The Prodigal Cane
Published 10/05/2011 at 12:11 p.m.
William Johnson was fonder of Andrew Johnson than most white people were, and had interesting memories of the White House. When President Roosevelt visited Knoxville and paraded down Gay Street in 1936, the old man hoped for a chance to ...
David Dewhirst Ramps Up Downtown Projects
Published 10/05/2011 at 10:59 a.m.
You wouldn’t think that this would necessarily be the best time to be investing in lots of real estate, but downtown developer David Dewhirst hasn’t slowed his pace with the recession. With plans to redevelop the White Lily Flour factory, ...
Same Place, Different City: Comparing Two Knoxvilles
Published 09/28/2011 at 4:46 p.m.
With the help of latter-day Knoxville photographer David Luttrell, and photographs borrowed from the Library of Congress, we thought we’d have a look at two Knoxvilles: the city 100 years ago, and the city today.
The Too-Logical Result of Our Property-Rights Totems
Published 09/28/2011 at 10:39 a.m. 6 Comments
Until last month, I’d assumed the worst-case scenario for Admiral David Glasgow Farragut’s embattled birthplace would be that the large stone marker would be off-limits to anyone but the few affluent property owners who bought property there. Now the marker’s ...
Johnny Carson Sidekick Doc Severinsen Shows Up at Knoxville Concerts
Published 09/28/2011 at 9:54 a.m. 1 Comment
Since early this year, attendees to Knoxville Symphony Orchestra events have been doing double- and triple-takes in the Tennessee Theatre when one particularly distinguished-looking gray-haired gentleman walks by in the lobby, often alone.
Broken-Arm Notes, Part 3
Published 09/21/2011 at 11:33 a.m. 1 Comment
What does it mean, when a major institution of healing qualifies as “all Vol”? Should we take care with what sort of signifying apparel we wear to the ER? Do they ever hire personnel who attended enemy colleges? Does that ...
Broken-Arm Notes, Part 2
Published 09/14/2011 at 11:55 a.m. 2 Comments
After a week of convalescence, the aftermath of a smashed forearm I have less and less interest in thinking about, I have learned a lot about myself, especially discovering the inner self who’s a connoisseur of crap TV.
Why I’m Learning To Type With My Left Hand
Published 09/07/2011 at 11:39 a.m. 6 Comments
Last Thursday morning, I took a couple of slurps of coffee and set out to ride my bicycle to work. There was nothing in the least remarkable about that. It was maybe the 2,700th time I’ve started a morning that ...
End-Of-Summer Notes: Marie Wilson, Don Paine, Gideon Fryer
Published 08/31/2011 at 3:18 p.m. 1 Comment
I hate to get things wrong, and I especially hate reporting that living people are dead. It’s worse when in fact they’re active citizens, and not even feeling poorly.
Scott Miller Says Farewell to Knoxville
Published 08/31/2011 at 11:20 a.m.
Word is leaking out that Miller is ending his 20-year adventure as a Knoxville resident.
PBS Series 'Music Voyager' Lands in Knoxville
Published 08/31/2011 at 10:52 a.m.
Hosted by world-music insider and ethnomusicologist Jacob Edgar, Music Voyager is a trendy travel show on PBS’s Create TV network that explores places around the globe by way of their local music. Recent episodes have found Edgar and his crew ...
Some Odd Memories of the Summer of Our Unlikely Origin
Published 08/24/2011 at 5:24 p.m. 3 Comments
This week Metro Pulse celebrates its 20th anniversary. We celebrate those 20 years sincerely, but we should offer this disclaimer: None of us on staff now were there at the very beginning.
Davy Crockett’s Next-To-Last Campaign
Published 08/17/2011 at 1:52 p.m.
Congressman Crockett flirted with a run for the presidency, himself, but finally he and several other former Jacksonians concluded America’s best chance to avoid a sort of Napoleonic succession lay in the person of a Knoxville man, Sen. Hugh Lawson ...
A Premature Eulogy To Microfilm
Published 08/10/2011 at 12:17 p.m.
I hear the Tennessee Digital Newspaper Project is rolling out its project to digitize many of the state’s important newspapers in such a way that we can access them, and even look up things by key word, from our computers ...
Marie Wilson's Life Is Like a Country Song
Published 08/03/2011 at 4:49 p.m. 1 Comment
Marie Wilson lives in a small apartment in Powell. She gets around pretty well for a lady going on 86, and some women half a century younger might envy her luminescent blue eyes. They might also envy her memories of ...
On Knoxville's Size, and the Undead Prospect of Metro Government
Published 08/03/2011 at 12:25 p.m. 1 Comment
Everybody agrees that Knoxville sure seems like a much bigger city than it was in 1980, in terms of the variety of attractions and events it offers, as well as its general urban hubbub. But technically, at least in terms ...
Knoxville's History of Provocateurs
Published 07/27/2011 at 1:41 p.m. 1 Comment
Cormac McCarthy, Quentin Tarantino, Johnny Knoxville: They’re all three associated with bizarre, extreme, profane, often comical violence. All three are former Knoxvillians.
