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A Night at the Movies
Photo by Jason Dent / Unsplash

A Night at the Movies

馃嵖 O'Connell introduces Magnolia 路聽Looking at the sky 路聽WeGo is not safe 路聽Oversight for illegals 路 Much more!

Good afternoon, everyone. Hope you had a nice weekend. Let's get into it. Onward.

鈥淩espect the caucus!鈥 Mayor Freddie O鈥機onnell shouted to a sold-out Belcourt audience on Friday night. He was riffing on the line Tom Cruise made famous as the proto-Jordan Peterson sex guru in Paul Thomas Anderson鈥檚 Magnolia, the first screening kicking off the theater鈥檚 1999 film series. 

When The Belcourt announced late last week that Mayor O鈥機onnell would be introducing Magnolia, it almost seemed like a misprint. The precious few times previous mayors have even bothered to acknowledge Nashville鈥檚 non-profit cinema, their efforts were always awash in political opportunism. If Mayor O鈥機onnell came to the theater at all, I  fully expected him to host a panel discussion after some awful documentary about solar-powered buses鈥搉ot one of my top five favorite movies. But then O鈥機onnell released an impressive personal essay in the Nashville Scene two weeks ago about what the films of 1999 meant to him. 

Back in 1999, The Belcourt was about to unleash a death rattle that rivaled Jason Robards鈥檚 near the end of Magnolia. As local legend has it, Ridley鈥檚 11th-hour call to arms in the Scene motivated Hillsboro鈥檚 movers and shakers to take on its management. Now, it鈥檚 the type of place that sells out a 35mm showing of a 25-year-old three-hour movie on a Friday night at a time when the death of the multiplex may not be that exaggerated.

As Mayor O鈥機onnell told the audience, he鈥檇 been a member of the Belcourt since its reopening at the dawn of the new millennium. In ruminating on those postgraduate days he spent taking in the best of arthouse cinema, O鈥機onnell reflected on how the time between the Clinton impeachment and 9/11 exuded a sense of peace and prosperity unrivaled in our current climate. 

It wasn鈥檛 until this statement coupled with his profuse praise of 1999 programmer Toby Leonard and Belcourt Education Director Allison Inman as 鈥渕ad geniuses鈥 that it became clear: O鈥機onnell was so drawn to these 25 films the Belcourt is showing because of their sincerity. They are all movies that cut through Gen X nihilism with portraits of an Empire about to fall and a moral panic about how we are all going to cope. 

Such is especially true about Magnolia, Paul Thomas Anderson鈥檚 epic ensemble film set in the San Fernando Valley that, as O鈥機onnell mentioned, may be a tribute to Robert Altman鈥檚 1975 classic Nashville. Like that film, Magnolia is about a city that doesn鈥檛 realize it's in a moral crisis鈥搕hat it can鈥檛 hide behind the relatively idyllic California life and its C-level Hollywood gloss. It鈥檚 not going to stop until these characters wise up, and the spiritual longing Anderson captures has made Magnolia not only timeless but able to somehow make his late-20s artistic self-indulgence work. In short, it鈥檚 an unrivaled triumph by America鈥檚 best filmmaker in its best movie year during the best time to be an American. 

Such is a far cry from O鈥機onnell鈥檚 political reality. I spent most of the election cycle skeptical of his transit utopia and laser focus on bachelorettes and billionaires. But, seeing him talk about Magnolia and the movies in general was the first indication I had that he鈥檚 been unwaveringly sincere this entire time. Going to all those Republican breakfasts wasn鈥檛 just for brownie points. Neither were the pragmatic attempts to work with Broadway bar owners and acknowledge Nashville鈥檚 crime problems.

I can鈥檛 say I鈥檓 an O鈥機onnell Stan at this juncture, but I can say that his love of the movies has made me like him more than any local politician since I鈥檝e lived in Middle Tennessee. And such is a testament to the power of the movies鈥揺specially at their 1999 pinnacle. They can鈥檛 make it stop, but they can force us to wise up. JEROD HOLLYFIELD

Magnolia screens on Tuesday at The Belcourt. 1999 runs all month long.

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馃尋锔 Looking At The Sky Back in April, we wrote a bit about the cloud seeding and weather modification conversations taking place in the House and Senate. At the beginning of this year鈥檚 General Assembly, Sen. Steve Southerland (R-Morristown) and Rep. Monty Fritts (R-Kingston) brought forward a bill to 鈥渂an the release of chemicals into the atmosphere 鈥渨ith the express purpose of affecting temperature, weather, or the intensity of the sunlight.鈥 The controversial legislation was signed by Governor Lee on April 11th and will go into effect on July 1st.

