Friday, January 30, 2009

the best free concert in town

This post has unfortunately been a long time in coming. These concerts have been going on for a few weeks, so forgive me for missing the scoop and letting our dear readers live in ignorance. So here it is:

Knoxville has secrets. It even has free secrets. Like the homeless guy who will backflip off a 6 foot fence for a dollar. OK- that's technically not a free secret. But it's cheap entertainment, like the following secret. It has three parts. First off, Knoxville has one of the best Bluegrass radio stations (if not the best) in the country. No kidding, it's bona fide.. The famous WDVX brings Bluegrass, not to mention Blues/Country/Roots/Americana music to the world and is based here in Knoxville. Secret Part Two: everyday they have a free live "Blue Plate Special" concert at noon at their downtown studio. That's not much of a secret anymore, though. It's been going on for years and has gained a cult status in downtown. The studio is small, however, and often you'll have to get there a half an hour early to get a seat. What to do? That's the third and newest part of the secret: every Friday WDVX migrates to The Square Room on Market Square and has a special full-size concert. And let me tell you- it's a phenomenal musical experience. You feel like you must of snuck in because there's NO WAY you could see music this good for free. Like a bouncer is gonna come drag you out the door any minute. But believe it, kids. WDVX is bringing excellent music to the people for no charge. Where else could you find this? Even if you're not into Bluegrass ect., I challenge you to come to a few of these concerts a see if you don't start getting into it. I wasn't a fan when I first came to Knoxville, but WDVX has since converted me. The Blue Plate also may be one of the easiest ways to get connected with Knoxville's general musical scene. Artists of all stripes, local and visiting, come through and play at WDVX. All you have to do is show up and listen. And if you have to pick one day to come, make it Friday.

Consider yourself informed.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

artists, an old house, and a bit of kindness

If you've been in Knoxville for a while and frequent downtown, you've probably noticed two different types of artwork in various businesses and even on the plywood wall that runs on Wall Street alongside Market Square: Spindly ink drawings of cathedrals by Brian Pittman and theatrical and romantic drawings of women with bobbed hair by Cynthia Markert.

My path crossed both Brian and Cynthia's during my internship at Knox Heritage. It seems we all share an affinity for old buildings.

Before I met Brian, he was already a hero of mine because he had bought the Mary Boyce Temple House on the corner of Henley Street and Hill Avenue. When I finally met him, I asked him to tell me about his house.

He told me that he's always been enamored with the house, that he'd wanted to buy it, fix it, and live in it one day. Through a savvy business deal he was able to purchase the house from Game Day properties who formerly owned Maplehurst (the owners that wanted to tear all of it down to build condos for football fans) Once he obtained the Temple House, he tried to sell his house in South Knoxville, right about the same time as the housing market plummeted. He's been working on the interior of the Temple House but can't move forward quickly until his house in South Knoxville is sold.

If you walk in front of the Temple House, you'll notice that one of Cynthia's women is on a piece of plywood on the front porch. It's been there for quite a while. Cynthia told Brian she drew this particular woman as a reminder for him to keep on moving ahead with the house, not to give up on it, that he did a good thing by saving it.

Through all of the frustrations of renovating a house and encounters with disgruntled people over the house's state, Brian told me Cynthia's drawing has worked; He's kept on going. Though several people have offered to buy Cynthia's drawing from Brian, he resists. The crowning fixture of the Temple House will be the installation of her artwork in his renovated dream home.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bijou Jubilee!

Remember when I told you about the Bijou buying a new marquee sign for its 100th year Jubilee celebration? Well that Jubilee celebration is officially here. I got the calendar of events in the mail the other day, and holy curtain call, Batman, the events are pretty much nonstop from Wednesday evening until Saturday night. And it's all either cheap or free to attend.

The event schedule is here, but I'll try to hit the highlights of some of the less-publicized events for you. (I'm guessing you've heard Henry Cho and Dave Barnes are playing?) Sorry if this is kind of event-calendery, I'm just really excited about some of this stuff.

