Wednesday, April 30, 2008

first friday [may]

The Wigshop continues our running commentary on First Friday, bringing you the brilliant insight that you've come to expect from us.

Wigshop First Friday Tip 'O the Month:

First Fridays are nominally about art, but we all know why people come: To be seen by other people. Art means artists will be present, with their carefully chosen bohemian garb. Don't be fooled- that disheveled ensemble took all month to get together. The least you can do is dress for the occasion.

Cold Weather is over, so no more thrift store jackets and bright colored scarves. That can only mean one thing: t shirts! Picking out the right t-shirt is the holy grail of FF attire. Arty? Ironic? Vintage? Beware: the FF crowd can sense a fake Old Navy vintage shirt from a block away. Walk into a gallery with one those bad boys and kiss your art cred goodbye.
The ideal t shirt will be one-of-a-kind, tissue-thin, and form-fitting. T shirts with actual art on them are a plus, or go one further with a t shirt featuring a band the bourgeoisie haven't heard of yet. It's also hard to go wrong with black. With matching black jeans and hair, you're sure to get into a conversation with one the artists themselves discussing Postmodern Philosophy as it Relates to Hindu Vedas in no time! Remember, First Friday is all about being seen. Spend at least a few hours in front of the mirror tonight getting ready. You know all the artists are.

Steven Lareau is a digital artist who will be showing his art at this week's First Friday. Looking around for info on the web about the rest of Friday's showings, he found some out of date gallery sites and... mostly nothing. First Friday has been built up on word of mouth, but for the average person who isn't in the art scene it's hard to find out what's going on. Even for someone who has gone for years, with so many galleries and businesses participating some kind of guide/preview is definitely needed.So Mr. Lareau has set up a central website, a clearing house for info on each month's First Friday. I'm glad that someone has taken an interest in helping First Friday put it's best foot forward on the internets. Hopefully through his efforts more Knoxvillians will venture downtown and see some good art.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

woodward books

last week, i stepped into knoxville's newest book store, woodward's, to see if it was worth a damn. it is.

owned by tim and jeannie daniel, woodward books began as an online store for rare and antique books and has grown to such an extent that the couple moved the operation out of their home in north knoxville. the new store is located on jackson avenue next to the pilot light.

i walked in to snoop around and was greeted by tim and jeannie immediately. they showed me their section on southern authors. which was complete with a few first editions of agee's work as well as plenty of lessor known works by various authors, including a beautiful book of poetry by dickey (deliverance) coupled with southern artwork. the whole experience was a history and literature lesson. i highly recommend going by whether you have intentions to buy or just look around. not only are they eager to fill you in about their store, but they have wonderful insight into literature and rare books in general.

as enjoyable as it is for you to hear their stories about finding rare books (he has traveled to england for certain editions) and literature lore (apparently, the illustrations in the first edition of charlie and the chocolate factory depict the umpa lumpas as scantly clad pygmies--drawn by america's favorite nazi racist, walt disney), you feel that they enjoy telling you about as much as you do hearing it. i only stayed for 20 minutes, i could have easily been there longer.

perhaps my description places the store firmly in the realm of your most idealistic version of the neighborhood store, but i don't think that is a bad thing. though the book eddy on chapman has been around for years, it's nice to have an eclectic library downtown. also, don't let my talk of first editions and nostalgia scare you, they keep plenty of 'regular' paperbacks in stock as well. tim said that a few ut students have already come to him for their modern literature. he can't keep salinger and kerouac in stock.

so if it isn't already clear from my kind words above, i'm a big fan of woodward's. go by and have a look around. i give it 10 wigs.

Friday Night's Big Show

Time for promotion of one of the Wigshop’s favorite artists, Drew Holcomb:

This Saturday, for one night only, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors will be playing the Historic Patrick Sullivan’s Upstairs. This Memphis Native, Knoxville Graduate, and Nashville Transplant just happens to be one of the great folk, blues, rock, Americana, Neo-punk, underground-classical mix artists to come out of Tennessee in the past decade.
But seriously, Drew is an incredibly talented musician who has spent the past few years traveling all around the country doing what he loves and living his dream of making a wage from playing a gig.

Drew is accompanied by his wife Ellie, whose sultry, silky, and gripping sound complements the blues-rock style of Drew’s music perfectly. His band the Neighbors is a hard working, skilled, and entertaining group that is sure to please any music snob.

