Friday, September 30, 2011

the social history of an urban node

In urban design parlance, a "node" is a concentration of activity in a city, usually dining, shops, and higher density residential. Most development doesn't spread out evenly- entrepreneurs tend to bunch together and create a critical mass to attract customers. It must be something in our psychology from living in cities for thousands of years. Even in decentralized suburbia we made artificial nodes called, you know, "malls."

What is our best known node? Market Square. Imagine if we took all the restaurants on the Square and spread them out through the city. Would they do nearly as well? Urban nodes tend to form organically, usually with a pioneer (e.g. Tomato Head) forming the nucleus and gradually spreading out with a mix of successes and failures. Often they form hermit crab-like in historic nodes of yesteryear (Old City, Happy Holler).

More exciting to me, new nodes are forming elsewhere in the city. But always, ALWAYS, people say "That will never work." They're the same people that say "There's too many homeless around there for a restaurant." They forget that fifteen years ago Market Square had bums sleeping on all the benches. Did we "clean up the rifraff" and THEN the restaurants and shops moved in? Emphatically, NO. Brave souls came downtown and put a lot of there own money on the line to open up shop. Only after it was moderately successful did the police get tough on aggressive panhandling and vagrancy. The point is, people went and supported those businesses before it was "safe."

So I'm skeptical when I hear the same criticisms of new nodes. We see the pioneers, predict failure, and ensure their failure by returning to our familiar places. Not all new things will be good. Some nodes will fail. But I feel it's our civic duty to make ourselves aware of what's going on and go out there and try it out. Supporting the pioneers of today means we're helping build the urban nodes of tomorrow.

View Nodes in a larger map

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September Bike In Movie at TVB

Out back of TVB at dusk tonight will be Hud, starring Paul Newman. If you have never seen it, it is totally worth going.
As before the movies start at dusk, the sunset is supposed to be at 7:24 tonight. Seven would probably be a nice time to order a drink at Public House before it starts.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Gettin' Jig & Reel-y Wit It

The other night a few of your fearless bloggers tackled the newest themed venue in the old city Jig & Reel. All said not a bad experience. Here, in brief, are a few thoughts from those who ventured deep in to the Gaelic heart of the Bowery.

[the Pol]

A cozy feel, though the fake fireplace is a bit kitsch even for that place. Nice server, even if she did talk me into purchasing a "boo-yay" bourbon. (10 points to the person who figures out what she meant) Yes my mistake, it is a scotch bar predominately. Anyhow, I'd go back especially during the winter. A nice place to hole up and forget for a while.

[Wild Bill]

The idea is a bit cliche, but it works. Everyone who is employed wears a kilt, they don't serve any whiskey (so I was told, only Scotch or Bourbon) and the menu is expansive. If you look at the bottom of the attached picture you can get 2 oz. of Scotch for only $130! I, admittedly, know nothing about Scotch, but that seems a bit steep. If anyone from the Jig and Reel reads this post a menu that explains the differences would be nice. The front room is cozy. The middle room reserved for "jam sessions" is a bit awkward. The back room just feels empty. They have two felt dart boards but would really benefit from having a whole room so that Knoxville could have a real darts bar.

Overall I would give it a B-, with editing (particularly the darts because I love darts) they could move up to a B+.


To be honest, I wasn't so sure about the place considering the name, the logo, and the fact that they painted the whole building red, but after our visit, my cynicism has subsided.

I entered the bar that Saturday night after Doc checked my ID (very glad he's still kickin' it down there), and took a seat in the first booth with The Pol, Mrs. The Pol, and Wild Bill. The doors were open as it was a lovely evening. There was good music coming from the second room (I forget who played). The cover was $10 to sit and see the band in the second room, but we opted to just hear it for free.

Our server was very attentive throughout the evening, asking us several times if we needed anything. Maybe we didn't look drunk enough for her (I blame Mrs. The Pol for that.)

All of the servers wore "kilts," though I would just call what the females wore teeny plaid skirts. Being a woman myself, I appreciated the tameness of their attire, as it would be easy to slut that uniform up in order to compete with the other fine establishments in the vicinity.

There was lots of Scottish paraphernalia scattered across the wall, but the icing on the cake was a Braveheart poster in the women's restroom.

