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No. 690: Banning Right on Red?

No. 690: Banning Right on Red?

📅 Today, Davis talks about traffic lights, Megan wraps up some news from around the city, and Jerod furnishes our weekly film rundown.

Good afternoon, everyone.

Thanks to everyone who came out last night. Per usual, a dynamic, handsome, intelligent crowd from around the mid-state, and in this instance, from around the country. Our next happy hour will be in July. We're getting a bit more ambitious with it, so stay tuned for information as it starts heating up outside.

In other news, the city is pondering banning right on red across the city, citing that it could protect pedestrians and cyclists at the expense of making traffic worse. In certain parts of town, it makes sense with regard to pedestrians, but cyclists? Are they in the room with us now?

Anyway, Phish, the perennial jam band, has a song called 'Slave to the Traffic Light'. It's a ballad with an enduring presence in the group's catalog, typically coming at the end of their shows as a kind of benediction for its fans—a reminder to live wild and free and never let the man get you down.

The only lines in the song are:

Slave to the traffic light
See the city, see the zoo
Traffic light won't let me through

It's easy to mock Phish — trust me, I've mostly done that — but the song always resonated because the childish reminder that "you're a slave, man, and you don't know it" really rings harshly in the ear when you're staring at a red light at 10 PM with no other cars around. I've started to just run these because I'm a free man, and I know better than the 'machines'.

The whole idea of being a "slave to the traffic light" seems childish, but then I remember one of Nietzsche's more famous aphorisms which goes, "Maturity in a man: that means having found once again that seriousness which man had as a child, in play." It's become a convenient out for me whenever I brook an idea or activity that on the surface seems childlike or immature. This, of course, is not a perfect means of organizing and living one's life — and I'm not here to suggest you do the same — but nonetheless, as we will see, I think it applies here.

James Scott, a renowned scholar of political science at Yale, wrote a lovely little book called Two Cheers for Anarchism. More an exploration of ideas around anarchy and how to use them to critique central planners than a manifesto, it's told through stories from history and Scott's own life. One vignette details Scott's time in Germany wherein he witnessed how rule-bound German citizens were. The scene involves a crosswalk, late at night, on an empty road across from a quiet train station.

James observes people queuing up at the crosswalk and refusing to cross against the light even when no cars can be seen or heard. When someone dares to cross the empty road without the proper signal, he's immediately beseeched by the goody-goods who wait for the signal.

Scott imagines what he'd say to those Germans years later when writing his book. It's here that Scott coins a phrase that I haven't been able to erase from memory since. I'll quote the passage in full:

You know, you and especially your grandparents could have used more of a spirit of lawbreaking. One day you will be called on to break a big law in the name of justice and rationality. Everything will depend on it. You have to be ready. How are you going to prepare for that day when it really matters? You have to stay ‘in shape’ so that when the big day comes you will be ready. What you need is anarchist calisthenics. Every day or so break some trivial law that makes no sense, even if it’s only jaywalking. Use your own head to judge whether a law is just or reasonable. That way, you’ll keep trim—and when the big day comes, you’ll be ready.

Anarchist Calisthenics. It's a radical idea that some will hem and haw against, but it's important to cultivate some level of civil disobedience so that, as Scott says, when the time comes, you don't find yourself at dusk at the tail end of a bender wearing a swastika around your arm and screaming "Sieg Heil!"

So get out this weekend and break some petty rules. I'll continue my regular regimen of running red lights I don't agree with. Guess I might have to add turning right on red to the regimen alongside smoking outside of crowded bars. The city, in its effort to squeeze every ounce of roughness out of it in an attempt to make it into a plasticine wasteland optimized for extracting dollars from tourists' pockets, has forced me into this corner. I have no choice.




From Megan Podsiedlik

In case you didn’t get the memo, single-sex bathrooms are old fashioned—at least according to one of the proposed NEST bills.Marked as a “Routine Building Codes Update,” having a women’s room apparently falls under the category of “confusing, antiquated, and unnecessary” codes.

“While I personally appreciate not having to use the men's restroom at a gas station, it does seem as if it is time to let that go,” Councilmember Evans Segall told attendees at the last public NEST meeting. “It's an old– you know, it's been around forever, and it's just not necessary anymore.”

Several of the NEST bills will be on the council’s docket next month. For a refresher, read yesterday’s recap on X.


Last week, Intermediate Scrutiny, a newsletter from Horwitz Law, broke down a suit concerning a public records request. A recent court decision revealed that government entities in Tennessee aren’t required to disclose surveillance recordings. On March 11th, Memphis journalist Marc Perrusquia filed an appeal for his November suit seeking footage of an altercation between a detainee and an officer at the Shelby County Jail.

According to the Tennessee Court of Appeals, the state code declares that footage may be made public, but is only permissive, not mandatory. “It’s effectively useless as a public records provision,” Horwitz commented. “As far as the surveillance video is concerned, the government never has to give it up.”


