Monday, June 30, 2008

blue plate special

Don't miss the Cruz Contreras Band at the WDVX Blue Plate Special this Friday. No better way to celebrate the Fourth than with some Americana music. Mr. Contreras is a very talented mandolin player who's become a jack-of-all-trades (including singing) in his post-C.C. String Band career. Don't miss it! I give it a hearty two thumbs up.

our sister

That's not the Tennessee Valley- that's the Funan River near Chengdu, the sister we don't seem to talk about much. My creativeness had run dry this week, so I started re-researching Knoxville to see if I could find anything interesting to bring to the attention of the Wigshop's esteemed readers. Wikipedia, that questionable fount of knowledge, always helps me addictively learn more about unfamiliar parts of the world, but sometimes it's even more interesting to look up the familiar, such as the city we live in. One can learn strange, exotic things about our (couch?) city, including the fact that we have a sister city in China with a river landscape surprisingly similar to our own.

Chengdu has a major university, much like Knoxville, though it isn't on a hill.

They also have a signature bridge, called Anshun, or "Peaceful and Fluent" with a popular restaurant (dining on the river? that sounds familar). I wonder if the Henley Street bridge has any eloquent nicknames... maybe "Home of the Blind Ragpicker?" Chengdu seems like a nice place: scruffy, hardworking, with occasional beauty. Just like us. Maybe they're called "the couch" of China.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Wheels on the Bus Won't go West Anymore

OK Time for a good 'ol fashion smack down on a bad idea that is being discussed.


Long and short, the city and KAT are looking at killing off a few bus routed to save money. Why is this a problem you ask? They want to kill off the West Town Express and the Farragut Express. Hmm, on the outset one might say oh well the burbs don't really use the bus that much, so why worry, let it go, won't effect me.

Wrong. By removing these lines all Kat is doing is further dividing this city along socioeconomic lines. Much like what happened when 40 plowed though town, making it nearly impossible to get from gay street to Mechanicsville without a map and compass, killing off of the bus lines does nothing but encourage those in town to stay there and those out west to continue cutting themselves off from the rest of us.

(Make the buses like this)

Instead of reducing the number of trips available to people, the bus routes need to be increased, the equipment updated, and a serious effort to make public transit a viable alternative to everyone. The Farragut express already services 17,000 plus riders already this year, proving that there is a demand.

My wife has ridden the bus out to Cedar Bluff several times and has enjoyed it. I would ride it except the infrequency of trips mean I would be out at work 1 hour early (which doesn't seem like a good idea to me). Soon, though, I may not even have the option.

Let's increase the number of park and rides, lets paint the buses red, update the system, and make the timing more reliable (as that has been my wife's complaint). It's time for an increase in service to open up the city to everyone instead or sectioning us all off further. And believe me I know buses (yep that's my old man)

Write-In Spellings

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

market square's certain je ne sais quoi

I walked out of the office to sounds of Paris yesterday... Market Square's ever-expanding lineup of street musicians now includes an accordian player. It lent a welcome urbane quality to our honky tonk plaza. Last year a cello duo was often found performing for cafe patrons- I hope they return. Not that I want the Square to get snooty- quite the opposite- I love the weird diversity of street performances that are popping up downtown, from Elvis to old hippy guitarists to classical renditions of Beatles songs. Low brow and high brow, the music is an eclectic mix, just like Knoxville itself, and part of what I love about this town.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

competition for "the pol"

Well, despite a strong showing in Political Knoxville's poll, things look grim for The Pol aka John Spellings. His rival, Republican Albert Baah, has some kind of army truck/ambulance. And nothing says "well-oiled political campaign" like one of these babies sitting on North Gay Street.
It doesn't matter how good of a (brilliantly-designed) website Spellings may have, now the big guns are needed. And by big guns I (literally) mean The Pol needs a tank. Or anything olive green (armored personnel carrier?) just as long as we can park it on South Gay Street.

This aggression will not stand, man.

So start donating, kiddies. Tanks ain't cheap.

