AiUC: Knoxville part deux

More knoxville, less food.

Went to the riverfront today looking for lunch. Some nifty old bridges and train tracks and so on…

Unfortunately, the riverfront property was taken up by a rather banal hospital complex on the far side…

…and an eight lane boulevard with this brutalist monstrosity of a county government building on the near side.

No luck finding anything other than a touristy BBQ joint on the river front, so walked a couple blocks back down Gay Street, found a nice little bistro next to the Bijou Theatre that offered an entire separate vegetarian menu and a Rubenesque nude behind the bar.

Charming. Not very charming is the fact that Marriott apparently built a ziggurat a couple blocks away, with a remarkable tower for the worship of basketball amidst a tangle of on and off ramps.

A more remarkable tower is, of course, the Sun Sphere. Built for the 1982 World’s Fair, apparently to celebrate Knoxville’s history in the gold plated mirror ball industry. I regret to inform the reader that, while I did witness a storm trooper and Darth Maul enter the Sun Sphere, I was unable to obtain a picture of the event. I guess there was a sci-fi convention underway.

On a side note, this commercial made me wish I could time travel…with lasers.

Knoxville truly seems to be a mixture of the charming and hideous. For example, the YMCA building had a understated feel with some nice arches and
stonework. It’s listed as 1930’s Mediterranean Revival on archiplanet.org, so I’ll take their word on it.

Across the street, there sat the UT Convention center with its mold green facade, wave shaped first floor awnings and walkway overhang of bubble shaped glass. I think the last detail is to protect the pedestrian from gamma radiation as one crosses the street to the parking garage. It didn’t seem like it was wide enough to protect against precipitation, given that wind often accompanies rain. But who knows, maybe rain is always orthogonal in Knoxville.

Another example would be Market Square, which I mentioned in the last post. While charming in itself, it is flanked on one end by brand spanking new aluminum sided condos for those who want to combine the flavor of real urban living with the feeling of suburban alienation and a nice gym filled with ellipticals.

On the other end, an even greater threat is posed by a largely unused plaza between two banal slabs of concrete passing as government offices. In the absence of any actual pedestrian use, the plaza has been colonized by podpeople disguised as plantings, who are slowly growing a silicon space-ziggurat similar to the Marriott above.

On a pleasant note, Knoxville is constructing a new historical society museum downtown. The only thing open yet is a little street scene with a trolley, pharmacy and dentist office, plus a few cases with things like antique handmade banjos. Pretty rad, except that foot driven dentist drill sure gave me the willies. Okay, back to Durham, where I’ll go back to writing about food….



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About

An undead creature of fancy waxes philosophical from the kitchen, restaurant and sometimes the street.


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