Monday, March 29, 2010

Big Ears 2010: In Conclusion

{Buke and Gass}
When it comes to music, I have a lot to learn. This, in part, is why I decided to buy an Inner Ear pass to this past weekend's Big Ears Festival. Based on my reaction last year to the festival, I wanted to make sure I didn't miss out again this year. Tickets were not cheap, but I knew once the festival rolled around, I'd want to be a part of it all.

{The Ex}

Living in Knoxville for so many years, I've heard all sorts of opinions surrounding A.C. Entertainment: Bonnaroo is too commercial, Sundown in the City is too trashy, the Big Ears lineup this year is too mainstream.

But, I did go to Bonnaroo for the first time last summer, and it was extremely fun. And I was fortunate to attend Big Ears this past weekend, and it was...

{Vampire Weekend}

What struck me the most was that, during several shows, the artists thanked Ashley Capps and shared how grateful they were to be a part of such an incredible line up.

It's true. It was an incredible line up.

{The xx}

For me, the past three days have conjured up so many thoughts and ideas. I wish I could pin them down before they all float away. I could tell you about the bands that knocked my socks off (The Ex, Buke and Gass, The Dirty Projectors, there are more). I could talk about the shrilling screams of little girls at Vampire Weekend. I could tell you about patting Matt Berninger on the back when he climbed down into the crowd at the Tennessee Theater. There's lots to talk about.


{DJ Rupture}

But right now, while my ears are still ringing, I want to join the many smart, witty, and congenial musicians that were here this past weekend in thanking Ashley as well. He isn't the savior of Knoxville, as I heard someone say a few days ago. We couldn't name just one. (This is sentimental, but) I think if you've bought a cup of coffee on a regular basis downtown, you've become its savior. It's all efforts combined that have transformed Knoxville into a place where world renowned musicians can be received and given beautiful places to play. Our city has become a location where visionaries like Ashley can make their dreams tangible.

And that, my friends, is really something.

{Joanna Newsom}

Friday, March 26, 2010

Knoxville's got Big Ears this weekend

We want to hear what you think about Big Ears 2010. Are you going? What are you looking forward to? If you're not going, why not? In the meantime, here's another guest post from our friend that we will now refer to as Wild Bill of Knoxpatch.

Hey y’all!

As you know, today, Knoxville becomes the meeting place for multiple influential artists during the second Big Ears Festival. The entertainment kicks off at 5 p.m. tonight!

Big Ears Festival is the brainchild of Ashley Capps, the owner of AC Entertainment (who also books shows all over, as well as Bonnaroo). Last year's was a resounding success. Big Ears is a festival that celebrates diversity and collaboration. The goal of the festival is: " offer an exciting and dynamic platform of musical and artistic discovery by artists possessed of singular and unique visions that stand apart from the mainstream.”

The way the festival is organized is a lot like South By Southwest in Austin. Venues all over downtown are incorporated so that multiple shows can take place simultaneously. The venues this year are: The Bijou, Tennessee Theatre, The Knoxville Museum of Art, The Square Room, The Pilot Light, a place called The Big Ears Annex (Catalyst/Blue Cat’s), and one show at the Cox Auditorium.

This year’s festival is being co-curated by the Godfather of Minimalism Terry Riley as well as one of the busiest musicians around Bryce Dessner (The National, Clogs). Some of the other artists include: The National, Andrew W. K., Clogs (a band that features Sufjan Stevens), Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond, Matt Beringer, and Bryce Dessner),The Ex, The XX, and Vampire Weekend. There are many more bands playing that will blow you away. The festival also features workshops, lectures, and more collaborations between artists than you can shake a stick at.

There are multiple ways to attend. Individual tickets are on sale for all of the shows, or you could go the more thorough route and get either the Inner Ear pass or the Outer Ear pass. The Inner Ear pass allows you to have priority access to all Big Ears events for $250. The Outer Ear pass allows you into most of the shows for $100. At this point in time I know that there are still a few Inner Ear passes floating around but I know that they are going fast. More info here.

What is it about Knoxville that makes AC Entertainment want to host an experimental music festival here? I would propose that there is just no place like Knoxville. It is a weird and wonderful place that no one can really pin down. There are so many influences crammed into a relatively small space. You have Appalachian culture, a large university, a history of industry, and the suburbs all within a few miles. It somehow created an environment that encourages experimental music. The music scene in Knoxville is unlike anywhere else, all of these influences meld together and make a really interesting music scene. This is definitely helped along by people like Jason Boardman (owner of the Pilot Light) who actively seeks to promote experimental music in Knoxville. Somehow it just fits that this festival should be here. It is comfortable place with all of the venues within a half-mile.

