A Toast

max-2018-beauRinging in 2018.

By Max Rykov

Oh, Birmingham, Alabama! The Pittsburgh of the South. The Johannesburg of Jefferson County. The Atlanta of the Greater Birmingham Metropolitan Area. Our city has gotten quite a lot of attention as of late-—for our thriving culinary scene, for our extravagant attempts to lure Amazon here, and for being the first city in the United States since 1981 to host the World Games. Yes, Birmingham is becoming quite the cosmopolitan town, and sooner or later, international eyes will be looking at us for wisdom and guidance.

Such standing in the global community sounds glamorous, but the reality will be much more daunting. We’ll be expected to be refined and erudite, bastions of class and grace!

Throughout the calendar, there’s always an opportunity to celebrate a significant cultural occasion—to honor those historic icons and moments that have shaped humankind. By doing so, we’ll not only be viewed by our friends as sophisticated, but more importantly, we’ll be held in high esteem by even the fanciest of foreigners.

Every month, I’ll be sharing a few significant days for us to acknowledge. Use these days as an excuse to get together, to celebrate life, and throw the most culturally aware dinner party in the neighborhood!

Get your glasses ready, y’all. Here’s what to toast in January 2018.

January 8th:

Birthdays of Elvis Presley

and Stephen Hawking

On this day we celebrate the birthdays of two of the universe’s most beloved entities, Stephen Hawking and Elvis Presley. Both of these cultural icons were pioneers in their respective fields. Presley, inspired by the traditionally “black” genre of rhythm and blues, created a new, exciting sound that made rock & roll palatable for the general public. Hawking, inspired by the traditionally “black” holes in the fabric of space-time, developed new and exciting ideas that made quantum mechanics palatable for general relativists. Elvis, one of the most seductive and physically attractive men in recorded history, performed with unprecedented energy, and used his pelvic gyrations to inspire a generation to act horizontally. Stephen, one of the most intelligent and physically disabled men in recorded history, wrote about unprecedented cosmic energies, and used his cerebral gyrations to inspire a generation to think vertically. So today, as we find ourselves floating in this vast multitude of existence, this metaphorical hotel of heartbreak, let us honor these legends. Together, they represent the balance of beauty and brains, the higher and the lower, the yin and the yang. May we live this day, as all days, in passionate harmony.

January 15th:

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

MLK, Jr.’s connection to Birmingham doesn’t really need to be explained. There is perhaps no single person more responsible for putting our city on the map than him. So how can we properly honor his life? Here are a few of my suggestions: Watch videos of him speaking, expand your mind, decrease your hate, maintain good eye contact with conversation partners, tell someone special “I love you,” have good posture, be nice to children, respect your elders, give a firm handshake, give a hug that drags on a bit too long, debunk a pesky conspiracy theory, feed your pet something fancy, found a peace-themed non-profit organization, forgive your least favorite enemy, go to the mountaintop, see the Promised Land, and flip off every obstacle that stands in the way of unity among all people!

January 29th: Oprah Winfrey’s Birthday

John Lennon once remarked that “there is a great woman behind every idiot.” On this day, we celebrate the birthday of THE great woman, the woman who is not only behind every idiot, but next to him, in front of him, on his television, and featured in the latest issue of his favorite magazine: Oprah Gail Winfrey. Her rise to omnipresence from her hometown in rural Mississippi is a testament to the power of perseverance, personal charisma, and divine predestination. Most powerful woman in the world, sure—but #Oprah is much more than that. She’s a heavenly presence, a celestial being, curating the wisdom of the ages to the working classes in a fashionable and regularly scheduled manner. The mere mention of the name “Oprah” makes us feel safe and informed, hopeful for self-actualization, a new car, a better life. Despite not having any children of her own, Oprah has managed to rear an entire planet to mature consumerhood. Without “Momma Winfrey’s” approval, we dare not read a book, listen to an album, or vote for a politician. How much is her care of us worth—-$1 million? $10 million? $2.6 billion? Oprah’s positive influence on global civilization is priceless, beyond any sum of money (valued at $2.8 billion). On this night, raise a glass to her highness, her philanthropist extraordinairess, Madam Oprah Winfrey!

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