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JULY 20, 2017


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Thank you and goodbye, Knoxville. Ben Bentley Shapes Knoxville’s Future of Affordable Housing

Starlight Sanctuary Rescues “Extreme Risk” Equines

Doughnuts Shoot-Out: Maker’s vs. Duck vs. Honey Bee vs. Status

Whistle-Blower Wendell Potter Tackles Fake News

2 knoxville mercury July 20, 2017

July 20, 2017 | Volume 03: Issue 18 | “What, me worry?” —Alfred E. Neuman


6 The Laundromats of Knoxville by Jessica Tezak


8 Scruffy Citizen

Jack Neely keeps the flame alive for local, independent journalism.

10 Perspectives

Joe Sullivan offers a parting wish list for Knoxville’s future.

12 Architecture Matters

George Dodds looks back at the past two years of his column examining the constructed environments we inhabit, but rarely see.

16 Much Ado

Catherine Landis urges all of us to march on.


A&E Music Matthew Everett talks with Martin Hayes.

31 Inside the Vault

Eric Dawson goes inside Inside the Vault.

32 Books

Jack Neely talks with author/ whistle-blower Wendell Potter.


24 The Long Goodbye Our last issue of longform journalism comes with a longform farewell: Knoxville Mercury staffers offer their parting thoughts, memories, and thanks. PLUS:

“The Mercury Meltdown FAQ”—

editor Coury Turczyn answers your questions about our shutdown. COVERPHOTOBYBILLFOSTER We were going to use this lovely photo for a project at Metro Pulse right about when the paper was shut down—so it’s a fiing cover for our final issue of the Mercury. Bill Foster is an excellent photographer, unstoppable bon vivant, and a really nice guy. See his work at:

NEWS 18 Home Front

Ben Bentley takes the helm of Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation at a time when housing authorities are pummeled by federal funding cuts and grappling with a nationwide affordable housing crisis. His leadership will likely shape how Knoxville deals with that crisis and guide redevelopment for years to come. S. Heather Duncan reports.

PRESSFORWARD 22 Starlight Farm Animal Sanctuary

A Strawberry Plains nonprofit rescues and rehabilitates “extreme risk” equines. Carol Z. Shane talks with founder and director Esther Roberts.

April Snellings goes to War for the Planet of the Apes.


34 Spotlights

A Very, Very, Very Long View of upcoming shows.


52 Voice in the Wilderness

Kim Trevathan goes on a final camping expedition to an unnamed island.


54 Home Palate

Dennis Perkins risks sugar overload for a craft donut shoot-out.


’BYE News of the Weird by Chuck Shepherd

60 Sacred & Profane by Donna Johnson

61 That ’70s Girl

by Angie Vicars

63 Crooked Street Crossword

by Ian Blackburn and Jack Neely

63 Mulberry Place Cryptoquote by Joan Keuper

July 20, 2017 knoxville mercury 3

WHAT’S NEXT, FELLOW KNOXVILLIANS? A big and loud applause to the Knoxville Mercury editor as well as to all of the Mercury staff and volunteers! It is so unfortunate that so many good things in life all boil down to money. While many of us readers of the Knoxville Mercury feel strongly about Knoxville having a newspaper that is a true community effort—locally owned and independent and void of being guided by out-of-town corporations—in our day and time we are often controlled by the bottom line. My loud applause goes to Joe Sullivan as the original owner of Metro Pulse, who felt the publication could and would make a difference. I keep my hands clapping for Editor Coury Turczyn, who carried the torch and preserved the policies and standards that were paramount in these efforts. Clearly, the Mercury employed some very talented people with direct experience in writing, editing, design, etc. created award-winning stories about Knoxville and East Tennessee. Those very special people did such an outstanding job telling unique stories that provided depth and context that gave the why and how—NOT just the who and what to sell papers. So my hands stay together for wonderful writers like Heather Duncan, Rose Kennedy, Alan Sherrod, Matthew Everett, Tracy Jones, Jack Neely—and the list goes on. So where do we go now? In looking at the newsstand at my local Food City, the only options after July 20th seems to be the Knoxville News Sentinel and a few other tabloids—and for those of us who are regular readers of the Sentinel, we know the rest of that story. As for me, it is important to give credit to the very hard and excellent work of the Knoxville Mercury editorial staff. But rather than dwell on the past, we Knoxvillians must think ahead. Where do we go now for the most complete local news? What news sources give us real in-depth stories that make a difference? Will print media continue to be viable? Citizens of Knoxville and readers of the Mercury, let’s not look at the closing of the Knoxville Mercury as an 4 knoxville mercury July 20, 2017

end—but perhaps a new beginning for us to look at other venues, other avenues, other ways to bring the best to our community. And don’t forget about the Knoxville History Project that continues to live on. I predict that the talents and efforts of so many Mercury staff members and volunteers will not simply fade into the sunset, but like a Phoenix—the Greek mythological bird that is cyclically regenerated or reborn—will someday arise from the ashes to perpetuate Joe Sullivan’s original intention of a newspaper that will really make a difference in the place we live. Mike Combs Knoxville

THANK YOU FOR THE THANKS Damn. Thank you for all you did—you personally, and all of you collectively. All of us in Knoxville owe you a gigantic debt. Sorry we couldn’t help you keep going. With sincere gratitude, Tony Mosley Knoxville

EMERGING KNOXVILLE I just read the news on Facebook that the Knoxville Mercury is shutting down. I’m sure your inbox is flooded and the last thing you need is another person telling you how much they loved your paper when all that love didn’t materialize into tangible support. But I’m going to do it anyway, so you have even more to look at if and when you think you didn’t make a difference. I can’t tell you how sorry I am. I’m sorry that as a budding journalist I won’t get to work with you or learn from the writing in your paper anymore. I’m sorry that Knoxville will lose your insight and the insights of so many of your staff members. But mostly, I’m sorry for Knoxville. The Mercury was one of the things I was most proud of as a Knoxvillian. Your writing, coverage, and style were superb, but more importantly you lent a voice to a new Knoxville that is emerging, a group of people dedicated to progress and civility who think of our city as more than just a college

football team’s home. I’m sorry for Knoxville that you won’t be here to help foster that change and answer the questions that have kept me, and thousands like me, up at night. Katie Williams Knoxville

THE CONSUMER MEDIA MODEL Of course, once you wrap the final issue and several weeks go by, everyone (readers and advertisers, alike) will bemoan its passing, wishing they could have done more to support this important voice in the community…not knowing what they had until it’s gone. Real shame. The truth is, advertisers are lost in the modern world of marketing (where Facebook ads are mistaken for real brand meaning and narrative), and the noise is too great for the “consumer” to hear anything of quality. Many people are shutting down because of market overload and the inability to pay attention to the messages that count—a collective societal ADHD. Sadly, good journalism, insight, and “real news” is a luxury that many have decided they can live without. At the same time, the Mercury is also victim of a dramatic shift in media consumption and distribution, and I don’t know any one industry professional who truly knows the entirety of that future. And I am not convinced either that print is dead—but the consumer media model (as a business) is now a much more complex mix of multimedia. Ironically, in the digital age, it has become more expensive to produce and sustain a media brand that can truly break through the clutter than the good old days when it was just a more simple world of print, TV, and radio. This does not bode well for small independent media houses working on tight budgets. In any case, the Mercury can be proud of the footprint it has left behind. It took on a daring and untested model, and I am sure it did its best. Long live the spirit of the alt press! Long live the spirit of Metro Pulse! Rand Pearson Nairobi, Kenya

DELIVERING FINE JOURNALISM SINCE 2015 The Knoxville Mercury was an initiative of the Knoxville History Project, a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit whose mission is to research and promote the history of Knoxville. EDITORIAL EDITOR Coury SENIOR EDITOR Matthew CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Jack STAFF WRITERS S. Heather CONTRIBUTORS Chris Barrett Joan Keuper Ian Blackburn Catherine Landis Hayley Brundige Dennis Perkins Patrice Cole Stephanie Piper Eric Dawson Ryan Reed George Dodds Eleanor Scott Thomas Fraser Alan Sherrod Lee Gardner Nathan Smith Mike Gibson April Snellings Carey Hodges Denise Stewart-Sanabria Nick Huinker Joe Sullivan Donna Johnson Kim Trevathan Tracy Jones Chris Wohlwend Rose Kennedy Angie Vicars Carol Z. Shane INTERNS Joanna Brooker Tanner Hancock Sage Davis Thomas Stubbs DESIGN ART DIRECTOR Tricia GRAPHIC DESIGNER Charlie Finch CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS David Luttrell Shawn Poynter Justin Fee Tyler Oxendine CONTRIBUTING ILLUSTRATORS Matthew Foltz-Gray ADVERTISING PUBLISHER & DIRECTOR OF SALES Charlie SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Scott ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Michael BUSINESS BUSINESS MANAGER Scott KNOXVILLE MERCURY 618 South Gay St., Suite L2, Knoxville, TN 37902 • 865-313-2059 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR & PRESS RELEASES CALENDAR SUBMISSIONS SALES QUERIES DISTRIBUTION BOARD OF DIRECTORS Robin Easter Tommy Smith Melanie Faizer Joe Sullivan Jack Neely Coury Turczyn Charlie Vogel The Knoxville Mercury was an independent weekly news magazine devoted to informing and connecting Knoxville’s many different communities. It published 25,000 copies per issue, available free of charge, limited to one copy per reader. © 2017 The Knoxville Mercury

Vote for Brandon Bruce

for City Council 2nd District in the August 29 primary (early voting starts August 9) and the November 7 general election. July 20, 2017 knoxville mercury 5

ONLINE-ONLY from EXTRAS Excerpts LOST PHOTOS OF KNOXVILLE The subjects in the photos are random, yet deliberate. They are refined and raw, a fantastical mix of the mundane and memorable. It’s a literal snapshot of life in East Tennessee as it used to be. And its very existence is a small miracle. The collection, an assortment of nearly 250 photos, provides a glimpse into the daily life of 1890s Knoxville.

TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE… On the 21st of August, 2017, a total eclipse of the sun will once again make its way across the country. It’s being called “The Great American Eclipse,” and it’s a pretty big deal. But why?

THE LAUNDROMATS OF KNOXVILLE Photo Series by Jessica Tezak, Family Bubble, Bearden, July 16: J. Cruz looks at his son’s Facebook page while waiting for his laundry. Cruz is a trainer for Captain D’s restaurants and a part-time Spanish instructor at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. He was born in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, but moved to Italy when he was six, where he learned to speak Italian and English. “Accept yourself and how you are and you will realize your possibilities,” he says.


The Knoxville journalism landscape is changing in ways that would seem to offer an unprecedented opening for an independent weekly. Because of the daily’s staff and coverage reductions, as recent as last month, community leaders were expressing to me gratitude that the Mercury would be there to pick up the slack. I still think we could do that.






Nourish Knoxville (the nonprofit behind the Market Square Farmers’ Market) presents its first annual Tomato Jam, a fundraising competition that combines the region’s best tomatoes with the city’s best bartenders. Whose tomato-based cocktail will reign supreme? You make the call! (This one is for those 21 and over.) Info:

Let’s just use Bearden Beer Market’s description: “Do you like beer? Do you want to get more involved in local politics? Do you want to meet your local City Council candidates? Do you want to voice your support for your candidate? Do you want to get lit and let them have it?* (*BBM encourages you to drink responsibly and contribute positively!)”

Knox County Schools’ policies for trans students is coming under increasing scrutiny by LGBTQ advocates. Members of GLSEN and Voices for Trans Youth will be attending this school board meeting to lend support for inclusive restroom policies, as well as a safe and supportive learning environment for all LGBTQ students. Info:

Support your local, independent media—and meet the zany characters who work at public radio station WUOT. Plus: Professor Mark Littmann—an expert on eclipse phenomena—will be on hand to talk about the upcoming eclipse that everyone’s been raving about. Info:


Noon-3 p.m. The Mill & Mine (227 West Depot Ave.). $40.

6 knoxville mercury July 20, 2017


5:30-7:30 p.m., Bearden Beer Market (4524 Old Kingston Pike). Free.


5-8 p.m., City County Building, Main Assembly Room (400 Main St.). Free.


4-7 p.m., WUOT (209 Communications Bldg., UT). Free.

TH E LAST PAGE, FOR NOW J . G . S t e r c h i ’ s s e s q u i c e n t e n n i a l , t h e l i b r a r y ’ s “ T r u t h a n d C o n s e q u e n c e s ” e v e n t, a n d m o r e

legal dispute, but was recently purchased by a party Sunday, July 23, is the 150th birthday of James who has not announced intentions for the property. G. Sterchi (1867-1932). Known as the most For more, see successful furniture merchant in East Tennessee history, the longtime chief of Sterchi Brothers, he has another distinction historians have only On July 27-28, the Knox County Public recently come to appreciate. Library is sponsoring “Truth and Consequences,” Son of German-speaking Swiss immigrants, a rare symposium about the news media, its Sterchi built a 65-store empire (his two brothers were potentials and hazards in a rapidly changing era. involved mainly in the early days). His Gay Street Included will be a screening of the recent headquarters building is now known as Sterchi Lofts. documentary Merchants of Doubt, about deceptive When it was built in 1925, Sterchi’s claimed to be the “experts,” with a discussion afterward; and a talk largest furniture company in the world. by former Knoxvillian Wendell Potter, author In recent years historians have recognized of Deadly Spin and Nation on the Take. The Knoxville Sterchi’s surprising role in the popularization of History Project is participating in the event with country music. Sterchi’s carried phonographs, and research for a display about the influence of in the early 1920s tried to expand the market for newspapers in Knoxville history, as well as Jack phonographs to the working class by sponsoring Neely’s talk on the subject of Knoxville’s 225some of the first recordings of country music. By year history in newspapers, at noon on Thursday, 1924, Sterchi was sending area country musicians July 27, at the History Center. to New York to make records, decades before there were permanent recording studios in Tennessee. Don’t forget the East Tennessee Historical Among these Sterchi-sponsored recordings were Society’s History Fair is in one month, on recordings by Knoxville street musicians, like Aug. 19. The Knoxville History Project will Charlie Oaks, George Reneau, and Mac & participate with a booth and material of interest, Bob--as well as the first recordings of legendary like our recent publication “Why Knoxville James Gilbert Sterchi (1867-1932) would banjoist-showman Uncle Dave Macon, who just Matters,” and downtown walking tours, including be 150 this weekend. Dozens of cities all a few years later became the Grand Ole Opry’s a 35th-anniversary tour of the 1982 World’s Fair. over the South hosted a Sterchi Brothers first star. Sterchi was a supporter of early Knoxville furniture store, thanks to this resourceful radio, and his company was prominent in entrepreneur. Among other appliances, We regret that this is the Knoxville History sponsoring the months-long studio recordings at Project’s final History Page in the Mercury, for Sterchi’s made phonographs accessible to the St. James Hotel in 1929 and 1930, known today now at least. We’ve enjoyed bringing these stories working people, and promoted them by as The Knoxville Sessions, internationally released about Knoxville’s fascinating story, emphasizing sponsoring some of the first last year as a box set. the ways history remains essential to the city’s country-music recordings. The Sterchi home on Dry Gap Pike, near growth and newfound sense of itself. KHP will Fountain City, is considered endangered, listed on remain as an educational nonprofit, and has Knox Heritage’s Fragile 15. Built in 1910, it’s one of the best-known multiple other programs. We’re happy to discuss talks, tours, research, works by local architect R.F. Graf (1863-1940) who was, like Sterchi, son and writing projects. We are grateful for tax-deductible donations to of Swiss immigrants. Known as Stratford, the stately, columned mansion further our mission of promoting Knoxville’s history. Follow our work at was J.G. Sterchi’s final home. It has stood empty for years, due to a lengthy The Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection, Lawson McGhee Library Image courtesy of Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection •


T h e K n ox v i l l e H i s to ry P r o j ec t, a n o n p r o fi t o r g a n iz at i o n d e vot e d to t h e p r o m ot i o n o f a n d ed u c at i o n a b o u t t h e h i s to ry o f K n ox v i l l e , p r e s en t s t h i s pag e e ac h w e e k to r a i s e awa r en e s s o f t h e t h em e s , p er s o n a l i t i e s , a n d s to r i e s o f o u r u n i q u e c i t y. L e a r n m o r e at

o r em a i l

July 20, 2017 knoxville mercury 7

Scruffy Citizen | Perspectives | Architecture Matters | Much Ado

And So We Take a Break My final print column. Or not.



’m resisting comparisons to the summer’s other big event, the Great Solar Eclipse. If I were so presumptuous—and why shouldn’t I be, considering that we named our weekly paper after a god—I would point out that eclipses are always very brief. I hope the same will be true with this pause in Knoxville’s history of independent journalism. Humans have always looked for signs. Eclipses mean the world is ending. A newspaper closing means print journalism is dying. Even that in-depth local news is, itself, a thing of the past. One thing historians learn is that while we can predict eclipses, confident predictions about human behavior are almost always wrong.

Part of the reason this retrospective isn’t coming easy is that I’m not convinced it’s over. One wealthy person, or an alliance of moderately affluent persons, could restart the Mercury next month and keep it going indefinitely. If, say, some Knoxvillian were to sell a particularly disappointing pro football team for the amount he paid for it, he could use the money to run 8 knoxville mercury July 20, 2017

his hometown’s popular and award-winning weekly newspaper—at its current rate of loss, with no improvements to revenue and no reader donations—for 3,000 years. Or, if all of our regular print readers, the tens of thousands who picked up the paper ever week for the last couple of years, were to send us the cost of one modest bottle of California wine—per year—we could keep going forever. I don’t have any reason to believe that either of those things is likely to happen. But historically, many newspapers and magazines have run at a loss for some years, sustained by a patron or a group motivated more by the fun of owning a paper than by profit. I’m not inclined to close the door. The Mercury has been a good thing for my hometown. I want to thank everyone who contributed to our effort. Not just for giving me a platform, but for the opportunity to learn about so many things I wouldn’t have found elsewhere. The Knoxville Mercury didn’t last as long as we hoped and expected it to. The original Knoxville Mercury, in the 1850s, didn’t last any longer. It’s always been a tough business. But since March 2015, the Mercury has created close to 2,000

articles about subjects of interest to Knoxville, and distributed about two and a quarter million copies of a newspaper into deliberate hands of citizens. We’ve let our readers know things about their city and their culture that they wouldn’t have found in any other media. Juries in other states have been impressed with our work, and given us a couple dozen awards for excellence in journalism. To say nothing of the most local, most deftly challenging, and most fun crossword puzzle in Knoxville history. (For that I thank my longtime colleague Ian Blackburn, one of the co-founders of Metro Pulse, back in 1991.) It’s not all for naught. The website will remain, for now, with all the articles the Mercury has ever published. Unlike the corporation that owned our predecessor, we will strive to maintain public access to it via Google. The Knoxville History Project remains as an educational nonprofit, and will carry the banner of stories associated with the city’s history. And the Mercury has been saved by librarians of the Knox County Public Library system, and its articles indexed. Like it or not, the Mercury is part of Knoxville’s permanent record. Still, it’s hard to ignore the fact that, thanks not only to the Mercury’s eclipse but also to major layoffs at the daily—even television news departments are struggling—as of this week fewer professional reporters live in Knoxville than since the 19th century, when the city was much smaller. If it weren’t so close to the bone, it would be interesting to watch Knoxville, which pioneered the concept of newspapers in this part of the frontier in 1791, as we pioneer an opposite sort of era. We’re a new sort of test case. With fewer watching, will Knoxville become a haven for grifters in public office and swindlers in private business? And if it is, will we ever hear about it? Will our public servants always ask the right questions? Without an organization advocating for vigorous improvements, will Knoxville start getting predictable? Maybe I can’t be an objective source on the subject, but I do feel obliged to point out that almost

everything my weekly newspaper pushed for in the 1990s ultimately came true. Even though a lot of it once seemed harebrained. Affluent people and even college students living downtown? I don’t think so, Metro Pulse. Market Square reviving? What, so TVA workers can have more baloney-sandwich options? Microbreweries? In Knoxville? You’re serious? We drink Bud Light here. And people commuting by bicycle? This is a car town. Bicycles are just not in Knoxville’s Appalachian DNA. Reviving pedestrian neighborhoods? You’re dreaming. And bars that have live music every night? This ain’t Manhattan, hate to tell you. New hotels in old buildings? Give me a break. We built so many hotels for the World’s Fair, they’re struggling to stay open, and at least one’s going to have to close. Movie theater downtown? Forget it. The downtown cinema died in the ’70s, for good reason. Greenways? What, for box turtles? Street festivals? You remember the last time we tried that. Go ahead, but I’ll be watching TV at home. And save these old buildings? Come on. The property’s worth more without some old wreck on it. Nobody wants old buildings. They’re dirty and old fashioned and embarrassing. That’s why they’re empty. Dumb naive annoying journalists. If you recognize one of your own quotes in there, I apologize. I mean nothing personal. I just wanted to point out that this city has changed a lot, for the better, in the 26 years we’ve had free weekly newspapers analyzing and advocating for these things. I’ll keep reporting, in my own way. But assuming the Mercury finds no way to revive, I will miss this paper forum, and the many readers who prefer paper for reading articles of substance. Stay in touch. Jack Neely is the director of the Knoxville History Project, a nonprofit devoted to exploring, disseminating, and celebrating Knoxville’s cultural heritage. The Scruffy Citizen surveyed the city of Knoxville’s life and culture in the context of its history, with emphasis on what makes it unique and how its past continues to affect and inform its future.

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Looking Ahead A parting wish list for Knoxville



he lamented demise of the Mercury means that I’m probably finished as a journalist—I’m close to my 80th birthday and still working on a book that’s probably not all bad. But I will treasure the 25 years I spent writing for Metro Pulse and the Mercury, especially my decade as Metro Pulse’s owner and publisher. Knoxville has generally fared well during that span, but I do have a list of ways in which I wish it could do better, some of which are wishfully restorative. To wit: • Restoration of a daily newspaper that Knoxvillians can call their own. Since its acquisition by Gannett, the News Sentinel seems headed toward becoming little more than an advertorial for that big chain’s flagship paper, USA Today. I wince every time I see an article by its depleted ranks of reporters whose byline identifies them as being part of the USA TODAY NETWORK-TENNESSEE. Editorials about local issues, which flourished under former editorial page editor Scott Barker, have virtually disappeared since he was laid off earlier this year. Instead, the space is typically filled by “Guest Voices,” very

10 knoxville mercury July 20, 2017

few of them Knoxvillian. • Restore progressiveness to Knox County government. I remain perplexed why the county’s body politic and elected officials have swung as far to the right as they have over the past decade. I’m not just talking about Republican dominance here. Some of the former County Commissioners whom I’ve most admired were Republicans. Frank Leuthold, John Griess, and Richard Briggs in the Far West Fifth District, David Collins in the North Knoxville Second District, and Wanda Moody in the Near West Third District come most readily to mind. But now the Republicans who represent these districts are just as regressive as the East Knox Eighth District and the South Knox Ninth District have always been. Former County Mayor Mike Ragsdale may have been ethically challenged, but he championed better schools, starting with creation of the Great Schools Partnership, and adroitly achieved adoption of a wheel tax to help pay for them and the construction of a new high school. Note: That’s not to knock County Mayor Tim Burchett, who promised

and has dutifully delivered a minimalist approach to government. But where are the Republican candidates for local office with the same sort of progressive-mindedness that Randy Boyd brings to his candidacy for governor? • Restore the tradition-steeped Lady Vol nickname to UT women’s athletic teams. New Athletics Director John Currie has said he took note of fans chanting Lady Vols at softball games and is open to reconsideration of their demise, which was perpetrated by his predecessor, Dave Hart, and ex-Chancellor Jimmy Cheek. When the move was made in 2015, Cheek explained that, “Branding consistency is critical as we strive to become a top-25 public research university.” What a bunch of hooey! • Make property tax breaks (such as TIFs and PILOTs) for big new residential developments contingent upon allocation of at least a small percentage of their apartments to lower-income housing. That may necessitate bigger tax breaks, but the city’s shortage of affordable housing is acute. • Spur development on the South Knoxville Waterfront that’s been largely dormant ever since then-Mayor Bill Haslam heralded it as the city’s “next big thing” in 2005. That’s not to minimize the impressive redevelopment of the former Baptist Hospital site that’s well underway or the city’s $6.6 million investment in the attractive new Suttree Landing Park. But when the city paid Mike Conley some $3 million in 2006 for the 12-acre site on which the park and a new Waterfront Drive are located, it was supposed to serve as a catalyst for major private investment. The 2008 crash understandably put a hold on Conley’s plans for an adjacent $60 million condominium and townhouse development. The same goes for the tract from which Bill Baxter relocated

his Holston Gases headquarters. Nearly a decade of prosperity has ensued, and the only thing that’s happened is the opening of a handful of small businesses along Sevier Avenue. Surely more can be done. • Alleviate deplorable conditions on the block of Broadway that’s bounded by the Salvation Army’s shelter on one side and Knox Area Rescue Ministries on the other. One must have compassion for the unfortunates who are afforded a roof over their head at night. But they shouldn’t be allowed to congregate on the sidewalk during the day. KARM has provided an attractive fenced-in patio with tables and chairs. Why can’t the Salvation Army do the same? Or else the city’s ordinance against loitering should be enforced to remove this eyesore, if not a menace, from one of the city’s major thoroughfares. • Rectify the ridiculous way in which at-large members of City Council are elected. As matters stand, a candidate for any of the three at-large seats on the nine-member Council can get a majority of the votes cast in the city’s nonpartisan primary election in August and yet have to run again in the November general election against the second-place finisher or even if the August winner is unopposed. Such a runoff requirement is a travesty and should be eliminated. To do so, a City Charter amendment is needed that would put at-large City Council elections on the same footing as mayoral elections. If a candidate for mayor gets a majority of the votes in the primary, he or she is therewith elected. A November runoff occurs only if no candidate gets a majority in a multi-candidate primary. Joe Sullivan is the former owner and publisher of Metro Pulse (1992-2003) as well as a longtime columnist who covered local politics, education, development, health care, and tennis.

