Dixieland What?

This installation of the Franklin Stove Blog is a departure from the usual format.

It’s fictional, based on accounts of actual events.

It might even be considered a ghost writ post.

This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is purely coincidental.

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels.com

In 1968, when I was last alive in Bryant-Denny Stadium, the song “Dixieland Delight” wouldn’t have appealed to many students.

I wouldn’t have in my wildest imagination thought that students could get into such a redneck anthem.

Spend my dollar, parked in a holler,
‘Neath the mountain moonlight.
Hold her up tight, make a little lovin’,
A little turtle dovin’.
On a Mason-Dixon night.
Fits my life, oh so right,
My Dixieland Delight.

The song was so hokey that students began chanting vulgar taunts along with it, leading to it being banned from the stadium in 2015. In 2018, the song returned, under the condition that it would be sung without the obscene chants that had been added by students.

During the Alabama Vanderbilt game, if I hadn’t been a ghost, I would’ve puked when the song was sung along with by thousands of seemingly hysterically happy fans. The team’s elephant mascot “Big Al” led the crowd’s singing which was accompanied by the flashing lights I can’t stand.

I wonder what my friend Estelle would have thought to see black cheerleaders dancing along to the song, making lasso moves as if they were on horseback. I know she never cottoned to anything with “Dixie” in it.

Since so many students come from areas that have no relationship to the Mason-Dixon line and certainly have been nowhere near a holler, maybe they just used the song to let off some steam. They had been percolating in pheromones for hours. I could chalk it up to pent up sexual frustration.

The football team continues to win at Bryant Denny Stadium, my home away from life. But the fans in the stadium could well be in a redneck version of a Fellini movie.

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Crazy bright lights in the stadium

This installation of the Franklin Stove Blog is a departure from the usual format.

It’s fictional, based on accounts of actual events.

It might even be considered a ghost writ post.

This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is purely coincidental.

Hi, it’s me, Rose. My home away from life–Bryant Denny Stadium–erupted into pandemonium when the first football game of the year took place.

First–those lights! Those lights were killing me! And I’m dead already!

Whoever had the idea of turning the stadium into some sort of light show must have been four sheets to the wind. It freaked me out. Don’t they know that some people have a form of epilepsy that is triggered by flashing lights?

I looked at a discarded ticket stub and didn’t see any warning about the lights. I once read a video game console’s warning. It said that people who were subject to this kind of epilepsy could experience “lightheadedness, altered vision, eye or face twitching, jerking or shaking of arms or legs, disorientation, confusion, or momentary loss of awareness.” They could have seizures that cause loss of consciousness or even convulsions that can lead to injury from falling down or striking nearby objects.

I suppose some people who had consumed too much alcohol could experience many of the same symptoms. Now people can buy beer and wine in the stadium. Back in 1968, when I went to my last game in corporeal form, students and other fans would smuggle alcohol into the stadium. People like Shorty Price were notoriously drunk at games. I remember hearing how the perennial candidate for Governor in Alabama had peed on nearby fans. Price was called Alabama football’s unofficial “Head Cheerleader.” He purportedly once lowered his pants and “mooned” a rival team’s fans.

Beer was sold at concessions stands in the stadium for $8.99 for domestic beers and $9.99 for craft, local beers. Most people were buying Coors or Budweiser. Beers in the club rooms sold for less. There were recycling bins for the cans but I didn’t see a lot of people using them. No one was allowed to carry a can out of the stadium. I’m sure that beer was being bought by minors with fake IDs, but the cost probably was prohibitive for binge drinking.

In the nose bleed U4KK section of the stadium high above the fifty yard line I noticed a woman who, unlike Shorty Price, seemed to be sober as she led cheers and vociferously showed her team support. She just could not stay in her seat. She seemed to be very popular though with the fans who were seated nearby as she vigorously shook her booty for the Tide.

