Tuesday, February 28, 2006
It truly saddens me to see that after almost a week, the City Paper has made no effort whatsoever to correct or to retract its mistakes about the Salemtown neighborhood on Wednesday of last week. I got the impression from our phone conversation that you were going to make sincere efforts to be accountable in print, but since almost a week has gone by after your apology and there is no evidence that this issue is even on your radar screen, I now doubt your sincerity. I don't believe that you or anyone at the City Paper has the best interests of all urban neighborhoods, unless those neighborhoods fit a preconceived notion of chic. My sour perception of your publication is exactly the impression that I intend to pass on to other neighborhood leaders as a warning for future reference.I have yet to get a reply from Mr. Williams, but I guess the lack of response reflects his willingness to stand pat on a truly bad story.
But this is not the first time William Williams' name has been connected to bad City Paper stories about a neighborhood he seems to know very little about. While looking back over my archives, I found this September Enclave post on a Williams' article that reflected grievous ignorance about developments in Salemtown beyond the plans for Garfield Place.
A related note: I was told by a reliable source yesterday that City Paper reporter Bill Harless, while collecting data for Wednesday's Salemtown front-pager, attempted to convince the Central Precinct officers to divulge the personal e-mail addresses of the North End neighborhood contacts that the February 17 e-mail warning of possible gang violence went out to, even after he was refused those addresses on grounds of confidentiality. What do you think: breach of journalistic ethics or just a fair attempt to dig up information vital to the story?
The specific objectives that Mr. Campbell introduced have already been formulated by the Historic Germantown Neighborhood Committee on Morgan Park after a charette on Morgan Park a few years ago. Those objectives include:
- Creation of a place of natural beauty ... including extensive presentation of native and city-worthy specimens
- An attractive and well-maintained playground area with varied equipment for families in Germantown, Salemtown, and East Germantown
- A realization of the "Nashville Horticultural Gardens" originally begun on the site around 1845
- An appropriate linkage with and destination on the Metro Greenways System
- A water feature commemorating the "Sulphur Spring"
- To unify the two halves of the Park ... and convert the area between 3rd and 4th into multipurpose recreation area
- Growing identity of the Park as an art-friendly setting
- Restoration of the existing 100-year old building ... at 5th and Hume
- Extensive expansion of the Park toward the Cumberland River
That dividedness and ambivalence is also the way I feel about the objectives. There are some that I believe are strong and worthy of Salemtown support. There are others, like converting the baseball diamond and removal of fences, that I do not believe would be in the best interests of Salemtown families. I also have concerns about conversion of the old playground (which needs to be updated); I would like to see what kind of playground the HGN Committee envisions before signing off on this plan. It seems like most of the objectives are adult-friendly and attractive to individuals and to families without children, but if the North End is going to be a strong and diverse community, we need more amenities that will attract families with children, not less. As it stands right now, Morgan Park is the center of activity for children and teenagers in the North End, and most if not all of those kids live in Salemtown. They play both baseball and football on the diamond (with their families gathered to watch) and they spend the remains of their afternoons around the community center. And those are good things that ought to be promoted, not changed. Morgan Park should be more than just a back-balcony vista for Morgan Park Place.
We should make sure that we listen to the concerns of long-time Salemtown residents, some of whom have lived here much longer than the 20 or so years that Historic Germantown has been in existence. Rightly or wrongly, they have felt left out of Historic Germantown's setting of priorities for the North End, and it seems that no one from the Germantown group consulted Salemtown residents when the former moved its boundaries north into Salemtown from Van Buren St. to Hume St., after it became clear that Werthan Bag would redevelop residentially. Some in Salemtown may interpret the Morgan Park objectives as further unilateral action on the part of Germantown organizers, without regard for Salemtown. So, if SNNA is going to sign off on these objectives, we should make sure that our residents feel that they have some ownership of and influence over them, too.
Having said that, I believe that it would be a mistake to opt out and not participate in this discussion. Because Morgan Park is so central to the life of our neighborhood, our voices need to be heard when Metro makes decisions about how to spend our tax-dollars on the park. If Salemtown does not correspond and communicate our concerns to the Germantown committee, either by participation or by formation of a larger, two-neighborhood committee, chances are that we will have absolutely no influence over the decisions that get made. That would be tragic: no response would confirm any notions that Salemtown is not a force with which to be reckoned.
Monday, February 27, 2006
So, I signed on to their effort. I am a bit surprised to see that Enclave remains the only Tennessee weblog listed on their roll, because surely we have other progressives interested enough in Tennessee public policy to contact PLAN and add their blog to PLAN's growing list. (I did see that Forward With Ford is trying this week to get itself added to PLAN's blogroll). Check PLAN out.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
You've bungled a big one here!!!! Clearly you have spent no time in the area, or studying the real area of Germantown and Salemtown. I was warned by everyone 4 years ago about how bad it was, and that I should never invest or live in the area, and that came from east nashvillians - who had no idea, and who wanted their land values to keep climbing without competition. Needless to say - in the last four years, any tagging, violence, etc. has greatly decreased. That area has, and will continue to change, for the better .... I have lived my whole life here, in Donelson, Bellevue, Hendersonville, Green Hills, and Downtown. I currently live in Green Hills, and I have suffered and or seen more violence there than any friends in Germantown or Salemtown have over the last 4 years. In fact, I will be moving to Salemtown over the next few months. I hope you wrote this article in an attempt to get police over there and clean it up, and not out of spite, ignorance, hatred, foolishness, or boredom - because you have done nothing to help the situation - the more new people that move in to the area - the better - and you have just alienated it, and made it twice as hard to continue the great progress in the area .... I am still a huge City Paper fan, but I won't be much longer with crap like that.Of course, the City Paper never promised on the front end of interviews to "help the situation," although they sure as hell made it seem like they were interested in helping out.
