Bill and Ali at Café No Sé: Tales of Knoxville, By Way of Guatemala
Published 03/06/2013 at 10:40 a.m. 1 Comment
After a few months in charge of the best bookstore in Guatemala, Bill McGowan’s back in town, and wanted to catch up. A skinny guy in a tweed Irish cap and a stubbly white beard, McGowan is originally from Chicago, ...
Kubrick and Agee Walk Into a Bar
Published 02/27/2013 at 2:57 p.m. 1 Comment
In my column about filmmaking, to emphasize the unusualness of the fact that James Agee is still regarded as relevant to current cinema, 58 years after his death, I stretched one point. I stated that James Agee died before he ...
The Next Hollywood: An Oscar-Night Companion to Knoxville's Latest Claims
Published 02/20/2013 at 11:44 a.m.
Is Knoxville the fourth biggest video-production city in America? We’ve been saying that, and I don’t hear rivals for that title complaining.
Rachmaninoff's Last Bow: The Reason Knoxville's Home to the World's Only Statue of a Russian Composer
Published 02/13/2013 at 10:58 a.m.
Most folks, even people who live and work nearby, don’t know he’s here. He stands alone in a contemplative spot in a copse of trees where curious walkers find him.
Local Color: West Knoxville's Sutherland Avenue
Published 02/06/2013 at 4:13 p.m.
Sutherland Avenue is West Knoxville’s cluttered back porch. It has a lot of important stuff on it, some cool and even beautiful stuff, but all pretty much jumbled out there, and we’re not always eager to show it to guests. ...
The Mark of Samuel Bell: Our Most Famous Silversmith's Better Known in Texas
Published 02/06/2013 at 3:24 p.m.
Come July, our favorite reality-television program, Antiques Roadshow, is on its way to Knoxville.
Tailor Lofts, Retailored: An Early Tour of Conversion's Conversion of "the Arby's Building"
Published 02/06/2013 at 3:06 p.m.
Preservationist developers lament that they’re rapidly running out of old downtown buildings to renovate. Joe Petre’s Conversion Properties is reducing that dwindling number by one. A well-known real-estate broker, Petre has just lately turned preservationist developer, and is now converting ...
Local CD Review: The Lonetones
Published 01/30/2013 at 11:33 a.m.
If you know the Lonetones mainly as the good-natured and obliging string band that’s always happy and capable to fill an early slot in a modest festival’s bill, you won’t have much clue about their albums, especially their latest. The ...
City Guns and Country Guns: One of the Clearest Examples of the Political/Geographical Divide
Published 01/30/2013 at 10:30 a.m. 1 Comment
The gun debate may be the crispest demonstration of America’s city-country split. Our political divide is starkly geographical, in a way that’s true on a micro level in Knox County, precinct by precinct, and on a national level, state by ...
The Medical Arts and Architecture: Rehab of Main Street Landmark, Its Architect, and the End of an Era
Published 01/23/2013 at 10:59 a.m. 2 Comments
Downtown’s residential wave is finally lapping at Main Street. The Medical Arts Building—that tall, beatific jazz-age tower underused and underappreciated for years—is getting rehabbed, and that’s good news.
PechaKucha! With Speed, Slide-Show Lecture Emerges as Nightclub Entertainment
Published 01/23/2013 at 10:49 a.m.
The first thing you need to know about PechaKucha is how to pronounce it. You emphasize both Cha’s: pe-CHA-ku-CHA. If you say it fast, p’CHA’k’CHA, as veterans do, it gives you a sense of the pace of the thing that, ...
What's 'Historic'—And Who Says? Nine Practical Reasons To Save Old Buildings
Updated 02/01/2013 at 8:51 a.m. 8 Comments
At this point, with the preservation-fueled revival of downtown bringing people, dollars, and uncustomary positive press to the city, the value of the community’s limited stock of old buildings might seem obvious. But their demolition is still occurring, often without ...