I hope that more locals attend this year, so in conclusion, come out and join me this weekend in the madness because it will be a blast.

-Wild Bill, Knoxpatch

Thursday, March 25, 2010

where to bridge?

It looks like Knoxville is getting a pedestrian bridge. For a river city, we have amazingly few ways to cross it. It seems that generations of Knoxvillians were content to stay on the north side of the river. That's changing with the South Waterfront Plan, which will essentially create a southern half to downtown. Part of that plan is a pedestrian bridge, a la the Walnut Street Bridge in Chattanooga.

I'm all for it. I think if the city does it right, a beautiful new bridge could become as iconic to the city as the Sunsphere is. So the concept is sound, but where to put it? Mr. Flory has (rightfully) questioned the usefulness of the proposed site by UT campus. Given our river bluff topography and a plethora of obstacles (City/County Building, Baptist Hospital, UT Stadium/Arena), placing a bridge that works with downtown is a difficult task. But let's try it!

Blue shows our existing bridges, orange shows the "passes" that allow approaches through the South Knoxville hills, and red (labeled 1) is the proposed site. There are advantages and disadvantages to T-B Arena site, which I encourage you to discuss in the comments. However I would like to focus on a few alternatives here.

#2 Make the downtown pedestrian bridge connect to, you know, downtown. We could put it in between our two major bridges. All we'd have to do is tear down the City/County Building and the Baptist Hospital Complex. Yeah! As awesome as that would be, it's pretty improbable. Moving on...

#3 The bluff to the east of First Creek offers an interesting possibility. The north approach would be by the touristy part of town with James White Fort and the Hall of Fame. On the south side it would more intimately interact with the South Waterfront (something you can't say about the Scottish Pike neighborhood), terminating either at the unoccupied mound that Sevier Ave splits around (which would make a nice park) or centrally where Davenport Road comes over the ridge. There'd be some tricky threading by Ruth's Chris and those condos, but I think that'll be true of the T-B arena site also.

#4 Maplehurst to Blount Ave. There's an old railroad bridge there currently, but in the South Waterfront meetings it was confirmed that only ONE train a day uses it. This is the same track that awkwardly bisects Worlds Fair Park. The approaches on both sides are worked out- so we could either rehab the old bridge (like Chattanooga's Walnut Street and much cheaper) or dismantle the bridge and build the new one in its place. We might even be able to reuse the concrete piers (keeping cost down), something like this:

It would connect to a vibrant downtown neighborhood, the railroad right of way would easily connect its path to Worlds Fair Park and the Greenway system, and its southern approach would be much more central to the South Waterfront.

You can probably tell where I'm leaning. What do you think? Where would our pedestrian bridge be best placed?


OK, one more map. But first, a caveat: This bridge will be wonderful and scenic no matter where it's placed. What it's like over the water doesn't bother me, it's what happens at the ends that needs more thought.

The issue is our unusual topography. We're a river bluff city, with the occasional creek gorge separating elements (most significantly campus and downtown). What if the northern approach of was extended and more integral?

The bridge could come in at bluff level (with a side connection to Maplehurst) and "T" into ANOTHER bridge that bridges the Second Creek gap between the Hill and Downtown! This second bridge would tie into the 11th Street Garage bridge on its western end and into the Convention Center on the other.

At a convention? Want to see the river? Just walk down the elegant bridge between the old bluff neighborhood and the stately University. Suddenly the bluff drops away and the hills across the river reflect in its glassy surface. I can see it in my mind's eye...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Census

Lame Pol Lame.

I know, it's a lame post. But I really do want to encourage everyone to fill out and return the census form they received last week. I just did, it was completely underwhelmingly easy and short.

I hate the notion of filling out the census to get "my fair share" of other peoples money. It's an irresponsible way to think about how government services are distributed, but at least the data is useful.

We (downtowners) need to see the fruits of our labor and know how many people actually are as crazy as we are to think that a compacted living space around many more people is preferable to the 'burbs.