Monday, June 23, 2008

blatant filler post

The Wigshop is running on a skeleton crew this week, so here goes.
This might be one of the Greatest B Movies of All Time, one that deals with racism in a thoughful, sensitive manner:

The Thing With Two Heads!

"Why you guys gotta do this to me?!"
I love the funky music that cues in at 0:50.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Celebrity Knoxville

yep, I saw a bona-fide celebrity. Well Kind of.

This guy Daniel Faraday (Jeremy Davies) on Lost was in Starbucks on the strip this morning, I'll wager my campaign on it.

thank you ABC.

OK so why is this important?

As we all know (or at least those addicted to the show like me and my wife) Knoxville has a special place in the makers of Lost's heart.

We have been the site of a highly selective ad campaign and one of the main characters is from here (Sawyer).

So here is my theory:

There is an episode (or at least some scenes) being filmed here. Knoxville has a decent media industry, not that that is required, but it is a plus.

I would love to know anything about next season as the makers are so incredibly tight about everything they do.

So let us know if you have had any similar sightings.

Friday, June 20, 2008


No, not my favorite wings place ("for the food")- I mean the bloodthirsty motorcycle gangs that have invaded Knoxville! Well, sort of. Most of them seem more the upper-middle-class-middle-aged type. However there's no way not to notice when the Honda Hoot is in town. Knoxville has literally filled to the brim with motorcycles.

I'm not sure what they actually do for five days, but the "Beans, Beans, and More Beans" event on the schedule sounds fun. Basically it's a mystery to me. Everything I know about Motorcycle Culture comes from this scene:

I remember watching this when I was six and thinking, "Uh oh... how's Pee Wee gonna get himself out of this one?!" I learned that the power of love always prevails... and how to dance. I wonder if The Satan's Helpers are coming to the Hoot?

Uber-Lame Post

Don't forget you can vote for me again today everybody... please... vote for me.

"John Spellings, Your Favorite Bald Guy Running for County Commission . "

Thursday, June 19, 2008

silly for thursday

As Stan prepares to trek back to India and I prepare to trek back to Amsterdam, we're (at least the two of us) a little preoccupied at the wigshop these days. We do have some tricks up our sleeves, though. (Not at all like the tricks that are regularly turned down on Depot Ave. Zing! Or are they? Zing!).

Try not to get too excited about what all of these could mean. For all you know, they're completely meaningless:

Vote, Vote, Vote

So another shameless plug by The Pol about himself. is running a straw poll for the district 1A race (also the 2b and property assessor races). So go here, scroll down, and cast your ballots. You can vote once a day, and yes I will be reminding you everyday to vote.

It's a great website anyways and a fantastic resource for the upcoming election. So sorry if this annoys you, kind of sorry.

Help the Pol (John Spellings) win an online vote. Please.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

OOPS, did I leave that torch on?

This was the scene on Gay St. yesterday at about 6:30PM. The Crimson Building (I think that's the name of it) caught fire... again. Anyways, this time it wasn't so bad- just a little smoke and such, no flames and no mass evacuation. Just glad we had a fire station two blocks over.

Please stop trying to burn down our cool old buildings. Seriously. But later that evening I walked by and everything seemed fine. Even the work lights were on, so maybe it wasn't really a big deal.

Monday, June 16, 2008

terror in the 'burbs! or "drop and play dead"

Something besides "The Bruce" is Loose in Knoxville. A black bear is evading capture and roaming the backyards of West Knoxville. Dude has been raiding bird feeders for snacks and savagely dismembering small yappy dogs. That last part may have been a bit of an exaggeration, but it's how I like to imagine what I would do if I was a bear rampaging in the suburbs. Rest assured, I'm sure this morning many mommies did not let their lil' darlings out to tinkle on the lawn just in case.

Anyhoo, as of publishing time Mr. Bear has been making a mockery of police attempts of capture thanks to West Knoxville's low density zoning and lush overlandscaping. Having a virtual cornucopia of tree houses, barbecue porches, and golf bunkers to hide in, the bear may actually be safer from capture than it's ever been. However we know that here in downtown the bear would have been rapidly spotted and and killed by our equally rabid homeless population and that he would be grilling on a bonfire beneath the interstate interchange by now. This brings to mind one previously unanticipated benefit of our ring of superhighways:
Bear Fence

[Update] Mr. Bear has been caught.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

First One Sighted

...You're my only hope. (sorry I was on my bike and didn't want to incur his wrath.)

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, June 12, 2008

MMMM Mexican...

Yesterday I met a wonderful pal for lunch at the brand new El Mezcal Mexican restaurant off Forest Park in Bearden (11110 Kingston Pike # 127-130 Knoxville, TN 37934). They are currently offering a half-off draft beer special to commemorate their opening. We didnt drink any beers, but I thought that bit of tasty news merited mention. I had lunch special #3, a taco and rice and beans; and my dearest friend had a fajita taco salad. Both were from the lunch menu.

This is the second time this friend and I have visited El Mezcal. She and I have also, on many occasions, visited other Knoxville Mexican restaurants. Why? Because Mexican food is a sweet and delicious gift from our friends down south; it is a taste explosion; it is heaven on a plate and a tattoo on my heart.

I love it. I really do.

And as I sat with my lady at El Mezcal, I formulated a list of all the tastes of Mexico Knoxville has to offer. I certainly havent tried them all, but I have tasted some of the best.

My favorite Knoxville Mexican restaurant is Senor Taco on Broadway. (3325 N Broadway St. Knoxville, TN 37917). I love this place. It's just a quick little jaunt from home, and it's selection is a little more authentic. This is to say that it's not as Americanized as a lot of Mexican restaurants can be (not that there's anything wrong with that, but this is just something a little different). Senor Taco has a great ala carte taco selection: chicken, ground beef, asada, carnitas, tongue, fish...the list is longer than that, but that's the off-the-top-of-my-head glance. My manfriend is Colombian, and he really likes Senor's tacos. Especially the more, should I say, daring ones. Other menu perks are delicious tostadas and cevice. We usually get a cevice to share as an appetizer. Then I like to order two or three (depending on how hungry I am) different tacos and a side of beans. And a big margarita. Their margaritas are delish. And they've got daily food and drink specials, big ol' draft beers, and a salsa bar. Yum!: pickled carrots and jalapeños. Creamy jalapeño salsa. All kind of other salsas. Fresh cilantro, lime... Senor Taco's a little bit of a dive, which is what I may love most of all about the place. I always feel at home there.

Another joint close to my heart is Soccer Taco on Bearden Hill. (6701 Kingston Pike Knoxville, TN 37919). Soccer Taco is a Mexican sports bar, with a myriad of TVs airing Hispanic sporting events from all over the world. (And of course the Vols). Soccer Taco's salsa is the best in town. I could drink it. Also, when I want to splurge on some sinful treats, Soccer Taco is the place to get really great cheese dip or nacho fajitas. Their Carnitas and Carne Asada entrees are both Em and Manfriend approved. And the Enchiladas World Cup are yummy, though I get those sans sour cream. Dont get me wrong: I like sour cream. Just not on enchiladas.

My good friend Lisa lives out Northshore way, so she's a regular at Casa Don Gallo (7741 S. Northshore Drive Knoxville, TN 37919). I like to sit at the bar here; and I also like the plain old beef tacos. A funny thing about me is that I was a vegetarian for superty long; but I do love me a good beef taco. The staff here is friendly; and on your way home you could stop in at Rooster's for a frat party beer.

When my dad visits from Michigan, he sometimes likes to go to Agave Azul in Western Plaza (4405 Kingston Pike Knoxville TN 37919) because he loves the Queso Fundi, which is a clog-your-arteries cheese dip with meats (beef or pork? - can't remember). I have to admit, it is really quite good. They have a fully stocked tequila bar, which can be quite fun.

I dont get to Pelancho's (1516 Downtown West Blvd. Knoxville, TN 37919) very often, but it's a fun place to dip into before seeing a movie at Downtown West. I do live for a giant margarita.

Once, when there was an accident on the Henley Street Bridge, Manfriend and I found ourselves temporarily stranded in SoKno, so we stopped in at the Cancun location on Chapman Highway (4409 Chapman Highway Knoxville, TN 37920). Not a bad place to kill two hours, but it's not on my list of must-eats.

