Sep 172014
 

Went to Monaco Pictures last night with Dad and clan BamaDan to catch Guardians of the Galaxy. (Fun film.) I hadn’t been to the north end of Bridge Street in some time. All of the structure for the new parking deck adjacent to Belk appears to be in place.

bsconcrete

Now given my longstanding affection for Madison Square Mall and my contempt of the (in my view, unnecessary) sadistically slow decay it is experiencing, I’m perhaps a bit predisposed to dislike the idea of closing the Madison Square Belk to open this one. And there is the fact that Bridge Street, being a particularly heinous example of a peoplequarium, had a lot of winning over to do with me in the first place. (It’s been open seven years; can you believe that?)

Still, I’d made my peace with the place, and mostly even on its terms. Yes, it looks like a shopping area at Walt Disney World. No, there’s not much in here I want to buy. But it’s a nice place to walk, the best place to see a movie in town, and it’s not too hard to find a pleasant meal either.

That said, this new construction is abominable. It’s a dissonant monstrosity. It feels as if Bridge Street is suddenly right next to the interstate—and I don’t mean conveniently located, I mean directly in the space surrounded by the exit ramp and the overpass. “East Germany with nicer cars,” Dan and I mused together, which prompted a few Gotcha! quotes. (Mmm, Linda Fiorentino. Meeoooowwwrrr.)

Bridge Street had charm. It was corporate and contrived, but it was done well enough to win you over, at least somewhat. Now, they might as well build a roof over the place and be done with it.

 Posted by at 7:59 am
Sep 142014
 

I have a few music videos recorded from Hit Video USA, which was channel 41 on Cable Alabama when we moved to the Huntsville area when I was 15 years old.

Hit Video USA has a place in my heart forever, because it’s emblematic of just how small-town my upbringing had been to date. I thought our cable lineup right after we moved was the greatest thing that had ever happened to me. You mean these channels go up to 70-something? In Anniston, our top channel number was 22. You got to channels 14 through 22 by putting the TV on channel 3, then pushing a mechanical button on a separate converter box. Remote control? Pish-tosh.

What else? I couldn’t believe we had such a great mall just down the road. I thought the Olive Garden was beyond amazing. Hey, look—an actual Porsche dealership. Remember Carriage Motors at Drake and the Parkway?

I remember stopping in there shortly after I got my driver’s license, hoping to score some sales literature with large, high-quality photos. Realizing that a kid in jeans in a ten-year-old Celica wouldn’t look like a serious prospect, my story was that a friend of mine had just come into some money, and I was out researching new cars for him. (Perfect! What could go wrong?) The salesman was polite, and actually did give me a little tri-fold brochure. I think I still have it somewhere.

I’ll probably never be particularly well-traveled, which means that through some lenses, I’ll never be well-rounded. That’s fine. Those who would make such judgments are often the same folks who would instantly write me off for my deep love of Alabama anyway.

I think I do all right most of the time. But in August 1986, there was a bit more “hayseed come to the big city” about me than I’d have cared to admit.

 Posted by at 11:12 pm
Sep 122014
 

“They” say that the sense of smell is tied very closely to memory. Want a citation? There you go. (Is about.com “they”?) There are three smells from my childhood that still trigger powerful happy memories for me. When I encounter them today, if I have the time, I stop and consider them carefully. The self-cleaning [...]

 Posted by at 8:00 am
Sep 052014
 

My friend Carol recently expressed frustration that we’re all running around babbling about stars’ naughty bits and football team nicknames, and the ostensible leader of the free world is golfing and hobnobbing as it burns down. (That’s not exactly what she said, but I suspect she’d be fine with that account of her concern.) To be [...]

 Posted by at 11:35 am

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