Jim Wilson here, I own Phantom Billstickers.
On Monday August 17th, my friend George and I set off to do a poster run in Knoxville, Tennessee.
The significance of the date of this run is that it was 32 years and one day after Elvis Presley died.
I always remember what Elvis said about Memphis, Tennessee, he said: “They asked me what I missed about Memphis, and I said ‘everything.'” He must have said that when he was in the army or on tour. I love Tennessee. I love many things about it and particularly the music.
It was a really hot day (30 degrees Celsius) and the drive from Cookeville, Tennessee to Knoxville takes about an hour and a half. It’s always good travelling with George as we have a great rapport and I’ve always thought that one of the best things you can do with a person is a poster run. True character will come out. Walls will come down. Postering is a pretty genuine pass-time. It is a very earthly occupation. The bonus is that it works.
Knoxville is a beautiful city to me. What I love about it is an old downtown district which the local city council doesn’t seem to have taken the easy route to repair. The easy route would be to ‘town plan’ it to hell and whack in as much chrome as possible, then to have consultants and lawyers standing on every street corner with one stated objective: to suck the life out of the area and make the place as bland as possible. Maybe a few shopping malls would go in. In Knoxville, you have many people with unique businesses in that downtown area and it has become very interesting. You have lots of bright-eyed young people. You have good clubs and venues and my favourite is the ‘Pilot Light’ (New Zealand’s D4 played there a few years back).
We postered for our New Zealand poets (Bill Direen and Otis Mace) and also for Jeffery McCaleb from Cookeville, Tennessee. Knoxville doesn’t seem to have any legal poster sites and we just went on to what seemed to be time honoured sites. We used a broom and glue and also cello-tape in some areas. Staple guns are used on construction sites.
It took us about two or three hours walking around in the heat to put up one hundred posters, usually only four or six in a site. At the end of the run, I know we had made a big difference and George and I were both smiling. I get no greater joy than helping people in the Arts to be heard. The thing about postering is that you get to see instant and genuine results.
I am now in Lambertville, New Jersey. I am partway through a poster run of Janet Frame and Geoff Cochrane poem posters (and some Bill Direen and Otis mace ones thrown in as well). I shall report more on this in a few days.
Keep the Faith,