Tuesday, December 22, 2009

still constructing sushi

I had this flier on my car this morning:

Looks like the 100 Block construction project is taking its toll. Admittedly, I had not been to Nama in quite some time since back in October, I put myself on a strict social budget. But last week, some good friends were in town and a group of us went to Nama on Thursday night. I had forgotten how good it is.

Since I live on the 100 block, it makes me sad every time I walk past Nama and Havana only to see that they're pretty much empty. A lot of times, Nama still appears to be crowded, but the crowds are nothing like they used to be back in the day. I suppose it's a double whammy - the construction project combined with the fact that a lot of people have lighter wallets these days.

Hopefully Nama's new promotion will carry them through the lighter times. I can't wait until the construction project is finished and the 100 block is bustling again with residents and visitors. In the mean time, I encourage visitors to come and dine at the two great restaurants on the block. Nama's got their half off promotion, and Havana always has dollar and two-dollar drafts.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tour Delight

For the most part, I maintain a quiet love for Knoxville, but every so often that love grows more exuberant. Last night was one of those times; I attended the "Tour de Lights" neighborhood bike ride hosted by Knoxville Regional Bicycle Program.

I'm not positive how many cyclists showed up, but it had to have been at least 200. Man, woman, child were decked out in Christmas attire, their bikes adorned in lights and tinsel.

The route started in Krutch Park, weaved through downtown to North Knoxville, and back again. Police stopped all vehicular traffic as we rode though intersections. People came out of their homes or stopped on sidewalks to wave and shout, "Merry Christmas!" which we gladly shouted back. It's probably the closest I'll ever feel to being like George Bailey running through the streets of Bedford Falls.

To top off the experience, there, waiting for us at the finish line, was hot chocolate and cookies. All of it made me quite happy to be a Knoxvillian, to be a part of what's going on downtown, and to know that there are many (crazy) people who feel the same way.

If you're interested in knowing when the next ride is, might I suggest befriending the Knoxville Regional Bicycle Program on Facebook. Otherwise, check out their website.

Monday, December 14, 2009

convenient fish bait

I saw this little gem in Fountain City the other day. It is right next to the new Super Kroger.

I have never imagined a fish bait vending machine before, but if I did it would look a lot like this one. I think the prices were around $3 for each type. Sadly the store is closed and is likely to never open again. See below. I'm sure he's just out fishin'.

Friday, December 11, 2009

nokno in the morning

In the town where I went to college, there were these old men that used to sit near the front door of the town coffee shop to read the newspaper and talk politics. My roommate and I referred to them as “the gate-keepers of the city.” They were loud and funny, and one of them wore a kilt pretty often. Practically anyone visiting or living in town stopped in at least once a week for morning coffee, mostly because there was really nowhere else to go for a bite and cup of joe. And the coffee was good. When you entered the place, it was a rule that you had to greet the gatekeepers.

I see this same small town morning culture growing in North Knoxville. (To my knowledge, the wigsphere hasn’t reviewed Rankin yet, but it will) This morning I had the second opportunity to try the new best breakfast place in town, Mrs. Goodstuffs. This week marks the 10th week of operating in their new location, just north of town between Fellini Kroger and Happy Hollow. It sits in a small strip-like building across from St. Mary’s on Woodland. It is technically on the frontier of the Old North Knoxville neighborhood.

The summer before last I lunched at their previous (and much smaller) pad in North Hills, but I must say, this location suits them much better. Its really spacious in the dining area, and you have your pick between retro laminate tables in front and booths in the back. Back in North Hills there was room for, honestly, 4 tables and it was packed.

I got there early and my friend who I planned to meet hadn’t arrived yet. I walked to the counter to order, and a polite mohawked man offered a seat to me while I waited. He brought me coffee and made sure that I had the newest Metro Pulse in hand while I waited. The menu is simple: your standard eggs, bacon and toast (with coffee for $4!), French toast, two sizes of pancakes (literally pan-sized- these could feed a small family), pretty much your standard fare. Apparently the large stack of pancakes is so big that our Mohawk fellow offered to buy them for my friend if ate them all. But he settled for the half stack.

