Like most of you, I like the idea of spring cleaning more than the actual tidying process itself.
I rationalize my lassitude by thinking about the way plant life will take over the great cities after people are gone, at least according to the History Channel.
That removes a great deal of the impetus to actually pick books up off the floor and put them on shelves that I know now are doomed thousands of years from now to be entwined with various ivies and hybrid kudzus.
On the plus side, when I actually pick up that book, I usually find that scrap piece of paper upon which I scribbled the killer idea for a column that never came to fruition, mainly because I mislaid the scrap.
Pick up enough books, and one finds sufficient half-baked notions and diffident musings to fill, say, one column. Like maybe this one. Which starts with this:
As St. Louis, Houston and other cities have staged big parades for returning veterans of the Iraq War, one might have wondered why Birmingham, the city that prides itself on having the biggest Veterans Day parade in the country, hasn’t pulled the bunting out of a warehouse for a celebration of its own. After all, service personnel coming back from the Middle East are getting, generally speaking, the same silent treatment Vietnam-era returnees received decades ago.
Now we learn from The Birmingham Times, in an article written by professional event organizer Bessie Bell, that professional event organizer Bessie Bell is jumping into the breach, planning simultaneous parades in Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery, Mobile and Tuscaloosa May 9. Collaborating with an organization called Great Expectations Military Services, Bell plans a weekend of recognition replete with readings of the names of the fallen, “many police chiefs or their representatives” serving as Grand Marshals, and “Resource Villages” set up in city parks “that will include food, music and entertainment but will also connect returning vets with organizations to help ease transition to civilian life.”
And somewhere amidst all that activity, perhaps a simple “Thank you for your service.”
Congratulations to The Tuscaloosa News, winner of a Pulitzer Prize for its tornado coverage last year. The T-News has always been an overachieving organization, but faced with getting out an edition with power lines down and its coverage area upended by storms, its staff resorted to social media and the good offices of The Birmingham News (which printed hard copies until the Tuscaloosa presses were up and running again) to publish details of the calamity. If Tommy Stevenson and the crew get a trophy for their efforts, I hope they won’t show it off at A-Day next year.
Emceeing a little music festival off the two-lane the other week, I happened upon an ensemble that deserves to be working great big festivals. Billy and The Kid is actually a trio, one that channels the Carter Family by way of the Avett Brothers, able to twirl the dial from “The House of the Rising Sun” to “Umbrella.” The glowing nuclear core of the group is the interplay of the voices of guitarist Billy Holbrook and the effortlessly atomic Ivey Roper, with harmonies that could etch a glass before they shatter it.
There’s a three-song EP, but as yet no web presence, so Billy and The Kid are living off the grid for now (fittingly, perhaps, in Columbus, Ga.). With talent like this, though, not for long.
Hey, speaking of music: Birmingham is well represented at this weekend’s 25th annual Merlefest in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. Finalists in that music festival’s yearly Chris Austin Songwriting Contest include Shannon Slaughter of Trussville, who made it into the Country category with a song co-written with Dale Felts and Mark Byrd (not of Trussville) entitled, “I’ve Hit Everything In My Life (But My Knees).”
Then there’s my Shades Valley High classmate, Louisa Branscomb, who’s a finalist in the Bluegrass category with her song, “Stormy Night.” When we were in Latin Club together, she never once mentioned she’d be taking up the banjo one day and writing songs Allison Krauss and John Denver would be covering. Or that she would record a new CD with Ms. Krauss, Claire Lynch, John Cowan and more fine artists, entitled I’ll Take Love. Merely an oversight, I imagine.
Stevie ran into Willard at the Piggly Wiggly. “I have been craving some white chocolate fudge,” she said. “Do you know where I can get some?”
“I don’t know,” said Willard, chewing something out of a paper bag he was carrying. “You might try the Winn-Dixie on Montevallo Road.”
She drove all the way over to Montevallo Road and was in the Winn-Dixie candy aisle when she bumped into Willard. He had the same paper bag and was still chewing away. “They don’t have any white chocolate fudge here,” Stevie said. “Seriously, where can I get some?”
“I don’t know,” said Willard. “I’d probably try V. Richards in Forest Park.”
Against her better judgment, Stevie drove all the way over to Forest Park. She looked in every aisle and up by the cash register, but there was no white chocolate fudge.
Fuming, she walked into the parking lot. There was Willard and his stupid paper bag. “What have you got in that paper bag, anyway?” she demanded.
“White chocolate fudge,” he replied. “Got it at the airport in Denver. Want some?”
What Willard didn’t know was that Stevie was a witch, with a purple belt in transmutation. She turned Willard into a frog, reasoning that with all his amphibian qualities, he should not be denied his true nature. As Willard hopped away, Stevie grabbed the bag and looked inside. It wasn’t white chocolate fudge. It was peanut butter. She guessed Willard had only been kidding with her.
The moral: What you don’t know may not kill you, but you’re going to die anyway.
Courtney Haden is a Weld columnist. Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.