Friday, December 30, 2011

Pith Parade: The Most-Viewed Posts of 2011

Posted By on Fri, Dec 30, 2011 at 10:02 AM

A dramatic reenactment of our No. 1 post.
  • A dramatic reenactment of our No. 1 post.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Occupy Nashville-related posts dominated the year's most-viewed posts. Call them the 60 Percent.

I'd have to dig through the data, but I'm pretty sure this is the first time the Top 10 have all come from the second half of the year — in this case, August and afterward.

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The Hippodrome: Between the Bengals and the Liberty Bowl, Down with Cincinnati!

Posted By on Fri, Dec 30, 2011 at 9:00 AM

Francis The Talking Mule (not Francis Nash)
  • Francis The Talking Mule (not Francis Nash)

This week in The 'Drome: A classics reference gets mocked, Shea Weber gets rocked, Vandy fans flock, and animals that talk.

Opening Face-off

Nashville v. Cincinnati: Nashvillians don't have to worry about splitting their animosity between multiple cities this weekend. All the vitriol can go to Cincinnati, the North's Calloused Heel.

Vanderbilt plays the city's eponymous university in the Liberty Bowl and the Titans' play-off hopes depend on a Bengals loss, putting fans of the Two Toners in the uncomfortable position of rooting for the Ravens.

Nashville and Cincinnati have tied their sports fortunes together before. The Sounds were the Reds farm club for two stints in the late 70s and between 1987 and 1992. Some of us have never gotten over the big club calling up bespectacled middle infield sensation Chris Sabo. The Predators ECHL affiliate is currently in the Queen City (in hindsight, foisting our not-quite-ready-for-the-actual-minor-league hockey players is a fair trade for stealing Sabo).

Cincinnati is (probably) the best city in America named for a secret society whose name itself is a complicated analogy between George Washington and a Roman dictator. Many people — falsely, it turns out — think Cincinnati is named for a horse. In fact, U.S. Grant's horse is named for the city. Sure, no one has any idea who Nashville namesake Francis Nash is, but no one has ever thought he is the same Francis as the famous talking mule.

Like most of the shriveled hulks the great Rust Belt exodus has left behind, it's easy to forget Cincinnati most of the time. But this weekend, it'll top the enemies list.

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Flipping Channels: The Year in TV 2011, from Homeland to Breaking Bad

Posted By on Fri, Dec 30, 2011 at 6:36 AM

It has become quite the critical cliche to proclaim we are living in a new "Golden Age" of television. That may be true from a technological standpoint: The advent of high definition and now 3D (even though no one except the 1 percent can afford it) make home viewing at minimum equal to almost anything you can see at multiplexes. The continuing dip in flatscreen prices has resulted in more people owning 40-plus-inch screens at this point in the video revolution than attended the birth of either color TV or the VCR. Couch tubers with the latest in supporting devices (Blu-ray DVD, 7.1 channel sound, etc.) can enjoy an experience so remarkable that leaving home makes little sense, other than to ensure that life continues.

But from a content standpoint, the lament about "500 channels and nothing to watch" too often rings true, particularly if you are not a big sports or film fan. (That's largely what I watch these days, especially in real time.) The onslaught of remakes and reboots reflects a lack of creativity and originality, glaringly so at the network level. Anyone who doesn't have a three-digit cable/satellite bill either gets most of their content online — via DVD/Netflix — or just doesn't care for much TV. Fortunately, cable channels are not hamstrung by the outdated restrictions that force the networks to keep recycling the same old stuff (much of which was putrid the first time around).

Many longtime hits are showing their age. Law & Order finally bit the dust after 20 seasons. CSI is in year number 13, and its cast will soon be down to two originals; spinoffs CSI:Miami and CSI:NY are on the endangered species list. Insiders are speculating that the procedural drama may now be in 2011 where the situation comedy was in 1984 prior to the arrival of The Cosby Show. Even reality staples such as Survivor and The Biggest Loser are declining, while new arrivals like The X Factor didn't deliver the anticipated ratings or viewership boost.

CBS remains the dominant broadcast network. Two weeks ago they had 18 of the Top 20 rated shows, with NBC getting only two programs on the list — and those were Sunday Night Football and its pregame show. ABC and Fox continue to have periodic successes. Fox's blend of animation, reality and a handful of scripted programs keep it on top with the 18-49 demographic, even as it falls further behind CBS in the overall ratings war.