I’ve seen Drew and his group in action many times and am always pleased. The show starts at 9 with local talent Ben Bannister opening. It’s an 18+ show and well worth your time. Most of the Wigshop crew will be there so don’t be shy. Say hi, we don’t bite, and we’d love to know who actually reads this stuff.

Oh yeah and Write in Spellings August 7th.

Monday, April 28, 2008

give us the glass blocks!

David Dewhirst has a novel idea: install glass blocks in the sidewalks of the 100 Block of Gay Street.


Because there's an underground Gay Street below. Take a look at the Knox News article for more detailed information on his plans, but it's basically this: make an Underground District with clubs and bars, a la Seattle and Atlanta. Not exactly breaking new ground, but a good idea. It's already there, waiting to be developed. Gay Street used to be a whole story lower before the city raised it in 1919. The upper sidewalks had glass block installed to provide light to pedestrians who still used the lower sidewalk. "Billed23" commented on the Knox News article and said that as a boy he used to look through the sidewalk and see shoppers moving below. At first, he thought they were rats.
Dewhirst, who owns many of the 100 block buildings, is planning on developing the lower levels. He's asking the city, which has already allocated $2.5 million for streetscape upgrades, to spend an additional $66,000.00 on 12 glass blocks along the block, similar to what's already in front of the Emporium.

Of course, Suburban Knoxvillians have responded with harsh criticism of spending tax dollars on "frivolous ideas" in a "crime-ridden" part of town that "most citizens don't go to anyway." C'mon guys. Get off it. Your're getting your TIFs for Super Walmarts. Give us sixty grand. That's about the same as it would cost for the curb cuts for a KFC in the 'burbs. We wouldn't think twice about that, would we? I guess glass block sidewalks sound like a fancy new waste of money... But think about this: the glass block is historic to that part of downtown. There's still glass dating from 1919 in the sidewalk. Historic districts are more than just the buildings, the streetscape counts towards their character too.

Downtown is a growing, safe, tax-producing part of Knoxville. Guys like Dewhirst have helped make it that way. The city is already spending the money on the sidewalks. The glass blocks don't even make the budget go up over a $2.6 million total cost. It's a drop in the bucket: a drop that would facilitate another level of taxable businesses under Gay Street. In my opinion, the $66,000 is tax money well spent.

Note to City of Knoxville: Don't cheap out.

[note: thanks to brimer for warning me of the perils of pirating photos from the man (KNS). enjoy my amazing original mobile phone photography]

Saturday, April 26, 2008

some thoughts as i curse white wine

Or rather, curse myself for drinking so much of it.

I have always been a red wine drinker, but since I started boot camp, I've preferred white. I dont know? Maybe it's more refreshing?

Anyway, I sure did drink a lot of it last night.

It was our monthly boot camp celebration party, when we invite all the campers to come out and celebrate all their hard work. World's Fair Park and Lakeshore are a week apart this month, so this was the Lakeshore celebration. I didn't know many of the campers, but I knew all the instructors. And I also got pretty friendly with that bottle of wine.

After Thai, Cheryl and I went to Koi in Market Square, which I believe is owned by the same people.

Anyway, as I sit here with a massive hangover, babysitting my friend's 19 month old son, stealing his goldfish crackers from his bowl (dont judge me), I am thinking about a conversation I had last night.

Someone starting talking to me blog! This blog! In public! Not on the internets! And I have to say, once he brought it up, I immediately became embarrassed. I dont really know why this is, but it was like I had been outed somehow. Yes, I know blogs are in a public sphere, blah blah. And it's not that I'm not proud of the thing...Well, actually I'm not...that's just not the sort of person I am...

But what I mean, it was all just very strange for me. But we talked about the blog, and the point is that this friend of mine said he loved it. And that made me smile. If nothing else, we can at least make people smile once a day. Or distract them from work. Or be bad babysitters. Whatever.

Friday, April 25, 2008

cliff is back in the news

Clifford Clark, the [alleged] Red Light Camera Vigilante, is back in the spotlight. Again, it has become a he-said/they-said war of words between Clark and the Police. I posted here before that Clark is just making things worse for himself. Now things have taken a turn in a new bizarre direction.

