downtown dirt by manhole: What the @#$ is a Scruffy Dog??

519389265_5cc1369ec6_o“Nah, this stuff isn’t getting to me, the shootings, the knifings, the beatings, the old ladies being bashed in the head for their social security checks… Nah, that doesn’t bother me. But you know what does bother me? You know what makes me really sick to my stomach? It’s watching you stuff your face with those hot dogs. Nobody, and I mean nobody, puts ketchup on a hot dog.”Dirty Harry Callahan, Sudden Impact

June is full upon us; Tara Reid — along with a gaggle of other discount-bin celebrities escaped from that carnival of aberrance known as Fan Boy Expo — has come and gone from the stage of Scruffy City Hall. July Fourth, and the stagnant heat of mid-summer in East Tennessee, lie in wait, simmering just around the bend.

And nothing says “summer” quite like a hot dog, Jake. That’s right — the classic All-American Hot Dog, everyone’s favorite phallus-shaped carcinogenic fat-and-sodium-laden processed meat-like snack food, staple of J-4 cookouts and ballpark concession stands across this great nation of ours.

Matter of fact, July is National Hot Dog Month here in the good ol’ U.S. of A., just in case you were wondering about that.

Which maybe you weren’t. But the point is: in recognition of our nation’s proud hot dog heritage, and of the humble dog’s defining/central role in the cultural landscape we call Americana — and also with the sincere hope of making an extra dollar, or three — the Pub and Scruffy City Hall are rolling out their very own Hot Dog brand, the Scruffy Dog.

Which will taste a whole lot better than it sounds. You can trust me on that one, Jake.

Sometime this summer, when all the plans and permits fall into place, and everyone and his mother-in-law has signed off and extracted his pound of flesh, the Pub will roll out its newly-acquired hot dog cart, and vend a variety of delectable dogs, sure cures for late-night munchies or the exigencies of a lunch-on-the-run.

According to Preservation Pub/SCH manager Cullen Kehoe — also doubling as de facto Dog chef, at least for the time being — Scruffy Dogs will feature variations on three essential themes: The classic all-beef kosher hot dog; the spicy red hot; and the veggie dog.

But those options will evolve over time. “The plan is to get really creative — think gourmet dogs, more than just the standard hot dog fare,” Kehoe says.

The early menu calls for a geographically diverse line-up of dogs — hot dogs inspired by the culinary traditions of select regions/states of the union: A New Yorker, with sweet onion relish and mustard on a plain bun; a Deep South Dog, an andouille sausage garnished with jalapeños and cucumber salsa; a Carolinian, served with cole slaw; a Traditional (sauerkraut. mustard. bam.); and an Old Country, featuring red sauerkraut.

Also on tap is the indigenous Smokey Dog. “We tried to think of a Knoxville-style hot dog, and this is what I came up with: A smoked sausage, with ‘maters and ‘taters.

“If it’s done right, it’s delicious.”

When the Scruffy Dog operation is up and running — again, we’re aiming for sometime in July, though August might be a better bet, allowing for usual allotment of bumbling and foolishness, and the damnable unpredictability of such affairs — dogs will be served up hot and fresh every day around the lunch hour. Then they will fire up again for the late-nite crowd, 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Order up, and hold the @#$ ketchup.



Zeus Speaks

unnamedZeus is Preservation Pub’s resident spiritual counselor, holding court underneath the stairwell on select evenings throughout the week. In this semi-regular feature, he holds forth on matters great and small.

Zeus, we haven’t seen you the last couple weeks. Where have you been?

Z: I’ve been ill. It happens every time there’s a weather change. It’s a transformation process, a cleansing of body, mind and spirit. It’s a time to let go of things no longer need, and learn more about the things you do.

We had Bonnaroo this past weekend, with thousands of people streaming into Manchester, Tenn., baking in the hot sun and listening to music from dozens of popular bands. What do you think of Bonnaroo and other music festivals?

