Follow Up and Update

Lighting of the Christmas Tree, Celebration of Lights, Knoxville, November 2014

I hope each and every one of you had a great Thanksgiving holiday and are enjoying the beginning of the holiday season. We all hope for this time of year to be filled with joy, and my wish for each of you is that you would find it to be precisely that. Before I move into more articles about business openings and seasonal fun, I feel that we need to clear the air a bit from last week and I want to give an update on a personal topic.

Last week when I wrote “A Business Expands, A Business Closes, A Third Will Reopen,” I had little idea what was about to happen. The three topics included one that was completely ignored in the comments (Babalu), another that I thought was a big deal but may have gotten one comment (Rock Paper will now have two locations!), and another that I thought might be touchy because of an issue with gift cards but I had no idea.

GEO Hair Lab, 300 W. Fifth Ave., Knoxville, February 2016

The third topic in question was the closure of GEO Hair Lab. I did as I’ve done many times when a business closes: I ask the owner why it closed and include that along with the announcement of the closure. I don’t, as a matter of course, interview employees to check out the accuracy of the reason given. In the future I will make it clearer that I’m quoting the owner.

This two-paragraph section of the article about GEO generated over 100 comments between Facebook and the comment section on the article. Many people, particularly the stylists who worked there, are very angry. The comments are filled with allegations of bounced checks, taxes withheld but not paid, loan stacking, and more. Several posters said they are pressing charges.

Many expressed their displeasure with me, saying it was a “cop out” to say I didn’t know, that I should have searched social media to see if there was more to the story, and that the author of this article “quite possibly ruined his credibility by publishing this blatant lie.” I was accused of writing a “pretty package of lies” for a friend. The one comment that I deleted, but will include in this context said, “KnoxUrbanGuy sounds like a total fucking piece of shit. I can’t wait to throat punch that cunt on Gay St. the next time I’m out.” I’m pretty sure that’s my first death threat.

During the course of the day as I dealt with the fallout, I thought I would interview those involved and do a follow-up. But by the end of the day, I realized much more had been written about the other side of the story than what I’d said initially. I’m not sure what I would add if I wrote about it beyond what was said by others and what I have repeated above.

Here’s the bottom line and I’ll move on: Clearly there is much more to the story than the article represented. People have been hurt, and I regret that. I never intended to add to that pain. If you used GEO Hair Lab and want to follow your stylist, you can find them here: Keela B LeveColton LovedayEmily SkeltonTaylor Renee CarrChynna Longo as well as Nola Chambliss and Autumn Carroll are now at Rock Paper in Market Square. Niki Myers,Kimi StrainAlyssa Cook Carolanne MillettKaylee Marie Dyer, and Aaron White are now at Lox Salon. I wish each of you the best in recovering what is due to you.

Urban Brother and Urban Boy Beside the New Trolley Signs, Knoxville, March 2017

The update involves Urban Brother who I first wrote about here. He’s now been in the hospital for forty consecutive days. I’ve spent most of those nights and days with him. Last Wednesday he was placed, once again, on a ventilator. He was off briefly on Saturday, before his lungs filled with fluid and he was returned to the machine. He is exhausted in body and spirit, and the battle is far from won.

Thank you to everyone for your kind expressions of support during this difficult time. I continue to do the best I can to keep the articles flowing, but some days I’m simply going to have to focus on other things. Thank you all for continuing to read. Despite the lower number of articles last month, readership was higher than ever for a November.

Comments

  1. I love the site, and what you’ve done for the city. I am hoping for the best for you and your family, Alan.

  2. Well I love your site Alan and I hope you don’t change a thing. It’s a great place to get info and honestly makes me think.

    And to all the social justice warriors on here it’s a lot easier to talk big on Twitter or the comment section them it is when your staring at a cease and desist letter and libel lawsuit.

    If you really want to change things first go to a source that is more likely to help. The News Sentinel or one of the TV stations is way more likely to take this story on. Not because the Urban Guy is incapable but because they have huge legal divisions that can whether potential back lash. Also who you vote for to run the state government. If I fired an employee tomorrow and never paid them it would be 90 days before they could file a complaint with the department of labor. As long as I have the check printed there is nothing they can do IF they ever come knocking. “Getting the government out of the way has consequences.”

  3. I check your site multiple times a week and love knowing what’s going on in the area where 90% of my time is spent.

    Thank you for everything you do.

