Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Go see...

Shovels and Rope tonight at Barley's.

It's pint night, there's no cover, and they're great. As far as I know, there's an opener that starts at 9pm.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fall is Here and it's Corn-Mazing!

Yesterday, I went to the Cruze Farm Corn Maze. I've never been to a corn maze before, so I had a lot to take in and a lot of observations to make.

It was definitely a wholesome affair, attracting young and old.

We didn't know whose birthday it was, but did it really matter?

Height of this Pumpkin Head? About 5'5" tall.

The food was delicious, which is to be expected of Cruze Farm- ice cream, burgers, hot dogs, and fries. Mmmm.

In the maze, we were asked to spot some celebrities along the way. Here's Mary Costa, voice of Sleeping Beauty, who was from Knoxville, or lived here... I can't remember...

And here is Governor Bill Haslam. Striking resemblance!

I wasn't keeping time, but it probably took us about 30-45 minutes to walk through all of it. Not difficult, but we stopped along the way for some photo opps.

Of course, we bought snacks for the road. Look at that straw. Cruze Farm knows it's all in the details. 

Hope you can make it out there or to another local corn maze. I've heard of several, spooky and non.

Below is some info about the Cruze Farm Corn Maze. I'm not positive when their hours are, but I'm sure you can call them and find out: 300-3307. 

Thanks for reading, and Happy Fall!

Yours truly,

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Lets Revisit the Idea of Speed Cameras Shall We?

Pol here, with an idea that is likely to get me rather lambasted by anyone who reads it. I've been thinking through the idea of traffic and congestion recently and think I may have a rather novel solution to a common problem.

We here at the Wigshop tend to hate red light cameras. They are revenue focused, do not reduce accidents, and represent the privatization of our police system, in short they are bad.

I have wondered though, if there is a way to take that technology and apply it usefully in such a way as to actually improve the quality of life in our city. I have also become rather obsessed with the body count that is our highway signage these days, the death count was at 604 when I checked last.That being said my proposition is as follows:

I suggest that a system of speed cameras set up on all main interstate corridors within Knox county to enforce the speed limit would actually reduce the overall time of commute, free up police resources, and reduce traffic accidents.

Picture with me if you will, a series of cameras, well marked, at equal intervals, and run by the Knoxville Police Dept that enforce the speed limit along 40, 640, 275, 75, and Pellissippi. These cameras would be active from the hours of 7AM through 9AM and again from 4:30PM until 6:30 pm. Signage would clearly mark the bounds in which these cameras operate and lights would signal when they were active. I propose the following guidelines:

  1. Any speed over 5 mph over the speed limit would result in the ticket
  2. The fine would be approximately $10
  3. You could receive a maximum of 1 fine per day
  4. The fine would not be reflected on a motor vehicle report
The entire purpose of this program would be to make traffic flow at a consistent speed which would overall create a much more pleasant and safe driving environment. We have all been passed on the right by some person trying to gain a car length or frustrated by someone going 50 in the left lane, this program would create a mild incentive for everyone to travel at the same rate of speed and if you do exceed the limit the penalty is not onerous.

Optimally this program would be revenue neutral, but even if it does run a deficit the benefits of a better commute cannot be undervalued. Reduced stress, lower impact on cars, less damage to roadways, less need for police to risk life and limb for a ticket, it could be a great way to, on the margins, make Knoxville different from other cities.  And until I get my self driving car I have to deal with other people driving.

So, who knows how to get is started?

Monday, July 16, 2012

July First Friday Highlight: Brigid Oesterling

Photo by Shawn Poynter

Last First Friday (July 6), Magpies, where I usually begin my evening, wasn't holding their usual tasting event, so with a stomach void of mini cupcakes, I went to the 100 Block earlier than usual. At 6pm, it was pretty steamy outside and there weren't many people out yet.

Photo by Shawn Poynter

I went to a couple of shows that I'll write about soon, ones you should check out before the month ends, but since things were pretty slow at that point, my friend talked me into grabbing a beverage at the Crown and Goose.