I feel like there are more important things to focus on than a music festival. A music festival is good, but it depends on what they’re singing about.

I think there should be less Bonnaroo, and more I-love-you.

The NAACP chapter president was forced to resign this week because she’s actually a white woman who was pretending to be black. What’s your take on that?

Sometimes a person can be black on the inside, but white on the outside. And what difference does it make? It’s our ideas that should count. Too many people focus on the outer rather than the inner.

The mind has no color. The mind is a rainbow.

Have you seen any movies lately?

I saw San Andreas. Which, I believe, is an attempt to give people a warning. They know something is going to happen out there, along the San Andreas fault line. I believe the powers that be leak things through the medium of Hollywood.

I saw Mad Max, too. It was okay – full of action. But it represents a barbaric way of living and thinking. I think there’s a better way to live, and a better way to love your fellow man.

Zeus’ quote of the month: “You can’t put a face on the Universe. God doesn’t have a face. God is Everything.”

Who do you think you are: SCH/Pub bartender and Realm drummer Nick Leichtweis

1606922_548088985288834_1572888081_nDescribe your worst date ever.

It was a “weekend away” trip. On the way back, we got a flat tire, didn’t have a spare, and had to wait on a tow truck three and a half hours in an ice storm and froze our asses off.

What actor should play Nick Leichtweis in a movie?

Dane Cook. I get told I look like him all the time, and I sound like him.

Who is your least favorite celebrity?

I hate all of them. But I feel like the most repulsive, outside of Kanye West, is probably… @#%, they’re all the same person to me.

What what your most embarrassing moment, ever?

I blacked out all of those moments.

Who is your favorite superhero?

I kind of dig Iron Man and Batman because they’re just rich dudes who are really smart and have technology on their side. Which I feel like is the most realistic scenario for a superhero. Rich dudes who like gadgets.

If you were going to torture someone, how would you do it?

A pair of pliers and a blowtorch.

What is your least favorite song?

Everything ever written by Chicago. I don’t like brass.

What is your pet peeve?

The word “irregardless” f@#$ing ruins me.

You’re having a Moonshine Roof Garden Party at Preservation Pub. What three special guests would you like to host?

Dimebag Darrell, Quentin Tarantino — because I want to ask him a million questions about his movies — and Les Claypool, who is one of the most interesting people in the world.

Describe Hell.

A Jonas Brothers concert.

What ‘s the worst band you’ve ever seen?

I saw Bowling for Soup on a Warped Tour years ago. They were the worst band I’ve ever seen in my entire life. The guitar player was trying to take his guitar pick and bounce it off his guitar, and he didn’t do it right even once.

What’s the stupidest thing you’ve seen anyone else ever do?

Climb up the front of the Pub and fall off and land on the awning. The dude got hurt pretty bad.

What would you like to put on your tombstone?

Beer-battered and deep-fried, southern sci-fi.

downtown dirt by manhole: Tara Reid, criminal hijinx, and the Scroof

indexAmerican Pie/Big Lebowski/Sharknado hottie-starlet-turned-comedienne Tara Reid will take the stage of Scruffy City Hall Saturday, June 6 for an improvisational comedy set, surrounded by a host of other slightly-past-their-sell-by celebrities from the bi-annual Knoxville Fan Boy convention. And the mastermind of a massive criminal conspiracy — a convicted felon of some local renown — has helped the West family clan establish a new website for their various Market Square enterprises, at

Other than that, there’s nothing to see here, Jake. Step lively, and don’t let that brown stuff stick to your shoe…

No, but really, if there’s one thing you remember about the week of May 31 through June 6, it’s that the aforementioned Reid, along with other actors-etc.-turned comedians like Eric Balfour (of Syfy network’s “Haven”) and Adam Copeland (Pro wrestler “The Edge”) and Eddie McClintock (of Syfy’s “Warehouse 13″) will participate in a Celebrity Improv Comedy Show from 10 to 11:30 p.m.

