Regarding the article about people who have to work through the holidays ("Working Through It," Nov. 15): How about nurses? They certainly don't look forward to New Year's Day so they can watch football all day. I know firemen are the "heroes," but seriously, we are supposed to feel sorry for them watching football? Nurses rarely get meals on holidays, and instead of watching football they are cleaning up bodily wastes and trying the best they can to comfort patients in understaffed hospitals.
Scott Wilson's review of Lincoln ("Union Man," Nov. 15) is as pointless and tone-deaf as the film itself. He renders his own opinion, arbitrary and predetermined, complaining that it is "de rigueur now to disparage or dismiss history's most successful movie director," as though no one could possibly be less than spellbound by the latest "serious" Spielberg movie. Critiquing a Spielberg film is something done only by posers and trend followers, according to Mr. Wilson. Call me a feigning hipster if it puts you at peace, but I personally don't see how any film critic worth their own salt could get through Lincoln without tittering repeatedly. From the opening sequence on, the film is pretty much just one long sigh of shameless hero worship at the altar of a mythological construction. American history is dumbed down so as to fit an easy Hollywood narrative and give all the "good guys" relatable modern-day perspectives. What David Thomson calls "the tremor of decency" running through Spielberg's dramas, I would call patronizingly solemn sentimentalist propaganda.
Regarding "Bread and Circus" (Nov. 29): CCA and its chief competitor, GEO Group, have been fighting to keep their records secret for a dozen years, defeating federal legislation by spending millions each year on lobbyists and lawyers. They're determined to keep it secret because they do an unimaginably awful job of keeping prisoners.
In Tennessee, they have lost three monster suits in the past few years of which I'm aware, but negotiated settlements kept their secrets. One was brought by the heirs of Estelle Richardson, who was murdered by their guards. Another was brought by the mother of Frank Horton, a psychotic prisoner driven mad by CCA, allowed to wallow unwashed in his own filth for many months, unable to communicate to the guards who looked through his door because he was so mentally damaged. The last was by Metro Nashville Police Sergeant Mark Chesnut, who was shot five times by a CCA escapee from Mississippi — with the gun the killer took from a CCA guard in that state.
Bluff City, Kan.
The Difficulty of Crossing a Field is definitely a piece that stays with you ("Southern Gothic," Nov. 8). We sat up into the wee hours discussing what the heck it was all about. John Hoomes and Nashville Opera brought a wonderfully mysterious story and piece of music to vivid, roaring life, but didn't try to answer questions. That's solely the job of the audience with this show. In talking about it, I've heard not only many different answers, but also many different questions that I hadn't asked myself yet. Let's have more of this sort of work, please, and soon!
I was intimidated going into this performance, as I did not understand the story, even after reading it a few times ("Southern Gothic," Nov. 8). As one of the musicians in ALIAS, I wanted to be fully prepared — to understand both the score and the libretto, and to be able to discuss it. After our first few rehearsals, and after talking with the cast, I realized that I did not need to have all the answers — and it was so liberating! I was very impressed with the audiences that came, and the very insightful and thoughtful questions they asked. In the short-attention-span world we live in, it was such a treat to sit and talk over these ideas with so many people, in a relaxed, accepting environment. I am really proud to live in Nashville, and grateful that we have a paper like the Scene that covers art like this.
Mo wants mo'
This production is truly some of the most innovative work I've seen since moving to Nashville ("Southern Gothic," Nov. 8). I am a great fan of composer David Lang's work, and upon hearing plans of the production months ago, I wondered how the Nashville Opera would tackle something so out of line from their usual fare. I needn't have worried. With masterful playing from members of ALIAS Chamber Ensemble, this opera comes to life, infused with all the darkness and mystery of the South's history. Especial recognition should go to the ensemble who portrayed the slaves in the story. Much of the intensity of the production is derived from their performance. More contemporary opera, please!