ART ON THE SIDE: Last week I praised Rojo for using its venue in as many formats as possible. Within a few weeks’ time you’re likely to find events that emphasize art, live music, film, food and drink and more, all within the framework of a bar and restaurant. But don’t let me make it seem like Rojo’s the only place in town to appreciate these things. Let me also refer you to Crestwood Coffee Company. With a name like that, most would suspect they’re only good for one thing. On the contrary, the coffee is merely a jumping off point for everything else they have to offer. For one, they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner with an assortment of soups, salads, sandwiches, bakery products and desserts. Secondly, they keep a regular schedule of live local music acts—far more regular than Rojo, I might add. Third, they hold art exhibits more frequently than some galleries, let alone the rest of the coffee shops. One such exhibit will be opening this week, a collection of paintings by Birmingham artist Lori Milazzo. The works are primarily in oil and acrylic, and are often classified as “abstract expressionist” paintings. Milazzo uses a wide palette of colors to make very surreal, yet distinct, shapes. The opening reception will go from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and admission is free. For more information, call (205) 595-0300 or visit Milazzo’s website, www.lorimilazzoart.com.
BRING ON THE BEADS: On March 8, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute will hold their 10th Annual Mardi Gras celebration as a fundraiser for the organization’s educational programs. The theme they’ve devised for this year is “Social + Social Media: Where Social and Social Media Come Together.” The social media angle is a new one, one they hope to fully take advantage of, with a special “app”-style logo and a text-based auction. A small group of activists, called “The Krewe of BCRI” is helping to put the word out there about the event, by hosting a preview celebration this Friday. The occasion is entitled “Mardi Gras: Mardi Parti” and looks to incorporate some of the most popular aspects of Mardi Gras, including King Cake, carnival music and bead tossing. There will be complimentary wine throughout the night, and guests will get a one-time chance to purchase tickets at a discount for the actual celebration in March. You must be 21 to attend the event, which extends from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call (205) 328-9696 or visit www.bcri.org.
PRICKLY PERFORMER: Zydeco’s not exactly known for its comedy shows, but this week it’s got one of the bigger names I’ve seen perform at the venue. I’m referring to Doug Stanhope, a comedian that’s been around for over 20 years, but one that most probably haven’t heard of. His relative obscurity, though, through fault of his hown. One look at Stanhope’s Wikipedia page and you can already tell you’re in for a good show, whether or not the jokes hit. Since the beginning of his career in 1990, he has made a name for himself as one of the business’s most controversial comedians. He’s gone to great lengths to offend citizens in Ireland, Scotland and England (where he likened the Royal Family to practices in the stone age), respectively, and is known as an all-around party animal. He frequently drinks and smokes onstage, and indulges in vulgarity whenever possible. I myself only know him from The Man Show, a Comedy Central program that aired in the early aughts, (this isn’t to say I watched The Man Show, just its onslaught of advertisements) and from his bit in The Aristocrats, a documentary wherein an endlessly diverse cast of comedians all take turns telling the same dirty joke. From what I remember, though, his material was pretty solid. And, as I said before, you can’t really go wrong entertainment-wise with a self-destructive, contentious personality like Stanhope’s. The show starts at 9 p.m. All tickets are $20. For more information, call (205) 933-1032 or visit www.zydecobirmingham.com.
TIE ONE ON: Two of the best dining destinations Birmingham currently has, and ones that I’ve failed to mention prior to this, are Avo & Dram in Mountain Brook Village. They are technically two different entities, but they share a location, among other things. Like specials, such as their half-price bottles on Sunday. Every week, the fine dining establishment and whiskey bar beneath offer some great selections at half-price (the offer excludes Avo’s reserve wine list). Even if you’re not in it for the wine, you’re bound to find something to like here. For more information about prices and times, call (205) 871-8212 or (205) 871-8055. To learn even more, visit www.avorestaurant.com or www.dramwhiskeybar.com.
