Tag Archives: Nashville

It City Status Officially Revoked

Yesterday Nashville tore down this gorgeous 135-year-old mansion on Music Row to make way for Richard Branson’s new Virgin Nashville Hotel:

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Sorry I don’t have a better picture. Nobody saw this coming. Maybe if we’d had a heads’ up someone could have gone down there to get a goddamn photo before the bulldozers arrived, y’know? As it is, we’re forced to rely on Google Street View to be the official record of Nashville history.

So, this is progress? No thanks. Real “It Cities” respect their history. And Rebecca Hamilton, trustee of the estate, who sold out and conveniently hid behind “no comment”? Giving you a one-fingered salute, honey.

[UPDATE]:

In an email, the Metro Historical Commission tells me they’d been talking with the building’s new owners since December in an effort to get them to incorporate the original building into their design. This tells me they’ve known the wrecking ball was coming for months and never clued anyone else in about it: not the community they’re supposed to serve, not preservationists, not the news media.

As I said, if anyone had a heads’ up we could have at least got a goddamn picture. But no. So, major fail for another city agency.

Would love to know who’s financing this project. If it’s a local Nashville bank you can expect to hear from me and my middle finger.

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Filed under Nashville, Tennessee

Lost In Spaces

Oh, hello. Can someone tell me what day it is? You see, I’ve been underground for so long, I seem to have lost all track of time.

Seriously, TriStar could not have built a more sprawling, confusing, pathetically-lacking-in-wayfinding medical complex than its Nashville headquarters, Centennial. I got hopelessly lost on my way to my annual “X-ray the titties” ordeal and then afterwards toured the poorly-lit parking garage for a full 40 minutes trying to find my car. I was finally rescued by a valet. I’d probably still be down there if I hadn’t run into him. And it wasn’t just me! There were two other women down there trying vainly to find their cars, as well.

I mean, there’s an entire army of lost souls down there, wandering around like they’re searching for Charon to ferry them across the river Styx. Metro Police could probably solve all sorts of missing persons cases if they took a quick trip down there. I’m serious! This was truly the fifth circle of hell. WTF, people?

You want some insult added to that injury? How about this: somewhere along my journey I stumbled across a marble wall with that insufferable Frist family quote, “Good people beget good people,” emblazoned in ginormous silver letters. Savvy liberals will remember this as the title of the family genealogy Bill Frist penned. It got repeatedly hijacked in the Amazon “reviews” section by people offended at the quote’s pomposity, and the fact that then-Senate Majority Leader Frist was making an ass of himself by video-diagnosing Terri Schiavo and helping lead Americans into Iraq. (By the way, the faux reviews are still there.)

“Good people beget good people”? Really? How about, good people know how to design a fucking medical complex so that good people don’t lose two hours of their lives just trying to get to and from their damn appointments. Fuck you, Bill Frist.

I’ve been to a lot of medical complexes in my life, from coast to coast, and have never seen anything as poorly designed as this one.

Major fail.

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Things Don’t Go Better With Koch

You know what I always say: nothing screams “small government” like a national corporate astroturf group getting your state legislature to crush a municipal transit project.

This won’t mean anything to anyone outside of Nashville, but the Amp has been a hotly debated, very controversial bus project proposed for our city, which sorely needs to improve its craptacular mass transit. I have some good friends in the “Stop-Amp” crowd and some good friends in the “Amp-Yes!” crowd and I’ve been on the fence until now.

The best argument the Stop-Amp folks had was that while the project is a good idea, the route was all wrong. But they pretty much ditched that argument when they got the state Senate to basically ban all mass transit projects in the city. How’s that small government workin’ for ya, folks? The fact that the major funder behind this nonsense is the awful Lee Beaman, who owns several major car dealerships in the city, might strike one as rather self-serving, as well.

So now we have the Kochs stinking up our capitol, and be careful who you align yourselves with, folks. Because having turned the state of Wisconsin into what Charlie Pierce calls “a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries,” it looks like Tennessee is next:

AFP pushes for low taxes, less government spending, more accountability and better schools, Ogles said. The Amp wasn’t the only excitement last week for the group, which has three employees but plans to double its staff soon.

AFP hailed a Senate committee’s passage of school voucher legislation, though it wasn’t as broad as the proposal the organization lobbied for, and the General Assembly’s approval of a measure requiring Gov. Bill Haslam to get legislative approval before expanding TennCare.

Not bad for an outfit that got started here just nine months ago with a budget that Ogles calls “sizable” but won’t disclose. Ogles, one of two registered lobbyists on the staff, said Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee doesn’t endorse or contribute to political campaigns. But he said it saw a political gold mine — and a national launching pad — in Republican-dominated Tennessee.