Here is an interesting Tennessean article on Ernest and his wife Berdelle concerning their efforts to revitalize Germantown. One of the important things that they did was to purchase property as it was put on the market over the years to insure that it would go residential rather than be bought up by industry unfriendly to residential life. With the federal block grant awarded to Salemtown, we currently have similar opportunities. One of the options that our neighborhood leaders have is to use block grant monies to purchase blighted property in efforts to enhance the quality of life on our side of the North End.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
Friday, February 24, 2006
I understand that the reason for the City Paper's gross inaccuracies in the Salemtown story are an unsettled staff (signified by the recent resignation of an editor), a lack of editorial checking of articles before publication, and the need to just run something, anything on the front page of Wednesday's edition. Remember those details when you read the City Paper or if they call you for an interview. There is stuff going on behind the stories that we do not see. And that stuff can bite. Those inner workings cause them to pitch and spin the information so that it does not resemble reality on the ground, at least in the case of Salemtown.
I've already mentioned reporter Bill Harless's lack of research into the context of the January graffiti incidents, but there were other problems. When Mr. Harless pitched the story during the interview process, he sold it as if it was going to focus on the communication process between our neighborhood watch and the police department. He said that he was particularly interested in the e-mail that went out from the Central Precinct to the Salemtown and Germantown neighborhood associations. He said that he had never heard of such an early warning system about criminal activity going out like weather alerts. But given the headline, picture, and story as written, it now seems plain to me that the reporter may have been using the old bait-and-switch routine. The mention of the e-mail in the story is only passing, and most of the rest is bent on sensationalizing gang issues so that they do not resemble reality in Salemtown. Even Harless's comments about Germantown are exaggerated on the positive side to put Salemtown in a more unsettling light. If you've read Enclave long enough, you've read that Germantown has had its share of crime and challenges, which are more details with which Mr. Harless refuses to be bothered.
We've learned the hard way here in Salemtown. If the City Paper ever comes calling for a story on your neighborhood, your safest course may be to say, "No comment," and then to hang up. Their piece on Salemtown has seemed like long, deep, slow tongue action with death. Granted, it would have been difficult for the City Paper to write anything in the last two days to repair the damage they did on Wednesday. You never get a second chance to make a first front-page impression. But beyond returning some angry phone calls, it looks like they are not going to make any effort to take responsibility for their mistakes.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Meanwhile, In New Orleans: During And After Katrina, Kenneth Rapuano Was In Charge At The White House
Who is Kenneth Rapuano? He was the only White House staffer not on vacation as Katrina barreled on shore and battered New Orleans, but he was at home in bed asleep as disaster reports at the White House grew morbid. Here's a portion of the account from the February 27 Newsweek:
[On Monday, Aug. 29, 2005, as Hurricane Katrina swamped New Orleans,] at 9:51 [p.m.], [FEMA Chief Michael] Brown received an e-mail from White House chief of staff Andy Card, who told him he had been kept "well-informed about your reports. Anything you want me to do??" Brown replied, "Thanks for writing, Andy. This is a bad one. Housing, transportation and environment could be long term issues."Maybe we should be lowering future expectations on the safety and security front with this White House.
Card may have been concerned, but he wasn't in a position to be of much help. Like President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and homeland-security adviser Frances Townsend, Card was on vacation when the hurricane struck. Back at the White House, the job of monitoring the storm was left to Kenneth Rapuano, Townsend's deputy. At 10 p.m., Rapuano left the White House to go home for the night, believing everything was under control.
It wasn't. Half an hour later, at 10:30 p.m., the Homeland Security Operations Center sent out a two-page bulletin reporting massive flooding and bodies floating in the water. Rapuano later told Congress that no one at the White House woke him to tell him about the report, and he didn't realize the extent of the damage until 6 the following morning, when another Homeland bulletin warned that "it could take months to dewater" the city. Only then did it begin to dawn on top administration officials, including the president, how grave a human—and political—disaster they were facing.
Six months later, there still isn't a clear account of what Bush and his top aides were doing in the hours and days after the levees crumbled and the misery set in. The prolonged confusion is partly explained by the White House's refusal to turn over many of the records and e-mails requested by the Senate and a special House committee investigating the fiasco.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Earlier today I spoke with City Paper business/news editor William Williams, who--before I had a chance to lodge my complaint about today's City-Paper-Salemtown sensationalism--apologized for the headline and the negative view painted of Salemtown. Williams told me that the City Paper should not have run the headline, which was not supported by the facts in the story. He conceded that the headline and the picture were a one-two punch below the belt given the content in the story.
I also spoke with City Paper reporter Bill Harless and emphasized to him that, if he's going to write the story with the picture of vandalism that he ought to give a little more context to the vandalized property, which would have softened the sensationalism of a single snapshot in time. For instance, the picture and the story might lead readers to think that the developers of Garfield Place put up a sign that was immediately vandalized. But developers of Garfield Place put their sign up over 8 months ago and it was only hit by gang graffiti in January. That's a pretty important piece of information to leave out of the picture. You cannot tell me that that omission would not affect people's decisions to live in Salemtown.
