Knoxville can be a terrifying place, and not just during home games. Yes, we have the Body Farm and tides of unbridled coal ash, but those are just the scary things we all know and expect. Meanwhile, there are aspects of life here in Knoxville that are even more blood-curdling, once you think about them.
Don't expect to find safe refuge in your locked car—not when there are born and bred Knoxville drivers on our roads, striking fear in the hearts of everyone in their vicinities. Walking across a street with the light? Beware! Pedestrians are but inconvenient obstacles not worth stopping for. Trying to merge into highway traffic? It's a race to the death because Knoxville drivers slow down for no one. NO ONE. They must stay ahead of you at all costs, even if it means your fiery demise. And turn signals? Mwa-ha-ha! By the time you see one, it will be too late.
Ghostly Strip Plazas
You see them in every part of town—and they may seem normal at first, your standard retail strip plaza like anywhere else. But then you take a closer look: There are no cars in the parking lot! Worse, that big-box store that once proudly held a Wal-Mart, a Lowe's, or a K-Mart is now but an empty shell. These are plazas with no stores! Giant, parasitical retail chains swooped in, consumed their hosts, then flew on to their next, even larger real estate target (er, no pun intended), abandoning the dead concrete husks behind. How can they be stopped?!
Virulent Spread of Day-Glo Orange
Perhaps orange was once your favorite color. Not anymore. That was before you discovered that the worst possible shade of orange has spread to every surface in Knoxville, covering people, cars, entire buildings. You may think you can avoid it yourself, but no—there it is in your mail, on your TV screen, in your food! There is no escape once the Orange finds its way into your clothing and begins the infection. No antidotes have been discovered. Even an 0-4 SEC record is not enough to dampen the outbreak.
The Living Dead
According to the Trust For America's Health, a non-profit health organization, Tennessee is ranked number 2 in the nation for obesity, number 6 for child obesity, number 4 for diabetes, and number 5 for hypertension. Our obesity percentage for 2007-2009 is almost 32 percent. In other words, we are being turned into zombies by our own bad habits.
Howling Leaf Blowers
You might expect Knoxville to be a fall-season wonderland of picturesque mountain vistas and peaceful backyard scenes of orange and red leaves. Instead, each autumn weekend is an ear-shattering whirlwind of noise pollution as every homeowner wields their own personal leaf blower in a battle to see who can push their neighbors into a deadly rage. "Wake up and listen to my obsessive lawn care: Whrrrrrrrrrrr!"
Hillside Tower Invasion
Perhaps there are senior citizens yet left who can recall a Knoxville without large metal structures despoiling its once-scenic ridgetops. But those innocent days are no more. Now, every hill is usurped by a silvery alien invader visible for miles around. Many of the structures emit communication signals to unseen receivers. But the largest, most disturbing interloper is a giant water reservoir that stands as a shining beacon of Knoxville ugliness for all to see, looming ominously no matter what part of town you're in. There is no escape.
It Came From Sinking Creek
Knoxville is a city of rivers and creeks, presenting all manner of scenic aqua-vistas and tranquil burbling bends. On a hot summer day—and we have plenty of those—it is tempting to dip a toe or take a full-body leap into that cool, cool water. Or maybe just toss a fishing line to pull out your dinner. But don't do it! According to the city's own website, "These creeks within the City of Knoxville have been listed under Bacteriological Advisory: First Creek, Third Creek, Goose Creek, Second Creek, East Fork-Third Creek, and Sinking Creek. Fort Loudoun Lake is listed under a Fishing Advisory for PCBs." The leading offender for those bacteriological advisories is something called Fecal Coliform. Yipes.
Invasion of the Ballot Snatchers
Knoxvillians look and act pretty much like normal people. When you pass them on the street, they smile and say hi. They eat at restaurants, go to hair salons, rent movies from Redbox. But look deeper. There's something off about these apparently model citizens. Something missing. On Election Day, most of them don't vote. They may be registered—99,000 of them are, in city limits Knoxville alone. But that's just for appearances. In the primary election on Sept. 27 for city mayor and Council, a mere 16,500 ballots were cast. The other 82,500 eligible voters, ominously, stayed home. What are they doing there in their houses, behind closed doors and drawn curtains? There is, of course, no proof that they have all been replaced by apathetic alien clones. We're just saying there's no proof they haven't been.
Oh, those lazy (coff), crazy (wheeze), hazy (hack) days of ... coff coff wheeze hack coff ... summer in East Tennessee. Knox County got some good news earlier this year when the Environmental Protection Agency declared it "in compliance" with national ozone standards for the first time since 2004. But many steamy days still bring with them the kind of alarming air-quality warnings you'd associate with the release of some mad scientist's toxic agent: Limit outdoor activity. Curtail unnecessary travel. Keep children and older residents indoors. Of course, when you stay indoors on summer days, you tend to run the air-conditioning more. Which consumes more energy. Which leads TVA to burn more coal. Which produces more ozone ... egads! It's almost like the Smog is feeding itself!
Rampaging Online Commenters
There once was a time when most people kept their stupid ideas, paranoid conspiracy theories, repellent prejudices, and faux outrage to themselves, or at least their circle of friends. Not anymore! Now, each and every horrible, dark thought must be foisted upon readers of online news articles. In Knoxville, we are bombarded with a daily onslaught of misinformation, racism, insults, and jokes about other people's misfortune. And what's worse, responding to them just seems to make them stronger. It's enough to make you turn to print media instead.