Encourage everyone one you know, owners, renters, squatters, everyone to fill it out and send it back. Not so that big brother can follow you, but so that we can have a reliable head count for base-lining future growth needs.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Happy golden memories

It's hard to believe my first post for the Wigshop was a little over a year and a half ago. I've recently been reminiscing over the good times I've had as a Wigshopper and the spiciness it's added to my life. Not to get tooooo sentimental, but we don't really ever say it, so I will. Thanks for reading. Thanks also for sharing your thoughts and ideas with us. It's been a delight for me. It really has.

In light of my recent mushiness over this blog and our readers, I wanted to share with you just a handful of our most memorable posts. We've had a lot of great discussions, but these posts have stuck out in our minds, mostly because of your comments. So thanks from the bottom of our Knoxville loving hearts. Even if you hate us and say so, at least you're reading, and that's all that matters.

Graffiti in Knoxville: Some of the most colorful comments ever.

Fellini of my heart :

great comments:

Benjamin : "...last time I was there, I saw 3 women sporting bushy mustaches and an old white man carrying a bicycle down the dairy aisle."

Anonymous: "I once saw a guy shoot himself in the foot in the parking lot at the Fellini Kroger."

Knoxville's own Wizard: Wigshoppers are called "faux hipsters" by a dissenter on this one.

Review: Trio Cafe: ck stirs up some dissension, I assume mostly because of this quote, which is one of my favorites: "The whole place gave me the impression that Trio is what would happen if Panera Bread had a wild fling with Chuck E. Cheez and had a baby."


No Mow: A discussion on if it's proper to mow on a Sunday.

great comments:

Discordia: "if it truly bothered someone, I would simply point out the sabbath is on saturday and blow their minds."

Anonymous: "If you get any static, just tell the neighbors that you're a wiccan - that should keep them from bothering you."

Lord von Lord: "Voodoo. Works everytime. They'll beg for you to mow on Sunday after you bury livestock in your yard a couple of times."

Teddy Bears: Please stop the insanity: This post was before my time, but apparently Clifford Clark (the guy who shot out the red-light camera on Broadway with a gun) actually commented on this post, under the alias Up Yours: "Where were you assholes when I was in jail? Blogging for your rights? What have any of you done for anyone? You're a collection of cowards. You can't even withstand counter comments because your arguments (and intellect) are so weak."

Bonus points!!

Bzzz: Spelling bee for Grownups: I love that Joe Ossenmacher-Bedford actually ended up going. You're probably the only one that has ever taken us up on anything we've written about. And you had fun, didn't you?

That is all for now. To many more great discussions.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Is Knoxville the Bermuda Triangle?

I saw this Yee-Haw sign a couple of weeks ago in the windows of some of the Gay Street stores and was like, 'WTF, R.B.**? Knoxville the Bermuda Triangle of the Appalachians? No way. All the crazy stuff happens East of here. A corner of the triangle, maybe, but not the whole freakin' thing.'

And then I read this article in the Metro Pulse about how many Knoxvillians deny Knoxville's connection to Appalachia, in the impoverished, bizarre sense that it's often portrayed.

So, what do you think? Is Knoxville the Bermuda Triangle of the Appalachians (give evidence and antidotes to support your claim) and do we Knoxvillians need to do a better job of embracing Appalachia?

**Some background on R.B. Morris' claim that Knoxville is the Bermuda Triangle of the Appalachians.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

bring back commerce & vine

The following map continues to amaze me:

First, half of what was downtown Knoxville is gone. Central Street was actually central. Second, what I'd like to talk about today, is that we had an orderly grid system at one point. Despite that fact that we've done our best to ruin its efficiency by chopping it up and plaguing it with one-way streets, the downtown grid continues to serve and provide our city's best streetscapes... with one particularly glaring exception.

You may notice there is no big squiggle across the top of the map. I'm not talking about I-40, the Mother of All Squiggles, but its far less useful cousin Summit Hill Drive. Born of an era when traffic engineers obsessed with getting from Point A to Point B as fast as possible, Summit Hill frolics across northern Downtown, jumping from grid section to grid section. The curvy four lane brazenly ignores downtown, getting drivers through perhaps 5 seconds faster. Even the name "Drive" implies its suburban era heritage, when downtown was a thing to be avoided and gotten by quickly.