Apparently, the facts are this:

-the verdict over the red light incident is still pending

-UT has banned Clark from campus

-two plainclothes Knox County Sheriff's deputies busted into Clark's house while trying to serve a warrant for criminal trespassing at UT

-Clark aimed a loaded shotgun at the deputies

-they confiscated two pistols, two shotguns, two rifles, ammunition, and six boxes of armor-piercing bullets from Clark's house

You can read the WBIR article and judge for yourself, and go over to for his side of things. For my part, I painstakingly handcrafted a mural to commemorate this event:
[hat tip:]

Thursday, April 24, 2008

if you fool enough people, it counts as fame

in case you missed the results of the metropulse's "best of knoxville 2008", let me fill you in on the only list that matters:

this blog was not ranked as the best in knoxville, but we did make the runner up. and i'd like to think that we came in 2nd. never mind that it's probably listed in alphabetical order.

all that matters is that enough people have been blinded by the mind-bending graphics, intuitive interface, and witty banter/soul-stirring prose of this charming, humble, little blog that they thought it would be a good idea to make us runners up.

one more time, for posterity.
i don't think we'd even be in the top ten if cthulhu's estranged brother wasn't our banner...


outside the internet, i have no real purpose in life. so i was thinking about this post for a little while (2 hours) after i published it.

a story from my childhood best illustrates my feelings on our runner up status.

i was about 6 or 7, and friend and i were playing outside after school. he told me that he was having a birthday party on saturday but that i wasn't invited. his mother only let him invite 6 of his friends to the party. i was number 7 on the list.

"but," he told me with conviction, "if i had been able to invite 7, you could come."

i'm not sure if he was just a little manipulative punk, or if we both were that naive at the time, but i believed him and didn't feel slighted at all. we went on playing.

i feel about the same now. 7 (or 2nd) ain't so bad.

Whoa Dolly!

Smart Fix commercials feature Dolly in a construction hat! I am in LOVE!

This has made smart fix worth it to me. I will gladly do whatever Dolly says!

"That's right, Dolly!! It all starts May 1st!!" They make interstate construction sound as exciting as, well... Dollywood. She does look cute with that hat and side pony, though.

photo blog : sunrise

I took this photo this morning on the 100 block of Gay Street. The folks on the back of the Fire Street lofts get great sunlight in the morning.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

a lovely knoxville evening

Yesterday afternoon, I met Stan up at Downtown Grille and Brewery for a pint on the patio. The aim was to read, but then some other friends came along and we got to talking. It was such a lovely early evening for porch sitting and conversation. I lucked into a ticket to see Alison Krauss and Robert Plant at the Civic Colosseum. So after Stan left, the girls and I had another beer and a snack, and off we went to the show.

Robert Plant is a helluva entertainer! He's got such bravado, and he really flips that curly hair around. Alison Krauss has a beautiful voice, and even though the sound in that venue is t-e-r-r-i-b-l-e, she still sounded angelic.

I dont go to shows that often anymore, but I was glad to luck into these tickets and be in the company of good friends and good music.

CK, Stan, The Pol, and a New Site

Just a quick little update for everybody at the Wigshop. Stan and CK have been hard at work on my campaign site and it looks fantastic.

These guys do the best work that my money (read: me painting CK's house) can buy. But seriously It's worth a look just to see their handiwork.

Write-In Spellings... come on you know you want to.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

review : little caesars is hot-n-ready for you

Here at the Wigshop we often like to keep up what some would call a thin veneer of downtown hipness. Don't believe the hype. Behind that veneer is the truth: we're a bunch of broke bums skating through our third decade with jobs that pay the bills. Why do you think we blog? It's free! While you might think we hang out at the Crown and Goose every night, it's usually more pathetic: Netflix DVDs and pizza at home. Enter the Hot-N-Ready:
If you've ever made less than 20K a year you know this pizza. By some capitalist metaphysics, Little Caesars can give you large pizza for $5, and it's ready before you get there.

The other night Alice called me at work and suggested that I stop by Little Caesars (LC) and pick up a pie on the way home. I never loved her more. As I headed into the rundown K Mart shopping center on Broadway, LC was the most hoppin' place there. People just parked their cars in the fire lane- this isn't the first time they'd been to the Hot-N-Ready rodeo. I parked and headed into the bliss of instant pizza.

The bedraggled LC employee didn't say hello. He knew what I was there for. Someone else had just started ordering, so I had time to look around. Apparently, LC sells other things besides Hot-N-Ready! Not only that, the Hot-N-Ready lineup has been expanded. There's a deep dish Hot-N-Ready now. And the mildly addictive Crazy Bread. And a whole selection of dipping sauces, including Buffalo! My mind was blown away right there. A strange nexus had formed in the universe, allowing me enjoy my two favorite things at once. Buffalo pizza for $5.60!