I stuck with the basic meal, 2 eggs, 3 strips of back on two slices of toast, with coffee and added a side of hashbrowns ($1.25). For $5.25 I don’t think there is a better deal in town for sit-down, home-cooked breakfast. It’s hard to go wrong with this kind of meal, but seriously, the quality of the food (and lack of greasiness compared to other places) is definitely worthy of my support.

From others’ reviews this place has a really good lunch menu (especially their signature sandwiches). They also claim the best burger in town. Don’t look into the dessert case or else you’ll feel like you need about 4 of their desserts to take with, or maybe just all that is left of their pumpkin chess pie. Make a trip to North Knoxville in the morning sometime. With their space, they could have musicians line up for an early morning jam, or students sprung across the booths preparing for class. It’s definitely worthy of an early morning visit, with or without the "gatekeepers of North Knoxville."

Mrs. Goodstuffs Cafe
1008 E. Woodland Ave.
(865) 971-3199
(google points to their old location on Fairmont Ave.)
Hours: Tuesday - Friday 6am - 5pm
Saturday 6am-4pm
Closed Sunday and Monday

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Merry Drunkmas?

This is one of the more interesting things happening this weekend that is off most community calendars' radar.

In an effort to raise funds to put a roof on the Mary Boyce Temple House, Brian Pittman (the owner) is hosting a Hobo Cabaret at his house tomorrow night, Friday, December 11. The admission is by donation, but he wants you to come even if you can't give much.

There will be two performances, one at 8 and one at 10pm. There will be drinks and snacks and a little crassness (leave the kiddies at home) And don't forget to dress warmly. It is, after all, a hobo cabaret. 

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

100 Block update

I saw this the other day and realized... this repair might take longer than I thought.

On the plus side though, there should be some very nice (and sturdy) sidewalks. Also I'm hoping for a few underground storefronts. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Flower power

I love flowers in a big, big way, so I love that The Flower Pot on Gay Street loves to give away free flowers to people of a certain name every day. The other day as I was walking by, they were giving away free flowers to people named Holly and Charles.

Apologies for the poor camera phone quality.

I've never been by on a day when they're giving away a free flower to anyone named The Modern Gal, but let me know if you see that they are (since I don't get to walk by every day.)

The Flower Pot is at 700 S. Gay St. on the same block as Dazzo's. It's also at 2314 N. Broadway across from the Fellini Kroger.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

this week in review

I made sure to have my camera on me this past week to catch all of the different festivities happening in downtown Knoxville recently. Here are a few highlights.

Above: Ice skating in Market Square on Monday.

   The Christmas parade on Gay Street Friday night. Above are some pretty cute VW bugs, and below, who else but Frosty the Snowman on a dump truck.

 Above: At Lox Salon on First Friday for a show themed around the highly esteemed PBR.

Above: The snow covered valley of Townsend. I had the pleasure of waking up to this Saturday morning. I don't think I've never witnessed this much snow in Tennessee before.

Hope y'all had a merry week as well!

Friday, December 04, 2009

O First Friday, O First Friday

It's that time again, kids. I hear there may be some snow in our future. Wouldn't it be awesome if it snowed in time for today's First Friday events? But just in case there isn't, there's still the annual Christmas Parade that kicks off at 6:30 p.m. on Gay Street to get you into the holiday spirit.

I'm so pleased to announce that our very own B will be kicking off her own show, A jaunt through Knoxville, at La Costa tonight. She's showing many small screenprints that would make fabulous Christmas gifts (hint hint). If you stop at the bar while you're there, ask for the 'artist's special.' $2 Negra Modelos and Coronas and $4 glasses of Santa Rita 120 Sav Blanc and Snoqualmie Organic Merlot. If you can't make it to catch B's work today, you're in luck because it will be up all month.

And since you'll be out at La Costa tonight, check out these other fine First Friday offerings while you're out:

-- I'll Have What She's Having! at Lox Salon in the Old City. This is a photography show that's really a party. The artists are savvyKAT and Action Jackson and the music is by DJ Whorse (formerly DJ brothersteve). PBR and possibly spiced cider. Anyone who's ever been to Sassy Ann's knows PBR and dancing to great music is the perfect recipe for warmth.