Since its acquisition by Gannett, the News Sentinel seems headed toward becoming little more than an advertorial for that big chain’s flagship paper, USA Today.

July 20, 2017 knoxville mercury 11

Scruffy Citizen | Perspectives | Architecture Matters | Much Ado

train. The lack of direct contact (and hence friction) between the train and the guideway allows maglev trains to go very fast… [with] relatively little wear and tear and hence…have low maintenance costs….” There are, of course, some downsides to the technology that explain why there are only a few hundred miles of Maglev service operating on the entire planet almost entirely in Asia; cost is not the least of these. Maglev trains seem conventional compared to the Hyperloop, Elon Musk’s theoretical land-based speed-of-sound travel system. A company called Hyperloop One is developing a prototype of its new platform in the Nevada desert. On May 12, 2017, it successfully tested its first passenger pod in its Hyperloop vacuum technology, moving at 200 miles per hour for 3 seconds on air. The basic technology (pneumatic tubes developed to transport messages in small canisters) has been around since the Victorian era, but has been ramped up exponentially in the Hyperloop system; it is different in kind, not degree. A recent article in The Wall Street Journal reported: “Dubai last year announced a deal with Hyperloop One … to explore linking [the city] with Abu Dhabi in what would be a 12-minute ride averaging 375 mph in pods through low-pressure tubes. Currently the roughly 75-mile trip takes more than an hour by car. Every city in the Gulf region could eventually be reached in less than an hour if a full network is

Churches, Sex Shops, and Hyperloops Looking forward to the past



12 knoxville mercury July 20, 2017

Photo courtesy of Google Earth©.

Photo courtesy of Saruno Hirobano©

passenger rail travel in East Tennessee. I argued that if we don’t re-start (very high speed) rail travel during the next two decades, this part of the state may find itself irrevocably isolated, economically and politically, not only from the region, but from the entire country. The Congressional Research Service (part of the Library of Congress) explains in a December 2013 report: “Maglev [magnetic levitation] train technology was developed in the United States in the 1960s. It uses electromagnets to suspend (levitate) the train above a guideway, as well as to propel the

Original artwork by Camilo Sanchez©

his column ran in the first issue of the Mercury: “Pro Bono Publico,” (March 11, 2015). Rather than starting with a downtown-centric topic, I wrote about the new branch building for Mountain Commerce Bank; at the time it was still under construction amidst the vehicular debris field that is the intersection of Northshore Drive, Papermill Road, and Kingston Pike. My intent wasn’t to judge the bank’s design. Rather, it prompted me to ask some basic, wide-ranging questions; why in American post-war culture has the suburban house become the model for any number of public, civic, or commercial buildings? How is it that a premise, unthinkable during the first four decades of the 20th-century, in relatively short order, became the ur-form for just about any building type after the war: an interstate rest stop or professional offices; a state police barracks or a preschool; a place of worship or a sex shop? If this doesn’t seem odd, you are not alone. It is this sort of inquiry that generated this first article and the 26 that followed—to critically examine the constructed environments we inhabit, but rarely see. “Trains, Plains, and Auto-fields: Another Marshall Plan/A Second TVA” (March 29, 2017) was a brief history of the life and death of

eventually rolled out, Hyperloop One executives say.” There you have it: While oil-producing states are investing tens of billions of dollars in renewable (Tesla) or completely new energy technologies (Hyperloop), oil-dependent America just elected as its 45th president, someone who pledged to bring back “beautiful clean coal” and still needs convincing on climate change. Teaching and writing critically about the constructed environment in a post-Paris Accord America, and having grown up in a Pennsylvania county once rich in both natural beauty and mineral resources (anthracite coal), in what is now an economically depressed and resource-depleted northeast region, phrases such as “clean coal” reek of snake oil. Yet it all seems very familiar—part of a longstanding false nostalgia that shines a light on a narrow spectrum of the past to valorize the powerful few in the present rather than the less-powerful many. Closer to home, this cockeyed back-to-the-futurism fuels the fuzzy-headed myth-making on the UTK campus, the results of which are Continued on page 14. Right: Mountain Commerce Bank, Intersection of Kingston Pike and Northshore Drive. Looking North from Weisbarger Road. Left top: The LO high-speed (five-car) Maglev Train, Central Japan Railway Company. Yamanashi Test Track, September 2013. Left bottom: Cutaway section-perspective, Hyperloop.

Thank you Knoxville Mercury staff, writers and contributors. "Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it." —Thomas Jefferson to John Jay, 1786.

To The Knoxville History Project, Thanks for the memories.

To all of those who brought us the Knoxville Mercury, Thanks for putting your heart and soul into it.

Knox County Commissioner, District 1 Evelyn Gill Office: 865-215-2534 Cell: 865-257-0577 Commissioner Evelyn Gill I am honored to be your Commissioner

Michael Gill 865.385.8311 Bluegill Productions

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Photo courtesy of Google Earth©.

Scruffy Citizen | Perspectives | Architecture Matters | Much Ado

Original photomontage by Lindsay Clark and George Dodds©

its uncritical, ahistorical adoption of a banal mis-named architectural “style” for over $1 billion of new construction, chronicled in, “Collegiate Gothic at UT’s Knoxville Campus: Architectural Relativism in the Post-Fact Age,” (October 27, 2017). Yet these are the insipid sorts of buildings that families of wealth and power require before appending their name above the door or their signature to a check. A cynic, Oscar Wilde tells us, is “a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” During the past decade there seems to have been a coterie of cynics at work (albeit well-intended ones) making costly, enduring decisions about the campus— demolishing fine architecture and important history, putting up in its place buildings that, in many cases, resemble a vague past that never existed and built to lesser standards (“Build, Raze, Repeat: UT’s New Mantra for New Dorms on Knoxville Campus.”) In a recent article marking the opening of the new Stokely Hall Dormitory, the Knoxville News Sentinel gushed over what it called UTK’s “forward-to-the-past look” – a phrase that makes “beautiful clean 14 knoxville mercury July 20, 2017

coal” sound almost scientific. The recently hired UTK Director of Design explained in the same Sentinel article: “We’re really interested in branding the whole campus…. To do that, we’ve adopted a Gothic vernacular that we jokingly call Tennessee Gothic. It’s not a true Gothic style, but a modernized Gothic style. It’s like we are trying to get all the voices in the choir to sing in the same key. The buildings don’t have to be identical, they just have to sound and look pretty together.” Universities typically turn to overall planning strategies and landscape architecture to unify differing architectures and epochs. A quadrangle or a town square need not be made up of buildings that look the same, or similar for that matter. What matters on urban and architectural scales is not the choir, nor the key in which it sings – its more about coherence than “pretty.” While there are several iconic American campuses with consistent architectural characters or “styles,” they are few. Typically these zones are limited to historic precincts belonging to the oldest section of a college. UTK has one; it’s called The Hill. As campuses develop and expand over

Left: “Capriccio of Ayres Hall as Setting for a Gothic Locus Amoenus.” Above: Aerial view, site of former branch, First Tennessee Bank, Western Plaza, 4400 block, Kingston Pike.

time, the character of the architecture tends to change, as has at UTK. A longstanding school of thought in urban design and historic preservation holds that by mimicking nearby buildings (such as Ayres Hall) that have legitimate claims to an historic status, a newly built imitation devalues the original by muddling difference and corrupting authenticity. The Carolyn P. Brown Memorial University Center was a UTK original. Designed by Barber McMurry Architects and completed during the Eisenhower Administration, it was the first “modern” building on campus. Sited discretely away from and above Cumberland Avenue, anyone who used it on a regular basis knew well that it had some lousy interiors, and terrible “improvements.” Yet, its Cumberland façade was elegant, spare, and stately; its interior along the avenue had lovely moments. Most could have been incorporated into the new center; all were destroyed. The best thing about the building, however, may not have been the UC itself, but its parking garage, added later by the paterfamilias of the UT School of Architecture, Robert B.

Church III. Those who parked in it may have no idea what I’m talking about. If one traversed it, however, while walking campus, meandering its network of stairs, narrow passages, light wells, pergolas, and honorific spaces, one could apprehend that garaging 200 automobiles was the least of its purposes. It was made for the flâneur in all of us. “Mind the Gap,” (October 28, 2015) reported on the demolition of the former branch of the First Tennessee Bank at Western Plaza. It was one of the state’s finest late-mid-century Modern buildings— yet another loss of a fine Robert B. Church III building. The site sat fallow for almost 100 weeks following the landmark’s hasty one-day demolition by the Asheville, North Carolina developers who control the property. A recurring theme in this column during the past 27 months has been loss—of memory, of pastness. This isn’t simply about lost things, although that is part of it. Neither romanticism nor jingoism, the loss is also of a collective memory of events and places. It is the stuff upon which cultures construct themselves over time—it is the stuff of which cities great and small are built. Cities and universities must change over time or they risk becoming museological; Venice, Italy is such a city. It ceased developing about the time Napoleon crossed the Alps. Change is always difficult; intelligent change is harder still. The best cities, “great” or “livable,” are those that build upon their past while privileging the present in service of potential futures. I have lived in American cities in which almost nothing of value from their past remained. The losses did not happen all at once. They almost never do. They happen, often in the early morning or during a holiday, while few are looking, one bank building, one ancient grove of trees, one exquisite-concrete-sculpture-masquerading-as-a-parking-garage at a time. George Dodds is the Alvin and Sally Beaman Professor of Architecture at the University of Tennessee. Architecture Matters explored issues concerning the human-made environment in Knoxville and its environs.







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FIRSTWATCH.COM July 20, 2017 knoxville mercury 15

Scruffy Citizen | Perspectives | Architecture Matters | Much Ado

March On These are times that call for action



n photographs of me in my pink hat in front of the U.S. Capitol at the Women’s March on Washington, I’m smiling. So are the women with me. So are thousands of women and men and children captured in photographs from that January day. We are happy, energized, inspired, and we are not going away. The photographs don’t reveal how every cell in my body was screaming in pain. Marching is hard. The day of the Women’s March was colder than I’d anticipated and I was not dressed for it. My muscles fought back by tensing up. The crowd was exhilaratingly massive but also oppressive. More than once I feared I might faint. My friends and I got pinned on a side street where we could barely hear the speakers. For four hours. Standing on concrete. In the cold. My moral compass got thrown out of whack when my body’s need to start marching battled with my heart’s need to hear the last speakers: women of color speaking truth. When the marching began there was no clear way to go and so we filled Washington’s streets like water spreading every which way. My initial anger that the march wasn’t better organized turned into elation that we were too big to organize. Bathrooms? The lines were too long. Snacks? We

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didn’t bring enough. By evening, our feet, legs, backs, shoulders, and necks all ached, but we were ready to do it again. We have done it again. Marching for science, for climate change action, for immigrants, for Planned Parenthood, marching against the Muslim ban, against anti-LGBTQ bills, against Trumpian corruption, and most recently against Republican “health care reform.” We’re mobilized to call, write, and visit the offices of our unresponsive representatives. I have not made it to every march and some days I can’t summon the will to make one more phone call, but I believe in shared responsibility: One person can’t do everything but everybody can do something. These are times that call for action. Our challenge: to prevent the normalization of corruption, thuggery, hypocrisy, ignorance, regression, criminality, incivility, and demagoguery that brought Trump to power and keeps him there. It will be hard. It will take time, and we will lose, a lot. We will get discouraged, feel despair, and grow tired, but we can’t give up. Remember: The struggle for civil rights that began before the 13th Amendment goes on still. A season of marching does not yield victory. Change comes only with unwavering,

clear-eyed struggle. It will be hard because the opposition is strong, determined, ruthless, and wealthy. Did the Koch brothers finance the defeat of Insure Tennessee because they care who gets Medicaid? No. They did it to demonstrate who has power. Power has replaced the common good and common sense. This power shift has taken us well down the road toward losing our democracy but we’ve not lost the rule of law. Yet. On the Fourth of July I heard a woman declare she’s “not political.” She might as well have claimed to be a unicorn, which is to say, not possible. Choosing not to “be political” in these times means you’re okay with weakened environmental and public health protections. You’re not bothered by a legal system that treats some people better than other people. You’re not sure health care is a right, don’t care that a $7 inhaler in France costs $250 here, or that some woman in Iowa can’t get an abortion. You’re content with a government that works for established wealth and against the poor. You’re not upset that Congress can ignore the majority of Americans supporting background checks for guns. Voter suppression? You’re not political! You don’t get what’s the big deal about a living wage, crippling student loans, or mass incarceration. You don’t “believe” climate change is “real.” You’re unmoved by desperate refuges or families ICE-broken. You kind of always liked Russia anyway. You’re not a bit worried about a president who is clearly unstable, vindictive, dishonest, uninformed, and reckless, or that more than half of Congress pretends nothing is rotten. Not to decide is to decide. Not to engage is to condone. Not everybody can march. Not everybody can incorporate habits of activism into their busy lives. But everybody can seek to become

informed as deeply and broadly as possible. Citizenship requires nothing less. Only under tyranny does it not matter what you think about what your government’s up to. Yet even this is not easy in these times of media consolidation when a large chunk of our population is fed news that does not inform, but instead fuels fear, elevates dogma, and pushes the agenda of the people who already hold power. Which brings me to the Mercury. How many people understand how crucial it is for a community to have a local, independent newspaper? A lot of us, I know. The Mercury tried mightily to rise above a fast-changing, profit-driven media market. Knoxville needs the Mercury and will feel its absence. I don’t know what will happen as a result of all this marching and phone calling. Systemic, institutional change is called for, but until we build the political structure required for that, we absolutely cannot give up. Because we are right to care about the Earth and its people. Because, more than a resistance, we need a movement to build a more just society. Because we could be a force that spreads like water. And because we need each other. I don’t know what will happen to Knoxville without its local, independent newspaper. Building the structures that nourish a community is hard. To the Mercury staff: thank you for more than two years of excellence. It has been my privilege to be a part of your struggle. With Much Ado, Catherine Landis examined how political decisions and social trends affect the lives of the people around her. A former newspaper reporter, she has published two novels, Some Days There’s Pie (St. Martin’s Press) and Harvest (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press).

Not everybody can incorporate habits of activism into their busy lives. But everybody can seek to become informed as deeply and broadly as possible.

Presents the East Tennessee Food + Spirit Festival and an evening with Mac McAnally

Taste samples from over 30 restaurants Root on your favorite chef in the US Foods Chef Competition Sample your favorite beverage visiting Spirit Alley Bring a blanket and enjoy hits from the 80s with Smooth Sailor As the stars come out enjoy a great evening with the music of Mac McAnally


Visit for more information or call 865.521.0000

Mac McAnally: His peers have

voted him CMA Musician of the Year for an unprecedented eight years in a row. He’s a member of the Nashville Songwriters’ Hall of Fame, the Mississipi Musicians Hall of Fame and Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer band. Mac has been releasing albums since he was 20 years old - AKA Nobody being his 13th so far. He’s also written several No. 1 hits, beginning with Alabama’s “Old Flame.” Mac McAnally is undoubtedly music royalty.

July 20, 2017 knoxville mercury 17

KCDC Director Ben Bentley at The Residences at Five Points, a 90-unit development for seniors and people with disabilities that’s opening soon.

Photos by Tricia Bateman

Home Front A young CEO shapes the future of affordable housing and redevelopment in Knoxville BY S. HEATHER DUNCAN


en Bentley stood before a crowd locals who were not shy with their questions during an East Knoxville Community meeting in May. Four months into his tenure as CEO of Knoxville’s housing and redevelopment agency, Bentley seems at ease in the face of the barrage, which focuses mostly on the replacement of Five Points’ aging public housing. He intends to speak to every community or business group that invites him. “What can you do to make sure contractors working on this project look like the people in the community?” residents asked. “Is there something in facility planning that you’re doing to address crime prevention?” “Is KCDC going to do something to make Section 8 property better, so slum lords have to improve their

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properties?” And finally, with a little hesitancy: “How old are you?” As with all the other questions, Bentley answers this one promptly. “Twelve,” he says, then laughs. “I’m 33. Older than I look,” he adds in a comfortable drawl. The lanky Bentley has a relaxed, open manner. A boyish grin flashes from behind thick glasses, and the audience laughs with him. Bentley, the first executive director this century who wasn’t homegrown through the organization, takes the helm of Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation at a time when housing authorities are pummeled by federal funding cuts and grappling with a nationwide affordable housing crisis. His leadership will likely shape how Knoxville deals with that crisis and guide

redevelopment for years to come. Although he’s young, Bentley’s career trajectory has been swift. After earning a master’s in public policy, he was hired by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and quickly became a division director, overseeing finances and regulation in a six-state area. He left in 2015 to take the job of chief operating officer of the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency in Nashville. Its chairman, Ralph Mosley, says of Bentley, “When he came, certainly the idea was he had the ability, knowledge, vision and drive, that at some point he could lead a housing authority. We didn’t think it would be as quick as it was.” Bentley steps into the shoes of Art Cate, a member of KCDC’s leadership team for 38 years. Before that, the CEO job was held by Alvin Nance, who left after 14 years to become CEO of Lawler Wood Housing Partners (later LHP Development), a private firm that specializes in low-income housing projects in multiple states. Although Bentley is new to Knoxville, he was familiar with KCDC from his days overseeing it at HUD. With a $19.3 million operating budget, KCDC owns, manages, and maintains about 3,500 low-income rental units and runs the federal Section 8 program. Section 8 provides vouchers that pay private landlords a portion of monthly rent for about 3,500 families in Knoxville and Knox County. KCDC also researches and makes recommendations about redevelopment projects seeking special tax considerations from the city. Its seven-member board, appointed by Knoxville’s mayor, is the first stop for approval of tax increment financing or payments in lieu of taxes. Bentley nevertheless emphasizes that the city, not KCDC, spearheads the redevelopment process by directing which projects KCDC should pursue and research. Despite KCDC’s broad mandate and powers, the agency Bentley will lead is entering a new era of challeng-

es. The federal housing money that flowed freely two decades ago is gone, even as the gap between working-class incomes rental housing costs grows historically wide. Can Bentley point the way to a new, nimbler, more creative KCDC from this crossroads?

THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING CRISIS Mayor Madeline Rogero says Bentley brings fresh eyes, high energy, and larger-market experience, and many local leaders say he’s responsive to community needs. Becky Wade, Knoxville community development director, says Bentley has seemed eager to help fill the gap in affordable rental housing. Bentley notes that nationwide, the housing supply—but not demand—stopped growing after the 2008 recession. The affordable housing market has continued to tighten, with the Section 8 voucher program hit especially hard. Since March 2016, landlords controlling 774 apartments in Knoxville have stopped accepting the vouchers, says KCDC Section 8 director Debbie Taylor-Allen. Many apartment developers were eager to take the vouchers 15 years ago in exchange for tax credits, but those contracts are ending. New companies are buying and renovating the apartments, then renting them to college students at about twice the rate, Taylor-Allen says. A Harvard housing study released last month found the nation’s rental stock shifting toward higher rents. In Knoxville, the share of renter households considered “cost-burdened”— that is, paying more than 30 percent of their income for housing—is 44 percent, or about 48,900. “Even in the markets with the smallest shares (of severely cost-burdened renters), such as El Paso and Knoxville, six out of 10 lowest-income renters face these burdens,” the report states. Severely burdened renters pay more than half their income for housing. The exodus of properties from KCDC’s Section 8 program leaves almost 250 people with vouchers searching for apartments, often for months—the greatest scarcity Taylor-Allen has ever seen. And that

NO MORE SECTION 8s Apartment complexes that have stopped taking Section 8 rent subsidy vouchers: Adair Manor = 46 Knoxwood Hills Apts = 14 Londontown = 49 Meadowwood = 71 Norwood Manor = 44 Prestwick Ridge = 134 Robert Greene = 29 Sutters Mill = 52 Tillery Ridge = 57 West Hills Village = 59 Black Oak = 11 West Vista = 89 Willow Creek = 119 TOTAL LOSS OF UNITS = 774 Source: KCDC Above, Ben Bentley with Orlando Diaz, executive vice president of operations and project development of Partners Development, project manager for all phases of Five Points revitalization.

number doesn’t include people who are trying to find a new home because their landlord quit accepting vouchers. “What I am hearing is that there is one complex that has vacancies right now, and it has very few openings,” she says. Some took their vouchers to Nashville, only to find nothing there, either. “Three out of 10 vouchers we issue actually get leases,” Bentley says. “That is extremely low no matter what market you are in.” Rakisha Thompson relocated with her four children, ages 3 to 8, from Indiana to Knoxville in March. They are living in a homeless shelter while she searches for a place to use her voucher, but all she finds are long waiting lists. “I’m used to it, but I’m frustrated,” says Thomson, who doesn’t want to move on because she is trying to create a stable environment for her kids. To expand low-income rentals, KCDC is likely to work closely with Knoxville in administering a new $2 million affordable housing fund that Rogero included in her budget for the first time this year. Although details are still being developed, the money will likely be

used to fill financing gaps for private developers seeking loans to create new affordable apartments, Wade says. Bentley says the fund could help replace financing long provided by other federal programs, such as HOME and Community Development Block Grants, which President Donald Trump has proposed for elimination in 2018. Rogero says she hopes to budget money annually for the housing fund if it’s effective. (This approach is being used in many states and cities; Nashville started a similar fund in 2013.) Federal public housing funding, which fluctuates wildly depending on Congressional appropriations, is also drying up. The Trump Administration’s budget proposes slashing public housing capital funds by 67 percent next year, Bentley says. The federal public housing program has other downsides: Public housing complexes are owned by HUD, so local housing authorities like KCDC can’t borrow against them to afford renovations. (Bentley points to Austin Homes as “a classic example of not being able to reinvest in a site that needed it.”) And the federal government claws back any unspent public housing money, which led KCDC to lose $5 million in 2012. So KCDC is following a national trend by shifting most of its housing stock to the Rental Assistance Demon-

stration program (400 apartments so far, with 705 more converting in August, Bentley says). RAD basically converts public housing complexes to a special type of Section 8 voucher system. This allows housing authorities to access public and private debt and equity markets to afford capital improvements, rather than relying on federal appropriations, which have left the nation’s public housing with a $26 billion backlog of deferred maintenance. Unlike traditional Section 8 housing credits, apartments managed under RAD can’t be withdrawn after 20 years.

WHAT’S NEXT Bentley says he didn’t initially plan to pursue a career in housing after completing his master’s in public policy. But HUD is one of the few federal agencies with offices outside Washington, D.C., where he didn’t want to live. “A lot of times the opportunities you are offered in life take you in a direction you didn’t expect” he says. “The reason I think it stuck is: Most people go into public policy because they want to make things better, and I can’t think of a more fundamental need for individuals than a place to call home.” KCDC’s biggest project right now is the replacement of the old, bar-

racks-style Walter P. Taylor Homes and the Williams Senior Complex with more open, modern housing configurations with park space. Ironically, given the current affordable housing shortage, KCDC started the project in 2012 by demolishing about 50 more units that it replaced—as it also did at other major housing complex overhauls in the last decade—with the idea of increasing safety. Many of the replacement units were homes and duplexes in the neighborhood or apartments elsewhere. Displaced residents received priority placement in Five Points or other KCDC housing, or a Section 8 voucher. Bentley says KCDC actually increased the total number of subsidized housing slots as a result, although all weren’t in Five Points. In fact, one of the original goals of Five Points Master Plan was to reduce the number of apartments. That has changed, Bentley says. The current phase of the Five Points project will require a one-to-one replacement of apartments, as will future projects built under the RAD program, he says. Residents are about to move in to the 90 senior apartments built during the first phase of Five Points. The complex includes computer stations, laundry facilities, a meeting room and green space with picnic pavilion and a dog park. KCDC broke ground in May on the $13.7 million second phase, July 20, 2017 knoxville mercury 19

The new buildings at Five Points are being built in multiple phases, slowly replacing the previous public housing projects.