Photo by Shawn Poynter

On our way back down Jackson Avenue, we passed a crowd gathering outside of the Heuristics Workshop on Jackson Avenue by the Gay Street Viaduct around 8:15ish.

I had heard Brigid Oesterling was having a fashion show and discovered this is where it would be happening. A few minutes later, Three Man Band began playing, and her models came out, walking along the loading dock outside the warehouse.

Photo by Shawn Poynter

I was fortunate to have seen another Brigid Oesterling fashion show recently in Nashville. We were both part of a show put on by RAW Nashville last month, and she and her mostly Knoxvillian models looked great on the runway set up in Mercy Lounge. (View photos here.)

Photo by Denise Sanabria

I was excited to see her designs, however, on Jackson Avenue in Knoxville, sauntering to the tunes of Three Man Band. It all seemed very... fitting (pun intended).

Hair was done by Kim Woods from Belleza Salon, and makeup by Lara Duren and Brynn Gonzales (left) of Lox Salon. Photo by Shawn Poynter

It was just the type of thing I like to see on a First Friday.

Brigid. Photo by Shawn Poynter
artist. curator. costumer. seamstress. sewing machine collector.  specializes in re-creating with recycled/re-used materials, especially inner tubes and rubber.


Video by Matthew Amudsen

Sunday, July 08, 2012

swimming + Olympics = Knoxville

So who knew, but apparently Knoxville has some really good swimming facilities.

And apparently a contingent of the USA swim team is here doing pre-Olympic training.

Ryan Lochte has been spotted along with several other tall, broad shouldered individuals.

Training is not open to the public, but i bet one could wrangle some sorry of pass of one was so inclined.

Just thought everybody should know.


Friday, July 06, 2012

Freedom Thighs 2012

I couldn't tell you specifically what I like so much about the Freedom Thighs bike ride. There's an inexpressible feeling it gives you, something pictures and text may not have the ability to convey, but I'll try.

Outside the Birdhouse

The bike ride happens each 4th of July, meeting at the Birdhouse around 4pm. Bikers line up in the street, listen to a rendition on the Star Spangled Banner (this year, Dolly Parton's), and begin their patriotic cruise through the neighborhoods of Knoxville.

Most attendees are decked out in American themed apparel. I myself bought a flag vest a couple years back for my first Freedom Thighs, and it's become a go-to for this ride each year. This year, two synchronized boom boxes towed behind bikes busted out jams ranging from Ludacris's Roll Out to some USA themed songs sung in Spanish.

Eagle on Rollerblades!

I couldn't tell you either, if there is any common thread that runs through each of the bikers who come each year to ride this ride.

 I overheard one hipster-looking biker say to his friends as I slowly meandered past them, "I can't tell if this race is satirical or not. It seems like there are a lot of truly patriotic people here, but I know there are some anarchists here as well... and just so y'all know, I bought this (American flag) t-shirt at Wal-Mart."

Sidenote: I don't know much about this subject, but it's true that there is a small contingent of anarchists that like to ride bicycles in Knoxville. They're some real nice people, yet would a true anarchist attend an American-themed bike ride? Are anarchists known to be especially ironic?*

Maybe what I like about the ride is the simultaneous delight and confusion I feel.

Freedom Thighs does mostly draw a bunch of white hipsters, it's true.

Part of the route winds through some East Knox neighborhoods which are predominantly inhabited by African Americans. These are some of my favorite streets to ride through because there is such a great community presence there. So many families came out on their porches to cheer on us white kids dressed like idiots.

And together, we all cheered on America.

 If that's not patriotic, I couldn't tell you what is.

Babe-raham Lincoln

We made a stop at the Pilot on Magnolia. That Pilot made a billion dollars yesterday, and so did the ice-cream man who stopped there when he saw all of us.

Love grows at Pilot

Then some idiot started shooting fireworks. Really? At a gas station? I can't say everyone on the ride is the brightest.

