||Oh, They're Just
The Vols' epic misadventures in last Saturday's SEC championship game
in Atlanta, Ga. (ultimately won by Tennessee, 30-29) were the subject of
much Sunday scrutiny by the Peach-state sports scribes, in particular
Atlanta Constitution Journal columnist Steve Hummer. Hummer catalogued
the game's rampant miscues (11 fumbles, seven turnovers, and a whole slew
of dropped passes and other foibles), and wryly observed that Tennessee and
Auburn resembled the "championship virgins" they truly were,
"sweaty-palmed...stumbling and fumbling..." By the time the fourth quarter
rolled around, Hummer said, "the Tennesseans could no longer avoid victory."
He ended with a personal aside to Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning,
advising the Heisman hopeful not to let any of his butter-fingered teammates
hold the trophy, lest they fumble the prize into the waiting hands of Michigan
cornerback Charles Woodson, the other front-runner in the Heisman race.
The Dad-Gum Champ
A new star was born this football season, besides human Humvee Jamal
Lewis. It's WIVK (or WNOX, or whatever they call themselves) sportsguy
John Wilkerson, whose impersonation of Coach Phil Fulmer is
killer funny. His cohort Mike Keith says the Fulmer persona started
emerging after the Vanderbilt game but didn't fully reveal itself until the
drive down to Atlanta for the SEC Championship. "I was laughing so hard,
I was about to drive off the road," Keith says.
The Fulmer schtick is a tough gig, since the coach isn't into colorful language
or Spurrier-esque outrageousness. So far, it's mostly liberal use
of two words: a weaker-than-Tony-Tiger "Grrrrrreat!" (generally applied to
Peyton Manning, Leonard Little, the seniors, and how it feels to win
a championship) and an indignantly-declared "Travesty" (what it will be if
Peyton doesn't snag a Heisman).
Wilkerson isn't the only media type picking up on Fulmerisms these days.
The CNN morning anchors Sunday had a big time with the coach's complaints
about "too many cotton-pickin' fumbles," and started introducing the
"cotton-pickin' weather" and the "cotton-pickin' international news."
Listen, by the way, for "Fulmer" after the turn of the year when Mike
Hammond moves up to take on more corporate duties and Wilkerson hosts
the morning show.
You Go, Girlfriend
Meanwhile, brand-new Lady Vol Semeka Randall, one of the team's Four
Fabulous Freshmen, is entertaining fans hereabouts with her mega-watt
personality. During last week's New York road-trip, the high school All-American
got up on the stage at the O'Neill Theatre and performed with the Grease
cast Saturday night (the team was out until 12:30), and then showed up
in the lobby of the Westchester Marriott at 7:30 a.m. to hang out with the
fans. The team got back to Knoxville about midnight Sunday, whereupon Randall
was seen running back and forth from the airport lobby to the parking lot,
helping people with bags. "Have you ever seen somebody dance to Jingle
Bells? Semeka does," said one worn-out staffer.
Knoxville's Illicit Rug Trade
If you were watching TV Monday night just before Peyton Manning's anticipated
appearance on David Letterman, Knoxville made a wholly unanticipated appearance
on the investigative ABC show Dateline. A segment about phony "Going Out
of Business" sales concentrated on fly-by-night oriental-carpet stores that
open only to close and attract discount-hungry customers. The focus of the
Dateline investigation turned out to be the perpetually closing 1001
Rugs on Kingston Pike near Lovell Road. A Dateline reporter went there
to purchase a rug on "sale" at supposedly drastic discounts, for a sale price
of over $800only to find an identical rug available at a New York store,
undiscounted, for only $350. Focusing on a map of West Knoxville, on which
Middlebrook and Kingston Pikes were visible, the show described how the scam
had avoided city laws by opening a store just 100 yards outside the city
limits. The chain, which has been opening and closing locations throughout
the region for years, is apparently headquartered in Nashville, the location
of the one store the owners promised to keep open.
And a Partridge in a Pear
It's a wonderful life for Councilman-elect Danny Mayfield, who says
he's been busier than an East Towne beaver trying to get himself ready to
take office Dec. 20, what with meeting the players, studying up on issues,
and fielding phone calls from candidates who want to know how he pulled off
what he has dubbed his "grand-slam, upset, home-run victory" last month.
Good thing he's getting ready, because sitting members of Council, who chose
not to do these things before the recent city elections, have saved him some
presents to unwrap. There's a rezoning in his district pitting the Parkridge
neighborhood against a proposed daycare centerincumbent William
Powell moved to postpone this one (again) until Dec. 30, Mayfield's first
regularly-scheduled meeting. Then there's a much-postponed Fountain City
rezoning pitting a used car lot against the neighborhood. Additionally, he's
fixing to find out that he must get by the rest of the fiscal year without
any 202 moneythe $40,000 allotted to each Council member to bestow
on needy and politically-advantageous causeswhich Powell is bestowing
like there's no tomorrow.
But never fear, the incumbents have made up for sticking it to the new guy
by making sure he's included in the sweetheart pension deal they passed (and
we the voters approved) last year, whether he wants it or not.
Mayfield, who criticized the pension deal for the part-time elected officials
during his campaign, says he tried to opt out of the pension. "And they told
me, 'Danny, you don't have a choice.' I'm the only one this applies to. I
wonder what else I'm gonna be forced to do by these ghosts of Christmas past."
Council members Carlene Malone and Nick Pavlis refused to
participate in the pension plan.
Friends of recently-deceased jazz drummer Samarai Celestial will gather
Monday at 6 p.m. at Tjaarda's in the Old City for a "memorial get-together"
in lieu of a standard memorial service. According to co-organizer
Seva, the late Sun Ra percussionist "wouldn't have wanted it otherwise;
he was too positive and warm a person." All friends of the musician are welcome