Ear to the Ground

For Pete's Sake

If anyone ever suggests you meet them at Pete's for breakfast, you have issues. Do they mean the Pete's on Union Avenue or the Pete's at the Medical Arts building on Main Street? After all, you get a good breakfast either place.

Then there's that problem when you order lunch from Pete's and your assistant goes to the wrong one to pick up your order.

All that will change soon. The Pete's at the Medical Arts building will soon be known as Sam's. As in Sam Natour , who operates the restaurant, and is the brother of Pete Natour , who operates the restaurant on Union Ave.

The new (but same old) Sam's will be renamed as soon as signs, menus and staff T-shirts can be completed.

Pete's is convenient to Market Square and Gay Street and has an eclectic group of patrons. Sam's is down the street from the City County Building and gets a lot of lawyers and courthouse workers. Both are downtown institutions.

Third Creek's Subversive Art

The Third Creek Bike Trail, between Tyson Park and Neyland Drive offers some surprises lately, courtesy of UT Assistant Professor of Art Jason Brown 's Art in Public Places class.

One is that a large, old drainpipe that crosses the stream several feet above water level is suddenly supporting five playground-style swings, kindergarten size. We haven't noticed anyone actually using them; even if it were easy to get out to them, they hang over a section that tends to accumulate garbage from upstream, and sludge. Down the way, there's a landscape gallery, of sorts, of translucent photographs hung in the trees. Elsewhere, some lamplike pendants.

Over near Fulton Bottoms Field, just across from where the Fulton factory is being slowly demolished, are four green 40-gallon drums, set several yards apart from each other, marked, in an industrial way, with words. Walking or riding past, you discover it reads in Burma-Shave fashion. One way, it goes, â“TOXIN LEVELS / ARE SO HIGH / THE WATER IS UNSAFE / FOR BODY CONTACT.â” Travel the other way, and it goes, â“IN 17 YEARS / OVER 250 TONS OF DEBRIS / HAVE BEEN REMOVED / FROM THIRD CREEK.â”

And near the mouth of Third Creek is an official-looking metal sign, mounted on a regulation steel post. â“NOTICE: BEAVERS ARE EXTREMELY CONTAMINATED,â” it reports. â“THEY SHOULD BE AVOIDED AND CONSIDERED DANGEROUS.â” It's accompanied by a beaver in profile, and the circular nuclear-warning symbol.

We hope it's a gag.

Candidate TV

Fred Thompson plays tough District Attorney Arthur Branch on the NBC television series Law & Order , expected to be an asset if he decides to run for president in the Republican primaries. But longtime fans of the show might remember other Republican presidential candidates appearing on the series.

When longtime (and first) DA Stephen Hill , played by Adam Shiff , left the series New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani made a cameo appearance. He came to introduce his appointed DA to take over the office, a woman DA played by Dianne Weist . Weist played DA Nora Lewin for three years. She was an anti-death penalty liberal who gave principle prosecutor Jack McCoy grief for his enthusiastic prosecutions and â“short cutsâ” on winning cases.

No word yet on whether Dr. James Dobson and the Rev . Jerry Falwell will use this incident as an example of the kinds of liberal U.S. Attorneys and judges a President Giuliani will be proposing.

Current New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has also hinted he might consider a presidential run. Bloomberg has appeared on the show twice, playing himself hosting press conferences, calling for the investigation of the murder of a fictional assistant district attorney on the show.

We don't think there has ever been a dramatic television series which has had appearances by three potential presidential candidates.

Staggering Home

The Cormac McCarthy Conference dubbed â“The Road Homeâ” drew about two dozen scholars of the freshly minted Pulitzer honoree from as far away as Utah and Nottingham. Most stayed in town for an irregular local tradition, the Suttree Stagger, a pub crawl based on the 1979 picaresque novel that is the author's most vividly Knoxville-based work and organized by a shadowy organization known as the White Mule Preservation Society. About 40-50 pilgrims set out that morning in a misty rain on Market Square at 10:30, re-enacted the famous goat man scene at the post office, read on the site of Suttree's houseboat home on Volunteer Landing, visited Gene Harrogate's legendary sub-viaduct lair, brunched on catfish as they witnessed more dramatic readings at the Bistro, competed with TV-watching sports fans and a vegetarian festival at the Preservation Pub, and joined the library's backyard poetry festival, to catch the likes of gonzo poet Jack Rentfro and bandleader Phil Pollard , both of whom have Suttree-influenced work in their regular repertoires. About half the pilgrims were still afoot when they reached the Corner Lounge on North Central, one of the few existing businesses cited in the book, at about 6 p.m., for a few PBRs and some mets and beans.

Axing the FAC

Maryville College recently announced plans to demolish its Wilson Chapel and Fine Arts Center, a complex built in the early 1950s that includes the college's performing-arts auditoriums. They're making way for a new public-private civic center to be shared with the city of Maryville and beyond.

The concrete of the Wilson Chapel and Fine Arts Center stands out as modern buildings on this campus of old brick. Some fans of modern architecture regret the loss. One prominent Knoxville architect, who prefers to remain anonymous for this purpose, calls the Fine Arts Center, designed by the prominent firm of Schweikher and Elting in Chicago, â“the best early modern building in East Tennessee.â” He says the FAC got some national attention when it was built in 1951.

MC will give the building an elaborate sendoff with commemorative speeches, discussions, and the choral music for which MC is famous, on Saturday evening.

Bug in Our Ear

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