Good morning, everyone.
The best way to approach a city is as a flâneur: enjoying long, languorous, directionless walks through the metropolis. Nassim Taleb, author of the Incerto series and well-respected flâneur, describes flaneuring like this:
Cities are living organisms. Like all organisms they are indivisible and mutate over time. Some cities are more alive than others. You can only "feel" a city by flaneuring, walking slowly (very slowly) without any predetermined goal.
He goes on to explain which qualities make a flaneuring city: large, dense, and full of mystery. This might work in places like New York City or San Francisco, but flaneuring doesn't really seem like a Nashville activity. It's not large or dense enough. Far too many parking lots.
In rural areas, you might adopt the attitude of an ambler. Someone in the mold of Henry David Thoreau, who would set aside four hours each day to wander aimlessly through the woods. Like the flâneur, the ambler values the acts of walking and wandering, but instead of admiring the fruits of civilization, he's more concerned with communing with nature and freeing himself from the humdrum of daily life. "Everything good is wild and free," Thoreau famously noted.
For Thoreau, walks in the woods were a way to escape the persistence of politics. Just as flaneuring doesn't really work as a Nashville approach to living, neither does ambling. The burdens of civilization are irrevocably present and to escape, one must drive. Neither an ambler nor a flâneur will find much to desire in Nashville.
So, you're asking, what kind of attitude should one cultivate in Nashville, a suburban city, without the density required for flaneuring or the space required for ambling? Fortunately, I have an answer for you: the lebenskünstler.
I learned about lebenskünstlers from a German while on a trip to Australia a few years back. He described them as "life artists". The word has something of a dilettantish, slacker undertone to it, emphasizing a person's lack of concern for his work and emphasis on mastering the art of living in its stead—life itself as their medium. You might know some people who fit this description.
Oscar Wilde once said: "I put my talent into my work, but my genius into my life." Here is the kernel of the life artist's preoccupation. Until recently, this would accurately describe why the average person found Nashville attractive. It wasn't for the job opportunities or the party, but the ability to live an unconcerned, reasonably paced life. You could find a quiet corner of the city, engage leisurely with your work, and build a fruitful, expansive life all the while.
We are well past the point of return to this version of Nashville, but one thing that will not change anytime soon is that Nashville is attractive precisely because it is a suburban—and not an urban—city. By and large, people come here to get a house, a car, and avoid the demands of more urban environments.
City leadership, the Metro Council in particular, seems determined to transform the city into an urban facsimile with bike lanes, high-density housing, and public transport. Despite their efforts, we are a city of lebenskünstlers, and always have been. You cannot force us to ride the bus.
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➫ GENERAL SKRMETTI TAKES ON TICKETMASTER
Jonathan Skrmetti became a hero to all anti-hero lovers yesterday by launching an antitrust investigation into Ticketmaster. The problems Swifties experienced while using the company to buy tickets for The Eras Tour concerned the attorney general, who, according to his statement this week, will be looking into consumer protection violations, antitrust issues, and the ubiquity of back-door deals on the platform: “Any time you have that kind of concentration of market share, there’s the risk that the lack of competition will not just drive up prices for consumers, it will also reduce the quality of the product,” he told The Hill.
Let’s take a look at what else the AG’s office has been up to this month.
A MAN OF THE PEOPLE
Since General Skrmetti took office back in September, he’s tried to shine a spotlight onto the role. Though it’s an extremely powerful position in state government (some consider it second only to the power of the governor’s office) the attorney general’s office tends to fade into the bright tapestry of Tennessee politics. Of course, most politicians and bureaucrats prefer to work without fanfare–either because true public awareness would be a threatening net negative or because holders of certain, demanding offices don’t typically have the time or resources to educate the public as they go about their business.
The position of Tennessee attorney general in particular has some unique obstacles which tend to keep its officeholder more out-of-sight, out-of-mind. To begin with, the position is only filled every eight years. This, paired with the fact that the AG is appointed instead of elected, practically ensures that the office is barely a blip on the average Tennessean’s radar.
That being said, the Taylor Swift-Ticketmaster situation has proved Skrmetti’s knack for the politics of getting things done with public support; recall that as he pursued appointment to this role he specifically addressed his desire to tackle antitrust and consumer protection issues in the area of cyberlaw. In other words, Skrmetti’s steady vision for how his office can serve Tennesseans allowed him to take swift action. This has been a pattern he’s followed from the beginning, and it looks as though our AG will continue to seek a public-facing posture, boosting both his office’s relationship and reputation with his constituents.
