I loved Jack Neely's column on "How Others See Knoxville." [Secret History, Oct. 27, 2011] How Knoxville looks from the Interstate is something I face every day while driving to work along I-40. It would be hard for any tourist to miss our many billboards. What do they say about us? For instance, there's "Pack for Prison" and "A (picture of handgun) can put you away." (Are these displayed on the west side of town, I wonder, or only on the east?) Then there are the ones with photos of lawyers eager to help you if you have an auto accident (you know who I mean!). And what about the eye-grabbing "ATTENTION, KIDS! DON'T START SMOKING!" (Hmmm… I wasn't thinking about smoking, but now I am!) and "Home Sweet Home" (also about the dangers of smoking, but in such tiny letters that you'd have an accident trying to read it). What visitor would even want to exit here?
To be fair, there are also billboards for restaurants, the zoo, and (naturally) the Vols. But why can't we advertise the KSO? Ijams? Bike trails? Worlds Fair Park? Market Square? The Old City? If we must have billboards (and I wish we could abolish them altogether!), they could at least paint a more pleasant picture of our city.
Tina Inge Bentrup