There was a steady stream of people carrying brown paper bags and cardboard boxes into the stadium on the Friday before the game. That piqued my interest. I found out that they were going into the field suites lounges and the “Zone Clubs” at either end of the field. It turned out that they were carrying hard liquor to place into private lockers. Bringing regular bottles of booze into the stadium on Saturday would’ve been impossible. On game days, even in my days as a live fan, miniature bottles were smuggled in.

The different kinds of accommodations in the stadium are varied. There were air conditioned areas with catered food and bar service. There were seats with chair backs at the edge of the field where people were able to retreat to a lounge and watch the game on flat screen televisions. Some fans even had private restrooms. It kind of reflected society at large, with the haves and have-nots. But the price of tickets these days means that even the have-nots aren’t paupers. I remember in 1968 that just about anybody could afford to go to a game. Now single tickets for the Auburn game begin at over $250.

I’d intended to ride on the sky cam. Somehow I was going to “fly” over the field but I couldn’t figure out how to reach it. I did spend a lot of time with the team on the sidelines. During the game I think a Utah State player actually saw me. As the player staggered off the field after being hit hard, he looked me right in the eyes. He must have had a “near death” experience. But I doubt if he remembered it.

The Crimson Tide dispatched the Utah State Aggies without breaking a sweat–55-0. The stadium, which was almost filled to capacity with fans, emptied out in the fourth quarter. The temperature in the stadium, which was in the eighties, began to cool off before the end of the game. Rain was in the air.

It seemed as if the Crimson Tide when it played in Bryant-Denny stadium just never lost or tied. But I think Coach Saban may have felt like his team was truly only winning when the the players followed through on what they had learned in practice. When the players passed under the large illuminated “Be A Champion” message on the ceiling of the tunnel before exiting to the field, they must have known what Saban was expecting. In an interview I think he said something like “all actions taken in life, regardless of how trivial they may seem, affect the desired outcome.”

When I was haunting Tutwiler Hall in 1977, a song “Deacon Blues” that I liked by a band named Steely Dan was released. I thought about the lyrics. “They got a name for the winners in the world/ I want a name when I lose/ They call Alabama the Crimson Tide/ Call me Deacon Blues.” My friend in Tutwiler Estelle seemed like she’d be a good deacon at times, when she wasn’t taking me to a dive bar or trying to corrupt me in some other way. She would occasionally quote the scriptures, things like “In the Kingdom of God Loss Is Gain.” But most of the fans at the stadium wouldn’t agree. For them winning is everything. I remember something that Coach “Bear” Bryant was supposed to have said about a tie being like kissing your sister. He also said, “I ain’t never been nothin but a winner.”

I briefly visited the television broadcast booth. It seemed pretty cramped. I hope the ESPN play by play announcers watched what they were eating. I don’t know much about playing any sports, much less football. They seemed to have an infinite amount of knowledge about the players and game. Their cheat sheets helped of course.

Although I can feel the temperature and smell odors, my sensory perception is somewhat diminished. But it’s enough.

Floating in the air that stadium lights pierced was a vortex of skin cells, sour and pungent odors from spilled beer, vomit, stadium food, sweat, stale cologne and flatulence as well as a mixture of bacteria and viruses. The cacophony from screams of the fans, the playing of the band and groans from the players will linger in my mind. My first game in my home away from life, in spite of the crazy bright lights, will doubtlessly haunt me as long as I’m haunting the stadium.

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Denny’s Greek Capstone Legacy

Bryant-Denny Stadium

George Hutcheson “Mike” Denny, who was President of the University of Alabama for twenty-five years (1912 to 1936) truly left his mark on campus.

The Bryant-Denny Football Stadium and Denny Chimes are monuments to his legacy.

An article in The Tuscaloosa News by Mark Hughes Cobb dealt with Denny‘s public stance that favored the prohibition of alcohol. In the article Delbert Reed, writer-in-residence at the Paul W. Bryant Museum, pointed out that Denny was the son a Presbyterian minister.