WHAT THE AG HAS DONE SO FAR IN NOVEMBER
- $3.1 Billion Settlement with Walmart over Opioid Epidemic Allegations: General Skrmetti joined 15 other states in negotiating a “settlement with Walmart to resolve allegations that the company contributed to the opioid addiction crisis by failing to appropriately oversee the dispensing of opioids at its stores.”
- 40 Attorneys General Announce Historic Google Settlement Over Location Tracking: Joining 39 other attorneys general, Skrmetti helped reach a “$391.5M multistate settlement with Google over its location tracking practices relating to Google Account settings.”
- Tennessee Joins Combined $16 Million Multistate Settlements over 2012 and 2015 Experian Data Breaches: Skrmetti, with a coalition of other attorneys general, obtained settlements with Experian and T-Mobile concerning a breach of data “which impacted more than 15M individuals who submitted credit applications with T-Mobile.” Tennessee will receive a total of $271K.
- General Skrmetti Announces $84 Million Payout to Combat Opioid Crisis: Over $84M was paid to state and local governments “to be used to abate the opioid crisis in Tennessee.” The payments are part of a settlement with the opioid manufacturer Janssen (connected to Johnson & Johnson).
- TN Attorney General Skrmetti Files Enforcement Actions Against Two Alleged Illegal Robocallers: Skrmetti, along with 51 other attorneys general, announced the “National Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force” whose job is enforcing investigations into illegal robocalls.
- Meharry Medical College placed on probation (Post) Meharry Medical College’s medical degree program is under probation, after its graduate medical education program went on probation at the beginning of the year.
- Nashville Chamber of Commerce: 'You'll see us very actively in support' of stadium deal (Tennessean) The Nashville Chamber of Commerce's board of directors announced its support for the Titans stadium deal during a panel discussion Wednesday that featured leadership from the football team.
- Nashville organization encourages business members to pay employees 'living wage' (Channel 5) During International Living Wage Week, Nashville Living Wage is seeking more members in an effort to help more residents earn a "living wage" as opposed to a minimum wage.
- Council approves $32M in COVID-19 relief for affordable housing projects (Main Street) Funds are all one-time spending and are allocated from Nashville’s $380 million allotment from the American Rescue Plan Act, signed into law by President Joe Biden in March 2021.
- Dual Branded Hilton Rises Above Grade In The Nashville Gulch (Now Next)
- MDHA OKs building plans for east side, SoBro, The District (Post)
- North Gulch tower project moves toward start (Post)
﹅ THE ECOSYSTEM WITHIN
Human Microbiomes and How to Keep Them Happy
You may have heard of the “gut microbiome” and “gut health” in recent years, coupled with advertisements for kombucha and probiotic supplements. Nearly every grocery store hosts a shelf or more holding a rainbow of kombucha and a variety of probiotic capsules. In 2012, a survey from the CDC noted that 1.6% of American adults had taken probiotics in the last 30 days, but by May 2020 that percentage grew to 22%. But what is the gut microbiome?
The first common misconception around this key factor in our health is that the “gut” is in the stomach. However, when we speak about the gut, what we actually mean is our intestinal tract—the large and small intestines. The “microbiome” is the system of microorganisms (also referred to as “microbiota”) that grow and develop within that gut. I spoke with Dr. Maria Marco, Professor of Food Microbiology at the University of California Davis and Chair of their Food Science Graduate Group, for a deeper understanding of how it works.
THE GUT IS THE KEY
The microbiome that lives in our gut contributes to the rest of our body’s health. This is because our intestines are home to 80% of our body’s immune-producing cells and provide the most nutrient-rich ground for bacteria to develop. The majority of the human body’s microbiota will grow and change within the intestines, which influences every other system in our bodies.
We are well aware, for example, that diet has a massive effect on the condition of our cardiovascular system, and this is largely involved with the bacterial balance of our intestines. A report from 2017 highlighted this link, indicating that the gut’s control over our metabolism can increase or decrease inflammation and cholesterol in the heart and bloodstream. The health of our intestines is a major factor in deciding our likelihood of developing conditions that lead to heart failure.
Not only will life here play into your digestive, cardiovascular, and immune system health, but over the last decade, scientists have found connections to the central nervous system—including the brain. One analysis reported that gut health has a direct effect on conditions like epilepsy, depression, and even autism. The document reported that ketogenic diets have been found to be extremely beneficial, reducing the rate of seizures in epileptic children by 50%. This diet reduces carbohydrate intake, moving the body into the state of ketosis, where it draws energy from fat instead of glucose. While scientists previously assumed the benefit of the diet lay in this metabolic shift from glucose to fat, more recent findings link it to the gut microbiome and an increase in the microorganisms Akkermansia and Parabacteroides. The ketogenic diet is now being studied to help treat autism, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinsons. Whatever happens in your gut microbiome will affect the way the rest of your body operates. This is why many health conditions come with a specific, doctor-recommended diet.