At any rate, here are a few personal favorites that represent oases of quality in an otherwise bleak TV desert:

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Pick of the Day: Elite Squad 2 at Belcourt

Posted By on Fri, Dec 30, 2011 at 5:00 AM

Elite Squad: The Enemy Within
Where: The Belcourt
When: Through Jan. 4

In Brazil, this crackling action thriller trampled Avatar to become the country's highest-grossing film ever — but citizens must have found it the complete opposite of escapism. A thinly veiled account of the police corruption that has thoroughly permeated the country's cities and slums, it's an epic of scalding ironies: the story of how a well-intentioned tactical-squad commander (Wagner Moura) leads a quasi-fascist crackdown on bloodthirsty druglords — only to deliver their former victims into the ruthless and far more efficient hands of shakedown militias made up of dirty cops.

As in his 2007 hit Elite Squad, director Jose Padilha (who also made the gripping documentary Bus 174) sees folly in both right-wing thuggery and left-wing hand-wringing: the former makes the innocent side with the outlaws, while the latter does nothing to stop the genuine criminal threat. But the pervasive cynicism gives the movie an engine of cold fury. Padilha's film rivals the Godfather saga as a portrait of top-to-bottom societal rot — even as its large-scale, high-stakes shootouts and battles make it the year's most exciting crime drama.

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Can It Really Be the Nashville Tea Party If It's Headquartered in Gallatin?

Posted By on Thu, Dec 29, 2011 at 9:05 AM

Earlier in the week, Joey Garrison reported on Ben Cunningham's formation of a new "Nashville" Tea Party. I say "Nashville" because, as Jamie Hollin points out, the non-profit has its principal office in Gallatin.

Shoot, if you can be in Gallatin and call yourself the Nashville Anything, I'm going to stop telling people I live in Whites Creek and start telling them I live on the south side of Clarksville. When I feel like I need to increase my street cred, I'll just say I live on the south side of Chicago. No need to point out how far south.

Well, hell, you know, this probably isn't Ben Cunningham's fault. You know how real estate agents are always switching up the names of places. It isn't "The Nations" anymore: it's "Historic West Town." "Cat Town Hill" is now the more marketable "Sylvan Heights." For all we know, he could have been told he was putting his office in scenic "Nashville North" only to discover too late that it was Gallatin.

I suppose we could ask the government to step up and regulate accuracy in neighborhood names ... Oh, wait. No, the "Nashville" Tea Party probably wouldn't go for that.

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Nashvillian of the Year Tom Nelson: Jekyll or Hyde?

Posted By on Thu, Dec 29, 2011 at 6:42 AM

In last week's issue, the Scene chose Tom Nelson — the night court magistrate who defied Gov. Bill Haslam and ordered the release of 20-some arrested Occupy Nashville protesters, including Scene reporter Jonathan Meador — as Nashvillian of the Year. The selection has been greeted with a range of reactions, from hearty approval to vocal condemnation.

One reader, Karl Meyer, had a more than casual interest in the story: He was among 16 protesters who were arrested in 2007 for holding an all-night vigil to raise awareness of the plight of Nashville's homeless population.

But according to Meyer, instead of releasing these obviously well-meaning protesters, Nelson "arbitrarily set a $2000 bail/bond for each one of us, in effect sentencing us to a night in jail, without trial." Among those spending the night in jail were two former Nashvillians of the Year: Fr. Charlie Strobel and Clemmie Greenlee.

Here's the full text of Meyer's letter:

The Scene has named Night Court Commissioner Tom Nelson as “Nashvillian of the Year” for upholding the constitutional right of peaceable assembly for Occupy Nashville protesters arrested at Legislative Plaza in October.

I agree this was a valuable and significant judicial action to defend civil liberties for all of us, but from personal experience I hesitate to verify the legal integrity of Commissioner Nelson.

In your story, you mention the 180 degree disparity between his actions in this case and a very similar 2007 case in which he upheld the arrest of 16 upstanding Nashville citizens conducting an all night vigil outside the Metro Courthouse and City Hall, in behalf of homeless peoples’ needs. I was one of those defendants. He arbitrarily set a $2000 bail/bond for each one of us, in effect sentencing us to a night in jail, without trial. The next morning, Judge John Aaron Holt appropriately dismissed all charges against us, on motion of an attorney without even bringing us to court.

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Pick of the Day: Madison Smartt Bell at LeQuire Gallery

Posted By on Thu, Dec 29, 2011 at 5:01 AM

Madison Smartt Bell Talk/Jam Session
Where: LeQuire Gallery Green Hills, 3900 Hillsboro Pike, Suite 34
When: Thu., Dec. 29

Readers of this paper, and of papers in general, are likely familiar with Madison Smartt Bell, whose work has appeared everywhere from Harper’s to the New York Times Book Review, and whose novels have earned him wide acclaim — with this year’s feverish 9/11 meditation The Color of Night serving as the most recent demonstration of both his writerly gifts and the respect he commands among critics.