According to The Encyclopedia of Alabama, Denny was responsible for 35 fraternity and sorority houses being built on the campus. As an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, Denny was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. Sigma Chi was installed at the University of Alabama in 1876. On the website for the Iota Iota Chapter of Sigma Chi there is a tale about an illegal duel in 1877 between members of Sigma Chi (ΣΧ) and Delta Kappa Epsilon (ΔKE) fraternities where the ΔKE member lost his life. The student from ΣΧ was ultimately acquitted in a jury trial.

As a consequence of the duel, University officials mandated the disbanding and removal of all fraternities on campus. However members of the Iota Iota Chapter formed an underground society that came to be known as the Phi Epsilon Literary Society.

In 1914, Sigma Chi alumnus George Denny pulled some strings for his fraternity and it was allowed back on the University campus. Coincidentally, in the same year, the Student Government Association was established.

The University’s Student Government Association has for decades been dominated by another underground “society,” which started out as a chapter of the Theta Nu Epsilon fraternity. The Business Insider reported on The Machine‘s role in campus life. Esquire magazine ran a cover story on the secretive organization in 1992.

Article in Esquire by Philip Weiss

As the President who was responsible for the emergence of the University’s Greek community, Denny‘s stance on the prohibition of alcohol may appear incongruous. The social fabric of Greek life seems to be predicated on the use of alcohol. Denny was a Sigma Chi member. Perhaps at his fraternity at the University of Virginia he was actually a teetotaler?

In 2021 the Crimson White‘s Isabel Hope wrote an article posing the question “How does the Machine survive at UA?” In the article Hope told the story of Alex Smith, who had been a member of The Machine. Smith called The Machine “Alabama’s dirty little secret.”

It’s no secret

The University of Alabama has had a history of secret organizations. In some way, it might not be unreasonable to think that one of them is somewhat a part of George Denny‘s legacy.

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T-Town Awash In Booze

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

WUAL/23‘s Jaboree Prewitt reported on the preparation for the Crimson Tide‘s first home game of 2022. He quoted the General Manager Landon McCrary of the Booth as having said:

“We have seven game-day bars across seven different fraternities all across University Boulevard and we’ve been preparing for them all week.”

McCrary must have been referring to the game-day bars for which Brandon Hanks, owner of The Booth and an incorporator of Downtown Entertainment LLC., had secured special events retail licenses from the Tuscaloosa City Council for. At the August 23, 2022 Council meeting, Mayor Walt Maddox commented, after fourteen such licenses for Downtown Entertainment LLC had been approved, as reported by Mark Hughes Cobb in the Tuscaloosa News, “Now that we’ve taken care of the alcohol needs of Tuscaloosa for the month of September…’ “

Prewitt also wrote that “18-wheelers loaded with beer” had been arriving at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alcohol will be will be available for the first time at the majority of concessions stands and portable stations. McCrary, as reported by Prewitt, commented on the impact of alcohol sales in the stadium. He said, “I think the crowd might be a little bit rowdier when they come in here, but I don’t think it will be different than any other Saturday.”

The Tuscaloosa City Council voted on granting a license for Levy Premium Foodservice LP to sell beer and wine in the stadium at its August, 17, 2022, weekly council meeting.

During a City Council hearing in February, Levy Premium Foodservice representative Herbert Tesh had said that ‘hawking’ (the selling of alcohol by concession stand workers to seated fans) at football games might be a possibility.

The official athletics website for the University revealed that the “game day experience” wouldn’t include the sale of alcohol in the stands by hawkers. The report by RollTide.com said:

Guests must be 21 to purchase and show valid proof of identification. IDs will be checked at time of purchase, and there is a limit of two alcoholic beverages per transaction. Sales of beer and wine will conclude at the completion of the third quarter.

The use of hard to detect fake IDs may make the sale of alcohol to under-aged drinkers inevitable. The location of the concession stands away from the student sections in the stadium was designed to curtail such sales.

Of course traditionally students have brought booze into the stadium. The use of walk-through magnetometers and handheld metal detectors to scan students prior to entering the stadium will not detect the red plastic flasks that are sold at stores nearby the stadium.