Light Rail: A Weekend Visit to a Popular Phantasm
Published 01/16/2013 at 10:32 a.m.
Our recent issue about What Knoxville Needs stirred up an old futuristic dream that won’t die. We talk about it today in the same tones we used in the ’60s when we talked about jet packs and hovercraft and computers.
Two Architects: Bruce McCarty and Charlie Richmond
Published 01/09/2013 at 9:31 a.m.
The year’s only a few days old, but Knoxville has already lost two influential and very different architects.
In the Year 2013: Some Notes About the Coming Months
Published 01/02/2013 at 11:51 a.m.
Finally, we’ve arrived in a gracefully nameable era. For 13 years now, those of us who are accustomed to making sense of our recent past by sorting it into decades with distinct personalities, like the ’20s or the ’50s, haven’t ...
2012: An Ode
Published 12/26/2012 at 5 p.m.
A funny thing about the news: It always rhymes.
Christmastime in the City, 1912: Of Velocipedes, Bon-Bons, Grafonolas, and SPUGs
Published 12/19/2012 at 10:35 a.m.
One century ago, a dozen different Knoxvillians might give you a dozen different ideas about what constituted a Christmas tradition. There survived a few people old enough to recall when Knoxville hardly celebrated Christmas at all. Until the ’40s—the 1840s—it ...
NPR Recommends KJO's Christmas Album
Published 12/19/2012 at 10:10 a.m.
We take the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra, who played their annual Christmas show at the Bijou Theatre Tuesday night, for granted, but National Public Radio just named KJO’s Christmas Time Is Here one of five recommended jazz Christmas albums of the ...
Knox Boox: For the Locavore Reader, a Seasonal Shopping Aid
Published 12/12/2012 at 10:31 a.m.
And there’s been a pretty extravagant variety of very local books this year. These are the ones I’ve encountered and, for one reason or another, been impressed with.
Peggy and Holly Hambright: Sibling Stars of the Knoxville Culinary Scene
Published 12/12/2012 at 9 a.m. 1 Comment
They’ve rarely worked together. They didn’t learn cooking together as kids. And the last time the two lived in the same house, 30-something years ago, neither aspired to be any sort of chef. Yet sisters Holly and Peggy Hambright are ...
The Secret Identity of Signor Grimaldi: One Strange Story from the Holiday Season of 1877
Published 12/05/2012 at 10:07 a.m.
That anyone named Grimaldi ever lived in 1870s Knoxville might be surprising in itself.
Downtown Wayfinding Plans Move Forward
Updated 12/06/2012 at 12:31 p.m. 1 Comment
Tuesday night at a public meeting, the city rolled out a long-term plan to fix a problem people have been complaining about since the 20th century: a lack of coherent, informative signage. Jack Neely gives them a look.
Victory at Fort Higley: Breaching the Ramparts with Aslan
Published 11/28/2012 at 1:22 p.m.
Scaling the Lilliputian ramparts of Fort Higley last week, I hardly knew the place. One of the two best-preserved Civil War battlements in Knox County, the little fort’s been half-forgotten in these South Knoxville woods for the last 149 years, ...
Look Fast: Four Campus Landmarks Aren't Long for This World
Published 11/20/2012 at 11:34 a.m. 4 Comments
No big fan of chain-link fences to begin with, I especially hate to see that fence go up around the Aconda Court building on Cumberland Avenue and what’s now Volunteer Boulevard, and some other historic buildings just behind it, just ...
The Vols-Knoxville Equation: These Seasons May be the Acid Test for an Old Truism
Published 11/14/2012 at 9:11 a.m.
Saturday I was at work downtown, as I am most Saturdays, catching up on stuff. I’d been half paying attention to the Missouri game on my desk radio, when early in the fourth quarter I went out to get a ...
Everybody's Liberal. Everybody's Conservative: A New Psychopolitical Theory to Muddle the Results
Published 11/07/2012 at 12:03 p.m.