I figure I'll definitely go back, but only if there is vacancy in the first room, as the second and third rooms lack ambiance. I look forward to sitting in the wingback chairs in front of the faux fireplace with a loved one some cold winter evening in the future. I also am very tempted to try their menu soon. Yummers.

Boyd's Jig & Reel
101 S. Central St
Knoxville, TN 37902

Monday, September 26, 2011

Election Day

Please reference any of my past posts for reason why to vote,but here is the big one.

I heard on George Korda on Sunday that the projected turn out for this election is something like 16,000. You will never have a better chance for your vote to count more. Seriously downtown-ophiles. Lets get out and make something happen.

See voting precincts.

Vote Early, Vote Often, and When in doubt Write In Spellings

See you at the polls!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The one's we've been waiting for...

OK everybody, we are fast approaching the end of early voting (Sept. 22) and election day on Sept. 27th. And I know that many of you have been waiting to make your decision about who to vote for, I apologize for the delay.

This is likely the most important of the elections Knoxville will have in the next few years as we are voting for new city councilmen and a new mayor. I encourage everybody to vote and hopefully this guide will be of assistance.

Here is a copy of the ballot and that is how I will lay out my recommendations.

First, the Tennessee Senate 6th District

This is a republican/ democrat primary, I don't have a pick, the only democrat running is Gloria Johnson.

Second, the biggie, Mayor of Knoxville.

Here is my view of this race. We need options and we deserve a properly vetted and tested mayor for this next stage of Knoxvilles development. That being said, I am for anybody who cannot, at this point get 51% of the vote.

Madeline Rogero is the front runner. She ran against Haslam in 04? and has since spent time in government apparently doing good work. She is a competent bureaucrat and knows how the system works, though to be honest, lacks that flair that comes as a matter of nature to most politicians. That may be a good thing depending on your point of view.

Mark Padgett
is my current favorite. A young man who is making a name for himself, yes his last name helps, and has put up a much stronger campaign than most expected. I met him early in his campaign and think he really has a heart for the town and has an easy confidence about him. I'd like to see him and Rogero in a heads up contest in November.

The field is rounded out by Joe Hultquist, Ivan Harmon, and Bo Bennett.
Hultquist and Harmon bring past government experience with them but don't seem to be gaining a lot of traction. Bennett is an also ran.

All that to say, lets keep all of them below that 51% threshold to force a run off and have a chance to really get to know these candidates.

The third race on the list actually is rather interesting. City council at Large Seat A is probably the most hotly contested of the City council races. I like Paul Berney (though he did rudely try to block my car in one evening (he later apologized). He is a true citizen activist taking his chance to make a change in city government. Michael McBath, he ran for county mayor remember, is also running. I like seeing his name on ballots it's kind of fun. John Stancil of city people fame would likely do a fine job and would represent a solid downtown focused councilman. I don't know anything about George Wallace except his unfortunate name recognition.

City council Seat B, I'll keep this brief, I like Marshall Stair.

City Council Seat C, same as above, I like Finbarr Saunders.

No other races are contested so I would say either vote for the person on the ballot or write me in, I'll always take your votes!

Get out there and vote early or due your duty on the 27th, but make sure and vote. Your vote never counts more than an off year election with a truly local focus. See you out there!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Natural Child

Tonight at the Pilot Light awesome stoner rockers Natural Child will be playing.

Listen to their music here.

This is my favorite Natural Child song:

the show is $5 and starts at 10p.m. w/The Sniff

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

FIXIT Clinic tomorrow night

If you are alive and breathing in this technological age, I assume that at one point or another you have experienced an electronic (stereo, printer, walkman, discman, tape player, karaoke machine, computer, word processor, electric typewriter, flashlight, ipod, cellphone, digital camera kitchen appliance, etc.) breaking.

And what is usually our response to this? Throw it away, right?

Then what? You buy a newer version that is just as likely to break within a few years.

In my experience, the worst of these are printers. As far as I know, every printer made in the past decade was made to malfunction within a few months, and it's sad that most of those millions upon millions of printers are in a landfill now.

What is my point?

Tomorrow, you will have a chance to rub shoulders with people who say, "No!" to discarding broken or worn out items, and "Yes!" to, at the very least, trying to fix them.

