Monday, August 30, 2010

Cades Cove Full Moon Bike Ride

It hasn't been scientifically proven, but I think there is a strange correlation of humidity and hills to how many mason jars there are present in Knoxville that can make its inhabitants get a little crazy-eyed, a little hillbillier, if you will. If you stay here long enough, and allow it, it will get you, and you may find yourself walking around outside barefoot or jumping off a thirty or fifty foot cliff into water-filled quarries. During a full moon, it can pull a person all the way to the mountains.

I've ridden the 11-mile loop in Cades Cove three times by bike, but never in daylight. I've only done it at night during a full moon.

The first time I went was about three years ago. I met up with the group I was going with in Maplehurst. I immediately stood out in the crowd with my athletic looking attire. Everyone else was in plaid shirts, jeans, everyday clothes, and they were packing large amounts of liquor into their backpacks and saddle bags. All I had with me was water. It was going to be a different kind of ride than I had expected.

The first time you ride the loop in the moonlight, you may feel a whole range of emotions. For me, it was, "This is the greatest thing I've ever done," to, "We're all going to die." If everyone turns out their flashlights, your eyes adjust to the moonlight. You can see the road pretty well, until you enter a patch of road covered in trees. Then you're just winging it. You may hear the thumping of fast-moving hooves (or paws) next to you, and you hope it's a smallish baby deer. The second time I went, my group lost Max, and I was certain he had been eaten by a bear. Thankfully, he was waiting for us at the car when we finished.

Three years ago, the road was full of pot holes. Thankfully I had a mountain bike. Some of the hills are excruciating for an ever novice like myself, but you make it to the top, and without effort, coast down the following hill, out into the moonlight. Fields and distant mountains are detailed in a way I can't describe in words.

The last time I went was this past Tuesday. The weather was perfect and the road has recently been paved so I took my road bike this time. It was a little cloudy, but beautiful. Our group stopped in at some of the churches and cabins, settings at night that are eerier than any other place I've been.

The hills were still hard for me to climb this time, sadly, but everything else cancels that out. In the daylight hours, sitting at my office desk, I wonder when the next time will be when I can feel that cool mountain air tousle my moon-kissed hair as I descend a long winding stretch of road on my bike.

Photos 4, 5, and 6 are by Kat Campbell

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fellini undergoing 'the change'

So, apparently the Fellini Kroger is going to be going through a bit of a change in the next year. (HT to Lady Entropy for bringing this to our attention).

The North Knoxville recycling center and Goodwill dropoff trailer in Fellini's parking lot are set to close Sunday in order to clear room for a Kroger gas station. The city is looking for a place to relocate the center, but in the mean time, the closest recycling dropoffs are at the old Fountain City Kroger site and on State Street downtown. (Allow me to once again plug the subscription curbside service.) Not sure what's going to happen to the Goodwill drop, but I'm guessing you can just take your stuff to the store located in the same shopping center for now.

And according to the Kroger managers, Fellini is going to get an interior remodel sometime in 2011.

So this brings up some mixed feelings for me on both accounts. On one hand, yay for cheaper gas. My fiance and I do all our grocery shopping at Kroger, so we really rack up the gas points, and it would be nice to actually get to use them.

But on the other hand, B and I used that recycling dropoff regularly when we lived in Fourth and Gill. In fact, lots of people use it regularly because there was ALWAYS someone else there dumping their recycling. I'd venture to guess that's one of the more popular dropoff sites.

Someone else also questioned whether the site itself was appropriate for a gas station and the large gas tanks that will come with it being practically on top of First Creek. Gas tanks leak. Leaking means a big pollution hazard for a creek that's already got its share of troubles.

And then the remodel: I know some people might say updating Fellini will cause it to lose some of its charm. I'm not one of those people. I say hooray for Kroger investing in what has felt like a seriously overlooked store. The crazy characters that shop there will still shop there.

Anyone got more dirt on the changes?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Another Round Of Pol-pourri

A few musings on my day off:

It is gorgeous outside, the weather has gone from hellish to hell-yeah in just a few short days. Its days like these that make you forget that sometimes its just unpleasant to go outside. Everybody needs to "start feeling feverish" right now and get outside.