Plastic flask sold at grocery store

Students have left football games early in the past, angering Alabama’s Coach Nick Saban, as reported by SI/CFB‘s Jenna West in 2019. As a consequence, in USA Today, Andrew Joseph wrote that a version of the app FanMaker would be used to track students. Those departing early would lose Loyalty Points.

Greek organizations at the University have filled the block seating in the student section. The Crimson White‘s Jackson Fuentes in 2018 wrote about the practice. Perhaps the lure of after game fraternity parties had too great for any students who crave another drink?

In T-Town, on game days, in the stadium now as well as in its streets, there’s a veritable sea of booze bought in by the Crimson Tide.

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Exploring the Stadium

This installation of the Franklin Stove Blog is a departure from the usual format.

It’s fictional, based on accounts of actual events.

It might even be considered a ghost writ post.

This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is purely coincidental.

Photo by Ayu015fe u0130pek on Pexels.com

I thought I’d been in every part of my new home away from life Bryant Denny Stadium. I’ve been haunting the stadium ever since Tutwiler Hall was demolished on July 4th. I was really surprised when I discovered this huge area in the north end of the stadium. It’s for audio-video stuff.

There’s a lot of territory to cover in the stadium but this broadcasting complex should have been hard to miss. There’s a newsroom full of equipment. I’m insubstantial and it’s very hard for me to even use a computer’s keyboard. I haven’t dared try to use the knobs and sliders on the equipment. I’m not even sure if I could.

I’ve stood beside some of the anchors in the broadcast set while they’re on the air. It’s pretty chilly in the studio so I doubt if any of the personnel can feel it when I pass through them. That can sometimes happen when I’m around the living. The Autoscript teleprompters go right over the cameras. The type is white on black and easy to read. I’ve always wondered how newscasters remembered all of the details of what they’re saying.

One stroke of luck is that some of the students bring issues of the campus newspaper The Crimson White with them. Sometimes I’ve found copies in the trash cans. They do keep the place really tidy. I noticed that Coach Saban got a new contract but I’ve got a feeling he’s not really in it for the money. I was surprised that I didn’t see any coverage about the filming of the HBO sorority documentary in the copies I’ve read. Maybe I didn’t get the right one?

I’m looking forward to the being in the broadcast booth for Bama’s first game against Utah State with the play by play announcers. I want to see their setup. I’m picking up a lot about the televising thing.

I’m going to try to ride a sky cam too. It will be like flying. I can walk through walls and people and “teleport” to anywhere I’ve been. Like Caspar the Friendly Ghost, I’m invisible and intangible. But unlike the cartoon ghost I can’t fly. I once tried to jump off the edge of the stadium but I’m confined to only areas inside. I’m sure that there must be other areas of the stadium that I’ve yet to see.

I’m still searching for an easily accessible computer. For now I’ll continue to look over the shoulders of any student who is using one. Technology has changed a lot since I was a sophomore in 1968 at the University living in Tutwiler Hall. I’m actually way less bored now then I was before I blew my brains out on Christmas day!

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Flashbacks in the Stadium

This installation of the Franklin Stove Blog is a departure from the usual format.

It’s fictional, based on accounts of actual events.

It might even be considered a ghost writ post.

This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is purely coincidental.

It’s me, Rose, again. The other night I had a flashback. I remembered what had happened just before I left the University campus for the last time. Of course, I returned to Tutwiler Hall as a ghost.

Just before I had returned home for Christmas in 1968, I’d read in the news that Bud Silvis had shot himself in the head. He was a student who been arrested in a raid of the Haight Hut. The police hadn’t found any drugs, if the head shop’s owner is to be believed. The cops seized water pipes and stuff like that. Silvis faced a possible sentence for possessing LSD of 25 years in prison. He committed suicide before his trial.

I’d heard about the Haight Hut and this disgusting bar The Chukker from my friend Estelle. I actually bought some rolling papers at the head shop. I rolled up some pipe tobacco and didn’t feel anything except nauseated when I smoked it. I never got around to smoking pot, which was what most people were using rolling paper for who went to the Haight Hut.

