As you can see, this week's post comes early, since a lot of MSV readers will be busy later this week celebrating Christmas. And because I have an enormous favor to ask. There's a fun part, but first, a little not-so-fun history is in order.
Two months ago, my partner lost his job as Arts and Entertainment Editor at Knoxville's alt-weekly Metro Pulse when it was unceremoniously shuttered after 23 years in print.
For the last several years, it was owned by the publishing giant Scripps, which still owns Knoxville's daily paper. While MP was profitable at the time of its closure, it was sacrificed to save labor costs. Publisher Patrick Birmingham arranged for the re-branded weekend insert from the daily to try to fill the void. In response, the town voiced its disapproval.
In response to that, the freshly fired MP editors got to work.
There's tons of information about all this, so I'll keep it brief. The whole thing starts with a non-profit. Beloved writer and MP Associate Editor Jack Neely will head The Knoxville History Project, an educational organization dedicated to promoting Knoxville culture. The KHP will establish the for-profit newsweekly editors Coury Turczyn and Matthew Everett will manage, the Knoxville Mercury. In using this structure, they aim to ensure that the paper will always be locally, independently owned, and that both enterprises will thrive in the community for years to come.
This isn't a hobby, or a scrappy start-up. These guys are all committed to doing what they do best (and have been doing cumulatively for something like a half-century) the best way they know how to do it. It will come as no surprise that right now they need money to get it going. To that end, there's a Kickstarter. It needs our help.
(We're getting to the fun part. See?)
I don't have any advertising on MSV. I don't take donations. But MSV most definitely takes financial and emotional resources, and with my partner's income disappearing suddenly (he refused his severance package with its non-compete clause in order to start a new paper), it's been difficult to keep up. But I want to. I believe normalizing vegan food at every opportunity is important work, and I appreciate all of you for aiding that effort by reading week after week. Even if you're not in Knoxville (and I know many of you aren't even in the U.S.), if you value MSV and think this site is worth a few bucks, please take a minute to pledge so my partner and I can both continue to do these things that we think matter. If you are in Knoxville, or you care about journalism, this effort most definitely needs you. I know it's the season of financial obligations for many of you, but since Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing deal, even if you pledge now, you aren't charged until the campaign ends in early-mid-January. If you can't donate, but want to help, please spread the word. If you do pledge, tell everyone! And thanks.
Bonus: If MSV readers combined pledge a total of $1,000.00 by the end of the year, I'll increase my personal contribution by another $250.00. (Email me at marketstreetvegan at gmail dot com to let me know the name you pledged under so it can be verified.)
There's a lot of excitement, and this is a big deal. And so brand new. And so uncertain (did I mention there's a Kickstarter?). So most days, you can bet I could use a drink. That's how I'm paying tribute here on MSV. There's something for both the old paper and the new paper we're hoping to get soon that can carry its spirit (yep) into a new era.
First up, Metro Pulse. As I said, the paper was closed without warning, so here's an opportunity to toast it one last time. Started in 1991, MP's growth and identity in its first decade had a lot to do with covering local bands The V-Roys and Superdrag as they promised to land deals and go places. Which means a lot of ink spent on young white dudes in bars, which is also who and where a lot of the staffers were at the time.
So, beer, of course.
I know there was plenty of PBR and High Life spilled on plenty of bars, but I made this cocktail with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, a prime '90s choice for young, literate, dorky white folks in small cities. Like MP, it did its growing in the '90s in the early years of the craft beer movement (and, as I recall, was the six-pack MP staffers et. al. reported they took along when they covered the gentleman's club in the Old City that stupidly opened in violation of city ordinance in the early '00s and was predictably closed after about five seconds). Most importantly, it remains a really good beer. And can stand up to tequila without becoming a beer margarita.
The Defibrillator: hop-forward beer, a bit of tequila, lime, and orange liqueur. A little crude, maybe, but for a paper that--when MP co-founder Ian Blackburn tells the story--sounds like it was once put together in a bedroom ransom-note style, not entirely inappropriate. The drink is surprisingly refreshing, especially over ice, with a--wait for it--quite bitter finish.
1 oz tequila
1/2 oz orange liqueur
1/2 oz lime juice
6 oz Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Fill a shaker half full with ice. Add tequila, liqueur, and lime juice. Shake to chill and strain into a Collins glass. Top with beer. May be served over ice.
Moving on, no one knows for sure what the new Knoxville Mercury will be like, since it doesn't yet exist. While Coury and Matthew aren't likely to dramatically change their minds about what a weekly in Knoxville should look like after having run one for the better part of the last decade, there will be new bells and whistles (like an improved online presence), and the incoming KM Art Director Tricia Bateman is responsible for this:
There's every reason for optimism.
To make a drink to toast the new enterprise, what we do have to go on is a name. Luckily, it's Mercury, a fairly evocative word, as Jack Neely deftly illustrates in his recent blog post:
The god is swift, the planet’s hot, the car is classic, the element is dangerous but useful.
Dangerous but useful might be the fittest description of any tasty and potent drink I've heard, so I present the Mercury Rising, a forthright drink whose effects are swift, with fresh ginger for heat. I've added black tea syrup, as sweet iced tea has long been on the menu when the mercury rises in the South. And since this all rests on Knoxville culture, we may as well stick with geography and use Southern rye, an old classic become popular again, and just the whiskey you want when you're adding sugar. (Once Knox Whiskey Works is in the aged production market, the whiskey choice for a Mercury Rising will likely be obvious.) A little acid and done: a drink stiff enough to help you shred your five-figure severance agreement and instead ask your readers to help launch your new job. Cheers.
1 inch peeled ginger root
1/2 oz black tea syrup, recipe follows
2 oz rye
Use a Microplane zester to grate ginger. Measure out 1/2 tsp and add to the bottom of a rocks glass. Add ice, pour in syrup and rye, and give a quick stir. Finish with a splash of soda and a squeeze of lemon. Serve with a swizzle.
Black Tea Syrup
2 cups water
2 cups natural cane sugar (evaporated cane juice)
1 family-size black tea bag
Add sugar and water to a pot. Bring to a boil, stir until sugar dissolves, then remove from heat. Submerge tea bag completely and let steep 10 minutes. Press tea bag with the back of a spoon to extract absorbed liquid, discard bag, and let syrup cool completely before using.
As always, but especially now, thanks for reading. To Knoxville! And to everyone who cares! Let's make a paper.