Wednesday, November 24, 2010

they can't tow us all, can they?

In the independent spirit of our town, I came upon the above scene of civil disobedience. Parking is a fluid, instinctual game downtown, particularly in the "1 Hour" areas and "Commercial Loading" zones. The city has put up nice little yellow signs taking even more parking away for some reason, and our fair citizens have responded with an overwhelming "Meh." One thing that you can take comfort in is that there's more of us than them- when I look around and see dozens of cars with the same laisseze-faire attitude towards parking laws it warms and emboldens my heart. Surely an upswell of popular practice makes it OK? They can't tow us all away, can they?

Happy Holidays, Knoxville. Remember, buy local... and beware the meter maids.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

suddenly, there were trees

Trees! An instant instant forest has risen on the 100 block of Gay Street (much like a bunch of walking trees did outside a fortress in a certain epic fantasy trilogy that I'd reference here if I was a raging nerd). Anyways, they look good even though we won't get to see them in their full splendor until spring. It kinda makes you wish it was like this all the way down Gay Street, doesn't it?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Raise the Tree : a good cause

Raise the Tree

Delivering Christmas, Supporting Communities

Want to share the Christmas spirit? Want to support local non-profits in the process? "Raise the Tree" looks like a good way to go about doing that.

Basically you pick one of the non-profits, pay for the tree and bam it gets delivered to your door for free.

Here is a snippet from their website

We created Raise the Tree to “Deliver Christmas and Support Communities.” Our plan is simple: Bring back the spirit of Christmas by delivering REAL Christmas trees to your home on the day that the YOU choose, and then turn around and give 25% of our company’s profits back to local non-profit organizations in Knoxville. Which non-profit organizations? The ones that YOU choose.

Raise the Tree has already partnered with 8 Knoxville non-profit organizations including: Ijams Nature Center, Young Life, The Salvation Army, KARM, Tribe One, STAR, Holy Paths, and Second Harvest Food Bank. Partner organizations each have their own “home page” within Raise the Tree’s website where they get 25% of the profits from the sales on their respective page.

We look forward to seeing you very soon... specifically, when we show up at your front door to deliver your family's REAL Christmas tree.

Merry Christmas.

Paul Dickenson and James Trimble
Co-Founders and Primary Truck Drivers for Raise the Tree

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Amplifier: Knoxville's first and only street paper

Today we have a guest post from David Morelli who has been working with Redeeming Hope Ministires to launch the Amplifier. Don't know what I'm talking about? Read on.

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

The Amplifier launches today!

The Amplifier, you say? What in the world...?

The Amplifier is Knoxville's first and only street paper!

Street paper? Again: what in the world...?

A street paper is a cool, entrepreneurial way for the "winners of capitalism" (i.e., the homeless or radically poor) to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, the good ole American way. It works this way: a vendor--typically a homeless person operating as a free agent--buys issues of The Amplifier, at cost, and then turns around and sells them to the body public for a dollar. He then reinvests the markup, purchasing more inventory and earning an income. Voila, microcapitalism at work for the least of us.

The Amplifier is run out of the basement of a group of community-minded people in Fort Sanders. Check out their website.

So, if you see someone, whom you may ordinarily brush aside as panhandling, trying to gain entrance to our wonderful consumer economy by selling something that's not a windshield wash at a stoplight, then I implore you to swat away your preconceived objections and spare a buck for a fledgling, home-grown paper that's just trying to make it out on the streets of our scruffy city.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

These streets will make you feel brand new

It was just last week I was telling someone I was feeling a little antsy in Knoxville. It happens every now and then. It's nothing a vacation can't fix, but I'm holding out for travels during the holidays, so for now, I've been looking for ways to get my mind to think about Knoxville differently, to look at it in a new way. My city deserves at least that much from me.

It helps when a day comes along that is perfect, and Knoxville offered that last Friday.

My night began with dinner at the Bistro with a group of friends. That place has become a fortress (a refuge, a stronghold) in a lot of ways. Everything about it, the old brick walls, the beautifully crafted bar (Miss Lil's suppleness), brings warmth and comfort in a way that many other restaurant cannot.

Sidenote: I shared the Lipitor Burger with a friend: 2 8 oz. patties, 6 pieces of cheese, and 4 pieces of bacon, and it was delicious.

After dinner, we walked next door to the Bijou for the Sufjan Stevens show. I had not listened to his new album Age of Adz and was told I should prepare myself, but I decided to just dive in head first. It ended up working out for me; it was phenomenal.

I wouldn't typically write about going to see a concert, but for those that weren't there, I thought it appropriate to share one thing in particular about the show. Sufjan Stevens talked about how he was glad to be back at the Bijou after having been here during Big Ears. When they had talked about tour stops, he decided against Nashville, but wanted to come back to Knoxville. He said we should be proud to live in a city that would take on something like Big Ears. I think everyone in the crowd who lived in Knoxville beamed a little more brightly upon hearing his remarks.

After the show, we walked to the grand opening of the Public House, which was icing on the cake. It was packed with people enjoying themselves over beers and nicely portioned plates of food. A couple of people I ran into commented about how they felt like they were in New York, feeling all fancy.

My night felt the same way, but the fact that I was in Knoxville made it all the more sweet.

Monday, November 08, 2010

storycorps, knoxville edition

If you've been downtown lately, you may have noticed an airstream stationed on the south end of Market Square. That, my friends, is the StoryCorps recording studio; and it's pretty awesome that it's here in Knoxville.

