Monday, December 13, 2010

Photo Dump: WDVX Blue Plate Special

Since I was downtown today, I headed over to the Knoxville Visitors Center for lunch. Our local, non-NPR public radio station, WDVX has a live show every weekday at noon. I've been listening to WDVX for years, but this is the first time I've been able to be there for one of these shows.

I didn't catch any of the acts names, and in any case the second act was comprised of local musicians from different bands, who live downtown, and filled in at the last minute when the snow kept the scheduled guests from playing. They played old-timey bluegrass covers. It was excellent.

If you come visit me in Knoxville we should stop in to catch a show.

Snow Day

The Knoxville area doesn't usually get a lot of snow, so when we got a few inches yesterday and today, it shut down most of the city.

These first few photos are from Sunday, it's pretty tame by Wisconsin, or Montreal standards:

This morning I took a quick walk around downtown Knoxville and took these photos.

Here's a guy using a broom to clear the sidewalk in front of a grocery store in the Old City. I suppose most people around here don't have snow shovels.

This outdoor seating area at the Crown and Goose pub is protected from the wind, so this probably gives a good measure of how much snow we got.

If you look closely, you'll see a sprinkling of snow on top of the Sunsphere.

Here's Rachmaninoff's statue covered with snow.

The above train tracks run north-south and separate downtown from the University of Tennessee student ghetto aka Fort Sanders; in these next photos the train tracks run east-west and mark the northern end of downtown.

On the left side of the next two photos you can see the historic Southern Railway passenger station. This used to be one of Knoxville's busiest areas (that link goes to a document describing the history of the neighbourhood just north of the station), now the station is mostly empty, and Depot Ave. sees very little traffic. Caught just north of downtown, and just south of the interstate, and in the triangular region between Central and Broadway, this part of town is not particularly nice. The Greyhound station is a block northeast, and that area has been known in the past as for prostitution problems.

Prostitution in Knoxville

On Saturday I drove around north Knoxville. It's not an area I know well, but there are several interesting businesses up there, so I thought it would be fun to explore.

It was fun, but I also saw some prostitution in action on north Central street, not too far from downtown, near the Knoxville National Cemetery, and my favourite local cupcake shop, Magpies.

Here's how they work, apparently: This woman probably just sits at a busstop all day, then when someone stops at the stoplight, she sashays across the street in front of them, trying to make eye contact with the drivers. She was like 35, not in good shape physically, and wearing surprisingly frumpy clothes. It was pretty depressing.

On a related note; if you're move to Knoxville I recommend not living in the area west of Central, and east of I-75.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Photo Dump: Chili Cook-Off, Farmer's Market, Birds, Roller Derby, Football

My friend J and I went to the 5th Annual East Tennessee Chili Cook-Off about a month ago.

I didn't really take any good photos, but in this one you can sort of see the chili stands on the left.

There was so much chili that we left for a couple of hours and came back for a second helping. We managed to taste 17 of the 22 chili's.


Knoxville has a pretty great Farmer's Market. Sometimes they also have other events in Krutch park at the same time: they've had a biscuit festival, some sort of history fair... A few weeks ago they had this:

I never really found out what was going on, but it seemed like fun.


In the evenings in the fall you can often see a huge flock of birds flying from tree to tree, in downtown Knoxville, and then sometimes just swerving through the sky.

That's them in the bottom right part of this photo.


A few months ago I went to see the roller derby just a few blocks east of downtown.

It was interesting.


I went to a Vols game, Neyland stadium fits about 20,000 more fans than Camp Randall.

Photo Dump: Ijams Nature Center

Ijams is a park in south Knoxville that recently expanded to add two old quarries.

I visited on the day that the new trails were officially opened.

They also have some new biking trails that I'll eventually check out.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Photo dump: hiking the Alum Cave trail

Cool Aid: Scritti Politti

Scritti Politti is pretty cool.

I heard about them thanks to popdose, and got my hands on their supposedly classic 1985 album Cupid and Psyche '85.

It's great, and I've been listening to it a lot lately. At least 4 songs are top quality.