The new sign will be lit Wednesday (tomorrow) at 5 p.m. on the sidewalk in front of the theater AND THERE'S FREE CAKE INVOLVED. I'm totally thinking about skipping out on work to eat free cake. And see the new sign, of course. At 7 p.m. is Tennessee Shines. I haven't been able to catch it in person yet, but I've listened to the broadcast and the music is always fantastic.

UT professor and author Michael Lofaro is giving a lecture on his restoration of Agee's "A Death in the Family" for $5 on Friday at 2 p.m. The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is a must-read for every Knoxvillian. Lofaro went through Agee's original manuscripts and rearranged (and added to and subtracted from) the novel in an effort to restore it back to the way he believes Agee wanted it to be (the book was edited and published after his death, so he didn't have a whole lotta say in the process). I've read Lofaro's version of the novel, and I must say it's different but I prefer it.

At 4 p.m. on Friday, Knox Heritage is giving a free tour of the theater and the Lamar House, and once again ... FREE. At 5:30 p.m., Knoxville's improv comedy troupe, Einstein Simplified, will be performing an hourlong show for $5.

OK, now here are my favorite two events: a showing of "Psycho" at 10:30 p.m. on Friday followed by a midnight ghost tour of the theater, both $5. The tour is hosted by ... get this ... the East Tennessee Paranormal Society. Awesome? I think so. I'm not sure I can handle these two on my own, so who's joining me?

Monday, January 26, 2009

big ears in k-town

Early February should be very exciting for the Knoxville music scene. The weekend of February 6 - 8 brings us what is being billed as a boutique music festival, Big Ears Festival.

It's a cross-genre music and arts festival experience, bringing Knoxville some legendary performers as well as up and coming young musicians. The experimental music festival will also include art installations, exhibitions, performance art, seminars and interactive experiences.

And it's hitting up a lot of the downtown venues: The Bijou, The Pilot Light, the Knoxville Museum of Art, The Square Room, The 5th Floor of the Woodruff Building and The Catalyst.

Big Ears is AC Entertainment's newest festival, and I expect that it will have the same energetic feel as all other AC endeavors. And it's pretty cool that this festival is coming to Knoxville. Here's what AC is saying about Knoxville and the festival:

“We wanted to create a ‘getaway’ event, outside of the usual major cultural centers, and Knoxville is a great choice. There are two fabulous historic theaters with extraordinary acoustics (including the 750-seat Bijou which celebrates its 100th Anniversary in 2009) along with a variety of other great venues, including the legendary experimental music outpost, The Pilot Light, and the Knoxville Museum of Art; excellent restaurants, and downtown hotels…and they’re all within a short walk of one another…plus, it’s our hometown and we want to show it off!”

It's pretty awesome that Philip Glass is coming for a show and a Q&A. And I'm most excited for Antony and the Johnsons, a cabaret act that I've never had the chance to see but that I've heard are amazing. A complete list of artists and venues is on the Big Ears site.

I guess I'm most excited about Big Ears because it's something new and different for Knoxville. A way for us to show off. And a way for us to see some great shows.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

[dog]house party

The other day I had to park at the top of the Market Square garage and parked next to the above truck. You may be familiar with Dave's hot dog cart aka "Dog House" on the Square, but he clearly has higher ambitions for the wiener business. Look closely at what he'll "cater". Weddings?!! I can't decide whether I want to meet the couple who decides on hot dogs for their reception. It might or might not be the best party ever. And even though Dave claims in past tense "Dave's Taken it to the Streets" I'm sure he'll keep takin' it to the most happening parties in Knoxville. With relish.

More Weird Knoxville...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

More Maplehurst

Here are some more photos from inside one of the Maplehurst apartments. My friend said that they had to move out because the bathroom was ridiculous.

Renters Rights?

As a long-standing renter of properties in downtown and North Knoxville I have a few questions about what rights one has as a tenant in regards to the following situations. I've talked to a few people dealing with these issues recently in Maplehurst and we've been somewhat shocked out of knowing what to do.