NOW THAT’S ODD: Most people know what it’s like to have a roommate they don’t get along with, and if they don’t, they can certainly imagine it. There’s not much worse than a confrontation you have to relive over and over and over, with a person you’re contractually obligated to deal with, even though you’d just as fast have nothing to do with them. Neil Simon used this almost-universal feeling to his advantage, and his play, The Odd Couple, has been seen in countless iterations since its inception on Broadway in 1965. Samford University will be providing the latest local adaptation, and will perform both versions of the play: male and female. One features a group of men in a poker match, while the other revolves around women playing Trivial Pursuit (‘cause that’s totally the female equivalent of poker). The former version will be per-formed on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. The latter will play on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Tickets start at $12 for adults. For more information, call(205) 726-2853 or visit www.samford.edu.
STEP AWAY FROM THE LEDGE, WINO: Over the last couple of months, Pleasure Is All Wine in Pelham has been engaging in a four-part class entitled “Wino-Ledge.” We’ve featured these classes in our calendar, but it’s worth spotlighting them this week, due to this Tuesday’s being the last of them, “Wine-Ledge IV: Food Pairing.” As you can imagine, the primary focus of this class is finding your favorite pairs of food and wine, and “maximizing your enjoyment of both.” But it should also be a nice refresher course for anyone who’s taken the first three—heck, even if you haven’t taken the first three and you’re just curious, or want to know more about wine in general. Each class is $30. To learn more about times and prices, call (205) 985-4760 or visit www.pleasureisallwine.com.
WHO NEEDS AIRWAVES? If you’ve made a habit of reading this section every week, then you’re aware of how I feel about the state of broadcast radio in Birmingham. If you aren’t familiar with this sentiment, I’ll just say this: NPR is just about the only thing worth listening to on your dial these days, if you don’t count some oldies stations that only come in out of Tuscaloosa and Montgomery a fraction of the time. The only other alternative is Birmingham Mountain Radio, an internet-based station that’s picked up just about where LIVE 100.5 left off, back when Scott Register was still on the radio. Obviously, it’s much harder to keep up with an online station, especially when you do most of your radio-listening in your car, like I do. So it’s always good to support that team in other ways, namely by attending concerts sponsored by Reg’s Coffee House, such as this week’s at WorkPlay. Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, a folk/blues rock group, will headline a performance on the SoundStage, after openers Jonathan Tyler & the Northern Lights. The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $17 in advance, and $20 at the door. For more information, call (205) 879-4773 or visit www.workplay.com.
REMEMBERING THE IMPACT: To this day, I still maintain that the determining factor of any class you take will always be the teacher. I don’t care what subject it is; unless you’re the type to motivate yourself no matter what, you’re going to do better in a class where you actually like the person teaching it. When I was in school, one of my least favorite classes was always history. I didn’t respond to lectures about it even while knowing it could easily be one of the most interesting and appealing subjects. And I’ve always chalked it up to the teachers I had. The last one I can remember actually firing me up about the class was my history teacher in the sixth grade. There are a few reasons his class was so enjoyable: he had a decisive, booming voice that demanded attention, he understood a middle schooler’s sense of humor, and he had the added bonus of teaching me about World War II for the first time. To be fair, it’s one of the craziest and most uncertain times in the history of our nation and the world over, and anyone should have been able to make it compelling. But he had a special knack for instilling empathy, and when we got to the Holocaust unit, I began actually looking forward to class. The whole thing was like a car wreck I couldn’t look away from. Never since has there been something so disturbing and fascinating at the same time. And it is with this sentiment I recommend “Darkness into Life” at the Birmingham Public Library next Thursday, an educational display detailing the lives of 20 Alabama Holocaust survivors. The traveling photography exhibition has made stops so far at the LJCC, Samford University, the Civil Rights Institute, the Mobile Museum of Art and many more, spreading its message of “understanding [the] impact on these individuals and their families.” The exhibition will run all the way through April 1. For more information about times, call (205) 226-3604 or visit www.bplonline. org. To learn more about the exhibition, visit www.bhamholocausteducation.org.