Same goes for El Charro. (One of three locations is at 6502 Kingston Pike Knoxville, TN 37919). I have quite a few friends who swear that El Charro is the place to be, so maybe I just havent given it a fair shot. I'll put it on my list of re-visits.

I am not forgetting to mention Chez Guevara (8025 Kingston Pike # A Knoxville, TN 37919), but this place just doesnt do it for me. I'm not hating on it, because I know a lot of people love love LOVE this place. It's just, in my mind, not the Mexican du jour in this town. I guess I like down and dirty Mexican food; and Che Guevara seems to me to come with extra decoration.

Finally, my most favorite Mexican Restaurant in this area is La Carreta, which can be found in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Newport (761 Cosby Hwy Newport, TN 37821), among other places. Manfriend is from Newport, and we used to live down in Hartford, so we've frequented the Newport La Carreta for years. The Camarónes Diablo is disgustingly good. It's spiced perfectly (well, it's really HOT; and that's how I like it) and the shrimp are massive. They've got a good salsa and salad and their avocados are always fresh. They're also willing to fry up whole jalapeños for us. Yum! With a cold beer? Just the best. La Carreta has a high mark on my heart.

View Larger Map

And that's my list. Exhaustive? No. Just one woman's opinion about some good Mexican eating. Please leave your comments about your favorites and feel free to review any place I may have left out.

living in the ghetto? enhance that mood!

I saw this at the Western Ave. Pilot, or, as I'm starting to lovingly call it- Ghetto Pilot. "Neuro Fuel" apparently gives you "Motivation" and "Happiness" with its "Mood Enhancement Formula." Yes! Judging from the unmotivated characters hanging around Ghetto Pilot they'll be selling caseloads of it.

Does anyone else feel like recently a lot more of this kind of crap has appeared? Is the "energy drink" industry is really pushing the envelope of legal drugs? Or is it just misleading advertising?

I guess I figure I get enough chemicals in my body from good ol' Knoxville air without putting Neuro Fuel in there.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

broken glass, broken dreams

on monday night around 8:00, i parked my car on the gay st. viaduct. admittedly, i had a brief premonition that parking the car at the northern corner (closest to regas) could be a bad idea. at roughly 8:30 tuesday morning, i walked to my car and found this:
yes, that is a broken glass and yes, that is a brick lying on the driver's seat. s/he/they threw it through my passenger window. if you can get past the image of someone throwing a brick into the window of a honda civic, try to imagine this: we keep nothing of value in our car. but maybe my disbelief reflects naivety.
here's the list of the objects the perpetrators carried off:
-1 first genration ipod nano
-1 silver ring
-1 ipod FM transmitter
making the total value somewhere below the $99 mark.

seriously, talk about a disappointment for the brick tosser.

glass doctors charged me $260 to repair the window and vacuum up most of the glass (not a bad deal, considering they come to you).
there's not much point to this post, other than a chance for me to complain and share some depressing pictures. if you feel remotely unsettled about the place you park, i suggest not parking there. at the same time, i wasn't in a extremely removed place either.

i'm sure some of wiser readers (i'm looking in your direction, smoochies--our ever present naysayer) are already licking their chops by this point in the post, thinking of their cleverest, choicest mean-spirited comments regarding urban living in knoxville. bring it, you cold hearted bas--i mean, play nice, friends, it's bad enough dealing with theft, hearing the chorus of "i told you so" might make me do something drastic. like, move to st. louis.

but in all seriousness, shit does happen. if we, as a blogging community want bring some positive little moral out of my shattered car window, we could start with discussion regarding security and homelessness in knoxville--not necessarily a new conversation for this blog, but one worth endlessly debating.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Wanna be famous?

The Crown and Goose wants a Jingle
. You can write it.

Sunday NY Times on Us

OK for those of you who didn't see, the NY Times did a piece in their travel section on our little city, or "Austin without the hype" as they so noted.