1) The landlord won't fix ceilings and leaks, forcing tenants to move.

2) The landlord tells tenants their fully functional radiators are "broken" and that they will be "turned off." The landlord says the tenant can pick up a space heater from the office that barely heats the apartment and jacks up their KUB bill to hundreds of dollars.

3) They have said that they are going to fix buildings, but as people move out of buildings, they open up the windows and doors to abandoned and even some occupied buildings, exposing the interiors to the elements. Other than seeming unsafe to have old, dilapidated buildings open to the public, isn't demolition by neglect illegal?

4) If a tenant has a heat or leak problem, the owners say the tenant can move into another apartment that they own. I don't think they compensate you for this huge inconvenience.

I've seen a lot of people have to leave Maplehurst because of this neglect. On top of the absence of a friend, I get the enjoyment (sarcastic) of watching some of my favorite buildings in Knoxville deteriorate. It's a complicated situation because it's not really the current owners fault that Maplehurst is in the state it's in (ownership has changed numerous times in the past few years) but I'm really confused as to what they're currently doing.

Is the only threat you have in these circumstances to hire a lawyer or break your lease? If people silently move out, the situation is not likely to get better. Is there someone in government that you're supposed to notify of these things? From what I hear, this is just as much a predicament in the Fort, but what's being done about it?

I've asked several times to have my bathroom ceiling fixed. Every week more and more pieces of drywall fall into my bathtub. If you don't hear from me for a few days, it may be because I'm lying naked under my upstairs neighbors bathtub that has fallen on my head. Maybe then, they'll come and fix it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

it's the little things

Has anyone else noticed that the open sign at Back Door Tavern (Toddy's) is always on? This quirky little oversight always makes me smile when I'm pulling in across the street for coffee at 6:45am. There's something reassuring about that sign, knowing it's always on even when BDT is not, in fact, open. It's a Knoxville warm fuzzy for me.

I wonder what sort of Knoxville sillies make other people smile.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Snow makes everything prettier

Schools got out for this?

Monday, January 19, 2009

it's business tiiime...

Well actually its inauguration time. And we at the Wigshop, well just me, want to know if you know of any interesting parties going on.

My wife and some colleagues are doing an "Obama-rama" on campus at their office, with cupcakes by Magpies with the new prezies likeness on them. All that to say I think there is a party at the Crown Plaza Downtown that you can attend, I'm sure there are others and that's why I'm asking- anyone know of a fun party I can crash?

Operation Boot Camp: Bring the Action Back to World's Fair Park

I am really super excited to announce a first ever nighttime camp for Operation Boot Camp, and it's back at World's Fair Park! I'm so excited that I wrote a fun story about it:

Downtown Knoxville and the University of Tennessee Campus:

Home to the 1982 World's Fair. Home to the Sunsphere, Knoxville's iconic landmark. Home to Neyland Stadium and the Volunteer football team. Home to Pat Summit and her National Championship Winning Lady Vols. Home to Bruce Pearl and his Volunteer Men's Basketball Team. Home of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. Home of James White. Home of Fort Sanders. Home of Cormac McCarthy. Home of World's Fair Park. And, in February 2009, home of the first ever night camp of Operation Boot Camp of Knoxville.

Why Operation Boot Camp? Whatever your goals, Operation Boot Camp will jump start your fitness progress with a 30-day specially-designed, outdoor fitness program that energizes and encourages, that lifts you up and doesn't knock you down. Our experienced team of instructors works with you every step of the way to help you achieve your fitness goals and reach a whole new level of health. While we're getting you in the best shape of your life, we'll also coach you on nutrition and attitude and help you break down the mental barriers that may be keeping you from your potential.

And at Operation Boot Camp, we recognize that everyone is different. Whatever the reasons may be, we know that not everyone can make an early morning fitness program fit with their busy lives. So with great pride and excitement we announce the debut of our nighttime World's Fair Park camp. Campers who attended last year's World's Fair Park morning camps know what WFP has a lot to offer: a diverse landscape of fields, trails, benches, stairs and hills. A riverside running trail. And we've got the entire downtown area and UT campus on our side. We promise you that no workout will ever be the same, and no workout will ever be boring.