I only visited The Chukker one time after Estelle had dared me to. It was the nastiest place I’d ever encountered. I’d never had an alcoholic beverage before so I ordered a coke and listened to the Buffalo Springfield song “For What It’s Worth” that was playing on the jukebox. I could relate to the song’s lyrics — “There’s something happening here. But what it is ain’t exactly clear.”

I guess, if I’d not blown out my brains on Christmas Day, I might have gone back to The Chukker. Who knows? On Christmas Day, I’d found a handgun in my Dad’s dresser drawer. That was the first time I’d ever picked up a gun. I don’t know why I pointed it at my head and pulled the trigger. I didn’t think it was loaded. My Dad had a cheap “Saturday Night Special” with a hair trigger and no safety. I was just making a dramatic gesture to express my alienation from all things jolly on Christmas. I was certainly not trying to mimic Bud Silvis.

My new home away from life in Bryant-Denny Stadium sure looks a lot different than it did when I went to a few games as a student. I’ve visited every part of the stadium now. The football team’s locker room sure looks a lot nicer than rooms in Tutwiler Hall used to look. And the club rooms and skyboxes are really fancy.

For what it’s worth, I’m not really sure if going to a football game and using the new facilities will make things any better if the Crimson Tide football team isn’t victorious.

The fans used to chant after a win, whether it was over an unrated team or tougher competition. The Rammer Jammer cheer, as I understand it, was derived from a 1920’s campus humor magazine of the same name. What “rammer” means has always puzzled me. The barrel of muskets used to be loaded with a rammer. “Jammer” is even more elusive. Somehow it all has a vague sexual connotation.

An important part of the cheer is “We’re gonna beat the hell outta’ you!” I read that the cheer was considered offensive enough to be banned at one time. When I attended games there wasn’t any Rammer Jammer cheer. It came along in the early 1980s.

I’ll probably hear it soon enough. The 2022 football season is about to get started. And I’ll be at my home away from life — Bryant-Denny Stadium.

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Will carding in Bryant-Denny Stadium really work?

Photo by ELEVATE on Pexels.com

The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board has given its approval for a liquor license for a vendor at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

As Mark Hughes Cobb reported in the Tuscaloosa News, a majority of the Tuscaloosa City Council voted on granting a license for Levy Premium Foodservice LP to sell beer and wine in the stadium at its August, 17, 2022, weekly council meeting.

An ID will be required at every point of sale.

During a City Council hearing in February, Levy Premium Foodservice representative Herbert Tesh said that a concern of the “women from the Alabama Beverage Control Board” would be the purchase of alcohol for minors by legally aged patrons. He had said that IDs for purchasers would be checked. “It just makes sense, it’s easier and it takes the guess work out of it. It’s going to make a few people upset, but at the end of the day if you want to have a beer, you’re just going to have to show your ID.”

Herbert Tesh at Council hearing

Susan Dworak wrote a position paper on fake IDs for the Center for Alcohol Policy:

Fake IDs are easy to buy and easy to create, and the fake IDs flooding the market today are so sophisticated that they are fooling high tech scanners. Many underage drinkers use fake
IDs to access alcohol, and they’re drinking a lot of it.

If fake IDs can not be detected by high tech scanners, how can a beer hawker in the stadium’s stands detect an ID?

The problems resulting from alcohol sales that have existed at football stadiums was the subject of a February 13, 2022, Franklin Stove Blog post. Tennessee fans pelted the Ole Miss team with various items, including beer cans, in October 2021, after a loss. Adam Sparks in the Knoxville News Sentinel wrote:

There were 18 arrests and 51 ejections in UT’s game against Ole Miss. UT sold 47,890 alcoholic beverages for $547,726 in revenue at the Ole Miss game. Those numbers were the highest for a single game since UT started selling beer and wine at football games.

As reported by the Montgomery Advertiser‘s Alex Byington, the South Eastern Conference (SEC)’s policy was that all alcohol sales must be halted at the end of the third quarter in football games. Perhaps some of the beer cans thrown at the end of the Tennessee Vol‘s game were empties?