KCDC REVITALIZATION AND REHABILITATION PROJECTS • The Residences at Five Points ($10.5 million revitalization; opening summer 2017) • Five Points Phase 2 ($16 million revitalization; anticipated opening summer 2018) • Five Points Phase 3 ($15 million revitalization; anticipated opening summer 2019) Projected in the next two years: • Lonsdale Homes ($11 million rehabilitation) • The Vista ($11 million rehabilitation) • North Ridge Crossing ($7 million rehabilitation) Source: KCDC

able workforce and market-rate housing,” Bentley says. Besides replacing existing apartments, Bentley says he wants KCDC to build new low-income complexes and work with private developers. The agency is about to issue a request for proposals, offering a guaranteed rent subsidy to developers who agree to keep rents affordable for 20 years. New construction would be preferred, followed by significant rehabilitation, Bentley says. Using its redevelopment powers, KCDC has also negotiated tax deals to enhance affordable housing. For example, the agency worked out a payment in lieu of taxes for Big Oak Apartments on Middlebrook Pike, which also received state low-income housing tax credits. Together the tax breaks are helping finance the upgrade of 150 units that will remain affordable for 30 years.

A HOUSE DIVIDED which will include 84 apartments 10 buildings. KCDC’s next big housing rehabilitation projects will be at The Vista, Lonsdale Homes, and Northridge Crossing, for a total of about $30 million to replace 705 units over 18 to 21 months. It’s still uncertain how KCDC will approach Austin Homes, another old, shabby complex with historic crime problems. Bentley says the agency is trying to strike a balance between improving it and investing too much while the area is continuing to evolve. Mixed-use developments are spreading out from downtown, and baseball team owner (and gubernatorial candidate) Randy Boyd has reportedly considered a stadium in the area. “If in five years new development changes that whole part of town, we could do mixed-housing with afford20 knoxville mercury July 20, 2017

Some community members in East Knoxville, Lonsdale, and Mechanicsville say KCDC’s historic approach to redevelopment and public housing has tended to splinter neighborhood networks and institutions. Local activist Zimbabwe Matavou says he has approached the KCDC board several times since last fall with a proposal to split the agency into two, with one organization responsible for housing and KCDC handling redevelopment. Matavou, who says he represents the Knoxville Rescue & Restoration Caucus as well as the Knoxville Black Business/Contractor’s Association, says KCDC officials told him that change would have to be approved by the state Legislature. Redevelopment is not mentioned in the KCDC charter, but it’s an ability granted to all housing authorities under state law.

“I think they can separate those things on their own. Even if they can’t, I think they should support it,” Matavou says. He argues KCDC’s redevelopment duties emphasize increasing the city tax base—and in the process, moving low-income families out of areas ripe for redevelopment. KCDC has “failed to do what we see as their primary mission, that is to preserve and advance those communities that the housing authority was given responsibility for,” says Matavou, who blames its “urban renewal” policies of the 1950s and ’60s for draining residents and black-owned businesses from historically-black neighborhoods like Mechanicsville. “There’s a lack of effort on part of KCDC to redress the historic problem, and what it’s doing currently is extending the damage done and implementing policy that is complementing it,” he says. At public meetings, some East Knoxville residents have complained that the Five Points project, paired with city streetscape improvements on Magnolia Avenue, may lead to gentrification that drives out current, mostly black, residents. “Gentrification is about displacement, and on Magnolia there are a lot of vacant buildings and a lot of places businesses can come,” Rogero says. “People who live in East Knoxville deserve to have places to shop and eat and be entertained nearby.” Matavou has not approached Bentley, whom he calls “inconsequential” because policy is set by the KCDC board. Although Bentley says he recognizes the perceived tension between KCDC’s dual roles, he notes that since 95 percent of its business is affordable housing, KCDC is more likely to focus on the needs of low-income residents than an independent redevelopment agency would be.

Matavou has also proposed that KCDC administrators and directors be required to take long beaks before shifting to jobs with its partners, contractors or the City of Knoxville. (Nance’s move to Lawler Wood is not mentioned, but would have been forbidden under such a policy, because the firm works closely with KCDC and even partnered with it to buy Townview Towers the previous year.) Matavou’s argument may have had some impact. Bentley’s contract stipulates that he can’t take a job with any “entity” or person that provided services to KCDC for one year after leaving. (This is much less time than the 10 years Matavou had proposed.) That would even prevent Bentley from leaving to work for HUD again. “I was agreeable to the language because I plan on being with KCDC for a long time,” Bentley says. “You don’t want a real or perceived revolving door.” Bentley acknowledges residents may have had some early uneasiness about the Five Points project because of KCDC’s history. For example, the federal Hope VI grant KCDC used to demolish College Homes in Mechanicsville in the early 2000s did not require that its residents be given the chance to move into the replacement homes and duplexes. (Wade says KCDC chose to offer this option anyway, and some residents took advantage of it. But a smaller number of units were built than the number demolished, and many moved elsewhere.) “The lack of a right of return was a problem from the standpoint of community fabric and tearing it to shreds,” Bentley says of the old method. The RAD program requires that every unit demolished be replaced, and that families who live there be given first shot at the new apartments. “Those have had a huge impact in terms of trust,” he says. Redevelopment at Five Points has been staged over time to avoid even temporary relocation of families. The first phase was built on large vacant parcels, so residents could move

From left: Beth Bacon, low-income housing tax credits manager for KCDC; KCDC CEO Ben Bentley; Orlando Diaz of Partners; and Kim Clark, senior asset

directly from their old apartment to the new one. The old apartments are torn down as they are vacated. In complexes like Lonsdale, which has no large vacant parcels, the authority will wait until 30 to 40 units are vacant through people moving out on their own, Bentley says. “It takes longer, and we get no rents for a while so it’s more expensive, but we feel it’s important… so community support networks remain intact and kids remain at the same schools, because we know that’s the right thing to do,” Bentley says. He adds that this strategy is somewhat new in the industry, but was the approach used in Nashville. There, Bentley oversaw a period of the years-long redevelopment of Cayce Homes from an outdated 1940s-era public housing project into a huge “purpose-built community,” possibly the first of its kind created by a U.S. housing authority. It’s planned to be a mix of affordable and market-rate housing, plus grocery stores, a school, and a job training center. Mosley says that to create the Cayce design, Bentley worked with some 50 people who live in Cayce and surrounding neighborhoods as well as staff and an architectural firm. “People were at ease with him from the neighborhood, as were the professionals that we were seeking input,” Mosley says. “You could always

count on him to do what he said he was going to do.” Bentley says the key is learning early in the process what residents and the community want from housing “and getting people at the table to make those priorities happen.” For many Knoxville public housing residents, the priority is safety. Ronnie Thompson, president of the Montgomery Village Residents Association, named safety as his biggest KCDC concern during an interview the day before a daylight shooting there killed two men in a parking lot, just as children at vacation Bible School were headed outside. Thompson, who hasn’t met Bentley personally but likes him so far, says he would like the new director to institute better background checks on residents and find ways to speed the months-long process of evicting people who pose a security threat. After repeated drive-by shootings at Lonsdale Homes, the non-profit Thrive Lonsdale this spring began calling for security cameras in common areas and parks. Bentley says KCDC has begun preliminary discussions with the Knoxville Police Department about whether it would monitor camera feeds if KCDC installed the equipment. But the housing agency is still trying to find money for that. “We are willing to raise the money for the cameras and install them,” says Clayton Wood, executive director of Thrive Lonsdale, which provides after-school programming for kids. “If you live in public housing and your kid can’t play outside because he might get shot, it’s devastating,” he says. Wood says the city hasn’t responded to his offer. (Rogero said in late June the police department has not approached her about it.) Bentley says sight lines and other safety measures are a major factor in the design of the KCDC complexes being rebuilt, including Lonsdale Homes. Wood says he feels encouraged by Bentley’s interest in improving safety. “I’m really excited he’s here,” Wood says. “He seems like a great listener, and I’m thankful for that. We’ll have to see what happens.” July 20, 2017 knoxville mercury 21

PRESS FORWARD Photo by Lynn Freeny

Starlight Farm Animal Sanctuary

Esther Roberts

founder & director

A Strawberry Plains nonprofit rescues and rehabilitates “extreme risk” equines


n 2003, freshly graduated from the University of Tennessee’s College of Law, Esther Roberts bought 6 acres of farmland off Strawberry Plains Pike. Over the next few years she built a barn, then lived in a horse trailer until she finished her house and a riding ring in 2008. The founder and CEO of Global IP Asset Management PLLC, she was creating her dream life. The idea of a horse sanctuary had not yet entered her mind; she wanted a place for her and her own horse, Lady Grace, now 18 years old. In 2010, she welcomed her first rescued horse from an overbreeding situation. In 2012, she took in a horse that was in the pipeline to be slaughtered. In 2015, she filed for 501(c)(3) status as Starlight Farm Animal Sanctuary (SFAS.) And then, says Roberts, “we’ve kinda been going gangbusters ever since.” This year, SFAS earned “platinum level” (the highest) with nonprofit watchdog organization GuideStar. The sanctuary is particularly concerned with the issue of equine slaughter. Although the last official equine slaughterhouse—the Dallas Crown Slaughterhouse in Kaufman, Texas—was shuttered in 2007, and no large-scale equine slaughter presently occurs legally in the U.S., those who wish to benefit financially from the sale of horse meat for human consumption can take advantage of a loophole that allows them to transport horses to Mexico and Canada for slaughter. According to horsechannel. com, bills attempting to close the loophole have been introduced in the

22 knoxville mercury July 20, 2017

past few years in both the House and Senate, but nothing has yet been resolved. Organizations such as SFAS take steps to save at least some of these animals from their fate by outbidding so-called “killer buyers” at auction. “We cannot save them all,” Roberts says, “but we strive to give the absolute best care to each one who enters the SFAS programs.”

You have a small but dedicated operation. Shakespeare wrote of a character in A Midsummer Night’s Dream: “Though she be but little, she is fierce.” We at SFAS are fiercely dedicated to the humane treatment of all animals, whether they are livestock, wildlife, or family pets. We are an all-volunteer organization, and my own personal horses are kept financially separate— thus, 100 percent of every donated dollar goes directly to helping the horses in need. 

How are you different from Horse Haven of Tennessee, also in Knox County? I like to say that if Horse Haven is the hospital, we’re the ICU! SFAS specializes in rescuing, rehabilitating, and rehoming “extreme risk” equines. We work with Dr. Eric Martin, who is clinical assistant professor of large animal clinical sciences for the UT College of Veterinary Medicine.

What kinds of things do you do? As one example, last year a Mennonite family in Kentucky contacted us. One of their young foals had a hip injury and they had no means of

Photos by Tess McHone of Everyday Beauty Photography


transport or treatment. SFAS made an emergency 10-hour trip to pick up the injured foal and its mother and haul them directly to the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. The hip ball had fractured, thus the foal was humanely euthanized and, after receiving care appropriate to the situation by the staff at UTCVM, the mare was returned to her owners. While losing the foal was sad, this is but one example where SFAS’ intervention prevented suffering. Another example: A Bureau of Land Management mustang mare was found at a livestock auction. Ten years old and completely unhandled, she was to be sold for slaughter. SFAS bought her and coordinated with Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary to take the mare and allow her to live on that organization’s 11,000-acre equine reserve located in South Dakota.

STARLIGHT FARM ANIMAL SANCTUARY 8216 Strawberry Plains Pike 865-607-9780 PROGRAMS • Starlight Farm Animal Sanctuary specializes in rescuing, rehabilitating, and rehoming “extreme risk” equines. • For animals who enter its foster/ adoption program, SFAS provides each animal with any medical care and rehabilitative training required. HOW YOU CAN HELP • Visit their website to donate. • Volunteer at the sanctuary. For more information about equine slaughter, visit: • Equine Welfare Alliance at • Animal Law Coalition at

What about education programs? SFAS partners with Garden Montessori School, located in Fountain City, to provide experiential learning opportunities for the GMS students. The students have an annual field day at the sanctuary, where they learn about the animals in our programs, interact with the animals, and enjoy hiking, crafting, and a picnic lunch. The students are premier supporters of our mission; last year, the GMS students raised and donated over $400 to help offset the veterinary and rehabilitation costs of a paint mare who was entering our rehabilitation/adoption program. SFAS asked the students to name this horse and, since the mare arrived during the 2016 presidential campaign season, the GMS teachers created an exercise for the students to “campaign” and “vote” on the name for the horse. The winning name, “Rosie.” 

What’s going on at SFAS right now? Presently, we have three sanctuary resident horses, one horse in off-site foster care, and two horses in our quarantine/rehabilitation program, one due to foal any day. Our foster farm families provide long-term rehabilitation and training for horses that need the extra time prior to being placed for adoption. Henry, a horse that just finished quarantine/rehab, came to us with a

body score of 1.5, where 5 is “normal” and 7 is “obese.” So you can imagine. He gained quite a bit of weight and is much better. He’s been sent to live out his life at a standardbred retirement rescue in Middle Tennessee.

Standardbred? Horses bred for trotting, harness racing, pleasure riding. We rescue many breeds. Many have been headed for slaughter.

Equine slaughter is that prevalent? Really? Approximately 150,000 horses per year are shipped from the United States to Mexico or Canada for slaughter for human consumption. A local auction ships about 700 a month—we just bailed two of them last night. Horses rescued by SFAS typically come directly out of the slaughter pipeline and arrive in poor condition.

Does SFAS help only horses? Since SFAS became a nonprofit in 2015, we have provided direct assistance—quarantine, care, transport, and/or funding—to dozens of animals, including horses, cats, dogs, and wildlife, working in conjunction with licensed wildlife rehabilitation facilities. But our primary focus for on-farm quarantine and care is horses.  July 20, 2017 knoxville mercury 23

Thank you and goodbye, Knoxville.

Photo by Bill Foster

24 knoxville mercury July 20, 2017

The Mercury Meltdown FAQ W

ith our announcement in the July 6 issue that we would cease publishing the Mercury, many readers asked us questions in emails and social media. Here are some answers.

tunately, we couldn’t figure out an effective way to continually inspire people to send money to a newspaper—it’s still a new idea as far as charitable causes go.

Why did you decide to pull the plug?

So if we asked all our friends on Facebook to contribute, would that put you back in business?

After two years of hitting our heads against the wall, we were running out of money and out of ideas for new ways of asking for money or selling ads. Each fundraiser we held collected less money than the one before it. (About 1 percent of our readership responded to our most recent monthlong fundraising campaign.) We were able to make a profit from special issues and guides, but we weren’t able to enlist enough advertisers for the regular weekly issues. In the end, we found there just wasn’t a large enough market in Knoxville to buy into what we were producing.

Why didn’t you just announce a few months ago, “Hey, we’re going to go out of business unless everybody who likes the paper makes a donation!” Catch-22: We were also trying to be a business—and it’s difficult to find clients willing to put their money into a business that says it’s failing. We tried to make our pleas for money urgent, yet provide you with good reasons to donate beyond just “We’re going to go away if you don’t.” Unfor-

Small patches of emergency funding aren’t going to fix our long-term problems. We believe it will take a considerable sum of money to make an independent news-driven paper successful here—such as in the form of an endowment that earns enough money for operations. Advertising revenue and donations just didn’t add up for us. Our original break-even goal was $15,000 in ad sales + donations per week. Metro Pulse, our previous paper, averaged at least $20,000 per week in ad sales alone, so we thought we could make a go of it. After budget cuts, we reduced our weekly break-even goal to $13,000 per week; we actually averaged around $10,000 per week in sales. So close, yet so far.

Were you spending lots of money on parties or new cars or something? No. We reduced our staff to the smallest size we believe capable of producing a professionally written and designed newsweekly: two editors, one art director, one sales director, two

sales reps, one part-time reporter, one part-time designer, plus a part-time business manager who was very generous with his time. (With a smaller staff, we would simply have not been able to keep our promise of delivering in-depth stories on local issues.) Nobody filed expenses. We dropped our health benefits. We didn’t have budgets for marketing, a webmaster, or, later, even photography. Meanwhile, we were able to secure office space in the Arcade Building, with rent paid for in an advertising trade with its owners, Kevin and Melinda Grimac. Payroll was our biggest expense, and we all made about the same salary, well below what some of us used to make.

Why didn’t you charge for the paper or offer subscriptions? In order to collect money on per-paper sales, we would have had to create an infrastructure to support it: new metal boxes with coin machines and a network of shops that would charge the cover price and share the proceeds with us. It would have been very expensive and difficult to manage, with unpredictable results. As for subscriptions, in order for the papers to arrive in a timely manner in undamaged condition, we would’ve had to use first-class postage, plus envelopes—so, to make a profit, we would’ve had to charge around $100. We did not believe there’d be enough

people willing to pay that much money to make it worth all of the extra effort the mail-outs would’ve required every week.

Or what about going all digital? Wouldn’t that have saved you a lot of expense and made the Mercury financially feasible? In our experience, online revenue at a local level is inadequate to pay a full-time staff of journalists. As a niche publication in a small market, our site had nice traffic numbers but not the scale typically needed to make good money on Web ads. We did ramp up efforts on the digital side with a site redesign, more digital-only content, and an email newsletter—and it showed positive signs but not a big impact on sales in the short term. From the start, we paid our staff and our freelancers. This was not an unpaid “citizen journalist” effort, but rather one that was as professional as we could make it. That requires a good-sized budget, and local print ad sales bring in much more money than online only. The trick is selling enough of them to cover your payroll, which we ultimately failed to do. There are independent news-only websites like the Lens in New Orleans that have a staff—but they are a 501(c) (3) themselves and are able to earn grants rather than sell ads. However, we wanted to cover arts and culture in

From the start, we paid our staff and our freelancers. This was not an unpaid “citizen journalist” effort, but rather one that was as professional as we could make it. That requires a good-sized budget. July 20, 2017 knoxville mercury 25

addition to news, and believed we had an existing client base of such advertisers to support the effort. So, we went with the unique route of a 501(c)(3) owning the paper, which allowed us to sell traditional advertising. It proved to be a complicated arrangement.

Couldn’t you have asked for money from some of Knoxville’s wealthy benefactors? We asked for help from anyone who would take a meeting with us. We did receive some donations that kept us going, but not enough to solve the problem of ongoing low ad sales.

The Long Goodbye


e asked our staff members to write whatever they wanted for this final issue of the Knoxville Mercury: memories, theories, parting thoughts.


What about business investors? Since we are owned by a nonprofit, the Knoxville History Project, there was little impetus for anyone to make an investment in the paper—profits would have gone back to the KHP.

So what’s going to happen to all of your stories? We’re going to keep them online as long as we can afford to pay the Web host bill. The Knox County Public Library also has a complete collection. Furthermore, if any of our freelance writers wish to continue contributing without charge, we will post their work on and link them on Facebook and Twitter.

What will you do next? We’ll be looking for jobs. If you have any suggestions, you can still contact us at our email addresses. We might also tackle one-off projects under the Mercury name if we think they’re worthwhile and benefit the Knoxville community. Stay tuned. —Coury Turczyn, editor 26 knoxville mercury July 20, 2017

CHARLIEVOGEL The Knoxville Mercury isn’t “just business.” Over the course of my career, I’ve been around the block with some successful businesses—and a few that were … not so much. Every successful business has the right people, working capital, a product that fills a need or solves a problem—and a market willing to pay for the product. The Mercury had the right people and I’m very grateful for the privilege of working with everyone here. Our passionate editors, writers, designers, salespeople, and support staff are smart, talented, and dedicated. All of them are also grossly under-compensated and overworked—and yet they brought readers a weekly newspaper that always punched above its weight. When E.W. Scripps/Knoxville

News Sentinel abruptly killed the successful 23-year-old Metro Pulse— during a corporate restructuring in preparation for a sale to another an out-of-town conglomerate—many loyal readers cried “foul” and encouraged a resurrection. Scripps’ sale was executed and quickly bundled and sold to an even-larger corporate entity: Gannett/USA Today. A hyper-local, scrappy independent weekly was determined to add little value to that sale. That’s just business. Knoxville’s response to the demise of Metro Pulse, however, suggested an opportunity. Thanks to some exceedingly generous benefactors and a Kickstarter campaign, we raised just enough capital to launch a successor to Metro Pulse: the Knoxville Mercury. We knew going into this adventure that we were swimming against the tide. You hold in your hands our 109th—and final—issue. We’ve published award-winning stories, design, photography, and illustration about Knoxville and East Tennessee. Along the way we attracted an audience of highly educated and affluent readers. Mercury readers have money to spend and we know—from research and anecdotally from conversations with business owners and readers—that they often buy locally. We had great people, some working capital, and an award-winning product—but we misread the market. Henry Holcomb, the former president of the Philadelphia Newspaper Guild and a journalist for 40 years, said that newspapers had a clearer mission when he started in the business:

“Report the truth and raise hell.” That mission has become hazy in the new era of early 21st-century journalism, when most newspapers are struggling to survive. The newspaper business is more about staying in business and less about raising hell. So, in the business of journalism, what is the market and how does the product fit? At the Mercury, Coury, Matthew, Jack, Heather, and the rest of the editorial and design crew knew that our readers and our advertisers are our customers—and journalism that tells the truth and raises hell is our product. The Mercury audience is comprised of Knoxville’s most informed and engaged citizens—with verified disposable incomes. Our readers are an attractive market for advertisers. Great journalism is not inexpensive. The Mercury spent $250,000 a year on printing and distribution alone. Add salaries and overhead and our weekly nut was $15,000, which we later reduced to $13,000. To help fund the newspaper, and in an effort to keep pricing reasonable for advertisers, we asked readers to contribute through fundraisers and online funding campaigns similar to those produced by public radio and television. We promoted a fundraising concert, sold merchandise on our website, and conducted many fund drives. The Mercury averages between 40,000 and 50,000 readers per issue between print and digital. If every reader kicked in just $10 a year, we would have a business. If every reader

donated $20 a year, the Mercury would have been a better paper with more reporters, more content, and distribution to more locations throughout Knoxville. In our latest and last fund drive, less than 1 percent of our audience made a financial contribution—but we are grateful to those who did. For now, for this incarnation of the Knoxville Mercury, we’ve determined there are just not enough readers willing to pay and not enough advertisers willing to pay enough to reach readers. Publishing an independent weekly newspaper in Knoxville is just not a good business. We are sticking around Knoxville—and some of us are looking at ways to fill the inevitable void the Mercury leaves behind. If you have ideas for content—and thoughts on how to pay for it—let us know! Just email me at Thank you, Knoxville, for giving us a shot. We gave the Mercury our all and we all appreciate your support. — Charlie Vogel, publisher & sales director



Reporting for the Mercury, I met people I’d never have encountered otherwise and learned new things from them every day. That’s what makes my job fun—yet sometimes sobering. I’m proud that the Mercury has produced quality investigative journalism, telling local stories you won’t read elsewhere—about everything from the poor and disenfranchised to the arts community—and in a style both meaningful and personal. In this era of “fake news” and tailor-made facts, the in-depth research we did felt more important than ever. Reporting for the Mercury, I met people I’d never have encountered otherwise and learned new things from them every day. That’s what makes my job fun—yet sometimes sobering. I helped maneuver a wheelbarrow full of fresh-dug native plants with the Native Plant Rescue Squad, held a rare hellbender (giant native salamander) while standing hip-deep in the Hiawassee River, and met refugees who were able to beam as they shared their triumph in escaping war and fear to find a better life in Knoxville. But I also met repeatedly with a survivor of sex trafficking, listening while she wept about how much she has despised herself. I visited displaced Gatlinburg service workers scraping by after the fire in cramped, buggy hotel rooms that served as their homes. I pored through hundreds of pages of documents and rode on police patrols to observe and track exactly how the Knoxville Police Department polices itself as well as

black communities in Knoxville. I broke stories about the potential sell-off of the historic and contaminated Knoxville College and the historic Howard House, which was recently saved from demolition. I hope some of our reporting led to change and greater help for those left behind by the system. One of my favorite stories remains one of the first cover pieces I wrote, about a showdown between Walmart and the last East Tennessee drive-in theater and what it represented in the battle for the identity of a small town. I’m happy to say the Parkway Drive-In in Maryville survives, for now. Kids are still catching fireflies beneath the big screen, or lying on mattresses in the bed of the pickup to watch the pictures flicker overhead. I ended that story with the image of taillights disappearing as the Parkway disappeared in the rearview, and I hope that now you can think of the Mercury the same way: A slice of East Tennessee culture that you enjoyed before traveling on. A laugh with Trae Crowder, a song with Hudson K, a remembered clever quote or revelation or snatch of a melody about all that makes this place unique, lovable, horrible, and home. — S. Heather Duncan, staff writer


SCOTTHAMSTEAD When people ask me what it’s like to put out a weekly paper, I tell them it’s like being on a hamster wheel with your hair on fire. It takes a lot of people to keep that wheel moving forward and I want to thank them. I want to say thanks to our 500+ advertisers, our donors, our supporters of all types, and our readers over the past two and a half years—without you we could not have started nor continued the Mercury. I also must give a huge thank you to our team: the editors, writers, designers, business people, freelancers (many who did work for free), and interns; they all have done yeoman’s work. In addition, a big shout-out to those who may not get much thanks, but without whom the paper would not get out: our distribution team. It is not easy to get 25,000 papers out in about a day and a half. It takes the whole team to make up the cogs in the wheel. Thank you all! And thank you to those who came up to us at public events or on the street to say how much you loved the paper and how much it meant to you. We know that our stories made a July 20, 2017 knoxville mercury 27

difference and that many in the community were moved to action by them. That is something that we can all be proud of and take with us as we get off the hamster wheel and put our hair out. It was fun while it lasted, goodbye and best regards! — Scott Hamstead, senior account executive


