Over the past few weeks, I was glad to see new signage go up in the space that was Goody's (on Highway 31, across from the Galleria). It had been vacant for quite some time. But it wasn't until the past few days that I learned what that space was becoming: 2nd & Charles, a new *used* bookstore.
From The Birmingham News:
"At the store, people can trade in their used books, music, movies, video
games and more for cash or store credit. Then, they can shop the
40,000-square-foot space, which the company says holds more than 300,000
different items." (Full Story)
We visited today for their grand opening. The place is huge -- it actually occupies both the former Goody's and Marshall's space. I think that it has some of Marshall's mojo (rest in peace, sweet bargain headquarters).
2nd & Charles is full of rows and rows of bookshelves -- much like a Barnes and Noble or Books a Million (which owns it), minus the frills.
They bought their initial stock from a wholesaler, and according to The News story, hope that as customers bring in their books for trade "eventually, the selection will become a reflection of Birmingham area readers." Love that concept.
Other things that I like about it (other than the huge volume of books):
The $5 bin was full of titles I'd actually read
Lots of chairs throughout the store to sit and check out what you've found
Diverse selection (including a fairly sizeable Women's Studies and Gay & Lesbian section)
Plenty of room in the aisles for browsing
Excellent, modern graphic design and recycled art throughout the store
Actually, the only negative I can think of is that the sparse signage can make the ginormous store a bit difficult to navigate, but maps are provided and employees are more than happy to answer questions.
I'm looking forward to returning when I have more time -- you could easily spend a few hours exploring. I wasn't able to do that with my 4-year old along for the ride (by the way, they have a good selection of children's books).
I left with just one book (see above about running after 4-yr old). My first purchase: "Alabama Curiosities, Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities & Other Offbeat Stuff," by Andy Duncan. For Just $3.80.
I'm a big fan of patronizing all kinds of bookstores (and libraries). Glad to have this one to add to our roster.
Would love to hear: if you've visited 2nd and Charles, what do you think?
After spending the weekend with Stephanie in Atlanta (more about our antics later), I had to share these amazing chairs in her house because I was so impressed.
She has two of them in a loft space and another in her guest bedroom. The best part: she finished them herself, including spray painting them with a high-gloss lacquer and recovering them with her staple gun.
The chairs, purchased from Ebay (search: "Hollywood Regency") cost less than $150 (including shipping). Monogrammed pillows from Ballard Designs, $25 each. Wordless!
Two important things happened on this date in history:
1)The Scissor Sisters performed their first show
2)I walked into Surin, shook hands with a stranger at the bar, and within five minutes knew that I would marry him. (If he wasn't a psycho killer.)
Shane doesn't believe the part about me knowing within five minutes, but it's true. Within a few weeks he met my parents. My Dad didn't look up from the Yankees game. "Figured he was just another one," Dad would say later.
This is the first picture we took together that night, at a Cancer Center event (and yes, we look much different today):
And then this happened.
Shane and I are incredibly different. I tell stories for a living, and he explains nanoparticles to grad students. He's an introvert who likes nothing more than curling up on the couch with a book on Roman history, while I'm an extrovert who likes nothing more than being surrounded by a room full of friends, usually talking (loudly).
Sometimes our differences seem like a gulf. They are pretty staggering at times. Sometimes we don't even like each other very much. But we meet in the middle. We disagree about what "the middle" is, mope a bit, and cross to the other side, or at least wave.
We know each other's scars, the jagged areas where we've gotten hurt and healed, left with imperfections on and below the surface. I say that though we got married under Vulcan's bare bottom in 2004, I feel like I only got a real taste of marriage in 2007 when I saw him in the shower after his surgery to remove kidney cancer.
He's seen me through some doozies too: my anxiety during Nate's first few months, more than a few serious stress-related illnesses, deaths of people close to me. Not to mention the *typical* stuff: supporting me as I run from daycare to airport to God knows where next for my work, all the while I wonder if I'm on the right path.
There's a Wilco line from their song "Reservations" that goes, "Oh I've got reservations/about so many things/ but not about you."
That's how I feel this September 21. But the song that most sums up where we are now is this one by Ingrid Michaelson.
Happy Anniversary Shane Street. Thanks for taking me the way I am.
I received this devastating news from my bff Stephanie today:
"Goodbye, glitz. Las Vegas is shutting its spangly Liberace museum after dwindling Sin City crowds lost interest in viewing artifacts from the life and times of the show-off pianist who brought "over the top" to a new level." (From Newser.)
The museum, which has been open since 1979, closes October 17, putting 16 people out of jobs. And making this Liberace fan very sad.