I saw many faces on the ride that have moved away from Knoxville over the past few years. They come back for this ride, and that's saying something.

I didn't end up finishing out the whole route. I think they went about 10 miles in all, making various stops to rest, consume cold beverages, and eat hotdogs, but I had a cookout calling my name.

The Ice-Cream man found us

If you have been intrigued in the slightest by this post, you should consider taking a chance on shenaniganery and joining the ride next year. No one fits in, but we all do because we're American, you know what I'm saying?

 Wherever the 4th of July took you, whether you were enjoying a/c with normal, calm people or with a bunch of hooligans on bikes, I do hope it was as merry one.

Facilitators of Freedom Thighs

*Questions for another time.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Do You Own Property Downtown?

If so please vote The Pol (Cullin Spellings) for the CBID board.

You should have received your ballots in the mail the other day, and you have all of 2 days to get them filled out and returned. You can do one of two things:

#1 Vote for the pol (as seen below)


#2 Designate Cullin Spellings to be your Proxy (as seen below)

Or finally, if you will be at the yearly CBID Board Meeting on Monday the 25th at 11:30 at the Chamber of Commerce please vote for Cullin.

If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time you know he loves downtown and would do a great job at advancing the interests of the residents. If you have any lingering doubts, here is a final reason why you should vote for him.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mystery of Jesus Dreams Solved... kind of

Here is why you should go to CBID meetings. Look who one of our neighbors spied the other day. BOOM

So here is the scoop (hat tip to Mr. Owens who lives in The Holston), Ricky, the "artist", is actually some kind of religious zealot. Not sure if its a particular sect or something he just came up with, but this is psuedo-christian missionary work apparently.

 Now it gets interesting. Ricky puts up the "Jesus takes away bad dreams" and the other variations because #1 it is Gods message and he can put it on Gods property and since God owns everything he can put it everywhere. And #2... wait for it... the message itself is aimed at the Jews. Apparently a jewish person will understand this code language and perhaps be converted. Any of our semitically inclined readers care to comment on that part? Gentiles don't feel too left out, he has started a new line of all inclusive art (see the bottom right corner of the picture) a picture of the bible that says Jesus loves you.

So if you see Ricky around putting up posters feel free to call the police as he is defacing public property, and generally being a creeper. The things you learn by going to the CBID residents meetings.

Also the Pol has been nominated to be one of the CBID board members representing the residents downtown. So all you property owners please vote for Cullin Spellings or assign him as your proxy for the June 25th meeting. You'll be getting your ballots in just a few days. Thanks!

Monday, June 11, 2012

CBID... Whats that?!?!

As a downtown resident, I pay money every year int the CBID, the Central Business Improvement District. It's a local governmental body tasked with doing for downtown what the City and County governments can't do on their own. CBID sponsors things like the HOLA festival, provides facade grants,and generally encouraging people to live, work, shop, and visit downtown Knoxville. Not exactly the most public of the quasi-governmental boards, no good scandals like Tourism and Sports, but since it's inception since 1993 it's clear that they have had a positive effect on our ever growing downtown area. The board consists of different stakeholders who either, live, work, or own property. It's important to have people who care about the future of our little urban experiment to be the ones who are on this board, more on that later. *hint a wigshppoer has been nominated to the board* If you're interested in learning more, see their website here. Lots of wigshop love to everybody!

Friday, May 04, 2012

A Win for Urbanism

Forgive my absence, fatherhood takes its toll on a young man.

 That said, I want to defend the indefensible. I am a supporter of Walmart.

 Now before you attack me let me add my caveat. I am a supporter of the Fulton Bellows project and I'll tell you why. For years we have been talking about how people need to look back to the center city for living and working. That sprawl is not the inevitable, much less the desirable goal of city planning. How we long for businesses, stores, retail, grocery, etc. to move back in to downtown bringing with it that density that adds so much flavor to life.

 Well, its time to declare a partial victory.

