Thursday, May 31, 2012

I signed my first book contract today....

...more to come...stay tuned...

Ooh, wee! Still can't believe it.

I put a little Buck Owens on the turntable tonight, got the Red Sox/Tigers on the tube, and am eased back in my "Archie Bunker" chair.

Life is good, y'all. Life is good.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Just in time for the 30th anniversary...

...I bought a complete set of the infamous 1982 World's Fair Beer.

Well, why not? You only live once, right?

The beer isn't exactly considered a classic -- that is being kind -- and you can't drink them now.

But, it is a little slice of Knoxville history and memorabilia from our city's magic moment. In a way, it still seems like a fairy tale, or a chapter from someone else's life.

Tangible trinkets prove otherwise. My World's Fair drinking glasses from Wendy's, for instance. Or my "I Was There On Closing Day!" campaign-sized button. And, now, the beer.

Think also of how the Knoxville skyline would be different without the Butcher brothers and the fair. No Sunsphere. No Holiday Inn. No amphitheater. No glass-paneled bank building. Or that other skyscraper beside it, the former Southern Industrial building. Dare I say it: we might still be a scruffy little river city....

Has it really been 30 years?

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Central Avenue, Rainy Day

Sick gift from my wonderful wife.

Yep, it's a Jim Gray print of a section of what is now called The Old City in Knoxville, looking toward the old Patrick Sullivan's saloon.

"Central Avenue, Rainy Day."

I am a lucky feller or what?

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day!

Here's hoping you and yours took time to remember the fallen.

I'll be telling you about my trips in the coming days, but tonight I want to talk about a special Memorial Day tribute connected to the reel-to-reel player pictured here.

Last Wednesday, I ducked into Greg McPeak's antique store, NYA, on Market Street in Clinton. It specializes in deco, modern, pop and industrial vintage art and design. I bought several do-dads, but I froze when I saw the reel-to-reel.

"It's got a great story," Greg said. "Belonged to a guy who bought it in Saigon when he was over there during the war. He's even got recordings from AFN (Armed Forces Network) out of Saigon."

I had to have it.

Jenn and I walked up to a cafe to grab a sandwich.

"Pull it up on the Internet and see if his price is in the ballpark," Jenn said.


And, I swear, on Google's main page was an illustration of a reel-to-reel player. A chill snaked up my spine.

"Uh, we're getting it."

A dozen or so reel-to-reel tapes came with the player. Tonight I pulled out one called "Elvis hits."

And, yeah, it was a tape of a radio broadcast on FM 104 in Gates City, Va., from Wednesday, Aug. 17, 1977, the day after The King died.

The song that just played as I wrote this sentence?

"I'm Leavin'"

The final song on the tribute show?

"You'll Never Walk Alone."


Happy Memorial Day.

And God bless ya, Elvis. You are missed.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Coming attractions...

Coming soon to Pull Up A Chair...

A piece of gonzo-inspired journalism, entitled...

"Fear and Loathing: In Knox Vegas"

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Friday, May 18, 2012


Pull Up A Chair will be on sporadic hiatus for the next 10 days while I take R&R to relax and recover from illness and injury.

I will be ducking in once or twice, but I hope y'all have a great weekend and an even better week next week.

Until we meet again, may God bless you, adios.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A smile would have sufficed...

I fear I am becoming Andy Rooney in my old age (minus the talent, of course), but here's a little rant for today.

What the heck ever happened to manners? Especially by someone in a service-oriented business.

Take the post office for example.

One can't make generalizations. The gentleman that used to deliver the mail to my house is a fantastic, conscientious guy. He once even delivered Christmas presents I had shipped to my house to my office because, he said, "Thieves are stealing packages delivered to doorsteps left and right."

The same can not be said for the guy that delivered the mail today.

I went hobbling out to the mailbox (sprained knee) trying to get an important piece of mail in the post today.

"Just my luck," I thought. "The mail carrier is still here."

He was parked beside our centrally-located mailboxes, feet up, reading a magazine. I guess he was taking either a lunch break or a break.

"Hello, sir," I said. "I have an outgoing package for you."

The postman looked pissed that I had interrupted his lunchtime pause. (But he wasn't eating.) Without smiling and without acknowledging my greeting, he took my package, said a weak, whispering, "thank you," scowling the entire time, and went back to his periodical.

The post office is in trouble. Jobs are up in the air. The guy was on break. I get all that.