Urban Outfitters is dead:

Saw this yesterday and it made Mrs. The Pol very unhappy. HT Josh Flory for keeping us on on the important news and developments.

The Homeless topic:

I was going to do a post about my trip to KARM, but don't want to overload you with the topic so all me to sum up. One Tuesday a month you can go through KARM's orientation to look into volunteering there If you have never done anything like this please do. It is an hour or two well spent and informative even if you don't want to volunteer. The compassion and intensity that KARM has for helping people is inspiring to say the least.

Movies on Market Square:

I have already voted for my slate of films and I suggest you do the same. Go here and see what the line up is. It looks like a lot of fun as it usually is a great time to enjoy a free movie and a cold drink.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Thoughts on Homelessness in Knoxville and One Way to Help

This Saturday, August 28th at 7pm, there is a wine tasting fundraiser at S&W Grand to benefit Redeeming Hope Ministries. I asked Eddie Young, head of this organization, to tell us a little more about the event, the work he does, and his thoughts on homelessness in Knoxville.

What is the money raised from the event Raise Your Glass going toward?

EY: 100% of the funds raised will go towards our efforts in bringing wholeness and wellness to the lives of the radically underprivileged and homeless of urban Knoxville. Redeeming Hope Ministry currently focuses on four aspects of holistic initiative: food justice, aesthetics, our upcoming Street Paper, and mentoring our friends in social service areas and ultimately into housing.

What will happen at the event on Saturday?

EY: The idea is for everyone to bring two bottles (of wine), one for our tasting and one for the winner's table. They can be very cheap bottles. Guests will judge the disguised bottles on a scale of 1 to 5, and the 3 winners will divide the wine on the winner's table. Winners may take home anywhere from 15 to 30 bottles of wine.

There will also be a silent auction featuring artwork from local artists.

How long have you been working in this field?

EY: My family and I moved to Knoxville just over 3 years ago. I began this particular 'ministry' about a year after our arrival. I've had, for over 15 years, a driving passion for the poor, oppressed and homeless of the communities in which we previously lived, but this is the most intensive run I've made at organizing something this comprehensive.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

EY: You might think the 'success stories' are what rewards us the most, but I have to say that the friendships are the most rewarding. Everything we do is based on building genuine relationships. No one is our client, or the object of our ministry - they are our friends. And I love that.

Move in day: Eddie and RHM helped Arthur (right) move into an apartment.

If people can't go to the event Raise Your Glass, in what other ways can they help?

EY: Well, if you can't make the fund-raiser, I'd love for you to visit our website, and see how best you can plug in. Everyone has something to offer, and if you're having trouble figuring yours out, let us help!

On a different but related subject, would you like to share any of your thoughts on the 10 year plan?

EY: Lots of thoughts on the 10 year plan! I'll say this, I'm a total supporter of the plan. Are there better ways? I don't know, and I don't think anyone else has come forward with one. I think there are a lot of misunderstandings about the 10 year plan. One of those is that it's goal is to end homelessness, but actually it's plan is to rescue the most vulnerable and helpless of the homeless. If we understand this, and don't move to do something about it, we cannot think of ourselves as a very compassionate community.

Any other thoughts you'd like me to include?

EY: I would love for we as a community to make an effort to understand the plight of the homeless rather than operate on the automatic assumptions and stereotypes that we carry around. Everyone has a story. Everyone is, at least to some extent, shaped by forces not always under our control. There's only one game on the table... some get to start out with money, properties, houses and hotels, some others of us start with nothing and can't ever seem to get around the board to collect $200. It's really not all that difficult to see why some just give up trying. I can't count the number of times I've walked away from Monopoly.

You can contact Eddie for more information or to purchase tickets to Raise Your Glass: 865-237-8166 or email

Friday, August 20, 2010

famous knoxville duopolies?

of all knoxville's oddities and quirks, one of the things that puzzles me is when I pass by the following sets of businesses and wonder how on earth could they still be operating as separate small businesses. ironically, they're both on sutherland.

similar produce stands on sutherland

outdoor products stores, across the street from each other

econ theory suggests that they could increase profits by legally merging (to set prices higher, and restrict quantity sold) as long as their products are exactly the same. this would increase overall market power (in a legal sense) and would probably be easier for the produce stands than the outdoor stores since the latter are selling manufactured and specialized goods. but, what if we had one larger store for each type, and each offered expanded operating hours (for both) and more events (for the outdoor store) under one roof. going farther, if the produce stands collude, they could perhaps more easily open new fresh produce markets in underserved areas, one particular location comes to mind (at broadway and grainger, read more here).