Here’s my theory, in a nutshell. You’re liberal, I’m liberal. You’re conservative, I’m conservative. We’re probably conservative or liberal about different things. My theory, and I’m sticking to it, is that everybody is both conservative and liberal, maybe even in ...
How Knoxville Invented Liberalism
Published 10/31/2012 at 11:45 a.m. 1 Comment
Yes, we know, East Tennessee is ultra-conservative. But Knoxville has also presented the world with quite a few influential liberals over the years. In fact, several nationally controversial “liberal” institutions, from The New York Times to the United Nations, have ...
For the Purple: Why Some Red-State Republicans Might Find it Expeditious to Vote Blue
Published 10/31/2012 at 10:33 a.m. 2 Comments
One thing Republicans and Democrats and Libertarians and Green Partisans can agree on is that we’ve all survived presidents we don’t like, presidents we thought were dangerous idiots who’ve wasted our money. Maybe that’s the foundation for a new dialogue.
Our Best Friend and Mother: The Real Belle Morris
Updated 10/26/2012 at 1:09 p.m.
It’s a school. It’s a controversy. It’s a former voting place that lost its status over what critics claim was a politically based charge about handicap access. This will be the first year in many decades that voters haven’t been ...
The Savoy King: A Serendipitous Evening With a Witness to Jazz History
Published 10/17/2012 at 10:45 a.m.
You never know what you’ll encounter along Gay Street on a Saturday night.
Local Color: Center-City Knoxville's Fort Sanders Neighborhood
Published 10/10/2012 at 3 p.m. 1 Comment
In the third installment of our series on Knoxville neighborhoods, photographer Shawn Poynter walks the streets of Fort Sanders to create a wide-ranging portrait of this colorful and storied community.
A Firm Explanation of Knoxville’s Snooty Reputation
Published 10/10/2012 at 1:55 p.m.
Knoxville’s been agonizing about its identity for a good while. Are we a major educational center, a green-tech energy powerhouse? Or “authentic,” the Just-Folks Capital of the USA?
RIVR Media Launches Knoxville-Based Feature-Film Studio
Published 10/10/2012 at 11:04 a.m.
Longtime cable-TV production studio RIVR Media is bringing a new venture to Knoxville: Nest Features, a movie studio. Led by married filmmakers Paul Harrill and Ashley Maynor, Nest aims to produce four feature-length fiction films over the next two years, ...
Here You Are! Have Some Passenger Pigeon on Toast
Published 10/03/2012 at 3:52 p.m. 1 Comment
This is the time of year that armed Knoxvillians started looking hopefully to the sky. Fall was the season of the passenger-pigeon migration, and that meant good eating for everybody.
American Planning Association Names Gay Street a Top 10 "Great Street"
Published 10/03/2012 at 1:26 p.m.
On Wednesday, the American Planning Association declared Gay Street one of the Top 10 Great Streets in America.
Oh, Dear: Urban Outfitters, the Arnstein Deal, and Our Olfactory Nerves
Published 09/26/2012 at 10:33 a.m. 1 Comment
A few weeks ago in this space, I confessed how all this Asheville downtown retail stuff, as wonderful as it all is—and I don’t deny the wonderfulness of any of it—has the undertone of rubbing our noses in something unpleasant.
Jim "J-Bone" Long, 1930-2012: One Visit With a Not-Quite Fictional Character
Updated 09/20/2012 at 9:09 a.m.
Jim Long died last weekend, at age 81. As a character in Cormac McCarthy’s fourth novel, Suttree, he has a place in American literature that may have no precedent.
Cruz Contreras and the Black Lillies Get Some Sun
Published 09/12/2012 at 1:43 p.m.
In recent months, Cruz Contreras—songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and frontman for the Black Lillies—has learned what it’s like to perform at the Grand Ole Opry, record at Sun Studios in Memphis, host a WSM radio show, and see his music videos on ...
