Good morning, everyone.
With the latest and greatest COVID-19 variant encircling the globe, we just want to remind you that if they stopped testing for COVID-19, the pandemic would instantly disappear.
Below, we talk about the artists of the maps in Tennessee, get into an emerging American past-time, court cases, and take you deep into the New York Times archives to peer at a post-Cultural Revolutionary China. This and much more can be yours today if you read and pass along this newsletter to someone who doesn't know about it.
Thanks for reading.
❒ ARTISTS OF THE BORDER LINES
Gerrymandering. A term being thrown out surrounding the redistricting process across Tennessee this year — and every year before it. Every 10 years, following the new census data, we redistrict for school boards, city councils, state senate, and the house of representatives, as well as federal Congressional representatives.
When districts are redrawn to adjust for population growth, lawmakers also attempt to combine areas with similar demographics and needs to create a coherent district or region. The art of redistricting creates some mind-bending “map art” with districts cutting across states like veins in some instances and settling like bruises in others. The artists of such maps call the practice gerrymandering after Founding Father Elbridge Gerry who oversaw the creation of a partisan district in Boston in 1812 that resembled the mythological salamander.
Tennessee has been referenced, historically, for its gerrymandering. Recently, it was highlighted during a Supreme Court ruling regarding gerrymandering when the court explored the case of Baker v. Carr. Despite the present state of politics and rhetoric surrounding redistricting, it’s actually a non-partisan issue. The court cases Democrats love referring to in Tennessee’s, apparently contemptible history actually show gerrymandering carried out by Democrats and bipartisan efforts to resolve gerrymandering issues.
When it comes to this year’s congressional redistricting maps, mum's the word across the board. Both Republican and Democrat maps remain under lock and key. For all the talk of gerrymandering by the Democrats, the party has repeatedly attempted and failed when filing lawsuits against the Republican party and is known to draw politically motivated maps themselves.
- The only clear redistricting proposals are for School Board and Council districts (Read)
- Dive deeper into the political redistricting battle with this excellent Tennessee Lookout article (Read)
- Long delay on BYO beer licenses will put some party vehicles out of business, operators say (Main Street) Starting Wednesday, alcohol aboard open-air party buses, barges, and tractors downtown will be banned. Michael Winters, president of the Nashville Transpotainment Association, says it could be April or May of 2022 before companies could get permits to allow customers to drink on board.
- Nashville ranks among most charitable U.S. metros (Biz Journal) Nashville residents donate 1.79% of their income to charity and 7.66% of area tax returns include charitable contributions. Music City has a volunteer rate of 34.7%, according to the study. The city ranks 11th in the country in terms of how much citizens gave to charity.
- Neyer Properties buys Nashville land for $60 million apartment project (Biz Journal)
- 7.7 Million+ Square Feet Of Must-See Development In Midtown Nashville. (Now Next)
- Christian pop music songwriter buys Berry Hill building (Post)
- Distinctive south side office building sells for $2M (Post)
- Reba McEntire announces bar and restaurant concept 'Reba's Place' in Oklahoma (Biz Journal)
☂︎ THE SPECTACLE OF THE JUDICIAL BRANCH
The future of American entertainment is high-profile court cases cast across political battle lines. Americans are done with the high falutin theatrics of the NFL. Even the violent stakes of a UFC match don't capture their attention as well as a prosecutor cross-examining a witness and attempting to lock a defendant behind bars for 10 years to life. Two big court cases that'll surely steal some attention from Joe Rogan — or, whoever said something mildly interesting this week — began yesterday.
The first case involves Ghislaine Maxwell and her entanglement with Jeffrey Epstein. As far as national unity goes, this case may be the closest thing we have to a central rallying point. Though the case will likely receive less attention than the Rittenhouse case because it deals with the inner lives of our hallowed elites and they own all the newspapers and TV stations, it is of no less cultural importance. If you're interested in tracking the case, a writer on Substack has set up shop under the banner The Free Press Report which will send out daily updates.
