Fisk to be fleeced by Wal-Mart heiress?

August 30, 2007

As blogged here earlier, Nashville’s Fisk University is in such bad financial shape that it is trying to sell off portions of the Alfred Stieglitz Collection, the greatest art collection in the state.

Now comes news that Wal-Mart heiress Alice L. Walton wants to buy a half interest in the Stieglitz Collection for a mere $30 million. The estimated value of one painting alone–the Radiator Building shown below–is $20 million.


If this dirty deal goes down, the Collection would spend half the time at the new Chrystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The irony of this offer is unreal: the ill-gotten gains from Wal-Mart, a company whose predatory business practices have led to the extinction of hundreds of family-owned hardware stores, drug stores, and other small town establishments is now being used to take advantage of Fisk when the university is on its financial knees.

According to the offer put forth by Chrystal Bridge–the name sounds like a resident of some Arkansas trailer park–the Stieglitz Collection would spend half of the year in Bentonville, a hick town mostly visited by manufacturing representatives who come to the Wal-Mart Death Star in hopes of selling more cheap, Chinese-made goods to the company.

The best story I have seen on this sad situation is in Christine Kreyling’s article in the Nashville Scene.

This blog is part of a much larger website, also entitled Tennessee Guy, that contains travel and cultural information about Tennessee. Visit it here.

New Southern magazine: Garden & Gun

August 29, 2007

No, this is not a parody from The Onion. The newest magazine about the South is Garden & Gun: 21st Century Southern America. I learned about this new periodical from an article in the Knoxville News Sentinel, which announces that “The magazine would walk the delicate balance between conservation and hunting.” Think Ted Nugent meets the Audubon Society.


From the News-Sentinel: “Garden & Gun will attract men and women who live an adventure bound, art loving, skeet shooting lifestyle and who have a love affair with the South.” And this: “The cover of the magazine’s debut issue this spring featured a barefoot Pat Conroy standing in a garden pond.”

I’ve been to parties like that.

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Shriners parade crashes in Chattanooga

August 28, 2007

A Shriner parade in Chattanooga was the scene of an accident when one of the miniature cars for which the service organization is noted plowed into the crowd of spectators. Five people were sent to a hospital, yet no charges were filed against the driver. Here’s a story from the Chattanooga Times Free Press, and here’s a video of the accident:

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Bible Park USA

August 24, 2007

Bible Park USA, the proposed Middle Tennessee version of Dollywood according to the Good Book, has just launched its website. Verily, verily, much is the hilarity therein. You just cannot make this stuff up. The backers of this scheme want tax dollars to develop the park, which they propose to locate in Rutherford County, much to the opposition of locals.


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Bristol Speedway to add more seats?

August 23, 2007

An article in the Bristol Herald Courier quotes Speedway Motorsports Chairman Bruton Smith as saying that he is considering expanding the seating capacity of the NASCAR track to 173,000. If this expansion takes place, the seating at the Speedway will exceed the University of Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium (102,037) and the Tennessee Titan’s LP Field (68,798) combined, and will mark the greatest assemblage of double-digit IQs since the Hooked on Phonics national convention.

Given that the Speedway is located in a small Tennessee city, the impact on hotel rooms whenever a race takes place is enormous; fans stay as far away as Knoxville. Even people who think that NASCAR racing takes place in a parallel universe need to pay attention to race schedules to make sure they can find a room.


This blog is part of a much larger website, also entitled Tennessee Guy, that contains travel and cultural information about Tennessee. Visit it here.

Tennessee Walking Horse 2007 Celebration hopes to sidestep controversy

August 22, 2007

Leon Alligood of the Tennessean has a good story this morning on opening day of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville. Last year’s Celebration was a chaotic event with reams of bad publicity surrounding the longtime problem of”soring”–using painful means to get Walking Horses to perform the “Big Lick” step that so delights audiences.

As seen from the reaction to NFL quarterback Michael Vick and his dog-fighting, people increasingly oppose overt cruelty to animals. The Walking Horse industry, estimated at $267 million annually in the Tennessean article, has tolerated the soring practices over the years, with perennial “reforms” that never seem to stop the problem.

Let’s hope that last year’s Celebration, at which no Grand Champion was selected, will mark the tipping point for Walking Horses. I attended the Celebration years ago, and at its best the event honors beautiful horses and good people. There is no need for soring, and those who persist in doing so should be banned from show rings. Otherwise, they will be the death of this industry and a permanent black mark on a Tennessee tradition.

State saves Norris Lake State Park from development

August 22, 2007

The Knoxville News Sentinel brings the good news that the state of Tennessee’s Department of Environment and Conservation has rejected plans for a $14 million Lighthouse Lodge and Convention Center within Norris Lake State Park.

Tennessee state parks have long contained restaurants and inns, such as the one at Fall Creek Falls State Park pictured below, but the Lighthouse effort would have dwarfed such facilities with, as the article described it, ” a restaurant, a hotel, a convention center, a 70-foot lighthouse, an observation deck, an ice skating rink and a tram system linking them together.”


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Riding the rails in Chattanooga

August 21, 2007

Today’s Chattanooga Times Free Press brings word that the National Railway Historical Society is holding its annual convention in Tennessee’s best city for rail buffs.

This convention is the eighth one held by the Society in Chattanooga, and the members will be all over the Tennessee Valley Railroad, which is the best combination of rail museum and train ride in the state.


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Mexican Coke–legal and good for what ails you

August 16, 2007

When I was a child, the standard remedy in our household for an upset stomach was Coca-Cola and saltine crackers. That time I tried to drive and chew Red Man tobacco at the same time and hit a bump and swallowed a mouthful of juice, I stopped at a store right fast and drank a Coke and ate some crackers. It worked, and I didn’t get sick.


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When Bonnie & Clyde met Lester and Earl

August 16, 2007

The New York Times had a good story on Sunday about the 40th anniversary of Bonnie and Clyde, the Arthur Penn directed movie featuring the young Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway as the title characters, with Gene Hackman and Estelle Parsons in supporting roles.

While writer A.O. Scott ruminates on “the crucial episode in the entwined histories of Hollywood, American film criticism and postmodern popular culture” and ponders “the connoisseurship of violence,” he makes only one reference to what he refers to as “the skittering banjo music of the soundtrack.”

“Foggy Mountain Breakdown is “skittering banjo music”? Huh?

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