.R.

Just think how mad you guys can get at me — and then realize that when your fellow Tennesseans don't vote, they are leaving the likes of me in charge. And the more they don't vote, the more weight my vote has.

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Would You Use a Form of Birth Control That Had an 80 Percent Failure Rate Among Its Most Ardent Users?

Posted By on Fri, Sep 30, 2011 at 6:45 AM

CNN has a story about how it turns out that while 88 percent of non-Christian young people ages 18 to 29 are having sex, among the abstinence-only, wait-until-you're-married crowd, that number is 80 percent.

Yes, a generation of abstinence-only education, True Love Waits and Purity Balls has told kids that the only sure way to keep from getting pregnant or getting some kind of STI is to just to not have sex until you get married. And yet, for some reason, they're still fucking.

This means that, as a method of birth control, abstinence has at least an 80 percent failure rate. If you do not have a more dependable form of birth control as a back-up, you are likely to get pregnant while using abstinence as your form of birth control.

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Pick of the Day: Handmade & Bound Nashville at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film

Posted By on Fri, Sep 30, 2011 at 5:42 AM

Handmade & Bound Nashville
When: Sept 30 & Oct. 1
Where: Watkins College of Art, Design & Film

With the holidays just around the corner — no pressure! — the publishing industry makes a big push in the fall, right before gift-giving season. Add to that local news about bookstores opening and a number of text-centered art exhibits, and we’re in a literary state of mind.

Watkins College adds its voice to the conversation this weekend, debuting the two-day Handmade & Bound Nashville handmade books festival. The celebration spotlights artists’ books, zine publishing, comic authors, indie distributors, collectors and aficionados. There will be opportunities to buy, sell and trade, along with film screenings, discussions and workshops.

The fest launches tonight with an opening reception for the Encoded Structures: Interpreting the Story exhibition at the Brownlee O. Currey Jr. Gallery. Handmade & Bound is a free, family-friendly event. See for a full schedule.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

nD Festival Presents a Free Screening of Ziggy Stardust Tonight in East Nashville

Posted By on Thu, Sep 29, 2011 at 3:39 PM

After I had gotten about halfway through the recently published biography David Bowie: Starman, I realized that I still had absolutely no idea who the hell Bowie really is. It's a fine book, but Bowie's just too mysterious a subject, and it's almost impossible to nail down exactly what really makes him tick. It's that elusiveness, however, that makes him such a glamorous figure.

Tonight, an East Nashville party will feature a free outdoor screening of the legendary movie that attempted to crack the Bowie code back in 1973. Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars follows Bowie — or at least his stage personal Ziggy Stardust, aka the leper Messiah (well-hung and snow-white tan) — during a performance that was billed as Ziggy's last, and which many at the time thought would be Bowie's swan song, as well.

Come early and imbibe in a wine tasting courtesy of Woodland Wine Merchant, or sample some Ziggy Starcrunch ice cream from Pied Piper Creamery. The screening will start at dusk (roughly 7 p.m.) in the backyard of Fanny's House of Music (1101 Holly Street), and an after-party starts at 9 p.m. with Warthog, billed as Nashville's only Ramones cover band, at The 5 Spot.

It's all part of the nD Festival, a five-day Belcourt fundraiser that combines film, fashion and music. Ziggy's a perfect fit.

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Haslam Denies Scheming with Lamar on Senate Future

Posted By on Thu, Sep 29, 2011 at 8:38 AM

When Lamar Alexander said he’s planning to run for the Senate again in 2014, he did it to head off the inevitable wild scramble of would-be successors that would have been triggered by any equivocation on his part about his future. As Ken Whitehouse pointed out in The City Paper:

Absent that statement, at least three Republican exploratory committees would appear next week. And Democrats would have 36 months to find a whisper of some sort of viable candidate. Alexander shut all that down, for now.

But while freezing Blackburn, Wamp, Ramsey, et al, Alexander managed to touch off wild speculation just the same. According to the hypothesis making the rounds of political junkies, he would run again—not to serve another Senate term—but only to resign after he wins. That way, he essentially could choose his own successor. The senator is 71, after all. If he runs again and wins, he’d be nearly 80 by the time his third term ended. Surely, he doesn’t want to spend his 70s wasting away in Washington.