Inside Knox County’s New STEM High School
Published 07/27/2011 at 12:13 p.m. 1 Comment
Knox County’s trying something new next month when it opens its new STEM high school. Enabled by a $3 million contribution from the state or Tennessee, it’s the first high school downtown in 60 years, located in the 1905 L&N ...
Resonance, Part 2: Shorpy and Central Street Books
Published 07/20/2011 at 4:07 p.m. 1 Comment
Another column about how the past seeps around the edges of the present, downtown.
Resonance: Putting the S&W, and Union Avenue Books, in Context
Published 07/13/2011 at 3:01 p.m. 1 Comment
It’s fun to have a bookstore downtown finally, and to have it located on, and named after, such a literary avenue. Union Avenue is not famous. But the caliber of authors who have visited this short street, especially these two ...
Sitting In With Ye Olde Burlington Gang
Published 07/06/2011 at 1:39 p.m.
Once a year, an exclusive club known as Ye Olde Burlington Gang convenes at the Macedonia United Methodist Church. Jack Neely takes a seat at their exclusive meeting.
The Still-Unburned Huffaker House
Published 06/29/2011 at 12:05 p.m. 1 Comment
Knox County, founded in 1792, is one of the oldest communities in the Southern interior, but has very little to show from its vigorous first half-century. If a landowner doesn’t like historic buildings, he or she has lots and lots ...
What The Census Says About Knoxville
Published 06/29/2011 at 11:34 a.m. 2 Comments
Every 10 years, Knoxville looks in the mirror, and tries to be brave. The U.S. census is generally regarded as an opportunity to prove how healthy we are as a city, and will be quoted for the next 10 years ...
Knoxville By the (Census) Numbers
Published 06/29/2011 at 11:33 a.m.
Jack Neely pours over the new census data to see what it says about Knoxville's growth (or its lack), minorities, immigrants, density, rural migration, and more.
Knoxville's Second Beer Festival Succeeds in a Surprising Downtown Venue
Published 06/29/2011 at 9:46 a.m. 1 Comment
On Saturday more people convened at the Southern Railway’s old loading area than have perhaps since William Jennings Bryan’s funeral train paused here in the hot summer of 1925. This time it wasn’t anguish, but ale that brought the crowds ...
Where You From?
Published 06/22/2011 at 11:52 a.m.
When was the last time we had a mayor who wasn’t a born-and-raised local?
Ron Allen, 1934-2011
Published 06/15/2011 at 11:40 a.m.
In columns over the years I’ve referred to Ron Allen as an “antiquarian.” My designation amused him, but he didn’t deny it. He was an insurance man, years ago, but his hobby, meticulously pursued, became the nucleus of an avocation ...
Funding Shortfalls Challenge Knoxville’s Bridge Refugee Services
Published 06/15/2011 at 10:20 a.m.
Bridge Refugee Services’ federal grant money is tied to the number of refugees allocated to Knoxville. That number had been growing until recently, but because of a new security protocol instituted this year, the paperwork involved in approving refugees has ...
Roll Play: Knoxville's Adult Board Gamers
Published 06/08/2011 at 1:01 p.m. 3 Comments
Organized Play has become a small mecca for gamers, some of whom come from out of state just to play here. About the only one here who’s not playing today is Morgan Hardy. He first opened the store a couple ...
A Tour of the New Oliver Hotel
Published 06/08/2011 at 12:57 p.m.
After four months of pretty intensive labor, a team led by young developers Ethan Orley, of New York, and sometime Knoxvillian Phillip Welker, are ready to show their work. The refurbished (and slightly renamed) Oliver Hotel opened, softly, a couple ...
Ghost Train From Nashville
Published 06/01/2011 at 3:16 p.m. 1 Comment
In the whole nation, few regions are quite as devoid of passenger trains as ours. Which is why it was such a shock to see a passenger train full of people pull into Monterey the other week.
Of Bruce Lee, the 'Knoxville Journal'(s), and a Premature Obituary for the Agee Toast
Published 05/25/2011 at 2:36 p.m. 1 Comment
Probably nobody recognized him, 42 years ago this spring, treading lightly but powerfully through McGhee Tyson Airport. Most Americans had seen him on TV, but he’d usually worn a mask as Kato, the Green Hornet’s sidekick in the already canceled ...
Is Knoxville Really the "Worst City" for Public Transportation?
Published 05/25/2011 at 1:49 p.m. 4 Comments
A Brookings Institution study released earlier this month rated Knoxville No. 95 of 100 metropolitan areas in terms of access to public transit. Then Time magazine called Knoxville the No. 1 worst city. Are the ratings fair? Jack Neely looks ...
The Henley Dilemma
Published 05/18/2011 at 1:25 p.m. 1 Comment
Last week’s City Council workshop on the subject of Citizen George Scott’s interesting proposal to change Henley Street evoked sharp dissent from Council’s dual Nicks, Pavlis and Della Volpe, but curiosity and vague encouragement from others.
