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Ear to the Ground

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ARK Sinks?

Ear has learned that AIDS Response Knoxville (ARK) may be closing soon. Its duties will be assumed by Positively Living, a service organization for the chronically ill ironically located on Magnolia Avenue in quarters vacated by ARK several years ago. The move to costlier West Knoxville digs several years ago began a spiraling cycle of financial troubles from which ARK never recovered. Positively Living executive director Dee Crumm confirms that some 650 ARK clients will be transferred to Positively Living " the end of the year. We don't have official word yet."

Lofton Stewart, president of ARK's board of directors, says he's heard of no such decision: "If that is the case, Dee has been given information we have not been given." Stewart says there has been a proposal for a "cooperative" arrangement between the two agencies, but that he hasn't heard of a decision on that course of action, either.

ARK provides an array of emergency services to people with AIDS, including transportation and housing, as well as education and prevention services.

Hate Mail

The anonymous letter is as much a staple of courthouse infighting as butt kissing, so the appearance of a mystery missive this week is nothing to, well, write a column about. But there are a couple of unusual things about the latest one: timing (nearly a year before the next county election cycle); and tone (stodgy yet lawyerly and laced with venom). Its targets are Sheriff Tim Hutchison and Circuit Court Clerk Cathy Quist, and it comes complete with an attached report on jail specifications from the state comptroller and selected sections of state law applying to public contracts and conflicts of interest.

The letter, circulated to County Commissioners, other elected officials, and "Media at large," apologizes for "...the anonymous nature of our correspondence but we are not comfortable with coming forward at this time."

Although Hutchison and the justice center project are the first offenders mentioned, the real vitriol is aimed at Quist, who is described as "stewing and festering" in "paranoia and obsession."

It ends with the following statement in bold type:

"We will not sit down and be quiet. We will not go away. And we will be heard!!"

But, evidently, not named.

Somebody's Ass Could Get Sued

The Real LeRoy Mercer CD release party at Manhattan's last week was an over-the-top success, complete with an autograph session by Eddie's Auto Parts mogul Eddie Harvey, who signed everything from his signature "peckerwood" T-shirts to the bellies of young women. The event was followed up by a radio interview aired Wednesday on WIMZ-FM's Phil and BillyShow when Tulsa Oklahoma DJ Brent Douglas (AKA "Roy D. Mercer," a "redneck tapes" imitator) called in to promote his newly released CD—Volume 6 of the Roy D. Mercer calls, which he says have sold 1.5 million copies. Douglas, in character as Roy D, vented and raved and threatened to come to Knoxville and "...whup somebody's ass"—all in fun, of course, until Phil and Billy producer Erin Zane cued up nearly identical cuts from "Roy D" and "LeRoy" Mercer (recorded by Knoxvillian John Bean, who died in 1984). The call ended abruptly when Phil Williams and Billy Kidd accused the faux Mercer of ripping Bean off and introduced him to a Bean relative, Metro Pulse contributor Betty Bean, who was less than amused by his schtick.

Big Bang Theory

In the evenings above Krutch Park, flocks of birds blacken the sky. Pedestrians hear a raindrop-like patter of bird droppings as they scramble for cover. In a matter of minutes, the sidewalk and cars parked along Market Street are covered in bird doo.

Responding to complaints about the mess, the Knoxville Public Service Department recently purchased a Scare Away Multi-Bang M8 Cannon. Instructions on the side of the $600, propane-powered device explain how, "Bird and animal pests are frightened and confused by thunder clap explosions that come from all directions." The first "non-lethal," anti-flock firings begin Thursday, Nov. 11 at 6 p.m. Come watch the birds become "frightened and confused" with each thunder clap. Just be sure to wear a hat.