The second case involves Jussie Smollett who has become something of a meme in the time between his supposed assault and his case. Smollett is standing trial on six counts of felony disorderly conduct stemming from the fake attack he staged wherein two men beat him up and hurled racial and homophobic epithets at him including "This is MAGA country." It turns out, the two MAGA white supremacists were actually two Nigerian brothers who allegedly agreed to stage the attack. As the prosecution tells the story, Smollett was unhappy with his salary on the show Empire, upset by the production's nonplussed reaction to a death threat letter he received, and thought gaining public attention of the victim variety would give him some leverage in negotiations. He gained public attention in spades but lost his salary entirely and now he's facing up to three years in prison.
A key piece of evidence in the case is the death threat letter which looks a lot more like a movie prop from American History X than an actual, credible threat. The sender of the letter is still unknown, but our money's on Smollett because past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior and, well, this guy seems about as sharp as a bag of rocks. According to Smollett, he did not plan the attack and was genuinely the victim of an assault saying the two Nigerian brothers that Smollett had paid $3,500 just "didn't like him."
☭ FROM THE ARCHIVE
On the Cultural Revolution in China:
"One of the early objectives of the Cultural Revolution in China, which began in 1966 and goes on today, was to wipe out the “four olds”—old things, old ideas, old customs and old habits."
On changes in behavior following the Revolution:
"Before the Cultural Revolution it was not uncommon to see women wearing traditional sheath dresses and using cosmetics. Now the old styles in women's garments are gone, and today women wear the same frumpy blue or gray trousers and jackets as men. The writer saw no use of lipstick or rouge. Dressed like men, women work alongside them in manual as well as office jobs at the same pay."
On the disappearance of the Mysterious East:
"The exotic, the traditionally pictured and the traditionally colorful things are gone from Chinese life, at least in the areas that were visited. In the Chinese People's Republic there is no “mysterious East” any more, just workaday people following workaday routines that seem essentially familiar and ordinary to the Westerner, even though they operate within a Marxist totalitarian framework."
China Transformed by Elimination of ‘Four Olds'
New York Times, May 19, 1971
⚖︎ STAT OF THE DAY
Mass shooting incidents up 160% since 2014 following the Ferguson, MO protests and the rise of BLM (Source)
2021: 647 (on pace for ~715)
THINGS TO DO
View the full calendar here.
🖼 At the Frist, Medieval Bologna: Art for a University City is running until January 30 and American Art Deco: Designing for the People, 1918–1939 until January 2.
🎸 Honky Tonk Tuesday @ American Legion Post 82, 5p, Free, Info
+ Texas Two Step from 5-7 pm. Cowpokes @ 8p
🐅 Predators vs. Blue Jackets @ Bridgestone Arena, 7p, $24+, Info
😳 Open Mic Comedy @ The East Room, 8p, Free, Info
Around the Web
✿ Dozens Of People Were Snowed In At An English Pub For Three Nights Guests were trapped by snow drifts from Storm Arwen with an Oasis cover band and fully stocked bar.
☤ Roman Emperor Caligula's coffee table How a lost mosaic from the Roman emperor's reign ended up entertaining guests in a New York City apartment.
☗ The New Cold War America, China, and the Echoes of History
Political Theater Highlight Reel
- Aaron Rodgers Joked About ‘COVID Toe’; WSJ Took It Literally
- New Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal in November 2020 interview: "Our role is not to be bound by the First Amendment... focus[ing] less on thinking about free speech, but thinking about how the times have changed."
- WHO Explains why it skipped ‘Xi’ when naming new COVID-19 variant Omicron: 'It's a common surname'
Pierce Brosnan Shrine
Your semi-regular dose of high-quality Pierce Brosnan content.
Words of Wisdom
What has always made the state a hell on earth has been precisely that man has tried to make it his heaven.