as i write this, i realize that our readers probably have preferences of one of these stores over the other, or may choose another store that's in a different location altogether. for me, river sports is usually the front runner in outdoor gear in terms of popularity and quality of service. do you agree?

but the dominant firm in the produce example seems a little more ambiguous.

as the two sets of businesses stand now, they appear to compete. or, do they? for you econ oriented types, is some speculation to cooperation (price or output setting, aka illegal collusion as a cartel) justifiable?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Knoxville recycles

Recycling is something I took for granted growing up in Memphis. Single-stream curbside recycling was introduced fairly early in my life, so separating trash and recyclables became second nature for me.

The city of Knoxville has been a little bit slower to the game, but it's getting there. Recycling is an expensive business, and it takes a lot of recyclables for a government-sponsored program to break even on the costs. Drop-off centers, like the ones you may have seen at your local grocery store, tend to be the most affordable options. But it's hard to get motivated to use the drop-offs, even for a recycling freak like myself, when you have to separate and haul it yourself.

Just last week I noticed something new: a recycling bin chained to a light post at the corner of Market and Clinch.

photo by ck.

As it turns out, the city is launching a pilot recycling program downtown. There are 20 bins just like this one all over downtown where you can toss your aluminum cans, bottles, glass containers, plastic cups, mixed paper and other standard recyclables. For a list of locations, check out this press release.

It's going to last for another month and a half, or so, as the city gathers data on how much the bins are being used, if they're being used properly, etc. Basically they want to see if it's worth it to turn this into a full-time thing. If the city does make downtown recycling a permanent thing, the powers that be promise they'll get us some prettier bins.

Please, please, please help this pilot program succeed, friends. We need all the recycling help we can get.

And don't forget, many city residents can participate in the pilot curbside program run by Waste Connections. For a couple bucks a month you get a big recycling bin like the one in the photo above, and the truck will come empty it every other week. For more information on that, check out Waste Connection's recycle website.

The Waste Connections program is also a pilot program, and a successful one at that. The city is working on developing a FREE citywide, single-stream curbside program, though we won't see the first phase of that 'til next year.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

the new old kind of concert

I've been thinking about buildings. This wouldn't surprise anyone that knows me. Lately its been theaters. Places where two of my favorite things, architecture and music, combine for amazing experiences. Since the BIG EARS festival, how the two interact has been on my mind.

I won't get into any theory, but what I'd like to bring up is a trend I've been seeing lately: artists and music listeners have been demanding better quality digs to have concerts in. Often smaller venues too, sacrificing selling more tickets for a better quality experience.

Case in Point: I was looking through The Black Keys tour schedule and it looks awful. Not because of the music, but because of the venues. Places like "Time Warner Amphitheater" and "Verizon Wireless Music Center" fill the list. Interestingly, the Orange Peel in Asheville (one of the few venues I would be interested in) was already sold out. Probably because it's smaller, and probably because it will be one of the best concerts on the tour. Why? The quality of the venue.

Second Case in Point: On Friday there was much excitement shivering through ranks of indie kids when Sufjan Stevens' tour tickets went on sale. On his site it said that Sufjan "personally structured this tour around some of the most historic theaters and venues in the country." Our little Bijou made the cut, presumably because of BIG EARS (it also sold out in hours). I'm betting that this tour could have made a lot more money playing big outdoor amphitheaters with corporate names. But an emphasis was placed on the architecture the music will happen in- something I think more musicians are considering. The 90s model of mega concert, where Dave Matthews was a little moving spec so you watched the jumbotron screen and paid $10 for a Coke, seems to be slowly being subverted by the intimate concert experience.

Knoxville is lucky in this regard. Somehow, we managed to not tear down the last few historic theaters. And we have desirable venues of all sizes- big Tennessee, medium Bijou, smallish Square Room, and micro Pilot Light. Perfect places for tours of all sizes. I'm seeing Knoxville pop up on more and more tour lists (shout out to AC). It's worth noting that our "Music City" neighbor is often missing from the lists that we're on. A musical critical mass is developing in our city. And, I would theorize, the wonderful architecture (and the musical experiences it facilitates) of our venues has a lot to do with it.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

a tree grows in henley

Is it any wonder that the city is shutting down this bridge for the next 3 years?

