Ooo, ooo, I may not even have to enter to win--looks like Duke's been visiting my hometown (Knoxville). Gotta love living in the same locale as the Body Farm; every forensic show ends up with an ep here sooner or later. Although, given the other cities mentioned & the current events, I'm wondering if it has to do with the gas shortages.
In the interest of fostering verisimilitude, and because, hey, I like giving tours of downtown Knoxville, here are some interesting tidbits:
The Sunsphere is still standing, albeit empty (the rumor that somebody's going to open a new restaurant up there is so old that it's hardly worth mentioning). So don't believe that old Simpsons episode.
Yes, Knoxville really does half shut down for football games. Even in crappy years. Orange = camouflage.
Did you know? City Mayor Bill Haslam is the son of Jim Haslam, Jr., CEO of Pilot Travel Centers (a major gas station/convenience store chain). We are also the hometown of two other convenience store/gas chains: Breadbox & Weigel's. Weigel's (a.k.a. Weigel's Jug o' Milk) was started by a dairy farmer looking to distribute his milk. Most of the original farm (just north of Knoxville, in Powell) was turned into a subdivision called Broadacres, but there's still a big red barn near Powell Middle School.
Best lunchtime activity: WDVX's Blue Plate Special (www.wdvx.com
). Live blues/roots/americana.
Best places to eat downtown: There are a number of good restaurants on Market Square (all with patios), including Market Square Kitchen (soups, sandwiches, and salads; only open for lunches & weekend brunches. The owner, Hussein, is a sweetheart, about Duke's age; usually he's the guy at the register); Tomato Head (great build-your-own pizzas, also excellent bread & hummus, wraps. One of the better places to take a vegetarian, though they also have carnivorous options.); World Grotto (dance club at night, very Aladdin's Cave-ish; Sunday all-you-can eat omelot/waffle bar; build your own Bloody Mary bar, too. If you had been there this past Sunday (9/28), you would have spotted acclaimed classical guitarist Jason Vieaux on the patio, after a Saturday night concert put on by the Knoxville Guitar Society at the TN Valley Unitarian Universalist Church.); Oodles (excellent wine selection, but closed on Sundays); and Gus' Restaurant (kind of a hole-in-the-wall; it's where the construction workers go, rather than the business people/tourists. Don't order the burgers: they tend to the over-cooked shoe leather effect. But the pulled barbecue pork sandwiches are good, and you can play a game of pool while you wait for your fries. Say "hey" to Charlie, the current owner.)
This time year, you gotta watch out for the chestnuts falling from the trees on the south end of the square, but up until a couple of days ago it was still plenty warm enough for kids to play in the fountains.
And you really should go to the Downtown Grill & Brewery, which makes its own beer, and is very good.
Umm...oh, yes! The main road through downtown is Gay Street (one of the crossroads is Union Street). The north end of Gay Street has a sealed off underground layer, from when the Gay Street (railroad) Viaduct was originally built. The slope from the original street level across the bridge was too steep, so the street level was raised up a story; the current ground floors of a lot of that part of Gay Street are the original second stories. You can still see where the original level was in some places, especially at the 100 block of Gay Street where it joins the viaduct. No one I know of has ever been able to get down there (and I know folks of the explore-abandoned-buildings persuasion), so it's pretty well sealed off.
I've thought for years that the World's Fair Park would be a great place for a chase sequence; there are a number of interesting level changes, an ampitheatre, and things to climb on/jump over/run around. It's gotten even better this year: local PTB finally refurbished the creekside greenway connection between the World's Fair Park and the Riverfront Park. But all our creeks are polluted, blegh, and many have been containerized & buried. One of these days the local water spirits will rise up in revolt.
Local authors include Cormac McCarthy, James Agee, Nikki Giovanni, and Sarah Hodgson Burnett (whose very first submission letter included the explanation that "my object is remuneration.") The best local essayist (IMHO) is Jack Neely, who writes the "Secret History of Knoxville" column for the weekly MetroPulse. (You can probably read a lot of them online.)
Sierra Leone's All Star Refuges made their American debut here (at the World Grotto), and I got to be there & dance.
If you have time, go 20 minutes north of the city to the Museum of Appalachia in Norris. If not, at least go to Ijams Nature Center: several good hiking trails, and they've recently expanded to incorporate an old marble quarry (now filled very deeply with water). You can hike around the quarry, though I haven't yet; one long side of the quarry is a very tall cliff. Ijams is just south of downtown, across the river, less than 10 minutes away.
And it's worth sticking your head into the Tennessee Theatre, which is the state theatre of Tennessee. It, along with the smaller but still very cool Bijou Theatre, is managed by AC Entertainment (of Bonnaroo fame), a local company.
I'm leaving out so much: all the good blues groups, and the curse of the mule, and Oak Ridge, and TVA, and the museums, and Pat Head Summitt, and the death of Hank Williams, and the view from either of the two skyscrapers that Knoxville boasts (neither over 30 stories, but still, on a foggy morning when the sun's rising over the river...), and Popcorn Sutton, and Boomsday, and the Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, and "Lumpy" Lambert (gods help me, I went to school with him, though he was a couple of years ahead of me, and I for sure never dated
him, ick), and why Bandit Lites is thusly named, and all the unending gossip
Come. Pull up a chair, order a beer, and set a spell.