The last picture show in Franklin?

July 23, 2007

“No good deed goes unpunished,” usually attributed to Oscar Wilde, describes the situation facing the Franklin Cinema on Main Street. I was just there last month; downtown Franklin is one of the more beautiful and vibrant downtowns in Tennessee, a delight to residents as well as visitors. This 70-year-old movie theater now faces sale and probable demolition precisely because Franklin’s historic preservation efforts have been so successful.

According to an article in the Tennessean, “Franklin Cinema building owner Mark Bloom has given has given Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County officials a Sept. 15 deadline to put together a deal to purchase the former movie theater.” The article mentions a figure of $2 million.

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Eyes of Tammy Faye close at last

July 22, 2007

Tammy Faye Bakker, described in today’s New York Times obit headline with the crossword puzzle-sounding clue of “emotive evangelist,” died of cancer on Friday at age 65. She was a former resident of Gatlinburg. It was to that town that she and former husband, Jim Bakker, fled after their Praise the Lord enterprise collapsed in scandal in the 1980s.

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Country Ham Pizza

July 21, 2007

I just had some reheated pizza for lunch. It was “Quattro Formaggio with Prosciutto,” or, as I would have called it many moons ago,”four cheeses with country ham.” I grew up eating country ham. My grandfather would kill hogs in late fall, rub the hams with a sugar and salt mixture, and hang them up to cure in the family smokehouse. Even though it was called a smokehouse, he never smoked meat, nor did most East Tennessee families.

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“Niche marketing” touted by Tennessee tourism chief

July 20, 2007

Today’s Chattanooga Times Free Press contains a piece overing a speech by Tennessee Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker in which she mentions that $250,o00 was allocated for “niche marketing” of the state. “The state had been targeting such niche events as hunting, fishing, cultural events and music, Ms. Whitaker said, but this year is adding baby boomers, weddings and honeymoons, reunions and sporting events.”

I’m not sure if I’d call hunting and fishing “niche events,” but the idea of targeting marketing at particular groups of potential visitors is a good idea. Tennessee could begin with jerky lovers, as seen from this billboard on I-40:

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Dollywood visitors to shoot each other in 2008

July 19, 2007

Dollywood announced today that the new ride for the 2008 season will enable guests to shoot each other and passersby with “powerful soaker guns.” The ride–River Battle by name–consists of nine rafts holding eight persons, each of whom has a water gun that can be used to hit more than 100 targets along a 500-foot channel. Some of the targets are large-scale talking animals such as beavers, skunks, otters, and bears, and some of the targets shoot back.

But wait, it gets better. According to the Dollywood news release, “while rafters are soaking each other in raft-to-raft sparring, they also can ‘shoot’ observers along the way in ‘raft-to-shore’ fun.”

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Loving the Loveless Cafe and Motel

July 19, 2007

If someone in Hollywood set out to create the perfect Southern eatery, they would conjure up the Loveless Cafe. This place used to be a mom-and-pop hotel southwest of Nashville on Highway 100 back in the days before the mom-and-pop hotel owners were named Patel.

The Loveless family shifted from the motel business to serving meals, and they gained fame as a good place out in the country to eat down home food. It didn’t hurt that country music stars were known to come there for cholesterol-heaped breakfasts, which were served all day and fit the lifestyles of people for whom wasted days and wasted nights was more than a song title.

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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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