Tjaarda's R.I.P.

Last year, Mayor Ashe told us it was his favorite restaurant in town. Only two months ago, when we ran a story about what ex-Knoxvillians miss most about Knoxville, former Whittle honcho Tom Lombardo mentioned this "world-class restaurant" before anything else, saying he'd not found a replacement for it in his new home on the west coast. It had all the looks of a longtime institution.

But after Saturday, April 11, Tjaarda's is no more. For four years, this intimate restaurant on Central Avenue in the Old City specialized in vegetarian cuisine and seafood. Though still sometimes crowded (as recently as Valentine's Day, they were turning customers away), the regular weekday clientele had thinned out in recent years, a phenomenon owner Mike Tjaarda blames on parking lots' inflated prices and the media's exaggeration of the Old City's crime problems.

It's another blow for upscale epicureans in Knoxville, already reeling from the demises of the Sunspot and Southbound earlier this year. But if Tjaarda's is through, Mike Tjaarda isn't. He hints he hasn't given up on Knoxville yet; look for him to be involved in another project soon.

What Would Jesus Do?

Election year in Knoxville means it's time for the Christian Coalition to show up with its candidate questionnaire. In the past, it's been fairly easy to determine the correct positions: Vote no on abortion, homosexuality, pornography and any question with the word sex in it.

But this year's version is far more sophisticated than previous editions. Although it contains a fairly predictable list of questions soliciting candidate views on health insurance for homosexual partners of county employees, naked dancing, release time for religious instruction in public schools, school choice and sexually explicit material in public libraries, there's other stuff that won't be such a cinch:

There's "Do you support increased funding for school repairs... even if it means raising taxes?"

And "Do you support taxpayer money for the construction of stadiums for professional sports teams?"

And "...Would you support further restrictions on smoking in public places?"

Joke in which UConn Women's Basketball Coach Geno Auriemma Enters the Kingdom of Heaven and is Escorted to His Mansion in the Sky:

God: "I think you'll like it—home theater, custom kitchen, heated pool..."

Geno: "I want a house like Pat's."

God: "You've got as good a house as anybody's got."

Geno: "I want a house like Pat's." (He points up the hill to a replica of Biltmore Mansion with orange flags flying out front and Rocky Top blaring from the celestial sound system).

God: "That's not Pat's house."

Geno: "Whose is it, then?"

God: "Mine."

Loco Girl Makes Good!

The U.S. National Park Service recently announced the winners in its 1998 Excellence in Interpretation competition (for media projects by its Cooperating Associations), and one big winner is none other than Metro Pulse art director Lisa Horstman. Her The Great Smoky Mountain Salamander Ball won first place in the children's book category. The book was published by the Great Smoky Mountains Natural History Association, which also took first place in the natural history book category for Peter White's Wildflowers, and first place in the scholarly publication category for George Ellison and Doris Gove's Discovering the Smokies: A Science Journal. Congrats to the winners!