But his lack of simple, everyday manners, ones you would give to servers, attendants, or a stranger while holding open a door, made me hope this guy is the first person the post office sends packing.

When it's fourth down and 15, and your job is literally on the line, sometimes you don't punt the ball. Sometimes you go for it. Sometimes you even throw a Hail Mary.

Didn't need all of that. But a simple smile would have sufficed.

Addendum: Since this post went up, two friends made great comments. One said -- and this thought did go through my mind -- the guy might've been having a bad day. "If he does it again, kill him with kindness." Good advice. I did do that today, in fact. Smiled broadly and thanked him. Still wish he hadn't taken out his bad day -- if that's what it was -- on a customer.

Another said, "How could anybody (working for the post office) smile today?" Good point, too. Guy might be scared to death he's going to get canned. Still, I think I'd be bending over backward to do my job to the best of my ability if this were the case. Sometimes the best defense is a good offense.

I am happy to report this guy is the exception to the rule -- in my experience. The postal workers at the Halls and Fountain City branches have gone out of their way to help me, each and every time, as has every other delivery driver with which I have dealt.

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Monday, May 14, 2012

'Song for the Life'

From the pen of Rodney Crowell, words by which to live...

Song for the Life

I don't drink as much as I used to
Lately that just ain't my style
The hard times don't hurt like they ought to
They pass quicker like when I was a child

Somehow I've learned how to listen
For a sound like the sun going down
In the magic that morning is bringing
There's a song for the life I have found
It keeps my feet on the ground

The mid-summer days ain't so heavy
They just flow like a breeze through your mind
And nothing appears in a hurry
To make up for some old lost times

Somehow I've learned how to listen
For a sound like the sun going down
In the magic that morning is bringing
There's a song for the friend I have found
She keeps my feet on the ground

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

You can't go home again

The best testament to the talent of Richard and Karen Carpenter was evident by what did not happen at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium last night during the KSO Pops presentation of "Yesterday Once More: A Tribute to the Music of The Carpenters."

There was no magic moment.

I didn't go to the concert expecting The Carpenters to appear out of the mists of time and channel themselves through the talent of the KSO Pops and vocalists Jen Burleigh-Bentz, Joanna Jahn and John Trones.

But I did expect it to be in the ballpark.

You can't blame it on the KSO Pops. The orchestra was simply superb.

You can't blame it on the sound snafus that marred much of the performance. These things happen. Ask anyone who has ever stepped on a stage.

But you can blame it on curious arrangements and puzzling song choices selected for each performer.

Some of the fault must lie with pianist Jim Brickman, who produced and arranged this production. Blame the rest on the fact that Richard and Karen's supernova shines so brightly that maybe this kind of tribute is a bad idea.

The first question, asked aloud by me and others: Where were the horns?

Oh, they were up there on the stage. The musicians were doing fine. The problem is the arranger, apparently Brickman, did not give them much to do.

If you've ever listened to a Carpenters record you'll know what I mean. Horns were missing during key moments of, for example, "Love is Surrender" and Leon Russell's "Superstar." Nobody sings like Karen Carpenter. We know that. But why in the bloody hell would anybody mess with Richard's arrangements?

The second question, asked aloud by me: Why wasn't the piano prominent in the mix? That, too, is a Carpenters trademark. Did it have to do with the sound snafus? Or was this, too, Brickman's mistake? I know the pianist was front-and-center, doing the job. I saw that with my own two eyes.

The third question, perhaps a personal pet peeve, is why were certain songs given to the wrong performer?

Pay attention to this: Bentz, Jahn and Trones deserve medals for keeping alive the cliche "The show must go on."

They didn't flinch due to the sound snafus or the fact that their microphones either didn't work or weren't mixed properly for much of the first act.

But, why, for example, was Trones picked to sing "(They Long To Be) Close to You"? It's a song meant to be interpreted by a woman singer and his version didn't work. His vocals fit much more comfortably into "I Just Fall in Love Again," but, again, that's a woman singer's song. Anne Murray and Ava Barber both did it better.

Why did Bentz begin "Please Mr. Postman" so bizarrely? Making it randy? Really? A Carpenters song?

Is this all Brickman's fault?

Whoever told conductor James Fellenbaum not to play the overture or entr'acte to make up for the show's sound-plagued time delay also made a mistake. We came to hear the KSO. No one was in that big a hurry.

"What would that have taken?" a woman next to me asked. "Ten more minutes?"