In 2019, Shehan Kay wrote that the primary reason for the SEC’s approval of alcohol sales was “most likely money, as the SEC is looking for ways to increase revenue.”

Kay thought about the potential consequences of stadium alcohol sales would be:

  • More underage drinking: Students who are 21 and up could easily buy the alcohol and give it to their underage peers. Enforcing consistent ID checks could also be difficult.
  • A less family-friendly environment: SEC games aren’t just for college students. Many families enjoy attending with their loved ones. However, allowing the sale of alcohol at SEC games could potentially make for a less family-friendly environment.
  • Negative fan behavior: Although there are limitations on the sale and consumption of alcohol within SEC stadiums, a steady flow of alcohol throughout the game may introduce some tense late-game situations that may be inappropriate or dangerous for other fans.
  • Mixed messages: Many of the fans attending SEC games are underage and increasing access to alcohol in a collegiate environment could send the message that it’s okay to overindulge in alcohol because it’s what you do at football games.

Will Bryant-Denny Stadium reek from spilled beer? Will some fans not drink to the extent that they become nauseous? Will there be poor behavior by intoxicated fans?

The City of Tuscaloosa had enacted an ordinance on February 8, 2022, where a public safety fee of as much as three dollars per fan at University sports events would be added to the cost of ticket sales.

After Alabama Athletic Director Greg Byrne objected, the city agreed to a compromise where, instead of the service fee, the University would donate $250,000 to the city each year from 2024-2028. If there had been a three dollar fee per ticket where 100,000 tickets per game were sold, that would amount to $300,000 per football game. In 2022, seven home games were scheduled. Although attendance at some of games might not amount to 100,000 in ticket sales, the city’s “compromise” could result in potentially a yearly loss of nearly two million dollars to fund public safety.

Could that money have been useful? Ryan Phillips in the Patch reported on Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox‘s concerns about the Tuscaloosa Police Department. Ryan wrote:

“Law enforcement is facing a shortage,” he said. “We are running out of assets and we’re pushing our people 14-16 hours a day. We can’t sustain the amount of law enforcement in that area when we have needs throughout the city, as well.”

In T-Town, Alabama football is its number one passion and drinking on game days may come in second.

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Rush in the Stadium

This installation of the Franklin Stove Blog is a departure from the usual format.

It’s fictional, based on accounts of actual events.

It might even be considered a ghost writ post.

This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is purely coincidental.

Hey, it’s me Rose again.

Sorority Recruitment came to a climax on Sunday in my new home away from life–Bryant Denny Stadium.

Have I told you this yet? When I inhabit a space and become familiar with it, I can instantly “teleport” to any area in it. I can pass right through any of the living beings that are present. I have no idea what it must feel like to them. I feel a little warmth. I wonder if they feel a sudden chill? I doubt if anyone felt anything on Sunday. It was scorching hot in the stadium. I’m not as sensitive to temperatures as the living are though. But I could tell the girls were feeling the heat because of their sweaty skin and the sweat stains on their clothes. My sense of smell, by the way, is also thankfully diminished.

One of the stadium workers left a copy of a Rolling Stone magazine article that he’d copied about the HBO Rush documentary.

It said:

 “Helmed by Introducing, Selma Blair director Rachel Fleit, the film has already begun production in Tuscaloosa now that rush week has concluded. This year, over 2,500 students vied for bids from the university’s 19 sororities, for which the average cost of dues for a new member in her first semester is around $4,100, according to the Alabama Panhellenic Association (via the New York Times).

“When a Vice Studios producer approached a former University of Alabama Alpha Phi sorority member about participating in the documentary, she hesitantly went along with it until questions about the connection between her sorority life and her religious beliefs arose. She then backed out of the film. Other young women, particularly those who cashed in on ‘Bama Rush Tok’ as a way to build a following on social media, didn’t think that it was worth jeopardizing their chance at receiving bids.

