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No. 411: Prison Ain't What It Used To Be

⁂ Nashville's Alt-Daily ⁂ Prisons · Our Democracy · Council · Green Machines · Much More!

Good morning, everyone.

You ever notice how the Tennessee State Prison—now defunct, lying neglected in the Nations and once the setting for the movie The Green Mile—looks better and less prison-like than most public schools?

  • Off the Cuff Davis rebuffs yet another column from local NYT contributor Margaret Renkl.
  • Nashville Megan recaps last night's Metro Council meeting.
  • Local Noise 3-Rex at Eastside Bowl.
  • And More An interview with an old Alabama prison warden

An overcast day ahead of us with a chance of showers in the afternoon.


Off the Cuff
Notes from the editor


In the spirit of partisan pandering, I figured I'd offer a thoroughly partisan rebuttal to Nashvillian Margaret Renkl's recent column in the New York Times. Renkl's last appearance in this newsletter, if you can remember that far into the past, was way back in the summer of last year when she penned a column entitled "Dear Liberals: Come On Down!". My response to that piece was among the most read openers we’d published that year.

And so, to honor the Newtonian conception of the universe that for every action there's an equal and opposite reaction, I figured I'd tap out a response, not because I want to, but because the universe demands it.

This time around, Renkl's column is titled "This Is How Red States Silence Blue Cities. And Democracy." It's less a lesson than a rant: the only evidence Renkl cites regarding the encroaching of Our Democracy is the state’s recent efforts to cut the size of the Metro Council in half, allegedly for preventing the Republican National Convention from coming to town. Renkl might have a fair point here about state overreach, pointing out, rightfully, that Nashville went 65 percent for Joe Biden in the 2020 Presidential election. This assumes, of course, that the size of the Metro Council is somehow a partisan issue.

All things considered, her point is not an actual critique that reflects her and her reader's political perspectives: it's a point meant to point to the hypocrisy of her GOP enemies, whom she calls "nihilistic" and labels enablers of "voter suppression and disenfranchisement." This is a well-trod tactic of the right– continually pointing to the hypocrisy of elected leaders as evidence of their corruption while hoping that bringing it to light will result in "change" (hint: it won’t).

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“Speaking truth to power” and “calling out hate” are burdens shouldered by every member of Metro Council, according to CM Angie Henderson. Typically, council meetings begin with an invocation and the pledge of allegiance, but last night was different: weaving a speech in the place of a prayer, Henderson paid homage to Martin Luther King Jr. by drawing a parallel between his legacy of calling out hate and her marching with her daughter in Washington, DC after Donald Trump was elected. As people continued to bow their heads, she noted the uncertainty that lies before the council: “Let’s keep marching and listening and reading and working and making the most just and effective and supportive local policy that we can together,” Henderson reminded her captive audience, “With the urgency of now, right up to the end of our term, whenever that may be.” That last sentence was a not-so-indirect reference to this pending legislation, which may extend the current council’s last term for an extra year and limit its body to twenty members.


During a discussion on the floor about BL2022-1571, which would change the Metro code regarding animal laws, Joy Styles, one of the bill’s sponsors, presented the progress of the legislation with enthusiasm. The legislation, brought forward to address increased reports of roaming animals and dog attacks, has made major headway during community meetings, which Styles described in detail. “We’ve had a committee of animal advocates working on this since last summer . . . We decided to defer after the meeting and discuss some of the comments and suggestions that were made that were really helpful,” said Styles.

In an effort to kill the bill, CM Kathleen Murphy requested to table the deferral motion. Rounding out her argument against the bill by taking up what can only be described as a bleeding heart stance, Murphy stated that the bill was discriminatory toward affordable housing and dogs: “This legislation. . .  would hurt our affordable housing pool, would discriminate against shelter animals, discriminate against animals who maybe had an incident, [and] . . .  keep them on a registry for almost five years.”

Defending her constituents, many of whom have been impacted by dog attacks and other animal-related issues, Styles stood her ground: “Thank you very much Councilmember Murphy for your concerns. I wish you would have attended last week so you could have heard the progress we did make . . . This encourages accountability for pet owners.” Styles also did not agree with Murphy’s claim that it would affect affordable housing. “This is not intended, in any way, nor do I think it affects affordable housing,” said Styles.

In the end, the bill was defeated. The council sided with Murphy and voted to table the deferral motion, which prompted Styles to withdraw the bill: a trend we’ve seen with legislation brought forward by Styles over the last year, possibly alluding to factions that exist within the council itself.


RS2023-1947 was passed, which allocates $10 million in ARP funds to neighborhood needs through a community-led participatory budgeting program. Davidson County residents, take note: you can decide where your tax dollars go by submitting different projects to be reviewed by the council. Approved ideas will be included on a 35-item ballot that all residents aged 14 and older will be able to submit.