We challenge you to kick it into high gear in 2009. Sign up for our WFP nighttime camp, and you'll get the best of both worlds. You'll work out at 6:15pm in and around World's Fair Park each Monday through Thursday. And on Fridays, enjoy a change of scenery by joining up with our 6am Lakeshore Park Camp. The fun begins February 9th. Register now at to secure your spot.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Free admission at KMA

A friend of mine was telling me today that Knoxville Museum of Art is doing away with admission prices for all of 2009. Apparently the current trend on the museum circuit is to offer free admission and rely on memberships, major gift donations, sponsorships and gift shop sales to survive. The KMA did a six-month test run of free admission last year and found that their visitor numbers increased big time. Parking is always free too.

If you like bringing your iPod along to art museums, KMA has free (there's that word again) podcasts available for download on iTunes. The podcasts focus on individual exhibits, so it's kind of like a free audio walking tour of the museum.

I've been told some of the upcoming exhibits are not to be missed -- The works of glassmaker Josh Simpson will be on exhibit from Feb. 6 through April 19, and the rumor is his hand-blown pieces are out of this world. As a movie fanatic, I'm looking forward to an exhibition featuring photographs of Hollywood stars from the 1920s to 1960s. The Made in Hollywood exhibit opens May 8 through Sept. 27.

I think it's a wonderful thing for KMA to be offering free admission/parking/podcasts during a time when many people can't afford to pay for these kind of things, so please support the museum with a visit!

keeping spirits high

As we move into the new year, recession/ depression in full swing, we hope you've been able to keep your morale up. It definitely takes a little more imagination to be thrifty or to keep business going. It's great to see people's creativity shine through this somewhat dreary time.

I was able to attend Snow Day last Friday night, the Beardsley Farm benefit at Barley's. With a little ingenuity and thought they were able to draw quite a crowd. It was really encouraging to see so many people come out to support the cause even when money's been a little tight. They sold soup donated by local restaurants, they had merchandise for sale, people played music, and all the proceeds from Fat Tire and Sweetwater 420 went to them. I heard they did pretty well in raising money (note to fundraiser coordinators: involve beer)

A slight tangent but on the same subject of Beardsley Farm, I heard a rumor that you could kill and butcher your own cow there. Is this true? The reasoning, I heard, is that if you eat meat, you should know how it got to your plate. As much as I like the distance between the living cow and my hamburger, I somewhat agree with this notion. Field trip, anyone?

Anyway, if you're still feeling a little anxious about the times, here's a little something for you, inspired by Max and because I have too much free time. I'd like to specifically dedicate it to two of my faves, Mr. Discordia and Mr. Anonymous. XOXO.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

fellini of my heart

There are arguably a lot of really great grocery stores in this town, so many that for a while, the Metropulse ran a weekly column dedicated to reviewing grocery stores. It's true. I was once dragged to the Turkey Creek Target because the MP review made it sound so enticing to my boyfriend that he just had to see it. Now that's some good writing. (I'm not sure if that column is still featured in the MP. Maybe they ran out of shops to cover? Or maybe I simply fail to be a diligent reader.)

In any case.

Knoxville. Many, many groceries. The Bearden area will hit the jackpot soon when an EarthFare moves in, and I know a lot of people who swear by the Fresh Market.

I'm a Three Rivers Market (coop located at 937 N Broadway St 37917) fan myself, but if I'm being truly honest, my heart belongs to the Fellini Kroger (2217 Broadway 37917).

In case you dont know, Fellini was an Italian director famous for creating surreal and bizarre situations. Think circus and vaudeville. Desire and dreams. Hallucination. 8 1/2 would be a good one to check out. I am sure other people have different favorites.