(Speaking of that, I didn't pay those kind of ticket prices to hear the foursome sitting behind Jenn and me talk throughout most of the concert. Show respect or stay home.)

The grand finale was an uninspired version of "Sing." Not much heart; no children's choir. After the lights went up, several of us just sat there.

"Is that it?" somebody asked.

If you've ever chuckled at The Carpenters you're showing your musical ignorance. Karen's singing was sublime; Richard's arrangements were exquisite.

Trying to re-create The Carpenters, even in tribute, without, well, The Carpenters, just isn't going to work. It's impossible.

As the couple beside me headed for the exits, the woman turned and said, "This just makes you want to go home and turn up all of The Carpenters' vinyl records."

She was right. No magic moment. The closest classic was "Top of the World." Jahn is a fantastic vocalist and came as close to hitting Karen's low register and carefully-timed phrasing as we're going to get.

Don't blame the KSO. Don't blame the featured performers. And, please, don't blame the sound snafus.

But I do have a few questions for Jim Brickman.

And I guess, unlike my satisfying return this weekend to "Dark Shadows," when it comes redoing The Carpenters without The Carpenters, you can't go home again.

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

You can go home again

I'll be the first to admit it when I am wrong.

And I was wrong about the Tim Burton-directed new feature film version of "Dark Shadows," starring Johnny Depp as vampire Barnabas Collins.

Turns out you can go home again -- to Collinwood at least -- and it's pretty darn fun.

Let's get one thing straight up front: Whoever came up with the ridiculous trailer for the film should be fired. Today.

"Dark Shadows," Dan Curtis's crazy dream, is sacred territory for some of us. The 1966-71 ABC-TV daytime drama, shown in re-runs for years on and off until 2003, was my favorite television series when I was a teen. To say I was obsessed is an understatement.

And, if you know me well, you know I am a traditionalist. I had been looking forward to this film for years. Both Burton and Depp had been saying all the right things. Burton spent too much time watching the series during its original run. Young Depp wanted to be Barnabas Collins.

"Yes," I said. "They can do this. They can do it. They can do it right."

Then came the terrible trailer. My jaw dropped. My blood boiled.

"Oh, my goodness," I said, (or words to that effect). "They've turned it into a comedic farce."

I was furious.

Then Jonathan Frid, the beloved, first and, yes, still the best Barnabas, passed away. Ironically on Friday the 13th. Ironically just weeks after making a cameo in the film. Ironically just weeks before its opening.

I debated. I fretted. I seethed.

"You have to go see it," Dean Harned said. "You can't write a fair review without going."

He was right. Plus, it was Frid's final role. I owed him that much for getting me through puberty. (Don't blink, or you'll miss him, and Kathryn Leigh Scott, and Knoxville native Lara Parker and David Selby, in the cool cameo.)

Jenn and I were expecting to see two hours of bizarre burlesque.

Instead, what we got, to my eternal delight, was "Dark Shadows."

Yes, it's different. But, yes, the damn thing is "Dark Shadows."

The opening scenes were superb. Young Barnabas comes to America from Liverpool. His father, Joshua, plants the seeds for what becomes the town of Collinsport, Maine. You get to see pre- and post-construction shots of Collinwood.

Enter Angelique, Josette's death, and the infamous Collins curse. Enter a brief bit of Robert Cobert's original score before Danny Elfman's excellent effort.

The waves crash onto the rocks at Widow's Hill. Maggie Evans, no, wait, Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote) arrives in Collinsport by train, just like Alexandra Moltke did 46 years ago. OK, so you hear "Nights in White Satin" instead of that creepy Bob Cobert tune. But it works. Oh, how it works.

"They did it," I said over and over. "They did it!"

Those laughs about which we were all worried are more about comic relief. This film does what Curtis's dreams didn't or couldn't do. It shows us how our favorite vampire adjusts from the 18th century to 1972.

Depp plays Barnabas just about as right as one can in 2012. He's not quite as guilt-ridden as Frid. But it's enough. More than enough, even.

Michelle Pfeiffer lacks Joan Bennett's grace, but dang it, she's got cousin Elizabeth down pat. Jonny Lee Miller does a dead-on worthless Roger Collins and throws in some Louis Edmonds mannerisms to boot. Carolyn, David, loopy Willie Loomis, Mrs. Johnson, that creepy Collinwood -- it is all here.

Eva Green is a sexy and supercharged Angelique. She plays the role with relish. And, again, it works.

Helena Bonham Carter is an out-there Dr. Julia Hoffman, but it's OK. Hers is more of an homage to the "House of Dark Shadows" (MGM, 1970) Julia than the TV version of Grayson Hall, but, again, it fits.

Heathcote plays Victoria/Josette just the way a die-hard fan would want her to.

It all fits. The songs, the '70s, the house, the homages, the fangs, the fits.

And the ending? Not the "hey, we might do a sequel" stunt, but the climax on Widow's Hill? Oh, my goodness.

I won't give it away, but I will unashamedly say I shed a tear. It happens. What never transpired on the tube finally, finally happens.

And they did it. Yes, they did it. Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, screenwriters Seth Grahame-Smith and John August, the entire cast, they did it.

Nothing will, nothing can, replace the daytime "Dark Shadows." Jonathan Frid is still the best Barnabas Collins. Always has been, always will be. I can't wait for that gonzo complete series box set to get here in July.

But, yes, my friends, you can go home again. Dust off the cobwebs and come back to Collinwood.

Just do me one favor, Warner Bros. Fire whoever came up with that trailer. If this movie doesn't do the box office business it should, put the blame on them.

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

The most underrated duo in country music history

So, about six months or so ago, I was driving down the road and as usual was listening to station 850 on my AM dial.

Yes, you read right. Country music, the real kind anyway, has been mostly relegated to AM radio. Example two as to why I hate the 21st century.

Anyway, I was somewhere between Halls and Fountain City when I heard two voices blending together like blue-hued sky and golden sun.

I don't want to have to marry you; I don't want to have to say "I do..."

Jim Ed Brown and Helen Cornelius. Hadn't thought about them in years, much less heard them on the radio.

Thought to myself, "When I get home I'm going to download their songs."

Guess what? Yep, it's all out of print.

So, I got online and ordered a "Greatest Hits" CD that was released in 2000. Boy, howdy.

I started to write that I don't know why Jim Ed and Helen have yet to receive their just due, but I do know. I'll get to that in a minute.

Meanwhile, surf on over to YouTube, type in their names, and turn up the volume. Oh, yeah.

Watch them nail Tom T. Hall's "I Washed My Face in the Mornin' Dew" on the Grand Ole Opry stage.

Hear them sing "Heaven's Just A Sin Away" better than The Kendalls.

Don't miss their best song together: "Saying Hello, Saying I Love You, Saying Goodbye."

And, if you're lucky enough to find it, listen to them do a "dang, that's darn good" cover of "You Don't Bring Me Flowers."

Here's why they haven't gotten recognition.

1. They had an affair a long time ago.
2. What now passes for country music ignores its past.

By chance, I found several original RCA vinyl releases from the collection of two dear souls, Ruby and the late John Hitch. Listening to them only confirmed my opinion.

Country music has had great partners. Conway and Loretta. Porter and Dolly. George and Tammy. Johnny and June. Kenny Rogers and anybody with whom he sang.

(Hey, Blake and Miranda: Forget about it. You ain't in the ballpark.)

All of those I mentioned before the last two are great, kings and queens, no doubt about it.

But, for my money, the most underrated duo in country music history is Jim Ed Brown and Helen Cornelius.

Don't take my word for it. Look it up. Find the original recordings. Let me know what you think.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Why I hate the 21st century

OK, so my friend Ross Southerland sent me this clip earlier today:

Had no clue who "Ali-G" is, didn't much want to know, but LOVED Andy Rooney's reaction. I could tell Andy was mad.

"If this was this fool's attempt at satire, he picked the wrong scribe with which to screw," I said to myself.

Then I looked at the other videos on YouTube.

And it all clicked -- who the guy was, why Rooney didn't suffer his foolishness, and why I hated the clown from my first look. I think my friend The Giant Rat of Knoxville will also love Rooney's response and some of his one-liners.

Oh, and just for fun, here is my infamous review of Cohen's film "Borat," written in March 2007.

'Throw Borat down the well'

I am nonplussed at the thought of writing a review about "Borat." I guess the thing to do is to get some choice words out of the way.

Vile, sophomoric, lewd, disgusting, soporific, pathetic, lowbrow, worthless and unbelievable. Whew. That feels better.

I mildly laughed at the film a couple of times early on. A friend belly-laughed at scenes that were anything but funny. I knew we were in for a long night when Borat and tag-a-long buddy Azamat stopped at a bed and breakfast ran by two sweet Jewish folks. Later, when Azamat began overtly admiring a "Baywatch" book (I'm cleaning up the scene), I walked out of the room.