Personally, I think that part of basic bridge maintenance is to make sure plants that have roots structures that can undermine the concrete are not allowed to take root in large numbers.

Here are a few shots of the vegatative adventurers that I could get. These are just the closest ones that I could get pictures of, though there are many, many more.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Jive Junket 2010: Southbound

The summer is almost gone and I have not fulfilled my duty to find the best dance place in Knoxville. I'm sorry I've failed you. If I can offer any excuse, it's that recently I've opted to go to bed by midnight on the weekends rather than going out dancing. The thought of any superfluous sweating after a hot summer day hasn't been very appealing.

I'm done whining. I finally went out dancing somewhere new Saturday night.

I decided I would try Southbound first because there's a billboard on my way home that keeps reminding me it's the place to be on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night. At least the two girls portrayed on it seem to think so.

I had to muster up all of my nerves on this one. I asked a friend to join me, one of my only friends who doesn't dance like a close relative of Elaine Benes. She's what one might call a sexy dancer, exactly who I needed with me on this endeavor.

We arrived at 11:30 pm. There wasn't a line, and when we entered, males were being directed to the left where they paid a cover. My friend and I were directed to the right, where we were NOT asked to pay a cover.

It was packed, not uncomfortably, but we weaved through to the bar and got some drinks. Once I had beverage in hand, I found myself immediately looking for the dark corner of the room where I could warm up. Sassy Ann's has such a place, and I have grown accustomed to it, as it helps me build up my dance moves in my own timing.

Southbound does not have said corner, at least not one that I saw, so I followed my friend smack dab in the middle of the dance floor where I had no other option than to start dancing cold turkey. Lucky for me, Get Low began to play and my born-and-raised Memphis bones followed suit.

The ambiance. The main level is a large, open room. The lighting was on the brighter side of dim, which at first made me nervous, but I got over it quickly. They have TV screens around the room displaying the appropriate music video for each song. Girls who worked there danced on tables in front of the TV screens ((so hottt)). Most songs were shortened and faded quickly into the next, which my attention deficit-ness enjoyed. The mix was mostly hip hop, rap, or pop: Ludacris, Beyonce, Miley Cyrus (??), etc.

We were dressed appropriately, I in my jeans and black shirt, my friend in a black dress. Some girls wore dresses while others were more casual. There certainly were a lot of dudes in button up shirts and ties. People of all ages were there, ranging from young to, say, 50's.

So you better understand my stance on dancing...  I typically don't go to a club to dance with men I have just met. Instead I'll go with a group of girls, kind friends who create buffers for one another to ward off the lurking, creepy male.

But as I said, I was with my sexy-dancing friend.

My night at Southbound, in a nutshell, felt like this: 'Round about the middle of the third song, my friend lured in a very fine looking gentleman. From there, it took me about 45 seconds to return to the bar for another drink. A minute later, I threw away my unfinished drink and left.

Yes, I left my friend to fend for herself. She appeared to be in it for the long haul, and I had no intention of finding anyone else to dance with, so I fled.

As I left, the DJ announced that the second and third floors were opening. For research sake, for you, I wanted to go up there, but my short-lived attempt at dancing led me out the front door instead.

I looked at my watch. 12:00 am. Good, B. A solid 30 minutes.

There are a lot of morals to this story (I think) one being that Southbound is not as bad as I always imagined. Not really at all. I'll probably go back. Another moral is I need a posse the next time I go there. And now, if I ever get the hankering to grind with a strange older man wearing a tie, I know exactly where to go.

With these lessons learned, I commit myself to keep Jive Junketing... 2010.