“With supermajorities in both houses,” he said, “Tennessee is a great state to pass model legislation that can be leveraged in other states.”

Umm … how about some accountability by revealing your budget and donors? No? Gee, I wonder why not.

Is Tennessee ready to be a Mid-South subsidiary of Koch Industries? It’s worked so well for Wisconsin, which has continued to bleed jobs since the Kochs installed Scott Walker in the governor’s office.

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Filed under astroturfing, Lee Beaman, Nashville, Tennessee, Tennessee politics

“She Didn’t Ask”

Tennessee Gov. Haslam, who refuses to expand the state’s Medicaid program, preferring to let the state’s poor get sick and die (I suppose), while also claiming to have some kind of super-secret non-existent Tennessee plan that he’s supposedly “negotiating” (wink wink), and who recently was in the news asking HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius “to come up with a proposal that would give Tennessee more flexibility to expand Medicaid coverage,” could have asked Sebelius for an update on said plan today. Because today, Secretary Sebelius was in Nashville urging people to sign up for ObamaCare:

Sebelius was joined by Amy Speace, a 46-year-old singer-songwriter who was able to find insurance on the exchange for $30 a month with a $500 deductible, thanks to a tax credit. Speace said she did not at first think she would be eligible for insurance on the exchange because she already was covered by a high deductible plan through a musicians group. Despite that coverage, she nearly had to declare bankruptcy a few years ago when she developed laryngitis and ended up owing $5,000 in medical bills. She was only saved from bankruptcy by the help of a charity.

So, did Gov. Haslam meet with Sebelius for an update on that counterproposal? What do you think?

The governor told a reporter that he had no plans to meet with Sebelius when she came through Nashville on Thursday.

“She didn’t ask,” Haslam said.

I guess he just doesn’t give a shit.

Every day thousands of Tennesseans who lack health insurance face bankruptcy and worse. Gov. Haslam certainly doesn’t seem unduly concerned about those folks.

Good to know.

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Filed under Gov. Bill Haslam, health insurance, healthcare, Nashville, Obamacare

Still Not Feeling Better, Folks

Last August I posted about some strange signs the Metro Nashville police department had put up in my neighborhood which I found creepy and more than a little disturbing. They looked like this:

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Well, you can imagine my dismay when last week I started seeing these things in my neighborhood:

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Wowzah. Just curious: Does any criminal believe that the police will announce they’re doing an undercover surveillance operation? Did they put this ginormous sign up because the little yard signs weren’t working? Why not just put up a billboard advertising T.J. Eckleberg, O.D., and be done with it?

I really don’t get the point of this and it creeps me the hell out. We’ve had a few break-ins in the neighborhood, some people had their car windows smashed and items like laptops and purses stolen. Well, folks, here’s a thought: don’t leave anything you don’t want stolen inside your car. That’s just a no-brainer to me.

Whatever. I think our police department is out of ideas.

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Dear God But It’s Cold Out There

Here in Nashville the temperature dropped from yesterday’s high of — I shit you not — 58 degrees to seven degrees this morning. All in the space of, what, 12 hours?

It reminds me of that scene from the 2004 movie The Day After Tomorrow where Jake Gyllenhaal is trying to outrun an Arctic super storm which caused the temperature to fall 150 degrees in a matter of minutes. He just barely makes it inside the New York Public Library, where everyone is burning volumes of the New York tax code to stay warm.

So maybe Nashville’s temperature drop wasn’t quite the Hollywood version, but it was pretty extreme. We survived. All the critters were safely indoors last night, though our one outdoor cat doesn’t understand why I can’t change the weather for him. It’s going to reach a balmy eight degrees today and then fall down to two degrees tonight. And I’m not even talking about wind chill, folks. This is baseline temperatures.

All of this has given the dumb-dumbs on the far right a great excuse to guffaw about how global warming can’t be real because, “har har, it’s cold in my backyard and everything is always all about me!” I wonder what they’d say if they were in Australia, which is smashing summer heat records right now? It’s even warmer in Anchorage, Alaska than Nashville. Politics may be local but climate is not.

It’s funny because I remember those same people laughed that the premise of that movie — global warming precipitates a new Ice Age — as just more liberal Hollywood propaganda. Typical! The people who thought Jack Bauer offered a real national security policy expected a big-budget Hollywood summer disaster flick to provide real climate science! Of course the one film which did present actual real climate science — “An Inconvenient Truth” — was also derided by these same dumb-dumbs because Al Gore Is Fat and Tipper didn’t churn her own butter. Now they’re saying because it’s cold in January, global warming is a hoax. Can’t win for losing with these idiots.