The frontpage of the Nashville City Paper this morning is an exact textbook example of how NOT to report on gang activities in Nashville. It sensationalized the actual story and it discourages further neighborhood development; worst case scenerio: it might even validate vandals targeting developers. I understand that the City Paper may run something in a future edition to try to offset the mistakes in this one. Let's hope that too much damage has not already been done. If there is irreparable damage from this story, you can just write a new screaming headline: "Nashville City Paper Takes Salemtown Down!"
2/22/2006 3:45 p.m. Update: The webmaster at the City Paper has replaced the misleading headline with a new, diametrically opposing one: "Salemtown leaders: Gang activity not driven by new development," but how can we undo the damage of unchangeable hard copy floating around out there?
We need to find another name for them, because they are no longer just scoreboards. Scoreboards were those industrial-grade, wall-mounted boxes we glanced at back in high school; they usually had certain lights burned out so that we couldn't tell whether a digit was a "0" or an "8." At $3.6 million, I would not call what the Nashville Predators and the Sports Authority want a scoreboard. I would call it a "Broadcast Interface With A Panoramic Sharper-Than-Life Multi-Faceted LED Cluster." Whatever you want to call it, we still cannot afford it. The Preds either need to find a corporate sponsor to buy them this Cluster or we need to jack up taxes on game and season tickets so that the hockey fans cover the extra expense. An outside option is to lure the State of Dubai to purchase Metro bonds to pay for the most advanced scoreboard ever built while simultaneously freeing up more money to pay for public education (I can hear the public announcer now: "Today's game is brought to you by the United Arab Emirates. We only allowed nuclear components to be smuggled to Iran once"). That could also steer Dubai away from ownership of our strategic seaports. Since neither the NHL nor the GEC is of any strategic consequence in the war on terror, I think we'd be safe.
That $500,000 a year cap on Metro's financial obligations to the Nashville Sounds doesn't look so bad now, does it?
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
This Can Only End With The President Claiming, "No One Could Have Predicted That Outsourcing Our Ports Would Have Lead To A Terrorist Attack."
I'm still trying to figure out how it is that security justifies tapping the phones of Americans, but security does not lead the President to pause before handing over control of six major American ports to a state with a checkered history on terrorism. My quandary has nothing to do with racism, bigotry, or prejudice. I wouldn't be happy with the State of Israel controlling American ports with their recent track record and some of the bedfellows they make in the region. If IRA terrorists declared war on America, Ireland would also be a bad choice. If we're going to outsource our ports, can't we find someone a little more neutral, someone with a cleaner record? Better yet, why outsource at all? We should come up with the tax money to nationalize our ports so that the U.S. government has strict control over what comes in and goes out of our currently porous shipping lanes.
According to the AP, the bipartisan congressional resistance to President Bush's veto threat is not the only backlash. Resistance is also getting organized at the local level at the ports affected:
New Jersey's governor, Jon S. Corzine, said Tuesday the state will file lawsuits in federal and state courts opposing the agreement. Corzine, a Democrat, cited a "deep, deep feeling that this is the wrong direction for our nation to take."According to the Telegraph:
A company at the Port of Miami, a subsidiary of Eller & Company Inc., sued last week to block the deal in a Florida state court. It said that under the sale, it will become an "involuntary partner" with Dubai's government and it may seek more than $10 million in damages.
Governor George Pataki of New York and his Maryland counterpart have asked the courts to "explore all legal options", raising the possibility they may seek court approval to void contracts if the deal goes ahead.According to the New York Times, the Mayor of New York City also waded into the fray in order to try to stop the deal from going through next week:
"We have not received the necessary assurances regarding security concerns," [Michael] Bloomberg wrote in a letter to the president on Tuesday evening. He said he was joining New York's two Democratic senators, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles E. Schumer, in calling for a 45-day investigation of the deal under a federal law that governs the review of foreign investments.American security is not the only issue at stake in this fight. Cities like New York, Baltimore, New Orleans, and Miami are going to be on the front lines of terrorist attempts on our ports. Local leaders, Republicans and Democrats, should be duly alarmed.
Initial TV Reports On Millersville Church Vandalism Rendered Visible Gang-Related Graffiti Invisible
I'm wondering why, with such ambiguous vandalism, did the initial reports clearly run with this story as some kind of garden variety racist bigotry, leaving no first impression that street gangs could be involved? My initial response to the cognitive dissonance caused by seeing the word "Crips" on the News 2 report while hearing the News 2 reporter talk about race-hate vandalism was to think that I had misread the graffiti. Why do the mainstream news stations seem to continue to ignore street-gang vandalism, in spite of the possibility that such gang activity is growing in our city and may be incubating in small satellite towns like Millersville, far and away?
Monday, February 20, 2006
Fenton criticizes corporate resistance to expanding evening news reports beyond their 30-minute segments and corporate tendencies toward "easy revenue with cheaper outlay and less hard news." But the culprits are not simply the networks:
[T]he public's demands [for more hard news] get dissipated in the complex decentralized structure of channel ownership. Local television stations are the real profit centers [emphasis mine]. The networks that simply supply programs to affiliate stations have slim profit margins, but the owners of the stations make bags of money broadcasting on the nation's free airwaves [emphasis mine]. Which explains why the local stations have always resisted suggestions to expand the network news broadcasts, or move them into the evening hours, which are traditionally filled with the most popular and profitable entertainment shows.Fenton goes on to say that one of the ways to change local stations' constriction and compression of hard news on every level is for groups of viewers and journalists to organize and threaten licenses by constantly reporting local broadcasters to the FCC. The changes made by CBS after Janet Jackson's Super Bowl "wardrobe malfunction," is an example for Fenton of the influence that mobilizing groups can have over programming.
