This cartoon about grouchy, California-bashing, government-dependent Tennessee conservatives marks the end of my Summer stint as a local cartoonist for the alternative-weekly Nashville Scene newspaper. I’m back to drawing national/world cartoons again. Thanks to my local fans in this little blue spot in very red Tennessee!
My new local, altie-newspaper, Nashville Scene cartoon is about city planning. The “NashvilleNext” plan has been in the works for a long time, and it is pretty good, placing new, high density developments in appropriate high traffic corridors (I know, you’re falling asleep). The problem is that Nashville is booming and developers are pushing to put their developments anywhere they can make a buck (like next door to me). Our pro-growth Metropolitan Planning Commission likes to let developers do whatever they want, and those developers, with their deep pockets, are hard to resist.
Here’s my latest local, altie-newspaper cartoon for the Nashville Scene. Nashville is called the “buckle of the Bible Belt” because the place is full of colossal, mega-churches and giant church corporate headquarters. The scale of these churches is stunning. I’m from California where people don’t talk to each other as often as chatty Tennesseans. Often, the first thing I hear in a conversation with a neighbor, or someone I don’t know, is “where do you go to church?”
Here’s my latest local Nashville cartoon. This really is the policy of the Metropolitan Planning Commission – interesting that a government agency, that is holding public hearings on projects that require public approval, makes itself so unavailable to discussion with the public.
Here’s a local Channel 2 news report on the neighborhood meeting at my house yesterday, to oppose a new housing development that is proposed for next door. You can see my rural, possibly soon to be urban, cabin and my big Steve Sack oil painting on the wall of my living room, along with a house full of angry neighbors.
Nashville is growing like a weed, and though officials talk about planning, they really just approve every stupid proposal. I’m awakened to this by an absurd, huge development of 38 houses, each 35 feet tall, planned for the lot next door to my rural zoned, Nashville house.
In the coming weeks I’ll try pushing the limits on how rude I can be to local public servants – hey, its an altie-weekly, I should be able to get nasty. Here’s the first softball.
This weekend I went to the National Rifle Association (NRA) convention in Nashville, Tennessee, my hometown. I’m an editorial cartoonist; I sit at home drawing and I rarely go to big conventions. The only thing I have to compare the NRA to is the San Diego Comic-Con, and I thought the NRA convention stacked up pretty well to Comic-Con.
The NRA convention is half the size of Comic-Con. The crowd was certainly different, with the NRA sporting more beer bellies and gray hair than Comic-Con. Both the NRA and Comic-Con are mostly male, and both are full of fervent fans. It is a lot easier to park and get a hotel room at the NRA convention, and it is much cheaper and easier to get into the NRA than Comic-Con, which costs well more than ten times the $25 it costs to join the NRA and attend the NRA convention. Comic-Con sells out months in advance; anyone can go to the NRA at the last minute – like me.
There isn’t much religion at Comic-Con, although it isn’t unusual to hear people exclaim, “Oh my God” when they see the length of the line to meet the cast members of “The Big Bang Theory.”
There’s lots of religion at NRA conventions. The Saturday morning NRA annual meeting began with everyone in the audience holding hands and bowing their heads as someone on the stage prayed about how God has chosen the NRA to lead the fight against the “enemies of freedom” who, we were later told, are President Obama, Hillary Clinton and Michael Bloomberg, in that order.
There are enemies at Comic-Con too; scattered through the crowd are assorted Darth Vaders, storm-troopers, super-villains and monsters. Years ago there were Klingons everywhere, but the Klingons have dwindled in recent years, and now they are rare. My effort to build up my Klingon vocabulary has clearly been a waste of time. “Ghay’cha’!”
There was an anti-gun protest group, in town for the NRA convention, that had trouble making a dinner reservation. I’m told they were unwelcome at nearby restaurants, and their group had to drive thirty minutes out of Nashville, to Murfreesboro, for dinner. It is also difficult to make a dinner reservation at Comic-Con.
The exhibit floors at the NRA and Comic-Con are fascinating. One NRA exhibit I enjoyed featured videos of cool stuff getting shot, including row after row of watermelons, which made impressive explosions. Rows of televisions being shot were much less interesting than the watermelons. The legislature in Tennessee is debating allowing exploding targets. Tennessee already allows for the sale of fantastic fireworks – the aerial kind that would start forest fires if they were allowed in flammable California – but in Tennessee, fireworks are wholesome fun. Explosions are popular at Comic-Con too (the Death Star comes to mind). Alas, real, legal explosions in California are just the stuff of dreams.
Tennessee’s Republican legislature has been pandering to the NRA in the weeks leading up to the convention; they are close to passing a “Guns in Parks” bill that would prohibit cities from banning guns in their municipal parks. Most of the prospective Republican presidential candidates gave speeches at the NRA convention on the first day. At the annual meeting, many mentions of vile Democrats were met with hisses from the enthusiastic, Republican crowd, who were equally angry about Islamic extremists, defending the border with Mexico, and President Obama as they were about threats of gun control. The NRA convention is about much more than guns; it is about a broad agenda that is Republican, conservative, and Christian.
The same mission-creep is apparent at Comic-Con, which should be about comic books, but has grown to be about anything entertainment related, which may have nothing to do with comics. Any TV show. Any movie. Whatever. Are there some TV stars from a detective, procedural show doing a panel? Yes? Let’s go stand in line! My God, the line is so long.