TRICIABATEMAN Never have I received so much gratitude from strangers on the street when they found out about my job. I’m not one to need, seek, or even enjoy attention or praise. My fulfillment usually comes from a project going smoothly and meeting my own high standards. However, the constant “thank you” and “great work” comments from true strangers—in foodtruck lines, at the bar, at the farmers’ market—were signs that we were doing something important for people. So allow me to begin by thanking you in return for that support. It buoyed us during challenging weeks. Never have I gotten paid for work that was so perfectly in line with my 28 knoxville mercury July 20, 2017

beliefs and skills. Design is primarily about facilitating the communication of someone else’s message. But at the Mercury, the messages I helped share were that this city is wonderful and complex and changing. There was always another side to the argument. There were always more voices to be heard. I truly believe all those things. Plus, I got to combine my publication expertise with my branding and marketing experience. I had work that kept me overwhelmingly busy, but I felt competent that I could help solve whatever design challenge came next. Those are rare treats in any job. Never have I worked in such an egoless office full of people that totally deserve to have egos. We’ve had disagreements. We’ve been flawed. But we haven’t had to tiptoe around or manage internal politics. We spoke our minds. I have trusted and respected my coworkers and felt trusted and respected. Each person here has talents and work ethics beyond their pay scales and I will miss collaborating with them. Never have I felt so immediately welcomed in a new place. I’ve been a regular visitor to Knoxville for 15 years, but made the leap and moved just two and a half years ago from the much busier, larger city of Cincinnati. It felt like changing out of a dressy outfit and into my favorite jeans. No pretension. No judgment. Just down-to-earth people saying “Come on in!” This city is just big enough that there is always lots of interesting stuff going on and small enough that you can show up to an event alone and find someone you know. Working at the paper has facilitated many of those connections, but also, it’s just a great place to live. I hope to find new

ways to make more connections and deepen existing ones with my newfound free time. Never have I been so proud of failing. We worked so hard and learned so much. I am sorry to see the city to lose this gem and there are many reasons why it didn’t work. I won’t go in to the theories about why except to say that no single reason is to blame. It’s a very complicated business. I’m happy to commiserate about all the reasons over a beer. We did our best and I couldn’t possible be happier with what we were able to accomplish. My next adventure will be launching a freelance design business. I invite you to get to know my non-publication design work better. Peruse my website (triciabateman. com), find me on facebook (@triciabatemandesign), and stay in touch! —Tricia Bateman, art director

the Mercury office. Whether it be Charlie Finch’s vegetarian sausage biscuits or Scott Hamstead’s low-sodium frozen dinners or Coury’s microwaveable Indian food… those are the odd smells that I enjoyed each and every day during my time with Mercury. I think that even as silly as that may be, it ultimately goes to show the eccentricity behind each member of the Mercury, and how each member made the newspaper special and fun to pick-up for Knoxvillians in their own unique, funky way. —Michael Tremoulis, account executive



MICHAELTREMOULIS This may sound bizarre, but I will miss the funky smells of what each staff member ate for lunch each day at

I have a long list of things we could have done differently over the last two and a half years: We could have written shorter stories and more provocative headlines; we could have made better use of social media; we could have planned our fundraisers better, or started as a webzine, or had a long-term development strategy, or made sponsored content a priority. We could all have been younger. None of it would have mattered

much—not enough to make the Mercury a sustainable long-term enterprise, anyway. It seems a little ridiculous now, starting a newspaper when the whole industry is falling off a cliff. But we thought we had come up with a model that would work. It did, for a while. Sort of. Looking back, it’s apparent that we were underfunded and understaffed from the very beginning. When somebody leaves the staff and you can’t afford to fill that position, something’s not working right. That doesn’t mean that the Mercury is a failure. Nothing lasts forever. Maybe the whole idea was quixotic, but nobody will ever convince me that publishing more than 100 issues of a not-for-profit weekly-ish news journal was failing. For two years in a row, we beat the local daily in feature writing, investigative journalism, and page design in the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists’ annual contest. I’ll always be proud of that. Still, the demise of the Mercury feels like the end of more than just a business. I’ve been practicing this kind of journalism since I was an intern at Metro Pulse in the late 1990s. It suits me, and I believe in it. But I probably won’t be doing it anymore. I’m not sure I want to. I’ve started imagining a working life that’s not marked off by Tuesday deadlines and stress headaches. I’d like to have a job I know will still be around in six months. It’s been a good run. It’s been difficult and terrifying and humbling and deeply gratifying. Working with this staff and our roster of contributors has been a privilege, and the support and confidence we’ve had from readers has been overwhelming.

Over the course of 20 years—with two tours of duty at Metro Pulse, and now the Mercury— it has been the major achievement of my career: sharing the things that I thought were most interesting about life in Knoxville. I still think the Mercury’s mission—to dig deep into Knoxville’s culture and politics and find the stories that say something significant about who we are and where we’re headed—is an important one. Essential, even. Those stories will never go away. I’m looking forward to seeing who figures out a new way to tell them. —Matthew Everett senior editor


COURYTURCZYN Thus ends my third attempt at providing Knoxville with a paper dedicated to longform journalism, smart opinions, unique culture, and odd characters. Over the course of 20 years—with two tours of duty at Metro Pulse, and now the Mercury—it has been the major achievement of my

career: sharing the things that I thought were most interesting about life in Knoxville and East Tennessee. The fact that none of these endeavors were particularly successful in monetary terms has been no small source of anxiety for me. But even though potential advertisers were apparently unexcited by my story choices, it has been gratifying to hear from readers who felt otherwise. Journalism is not exactly a revered service, especially now—and reporters mostly hear (and absorb) the complaints. But you have made us feel very appreciated with all of your letters, emails, comments, and donations. Knoxville readers are bucking the trends! For me, the most fulfilling part of working at the Mercury and Metro Pulse was assembling very creative people and seeing what happens. Unlike any other city I’ve lived in, Knoxville is a magnet for unique talents—people with uncommon skills and minds. They do not stay here to make lots of money or to get famous— they are drawn to Knoxville because it’s where their hearts have led them, and they work at their crafts because they must. It has been my pleasure to meet hundreds of these people over the years, and to help provide a venue for their efforts and ideas.

As I vault into middle age, however, I’m starting to wonder, as most journalists eventually do: Is this any way to make a living? Is being in a constant state of stress really normal? And what’s this I hear about “savings accounts” and “401(k)s”? Meanwhile, there’s the ever-changing media marketplace—is there any room left in our shrinking attention spans for in-depth stories? Has social media trained us to be satisfied only by piss-off headlines that reaffirm our preconceptions? Will the only stories left that people actually read be advertorials about awesome new restaurants and shops? Well, I don’t know the answers yet. And I’ve got some self-examination to do. But I will always be around if anyone has some interesting stories to share. — Coury Turczyn, editor

THEKNOXVILLEMERCURY SADHOUR Hey, why not join us for a few drinks in memory of our late, great endeavor? WHERE Boyd’s Jig & Reel (101 S. Central St.) WHEN Thursday, July 20, 4:30-6:30 p.m.w

July 20, 2017 knoxville mercury 29

Music | Inside the Vault | Books | Movies

Reinventing Tradition The Irish-American fiddler Martin Hayes pushes the boundaries of folk music BY MATTHEW EVERETT


he fiddler Martin Hayes was born in 1962, in County Clare, Ireland. It was a complicated, heady time for traditional Irish music. Dance bands like Tulla Céilí Band, which Hayes’ father led for almost 50 years, had evolved from rustic entertainment into the official pop music of Ireland, resembling big band orchestras. Groups like the Clancy Brothers and the original version of the Chieftains, inspired by the folk revival in the United States and England, were recording brawny versions of popular Irish songs and ballads and becoming popular on college campuses. By the time Hayes took a spot in his father’s band when he was a teenager, progressive Irish folk-rock bands like Planxty and the Bothy Band were expanding the boundaries of traditional Irish music. All of it made since to Hayes. He’d learned from his father and his uncle Paddy Canny, a founding member of the Tulla Céilí Band, that music grows and changes. “Any tradition, if it wants to be relevant, has to fit into the world it finds itself in,” Hayes says. “It has to remain relevant musically and not just become an artifact. The ’70s was a very big period in music like that. The music was transformed, and it was transformed by interacting with a wilder world. The American folk tradition, the British folk tradition, the folk-rock tradition—all of those things came together and gave a new breath of life to traditional music.” Like James Joyce, Hayes is a creative exile. He moved to Chicago

30 knoxville mercury July 20, 2017

in the 1980s and lived in the U.S. for 20 years. (He’s a U.S. citizen now.) He’s lived mostly in Europe for the last decade. But his music is closely tied to his home country. “Last night I did a concert with a uilleann piper, so I go back into that element,” Hayes says. “But I also like to have projects that are moving and stretching and experimenting, seeing what possibilities exist with that form. It’s not an either/or approach to the music.” After leaving Ireland, Hayes played in a Celtic rock band called Midnight Court. He eventually returned to more traditional music, forming an acoustic duo with the American guitarist Dennis Cahill, who had also played in Midnight Court. By the time of his second solo album, Under the Moon, in 1995, his sensibility—traditional but expansive, rigorous but open—was fully formed. “At first, I was willing to experiment in all kinds of different ways,” Hayes says. “In the end, I realized what I had was a more or less complete music language. Instead of trying to acquire a new one and push myself into all these other genres, I just tried to figure out the varied and diverse expressions within the music itself, how many things could happen, what kinds of energies and feelings could happen. I learned the language of the music itself and how it could expand, and that rolled into how it could relate to other music forms and how other music forms could connect with it and if there were places where they could contribute to each other.”

Hayes’ most recent project is the Gloaming, a supergroup made up of some of the biggest names in progressive folk music—singer Iarla Ó Lionáird, fiddler Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, Cahill, and New York pianist Thomas Bartlett, aka Doveman. The Gloaming’s 2014 debut album won the Meteor Choice Music Prize for best Irish album; it’s a stunning record that combines folk and chamber music, epic in scale but intimate in tone. The band’s opening-night performance at the Bijou Theatre was a highlight of the 2016 Big Ears festival. Hayes convened the band in 2011. Even before they released their first album, the group was selling out major venues in Europe. “Let’s put it this way—I invited all the members to come. After that, it took care of itself. They’re all emotionally expressive musicians, all of them, and they all have this moody, reflective quality. I felt that we had a compatibility about how we feel music. Then it was just, let’s see what happens. We don’t have a clear vision in terms of what precisely to play, but we have a common shared aesthetic sense of expressions and feeling.” At the end of 2016, Hayes took his newest band, the Martin Hayes Quartet, into the studio. The quartet includes Hayes, Cahill, Liz Knowles on viola and violin, and Doug Wieselman on bass clarinet.

“Like the Gloaming, it’s a matter of sticking around and seeing what everyone wants to do, then tidying it up a bit and making sense of it,” Hayes says of his latest project. “It’s about letting people be fully creative. If you have good musicians and they’re sensitive, then you can just ask them to do what they do and contribute in a way that makes sense to them and you end up with something. And that leads to more ideas, and then you begin to know what the ensemble can actually do, and then it goes to another phase.”

WHO Martin Hayes WHERE The Grove Theater (123 Randolph Road, Oak Ridge) WHEN Sunday, July 23, at 6:30 p.m. HOW MUCH $20/$25 at the door INFO

Music | Inside the Vault | Books | Movies

Future Tense Looking back and looking forward with the Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound



hate to see the Mercury go. There are a lot of reasons to lament its passing, and though perhaps not particularly high on the list in its importance to this community, I will miss writing this column. There are so many interesting films and recordings at the Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound, and fascinating stories to go along with them. I had been a contributor to Metro Pulse, and when the Mercury launched, I pitched this column to arts and entertainment editor Matthew Everett. It seemed a natural fit. Metro Pulse had long been a reliable supporter and champion of TAMIS. Jack Neely was one of the first people in Knoxville to understand the archive’s importance to Knoxville’s cultural heritage; he wrote stories about the archive when it was run out of the Bearden apartment of co-founders Bradley Reeves and Louisa Trott. Coury Turczyn, Matthew, and other Metro Pulse contributors also frequently wrote about TAMIS finds and activities. Jack, Coury, and Matthew were some of TAMIS’ most frequent visitors and researchers.

The films, videos, photographs, audio recordings, and ephemera at the archive are pieces of the larger story of Knoxville and East Tennessee. An interview with music instructor Jack Haynes resulted in a surprising history of some of the more obscure jazz musicians and venues in Knoxville. Researching a record found in a thrift store led to finding out more about the history of Knoxville’s R&B scene and a videotaped concert that spotlighted many of its greatest performers. It was a great opportunity and privilege to share it courtesy of the Mercury. Contributors and columnists have been invited to continue to publish on the Mercury website, which will remain active, and I’m sure I’ll do that now and then, but without a deadline I don’t know that I’ll keep to an every-other-week schedule. And I’m sure that the advertising research that proves more people can be reached online than in print is accurate—otherwise businesses would probably continue to advertise in print publications. But I’m also sure there are people who won’t discover or read as

many longer articles online as they might have in a paper. I always enjoyed having an Inside the Vault column in the Big Ears issue, imagining some of the world travelers descending on Knoxville might pick up the paper and take an interest in some small part of Knoxville’s music history. Norwegian fiddle player Nils Økland was never likely to stumble on an online article about champion fiddler Newman Wise’s vast collection of old-time music tapes and his bootleg of a Stephane Grappelli concert, but maybe he read about it in the paper over lunch in Market Square. Inside the Vault was also used to promote TAMIS screenings and events, which was certainly a bit of shameless self-promotion, but also included history and background. Now there won’t be a print column in which to write about the upcoming screenings at the Tennessee Theatre during the annual East Tennessee History Fair on Saturday, Aug. 19, from noon to 5 p.m., which will feature films from the WSJK public television archive, including a half-hour documentary about Lamar Alexander’s walk across Tennessee during his 1978 gubernatorial run. (The documentary never aired because it so much resembled a campaign film that the state comptroller ordered the Republican Party to reimburse the state for the cost of the film, so this will technically be its premiere.) Home Movie Day is coming up in October, so keep an eye out for that, too. We’ll keep working with the Knoxville History Project, so you’ll probably continue to see TAMIS photos on their website. Since I didn’t write about a particular person or archival item this time, I thought we’d run one of our favorite photos at TAMIS, from the collection of local photographer Bruce Leslie. It’s a group of children being pulled in a wagon by a goat. It always cheers me up to look at it. Maybe it will bring you some cheer as well. Eric Dawson is an audio-visual archivist with the Knox County Public Library’s Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound. Inside the Vault searches the TAMIS archives for nuggets of lost Knoxville music and film history.



Ephemeral by Nature



to all the good people who’ve contributed to the Mercury, and to the many loyal readers who’ll miss it so.

The Final Season


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Music | Inside the Vault | Books | Movies

Truth or Dare Author Wendell Potter will address the health-care crisis and fake news at Truth and Consequences symposium



endell Potter’s name has a sharp resonance in Washington. For more than 20 years he was an executive in public relations for Humana and CIGNA, until he went public, first before Congress, and then in his own book, Deadly Spin, with his first-hand reports about systematic deception and manipulation of clients within the insurance industry. Some in Knoxville remember the same name from a long time ago. Potter was editor of the University of Tennessee Daily Beacon in the early 1970s and later worked in communications for Jake Butcher, the banker and gubernatorial candidate who was the leading financier of the 1982 World’s Fair before he was arrested for bank fraud. With co-author Nick Penniman, Potter recently released Nation on the Take: How Big Money Corrupts Our Democracy and What We Can Do About It. Now he’s taking a major leap, with an online publication called Tarbell, whose intent is to serve as a permanent watchdog over corporate doubletalk. Potter will speak at the Bijou Theatre on Thursday, July 27, as part of the Knox County Public Library’s Truth and Consequences Symposium: Facts, Filter Bubbles, and Fake News.

You began your career at UT’s Daily Beacon. Was there anything from those days that set you on the course you’re on today? I got invaluable training in a real newsroom, and I learned the importance of having good editors. I was blessed. You can only learn so much in the classroom. When I was a Daily Beacon reporter, the editors would take my copy and make it better, without fail. The Daily Beacon on any given weekday afternoon was a buzz 32 knoxville mercury July 20, 2017

of activity. I knew I wanted to be a journalist from that experience.

Deadly Spin was shocking when it came out seven years ago. To see such an expose by an intimate witness would seem to suggest that nothing would ever be the same. Do you have any reason to believe your book had any positive effect on the health insurance industry, or on the government that regulates it? People in Washington have told me that my testimony before Congress in 2009 about the insurance industry helped lawmakers understand the industry in ways they hadn’t before and that what I said and ultimately wrote influenced both the legislation and the willingness of members of Congress to move forward with health-care reform. I’m also told that Deadly Spin helped people see the industry in a new light and also to understand how their thoughts, opinions and actions are so easily manipulated by corporations and special interests who spend whatever it takes to protect a profitable status quo.

Health insurance is a paradox. Hardly any issue is more urgent, arguably far bigger in its effect on most of our lives than most hot-button issues, but it’s rare to find clear and coherent reporting on the subject. Is health insurance just too complicated and tedious for people—and reporters or politicians—to understand? It is maddeningly complicated, so much so that people tend to tune out when someone starts talking about health care and health policy. This complexity, which, by the way, is unique to this country, is a great advantage for insurers and healthcare providers and drug companies.

But is a great disadvantage for everybody else. America’s health-care system can be so hard to wrap your head around that it makes your hair hurt. I’ve tried to explain American-style health care to audiences in Canada and the U.K. and they look at me like I’m speaking a foreign language. Their systems don’t have anything approaching the complexity of our system.

There’s much discussion of “fake news” on both sides of the aisle, and that in particular is a subject of next week’s forum. Do you see particularly egregious examples of this in your research? I see you’ve found evidence of “fake grassroots organizations.” Fake news is actually nothing more than a relatively new term for propaganda. It comes in many forms and from many places. I hate to admit it, but in my old job in the insurance industry, my colleagues and I worked with PR firms to create fake grassroots organizations that would disseminate our propaganda. … It’s important to talk about fake news, but there is a danger in defining it too narrowly. The danger is that it obscures the never-ceasing campaigns by special interests to get us to be their pawns in devious and unethical ways. The term “fake news” as most people seem to understand it has only been widely used for a few months. After Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg used it last year in a talk about how lies about political candidates were being spread via social media, the term went viral. For a while it was used primarily if not exclusively in reference to the spread of lies and half-truths via social media to influence voters. Soon, though, President Trump started using the term to discredit news reports he didn’t like. As a consequence, many people don’t believe news stories that are in fact true. It’s a huge problem and a big threat to our democracy.

How would you assess the health of journalism today? Good in some respects, not so good in others. The staffs of newsrooms and TV and radio stations have shrunk as so much advertising revenue has

shifted to online media. So there are a lot of unemployed reporters and editors, and sadly, many of them wind up in PR jobs, adding to the problem. But there is still much good and valuable reporting being done. Journalism is evolving. It has to. I’m encouraged by the number of nonprofit news organizations that have appeared on the scene in recent years.

Nonprofit journalism is a tricky proposition, as we’ve learned with the fate of the Mercury. In 2017, readers aren’t used to paying much for journalism. Do you think you can crack the code? Yes, I think we can. Because we won’t be publishing a print edition, and we won’t have a big brick-and-mortar office, our expenses will be lower than most legacy media. We will be launching a crowdfunding campaign this fall, which we believe will put us on the path to being reader-funded. We know our content must be useful and engaging. That will be our focus. We also have a goal, and a strategy behind it, to get our readers more civically engaged. Our mission is to achieve a more just and fair society through journalism—and to preserve our democracy. We will not only be telling important stories and pointing to potential solutions to problems, we will give people the information and tools they need to help make positive change happen.

WHAT Truth and Consequences Symposium: Facts, Filter Bubbles, and Fake News WHERE Various locations WHEN July 23-28 HOW MUCH Free-$35 INFO

Music | Inside the Vault | Books | Movies

Total War Andy Serkis delivers an Oscar-worthy motion-capture performance in the dazzling War for the Planet of the Apes



’ll confess up front that, before director Rupert Wyatt’s 2011 reboot, I was never a Planet of the Apes fan. I’m not a detractor of the original cycle of films by any means; they just don’t hold any particular appeal for me, and Tim Burton’s ill-conceived 2001 remake didn’t change that. Wyatt’s film did, though. I went for the promise of Weta Digital’s groundbreaking visual effects, and because actor Andy Serkis is always a marvel to watch. I stayed for a savvy, thoughtful sci-fi thriller that, as it turns out, launched one of the genre’s most consistently rewarding trilogies. I’m glad the first two installments won me over, because otherwise I might have missed the experience of seeing War for the Planet of the Apes in a theater. And that’s absolutely the way it should be seen: on the biggest screen you can find, as free from distractions as possible. The visuals are certainly a big factor; Michael

Seresin’s breathtaking 65mm cinematography is enough to warrant repeat viewings, and the effects are so good that it only takes a few minutes to forget you’re watching effects. But War backs up its dazzling imagery with emotional heft and the kind of moral complexity that rarely shows up in blockbuster franchises. The film picks up a few years after 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, with a war still raging between what’s left of the human species and the highly evolved apes that are thriving in the wake of the simian flu outbreak. Or at least they would be, if a fanatical U.S. Army officer known only as the Colonel (Woody Harrelson, in full-on Col. Kurtz mode) would stop sending raiding parties into the forest to kill the apes and hunt down their pacifist leader, Caesar (Serkis). Before we go any further, let’s talk about Serkis. Of all the offenses regularly committed in the name of

the Oscars, one of the most puzzling is the Academy’s insistence that motion-capture acting isn’t really acting. That stance has always been dumb, but Serkis’ work in this film, and the performances of his fellow motion-capture actors, should make it absolutely untenable to any reasonable person. Since he first played the character in Rise, Serkis has inhabited the role of Caesar as fully as any actor in a traditional performance, and War gives him the best showcase of his career to date. Wearied and haunted, Caesar has assumed the role of a simian Moses figure, intent on leading his followers to a distant new land where they hope the Colonel and his cultishly devoted soldiers won’t pursue them. (Director and co-writer Matt Reeves has acknowledged that classic Hollywood biblical epics were a conscious influence.) Before they can leave the forest, though, Caesar suffers a devastating tragedy at the hands of the Colonel, and he’s no longer content to simply flee, or to adhere to the principles of nonviolence that have guided him so far. Accompanied by the kind-hearted orangutan Maurice (Karin Konoval), his loyal right-hand ape Rocket (Terry Notary), and the imposing gorilla Luca (Michael Adamthwaite), Caesar sets out to track the Colonel to the snowy, sprawling encampment that serves as his unit’s base. War begins with a masterfully staged battle scene, but it has far more in common with midcentury revenge westerns and classic Hollywood dramas than war movies. Reeves and co-writer Mark Bomback stay laser-focused on Caesar’s struggle to define himself in the face of nearly unimaginable suffering and to maintain his decency when confronted with horrific cruelty. There’s visual spectacle and visceral thrills to spare, but every memorable scene, including the explosive set pieces, hinges on the value of empathy, or what happens in its absence. Such thoughtfulness and clarity of vision is impressive by any standard, but when you consider we’re getting it in a summer action movie that’s a sequel to a sequel to a prequel, and the ninth film in a franchise, it seems almost miraculous.

