Good afternoon, everyone.
The snow just won't let up. This morning, the roads were the worst they'd been all week in the nooks and crannies that NDOT can't or won't plow and salt. That hasn't stopped me from rolling out, though. Some people have used the snow as an excuse to afflict themselves with a case of cabin fever, but not I!
You might've seen me on the news. I'm the guy driving ATVs on the highway, doing donuts behind the old Stein Mart, and walking two miles to the gas station to get a Red Bull. I am all these people—if not in reality, then in spirit. Rubber boots, canvas pants, and a trench coat: the ideal male outfit. How will I return to khakis and loafers after a week of this?
We need more snow to brighten up the dreary greyness that typically characterizes winters in Middle Tennessee–where it never gets cold enough to freeze, and when it does, the ice seems to absorb more light than it reflects. I'm going to work on attracting the business of a weather developer to come down here and intermittently blot out the sun so we can get snowier winters.
I can't justify it economically—it would probably depress economic activity, come to think of it—but that's beside the point.
Anyway, today Jerod reviews the new Wonka movie, Megan talks about the loophole keeping violent criminals on the streets, and we furnish our weekly film rundown. Hope y'all have a nice weekend.
✸ THE BUREAUCRATIC FORCE OF WONKA
From Jerod Hollyfield
The last we heard of Roald Dahl, he was the latest victim of what Rod Dreher called “therapeutic totalitarianism” after a cadre of sensitivity readers suggested his foundation make hundreds of changes to the author’s work to make them hip to the times. Augustus Gloop was the victim of fat shaming. Mike Teavee could no longer brandish toy pistols in front of the boob tube. References to dirty colonialist Kipling had to go to make room for the more palatable Jane Austen.
Fortunately, the neo-Puritans abandoned the whole enterprise after the intervention of the PEN Foundation and outcry from authors such as Salman Rushdie. None of this boded well for the integrity of Wonka, Warner Bros. in-production prequel to the author’s six-decade-old Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and its sequel starring perpetual “It” boy Timothée Chalamet.
✷ TOO INCOMPETENT TO STAND TRIAL
From Megan Podsiedlik
On Wednesday, WSMV4 revisited the murder of Quintin Mason, who was fatally stabbed two Christmases ago in front of a downtown bus stop. The perpetrator, Ruby Dozier, had been released from Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute and was one of “hundreds of criminals” found too incompetent to stand trial. Over a year later, the same situation is playing out in the case of Shaquille Taylor, who took the life of Belmont student Jillian Ludwig last November.
In the immediate wake of Ludwig’s murder, we asked the mayor about the current policy, which deemed Taylor too sane for involuntary confinement but too crazy for the courtroom. O’Connell’s initial response during November 9th’s media roundtable emphasized the need for wraparound community approaches, and of course, gun control.
“This is a place in the law where my contention would be this: like the Waffle House shooter, like the Covenant shooter, these are scenarios where these are people that clearly should not have had legal easy access to firearms, especially in the moments in the process leading up to those times,” he stated.
But focusing on firearms does little good when it comes to addressing the loophole that allows dangerous criminals back into society.
We continued our line of questioning, pressing O’Connell on whether gun laws are truly a magic bullet when it comes to addressing this issue. He shifted the topic to mental health: “I think that's a case that is very difficult, because it's still somebody who was clearly in need of either long-term access to treatment, or possibly, long-term access to far more than just an unsupportive civilian life.”
In the aftermath of both tragedies, Nashville’s DA, Glenn Funk, was put under scrutiny. According to Funk, the problem is due to “a lack of funding for what’s referred to as ‘training’ for incompetent people accused of misdemeanor crimes.” This “training” typically consists of medication and a mental evaluation provided by a state hospital. Enter a bill from House Leader William Lamberth, which proposes a different solution: rather than allowing the release of a person who has been found too incompetent to stand trial, the state would place them in a treatment facility. Though there is currently no Senate companion bill, the legislation has acquired additional sponsors in the House and has been assigned the the Criminal Justice Subcommittee.
At the beginning of this year, Rep. Bryan Rickey of Maryville filed a joint resolution that would amend the state constitution and prohibit state legislators expelled from the general assembly “from qualifying for office in the general assembly for four years immediately following expulsion.”
This, of course, follows the Justin Jones and Justin Pearson expulsion that took place last year. Almost immediately following the hearing that got the two freshmen legislators kicked out of the House, both Jones and Pearson were reinstated by their local municipalities.