"Waterworld" and "Joe Vs. The Volcano" can rest easy. This is the worst movie I have ever seen.

The gag is that Sacha Baron Cohen, who is Jewish, is attempting to show that racism, and anti-Semites, are still prevalent in America, particularly --- wait for it --- down South. I'm refraining from calling this train wreck satire because satire is an artistic term and "Borat" is nowhere near worth calling art.

Thirty-five years ago, Norman Lear's "All in the Family" accomplished what this film can't by using sophistication, wit and good writing. Imagine that.

This worthless pile of celluloid is intended to shock. If you like unspeakably bad jokes, humor that wouldn't do in a frat house, full-frontal male nudity and content that should make anyone with a brain blush, by all means this film is for you. I sincerely hope I never hear of Cohen again.

At their best, movies have the power to raise us up, to comment on the human condition and make us better people. Less lofty films at least can entertain and offer 90 minutes of mindless humor.

"Borat" is none of this. It is an amazingly unfunny, poorly done, offensive, worthless piece of garbage. And all those other adjectives I used at the beginning of this piece.

That's it. I'm done. Can't believe I wasted this much of my life.


To which friend and colleague Carol Springer responded: "So, Jake, how do you really feel?"

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Tuesday, May 08, 2012

This one's for Billy...

This song always makes me think of Billy Carter, my favorite member of the Carter clan from Plains, Ga.

Like my friend Matt Ison said, "Home brewers have him to thank."

Here's to ya, Billy!

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Monday, May 07, 2012

Does anybody know someone named "Kristi Isbel"?

OK, I'm finally going public with this because I'm getting tired of it:

Starting a few years ago, I've been getting emails addressed to a "Kristi Isbel." It went so far as to also list in some of them what turned out to be a bogus snail mail address on Beeler Road in North Knox County.

Does anybody know whether there is a real Kristi Isbel? If so, she and I might be victims of identity theft.

Please know that I am doing whatever I can to determine who has done this and will fund an identity theft investigation if necessary.

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Dan Rather has never been more correct in his life

I stumbled across this clip from 2007 a bit earlier.

Dan Rather is discussing the disappearing line between hard news and entertainment. His quip giving new meaning to the "Casablanca" phrase "We'll always have Paris" is classic.

This is some serious food for thought, even for a features guy like me.

Dan's latest memoir, "Rather Outspoken," was released last Tuesday. His HDNet news program, "Dan Rather Reports" airs 8 p.m. (Eastern) Tuesday nights and is available on iTunes. The old pro is doing some of the best work of his career.

No foolin'.

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Sunday, May 06, 2012

So long, 'Goob'

It was with a heavy heart that I heard the news of the passing of George "Goober Pyle" Lindsey.

In his honor, I'm watching two of my favorite "Andy Griffith Show" episodes: "Andy and Helen Have Their Day" and "Goober and the Art of Love."

So long, Goob. Rest in peace and thanks for the laughs.

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An Independence Day memory, 'On the Road'

Discovering a clip on YouTube this morning sent me surfing over the tides of time, back to Independence Day, 1997.

I was in Jackson Hole, Wyo., on vacation with my family. Fireworks and fun. Patriotic rhythm and rhyme and even a rodeo. Hot dogs and happy day.

But my heart was broken. That night I learned Charles Kuralt was dead.

We throw around the word "hero" like yesterday's garbage, but if I have one in this word herding business, it is Kuralt. (And Ernie Pyle.)

Kuralt said two things I've used as my personal credo these last 12 years while working at the community weekly.

"It does no harm," he said, "just once in awhile, to acknowledge that the whole world isn't in flames, that there are people in this country besides politicians, entertainers and criminals."

Here's the second one, even more super:

"The everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the greed in the headlines."

I watched him as a boy, "On the Road" and on "CBS Sunday Morning," the latter just before going off to church. I can still see him sitting on a stool just before the colors faded to black.

The day after he died, I walked up to a bookstore that has since shut its doors in Jackson. I skimmed the shelves. There it was. "A Life on the Road" by Charles Kuralt.

While my family met friends, I stayed behind, propped my feet up on a picnic table, the great Grand Tetons as my backdrop, and read Kuralt's memories from a life on the road.

Don't bring up that business about his personal life. Take it elsewhere. He did what he did. I am not his judge.

Charles Kuralt taught me how to love my country and its people, how to really love it, in the right way. He also taught me that there is most definitely a place in the paper for people other than politicians, entertainers and criminals.

Oh, how he is missed.

Here is the YouTube video that sparked the memory, his last appearance as the host of my favorite TV series.

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Saturday, May 05, 2012

'The Last Waltz'

Good news: OK, so I haven't fallen since Wednesday, except for a near-miss last night.

Better news: I've got an ice pack under my left knee and am watching "The Last Waltz" on Blu-ray.

Fantastic doesn't even come close to describing this sweet Scorsese-directed slice of celluloid.

Here's to ya, Levon! RIP, brother.

More to come when I'm feeling better...

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Friday, May 04, 2012

'Thank God I'm a Country Boy!'

Today I'm gonna leave you with one of my favorite tunes for your Friday.

Cause, after all, life AIN'T nothin' but a funny, funny riddle...

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Thursday, May 03, 2012

I used to be a Republican...

...until my party was hijacked by neo-fascists, many of whom are continuing to embarrass our great state on a daily basis in Music City.

I still like Ike. He couldn't get nominated today.

I also think, in many ways, Nixon's the One. He couldn't get nominated, either.

TR? Lincoln? Forget it.

Jack Kennedy couldn't get the Democratic nomination today. He cut taxes and was a Cold Warrior.

U.S. Rep. John Duncan? He's got guts. Made the right decision against the wars and the Patriot Act. I like him. A lot.

Many of these new folks bow to the feet of Ronald Reagan, yet must have never studied what the Gipper actually believed. It was a nice mix of idealism and pragmatism. Do any of them even know the source of Reagan's phrase "rendezvous with destiny"? I doubt it.

The days of Everett Dirksen and Mike Mansfield arguing in the Senate and then going out for a drink after 5 are long gone. We're a worse nation for it.

I became a Republican because I thought they believed in getting government out of our lives, not intruding into them.

These days, I am a painter passing through, a wayfaring pilgrim, a person without a party.

You can have what my friend Dean Harned calls this "curious mix of fundamentalist Cromwellian orthodoxy and Christianized Shariah Law," if you want it. I think it's by and large a disgrace.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Where were you in '82?

World's Fair. Knoxville, Tenn. My hometown. Thirty years ago.

Going to the 1982 World's Fair isn't my first memory. But it's one of the highlights of childhood. My dad to this day says all I talked about that year was wanting to go to the "1982 World's Fair."

Remember the TV commercials? "You've GOT to be there!"

What I remember is walking past a gate, Dad holding me while we went into the Sunsphere (which I thought was HUGE at the time), eating Chinese food for the first time, and seeing my cousin, Sheila, who worked at the fair.

The large Rubik's Cube (the popular toy was introduced at the fair) now resides in the lobby of the Holiday Inn next to the Sunsphere. I saw it by happenstance last Saturday. My friend Dean Harned tells me the Ferris wheel that was here is now in New York.

The fair was former Knoxville banker Jake Butcher's triumph. And, with Shakespearean irony, his family's banking empire began to collapse the day after the fair closed that October. The reason? Bank examiners couldn't book hotel rooms.

The "scruffy little river city" showed it could do it and, yep, that fair actually made a profit. The USA has only hosted one other World's Fair since '82 (New Orleans in '84.)

Sadly, the city of Knoxville neglected the World's Fair site for many years. The U.S. Pavilion was imploded in 1991. The Sunsphere itself was closed to visitors until then Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam reopened the observation deck to the public in 2007. (Oh, I forgot to tell you: I did eat in the revolving restaurant up there in 1983-84.) For years and years, the fair site's amphitheater was used as a storage area.

The 1996 episode of "The Simpsons" that spoofed the site was dead-on in some ways, even though the Sunsphere never did house wigs. Heh, heh.

The good news is all that has changed. The Sunsphere, as I mentioned, is open. The amphitheater is no longer storing boxes. The World's Fair Park has a splash pad and is usually filled with folks on sunny, warm days.

Ahh, what memories, 30 years ago. Can't believe it and part of me still can't believe Knoxville did it.

But did it Knoxville did!

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Tuesday, May 01, 2012

'Streets of London'

Folks, this song really got to me when I heard it last night.

It was written by Ralph McTell and performed here by Glen Campbell at the Royal Festival Hall in London in '77.

The song is called "Streets of London." If this doesn't touch your heartstrings, you don't have a soul.

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