The traditional urban streetscape has returned to downtown, with sidewalk cafes and small shops and people living above. Streets that were built around this idea are flourishing. But this 1960s anachronism works against the grain. Why is it that the "treble clef" square is always empty? Why are there almost no street level businesses on Summit Hill? How can we activate this important part of downtown?

I say: restore the grid. The streets that were minimally affected by the "urban renewal" of the 60s have been the quickest to bounce back. Let's salvage the streets that were chopped up. Let's do something like this:

Summit Hill's path is pretty set to the west, but as it descends to Central Street we have a chance to make something beautiful. Streets that used to be prominent, Vine Ave. and Commerce Ave., would become important again. The buildings at the sides of the square would no longer be isolated by odd triangles of leftover space. Imagine a cafe like on Gay Street, but across the street is a park like Krutch, but larger. The edges of the park would have parking to replace all that is lost and then some. Don't worry, we can keep the median trees in the park- they look so nice at Christmas.

Imagine this: in the park we could build an open shed that would be a permanent home for the Farmers Market. The Market House will never return to Market Square now, but we could make something like it in a new place. Vendors could back their trucks up to it just like they used to and sell their products rain or shine.

Or maybe something else?

A lot of potential is being wasted on what could be one of the great urban spaces of Knoxville. The greatest hinderance is the highway that roars through the middle of it. I've told you what I think we should do. What do you think?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

blue steel on a bus

Or is it Magnum?

This guy is everywhere. Just waiting to get on 40 and up rolls this gem. Amazing.

Coincidentally, anyone heard that a Zoolander sequel is in the works? I bet it will be really really really ridiculously good...looking.

happy saint patricks day!

Whether you celebrate Saint Patrick's Day as a religious holiday, a drinking holiday, or just an excuse to wear green and eat corned beef, it's generally accepted as a fun and festive day.

I know from experience that Knoxville loves to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day. In fact, I can imagine the the Downtown Grill and Brewery is open and serving as I type this.

Did you send your kids off to school in green outfits? Did you wake up and immediately take a car bomb or green jello shot? Are you craving that glass of Jameson?

There are some fun Saint Patrick's Day shows tonight, including Four Leaf Peat at the Square Room and Cutthroat Shamrock at the Valarium. Four Leaf Peat will be a more mellow sit-down show and Cutthroat Shamrock, I imagine, will be a bit rowdy. The Coveralls are also playing at Barleys, and I believe that the Old City bars are having their annual Old City Saint Patrick's day bar crawl. Fun times.

Be safe and responsible and get your green on.

(My green on)

Monday, March 15, 2010

This Friday

Have you ever thought, "I wish I could see the inside of that sweet old building," as you've walked downtown or driven around Knoxville?

Well, this Friday is your chance because Knox Heritage is taking all of their members on a tour of the Arnstein and Daylight Buildings. The Arnstein may be the future home of Urban Outfitters (where McCloud's used to be across from Market Square Kitchen). And remember, I recently wrote about The Daylight Building, located across the street from Pete's on Union.

If you're already a member of Knox Heritage, you can email or call 523-8008 to RSVP (a-hem, The Pol and MG)

If you're not a member yet (a-hem, all the rest of you beautiful wigshoppers), but would like to support what Knox Heritage does, please join today.

Below is history on the buildings if you're interested:

The Arnstein (505 Market Square) is a seven-story Neo-Classical building with Renaissance-Revival detailing is said to be the first steel frame "skyscraper" built in Knoxville -- the City's tallest building when it was erected in 1905. The M.B. Arnstein Company became one of Knoxville's finest retail stores, famous for Irish linen and other imported goods such as jewelry, lingerie, and other "exclusive" best-quality goods. It is currently being renovated for office and retail use.

The Daylight Building (501 Union Avenue), completed in 1927, was built by Benjamin Sprankle, an influential real estate developer. Initially, the Daylight housed retail space on the ground floor and office space above. By 1934, it was primarily occupied by the offices of the Tennessee Valley Authority. On November 25, 2009, the Daylight Building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is being renovated for residential use.

Friday, March 12, 2010

What to do this weekend

If for some reason you're not going to the Jubliee Festival this weekend (And I think you should, because it sounds awesome), there are two other ways to get out and about in Knoxville.

1. Remember the schoolyard garden at Fulton HS that I mentioned a week or so ago? They're going to get started on Saturday at 10 a.m. Meet at the flagpole at Fulton (Broadway and Woodland) and bring any kind of gardening tools you might have (shovels, wheelbarrows, spades, hoes, whatever you've got!). They really, really want this to be a community garden, but that will only be the case if the community gets involved. Check out their Facebook page here.

