Tuesday, June 21, 2005I find it interesting that one of the prettiest spots in all of Birmingham is at a mall. The Magic City is nestled in Jones Valley, full of rolling hills and green trees. Many of the villages and bedroom communities are full of shaded roads, curving among the forests. A few of these towns even resemble the villages of England and Ireland.
So it is somewhat disconcerting to me that one of the nicest views in the entire area is in the parking lot of Barnes and Noble. It's a large, outdoor mall full of upper-crust shops and restaurants. No local nail salons here; just Saks Fifth Avenue, J. Crew and Williams-Sonoma. It's built on a hill, just off U.S. Highway 280. The best thing, though, is that when standing in the parking lot in front of that enormous bookstore, a glance to the south and the west will reveal hills. Miles and miles of rolling green hills. Suburbia has found a way to hide itself in a very green valley.
Birmingham is an interesting town, full of interesting people. Last night I saw a very drunk Ryan Adams on a stage in the street between two skyscrapers. We stood next to a tree; my roommate's girlfriend thought it might be fun to climb the tree. I thought that was a good idea, but I had an even better idea. I thought it would be fun to be Spider-Man and set up a hammock of that netting stuff between the two buildings. What's not to love about that? You get to sit where you like and see the whole show. It was a pretty night, too. Perfect for hammock-lounging. You could even spit on someone and they would be none the wiser. Not that I would want to spit on someone. It's gross and highly inconsiderate. You just like the freedom to choose, I suppose. But about my Spider-Man hammock; it's a great idea. I just didn't tell anyone; they might have laughed.
I got all crunchy and hit up the Farmer's Market on Saturday morning. Coffee, baguettes, peaches and squash. I'm living large. The market is nice, though. Tons of kids and dogs. I thought that was cool. I like kids and dogs. Probably need a dog before a kid, though. Or do you? If you had a kid (and a wife, Lord willing) he/she could help raise the dog, but if you had the dog first, he/she could help with the young 'un. This is all very confusing. I shouldn't worry about it.
I spent all weekend in and out of coffeeshops. I drink a lot of coffee. Forgetting everything I consumed before I showed up in Birmingham, I downed a latte Friday afternoon. Another cup of coffee Friday night. Two more Saturday morning. Another cup on Saturday night. Two more cups on Sunday afternoon. I was close to developing a twitch. I nearly broke into a fit, however, when I perused through a couple of used record stores that dared to price a used Phish record at 12.99. Used? By whom? Did Trey Anastasio sign the disc or is the owner just a boorish old crab? I want to help my local businesses. I don't want to shell out money to a large corporate store with no concern for the local neighborhood, but good heavens. Is real estate in Birmingham so expensive that it demands a mark-up so high? I could have bought a Rolling Stones record for a better price in Bucharest in 1979.
Did I mention that Ryan Adams was really, really drunk the other night? I give it a week before someone's mother writes an angry letter to the Birmingham News. That's the problem with these city-wide festivals, anyway. You can't please anyone. Rap is too vulgar, metal is too loud, college rock is too obscure. Why not just book U2 and Norah Jones and then be done with it? We can all agree with that. Can't we?