Where do political, media, and news-oriented weblogs stand in this? To me they stand at a critical juncture. Either they can be watchdogs of local media and agents that encourage organizing for broadcasting reform or they can become tools of local broadcasters, some of whom belong to powerful lobbies in Washington and in state houses. Whatever original reporting is done by weblogs provides an important alternative to the watery discharge that often passes for news, but actually only fills up the hypnotic space of "human interest" like the creamy junk filling a spongy twinkie. Weblogs can either allow themselves to become mesmerized by stuff like The Bachelor to follow suit, or they can be a true alternative, providing significant news free of the dumbed-down static of mainstream media.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Saturday, February 18, 2006
Friday, February 17, 2006
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Temper tantrums over perks are more common than the American taxpayer might like to believe.
- - Maureen DowdI don't know if Council members are having tantrums over this, but it's about time someone with the power took some of their perquisites away. If they're going to play golf or ice skate, they should kick in their fair share to support it, just like the rest of us.
Ernie Shore said of Jackson,
Everything he hit was really blessed. He could break bones with his shots. Blindfold me and I could still tell you when Joe hit the ball. It had a special crack.Babe Ruth (who as a Yankee played a few exhibition games at the North End's old Sulphur Dell ballpark) said,
I copied Jackson's style because I thought he was the greatest hitter I had ever seen, the greatest natural hitter I ever saw. He's the guy who made me a hitter.He received his nickname "Shoeless," after playing a minor league game in his stockings because a new pair of spikes had given him blisters on his feet the previous day. Fans started cursing him as a "shoeless sonuvabitch," and the name stuck.
According to authors Geoffrey Ward and Ken Burns, Shoeless Joe had been taught to bat by a Confederate veteran who had learned his baseball from Union soldiers in a northern prison camp. Ward & Burns quote a sportswriter who described Jackson:
He was pure country, a wide-eyed, gullible yokel. It would not have surprised me in those days to learn he had made a down payment on the Brooklyn Bridge .... He was a drinker and a heavy one. He carried his own tonic: triple-distilled corn. And on occasions he carried a parrot, a multi-colored pest whose vocabulary was limited to screeching, "You're out!"But Shoeless Joe Jackson could hit like few others. The only player to hit over .400 in his rookie year with Cleveland, Jackson holds the third highest batting average in recorded baseball history (.356) behind Cobb and Rogers Hornsby. What is most amazing to me about Jackson's plate prowess, is that he hit so well in the days before pitched spit balls were outlawed and before owners started juicing baseballs to give hitters an advantage.
I have no triple-distilled corn on me, but nevertheless, here's to the memory of Shoeless Joe and to the return of baseball in 2006!
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
What really sticks in my craw about reporter Judith Tackett's skewed story is that it is blind to insurance industry machinations behind the scenes of medicine and within the workings of the General Assembly. Why do reporters keep giving the insurance industry a free pass on these issues, as if it is the very inalterable water in which medicine swims? Ms. Tackett made scant mention of "tort reform" opponents as if their only concerns were about poor people and not about how the insurance industry may in fact be rigging the game. Some of us smell the stink while Ms. Tackett seems to be merely holding her nose and refusing to do any kind of research into the medical insurance industry in Tennessee.
I'm still not believing my eyes: 1,276 pageloads (my previous daily high was 294). 785 visitors (previous high was 167) over a duration of 24 hours.
Lesson: adding pictures you take of celebrities working on highly anticipated projects definitely increases audience, at least for a while.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Mugging for Mike. Ms. Underwood smiles for my camera between takes. At this point I was what the Director called a "bogey" (a non-extra who is potentially in the shot).
Getting ready to shoot. Snow on the ground. Mid-30 degree temps. Ms. Underwood is dressed for summertime, but she's got a space heater pointed into the phone booth. The guy in the blue short-sleeve on the right side of the picture with no space heater is an extra.
Rolling. In character. Sans space heater. Brrrrr.
02/14/2006, 2:15 p.m. Update: A couple of the Carrie Underwood fans among the throng massing to this link today have clarified for me who she is: she's an American Idol winner (guess it shows that I don't watch that program or keep up with popular trends in Country music). Thanks to the fan sites that linked Enclave and vaulted my stats to numbers I never imagined Enclave might attain.
02/14/2006, 4:00 p.m. Update: My favorite comments on one of those fanboards publicizing these pictures are about my Underwood-cluelessness:
casper: ... Interesting that the person taking [the pictures] didn't know who Carrie even was.I will post one more picture that I took of Ms. Underwood at yesterday's video-shoot this evening between 7:00 and 8:00 CST, just to say thanks to all you Underwood fans for stopping by. You all have a keener appreciation for these pics than I do.
ocean18: Yeah that was interesting. How do you not know who Carrie Underwood is?! I love her outfit. I want that!
02/14/2006, 7:40 p.m., Update: Here is the only other picture I took of Ms. Underwood yesterday that I did not previously publish.
Hanging up the phone.
