Ear to the Ground

III Time's Charm

If your name is John J. Duncan, it is inevitable that someone wants you to run for something. In this case, it's John J. Duncan III, son of the current Congressman, grandson of the last Congressman.

Duncan is being recruited to run for the state legislature and there are two possibilities. State Rep. Parkey Strader, who has been battling cancer, hasn't decided whether to run for re-election. Duncan could be a candidate for the open seat. Should Strader decide to run, Duncan may yield to the political establishment's plea that he run against state Rep. Stacey Campfield, a thorn in everyone's side and a target of both Republicans and Democrats in the last two elections.

In one scenario, Duncan is established as a one-term House member by 2010, when there is a possibility that state Sen. Tim Burchett may give up his seat and run for County Mayor, succeeding current County Mayor Mike Ragsdale. Duncan would then be ready for a run at the state senate.

Then someday, his father retires from Congress, and, well, you get the pictureâ

Duncan III works for Fred Lawson's BankEast.

Pearl Jam

When UT basketball coach Bruce Pearl coached in Milwaukee he had a post-game tradition. After each home game, fans would gather in a local beer garden with Pearl as special guest and whoop it up to celebrate a win. Pearl would bond with the fans and it made him a popular coach while building the fan base.

There has been some discussion of starting such a tradition in Knoxville, an agreement between the athletic department and a sports bar to be post-game central. Pearl is a popular coach and loves interacting with fans. It could become a huge event.

It hasn't happened so far because there is another consideration. This is the buckle of the Bible belt. Should some inebriated fan crash his car on the way home and there be a tragic accident, it could cause major criticism of the basketball program.

Stay tuned.

St. Baptist

The merger of Catholic St. Mary's and Baptist, well, Baptist hospital was a surprise and even the staffs are coming to grips with the new situation. The first order of business may be what to call the new entity.

A marketing guru at St. Mary's says after due consideration they have ruled out St. Baptist.

Marketing in the Tank

The Big Orange Army has been making a lot of noise this football season, driving around a British tank painted orange and promoting the idea of giving the Vols' stadium the nickname of â“Fort Neylandâ” to honor the legendary UT coach Gen. Robert Neyland.

The group wants to build the biggest fan base in the Southeastern Conference.

The UT Athletic Department's marketing office has been a little standoffish toward the group, and the army isn't likely to get official sanction from the university's marketing arm.

It could be because the group is allied with Action Sports Media. Action Sports Media lost out on the bid for the Big Orange media contract, they filed suit and the department had to pay them $11.4 million to extinguish their rights to operate the Jumbotron at â“Fort Neylandâ” stadium.

Falafels Forever

Be sure to drop in and give your regards to Renee Jubran , longtime proprietor of the Fort Sanders institution known as the Falafel Hut. She and her husband Sameer opened the place on 15th Street, now James Agee Street, 25 years ago as a small, cozy café, but after a lightning fire destroyed the old building, the couple rebuilt the much-larger current structure on the corner of Clinch in 1986. The place has been for sale for a couple of years, as the Jubrans sought the ideal owner. Renee believes she has found him in Mike Soueid , a Lebanese immigrant who has business interests in Boca Raton, Fla. Renee says he intends to keep the name and Arabic theme of the restaurant, but may make some changes in the way it operates, including the possibility of fast food, Arabic style.

â“It's a sweet and sour thing, but I need to retire,â” Renee says.   â“I'm 70 in January, and still can enjoy traveling.â” Husband Sameer, who ran Sam's Party Store next door (which is already under new management) is retired, and Renee will join him at their Knoxville home. Sam's Party Store is already under new management, but for the time being, Renee is still giving orders at Falafel Hut; she's not sure when she'll call it quits. â“I'm going to miss it. My customers are my friends.â”

Bug in Our Ear

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