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Ear to the Ground

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Hey, Big Spender!

Was that Mayor Victor Ashe paying his last respects to the dearly departed (and already sadly missed) Lula restaurant on Market Square last Friday night? Why, yes it was. The night before Lula closed, hizzoner showed up, presumably to offer condolences for one of downtown's finest eateries. (Owners Scott Partin and Mahasti Vafaie announced the closing last Thursday, after two years of struggling to draw gourmet crowds to the un-thriving square.) In a typically Ashe-ian demonstration of moral support, when the time came to pay his rather large tab, witnesses say the mayor reached into his deep pockets and drew certificates—from two years ago. Wouldn't have wanted those to go to waste, you know. Adding injury to insult, the notoriously tightwad-ish Ashe reportedly skimped on the tip as well, leaving less than 10 percent of the total bill. Now that's what we call boosting downtown business! (Ashe was out of town this week and couldn't be reached for comment. Partin also declined comment, except to say that if anyone else has Lula gift certificates, they will be gladly honored at the still-vibrant Tomato Head.)

Jacking Jack Around

When gadfly Joel Coates came to City Council and questioned the city's spending of nearly $99,000 for three months' worth of work on expanding the city's web site, Janet Wright, the city's director of Information Services, gave a long, technical and comprehensive answer. Danny Mayfield, clearly impressed to hear that property tax records will soon be online, asked if this means that he will one day be able to access "all this" (meaning the stack of information piled up next to his desk) on his lap top.

Wright said yes, and Mayfield looked toward the notoriously digitally-challenged Vice Mayor Jack Sharp:

"The vice mayor asked me to ask that," Mayfield said.

"I'm way ahead of you, boys," Sharp said.

"Yeah," one wag in the audience muttered. "Jack's still wondering what a CD 'Room' is."

Brace for the Crowds

We've yearned for it for years, and Southern Living finally profiled KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE in the October issue, and not just in the TN section, either. The Weekend section offers a two-page article about Knoxville, with a suggested three-day itinerary. The article does mention the KMA, the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, the "ever-improving Knoxville Zoo," Old City shopping, and Ijams Nature Center, but the emphasis is clearly on all things Volmanic. Writer Mark Stith seems to recommend that tourists come on a game weekend. Even if you don't have tickets, he assures us, and "Whether you're a fan or not (survival tip: pretend to be one)'s fun to be around Neyland Stadium and the UT campus." Upon arrival on Friday, you're to report to Volunteer Landing to inspect the Vol Navy. "How many boats? Think Normandy invasion. Now imagine you're the visiting team. Gulp."

Then, on Saturday, you're to return for a second day at Volunteer Landing. "Oh, and see the colorful Vol Navy putter around the river." Other Volunteer Landing attractions, the riverboat Star of Knoxville and the Three Rivers Rambler train ride are unmentioned.

What are we to do for a final Knoxville dinner after all that Vol Navy watching? Why, drive 12 miles out to Corky's, the Memphis-based chain barbecue place at the Cedar Bluff exit. After all, there's not one in every Southern city...yet.

There's no mention of game-day traffic, which is the reason that another tourist guide, The Tennessee Handbook, lists home-game dates and recommends that tourists avoid Knoxville altogether on those weekends. You have to hand it to Southern Living for originality.

As the article breathlessly concludes, Knoxville "really is the gateway to most of East Tennessee." Ooo, we get all tingly when you say that.

Get on the Bus

It's an uncommonly quiet local election season, but Democrat Bill Warwick is doing his best to make some noise in the 16th District state House race, where he is challenging incumbent Republican Bill Dunn, one of the more conservative area legislators.

This isn't one of those contests where it's difficult to figure out how the candidates differ one from the other. Warwick, who for years headed the local fire fighters' union, has ads featuring a photo of himself standing in front of a big yellow school bus charging Dunn with unwillingness to support public schools.

Dunn home schools his vast brood.

The fight for control of Citizens for Home Rule keeps escalating. The anti-annexation group, led by board member Patra Rule, has announced the "trial" of president John Emison (who evidently hasn't been ousted yet) on Tuesday, Oct.10 at 7 p.m. in the Kroger meeting room in the Market Place strip mall.

October 5, 2000 * Vol. 10, No. 40
© 2000 Metro Pulse