The Birminghamster
For June 12, 2002 "What's so odd about that?" - Vol. III No. I published every other Wednesday

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  Cox, Barkley Hope More Birminghamsters Earn Fame, Deflect Attention

Famous 'Hamsters

Famous folks
Downtown(JM) Recently honored at a 'Best of Birmingham' banquet at Boutwell Auditorium, celebrities Courteney Cox-Arquette and 'Sir' Charles Barkley expressed hope that more Alabamians would become nationally famous and deflect some of the hometown attention away from them. "It’s a little embarrassing, actually," whined Cox-Arquette, "I mean, one time Mayor Whatsisname approached me about naming a street after me. I don’t remember which one but I’m sure I never drove on it and I’m sure it would ruin my shocks if I did." Barkley was more diplomatic, emphasizing how proud he was to be a product of Leeds public schools. "Even so," he added, "I would not mind seeing a few fellow Leedites make it big. I know I’ve videotaped a special message for every freakin’ graduating class since 1990. And it would be my dream come true to just walk into Sammy’s some afternoon as Joe-Nobody and not get hassled for autographs by all those out-of-work USFL-CFL-XFL players working security."

A spokesperson for the annual "Best of Birmingham" awards (which have honored Barkley in 1989, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1999, and 2000 and Cox-Arquette in 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, and 2001) expressed his sympathy for the over-hyped pair. "It must be quite a burden to carry the hopes and dreams of all Birminghamians on their shoulders but until Nell Carter mounts a comeback, this is all we’ve got." "I don’t see where it’s such a burden," countered 10-time 'Best of Birmingham' nominee and Tuskegee native Lionel Richie. "I’ve been representing the fine citizens of Alabama for decades, and I’ve never felt the least bit ashamed or inconvenienced."

Well enough for Richie, but this elite group may soon indeed have company. Apparently soccer star Mia Hamm of Selma is currently dating Boston Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, who apparently played college ball in Atlanta, of which Birmingham is an official franchise. These two are clearly qualified to join the ranks of the Alabama glitterati.

Tide Reportedly Not to Pay Any Recruits in 2002

pay for play?

Anti-pay strategist
Tuscaloosa() Recent NCAA sanctions and a state wide budget deficit have forced the University of Alabama to take the unprecedented step of ending all payments to its freshman football recruits. The bad publicity faced by the Crimson Tide athletic department in recent months, coupled with severe penalties handed down by the NCAA is also expected to put a halt on all fringe benefits that current and former players are receiving. Many players had been cautiously optimistic that the sanctions would only involve cutting scholarships, while leaving the current university benefits system in place. However, revenue decreases from bowl and television bans have given the university no alternative but to cut out the pay for play policy altogether.

"We really felt like we would still be able to pay the players small amounts of money under the table," said athletic director Mal Moore, "but the money we had earmarked for the players will have to go to other areas now because we're going to lose so much revenue." Alabama football historian Jefferson Berle believes this is the first time Alabama has not paid recruits since the late 1960's when the NCAA simply stopped monitoring such activity. "Used to they all got paid. As long as they didn't get paid too much and it wasn't too obvious, nobody cared," said Berle. "Now with the sanctions, along with the spending freeze they'll be hard pressed to get anyone to come in here and play for them in the future."

University officials claim the setback will only be temporary and once the program is out of the watchful gaze of the NCAA, payments will begin again. It is still not clear how money that was earmarked for the players is being spent, although the university does have tremendous legal expenses related to the NCAA case. A University spokesperson, who asked not to be identified, did offer assurances that the money will not be used for education, but will instead be funneled into other areas of the athletic department.

Tornadic Activity Spurs Reascendancy Of White Males

Red Mountain() When it comes down to non-stop coverage of generally illusory atmospheric events, Birmingham area TV-news consumers prefer to put their trust in middle-aged white men in suits. ABC3340 focus groups indicated that the carefully engineered diversity of the full news anchor team previously pictured on this billboard was too uncomfortable for times of national or seasonal crisis.

A member of the marketing team who supervised the shift but asked not to be identified noted, "Hard core investigative reporting on tattoo parlors and tax fraud is one thing, but for simultaneously frightening and reassuring viewers about commonplace meteorological events, you need a different emphasis in your branding." The correct emphasis was soon made clear in the focus group meetings. "You like to see something comforting and familiar in times of stress," said one study participant. "And this team is definitely the oatmeal of news." Expect to see more out of town white guys on your favorite local station soon.