-- Lonely House by Erin Pischke at the Birdhouse in Fourth and Gill. Erin spent two years living in Guatemala and adopting Guatemalan culture. She's created a video installation based on her time there. I love how she describes the installation ... 'The videos are Martha Rosler-esque in their simplicity, but are bilingual in their silence and cross-cultural in their imagery.'

-- Apophenia and the Great Escape by Karley Sullivan at 121 S. Gay St. Karley recalls her methods of escape while growing up in Knoxville in a series of paintings. There will be music and boxed wine too!

-- The Holiday Extravaganza at the Emporium (Friday and Saturday). Affordable crafts and handmade gifts by local artists are available for purchase. There will also be art, music and dance.

I hope your First Fridaying is merry and bright!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

A different kind of bbq quest.

Put your money where your mouth is.

Last Wednesday I saw someone do just that. The Wigshop was contacted by a gentleman to let us know of a very interesting monthly event that most people would never see or hear of. Mrs. The Pol and myself took off under the maze of overpasses between Western Ave. and Ft. Sanders in search of the Lost Sheep Ministries.

You may have heard of Lost Sheep before. They're the people who go to the homeless and needy, giving food and clothes trying to meet them where they are in their own environment.

That's where I met Joe. Joe is not a part of Lost Sheep, but piggy backs their mission. Joe is just a regular guy who saw a need, wanted to help, and stepped up.

Joe makes Barbeque, really, really good Barbeque and lots of it. He makes this Barbeque specifically for the homeless. Once a month he smokes close to 500 lbs of beautiful pork shoulders, the same he would cook for family, friends, or clients.

It was an impressive sight. Joe in his smoking trailer and cooking gear, working his heart out to serve people who would seem unlikely candidates for the first servings of great food, but that was his point. Joe told me he was convicted by the notion giving the needy the first portion, the best portion, not just the leftovers. In his mind, that is an important symbol for these people to see. That they are not just an afterthought getting whatever remain, but worthy of time and consideration and sacrifice.

There were hundreds of people there. The homeless and needy were streaming out of the woods and along the railroad tracks, there were volunteers with Lost Sheep and volunteers with Joe. They worked with the homeless to prepare the meal and set up everything, there was kindness in the chaos.

[UPDATE: For those wanting to help out, Joe says he will be continuing his barbecue with Lost Sheep the last Wednesday of every month for as long as he can.]

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

blogging and holidays

Hey guys- holidays really cause a lot of havoc for our schedule here at the Wigshop. Many of us are out of town and, you know, we have real jobs and stuff that keep us busy. So posting will be sporadic this month- but don't give up on us! Holiday time means lots of great stuff to do in Knoxville, and we'll do our best to bring it to you here.

As a heads up, this Friday is one of the best First Fridays of the year. Local artists (including one Wigshopper) will be out in full force to meet your creative shopping needs. Make sure to go out and spread some wealth in the local economy instead of corporate chains, or at least go see some good art.

The Christmas Parade is happening that night too- maybe one of the Knoxvillest things that happens in town. The floats show a cross section of our culture: basically, if you have a tractor and some tinsel, you're in the parade. So come on downtown, watch some funky floats, roast marshmallows on an open fire, and go to some galleries. It makes for a great evening! (More info will probably follow later this week).

Cheers, CK

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

BBQ Quest: Sapphire's Barbecue Nachos

I found myself at Sapphire last night as part of a mini Tweetup happy hour with some lovely Knoxville ladies. Since I got off work late, I knew I had to fill my stomach if I was going to drink. By chance, one of my companions ordered the BBQ nachos appetizer and after trying a bit of what she left on her place (and there wasn't much by the time I got there), I knew I had to order my own.

CK mentioned trying Aubrey's barbecue nachos a while back, and I want to reiterate how wonderful it is to put pulled pork on things other than a white bun or plate. In the city of Memphis (I hear your collective groans), you can find pulled pork and many traditional fares like pizza (not to be confused with barbecue chicken pizza), nachos and salads.

Sapphire does a good job of making their barbecue nachos slightly upscale and Sapphire-like while still keeping them tasty. The restaurant gets its pork from Full Service BBQ in Maryville (which is still on my list). The nachos are also topped with your typical nacho toppings like sour cream, jalapeno peppers, a light cheese sauce but also comes with sweet, tangy, Memphis-style barbecue sauce on top too.

