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No. 269: A Corpse Flower Named Zeus

⁂ Nashville's Alt-Daily ⁂ Top Gun · Corpse Flower · Starbuck · Council · Past to Present · Giant Foliage · Much More!

Good morning, everyone.

Went out to Opry Mills last night to see Top Gun: Maverick in IMAX. Well worth the price of admission. The movie conjured forth the distinctly dream-like atmosphere that only movies at their best can. If this latest Top Gun was a dream then it was a very good one.

Tom Cruise as Pete "Maverick" Mitchell works through a kind of purgatory wherein the past is as palpable as the present — behind each and every action is a shadow. Echoes of his old wingman, Goose, are everpresent in the form of his son, Rooster, played by Miles Teller. At one point, he takes control of an F-14 similar to the one he piloted in the first movie. Maverick acknowledges that he may be the last of a dying breed with the best days of the American fighter pilot well behind him. Nonetheless, the movie chugs along with the arrogant, boyish camaraderie you'd expect.

Just as in the first, the enemy is not important. The mission takes center stage at the expense of all else. The singular focus of the mission and the rigorous focus on the training environment encourages the feeling that you are somewhere high in the clouds where things are uncomplicated and justice is served swiftly and brutally only to those that deserve it, sparing the rest and honoring the most capable. Each person earns exactly what he deserves. No more, no less. The sky is just and the enemy is fair.

The best review we've seen of the movie so far is Sonny Bunch's over at The Bulwark.


Today, we take a tour of Austin Peay's giant corpse flower, look at what's next in the Starbuck fiasco, reflect on the emergence of abortion as a political issue, and look at some more giant foliage.

You can follow us on Twitter (@realpamphleteer), LinkedIn (@realpamphleteer), or Instagram (@realpamphleteer) for additional content.

Also, be sure to check out our podcast. New episodes every Monday. Available wherever you get your podcasts.

Thanks for reading.

New Today Transmission No. 5: Starbuck Returns, Enough Pride, and Schools (ft. Joshua Nelson) (Listen)



From Edward Landstreet

I was sent by my editor to Austin Peay to see their blooming “corpse flower” named Zeus. It’s a massive flowering plant originating in Sumatra, Indonesia that attracts its fly and carrion beetle pollinators by emitting the smell of rotting flesh. Unfortunately, I showed up a couple of days too early to see the actual bloom and smell death, but I did get to chat it up with some officials while admiring the alien life.

I’ll get the biology lesson out of the way here, most of this provided by the plant’s caretaker,  Dr. Carol Baskauf, Professor of Plant Ecology, Plant Physiology, and Biostatistics.

The Latin name, Amorphophallus Titanum, translates literally to "large, misshapen penis" and it’s a fitting name. The plant begins as a tuber and takes on two different forms during its life. For the first eight or so years, it emerges as a tree, dies, and emerges as a tree again — the leaf cycle. During the leaf cycle, it builds up a strong enough tuber to support the needs of the massive flower. Once the tuber is ready for the bloom cycle, it produces a small bud from the 50-pound tuber and within a couple of months, the plant reaches six feet and blooms.

In bloom, the body of the flower heats up to human body temperature which releases the smell of death, and bugs that feast on dead flesh become the pollinators. The flower dies and the plant reverts back to its leaf cycles until the tuber is ready to bloom again. Amazingly enough, Austin Peay has two Amorphophallus Titanum, one in the leaf cycle and one in bloom.

After the biology lesson from Baskauf, Dean Karen Meisch walked into the greenhouse with a well-dressed politician — Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts. The Mayor’s city might not have the best reputation, but he must have been the greatest wit that greenhouse has ever seen. In a particularly keen line of questioning — that as a journalist I would do well to learn from — he asked the plant’s caretaker, “Do you talk to it?” Her hesitation said it all. The man did my job for me.

Dean Meisch, also a biologist, has become “obsessed” with the corpse flower. She’s been waking up to check the live feed at night in anticipation — it’s known to bloom at dusk or at night. She’s amazed at the rarity of this plant and its unique behavior and is baffled that such a thing could ever be produced by nature. I went so far as to say that it’s hard to imagine that evolution and random mutation are enough to explain this plant among other incredible forms of life. She at least didn’t disagree.

To Meisch, having both phases of the corpse flower right next to each other is as significant as viewing the total solar eclipse of 2017.

Why a corpse flower? Baskauf has been teaching about plant self-warming (the scientific name escapes me) for years. Finally, she has the heat in the flesh to show all those bright young minds. She’ll also be swapping Zeus’s pollen with Dartmouth’s corpse flower, Murphy, for scientific purposes, of course.

A strange little mission, though it was an honor to be there when Mayor Pitts met Zeus. Pitts expressed admiration and respect for the alien plant. I think it was mutual.

Watch the live feed to see it bloom here.


The Metro City Council meeting will be focusing on the proposed 2022-23 $2.96B budget. The final public hearing for the Metro budget will be tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the Metropolitan Courthouse.


As expected, education will take the largest slice of the pie when it comes to the Metro budget. This year, Metro is pledging increased salaries for teachers and faculty members along with other allocations of funds due to a cut in state funding.


Yes. There will also be a commitment of tax dollars to the new football stadium. All sales tax for sales connected to the stadium, such as ticket sales, food, parking etc., will be given to the Sports Authority. 50% of sales tax of sales occurring within a designated 130-acre area surrounding the stadium will also go to the Sports Authority. Councilman Bob Mendes does a good job outlining this if you would like more detailed information.


Councilman Robert Swope will be proposing a substitute to the bill that introduced a new Nashville Entertainment Commission (what he is proposing to call the Nashville Entertainment Industry Board) that will focus more on cultivating the film industry. Given that our neighboring state, Georgia, has the largest film industry in the country this seems to be a strategic move to incentivize some of that business to make its way to Nashville. Atlanta’s film industry has boomed because of Marvel Studios’ migration to the area. With it, films like Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Ant-Man and the Wasp have all been shot in Atlanta.

