Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year, Knoxville!

Here at the Wigshop Headquarters, we've been so busy playing with all our Christmas toys that we've forgotten about why we are actually here- for you. The Pol, Max, and Robert have been playing guitar hero world tour, CK and Lo have been putting together an industrial sized easel my parents gave me, and Em and The Modern Gal have been playing with the Pol's new puppy dog. It's been a Merry Christmas, indeed.

But we're taking a break tonight to go to Market Square for First Night Knoxville. There's a ton going on, so check out the website. I hear there's even a ball that will drop when the clock strikes midnight. I'll be working, but what better a spot to witness all the festivities than LaCosta (come see me!)

Have fun tonight, Knoxville and remember to ring in the new year as responsibly as possible.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

merry christmas from the wigshop

Sorry we didn't get you anything! But since we haven't gotten any gift baskets from our adoring fans, I guess we'll call it even. Thanks for all the encouragement (and condescension, smoochie) over the past year. We hope you stick with us as we explore the highs and lows of Knoxville life in 2009. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

For Knox Heritage

Today was my last day as the Knox Heritage intern. I've been putting off writing about them and the reason I became interested in being their intern because it all hits a little close to home (pun unintended), but I thought today would be an appropriate day to tell you my feelings toward a certain urban haven in Knoxville.

I moved into Maplehurst Court about a year and a half ago. If you've ever lived there, I'm sure a whole slew of emotions is being conjured up at the moment. It's a beautiful neighborhood nestled between World's Fair Park, Henley Street, and the Tennessee River. I can see Neyland Stadium and Ayres Hall through the large plate glass window in my apartment. For Booms Day, all my neighbors and I had to do was walk down the street, and ever since I've been working in Market Square, I've only had a 7 minute commute on my bike. The trees are beautiful and large and the architecture is magical. Whereas parents' speak endearingly about their children, conversations in Maplehurst migrate toward cats. They are a common fixture in the yards and bushes, and most people know them by name. I can count on hearing the tapping foot of my upstairs neighbor as he plays his fiddle daily, and my landlord allowed my neighbor and I to start our very first organic garden right outside my door. In the summer, there are cookouts and lots of bluegrass under the dogwoods amidst three beautiful abandoned buildings.

In the midst of the beauty and eclectic nature of where I live, there is also a downside. The buildings are falling apart. Many of my neighbors' ceilings have fallen in. Over and over, they close down single apartments, then the whole building. There are three abandoned buildings that I walk by everyday, and they are beautiful. I am unabashedly in love with them.

Over the past year my friends and neighbors have hung out at night and talked about what we could do to save Maplehurst. There have been rumors for years that the owners were neglecting the buildings so that they would reach an unsalvageable point. Then the demolition of the buildings would take place and, lo and behold, a new space for large condos would become available. Why wouldn't some out-of-town developer not want to make the most (money) from such a great location?

The rumors made my neighbors and me pretty unhappy, and, to make a long story a little shorter, I ended up working at Knox Heritage to see how I could help. With no assistance from me, they announced that Maplehurst was one of their Fragile 15, a list of 15 buildings or areas that they would push to save over the next year.

Things are still up in the air for Maplehurst, but it seems that the current owners are doing their best to save what they can of the existing buildings. I realize now as I leave, preservation is far more complicated than I thought, and there are a lot of people that just don't care about it. There are also a lot of incredible people that do (i.e. Kim Trent, Becky Hancock, Hollie Cook, and now, Ethiel).

I'm sad to leave Knox Heritage but am also incredibly thankful for their work in Knoxville to preserve the beautiful and neglected structures in our city.

As a Christmas gift to them, I would like to encourage our readers to become Knox Heritage members, which can be as little as $25 a year to join.

I'll leave you with pictures of what I've endearingly called home and what I hope they can continue to help save.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tour de Lights

I don't have a bike here in Knoxville, but if I did, I would totally be participating in the Tour de Lights tonight. It starts at 7 p.m. at Krutch Park and includes an easy, 6-mile, fairly flat ride to see the lights of downtown and Island Home. There will be cookies and hot chocolate at Mast General Store after it's over. Don't forget your helmet!