The speculation is that Alexander would resign and let Gov. Bill Haslam—the son of one of Alexander’s biggest financial supporters—appoint himself to fill the unexpired term. That would set up Haslam to run as the nearly unbeatable incumbent in the next general election and keep the seat out of the hands of any annoying right-wing kooks.

Haslam thinks all this is pretty funny, it turns out. We asked him about it at his media avail yesterday and, as he chortled, here is what he said:

First of all, I hope Lamar does run again and I hope he serves his full six years. I’m biased but I think he’s a terrific senator. Second, you know, I have no intention at all to do that, I really don’t, mainly because I love the job I have and while being senator is really important, I love the fit of being governor, so I have zero anticipation of doing that.

Pick of the Day: How to Be a Gentleman Viewing Party w/John Bridges

Posted By on Thu, Sep 29, 2011 at 5:05 AM

How to Be a Gentleman Viewing Party
When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29
Where: The Belcourt
Tickets available through

If we have learned anything from Nashville author John BridgesHow to Be a Gentleman etiquette guides — and those closest to us would say that we haven’t — it’s that a gentleman does not keep good news to himself. So we’re happy to share that Bridges — matchless raconteur, Jedi master of the martini-making arts and one of the Scene’s formative voices — will host a viewing party for the 7:30 p.m. premiere of the CBS sitcom adapted loosely (and we mean “loosely”) from his book of the same title.

As you may recall, the rights to Bridges’ book were bought by It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia writer/executive producer David Hornsby. It has been refashioned into an ensemble comedy about a reserved etiquette columnist (Hornsby) who seeks a different set of life lessons from his macho-man trainer (Kevin Dillon). Dave Foley plays the columnist’s editor; the supporting cast includes Mary Lynn Rajskub and The Flight of the Conchords’ Rhys Darby. The event tonight features cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction, with proceeds from the auction and the $30 tickets ($100 for patrons) going to The Brooks Fund at The Community Foundation. It should be a blast — after all, the man of honor literally wrote the book on hosting.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Haslam Sees Urban Hipness in Nashville's Future

Posted By on Wed, Sep 28, 2011 at 2:20 PM

Hipsters thinking about moving to NashVegas but wondering about the legislature's raging homophobia
  • Hipsters thinking about moving to NashVegas but wondering about the legislature's raging homophobia
In an Ode to Nashville today, Gov. Bill Haslam praised Twang Town as a place "where young, bright, creative, innovative people want to live" and predicted the city's on the verge of urban hipness like San Francisco or Seattle or maybe even Leiper's Fork. At the Downtown Partnership's awards luncheon, the governor talked about how much he loves to go jogging at Bicentennial Mall or cycling at Shelby Bottoms, among other joys of city life, and called Nashville "a huge business recruiting advantage."

"Everybody talks about quality of life, but what does that mean? I think it means creating unique places to live where the best and the brightest want to go live and be a part of that community," Haslam said.

Be that as it may, Pith can't resist pointing out that it also probably means not living under the thumb of overbearing, puritanical social conservatives in the legislature who undo the progressive ordinances of your duly elected city council and ram their intolerant beliefs down your throat. (OK, we feel a little better now. Venting is a healthy thing. ) We are referring, of course, to the new state law—which Haslam signed—that overturned Nashville's anti-gay bias ordinance and barred any city anywhere in Tennessee from adopting such an ordinance ever again. As Mayor Karl Dean said at the time:

“In terms of business, it would have been a good thing for Nashville because it would have set Nashville off as an open city, which I think helps you bring business to the city when you have a representation for openness and inclusiveness. Companies and dynamic, creative businesses are looking to be in cities like that.”

Tonight at Salon@615: Actor Anthony Zerbe Reads From Joe Henry's New Novel Lime Creek

Posted By on Wed, Sep 28, 2011 at 12:18 PM

Yes, that Anthony Zerbe
  • Yes, that Anthony Zerbe
Tonight's Salon@615 event at the Nashville Public Library, a reading of a new novel by Colorado songwriter Joe Henry, is not your typical book event (and that's not to say we don't like typical book events).

In addition to writing songs for Frank Sinatra, John Denver, Trisha Yearwood and Roberta Flack, to name a few, Henry has led a colorful life: He's worked as a rancher and a professional boxer, and he got an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where he studied under Kurt Vonnegut.