The Pamphleteer will be attending the meeting and will report more on this tomorrow.




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In 1974 in Kansas, Dr. Bill Roy decided to challenge the incumbent senator, Bob Dole. Leading up to the election, Roy was on the ascent in state politics even despite running as a Democrat in a heavily Republican state. An obstetrician by trade, Roy glommed onto the Civil Rights movement which grew out of the 60s, evolving from a Nixon-voting Republican in 1960 to a Johnson-style Democrat in 1964.

When he challenged Dole in 1974, to outside observers, Roy was of the "morally superior" variety, championing his bona fides as a Civil Rights champion by attending a black church after the assassination of MLK which later resulted in someone pouring acid on his car. Roy ran as Mr. Clean to Dole's fresh off a divorce, post-Watergate Republican sliminess.

For a while, Roy lead in the polls, but it was a debate at the Kansas State Fair between the two that would change that. Dole, trailing badly in the polls and searching for anything that he could stick Roy with, stumbled on one of the more effective political cudgels to date: abortion.

Dole took Roy to task for supporting "abortion on demand" — though not technically true, it was close enough. Mind you, the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade just a year prior, so the issue was fresh and unprobed by politicians. Dole, an experienced politician by this point, sensed a chink in the armor and a flurry of aggressive attack ads followed recasting Roy as "a big-city eastern liberal" with hands directly complicit in the moral rot of the nation. Dole only had to say one thing when the issue came up: ask Bill Roy about those abortions he performed. The strategy worked. Dole won re-election.

Fast forward to 2022 when we're all well acquainted with the political potency of abortion access. The recent opinion leaked from the Supreme Court indicating that the overturn of Roe is imminent has flared up the issue even amidst the millions of other pressing political issues that cycle through the press and voter's wallets.

Up in New Hampshire, with little else to lean on, abortion is the only issue that Democrats seeking re-election can lean on to gin up support. Even though voters in the state rank abortion access below things like inflation and gasoline prices, Democrats have little choice but to pursue a political strategy centered around abortion access. Junior Senator Maggie Hassan is up for re-election and Republicans are hoping to flip the seat to gain an upper hand in the Senate.

According to a poll from the University of New Hampshire:

61% of the state’s voters oppose overturning Roe v. Wade. One-fifth said they would be more likely to vote in the November elections if the decision is overturned. The survey also found 55% of voters said abortion should be legal in all circumstances.

Something to keep an eye on during 2022's midterms is whether Democrats can stumble on some new messaging to swing voters away from their crumbling policies. It's good to be agile on such things so you can stay ahead of the messaging. Abortion is a state's rights issue, but in the same way that Dole exaggerated and drew out Roy's position, Democrats have begun to do the same with the potential overturn of Roe v. Wade.


The world's largest plant is a vast seagrass meadow in Australia (More Info)




View our full event calendar here.

🎪 Check out our favorite driving distance festivals this summer - Redneck Rumble in Lebanon this weekend, see us there.

👨🏻‍🌾 The Pamphleteer farmer's market guide.

👂 Listen to The Pamphleteer's Picks, a playlist of the bands featured in this week's calendar.

⚾️ The Sounds are playing the Norfolk Tides this week, June 7-12 at 7p.


🚘 Stones River Car Club Meeting @ Cannonsburgh Village Murfreesboro, TN, 6p, Free, Info
+ Dedicated to the preservation, restoration, and maintenance of automobiles. Everyone with a love for cars is welcome

🎙 A Conversation w/ Hank Jr. & Dan Auerbach @ The Analog, 6p, $20, Info

🎻 Nashville Symphony @ Antioch Southeast Greenspace, 7p, Free, Info

🎸 Honky Tonk Tuesday @ American Legion Post 82, 5p, Free, Info‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌
+ Two step lessons @ 7p, The Cowpokes @ 8p

🎺 Todd Day Wait @ The Underdog, 11:30p, Free, Info‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌
+ Honky Tonk Tuesday afterparty, down the street


🚨 Eprom @ Eastside Bowl, (6/25), $25.50, Info

🎹 Steely Dan @ First Bank Amphitheater, (7/13), $34+, Info

🏎 Nascar Ally 400 @ Nashville Superspeedway, (6/24-26) $11+, Info

🏜 Hiatus Kaiyote @ Marathon Music Works, (8/14), $35+, Info

🐂 Professional Bull Riding @ Bridgestone, (8/19-21), $20+ Info

🐖 Roger Waters @ Bridgestone, (8/27), $39, Info

🎹 Stereolab @ Marathon Music Works, (9/6), $35, Info

🎸 My Morning Jacket @ Ascend Amphitheater, (9/23), $22.88, Info

🎸 Smashing Pumpkins @ Bridgestone Arena, (10/10), $133+, Info



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Starbuck Has His Second Day in Court
Starbuck and his team continue their fight to get back on the August primary ballot


The Most Political of Crimes
Why do we act like school shootings aren’t political?
The 5 Best Spots for Outdoor Exercise in Nashville
Head for the Hills! On the Trail of Local Parks’ Best Ups and Downs
Dr. Carol Swain’s Ivory Tower Exit
The former Vanderbilt Professor discusses entering the arena of the public intellectual with her bestselling rejoinder to CRT and her mentorship of young academics who want to follow her lead.
Nashville’s Best Hidden Cocktail Gems
Just keep quiet about it...
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"Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love."

Reinhold Niebuhr

Today's newsletter is brought to you by Megan Podsiedlik (Nashville), Edward Landstreet (Local Noise), and Davis Hunt (everything else).