"I don't give concerts, I put on a show," said Mr. Showmanship.
Seriously, after watching the VMAs last night I can categorically say this world needs more Liberace and less Justin Bieber.
(GaGa does continue Liberace's fine tradition of flash -- paired with actual talent.)
I first went to the Liberace Museum in 1993 -- my first trip to Vegas with my family. (Because nothing bonds a family more than a stay at a Medieval Themed casino.) I was in high school, and my have been the only high school girl who begged her Dad to visit said museum.
Then last year Stephanie and I went back, boarding a bus along with the other 30 60-year olds excited to make the pilgrimage. (The round-trip bus was free from the Strip by the way, so there really are no excuses to not make the trip.) We excitedly put on his capes, treating them with the reverence they deserved, paying respect for the weight of the costume.
The crazy thing is that Liberace still was -- is -- relevant. We wouldn't have had Elton without Liberace, and without Elton we wouldn't have GaGa and without Liberace NOTHING WOULD HAVE HAPPENED.
So why are they closing the museum?
Not enough visitors. The economy. And there goes history.
It feels like another piece of shiny old Vegas is fading, and that makes me very sad. Especially when I think about being impressed just a year ago at how they'd made his legacy come alive. Gazing at the ceiling of the gift shop I thought, "alright, Liberace is going to live on."
This is the thing: The Liberace Museum preserved more than his ornate furniture and album covers.
They also hosted up-and-coming musicians, showcasing live music and supporting young artists.
"Keep The Liberace Legacy Alive," says the Liberace Foundation and Museum Website. I really think they tried.
I think about the sweet volunteer Stephanie and I chatted with during our visit. When we were in the gift shop, I bought a coffee mug (which I use each day at work) and talked with the volunteer about what drew us to Liberace. Although we were generations apart, we were both fascinated by his boldness, his color, his music, and his legacy.
The museum may be closing but don't think that this generation forgets. Some of us would rather be in the middle of a museum than a casino pool best known for its prominence on a reality show.
I'm in Birmingham. I'm in Jackson. I'm sitting on a roof overlooking the Magic City. I'm dressing models. 36 hours, two cities, one weekend.
It started out in Bham with one of our best nights of the year: Artwalk Friday. With people packing the streets and art packing galleries, lofts, and businesses, it's always a glimpse of the way Birmingham should be will be. Seriously, from the time when I was involved (circa 2005) the event has just gotten bigger and better. With more businesses on each corner, and new faces that have joined us in the Magic City, it's good stuff.
I love this work by Katherine W. Linn, which reminds me of my Atlanta friends. Ah, the Clermont.
But back to Birmingham. Grabbing a hot dog at Rogue Tavern, walking through the packed streets, loving the art of John Lytle Wilson (see: monkeys shooting laser guns) and Richard Newton (Japanese pop culture).
And, when it got to be blazing hot (so much for the early fall), climbing up to the top of a friend's roof for the best view of Birmingham hands down.
As much as I wanted to loll about Saturday (and I do love a good loll) I was on the road by noon to head to Jackson, Miss. for a shoot. Driving and shooting, shooting and driving, it's all part of my work. What isn't typically part is working with my sister. Though I can't reveal exactly what the story is about, I can say she was an excellent model.
Here she is in wardrobe (take that NY Fashion Week.)
Megan was a good sport, which isn't easy to do with lights and cameras and your sister looking at you.
All of that and despite her long day of work yesterday she took me to Walker's Drive-In, right behind Ricky's church in Fondren. Heath Bar Tiramisu? Yes ma'am.
36 hours, two cities, one job, lots of stories. And this is just the edited version ...
When I get sick, people say things like, "That's your body's way of telling you to slow down." And while there may be some truth to that (see: great shingles episode of '09), I have too many things to do. So body, you can shove it; this old girl is going to the club.
Not really. I've actually listened this time, at least for the past 48 hours. There was no choice really. Despite the great injustice of being overtaken with what I am sure is walking pneumonia on a holiday weekend (respiratory infection said the doc as he handed over another Z Pack), I have actually done nothing the past two days, except the following:
Eat fig glazed burgers and Triscuits with chow chow (it still is a holiday, no?)
Lay on the couch surrounded by tissues
Read this marvelous book: "One Day" by David Nicholls.
Holy God, this book changes everything to me. OK, could I be more dramatic?
Clarification: it makes me just want to sit on the couch and read books and write books.
