Friday, October 31, 2008

All Hallows

It's All Hallows Eve - Halloween - so of course I'm going to show you a cemetery.

This is the First Presbyterian Church cemetery downtown, the oldest cemetery in Knoxville city limits. It's a very pretty place to walk, not spooky at all. At least in the daytime.

The church was organized in the 1790s. James White, one of the pioneer founders of Knoxville, donated his turnip patch for the church and cemetery. The earliest headstone is dated 1800. Some prominent East Tennesseans such as James White and first governor William Blount are buried here. During the Civil War, Conferderate soldiers occupied the graveyard, and Union soldiers occupied the church. That must have been awkward.

I haven't heard any good haunt stories about this graveyard, but I'm not about to stick around tonight to find out either.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


One more from Hollerpalooza. The music for this little street festival was continuous - and fantastic. Here's the last act of the night - local favorite Cruz Contreras delights the crowd with a spirited blend of country and bluegrass music. I took a lot of photos of the band, but I like this one the best because of the lighting. Maybe he's about to ascend in a tractor beam to the Mothership.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy Hollerpalooza

OK, so I'm a few weeks late posting this, but I wanted to show you the annual street fair in the Old North Knoxville neighborhood. This little block on Central Avenue was once known as Happy Holler (or Happy Hollow, to people like me who ain't-from-around-here), and in it's day at the turn of the last century it was apparently a den of iniquity, a concentration of saloons and houses of ill repute.

Happy Holler gradually faded into a forgotten neighborhood, a marginal area of empty storefronts and the occasional prostitute wandering the street looking for business. But what you see in this photo is revival. Not to mention a cool motorcycle.

I've posted photos before of the Time Warp Tea Room, and Mr Freezo, the tiny ice cream shop. But this block also houses an eclectic mix of other businesses and organizations including the Taoist Tai Chi Society, the XYZ gay bar, the Angelic Ministry that feeds the homeless, a pet shop, and some antique and second hand shops. A new vegetarian restaurant is set to open soon.

The city also has it's redevelopment eye on Central Avenue, and I'm very ambivalent about that. What gains we make in gentrification are often offset by what we lose in unique local color.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Big Wheel

The Star of Knoxville paddlewheel riverboat cruises down the Tennessee River on a misty autumn morning. It's time for the fall colors sightseeing cruise, and once the mist burns off, you may actually see some color.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Oh No

I was walking down the street minding my own business, when this poster in the window of a local shop stopped me dead in my tracks and made me laugh with Halloween-y glee. Perhaps I should attend my memorial service. I imagine few people have that opportunity. I wonder if they'll have cake.

This seems like a good time to tell you all about my adopted nom de blog. There's an old Appalachian ballad known around these parts as "The Knoxville Girl." It's thought to be a derivation of a 19th century Irish murder ballad called "The Wexford Girl."

The ballad begins pretty innocuously:

I met a little girl in Knoxville
A town we all know well
And every Sunday evening
Out in her home I'd dwell.

Unfortunately, the story goes downhill from there:

We went to take an evening walk
About a mile from town
I picked a stick up off the ground
And knocked that fair girl down.

To make a long ballad short, he kills her, throws her in the river, she floats down to Knoxville, and he's put in jail for her murder. This is Halloween material, to sing by the light of a full moon.

And yes, I knew this when I chose my name. Blame it on my black sense of humor. Or living in the town that brought you the Body Farm.

Now, where's that cake?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Transom Glass

The transom window in the Preservation Pub is lined with shelves of antique glass bottles. They are especially lovely to look at when the afternoon light streams in.
I saw a shocking announcement on a poster that I'll show you tomorrow - it's all Halloween-y.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Way down under the ocean there is a kingdom called Knoxlantis. I cruised its silent streets yesterday in my Toyota Bathosphere looking for a bite to eat. I hydroplaned sideways into the parking lot of the local diner. The neon sign said "Friday Special! All You Can Eat Fishcakes and Saltwater Taffy!" That was my kind of place. I slid into a booth and placed my order. The coffee was watery - and decaf. I fell asleep ...
... and woke up on Union Avenue. Staring at the water droplets streaming down the windshield, I sighed and started the engine, with distant echoes of Knoxlantis rippling half-remembered in my thoughts.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Ceiling

How can I Sky Watch when I have this deep blue dome to watch inside the Historic Tennessee Theatre? It's sliding into view like a single-minded single cell, mitochondria and all.

