The Birminghamster
For April 16, 2003 "Spring has sprung!" - Vol. III No. VII published every other Wednesday



  Vulcan Worshippers Await Fire God's Return to Sacred Mountaintop

He arises

Faithful Following
Red Mountain(JM) With assurances that his triumphant return is nigh, worshippers of Vulcan, God of the fire and forge, are making preparations to greet his divine reappearance on Red Mountain. Each morning at dawn, scores of workmen arrive at the mountaintop site and ascend the stairs of the great veiled pillar to painstakingly make his stone pedestal ready. At the same time, a priestly clan of holy ironworkers, clad in the traditional backless leather apron, work furiously to scrub and shine the skin of the enormous metal idol.

Plans are set to welcome his triumphant reappearance on the 100th anniversery of his first emergence from the fire and his path of exaltation that began in the holy city of Saint Louis. Many Vulcanists in our region show impatience at the absence of Vulcan’s great bearded visage glaring over the haze that blankets Birmingham. Philip of Ox-Moor, in particular, has been voicing his anger at the slow pace of preparations, and laying blame for many of our city’s recent turmoils on the fickle lack of faith demonstrated by the populace in Vulcan’s absence: "Lo, his torch shall burn red as the hot ingot! O ye Children of the furnaces who have knelt before sculapius and partaken of the Bear-King’s spectacles! Ye who have forsaken your faith for the glint of iron carriages which pour forth from Rine-land and the empire of the sun! Let not thine eyes be turned! Gather ye at the foot of the holy mountain and witness the glory of Vulcan, your god!"

Others consider Philip’s words to be but a cry in the wilderness, however, as they question what glory and honor Vulcan has ever brought to Birmingham. "As gods go, he’s actually pretty lame," said Hubie Derwicky, the young head scholar of Altamont. "I mean, he stood there over the great depression, he stood there while Atlanta rose from the ashes, he stood there while blacks and whites fought in the streets, he stood there as all the good manufacturing jobs vanished, and the whole time he stood there, he stood there with his ass hanging out." Also skeptical the preparations to welcome Vulcan is a tribe of evangelical Christ worshippers from the Eastern part of the valley. Led by a confederation of preachers and judges and standing upon a two-ton granite monument, they called on their own vengeful and jealous God to confound the efforts of the workers as when the Babylonians sought to erect their tower in Baghdad. Some evidence of the success of their prayers may be seen in the hubbub of conflicting voices which have come from preservation consultants, politicians, accessibility advocates, supervisors, accountants, masons, fund-raisers and litigants.

Dallas County Line Plays Farewell Concert from Temporary Roof of Digital Hospital

Rooftop Rarity

Adieu, adieu
North Shelby(JMDS) Resplendent in their suburban-executive cowboy chic outfits, Richard Scrushy and his erstwhile bandmates from Dallas County Line staged their own campaign of "shock and awe" in the form of an unannounced free concert from atop HealthSouth’s unfinished $300 million digital hospital. To the surprise of hundreds of commuters stuck on Highway 280 during the morning rush, the band performed an hour long set of rockin’ country-blues, including Bukka White’s "Sick 'Em Dogs On," Johnny Cash’s "I Walk the Line" and "I Got Stripes" as well as several Scrushy-penned anthems like "A Whole Lotta Trouble." Many who found themselves in the car-bound audience for the historic farewell concert were able to catch both encores before the morning gridlock dissipated.

"We had considered building a multi-purpose domed venue just for the concert, or flying fans over to one of Richard’s islands with our corporate fleet," said former Assistant Controller Ken Livesay, who plays bass for the band, "but cooler heads prevailed, and so when negotiations with Colonial Brookwood Villiage broke down, we kind of said, 'f__ it, let’s just play on the roof of the Digital Hospital.’" (HealthSouth’s prototypical flagship facility is conveniently located on the banks of the mighty Cahaba, just minutes from the heart of the Magic City.)

The spontaneous decision to use the half-completed medical station created a host of problems for Media Vice President, Jason Hervey (formerly 'Wayne' on ABC's The Wonder Years). "Well, you know," complained Hervey, "the crane operators are off the job because of the work-stoppage, and the insurance bond only covers licensed operators, so I ended up hauling all of these equipment cases and lighting rigs up the stairs. Then we found out we couldn't tie into the existing electrical panels for the amplifiers because Alabama Power was holding a lien against the project. So we ended up putting all these generators on the fourth floor and running up extension cords."

Audience members had mixed reactions. Larry House, a former HealthSouth and MedPartners executive who watched the show live via an intra-corporate satellite uplink at the Scrushy Conference Center, fought back tears as he thought of good times past and reflected on the artistic promise of the legendery executive musical group. "Dallas County Line has always exhibited the best of our [corporate] culture," House said, "I think this heartfelt farewell concert will help bind the [corporate] community together in support of this group of wonderful men." By contrast, Mary Margaret Lutz, a homemaker on her way to a meeting at a marble and tile showroom in Mountain Brook, interrupted a routine check of her voice mail messages to offer her opinion. "I didn't know what was going on up there! Twice my phone cut out in the middle of a fax and I look up and all I see is this big half-built eyesore all flickering like when a squirrel gets fried on the power lines. Then I heard a lot of rumbling and somebody moaning. It sounded like I had a Mexican pinned under the Tahoe or something, so I just rolled up the window and got back to work."

Dallas County Line, founded in 1993 after the break up of HealthSouth's first executive musical group, the Proxies, had been best known for keeping the crowds moving before headline country acts at City Stages. Their 1997 self-titled album has consistently been an under-performer on where one reviewer wrote: "I must say this was a bad investment and that I really didn't get what I paid for... I would wait until they have things sorted out before investing in this offering." Fans of the group will mourn not only the loss of their unique music, but also the end of an era when corporate boardrooms had a real honky-tonk attitude that has almost disappeared from the modern corporate landscape.