“‘It was like a joke at first because everyone was like, if you post, you’ll become famous,’ a current student at the University of Alabama told the Times. ‘Then reporters actually started to come and then we were told to not talk to them.'”

Wow! Social media has really changed the game.

I’m going to have to figure out how to go online. I used to be able to use the screens of my fellow Tutwiler residents. I would be able to use a keyboard. I can physically exert enough to type. I also wish there was a Crimson White news stand in the stadium.

Bid Day on Sunday was when all those girls found out which sorority they would be joining. The screams from the selected girls would’ve been blood curdling, if I had any to curdle. Then they started running out of the stadium. It reminded me of one of those zombie movies that George Romero used to make, except they were sprinting and screaming at the top of their lungs and the zombies just silently staggered along in a shambling walk. Like the zombies, they seemed irrepressible.

I suppose that a lot of them will soon demonstrate their herd mentality by partying on pastureland during a swap. I can see that happening in a week for sure. I wonder if there are zombie cows?

The girls that were successful during Rush had run a real gauntlet. I remember being told about the Rush process when I lived at Tutwiler. They had to get letters of recommendation for each sorority from a current sorority member or alumnus. Some cheated by getting a distant relative to write one or even persuading a stranger who was in a sorority to write one. Potential new members went from hearing door songs to being served ice-water-tea to finally sweating it out in the stadium. On the way they got swag, sorority tee shirts, hats and other cheap paraphernalia, while smiling so much their jaws probably hurt. The cottage industries that catered to the Greeks made a killing.

The impetus for sororities had been to be the top house so that their members would be sure to be invited to the coolest frat parties. Of course when a pledge actually made it to a frat party room, they would be groped and bumped into by drunk, horny boys, one of whom even might be a “suitable candidate for marriage.” The boys would yell “Motorboat her!” Pledges who were able to hold their liquor could avoid being raped.

Although the pledges sounded like a herd of banshees on Sunday, I doubt if any of the “residents” of Evergreen Cemetery were aware of them anymore than they would be of the stadium crowd chanting, “We’re gonna beat the hell out of you,” on game days. My first game with Bryant-Denny Stadium as my home away from life is coming right up.

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No Rush To Judgement?

Photo by Mauru00edcio Mascaro on Pexels.com

The University of Alabama‘s Sorority Recruitment Week has come and gone. It was a little different this year because a film crew was shooting a documentary for Vice on HBO+.

The University was beside itself over the filming, as reported by Al.com‘s Sarah Swetnik. There were objections by the school to “unauthorized recordings,” which the University considered to be “deplorable.” Swenik wrote that Jonathan Bing, a spokesman for Vice Studios, was making a rush documentary in Tuscaloosa, directed by Rachel Fleit.

Fleit‘s bio includes:

Rachel is a recipient of the first ever, and now annual, Women’s Fund Grant from Made in NY/ Mayor’s Office for Film & Television for her short documentary Ava & Bianca about the friendship between two female cinematographers who happen to be transgender.

Purportedly a daughter of the owners of one of the media companies involved with the documentary was kicked out of her sorority for multiple violations of bad behavior. At least that is a rumor that is going around–allegedly attributing HBO‘s interest in the project to some sort of revenge by a disgruntled parent for his daughter’s banishment from Greek life.

Of course the multitudes of fair skinned and light haired Rush participants looked about the same as in years past, except perhaps for one. One of them was transgendered. Grant Sikes, a transgender student at the University of Alabama, according to Your Tango‘s Megan Quinn didn’t have much luck.

In her application for Rush Grant wrote:

“Looking back on this past week, SO many amazing opportunities have come my way. In my inital application papers, I paid tribute to my Grandma who passed away this year with Alzheimer’s. I know that she is so proud. Nana, this is just the beginning.”

Photographs published in an Vasha Hunt‘s Al.com story about “Bama Rush 2022” show, among the co-eds, only one minority–an Asiatic girl.

