The Blond Guitar
by Jeremy Burden
My most valuable possession is an old, slightly warped blond guitar--the first instrument I taught myself how to play. It's nothing fancy, just a Madeira folk guitar, all scuffed and scratched and finger-printed. At the top is a bramble of copper-wound strings, each one hooked through the eye of a silver tuning key. The strings are stretched down a long, slim neck, its frets tarnished, the wood worn by years of fingers pressing chords and picking notes. The body of the Madeira is shaped like an enormous yellow pear, one that was slightly damaged in shipping. The blond wood has been chipped and gouged to gray, particularly where the pick guard fell off years ago. No, it's not a beautiful instrument, but it still lets me make music, and for that I will always treasure it.
Why Birmingham Can Be Scary After
by W. F. O'Rourke
[pic]The people I encountered in downtown Birmingham late one recent Sunday evening made me nervous and even afraid. For example, at the first stop light I encountered after rolling off I-65 down near UAB, a scary dude with a long scar running down one side of his face came off the sidewalk with a bottle of Windex and a dirty rag and started "cleaning" my windshield. I knew he would be asking for money any minute, and I really didn't want to roll down my window; so as soon as the light turned green, I hit my horn and pulled away as fast as I dared. About four or five blocks further down the street, I stopped for another red light, and another nerve-wracking character appeared. As I looked to my right, I saw an old woman pushing a shopping cart and talking loudly to herself. She bounced the shopping buggy over the curb and was just about to plow into the side of my car. By now she was shouting, but I couldn't understand what she was saying. I just barely avoided hitting her as I ran the light and tried to get out of her sight. Several blocks later, near the Greyhound...