What do you mean, pay attention to the show? I am ... Ohhhh ... you mean on the stage.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I Get No Kick From Champagne

It's intermission at the Tennessee Theatre. Time to head to the lobby for refreshments. How do they expect me to choose if everything's upside-down?

Addendum: thank you, Hope, for the lovely BFF blog award. I'm afraid I'd have to pass it on to many more than 5 bloggers - you should see my CDP favorites page - that dance card is full! So I send it out at large to all my favorite photobloggers - yes, that means YOU. And YOU. And YOU too, don't be shy.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Way of Art Deco

Geometrics meet curves on the back stairway to the balcony of the Tennessee Theatre. Perhaps just out of view, there is a slender hand on the rail, a swish of black silk, the scent of rosewater. Louise Brooks?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Blaze of Glory

This is the Grand Lobby of the Historic Tennessee Theatre. Once again, auto setting, natural light, no adjusting. The crystal chandeliers look like they're about to reach critical mass and explode. Oh my. Shiny terrazzo floors, swags of brocade draperies, and huge mirrors along the stairways give this place credibility as an "entertainment palace." The little usher in the red vest is waiting to escort you to your seat. I know I can get to a truer color with manual settings and a bit of fiddling, but I also like the tangerine dream quality of this shot. Yes, it's just a dream, go back to sleep.

Monday, October 20, 2008

All the World's a Stage

The curtain rises at the Historic Tennessee Theatre. Your mission, Photobloggers: Photoshop yourself into that empty spotlight.

Actually, it was a light check, and the show wasn't supposed to go on for a bit. I didn't mind, though. I'm still bedazzled by the 2005 renovation that took this showcase theater back to its 1928 grandeur, and enhanced and expanded the stage to host more types of shows.

Way back in time when I was just a Brand New Knoxville Girl, I sat in this theater and watched the classic film Thunder Road. I bought a bag of popcorn and a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer at the concession stand and climbed the worn staircase to the balcony, choosing a nice seat in the center of the row. The seat had a big hole in it, and I almost fell through. The curtains were shabby, and the walls were dingy with soot. I was absolutely convinced that vampires lived in the projection booth. And I couldn't wait to come back. This place had good bones, if only someone would notice the treasure buried here under all that neglect and dirt.

And finally people did, and it turned into a successful community project. I've been in this theater many times, and hope to visit many more.

I'm also doing a little project. I shot a series of photos inside the theater on my natural light auto setting and took what I got. Maybe I'll show you a few more. The next time I have an opportunity to visit, I'm going to bravely use my manual settings and look at the difference. Of course, if the difference is cruddy, they may never see the light of blog.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Smokestack Lightning

Well, Abe of Brookville Daily Photo was quick on the draw yesterday, and he was absolutely right. The answer to yesterday's mystery is Electricity. And it's generated at the Bull Run Steam Plant right outside of Knoxville on the Knox/Anderson County line. This single-generator coal fired power plant, built in 1967, is managed by the Tennessee Valley Authority.

As I understand it, the coal heats the water to produce steam, which is pumped under very high pressure into a turbine which spins a generator which produces electricity, which makes all the little lights in my apartment blink on when I flip the switch.

Now, coal fired plants in the Southeast have been notorious for their toxic emissions of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon dioxide, and mercury into the air. And we all know that what goes up must come down. Kind of like the stock market. But I digress. What came down was acid rain. What we breathe is smog. Visibility in the Great Smoky Mountains has decreased over the years from 93 to 25 miles.

TVA has spent a shipload of money on emission control on this plant over the years, including burning low sulphur coal, and adding a scrubber to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions. But many older plants were "grandfathered" in before the Clean Air Act became law, so in effect, we've closed the barn door while the horse is still galloping madly around the pasture.

The closeup from yesterday is part of the vintage 60s sign on the visitor's overlook. You can tell it was a different world back then. Bull Run was Built For the People of the United States of America. I'm glad that TVA saw fit to spell that out for me. It would be rather inconvenient, I should think, if it was built for the People of some other country while it was sitting here in the middle of East Tennessee. I'd be especially grateful, though, if they'd build some Green Power plants for the People to replace these coal-burners.

