Don't Go Back to Cookeville


I cannot let a reference to Cookeville, Tennessee go by without crudely mentioning one of my favorite articles, and the only I ever wrote for Salon, about a muckraking Beverly Hills journalist named Geoff Davidian who by total chance got sucked into Cookeville's murky Good-Old-Boy politics, including wild tales of drug dealing, cover-ups and possible murder, and as a result launched an angry local newsletter/website thing called The Putnam Pit, named after the county. One of Davidian's many colorful quotes in there was: "This is not funny. I'm not making this up. People are dead. People are DEAD." Then less than two weeks later, someone was dead—State Senator Tommy Burks, who was killed (at least that's what the conviction says) by his opponent in the upcoming election, a cat named Byron "Low Tax" Looper.

I visited Cookeville twice after the Burks murder, got roped into all kinds of Davidian shenanigans, listened to a lot of locals reckon that Looper would have to be convicted "even if he was innocent," and filled enough notebooks to write two books. Needless to say, I may have written a total of two blog posts…. At any rate, the first story is still good for a chuckle.