For the especially enterprising soul, they're also having a contest for the best decorated person, bike and bike helmet.

Monday, December 15, 2008

you can't put a price on convenience

A relic of an era when everyone smoked all the time, the bronze toilet ashtrays at Marie's Olde Towne Tavern are still very relevant considering everyone at Marie's smokes like it's 1967. I guess nothing gets outdated if you never change.

Photo taken Saturday night while hanging with Wigshop founder Stan at downtown's best tavern.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Congrats to an Old Fave

So the missus and I were stopping by for a bottle or two at the Downtown Wine & Spirits and know what?

As we were looking around church bells started ringing, balloons fell form the ceiling, party hats and noise makers appeared for everyone from out of nowhere and there was an amazing party for all. Well no, but that could have been what happened. The guy in front of us in line put the Wine Shop over a special threshold.

He put the store over the $1 Million dollar in sales mark. It was a neat moment to see, they gave him a free bottle of champagne and the owner shook his hand. It was a quiet, but happy, moment.

I just put this up because it was an encouraging moment to see. We all know there are well run businesses downtown and they tend to be quiet about it. I was just glad to see it.

Friday, December 12, 2008

the square room rocks out

The Square Room, Knoxville's hottest (and best designed) concert venue has hit the ground running. Located on Market Square, it fills that void we've had for a place to see bands that's bigger than Barley's but smaller than the Bijou. After a debut with My Brightest Diamond (which, as Benjamin points out, was attended by none other than David Byrne) The Room continues with a double header this weekend:

Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors

Hailing from Nashville, Drew comes from the rock songwriting camp of John Cougar (Mellencamp). I saw him last year at Patrick Sullivan's, and it was a fun show. A must for anyone who likes story-based songs.

Ben Sollee

This guy I'm excited about. I would call him "a cello-playing Andrew Bird" and if you don't know what that means, you lose. Classical instrument-based indie pop may not be for everyone, but it should be. From Louisville to the north, Sollee also plays with the likes of Bela Fleck in the Sparrow Quartet, which if I have to explain that to you, you probably shouldn't come to the show. [end hipster superior tone]

Really, everyone should come out and hear some interesting music and support Knoxville's newest venue. Tell 'em ck sent you.*

*this doesn't guarantee anything, but try it- who knows?

The Sun(Sphere) Will Save Us All

Hello all ('all' being primarily defined as 'homeowners'), there are two big events going on this weekend. 

First off, there is a "Solar 101" workshop this Saturday from 10 - 12 at Ijams Nature Center in South Knox. The workshop will teach the basics of solar technologies that are available for home installation, such as solar electric, hot water, lighting, heating and passive solar design. It will also provide a step-by-step introduction for "going green" with your home. They will also look at financial incentives and options as well as hiring good installers. 

If you want to go, RSVP to Gil Melear-Hough at 

Next, from 11:30 - 2:00 on Saturday there is a ribbon cutting and open house for Knox Housing Partnership's seven new LEED Gold Certified affordable homes. It's at Five Points in East Knox (714 - 732 S. Chestnut St.) This is a pretty huge deal, since the only other LEED-certified house in TN is Al Gore's. The mayor will be there, and other big wigs, so be sure to wear your Sunday errrr ... Earth-conscious Best!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cafe 4 Photos

I made my second trip to Cafe 4 on Market Square yesterday to get some work done and drink lots of coffee and go out of my mind on caffeine. (and to perfect the art of writing run-on sentences and comma splices) The majority of my Saturday and part of my day yesterday were spent in the loft/mezzanine part of Cafe 4 sippin on some good coffee while editing. The place is very cozy and has dark areas which I really like. Usually if I'm trying to get work done (or hide from the law) I like to make the most of my time in some dark corner of a coffee shop. That said, Cafe 4 offers such a place. Don't get me wrong, it isn't all dark. The lighting and colors give it that classic coffee shop/cafe/Central Perk feel. I watched the snow come down Saturday afternoon as I sat warm inside thinking of how much I love the way downtown is growing.

