People Watching in the City

Macaw on Union Avenue

Isn’t the people watching in a city one of the best things about the whole experience? In some respects we have a pretty homogeneous downtown population. It’s a mostly white crowd with a large contingent of twenty-somethings and a large contingent of fifty and sixty-somethings. Fortunately, there are exceptions and I hope the exceptions grow.

Alexia Pantanizopoulos and friends play Beatles and more

A little percussion helps – busking on Market Square

It’s not that people watching can’t be interesting in Walmart – there’s an entire website devoted to it. It’s also the only activity that helps me survive the rare drudgery of a trip to the mall. What else could save time spent in that artificially-lighted wasteland? For me, people watching is about the only attraction in that sterile environment. I can’t even get a decent cup of coffee in a Knoxville mall.

Sheila and the Sandwich Board – Union Avenue

Man taking matters into his own hands.

This was one of the most interesting sights of the month. This older gentleman, decked out in his suspenders and suit pants is painting the curb in front of the City-County Building with yellow spray paint. I assume he felt that curb is some sort of hazard. I wonder if he would be commended by city officials or arrested for defacing public property. Still, you have to like it: If you think your world needs to be changed, change it!

Lovers at World’s Fair Park on a lazy Sunday morning

A star in her own mind.

The World’s Fair Park is a great place to see some odd or simply interesting people. It seems to be the place for quite strolling or dangling your feet in the water (even if a tractor is looking over your shoulder) with the one you love. I also discovered the young woman pictured above giving a very enthusiastic performance to the audience in her head. I might try that sometime. I’ve also seen an acting class on the stage and sometimes the Frisbee skills displayed on the lawn are superb.

Bill and the Boy

Bill and the Boy

Kind a cool moment led to the two pictures above. I like sitting with Bill for a few minutes now and again to catch up on the gossip in the city and see how he’s doing. This particular day we were talking about Worship in the City and I commented that surely the crowds must be good for his busking business. He told me that it wasn’t, that the fundamentalists acted like he has a disease and avoid him. As he railed against religious people in general, the young boy approached and asked him if he’d like a sandwich from Subway. He carefully took Bill’s order and scurried back to his mother and the two walked toward the deli. I’m not sure if it changed Bill’s assessment of anybody, but it was pretty sweet.

So, the city is different. Stroll a few blocks and you might just as well run into some of Knoxville’s most wealthy citizens and homeless people. You’ll likely see musicians, whether you recognize them or not, Knoxville is full of them. You’ll see the cool and the hopelessly uncool. Lovers and the lonely. It goes on, but you’ll almost always see something you didn’t expect if you keep your eyes open. That would generally require more of us to unplug our ear buds, stop staring at our smart phones and unglue them from our ears. Be here, now, right?

I’ll hopefully see you all at the Hola Festival on Saturday. Have a great weekend in the city.