Monday, February 13, 2006
I took some pictures of characteristics of the park that were mentioned in the film:
The park opens invitingly to the sidewalk and it is only slightly obstructed from the street by small concrete and wrought iron planters with small trees in them. Since "people-watching" is one of the primary attractors of public spaces, the clear lines of sight in all directions should work in its favor.
It is also lit well by direct sunlight. According to the filmmakers, spaces do not have to be in absolute sunlight, but they should be well lit by at least indirect sunlight. In the distance you may be able to make out a crowd around a telephone booth and a large rectangular light fixture. I'll tell you more about what was going on there in my next post.
The film mentioned visible water features as strong attractors of people to public spaces. The sidewalks that run through the park converge at the fountain. Visitors to the park are in close contact with this fountain and the wall provides roomy seating. Public art is also considered an attractor; there is a mural on the wall of the building sitting flush to the park's edge (I didn't get a picture of that).
There are a lot of places to sit in this park, including retaining walls and benches, but no movable seating, which the film called a strong attractor. However, the seating provides various angles for people-watching, and there are "edges" that allow those who desire to "be away" from the crowd places to sit.
Overall, I would consider this public park fairly close to fitting what the filmmakers had in mind for optimum public space in a city. The scale is somewhat small, compared to some of the places in New York City the film looked at, but I got the impression that small scale is much better in the researchers' minds than oversizing a space.
In a town where every other person is a singer/songwriter, I don't link very many singer/songwriters, except for Claire Small, who has been a URL fixture in Enclave's right-hand column from the beginning.
I've tried to tell you people before to go to Claire's shows, but if you won't take my word for it, maybe you'll listen to this week's Nashville Scene. More to the point, maybe you'll listen to Claire on February 15 at the Basement during her first CD release of her first full length album, "Ledger."
Sunday, February 12, 2006
The primary basis for most of the murders seems to be people upset over petty disputes and arguments. These disputes generally involve personal issues like "disrespecting" or even looking the wrong way at another person. In many cases, killers and victims know each other. But even where the primary crimes involve robbery, perpetrators are much more likely to shoot victims now than they have been in the past.
According to the article, police across the country blame the rising availability of guns on the street and the relative ease with which permits to carry guns may be obtained (in Philadelphia, for example the number of people authorized to carry guns has risen from 700 to 32,000 since 1985). And they blame judges' lax sentencing and light bail. The Times mentions Nashville Police Chief Ronal Serpas on this point; saying that he tells of an 18-year-old who had been arrested 41 times, but who was out on bail when he killed someone during a dice game. Other factors that the Times mentions includes impoverished neighborhoods and the shrinkage of an industrial base that used to provide jobs for those without an education.
This is a very helpful piece for understanding the scope of the problem that many of us in urban neighborhoods worry over.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Enclave has registered 35,000 page loads and 20,000 unique visitors since I started keeping stats last February. Its growth has been progressive: during the first half of the past year, it averaged 42 page loads and 28 unique visitors a day; during the second half, daily averages triped to 128 page loads and 84 unique visitors. Enclave only earns me about 5 cents a day from readers' clicks of its unobtrusive ads, but I didn't start it as a capital enterprise, so I don't measure success by cash flow. I'm much more pleased by the increasing number of people reading and returning to Enclave. I was also pleased to see Enclave nominated for an award, featured on a local newscast, and linked by several other prominent sources.
I intend to take the next couple of days off from writing to re-evaluate and decide whether to keep going or to close Enclave down. As rewarding as it has been, it is also time-consuming and attention-intensive, and I have other projects in my life. So, thanks for checking Enclave out and making this such a success by my standards. And, unless something hugely newsworthy happens between now and then, I'll see you in a couple of days.
One of the more fascinating conclusions of the researchers, supported through the use of time lapse photography and data-collectors recording head-counts, was the idea that people in public spaces seem to have an "instinctive feel" for what makes a proper capacity or a critical mass, and they seem to enter, stay, and exit accordingly. Researchers demonstrated that in one popular city plaza during the heavily trafficked lunch hours, while the degree of turnover of people was high, the number of people occupying the space never really increased above or decreased below about 19 or 20 for a significant amount of time. That may be an uncanny capacity instinct, unless researchers failed to factor out the more socialized habits of "regulars" (those people who return to public spaces like clockwork).
Given the projected growth of Downtown residents from 4,000 to 10,000 over the next few years, the NCDC announced the creation of a task force to study Downtown's small public spaces to get a feel for use of the few that exist. Organizers of last night's event said that they could not come up with many examples in Downtown beyond the small park across from the Downtown Public Library, which tends to be occupied mostly by homeless people. But in just walking out of the NCDC and going about a block to my car I was able to identify the small green plaza at the foot of the BellSouth "Batman" Building that seemed to have some of the important aspects mentioned in the film. There are probably a few such spaces around Downtown waiting to be found, but the research that this task force is going to do is nonetheless important for Downtown's growing residential community.
First, John Summers rose yet again to oppose the ballpark, but he based his opposition on a survey he said he conducted in Sylvan Park a couple of years ago. Hasn't this guy been in enough hot water with surveys of his neighborhood? My worst fear in the case that Mr. Wallace might have had his deferral pass was that Mr. Summers might come back two weeks from now with the announcement that he was working with Metro Legal to conduct a new mail survey of Sylvan Park attitudes about a new ballpark in order to put neighborhood controversy to rest.
