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Ear to the Ground

Putting the Scene in Scenic

Thought you'd seen about everything they could do with a billboard?


You're about to be treated to an innovation that will allow these billboard companies to triple their income—starting with a twirling billboard right up against a scenic highway.

Trivision billboards have three-sided louvers hooked up to timers that rotate them, thus allowing passers-by to be tempted by, say, Jimmy Dean sausage, the latest in sport utility vehicles and the City Ballet, all on a single billboard. What, you say, Foghorn Leghorn-style, What ? These are illegal. Our laws prohibit billboards with moving parts.

Not lately. In February, the county Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously voted to grant a variance to Lamar Advertising to put three of these babies on Cogdill Drive, adjacent to, and visible from, the Pellissippi Parkway, an alleged scenic highway where billboards are prohibited. Last week, the committee that oversees the technical corridor (which was supposed to be something like the tech corridor in Raleigh Durham's Research Triangle) ratified the BZA action.

"So maybe we can attract industry by putting up a revolving billboard," said one wag. "And maybe the first message ought to be 'Raleigh-Durham 286 miles' so as they get the hell outta this town they'll know how far they have to drive."

The More Things Change

Is it just Ear, or is "Lamar!" looking more like "Lamar?" these days? In a spate of weekend TV appearances announcing his candidacy for the 2000 GOP presidential nomination, Lamar Alexander said he's tossed out his plaid shirts and gone back to business suits. "I want people to look at the front of me [as opposed to...?], and see what I want my message to be: 'Schools and Parents.' That is my message. 'Schools and Parents.'"

Funny, because last time around, Alexander—who was most recently elected to something in 1982—ran away from the education label, vowing to be a "Shutting Down the Department of Education, Outside the Beltway Living, Bureaucracy Busting, Listening to America, Not as Old as Bob Dole" kind of guy.

Now he's the Schools and Parents Guy and getting old enough to qualify for codger status himself.

Does Not Work and Play Well With Others

Mayor Victor Ashe disrupted this week's early morning Urban Growth Committee meeting with a show of disdain for Metropolitan Planning Commission exec Norman Whitaker by taking a noisy hike around the room while Norm was at the lectern. Ashe got called down when he attempted to engage Soil Conservation District representative Ray Graves in conversation:

"Mayor—I'm trying to listen to Norman." Ashe moved on to more congenial climes.

Get Out Your Grand Old Party Shoes

Those right-wing scamps from the Tennessee Conservative Union are about to do it to the GOP again. On Tuesday, March 16, the party faithful will turn out in full-elephant drag for the annual Lincoln Day Dinner, which this year features distinguished guest speaker Howard Baker. Meanwhile, Lloyd Daugherty's TCU bunch will be gathering for dinner and St. Paddy's libations at the Black Horse Pub. The topics are "Why O'Sundquist is O, so wrong," and "McLamar! Get on board the Lowell Lynch Hayride to Iowa." (Lynch, as you probably don't remember, led a "Tennessee Truth Squad" to New Hampshire last election to dog candidate Alexander's footsteps.)