The New York Times did a travel piece on Knoxville with some creative writing and declared that the locals refer to Knoxville as "The Couch."
KNOXVILLE is often called "the couch" by the people who live there. [Source, The New York Times-Travel, Allison Glock, 8-Jun-08, 36 Hours in Knoxville]
I came to Knoxville in the Fall of 1988 having never lived more than 4 ½ years in one place. Knoxville is comfortable and I settled in. But never have I heard anyone refer to Knoxville as The Couch! I’ve heard Big Orange Country, The Valley, K-Town, and Knoxvegas. Until the Knoxpatch blog came around I’d never heard that one. And by people who grew up here, Hell, but they leave and then usually come home in 2 to 4 years. The only couch reference I’ve ever noticed is the roadside dumping of couches which are often recycled by University of Tennessee students. There used to be a place in South Knoxville where couches go to die. I never took a picture but it was this huge cliff or old, grown over rock quarry and dozens of couches were haphazardly piled at the bottom as if when their time had come they’d run to the edge of the cliff then plummeted to the sacred couch burial ground. (Was near Ijams if anyone is curious).
Allison Glock wrote a very nice article about Knoxville! The couch reference is just befuddling and makes me wonder if some of her 36 hours wasn’t spent on one of the West’s old couches. Of course, maybe it was a red herring to get Knoxville media and blogs to link to the article. If so, it worked! Michael Silence, Byron Chesney, Bill Lyons, Katie Allison Granju, Michael Silence again, Glenn Reynolds, Katie Allison Granju again, Jack Lail, Michael Silence again, Say Uncle, Chris, KnoxInsider, and Randy Neil.
Update: Glenn Reynolds draws the same conclusion I did. (Glenn, who’s your source!) Jack Lail notes the point.
Update: The Reluctant Optimist, Michael Silence rounding up, and Ann Althouse.
Update 9Jun08: Michael Silence writes the NYT’s editor, Knox Blab discusses The Couch and Michael Silence sums up the Blab chat, and Katie Allison Granju announces Ken Schwall will address this on Channel 10 news at 6pm tonight.
Update 9Jun08: Casey Peters does a roundup, and Michael Silence does an update, and Michael Silence conjectures they meant "Swingtown" and then Michael Silence posts the solved mystery. The Couch continues to provide amusement to the newspaper staff, here and here.
Update: Michael Silence gets automated responses from the NYT. Michael Silence notes Liz Donovan jumps in.
Update 10Jun2008: Michael Solomon (letter seen on No Silence Here) complains and says Allison Glock is owed an apology and Barry wonders why a real issue is being ignored for "The Couch". Michael Silence gets a funny comment.
Update 11Jun08: Ken Schwall interviews people.
Update 12Jun08: Metropulse interviews Allison Glock and she isn’t happy with Knoxville bloggers. Katie Allison Granju agrees with me that bloggers were not outraged just confused at the authoritative way Alliison Glock claimed locals call Knoxville "The Couch." We appreciated her well written article and I think her statement "Next time I suppose Iâ€™ll just write about Pigeon Forge." is a poor response; instead, she would have made herself look better by thanking the community for the correction to her error. Chris at Rocky Top MBA draws an elegantly written conclusion to Couchgate. Well done Chris!
Michael Silence responds to Glock’s response. And notes other blogger’s responses.
Update 14Jun08: Michael Silence cites more comments (much to Cathy’s chagrin).