The Tuscaloosa Issue
This week, The Offending Adam pauses our usual publication schedule for a specific and important purpose. We are presenting a week of writing on Tuscaloosa.
Monday’s issue features work from Michael Martone, Steven Casimer Kowalski, Erin Lyndal Martin, and Juan Reyes. Tuesday’s issue, Robin Behn, Justin Runge, AB Gorham, and Katy Gunn. Wednesday, Kirk Pinho, Danilo Thomas, and Laurence Ross. Thursday, Brian Oliu, Samuel Gray, Jesse DeLong, and Darren C. Demaree. And Friday, B.J. Hollars, Erik Wennermark, Chris Mink, Katie Jean Shinkle, and Carrie Chappell.
Last week, tornados devastated the southern United States, and one of the hardest hit cities was Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the town where I spent four years of my life. The storm system took out neighborhood after neighborhood indiscriminately. In Tuscaloosa, as of Sunday, 39 are confirmed dead, 455 are still missing, and there have been more than 1000 injuries. The wreckage is indescribable, and preliminary property damage estimates for the region are in the billions. Please take a moment now to donate to the Red Cross and specify Tornado Disaster relief.
There are things I know about Tuscaloosa. Tuscaloosa is a magical place. That when they say Stars Fell on Alabama, they really did. That Tuscaloosa is a stubborn place. That you should not walk across the Lurleen Wallace Bridge. Ever. That Egan’s is still open, god dammit. That in Tuscaloosa there are insects of unfathomable size that you have never seen before and will never see again. Seriously—they just show up in your bedroom and then, poof, gone. That Tuscaloosa springs are the most beautiful. That at the bar, half shots very quickly become full shots and that the Elvis impersonator that frequents that same bar is also an avid gun collector. That the train rolls outside and echoes through the county jail. That macaroni and cheese is considered a vegetable. That there are some people who can find Dreamland off Jug Factory Road and there are people who cannot—it doesn’t matter how many times those people have been. That the heat and humidity will ruin a 3-pack of white t-shirts in less than a week. That the smartest people I have ever met I met in Tuscaloosa. That there are some mean Scrabble players in Tuscaloosa. That I fell in love in Tuscaloosa and with Tuscaloosa. I know that Tuscaloosa’s people are strong and like the place, that they are beautiful. That they are my friends. You will see from this collection of writing from people connected to Tuscaloosa that Tuscaloosa is boozy, ghostly, quiet, funny, sad; it is the seasons, a mythic place, the trunk of a car, red clay, a hammer, a bird, bratty sometimes, a train spike, a blurry view, bridges, an escape, a purgatory; that it is graceful, and it is lordly. That it is not gone. I know that Tuscaloosa may be broken and that Tuscaloosa may be bruised but that Tuscaloosa will recover. And that it will recover with our help.