Downtown Dirt by Manhole: July 2013

Celebs in Pres Pub- Anthony Michael Hall June 2 2013

June can be a cruel and stupid month, but not so this year. After a damp and unpleasant spring, old Sol’s mothering June radiance came on like a seasonal cleanse hereabouts.

Here in downtown Knox Angeles, everything was in its place, and everyone. Our mayoress presided with a firm, feminine hand; and our county mayor—whom some may recognize from his days running the Mayberry filling station with Gomer on the old Andy Griffith Show—was coming off nearly a week without mishap, representing us like the essentially good-hearted rube that he is.

But this is East Tennessee, Jake, and there were still plenty of shits and giggles along the way. And that’s what we’re here to talk about; the moments we’ll write home to Mom about, the precious pearls that will ever shine through the fog of fading memory, long after we’re old and creaky and rotting away in some dreary geezer bin, drooling on our flannels…

This year, the month lurched out of the gate on the bowed back of something called the Fanboy Expo, at Chilhowee Park, a misbegotten assemblage of comic book dealers, toy hucksters, sci-fi nerds, and D-list celebrities hailing from a dumbfoundingly broad range of TV and movie genres—and all of them set to roaming about Knoxville like lost wildebeests…

Anthony Michael Hall, of all people, waltzed into our very own Preservation Pub of a Sunday night and joined a sizeable post-worship (ahem!) crowd in getting lowdown with bluesman Big Gene and his band the Loud Pack.

That’s right; the feckless ginger geek from all those infernal 1980s John Hughes coming-of-age cinematic groaners, plus some mid-‘00s cable sci-fi, was standing on the ground floor of the Pub, fist-pumping, bro-dancing, thrilling to Big Gene’s singular tectonic rumble.

A walking area code of a man, Big Gene plies a primal mix of Muddy and Wolf… A !@#ed up irony, that, since they were bitter enemies, hated each other’s stinking guts, and would have stomped the eyes out of anyone dumb enough to mention the other man in the same sentence.

But they are long gone now, cold and in the ground, claimed by the hardscrabble life of the Blues. Probably throwing hands at each other somewhere in the Great Beyond, Muddy nimbly bobbing and shuffling so as to avoid the bruising onslaught of the Wolf’s 300 lbs of Joy…

But we’ve drifted far off the reservation here. So never mind the Wolf, and his 300 lbs., because the Smart Money says Big Gene tops that by half again. And it was Big Gene who had our man AMH acting like a beer-damaged frat-boy on Thursday of Hell Week, getting his boogie on and letting everyone know he was down with everything that Big Gene was laying out there…

A little too familiar, perhaps, with some of the ladies, it has been reported, as AMH’s hands were sporadically prone to trespass, violating the lovely terrain of certain private reservations without escort or clearance.

All in all, tho, he was a genial sort, and free with a dollar. As was Billy Dee Goddam Williams, who was located, that same weekend, breaking bread, or breaking scones, or whatever damn thing they break in England, at the Old City’s Brit-themed Crown and Goose. Billy Dee is said to have been a fine dinner guest, in spite of the fact that he must now bear the indignity of earning his keep off these tawdry affairs.

Because he is Billy Dee Goddam Williams, after all, Blaxploitation icon, and also Lando-F.U.-Calrissian, in the original Star Wars trilogy, back before that fathead Lucas decided to go back and reinvent the @#ing wheel, stick some pouty whelp in the Darth Vader costume and send it all to blazes in a hot minute…

And while we are on the subject of things that give us the howling fantods, reports also have it that Screech, aka Dustin Diamond, the wafroed geek from that excretious ‘90s sitcom Saved By the Bell, was skulking around the Old City’s Urban Bar, according to intel. Pondering that next big career move, no doubt.

But our best story from that weird weekend comes from dear old Lee Majors, who played TV’s original Bionic Man in the halcyon days of the 1970s. Upon Majors’ arrival at McGhee-Tyson Airport, conventioneers sent some poor half-bright wage slave to chauffeur him back to his quarters. Or so it is alleged.

Somewhere on the way back into town, the car was T-boned by a hopped-up speed freak doing 120 at a 12-way intersection. Or maybe there was a fender bender with grandma in the Wal-mart parking lot; one never knows with these sorts of things. In any case, poor Lee showed up at Fan Boy with his arm in a cast.

Not to worry, we have the technology. We can rebuild him; better; stronger; faster…

Now, you can believe what we have told you here today, take it on good faith. Or you can run off and act the fool, be led astray by some jackleg with a good line and an evil heart. Then so be it; there is no help for you. Because we are selling the truth here, or something damn close to it. Because history is written by the winners, Jake. And we are nothing if not winners. Be here next time. Salut.

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