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Thursday, July 20 — Sunday, August 6 44 The Long View


WDVX • 12PM • Part of WDVX’s Blue Plate Special, a six-days-a-week live-broadcast lunchtime concert series featuring local, regional, and national Americana, folk, pop, rock, and everything else. • FREE MARSHAL ANDY SMALLS • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria • 6PM • The Six O’Clock Swerve is a weekly musical trip featuring live performances and insightful interviews in a living room atmosphere. The show’s conversational, relaxed and informed interviews and performances is unlike other live-music shows. • FREE T FOR TEXAS, T FOR TENNESSEE • Pilot Light • 7PM • The owners of Top Hat Recording Studio present a weekly summer series of shows pairing artists from Austin, Texas, and Knoxville. The lineup includes March and Beauty and Peak Physique (July 20); Jeremy Nail and J.C. Haun (July 27); Jon Dee Graham and R.B. Morris (Aug. 3); Seela and Hudson K (Aug. 10); Michael Fracasso and Greg Horne (Aug. 17); Forrest Jourdan and the Barstool Romeos (Aug. 24); and the Adv Of … and Bark (Aug. 31). • $5 THREESOUND • Preservation Pub • 8PM  EMERSON BIGGENS • Wild Wing Cafe • 9PM • FREE NELSON/SMITH/TILLMAN • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria • 10PM  THE BEARDED • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria (Maryville) • 8PM

Friday, July 21 SISTERS OF THE SILVER SAGE • Vienna Coffee House

(Maryville) • 6PM • FREE ALIVE AFTER FIVE: BOYS’ NIGHT OUT • Knoxville

Museum of Art • 6PM • Carolina beach music and blue-eyed soul. • $10-$15 FROG AND TOAD’S DIXIE QUARTET • The Crown and Goose • 8PM • Jason Thompson’s band doesn’t play bebop, the mainstay of the American saxman for more than half a century. He prefers to do something different. Frog and Toad can sound more old-fashioned than bebop, with Dixieland and ragtime tunes. But then, in the same set, they’ll sound more modern than bebop, with funk or fusion, or something original he wrote last week. • FREE PEOPLE ON THE PORCH • Preservation Pub • 8PM  THE STEEL CITY JUG SLAMMERS • Barley’s Taproom and 34 knoxville mercury July 20, 2017

Pizzeria (Maryville) • 9PM  ASCULTATION WITH SODTM, FUTURE DZ, ALEX FALK, AND NIKKI NAIR • Pilot Light • 9PM • 18 and up. • $5 THE BREAKFAST CLUB • The Concourse • 9PM • $10 THOMAS WYNN AND THE BELIEVERS • Barley’s Taproom

and Pizzeria • 10PM  STEPHEN GOFF • Wild Wing Cafe • 10PM • FREE ROOTS OF A REBELLION • Scruffy City Hall • 10PM  DANIMAL PLANET • Preservation Pub • 10PM  JEREMY PINNELL • Boyd’s Jig and Reel • 10PM • FREE SUMMER BASH ’17 • The International • 9:30PM • With Paul Wall, Maxo Kream, Mac Sosa, Alexx Stone, Young Slim, B. Moore, Liquid Metal, and Cos#420. • $15

Saturday, July 22 JEREMY PINNELL WITH LETTERS TO ABIGAIL • WDVX • 12PM • Part of WDVX’s Blue Plate Special, a six-days-a-week live-broadcast lunchtime concert series featuring local, regional, and national Americana, folk, pop, rock, and everything else. • FREE BROOKS DIXON • Vienna Coffee House • 6PM • FREE BRIAN CLAY • Red Piano Lounge • 7PM • Keyboardist/ vocalist and radio personality Brian Clay will perform a tribute to the music of Motown—Stevie, Marvin, the Temps, the Tops, the Jackson 5, Gladys Knight, Diana Ross and more. • $5 DEAD EFFECT: A TRIBUTE TO THE GRATEFUL DEAD • Open Chord Music • 8PM • All ages. Visit openchordmusic. com. • $12-$15 JENNIFER JANE NICELY WITH CASPER ALLEN • Pilot Light • 8PM • 18 and up. • $7 LETTERS TO ABIGAIL • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria (Maryville) • 9PM  SOULFINGER WITH FREEKBASS • Preservation Pub • 9PM • 21 and up.  THE BLAIR EXPERIENCE • Wild Wing Cafe • 10PM • FREE KING OF MARS WITH BLOND BONES • Scruffy City Hall • 10PM  BRENDAN JAMES WRIGHT AND THE WRONGS • Boyd’s Jig and Reel • 10PM • FREE THE CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT BAND • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria • 10PM A DARK NIGHT • The Concourse • 10PM • FREE

Sunday, July 23 SMOKY MOUNTAIN BLUES SOCIETY BLUES CRUISE • Star of Knoxville Riverboat • 4PM • This year’s lineup includes the Tommie John Band (April 23); Few Miles

On (May 21); Mighty Blue (June 25); the Stella Vees (July 23); Cheryl Renee (Aug. 27); Albert Castiglia (Sept. 24); and John Nemeth (Oct. 15). Call (865) 525-7827 or visit • $16-$20 J. LUKE • Wild Wing Cafe • 6PM • FREE MARTIN HAYES • The Grove Theater • 6:30PM • Martin Hayes’ soulful interpretations of traditional Irish music are recognized the world over for their exquisite musicality and irresistible rhythm. • $20-$25 • See music story on page 30. FASTBALL WITH JOSIAH AND THE GREATER GOOD • Open Chord Music • 7PM • After rising to prominence in 1996 with the debut disc Make Your Mama Proud, the Austin, Texas-based trio exploded into a household name come 1998’s breakthrough project All the Pain Money Can Buy, joining the likes of fellow artfully spun acts like The Wallflowers, Matthew Sweet, The Jayhawks, Cracker and the Ryan Adams-fronted Whiskeytown on the charts. Visit openchordmusic. com. • $20 THE SUITCASE JUNKET • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria • 8PM • From the salvaged sounds of American juke joints, back porches, honky tonks, and rock clubs, The Suitcase Junket conjures an entirely new sound on his essential rock collection Pile Driver. • FREE AVANTIST • Preservation Pub • 10PM 

Monday, July 24 DREW GIBSON WITH ADAM LOPEZ • WDVX • 12PM • Part

of WDVX’s Blue Plate Special, a six-days-a-week live-broadcast lunchtime concert series featuring local, regional, and national Americana, folk, pop, rock, and everything else. • FREE BIG MAMA SHAKES • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria • 10PM • Southern Americana rock band Big Mama

Shakes wants nothing more than to push the envelope. Formed in Williamsburg, Va., in the summer of 2013, they show their original style and bring back an old sound in a way all ages can enjoy. • FREE YOUNG VALLEY • Preservation Pub • 10PM  ADELITA’S WAY • The Concourse • 8PM • $12

Tuesday, July 25 RUN COME SEE WITH MOLLY CONRAD AND JOHN FRANCO • WDVX • 12PM • Part of WDVX’s Blue Plate Special, a

six-days-a-week live-broadcast lunchtime concert series featuring local, regional, and national Americana, folk, pop, rock, and everything else. • FREE THE KNOX COUNTY JUG STOMPERS • Wild Wing Cafe • 5:30PM • FREE NAHKO AND MEDICINE FOR THE PEOPLE • Bijou Theatre • 8PM • Some people go a lifetime without knowing their mission in life, without feeling they have true calling, and without knowing why they even do what they do. Nahkois not one of them. And that calling and mission has never been clearer than it is on Nahko and Medicine for the People’s third full-length album, Hoka. • $18 MARBLE CITY 5 • Market Square • 8PM • Vance Thompson’s small combo, featuring members of the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra, performs on Market Square May 9-Aug. 29. Visit • FREE STRAND OF OAKS WITH JASON ANDERSON • Pilot Light • 9PM • Hard Love is Tim Showalter’s fifth LP under the moniker Strand of Oaks, recorded during a much-needed downtime following the release of Heal. Throughout the recording process, Showalter maintained an environment that paired musical experimentation with a mindset that defied his previ-

July 20 — August 6

ous studio endeavors: the atmosphere had to be loose, a celebration of the creative process and a reinforcement of the record’s core themes. 18 and up. Visit • $11 MATT A. FOSTER • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria • 10PM 


Part of WDVX’s Blue Plate Special, a six-days-a-week live-broadcast lunchtime concert series featuring local, regional, and national Americana, folk, pop, rock, and everything else. • FREE FROG AND TOAD’S DIXIE QUARTET • The Crown and Goose • 6:30PM • FREE TENNESSEE SHINES: BOMBADIL • Boyd’s Jig and Reel • 7PM • A live weekly radio show broadcast from the Old City with host Paige Travis, celebrating East Tennessee’s musical and broadcasting heritage by featuring top-notch musicians from near and far, interviews, spoken-word artists, and other surprises. • FREE BLOOD CLUB • Pilot Light • 9PM • 18 and up. • $5 LIVER DOWN THE RIVER • Preservation Pub • 10PM 


• Part of WDVX’s Blue Plate Special, a six-days-aweek live-broadcast lunchtime concert series featuring local, regional, and national Americana, folk, pop, rock, and everything else. • FREE KASONDRA ROSE • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria • 6PM • The Six O’Clock Swerve is a weekly musical trip featuring live performances and insightful interviews in a living room atmosphere. The show’s conversational, relaxed and informed interviews and performances is unlike other live-music shows. • FREE T FOR TEXAS, T FOR TENNESSEE • Pilot Light • 7PM • The owners of Top Hat Recording Studio present a weekly summer series of shows pairing artists from Austin, Texas, and Knoxville. The lineup includes March and Beauty and Peak Physique (July 20); Jeremy Nail and J.C. Haun (July 27); Jon Dee Graham and R.B. Morris (Aug. 3); Seela and Hudson K (Aug. 10); Michael Fracasso and Greg Horne (Aug. 17); Forrest Jourdan and the Barstool Romeos (Aug. 24); and the Adv Of … and Bark (Aug. 31). • $5 TALL PAUL • Wild Wing Cafe • 9PM • FREE WHISKERMAN • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria • 10PM • Stirring, captivating, powerful–Whiskerman’s sound is an evolving array of musical textures. By joining lush instrumentation with the profound lyricism of lead singer Graham Patzner’s songs, the band has crafted a sound ranging from soulful and rocking to mysterious and introspective. • FREE NED AND THE DIRT • Preservation Pub • 10PM  WILD PONIES • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria (Maryville) • 8PM


WDVX • 12PM • Part of WDVX’s Blue Plate Special, a six-days-a-week live-broadcast lunchtime concert series featuring local, regional, and national Americana, folk, pop, rock, and everything else. • FREE MELLIFLUX • Wild Wing Cafe • 6PM • FREE DAVID GIBSON • Vienna Coffee House (Maryville) • 6PM • FREE BLOND BONES WITH OUTLAW RITUAL, PALE ROOT, AND CAROLINA STORY • Founders Park • 6PM • Part of the


and up. • $5 MATT A. FOSTER • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria

(Maryville) • 9PM  THE BIG PINK • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria • 10PM  THE DEAD RINGERS • Wild Wing Cafe • 10PM • FREE TRISTEN BROOKE • Preservation Pub • 10PM  THE HOWLIN’ BROTHERS • Boyd’s Jig and Reel • 10PM • FREE SOUL IN THE CITY • The Concourse • 9:30PM • With Raywoods, Notty Taylor, and Yung Honcho. • $10


• 12PM • Part of WDVX’s Blue Plate Special, a six-days-a-week live-broadcast lunchtime concert series featuring local, regional, and national Americana, folk, pop, rock, and everything else. • FREE SOUND AND SILENCE: HAPPY WOMAN BLUES • Central Collective • 7PM • A night of Americana music at Central Collective in North Knoxville. Knoxville’s own Sam Hatmaker with the incredible Georgia English and Jon Chambers. Each artist will be performing one song by Lucinda Williams as a tribute to the inspired songwriter. • $10 VINYL TAP • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria (Maryville) • 9PM  JOHN DAVIS AND THE CICADAS • Pilot Light • 10PM • 18 and up. • $5 THE MATTHEW HICKEY BAND • Wild Wing Cafe • 10PM • FREE EX GOLD • Scruffy City Hall • 10PM  VILLANOVA • Preservation Pub • 10PM  LORD NELSON • Boyd’s Jig and Reel • 10PM • FREE GONE COUNTRY • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria • 10PM 10,000 DAYS: A NIGHT OF TOOL • The Concourse • 9PM • $8


August 26th, 2017 2:00 - 10:00 pm



Sunday, July 30 FLORAL PRINT WITH MOCCASIN COWBOY AND TRUTH CLUB • Pilot Light • 8AM • $5 J. LUKE • Wild Wing Cafe • 6PM • FREE #sunsetoncental | @sunsetoncentral

July 20, 2017 knoxville mercury 35

July 20 — August 6

THE BROCKEFELLERS • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria •

MARBLE CITY 5 • Market Square • 8PM • Vance


Thompson’s small combo, featuring members of the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra, performs on Market Square May 9-Aug. 29. Visit • FREE THE LAWSUITS • Pilot Light • 9PM • 18 and up. • $5 THE 9TH STREET STOMPERS • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria • 10PM GALACTIC EMPIRE WITH DANGERKIDS • The Concourse • 7PM • $16

THE CHARLES WALKER BAND • Preservation Pub • 10PM

Monday, July 31 THE TREVOR CLARK TRIO • WDVX • 12PM • Part of

WDVX’s Blue Plate Special, a six-days-a-week live-broadcast lunchtime concert series featuring local, regional, and national Americana, folk, pop, rock, and everything else. • FREE ZOMBOY WITH GRANDTHEFT AND RICKY REMEDY • The Mill and Mine • 8PM • Zomboy came crashing head first into 2016 with the game changing single ‘Like A B*tch’. Taken from his hotly anticipated Neon Grave EP, the track became the go-to set opener for the likes of Skrillex, DJ Snake and almost every bass DJ at Ultra 2016. While the EP Crushed the charts, the ‘Neon Grave’ tour saw Zomboy sell out venues all over North America and has set the tone for an incredible 2017 for the producer. • $15-$25 THE BLUEPRINT • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria • 10PM

Tuesday, Aug. 1 JASON MOORE • WDVX • 12PM • Part of WDVX’s Blue

Plate Special, a six-days-a-week live-broadcast lunchtime concert series featuring local, regional, and national Americana, folk, pop, rock, and everything else. • FREE

Wednesday, Aug. 2 THE CHILLBILLIES WITH NUDE CANOE • WDVX • 12PM • Part of WDVX’s Blue Plate Special, a six-days-a-week live-broadcast lunchtime concert series featuring local, regional, and national Americana, folk, pop, rock, and everything else. • FREE FROG AND TOAD’S DIXIE QUARTET • The Crown and Goose • 6:30PM • FREE FAUN AND A PAN FLUTE WITH MATT NELSON AND MIKE BAGETTA • Pilot Light • 9PM • 18 and up. • $5 SUMMER SLAUGHTER TOUR 2017 • The International •

2:30PM • With the Black Dahlia Murder, Dying Fetus, the Faceless, Oceano, Slaughter to Prevail, Origin, RIngs of Saturn, Betraying the Martyrs, and Lorna Shore. • $29.50-$55 DJ SHADOW WITH TEEKO AND SPOOKY JONES • The Mill and Mine • 8PM • $25

Thursday, Aug. 3 MY BROTHER’S KEEPER WITH CRIMSON CALAMITY • WDVX • 12PM • Part of WDVX’s Blue Plate Special, a six-days-a-week live-broadcast lunchtime concert series featuring local, regional, and national Americana, folk, pop, rock, and everything else. • FREE ELI FOX • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria • 6PM • 16-year-old multi-instrumentalist and singer/ songwriter Eli Fox is already a Knoxville veteran—he was a member of the teen folk-bluegrass band Subtle Clutch and currently plays in the Knoxville Banjo Orchestra. His soon-to-be-released solo album, Nothing to Say …, will show off his contemporary take on traditional roots music. • FREE SWEET YEARS • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria • 6PM • Sweet Years’ debut album, Coat Guts, offers a great overview of a sound that falls somewhere between early Merge Records alt-punk and earnest Polyvinyl-style arpeggiation. • FREE T FOR TEXAS, T FOR TENNESSEE • Pilot Light • 7PM • The owners of Top Hat Recording Studio present a weekly summer series of shows pairing artists from Austin, Texas, and Knoxville. The lineup includes March and Beauty and Peak Physique (July 20); Jeremy Nail and J.C. Haun (July 27); Jon Dee Graham and R.B. Morris (Aug. 3); Seela and Hudson K (Aug. 10); Michael Fracasso and Greg Horne (Aug. 17); Forrest Jourdan

and the Barstool Romeos (Aug. 24); and the Adv Of … and Bark (Aug. 31). • $5 CORDOVAS • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria • 10PM


Part of WDVX’s Blue Plate Special, a six-days-a-week live-broadcast lunchtime concert series featuring local, regional, and national Americana, folk, pop, rock, and everything else. • FREE BLANK RANGE • WDVX • 7PM • FREE FROG AND TOAD’S DIXIE QUARTET • The Crown and Goose • 8PM • FREE STOP LIGHT OBSERVATIONS • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria • 10PM


WDVX • 12PM • Part of WDVX’s Blue Plate Special, a six-days-a-week live-broadcast lunchtime concert series featuring local, regional, and national Americana, folk, pop, rock, and everything else. • FREE KURT DEEMER BAND • Vienna Coffee House • 6PM • FREE SENRYU • Pilot Light • 9:30PM • 18 and up. • $5 SMOOTH SAILOR • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria • 10PM

The Basement Art Studio p r o u d ly p r e s e n t s

WUTK FundrAiSer nighT

Friday, July 28 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.

roll-a-Picasso PLUS a raffle for concert tickets and gift cards. $5 = 3 raffle tix for prizes.

Food provided by Dazzo’s Pizzeria

Entry is $20•BYOB! Proceeds go to benefit WUTK 90.3 The Rock, UT’s non-profit, self-sustaining radio station.

Streaming 24.7.365 at WUTKRADIO.COM WUTK thanks Knox Mercury for your partnership. We will miss you! 36 knoxville mercury July 20, 2017

July 20 — August 6

Sunday, Aug. 6 THE KIMBRO BROTHERS • Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria

• 8PM


The musicians sit together and pick and strum familiar tunes on fiddles, guitars, and bass. Open to all lovers and players of music. No need to build up the courage to join in. Just grab an instrument off the wall and take a seat. Hosted by Sarah Pirkle. Visit • FREE

comedy night named after the former red-light district near the Old City. Visit friendlytownknoxville. 18 and up. • FREE

Tuesday, July 25

• 9PM • A weekly open session hosted by Tommie John. Visit • FREE

EINSTEIN SIMPLIFIED • Scruffy City Hall • 8PM • Einstein Simplified Comedy performs live comedy improv at Scruffy City Hall. It’s just like Whose Line Is It Anyway, but you get to make the suggestions. Show starts at 8:15, get there early for the best seats. No cover. Visit • FREE

OLD-TIME JAM SESSION • Boyd’s Jig and Reel • 7:15PM •

Thursday, Aug. 3

Wednesday, July 26

The musicians sit together and pick and strum familiar tunes on fiddles, guitars, and bass. Open to all lovers and players of music. No need to build up the courage to join in. Just grab an instrument off the wall and take a seat. Hosted by Sarah Pirkle. Visit • FREE

IRISH MUSIC SESSION • Boyd’s Jig and Reel • 7:15PM •

THE DELIGHTS • Open Chord Music • 8PM • Short-form comedy improv. 

Thursday, July 20 IRISH MUSIC SESSION • Boyd’s Jig and Reel • 7:15PM •

Wednesday, Aug. 2

Held on the first and third Thursdays of each month. Visit • FREE

BRACKINS BLUES JAM • Brackins Blues Club (Maryville)

Tuesday, July 25

Wednesday, July 26

Held on the first and third Thursdays of each month. Visit • FREE

DJ & DANCE NIGHTS Sunday, July 30 LAST SUNDAY RECORD CLUB • Pilot Light • 7PM • A vinyl

BRACKINS BLUES JAM • Brackins Blues Club (Maryville)

appreciation night. • $5

• 9PM • A weekly open session hosted by Tommie John. Visit • FREE


Thursday, July 27 SCOTTISH MUSIC SESSION • Boyd’s Jig and Reel •

7:15PM • A proud tradition, Scots love nothing more than music and drink. The drink is strong and the music is steeped in the history of the green highlands and rocky cliffs. Whether lyrics or no lyrics, every song tells a story. The hills of East Tennessee are a home away from home for this style. Pull up a chair to listen or play along. Held on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month. Visit • FREE

Saturday, July 22

Tuesday, Aug. 1

Monday, July 24

OLD-TIME JAM SESSION • Boyd’s Jig and Reel • 7:15PM •

FRIENDLYTOWN • Pilot Light • 7:30PM • A weekly

KEVIN MCDONALD • Modern Studio • 7:30PM • An

evening of hybrid comedy and styles with some of Knoxville comedy artists of various flavors and featuring the one and only Kevin McDonald of The Kids in the Hall and so much more. Comedic storytelling, a “live interview” segment, sketch comedy and wild improv with a few improv talents of Knoxville. 21 and up. • $15-$25

Monday, July 31 FRIENDLYTOWN • Pilot Light • 7:30PM • A weekly comedy night named after the former red-light district near the Old City. Visit friendlytownknoxville. 18 and up. • FREE

Tuesday, Aug. 1 EINSTEIN SIMPLIFIED • Scruffy City Hall • 8PM • Einstein Simplified Comedy performs live comedy improv at Scruffy City Hall. It’s just like Whose Line Is It Anyway, but you get to make the suggestions. Show starts at 8:15, get there early for the best seats. No cover. Visit • FREE

THEATER & DANCE Flying Anvil Theatre THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL • Flying Anvil Theatre kicks off its first season in its new space in Rocky Hill with the 2005 Off-Broadway smash country-rock and blues musical about agoraphobia, adultery, ‘80s nostalgia, spray cheese, road kill, hysterical pregnancy, a broken electric chair, kleptomania, strippers, flan, and disco. July 21-Aug. 20. $22-$35

Knoxville Children’s Theatre THE WIZARD OF OZ • The Young Performers’ Edition of The Wizard of Oz, based on the classic book by L. Frank Baum and the classic motion picture. This musical play contains all the favorite songs and scenes from the famous film, with the timeless characters of the book: Dorothy, Toto, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, the Wicked Witch of the West and more. The score by Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg contains some of the most iconic songs of the theatre: “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” “Follow The Yellow-Brick Road,” and We’re Off To See The Wizard.” • July 14-30 • $12 BOMBADIL

Oak Ridge Playhouse July 20, 2017 knoxville mercury 37

July 20 — August 6

MAME • Celebrate the kick-off of the Playhouse’s 75th

Anniversary with one of Broadway’s biggest, brassiest musicals. It’s the height of the Roaring 20’s and the indomitable Auntie Mame becomes the guardian for her ten-year-old nephew, Patrick. While her life is turned up-side-down and many of her priorities change, Mame stays true to her mantra “Life is a banquet!,” and takes on the establishment with style and panache, living life to the fullest while opening new windows to the eyes of her young charge. July 14-30.

the Market Square Farmers’ Market several years ago. The monthly Market Mixers featured different local ingredients, but the most popular by far was the month the tomato was featured. The Nourish Knoxville Tomato Jam is a fundraiser for Nourish Knoxville, a 501(c)(3) organization. Tickets are available at • $40

FILM SCREENINGS Monday, July 24 THE BIRDHOUSE • 8:15PM • The Birdhouse Walk-In


12PM • Nourish Knoxville will host its inaugural Tomato Jam, a drinks competition featuring East Tennessee’s finest tomatoes and downtown Knoxville’s best bartenders. The event will bring together eight bartenders serving up their best tomato-inspired cocktails. Attendees will vote for their favorite concoction, and the winner will be crowned at the end of the event. Knox Mason will provide brunch bites, and Three Bears Coffee Company will provide locally roasted coffee. Knox Whiskey Works will provide vodka for the cocktails. The event is inspired by the Market Mixers held by

Theater hosts free movies every Monday night. Each month carries a different theme and provides free popcorn. Contact us about screening ideas: birdhousewalkin[at] • FREE


Tennessee Theatre • 7PM • Part of the Tennessee Theatre’s summer movie series, which runs through Aug. 27. Visit • $9


Tennessee Theatre • 7PM • Part of the Tennessee Theatre’s summer movie series, which runs through Aug. 27. Visit • $9

Around the World in 80 Days, 2017

Thank you Knoxville Mercury for your excellent coverage and support of the theatre.

