Monday, April 29, 2013

Flair: the Fictional and the Fantastic


The signature piece of architectural flair in this city is of course the Sunsphere, built as the crown jewel for the 1982 World's Fair. The fair brought a lot of national attention to the small city for a few short months and its legacy remains in the city in the form of that great golden ball.

But that was three decades ago and nowadays out-of-towners of a younger generation are more likely to know about the Sunsphere from a single glorious moment in television than the actual fair. I'm talking specifically about the memorable Simpsons' episode "Bart On The Road," wherein some young yellow denizens of Springfield take a spring break trip to our fair city and the Sunsphere plays a prominent role in their adventure.

The episode is a classic among the mid 90's golden era of the show's oeuvre. There are few other episodes that are equally hilarious and that feature so prominently a real life locale ("New York City vs. Homer Simpson" is the only other one that comes to mind).

And the writers and artists of the show deserve some credit because some of their depictions of the city show a reasonably accurate rendering of the real spaces, like this shot of a worn out World's Fair Park.

 [ Some people might be inclined to take offense at the rather drab and beat up way that the Simpsons' depicted Knoxville. But to be honest it was aired in 1996 when the ideas of a downtown revival were in the nascent to nonexistent early phases. ]

Throughout the episode the boys cover a good bit of ground in the city and one of the hidden gems of the episodes is all the fictional and hilarious signage that shows up. So today we are proud to feature here the best (and perhaps only) pieces of animated Knox Flair.

Along with the Sunspehere, wigs also play a prominent part in the boy's Knoxville experience which raises the question of what's that all about?

 The answer it seems can be found downtown on Gay street.  Just a few doors down one from the old Yee Haw printshop sits another bastion of local style: Jay's Mega Mart

 Jay's is home to an astounding array of wares including a comprehensive collection of wigs for sale (made from both synthetic and human hair). Surely this was source of inspiration during some Simpsons writer's trip through the city for what was to become "Bart on the Road." That's our hypothesis at least. The store itself is a wonderland of oddities and household necessities. Stop by next time your downtown.

On top of it all they also have some really great slogans inside their throwback street side window display.

Be who you want to be.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Bottoms Up

Once again, the incredible Magnolia Ave. serves up a great feast of flair for public consumption.

Mad Trucks

Here's another selection of some fine mobile flair spotted around town.

And this little oddity for good measure: