They say the neon lights are bright …

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 friend—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”:

New York.



San Francisco.


Los Angeles.

San Diego.




Vancouver (I know it’s not American, but it is North American—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 Nashville—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.

3 thoughts on “They say the neon lights are bright …”

  1. Hey Jeff, love your books and really like the blog. Now I’m born and raised in the North Carolina, and have to be the only Met fan born in the state. I get where your coming from on the south and I’m that way too I guess. My only concern is that really such a bad thing, that people down here are nice. I rather us be nice to people are coming down for a visit. But still love your work.

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