For years he's been writing poetry celebrating the natural splendor of the American West, and he's won awards from the National Wildlife Federation and others for his conservation efforts. He's just released his first novel, Lime Creek. According to the press release, it's "a lyrical series of pictures, verses about a family living on a horse farm in rural Wyoming."

Renowned Hollywood actor Anthony Zerbe (Omega Man, Cool Hand Luke, Papillon, Rooster Cogburn, The Matrix Reloaded ... the list goes on and on) is a friend of Henry's, and Zerbe has created a stage performance based on scenes from the book called A Lime Creek Christmas. Zerbe will join Henry at Nashville Public Library tonight, and will read from Henry's book. This should be one of the most exciting Salon@615 events of the year — and that says a lot.

The reading is at 6:30 p.m. tonight, Wednesday, Sept. 28, in the downtown library auditorium. The full press release, below:

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Gaile Owens, Once Scheduled for Execution, Gets Parole

Posted By on Wed, Sep 28, 2011 at 11:52 AM

Stephen Owens, testifying at Gaile Owens parole hearing Sept. 7
  • Stephen Owens, testifying at Gaile Owens' parole hearing Sept. 7
Gaile Owens, the convicted murderer who only last year was scheduled to become the first woman executed on Tennessee's Death Row in two centuries, has been granted parole.

Owens needed recommendations from four of the seven members of the Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole. She received the last of those today.

The first sign she might receive parole came at an emotional hearing Sept. 7 at the Tennessee Prison for Women, where Owens received the first "yes" vote from board member Patsy Bruce. Looking on was a crowd of supporters that included her grown son Stephen — who at age 11 discovered his father Ron Owens battered and bleeding in the family's suburban Memphis home.

Owens was convicted of hiring an accomplice, Sidney Porterfield, to murder her husband and has spent 25 years awaiting execution. But in recent years supporters have raised concerns that evidence which might have mitigated her death sentence — specifically, allegations of spousal abuse and the possibility of battered-woman syndrome — was never heard at trial. These issues are covered at length in a two-part Scene cover story from April 2010 ("No Angel, No Devil," April 22 & 29).

Through his attorney, Stephen Owens released the following statement minutes ago:

This is a beautiful day for our family. I am grateful to the parole board for granting parole to my mother, Gaile Owens, after 26 years in prison. One year ago today was the date that Mom was to be executed had Gov. Phil Bredesen not commuted her sentence. I will always be grateful to Gov. Bredesen, to my mother's legal team, and to the thousands of friends and strangers who have rallied behind my mom and our family.

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Dems Defend HOPE Scholarships

Posted By on Wed, Sep 28, 2011 at 11:29 AM

Tennessee's downtrodden Democrats finally might have latched on to a winning campaign issue for 2012 thanks to their party's Senate leader, Jim Kyle. He's trying to beat back Republican attempts to deny HOPE lottery scholarships to thousands of kids in an unnecessary cost-saving exercise.

In a letter to legislators this week, Kyle pointed out that, while the lottery fund indeed is running at an annual deficit now, it's still flush with $373 million in reserves built up by surpluses before many scholarships had been given. At the current rate of expenditure, it will take until 2024 to drain the surplus to $50 million, the lowest level state law allows. So why tighten scholarship eligibility now when the economy's in the dumps and unemployment stands at nearly 10 percent?

In his letter, Kyle said: “The Lottery for Education account has more money in reserves than it pays out each year in scholarships, and yet we talk about its looming insolvency. I don’t know a single person with more money in their savings account than they spend in a year who considers themselves broke.”

Gov. Haslam says he's for "a very measured approach" to the lottery money issue. We're not sure what that means. As usual, the governor's a little hard to pin down. This afternoon, he told reporters:

We are spending more than we’re bringing in and we can’t keep doing that and kicking the can down the road, as they say. So I do think we should begin to come up with a way to address that sooner. I think having that savings account, the rainy day fund, allows us to work toward getting one that is in balance. But it’s not fair for us to just to keep using more than we bring in and let somebody 10 years from now worry about it. ... We’re actually as an administration looking at all the different ways that you could shrink that gap right now and I think by the time the legislature comes around we’ll have a voice in all of that.

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