BOK 2011 Best of the Best, Preservation Pub, Best Bar
Published 05/12/2011 at 11:22 a.m.
Well-seasoned Preservation Pub has weathered some daunting storms in its decade on Market Square by relying on some ancient verities: low-priced beer, familiar servers, free pizza at Happy Hour, and an eclectic mix of live music in the evening, local ...
A Farewell Homage to the Checker Flag, and the 'Crash Bash'
Published 05/11/2011 at 4:10 p.m. 1 Comment
I got some discouraging news that’s going to affect the way I will spend the evening of Wednesday, May 18. The Checker Flag has closed.
Union Avenue Books Set to Open
Published 05/11/2011 at 3:50 p.m.
Union Avenue Books, love child of the late Carpe Librum, will be opening soon, as previously announced, but there have been some changes that delayed its opening.
Cops Mistake Abigail Washburn and Bandmates for Magicians and Robbers
Published 05/11/2011 at 10:39 a.m.
After her first couple of tunes at the Bijou Theatre on Wednesday, May 4, Nashville-based banjo player Abigail Washburn stopped to tell a story about why she loves Knoxville.
Some Further Notes on the Parson, and a Kitchen's Closing
Published 05/04/2011 at 1:56 p.m. 2 Comments
The closing of the Market Square Kitchen, in the large, well-lit corner space of the historic Kern building alongside Union, ends an era of sorts. Meanwhile, some more legacies to remember from Parson Brownlow.
More Agony About the Stars and Stripes
Published 04/27/2011 at 1:25 p.m.
In late April, 1861, about two weeks after the shelling of Fort Sumter and the beginning of what appeared to be an awkward war, Tennessee remained in the Union. Seven states, those of the Deep South generally known as the ...
Banjo Star Abigail Washburn Talks About Her Unlikely Career
Published 04/27/2011 at 10:40 a.m.
Abigail Washburn bought her first banjo in 2000. Three years later, she had a record contract. These things don’t happen in the real world.
Millard Warren and Alcoa Highway’s 'Stranger Than Fiction' Landmark
Published 04/20/2011 at 3:51 p.m. 1 Comment
Wedged between a story about a weeping tree in Florida and a pantyhose sculptor is the story of a man who had built an unconventional flat-roofed concrete house for his family in Knoxville, Tenn. The design looks modern by today’s ...
A Sesquicentennial Stroll in Knoxville
Published 04/13/2011 at 2:54 p.m.
Are we ready for sesquicentennial tourism? Knoxville’s balance of stories of both the blue and the gray seems to me pretty fascinating, perhaps unique, but I’m not sure how much of it’s accessible to tourists. However, there are lots of ...
Tennessee's DUI Downturn
Published 04/13/2011 at 1:10 p.m.
Drunk driving isn’t as common as it used to be. Alcohol-related traffic deaths in Tennessee peaked at 686 in 1986; today, the toll is barely more than half that. Especially dramatic is the sharp decline in alcohol-related deaths involving victims ...
The Tangled Fate of Mamie Rhea
Published 04/06/2011 at 12:38 p.m.
As erstwhile law-student Mamie Rhea fell from an altitude of 1,800 feet above Island Home that Sunday afternoon in the early spring of 1933, she wore three parachutes, two for safety.
Requiem for Parson Brownlow
Published 04/06/2011 at 12:14 p.m. 5 Comments
People still call Parson Brownlow “Tennessee’s worst governor.” In 1987, the Democratic state Legislature banned his portrait from the capitol building, because of its possible influence on “impressionable schoolchildren.” His profile on the “Tennessee History Classroom” website is titled “The ...
Gov. Brownlow's Bad Reputation
Published 04/06/2011 at 12:13 p.m.
If you hear a Parson Brownlow story, even from a beloved relative who looks old enough to remember him, there’s a good chance it’s not exactly true. Brownlow is the boogie man in any number of campfire tales.
David Madden’s Memory of Meeting Tennessee Williams
Published 03/23/2011 at 11:38 a.m. 3 Comments
This Saturday, the 26th, is the 100th birthday of playwright Tennessee Williams, and is the occasion for a festivals in St. Louis, New Orleans, Albuquerque, Provincetown, and other places. Not here, apparently.
The Ghost of Knoxville's Irish Town
Published 03/16/2011 at 11:46 a.m.
I’m not sure this is obvious, but the Irish, however you define Irish, have been a major part of Knoxville history. The Scots Irish, who thought of themselves as Irish, considering many of them had never lived anywhere else before ...
South Knoxville's Marble City Glassworks Creates an Artful Industry of Decorative Glass
Published 03/09/2011 at 4 p.m. 1 Comment
Marble City Glasswork's entire work area—the furnaces, the work benches—is in a cinder-block room of maybe 500 square feet. In fact, it’s an old two-car garage beside an old uninhabitable house on the rural fringe of South Knoxville.