You can imagine what kind of grocery would be nicknamed for Fellini. Or maybe you cant. And that's why I love the Fellini Kroger. More than anything else, it's just an old grocery store serving a few nice and a few not-so-nice neighborhoods. But if you visit the Fellini you'll realize there's just something off about it.

The stories I've heard about the Fellini Kroger are like big fish stories; you cant quite believe what you're hearing, but you know you've got to believe that theyre true. I've got a few myself, but my favorite is from a few years ago. I had spent a good 20 minutes searching for pine nuts. Exasperated, I turned the corner and came face to face with a man in a floor length woman's fur coat. (You can just tell when it's a coat meant for a woman). Next to him? Presumably his son. Maybe 7, maybe 8. In a matching floor length fur coat.

I never found my pine nuts. They didnt carry them at the time. These days, I'm pretty sure they do.

Monday, January 12, 2009

don't worry the beersphere is safe

Just a quick little blurb about some recent happenings.

A few days ago I heard from a co-worker that Southern Graces Catering had sold their entire book of business to All-Occasions, she knew this because now she is out of a job with them.

I got all worried because I didn't want to lose the Icon of our little world, the Skybox bar that Southern Graces operates.

Well fear not, Josh Flory has the scoop at the Scope, all is safe for now.

If this recession starts shutting down bars in novelty architectural structures we're all in trouble.

Friday, January 09, 2009

city life woes

If you've lived or worked anywhere near campus in the past few months, you should have noticed a constant, loud, and obnoxious "construction" noise drowning out every other sound outside. Actually, I can't even remember when it started. I can literally see the men at work on the corner of Cumberland and 11th street from my window, and every morning for a while now, the drilling starts, and it lasts until sundown. So soothing.

I tend to ignore certain predicaments like this with the assumption that they will just go away (yes, a slight misconception on my part), but the racket has been non-stop and is taking a toll on my emotional well-being.

I finally asked someone the other day what they've been doing. They said UT was getting a new engineering building. (Can you tell by now I don't really read the news?) Apparently some GPS-making hot shot who graduated from UT decided he wanted to give back to his alma mater. So he donated money for the new building, and I do thank him for that, immensely. But....

Does anyone know if the end is in sight for this project? As much as I like an early morning jackhammer, I can't wait to do without.

[author's note: I wrote this last night, and this morning, I heard not a sound.]

Thursday, January 08, 2009

It's time to light the lights

(Please someone tell me they know where I got that title from)

So, one of the things that I think makes Gay Street so cool is the beautiful Tennessee Theatre marquee. I remember being blown away when the Theatre reopened a few years back, and the sign was so twinkly and beautiful. And now with the movie theater marquee nearby, it really makes you feel like you're thrown back nearly a century to the city's entertainment district.

Not to be outdone, the Bijou Theatre is constructing a new marquee sign for its upcoming 100th anniversary celebration. The theatre is trying to raise funds for a new sign with 488 LED bulb clusters. This is where you can help. Buy a bulb for the sign for only $25, and you can play your own role in the beautiful bright lights of Gay Street. Your donation is tax-deductable, and the deadline is Jan. 28. You can also make a donation at the Bijou box office.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Maybe not so urban after all...

I’ve been meaning to do a write up on my favorite spot within scruffy little city. Technically it is outside of the city limits, but since it’s ten minutes from my house (20 on bike) I think it qualifies. You may have thought that since we have million dollar lofts in our town and a half-dozen sushi restaurants that we were getting further and further from our country roots, I’m happy to say that is not the case.

Forks of the River WMA, is where I go to feed my primal instinct to harvest what I consume. That’s right the Pol is not only a carnivore, but he likes to kill what he eats (carrots and rhubarb not withstanding).

Just on the other side of Ijams Nature Center, Forks of the River provides a most interesting blend of people in one nearby place. The city has recently expanded the greenway system down along the river the Forks, which means mothers jog with toddlers in strollers, right along side men in a combination of camouflage and fluorescent orange trying to kill Bambi. On more than one occasion, I’ve gotten nervous and confused looks from people who don’t expect to see hunters just a few minutes away from their Island Homes Neighborhood.