See for yourselves in the photos, but they offer comfy furniture, decent music that is quiet enough to drown out with headphones (unlike a different coffee corporation that I'm thinking of), great coffee, flaky croissants, and super friendly worker bees. A couple of good friends of mine work there. Call me biased, but the baristas and other employees were friendly and focused on serving.

From what I have gleaned on my two visits this week I don't think that everything is fully functional. The espresso machine wasn't working, but since I don't drink espresso drinks that often it didn't matter. It will be up and running very soon though. It may be running right now. So forget what I just said. The restaurant part has not opened yet, but an inside source says the crab cakes are amazing. I don't know anything about the venue but I heard the My Brightest Diamond show was great. I'll be more excited when the espresso machine and restaurant are fully functional. As with any new joint, and especially one of that size, it takes a bit to work out the kinks. They'll get it though. That is about all I know. Just trying (not really) to be objective and play both sides here.

I'll post more on the rest of the place once I find out first hand what it is like. Go there. You won't be disappointed.

Here are some photos. Note the photo of our very own CK. He designed the left side of the cafe. Most of the photos except the last one are in that area. Kudos to him. The other dude is my good friend Ethan. He works there.

Here are some of my photos including the one at the top.

Coffee Stuff

The Mezzanine/Loft Area




Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Knoxville Voice

Alright Downtowners, I have a question for you? Do you live in a renovated warehouse cum apartment? And if so, can you hear your neighbor's every word, groan, moan, bite, belch, etc?

I moved to the Emporium in May, and have slept with ear plugs more times than I care to remember. Till now I've just shut my yap, as I was told that that's just the way Dewhirst works his renovation magic, but recently I talked with a fellow tenant in my building who has decided to break his lease and make a run for it. Apparently, the paper thin walls got the best of him - that, or reality sunk in and he realized that he's paying a hefty sum for a sub-par quality of life.
For reasons similar to my neighbor, I've been planning on escaping to the JFG building, but realized that it too is a Dewhirst and will probably have the same nonexistant level of care paid to its wall insulation.

So Downtowners: what buildings are good, and which one's can you hear your neighbors playing Wii at 4 a.m.? Thus far I know the Emporium, Sterchi and Fire Street have a bad rap, What buildings do you recommend? Which one's suck? Concerned citizens need the info!

PS: My neighbor is listening to Coldplay for going on 3 hours. Just thought you'd like to know.  

Monday, December 08, 2008

Updates on Cherries and the French Market

This is all according to the MetroPulse:

The French Market, which was opened recently by Allen Tate and located on Gay Street, is being kicked out of the Farragut Building. A California company bought the building recently and just told him he has until early next year to get out.

Apparently the business was doing well. I still haven't been, but definitely intended to.

I haven't heard any news about it recently, but Tate is hoping to fight the eviction because he signed a five-year lease.

Also in regard to Cherries Internet Cafe: "After being open for a few weeks, the cafe closed in November. Affordable Home Builders, a contractor who did renovations on the space, is suing the business for $43,909 in unpaid bills, according to court records." --MP

Let it snow , let it snow...

A few pics from the great blizzard of '08 on Saturday

Friday, December 05, 2008

the core of this city

I just looked back in posts before my day and realized this has been covered to an extent, but why not bring it back up. I already typed it out anyway so...

Something I've been tossing around in my brain and discussing with others for a few years now is this:

What is a hipster, and, why are they misunderstood?

Wikipedia says:
"In the late 1990s and during the 2000s, the 1940s slang term hipster was used to describe young, urban middle class and upper class adults with interests in non-mainstream fashion and culture, particularly alternative music, independent rock, independent film, magazines like Vice and Clash and websites like Pitchfork Media, and organic, vegan, or locally-grown food. In some contexts, hipsters are also referred to as scenesters.

