Friday, October 30, 2015


It's that time of the year again! No, not Halloween, although I'm sure Preservation Pub will have the most fun party all night. No, I mean Scruffy City Comedy Festival time! I'm hosting the Shane Mauss show, and it should be amazeballs. Join in the fun! SCCF is part of what makes Knoxville so rad :)
November 13-15 mostly Market Square venues but all in downtown, w00t!

Friday, December 19, 2014

KUB nukes Market Square

So a $20,000 grease interceptor (which is a really cool name for a new Star Wars vehicle) is partially to blame for FOUR businesses closing on Market Square. You know, I'm not one to throw a red card when the government tries to do things that benefit our infrastructure but surely there's a greater good in KUB helping somehow with this sudden cost. I don't know of a single business locally that just allocates $20,000 for "in case of KUB madness," nor should they.

So we had a great downtown for a while, didn't we? Too bad. WATE has more.

Monday, October 06, 2014

There's more for comedy in Knoxville than just SideSplitters

Former hostages DJ Lewis and Corey Ryan Forrester

In this hilariously terrible article for the Daily Beacon, you would get the impression there is no other place for comedy in Knoxville or the surrounding area than SideSplitters -- our one vestige of a forgotten time, when comedy clubs ruled the land.

In fact, there are numerous places for comedy. There are 3-4 open mics a week in various bars. You can find more info on Knox Comedy, but there's also a monthly comedy cruise and the venerable Pilot Light has numerous comedy shows with comedians who have been on the video box (aka TV).

I find the timing of this article curious, as there's currently a rather major comedy contest going on called the Rocky Top Comedy Contest, featuring comics from all over the region and beyond. That contest ends during the next event, coming up next month, called Scruffy City Comedy Festival. That one has a ton of touring comics who have been on numerous TV shows, including Last Comic Standing.

Hopefully the author of the article got free tickets to a show!

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Bar Marley is never opening, and here's why

You can get over Bar Marley already. First, if the place does open I'm going to suggest you might not want to stay there too long on any given night. The place is sitting on top of a property that was once a dry cleaning business. Not one of today's slightly-less-cancerous-fumes sort of dry cleaners, but a "yes, we can get mercury out of this fur coat, ma'am!" type dry cleaner with the stuff that hasn't been legal in years. That's bad, even today.

The area around Marley is what is affectionately known  as a "brownfield" meaning it used to be an industrial zone (many of the businesses still deal with nasty chemicals or are listed as "industrial"). Marley is sitting right on top of one of the worst things you can possibly sit on: a dry cleaner's.

The owner/operator was informed by the state that he had a vapor intrusion problem, and that the state would pay for the environmental assessment. Of course, that meant that whatever they put in the report would have to be acted upon before securing permits to serve beer and food, I'm guessing... But in any event the owner blew them off and is likely looking at a six-figure assessment before he can open.

The chemicals the owner is breathing are toxic, and highly carcinogenic. I'm baffled as to why he would ignore a clear danger to his customers. In any event, you can remodel a place all you want but "found materials" won't fix leaking toxic gasses into your concrete building. That requires remediation, and that's why none of those sites have been turned into anything for mainstream customers.

We could have our equivalent of Little Five Points or East Nashville, as this area around Central and Broadway has been busting at the seams for years. "Fourth and Gill" is one of the neatest neighborhoods in our area, period. But it lacks the plethora of shopping and eateries that those other locations have. Why? We basically have a big negative space problem where nothing can ever grow unless some intrepid developers come in and sink a ton of money into (say it with me now) REMEDIATION.

So good luck to this kid and his plan to poison his patrons, but I'd really like a grown-up to wrangle that area for once.

(He misspelled Calendar on his site, by the way.)

[Note: My source must remain anonymous but he happens to be a specialist in this area and gave me info from TDEC]

Friday, April 25, 2014

A much-needed tiny tweak for our downtown

UPDATE: Rogero's twitter account said they'll look into it.

Knoxville has a thriving Market Square now, after years of "not much going on downtown." And yet... I had never seen someone ticketed WHILE loading their gear into a venue. Until now. Good work, Knoxville, I'm sure that $16 will be put to good use while our local, very vocal, very awesome, DEDICATED artists pay up... because we lacked the foresight to put common sense in our city codes.

As the commenter in this Facebook post notes, other cities have made allowances for artists to load in their gear. Surely we can do the same. (Or, I dunno, exercise common sense once in a blue moon.)

Sigh. Will someone please propose a doggone loading zone to whatever charter needs it so this isn't a problem?

Think about when other artists see this. It makes it harder for the venues on this side of the street to book shows. It lessens our appeal to people who would otherwise come here, perform here, draw business here... Also, this ticket should immediately be revoked.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

How does Knoxville get to be more like Silicon Valley? Networking!

Plain fact is, the talent pool in the Bay area is immense. The sheer numbers mean you're likely to bump into someone and have a conversation that'll yield some practical result some day, be it a business or just an enhancement to what you're already doing. One of the fun things about the tech industry is how, sometimes, people have a sort of "we can make things better" sense of camaraderie. Not always, but often enough to make you feel good about what you do.

But here in Knoxville, in a lot of industries, it is all too often a networking dead-end -- never mind an order of magnitude fewer people to begin with. At networking "events" either people want to grab clients and run, or people are only interested in a very small sphere of what they do, or they simply aren't attending those events that seem not worthwhile or relevant to what they do (which is more a marketing problem, but more on that in another post).

Insularity is a big problem here, and it's slowly being chipped at by the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center. I recently met with their team, then was quickly introduced to a local app creator whom I met with today. That sort of casual connection is absolutely vital to spurring tech sector growth here in Knoxville. With a fragmented entertainment landscape and a plethora of nooks to crawl into, Knoxville has an odd way of isolating groups that should be cross-pollinating (so to speak).

The app, by the way, is iSpotlight. It's got a basic design, but the utility is quite cool. You select sports figures or celebrities, musicians, etc. from a list (curated by the staff) and the app filters news only about those people to your phone. It seems simple, but it's actually pretty cool on the backend. If you need something to follow people you're into, I think the app has a lot of growth potential. They need more people to test it out, however, so download it (it's free, iOS-only for now) and try it out -- support your local business!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Let's kill business!

It never ceases to amaze me that "business friendly" Tennessee has so many business restriction laws and ordinances on the books. Nanny state? Well, did your nanny shake you down for nickels? Because that's what we do here.

First up is a law (veteran lunatic Campfield is partly to blame but the Koch brothers' are actually behind it as companies like Amp cut into their established businesses) that prohibits the creation of rapid bus transports. Yeah, we don't want efficient travel in cities like Nashville -- that's just not what the founders would have done, you know?

Chalk one up to moneyed interests and let's just ram TN as far back into the centuries as we can. Why not prohibit all cars and go back to mules?

Anyway, then there's the less-stupid but still-crazy exorbitant fees about to be levied on our fledgling food truck industry here in town. I've seen these explode in the past few years, but guess what? OTHER businesses started feeling "repressed" or whatever, and now Knoxville is set to levy the 10th most expensive fees on the trucks.

Do we happen to be in the top 10 for food trucks? Nope. Are we in the top 10 for downtown outdoor eating? Nope. Economics is hard, y'all.

None of this makes sense unless you happen to be the special interest looking for a governmental mechanism to limit your competitors. I don't think that's actually capitalism, but then I don't come from oil money or big pollution or career politics or big construction so what do I know.