Typically, I just go for the exercise, I love to walk the rolling fields of the Wildlife Management Area, there are great sunrises and sunsets there, and there are tons of birds to watch and listen to.

Now you may be thinking, “Pol how can you want to kill fuzzy little creatures? What on earth would you need squirrel for?” Yes I do hunt squirrel. They are fun little buggers to go after and sometimes hard to get. Also, I am not the only one who thinks they’re good. Todays New York Times is backing me up on this, I’m not kidding. 50 Million Brit’s can’t be wrong.

If you want to know more check out:

The TWRA website

The City’s park info

Or just go out there yourself, oh but it is still deer season so wear some UT gear just in case, bright orange is multi-functional this time of year.

My new puppy Bella Loves it too.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

dazzo's italian castle

Today I went to a castle- a castle where Pizza is King, Pasta is his Queen, and various noble sauces and processed meat products hold court. Calamari frolic on lawns of sauteed vegetables and the pungent scent of garlic prevails.

Well, not so much a castle as downtown's newest pizza place. Located on Gay Street's ugliest block (thanks to huge unnecessary parking lot across the street) just up from the Mirage hookah bar, Dazzo's "Italian Castle Pizzeria" is the latest eatery to pop up in Downtown. As we all know, there can never be enough Italian joints in a city. Joining Da Vinci's of the Old City (which sadly hasn't been reviewed on this blog yet) now we have a second place in this city to get a cheap slice.

The inside is nice, if sparse (most of it left over from the space's previous restaurant) and had a black and white tile 'D' at the counter, letting you know Dazzo himself approves. In fact, I think it was probably Dazzo I saw back by the oven working his magic. The interior doesn't mean much in mid-level Italian restaurants, though. As anyone familiar with northern cities can tell you, the tackier the restaurant, the better the chance the food will be mind-blowing.

When I spotted the above at my table, I knew things would be alright. Three shakers greeted me: salt? check. pepper? check. garlic? yes! Anywhere that treats garlic as a condiment has my vote. I only wanted a slice, and judging from the menu there are quite a few types they'll bake from scratch for you, even if you aren't getting a whole pizza. I went with sausage, which I feel is a good barometer for Italian food. I wasn't disappointed:

That's not Jimmy Dean sausage, folks. That's real Italian sausage sliced thin like pepperoni. Yes! Not very healthy, but delicious. The crust was very tasty, very thin New York style that is not often seen in the South. While Dazzo hangs his hat on his pizza, the menu had quite a lot of other stuff, including Italian seafood dishes. I think I may try a pasta dish next time, because I am indeed going back to Dazzo's.

Dazzo's Italian Castle Pizzeria
710 S. Gay Street
Knoxville, TN

Rating: 8 out of 10 Wigs

Monday, January 05, 2009

help us

As our avid fans (which I call "wigsters" in my mind) may have noticed, the Wigshop has been running on fumes lately. It not that Knoxville has nothing to write about (because it doesn't) but that somehow between the eight of us we can't seem to find anything to write about. But don't worry, Wigsters! The Wigshop will continue to document urban life in Knoxville (becoming less and less of an oxymoron) in 2009. We were just getting started in 2008! Now that we've become the blogging powerhouse of Knox Vegas, it's time to start really blowing the lid off this town with stories like:

True Confessions of a Market Square Hotdog Cart

Word Grotto: Not Just for Hippies?

The Glamorous Life of a Marie's Olde Towne Tavern Barfly

Drinking on Patios: Official Sport of Knoxville in Spring 2009

"Tear Them Buildings Down": Bringing Desperately Needed Parking Lots to Downtown

And that's just the tip of the iceberg!

Seriously, help us. What would you like to see this year? We know there's lots of interesting stuff going on, so help us out and leave a comment. As the USS Wigshop steams ahead, we look forward to continuing the dialogue that's developed at this little blog about life in Knoxville.