Bill Dorris is happy again, which is sure to make some people around Nashville sad.
Dorris is semi-famous, semi-infamous because he has a master showman's flair for managing a piece of prime highway frontage that he calls "Confederate Park."
Dorris and his park have a knack for making headlines. Often there is some mystery involved, complete with conspiracy theories galore. Once Abraham Lincoln was burned in effigy. Another time, some trees on state-owned land that were partially blocking the highway view of the park were chopped down. Dorris said he had nothing to do with either incident.
In 1999, Dorris put up a massive statue of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. The unveiling was not greeted with cheers by black Tennesseans, mindful that Forrest was the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
The latest, but surely not the last, headline grabber from Dorris's Confederate Park is all about political intrigue. For six months, Dorris's big statue was barely visible at night. He said he had shut off the lights and pulled down his flags because he was peeved about the leadership of the Tennessee Sons of Confederate Veterans chapter, which he accused of drifting away from the South's heritage.
"Let's just say I've gotten into a regurgitation contest with reactionaries," he said.
But to Dorris's delight, his biggest SCV foe left office recently. To celebrate, he put back the flags and turned on the lights, giving Nashville drivers the nighttime view they'd been missing . . . or not.
-- Manuel Roig-Franzia