Anyway, it’s going to get even colder tonight. Bundle up, folks.

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Filed under climate change, Nashville, Tennessee, weather

Competition Is Not A Christian Value

Nashville’s homeless street newspaper is The Contributor. The paper is produced and sold by the city’s homeless and formerly homeless. The content is phenomenal, with stories addressing what life is like on the streets, the issues of poverty and homelessness, first person stories, etc.

The way it works is, vendors purchase the paper for 25-cents, and sell it for $1 (or more — most people I know throw in an extra buck or three.) Vendors keep everything over that initial 25-cents; many have found this simple job a way to get off the streets and gain some economic stability. More to the point, it puts a different face on our community’s working poor and homeless. It allows those of us who are the “haves” to put a friendly face, a smile, a daily wave behind the folks who are usually presented to us as statistics. As an example, check out this story from early August, in which downtown bank employees threw a retirement party for the Contributor vendor who had worked their street corner for years. There are dozens of stories like it. It’s a way of forging a relationship, bridging that gap between people who are usually marginalized and the rest of the community.

But, as the Nashville Scene chronicled last week, the paper has hit on hard times. The Contributor has been enormously successful — the circulation is 120,000 papers a month now — and with rising circulation comes rising costs. The paper costs way more to produce than 25-cents an issue.

On top of that, the paper lost a major lawsuit (I wrote about it here) filed by one of our more, ahem, prosperous communities, where the delicate sensibilities of the lilly-white Republican churchgoers were, ahem, offended by those dirty street people who had the nerve to not stay in the shadows where they belong. Why look, George: there they are, out in public! For all to see! The very nerve! Why I do declare, it’s enough to give one the vapors!

Ahem.

The upshot being, cities can now ban vendors.

So in light of all this, you can imagine how much this story really ticked me off:

There’s some competition in Nashville’s homeless streetpaper business. A church-sponsored publication called Faith Unity Outloud uses roughly the same business model as The Contributor, as well as some of its old vendors.

Faith Unity Outloud looks like a newspaper, but it’s really filled with Christian-themed lessons and articles. It’s published monthly by Gene Boros of the Global Vision Bible Church in Mount Juliet.

More than a hundred vendors now buy the papers for 50 cents and sell them on the roadside for a dollar, plus tips. Many previously worked for The Contributor, which has become one of the most popular streetpapers in the country.

“What can I say?” asks William Adams. May the best paper win.”

Wow, not really seeing the “unity” here, guys. Sorry, Gene Boros, you are doing it wrong. If you really wanted to help the homeless, it seems like this church would have devoted its resources to working with the Contributor, not in competition to it. But no, that’s not what they want.

Check this out:

Like Adams, many had a falling out with The Contributor, which enforces a code of conduct for its vendors. They can’t sell the paper while intoxicated, there are assigned corners at busy intersections and they have to go through a training program prior to hitting the streets.

Anthony Hicks says Faith Unity Outloud is different.

“We don’t have a strict set of rules,” he says. “You have to have a photo ID to sign up, but once you do that, you can sell it wherever you want. You can go wherever you want to sell it.”

They don’t care about the homeless or the working poor at all. That’s not their message. They just want to evangelize. They just want to spread the Jesus stuff — and charge the homeless 50-cents a paper for the privilege. They’ve completely missed the point.

No training? It’s okay if you’re intoxicated? Vendors can fight over high-traffic street corners? No problem! Bible stories? Sure, we all need more of those!

Well, there goes the community outreach. I wonder if that downtown bank would have thrown a retirement party if their vendor had been stinking drunk half the time, for example? If there had been petty “turf wars” for a high-traffic street corner among different vendors? How many people want to buy a paper that talks about religion, as if we don’t have enough of that rammed down our throat in this state?

(Let me take a moment here to point out one thing: I know that some vendors sell BOTH papers. Whether they are supposed to do that, I do not know.)

Faith Unity Outloud? Bah. If these people had any real faith, if they really wanted unity, they’d have rolled up their sleeves and helped out The Contributor in its time of need, helping the community understand the plight of the homeless and working poor. Instead it’s more religious noise. Guess that’s the “LOUD.”

I’m so over Evangelical Christians, who think somehow people haven’t heard about Jesus. Seriously, I am sick of you people. I’m not going to say church people don’t do a lot of good — heck, The Contributor got started in a church, and many of its staff are church people. I’ve also worked with enough homeless and marginalized folks in this town to know the vast majority of them are deeply religious. So this is not me being hostile to religion.

But if your church mission begins and ends with spreading the word then you are the very definition of Doing It Wrong.