  4. darrell cox says

    hey kub, ive got your back. if you need a bodyguard just let me know. how dare someone attacks you personally when you are just doing your job. and to use such vulgar language as you mentioned they did use shows they have no class whatsoever. if you ever need someone to cover your back just let me know. i dont know why someone attacks you the way they did. and to do this as you are going through what you are with your brother is just mind boggling to me. they have no class as i said!

  5. Chris “the disgusting husband” says

    Hi Alan

    Thank you for following up on this and helping spread the word of everyone’s new salons.

    As the “disgusting husband” I’ll wear that name as a badge of honor! and I will defend my wife and her colleagues to the hilt in this situation. Because we know the truth!

    Alan, as I said on Facebook, you had fallen victim to the lies we were being told. I’m hoping things are clearer now. People threatening physical violence is a bit much and I’m hoping the people involved apologize profusely!!! It’s one thing to call out the article but threatening you with violence is what is disgusting here!

    This situation is shrouded in mystery because the truth is still coming to light. More and more information is coming and we aren’t even scratching the surface!

  6. Hopefully, those very people who misdirected their anger at you; take time to reflect that you, too, are a victim of untruths spread by the former owner of Geo. As a former client of Geo, I sympathize with the staff for all they have been through. However, the anger directed at you was uncalled for. Sending positive thoughts and energy your way and hoping for healing for your family member.

  7. This is a pretty weak apology. You acknowledged handling it poorly and having knowledge of a fairly significant piece of the story (the gift cards), but essentailly saying “I’m sorry the story upset you,” isn’t an apology. People absolutetely have the right to be frustrated with you as a significant voice in the community and (purposefully or not) impacting the narrative. I know you’re not an investigative reporter, but I hope this event encourages you to be more diligent in the future.

    • Alan doesn’t owe anyone an apology in my opinion. He did this story the same exact way he’s done COUNTLESS other closures. Someone else mentioned this, but it needs to be repeated over and over since people cant grasp it – Alan isn’t a pulitzer prize winning investigative journalist who’s going to spend months on some juicy exposé for a random business closing downtown. His blog is a very high level perspective on things happening around downtown. The expectation you have of him researching and interviewing entire staffs anytime a business closes is ridiculous. These types of comments and threats made against Alan aren’t bringing anyone to your side, I promise. He’s basically Switzerland in these articles and just reports when stuff happens. Thats it. They need to call Don Dare 6 on your side if you want someone to look into whats going on.

      Unreal.

      • I don’t think anyone is expecting Pulitzer quality work from anyone in the state of TN let alone in Knoxville. But any publication like Alan’s, which grows in popularity every year, will eventually need to face facts that they need to expand with their growing readership or admit that they can’t handle the responsibility that comes with people viewing Inside of Knoxville as a news source. If he can’t reliably report on topics like this then he shouldn’t be wading in to those waters. The fact that he knew about the gift cards and neglected to research any further speaks to that.

        • Jeremy (Not GHL Owner) says

          He literally made an entire day’s blog post about how he didn’t have all the facts, and is now bringing to the light the fact that he didn’t know the other side of the story. Alan’s page doesn’t have an Instagram, so he wouldn’t have seen that trending. I’m pretty sure he isn’t on Reddit. But he did know the owner personally. So, he did what he thought was the best course of action, and interviewed the owner instead of navigating through the bowels of the Internet. I’m 100% positive this blog has 10x the readership of r/Knoxville. We’ve all been misinformed at times, he realizes he was misinformed, and apologized. I understand you’re probably close to someone who lost their job, and that is upsetting, but please try and realize he’s doing his best. Especially with what’s been going on with his family.

          • Like I said before, regretting that it happened isn’t an apology. And it’s unfortunate that you other commenters have no interest in holding him to a higher standard than what he’s demonstrated recently.

          • Jeremy (Not GHL Owner) says

            Go try to find USA Today/TEGNA/ Gannett’s version of the story then. I don’t know what to tell you.

    • He doesn’t owe anyone an apology. It’s not his fault GEO ripped off its employees and the general public had no idea. Perhaps the hair stylists should have come to Alan first. Again, Alan is the object of misplaced anger.

  8. So sorry this happened to you. It’s a classic case of “why social media is bad” in a lot of cases and seems to lead to this atrocious piling on to some third party such as yourself. It reminds me of why I’m not on Facebook, Twitter, etc, which just seem to be tools for expediting bad behavior and rudeness in many instances.