More than a few lawmakers had reservations about the bill, which they regarded as crackpot and conspiracy-addled. 鈥淒o you believe it鈥檚 part of this conspiracy that the witness brought up, that the government is secretly trying to spray things into the atmosphere without our knowledge?鈥 Justin Jones (D-Nashville) scoffed during a House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee meeting. Similarly, Rep. John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville) poked fun at the bill during its final reading by submitting an amendment that would 鈥渕ake sure we're protecting Yetis or Sasquatch or Bigfoot from whatever this conspiracy theory is that we're passing in this legislation.鈥

Following the testimonies of Rainmaker founder Augustus Doricko, who wished to prevent the passage of the bill, and of Dr. Denise Sibley, who supported the bill and outlined the dangers posed by the Biden Administration鈥檚 support of Stratospheric Aerosol injection as a form of climate control, the Tennessee legislature ultimately decided to create some guardrails by passing the legislation.

The new addition to the Tennessee Air Quality Act assumes 鈥渢he action prohibited by this legislation is not currently occurring in this state,鈥 but starting in July, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation will have the authority to enforce the ban which categorizes a violation as a Class C misdemeanor offense with a fine of up to $10,000 per day. MEGAN PODSIEDLIK

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馃毀 Oversight Board Origins At the last council meeting, councilmember Sandra Sepulveda introduced legislation to create a contract and compliance board designed to 鈥渦phold workers鈥 rights and ensure equal opportunities in the construction industry.鈥 The Nashville Banner reported on the origins of this bright idea this morning, attributing it in part to a lawsuit from the parents of a 20-year-old Guatemalan laborer Denis Geovani Ba Ch茅, who died while working on the roof at Glencliff High School. 鈥淭he reason I am here today is to seek justice for the working class of Tennessee and to prevent the situation that my family and I experienced from happening again,鈥 his cousin 鈥嬧婮ulio Alonzo 脕lvarez Choc said in Spanish at a press conference last month on the steps of the Metro Courthouse.

According to Choc, Denis was the main source of income for his family back in Guatemala and difficulties recovering his body have created a lot of stress. Kerry Dietz, an attorney with Stranch, Jennings & Garvey, is representing the family. The bill, up for second reading tomorrow, has a massive amount of support in the council and was drafted in part by Charley Rodriguez of the International Union of Painters and Applied Trades which has a history of representing illegal immigrants in labor disputes. Something to keep an eye on. DAVIS HUNT

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馃殞 Violence Continues To Plague WeGo Riders About two weeks ago, Mayor O鈥機onnell called on both the MNPD and the Nashville Department of Transportation to give him 鈥渞efreshed assessments鈥 of WeGo stations鈥 security. The mayor鈥檚 request came after two back-to-back violent crimes involving WeGo: a shooting at the Elizabeth Duff Transit Center on May 16th, and the stabbing of a bus driver on May 20th. 

Since then, there have been at least three more WeGo-related incidents have occurred: a stabbing at the Edgehill bus stop, another shooting at the Downtown bus station, and a sexual assault at the MLK Boulevard terminal. Last week, WeGo CEO Steve Bland insisted that the incidents, while disturbing, are unusual. 鈥...They are still a very rare occurrence on a system that carries about 30,000 riders each day,鈥 he told reporters at a safety conference last Tuesday. MEGAN PODSIEDLIK


  • Country star Koe Wetzel brings bar concept to Midtown (NBJ)
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View our calendar for the week here and our weekly film rundown here.

馃搮 Visit our On The Radar list to find upcoming events around Nashville.

馃帶 On Spotify: Pamphleteer's Picks, a playlist of our favorite bands in town this week.

馃懆馃徎鈥嶐煂 Check out our Nashville farmer's market guide and yearly festival guide.


馃幐 Secret Shame @ DRKMTTR, 8p, $12, Info
+ dark post-punk

馃幐 Madison Guild Hosted by Trevor Clark @ Dee's Lounge, 8:30p, $5, Info

馃幐 Open Mic Mondays @ Tennessee Brew Works, 6p, Free, Info

馃獣 Val Storey, Carl Jackson, Larry Cordle & New Monday @ Station Inn, 8p, $20, Info

馃拃 Grateful Monday @ Acme Feed & Seed, 8p, Free, Info

馃暫 Motown Monday @ The 5 Spot, 9p, $5, Info