JUNE 27, 2014 - By BRAD SCHMITT, - The Nashville Ledger


Lansden E. Hill Jr. grew in the 1950s in East Tennessee tobacco country. After the tobacco was cut and sold in November, and the men had a little pocket money, Hill’s neighbor would order Roman candles and firecrackers through the mail.


So Christmas and New Year’s was fireworks season in LaFollette.


“I’d watch my dad and a couple of men shoot ’em,” Hill says. “My cousin and I would collect all the firecrackers that hadn’t shot.


“We’d pull the fuses and, well, when you’re working with such short fuses, they tend to go off more in your hand than in the grass. I still have all my fingers, but some of them still sting.”


Hill developed a lifelong obsession with fireworks, one that has developed into the world-renowned Pyro Shows, based in what is still his hometown of LaFollette, about 30 minutes north of Knoxville.





MAY 14, 2014 - By BRAD SCHMITT, - The Tennessean


Every time I saw him at a 12-step meeting, the guy was wearing mascara — and sunglasses, earrings, a graphic T-shirt, some sort of hat. His lip was pierced. He often posted half or fully naked pics of himself on Facebook.


All of us in recovery run across one or two fellow recovering addicts and alcoholics who, well, rub us the wrong way.


There’s the guy who tells us we’re gonna die if we don’t work the steps.


The woman who takes all the snacks home with her after every meeting, every single time.


The guy who says beautiful things about living spiritual principles during the meeting — and hits on all the newcomer women afterward.



european home


April 6, 2014 - By BRAD SCHMITT, - The Tennessean


The stats alone are mind-boggling: 16,000 square feet, nine full bathrooms, eight bedrooms sitting on two acres, listed for a cool $14.9 million.


Then there's the world-class architecture, outdoor pool, lush gardens, 10,000-bottle wine cellar, heated bathroom and outdoor balcony floors, and more.


The stunning Belle Meade property was even used for a Miranda Lambert photo shoot for this month's People magazine country issue.


"The second you walk in the house, you're not in Nashville, Tennessee," said co-agent Laura Stroud, "you're in Europe."





February 27, 2014 - By BRAD SCHMITT, - The Tennessean


The Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels says she was stunned and called it "absurd" that this past season's winner Rachel Frederickson weighed in at 105 pounds at the finale.


"How did the show fail her?" Michaels said of Frederickson in a phone interview late Tuesday with The Tennessean.


"It's obvious we believe she's too thin. It's absurd on many levels, for her and how this happened, and I'm concerned about why we weren't told."




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