 Walmart is a suburb store. The epitome of what we look to as the problem. Walmart buys up 20 acres of farmland, throws up a store and with 6 months there is a Chili's, McDonald's, 2 strip malls, Advanced Auto and 19 subdivisions full of throw away houses. Yes they are part of the problem, but they are the worlds largest retailer, they draw people out of the city center and now they are coming back in.

 I recently had a conversation with a friend who went off on having a Walmart move in near campus. He is convinced that it will destroy businesses in the area. Lets grant the possibility, though I'm not sure what retailers on the strip will suffer. He argued that people who would shop at Just Ripe and The Market would now just go to Walmart or the new Publix. Again, that may be marginally true, but people are already doing that. I shop Kroger weekly, it's just a must do. So do 95% of everyone else.

 And here is the core of my argument, people are going to shop the big retailers, because its more economical. It just is. But by companies like Walmart and Publix taking a non-standard site that would be vacant and blighted, trying out a new location and a new model and in turn keeping more people close to town I see as a win-win. This is something to be looked at as a positive development as a sign that our overall goal of bringing life back to the high density areas is well under way.

Congratulations Knoxville Urbanists, you are having a bigger impact than you thought.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Trying to press on: Yee-Haw's last day

I've never been the type of person that wants to meet a band or musician after a show. I find it awkward, no, impossible, trying to verbalize my inexpressible feelings about something that has stirred my soul.

I've found myself waiting outside a tour bus parked in an alley, however, to appease giddy friends with albums in tow. When it's my turn to shake the artist's hand, my default phrase is something like, "Thank you for what you do," and then I'm out of there. No gushing, no awkward lingering. It's not my style.


This morning, I biked downtown to run a work errand and saw the doors of Yee-Haw open, clothing racks lining the entrance. I locked up my bike and walked inside.

Kevin Bradley was off to the right, sporting his plaid pant uniform, sifting through prints, and filling a long list of online orders. He looked up at me and said, "Hello, honey," and gave me hug. "How are you?"

"It's a sad day," I said.

His response: "It's beyond that."

I picked through the prints, finding ones I've always wanted but have never gotten around to buying- the lady that's an ice-cream cone, a Farmer's Market strawberry card, mini cards reading "Te Quiero." I also picked up a journal and a postcard that says "Knoxville Girl," because I had to. I lusted after the larger, more expensive prints, wishing I could indulge.

A few other customers came through while I was there- an older couple shuffling through the endless array of prints and a woman in a dress suit who walked in knowing exactly what she wanted- a tote bag with a pink ice-cream cone printed on it.

When I had made my choices, I walked up to the counter to a voiceless Julie Belcher (she lost it yesterday) who hand-wrote my receipt and whispered my total. She smiled as she bagged up my items.

While I stood there, I wondered if I should say something encouraging or complimentary.

I've really appreciated your work.
You're going to be missed. 
Y'all... y'all are awesome.

What came out instead was, "I wanted more than this, but I'm on my bike. How long will y'all be selling online?"

"Til midnight," she whispered.  (Kevin will be at the shop until at least 7 this evening, too.)

As she handed me my bag of goodies, I thanked her and walked out the door, signifying the death of my longest Knoxville business crush.


Going against my normal protocol, I'll linger here a little longer to give a few thoughts about the closing of Yee-Haw.

My personal praises for Yee-Haw are mostly in regard to how they have ridden the impossible line of making good art that sells in Knoxville. They have transformed a creative passion into a viable business, basing it in Knoxville but extending their talents internationally. When the art-scene looks bleak (because it does more often than not when you are a working artist here), I'm reminded of their presence and it puts me at ease. They have been a role-model by consistently inspiring me to stay and encourage the contemporary art scene here. They've inspired me to work harder.

