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No. 665: Cold Beer on the Rocks
Photo by Georg Arthur Pflueger / Unsplash

No. 665: Cold Beer on the Rocks

馃嵒 Where there's warm beer, there's fire 路聽a review of The Sweet East 路聽Hale's Toxicology report 路 Much more!

Good afternoon, everyone.

People have been freaking out about a bill that would ban the sale of refrigerated beer in the state of Tennessee, but I'm happy to bring you the news that the bill has died. Your constitutional right to drink cold beer is safe. For now.

Today, Jerod reviews The Sweet East, and Megan does a deep dive into the specifics of Audrey Hale's toxicology report.




With The Sweet East, Sean Price Williams proves himself an unlikely defender of America鈥檚 social fabric.

From Jerod Hollyfield

For suburban teenagers, the charter bus has long remained the window to the urban center, the vessel that transports us on class trips as we take in snapshots of American landmarks. It involves a lot of spotty sleep and movies on internal TVs the size of potato chip bags, but it鈥檚 an early connection to the adult world, a reminder that the promised land exists beyond our Midwest and Southern hinterlands.

The most important aspect of this stuffy and cramped rite of passage is the freedom鈥搊r at least its illusion. Its riders are there, right in the thick of it while contained by a cocoon of tempered glass and adult supervision, which, as our urban hubs surrender to decay, makes these travels all the more important. 

In his directorial debut, The Sweet East, Sean Price Williams is in the thick of it too鈥揾is camera weaving in and out of a bus鈥檚 huddled teenage masses as they drive on by the White House and the Washington Moment. They have more on their mind than symbols of national unity, spaces that commemorate the tenable successes of their country.

These teens may be a ragtag senior class of South Carolinians who crave belonging, but one thing is clear: they are seeking their tribe. And it鈥檚 this innate adolescent desire to find one鈥檚 people Americans increasingly cling to that the film strikingly shows may well be our downfall.

Continue reading...


From Megan Podsiedlik

A few weeks ago, we reported on a Senate Health and Welfare Committee meeting that took place on January 31st. Andrew Thibault, co-founder of the former nonprofit Parents Against Pharmaceutical Abuse, raised questions about the efficacy of Audrey Hale鈥檚 toxicology report, released by the Davidson County Medical Examiner on June 12, 2023. Thibault was asked to present to the committee due to his background: in 2018, he directed Speed Demons, a documentary about a school shooting with links to the effects of prescription drugs; a year prior, he filed a pro se FOIA suit against the FDA, which gave him access to 鈥700 drug adverse event reports鈥 in which 鈥渉omicide鈥 was reported as the medication side effect.鈥 

When Hale's report was released to the public, local media ran headlines such as 鈥Autopsy: No findings of 'toxicological significance' in Covenant shooter鈥 and 鈥No 'toxicological significance' in autopsy of the Covenant School shooter.鈥 鈥淭he Davidson County Medical Examiner requested what鈥檚 known as an ELISA Test,鈥 Thibault said regarding Hale鈥檚 toxicology report. This test, he explained, only reported on 鈥渄rugs of abuse" and couldn't possibly provide policymakers with the full picture they need to make informed decisions.

Following these claims, we took a closer look at Hale鈥檚 toxicology report in comparison with other, similar incidents. Given its proximity in both time and place, we delved into the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department鈥檚 full police report on Connor Sturgeon, who opened fire at Old National Bank two weeks after the Covenant shooting. Sturgeon鈥檚 postpartum toxicology report shows that 15.9 ng/mL of Alprazolam, commonly known as Xanax, was detected in his samples. Xanax 鈥渋s one of the most widely prescribed benzodiazepines for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder,鈥 according to the National Library of Medicine

When comparing Sturgeon鈥檚 report to Hale鈥檚, ordered by the Davidson County Medical Examiner Dr. Feng Li, there is a key difference: the ELISA test administered by NMS labs does not detect any benzodiazepines below 100 ng/mL. This suggests a more precise test must have produced the results reported by the state of Kentucky.

Interestingly, the Davidson County Medical Examiner鈥檚 office has ordered a more sensitive toxicology test in the recent past under the direction of both Li and current District Attorney Glenn Funk. In 2019, a high-performance liquid chromatography鈥搕andem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) test was carried out by NMS labs: the same lab used for Hale鈥檚 report. Not only would this type of test have detected the level of benzodiazepines seen in Sturgeon鈥檚 report, it would have been sensitive enough to detect even lower levels of controlled substances: so, why did they not request this type of test for Hale鈥檚 toxicology?

