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A Fresh Perspective On the Dome

Cuban architect Orestes del Castillo, one of the leading renovators of old Havana, was in town last week as part of the mayor's Knoxville-Havana preservationist summit. After a dinner at Lucille's and discussions with several local architects and public officials about various local projects big and small, Castillo, a dignified white-haired man wearing a blazer, had a good walk around downtown and discussed various downtown projects. He took photographs of Patrick Sullivan's Saloon and other sites that interested him.

Just before he left, he lunched with city architect (and County Commissioner) David Collins and others at the Tomato Head on a busy Thursday when dozens filled the outdoor cafe tables. As he finished a ham and cheese sandwich, Castillo was asked if he had any advice for Knoxville. He replied simply. "Continue," he said.

It seemed as if that was all the esteemed architect was going to say. But then he added a more impassioned second thought. "Please don't let them cover the Market Square!" He folded his hands together and rolled his eyes up at the sky. "I'm begging you! You would be losing something of great importance. If you want to cover it a little bit more, please do it with trees."

Going Underground

Harold McKinney, embattled owner of The Underground, met with residents of the 100 block of Gay Street to discuss his plans to reopen his nightclub, which had been closed down by problems with underaged drinkers. One Hundred Block residents had long complained of vandalism at the hands of inebriated Underground patrons, and McKinney is offering to hire a city police officer to patrol the block between the hours of 1:30 and 3:30 a.m. Patti Smith, Board Member #1 of the 120 Building, said she and her neighbors are willing to give McKinney a chance.

"If Harold's willing to put his money where his mouth is, I'm willing to go along with it and hope it works."

Nothin' to Bragg about

Well, who woulda thought a little paper from Knoxville could cause such a fuss in journalism circles? Seems that a Metro Pulse interview with Rick Bragg, who heads up the Miami bureau of the New York Times, almost got the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter fired. Bragg talked to MP's Matthew T. Everett last month, shortly before coming to Knoxville to talk about his memoir, All Over but the Shoutin'. In the interview ["Talkin' About Shoutin'," Vol. 10, No. 16], he called the ongoing Elian Gonzalez controversy "the dumbest thing I've ever covered" and likened the situation in Miami to journalistic hell. He also said he made a mistake by moving to Miami from the Times' office in Atlanta. Through the wonder of the Internet—in particular, the news link website and the Miami Herald—the story reached Bragg's bosses at the Times, who, according to reports, were "infuriated." And, late last week, they were considering sacking Bragg. (For the record, Bragg never disputed the quotes.) Now, according to New York Post business writer Keith J. Kelly—who spelled our name as MetroPulze, which is wrong, and characterized us an "obscure Knoxville, Tenn.-based weekly," which is about right—Bragg is headed out of the Miami office, where he's been bureau chief for about a year, and to New Orleans, where he will be a roving features editor. It's a job Bragg, who won the Pulitzer in 1996 for his features on the Susan Smith trial in South Carolina and the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, seems better suited for; we regret that the move happened like it did.


Last week, we accused TV guy Brennan Robison of "ambushing" GOP Law Director candidate Mike Moyers at a meet-and greet fund-raiser. This was incorrect, as Robison called Moyers and requested an interview beforehand.

May 11, 2000 * Vol. 10, No. 19
© 2000 Metro Pulse