The Island in Pigeon Forge. Imagine this with “Margaritaville” playing.

There is a place at the foothills of Appalachia where people can ride a Ferris Wheel and gaze at the mountainous expanse around them to the echoing tune of “Margaritaville.” Beneath them in Pigeon Forge, there is an expanse of retailers, rides and residual patterns from the area’s long and neglected history.

The Island, which features the perpetually spinning Ferris wheel, was built after wildfires swept through Gatlinburg and turned much of the region into ash. In nearby Knoxville, college students and craft-brewery-owners choked from the smog cloud carried over by the wind.

And in counties across East Tennessee, people…


For what it’s worth, I’m probably the reason my old high school doesn’t do the pledge. I refused to stand for it all throughout school, and I guess some administrators finally caught on that it was a stupid thing to do every morning. Yeah, I was an edgy kid.

There is nothing more dangerous than a good story. With it, any leader can find a horde of fervent followers behind them. Their unifying power is unparalleled — especially in the information age when anyone can carve a platform out from a Facebook account.

All it takes is an interesting tale, and anyone can manipulate everyone into believing they are alone, surrounded by enemies. The better storyteller a person is, the more control they have.

Just ask any authoritarian dictator. There are plenty to go around right now.

Rodrigo Duterte rose to power with tales of internal enemies, lurking within…


The Bitcoin craze epitomized the American dream — effortless wealth and untold amounts of riches. When it peaked in late 2017, at around $19,700, early investors become billionaires overnight. The ones who bought coins when they were just a few dollars instantly saw their entire lives change, all out of sheer circumstance.

It was a nightmare for the overall cryptocurrency market, though.

That deluge of wealth came with the collapse of Bitcoin and a deeply disturbing revelation about nascent cryptocurrencies: the markets were inherently cursed. …


As the Trumpets sound on western-liberal democracy, a new party is forming. They bear a Democratic brand but have demonstrated that they are more than just a bunch of people who like the color blue, diverging from their moderate comrades. They stake too much on the vigilance that color is meant to represent, which is odd in this new age of doubtful liberalism.

In fact, they are obsessed with the color — this new party is promising to submerge the political arena in a blue wave, and it is getting harder to doubt they may succeed. …


The logo for the Amplifier features a Sunsphere atop stacks of newspapers. It’s clever.

For an anonymous source in a story run in The Amplifier, Knoxville’s street paper, the day began like any other. He woke up, walked to his car while waving to his neighbor, John. Today though, John was distraught. The city was throwing away his home.

John did not live in a house with a lawn, a mailbox and a fence. He lived off the side of a road downtown, in a tent where he kept some of the things he used to get through the day and slept during the night. …


Knoxville citizens put the heat on ICE officials and the Knox County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) on Wednesday, July 11.

The tense and passionate meeting was held in the City County Building downtown. Organized by the KCSO and then rescheduled three times, it was originally meant to inform attendees on KCSO’s participation in Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) controversial 287(g) program. Knox County is the only Tennessee county to participate in the program.

The meeting was scheduled to end at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday but lasted more than two hours after that, when attendees had to leave the room for another…


Not gonna lie, I just googled ‘Instagram cosplay’ and this is what came up. I do not know who this is. But it seems like the internet is geek-ridden for other reasons besides a desperate need to consume in order to relate to others, but there are already so many essays on online misogyny and there doesn’t need to be another.

Anybody can be a creator. Beyond Instagram cosplayers, DIY makers, or content creators, digital media grandly promises to connect people through individuals’ personal creations. Through these connections, creators are told they can build an audience, which may one day lead to financial support.

Such freedom is central to the internet’s ethos — everyone has equal opportunity to do anything, and an equal opportunity to succeed at it. It is the digital dream for creators of all forms, whether they be small-scale manufacturers or Twitch streamers, to be able to sustain themselves doing whatever they want. …


Postmodernism has ruled nearly all contemporary cultural discussion for decades. However, its reign is being challenged by emerging trends in the arts, politics, and beyond. Rather than create works in search of truth, new artists and society in general is embracing grand narratives with the knowledge that they do not fully capture reality. Instead of denouncing myth, people are believing it.

Fantasy constructs reality — people experience the world in their own unique contexts. Whether those fantasies are large-scale national ideals or individual persecution complexes, they create our unique experiences and therefore, our distinct personal worlds.

However, discussion around the…


An envious, yet supportive, millennial encourages the next generation to do what they themselves failed to.

The day starts with a wailing smartphone, brought to the forefront of daily life by millennials. For this generation, the alarm signals a day that will be spent looking at memes on social media, or studying, or working in jobs they hate, and for a select few it will involve all these things; fewer still look forward to the day ahead.

However different they are from each other; no millennial wakes asking for whom the bell tolls. They already know.

Millennials pioneered a new online world, so they already know what it has to offer. While they can’t claim to…


The video game industry is renowned as a faux-consumerist battlefield where hyper-masculine shooters vying for commercial superiority dominate smaller-scale games that usually seek to challenge traditional gender roles and dominant ideologies. Most shooters tend to overcome any market challenge from the combined forces of extensive marketing strategies that no independent company could ever hope to financially match, and a community-base that defends the status quo through intimidation and overwhelming online attacks against people and companies.

The Battlefield series is one of many shooters maintaining the industry status quo through extravagant advertisement campaigns. The latest installment of the series, Battlefield…

Chris Salvemini

Thoughts® are my own. At least, I think so

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