Earlier tonight I flew from New York to Knoxville. Immediately after we landed in Tennessee’s version of Tulsa, I asked the women in front of me about my hotel.
“Oh!” said one, “that’s great! You’re right downtown, and downtown Knoxville is … AMAZING!!!”
I was sure she was kidding.
“Really?” I said. “Amazing?”
“Oh, yeah,” said he friendâ€”sans irony. “It is amazing.”
In the course of covering sports for a living, I’ve been to, oh, 80 American cities. Here are the ones that are legitimately “amazing”:
Vancouver (I know it’s not American, but it is North Americanâ€”and fantastic).
That’s pretty much it. I mean, I loved living in Nashville, and Atlanta has some highlights, and Pittsburgh during the summer months in wonderful, and Kansas City boasts a nice four-block area. But Knoxville? Knoxville!?
This actually perfectly encapsulates something I have never loved about the South; the cliched-yet-oft-true contention that its denizens, in sincere efforts to be nice, over-hype. Every restaurant is amazing. Every person is a sweetheart. Every teacher just blows so-and-so’s mind. I found this infuriating in Nashvilleâ€”just tell me where I can get a good burger, and don’t include McDonald’s and Krystals, dammit …
PS: Side note: I really loved the wrestler, and a part of me wanted Mickey Rourke to win. But the other day I saw a recent video of him calling someone a “faggot.” Really turned me off to the guy.