2. The Knox County Library is celebrating five years of the Imagination Library with an event called the Great Cake Bake at the L&N on Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. There will be neato cakes to view, a cake-decorating contest, cakewalk and cakes and cookbooks for sale. Chef Walter will be there too doing some sort of demonstration. Tickets are $5, and proceeds benefit Imagination Library (you know, the service started by Dolly Parton that sends free books to kiddos).

Y'all have no excuse to sit around the house this weekend now!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

a real jubilee festival

With so many incredible venues to choose from in Knoxville, there's one that always stands out as uniquely Knoxville in my mind. Originally a church and now community art and music center, the Laurel Theater in Fort Sanders was the first place that I heard live music after I moved to Knoxville. Some boast it has the best acoustics of any venue in town. Much of their strength comes from the monthly calendar and programs that the non-profit that his housed there organizes, Jubilee Community Arts. (JCA's mission and reach is really too long to recreate here, so check out all their other projects like a record label, archives, and educational programs) On any given week throughout the year, one could dance in various folk styles (including the popular contradance), and sing shape-note with one of the most enduring groups in the country. I try to tune in to WDVX on the weekends when they host 5 solid hours of programming on Saturdays and Sundays, including lots of live shows from the Laurel Theater. While I really haven't visited as much as I'd like, I'm making a point to get there more often. Example- folk music festival!

This weekend they are hosting the 41st Annual Jubilee Arts Festival with a wide variety of live music acts, both formal and informal. It seems that 41 years could make it the longest running festival of its kind around. I'm going to try to make it to see Mike Bryant on Saturday, but I will definitely be there for the harp sing!

Here's the lineup:

7:00 Jim Turley & Friends (unfortunately, Jim passed away recently, so the schedule might change up some)
7:30 Matt Morelock, Ian Thomas & Ferd Moyse
8:00 Tom McCarroll & Tammie McCarroll-Burroughs
8:30 Danny Gammon
9:00 Lost Marbles
9:45 The Bearded

7:00 Joseph Decosimo & Allison Williams
7:30 John Alvis
8:15 Roy Harper
9:00 Mike & Marcia Bryant
9:30 Jake Leg Stompers
10:15 Mumbillies

11:00-3:00 Annual Epworth Harp Singing with dinner on the grounds (that means a potluck lunch for you non-southerners)

So, maybe you haven't heard of any of these folks, except maybe Matt Morelock and Ferd Moyse (the illustrious fiddler of the Hackensaw Boys) and Knoxville's The Bearded. For people who play music to keep it alive, these musicians are kind of big deals. For the rest of you, if you're into discovering new types of music, new or unfamiliar instruments, or even old traditional music recreated, then this weekend's wide variety of musical styles and depth of talent is not to be missed! Don't let the rain keep you inside.

Also- you might also be wondering why the sets are only 30-45 minutes. Well, if its any consolation, there will supposedly be jams all night long in the basement!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Thoughts on the season to come...

I'm currently planning out my early garden and have recently had two mild obsessions as far as my agri-urban life goes.

First, what nut trees would work well in Knoxville? I've looked into pecan, which may be an option but the maturity is 12 years or more. Does anyone out there know of any productive nut trees in our area, are any on public property? And in the same vein, are there any fruit trees that people have access to?

Hat tip The Daily Green

Second, I've read articles about urban bee raising, Mrs. The Pol is not excited about this. Apparently, it is possible to have bee hives on top of building and harvest honey made with the pollen and flavors of downtown Knoxville- tempting I know. Does anyone already do this in Downtown? Would this be a crazy idea?

Feedback please...

Monday, March 08, 2010

hello sunshine, my old friend

After a glorious weekend, I think today is officially the most beautiful day of the year. I can't wait to get outside.

In case you need some inspiration, here are some things that you could be doing RIGHT NOW to celebrate this beautiful day:

1) Take a walk, run, or bike ride along any of the 41 miles of greenways our lovely town has to offer.

2) Head to downtown and shop around Market Square and Gay Street. Grab a treat at Rita's on Market Square, which opened for the season this weekend. Or get a sandwich at Lenny's or Steamboat and have an impromptu picnic on the square.