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Filed under Christianity, homeless, Nashville

Save Us, Al Jazeera

Count me among those excited to see what the new 24-hour Al Jazeera America has to offer viewers:

Al Jazeera’s approach — more time for more serious journalism — is an implicit criticism of the other options for news on television.

Mr. Mora said he had sensed far less commercial pressure at Al Jazeera than at local stations where he had worked. “There’s a sense here of the news being a public trust,” he said.

None of the anchors said they had felt any slant in coverage plans, pro-Qatar or otherwise, despite accounts from some former Al Jazeera English employees of interference from above.

In interviews, the anchors made offhand remarks that it is hard to imagine counterparts at other networks making. For instance, Ms. Chen asked: “How big does our audience need to be? I don’t know. Nobody talks about that here.”

She was scheduled to be in South Dakota over the weekend, filing stories from an Indian reservation.

“That’s not even a pitch I would have made in my old newsroom,” she said, because of budget limitations. “Here, we never have any debate about resources,” she said. “It’s like this: ‘Is that a good story?’ ‘Yes, it’s a good story.’ ‘Then go tell it.’

Yes. GOD, yes. Halla-freakin-LOOYA, yes. After suffering through my gazillionth prognostication about whosgonnarunin2016 — this was “The Road to 2016″ on MSNBC’s “Up With Steve,” fer crissakes (et tu, Steve Kornacki?) — I was ready to give up watching the news completely. Two more years of this crap? You people serious? So someone’s actually going to put news on the air? Sign me up!

There’s been a lot of local interest in Al Jazeera because unlike CNN or Fox, they’ve actually got a Nashville bureau — and it’s headed by a veteran Nashville journalist, Jonathan Martin:

“They wanted to be in places that the other networks are not,” he explains. “For example, Nashville, New Orleans, Detroit — places that are respected cities, people know about them, there’s stuff going on, but there’s no one on the ground every day.”

God, yes. I am so sick of Honey Boo Boo and Kim Kardashian and whosgonnarunin2016HILLARYorCHRISTIEorRANDorSCOTT, I am sick of Balloon Boy and Sarah Palin and everything that happens in Hollywood, D.C. and New York catapulted to national importance whereas the rest of the nation is ignored unless it’s a mass shooting or natural disaster (and sometimes not even then).

I’m like a person who’s been lost in a cable news desert for years and just spied an oasis ahead. I hope it’s not a mirage.

Also? As the comments on the Scene story indicate, we’re sure to be treated to some comedy gold as the wingnuts freak out over Creeping Sharia and the eeevul lieberal media. Colbert and Jon Stewart will have fun documenting the atrocities.

Don’t disappoint me, AJAM!

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Filed under Media, Nashville, Tennessee

Is This Supposed To Make Me Feel Better?

These signs have started appearing in my neighborhood:

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Insert obligatory NSA surveillance quip here.

Seriously, there’s a cognitive disconnect here among people who are so paranoid about “neighborhood crime” that they’ll put this in their yard, but howl in protest over “Big Government” surveillance. “Surveillance” is a loaded word, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t want to be under local police surveillance any more than I want to be under NSA surveillance.

I’m trying to figure out what the point of this signage is. I don’t know who asked for them or who put them there. They’re in the public right-of-way, so they could have been put up by Metro police. But I find them creepy as hell.

My neighborhood isn’t a high crime area. We have your typical petty property crime — people breaking into garden sheds to steal lawnmowers, stuff stolen from cars and the like. As far as I know, we don’t have anything really serious going on — no home invasions or kidnappings or major drug crimes.

Anyway, I don’t want to live in a neighborhood under police surveillance. It kind of sends the wrong message. I can’t imagine what the hell people are thinking.

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Tea Party Dumbasses

In my neighborhood people are having serious flooding issues from “infill” development — that’s where they tear down one house and put two, three or four on the same lot. Naturally the extra paving and loss of grass causes drainage problems for neighbors and right now Nashville regulations don’t require developments of under 10,000 square-feet to file a stormwater plan. That’s going to change because we’re not fucking idiots in this city, but not if people like my dumbass Tea Party neighbor have their way. My neighbor informed me that city stormwater regs are “big government” and people just need to individually take care of their perimeter and all will be well.

“Build a wall” he said because, really, what could possibly go wrong?

So here’s my suggestion: clearly you people are too dumb for urban living. Why not move out to the country and get yourself 25 acres or so. Something where you can bootstrap yourselves all the livelong day and just pat yourselves on the back for being so self-sufficient and individualistic and all.

Then you won’t have to worry about living in close quarters with neighbors, unless of course your neighbors happen to be Muslims, and then you can pop your copy of the Constitution in the shredder and eminent domain yourselves silly.

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Filed under Nashville, religion, Tea Party, Tennessee