And that’s not the half of it. Friday will see the bar gearing up for all of the B-list fun with a showing of the original “Batman” — yes, Adam West, we still love you — and a superhero costume contest, followed by a performance from weirdo Australian band The Red Paintings.

And Saturday evening will kick off with the World F@#$ing premiere of “Helen Keller vs. Nightwolves,” a movie that promises to be so terrifyingly Awesome that the very foundations of Awesome will be forever altered in profound and ineffable ways.

The new project from Fan Boy staple Barry Bostwick, HKVNW is a cinematic treatment of the early life of Helen Keller, and how she became blind/deaf/dumb. The true story of which, as I am sure those of you versed in history are aware, has been obfuscated by an insidious mis- and dis-information campaign, a shrewd cover-up that has us all believing she caught a disease, or some damned thing.

The truth is that Helen Keller suffered grievous, debilitating injuries in the course of a vicious werewolf attack. See for yourself; co-star Bostwick — you know him best as Brad from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show, as well as from a dozen other things you can’t quite remember, but which are just on the tip of your tongue — will be on hand, and he is a first-rate fellow, a true gentleman in an industry full of cads.

Also on tap for Saturday night is a performance from former Buffy the Vampire Slayer regular James Marsters (“Spike”), who has an ongoing career as a singer-songwriter. And closing it all out, late, will be a set from Preservation Pub’s very own Realm, who will be syncing their set with a showing of David Lynch’s version of “Dune” — the story that inspired nearly every one of the band’s doom/stoner/metal epics. (See Realm’s bandcamp page for further details.)

Did I mumble something about websites and dangerous criminals? Yeah, well, that would be West family member Mike West, the man behind the 2.1 million dollar marijuana-peddling/money-laundering scheme that saw Scott and Bernadette West spend a few years in the lockup, on Uncle Sam’s dime.

Scott and Bernadette had the brilliant idea of investing that 2.1 mill into various Market Square properties, as per downtown revitalization. They went down for it — did hard time in the Big House — and they lived to tell about it. Anything else you hear is just someone else’s f@#$ed version of History.

But that’s all water under a very long bridge now, and brother Mike is out of prison and back in the fold. He’s a surprisingly mild-mannered sort, at least as evil criminal geniuses go, and he’s been good enough to work with local musician and marketer Brett Winston in creating, which will replace the family business’ previous, individual websites with a single, comprehensive site — a catch-all portal that will also include listings for other activities (festivals, theater shows, etc.) going on downtown.

There’s plenty of other crap worth mentioning in the coming weeks — the Orion Slave Girls dance workshop on Saturday, June 13, the weekly Paint Night bacchanals, the Hacksaw Boys June 20  — but maybe it’s best to leave off with the latest plans for Scruffy City Hall.

As you may know, the roof — i.e., the Scroof — has been open at SCH for a couple months now. But it’s far from finished. Like so many other things around here, it’s a work in progress. And the future of the Scroof will see local rock climber Kelly Brown — he helped build the Ijams climbing wall — build a series of “tree tables,” those being ornately crafted iron tables with tree plantings in the center.

The tree tables, in toto, will create a literal forest, the life’s blood of which will be an 18-foot Crystal Cave waterfall, to be constructed on the lower portion of the roof, down the fire escape from where the current temporary bar is situated.

That whole portion of the Scroof will be enclosed in glass, meaning the Scroof will be a multi-functional indoor/outdoor all-weather operation, as well as a spectacle of some magnitude, with a giant artificial waterfall and tree-table sculptures and a proliferation of LED lights turning the whole damned thing into a surreal and otherworldly urban rooftop forest, half of it enclosed in a glass bubble.

And lest we forget, the West family’s Market House is set to open sometime in July. Don’t miss any of it, Jake. We know where you live. And we will hunt you down.