East Side Buzz, August 7

Our Latest Print Edition Is On the Streets
The new issue of The East Nashvillian is now available! This special print edition takes a look at how we and our neighbors are navigating the unprecedented events of 2020 through our own perspectives. From the personal and financial devastation of a worldwide pandemic to the struggle for racial justice, we’re all just Feeling the Elephant. You can pick up your copy at usual distribution points, read it online, or have it delivered directly to your home through The East Nashvillian storefront.

And speaking of our print magazine, the last issue is still available when you place an order for any of the deluxe merch we’re now offering through our webstore. Grab yourself a swank Shelby Bottoms shirt featuring the one and only Golden Pheasant or pay tribute to East Nashville’s most famous Street (or is that Avenue? Or Pike?) Or score an East Side pride bandanna that can serve double duty as both a handy face covering or a high-flying freak flag! Show your East Side Pride with fancy duds on your body and a copy of The East Nashvillian on your coffee table. Place your order today!

COVID-19 Updates
Tennessee’s battle against COVID-19 continued this week with a variety of frustrations, ominous developments, and even some positive news on the local level. Despite the city taking positive steps to combat the pandemic a growing number of Nashvillians are becoming frustrated by numerous examples of businesses and individuals either ignoring or deliberately flouting Metro Health Department regulations with little or no consequences.

Many of those frustrations came boiling to the surface on social media this weekend when photos and videos began circulating online showing a house party at 21B Fern Avenue this past Saturday night. Billed as “The Fashion House,” the party was attended by hundreds of people with no restrictions on social distancing in place and few attendees wearing masks. Police did shut down the party at approximately 1 a.m. for noise and parking violations but did not issue any citations for violations of public health orders.

John Latham says, “Wear a damn mask!“ Photograph: Jeremy Harris

Following the public outcry over the incident, Metro posted a Stop Use Order on the property for “illegally operating a commercial business in a residential district,” and announced the incident was being investigated for violation of public health orders; criminal charges may be filed against the organizers of the event.

On Monday, several neighborhood bar owners held an outdoor, socially-distanced press conference at Dee’s Country Cocktail Lounge to focus attention on accusations that downtown bars operate as so-called restaurants by taking advantage of “loopholes” in their licenses while neighborhood bars stay shuttered to comply with health orders.

“It makes no sense to shut us down but let the money machine of downtown and Midtown keep rolling and pumping out more cases,” Dee’s owner Amy Dee Richardson said. Richardson and the other bar owners acknowledged the importance of enforcing safety precautions and slowing the spread of the virus, noting that smaller, neighborhood bars could more safely and responsibly than the larger downtown establishments.

On Tuesday, Metro Nashville Public Schools reopened with virtual classes only. Meanwhile, students are preparing to return to classrooms in surrounding counties as Gov. Bill Lee continues to ignore the advice of medical experts and lead the drive to resume school in person, despite the continued rise in new cases and deaths across the State. On Thursday, state officials reported 42 more deaths due to COVID-19, the highest one day total of deaths in Tennessee since the pandemic began, bringing the total number to 1,186 deaths.

By contrast, Nashville showed some small improvements this week. As of Thursday, the transmission rate has fallen to 0.81, the lowest it has been since the pandemic began. Nashville currently has its lowest number of active cases since July 1. To date, there have been a total of 22,247 cases of COVID-19 reported in Davidson County, with 204 total deaths.

Nashville will continue in the modified Phase Two of the Roadmap to Reopening Nashville until at least August 16.  More information and updates on Metro’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic are available at asafenashville.org.


Tomato Art Fest … Ish Time!
This year’s Tomato Art Fest … ish has taken on a different form, but it’s still a juicy and delicious event that has returned serve as the Uniter we all need!

While a few events will be held on Saturday, August 8 with social distancing restriction in place — East End UMC Tomato Art Kidfest, Cornhole Tournament, and the Bloody Mary Garden — many more events will be online only or feature a virtual component. And if you haven’t already walked the route of this year’s Porch Parade, don’t miss your chance to enjoy a brisk walk around the neighborhood to check out the many decorated houses and neighbors that will be wearing their sporting their tomato finery from the safe distance of their porches.

TAF 2020 Official Artwork by Marshall Hall

Check out our story on Good Neighbor Festivals’ founder Jack Davis for a look into the challenges he faced bringing this year’s event to (real/virtual) reality.

For a full list of events — both real and virtual — a map of the Porch Parade route, and more, be sure to grab your copy of the new issue of The East Nashvillian or visit tomatoartfest.com.


Voting: Supreme Frustration
On the eve of Thursday’s primary, the Tennessee Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling that allowed all Tennesseans to vote by absentee ballot for any reason due to the risks associated with COVID-19. Neighboring states Alabama and Arkansas amended laws to allow mail-in voting due to concerns about COVID-19. According to The Washington Post, at least 76 percent of eligible voters in the US can cast ballots by mail this fall. While the decision did not affect votes already cast in the primary it may reduce participation in the upcoming November 3 general election.

The court ruled that the previous decision overstepped by allowing all citizens the right to absentee vote because an exception for individuals who are at high risk of complications from COVID-19 and who care for a high-risk patient is already eligible to vote absentee. Furthermore, they ruled that the state “sufficiently justified the moderate burden that the laws limiting absentee voting placed on the right to vote.”

In an opinion that dissented in part, Justice Sharon Lee wrote, “In the midst of this pandemic and while Tennessee remains under a state of emergency, qualified Tennessee voters with no underlying medical or health conditions should not be left with the impossible choice of voting in person and risking getting COVID-19 or forfeiting their constitutionally protected right to vote. Tennessee voters deserve better.”

Applications for absentee ballots in the general election were scheduled to be available on Wednesday, August 5. As of last evening, the Davidson County Election Commission had removed the link from their website. Voters wishing should check the site in the coming days for updates.


Save Our Stages!
If you missed our story on Tuesday about the efforts of the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) to pressure Congress into providing much-needed help to live music venues and workers check out the story here.  Your help is needed!

The Vibe Goes LIVE
Manuel Delgado, whose must-read essay about personal experiences with systemic racism is featured in our latest edition, is launching Live From The Music Makers Stage. Tune in tonight (Friday) at 7 p.m. to watch  Rachel Rodriguez and the Gringo Starrz kick off the series. Subscribe to the Delgado Guitars YouTube Channel for notifications on all their live events.

Relocations and Reopenings
East Side favorite, El Fuego Restaurante, opened the doors at their new, expanded location this week at 3917 Gallatin Pike this week. At the present time El Fuego is serving up take out orders, but the new location features a large outdoor garden with several picnic tables for on-site dining. Hours are currently 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. For updates and to place to-go orders visit elfuegonashville.com.

And more good news for the East Side, as Noble’s Kitchen and Beer Hall at 974 Main St. reopened on Thursday this week with new hours, Monday-Sunday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Noble’s suffered extensive damage from March 3 tornado. In addition to take-out orders, Noble’s is offering dine-in options that follow the CDC and Metro Health Department guidelines. For updates, and more information visit them on Facebook.

Quick Bits

  • Plans have been announced to develop a 4.6-acre property at 407 S. Fourth St. owned by the nonprofit drug rehab service Samaritan Recovery Community. SRC currently operates out of three buildings on the property. The plans call for a mixed-use development that would provide facility and office space for SRC along with 468 apartments, six live-work units fronting South Fifth, and a 600-space parking garage. Plans for the project, along with a rezoning request for the property, will be reviewed by the Metro Planning Commission at their Aug. 27 meeting.
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