Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Flashback to 2019: El Paso 2019: The Tumblewords Project: A Brief Love

This makes me smile. Original post here.

Monday, February 11, 2019

El Paso 2019: The Tumblewords Project: A Brief Love

James Drake, Falling Birds, El Paso Art Museum, Texas. November 2016.

Born in 1995, founded by Donna Snyder, the Tumblewords Project is a writing workshop that occurs every Saturday at the Memorial Park branch of the El Paso Library. Each week, a workshop leader suggests writing prompts to the participants; the prompts usually follow a theme the leader chooses for the session. Everyone is enthusiastically welcomed. If you're just passing through El Paso and happen to be in town on a Saturday afternoon, go! 

My related posts here.

One of my workshop efforts below. Writer and artist, Sandra Torrez, led the day's work, offering Edgar Allen Poe as our inspiration.

A Brief Love

I'll look at you
While you sleep.

I'll touch your sternum, press
Down with the pad of a finger

Like a push of life.

I'll find your pulse, rest
My finger there, and linger,
To absorb your beat.

I'll leave you then.
Push out into
The cold and
Not look back

Because I gotta go.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Birmingham, AL: The 1000 Names of Birmingham

Birmingham view from Vulcan Park on Red Mountain, Birmingham, Alabama. August 2020.

The 1000 names of Birmingham:

I gleaned many of the nicknames above from the book, Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama, the Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution, by Diane McWhorter.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Flashback to 2018: Ferguson, Missouri: "Michael Brown Died Today."

This 2018 post holds true for me today, too.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Ferguson: "Michael Brown Died Today."

Michael Brown
Michael Brown, Ferguson, Missouri. Photo: Found at St. Louis Post Dispatch, attributed to a friend of Michael Brown's.

A few days before August 9, 2018, I created a reminder on my calendar for that date, which synced to my cell phone.

The reminder said: "Michael Brown died today."

On August 9, each time I accessed my phone, there it was:

Michael Brown died today.
Michael Brown died today.
Michael Brown died today.
Michael Brown died today.
Michael Brown died today.
Michael Brown died today.
Michael Brown died today.
Michael Brown died today.
Michael Brown died today.

When I think of Michael Brown, I think of:

.... an image burned into my brain, put there by a racist, hate-mongering individual in South Louisiana who is a minor celebrity. On his social media page, which he proudly affiliates with his employer, was a disgusting image of a "memorial" to Michael Brown, comprised of human excrement.

... the draconian military response to Ferguson protests by then-Governor Jay Nixon.

... people who are dear to me, who must always be ready for that surprise slap in the face, at any given moment, in any given place, by any unexpected person, that reminds them they can't move through their days with the same thoughtless presumption of emotional and physical safety as others can.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Birmingham, AL: " Best Little Dangerous City in the South"

Arrested Development, 2015 Baton Rouge Blues Fest. Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Another nod of appreciation to Birmingham: The Magic Sub-Reddit for introducing me to one of Birmingham's nicknames: Best Little Dangerous City in the South.

I don't find any other references to this nickname, so it's likely the creator of this sub-Reddit coined the name. I like it!

If Neighborhood Scout is to be believed, why, Birmingham is actually safer than ........ one percent of US cities.

Heheheheh. I like how the site frames this stat. Reminds me of a lecture by Randy Pausch, who shared how Disney World employees are trained to focus on positive frames instead of negative ones. For example, instead of saying the park closes at 10:00, they say, "we're open until 10!"

Do I think crime is funny? Of course not.

What I find witty about this nickname is that it acknowledges that Birmingham has a problem and has good things to offer, so come on down and have fun with us!

I thought to dig on crime stats some, where we get 'em, how they get interpreted, etc., but instead I'll riff off the word "arrested" and go with Arrested Development, a band I saw perform at a Baton Rouge Blues Fest five years back. My photo is blurry, but mein gott, the performer in front has awesome muscular power!

Their video, Tennessee, which is a work of art in multiple layers:

Monday, July 27, 2020

Birmingham, AL: A Judgmental Map

I forget how I got here, but so glad I did: Birmingham: The Magic Sub-Reddit.

Among other whimsical, witty, and actually useful items, the forum introduced me to the Judgmental Map of Birmingham

Birmingham, ALby AnonymousCopr. 2014 Judgmental Maps. All Rights Reserved.
Judgmental map of Birmingham, Alabama. Credit: Judgmental Maps.

Of course, I immediately sought out my neighborhood on the map.

Of course, I'm not going to tell you where that is at this point, but I will say that I:
  1. Felt relieved that I hadn't moved to the "undiscovered bodies" neighborhood; and
  2. Raised an eyebrow and said to myself, "huh," when I saw the characterization of the one I did move to, with said "huh" signifying a long, "hmmmmm," about which even I'm not sure what I mean. 

My favorite designation is "angry retired engineers."

There's also a wicked judgmental map of Alabama, with sidebars on its neighbors:

Alabamaby AnonymousCopr. 2018 Judgmental Maps. All Rights Reserved.
Judgmental map of Alabama. Credit: Judgmental Maps.

My favorite Alabama designation: "Life's lost luggage."

And Huntsville:

Huntsville, ALby Jacob and John R.Copr. 2016 Jacob and John R. All Rights Reserved.
Judgmental map of Huntsville, Alabama. Credit: Judgmental Maps.

The Huntsville map has a Republicants neighborhood, a designation I had to look up.

In 2013, I shared some maps that purport to show how Americans view the world.

St. Louis has a judgmental map, but it is only sad. Kansas City has one, and it is only mean. Missouri, I'm glad I divorced ye.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Birmingham, AL: Streets, Avenues, Courts, Terraces, and ....

10th Court sidewalk marker. Birmingham, Alabama. July 2020.

What the bloody hell.

Naming conventions

I have lived in a place or two or ten, and Birmingham's street-naming conventions are the most confounding thus far.

For every one road name, there are often up to five, six, maybe seven? cousins of same. To wit:
  • 10th Street
  • 10th Avenue
  • 10th Court
  • 10th Place
  • 10th Alley
  • 10th Way

Left for a rainy day, perhaps: 10th Terrace, 10th Lane, and 10th Circle.

And the above does not even get into the South and North angles.

A Lifehacker article by Patrick Allan explains The Difference Between Streets, Boulevards, Avenues, and Other Roads.

This Vox video does the same, and I love that it gives a special shout-out to Tucson's street naming conventions at the very end:

The disappearing roads

Like some rivers that are visible for long stretches, but then go underground for a stretch, then re-surface somewhere else, so it is in Birmingham.

Take 16th Street Avenue South, for example. You turn off of Greensprings Highway (also known as Highway 149 until it does a 180; also known as Columbiana at a different point) onto 16th Avenue South, and you continue straight. You're still on 16th Avenue, yes?


Unbeknownst to you, only about 500 feet from your turn on to 16th Avenue South, you are on 10th COURT, for fuck's sake. Where did 16th Avenue South go?

Ohhhh, look. No. Don't look. Because there is no "look."  Because you can't see it from where you are. Because the only way to know where 16th Avenue South re-appears (assuming you know it does re-appear) is to search for and find it on a map.

Ah, there it is! To get there, you'll need to continue on 10th Court South to 10th Avenue South, turn right, and then you'll hit 16th Avenue South. If you actually want to get somewhere from there, then you'd better take a left because if you turn right, you will end up LITERALLY on a circle tour. Idlewood Circle. Which, if the roulette gods are with you, could roll you onto a nameless road in George Ward Park, through a real traffic circle, and then to 4th Street, and then to your 16th Avenue starting point.

Surprise! signs

Birmingham is the Forest City (in addition to the Magic City). Gorgeous. Crepe myrtles draped in semi-precious jewel blossoms that can make you weep at their beauty. Tall trees that bestow bounteous shade and oxygen and Edenish vibes upon all who pass by. And, and, and ... .they hide Very Important Signs, that tell you TURN HERE! at sudden, out-from-nowhere on-ramps to, for example, Highways 149 or 31.

How many Birmingham newbies shout "damn it!" as they zip past that hidden fast curve off to the right, going too fast to make the surprise turn, especially with another car riding up close and personal on their hind end, knowing they'll now have to turn around and try another pass. Well, this newbie has done that several times in the short span of time she's been here.

No signs

And how about important intersections without any signs? Not on any of the corners. Not above the traffic light.

Noncommittal signs

Or there are signs at an intersection. Two, even, to show both street names. Only, they are at an angle that makes you wonder: Which is the sign for the street I'm on?

I'll get things sorted eventually, as I did in:

For Tucson's numbered roads, I had to create a mnemonic hack for myself: Vowels are north/south (like odd-numbered highways) and consonants are east/west (like even-numbered highways). Therefore: numbered avenues (A = vowel) are north/south and numbered streets (S = consonant) are east/west.

At least now I know about Birmingham's little game of roads. That's something.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Birmingham, AL: My Home Sounds

Church bells

Endearingly, never on the hour, but close. Not this Birmingham bell tower, although the Hilltop bells are nice, too. As is the birdsong before the bells.

Emergency vehicle siren

I'm just around the corner from a fire station with an EMT crew. They get called several times a day.

Ambulance, Mescalero 4th of July Parade. Mescalero, New Mexico. July 2013.

Train horn

If I walk to the corner of the apartment complex campus, I can see the tracks.

The Birmingham train that goes by my place doesn't sound like this, but it's an excuse to replay my mix from Juarez Museum of the Revolution below:

And an El Paso train:

Sometimes the siren startles me, but most times these three sounds give my new surroundings an audio texture that pleases me.