|For December 6, 2000 "They're not sad at all, they're actually singing." - Vol. I No. XV published every other Wednesday|
Edgewood() Residents of the sleepy Edgewood community were shocked from their slumber this morning by sounds of mortar fire as insurgents from Dawson Memorial Baptist Church pressed forward from last year's armistice line, established at their new parking structure. Residents were at first confused, thinking that construction at the Dawson complex had started earlier than usual. As soon as realization set in, Edgewoodians mobilized their meager forces in an attempt to repulse the Dawson attack. But there were simply too many Baptists and the tiny Edgewood militia was forced into an isolated pocket of resistance near Nabeel's restaurant. Details remain sketchy, but it appears that the Dawson phalanx has driven a wedge between Edgewood and the rest of Homewood in an attempt to assimilate the entire territory. In a statement released a few hours after Operation Thunderlord began, Dawson officials stated a goal of "total victory over our Edgewood foes. We need our space, room to breath. We will build a better world within the Edgewood community and everyone is invited to join. Be sure to come to visitation every Sunday after the sanctuary service." But Edgewood residents have heard that line before and are prepared to fight the might this time. "First they asked for permission to build a 'Family' Recreation Center and that forced the closing of several roads," relates long time Edgewood resident James Thrasher from one of the makeshift refugee camps set up in Homewood. "Then they finished that and we got a few days respite before the parking structure madness began. Don't get me wrong they did a great job on the thing. It doesn't even look like a place for cars with all that architectural brick, frosted glass, and ornamental steel. It really is a work of art. But reducing Oxmoor to one lane, come on! And they still haven't repaved." Other Edgewood refugees tell a similar story, a tale of woe that has begun to define a people. The government of Homewood has declared that this aggression will not stand. Other suburban powers have pledged to support Homewood in its efforts to put down the Dawson uprising, and to provide humanitarian aid to the hundreds of displaced families and pets of the Edgewood community. A group of Jewish missionaries from Mountain Brook, responding quickly to the human tragedy, arrived at one refugee camp in an SUV caravan a few hours after fighting began. The group brought with them supplies and food, such as matzo balls and salted fish, and the promise of low cost loans to help displaced families in the eventual rebuilding of their homes. One mortgage was quoted as low as ten percent with no PMI. There has been no action from the city of Birmingham which is maintaining a long standing position of neutrality in suburban affairs not involving water or shopping malls. Citizens in the area are preparing for a long siege as Dawson puts up more barricades and fake facades for snipers. Most disturbing of all, Dawsonians removed the characters from their manger scene, clearly demonstrating that even the celebration of Christ's birth will not deter them from their mission.
Downtown() Southside resident Alice Durkee and city councilman Jimmy Blake on Tuesday released the first draft of their anxiously awaited RAPS proposal for Real Accountability, Progress, and Solutions. Among other progress and solutions, the massive report devotes several pages to a proposed enterprise zone around the old downtown business district that will include giving tax breaks to all barber shops and hot dog stands in the area. These establishments have been targeted in an effort to lure residents back to the downtown area by demonstrating a commitment to providing the necessities of life within walking distance of all residences. "If people can get a hair cut and a hot dog then we have done half of our job," said Blake. The other half of that job involves bringing more badly needed loft space to the central business district. To that end, the plan gives Operation New Birmingham much broader authority to strike deals with loft developers without first gaining approval from the city. In addition, Durkee, a long time denizen of Southside loft space, has offered to teach courses on loft living to those interested in taking the plunge. Topics will include Dividing Large Spaces With Light, Decorative Plastering, and Where to Find Those Glow in the Dark Planet and Star Stickers. Michael Calvert of ONB believes that this two phased attack on urban blight stands a good chance of succeeding. "Concentrating on the amenities side of the equation before the housing side is a good idea. We have to create a demand for downtown living space. We must get people clamoring for an inner city residence, and with a hair cut and a hot dog in close proximity who wouldn't be?" Other neighborhood services the plan has identified as first level priorities include bagel shops, wine bars, and 24 hour copy centers. "Everything that attracts people to the neighborhoods they currently live in is what we want downtown," says Calvert. "If that means a place where you can let your kids run around unsupervised until dinner time, then so be it. We can do that. Just give us a chance." One thing the RAPS plan lacks is a guarantee of a domed stadium for our fledgling XFL franchise. There is a paragraph in the plan which alludes to the possibility of a dome if the XFL team promises to play UAB in a yearly exhibition game. Another concern is some vague language repeatedly referring to a discretionary fund for 'unspecified spending.' Apparently Jimmy Blake will have complete control over the fund which we can only assume will be used to keep him supplied with stethoscopes to hang around his neck.
Downtown() Dennis Franchione, although not a true Bear disciple, did once break bread with the former Alabama coaching legend. It was Coach Fran's first year as a head coach and he decided to make a pilgrimage to Tuscaloosa, both for the chance to be in the presence of Bear, and to satisfy his craving for some down home barbecue pork spare ribs. Since there is no better place on earth for the succulent hog sticks than Tuscaloosa's Dreamland Barbecue, Coach Fran set out from Southwestern to try his luck. As fate would have it, Bear was quite fond of the Dreamland sauce, so it was almost inevitable that their paths would cross. Coach Fran still visibly trembles when calling up his memories of that day. "It was the summer of 1982, I think it was the day he signed that photograph on the wall. I remember him sitting there, with all that hot wet sauce running down his face, and I knew that I was in the presence of greatness." Coach Fran did not get to speak to the Bear that day, but still feels deeply affected by the experience. It may even have something to do with the path his career has taken, hopping around Texas, coaching at Southwest Texas and Texas Christian most recently. He never quite landed at Texas A&M even though he made sure to leave a buyout clause in his TCU contract should the Aggies come calling. But they never did, and now Coach Fran says he is glad. "I'm happy I didn't have to go through Junction to get to where I really belong, right here in Tuscaloosa!" It remains to be seen whether or not this tenuous Bear link will be enough for the Crimson Tide faithful. With a name like Coach Fran, we doubt it.