Second, Carolyn Baldwin Tucker was locked into the term, "Memorandum of Understanding." While her peers adopted the abbreviation "MOU" in "PUD"-like fashion, Ms. Baldwin Tucker insisted on repeating "Memorandum of Understanding" so many times in her 5 minute talk against the ballpark that I stopped listening to what she was saying just for the sport of counting the number of times she repeated it.
Third, Eric Crafton compared Metro's commitment to pay the Sounds $500,000 per year in the lease agreement with his own hypothesis of building a house on Belle Meade Boulevard, paying for everything, and then charging Metro Nashville a small amount of cash per year to lease it to him. Umm, Eric? We are not inclined to buy season tickets (or any tickets for that matter) to watch you live or do whatever it is you would do in your Belle Meade dream-house.
Harless also announced that Struever is "strongly leaning" toward building a hotel attached to the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge and that they will now pursue plans to develop properties into residential, retail, and office space along the new Gateway Boulevard from 1st Ave. to 4th Ave.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Members who told the Council that they changed their minds to vote in support of the ballpark: Mr. Tygard, Mr. Coleman, Mr. Brown, Ms. Gillmore, Mr. Kerstetter.
Final landslide vote: 28-9.
While filling out the paperwork for those Goodyears, the clerk at the tire place went out to check the mileage on my Jeep and returned all ashen-colored as if he saw a ghost. He said to me, "I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but your mileage is 18,666! I feel real bad for you. That's a bad number." I didn't have to ask why he thought it was a bad number after so many years of being exposed to premillienialists. I made a quarter-hearted effort to console him, but I gave up and just let him go on believing that either my vehicle or I was somehow the spawn of Satan. I didn't tell him what I should have: "It's just an odometer, Maynard, not the harbingering mark of the beast." The demon on my shoulder tempted me to send him over the edge by telling him that I had seen four horsemen on the way to his place, but I responded instead to my better angels.
Blogger.com does not allow me the option to skip post #666, but I would if I could for the sake of those of readers who might, like the tire man, read way too much into numbers sometimes.
Some of my own favorite highlights: the Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference gave a memorable rhymed recitation, even referring to the lack of care for America's poor and working class as "Weapons of Misdirection here" in contrast to no "Weapons of Mass Destruction there," engendering a strong, standing, and sustained ovation. Maya Angelou pledged that she would never stop trying to make the world more peaceful and just so that she could see it through her eyes and "through Coretta's eyes." Former President Jimmy Carter spoke of his placement in 1974 of a portrait of MLK with Coretta inside the Georgia State House, with the Georgia Ku Klux Klan massed outside. He referred to his presidential run in 1976 when Coretta and "Daddy King" endorsed him; Mr. Carter said that their "hand shakes were worth a million Yankee votes," which drew a ringing ovation. Carter also made reference to the federal government's wire-tapping and intrusive, illegal FBI investigations of the Kings. Former President Clinton was his usual down-to-earth self, reminding the gathered crowd that Coretta was not simply a symbol, but a real woman who raised her kids and faced the frustrations of life that all of us do. Mr. Clinton stated that no one would have blamed Coretta if she had just left the Civil Rights movement the day after her husband was killed and focused exclusively on her family; but, as Clinton said, she showed up in Memphis to take her husband's place leading the poor sanitation workers in their march for Civil Rights. Clinton paralleled Coretta's response to our obligations, asking, "What are we going to do now?" He also mentioned the King Center in Atlanta and asked wealthy Atlantians what they were going to do to save the financially troubled Center now that its creator is gone, saying the "difficulty of success does not alleviate us from the obligation of acting."
All in all it was a memorable and moving service and properly due to Coretta Scott King.
Monday, February 06, 2006
Tucker could have done a very interesting story, interviewing individual players and consulting religious leaders from different persuasions on the matter. Instead, his "report" was a pander piece that merely 1) noted that some players pray (not news), 2) asked why they pray (I don't need News 2 in order to ask that), and 3) provided the answer via a single source: conservative Christian sports agent Kyle Rote, Jr., who gave his idea of theologically correct things players should pray for, which sounded like a daily devotional. Smattered throughout Mr. Tucker's report were matter-of-fact references to what "scripture" teaches and to "God" as if those theological terms were transparent to all and not matters of different interpretations.
My guess is that players pray for a lot of different things, and they may not always be consistent with Mr. Rote's or Mr. Tucker's ideas of theological correctness. But Mr. Tucker's rah-rah piece was obviously not meant to educate or inform. It was more like a synoptic infomercial for conservative evangelicalism, which is consistent with other stories he's done for broadcast news (he previously produced subject-promotional stories on a faith-based home schoolers basketball tournament and a conservative Christian book convention). This is exactly why Mr. Tucker's story did not tell us much of anything new about why players pray and the different responses that people have to that. It was just too busy being a promotional ad for conservative groups (like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes?) to be a serious piece of informative journalism.
It has been said that a critical element of ethical journalism is to report the news in such a way that viewers are not able to discern one's ideological positions. From what I have seen of Jamey Tucker's reports, I cannot say that I am unable to discern his theological bias; that bias becomes more apparent to me the more stories I see coming from him. That bias may help News 2 from falling victim to economic threats from conservative cross-sections of their viewing audience, but it does nothing to change the perceptions of Christians like me that New 2 religion reporting generally tells us little or nothing one cannot already learn from surfing evangelical websites and bulletin boards.
