Billboards and Stand-Stills: A Birmingham Morning

Don’t ever take a class that starts in the middle of rush hour. I tell myself this every morning. I have told myself this every morning for 8 years of my life. I have not managed to take my own advice thus far.


Traffic in the Magic City only increases in the rain. This morning was particularly painful for me, the Girl Who Can’t Sit Still, but I have an equally restless mind and a media outlet on which to share my traffic thoughts. I am only doing so because I hope these tidbits bring you guys some peace, love, and enlightenment during these stormy days to come. I have written some difficult pieces recently. I have more difficult pieces in their rough draft stage as I type this. I don’t want to become Birmingham’s Voice of Doom. Please bear with me. Enjoy the slightly stop-and-go ride. 

  1. Grown-ups don’t go to the zoo by themselves and this is truly a shame. The zoo is rightfully a place for childhood memories, but they didn’t put a giraffe in Birmingham for the sole purpose of being in the background of a family picnic. As adults, it is important that we make sure the giraffe itself is valued and remembered for its incredible combination of awkwardness and grace. Go to the reptile house and stare at the komodo dragon for as long as you want! Find a spiritual connection with an orangutan! Do you, like me, find ostriches to be terrifying? Skip them. No one is going to cry if you don’t go see the ostriches. And don’t get me wrong, going to the zoo with children is lovely and wonderful. But my last trip with a camp group inspired a solo visit. It’s entirely worth it. Treat yourself.
  1. Alabama has its big name celebrities whose names the newspapers love to drop. But it wasn’t until a night down a Wiki-wormhole that I learned Glenn Howerton and Adam Lazzara are Alabamians. Perhaps the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia star and one of the patron saints of emo-rock are not as likely to stir up feelings of pride and nostalgia and Fannie Flagg and Courtney Cox, but this explains the Taking Back Sunday lyric, “it’s a long way back South (to where I belong).”
  1. The only pita in Birmingham that tastes like the pita in the Middle East is at Eli’s. Pita should be a pillow, not a pocket. Toda Roba
  1. Alexander Shunnarah’s ad campaign. I love everything about it. It’s eye-catching, it’s funny, and it has the self-awareness of an art installation. The “Accident?” billboards turned upside down is just the kind of thing that I need to see on a rainy Tuesday at 8:45. Shunnarah has become Birmingham’s most successful meme in recent history. Is he taking advantage of this in his advertising? Is he just that jovial? I have so many questions! And yet, if I never get the answers, I will in no way be left feeling empty and confused. It has all the markings of Good Art. I don’t think Mr. Shunnarah set out to become my favorite artist in Birmingham right now, but sometimes you don’t chose the art, it chooses you.
  1. Walmart at midnight is a very Alabama experience. It wore me out, but I bonded with the other tired, frustrated shoppers. The woman behind me and I were both buying orange juice. We both could have both gone to a gas station. In a country filled with stores that are open 24/7, in Alabama, we groggily walk miles beneath the warehouse lighting for those 1 am must-haves, the scent of floor-wax and cardboard lingering in our nostrils until morning coffee. It feels like a dream, almost, but that orange juice is very real.

All this to say that it has been a stressful past few weeks. Not just for me. We’re all in a funk, stressed, and scared. I feel you. But no matter how rainy it is and how long you’ve been sitting in one spot to get off towards Tuscaloosa, I hope you guys find something nice this week.

Take care of each other,
Liz


  • ASFA grad, BSC senior; I write about Jewish stuff, food, and Jewish food.