The late John Egerton and I co-edited Nashville: An American Self-Portrait, an “intentional artifact” documenting the city’s remarkable year 2000 through the work of scores of writers, photographers and other contributors. The book went to press in August 2001 and reached stores in late September. It thus became not just a multi-faceted portrayal of one of the most news-filled years in our history but also a portrait in deep detail of an American city at the moment before terrorism transformed the country.
Jim Ridley, now editor of the Nashville Scene, penned the day-by-day chronicle of the year that ran as a ribbon alongside the book’s essays, photos and art. I am posting some nuggets from that variegated ribbon as time permits.
Dec. 18—Timothy Lane, 33, becomes the fifth man shot and killed by Metro police officers this year, after a domestic dispute on Roberts Avenue in which Lane attacked police with a 4-foot metal ladder. Police say Lane resisted arrest, tried to run away and gave Officer Donald Pirtle a concussion when he started swinging the ladder. Officers on the scene say Pirtle fired in self-defense. Lane’s mother, Allie Lane, does not believe her son should have been shot: “What are you going to do with a ladder when they’ve got guns?” Well over 100 people in Nashville will die by gunshot in 2000…. Urban planning in Nashville gets a major boost with today’s announcement of a new Nashville Civic Design Center, to be housed temporarily in the old Neuhoff meat-packing facility on Monroe Street in Germantown. Addressing department heads, architects, planners and community advocates at the Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy Studies, Mayor Bill Purcell says the new center will be a combination think tank and bully pulpit, for matters as large as building heights and as small as sidewalks….
Dec. 19—A housewarming party is thrown today for Mercreshia Greer in the downtown Hope Gardens neighborhood. The party celebrates two months of home ownership for Greer, a 22-year-old single mother with two children, custody of two young siblings and a mother who lives with her. To get this far, she had to finish school at Stratford High, get off federal and local assistance and take the extra computer courses she needed for a job at Dell. Through the efforts of the Woodbine Community Organization, which built the house, and the Bank of America’s Community Development Group, which offers discounted mortgages to working families making less than 80 percent of the local median income of $58,800, Greer was able to buy her three-bedroom home for $87,000….
Dec. 20—A dinner tonight at the White House honors two Middle Tennesseans with presidential medals in the arts and humanities. Country great Eddy Arnold, 82, famed for hits such as “You Don’t Know Me,” receives the National Medal of the Arts alongside 11 other luminaries, including Maya Angelou, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Barbra Streisand. Will D. Campbell, the iconoclastic Baptist preacher, author and civil rights activist, leaves his Mt. Juliet home to accept the National Humanities Medal from President Bill Clinton. Campbell, whose 1975 memoir Brother to a Dragonfly is a classic of contemporary Southern literature, is honored along with Toni Morrison, Ernest Gaines and art curator and former Fisk faculty member David Driskell. “It’ll be an adventure,” Campbell says in advance of the ceremony. “God knows I’ve had a few in my time.”…