Delish, and a good barbecue option if you're either A. Downtown or B. Not in the mood for a full-out barbecue meal.

428 S Gay St.
Knoxville, TN 37902

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Three Cheers

Remember this post? Well looky looky:

Restoration of a dream: Architect working on house he wanted as a 10-year-old boy

I just wanted to say how happy I am for B. Pittman. We're rooting for you at the Wigshop HQ.

From the looks of things on Henley and Hill, his baby is shaping up rather nicely.

Friday, November 20, 2009

some upcoming fun for market square

If you haven't heard, tomorrow is the last Market Square Farmer's Market of the year. Head downtown tomorrow between 9 and 2 to enjoy some local goodies in one, convenient location for the last time year!

Also tomorrow, Imogen Heap will be playing a sold out show at the Square Room. While the show has been sold out for some time and I'm not sure you'll have any luck scoring last minute tickets, it's really great to see such a superb act come to Knoxville. I bet that even if you can't attend the show, the square will be busier than ever tomorrow night. I'm so pleased that the Square Room continues to work hard to bring us unique acts like Imogen Heap. And good for them...they've got several sold out shows on the books in the next few weeks!

Finally, next Friday we'll see the return of Market Square's ice skating rink! What a fun way to celebrate the holidays!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

the homeless: another downtowner's perspective

I wrote a comment on the Pol's latest dissertation, but it was so long I decided to make it a full fledged post. I want to preface this by saying I respect what The Pol is saying. I've known him for quite some time and I know he's a feather ruffler. He wants people to think, and he does a pretty dang good job at it.

I wanted to share my perspective on the issue as someone who lives near downtown and has interacted with a lot of homeless people since I've lived in Knoxville.

Call me a simpleton, but I've always thought the issue of homelessness runs a lot deeper than what government will do for the homeless. I think it's easy for downtowners to have a holier-than-thou attitude concerning the matter. The recent controversy about the County Commission's decision has made me realize that downtowners feel like we are bearing the brunt of this problem and are resentful about people who don't want to share the load. But if you are a downtowner, may I pose the question: How are you physically helping the problem aside from complaining about it or blaming others? I know I have to ask myself this a lot.

Homelessness has been a problem in Knoxville far longer than I've lived here, and I think downtowners can be just as negligent about this issue as people out West. There are probably just as many North Knoxvillians who want to transplant the homeless shelters from Broadway and Magnolia to a more desirable location- out of sight.

No matter where there is talk of building more shelters or homeless housing, nearby residents will complain. All this is to say, as downtowners we can't make a sweeping claim that we accept the homeless out of any love or care. Most downtowners accept homeless people just because we have no other choice.

I think the decision to refuse homeless housing out West reflects the opinions of most of Knoxville, not just people out West. Yes, as downtowners, we've learned to be cordial to the homeless when they panhandle us on our way to work, but that's not enough. Our cordiality isn't pulling anyone out of their hopeless state.

The homeless problem is not just where are we going to put these people. The problem is how, as citizens of Knoxville, are we going to love and care for the homeless to help give them the best life possible, whether they are grateful or not, whether they change or not. Then we change the question of "What are we going to do with them?" to "How is MY thinking and perspective wrong regarding the homeless? What can I do to help?"

I am a firm believer that you don't have to join the Peace Corps to help people in need. You don't need to move to a leper colony to help people the way Mother Teresa did. Knoxville has its work cut out for it. I personally don't think anyone should be allowed to make decisions on the homeless until they've hung out outside of Knox Area Rescue Ministry, but what is my opinion worth... I'm not in politics.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Homeless? Not MY Problem!!

Seriously, why are West Knoxvillians being complete and total d-bags?

Ok so maybe not all of them wanted to keep the homeless, well, homeless. But enough of them did that the County Commission voted overwhelmingly to make sure that the homeless were not exposed to the horrors of suburban life. (Again why do we have dual government?)