I'm sorry but all in all this piece was terrible. It starts off with the opening line of: "Knoxville is often called "the couch" by people who live there. The Couch? What on earth does that mean? Who calls it the Couch? Who did they talk to? And it kind of goes downhill from there.

K-town, Knoxvegas... they mention all of our nicknames, then swing into, "... Appalachia of roots music, locavore food, folk art and hillbilly pride." Hmmm. Need I say more.

There are some nice pictures of Magpies, and Yee-haw. We even almost get a mention towards the end when they are talking about our city's crown jewel and the Wigshop's inspiration (the Sunsphere).

The review goes over a bunch of local places to see and things to do, Tomato Head, Crown and Goose, Pres. Pub, WDVX, and Market Square stuff all get the nod. Even Litton's gets squeezed in there.

Over all though it was a comical letdown. Last time we were in the Times, Lumpy was what we had to offer to the nation as our best.

I'm not sure if i'm going to start calling K-town "the couch" anytime soon but I do know that I won't be looking to the NY Times for travel advice anymore.

Write-In Spellings, He has loads of Hillbilly Pride

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Big Don The Costumier

two things dawned on me recently: 1. i haven't posted in a while and 2. i've never been inside big don the costumier. while the first realization i instantly wrote off as a natural result of my very important and busy life, the second was not so easy.

i resolutely put off going in for a few weeks, claiming to both my friends and enemies that "a post was in the works" or "just wait until i get that big don's post up"--fruitless attempts to delay the inevitable. the shop stared at me every time i walked by, a squat troll challenging me to step inside and into the wonders or horrors of big dons.

once inside, i realized my skittishness was both silly and with merit at the same time. the place is a treasure trove of strange masks, headdresses, and dinner gowns among many, many other things. the store is also a maze--one pile after another strewn about seemingly without discretion. some of them seem to go to the ceiling.

i believe my favorite was the mask room. though the picture below isn't great, you can see a traditional asian looking red, burly thing, a troll wearing a turban, and godzilla. its like going to the toy store!

below is the other side of the mask room. see what i mean about the piles? they just don't stop. while i was there i woman was trying on outfits. she disappeared behind what looked like an endless rack of clothes. after a few seconds, i heard a door open and close. apparenlty there is a dressing room somewhere in big don's as well but i couldn't find it.

notice the suit of armor in the back right. he sometimes makes an appearance on the street. but only on particularly nice days, or when there is an impending dragon.

and of course one can't help but wonder about the charlie chaplan figure below. i suppose if i had a balloon shaped like a frog (or monkey?) head i would tie it my cane as well, but do you lose both the can and the balloon if you let go? these are real questions.

the truly amazing part about big don's (endless costumes aside) is that its been around and in the same location for 31 years. seriously. so sometime in the year 1977 (coincidentally, the year star wars was released--probably increasing big d's costume and customer supply at least 25%, ballpark) big don's was open for business. my mind can't help wondering what the warehouse district looked like in the 70's--this is around the time the bijou was showing "adult art" films.

View Larger Map

the owner and her family have been a part of the area for years as well. her mother and aunt purchased property across the street in the 40's. if you go, make sure you ask her about the place.

for all its strangeness, big don's is a knoxville treasure and a great place to get some good costumes. so next halloween, birthday party, or 'casual day' at work go by and pick up something nice.

Monday, June 02, 2008

My morning View

OK so the picture quality isn't the best, but thats what you get with a camera phone. I took this right outside of my building overlooking the bridge during the foggy morning yesterday. Thought it was cool. Notice how there are no tops to some of the light poles and fortunately, Baptist was blocked as well.

Strawberries! Near Knoxville!

Several people have asked me for details about where I picked strawberries the other day. So, here goes:

Strawberry Knob Farms
3250 New Hwy 68
Madisonville, TN 37354
Monday - Saturday 7am - 7pm

"Located 1/2 Mile between the Lost Sea and East TN Feed and Seed!"

Strawberries are 8-dollars for a full gallon. They're easy to pick and a gallon fills quickly. They were small, sweet and delicious!

And you can hit up the MexiWings IV on your way back to the interstate.