Thursday, May 25, 2006


I had a long snicker the other day when I came across the least-original, most ridiculous blog entry I've read in a good long time. It was written by someone I vaguely know; the topic was how lame and boring our town is (and, specifically, how no one gets off their ass to make good music here).
I briefly considered linking to it, but couldn't bring myself to. Blogs are meant for friends, after all, and I really had no business drawing unwanted attention to a private blog entry simply because I think it's a steaming pile of shit posted by someone who will never be happy here because he will never be happy ANYWHERE because it's really himself he doesn't like - not his town. Ahem. Psychoanalysis session over. Sorry.
I'm certainly not my town's biggest fan - it has its good days and bad, like most. But in the spirit of proving losers wrong, I thought I'd post a list of my favorite things about my town.

1)The bookstores. The small, independent bookstore is a dying breed, and our town manages to support several. Shaver's Books is an incredible little store. It is a true reader's best friend - the man can order anything. The Booklegger is also amazing - you never know what you're going to find in there. I'm told that gamers go to small comic shops, as well, and manage to keep them in business.
2)The Japanese food. For some unknown reason, we have a massive selection of Japanese restaurants. Mikawa was built for the ppl who work at the Toyota plant - it's totally authentic. Miyako has $1 sushi on Monday nights. Miwon has the biggest sushi selection, it's fantastic, and it often comes served on a wooden boat. We also have a few of the dog-and-pony "cook it in front of you" chains that people seem to like. And then there's Edo. Need I say more?
3)Bandito Burrito. They put crack in their food - no one can get enough.
4)Cheap gyms. I LOVE my gym. It's state-of-the-art (or was 2 yrs ago, at least), offers tons of classes, and is normally not too crowded, give or take an hour or so after work. I pay $40 a month, which, while fairly high for gym fees for this area, is nothing compared to the national average.
5)Cheap cost of living. Where else could you find an apartment in one of the wealthiest and certainly oldest neighborhoods in town? And on my salary, no less (which ain't a lot, people)?
6)The Flying Monkey Arts Center. Thank God for Catherine, who runs it, because it gives our town a streak of the odd (and sometimes outright bizarre) that it desperately needs. Case in point: the Yard Dogs Road Show that's on its way here in June. We are very, very, very, very lucky to have a venue to host fun events like this.
7)The untapped antique market. For the same price as a lot of the cheap crap furniture we buy now, you can to go Hartlex or Firehouse antiques and find an amazing quality, funky piece. Or sometimes just beautiful, old stuff. Hell, Mary's Antiques (which is really mostly beads) has the strangest, most fun framed art I've ever seen. The prices are worth the ornate frames alone...
8)We actually get independent films. We don't ALWAYS have indie films here, but thanks to the Regal Madison Square 12 cinema, I've seen "Mulholland Drive," "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," "Amelie," "Capote," and "Me and You and Everyone We Know" on the big screen. They're showing "L'Enfant" this week...
9)The untapped thrift store market. I don't know anyone who hasn't gotten some odd piece of furniture or clothing at a thrift store around here. The coolest coat I ever owned (dark yellow faux velvet w/a belt) came from the downtown rescue mission thrift store. I almost cried the day I realized I'd worn it threadbare.
10)Sunburst Records. Jay is an institution. We bonded over a mutual love of Kate Bush when I was 15 yrs old.
11)The Indian, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisine. We don't have a lot of these restaurants, but the ones we DO have are fantastic. Vinnie's, Thai Garden, and Viet Huong are not to be missed.
12)The free summer movies in the park. There are worse ways I could spend a Friday night than sitting in Big Spring Park, surrounded by friends, eating take-out Vietnamese food, drinking a beer, and watching "Singin' in the Rain."
13)The Sunday Brunch choices (you'll notice that a lot of these have to do with food). Jazz Factory, the Palette Cafe, and Cafe Baba have excellent Sunday brunches, each a little different from the other.
14)Our salons and spas. We have a huge choice of spas and independent masseuses/masseurs. The independent ones are very reasonably priced, and our salons are fantastic. We're lucky to have businesses like Terrame and Salon Ka Terra.
15)Community Ballet. People don't realize that we have acclaimed, classically-trained ballet masters teaching right here in town. Their recitals, along with the annual Nutcracker performance, are top-notch, not to mention the Russian ballet company they host every year for a performance.
16)Garden Cove. I am hooked on at least 5 products that can only be found at this store. It's a totally different way of looking at grocery shopping. Their tea room in the back alone is worth a visit.
And a few others:
-our Municipal Ice Plex is fantastic
-we have endless smoothie choices
-local cafes
-we have at least 20 book clubs
-we live within 2 hrs of Birmingham and Nashville - you can usually go to a show and be home by 12:30am (plenty of time to get a few hrs rest before work the next day)
-UAH Hockey games are genuinely fun
-when it's not swelteringly hot, Stars games are genuinely fun
-Amy McCarley, the Rocket Scientists, Daikaiju, the Pine Hill Haints, DiscOasis, and Toy Shop all rock the trailer

Velleity is defined as "wishing or hoping without ever taking action." It blows my mind that people around here can spend significant amounts of time being bored. I can't find enough hours in the day to do even half the things I want to do. For God's sake, read a book. Take a walk. Knit some booties. Volunteer at the AIDS clinic. Or move the hell away. None of this was written in a mean spirit; it was written in a "weary of the bitching and moaning" spirit. I count among my present set of friends some of the most intelligent, witty, creative, amazing people I've ever known, and I can't remember the last time one of them called me and said, "Dude - I'm bored. What should we do?" Barring airplane rides, long waits in waiting rooms, and shopping with my mom, I don't think I've really been bored since high school.


Blogger Shay said...

I think it's important to be able to find things you like about wherever you are.

11:10 AM


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