But readers of this paper may be less familiar with Haitian visual artists, whom Bell will discuss at a free event tonight, and even less so with his musical stylings, which range from bluesy rockers to avant-garde-leaning experiments. Bell did, however, cut a record featuring Mitch Easter on lead guitar — so you know the Nashville native has more than enough Music City in him to give Stephen King’s cover band a run for its money

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Yet Another Old Person Denied a Proper ID

Posted By on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 at 7:56 AM

It seems like every other week we get a story about an old person who has problems getting the new legally required picture ID to vote. This time it's 93-year-old Thelma Mitchell, whom the state trusted for 30 years to clean the governor's office, but who can't be trusted to vote.

Yes, they trusted she wouldn't rifle through the governor's things, but they don't trust her to vote for governor.

Of course, this is just another "mistake," another "misunderstanding."

But a spokesman for the House Republican Caucus said Mitchell was given bad information. Brent Leatherwood said even an expired state ID will allow her to vote.

Asked about why Mitchell might have been confused or received incorrect information about the new voter ID law, Leatherwood said only that the provision that allows for the use of state employee IDs is "pretty straight-forward."

He said staff would be contacting Mitchell to get to the bottom of the miscommunication.

One wonders how much bad information is out there and how many old people are being turned away and just not complaining.

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Stacey Campfield's Reefer Madness

Posted By on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 at 5:35 AM

Is Campfields move a thinly veiled attempt to hurt the MoonPie industry?
  • Is Campfield's move a thinly veiled attempt to hurt the MoonPie industry?
Our dear friend, state Sen. Stacey Campfield, who is famous for his legislation designed to protect you from lyin' bitchez and hearing about gay people, is working on drug-testing welfare recipients. Yes, this was tried in Florida. Yes, it has enormous problems and ended up costing the state millions of dollars.

But Campfield has thought of that:

First, Campfield proposes to have the legislation exclude persons already signed up for benefits and apply it only to new applicants. Also, the applicant would be required to cover the cost without state reimbursement. He estimated the costs could be kept to "only $4 or $5" by limiting the tests to "hardcore illegal drugs" such as cocaine, heroin and marijuana.

One objection to the Florida law, he said, is that the screen included prescription drugs in violation of medical privacy rights. Another legal objection in Florida was that those found to be using drugs could be prosecuted. His bills, Campfield said, will provide that a positive test be used only to block benefits, not for prosecution.

OK, so obviously he hasn't thought that hard about this. Cocaine is still used as a topical anesthetic in some cases of mouth and nose surgery, so a person could have a medical reason for having cocaine in his system and he'd be forced to disclose that in order to justify a positive test result (thus violating his medical privacy rights). And heroin? Forget it. The difference between heroin (illegal) and morphine (a medication) is a hydrocarbon.

So, the only "hardcore" drug Campfield could actually easily test for without violating people's medical privacy rights?


Yes, Stacey Campfield wants to protect us from the scourge of welfare recipients who smoke pot. And good ole Ron Ramsey supports this because, "I don't think we need to be supporting that lifestyle with government money."

That lifestyle? What do Campfield and Ramsey have against grinning people with live-and-let-live attitudes who support our state's MoonPie industry? Is happiness now something Republicans consider a problematic lifestyle choice?

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Pick of the Day: A ChristMAS Holiday Hangover at Belcourt

Posted By on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 at 5:00 AM

A ChristMAS Holiday Hangover
Where: The Belcourt
When: 8 p.m. Wed., Dec. 28

MAS Nashville — a “mutual admiration society” consisting of five talented lady performers — gets back in gear just in time to ring out the holiday season with a gig at the historic Belcourt. The MAS missies have previously mounted five well-received cabaret-style shows, but this one features a full band — a fact that may push the presentation into more elaborate territory. But in this case, more is probably more. And even though Christmas itself will have come and gone, these garrulous gals will still offer holiday standards, plus reworkings of familiar carols and winter-type songs, as well as musical parodies. (Above, you can hear their take on Katy Perry's "Firework.")

MAS majordomo Erin Parker sees this date as an opportunity to extend the holidays and to “give people somewhere to take their families that are still in town … or somewhere to escape from the families they’re in town visiting.” (Rimshot!) Expect strong vocals and irreverent humor from Parker, Cori Laemmel, Laura Matula, Melodie Madden Adams and Megan Murphy Chambers, all experienced musical comedy artists. There’s apparently enough of a hint at ribaldry to earn the show a PG rating.

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