It's on loan from Amy, who left it on my chair at work. (Read it for the record here, Amy is working on a book that will be just as difficult to put down.) I picked it up on Saturday after finishing a short and tremendous work of non-fiction ("Making Toast" by Roger Rosenblatt) Since my sinuses had launched a massive attack in my head, I was getting resigned to the idea that there would be none of the usual cavorting about town (if trips to Target count as "cavorting.")
Two books sat on my nightstand: Kitty Kelley's "Oprah" biography and "One Day" by British writer Nicholls. In nine out of ten cases I will always choose non-fiction over fiction, but I opened page one of the 435 page paperback just to give it a try. And I haven't put it down until just now, final pages consumed.
I mean, damn. The best book I've read all year.
Here's the premise: told from the perspectives of two main characters, Emma and Dexter, beginning on their fateful meeting the day of college graduation. We meet these characters, who continue to intersect in each others' lives, over the course of 20 years. Snapshots of their relationship are unveiled -- always on the exact same date -- the day that they met.
It's about friendship and timing and missed opportunities, the role of luck and fate, connections and missed connections. Following Dexter and Emma from their 20s through their 40s the reader see them change and not change. It's like an intimate conversation between two friends, forged in the naivety of newly minted college graduates with the world stretched out endlessly. Then ... reality of life's detours, obscuring and magnifying their grand plans.
It made me thankful to be sick glad to not have read the Oprah biography. And brought increasing awareness to the fact that I have to get off my bum and start stringing together these little bits of writing scattered between my journal, iPad, and assorted computers.
In addition to being an engrossing read, this book just lights another match under my little writerly bum to get going in sewing together the panels of this book I'm always referring to. As in, "this will make a great chapter in my book," like last week as in one day I:
managed a photo shoot in DC in the a.m., flew home in the afternoon, all the while I worried if the next call would be "the one," only to pick up my son in Birmingham by the day care's closing.
And that's just the beginning. So now, time to get down to committing these stories down on paper. One Day. Like today.
But first, excited about taking part in a #twitlit discussion on the book later in the month, and ruminating on one fantastic quote from "One Day" (which is being made into a film staring Anne Hathaway, to be released in 2011).
gorgeous, you old hag, and if I could give you just one gift ever for
the rest of you life it would be this. Confidence. It would be the gift
of confidence. Either that or a scented candle.”
She came to America from Ireland when she was just a girl, passing under the Statue of Liberty to life far from her family's farm. She raised five children, had a wild green thumb, fiery red hair, and a matching Irish temperament at times.
She enjoyed a good cup of tea and a glass of Hennessey even more.
She was my Nani, my mother's mother, and she held a special place in our hearts.
Tonight my mom and dad, who loved her so much in this life, held her hands as she passed into the next one.
I do believe she was met by her beloved husband Thomas, her family, and friends from Ireland to New York -- as well as the many dogs she cared for in her life, including our family dog Daisy.
Our hearts are heavy, but full of good memories too. I like to think she's raising a glass of Hennessey, looking down on us and smiling.
Here she is meeting Nate for the first time. Her love continues on.
Garage Sale America The companion website to Bruce Littlefield's brilliant book about the magic of garage sales.
Bureau of Communication Wacky pre-worded communcations for every occasion, including "Happy Divorce" and "Grievance Letter" with Ad-Lib type room for your own special personalizations.
Jancee Dunn Blog Pop culture/rock critic wrote a great memoir about being a writer for "Rolling Stone" and VJ for MTV. Most importantly, she hits the 70s and 80s right on the head, particularly with her descriptions of JcPenny's, where her father spent his career. Her blog has great photos from 70s Penny's catalogs, as well as links to her essays, etc.
Disco Museum Brilliant. Check out the entry on Paul Jabara, a fairly unknown singer songwriter who wrote for Donna Summer and more. He was also the person who created the red ribbon to bring awareness to HIV.
Roadside Architecture The author spends much of her time traveling across the U.S. taking photos of giant faux food displays, neon signs, fairytale villages ala "Rock City," old diners and malls and pet cemetaries. Nothing short of genius and addictive.
Bad Fads After buying a squishy porcupine type toy for Shane and I -- I mean Nate and I -- to play with, I remembered the wonderful Koosh Ball of the late 80s. Shane didn't remember this, so I Googled the term and came up with this great page -- the Museum of Bad Fads. Excited to see that there is a reference to Sea Monkeys, my personal favorite. Though they are not a "fad" -- they are a lifestyle!
Moms Rising This site advocates for moms to decide how they want to raise their kids -- whether it be to work outside the home or to be a SAHM. Most of all, it's about fair, equitable conditions in which one becomes a mom and the chance to raise healthy kids.
Mojo Mom A site that helps moms reflect on the fact that they are actually people, not just baby-making beings.