Illustration by John Mayer
on this story
After writing the last six years' worth of the Best of Knoxville in the exact same manner, this year we decided to do it a little differently. Or, rather, much differentlyin fact, we turned the whole thing into a hard-boiled detective story. We're hoping this'll be more entertaining than the usual list of blurbs, while still cluing you in as to why these winners are deserving of their awards. (If you'd like to see the complete list of winners by category, click the "Full List" button below.) Also, our lawyers would like us to apologize beforehand to all those involved.
Special Online-Only Bonus!
When we asked John Mayer to illustrate our Best of Knoxville detective novel, he didn't just throw together some drawings. No, he wrote his own entire story starring Knoxville Confidential detective Solomon Panzer. So please join us now as we enter the alternate-universe version of The Lost Knoxville Caper.
Rowena was there waiting for me when I pulled up on the BMXby then, I was able to ride it no-handed for at least 20 seconds at a time, and I could tell she was impressed.
"Sweetheart, the case is all but closed," I told her, almost believing it myself. "All I need is one more clue, and I think I know where to find it..."
"Will this one work?" she asked, and gave me a piece of paper. "This was stuck to the door at Sassy-Ann's, the locally-owned blues club in Fourth and Gill where I waitress. It's the same kind of letter my dad got before he disappeared..."
The note read: "We don't want your kind of bar in Fourth and Gill. Get out if you know what's good for you!" And there was a childish drawing of 12 stick men at the bottomlooking as if they were holding golf clubs and martinis.
"And Mr. Knox, it was stuck to the door with this!" Rowena handed over a wicked-looking dagger. I recognized it right away.
"Hmmm. Obviously, a kris army knife. Manufactured in Malaysia, but more popular with the Sherpas of Nepal than the indigenous Ghurka knife. But what's this emblem on the hilt?"
"Well, it looks like a"
"Yes! Some sort of mystic rune of a long-dead civilization..."
"No, I thought
"...no doubt from the ancient land of the Pharaohs. There is only one man in Knoxville who can decipher this!"
"But Mr. Knox!"
"No time to talk now, toots, time is short."
And with that, I pulled away on the BMX, hanging a wheelie for a good 10 seconds. As I looked back, I could see Rowena staring at my somewhat rapidly retreating form, mouth dropped open in awe. I could sense our mutual attraction building as my front tire at last hit pavement and the Pokémon card in my spokes started making that cool thwacking sound.
Best Mexican Restaurant: Cancun Mexican Restaurant
Best Steakhouse: Ye Olde Steakhouse
Best Middle-Eastern Restaurant: King Tut's
It was a heck of a bike ride down into Vestalespecially with wheels this smallbut I knew I was at the right place. King Tut's was one of the best restaurants in South Knoxville (along with the ever-popular Cancun and the classic Ye Olde Steakhouse). The owner Mo Girgis and I are close pals, ever since I led that all-nude singalong of "Rocky Top" at his place when the Vols won the national championship. Yes, that was a night he won't soon forget.
"Mo!" I exclaimed as I burst in through the front door. He looked up from the counter with affection in his eyes.
"Oh, no. It's you."
"No time for falafel, Mo, I'm in a hurry. You've got to help me."
"I'm sorry, sir, we have no food tonightwe're all out."
"What a shamealthough I have to rush, I can always find time for your mouth-watering Egyptian cuisine, particularly koshari, that tantalizing blend of lentils and macaroni topped with a delicious red tomato sauce. But instead, what can you tell me about this?!"
And with that, I pulled out the knife. After I convinced him I wasn't going to use it, I pointed out the mystical emblem on the hilt. "What does this symbol mean, Mo? It's obviously an Egyptian hieroglyph, possibly from the Middle Kingdom, 11th dynastyno doubt from the reign of Mentuhotep II, don't you think?"
He studied the knife carefully with expert eyes.
"It's the Sunsphere. See the golf-ball-looking thing? Now please leaveyou're scaring the paying customers."
Of course! Exactly as I had suspected! And now, through careful detective work, I had verified my worst fears. I knew what I had to do next.
"Mo, give me your best hummus to go. I have my checkcard this time."
April 27, 2000 * Vol. 10, No. 17
© 2000 Metro Pulse