3) Enjoy a nice glass of wine or chilly beer on a fabulous outdoor patio. If you don't have your own patio, how about the digs at Urban Bar in the Old City, Barleys in the Old City, Downtown Grill and Brewery on Gay Street, Nama in Bearden or Toddy's in Bearden?

If these suggestions don't tickle your fancy, what are you planning on doing on this loveliest of days?

Friday, March 05, 2010

The Night Owl Cafe

After your First Friday festivities are through stop by the Night Owl Cafe for a bite to eat and some sort of hot beverage to warm up those fingers.

I stopped by for the first time last night with my girlfriend and got a burger. We got "the burg" which consisted of fried onion, gouda, arugula, grass fed beef and mustard on a home made roll. Mmmmmmmmm. I made a point to tell the people working there that it was the best dang burger I had in a long time. Oh and it comes with home made waffle chips. I left wanting more. That is coming from a guy who won't allow himself to buy a bag of potato chips because he'll eat the whole thing.

From what I was told, the drinking vessels are all hand made by the chef. I like the homey / non-sterile-restaurant-supply-store feel to the mugs. Even the water was really good. They must filter it or something. Or Old City tap water is just that good.

The pricing was a little high for a daily routine for me, but you get what you pay for and it is worth every penny. You are getting freshly prepared everything (for the most part, but not the mustard) and in good sized proportions. I mean, look at the size of that burger people.

Before we left, my significant other bought curried split pea soup and rosemary potato bread for lunch today. Score more delicious points for the Night Owl. We plan on going back soon to try the other stuff.

Now The Pol's turn.

Unbeknownst to either of us Max and I both went to Night Owl at different times yesterday. I’ll echo his sentiments on the feel, very comfortable, homey, and welcoming. Now for the important part.

I had the Shitake sandwich. It was a joyous vegetable and bacon combo on great bread that provided a light, but satisfying end to a night that started with bowling alley nachos. Mrs. The Pol ordered the Butternut Squash Hummus which came with some sort of homemade focaccia bread that was great, though a touch oily. What struck me though was the quality of the offerings. There is a Fennel and Orange salad that comes with either shrimp or… wait for it… Pork Belly. It’s great that a low key grab and go would offer gastronomic delicacies like this without all of the fuss of a sit down dinner.

I’ll definitely be back and I recommend everyone swing by this evening. Tell them the Wigshop recommended it.

Night Owl is located on Central Ave. near Crown and Goose. Think former Pasta Trio location. Night Owl roosts in half of it.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

First Friday Artist Announcement

Hello all,

Sorry for the double-post, but I wanted to make a recommendation for your First Friday festivities tomorrow.

The sculptor Brian Jobe is showing in the Reading Room of the Art+Architecture building at UT as part of the Robert Church Memorial Lecture Exhibition and Film Series. Brian is a Knoxville native who has returned to our fair city after several years in Texas and New York.

The installation is part of his ongoing work exploring materiality and modernity. His work is incredibly thought provoking and visually compelling.

To learn more about Brian, check out his website:

His reception starts at 6, and there are also several Masters students showing across the hall at the Ewing Gallery. So come early and start your First Friday off right.

a holistic approach

Furthering the discussion from yesterday's post, I thought I'd show here what I thought a comprehensive bicycle lane system in Knoxville would look like. The current piecemeal approach has left us with good bike lanes that go nowhere:

I know funding has been a limiting factor, and also that some roads don't have much room (see Kelley Segars's comments) but what should we be aiming for? As the city redevelops major streetscapes (like the upcoming Cumberland Ave. Strip makeover) bike lanes need to be included by default.

Hall of Fame Blvd. is good example- great bike lanes, but they don't push through and connect with downtown, Broadway, or the Magnolia Ave. bike lanes. Actually making a comprehensive system will mean threading sometimes difficult connectors between paths, at expense of (gasp!) automobile traffic. The new Henley Street Bridge bike lanes are great, but what happens when you reach the end of it and plunge into that snarling mass of automobiles? What if it was more like this:

