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No. 608: Potemkin by the Bay

No. 608: Potemkin by the Bay

📅 Today, Davis talks about Potemkin San Francisco, Miles addresses the state of college and professional sports in the state, and Megan catches us up on the latest with the manifesto leak among other things.

Good afternoon, everyone.

In May 1944, then-President FDR sent his Vice President, Henry Wallace, to inspect industrial equipment provided to the USSR during WWII on a lend-lease basis in the remote Siberian seaport of Magadan. At the time, both nations were allied in their efforts to defeat Nazi Germany; the 1944 trip marked the high-water mark of these relations.

Magadan, situated at the north end of the Sea of Okhotsk, was known to Russians as the most brutal of the gulags. But in preparation for the arrival of Wallace, Stalin's secret police erected a Potemkin village and remade the gulag to appear as though it were a voluntary work camp.

They pulled down the barbed wire and watchtowers from the Kolyma gold mine, where over 16,000 people had died in 1942 alone, and shipped off the weakest looking prisoners to other mines, prompting Wallace to compliment the “big, husky men” who worked them so well.

The pig farmers were swapped out for attractive female bureaucrats who knew nothing about pigs. They stuffed the shops with food and even set up a mock luxury department where Wallace purchased an expensive bottle of perfume.

Wallace was so impressed by the whole arrangement that he proclaimed before an audience of gulag prisoners, “Siberia used to mean to Americans… convict chains and exiles. All has been changed as though by magic." He even claimed the labor camp system reminded him of New England. 

It wasn't until 1951 that Wallace became aware of his mistake after a memoir by Elinor Lipper detailed the ruse.

This little moment in history popped to the forefront of my mind as I read about San Francisco's efforts to clean the city in anticipation of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, during which Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are set to meet.

San Francisco has set up a "containment zone" around the Moscone Center and moved all homeless encampments outside of it. Additionally, they've removed graffiti from storefronts, cleaned the sidewalks, and added a series of barriers on the perimeter of the zone, putting it under federal jurisdiction for the duration of the summit.

“Folks say: ‘Oh, they're just cleaning up this place because all those fancy leaders are coming into town,’” joked Governor Gavin Newsom. “That’s true because it’s true.”

Allowing our cities to continue to degrade is a choice and leaders choose not to fix them. This is a stark, frankly hilarious, reminder of this fact.


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Titans, Griz, Nashville SC, Preds, Dores, and Vols all in perennial sports purgatory

From Miles Harrington

If Governor Bill Lee made an annual State of the State address for Tennessee sports, in all likelihood it would come around this point on the calendar. Football is in full swing, the NBA and NHL are underway, and the MLS postseason is heating up. “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” is actually about sports, believe it or not. This is supposed to be a most joyous time for us diehards. However, I am here to announce that the state of the State of Tennessee sports is in deep, deep trouble.

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“I know, with the appetite for conspiracy, it's been hard to make sure that everyone understands what even is legally possible with the materials from a crime scene,” Mayor O’Connell said last Thursday regarding the leaked pages of the Covenant “manifesto.” Following Steven Crowder’s live streamed reveal of the shooter’s writings, O’Connell sprang into action, mobilizing his legal team in order to find the source of the leak within Metro. 

Though the released pages have been deemed authentic, Chief Drake indicated that the photographs are not MNPD official crime scene images. Seven officers have been placed on administrative assignment, but department spokesperson Don Aaron told the New York Post that the officers will not be named and the assignment is “absolutely not punitive.” 

In the wake of the leak, Governor Lee's spokesperson expressed the same sentiments he had a month after the shooting: “The governor called for documents to be released months ago. He continues to call for clarity that Tennesseans deserve.” This statement aligns with a post Lee made back in April hinting at the manifesto’s eventual release—something that never transpired. 

Metro Legal released a statement last Thursday explaining how the court-ordered seal on the documents has prevented the release of both the unredacted and redacted versions of Hale’s manifesto in spite of MNPD’s approval: 

MNPD approved this limited release because they wanted to answer some of the questions being raised about the crime and thought that releasing this redacted version would not harm the ongoing investigation. However, those documents remain under seal. Pursuant to the terms of the Court order, Metro Legal has not shared the documents filed under seal with other attorneys in the case, the Mayor, Council members, or anyone else.

As of this writing, Metro appears to still be on the hunt for the person who leaked the pages.