And while I think Knoxville needs Yee-Haw, I know I can't force it to stay. I can, however, be thankful for what they have done for Knoxville and the art scene here. I am and will continue to be long after their doors have closed.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Beginning of the End

In May I move on to the next section of my life. The past five years have been fantastic. I have experienced so much personal growth in Knoxville. I have made friends that I will have for the rest of my life and have gotten to enjoy how great this city is. I leave this place, in many ways, different from when I came. The city has changed so much over the last few years. Looking back on my journey through school, or even just at my introduction/bio post for the wigshop I can see more clearly how the little quirks make Knoxville (at least the areas that I lived/enjoyed/listened) great. Originally I looked and saw tall(ish) buildings and assumed that something cool happened "down there". I was delighted to find the Pilot Light and Old City Java quickly in my first year here and have since spent countless hours in both fantastic establishments.

Recently I decided to read Suttree by Cormac McCarthy. It wasn't that I was unwilling to read it, I just wanted to save it for something special. That something special has become the end of my sojourn in Knoxville. I leave very soon and having taken an entire class on the works of James Agee it had to be Suttree and it could only end this way. Most of the places that have been formative for me in Knoxville have been places that I can read, talk to friends, or just relax. I decided that I wanted to read the book in a few of my favorite Knoxville spots and that my reading would be a good way to say farewell. Intermittently over the next few weeks (graduation for me is on May 11 and I plan on biking to campus in my robes and finishing it before I walk across the stage and move away) I will be posting my favorite places. Nothing overwhelming, just places that are important to me and why.
The first place is Old City Java. Old City Java has been my second home. B wrote a love letter in an earlier post. Now it is my turn. As a college student is apt to do, I moved a whole lot in the last five years. I never had an office (except for my favorite graduate carrell in Hodges Library, and that was frequently taken) so when I need(ed) to work Old City Java was the place. It was where I went to actually get work done and drink really great coffee while doing it. Meg and Shaun bought Old City Java a few years ago and brought about really great changes. The building is brighter and more welcoming. The alley (pictured above) has been a nice, recent development. They started serving Counter Culture Coffee which can be read about here. They also happen to be fantastic people who are passionate about coffee. They go on trips to learn about coffee. They are proud coffee nerds. It is refreshing to see people that are really passionate about something. Note: Being disaffected or too cool is lame. I love it there because you can tell that they are passionate about what they do. If you have never been, please go and check it out. It is far and away the best coffee shop in town. Enjoy the day, maybe go grab some coffee at Old City Java (109 S. Central Ave. Knoxville, TN 37902) and soak in the recent bout of great weather we have been having.

Friday, April 06, 2012

The Salvage Show

Tonight is The Salvage Show, a one night exhibition put on by Knox Heritage. It will feature works that incorporate historic building materials from The KH Salvage Room created by local artists and designers. It's from 6-9pm tonight on the second floor of 36 Market Square- the empty four story building that sits across from Blue Coast Burrito. The owner's of the building, Ken and Brenda Mills, have graciously opened up their building for this event.

flyer by Per-Ole Lind

All proceeds benefit Knox Heritage, and depending on the artist's preference, the artist as well.

It is First Friday, so come out and support local artists at the Salvage Show and all over downtown tonight. It's supposed to be nice out, so that's extra incentive.

The artists of the 2012 Salvage Show are:

Ryan  Burgess
Laurence Eaton
Michelle Garlington
Ethiel Garlington
Christina Geros
Krista Graves
Briena Harmening
Christopher King
Forrest Kirkpatrick
Per-Ole Lind
Dale Mackey
Sara Martin
Beth Meadows
John Phillips
Brian Pittman
Shawn Poynter
Gregory Spaw
Jessie Van der Laan
Brian Wagner

Here's a sneak peak of some of the items you'll see there:

Table by Brian Wagner

Necklace by Jessie Van der Laan

Table by Per-Ole Lind

Writing Lamp by Shawn Poynter

Bow and Arrow Mobile by Dale Mackey

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bargain B: 31 Bistro and Preservation Pub

The warm weather and sunshine have turned Market Square into a magnetic force field, luring me to its patios.