We will miss you! 38 knoxville mercury July 20, 2017

Sunday, July 30




Tennessee Theatre • 2PM • Part of the Tennessee Theatre’s summer movie series, which runs through Aug. 27. Visit • $9

Cycology Bicycles • 10AM • Join Cycology Bicycles every Thursday morning for a road ride with two group options. A Group does a two- to three-hour ride at 20-plus mph pace; B group does an intermediate ride at 15-18 mph. Weather permitting. Visit • FREE

Monday, July 31 BIRDHOUSE WALK-IN THEATER • The Birdhouse • 8:15PM

• The Birdhouse Walk-In Theater hosts free movies every Monday night. Each month carries a different theme and provides free popcorn. Contact us about screening ideas: birdhousewalkin[at] • FREE

Friday, Aug. 4 SUMMER MOVIE MAGIC SERIES: ‘9 TO 5’ • Tennessee Theatre • 8PM • Part of the Tennessee Theatre’s summer movie series, which runs through Aug. 27. Visit • $9

Sunday, Aug. 6 SUMMER MOVIE MAGIC SERIES: ‘9 TO 5’ • Tennessee Theatre • 2PM • Part of the Tennessee Theatre’s summer movie series, which runs through Aug. 27. Visit • $9



Thursday of each month. Visit • FREE FLEET FEET GROUP RUN/WALK • Fleet Feet Sports Knoxville • 6PM • Join us every Thursday night at our store for a fun group run/walk. We have all levels come out, so no matter what your speed you’ll have someone to keep you company. Our 30 - 60 minute route varies week by week in the various neighborhoods and greenways around the store, so be sure to show up on time so you can join up with the group. All levels welcome. Visit • FREE NORTH KNOXVILLE BEER RUNNERS • Central Flats and Taps • 6PM • Meet us at Central Flats and Taps every Thursday night for a fun and easy run leading us right through Saw Works for a midway beer. • FREE RIVER SPORTS GREENWAY SOCIAL RIDE • River Sports Outfitters • 6PM • Join River Sports Outfitters every

July 20 — August 6


experience. Check for ride details and information on the upcoming Cherohala Challenge for registration and volunteer positions. • FREE WEST HILLS FUN RUN • West Hills Flats and Taps • 6PM • Every Tuesday all runners are welcome to come join us on a quick 2.3 mile fun run from West Hills Flats and Taps through Jean Teague Park and back, starting at 6pm. All runners of age receive a free Blackhorse Brewing pint of their choice and $1 off any more Blackhorse brews. • FREE ECHELON BICYCLES TUESDAY ROAD RIDE • Echelon Bicycles • 6:15 PM • Join Echelon Bicycles every Tuesday evening at 6:15 pm for a 30+ mile road ride at an average pace of 18 mph, with regrouping. • FREE CEDAR BLUFF CYCLES TUESDAY ROAD RIDE • Cedar Bluff Cycles • 6:20 PM • Join Cedar Bluff Cycles every Tuesday evening at 6:20 pm for a road ride. Visit • FREE


Thursday evening for an easy-paced and beginner-friendly greenway social ride starting. Bring your own bike or rent one from us for $10; after the ride join us at the store for $2 pints. Visit • FREE ECHELON BICYCLES THURSDAY ROAD RIDE • Echelon Bicycles • 6:15 PM • Join Echelon Bicycles every Thursday evening at 6:15 pm for a 30+ mile road ride at an average pace of 18 mph, with regrouping. • FREE CEDAR BLUFF CYCLES THURSDAY ROAD RIDE • Cedar Bluff Cycles • 6:20 PM • Join us every Thursday evening for our weekly road ride. Visit • FREE BEARDEN BEER MARKET FUN RUN • Bearden Beer Market • 6:30PM • Come run with us. Every Monday and Thursday year round we do a group fun run through the neighborhood. Open to all levels of walkers and runners. Everyone who participates earns $1 off their beer. Visit • FREE


9AM • Join us every Saturday morning for a group road ride. Divides into two groups: A Group at 17-20 mph and B Group at 14-16 mph. Store open for pre-ride services including full service tech support, energy bars/gels/chews, clean restrooms, plenty of parking, and terrific routes. Cookies and coffee on return. Visit • FREE BIKE ZOO SATURDAY ROAD RIDE • The Bike Zoo • 9AM • Join us every Saturday for a group three-hour road ride of 50+ miles at a fast pace of 18/20 mph. Weather permitting. Visit • FREE KNOXVILLE BICYCLE COMPANY SATURDAY RIDE •

Knoxville Bicycle Company • 9AM • Join us every Saturday for a group road ride. Divides into groups: shorter route is 27 miles; longer route is determined at regroup at Melton Hill Dam. Weather permitting. Visit • FREE

Mondays KTC GROUP RUN • Balter Beerworks • 6PM • Join Knoxville Track Club every Monday evening for a group run starting at Balter Beerworks off Broadway. Meet at 6 p.m. for fitness, fun, and food. Afterwards, a dollar off drafts. This is a pretty well-lit route but you’ll still need some reflective gear and preferably a headlamp or flashlight for safety. Visit • FREE TVB MONDAY NIGHT ROAD RIDE • Tennessee Valley Bikes • 6PM • The soon to be famous night road ride happens every Monday. We usually split into two groups according to speed. Both groups are no-drop groups. The faster group averages over 17 mph and the B group averages around 14 mph. Visit • FREE BEARDEN BEER MARKET FUN RUN • Bearden Beer Market • 6:30PM • Come run with us. Every Monday and Thursday year round we do a group fun run through the neighborhood. Open to all levels of walkers and runners. Everyone who participates earns $1 off their beer. Visit • FREE


KTC GROUP RUN • Runner’s Market • 5:30PM • If you are visiting Knoxville, new to town, new to the club, or just looking to get more involved, this is the place to start. A festive and relaxed group get-together occurs every Wednesday afternoon at 5:30 p.m. at Runner’s Market in Western Plaza. Visit • FREE TVB EASY RIDER MOUNTAIN BIKE RIDE • Ijams Nature Center • 6PM • On Wednesday nights we hit the local trails for an easy-paced mountain bike ride. Riders of all skill levels are welcome, and if you would like to demo a mountain bike from our shop this is a great opportunity to do so. Call 865-540-9979 or visit • FREE WEST BICYCLES WEDNESDAY ROAD RIDE • West Bicycles • 6:10 PM • Join West Bicycles every Wednesday evening for a group road ride. Divides into 3 groups. Visit • FREE

ART Art Market JULY 4-28: Recent works by artist Marjorie Horne and clay works created by 11 Art Market Gallery artists.

Broadway Studios and Gallery JULY 7-29: Trois Extraordinaires, photographs and paintings by Lennie Robertson, Mallory Bertrand, and Natalie Ricker.


Clayton Center for the Arts (Maryville)

9AM • Join Smoky Mountain Wheelmen cyclists for a weekly, recreational, no-drop club ride. The routes and distances vary depending upon group

JUNE 1-SEPT. 1: Stone, Mesh, and Metal, by University of Tennessee printmaking faculty members Beauvais Lyons, Althea Murphy-Price, and Koichi Yamamoto. A July 20, 2017 knoxville mercury 39

July 20 — August 6

reception will be held on Sept. 1 from 5-8 p.m.

Downtown Gallery THROUGH JULY: Rob Heller: Living On: Tennesseans Remembering the Holocaust.

Emporium Center JULY 7-28: Knoxville Photo 2017; The Eight Artists of the Vacuum Shop Studios; Christine Parkhurst: Diverse Clay: Pots and Poems; Silas Reynolds: In the Moment; and artwork by Tracey Crocker.

White Oak Gallery JULY 7-AUG. 29: Photography by Emily Brewer. An opening reception will be held on Friday, July 7, from 5 to 7 p.m.


McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture

Public Library • 1:30PM • Join us to discuss Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, the first in our Feminism Into Film four-part reading series. Pick up a bookmark at the event for details on the whole series. Attend any or all of the first three book discussions and vote on the fourth title. The Feminism Into Film series continues with The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Sunday, July 25); The Mothers (Sunday, Aug. 20); and the winner of a readers’ vote (Sunday< Aug. 20). • FREE

MAY 25-AUG. 27: The Finer Things: Consumer Culture in the Gilded Age



Library • 2PM • In this “post-truth” era, how and what should we believe? Between partisan news, filter bubbles, and algorithms acting as information curators, media literacy and critical thinking are

Knoxville Museum of Art MAY 5-JULY 23: Gathering Light: Works by Beauford Delaney From the KMA Collection.

THROUGH JULY: Artwork by Harry Underwood.

40 knoxville mercury July 20, 2017

more important than ever. Join Knox County Public LIbrary and UT’s College of Communications and Information for a deep dive into the truth of fake news, the ubiquitous use of big data captured through search engines, the impact of 24 hour breaking news, the decline of critical thinking and what we can do about it. • FREE-$35


Center and Bijou Theatre • 12PM and 5PM • In this “post-truth” era, how and what should we believe? Between partisan news, filter bubbles, and algorithms acting as information curators, media literacy and critical thinking are more important than ever. Join Knox County Public LIbrary and UT’s College of Communications and Information for a deep dive into the truth of fake news, the ubiquitous use of big data captured through search engines, the impact of 24 hour breaking news, the decline of critical thinking and what we can do about it. • FREE-$35


Center • 8AM • In this “post-truth” era, how and

what should we believe? Between partisan news, filter bubbles, and algorithms acting as information curators, media literacy and critical thinking are more important than ever. Join Knox County Public LIbrary and UT’s College of Communications and Information for a deep dive into the truth of fake news, the ubiquitous use of big data captured through search engines, the impact of 24 hour breaking news, the decline of critical thinking and what we can do about it. • FREE-$35 FAMILY AND KIDS’ EVENTS

Thursday, July 20 MCCLUNG MUSEUM FOSSIL CAMP • McClung Museum

of Natural History and Culture • 9AM • For ages 9–11. Focusing on dinosaurs, mosasaurs, mastodons, and many other extinct animals as campers excavate, study real fossils, and practice the science of paleontology. July 17-21. Visit mcclungmuseum.utk. edu. • $110


Knoxville Botanical Garden • 9AM • Calling all young gardeners and adventurers ages 6-12—it’s time to register for the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum’s summer camp. Join the staff of UTIAs “Every Child Outdoors” Youth Garden for fun in the

July 20 — August 6 Donations accepted.

Tuesday, July 25 NARROW RIDGE YOGA • Narrow Ridge Earth Literacy

Center • 9AM • For more information call 865-4973603 or • FREE GENTLE YOGA AND MEDITATION • Balanced You Studios • 12PM • Call 865-577-2021 or email yogaway249@ Donations accepted. KNOXVILLE CAPOEIRA CLASS • Emporium Center for Arts and Culture • 6PM • Visit • $10

Wednesday, July 26 KNOX COUNTY MASTER GARDENERS • Karns Senior

Photo by Maclay Hariot/Dead Oceans


garden and exploration of the vast KBGA grounds. Your child is sure to gain a bountiful harvest of knowledge and enthusiasm for the great outdoors, a value far exceeding the $30 per day (only $25 for members) you will be investing. Lunch is included each day. For more information or to register your child, visit • $30

AARP DRIVER SAFETY CLASS • John T. O’Connor Senior Center • 12PM • 865-382-5822. KNOXVILLE CAPOEIRA CLASS • Emporium Center for Arts and Culture • 6PM • Visit • $10 BEGINNER BELLY DANCE • Mirage • 6:30PM • Call (865) 898-2126 or email • $12

Tuesday, Aug. 1

Friday, July 21


NARROW RIDGE YOGA • Narrow Ridge Earth Literacy

Knoxville Botanical Garden • 9AM • Calling all young gardeners and adventurers ages 6-12—it’s time to register for the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum’s summer camp. Join the staff of UTIAs “Every Child Outdoors” Youth Garden for fun in the garden and exploration of the vast KBGA grounds. Your child is sure to gain a bountiful harvest of knowledge and enthusiasm for the great outdoors, a value far exceeding the $30 per day (only $25 for members) you will be investing. Lunch is included each day. For more information or to register your child, visit • $30

Center • 9AM • For more information call 865-4973603 or • FREE


• 12PM • Call 865-577-2021 or email yogaway249@ Donations accepted.

Saturday, July 22 KNOX COUNTY MASTER GARDENERS • Bearden Branch

Public Library • 1:30PM • Join Master Gardeners Barbra Bunting and Tracy Polite-Johnson to learn various ways to deal with weeds without exhausting yourself or resorting to lots of chemicals. • FREE


Emporium Center for Arts and Culture • 1PM • Visit • $10 CIRCLE MODERN DANCE: MODERN DANCE FOUNDATIONS CLASS • Emporium Center for Arts and Culture • 2PM •

Visit • $10

Monday, July 24 GENTLE YOGA AND MEDITATION • Balanced You Studios

• 6PM • Call 865-577-2021 or email yogaway249@

Center • 11AM • Join Master Gardeners Barbra Bunting and Tracy Polite-Johnson to learn various ways to deal with weeds without exhausting yourself or resorting to lots of chemicals. • FREE CIRCLE MODERN DANCE OPEN LEVEL BALLET CLASS • Emporium Center for Arts and Culture • 6:30PM • Visit • $10 TENNESSEE VALLEY BIKES YOGA • Tennessee Valley Bikes • 6:15 AM • Join us Wednesday mornings for an hour and 15 minutes of yoga. Cost for each class is $12 but if you ride your bike in the cost is reduced to $10. There is no subscription or membership required. • $10-$15

Thursday, July 27 AARP DRIVER SAFETY CLASS • Everett Senior Center •

9AM • Call 865-983-9422. GENTLE YOGA AND MEDITATION • Balanced You Studios

• 12PM • Call 865-577-2021 or email yogaway249@ Donations accepted. KNOXVILLE CAPOEIRA CLASS • Emporium Center for Arts and Culture • 6PM • Visit • $10 BEGINNER BELLY DANCE • Mirage • 6:30PM • Call (865) 898-2126 or email • $12

Friday, July 28 NARROW RIDGE YOGA • Narrow Ridge Earth Literacy

Center • 9AM • For more information call 865-4973603 or • FREE AARP DRIVER SAFETY CLASS • Everett Senior Center • 9AM • Call 865-983-9422.

Sunday, July 30 CIRCLE MODERN DANCE BALLET BARRE CLASS • Emporium Center for Arts and Culture • 1PM •. Visit • $10 CIRCLE MODERN DANCE: MODERN DANCE FOUNDATIONS CLASS • Emporium Center for Arts and Culture • 2PM •

Visit • $10

Monday, July 31 GENTLE YOGA AND MEDITATION • Balanced You Studios

*Times listed are door times

• 6PM • Call 865-577-2021 or email yogaway249@ Donations accepted. July 20, 2017 knoxville mercury 41

July 20 — August 6

Tuesday, Aug. 1 NARROW RIDGE YOGA • Narrow Ridge Earth Literacy

Center • 9AM • For more information call 865-4973603 or • FREE GENTLE YOGA AND MEDITATION • Balanced You Studios • 12PM • Call 865-577-2021 or email yogaway249@ Donations accepted. KNOXVILLE CAPOEIRA CLASS • Emporium Center for Arts and Culture • 6PM • Visit • $10 • FREE

KnoxvilleAtheists. • FREE

Sunday, July 23

Wednesday, July 26

OVEREATERS ANONYMOUS • Sacred Heart Cathedral •


NARROW RIDGE YOGA • Narrow Ridge Earth Literacy

4PM • Offering a Big Book study. This open meeting welcomes all who want to stop eating compulsively. For more info call or text (865) 313-0480 or email • FREE

Center • 9AM • For more information call 865-4973603 or • FREE

Monday, July 24

Restaurant • 11AM • Guest speakers read from and discuss their work. All-inclusive lunch is $12.00. RSVP to 865-983-3740. THE BOOKAHOLICS BOOK GROUP • Union Ave Books • 12PM • Union Ave Books’ monthly book discussion group. Visit • FREE LESBIAN SOCIAL GROUP OF KNOXVILLE • Kristtopher’s • 6:30PM • Just a casual gathering of women to socialize and plan activities. Meetings are the second and fourth Wednesday of the month. • FREE

• 12PM • Call 865-577-2021 or email yogaway249@ Donations accepted. KNOXVILLE CAPOEIRA CLASS • Emporium Center for Arts and Culture • 6PM • Visit • $10

Friday, Aug. 4

Wednesday, Aug. 2

Sunday, Aug. 6


CIRCLE MODERN DANCE BALLET BARRE CLASS • Emporium Center for Arts and Culture • 1PM • Visit • $10

GAY MEN’S DISCUSSION GROUP • Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church • 7:30PM • We hold facilitated discussions on topics and issues relevant to local gay men in a safe and open environment. Visit

Emporium Center for Arts and Culture • 6:30PM • Visit • $10 TENNESSEE VALLEY BIKES YOGA • Tennessee Valley Bikes • 6:15 AM • Join us Wednesday mornings for an hour and 15 minutes of yoga. Cost for each class is $12 but if you ride your bike in the cost is reduced to $10. There is no subscription or membership required. • $10-$15


Tuesday, July 25

Visit • $10



Thursday, Aug. 3

barre class is designed to help students build and maintain strength, flexibility, and coordination for ballet technique. This is a great class for beginning and experienced students alike. Visit circlemodern-

Ridge Earth Literacy Center • 10:30AM • The gatherings are intended to be inclusive of people of all faiths as well as those who do not align themselves with a particular religious denomination. For more information call 865-497-3603 or • FREE ATHEISTS SOCIETY OF KNOXVILLE • West Hills Flats and Taps • 5:30PM • Weekly atheists meetup and happy hour. Come join us for food, drink and great conversation. Everyone welcome. Visit

United Methodist Church. Call 865-382-5822. CIRCLE MODERN DANCE OPEN LEVEL BALLET CLASS •


United Methodist Church. Call 865-382-5822. GENTLE YOGA AND MEDITATION • Balanced You Studios

Thursday, July 20 ADULT CHILDREN OF ALCOHOLICS/DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILIES • The Birdhouse • 6PM • This open-level





6:30-8:30PM $50 per person (RSVP by September 10) (865)573-5508 • Sponsored in part by:

Carson Dailey, Knox County Commission

Bradford Catered Events • Woodmen of the World • Curry Copy

42 knoxville mercury July 20, 2017

Thursday, July 27 ADULT CHILDREN OF ALCOHOLICS/DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILIES • The Birdhouse • 6PM • A 12-step meeting

for adults who grew up in alcoholic or dysfunctional homes. The group offers a safe space for emotional healing. Contact Laura at 706-621-2238 or for more information or visit the international ACA website at adultchildren. org. • FREE

Sunday, July 30 OVEREATERS ANONYMOUS • Sacred Heart Cathedral •

4PM • Offering a Big Book study. This open meeting

July 20 — August 6

Saturday, July 29

welcomes all who want to stop eating compulsively. For more info call or text (865) 313-0480 or email • FREE


Monday, July 31

Sunday, July 30


GOOD SPORT NIGHT • Central Collective • 5PM • Here’s the deal. You purchase a ticket to a mystery event. Show up to The Central Collective at the specified date and time, and be ready for anything. Past events have included: a live studio game show, a garden party in a castle, a walking tour of North Knoxville, live music with swing dance lessons, a yacht trip on the Tennessee River and a mini horse petting zoo. These are events for folks who are curious, adventurous, and like trying new things & meeting new people. Worried that you won’t be able to participate because of dietary restrictions, physical ability or other preferences? We’ll do our best to give you the information you need to decide if this month’s Good Sport Night is right for you. If you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to give us a shout. If you show up and cannot participate for an unforeseen reason, we’re happy to give you a credit for a future Good Sport Night. Unless otherwise noted, these events are not programmed for children.

Unitarian Universalist Church • 7:30PM • We hold facilitated discussions on topics and issues relevant to local gay men in a safe and open environment. Visit


Narrow Ridge Earth Literacy Center • 10:30AM • The gatherings are intended to be inclusive of people of all faiths as well as those who do not align themselves with a particular religious denomination. For more information call 865-497-3603 or • FREE ATHEISTS SOCIETY OF KNOXVILLE • West Hills Flats and Taps • 5:30PM • Weekly atheists meetup and happy hour. Come join us for food, drink and great conversation. Everyone welcome. Visit KnoxvilleAtheists. • FREE

Thursday, Aug. 3 ADULT CHILDREN OF ALCOHOLICS/DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILIES • The Birdhouse • 6PM • A 12-step meeting

for adults who grew up in alcoholic or dysfunctional homes. The group offers a safe space for emotional healing. Contact Laura at 706-621-2238 or for more information or visit the international ACA website at adultchildren. org. • FREE KNOXVILLE WRITERS’ GUILD • Central United Methodist Church • 7PM • The Knoxville Writers’ Guild exists to facilitate a broad and inclusive community for area writers, provide a forum for information, support and sharing among writers, help members improve and market their writing skills and promote writing and creativity. A $2 donation is requested. Visit

Sunday, Aug. 6 OVEREATERS ANONYMOUS • Sacred Heart Cathedral •

4PM • Offering a Big Book study. This open meeting welcomes all who want to stop eating compulsively. For more info call or text (865) 313-0480 or email • FREE

ETC. Saturday, July 22 MARKET SQUARE FARMERS’ MARKET • Market Square •

9AM • Visit • FREE

Wednesday, July 26

Wednesday, Aug. 2 MARKET SQUARE FARMERS’ MARKET • Market Square • 11AM • Visit • FREE

Saturday, Aug. 5 MARKET SQUARE FARMERS’ MARKET • Market Square • 9AM • Visit • FREE GOOD SPORT NIGHT • Central Collective • 3PM • Here’s the deal. You purchase a ticket to a mystery event. Show up to The Central Collective at the specified date and time, and be ready for anything. Past events have included: a live studio game show, a garden party in a castle, a walking tour of North Knoxville, live music with swing dance lessons, a yacht trip on the Tennessee River and a mini horse petting zoo. These are events for folks who are curious, adventurous, and like trying new things & meeting new people. Worried that you won’t be able to participate because of dietary restrictions, physical ability or other preferences? We’ll do our best to give you the information you need to decide if this month’s Good Sport Night is right for you. If you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to give us a shout. If you show up and cannot participate for an unforeseen reason, we’re happy to give you a credit for a future Good Sport Night. Unless otherwise noted, these events are not programmed for children. SCOTTISH COUNTRY DANCE • Boyd’s Jig and Reel • 4PM • Led by Cynthia West on the first Saturday of every month. Visit • FREE


11AM • Visit • FREE

July 20, 2017 knoxville mercury 43

August – December

The Long View August • The Melvins returned with a double album, A Walk With Love and Death, on July 7. The dual albums find the trio of Buzz Osborne, Dale Crover and Steve McDonald showcasing two distinct sides to the band’s music: Death, a proper Melvins’ release, and Love, the score to the Jesse Nieminen directed, self-produced short also titled A Walk With Love and Death. 18 and up. • $18

Mine • 8PM • This is the short version of the Social Distortion bio — the long version could be a 10-part mini-series. But over the past 30 years, the punk godfathers in the band have all but trademarked their sound, a brand of hard rockabilly/punk that’s cut with the melodic, road-tested lyrics of frontman Mike Ness. Their searing guitars and a locomotive rhythm section sound as alive today as they did in ‘82, as do Ness’ hard-luck tales of love, loss and lessons learned. “The most common thing I hear is, ‘Man, your music got me through some hard times,’” Ness says. “And I just say, ‘Me too.’” • $36-$40

Saturday, Aug. 12

Sunday, Aug. 20

1964: THE TRIBUTE • Tennessee Theatre • 8PM • Since

UMPHREY’S MCGEE • Tennessee Theatre • 8:30PM •

the early eighties, 1964: The Tribute has been thrilling audiences around the globe by taking them on journey through a quintessential moment in music history that will live forever. Over twenty years of researching and performing have made 1964 masters of their craft. They are hailed by critics and fans alike as the most authentic and endearing Beatles tribute. • $28-$39

After 18-plus years of performing more than 100 concerts annually, releasing nine studio albums and selling more than 4.2 million tracks online, Umphrey’s McGee might be forgiven if they chose to rest on their laurels. But then that wouldn’t be consistent with the work ethic demonstrated by the band, which consistently attempts to raise the bar, setting and achieving new goals since forming on the Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Ind., in 1997. After releasing their eighth studio album, Similar Skin, the first for their own indie label, Nothing Too Fancy (N2F) Music, the group continued to push the envelope and test the limits. The London Session, was a dream come true for the members having been recorded at the legendary Studio Two at historic Abbey Road. The stealth recording session yielded 10 tracks in a single day, proving once again, the prolific UM waits for no one. • $32-$35

Thursday, Aug. 10 THE MELVINS WITH SPOTLIGHTS • The Concourse • 8PM

Tuesday, Aug. 15 THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS WITH OUGHT • Bijou Theatre

• 8PM • Whiteout Conditions is the first release on the New Pornographers’ own Collected Works Records imprint, in partnership with Concord Records. Of writing the new record, founder and frontman A.C. Newman notes that, “At the beginning of this record, there was some thinking that we wanted it to be like a Krautrock Fifth Dimension. Of course, our mutated idea of what Krautrock is probably doesn’t sound like Krautrock at all. But we were thinking: Let’s try and rock in a different way.” • $28

Friday, Aug. 18 EDWIN MCCAIN • Bijou Theatre • 8PM • Called the

“great American romantic” by The New York Times, Edwin McCain has built an enviable career over the past 20 years by balancing his massive pop success with the year-round touring schedule of a tireless troubadour. His hit songs, authentic spirit and surprisingly affable sense of humor keep fans coming back time and time again for nights that feel more like parties with old friends than rock concerts. After recording two of the biggest love songs in the history of pop music, McCain now performs upwards of 100 shows annually throughout the U.S. as a solo artist, with his full band or his acoustic trio. Recently, he’s added orchestras to his repertoire, performing with symphonies in select markets where he brings his powerful songs to majestic new heights. • $25 SOCIAL DISTORTION WITH JADE JACKSON • The Mill and 44 knoxville mercury July 20, 2017


Saturday, Aug. 26 COREY SMITH • Tennessee Theatre • 8PM • The way Corey Smith sees it, he owes a debt to his fans. And it’s one he is determined to repay with his 10th album, While the Gettin’ Is Good. The project, released on Sugar Hill Records, marks the first time that the singer-songwriter, a wildly popular touring artist who has produced all of his past efforts, has turned over the reins to a bona fide country music producer in Keith Stegall. The result is Smith’s most ambitious record yet, as well as a return on the investment made by the fans who have supported him since his first album in 2003.“A lot of start-up acts are using fan-funded programs to finance their record. That’s what my whole career has been: Kickstarter before Kickstarter. When my fans show up and buy a ticket and a t-shirt, they’re investing in what I’m doing,” says Corey. “It’s my responsibility to invest it wisely and give them the best album I can. That’s what led me to While the Gettin’ Is Good.” • $29.50-$44.50



August – December


September Wednesday, Sept. 6 FUTURE ISLANDS WITH BUSDRIVER • The Mill and Mine

• 8PM • Drawing inspiration from their community of friends and their growing numbers of fans, The Far Field brilliantly expresses Future Islands’ central themes: that there’s power in emotional vulnerability, that one can find a way to laugh and cry in the same breath—and be stronger for it. The Far Field speaks directly to the bruised but brave romantic each of us carries within. It’s forty-five minutes of brilliant pop mini- symphonies made for dancing, loving, and self-reflection; twelve beautiful reminders that one can grow and evolve while still staying true to oneself—just as this band has done for a decade now and counting. • $20-$23

Thursday, Sept. 7 CHRIS BLUE • Tennessee Theatre • 8PM • Making

music in the womb? Close to it—Chris Blue started singing in church at age 3, and he hasn’t stopped since. Prior to winning NBC’s The Voice, Chris lent his blue ribbon vocals to Fred Hammond, Kirk Franklin, Donnie McClurkin and his own group, the Blue Brothers. The Voice gave Chris a chance to hold his own vocally not only alongside other contestants, but with recording artists Alicia Keys and Usher. When he performs, Chris shares every ounce of his talent with his audience. • $29.50-$59.50

Friday, Sept. 8 CHRIS BLUE • Tennessee Theatre • 8PM • Making

music in the womb? Close to it—Chris Blue started singing in church at age 3, and he hasn’t stopped since. Prior to winning NBC’s The Voice, Chris lent his blue ribbon vocals to Fred Hammond, Kirk Franklin, Donnie McClurkin and his own group, the Blue Brothers. The Voice gave Chris a chance to hold his own vocally not only alongside other contestants, but with recording artists Alicia Keys and Usher.