I ate the whole thing before midnight.

Thank you Little Caesars for your cheap prices, not making me wait to stuff my face, not making me have to choose pesky toppings. Thank you for Buffalo Dipping Sauce. Amen.

Rating: 9 out of 10 wigs on the Wig-O-Meter.

The Pol in Print

Well I'm going to be a little self serving here (because I can be) and because it is local news.

I had my first published interview come out yesterday in a weekly circular called Knoxville-Knox County Focus. It is available at lots of local gas stations, restaurants, street corners, and coffee tables.

It's a good paper that talks a lot the goings on in the county and the city, so it's worth a look if you're interested.

Here is a link to the pdf. (scroll down to page 10 to see my article)

And for all of you political Knoxvillians this website is a great tool as well.

Write in Spellings, Write out Neopotism

(totally revamping the webpage right now so be patient, it's gonna rock... kind of and this is a taste of things to come)

Monday, April 21, 2008

"Y" I'm not so fat anymore

One of the perks of working for a big company is that they pay for me to not be fat. Even better, they pay for me not to be fat downtown. As of right now the only gym (at least on a large scale) is the Y and I love it. It's right at Locust and Clinch, easy to find and easy to walk to.
Built in 1927, or something like that, the downtown Y is in a current state of regeneration that puts any of its suburban peers to shame. The building is classy and convenient, the facilities are newly renovated and top-of-the-line,and the staff is friendly, but not pushy.

They have rooms for yoga, spinning, weights of course, an indoor pool (that I love) and a sauna and steam room. This is the grown up Y. No kids are ever there and the demographic is 25+. Some of the best points are the towel service (which no other Y around here has) and the way the building still has the feel of its 80+ year history.

There are new flat screen TV's everywhere if you need a distraction, plenty of classes and trainers to help, if you need the motivation, but most importantly there is convenience and solitude in this place where you can work out and not have to impress everyone around you. So when you feel the guilt of that 3rd dark beer or the happy hour nachos, give the Y a call. Oh and you get a discount for living downtown if you join, that's cool too.

And as always vote for me:
Write in Spellings, Write out Nepotism

Friday, April 18, 2008

"just say no"

Michael Haynes over at Metro Pulse has a modest proposal:

Say "No" to Panhandling in Downtown

He makes several good points. Beggars are different from panhandlers. Panhandlers are not necessarily homeless. Giving money out on the street encourages repeat behavior, and copycat behavior.

I've come to a similar conclusion walking the sidewalks of Knoxville. I don't give money out anymore. At first I felt guilty. But one of the funny things is that, living and working downtown, I get to recognize the regular panhandlers. They don't recognize me; they think I'm another tourist. But I remember their stories. Sometimes I've even given them names in my head, like "Crocodile Dundee" who used to hang out on Market Square and mumble to himself. These regulars stick to the same stories- babies who need formula never grow up, bus tickets are never bought, guys have remained just out of Iraq for over a year. I realized that I wasn't helping anything by giving out cash to them. So I started saying "no."

The best thing that illustrated this to me happened at DTGB one afternoon. I was sitting having lunch with some friends in the outside patio and a guy came and panhandled across the fence. He said he was starving and needed some money to get something to eat (yeah, right). We politely declined, but I felt a pang of guilt. What if this guy really was hungry? Was I being callous to another human being's need? I've been to third world countries and have seen real starvation, so I'm a soft touch to the hunger thing. I offered him my hamburger. Instantly, you could tell that he wanted to be somewhere else. I had inadvertently called his bluff. He took the burger, but it wasn't what he wanted. He wanted cash, the thing they take in exchange for Colt 45 at Ghetto Weigels. He walked down the street and laid the hamburger down on top of a newspaper stand. Where we could still see him. He didn't care. He was off to his next panhandle.

I haven't given money out since then. Let's try Haynes's suggestion. Next time a panhandler comes up to you, tell them you don't give money out on the street. Take the money you would of given and save it. Put your change in a jar at home. It'll add up. In a year, donate that to a Knoxville homeless shelter. The tourists will still give out money, but if downtown residents and workers stop giving hand outs, word will get around. Aggressive panhandling will decline. If a whole town decides to stop giving out easy money, they'll stop and go elsewhere for it. Maybe Farragut.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Instaknox, a concept from the guys over at Knoxify and Knox'd, is trying to make a forum where Knoxvillians can meet and discuss things that are going on here in, get it, Knoxville. There are a whole slew of subject based forums on the internets, but geographic/city-based forums are relatively new. Instead of meeting someone virtually because, say, you both love Battlestar Galactica (which is not to say that I, um... anyways) but because you both live in and contribute to the same community. Sounds worthy, right?

