Beale Street Blues–and not the musical kind

June 27, 2008

The July/August issue of The Atlantic Monthly has a sad story about the rise of crime, especially murder, in mid-sized American cities. In the article, Memphis is the poster child for this rise, along with Florence, South Carolina; Kansas City, Missouri; and Orlando, Florida, to name a few cities.

The cause of this crime rate appears to be the dispersal of public housing residents into neighborhoods outside of the inner city. While some individuals and families take the opportunity to better themselves, others bring their problems–and trouble-causing family members, boyfriends, etc.–with them. There is a direct correlation between crime and people whose rentals are subsidized by the federal government–“Section 8 rentals.”

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White Lily Flour leaves Knoxville in the dust

June 26, 2008

A staple of Southern kitchens since 1883, White Lily Flour is said to be the only flour in the United States milled from soft winter wheat, making it perfect for biscuits and pastries. It was created in Knoxville and milled there continuously for 125 years. Alas, the flour that made Knoxville famous is closing down operations in K-Town and will be moving to a couple of mills somewhere in the Midwest. Jack Neely tells the sad story in Metro Pulse this week, and even The New York Times weighed in with a story last week.

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The Heartbreak of Hotel Taxes

June 24, 2008

You go to check out of your hotel and get the bill. There at the bottom are the various taxes added on by state and local governments, always eager to tap the traveler and not the locals. These taxes can mount up, especially if you stay for several days. In an interesting piece in the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Brian Lazenby walks through the lodging tax in Tennessee’s largest cities.

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Thunder Road at 50

June 23, 2008

Thunder Road, the 1950s movie and a hit recording, is 50 years old this week. The black and white film cast Hollywood bad ass Robert Mitchum as the “mountain boy” who out-drove and out-fought the law.

Jack Neely of Metro Pulse had a great article on the movie, and today the News Sentinel weighs in as well.

I’ve had a few experiences with moonshine. When I was a little boy living on the Johnson City Highway, the police pulled over a truck with a load of corn and found moonshine buried in the back. My father an uncle bought a farm on which we found the remnants of a still, and one of their employees confessed to making ‘shine when he was young. He said that someone kept stealing his mash just when he was about to distill it, so he put a couple of dead rats in there to convince them not to do that any more. He laughed and said the rats might have improved the taste.

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

‘Mayberry’ in Tennessee

June 12, 2008

East Tennessee seems to be the place for people who want to create their own little utopias–antique-filled backyard paeans to the past. Just down the road from one such place in Rogersville lies Mayberry, a tribute to the Andy Griffith classic TV show. This one was built by John and Ruby Hitch and stands in the Seymour community south of Knoxville.

Photo courtesy of Sisters of the Silver Sage

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