It is difficult to give a precise definition of a hipster, because hipster culture is a "mutating, trans-Atlantic melting pot of styles, tastes and behavior[s]." One commentator argues that "hipsterism fetishizes the authentic" elements of all of the "fringe movements of the postwar era—Beat, hippie, punk, even grunge," and draws on the "cultural stores of every unmelted ethnicity" and "gay style", and "regurgitates it with a winking inauthenticity" and a sense of irony."

"...difficult to give a precise definition..."

I need more clarity than this. Is it my server at The Tomato Head? Is it the dude with tattooed sleeves at the Pilot Light? Is it the band of pirate-looking kids at Sassy Ann's?

Am I one? Are you one?

(CK, I think you are one. Pol, you're right. You're not)

Besides the fact that it's probably not P.C. to use labels, I've been wondering why a hipster doesn't want to be called a hipster. I've talked to some friends at the Tomato Head who deny that classification, but why? Why wouldn't you want to be deemed hip? When did the term become derogatory? Could it be because the unmainstream has become mainstream? Does it have negative connotations in regard to personality or character?

I think the hipster is underrated and under-appreciated in Knoxville. They've been supporting and employed in businesses downtown and in the Old City for years now.

I think it's time for non-hipsters to recognize that it is not the hipster's thick-rimmed glasses, sweet road bike, or Chuck Taylor's that make them apathetic, detached, or intimidating, but factors that run deeper. I think the hipster is misunderstood. It's time they embrace who they are and realize their significance to this city.

So whatever words or accessories you use to describe a hipster, hug one today. They probably need it. I know I would.

Editors Note: To underscore Big B's post, here's an oldie but a goodie, via Eating the Earth is Easy:

Thursday, December 04, 2008

It's the most wonderful time of the year

I finally got to see the Christmas trees and ice skating rink on Market Square and the holiday decor on Gay Street while lunching downtown yesterday. I think it was the most in-the-mood-for-Christmas I've felt yet this season.

First Friday returns tomorrow night, and because it's the last one before Christmas it's not your usual First Friday. More like First Friday drunk on spiked egg nog.

Many galleries will be hosting holiday-themed First Friday gatherings. Abode is having a Christmas bash, and our friends at Remedy Coffee are participating in their first First Friday.

And then, of course, at 7 p.m. is the Christmas Parade. I've participated in and watched a lot of Christmas parades in my time, but Gay Street seems to be the most classic location for one, 34th Street in NY aside. Julianne Hough is grand marshaling.

One last thing: A few of us Knoxville Twitter fanatics have decided to form a team for the Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis 5K on Dec. 13 at 10 a.m. We'd love for some more people to join our Twitmastwees team (mock if you will, I dig the name), and you don't have to be down with Twitter to run/walk with us. Sign up here or feel free to donate to the cause. If running/walking isn't much your thing, we'll be taking over some poor Market Square establishment after the race to indulge in food and drink. Meet us there.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

downtown market no more...

Maybe I'm the last one to hear this, but who knows. I am out of pasta sauce and don't feel like moving my car because it's in a really good spot. I'm not lazy; it's just a long story.

Anyway, I thought: yes! tiny market at World Grotto! how convenient!

I called to make sure they were still open, but I was informed that the grocery has already been taken down.

This place just cant find it's niche. I knew it wasnt going to be in groceries, but I thought it might last longer than that.

Monday, December 01, 2008

stay classy, ut

Does it seem to anyone else that UT is becoming a mess? I can't keep track of all the changes in administration over the past few years. Over the holiday I missed this weird gem of a news story....

Apparently Mrs. Petersen verbally abused a university donor (and made her cry) because she (the donor) felt that they (the Petersens) did not need new china with the president's logo on them. In the house the university pays for them to live in. Smart, real smart. Soon after she got in a fight with her husband in front of other bigwig donors. Classy.

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

Credit: Knoxville News-Sentinel
Title: "Classy Lady"

In other UT news: Some new dude will be the head football coach. Apparently it's a big deal.