Extreme Driving in Tennessee

July 18, 2007

I drove on Tennessee highways for several hundred miles in June and July, and experienced the entire range of the motoring experience, from I-40 to the Natchez Trace Parkway.

The worst interstate highway driving experience in the state has to be I-40 in East Tennessee east and west of Knoxville. I-81 terminates into I-40 east of town in Jefferson County, and I-75 joins I-40 in Knoxville and runs with it for several miles before peeling off and heading southwest to Chattanooga. Throw in the most popular exit (I-40’s 407) for the most visited national park in the country and thousands of semis roaring alongside cautious flatlanders pulling travel trailers, and you have a hellish mix even when traffic is running. God help you if there is a wreck.

Even if drivers could ignore the traffic, the trees that have grown up along the interstate highways all over Tennessee have resulted what can only be called tunnel vision. Here’s a look at I-40 west of Knoxville:

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Memphis Magazine hits a home run

July 18, 2007

Glossy city magazines have an almost impossible task: producing good prose while simultaneously sucking up to companies who cotton to rich folks–and who, incidentally pay for the ads. That’s why you see those issues with lame stories such as “this year’s movers and shakers” and “the physician directory” with glowing little box profiles of doctors within an IV drip of an ad from their practices.

The July issue of Memphis magazine is about the best issue of this publication I’ve seen. The cover story is a 30-year look back at how the magazine covered Elvis, from their literally stop-the-presses September, 1977 issue–Memphis would have come out the month after the most momentous death in Memphis history with a cover on Dutch Elm disease and no mention of the King–complete with covers from all the issues during that time. Good stuff.

There is also a Chris Herrington article on the various out-of-town artists who recorded in Memphis. These include the Yardbirds, Neil Diamond, John Prine, Sonic Youth, Stevie Ray Vaughn, R.E.M, and Three Doors Down. Herrington then makes his case for what he thinks are four of the most significant albums recorded in Memphis by artists who did not live there: Dusty Springfield’s 1968 Dusty in Memphis, ZZ Top’s 1983 Eliminator, The Replacements’ 1987 Pleased to Meet Me, and the White Stripes’ 2001 White Blood Cells.

Memphis magazine costs a mere $15 per year for 12 issues, a bargain.

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This blog is part of a much larger website, also entitled Tennessee Guy, that contains travel and cultural information about Tennessee. Visit it here.