Sunday, July 05, 2009

Knoxville: Summer 2009

I looked out over our fair city and thought about James Agee.

We were up in the Sunsphere, from the vantage point of the observation deck, and I remembered his lyrical "Knoxville: Summer 1915." I wondered what it looked like nearly 100 years ago. And, I tried to make my peace with this place, to which I have this love-hate relationship.

It looks so beautiful at night, the dimming light mixing with the glow from the houses and places of business. We pointed out the L&N, a ghost from a bygone era; Neyland Stadium, where I've wasted a lot of needless energy rooting for that blasted team; the old UAB building with its glass windows and, finally, to the river that flows through Knoxville town. Shades of the Louvin Brothers.

It was pretty and it was romantic and it was a perfect way to spend a perfect Friday night.

So it is in the Old City, in that eccentric old warehouse that is often my end of the weekend haunt. I will be there tonight. Robin is off, but her ex is filling in, and he's pretty darn good, too.

The place is marred by some signs of decay, by the panhandlers roaming the streets, by the occasional belligerent drunk. But, I like it on lazy Sunday nights. Plus, I'd walk a country mile to hear Robinella.

But, on this night, I drank a particularly good Porter, and enjoyed particularly good conversation with an old friend I hadn't seen in a mess of Friday nights.

And from the fourth floor of what used to be irreverently called Jake Butcher's Erection, I gazed upon our fair hamlet and was glad to notice that summer nights in Knoxville can still be poetic and lyrical, even if James Agee is no longer around to write it.

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