Sometimes it just seems time to catch up and to catch our collective breath. The truth is so many thing are happening so fast in downtown Knoxville that they can’t all have a devoted article. As I’ve done for a long time, I also think it’s important to acknowledge developments first reported elsewhere so that Inside of Knoxville maintains some level of comprehensive coverage of this exciting time in our collective history. So, let’s hit some small bites of downtown information.
First, a couple of notes on beloved Knoxville residents who have left us. I wrote an article just over a month ago about the death of my friend – and the friend of many, many people – Carole Borges. At the time, circumstances prevented any memorial service here for this vibrant personality who made so many of us smile. I learned from Debra Dylan (thank you, Debra) that a celebration of her life has now been scheduled for First Friday October at A1 Lab Arts. The event will include her visual art as well as readings from her poetry and her memoir.
Also leaving us recently, is Clifford Curry, Knoxville born soul man whose career had several incarnations, including his hit single in 1967, “She Shot a Hole in My Soul,” and a later high point as the “King of Shag.” The only marker, of which I am aware, of his connection to Knoxville was destroyed when the Knoxville Music Mural was destroyed earlier this year. He’s the one in the white suit. It makes the loss of the mural sting all over again.
I never saw him in concert, which is a regret I’ll carry. Even greater is that I met him so late and never had a full interview. We met just over two weeks before he died when Urban Woman recognized him in a local medical waiting room. She texted me and I left the car where I was waiting.
He was as gracious as everyone has described him to be (you’ll find Wayne Bledsoe’s Farewell here). Seeming surprised and delighted someone recognized him, he told me how excited he was to be performing at the Holiday Inn and mentioned that Billy Swan would be performing on the same bill. He told me he’d moved back to Knoxville to be near his children, most of whom live here. He said he’d been writing songs, but not performing so much and, while he had no idea who I was, he agreed to an interview. We settled on having lunch sometime soon at the Lunch House, which he said was his favorite restaurant.
When he was called back for his treatment, all heads turned in my direction and people asked who that was, realizing he was something of a celebrity. I explained, and when he returned to the waiting room, I pointed out to him the man to his right who had downloaded and was listening to “She Shot a Hole in My Soul,” on his cell phone. A beautiful smile I’ll always remember crossed his face. It was the last time I’d ever see him.
On another front, has there ever been a mayor more accessible to the public? Last night Mayor Rogero held an open forum at the Chamber for downtown residents and somewhere around a hundred people attended. After extensive remarks about various downtown developments, she answered questions until there were no more. She’s so accessible that my brother, in town for a recent weekend from his home in Birmingham, bumped into her dancing in front of a stage and introduced himself. What are the odds I would have the same experience with the Birmingham mayor?
She gave updates on several downtown projects, telling the crowd to expect restrooms in the Market Square garage within the month. Bill Lyons suggested there may be a toilet paper cutting to commemorate the opening. Also discussed: the bricks in the sidewalk along Gay Street. They will be re-worked this fall to make them more secure, though the dedicated bricks will be saved and efforts will be taken not to close large sections of sidewalk. The bricks have become quite a hazard to pedestrians.
She, along with staff, also discussed the State Street Parking Garage, which they said currently has about 1,000 spaces, sixty of which were recently added when the city removed surplus materials stored on one level. While the Farragut Hotel will have 190 secured spaces, that should have minimal impact most of the time. That said, the city is looking at building the two additional levels, though financing hasn’t been lined up just yet. Rick Emmett even mentioned that the structure was built so that it could have condos or offices on top of the two additional levels of parking.
I’ll stop here for today, but there’s more of this to come tomorrow, some of which I don’t think has been reported elsewhere. I didn’t realize so many things had slipped by in the last few weeks. Check in tomorrow for more bits and pieces.