The Devil You Know: Knox County's Insecticide-Spraying Campaigns Aim to Head Off a Possibly Deadly Virus
Published 09/12/2012 at 11:07 a.m.
If you see a pickup truck driving through your neighborhood, spraying a mist into your yard, you don’t need to count yourself paranoid for wondering what the stuff is, what it’s for, and what it’s likely to do to you.
Fable of the Seven Houses: There's Less of Kingston Pike's Antebellum Heritage Every Day
Published 09/12/2012 at 11:01 a.m. 1 Comment
A few months ago, a filling station on Kingston Pike closed. Filling stations close all the time, and they open all the time. Most of us don’t pay much attention unless we’re on E.
A Southern Mutiny: The Birthplace of the Southeastern Conference
Updated 09/10/2012 at 11:05 p.m.
In early December 1932, more than 100 university presidents, deans, athletic directors, and baseball, football, and basketball coaches packed the two big hotels on Gay Street.
Passing Through: Paul James of Ijams is Looking for Clues to a Lost Species
Published 08/29/2012 at 10:42 a.m.
Being English, James does say speciality, not specialty. He’s executive director of Ijams Nature Center, and he does have several other interests, but dead birds are right up there
Brent Thompson Hosts New Literary Variety Show at Preservation Pub
Published 08/29/2012 at 9:29 a.m. 3 Comments
Thursday evenings on the no-smoking floor of Preservation Pub have been right peculiar lately. Live on stage is a sort of four-hour variety show, featuring, last week, film, music videos, music performances, readings, interviews, audience-participation free-verse poetry, and a haiku ...
Urban Wilderness Adventurer: Legacy Parks’ Carol Evans Reimagines Knoxville as an Outdoors Wonderland
Published 08/22/2012 at 10:42 a.m. 3 Comments
The non-profit Legacy Parks has been doing important work in preserving Knoxville’s urban wilderness while also opening it to visitors, like at the Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge. But it’s also started a new initiative: to revamp Knoxville as a destination ...
Knoxville Skyline? Unknown Branson Painting, the Summer's Artistic Mystery
Published 08/22/2012 at 10:05 a.m. 1 Comment
The people at Case Antiques on Sutherland Avenue have interesting jobs, and recently made a surprising discovery. A Chattanooga estate sale turned up a previously unknown painting by Lloyd Branson.
Role Model? Knoxville is Importing Asheville, Bit by Bit
Published 08/15/2012 at 10:36 a.m.
The big news among culinary hipsters in downtown Knoxville is the opening, later this fall, of Tupelo Honey in the historic Kern Building. It seems a worthy tenant of a space that already has a place in Knoxville’s culinary history.
The Lugubrious Cavalcade: The Hanging of John Webb, 137 Years Ago This Week
Published 08/08/2012 at 10:59 a.m.
Across the generations, Victorian summers can beckon. The era needed its delights, because it also had horrors.
An Evening of Jazz on the Square
Published 08/01/2012 at 11:12 a.m.
The couple hundred fans weren’t enough to constitute a Sundown-esque mob scene, but enough to show respect for the quintet on stage, an awfully fine jazz combo, startling to witness even though they’ve been playing free shows on the Square ...
Our First Olympian: Knoxville's Contribution to an International Phenomenon Was a Middle-Aged Classics Professor
Published 08/01/2012 at 10:17 a.m.
Professor Ebenezer Alexander, 59, erstwhile dean of faculty at the University of North Carolina, had been a quiet fellow who wore a gray mustache and smoked a pipe and was handy with a quotation from a Greek sage.
A Glimpse of the Future
Published 07/25/2012 at 12:23 p.m.
If it’s a record-breaking summer, you don’t want to miss it. You’re going to want to talk about it someday. Sometimes on a hot day, after spending a morning in an air-conditioned office, I like to experience this famous heat.