It infuriates me to no end to know that two hundred people turned out at a meeting the other evening to talk about how the homeless didn't need to live at Lovell Rd. and Pellissippi, while these are probably the same people who donate to the Love Kitchen and KARM. Stop living your dual lives of not having to see anything unpleasant while pretending to care about the "sufferings of others"!

Heaven knows you wouldn't want you 8th grader to know that there are people who are trying to get their lives together living near them. No sir, lets build them a nice complex off Magnolia Ave. where people like THEM should live.

My favorite question from the forum the other night, "Don't we have any say where these people live?" And the response, "You don't have any say in where they live just a you don't have any say where African-Americans live."

It's time for a reality check for our suburbanite citizens. You don't get to have your cake and eat it too. You don't get to live 15 minutes from downtown, use city services and enjoy the benefits, without having to do you part in a joint effort to solve real problems (i.e. The Ten Year Plan).

No, the homeless aren't pretty, but we're not talking about putting the pan-handlers in Turkey Creek (Though they would do alot better) we're talking about housing for people who are taking steps to improve their situation in life. To no longer rely on handouts and to become "productive" citizens and maximize the abilities and talents that they have.

Time for some shame and guilt. I'm sick of hearing people I work with out west talk about how they don't like downtown because of the homeless people. Well guess what, here is an attempt to solve one of your complaints and if you would simply accept a mild amount of unpleasantness the 2 times a week you drive by some new apartments or see a KAT bus, it might not be as big a problem as it once was. I'm sure there would be some landscaping so maybe you wouldn't even have to see the buildings.

Or you can continue to be self-righteous navel gazers who think that if you build a big enough gate around your subdivision it will all be ok.

PS - Don't use the liquor store argument- it's not like alcoholics wouldn't just ride the bus to buy a drink anyways. It's just a cop out and again these people are trying to clean up their lives.


The liquor store argument was simply that there was a liquor store withing 2 minutes of the proposed location, which naturally made that site a "terrible" choice.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Wonderful Place

"Thank you!!"

The title is true, but the situation was anything but. On Saturday my dog decided that she would go on an adventure. She sprinted across Western Ave. south on 17th not to be seen for 4 hours.

To me, this would be enough for a post but the real focus is on a great organization we have here in Knoxville, Young-Williams Animal Center. After giving up my foot search I headed out to Young Williams on Sutherland.

First, on the phone, the girl who answered was very sympathetic and kind. Second upon arriving I was directed to fill out a quick form and then taken right around all of the dogs that had been brought in (Which in my state was hard enough on its own.)

They let me know upon arrival that someone had called in with a description of a dog like mine which gave me hope. After the dog tour I called a very nice college student named Quinton who had Bella way up at 14th and bridge ave. But I digress.

Young Williams serves not only as a place to get a great pet (we got ours there), but also as a hub for lost pets for their owners. Their presence is well enough known that it only takes minutes for people to get reconnected with their missing loved ones.

Two important services, helping people find another family member and then helping to keep that family together. It's great that we have an organization like them in Knoxville that is well known enough that even our transient college students know about it.

Finally, this isn't anything more than a thank you post. The people at Young-Williams were helpful, kind, and encouraging. If you need a pet or a place to volunteer some time. Head over to Young-Williams, it's worth it.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Always open, even when it's closed

On my typical commute to and from downtown, I pass by good ole Mer-Mer's Bakery on the north end of Gay Street, right past 5th. First I'd like to comment on the name... but considering I don't really know what to say about a name like Mer-Mer's, I'll just bring attention to it.

Secondly, I'd like to know what, exactly, the owner is trying to suggest by constantly being open and closed at the same time. More often than not, their neon "open" sign is glowing while their closed sign is hanging on the door. It's so confusing, so baffling, and I love it.

photo by Tracy Jackson

Thursday, November 12, 2009

back in business

When I walked by the Crimson Building yesterday I heard unusual sounds emanating from it. Hammering and what sounded like a huge drill. There was new plastic covering the windows and the lights were on. Flory reported that it had been sold, and it seems the the new owners are proceeding poste haste. As much as I've grown accustomed to the neon green upper floor, I'm glad that such a prominent downtown building is finally going to be finished.

Does anyone know what the new plans are? Condo or rental? Completion date?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

We've got spirit. yes we do!

Happy Veteran's Day from the Wigsphere!

