A Man’s State on Camera

Carol M. Highsmith / Library of Congress

This picture of Noccalula Falls is one of fifty images of Alabama posted yesterday at the Atlantic. I live in a beautiful state, full of legends and rituals (most of the latter involving Nascar).

A Man is Outside Again

Yesterday, Birmingham asked residents to “shelter in place,” which means only leaving the house for essentials. I think the city gov does count exercise as an essential, but in any case, I’m glad we went to Sicard Hollow before the announcement was made.

Fat clouds, strong breeze, open space. Apart from the humidity, I could have almost believed I was back in Idaho.

A Man Goes to Mudtown

Our apartment is a mile from our church. During the four-minute drive from one to the other, we pass a crooked building with a loan office and a mani-pedi place on the ground floor and a cafe up top. The Mudtown Cafe, home of the worst parking lot in Birmingham.

I went there for lunch today with my brother Smith. We sat out on the covered deck, where we had a good view of the Walgreens. He ordered a cajun burger and I ordered a catfish po’ boy. Both of us got cheesy grits on the side. The food was tasty. Not fantastic, not bad. The conversation scintillated. The view was dramatic, in the way all Walgreenses are. To quote Albert from the Frances books, “I like a good lunch.”

A Man is Back, With Updates

Ah, fall. School starts, routines begin, school continues, routines falter, school continues to continue, routines somehow straggle on. Few updates of late because I’ve been busy. My drafts folder has gotten full, however, so here’s everything in one big post. Think of it as a newsletter.

One. During Art Walk the other weekend, we wandered through downtown Birmingham, mostly 1st and 2nd Avenues (North) between 23rd and 25th, with a short, bouncy jaunt down the cobblestones on Morris. Birmingham isn’t a big city, which we like very much. We get a bit of city culture and architecture (see photos) but it feels comprehensible in a way that Philadelphia never did. We didn’t run into anyone that we knew at Art Walk, but if we had, I wouldn’t have been too surprised.

Two. Jesse Thorn’s Put This On web series is pretty good. Thanks to limits of budget and subject (men’s clothing) it doesn’t have the scope of, say, Chef’s Table, but it’s informative and entertaining. What more could you ask of a web series? More than the content, I was interested in watching Adam Lisagor develop his style. Lisagor is the creator and director (creative director?) of my favorite explainer video company, the unique — though much-imitated — Sandwich Video. There’s one moment in the first Put This On video when the video cuts to Adam’s face a little “too” early and he stares at the camera for a few awkward seconds before he starts talking. I think Lisagor finds awkwardness funny, which makes his commercials really interesting. You feel like he’s on your side, sharing a joke, almost poking fun at the products he’s selling. Irony as a marketing tactic.

Three. This brings up something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately: does faithful living mean cutting with or against the grain of “how the world works?” Ought Christians have the best websites on the web, or ought we spend our energies on more important things?

Four. I somehow landed a job at the local baptist university, teaching two sections of something called Communication Arts. My beat-up standard-issue metal adjunct desk is three decades old and contained one thing when it was delivered to my office: a rusty razor blade. Hint, hint?

Jokes aside, Samford has a beautiful campus (see photo) and has been a great place to work so far. My one-year-old daughter and I spend lots of time sweating our way past the buildings on our daily walks.


Five. The problem with stuff like this is that debunking is the easiest form of argument. You can always say, “My opponent hasn’t read thus and such,” and pretend that you’ve excoriated him when all you’ve really done is list book titles. I haven’t read anything by Jordan Peterson, but I doubt I’d find him as maddening as this dude seems to.