RS2023-1951 was deferred. This is the e-bike resolution we spoke about yesterday in our Metro Council preview. The goal is to distribute $1 million in rebates. If passed, one can apply for a standard rebate, which is up to $300 for an e-bike or up to $500 for an e-cargo bike, or an income-qualified rebate, which is up to $1,400 for an e-bike or e-cargo bike.

RS2023-1955 was passed, putting $8,578,283 granted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to use. The money will go toward “[implementing] workforce strategies to build organizational resilience, promote employee well-being, and enhance workforce performance while focusing on building healthier communities” through the Metropolitan Board of Health.




  • CREA Selects Local Firm To Develop Affordable Housing At River Chase In East Nashville (Now Next)
  • Shake Shack eyes fifth Nashville location at River North (NBJ)
  • Local gun manufacturer acquired by Australian firm (Post)
  • Combination bar, dog park set for The Nation (Post)
  • Brentwood investor pays $3M for property near downtown (Post)



  • 💰 Hunter Biden’s monthly rent of $49,910 matches a rental deposit at the House of Sweden related to the Biden family business venture with the infamous CEFC China Energy Co.
  • 💰 Fourth-quarter profit plunged 66% from a year ago at Goldman Sachs and 40% at Morgan Stanley reflecting a continued slowdown in the corporate deal-making that had fueled record earnings a year earlier.
  • 🇪🇺 European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proposed a "Net Zero Industry Act" to boost clean tech. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, she also vowed to support Ukraine "as long as it takes."
  • 🇺🇸 The top U.S. military officer, Army Gen. Mark Milley, traveled to a site near the Ukraine-Poland border on Tuesday and talked with his Ukrainian counterpart face to face for the first time.
  • 🤿 The Justice Department on Tuesday asked an appeals court to reverse an April 2022 ruling that overturned the CDC’s public transportation mask mandate.
  • 📧 The Federal Election Commission has dismissed a complaint from Republicans that Google’s Gmail app aided Democratic candidates by sending GOP fundraising emails to spam at a far higher rate than Democratic solicitations.


View the full calendar here.

🐙 The Eighth Room, the new venue taking the place of Douglas Corner Cafe on 8th Avenue, is now open for business! Check out their shows and their great radio station.

👨🏻‍🌾 Check out Nashville's winter farmer's markets on our farmer's market guide.

🎧 On our Spotify: Pamphleteer's Picks, a playlist of our favorite bands in town this week. On the Radar, a playlist of the best bands in town in the future, and Nashville Sounds, an ever-growing sample of the local music scene.

🏕 Happy New Year! Here's our list of this year's best southern festivals, where you'll find celebrations both popular and obscure, with a wide range of themes including music, history, health, heritage, beer, BBQ, cars, and more.


🎼 Free Vocal Chamber Music @ The Schermerhorn, 6p, Free, Info

🎻 Bluegrass Night @ The American Legion Post 82, 7p, Free, Info

🎸 3-rex @ Eastside Bowl, 7p, Free, Info
+ "If you dig extended jams a’la 1968/1969, this will be up your alley!"

🎙 Thee Sacred Souls @ The Basement East, 8p, $25, Info
+ Reminiscent of 60's soul

🎻 Kentucky Just Us @ Station Inn, 8p, $15, Info
+ Classic bluegrass

🥁 The Wednesday Beat @ The 5 Spot, 9p, $10, Info
+ Record spinner + drummer


🎸 Tedeschi Trucks Band @ Ryman, 1/23-25, 8p, $49.50, Info

🎻 Billy Strings @ Bridgestone, 1/24-25, 8p, Info

🎻 Billy Strings @ Ryman, 1/26, 8p, Info
+ Only eligible if you purchased a ticket to one of his previous nights' Bridgestone shows

🎹 Piano Trios of Haydn & Ravel @ The Schermerhorn, 2/1, 6p, Free, Info

🎸 Lotus @ Brooklyn Bowl, 2/16, 8p, $20, Info

🎙 Weyes Blood @ Brooklyn Bowl, 2/22, 8p, $23+, Info
+ Folk-pop, a modern Joan Baez

🥁 Os Mutantes @ The Blue Room, 3/1, 7p, $25, Info
+ Brazilian psychedelic rock band, part of the Tropicália movement of the late 1960s

🕺 Lettuce @ The Brooklyn Bowl, 3/17-18, $32, Info
+ Funk

🎸 Goose @ The Ryman, 3/31-4/1, Info
+ Funky jam band



Ancient Islands of Grass
Theo Witsell and Dwayne Estes’ work at the Southeastern Grasslands Institute sheds light on the forgotten ecology of the Southeast
Cheesesteak Deluxe
Discovering a taste of Philly in Nashville with Mike Wolf
What Divides Us
The oral tradition undergirding conservatism puts it at odds with liberalism
When to Eat What
There Are Right Answers, But Not One
Most Anticipated Movies of 2023
Ten movies to keep an eye on this year
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Warden/Executioner interview-Charlie Jones (Watch)
Words of Wisdom
“I like to eat crawfish and drink beer. That's despair?”

Walker Percy

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