1) Extend the Hall of Fame bike lanes to Broadway and to the new transit center.
2) Extend the current Magnolia bike lanes to Broadway
3) Extend the Central St. lanes to the Old City
4) Introduce new bike lanes on Western Ave./Summit Hill to make a main east-west route. (Jackson Ave. could be an alternate if Summit Hill is unfeasible.)
5) Introduce bike lanes starting on Chapman Hwy. from Disc Exchange to Henley St. and up Broadway to Hall of Fame, creating a main north-south route. (Gay St. could be an alternate, but it doesn't really need lanes since it's the most bike-friendly street in the city.)
6) Introduce bike lanes on Cumberland Ave extending all the way to downtown. Make a connector to Western Ave. via 17th St.
7) Make an east-west connector to the new transit center on Church St. through the middle of downtown.
8) Tie in Sevier Ave to Gay Street and the Henley St. Bridge lanes

One could bike into downtown from Parkridge, 4th & Gill, Old North, Mechanicsville, Fort Sanders, the UT campus, and the South Waterfront on a dedicated bicycle infrastructure. I know this won't happen immediately, but all these roads will need to be rebuilt at some point. We need a city policy that includes these lanes into street design by default, not just as an incidental extra if its convenient. If there's no more right of way, we need to consider putting our roads on a "diet" eliminating wasteful lanes. Central St. was trimmed down from a four lane highway to make room for parking and bike lanes and seems to be working beautifully. I think many routes through downtown are eligible for similar diets. What do you think?

[edit] If you agree with me about the importance of this, be sure to check out the city's Regional Bicycle Program here and fan them on Facebook here. Kelley Segars is coordinating lobbying our city officials to make bicyclists a priority.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Into the great bike lane beyond

You've probably heard by now that our voices were heard, and TDOT has agreed to include bike lanes as part of the Henley Street Bridge renovations. On two of our earlier posts, we had a discussion about such bike lanes, and several people mentioned some other ideas about them, like extending them up Henley to Broadway.

That got me thinking about bike lanes and the city of Knoxville. The idea of extending bike lanes up Henley seems good in theory but scares the crap out of me in practice because of the traffic volume and sheer size of the road. But bike lanes on Broadway I'd like to see, although I'm not sure there's enough room for them.

I guess what I'm getting at is to ask everyone where the city could feasibly stand to have some bike lanes, sidewalks or more greenway space. I realize it might be fruitless to dream about these things, but it's not going to stop me. I say feasibly because as much as I think Sequoyah Hills needs some sidewalks beyond the boulevard, I know there's no room for them on most streets and it's never going to happen. But the Henley Street bridge was a feasible option, and it might actually come to fruition. What other ideas like that is the city missing out on?

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Points of Interest

As the Chamber of Commerce rep at my job I receive, and read through, the "Greater Knoxville Business Journal". OK so I don't really read it, I skim over the new business licenses and bankruptcy's to see if anything interesting is going on. This time there are a few things that stuck out that I would love to know more about. So I'm gonna throw out the info I have and if anyone has any more insight toss it our way.

#1 16 Market Square has pulled a $90,000 building permit for "restaurant alterations". I think this is where the old World Grotto is.

#2 37 Market Square pulled a $445,000 building permit for "continuous foundation", I got nothing so anything will help.

#3 New business called Arcade Sound Ltd. obtained a business license w/ and address of 110 Summit Hill Dr.

#4 Monte's, a bar/ restaurant on 525 Henley St. has obtained a business license and obtained a beer permit. Anyone know what kind of place this is going to be??

Hope there is more information out there, but it is nice to see the development is continuing.

Monday, March 01, 2010

just like momma used to make

So there's a new bag in town that couldn't be a better fit for our fair city. It's called The Parlor and since my words probably couldn't do it justice, here's their mission statement:

"In an age when most of our food and music are mass-produced commodities, we at The Parlor aim to get back to basics. Using quality, locally-sourced ingredients (many of which we grow in our own backyard), our goal is to provide the community with a genuine "hand-crafted" alternative to the processed foods that increasingly dominate the marketplace."

As you might have guessed they work in food - catering, private chef as well as brown bag lunches, and with menu items such as The Dad (meatloaf sandwich) and the Ultimate PB&J (peanut butter, Nutella, banana and strawberry compote) I think this will fast become a staple for those comfort food-craving moments in all our lives.

One more thing to note: you have to order your lunch a day in advance, which I think is a nice touch--elevating the workaday lunch experience beyond running down the street for a quick bite. Lunches are delivered Monday, Wednesday and Friday to Downtown and North Knox. So give it a try, if not for the PB&J, do it to meet some really interesting Knoxvillians.

The Parlor
726 Chickamauga Ave.