According to the Times, while thousands of Muslims turned out to protest the cartoons of Muhammad, the entire group was not responsible for the burning of the Danish embassy:
[A] breakaway crowd surged toward a high-rise building that houses the Austrian and Danish Missions, chanting obscene anti-Danish slogans in Arabic and vandalizing cars, office buildings and a Maronite Catholic church nearby. Other protesters burned Danish flags and flags bearing images of the cross .... Lebanon's grand mufti, Muhammad Rashid Kabbani, denounced the violence, saying there were infiltrators among the protesters trying to "harm the stability of Lebanon." Muhammad Khalil, an Islamic teacher from Akkar, in northern Lebanon, and an organizer of the march, said: "The burning of buildings and the destruction of cars is unacceptable. This was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration, but people who love God and Muhammad are becoming overwhelmed by their anger" .... But many Lebanese also spoke of unity, the memory of the 15-year sectarian civil war still fresh in many minds. At the [Lebanese Christian] counterdemonstration, a Christian woman who would give her name only as Rita and who lives near the Danish Mission said men leaving the demonstration had entered the bakery where she worked. "They were apologizing," she said, and saying, "'We didn't mean for this to be a violent demonstration. We only wanted to say that we stand behind the name of Muhammad. But we believe that we are all Lebanese together.'"The Post indicates that there are profound religious fissures and tensions opened up across Lebanon that not even a common political identity can overcome. Even some Christians are taking up weapons and calling for a separate "Christian" nation:
The [interreligious] unity of [earlier] protests [unleashed with the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, which forced Syrian withdrawal] has since given way to political uncertainty, the perception of Syrian troublemaking and growing communal tension, particularly between Shiite Muslims, the country's largest single group whose leadership has remained pro-Syrian, and other religious communities. Around the corner from the smoldering Danish Embassy was a faded, torn poster that read: "Lebanese Christian + Lebanese Muslim = Lebanese." "We're defending our land, our cross and our religion," said a 27-year-old who gave his name as John. He stood with other Christian youths carrying sticks and iron bars in the nearby neighborhood of Jemazye. One of his friends, Nabil Hazboun, walked toward him. "If they want the return of the militias to Lebanon, we're ready for them to come back," he said. Down the street, Mahmoud Aitour, a 23-year-old Muslim, took a break from his job at a restaurant and smoked a cigarette. "These things shouldn't happen, but at the same time, you have to show respect for religion," he said. As he spoke, a firetruck barreled down the street, its sirens blaring. "There has to be respect," he said. "Without respect, you get this." Text messages circulated on cell phones throughout the day. "Brothers, 200 years of killing of innocent Christians by Muslims and irresponsible Christian leaders," one read. "We say no more!!!! Launch the 'Christian Nation of Lebanon.' It is NEVER going to end unless you prepare your weapons, organize, and claim your Christian independent territory, by force. Or die."The rightwing bloggers here are all abuzz with comparisons of "violent Islam" and "peaceful Christianity." The first-hand reports in both of these stories defy those stereotypes. The threat to freedom of expression does not come from the sum of any one faith tradition. It comes from the religious extremists in all countries who do not understand the difference between protest and unjustifiable, violent insurrection. It is what comes when religious devotees from any tradition place their faith above basic human rights that span cultures irrespective of theological differences. For political opportunists to jump on this awful episode as validation of the truth of "our religion," amounts to demagoguery and it incites religious extremism at the fringes of the Christian tradition in America.
Sunday, February 05, 2006
Capping rewards, according to Graff, also makes the cost of the risk that trial lawyers take too high; sounds like to me it essentially eliminates the competition. Beside SOTU claims to the contrary, medical liability reform seems to have very little to do with the actual practice of medicine.
XM's only weakness is in its "TuneSelect" feature, which lets the listener store 20 artists (or songs); when one of them cues up on any XM station, the receiver prompts the listener to jump to that station. The TuneSelect feature is outstanding if there is a little-known blues song by some obscure Texas artist, for instance, that you want to hear again, but 20 artists seems a low number. What is worse is that XM only seems to play a limited number of songs of certain tuneselected artists. For example, I tuneselected Eminem for the duration of 2 or 3 months and heard only 3 or 4 different songs, but I had to listen to "When I'm Gone" about 20x more than any of the others. The same is not true for some of the other artists I tuneselected, but when it comes to Eminem, I feel like I'm listening to "free radio's" signature redundancy.
That's not a deal killer for me. XM still rules my airwaves.
Saturday, February 04, 2006
- John "Chappy" Chapman is opening a seafood restaurant in Nashville after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Chappy's had been located on the Gulf Coast for 20 years before Katrina. I actually ate at Chappy's a few years ago when I was in Long Beach, MS for a conference. It was good seafood, but you could just about walk out into the parking lot and cast into the surf to catch fresh seafood. With not a beach in sight, we'll see how Chappy's fares in Nashville.
- Our personal-favorite Mexican food restaurant in Nashville, La Terraza, is in discussion with Sounds management (as part of their effort to increase minority business involvement) to have a food stand at the new ballpark should it meet with Council approval this week. Baseball is a good thing, but sucking down La Terraza's grilled alambres or camarones rancheros while watching baseball would come pretty nigh heaven.