While sci-fi and political forums receive legions of users, this little Knoxville forum is just getting going, with only 16 users. The success of the concept will really depend on the growth of the user base. In short, the more people that use Instaknox, the more conversations that will go on, the information that will be spread, ect. While our blog network has started to create a digital Knoxvillian community, I think a neutral forum like Instaknox is just what we need.

So go check it out and join.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

i done put mah brother in the trunk so the tv fit in mah car, and the po-lice done arrested me!

The title says it all. See here.
Stay classy, East Tennessee.

photo blog: the storm

pretending that this blog doesn't have enough clever headers seldom used, i'm starting a section dedicated to pictures. fellow contributors, this doesn't mean you can't type up a few thoughts to go with your pictures, just that if you're going to drop some content under "alittleknoxphoto," let it be dictated by the images.

...or something like that. mostly, i wanted to make the header. so here's the inaugural post.

if you were in knoxville and mildly cognizant of your surroundings this past friday, you probably remember the storm that barreled through town. i sapped a few shots. before, during, and after.

the sun had not set at this point, just the storm.

the rain came down so hard and in such volume that it blocked out everything in the background.

after about 15 minutes, the rain stopped.

it was a pretty amazing storm to watch come through and leave. of course, these images don't do it justice. and they've definitely convinced me that i need a tripod.

new laws!

We got ourselves some new laws in Tennessee...

One near and dear to my heart (from being part of the construction industry) now makes scrap metal dealers require a photo ID from anyone trying to sell them metal. You may not know it, but there has been a pandemic of robbery on construction sites over the past few years. Need a crack rock? Forget begging. Take yourself an ax and hack out $10,000 of copper plumbing out of a house that's under construction. The scrap dealers asked no questions, propagating a vicious cycle.

But not anymore, muchachos. The law has mostly shut down this source of money, and hopefully will deter people (read: crackheads) from stealing from construction.

Oh yeah, you can't scalp tickets online anymore (apparently this caused enough rage from the parents of Hannah Montana fans to bring this to the government's attention) and you use wire snares to hunt anywhere in Tennessee. Finally!

Monday, April 14, 2008

and you thought only you took it too seriously?

and by 'it,' i mean the sunsphere.

this past weekend, casual conversation led myself and a friend to sunsphere worship. apparently, it exists. a contingent of our fellow knoxvillians bow down to the oddly mesmerizing monolith. unaware of such a following, and curious of its legitimacy, i turned this query to my most trusted adviser.

after less than a minute and a half of internet searching, i was not disappointed by a link to the sunsphere cult on myspace.

after a quick read through in search of their raison d'etre, the group appears to be nothing more than a group of bored kids on myspace. big surprise . i guess i was really hoping for a small group, reverently dressed, on their mats every morning in a semicircle around the glowing orb.

but then again, the following words are in their bio:

We Hereby worship the greatest achievent [sic] of the world, The Sunsphere, erected for the 1982 World's Fair, seemingly out of nowhere, the sunsphere is a place of Divine Worship and Holy Pilgrimage.
how can they not mean business?

so this is a question to you, sunsphere worshipers: do you exist? are you serious? what about the ugly yellow ball beckons your allegiance? if i was good at research or journalism, i'd search for these answers myself. but as it turns out, i'm a lazy blogger. so i leave all the work to you.

depressing side note: a website linking to this blog came up second on a google search for "sunsphere worship"

bonus: there is a sunsphere song as well. aren't the internets amazing? so many secrets revealed!

i-640: the new i-40 (let's keep it that way)

Automobile-crazy Knoxville is buzzing about the I-40 closure in downtown. "It's the end of life as we know it!" lament gas-guzzling Knoxvillians, "This will add six minutes to my hour commute!"

True, blowing through downtown at 60 mile an hour does get you through the center of the city fast. But at what cost?

