I’m writing this newsletter in the aftermath of a very disconcerting Christmas in Nashville. In the early morning hours, police responded to a “shots fired” call on 2nd Avenue, downtown close to the Cumberland River. Instead of an active shooting scene they came upon an RV parked in front of an AT&T telecommunications building. The RV began loudly broadcasting, “Evacuate now. There is a bomb. A bomb is in this vehicle and will explode.”
Police acted quickly and bravely to evacuate neighboring buildings before the RV exploded. Mercifully, there are no confirmed fatalities from the blast (though there were reports of human remains found at the site), but the physical damage was considerable. The bomb scored a direct hit on Nashville’s telecommunications grid.
Within hours, communications began to fade out. 911 call centers went down across Middle Tennessee, Nashville Airport briefly grounded planes, and millions of AT&T customers in the Southeast (me included) lost all phone, television, and internet service. At a stroke, we found ourselves back in 1932—listening to this thing called “the radio” to learn about the outside world.