The Parade is starting now. So head on down to Gay St. to celebrate with your fellow Americans.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pubby Buddy

Just wanted to say that Pres Pub is now offering the "Pubby Buddy."

Before you get your shorts in a wad, this isn't some random guy to come shoot the breeze with you during your first 1.5 beverages at your favorite local pub. The Pubby Buddy is a whiskey (or whisky) shot and a PBR for $5! Pint night look out!

Friday, November 06, 2009

The second-to-last First Friday of the year

It's First Friday for November. Can you believe how fast this year has flown by?

I heard a radio spot the other day advertising First Friday in the District in Bearden, the fancy name given to the business district over there. According to the District's website, many businesses over there will offer special deals between 5 and 8 p.m. There aren't any details, but I'm willing to bet you could find some sales at Swagger, maybe the Runners' Market, clothing boutiques and a few art galleries. One of my favorite gift spots, the Southern Market, which features many handmade goods from local artists, is also a part of the District's association.

If you're not in the mood to brave the downtown crowds, this might be worth checking out. If you do, report back here!

Now on to the downtown First Friday goings on ...

-- Abode is celebrating it's birthday, and I'm hoping there will be cake! Rita's is celebrating its birthday too, and there may not be cake, but there will be $1 small cups of Italian ice and $1 small cones of frozen custard.

-- On the second floor of the Bijou through 7 p.m. will be a reception honoring young artists from local elementary schools, and their work will be on display. Familiarize yourself with these budding artists now, since you'll probably see them back in the FF lineup a few years from now.

-- Showing at the Birdhouse are Jessie Van der Laan & Robmat Butler.

-- Downtown wine + spirits = sale. Need I say more? Get $4 off a bottle of organic chardonnay and 10 percent off regularly price wine and beer.

-- Mast General Store is hosting hubcap artist Sarah Brobst, who turns used hubcaps into art.

Here's a complete listing of participating businesses and galleries. And a map too!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

It's green but... why?

OK so The Pol is confused about a recent addition to market square.

Could someone please tell me why we need a solar powered trash can? Isn't the trash can the original green tool. All of those anti-litter (keep it green) campaigns used the old style trash can with great success.

But now we need a solar powered trash can. Why? What does it do, besides hold a little more trash, that a regular trash can doesn't do?

Anyways, I'm agin' it. Hopefully the city didn't pay anything for it.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Saw this on the way home from work today. I'm assuming the rest of it will say "Coca-C" at some point. I'm so happy they are repainting this! I was just mentioning to my girlfriend the other day that I wish they would repaint those things. Wish granted.

This is at the corner of Central and Broadway.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The List

OK so both of our readers who want to know how we (Meaning the Pol) think the election should turn out here goes.

I've got my picks for city council and they all have, generally, the same theme.

Pro-growth, downtown oriented, record of service, and least like a sheister.

So here goes

District One

Robert Marlino

District Two

Duane Grieve

District Three

Gerry Holman

District Four

Nick Della Volpe

District Six

Daniel Brown

Polls open at 8 and close at 8. you really have no excuse for not voting if you live in the city. it takes 4 minutes of your day. So don't be a lazy bum, though I'm pretty sure even the bums are voting in this one.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Quick Reminder

Remember, tomorrow is election day here in K-town.

Go HERE for your polling place and to see a copy of the ballot. Stay tuned for endorsements on the morrow.

The city council election will be particularly important for the continued growth of downtown Knoxville as we need to make sure the leadership in government matches the direction of the citizenry.

Friday, October 30, 2009

a few observations while walking

My delightful lunch bike ride came to an abrupt stop today with a flat tire. Sadly, yours truly has not gotten a new patch kit (depleted from so much glass on our streets) so I had to walk back to work. However, it did give an opportunity to observe and take some pictures. I came upon what might be my favorite architectural feature downtown:

Just up Church Street I saw something interesting:

I've heard rumors that there's a historic building hiding under that green brick travesty- is that exploratory demolition I see? Hopefully the owners find something worth saving and get rid of that awful skin.

Finally, I saw activity and a new sign at the woefully underused side of Koi on Market Square:

Looks like the "Dining District" will have yet another choice soon.