106 South Central Street
Knoxville, TN 37902-1009
(865) 474-1038

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

goose creek wreck

Yesterday, exploring the urban wilderness areas of Riverside Drive and Cherokee Trail with Mr. Jobe, we came upon this scene: the surprisingly picturesque, surprising bad smelling Goose Creek in the Scottish Pike neighborhood. What attracted our attention though is in the middle of the photo (squint your eyes against the bad phone camera pixelation) is the fairly large wrecked boat lodged up against those old concrete piers. What happened?! Is anyone missing a boat? How did it manage to get in Goose Creek? Shipwrecks have always been fascinating to me since watching Swiss Family Robinson as a kid. I might go back to get a closer look and see is she's salvageable. Salvage rights apply on big rivers, right? Maybe she'll become the S.S. Wigshop.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

In with the Old

This Friday and Saturday, the Knox Heritage Salvage Room will be open. What is the Salvage Room? It is a place for historic building materials to go rather than a landfill to be re-used in new ways. They have  pedestal sinks, beautiful wooden doors, windows with wavy glass, flooring, sturdy hardware, light fixtures, you name it.

You can go anytime during the week from 9am to 5pm if you call ahead of time, but this Friday from 9-5pm and Saturday from 9am-12pm it will be open to anyone without an appointment.

The Salvage Room is perfect if you are refurbishing an older home or building. It's also great for creative people that want to give new life to old things. There are a lot of artists in Knoxville that could draw inspiration from salvage.

If you can't make it this weekend, call their office to schedule another time to go or be on the look out for future Saturday sales each month.

For more information, go to the Knox Heritage Salvage Page. Check out this link to see ideas for making new things from salvage.

Knox Heritage Architectural Salvage Sale
1300 N. Broadway, Park behind the Greystone Mansion. Look for signs.
Friday August 13, 9am-5pm
Saturday August 14, 9am-12pm
(865) 523-8008

Friday, August 06, 2010

First Friday: August

It's a Friday of the First variety. Maybe, just maybe, we'll get some respite from this awful heat tonight for the First Friday goings on downtown. If you're limiting your FF activity because of the heat, though, might I suggest these four things tonight?

1. The new Knoxville Transit Center is complete, and it's really turned out to be a beautiful building. It's the first LEED-certified (ie green) public building built by the city of Knoxville, and the architect will be on hand tonight to offer tours and discuss the unique features of the building. There's also an art exhibition going on there with works by a variety of artists. The center is on the Church Street bridge that crosses over James White Parkway (ie between downtown and Hall of Fame Dr.) and will be First Fridaying from 5 to 8 p.m.

2. Our very own B is showing again at La Costa this month! I haven't had a chance to see any of her work, but word on the street is it's a bit different than her usual work, so even if you've seen her before at La Costa or Tomato Head, you should make a plan to see her stuff. La Costa's drink specials run from 4 to 7 p.m., and the restaurant is open until 11 p.m.

artwork by b.

3. The Arts & Cultural Alliance is having an art consignment sale in the balcony at the Emporium. Artists and members of the alliance will offer new or gently used artwork, antiques, bric-a-brac, crafts and jewelry for sale. A third of the sales benefit the alliance. Sale will be going on from 5 to 9 p.m. and again on Sunday from 11 to 3 p.m.

4. Ferd Moyse, the fiddler for the Hackensaw Boys and now Knoxville resident, is hosting his own little party at the Visitors' Center/Morelock Music (where he's now working!). Moyse will be jamming with banjoist and songwriter Morgan O'Kane. The party will start at 6 p.m. at the Visitors' Center, where there will be food from The Parlor, and then will migrate down Gay Street to Morelock Music at 8 p.m.

Happy First Fridaying!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Today is the Day!

Election day is a great day.

Today we get to exercise that most unique of rights, we cast our ballots to determine our leaders.

Allow me to pontificate if you will. I love the big elections, they are exciting and important or at least they seem to be. It has been my experience that the closer the election is to home the less attention is paid to it. How many of you know your school board member, your city councilman, your county commissioner? For that matter, if any of you are interested in party politics do you know that you elect the state officials.

The small races are only that in numbers which leads me to my next point. Your vote matters more in a small election than in a big one. That's just the honest truth. The larger the number of voters the less the proportion your vote matters. If you want to make a difference, if you want your vote to matter the most, invest your energy in a local, small race and make an effort to be a part of it.

OK no more rants. Here are the links for the election:

Election Office

Where to vote

Sample Ballots D & R

I'll be staring at the computer clicking refresh and watching the returns, let me know if you'll be doing the same.

Vote Early, Vote Often, and as always, Write-In-Spellings!