When he performs, Chris shares every ounce of his talent with his audience. • $29.50-$59.50 THE MOUNTAIN GOATS • Bijou Theatre • 8PM • The Mountain Goats began life in a Norwalk employee-housing studio apartment that had awesome deco tiling on the bathroom floor but little more to recommend the place as a living space. Still, you take what you can get, and it was ridiculously cheap. In this room, equipped with a dual-cassette recorder, John D. started setting some of his poetry to music, using a guitar he’d gotten for a few bucks at a nearby strip mall music store. His idea at the time was that eventually his day job would be “poet.” Young men have all kinds of crazy ideas about what they’re going to end up doing for a living. • $26


A Play by

Based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

Rick Elice


• Knoxville Civic Coliseum • 8PM • Blink-182 recently released a lyric video for “Can’t Get You More Pregnant,” a barrage of pop-punk riffs and juvenile sex humor. The funny part? “Pregnant” is 35 seconds and two sentences long. It’s vintage Blink-182—and like the band’s seventh album, 2016’s California, the nostalgia feels purposeful. The second single, “She’s Out of Her Mind,” is an uncanny hybrid of TRL-era fan favorites “First Date” and “Rock Show,” and, in a more obvious wink to fans, the band members paid tribute to their classic “What’s My Age Again?” video by running naked through Los Angeles. California and the band’s subsequent touring cycle mark a pivotal

By A New Version by LIBBY APPEL

A Christmas Carol



Adapted by Edward Morgan and Joseph Hanreddy

Southeast Premiere

Music and Lyrics by

Mark Hollmann

Book and Lyrics by

Greg Kotis

MARCH 28 thru APRIL 15

PALLBEARER • The Concourse • 8PM • Pallbearer’s

Wednesday, Sept. 13



Saturday, Sept. 9 third album, Heartless, is an inspired collection of monumental rock music. The band offers a complex sonic architecture that weaves together the spacious exploratory elements of classic prog, the raw anthemics of 90’s alt-rock, and stretches of black-lit proto-metal. Lyrics about mortality, life, and love are set to sharp melodies and pristine three-part harmonies. 18 and up. • $15-$17


Photo by Tom Hines



FEBRUARY 21 thru MARCH 11 APRIL 18 thru MAY 6

CBT-Commissioned World Premiere

subscribe & save today! Subscriber Only Benefits include:

Free, unlimited ticket exchanges • Priority Seating Big Savings • Special Event Invites • Restaurant Circle

July 20, 2017 knoxville mercury 45


August – December

new chapter, following the confusing 2015 departure of founding guitarist Tom DeLonge. With their former frontman focused on UFO research, bassist Mark Hoppus and virtuoso drummer Travis Barker have carried on with Alkaline Trio guitarist Matt Skiba. DeLonge’s status in the band remains unclear, but the lineup shift hasn’t affected Blink-182’s capacity to pack arenas. • $32-$86

Thursday, Sept. 14

stands the litany of songs that he has written and introduced to the soundtrack of the past half-century. His remarkable body of work, beginning with his contributions to the Hollies opus from 1964 to ’68, including “Stop Stop Stop,” “Pay You Back With Interest,” “On a Carousel,” “Carrie Anne,” “King Midas in Reverse,” and “Jennifer Eccles,” continues all the way to This Path Tonight (2016), his most recent solo album. • $55-$75

TIM MCGRAW AND FAITH HILL • Thompson-Boling Are-

Friday, Sept. 22

na • 7:30PM • Tim McGraw and Faith Hill announced Soul2Soul The World Tour 2017 kicking off in New Orleans on April 7, 2017. The 65-city tour celebrates the 10th anniversary of the record-breaking Soul2Soul II tour, the highest-grossing country music tour of all time, and the first time Faith Hill has toured since 2007. • $69.50-$109.50

DONNA THE BUFFALO • Bijou Theatre • 8PM • Donna the

Sunday, Sept. 17 GRAHAM NASH • Bijou Theatre • 8PM • Legendary

artist Graham Nash is a two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee—with Crosby, Stills, and Nash and with the Hollies. He was also inducted twice into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, as a solo artist and with CSN, and he is a Grammy Award winner. Towering above virtually everything that Graham Nash has accomplished in his first 75 years on this planet

Buffalo has released 10 albums and are affiliated with several others, including Puryear’s 2007 solo album Hopes and Dreams and a 2003 release, Wait Til Spring, with Jim Lauderdale. The band’s 2008 release Silverlined, as well as the 2013 release (both on Sugar Hill) did well on the Americana Music Chart, each placing well into the top 10. In 2011 Nevins released Wood and Stone, produced by Larry Campbell in Levon Helm Studios, and Mule to Ride in 1999 on Sugar Hill Records. The group draws its inspiration from a cherished part of the American heritage: the old-time music festivals of the south that drew entire towns and counties together. “Those festivals were so explosive, and the community and the feeling of people being with each other, that’s the feeling we were shooting for in our music,” Puryear

says. “Donna the Buffalo is an extension of the joy we’ve found.” • $23

Sunday, Sept. 24 THE CHRIS ROBINSON BROTHERHOOD • Bijou Theatre • 8PM • Chris Robinson Brotherhood are on the road in 2017 supporting their fourth studio album, ‘Anyway You Love, We Know How You Feel,’ and its follow up companion EP, ‘If You Lived Here, You Would Be Home By Now,’ both out via Robinson’s Silver Arrow Records. Tracks have already been laid for another new studio album and ‘Betty’s Blends, Vol. 3’ live release later this year. Gathering in northern California on the side of a mountain overlooking the foggy Pacific Ocean to capture what would become their latest studio offerings, the band channeled the natural majesty of their surroundings into the recordings. Having spent the

2017 2018

prior two years touring relentlessly, the CRB were road-tested and in peak form to capture their kinetic chemistry and immersive sound, which Uncut Magazine called “a celebration of how American musical traditions can be at once honored and psychedelically expanded.” • $21.50

Wednesday, Sept. 27 RHIANNON GIDDENS • Bijou Theatre • 8:00 PM • Singer-songwriter Rhiannon Giddens is the co-founder of the Grammy award-winning string band Carolina Chocolate Drops, in which she also plays banjo and fiddle. She began gaining recognition as a solo artist when she stole the show at the T Bone Burnett–produced Another Day, Another Time concert at New York City’s Town Hall in 2013. The elegant bearing, prodigious voice, and fierce spirit that brought the audience to its feet that night is also abundantly



TRAVIS LEDOYT: A Tribute to the King September / 16 / 2017


502 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway, Maryville, TN 37804

BOX OFFICE: 865-981-8590 46 knoxville mercury July 20, 2017

August – December

evident on Giddens’ critically acclaimed solo debut, the Grammy nominated album, Tomorrow Is My Turn, which masterfully blends American musical genres like gospel, jazz, blues, and country, showcasing her extraordinary emotional range and dazzling vocal prowess. • $29.50-$44.50

Friday, Sept. 29 MASTODON WITH EAGLES OF DEATH METAL AND RUSSIAN CIRCLES • Knoxville Civic Coliseum • 7:30PM • Mast-

odon is an American heavy metal band from Atlanta, Georgia. Their musical style features progressive concepts and unique instrumentation. Mastodon has released seven studio albums, as well as a number of other records. The band’s debut album, Remission, released in 2002, garnered significant critical acclaim for its unique sound. Mastodon’s second full-length release, Leviathan, is a concept album based on the novel Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. Three magazines awarded the record Album of the Year in 2004: Revolver, Kerrang! and Terrorizer. • $42.50-$53

October Tuesday, Oct. 3 STS9 • The Mill and Mine • 8PM • 20 years before the

emergence of STS9, NASA sent Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 on a mission to the farthest reaches of the solar system and beyond. Each of these probes was equipped with identical Golden Records, special messages attached to what Carl Sagan called “a bottle launched into the cosmic ocean.” While the Golden Records included greetings in 59 languages, they made no mention of nations and borders, wars and rivalries, or anything else that divides us. What they did mention was life, love, peace, birth—the things that bind us to one another and to the planet we call home. The Universe Inside is a reflection of this message. It means we are one, made of stardust and the forces of nature that evolved over billions of years. • $25-$89

Thursday, Oct. 5 SAM BUSH • Bijou Theatre • 8PM • That rapt merging

of life and art fills Bush’s new album Storyman, a freewheeling collection that gleefully picks and chooses from jazz, folk, blues, reggae, country swing, and bluegrass to create a jubilant noise only classifiable as the Sam Bush sound. Many of the songs are stories—“several of them true”—and the legendary mandolin player co-wrote every one of them with friends including Guy Clark, Emmylou Harris, Jon Randall Stewart, Jeff Black, and others. • $27-$35

Friday, Oct. 6 THE BLACK JACKET SYMPHONY: FLEETWOOD MAC’S RUMOURS • Tennessee Theatre • 8PM • The Black

Jacket Symphony comes to the Tennessee Theatre to perform Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album in

its entirety. The Black Jacket Symphony offers a unique concert experience by recreating classic albums in a live performance setting with a first class lighting and video production. A selected album is performed in its entirety by a group of handpicked musicians specifically selected for each album. With no sonic detail being overlooked, the musicians do whatever it takes to musically reproduce the album. Following the album and a brief intermission, the Black Jacket Symphony returns to the stage to perform a collection of greatest hits by the evening’s artist. • $25-$35

Saturday, Oct. 7 OH WONDER • Bijou Theatre • 8PM • In an era in which

pop careers require careful planning, Oh Wonder are an anomaly. They’re a band formed by accident not design, a duo who didn’t intend to play live but spent more than a year touring the world, and a major label act who never saw this being anything other than a DIY project. Ultralife is both Oh Wonder’s extraordinary second album and their debut proper. Its eponymously titled predecessor, released in late 2015, was a collection of songs they had posted online at the rate of one a month, which millions of listeners fell in love with, turning London-based Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West into reluctant pop stars. 

Tuesday, Oct. 10

Join us


navigating facts, filter bubbles, & fake news Join us for a deep dive into the rise of fake news, the truth of search engines, the impact of nonstop breaking news, the decline of critical thinking and what we can do about it. Knox County Public Library is pleased to partner with author and founder Wendell Potter and UT’s College of Communication and Information, School of Journalism and Electronic Media and School of Information Sciences.

Limited seating available. Please register at




Wednesday, Oct. 11

Merchants of Doubt (2014) - FREE

Symposium Sessions - FREE



A documentary that looks at pundits-for-hire who present themselves as scientific authorities. Moderator: Jesse Fox Mayshark, Communications Professional


• 8PM • Let’s face facts — in 2016 it is remarkable that there’s a new Dinosaur Jr album to go ape over. After all, the original line-up of the band (J Mascis, Lou Barlow & Murph) only recorded three full albums during their initial run in the 1980s. Everyone was gob-smacked when they reunited in 2005. Even more so when they opted to stay together, as they have for 11 years now (on and off). And with the release of Give a Glimpse Of What Yer Not, this trio redivisus has released more albums in the 21st century than they did in the 20th. It’s enough to make a man take a long, thoughtful slug of maple-flavored bourbon and count some lucky stars. • $22-$25

Thursday, Oct. 12 RON POPE WITH AGES AND AGES AND THE HEART OF • Bijou Theatre • 8PM • Fifteen years and seven studio albums into a career hovering at the edges of the music business, fighting for a seat at the table, Ron Pope is now in the midst of flipping that table over. It took a decade to become an overnight success. Hundreds of millions of streams, millions of singles sold, concerts packed out into the street all over the world; all of a sudden Ron Pope is part of the discussion. “At the very least, now I don’t really have to give a shit what

THURSDAY, JULY 27 Lunch and Learn: East Tennessee in the Headlines - FREE


Jack Neely looks back at major news events in East Tennessee. Pre-order or bring your own lunch.

Opening Reception and VIP Dinner - $35

8:00 Light Breakfast and Registration 9:00 Opening Remarks 9:15 How We Interact with the Internet & How It Interacts with Us Presenter: Diane Kelly, PhD UT’s CCI, School of Information Sciences 10:30 Evolution of News Presenters: Catherine Luther, PhD; Amber Roessner, PhD; Nick Geidner, PhD UT’s CCI, School of Journalism and Electronic Media Break for lunch


1:15 Fake News, Consumer Information/Profit Driven News and Confirmation Bias Presenter: Wendell Potter

Evening with Wendell Potter - FREE

2:30 Pushing the Boundaries of the First Amendment Presenter: Scott Barker, journalist

Join us for dinner and an intimate conversation with Wendell Potter.

7:00 - 9:00 | HISTORIC BIJOU THEATRE UT Torchbearer Wendell Potter is the New York Times best-selling author of Deadly Spin and Nation on the Take. Book signing to follow.

3:45 A Return to Critical Thinking: Solutions Panel of all presenters

July 20, 2017 knoxville mercury 47

August – December

anyone in the business expects from me. That’s pretty liberating. It’s like ‘Everyone’s making music that sounds like such and such this year’ and I can say ‘Cool. I don’t give a fuck; my fans just want me to do something good and they’ll stick with me as long as what I record is real and honest and full of songs that are worth listening to. So I’m just gonna keep doing what I do.’ That’s the freedom that holding onto my independence for so long and finding real success has bought me” Pope says from the East Nashville office of Brooklyn Basement Records, the label he runs alongside his wife and manager, Blair Clark. • $19.50-$22.50

Sunday,Oct. 15 J. RODDY WALSTON AND THE BUSINESS • Bijou Theatre •

8PM • The hair flying rock ‘n roll of J. Roddy Walston and the Business is back and the quartet has released their first new song in four years; titled “The Wanting”.The band’s forthcoming record came to life in their own Richmond, VA recording studio and was co-produced by the band and Phil Ek (Fleet Foxes, Father John Misty, Built To Spill). It will be released this fall.“I personally fell in love with writing music again,” Walston explained. “It took awhile but once I realized I had room to try things that I had never tried before, I became addicted to the process.” He elaborated further by explaining how “The Wanting” describes the relationship of an estranged father

48 knoxville mercury July 20, 2017


and son: “Even though it is a dark song with a brutal ending, I find hope and beauty in the idea of these two people that had a shared sense of both regret and longing for each other.” • $21.50-$27

Wednesday, Oct. 18 FOO FIGHTERS WITH THE STRUTS • Thompson-Boling Are-

na • 7:30PM • With the writing and recording of the next Foo Fighters album on the horizon, Grohl was eager as always to find fresh challenges for the band: “So I think maybe Greg is the guy that we ask to be our producer because he’s never made a heavy rock record before and we’ve never worked with a pop producer.” Darrel Thorp (Beck, Radiohead) was soon enlisted to mix and engineer. This collective conceived a blueprint of the new record as “Motorhead’s version of Sgt. Pepper... or something like that,” secretly booking into Hollywood’s esteemed EastWest studios to consummate this marriage of extremes... or as Grohl puts it: “Our noise and Greg’s big brain and all of his sophisticated arrangements and composition.” • $49-$99

Tuesday, Oct. 24 BLIND PILOT • Bijou Theatre • 8PM • Blind Pilot’s And

Then Like Lions on ATO Records is the third LP from the Portland, Oregon-based sextet consisting of frontman Israel Nebeker, fellow founding member Ryan Dobrowski, Luke Ydstie, Kati Claborn, Ian Krist

and Dave Jorgensen. The album was produced by Israel Nebeker and Tucker Martine (The Decemberists, Neko Case, My Morning Jacket), and was written and composed by Nebeker. It comes five years after the band’s well-received We Are the Tide and three years after Nebeker thought he’d be starting the songs that would become the band’s third album. • $20

in 1999 with principal members Billy Howerdel (Ashes Divide) and Maynard James Keenan (Tool, Puscifer) creating a fluid band where line-ups were free to shift with each ensuing album. • $45-$65

Monday, Oct. 30

THE LONE BELLOW WITH THE WILD REEDS • Bijou Theatre • 8PM • Then Came the Morning, the second album by the Southern-born, Brooklyn-based indie-folk trio the


son-Boling Arena • 7:30PM • A Perfect Circle formed

november Wednesday, Nov. 1

August – December

Lone Bellow, opens with a crest of churchly piano, a patter of drums, and a fanfare of voices harmonizing like a sunrise. It’s a powerful introduction, enormous and overwhelming, as Zach Williams, Brian Elmquist, and Kanene Pipkin testify mightily to life’s great struggles and joys, heralding the morning that dispels the dark night: “Then came the morning! It was bright, like the light that you kept from your smile!” Working with producer Aaron Dessner of the National, the Lone Bellow has created a sound that mixes folk sincerity, gospel fervor, even heavy metal thunder, but the heart of the band is harmony: three voices united in a lone bellow. • $18-$20 GARRISON KEILLOR • Knoxville Civic Auditorium • 7:30PM • Garrison Keillor captivates with his signature blend of humor, charisma and wisdom, as he shares his journey to becoming one of America’s greatest storytellers. Garrison regaled audiences for more than 40 years as the host of “A Prairie Home Companion,” and he continues to bring stories to life on public radio’s “The Writers Almanac.” A best-selling author, he has published more than two dozen books of fiction and poetry, and his unique works have earned him honors including Grammy, ACE and Peabody awards, as well as the National Humanities Medal and election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. • $42-$62

Sunday, Nov. 5 BORIS WITH MUTOID MAN AND ENDON • The Concourse

• 8PM • The Japanese band Boris puts the power in power trio—the group’s new album, Dear, which may be their final recording together, masterfully matches ethereal melodies with suffocating guitar noise. 18 and up. • $18-$20

Thursday, Nov. 16 GAELIC STORM • Bijou Theatre • 8PM • Gaelic Storm

is back with their 12th studio album, once again delivering the foot-stomping, eclectic mix of tunes that has established the band as one of world music’s premier live acts. Matching Sweaters infuses traditional Celtic music with modern influences, updating the genre for a new generation of fans raised on rock, country, and folk. These 12 brand new tracks straddle the line between tradition and innovation in the world music format, making Matching Sweaters an absolute must-have. • $23

November 19 LEWIS BLACK: THE RANT, WHITE, AND BLUE TOUR • Tennessee Theatre • #REF! • Lewis Black’s live per-

formances provide a cathartic release of anger and disillusionment for his audience. Lewis yells so they don’t have to. A passionate performer who is more pissed-off optimist than mean-spirited curmudgeon. Lewis is the rare comic who can cause an audience to laugh themselves into incontinence while making compelling points about the absurdity of our world. Visit • $38-$78

Tuesday, Nov. 21 BRIT FLOYD • Tennessee Theatre • 7:30PM • The

hotly anticipated rock event of the year returns, as Brit Floyd brings the music of Pink Floyd to life once again with its lavish new stage show, Immersion World Tour 2017. The spectacle of a Pink Floyd concert experience is truly recaptured in high-definition sound, and with a stunning million

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Friday, Nov. 24 ST. VINCENT • Tennessee Theatre • 8PM • Musician

and songwriter Annie Clark - aka St. Vincent - is one of the most distinctive artistic voices and arrestingly original guitarists of her generation. Her recent album, the self-titled St. Vincent , won her album of the year designations from the NME, the Guardian, and Entertainment Weekly. In 2014, St. Vincent performed on the season finale of Saturday Night Live and, in 2015, she won the Grammy for Best Alternative Album. She has been the recipient of the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award and the Q Maverick award, both given for outstanding innovation in the arts. An incredible live performer, Clark has been heralded as “the first truly 21st century guitar hero” by Guitar World magazine, and is constantly pushing the boundaries of today’s musical landscape. St. Vincent’s incomparable signature electric guitar for Ernie Ball Music Man has been critically acclaimed by everyone from Guitar World to Vogue. • $36.50-$66.50

Wednesday, Nov. 29 JULIEN BAKER • Bijou Theatre • 8PM • For years, Baker

and a group of close friends have performed as the

band Forrister (formerly The Star Killers), but when college took her four hours away, her need to continue creating found an outlet through solo work. The intent was never to make these songs her main focus, yet the process proved to be startlingly cathartic. Tales of her experiences are staggering, and when set to her haunting guitar playing, the results are gut wrenching and heartfelt, relatable yet very personal. • $20

december Wednesday, Dec. 13 NEEDTOBREATHE: ALL THE FEELS TOUR (ACOUSTIC) • Tennessee Theatre • 8PM • South Carolina rock band NEEDTOBREATHE has seen their fair share of ups and downs over the course of their career, but their latest chapter left them on a particularly high note unmatched by any of their previous work. Their blockbuster 2014 album Rivers In the Wasteland landed the band their first-ever Grammy Award nomination, topped Billboard’s Top Rock Albums and Top Alternative Albums charts, and earned their highest-charting single yet with the RIAA GoldCertified Top 10 hit “Brother (feat. Gavin DeGraw).” But when it came time to record its follow- up, the Charleston, South Carolina-based band decided to completely alter their creative approach and break into entirely new sonic terrain. • $40.50-$60.50

Photo by Nedda Afsari

dollar light show and state of the art video design. • $29.50-$154.50





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Voice in the Wilderness

Photos by Kim Trevathan

Islands in the Stream One last camping trip to an unnamed destination



omething’s swimming up ahead,” said biologist Drew Crain, in the bow of my canoe. We quickened our paddle strokes, then stopped when we saw what it was: a timber rattler zigging and zagging his way across Chilhowee Lake. I’d never seen a rattlesnake swimming, much less one of this girth and length. Crain and I had just set out on an overnight camping trip to an unnamed island a mile or so downstream of Calderwood Dam. Island camping, for me, is the ultimate. Finding a little clearing with boat-only access, you’re more likely to find isolation and reasonable proximity to wild animals and undeveloped landscapes. After a paddle upstream of about a mile and a half, we passed Scona

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Lodge Ferry ramp on the left bank and began scanning the landscape for the island beach where we would camp. During the drawdown and closure of Chilhowee Lake, which lasted two years, grasses and bushes had grown up so that the place looked much different than it had on previous visits. At the campsite, a fire smoldered in the ash-filled ring, and there were signs that a somewhat bizarre camping experience had transpired. A badminton racket hung on a nail in a tree; a bar of Irish Spring soap, used but still in the box, sat on a stump; and a garbage bag full of empty beer cans squatted at the edge of the clearing. While this was a bit disappointing, the beach, by Little Tennessee River standards, was wide, well cleared, and shady, with a view of a

forested bluff across the lake (Cherokee National Forest) and breezes air-conditioned courtesy of Calderwood Dam tailwaters. We unloaded most of our gear and headed upstream in the canoe to troll for the stocked rainbow trout and walleye that frequent these waters, where the temperature stays between 50 and 60 degrees, Crain said. Crain tempted the fish with red worms and I opted for a silver spoon. We didn’t have any success on two trolling runs and neither were the fishermen in the two motorboats we saw, so we returned to the beach to relax. A boat with two men and three women idled in the shade of the opposite bank, and they all made animal noises for several minutes, as if trying to get the coyotes (owls?) to return their strange calls. Then the women jumped in the water and whooped, repeatedly. I was impressed. I hadn’t mustered the nerve to wade in any deeper than mid-thigh. After the motorboats left, Crain roused himself from a nap and suggested that we try fishing again. So off we went, paddling a bit past the point where the water started swirling, and then letting the current carry us back, our lures near the bottom. When we’d floated back even with our campsite, Crain got a strike. That’s when we realized we had forgotten to bring a net. He played the fish back and forth across the bow and guided it over to me to bring it in. I fumbled this simple task, and the trout, at least a two-pounder, swam back to the depths.