17th Street Studios, located at 1642 Highland Ave., is offering a free FIXIT Clinic at 6pm, tomorrow, Wednesday, September 14. All you have to do is bring one item that is broken (this can be ANYTHING that is broken) and we will provide as many tools and helpers to help you fix it.

Here is a video featuring the creator of the Fixit Clinic, Peter Mui. He will not be there, and probably no one will be wearing a lab coat, but this is what we will be going for:

Here is what you need to know about tomorrow:

Bring your broken, non-functioning things: electronics, appliances, computers, toys, etc. for assessment, disassembly, and possible repair. We'll provide workspace, specialty tools, and guidance to help you disassemble and troubleshoot your item. Whether we fix it or not, you'll learn more about how it was manufactured and how it worked. This is a FREE, family-friendly event: children are heartily invited!

We will provide numerous tools and "Fixers" to help you troubleshoot your item.

Please bring:
1) your broken or non-working thing (carry-in only: no oversize items)
2) any tools you already own that might be helpful (e.g. phillips head screwdriver)
3) a digital camera to document the disassembly and what we find inside
4) boxes, bags and/or small containers to organize (and carry away) parts

Here is the Facebook invite if you are into that, and you may read more about 17th Street Studios workshops and lectures here.

And, this may not go along with the beginning of my post, but I say if we can't fix it, we go Office Space on it, as long as we make jewelry out of the broken pieces. Upcycle!

This FIXIT Clinic is sponsored by:

Friday, September 09, 2011


Quick friday update.

First -Swagfest, Stephen A. Burroughs is well on his way to becoming a Knoxville Legend. Start this evening at the Sunsphere, I expect to see all of Knoxville there. But if you haven't RSVP'd you may be missing out on all the fun, sorry.

Second - Early Voting started this week. I'll put up a larger post about it later on but this is a reminder to go out and do your civic duty. (And if you're still on the fence go with Padgett, I'll explain why later just trust me)

Third - Art, there are a bunch of shows out, but if you haven't been to the KMA you should see it ASAP. Local favorite Brian Jobe has a great piece there along with some others, there is also an amazing set of works by a Korean sculpture that have to be seen to be appreciated.

Hope everybody has a great weekend!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

neverending om

This Saturday brings us another home football game (go Vols!) and another awesome opportunity for some free yoga. lululemon athletica is hosting Salutation Nation, which is an annual, international day of yoga. Every lululemon store worldwide offers a complimentary yoga class on this day.

Knoxville's event is this Saturday, 9/10/2011 from 9 - 10am at the World's Fair Park Festival Lawn. The event is complimentary, open to all levels and family friendly. So, before you get your tailgate on for the UT Game, head on down to WFP to get your om on. Check out the details and count yourself in here.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Jeff the brotherhood and Diarrhea Planet

Two of the best up and coming Tennessee bands are playing at the pilot light friday night. They also happen to be two of my favorite bands.


the first thing to know about Jeff is that they put on a hell of a show. I have seen them more times than I can remember and every single time they get better and better. They are the brothers Jake and Jamin Orrall. They were in other projects that were subsequently abandoned to form Jeff. They play riff-tastic rock and roll with a heavy beat. Their shows have a party atmosphere (note: the first time I saw them was at a party, but the vibe carries over to any venue). They have finally begun to gain the recognition they deserve with the release of their latest album "We are the Champions." They have garnered accolades from spin, rolling stone, nylon, and multiple other (non-local) sources. Essentially they kick ass. They even helped to debut a new song from the other band on spin a few days ago:

Diarrhea Planet

These guys really know how to throw down. They have the best? name in rock and roll, and they back up a name like Diarrhea Planet with really great tunes. They issued my favorite ep of last few years aloha just for fun, and then decided to get serious. The lineup features multiple guitarists that all can, and do, shred while being backed up by a power drummer in Casey Weissbuch. The vocals are layered and extremely catchy. Try listening to their music without having songs stuck in your head for a week. They are finally releasing a full length loose jewels (props to Nashvilles Dead for being the best) that I cannot wait for and have already pre-ordered. Check out the song on the album link. You can also check out what their shows sound like here.

also with Knoxvillians: COOLRUNNINGS

Friday night, 10 p.m. 18+, $10. the pilot light. Awesome times. Seriously.