Friday, February 03, 2006
Last night at 12:30 AM there was a home invasion on the 1100 block of Montrose Avenue. The intruder may have been Hispanic and his face was wrapped like a mummy. He broke in and demanded money. The individual ran screaming from the home and is physically safe today. The police responded in what seemed like less than two minutes and surrounded the neighborhood. The police helicopter was searching the neighborhood within minutes. There were at least 6 police vehicles in response to the call.
On Monday, January 30 at 7:45 PM 4 black males in a white 4WD vehicle pulled up to a man who was walking his dog near Madison St. and 5th Ave. N. in Germantown. The vehicle had tinted windows and a light around the license plate. 2 of the 4 got out. 1 of the 2 wasAlso, the Central Precinct reports that they have increased enforcement in the North End in the past several weeks due to the ongoing apparent feud between two "low level" rival street gangs. They write that this situation, including the graffiti, is of "utmost concern" to them. They ask neighbors to let them know of any suspicious activity, including any subjects in the "area involved" (that would include most of Salemtown, but especially the blocks from 5th Ave. on the east to 7th Ave. on the west and from Garfield St. on the south to Buchanan St. on the north), where a lot of bandanas or where "certain colors" seem to be the dominant trait of the entire group.
6'11”5'11" tall, 150 lbs., with a light goatee. That individual demanded money while the other person, who was 5'7" tall and 120 lbs., watched.
The victim told them he didn’t have any money. They searched his pockets. The suspects appeared mad that he did not have any money, and they fired one gunshot into the air. All 4 suspects left in the suspect vehicle.
Neighbors should be on the look out for this vehicle. If anyone sees it, please call 862-8600. These subjects are armed and dangerous, so DO NOT approach them. Call the police. Try to obtain a tag number and clothing descriptions if they should happen to get out of the vehicle. Again, do not try to contact them as they are more than likely armed. If you see a gun on them, call 911.
CORRECTION: The height of the first suspect is 5'11".
With $4.95 Million Riding On Their Wager, Did You Really Think The Lobbyists Were Going To Sit By Lose?
But how does the Republican sponsor justify the killing? By the ridiculous charge that, since lobbyist groups would have to hire a person to monitor and to assure ethical behavior, they would be paying a "hidden tax." Cry me a river of tears. God forbid that they take some of the money to pay monitors from that $4.95 million per year that they dump into legislators' laps. Call it a tax if you like; I'd call it a small price to pay for ethical business leadership. I guess the lobbyists believe that ethical conduct just costs too much money; it doesn't make good business sense.
But given their overeager profit motives, might the shadier lobbyists be most concerned that hiring ethics monitors might cost them even more money when they have to bribe those officials to look the other way? That would amount to "double-secret-taxation."
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Asians, Hispanics, Blacks, Africans, Jews, Gays not wanted in the Lakeridge Homeowners Association.
And yet the "faithful" complain about being portrayed as hypocrites. Sakes alive.
When my oldest daughter was a pre-schooler, we were on a stroll down a Belmont-Hillsboro neighborhood street. All of a sudden, two black labs came charging from a house and into the street, barking and snarling at us. I tried to keep myself between the two labs who were circling us and my sobbing oldest, which was not easy. The owner, who was standing at her open door after letting them out, called out to us that we shouldn't be afraid and that her dogs were "really friendly." I shot her a look, and if looks were knives she would have been cut in two. I held my tongue, because if I let it loose I would have hurled all manner of invective and curse at the dog owner, and frankly my girl had already been exposed to enough trauma that day; she didn't need to hear salty language from her father, as well. The owner called her dogs back. From that point on, I carried pepper spray on all our walks. Since that time I have up my mind that you other dog owners need to comprehend that I don't care how lovable and behaved your dogs are to you, your right to let your dogs be free ends at other people's right not to feel threatened by your perfect pooches because of your failure to be responsible.
The problem with problem dogs is not the dogs but the owners. If it takes Animal Control citing owners and hauling off their dogs to force them to be responsible, so be it. My heart won't break.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
No new ideas to re-populate the largest and busiest American port. No plans for the state that supports 80% of the oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico. Nothing substantive mentioned to reclaim the country's economic backbone for the sake of property owners driven out by Katrina.
In the absence of any presidential leadership on this matter, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco seems to be stepping up to fight for her state's rights to more than just 27% of oil royalties (the federal government currently enjoys the lion's share of those royalties). According to nola.com, Ms. Blanco is refusing to sign any off-shore lease sales for oil exploration in the Gulf until Louisiana is assured of half of the royalties on any oil found there in order to pay for hurricane protection and coastal restoration that is not forthcoming from the federal government. Given Bush's willingness to commit a measly 6 more billion dollars for aid, excepting residents who live in flood prone areas, nola.com reports that the fight over oil royalties looks to get locked down in court for awhile. In the meantime, another hurricane season approaches.
While I'm not a fan of soap operas and whatever the story line on "All My Children," it had to be better than the "soap opry" in Donelson, where Mr. Bush gave his standard utopian call to conversion to a hand-picked audience, comparing himself once again to Reagan, Truman, Roosevelt, et al., and preaching that freedom inevitably leads to peace (a point which seems continuously strained by realities in Iraq and the West Bank). I was puzzled by NewsChannel 5 carrying the speech on both of its channels. Managers must have figured that Mr. Bush was going to get higher ratings than the regularly scheduled "Talk of the Town." No doubt.
Was that an appeal for more government services from a conservative? Or was it just an outline for minimalist Metro leadership by one who tries to lead with bare minimum strategies?