I'm also impressed that Homeland Security didn't present me with a one-way ticket to Gitmo when I whipped out my camera to take some photos of the plant. Thanks, guys!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

And It Comes Out Here

Here's a little mystery for post 200. Yes, it's the end product. But what is it? More tomorrow.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Head In the Clouds

This is from a few weeks ago when we had all those huge clouds sailing over Knoxville. The people living in the Holston Building had their heads in the clouds.
Want your head to be in the clouds too? (In a good way, of course) Check out Sky Watch Friday.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


As I was walking down Gay Street, I almost tripped over these standard sized poodles. I must have been pretty distracted to not notice them lounging in the middle of the sidewalk. Their friendly but camera-shy owner said they were adopted from a poodle rescue organization. They're hanging out on the street to get used to strangers. The training must be working, because they hardly batted an eye at me. Their owner also confided that they were the closest thing available to orange and white, so that makes them Vol dogs.

I'm still having to put in a lot of extra hours at work. I'm pretty well convinced that the light at the end of that tunnel is an oncoming train. So I may not be doing much visiting or commenting for a bit. But these silly hours won't last forever.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Aroma Wheel

So, how do you like your coffee? How about Groundy? Sweaty? Do I hear any votes for Horsey? This aroma wheel in the Knoxville Visitor's Center coffee shop gave me no end of amusement.  
The aroma wheel for wine tasting was developed by Dr. A.C. Noble to help standardize terminology.  Although I think I'd pass on a wine that tasted like "wet dog." I first encountered the aroma wheel in a basic wine tasting class I took a few years ago. The aroma wheel in the coffee shop was not exactly the same as the wine tasting wheel, but it sure was fun to peruse. 
So, for all the coffee drinkers out there, how DO you like your coffee?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Quick one today, as I'm buried in work - so one more underground shot of some cool geometry.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sub Rosa

Time to wrap up our tour of Underground Knoxville. Let's follow that string of Christmas lights through the rabbit hole so thoughtfully provided for us.
Some of our guests had a spot of trouble with this part of the tour.
But once inside, we gazed at a catacomb of old utility meters, iron grates, and a few holes in the grate that gave us a peek-a-boo glimpse into the original basement of these buildings even farther below ground. This is the end of the line. There's nothing more to do right now but turn around, squeeze through the hole, and ascend the stairs up to the surface world of 2008. 

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Buried Paths

Let's continue our tour of Underground Knoxville by going aboveground, crossing Gay Street, and descending into another of the forgotten corridors of downtown. This section runs along more of the buildings owned by developer David Dewhirst. 
The top photo made me giggle - it looks like the march of the zombies. We're in a long passage with the retaining walls for filled-in Gay Street on the right, and portals to the buildings on the left. Watch your step! The sidewalk is a bit uneven here. Copper pipes overhead are festooned with cobwebs and an incongruous string of Christmas lights  - hey, look out for that standpipe. You can see the 15 foot difference in levels.
David has been reworking the entrances to the buildings. They are now fronted with glass windows and doorways. We even have a little fall decoration, although I'm pretty sure the mums are only here to brighten up the tour. 
Tomorrow we'll conclude the tour by going down the rabbit hole and popping out - where?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Underground Level

Welcome to Underground Knoxville. The tour begins in a graffiti-covered passage in what was once the street level outside the Emporium building on the 100 block of Gay Street. Local developer David Dewhirst, who owns a number of the buildings on this block, explains the history of Underground Knoxville to members of Knox Heritage preservation group. He spearheaded a campaign to preserve and renovate these weird spaces that are part of Knoxville's history.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Space Invaders

Ladies and gentlemen, you'd better watch the skies; invaders are landing at the auto parts store. Happy Sky Watch Friday

Thursday, October 9, 2008


The Emporium building on the 100 block of Gay Street was built in the 1890s as a clothing manufacturing and retail outlet. It's currently full of high end condos. I love the architectural details. And look! There's a person sitting in the window!
All of this is really leading up to a tour that I took last Friday, sponsored by Knox Heritage, of "Underground Knoxville."
In the early 1900s, this section of Gay Street was raised 15 feet in order to build a viaduct over the Southern Railroad tracks. The street level facades that you see on this block today are really the original second stories; one story buildings were buried underground.
But wait! The construction didn't fill in the sidewalks and storefronts underground, and they can still be accessed from many of the "basements." It's kind of like Underground Seattle, but not as extensive.
I'd been to a few Halloween parties in the 90s down there, and it sure was spooky. But now, a preservation project is underway. I'll have some photos of Underground Knoxville, and the people who love it in the next few days.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tempus Fugit