Joseph King and Javon Williams in 2020 wrote in the student newspaper The Crimson White about the frustrations that predominantly Black Greek organizations faced at the University:

The University of Alabama has one of the largest sorority and fraternity communities in the United States. But despite Greek life being a cornerstone of campus life, disparities between traditional white Greek organizations and Black ones are stark.

If the HBO+ documentary is ever aired, perhaps the girls participating in Rush will speak for themselves.

What could go wrong?

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Grave Thoughts

This installation of the Franklin Stove Blog is a departure from the usual format.

It’s fictional, based on accounts of actual events.

It might even be considered a ghost writ post.

This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is purely coincidental.

Evergreen Cemetery is located across the street from Bryant-Denny Stadium–the home of the Crimson Tide

Evergreen Cemetery existed before there was a football stadium nearby. I don’t believe that there are any former players who are laid to rest there in its dusty grounds. The body of Eugene Allen Smith who died in 1927 is buried there. Smith was appointed Instructor of Military Tactics at the University of Alabama by Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate states. A building on the University’s campus is named after him. Smith Hall is the home to the Alabama Museum of Natural History. Smith traveled throughout the state after the Civil War in search of coal and other natural resources. His efforts led to the creation of the Geological Survey of Alabama. Smith had been a fervent Crimson Tide fan and had often been photographed with the teams.

I don’t think that the University gave much thought to whether building a stadium next to a cemetery was inappropriate. It had been a much smaller structure almost one hundred years ago when it was first built. Later building cranes that encroached upon the cemetery as the stadium expanded were strategically placed to avoid any destruction of the tombstones.

As I looked out onto Colonial Drive from Bryant-Denny Stadium at the sea of blondes who were participating in Sorority Recruitment, a memory of my what my friend Estelle had said returned to me. Estelle lived on the eleventh floor of Tutwiler Hall, the place that I’d returned to haunt after I’d blown my brains out on Christmas Day. I’d met her long before that, when I first moved into the hall in 1968. After Tutwiler’s recent demolition I’ve haunted the stadium.

Estelle was a black student who reminded me of Angela Davis. Her afro hair style seemed to me perfect for a Black Panther beret. But Estelle was more like a deacon in an African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Estelle once said, “Honey, my Maw Maw would beat the tar out of me if I ever considered joining one of those lily white sororities. It’s got to be AKA or DST if I evah pledge!”

Maybe that’s why so few black girls ever go out for Rush?

I thought about Estelle’s use of the term “lily white” when Neil Young released his 1970 song “Southern Man.” The song was about Lily Belle, who had golden brown hair and a black boyfriend. The song went:

Southern man, better keep your head
Don’t forget what your good book said
Southern change gonna come at last
Now your crosses are burning fast
Southern man

Alabama’s “theme” song–Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama”–was written as a rejoinder to “Southern Man.” Its lyrics were:

I miss Alabamy once again and I think it’s a sin, yes

Well I heard Mister Young sing about her
Well I heard ol’ Neil put her down
Well I hope Neil Young will remember
A southern man don’t need him around anyhow

I remember reading an article by this dude named Clowney. He thought that the Southern sorority house should be considered as a monument to the Confederacy. He thought that the design of sororities in the South resembled antebellum plantations, a tribute to the Lost Cause. He wrote that the houses had “Gone With The Wind” Tara-inspired design tropes.

I’ve read in the student newspaper The Crimson White about members of sororities posting God Awful things. One girl, from New Jersey of all places, was expelled for posting racist videos. I guess she absorbed too much Southern Charm? Then there was the text from a sorority president from inside a Tuscaloosa bar: “I’m gonna yack, it smells so bad in here.” The recipient of the text, another member of her sorority, texted back, “…“cigs, weed and black girl.” They both were ousted from membership of the sorority, which was founded in 1872.

What I’m hearing from way up here in the stadium these days is that the University is upset about a film company making a documentary about Rush, or “sorority recruitment,” as it’s now called. The acoustics are pretty good so I was able to make out what some of what the girls were saying. The University said that it was was concerned about unauthorized filming taking place in the sororities. I bet they’re more worried about what the girls are saying than about any privacy matters.

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