    I can’t imagine why these folks think you are somehow a party to “covering up” whatever the guy who owned the hair salon did (which sounds pretty bad to be clear), when you wrote what you were told by a principal in the business, which is often your approach. More so, given that you are not a newspaper with staff to fact check articles, etc, you do a great job of follow-up when there’s substantive new information, as there was in this case, revealed. It’s unfortunate it was revealed by finger-pointing and online yelling at you. As far as the threat, whoever wrote that has more serious problems than some missed paychecks.

    Your blog is a valuable source of info for those of us in Knoxville, please keep up the good work.

  9. Connie Hilton says

    I am so sorry for all that has happened to you. Keep up your good writing. When I come to Knoxville I visit many of the places you write about.

  10. Kelly Steele says

    Looks like a day of well-deserved support and best wishes for you, Urban Guy. Thanks for all you do (and endure!) to keep us up-to-date on what’s going on. My best to you and your family.

  11. Your friendship and love to the people of Knoxville, through words, stories, conversations, and the care you take to inform and tell us the story of downtown…is cherished and needed by many.
    Best to you and your sweet family.

  12. It did make me go and look at some of the stylists comments when the article was first posted, as my charming wife said hers moved from GEO to Lox and *goodness* there are a lot of former employees of GEO that are seriously pissed and haven’t been shy about saying it in public on Facebook. Keep on with what you are doing – at least now you know the owner of the business flat out lied to you – it’s not your fault that you repeated the lie and people freaked out of it. These things happen. Don’t be discouraged.

  13. The former stylists and their friends/family (especially Kimi Strain’s disgusting husband) should be ashamed for what they said about you. I’m sorry you had to deal with the misplaced vitriol they flung your way.

    • Tracy Chain says

      Amen. I am sick and tired of people feeling entitled to vent their feelings whenever and wherever they want, justifying their bad behavior by their victimization by a third party. Irresponsible and wrong.

    • The disgusting husband says

      Hi Dave

      Calling me out publicly for standing up for my wife. Ok sure.

      I mean if I’m disgusting for sticking up for my wife and her friends then I’ll wear that name like a badge of honor. You’ll all hear the truth soon enough!!

  14. You didn’t deserve the anger directed at you, even if unintentionally. You were treated like an accomplice to a crime you never even knew existed, let alone committed. People who have never even heard of Inside of Knoxville were being directed to your article by angry mobs just so they could vent their frustrations at you without investing much, if any, time in the actual content you write on a regular basis. People who follow you regularly know you are a very good person and you do such a good service for this community, especially in the wake of local editorials like Mercury and Metro Pulse no longer being printed. I am sorry this happened to you.

  15. John Speed says

    I can’t speak to those affected by the business closing. However I can state that I know your intent is to simply report what you have been told. I can assure you for every negative response you have received, there are many, many more of us who applaud what and how you do what you do. Also sending best wishes for your personal challenges with your brother. Life is fragile. Do know that so many more of us support you and your work than will ever attack you with negative comments or thoughts!!

  16. Leticia Flores says

    Like Winston says: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

    If you need hugs, whiskey, a Bob Dylan song…. you know how to find us. We also deliver, no extra fee.

  17. We truly miss the Urban Brother in our neighborhood. He always had time for a greeting and short visit on his walks. I’m so glad he has such a good family to care for him.

  18. Terrye Guthe says

    I’m so sorry you were abused by people who are hurt and angry. Their bile is misplaced. And though I miss my daily downtown dose, each moment with your brother is a gift for both of you. Continue to focus on the unwrapping. The rest of us can wait.

  19. CHRIS CAMPBELL says

    I hope this incident does not discourage you from pressing on with your blog. People are basically morons. Ignore them. I look forward to reading you. Best wishes for your brother. I have 3 brothers. Your priorities are straight.

  20. Jeremy (Not GHL owner) says

    People were really dragging you into the dirt on this one. If they had actually been reading your blog as long as some of us, they would realize you did many articles about his business and CareCuts, and are basically friends with all the local business owners, including Jeremy. They should have realized that with as many people as he lied to and deceived, he isn’t going to be any more truthful to you. Also, my thoughts are still with you during this rough time with your brother.

  21. Laurens and Polly Ailor Tullock says

    We are very sorry for what you are going through with your brother. And we are particularly disappointed that some folks chose this time to make hurtful comments about one of your stories on social media. You are an absolute treasure and the “go to source” for those of us who love Downtown Knoxville, and we pray for peace, healing, and more joyful days.

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