Left: An island campsite view of Cherokee National Forest wilderness. Right: Drew Crain provided dinner, a rainbow trout caught from the cold depths of Chilhowee Lake.

A couple of minutes later, one took my spoon (a Kastmaster). At Crain’s suggestion I dialed up and down on my drag and let him make a few runs to tire him out so that we could more easily land him in the boat without a net. For their size, these rainbow were fighting about as hard as any fish I’d ever hooked. This one jumped twice and surged under the boat. I got him 3 feet from the canoe, almost within Crain’s reach, but the crafty trout did something to escape. There are few things more deflating than losing a fine fish you’ve been toying with for 10 minutes. Crain got another strike and wasted no time bringing this one in. He swung him into the boat without ceremony, a two-pounder who had swallowed the hook. Back on the beach, watching the trout roast over a spit, we joked a little about bears, wild pigs (noteworthy residents of the island), and other predators attracted to the drifting aroma of our dinner, including the possible return of the beer-guzzling, badminton enthusiasts. It was the best trout I’d ever tasted, more than enough for both of us. Our seasoning consisted of salt and a shaker of something called “Sunny Spain,” which I’d had in my camping supplies for at least a decade. It was an uneasy night for both of

Do you know where your bottled water is sourced?

Drew Crain holds alo a 2-pound rainbow trout, as fresh as it gets.

us, sleeping minimalist style in hammocks. It didn’t help that this was the site of the most elaborate practical joke I’d ever heard of. Crain has a jokester friend, who, on an excursion a few years ago, had set up a boom box on the island beach in advance of four other campers who would arrive by pontoon. At some point after dark, the jokester friend excused himself to water the bushes and turned on a tape he had made. There was 10 minutes of silence before the show began. It started with the grunting of hogs, then escalated into general mayhem, such as dogfights. The four pontoon campers started getting uneasy because the jokester had already told them that the island was inhabited by hogs, embellishing a bit by saying that these beasts had the long tusks and aggressiveness of their descendants from Russia. The tape degenerated into wild animal chaos from lions and tigers, but Crain, who was in on the joke, said that the campers’ imaginations had overcome their skepticism and discernment. Jokester friend pulled out his knife and ran toward his boom box, saying, “I can’t take it anymore!” Once he was out of their sight, he acted out a valiant battle with something wild. Two campers jumped on the

pontoon preparing to leave. Another pulled out a pistol no one knew that he had. But no one went into the woods to help the poor jokester. The campers were quite upset when he emerged from the woods laughing at them. In my hammock, quite cozy in the cool night, I thought that for a final Mercury column trip, it would be fitting for me to be chased by actual wild hogs into a frigid lake. Or worse. Geese honked all night, in competition with the frogs. At one point, a deer, outraged at our intrusion, released 10 or 12 shrill alarm snorts. The most intimate animal interaction was with gnats. They waited until I dozed off to sing their subtle, wavering refrains. I’m fairly certain that they started going into one ear, through what’s left of my brain, and out the other. Sometime that night a strange wind swept down on us from the ridgetop and whipped across the loose nylon of our hammocks. The sky was clear, but the wind gusts felt cool as October. A nearly full moon rose over the ridge above the dam and lit up the place the entire night, so beautiful that it was difficult not to stay awake and watch. Sometime just before first light, a squadron of geese flew downriver, our wakeup call to break camp and paddle back to civilization. Caveats: You can hear the motorcycles from Highway 129, and Calderwood Dam did release some water overnight, raising the lake about a foot, but there’s plenty of beach that stays dry, enough for three big tents. To camp this way, by canoe, you’ve got to leave your car at a ramp. Tab Cat is right off busy Highway 129, but the small parking area is somewhat concealed. Scona Lodge Ferry ramp, much nearer to the island, is day-use only and gated each afternoon at 3. I’m grateful for having the opportunity to share my voice in the wilderness with Mercury readers. I made many new friends and learned much on these little adventures. Thanks to all who accompanied me as companions and readers. I encourage you to enjoy your own islands, to nurture and protect the wild within and without.

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Hot Doughnuts Now It’s on! Maker’s vs. Duck vs. Honey Bee vs. Status Dough in a craft doughnuts shoot-out



n writing about food, it teeters on cliché to reference the Proustian moment—that flash when, at the beginning of A Remembrance of Things Past, a mouthful of tea and madeleine initiates a whole-body experience of nostalgia (as well as a one of the world’s most famously unread works of literature). But, as we know, cliché is truth overused, and though a bite of even the most delicious madeleine does nothing to stir my memory, a doughnut takes me on a long and bumpy ride. My relationship with doughnuts begins in a frying pan. It’s the very first memory of doughnuts I have—a Krispy Kreme, leftover and stale, absorbing new life and calories while bathing in pan of sizzling butter. Then

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comes a flash of a late night with the college crew and my initiation into the sensual, midnight mysteries of the “Hot Doughnuts Now” sign. Faces come with these memories and so do the pains of unrequited love, and a longing for the intense and inseparable friendships of youth. It’s powerful juju. So you will understand, I hope, how a poor country boy like me can find himself comparing all doughnuts to the one that evokes memories from every stage of my life. I have a powerful doughnut bias that’s not my fault. But my bias didn’t work to prevent me from enjoying any of the vast number of doughnuts frying in our city. But, try as I might to love

Photos by Dennis Perkins

Home Palate


every one, I couldn’t quite shake my love of simplicity in this particular sweet. Although I’ve eaten enough doughnuts to break my belt, I tried to stick to the basics and, despite my fondness for the surrounding area, particularly East Maryville and Eagleton, I didn’t include some very worthy shops outside Knoxville. At Maker’s Donuts (804 Tyson St.), one of the city’s modern hole-y pioneers, cake doughnuts are fried and then crowned with toppings from hipster flavor heaven—matcha and bacon may be the nectar and ambrosia of the modern age. And perhaps my age is catching up with me, but some of these flavors look a little like the Emperor’s new clothes—I’m not sure they add much beyond the quick thrill of the name itself. Certainly, the idea of bacon is titillating, but here I wasn’t sure that its contribution gave me enough pleasure for the additional caloric weight. The maple glaze alone, however, added a fine layer of flavor that complemented both the taste and texture of the crispy bite of cake without any of the distractions that come of tiny bits of limp bacon fat. The same wonder comes from the very simple pleasures of a vanilla-bean glazed doughnut wherein the tender crack of the glaze is followed by the light crunch of the fried cake, all bound together by the warm aroma of vanilla and its concomitant memories of mom’s kitchen. Yum. The only kvetch I have with Maker’s is that they’ve been out of coffee when I’ve visited. Of course, I

could walk next door to the adjacent coffee shop, Remedy—but then, couldn’t they? Perhaps it’s the ornery country boy emerging, but doughnut shops should have coffee in-house, all the time. Especially if there’s a coffee and doughnut special on the menu. Besides, if I choose to eat my doughnut on-premise, I’m really there for the total atmosphere, and that includes the aroma of the place. Let me have it all, please—the smell of all the cake and perking coffee, too. Duck Donuts (6104 Kingston Pike) has coffee and gets very, very high marks from lots of folks I know, which is why, despite the corporate parentage, I included it. But I’m not sure that their product even qualifies as a doughnut since it’s nearly impossible to eat with your hands. It’s a vanilla cake doughnut, freshly fried and then coated, drizzled, and sprinkled to order. There are at least 20 different options to personalize your treat and they’re available every day the place is open—so you don’t have to wait for your strawberry, bacon, hot fudge combo to show up on the specials list. But by the time you’ve saturated the thing with a glaze of salted caramel or whatnot, woe betide the white-shirted eater who tries to pick it up. There are spoons handy, but that just feels wrong. And all that stuff makes the bite so sweet that the flavors muddle and become a sugary goop—heavy, nearly listless on the palate. Of course, you can skip the rainbow sprinkle and hot fudge drizzle and stick to the plain dough-


nut, but, even then after the initial crunch of the exterior, there’s overly moist vanilla cake that’s too fragile to stay together for manual appreciation. And forget about dunking this thing; that makes me sad. That’s not an issue at Honey Bee Coffee (700 Sevier Ave. and 10716 Kingston Pike) where the doughnuts are a much more sturdy bite. Though the density is a little much for my dough druthers, the sweetness is well balanced and the glaze gives the nice bump of dulcet pleasure that it’s supposed to do. A vanilla iced cake doughnut didn’t have the crispy exterior that I’ve come to love, but this may be a better example of the traditional cake doughnut—it certainly had a tender crumb but was sufficiently (and happily) sturdy to stand a quick dunk in my very excellent coffee. I wasn’t as taken with their raised doughnut— mostly because I ordered one with a raspberry glaze that was overly seedy yet still tasted more of powdered sugar than berries despite the vibrant redness of its hue. The only doughnut that made me do backflips belonged to Status Dough on Bearden Hill (6535 Kingston Pike). Their old-fashioned cake doughnut had a craggy top, with crispy bites that were draped in a light glaze. The combination of the crisp shell and the fine crumb made a texturally thrilling bite that created an instant craving for another. I don’t know if an apple fritter qualifies as a doughnut, but it was my favorite out of everything I tried during the course of my research, owing to its varied texture: the nearly egg-shell like crispness of its glaze, a crunchy exterior, the toothsome interior, and

pops of apple throughout. As it was at every stop, a simple glazed doughnut here was good but failed to elicit the quiet sighs of delight or the low rumple of “mmms” that mark a good doughnut experience for me. I think it’s because they have more substance, a bit more chew, and certainly a bigger mouth presence than the delicate bite that informs my ancient prejudicial standards for glazed doughnuts. Memory is powerful charm, and the flavors it creates, and amplifies, are often too good to be true. So I didn’t revisit my old haunt to check in lest I be caught up in remembrance. I still love the “Hot Doughnuts Now” sign—it sometimes calls to me in my sleep—and there are plenty of people to support that business. So, unless you’re buying, I’ll be spending my sweet allowance looking to make new memories with locals. It’s a rare and wonderful treat to create relationships with local businesses that are tuned in to the city itself. After all, these kinds of shops drive the cool, hip, chill, hype, whatever-you-call-it factor that has made Knoxville the beautiful place it is today. And despite my frequent and loving jabs at hipster culture and my complaints about the proliferation of booze and sugar shops, the truth of the matter is that I count myself lucky to live in a city where these things can find support and sustenance. It’s been my pleasure to be a part of this conversation. And as this is my final column for the Mercury, perhaps I’ll have a new bias to fuel my doughnut craving now that this paper I love will soon be a remembrance of things past. Thanks for reading, thanks for eating, and thanks for all the food.



July 20, 2017 knoxville mercury 55

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Thank you Knoxville Mercury staff and contributors for your hard work and dedication. You will be missed. 七転び八起き Nanakorobi Yaoki



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Pickled Human Toes! And all the other odd news that’s mostly fit to print DIGITAL COCKTAIL If you visit Dawson City in Canada’s Yukon Territory, you can’t skip one of its famous traditions: sipping on a Sourtoe Cocktail at the Sourdough Saloon. The drink, conceived in 1973, comprises the cocktail of your choice garnished with a pickled amputated human toe. (“You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow, but your lips have gotta touch the toe,” says “toe master” Terry Lee.) On June 18, one of the saloon’s toes went missing when a patron, who identified himself as “a drunken fool,” took the digit (specifically, a second toe). Although the thief mailed the toe back with an apology, Travel Yukon has launched a campaign for an “insurance toe,” saying, “Our toe was returned, but we can always use backups!”

THE CONTINUING CRISIS Demit Strato of New York took to Facebook on June 26 from his throne room to excoriate his local Starbucks for making his venti iced coffee with regular milk instead of soy milk, as he ordered it. “I’ve pooped 11 times since the A.M. My bottom hurts from all the wiping. Do you think I enjoy soy milk? … I don’t order soy milk because I’m bored and want my drink order to sound fancy. I order soy milk so that my bottom doesn’t blast fire for 4 hours.” For its part, Starbucks sent Strato a $50 gift card, and he told Buzzfeed that “many women are trying to go out on a date after this, too.”

PEOPLE DIFFERENT FROM US A China Southern Airlines flight between Shanghai and Guangzhou was delayed for five hours on June 27 after an 80-year-old passenger,

identified only as Qiu, was spotted tossing coins into the engine as she boarded “to pray for a safe flight.” Passengers already onboard were asked to deplane while crews searched inside the engine and around the area, ultimately finding nine coins totaling the equivalent of about 25 cents. Local news outlets estimated the cost of the delay and the search at $140,000.

COMPULSIONS • Could it have been overconsumption of caffeine that provoked Londoner Kit Lovelace to scan all 236 episodes of Friends to chronicle how much coffee each character drank? Lovelace told the Huffington Post in June he was disappointed that no one had ever collected data about the characters’ coffee habits, so he meticulously studied how much they drank, how their consumption changed over the years and how much they spent on coffee. (Spoiler alert: Phoebe drank the most coffee, and collectively the group spent more than $2,000 on joe over the course of the 10-season series.) • A California man’s 2,000th visit to Disneyland in Anaheim on June 22 made him a celebrity in the park. Jeff Reitz began visiting Disneyland every day after receiving an annual pass as a gift in 2012. At the time, he was unemployed, but he continued his habit even after finding a job, using the $1,049 Disney Signature Plus Passport. “Until today, cast members would think I looked familiar, but now they know who I am,” Reitz said. “It’s been positive, it’s been a motivator, it’s been my workout gym. This past year I’ve lost about 40 pounds.” • A serial underwear thief in Tokyo was finally snagged July 4 when

he was caught on surveillance video stealing nine women’s undergarments that had been hung out to dry. Yasushi Kobayashi, 61, told police that he’d been lifting lingerie for 20 years because he enjoys wearing them. Police found more than 1,000 pieces during a serach of his home.

GREAT ART! Police in St. Petersburg, Florida, were hunting in late June for the artist tagging buildings with … butt cheeks. At least 20 downtown fanny paintings, sporting from two to seven buttocks, have been reported. “It’s not very creative,” sniffed one office worker. “The bottom line is, whoever is doing this is destroying property,” Assistant Police Chief Jim Previterra said. Property owners are wiping the butts away as fast as they appear, but police say the vandal, when caught, will have to pay for cleanup.

POLICE REPORT • A SWAT team from the Sumter County (Florida) Sheriff’s department raided The Villages retirement community on June 21, uncovering what they believe is a golf cart chop-shop operation, along with illegal drugs, in the sprawling complex near Ocala. Souped-up golf carts are a popular way to get around in the community, which is home to more than 150,000 people. Windshields, seat cushions, wheels, and tires were found in the garage, along with drugs “in plain sight” in the home, Deputy Gary Brannen said. Five people, ranging in age from 38 to 63, were arrested. • A determined pregnant woman in Asheville, N.C., was charged June 28 with misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon after she ran over the man who had been caught rifling through her SUV. Christine Braswell, 26, confronted Robert Raines, 34, in a Walmart parking lot, but when he ran, she couldn’t run after him. “Me being five months pregnant, I chased a little ways, then come back, jumped in the car, threw it in gear and come across the curb and ran him over. I was not going to let him get away with it,” Braswell said. Raines sustained minor injuries. • A hopeful driver, pulled over by Dakota County (Minnesota) Deputy Mike Vai in June, produced a “get out of jail free” card from a Monopoly

game in an effort to escape charges on a controlled substance warrant. The amused officer shared the incident on his department’s Facebook page, but took the unidentified man into custody nonetheless.

ODD HOBBIES The Wall Street Journal reported in June on a small group of enthusiasts who participate in the esoteric sport of container spotting—discovering and documenting unusual shipping containers. Spotting a distinctive box “is analogous to the satisfaction that bird-watchers get from spotting a very rare breed of bird,” noted Matt Hannes, who maintains the Intermodal Container Web Page. Unusual boxes, known as unicorns, include those with outdated names or logos, or sporting discontinued colors, and those from very small shipping companies. Charles Fox of Indianapolis may be an extreme hobbyist: On his honeymoon, he spent two 12-hour days taking photos of a variety of boxes in Belgium. Mrs. Fox was not amused.

WHAT WE’LL DO FOR LOVE Brandon Thompson, 35, had just one request before Muskogee, Ok., police officers took him into custody on July 4: “I asked the officer if I could propose.” Officers Bob Lynch and Lincoln Anderson agreed and moved Thompson’s handcuffs from his back to his front so he could put the ring on Leandria Keith’s finger. Thompson had six felony bench warrants out for his arrest, but he told CNN he has been “doing a lot to turn his life around.” Keith apparently agrees, as she said “yes.”

GOVERNMENT IN ACTION • Rabbit Hash, Ky., elected a 2-yearold mayor in November—a dog named Brynneth Pawltro, who won the race by a landslide 1,000 votes. She’s the small town’s fourth canine mayor, having beaten her chicken, donkey and cat opponents, along with other dogs. Running on a platform of peace, love and understanding, Brynn is very outgoing, according to Bobbi Kayser of the Rabbit Hash Historical Society: “There’s always inappropriate licking going on.” July 20, 2017 knoxville mercury 59

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A journey towards enlightenment



The SRT gives you the same biodiversity, scenery, and immersive trail magic as the [appalachian trail] (minus moose and martens) but you can do it in three weeks. — Travis Hall, designer of the Smoke Ring Trail around the perimeter of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Source: Kim Trevathan’s “Voice in the Wilderness,” Knoxville Mercury, 09/21/2016.

60 knoxville mercury July 20, 2017


t was because Wesley thought he was about to die that he decided that he wanted to live. For weeks he was telling me that he has arrived, achieved, or accomplished enlightenment, depending on how you look at the process. But Wesley has been looking for enlightenment as long as I’ve known him, about 20 years. Every few years he thinks he’s found it, but he’s always wrong—for if he had found it, he wouldn’t have to keep reading those awful books on how to achieve enlightenment. Each tome is more convoluted and contrived than the last—contrived to hide the real truth, I mean. In the first place, everyone knows that truth can’t be found in a book. Truth comes from from living and in moments of grace when you least expect it. When you stop relentlessly pursuing it, demanding answers of a God who may or may not exist—and just lay back in a pool of water under a summer moon—it arrives. Just like that. Truth. And how do you know it’s there? You just know. It’s as though a spirit has laid on the blanket beside you and whispered in your ear, “Look no further, I am here.” And suddenly you are one with the soft wind, the rustling grass, even the light of the moon. But Wesley misses moments of grace like this because he is so busy

poring over these books, which are quite literally driving him insane. He knows it. We all know it. He can’t stop himself and so he reads and drinks, drinks and reads. Gallons of gin-andtonics in a week’s time with maybe only a candy bar or two for nourishment, if you could call it that. After five or six days of this, he begins to lose control of his mind and says things like: “I’ve got it! I understand everything now.” After which he talks at length about compassion. “You don’t have it,” I tell him. “If you had it, you wouldn’t have to keep drinking. And you would be silent. People who have got it don’t talk about it all the time. They have a stillness inside them that speaks a far greater truth than all these ramblings you go on with day and night.” Wesley pours himself another drink and informs me of his great truth: “The truth is that we have absolutely no control over anything.”

He laughs uproariously, a technique he has adopted of late to try and pretend he is not a miserable as he is. “Bullshit!” I light a cigarette. “You have control over whether you take the next drink or not. To pretend you have no control is just to avoid taking responsibility for your own life.” At this point, Wesley drifts asleep with his drink in his hand while I meander around my own sense of reality. I pour myself a strong shot and down it. I look around my living room, which is alive with chaos. I read a new-age book one time that said that “After the chaos comes re-birth.” This has not been true for me. After the chaos comes…more chaos. I pick up books and papers and stack them up in little piles, much like the foster child who has been moved from place to place and seeks to gain some control in his life. We sleep like two mismatched bookends and awaken at the same instant to bright morning sunshine streaming over the objects in my room. My sleeping dog, Mallory, opens one eye and surveys the room. My two cats, Boots and Solange, leap out of the window and race towards the kitchen and breakfast. I prepare coffee and the warm smell wafts out into the room. The gin is gone so we sip our coffee and watch a cardinal flit about in the oak tree outside. The sunlight has an ethereal quality to it. I stand and bow and fold my hands together: “Namaste.” Wesley responds in kind and we prepare to take the next step on our journey to enlightenment. Whatever the hell that is. Donna Johnson’s stories were oen about people who are not recognized by others, who may even seem invisible, but “they oen have a great truth to share if one but listens.”

I read a new-age book one time that said that “After the chaos comes re-birth.” This has not been true for me. After the chaos comes…more chaos.

U O Y K THAN sers, i t r e v d a r u o to all . s r o n o d d n a , s reader p or t p u s r u o y r fo l fu te a r g We are ege il iv r p a n e e b s a h it d an ou . y r fo r e p a p is th te a e r to c

! y r u c r e ou y M d u n o a e c Y n e k r n e Tha ade a diff m You missed. e will b ac m , i r y l e G er inda l e Sinc M & n i Kev

July 20, 2017 knoxville mercury 61

News of the Weird | Sacred & Profane | That ’70s Girl | Cartoon | Puzzles

The Beauty of Green Stamps A memorable investment in space-age hair drying



om, don’t you have enough Green Stamps by now?” I sat at the kitchen table with stamps of different sizes and values, booklets to paste them in, a dish of water, paper towels, and a Green Stamps catalog filled with models who looked at the housewares and home décor and cigarette lighters with a little too much satisfaction. “I need some new tea glasses, Angie Lynn,” Mom said, turning catalog pages to a photo of a smiling woman holding a set of Tiffany Foliage glassware (with foldaway caddy).

“But Mom,” I turned the catalog to the toys section and pointed out my latest obsessions, “I really need this double holster set and some super darts, too.” “Child, you do not need more toys.” Mom turned to the page titled Beauty of the Bath. “I’ll tell you what I really need is a new commode cover. Look at this.” An entire bathroom was accessorized in the same color my brother produced when he threw up Pepto-Bismol. “Maybe I could even get a matching rug,” Mom said. I pretended to gag and die, but my performance


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did not impress her. “I earned plenty of stamps when I bought groceries, but you have to fill those books so we can shop at the Green Stamps store. What is taking you so long?” “She sniffs the glue!” my brother announced while his favorite TV show, M*A*S*H, was on a commercial break. “I do not!” I shot back, although he had caught me more than once. “Then she sticks the stamps to her fingers to make them turn greener,” he added. “She is so weird.” “Shut up!” I hollered. “Mind your manners, son, or the TV goes off,” my father warned him. He didn’t mention that he had complained about Mom carpeting the commode lid. I didn’t want Mom to know how much I loved gluing Green Stamps because it was one of my regular chores. I always took the option to cover a page in individual rows instead of pasting one large stamp. I was fascinated by how much more my fingers shriveled with each new book of stamps. Mom may have set her sights on a commode cover, but if we could redeem Green Stamps for something as cool as a spaceship I would have pasted them until we blasted into orbit. When Mom finally drove us to the Green Stamps store I made a beeline for the toys, but a display of hair dryers brought me to a halt. A model on a poster wore an inflated bonnet ringed with air holes so the heat from the Lady Sunbeam Flair didn’t cause her brain to blow. A clear hose snaked

over her shoulder and connected to a hard-plastic carry case. The model smiled like she had secret knowledge, but it was clear the Lady Sunbeam could dry her ‘doo anywhere an outlet was available. It was the next best thing to being on a space ship. Mom could look like an astronaut. “Never mind the super darts, Mom!” I blurted, as I imagined the heated bonnet rising on her head like it was coming to life. “You have to get this!” “Well I really could use it,” Mom admitted, “but it will take every book of stamps I have.” “You deserve it, Mom,” I said in a voice only she would believe. “You could dry your hair at home and make it just as tall as the hair dresser does for church on Sunday.” “Well, sugar,” Mom smiled as bright as a Lady Sunbeam, “I guess I’ll give it a try.” The first time the hair-dryer hose filled with heat and boosted the bonnet right over Mom’s rollers, I sat beside her transfixed yet deafened. The Mercury astronauts had shiny silver suits, but their helmets covered mere buzz cuts and flat tops. If they had enough Green Stamps for the Lady Sunbeam, their hair might have turned out as awesome as my Mom’s. Angie Vicars writes humorous essays and seriously good Web content for UT. In a former incarnation, she authored My Barbie Was an Amputee, Yikes columns for Metro Pulse, and produced the WATE website.




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July 20, 2017 knoxville mercury 63

Vote for Brandon Bruce

for City Council 2nd District in the August 29 primary (early voting starts August 9) and the November 7 general election.

Vol. 3, Issue 18 July 20, 2017  
Vol. 3, Issue 18 July 20, 2017