You can add Freddie O’Connell to the laundry list of Nashvillians who have had less-than-satisfactory experiences with the automated parking enterprise. When asked about his relationship with the company during today’s media roundtable, the mayor Metropolis mentioned he’d suffered the inconvenience of having his license plate scanned incorrectly. 

Though O’Connell declined to make any affirmative statements against the company, he did encourage patrons to take up their consumer protection rights. Read more about Metropolis’’s blunders here


Nashville organizations are getting $9 million from MacKenzie Scott's 'Yield Giving.' (Tennessean) The non-profits focus on a variety of causes throughout Music City, ranging from humanitarian assistance, immigrant and refugee rights, mental and behavioral health, food security and more.

Body of Riley Strain found in Cumberland River (WSMV) Strain’s body, found eight miles down river from where he was last seen, still had on the shirt he was wearing when he went missing on March 8. Authorities do not suspect foul play in his disappearance nor his death, Drake said just hours after the 22-year-old was found dead.

Nearly $81 million in grants will go towards fighting the opioid crisis in Tennessee (Channel 5) 2,388 people died from an opioid overdose in Tennessee in 2020, the last year the Department of Health has numbers available. Now Tennessee is working to fight the opioid crisis with new funding for treatment programs and prevention.

Senate approves bill establishing a right to foster, adopt by anti-LGBTQ parents in Tennessee (Lookout) The Tennessee Foster and Adoptive Parent Protection Act would prohibit the Department of Children’s Services from excluding parents who have moral or religious objections to LGBTQ identity and want to foster or adopt a child in state custody.


  • Red Bicycle coffee shop in The Nations temporarily closed due to fire damage (NBJ)
  • SomeraRoad's Prima apartment tower opens in the Gulch (NBJ)
  • SoBro building eyed for restaurant (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.

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

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


🎸 Nikki Lane @ The Basement East, 7p, $25+, Info
+ country singer-songwriter

🎙️ Music of Elvis with Frankie Moreno @ Schermerhorn Symphony Center, 7:30p, $31+, Info

🎸 Cole Waldrep @ The East Room, 8p, $12.33, Info
+ indie pop

🪕 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


The latest releases and special screenings hitting Music City this week. For a complete list of upcoming releases, check out our 2024 Film Guide

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire The last entry in the stalwart 80s franchise bypassed the worst tendencies of nostalgia-obsessed requels and had something to say about trusting the science. This time Busters old (Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, and Annie Potts) and new (Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, McKenna Grace, Finn Wolfhard, Patton Oswalt) face a supernatural force that goes full Queen Elsa on New York City. Now playing in theaters.

Picture of Ghosts  Brazilian director Kleber Mendonça Filho follows up 2020’s awe-inspiring Bacurau with an intimate video essay about the moviehouses of Recife, the Brazilian coastal capital of Pernambuco, that captures the cultural spirit of the city. Now playing at the Belcourt.

Late Night With The Devil This entry in the found footage canon from Australia details a 1977 talk show Halloween special that goes horribly awry when a young girl who escaped a satanic cult unleashes pure evil in the studio. It’s been building buzz since its fest premieres last year. Now playing in theaters.

Days of Heaven Terrence Malick shot this turn-of-the-century tale about the love triangle involving a farmer (Sam Shepard), a criminal (Richard Gere), and the woman they love (Brooke Adams) entirely during the magic hours of dawn and dusk. If you had to see one movie on the big screen, it should be this stone-cold masterpiece. Playing at The Belcourt as part of Music City Mondays’s tribute to Ennio Morricone.

See the full list
In case you missed it...

📰 Check out the full newsletter archive here.

No. 689: Southern Oasis
📅 Today, Davis talks about something happening in Knoxville this weekend and Megan lets you know what the AG has been up to.
No. 688: Last Night at Metro Council
🗓️ Megan recaps last night’s Metro Council meeting. Bagel places popping up. Californians buying property.
No. 687: Waiting for the Thunder
🗓️ Davis predicts the weather and Megan talks about the morbid history of the Cumberland River.
No. 686: Phoning in from El Salvador
📅 Today, Davis delivers a dispatch, Miles lays out what to expect from this year’s NCAA tournament and Megan looks at the latest developments regarding the East Bank.
No. 685: Mutiny On the Bounty
📅 Today, Davis gives a Metro Arts update, Jerod reviews Poor Things, and Megan talks about the birds and the bees.


  • 🧠 The response to Poor Things exposes our inability to talk about art that defies ideology. (Read)
  • 🎞️ The Pamphleteer’s ten most anticipated films of 2024 (Read)
  • ⛪️ Rob Reiner's documentary on Christian Nationalism completely misses the mark (Read)
  • ☢️ A small Tennessee town's forgotten history as a nuclear leader (Read)
  • And check out our podcast, YouTube, and article archive for more.