Cherokee Typewriter Repair used to be in this building.
Don't think I don't hear all you young whippersnappers out there muttering,"huh? what's a typewriter?"
Well, the typewriter has gone the way of the public pay phone - you just don't find too many around. Hence the closing of Cherokee Typewriter Repair.
It's a shame, too. The gentleman who owned the business had a little museum of office automation in there, from manual typewriters to clunky adding machines from many decades ago. He retired a few years ago, and the building has not been occupied since. It's a forlorn little scene that reminds me that time flies. It's OK, though. I sure wouldn't trade my Mac for a typewriter!

p.s. I promise Knoxville still has people roaming around, and I'll show you some of them if I can ever get my new set of shots downloaded.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Autumn is coming on strong. Leaves are just beginning to turn red or yellow, chlorophyll says goodbye for now. The last of the jewelweed blooms by the creek on the greenway.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Rear Window

It's old and caked with dirt. But the ochre light of sunrise makes these windows glow, makes me want to run my hand across the rough brick. Beauty is in the lens of the beholder.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

No Entry

This Beefeater stands guard at the gate of the Crown and Goose beer garden on a sunny afternoon. He's part of the big wall mural I showed you a few months ago. Not to worry, you can enter through the pub. 

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Escape From Stalag 17

Yes, I escaped to the recycling drop off center on State Street, and this is what I saw from the parking area. The building is currently being used as a warehouse for the Moore Company, but from my viewpoint, it looked like Shawshank prison. Why do I love this view? The starkness of the lines, the white-on-white with blue, the rust trails with graffiti, the stripe of stubborn green.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Sphere and Crescent

Coming home from tai chi class yesterday, I noticed the crescent moon hovering beside the Sunsphere as the sunset faded to an oxblood red on the horizon. Well, who could resist stopping for a photo?

Whatever you do, don't resist Sky Watch Friday this week. 

And speaking of class, I volunteered to be in the group photo modeling our brand new Year of the Rat t-shirts. Our instructor had brought her camera for the photo, but when it came time to shoot, she paused and said, "Oh no, the battery's dead. I don't suppose anyone else has a camera I could use?" I smiled and pulled my trusty Fuji out of my bag to save the day. My friend Lynn looked at me for a moment and said, "you're going to blog this, aren't you?"

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Mystery Wall

The western end of Vine Avenue downtown currently dead-ends at the end of an embankment. I'm sure it was not always so, but in this century, your westward journey will take you only as far as the tree-shaded parking lot of Summit Towers, a subsidized apartment building for seniors. There's a silence at this end of Vine that causes me to walk softly. Except for the senior's tower, buildings are sparse and have an unused look. Empty gravel lots are overgrown with brush. I'm in the Land That Time Forgot.

At some past point in history, Vine was a thriving residential street. People still live here, but beyond Ryan's Row townhouses, only remnants remain, like this lonely mystery wall rising up in a wooded area between two gravel lots. I have no idea if this was once a decorative wall that offered privacy to a fine house, or if it was an aborted project to build something new on this lot. But there's something placid about it, standing moss-stained and silent in the autumn sunlight slanting through the trees, surrounded by undergrowth and piles of trash.

I breathe in the moment, steal my pixilated memento, and head back to the Land of Here and Now.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Monthly Theme: Fine Lines

"Line" has many definitions. has 53 definitions for the noun, 12 definitions for the verb, and 16 idioms or phrases that use the word "line." I let my left brain take over for this one with the mathematical definition: "a continuous extent of length, straight or curved, without breadth or thickness; the trace of a moving point." But then my right brain said, hey wait a minute, Einstein, let's find some lines in an unusual place. So, et voila, here they are. But where do you think "here" is, hmmm?

Click here to view thumbnails for all participants

As I was writing this post, I realized that this is also my six month anniversary of photoblogging! Yay for me! This has been such fun. And this gives me the opportunity to say thanks to all of you who have commented with wry observations, photo critique, and words of encouragement. It's been a privilege to meet all of you, if only through my comments box. This project, and all of you, have helped me recover some very important things that I'd lost along the way, while Life was happening: my creativity, my writing voice, and most precious to me of all, my sense of humor.

Mil gracias por todos.