The Expanding Universe of Billy Tripp

August 16, 2007

Old friend Franklin Jones told me about a Jackson Sun piece on Brownsville’s Billy Tripp, the greatest practitioner of outsider art in the state. Tripp created his Mind Field, a seven-story steel structure incorporating found objects such as a fire tower and various symbols that represent periods of his life and tributes to other people. It is the largest work of art in Tennessee, and it grows bigger every week.


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“Black Elvis” appears in Washington Post

August 14, 2007

Lots of people are obsessed with The King. Here’s the latest, via the Washington Post Style section.

Elvis on American Idol

August 12, 2007

I’ve never been a fan of American Idol, except when Boulder local boy Ace Young came in seventh back in 2006. I have to admit, however, that I was blown away when I saw the American Idol Elvis/Celine Dion duet on Youtube. You can–until they yank it–see it here:

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New plans for Graceland

August 12, 2007

Today’s Memphis Commercial Appeal has an article describing big–and much needed–changes at Graceland. Bob Sillerman acquired an 85 percent interest in Elvis Presley Enterprises in 2005, and now he is rolling out $250 million worth of projects aimed at keeping the King on his throne.  Longtime President and CEO Jack Soden is the spokesman for the new efforts.


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Fisk vs O’Keeffe Museum: another option

August 7, 2007

As reported in the Nashville Tennessean, Fisk University and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum have settled a lawsuit brought by the Museum that sought to prevent Fisk from selling a Georgia O’Keeffe painting now owned by the University. Radiator Building–Night, New York (shown below) is part of the 101-painting Alfred Stieglitz Collection of modern art given to Fisk by the artist in 1949. If the agreement is approved by Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle, Fisk will sell the Radiator painting to the Museum for $7.5 million, and will gain permission to sell Marsden Hartley’s Painting No. 3.



According to David West, the spokesman for Fisk, “the scope of our financial challenges requires a large infusion of cash to provide a lasting fix for our circumstances.” The key word here is “lasting.” Fisk has an increasingly difficult time raising money and fulfilling its mission. The University should reassess what it can do and should do. My recommendation? Sell the entire collection, and use that money to transform Fisk into an institute that will better fit the 21st Century.

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Battle of Knoxville exhibit opens at McClung Museum

August 6, 2007

As Civil War battles go, the Battle of Knoxville wasn’t one of the big ones, but, not counting clashes in Chattanooga, it was the largest one in East Tennessee. The McClung Museum on the University of Tennessee campus is about to open a new permanent exhibit on what is known locally as the Battle of Fort Sanders.


Photo courtesy of McClung Museum

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Stay with the world’s tallest horse

August 6, 2007

Several bed and breakfast places in Tennessee will let you bring your horse, but few have an offer like the Springbrook Inn in Niota: your horse can stay on the same farm as the tallest horse in the world.

Tina–her full name is Jensons Diplomat Tina–was certified as the World’s Tallest Horse on July 28th. The height of horses is measured in hands, and Tina measures 20 hands tall at the withers. That’s six feet, nine inches tall at the shoulders to us non-equestrian folks. She weighs 1,600 pounds, and at three years of age,  has not reached her full growth yet. Tina is an English shire horse, a breed first brought to England by William the Conqueror.

And the B & B? It offers three bedrooms for $100 per night each. For people who just want to see Tina, she is on display to the general public on the first Saturday of each month from noon until 2:00 PM. The cost is $5 per carload. To get to the Inn, go to I-75 Exit 56 (Niota). Drive east on Route 309. At the intersection of Highway 11, bear to the right. Right on Burn Road and the second driveway on the right will be Springbrook Inn.

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

Hitting the road for culinary tourism

August 3, 2007

They call it “culinary tourism,” the practice of traveling to an area to sample the local food. People have been going to places like Provence or Italy to do this for years, and only recently has the practice gotten much attention in the South, most notably through the efforts of the Southern Foodways Alliance.

For anyone prowling the foodways of Southern Appalachia, your backwoods baedeker should be Fred Sauceman’s wonderful pair of books. Both are entitled The Place Setting, and both are published by Mercer University Press.


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‘Just As I Am’: nudist Christians convene in Tennessee

August 2, 2007

The Nashville Scene, Music City’s alternative newspaper, has a wonderful cover story this week about the Christian Nudist Convocation, which held its semi-annual meeting at Cherokee Lodge outside of Crossville.

Lord, you just can’t make this stuff up.


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Just in time for Death Week, the animatronic Elvis

August 2, 2007

For the Elvis fan who has everything, here’s one more must-have item: a life-size bust of The King that can sing, make comments, and blink his eyes. The company behind this technological delight, Wowwee Alive, first produced the head of a chimp, but now the product line has evolved.

Elvis comes alive–at least from the neck up–according to the company web page, recounting 37 monologues about his life and singing eight of his best loved songs, including:

That’s All Right
Hound Dog
Heartbreak Hotel
Love Me Tender
Jailhouse Rock
Blue Suede Shoes
Baby What You Want Me To Do

That last song may portend the future, if and when the company ever releases the full body model. The cost for the bust will be around $300.


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