I find it kind of interesting to go back and hear these songs that were made while I was alive, but that I'm only now finding out about. But it's also kind of weird, like revisiting the places you lived as a kid, only to find that they don't match up with your memories.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cool-Aid: Catching up with Weezer

During grad school, I fell behind with friends, movies, music... math... the list is quite long.

I missed several albums by some bands I had previously quite enjoyed: Supergrass, Weezer, The Tragically Hip, Belle and Sebastian, and Of Montreal to name just a few.

Recently I've been playing catch up. Two weeks ago I caught up on the three most recent Belle and Sebastian albums (they're good). This week I picked up the two latest Weezer albums; Raditude, and Hurley. Last time I bought a Weezer album I was also playing catch up. I got Maladroit and Make Believe just before the Red Album came out. It didn't get much love from music mags but Make Believe is probably my favourite Weezer album. It's got at least three songs that should be on everyone's top-ten-Weezer-songs list. *

Anyway, the new albums keep up the quality. Check out Kenny G helping out with Raditude's best song:

The other George Michael joins them on Hurley's best track "Hang On." The only minor quibble I have with this song (and, I admit, the reason I wrote this post) is the lyrics. If you're a Weezer fan, you probably don't mind silly lyrics. Even so, this line is just not right:
Over and over we swore it was over
but just like wild clover
love grows at light speed

No, it doesn't. Not even close.

The song is still great though.

*(or top 11)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Life in Knoxville: terrible parking edition

I remember a winter's day in Montreal, when I saw a Quebecer park his car about a half meter from the curb. He got out, walked around, and evaluated his handiwork: "quel tabernac de stationnement." Then he walked away.

People in my neighbourhood aren't much more careful about their parallel parking. When a spot opens up, often the next car will park slightly further out than the surrounding cars... after a couple of cars have done this, you get a situation like the one in this next photo.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Life in Knoxville: Hiking in the Smoky Mountains edition

About a month ago I hiked Mount LeConte, and stayed overnight at the LeConte Lodge. (About a month ago, as of Oct. 17th... Apparently, since I started writing this post a couple of week ago, blogger has timestamped it from Oct. 4th.)

It was pretty amazing.

It threatened to rain on the hike up the Rainbow Falls trail, but fortunately we just got drizzled on. (This was especially fortunate as my water-resistant backpack managed to keep my stuff mostly dry - I'll be buying a proper pack soon.)

Once we got to the lodge, I drank a bunch of hot chocolate and we played some card games while we waited for the slower members of our party to arrive.

There's several cabins, most have queen size bunk beds. Mine also had a single bed (that I slept on).

At the start of the season a helicopter brings up supplies (or so I'm told), including canned beef, which we were served for our surprisingly good dinner.

I met some interesting people while hiking, including a guy that grew up travelling around the country "showing" cattle ... at cattle competitions, I guess? Maybe at rodeos and that sort of thing.

After dinner the clouds started clearing up a little, so a bunch of us ran up to the summit to catch a cloudy sunset.

I also took video of the sunset, and I'll try to post it soon.

The next morning I skipped out on breakfast to hike down at 7:30 AM. This time we got completely soaked. It was raining so much, that I didn't get a chance to take pictures - but it was by far one of the most beautiful hikes I've ever been on. We had the trail (the Alum Cave trail) to ourselves, and at the Alum Cave the entire rim of the outcrop had water pouring off it. I just rehiked part of that trail today with my parents. I will post some of today's photos shortly.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Life in Knoxville: Nazi Edition

Apparently we've got a white supremacist rally tomorrow. Unfortunately they're going to have this rally in my neighbourhood. We'll see how that goes.

I guess this is the kind of thing you have to tolerate no matter where you live. I remember a few years ago we had one in Madison.

In other nazi news; I saw a guy with a swastika tattoo in the parking lot at the Oak Ridge Walmart. We parked at the same time, facing each other, and I was just getting out of my car at the same he was.

If you had asked me before, how I would react to a hypothetical nazi tattoo sighting, I would probably have told you that it would seem quaint, and pathetic to me. But actually, in real life, it was mostly terrifying. In a nice neighbourhood, you just don't expect to see shirtless guys with swastika and knife tattoos prominently displayed. Maybe I'll see him again tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

I'm older now

I just had a big birthday last week. Goodbye 20s.

Here's some music.