At the time, Rickey wasn’t in favor of expelling the three Democrats. In fact, he only voted to expel Justin Jones “basically, to honor his wishes,” Richey told SuperTalk’s Brian Wilson. “I shared with him, ‘Hey, I’m not in favor of kicking you out, I think it’s the wrong thing to do,’ and he [Jones] shared ‘This is going to amplify my voice. I’m already nationwide on CNN…’”
In a recent interview with the Pamphleteer, Richey reframed his actions:
I think there was other things that could have been done that would have lowered the temperature a whole lot more, not elevated their voice. They wouldn't have raised one- point-whatever million dollars for their campaigns or brought so much attention into what was taking place. And so that's why I am bringing the constitutional limit.
Richey’s amendment is currently assigned to the Public Service Subcommittee.
Tennessee ESA pilot students received $9,800 this school year (Center Square) Tennessee students in a pilot educational savings account program in three counties are receiving $9,800 – the average statewide funding per public school student – this year. That’s higher than the $7,075 first-year number in a proposed statewide ESA program and higher than what the funding was estimated to be heading into the approval of the pilot.
Analysis: The more people who vote, the higher odds a transit expansion wins (NBJ) When 40% or less of the local electorate voted, the result was a "crapshoot" for passage of transit plans. But three-fourths of referendums passed when turnout rose above 40%, leading Calvert Street to call that level of turnout a "magic line."
- A. Marshall Hospitality to close Americana Taphouse, Burger Dandy in downtown Franklin (NBJ)
- Tansuo Permanently Closes Its Doors in the Gulch (Eater)
- Planned Edgehill project progresses (Post)
THINGS TO DO
📅 Visit our On The Radar list to find upcoming events around Nashville.
🎧 On Spotify: Pamphleteer's Picks, a playlist of our favorite bands in town this week.
👨🏻🌾 Check out our Nashville farmer's market guide.
🪕 Vickie Vaughn's Country Band @ Dee's Lounge, 9p, $10, Info
🎻 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest In Concert @ Schermerhorn Symphony Center, 7:30p, $48+, Info
🪕 Tim Shelton Syndicate @ Station Inn, 9p, $25, Info
🪕 The Cowpokes @ Acme Feed & Seed, 12p, Free, Info
🍀 Live Irish Music @ McNamara’s Irish Pub, 6p, Free, Info
🎸 Kelly’s Heroes @ Robert’s Western World, 6:30p, Free, Info
✹ WEEKLY FILM RUNDOWN: January 19-25
The latest releases and special screenings hitting Music City this week.
The Zone of Interest Renowned director Jonathan Glazer (Under the Skin, Birth) offers his first new film in a decade with this tale of a family living out the last days of World War II in a cottage a stone’s throw from Auschwitz. Its meditation on the banal evil of bureaucrats took Cannes by storm last May. It hopes to do the same for the Oscars when nominations come out next week. Now playing at the Belcourt.
Freud’s Last Session What if Sigmund Freud (Anthony Hopkins) and C.S. Lewis (Matthew Goode) met two days after the onset of World War II to talk about God, power, and the modern era? This British import hopes to answer that question through some tense dialogue and intense staring that should prove irresistible to history buffs and amateur theologians alike. Now playing at AMC Thoroughbred 20 and Regal Hollywood 27.
I.S.S. When World War III breaks out on Earth, the astronauts on the International Space Station receive orders to commandeer the spacecraft by any means necessary. It’s up to West Side Story’s Ariana Debose and everyman actors Chris Messina and John Gallagher, Jr. to talk world powers down from self annihilation in this taut and well-reviewed sci-fi effort. Now playing in theaters.
Founder’s Day In the heat of a contentious mayoral election, a masked killer embarks on a series of gruesome slayings that rocks a smalltown. It’s up to a group of plucky young citizens to fight back and preserve their local heritage. While it will certainly lack the wit and depth of recent horror hit Thanksgiving, it’s still the perfect relief from this week’s cabin fever. Now playing in theaters.
Double Down South Tom Schuman (Vandy alum and Oscar-winning writer of Dead Poets Society) investigates the world of illegal keno pool gambling through the relationship between a young upstart (Lili Simmons) and an underworld veteran (Kim Coates) in this Southern-fried thriller. Now playing at AMC Bellevue and AMC Highland 12 (Cookeville).
📰 Check out the full newsletter archive here.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE
- 🎞 The Holdovers is the ultimate fable of academic populism. (Read)
- 📖 The Anti-Nostalgia of Bret Easton Ellis: A review of The Shards (Read)
- 🖊 G.K. Chesterton's commentary on Nashville and the broader South from his 1921 tour of the US still resonates (Read)
- 🏘 The double-edged sword of prosperity in Tennessee's small towns (Read)
- And check out our podcast, YouTube, and article archive for more.