𝓧 CHART OF THE DAY: GOLF
⚔ MISSIVES ⚔
- 🗳 In an internal election Wednesday, Senator Rick Scott failed to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell from his GOP leadership role in the upper chamber.
- 🏠 More than a week after Election Day, Republicans appear to have finally clinched enough seats to narrowly win back control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
- 💍 Landmark legislation that would cement same-sex marriage rights into federal law cleared a decisive hurdle in the Senate Wednesday, with lawmakers aiming to get the measure to President Biden’s desk in the coming weeks.
- 💥 The explosion of a stray air-defense missile in Poland on Tuesday offers an unsettling reminder of how close Russia’s war in Ukraine is to NATO territory, and with that the risk of confrontation between nuclear powers.
- 🏛 At a press conference held on Thursday morning, Representatives James Comer (R., Ky.) and Jim Jordan (R., Ohio) announced that House Republicans would be opening up an investigation to determine the extent of President Joe Biden’s involvement in his son Hunter’s business dealings.
THINGS TO DO
View the full calendar here.
🍺 The Pamphleteer hosts Bar Hours on the third Thursday of every month (the next meeting is this Thursday, November 17th) at Lucky's 3 Star Bar from 6-8 PM.
👨🏻🌾 Check out the Pamphleteer farmer's market guide.
🎧 Listen to the Pamphleteer's Picks on Spotify, the playlist of our favorite music in town each week.
🍀 Live Irish Music @ McNamara’s Irish Pub, 6p, Free, Info
🎸 Kelly’s Heroes @ Robert’s Western World, 6:30p, Free, Info
🎸 Open Mic @ Fox & Locke, 6:30p, Free, Info
🎻 Hogslop String Band @ 3rd & Lindsley, 9p, $15, Info
+ This one's rowdy
✹ WEEKLY FILM RUNDOWN: 11/17-11/22
The latest releases and special screenings hitting Music City this weekend.
FEEL-BAD HOLIDAY POSTURING
She Said Nothing says pre-Thanksgiving weekend like the tale of two brave female journalists (Zoe Kazan and Carey Mulligan) who took down Harvey Weinstein. Revel in all #MeToo glory now brought to you by the same media conglomerate that first spiked Ronan Farrow’s original Weinstein scoop in fall 2017. Who needs integrity when Oscar glory is on the line?
Now playing in theatres.
INEVITABLE INDIE DISAPPOINTMENT
The Menu What could go wrong with a horror-tinged foodie satire featuring Ralph Fiennes as a celebrity chef luring elites to his island oasis for a schadenfreude-filled massacre? Bernie Bro Adam McKay in the producer’s seat bringing all the nuance of last year’s apocalyptic disaster Don’t Look Up to what could have been a brilliant effort in better hands.
Now playing in theatres.
DUBIOUS ENVIRO DOC
All That Breathes Two New Delhi men dedicate their lives to saving the city’s black kite population after pollution and ambivalent residents have led to the bird of prey’s downfall. Its Sundance pedigree has us on santimony alert, but its imagery and personal focus may make it an appealing offering this weekend.
Now playing at the Belcourt.
SUICIDE BOMBER SCHMALTZ
You Resemble Me Neocolonialism and faulty social services lead to ISIS radicalization in this tale of separated sisters that culminates with the 2015 Paris terror attacks. You’ll need some L’Occitane moisturizer for all that browbeating.
Now playing at AMC Thoroughbred 20.
The Fabelmans +6: The Fated Family Visions of Steven Spielberg Celebrate next week’s release of the master director’s autobiographical opus, The Fabelmans, with The Belcourt’s retrospective of the director’s greatest films about daddy issues. Blockbusters Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., and Catch Me If You Can share equal billing with quiet masterpieces Empire of the Sun and The Sugarland Express. But the true showpony of this embarrassment of riches is A.I.: Artificial Intelligence—our pick for Spielberg’s best movie and essential cinema we can’t wait to see on the big screen.
Playing through December 11 at The Belcourt.
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☁ Smoke Signals: A New Technology of Control HR smokes pot. Your mom smokes pot.
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Words of Wisdom
"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe