If it looks like a duck…

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During the January 17th Tuscaloosa Pre-Council meeting, there was a lively discussion about gastropubs. It ensued when the item on the Council’s agenda that set January 31st as the date for a public hearing to consider approval of a gastropub at the Druid City Social location was brought up. Currently the venue is being used for private functions only.

Brandon Hanks, who has organized farm parties for sororities, is one of Druid City Social‘s managers. Hanks, or one of his associates, is likely to comment during the public hearing, if the item remains on the Council’s agenda.

Tuscaloosa Police Department‘s Chief Brent Blankley said, “I’d like to remind the Council that gastropubs have had issues–that they have been turning into full-fledged bars.” He said the food served has been “questionable.” He added that there were already a lot of bars in the area where Druid City Social is located. “We do not need another bar down there.”

Tuscaloosa Fire Department‘s Chief Randy Smith said, “the Fire Department is not in favor of this. The way it’s set up now, they are way exceeding occupancy. They are not able to show us that they are capable of keeping the number of people inside correct.”

Blankley added, “In my opinion the term ‘gastropub’ in reality means you’re a bar.”

When the rules for restaurants and bars were discussed in 2017, Kelly Fitts, as reported by the Tuscaloosa NewsJason Morton, expressed concern about the bar Innisfree. Morton wrote:

Historic district residents, however, want to ensure any proposed rules protect them from the onslaught of drunken college students who trample through their streets while attempting to stumble home.

Numerous residents have told of having property broken or destroyed or waking to the sounds of an inebriated stranger banging on doors in an effort to get “home,” with the knocker being confused about where they are.

Used condoms have been found in front yards. Bushes, trees and the sides of homes have been used as makeshift urinals.

And, on more than one occasion, historic district homeowners have awakened to find unwanted visitors sleeping in their homes or on their porches.

While Fitts said she would prefer to see bars like Innisfree shut down, the main goal for her and historic district residents is to keep new ones from popping up within proximity to their homes.

Innisfree‘s business model was that of a restaurant that “morphed” into a bar. It was “grandfathered in” when the new rules that established the hours of operation for “gastropubs” were enacted.

WVUA 23 News Reporters Jabaree Prewitt and Erin Patterson wrote in 2021 about the amendments passed by the city that changed the full-service operating hours for gastropubs. They wrote:

Some prominent gastropub examples are Innisfree on University Boulevard, Bear Trap on the Strip and World of Beer on University Boulevard in downtown Tuscaloosa.

During the Pre-Council meeting, Council member Norman Crow said that the Council needed to tighten the rules on gastropubs to bring more accountability to them. He said, “I’m tired of talking over and over about certain problems and not trying to address them. If you want to be a gastropub and sell food, I’m all in favor of that. But, if you are using this because you want to become a bar and are not conforming to regulations, the Council should discuss this.”

As the Franklin Stove Blog had previously reported:

Essentially many Gastropubs have been a restaurant that morphs into a bar, allowing minors to be served food until a set hour. Closing a Gastropub to minors, when it has changed into a bar, has been at the discretion of its operators. Drink specials promote alcohol sales that frequently attract under-aged drinkers.

The Duck Test might well be applied to gastropubs in T-Town. “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.” Many gastropubs are probably just bars.

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T-Town’s University Blvd–a Danger Zone?

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Fatal shootings in T-Town have been the subject of the Franklin Stove Blog (FSB) before. In 2020 nineteen year old Schuyler Bradley was shot to death. A wrongful death lawsuit against the shooter and a bar on The Strip was filed in August, 2022, as reported by the FSB.

The most recent death in T-Town of a 23 year old women who was shot to death on January 15, 2023, may garner more attention because one of the people who was arrested in connection to the “shootout” had been a University of Alabama basketball player.

NBC-NewsDennis Romero wrote:

The shooting was reported early Sunday in the nightlife district. Sheriff’s officials didn’t say which of the two suspects is alleged to have opened fire or whether they believe both did so.

Al.com‘s Carol Robinson wrote about the shooting’s victim:

The young woman shot to death while driving along the Strip in Tuscaloosa was loved by all, according to her grieving mother.

There have been longstanding problems with having an adequate police presence on The Strip. Tuscaloosa Police Department Chief Brent Blankley was reported by WVUA/23‘s Aajene Robinson to have said, “We are having to put a lot of officers down on the Strip that could go to other areas and increase security.”

Gun violence has not completely restricted to bars on The Strip. In 2012 seventeen people were wounded by a gunman in another area frequented by students, as reported by Reuters.

Shootings at bars near campus are commonplace in communities other than T-Town, such as in the case of Seattle‘s University District, as reported by the Seattle Time’s Daisy Zavala Magaña and Amanda Zhou. They wrote that some University of Washington students felt less secure in the University District than they did in downtown Seattle.

The ASU Center for Problem-Oriented Policing‘s paper “Assaults in and Around Bars” by Michael S. Scott and Kelly Dedel lists the concentration of bars as a contributing factor to crime:

The evidence on the effect of bar concentration is mixed. Some bars attract crime, while others are merely affected by crime in the surrounding neighborhood. Blocks with bars have higher levels of reported crime than blocks with no bars. High concentrations of bars can increase barhopping, and if all bars close at the same time, the risks of conflicts on the street increase. But the mere fact that a neighborhood has a high concentration of bars does not necessarily mean there will be higher crime levels in the area.

As the FSB has pointed out, there has been a concentration of bars and Gastropubs on The Strip.

University of Alabama students would be well advised not to frequent The Strip, but even shooting deaths are not likely to deter many students from being willing targets in the area that has become the center of their social life in T-Town.

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Booze: Homer Simpson vs. Italy

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The beer commercials on television that show people chugging down a brewski after a sweaty workout are designed to in some way to associate booze with good health routines. Perhaps the Homer Simpson scenario, where he drinks to oblivion at Moe’s Tavern, reflects alcohol consumption more accurately for many people.

Bicycling‘s Gloria Liu wrote about the association of booze with bicycling:

Alcohol, especially beer, is infused into many aspects of cycling. It’s in the bike shops, where customers still tip mechanics in six-packs. It’s been at industry trade shows like Interbike (R.I.P.) and Sea Otter, where bros in flat-brim caps drink openly while working their booths.

It’s at cyclocross races, where #handupsarenotacrime; and gravel races, where aid stations offer whiskey shots. It’s been in the pages of this magazine, in stories like the ode I once wrote to the postride parking lot beer.

When does drinking become problematic? Certainly when behaviors get dangerous, like binge drinking or drunk driving. But a booze-soaked bike scene may pose more insidious hazards, particularly to women.

One recent development, the world-wide trend for young people to be drinking less alcohol than their parents did, is good news.

An article in The Conversation by Sarah J MacLean, Amy Pennay, Gabriel Caluzzi, John Holmes and Jukka Törrönen deals with this phenomenon. They reported:

Researchers conducting interview-based studies with young people in a range of countries have identified four main reasons for declining youth drinking.

These are: uncertainty and worry about the future, concern about health, changes to technology and leisure, and shifting relationships with parents.

The European Journal of Public Health reported:

Alcohol consumption among adolescents is well established as a risk factor for a range of negative health and social outcomes. In a positive trend, substantial declines in adolescent drinking have been observed in many high-income countries over the past two decades.

The proliferation of bars and gastropubs in T-Town may not reflect this worldwide trend. But the United States is often behind the rest of the world.

In countries such as Italy, although there isn’t an equivalent alcohol abuse problem, the influence of American youth abroad has been detrimental.

Outrageous behavior, such as the drunk American tourists who urinated in a historic fountain in Florence, Italy, has been common enough so that increased regulation has been in order. In Rome and other Italian cities, drinking is prohibited near their famed fountains.

Ben James Simboli wrote that drinking behavior is “culturally learned.” The “traditional use of wine and beliefs related to wine drinking” for Italian-Americans changed. Problem drinking for younger generations of Italian Americans ensued.

Binge drinking in the United States by teenagers remains a major problem according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as reported by the American Addiction Centers.

Advertising for alcohol during sports events and alcohol sales at sports venues in the United States can lead to under age drinking. Northstar Traditions explained:

According to a study published by the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, younger adolescents are more susceptible to alcohol advertisements shown on TV than older age groups. This population is more likely to take away a positive reaction to alcohol because of the ads, predicting future alcohol use. Some youth are influenced to drink more, leading to excessive drinking and other consequences related to being exposed to these ads at a young age.

Sales of alcohol at University of Alabama athletic facilities will be “a net positive for the school,” according to University of Alabama President Dr. Stuart Bell, as reported by the Tuscaloosa Thread‘s Stephen Dethrage.

In Italy, as explained by Federico Di Vizio, there are restrictions on advertising:

Direct or indirect advertising of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages is expressly forbidden in places frequented mainly by minors under 18 years of age and radio and television advertising of non-alcoholic beverages during the period from 4 pm to 7 pm.

He also wrote that “according to the Italian Code of Self-discipline for Commercial Communication, commercial communications must be avoided which encourage excessive and uncontrolled use of alcoholic beverages, which induce the public to disregard the different methods of consumption that need to be considered about the products or the personal conditions of the consumer, or which associate the driving of vehicles with the use of alcoholic beverages.” Di Visio cited one case of an ad that was adjudicated:

For example, a glaring case of advertising which does not comply with the principles of our legal system is represented by the decision of the Jury regarding a message conveyed by a well-known beer producer.

The advertisement depicted the bestowal of beer first offered in spurts, then with a “fountain” jet and again, in crescendo, in a “cascade”. In this case, the Jury considered that the images and the message were not compatible with the picture because of the conveyance of a message contrary to the principles of moderation and responsibility in drinking.

That standard could be contrasted with the beer ads that are shown on American television, as The Drum‘s Kenneth Hein reported.

At least University of Alabama students studying abroad in Italy have been kept on a short leash and have put back on a plane to T-Town whenever their behavior has gotten out of hand. That’s surely a “net positive for the school.”

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Out with the old…

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 Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Hey, it’s me, Rose, the Spirit of the Crimson Tide, again. Ever since the football team left for New Orleans on December 26th to play in the Sugar Bowl, Bryant-Denny stadium has been dark at night. There’s been less activity than ever. I guess that’s to be expected. The Crimson Tide’s football season ended with a win over Kansas State. For some fans, particularly the “Rolltards,” a winning season and a bowl game victory didn’t make the cut, but I was impressed. How could I not be? I was on the sidelines during games in the stadium and had a unique perspective of the immense effort put forth by the players and coaches.

When I was alone in Bryant-Denny at the end of the year, I thought about just how I’d wound up as a ghost in the stadium. You can’t change the past. That’s for sure. But maybe you can understand it.

In 1968, the year that I died, my relationship with Estelle, a black student, would’ve made a lot of people hate me. I hadn’t come out to my parents. If I had been able to bring Estelle home for Christmas, I would never have accidentally shot myself. There would’ve been a sense of a joyous celebration, not mind numbing holiday routines. Of course, her family would’ve have been just as upset as mine had they learned of our forbidden love.

The campus was hardly “gay friendly.” I could imagine how people would’ve reacted if they’d thought Estelle and I were a couple. Some people didn’t even like the sight of a black and white girl being together as friends. Many would’ve been enraged by the sight of a black male student holding hands with a white co-ed. Their reaction to any show of affection between Estelle and I would’ve been worse.

I remember hearing about how a black student had been asked out by a goofy white boy. Cyntherina later told everybody how they’d been sitting in the Orange Julius on The Strip and people on the sidewalk were pointing at them and reproachfully staring daggers at them. That was the last time she went out with him. He’d kissed her tentatively at the “date’s” end. I think she thought he was just doing some virtue signaling.

I remember, when I was a ghost in Tutwiler Hall in the Seventies, that a bohemian art student who’d lived there had a subscription to Ralph Ginzburg’s Avant Garde magazine. One issue had a photo essay of an inter-racial couple, a back man and white woman, on the streets of New York City. The hateful expressions of New Yorkers towards the couple were captured by the photographer. I thought that, even in the Big Apple, Estelle and I would’ve been harshly judged by some people.

For over fifty years I haunted Tutwiler Hall until it was demolished on July 4th, 2022. I’ve since been in Bryant-Denny stadium. Another year has come and gone. Will I be stadium bound for another fifty years or longer? 2022 was truly a year that saw my old version of life after death transformed.

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Changes for the former “Czar” of T-Town’s Sister City

No one can deny that Northport‘s former City Administrator for decades has had a significant impact on T-Town‘s “sister city.”

Scott Collins ruled with a velvet fist. (He once even had a “critic” of the city arrested for showing up at a City Council meeting, as reported by the Tuscaloosa NewsEd Enoch.)

Collins started out as a Northport Council member, as reported in the Franklin Stove Blog (FSB):

Collins assumed his job as City Administrator in 2008, after having been elected to the City Council in 2004. His term on the Council expired in 2008 and he did not run again.

Collins left his position as Northport‘s City Administrator in 2016. Reportedly he drove away from Northport in a new Audi with a huge severance check, although he was theoretically a Civil Service employee and not so entitled. In 2016 and 2017, the circumstances of his departure were detailed in FSB posts.

But that’s really just water under the bridge.

Since he left Northport, assuming the role of City Manager for Fairview, Tennessee, Collins has seen many changes. In 2016 The Tennessean‘s Nancy Stephens wrote about Collins acceptance of Fairview‘s offer to become its city manager. His yearly salary of $91,000 was probably less than he’d made as City Administrator in Northport. He was hired as Fairview‘s City Manager with no contract, although in 2017 he was given a three-year contract.

In 2020 Chris Gadd reported in the Nashville Tennessean that Collins had returned “just over a month after taking a leadership position at another Williamson County city” to Fairview. His new contract with the Fairview was open ended with no end date and had a salary increase to $110,000.

Matt Masters reported in The News about the disappointment felt by many over Collins decision to quit his job as Town Administrator in Nolensville. There were questions about Collin’s contract with the city, which allowed him to leave after “90 days of employment but not earlier.” Nolensville‘s Vice Mayor Tommy Dugger said, “I’m just saying that for you to walk out the door on Friday, it’s number one, I think you’re better than that, I may be wrong, but I think you’re better than that and I think you owe us an obligation per the contract.”

Two years later, in November 2022, The local newspapers in central Tennessee were abuzz with the latest facts about changes in Collins‘ career.

The Nashville Tennessean‘s Chris Gadd wrote that Collins had been offered an early retirement on the day after Fairview‘s municipal election. Its outgoing incumbent mayor “didn’t like the idea of Collins in his position through the remainder of the fiscal year.”

The Main Street Fairview‘s Nancy Stephens reported that the Fairview City Commission had approved a Voluntary Separation Agreement with Collins. Stephens wrote:

On November 9, the day after the city election, then-mayor Debby Rainey called a special meeting where a resolution was proposed to terminate Collins’ employment. Rainey motioned to approve the resolution. However, without a second, the board took no action. After the meeting, Rainey resigned her seat as mayor.

Tom Daugherty, who had been the city’s chief finance officer, is currently Fairview‘s City Manager.

Whatever the future for Scott Collins holds, he will doubtlessly come out of top. That’s just the way he runs.

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Bring back Prohibition?

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According to Politico‘s Mark Lawrence Schrad, Prohibition was more about destroying “the liquor traffic” than ending the consumption of alcohol. He said that Prohibition was in opposition to “the predatory booze manufacturers and unregulated saloons that made money hand over fist from the drunken misery, addiction and pauperism of their customers.”

You can’t go very far away from the University of Alabama in T-Town without running into a “saloon.” Today’s world isn’t the same as the one that existed during Prohibition. In terms of binge and underage drinking things have really gotten out of hand.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) said this about Underage Drinking:

People ages 12 to 20 drink 4.0 percent of all alcohol consumed in the United States. Although youth drink less often than adults, when they do drink, they drink more. More than 90 percent of all alcohol drinks consumed by youth are consumed through binge drinking

As the Franklin Stove Blog (FSB) posted in 2016, underage drinking in T-Town is driven by bars that cater to students regardless of any city codes. The “saloons” are virtually unregulated. Hard to detect fake IDs make any effective screening for age impossible.

The recent spat of lawsuits in T-Town involving alcohol use by minors reflect all of this, as reported in the FSB. Violence and even deaths are tied to underage drinking in T-Town.

The Gastropub classification in Tuscaloosa‘s codes further complicates matters. Tuscaloosa‘s economy is considerably impacted by alcohol sales.

There is no likelihood that any form of prohibition, or effective enforcement of the city’s underage drinking codes, will happen. The prohibitionists that Schrad wrote about wouldn’t believe what’s going on in T-Town.

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‘Tis the Season in which I died…

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 Cole Keister on Pexels.com

Hi, it’s me Rose. At this time of year I’ve always reflected on the circumstances of my death on Christmas Day.

In 1968 the Crimson Tide’s football team, which was coached by Paul “Bear” Bryant, had by Alabama’s standards a less than stellar year. By the end of the season it had an 8-3 overall record, with two South Eastern Conference losses.

I traveled to Legion Field in Birmingham with my BFF Estelle for the November 3oth, 1968 Iron Bowl. Estelle wasn’t all that into football. She made sure that I was aware of the black “ghetto” that surrounded Legion Field. Every Bama football game in Legion Field was a windfall for the blacks that crammed their yards with as many cars as could possibly fit. Most of them were renters. I don’t know if they split their parking revenue with their landlords.

We watched as my brand new red AMC AMX was somehow parked in the small space that was left in a yard. The guy said that he had never even scratched a car while he was parking. He assured me that he’d never want to damage such a “beaut” of a car as mine.

Actually my Dad chose the car which was painted “Matador” red with two white racing stripes on the hood and trunk. It also had a red interior. The steering wheel was wood rimmed. Its V8 engine was actually too sporty for my tastes. I seldom drove it. On the trip to Birmingham Estelle insisted that I exceed the speed limit, until the highway to Legion Field became so crowded we had to move with a snail’s pace. I was dreading having to drive it home for Christmas Break. My Dad would be salivating at the prospect of getting his hands on it. He was probably looking forward to driving the car at least as much as he was to seeing me again.

The Crimson Tide beat the War Eagles 24 to 16, in a game where the outcome was uncertain until the end when Mike Dean iced the game with a 30 yard field goal. The quarterback Scott Hunter was responsible for most of the Tide’s heroics.

The Tide’s 49-27 victory in the 2022 Iron Bowl in Bryant-Denny Stadium was much more decisive. I wouldn’t attribute its win to the students who’d managed to return to campus after a Thanksgiving Break. As the team spirit I floated among the obnoxious fraternity and sorority students who seemed to be more interested in saying insulting things to any Auburn students in their vicinity than the game. Some Auburn fans began to throw drinks at Alabama students. At the start of the fourth quarter the Godawful flashing red lights started up to the tune of the hillbilly anthem “Dixieland Delight.” Most of the students reverted to a formerly banned practice during the song and periodically chanted “Fuck Auburn.”

Fits my life, oh so right,
My Dixieland Delight.

FUCK AUBURN!

The Rammer-Jammer chant at the game’s end was more vitriolic than usual too.

Hey Auburn!
Hey Auburn!
Hey Auburn!
We just beat the hell outta’ you!
Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer
Give ’em hell, Alabama!

Every December I always have thoughts about how I left my mortal existence. After Tutwiler Hall, my previous home away from life, was demolished on the Fourth of July, I didn’t wind up in Heaven or Hell but in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

In 1968, I’d returned home from the University of Alabama for Christmas break. I had recently, as a sophomore, moved into a room on the eleventh floor of what was then a brand new Tutwiler Hall. That was the second long road trip in my new AMX.

My parents, particularly my father, were perhaps the biggest Alabama football fans in the world. My Dad lived by the gospel of The Bear. He considered Paul “Bear” Bryant as the “winningest coach of all time,” even though he was really down on the list for coaches with the most victories. I was even named Rose after the 1926 Rose Bowl victory of the Crimson Tide over the Huskies. If I’d been born a boy I might have been named Johnny after the Alabama quarterback Johnny Mack Brown who led the team to victory. Or maybe even Paul. I was their only child so Dad never had a son that he could name Johnny or Paul. Of course, that’s also why they insisted that I enroll at the University of Alabama. Dad said that he worked too hard to go to many games. I had been his representative at games.

My parents had decorated the house for Christmas in 1968 with an Alabama theme. The tree had crimson balls and had houndstooth, black and white ribbon interlaced in the branches. Bear Bryant was known for his iconic houndstooth fedora. Mom had covered the dining room table with a crimson velvet tablecloth. The wreaths that hung on the sconces were decorated like the tree, with crimson balls and houndstooth ribbons. It was truly a Yule Crimson Tide décor.

The dress that I wore, while walking into my parents’ bedroom on Christmas Day, was also made of a crimson velvet material. I actually matched the tablecloth in the dining room. I was feeling kind of bored, while waiting for our traditional Christmas day “feast.” I aimlessly searched through the drawers of the bedroom dresser. Then I discovered Dad’s handgun. I didn’t know anything about guns. I picked it up and thought about carrying it with me to the dining room. I would aim it at my head in front of my folks as a gesture of my abhorrence towards the Yuletide spirit.