Most people who are familiar with StoryCorps are so because of NPR, which features a StoryCorps segment every Friday morning during Morning Edition. While it's awesome that NPR features the segment, StoryCorps is actually its own entity. From its mission:

StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 30,000 interviews from more than 60,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind.

StoryCorps tag line is, "Every story matters," and I think that's such a sweet sentiment but also one that's often overlooked. In the ever transforming media age, I think we're beginning to overlook ourselves; and we forget about what a joy it is to sit down and just listen, just connect. Oral history is somewhat lost, and that's a shame.

I've been a fan of StoryCorps for a long time; and when I found out the traveling recording studio (The MobileBooth) was coming to Knoxville, I was hoping I could snag an appointment...and I did. So last Sunday, Halloween, my dearest and headed to Market Square to tell our story.

The process is simple. You think of the person you most want to talk to and then think of the story you want to tell. You need to go online to the StoryCorps site to reserve your slot. And then you just show up A producer is there to guide you through the process and to take notes during the conversation, but for the most part it's just this really cool opportunity to sit back and talk to someone you love.

I talk to Scott every day and, yes, there was a producer in the booth listening to our conversation; but I found this to be an extremely intimate and personal experience. We talked about things that we haven't talked about in a while. We had a chance to review our personal history. And I will cherish it always. At the end of the session, we received a free CD of our conversation, and our story will be archived with the thousands of others at the Library of Congress. Forever. That's really, really cool. We were told that only about 1% of the stories are chosen for radio or podcast, but that doesn't even matter to me. This was one of the most valuable things I have done.

As I mentioned, you can talk about anything. But StoryCorps does have a few special initiatives to ensure certain stories are being told...and heard. I linked to the full list, but among them are September 11 stories, stories about Memory Loss and stories by and for the LGBTQ community.

It is completely free to tell your story, but of course the program survives on donations. Totally a worthwhile investment in my book. StoryCorps has already been here in Knoxville since the beginning of October, but the good news is that they'll be here for another week. If you'd like to participate, get online to see if any appointments are still available. Go archive a part of who you are.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Knox Public House: A Review

It very rare that the whole wigshop crew can get together. Wednesday night we all met up (sans max: he was working and 8 of 9 is not bad) at the soft opening for the Knox Public House. A Public House is, for those who care, where the word "Pub" comes from. The idea is that a Public House is an establishment that is locally based and can be the focal point of a community. The Knoxville Public House is located in the most wonderful area in town (also where I live): Downtown North/Emory Place Historic District. Located 212 W. Magnolia directly next door to TVB (Tennessee Valley Bikes) it offers something new and exciting to an area that has been neglected.

The bottled beer selection is large and varied. The prices are really good. The draft beers are also all quality: Avery IPA, Torch Pilsner, 1554, Budweiser, and Highland Ale.

We all enjoyed the charcuterie boards. I would like to take this opportunity to say that I love preserved meats (especially pork products) and Knox Public House did not disappoint in that department. It was all delicious. This is what the food looked like before we got to it.

The bar itself is aesthetically pleasing, as are the menus.

The wigshop-ers give the Knox Public House a 5/5. The Grand Opening is TONIGHT (FIRST FRIDAY). The regular hours will be Tuesday-Saturday 4 p.m. until close which will most likely be 3 a.m. One of the owners told us that they plan on serving classic cocktails, at the absolute latest, by January. The recent trend of speakeasy style bars is going to inspire the drink menu. Good drinks with local based everything = wigshop love. Go to the Knox Public House as soon as possible.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

an ode to the neighborhood potluck, fried chicken, and music

a few weeks ago, i searched for "potlucks" as an activity category on facebook. it was mainly on a whim to see how many people in the social networking sphere liked them too. it was kind of late at night, and i had just missed a my neighborhood's monthly potluck. to my surprise, it was there. and i proudly displayed "potluck"ing as a personal "like" on my profile page.

i really think that potlucks are what we need more of in our society. i am amazed at how sitting around a table and breaking bread together really forms community. food helps us cross social divides to strengthen groups around common goals like ridding our city of crime and blight (read about our neighborhood gatherings). friendships and potlucks are best when they are combined with activities. like shape note singing (the annual old harp thanksgiving singing is just around the corner).

and amazing free performances by local musicians. take this event tonight for example. relix variety theater is hosting abigail washburn (and special guests- we hear its cruz contreras tonight, but we imagine there will be more). the evening will begin with a potluck before the show begins.

mrs. lo and i saw abigail perform in a similar setting this past spring at the glowing body on central. at that time she was practicing songs for an upcoming recording session. mrs. lo and i raved about the evening for weeks to our friends outside knoxville because of how unique it was to listen to songs almost being written in our midst.

in the middle of the show, she told a quick aside about how she loves potlucks, especially when folks bring good vegetarian dishes (this was no different at the glowing body). lo and behold, however, a box of kfc chicken showed up much to her surprise. and she loved it!

so, mosey on down to my neck of the woods in Old North Knoxville tonight. if you miss it, abigail will be there for the next two wednesdays as the artist in residency performing songs from her soon-to-be-released album. (oh yeah, her hubby is bela fleck)

it's not too late to pick up a box of kfc and make our guests feel welcome to knoxville again!

Relix Variety Theater
1208 N. Central Street
8pm (show starts) 7pm (potluck)

p.s. she'll also be there on Nov. 10 and 17 in case you miss her.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Go. Vote. Now.

It's election day so this post is short.

Read THIS for the local races.

Read THIS for a breakdown of the national profile.

Go HERE to find your polling place.

Vote Early, Vote Often, and Write-In-Spellings