As it turns out, the ELISA test NMS labs conducted on Hale鈥檚 samples is an outlier when it comes to toxicology reports commonly requested for mass shooters. According to Thibault, the private laboratory, known for its ability to execute a variety of esoteric toxicology tests, also 鈥渄id the test on Stephen Paddock, the Vegas shooter, and they did what's known as an HPLC, or high performance liquid chromatography, which has a much higher sensitivity and detected three metabolites of Diazepam in his system.鈥 The laboratory also tested Connor Betts, the Dayton shooter, 鈥渁nd found Alprazolam. In that case, they used liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry.鈥


On April 11th, 2023, two weeks following the Covenant tragedy, NMS Labs issued Audrey Hale鈥檚 toxicology report. According to the paperwork, the lab received Hale鈥檚 samples on March 31, 2023, and 鈥渦nless alternate arrangements are made by you [Forensic Medical Management Services - Nashville], the remainder of the submitted specimens will be discarded one year from the date of this report; and generated data will be discarded five years from the date the analyses were performed.鈥

Thibault expressed dissatisfaction with Davidson County鈥檚 findings. 鈥淚 would argue that the ELISA test is the answer to a question that nobody is asking,鈥 he told the committee. 鈥淚t amounts to an employment screening.鈥 With two months until Hale鈥檚 lab samples are discarded, why aren鈥檛 lawmakers more curious?


Davidson County Dems hire councilmember as executive director (Post) The county party has not had a full-time executive director in a number of years. Capp will be tasked with building the group's fundraising and voter engagement capacity. Holding on to House District 60 (where incumbent Rep. Darren Jernigan is not running for reelection) and boosting Nashville turnout will be among the short-term priorities.

Biden admin sues Tennessee for allegedly discriminating against HIV-positive sex workers (WZTV) The state purportedly violates the Americans with Disabilities Act with its aggravated prostitution statute, which charges convicted sex workers with HIV with a felony upon exchanging their body for payment. Those without HIV can only incur a misdemeanor for prostitution and face a six-month sentence alongside a $500 fine.

Accusations of 鈥榰nlawful鈥 conduct against local booting company (WSMV) A local booting company is under fire for being accused of booting people illegally. This follows years of complaints against the company, and one man who was recently booted is pushing to make sure all other companies are following the rules.

Wetlands have some protections in Tennessee. The state legislature might remove them. (WPLN) In Tennessee, wetlands cover just 3% of the state, and more than half of these ecosystems may soon be in the path of construction. Lawmakers are considering a bill that would remove state protections that limit development on ephemeral waterways and 鈥渋solated wetlands,鈥 a misnomer for wetlands that do not have obvious connections to surface waters like rivers.


  • Morgan Wallen bar, live music venue set for downtown (Post)
  • Carter Vintage Guitars sets date to open in new space (Post)
  • Century Farms developer eyes mixed-use project (Post)
  • Image created for planned Gulch tower (Post)


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

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

馃帶 On Spotify: Pamphleteer's Picks, a playlist of our favorite bands in town this week.

馃懆馃徎鈥嶐煂 Check out our Nashville farmer's market guide.


馃幐 Clint Black @ Ryman Auditorium, 8p, $35+, Info
+ Celebrating the 35th Anniversary of Killing' Time

馃幐 Country Blowout with The Vickie Vaughn Country Band & Wade Sapp @ Dee's Lounge, 7p, $10, Info

馃幐 Bridget Kearney @ The Basement, 7p, $18, Info

馃獣 The Cowpokes @ Acme Feed & Seed, 12p, Free, Info

馃崁 Live Irish Music @ McNamara鈥檚 Irish Pub, 6p, Free, Info

馃幐 Kelly鈥檚 Heroes @ Robert鈥檚 Western World, 6:30p, Free, Info

In case you missed it...

馃摪 Check out the full newsletter archive here.

No. 664: For the Greater Good
馃棑锔 Today, Davis talks about the greater good, Megan gets specific about the mayor鈥檚 transit referendum announcement, and Jerod furnishes his weekly film rundown.
No. 663: Phoning In
馃棑锔 Today, Davis phones in, Megan talks transit referendum, AG鈥檚 case against NCAA, and a new mayoral appointee.
No. 662: The Looming Transit Referendum
馃搮 Today, Davis looks ahead briefly, and Megan reviews some bills flying through the state legislature that stick out for different reasons.
No. 661: Testing the Water
馃搮 Today, Davis takes the cultural temperature, and Megan reviews the mayor鈥檚 first capital spending plan.
No. 660: You鈥檙e forgetting something, mayor
馃搮 Today, Davis talks priorities, Jerod reviews American Fiction, Megan reviews a hospital visitation bill and recaps today鈥檚 mayoral roundtable, and we furnish our weekly film rundown.


  • 馃嚫馃嚮 President Nayib Bukele鈥檚 historic transformation of El Salvador (Read)
  • 馃ぜ The Iron Claw is a Heartland epic. Of course it isn鈥檛 an Oscar contender. (Read)
  • 鈽笍 A small Tennessee town's forgotten history as a nuclear leader (Read)
  • 馃ぁ Metro Arts launches initiative to 'return land, money, and resources' to 'Indigenous, African, and Asian peoples' (Read)
  • And check out our podcast, YouTube, and article archive for more.