On Saturday, about a thousand Nashvillians gathered at Centennial Park for the “All Out for Palestine Peace Rally.” According to the protest leaders, this is the fifth pro-Palestine rally since October 7th, and the numbers seem to grow with each gathering.

Attendees lined West End Ave holding “honk for ceasefire” signs while chanting “Biden, Biden, you’re a liar,” and “from the river to the sea” before making their way down the block and into the park.

“Has any community ever, in the history of humanity, marched their way to freedom,” asked the rally organizer from the steps of the Parthenon. “No, they’ve fought for it, they’ve taken it by any means necessary.” Later, another speaker urged the crowd to make the conversation at the Thanksgiving table uncomfortable.

The next day, a pro-Israel rally took place in Downtown. Around 3 p.m., a group of about 125 people gathered at the Frist Art Museum to begin their march to the riverfront. The group walked in silence, about 50 pushing empty strollers with red balloons attached, a visual reminder of those who are held hostage. Once they arrived at the landing in front of the Cumberland River, they lit candles, read the names of all those still captured, prayed together, and sang. 

More video of both protests, including interviews from the ground, will be available tomorrow.


5 Ft. Campbell crew members die in aircraft crash over the Mediterranean (Channel 5) The aircraft crashed on Friday evening. EUCOM said all five crew members were killed when it went down “during a routine air refueling mission as part of military training.”

TVA's CEO, the highest paid federal employee, will not get a raise after rolling blackouts (KnoxNews) After a fiscal year that included rolling blackouts days before Christmas and the workplace death of a site foreman, Tennessee Valley Authority President and CEO Jeff Lyash, the highest paid federal employee, will not get a raise.

Here Are the First Steps in How the East Bank Will Be Constructed (Banner) Five hundred fifty acres is a massive undertaking that will take decades to develop in phases. For reference, the Gulch is 60 acres. The development of that private project kicked off in 1999 with the purchase of the land. More than 20 years later, the Gulch is only 50 percent complete. The “initial development area” of the East Bank is a 30-acre plot of Metro-owned land near the new stadium.

Study lists Murfreesboro as 16th fastest-growing city in America (WKRN) Several cities around Tennessee made the list, including two that cracked the top 25. Murfreesboro was ranked 16th while Clarksville was ranked 22nd, with their populations growing 19.1% and 15.5%, respectively, between 2017 and 2022.


  • Q&A: Developer Seizes Opportunity For Rare Asset Class In East Bank Nashville (Now Next)
  • East Bank Residence Inn hotel plan moves forward with rezoning (Tennessean)
  • Feds seek to sell former courthouse on Broadway (Post)
  • Early 2024 start eyed for Metro juvenile court facility (Post)
  • Mixed-use Nations project start nears (Post)


View our calendar for the week here and our weekly film rundown here.

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

👨🏻‍🌾 Check out our Nashville farmer's market guide and our 2023 southern festival guide and 🎥 2023 movie guide.


🪕 East Nash Grass @ Dee's Lounge, 6p, $10, Info

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

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

In case you missed it...

📰 Check out the full newsletter archive here.

No. 607: The Revolving Door
🇺🇸 Veterans Day, the new Priscilla movie, reactions to the tragedy at Belmont, and weekly film rundown.
No. 606: Priorities
📅 Today, Davis talks about the mayor’s priorities, Jerod reviews Chadwick Moore’s biography on Tucker Carlson, and Megan looks into the East Bank.
No. 605: Money for something
📅 Today, Davis talks about rejecting federal education funds, we revisit Jano’s piece on pornography, and Megan recaps last night’s council meeting.
No. 604: Sunlight
📅 Today, Davis talks about reactions to yesterday’s leak and Megan discusses Mayor O’Connell’s reaction and previews tonight’s Metro Council meeting.
No. 603: Morbid Curiosities
📅 Today, Davis readdresses the manifesto, Miles looks at the Preds performance eleven games into the season, and Megan talks about our roads.


  • 💄 Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla sidesteps the melodrama to depict the Presleys’ interior worlds. (Read)
  • 📚 A review of Tucker by Chadwick Moore (Read)
  • 🛣 A collection of four short trips you can take around Nashville to get the most out of the Fall (Read)
  • 🎞 The Pamphleteer's Fall 2023 Streaming Guide (Read)
  • And check out our podcast, YouTube, and article archive for more.