On Monday, I sat in the sunshine at Pres Pub's patio and enjoyed Blue Moonday ($2 pints of Blue Moon). I had a couple of glasses and split a cheese pizza with a friend for a total of about $7 before tip.  Awesome.

Then Tuesday, the same friend and I tried out 31 Bistro's Happy Hour, as their sign out front has been enticing me. I don't really know what the story is with the restaurant that was formerly La Costa, but I've learned they have a killer Happy Hour.

From 4-7pm Monday through Saturday, glasses of sangria, their regular margarita, glasses of house wine, and bottles of beer are $2 each. They also have Happy Hour food, so my friend and I shared a plate of fries with a creamy aioli dipping sauce. We each spent about $6 before tip, having 2 drinks each and sharing the fries. Patio perfection.

Thankfully nicer weather means riding the ole bike around again which I'm going to need to do more if I keep giving in to my Happy Hour addiction. I'm doing this for you, Knoxville, because I care.

(Is it funny that my first post since November is about eating junk food and boozing it up? I've found my muse!)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Royal Bangs TONIGHT!

Tonight the best band in Knoxville, Royal Bangs, will play the pilot light. It's been a while since the hometown heroes played here. Come and support your local scene. It is going to be fantastic. Starting the show is Big Bad Oven (distorted lap steel and saxophone= rock and roll.) This will be followed by anti-comedian Gary Plimpton. It's going to be full of dancing, fun, and great music. The Pilot Light, 10 p.m. 7$ (worth every penny)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tonight at the Pilot Light


It is going to be great. $8 show at "10" (The pilot light has its own time zone. Kind of like Mountain time.) \\\\//// With Marina Orchestra and Ed Schrader's Music Beat.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tomorrow Night

Friday night Painted Desert and Natalie Prass at Relix. 8 p.m. $5

Painted Desert

Natalie Prass w/Brent Thompson.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Memorial

It's been one year since the first of two workers were killed on the Henley St. bridge project and tonight there will be a memorial for those people.

Typically, I might not feel the need to post about this, but the project is literally out my back door. I see these men working everyday and so feel a bit of a connection.

You may recall I wrote a handful of rather damning posts about the company that is running the project, and while there have been lots of improvements, I still feel they should have lost the contract.

Local workers unions, churches, and various interested groups will be meeting at 5PM tonight for a memorial walk from the corner of Henley and Hill Ave. the candlelight vigil will follow on Volunteer Landing at 6PM.

I'm glad this event is happening in order to make sure that Britton Bridge Co. remembers that they put 2 men senselessly in harms way and they died because of it. Hopefully there will be no future need for more vigils like this one.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

some great shows

Ok, there are three shows coming up that I am really excited about.

Next week: Friday January the 27th at Relix (on central across from Time Warp Tearoom, in happy holler)

Painted Desert


Natalie Prass

Painted Desert is made of two really great songwriters (Austin Manuel and Heidi Feek) who have come together to write really fantastic songs. The Nashville duo's music conveys feelings of longing and love so well. The beautiful melodies will be stuck in your head for day, and that is not a bad thing. Here is a video of them performing at music city roots with Joey + Rory:

or my personal favorite "Take Me Home" (it reminds me of Townes Van Zandt or Guy Clark)

Natalie is another fantastic songwriter who really cares about her songs. She crafts beautiful and delicate pop songs that accentuate her ethereal voice. This is a video of her playing in Knoxville last year:

Tuesday January 31st at the Pilot Light

Future Islands

Future Islands are a great band from Baltimore. I have seen them 3 times and every single time was fantastic. The lead singer, Samuel Herring provides an emotional intensity that is hard to beat. He is a crooner who will destroy an audience.

w/Ed Schrader's Music Beat 10 p.m. $8

Monday February 13th at the Pilot Light

Zola Jesus

Zola Jesus is an electro-goth/pop singer with a killer voice. It is going to be awesome.

that voice. w/Talk Normal 10 p.m. $12