Many people realize nowadays that the interstate policies of the 1960s have caused a huge cluster you-know-what in American cities. Many towns committed urban seppuku, bisecting themselves for the hope of the commerce that would start rolling in. Since then, we've watched all that "commerce" speed right past us to truck stops across the county line. Would-be tourists look at our spaghetti exits and keep on going. "Maybe Asheville will be nicer." The crumbling warehouses that the city refuses to force a solution for don't help the "let's keep going" attitude.
But, we told ourselves, it's here and we have to deal with it. It's not like we can tear it down. Plus, people need it to get through Knoxville. There's not really an alternative. Right?

Wrong. No one is asking the question: If we can do just as well without it for fourteen months, why are we fixing it? Many cities have the loop option for their interstates, why can't we? I-640 is there, it obviously can handle the volume of traffic that comes through Knoxville. If it couldn't, the shut down wouldn't be possible. Yet we're allowing TDOT to spend millions on "fixing" something that may not even be necessary.

The disadvantages of having a raised interstate barrel through downtown are well known. It disconnects downtown from the inner neighborhoods. I-40 brings unwanted congestion and noise pollution to our city. The huge "spaghetti junctions" occupy acres of land that were once beautiful neighborhoods; land that could be tax generating instead of an overpass netherworld.
My opinion: shut it down and dismantle it. Let 640 be the new 40. Demolish the I-40 overpass in downtown. Reconnect the grid and and create new neighborhoods near downtown. Chattanooga is doing this, Nashville is doing this: why is Knoxville always playing catch up? Why are we "fixing" a road that does more harm than good? Urban interstates are part of a failed initiative of the 60s. No one is promoting building more housing projects, or demolishing historic neighborhoods for government mega towers. Why are interstates still sacred? C'mon Knoxville, let's do the right thing for a change.

Friday, April 11, 2008

state street : downtown's lost opportunity

Gay Street is the undisputed "Main Street" of Knoxville, even if there is another street that claims that name. The city's redevelopment efforts on Gay should be applauded, as should the private developers and businessmen who have invested in the street that defines downtown Knoxville. As Gay Street goes, so goes the rest of downtown. And if walking down Gay is any indication, downtown's future looks bright.

But is Gay Street all there is to downtown? Many people, including downtowners, seem to think so.

It's not Downtown Disney with two dimensional false fronts. Gay Street still has a way to go, but it's time to look at downtown development holistically, to take stock of what we have and what we've missed. There is more to downtown than the average Knoxvillian assumes. If you are one of the "brave" suburbanites who venture to downtown, chances are you stick to Gay Street or Market Square. If you're feeling adventurous, maybe the Old City. But get this, Downtown is a district. There are a grid of streets that are each unique gems. In downtown you may round the corner and come upon a 100 year old stone cathedral, a quiet park with a fountain, a small corner cafe with seats in the afternoon sun.

But one street has almost no reason for anyone to go to it, though. And that's because there's almost nothing on State Street. Probably no other street has as many faceless parking garages, blank lots, and underutilized rundown buildings.
State Street has become a mere service corridor of Gay Street, the place where you park and go elsewhere. Most of the historic buildings are gone, with nothing but asphalt in their place. The crumbling rears of Gay Street's buildings are the only sign of life, symbolic of how the city has turned its back on what was once one of the major streets in Knoxville. Before First Creek was a superhighway, before the entire east end of downtown was demolished for 60's style urban renewal, State Street was at the heart of it all.
Perhaps nothing exemplifies this more than First Presbyterian's beautiful churchyard. Old trees hang over the graves of Knoxville's founders, in the middle of the little city they had carved from the wilderness. This block is perhaps one of the best in Knoxville, and nobody goes there.
On the same block are some old townhouses (of which there are very few left in Knoxville) have sat empty for a long time. Renovation work is currently on going, and hopefully people will soon actually live on State Street once again.
Across the street, a billboard indicates that Knoxville's tallest building may soon be on State Street. We can only hope that the new skyscraper addresses the streetscape and doesn't just add another mute parking garage. Shops on the ground level would certainly give new life to this end of the street.
I hope as Gay Street and Market Square fill up with successful businesses and residences that we won't think that our job is done. Places like State Street have been ignored for over 60 years, and the empty parking lots are what we have to show for it. The street is a blank slate for us to write upon, to make the kind of downtown Knoxville we want. As historic buildings fill up with expensive condos, we need to start building affordable apartments and townhouses for families, so that downtown doesn't become a rich-only/tourist district. Where better than on the broken asphalt of State Street? As downtown expands, we need to look at the opportunities we've lost, at the forgotten corners of our city, and start planning how to grasp them again.

[Sorry for the overlong sermon, hope you enjoy the pictures]