I rehearsed pointing it at my head in front of the big mirror that hung over the dresser. I didn’t know that the gun was loaded or that it had a “hair trigger.” The next thing I knew was that, after my brains were splattered over the bedroom’s walls, I found my spirit transported back on the eleventh floor of Tutwiler Hall. One thing was certain. My parents’ Christmas celebration had turned into a nightmare for them.

My friend Estelle was searching for me after the Christmas break. She’d bought me a present. I never found out what it was. When she found out about my “suicide,” her eyes welled with tears and her body shook as she sobbed uncontrollably. I wish I could have reached out to her, as my spectral form stood right next to her. I would’ve told her that what happened wasn’t really a suicide. It was just me being stupid and melodramatic. That was the beginning of my over fifty years of haunting Tutwiler Hall. Every Christmas I’m reminded of how I ended up in my home away from life. This is the first Noel that I’ve haunted Bryant-Denny Stadium. I’m having another Yule Crimson Tide, but this time I’m truly the team spirit.

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Let’s Go Peay!

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 Happy Donut on Pexels.com

When I heard a bunch of fans in the stadium yelling, “Let’s go Peay!,” I at first thought that they were all going to the head. But I quickly realized that Bama was playing Austin Peay, which is a school out of Tennessee, not Texas.

Considering the low student turnout, I surmised that Alabama’s Coach Saban might be pissed by the lack of team support. Only about a quarter of the student section was full. And the blocks that were largely empty would’ve been filled by Greeks. You didn’t see a lot of people wearing those big round buttons with the Greek alphabet letters of a sorority, with “Love” (spelled with a heart instead of an “o”), and “Tide.”

The University’s Thanksgiving break didn’t start until after the weekend. I would’ve have thought that more students would’ve braved the chilly weather in order to support their team.

There’s an idea that many University students are mainly on campus to party and that they mainly chose Bama because of its winning football team. Did the fact that the football team had a couple of last minute, narrow losses, which excluded it from playing in a college football playoff, dampen the enthusiasm of some students? That’s who I would call spoiled fans, or “Rolltards.”

Many of the Greek affiliated students must have packed up on Friday, loading their soiled laundry into their BMW and Lexus sedans or into Ford 150 trucks, equipped with loud exhausts, to return to their lavish homesteads. Maybe some of their parents might’ve questioned their decision to skip the game. “Show some team spirit!”

The Austin Peay Governors were dispatched by the Crimson Tide by the end of the game. Were players affected by all of the empty seats in the stadium? I don’t think that’s likely but you never know.

Next weekend’s game against Alabama’s instate rival Auburn will involve the storied “Bragging Rights.” The game has been called the Iron Bowl. There are a lot of fraternity parties on campus scheduled. Maybe the Greeks will show up for the game so they”ll have an excuse to party afterwards?

As a ghost, I’m truly a team spirit. Of course since I haunt the stadium I’m there for all of the games. Maybe I’ll bob up in the student section during the Iron Bowl and be a ghostly visitant of all of the Rolltards?

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A Greek Reformation at Bama?

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 Heloisa Vecchio on Pexels.co

Hey, it’s me, Rose, again. I’ve been catching up on stories published in the Crimson White. Thank goodness that I can find copies of the campus paper in the stadium’s Digital Media Center!

There was a story about members of the Alabama Panhellenic Association, the National Pan-Hellenic Council and the Interfraternity Council attending a meeting about “diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in APA sororities and the entire Greek system.”

What I wondered about was the claim in the article by a new member of Alpha Phi that she hadn’t been aware of how its president had been ousted from the sorority after a racist text exchange.

According to the article the newcomer had said, “They told me what had happened, and it was shocking because the girls I was surrounded by in the house did not seem anything like those girls.”

The sorority’s ousted president had texted from inside a Tuscaloosa bar: “I’m gonna yack, it smells so bad in here.” Another expelled member had responded, “cigs, weed and black girl.”

I guess that it’s possible that the newcomer hadn’t known anything about it. What makes me wonder about it all is how someone so capable of such racism could actually be president of the sorority in the first place?

I guess Estelle would be amazed, to the extent that she cared at all about any Greek matters, that the first black woman was elected to be president of the Alabama Panhellenic Association. No other black had been president in the 100 years since the APA’s founding. 

The APA has been comprised of over 7,000 women students, the vast majority of whom are lily white. The fact that a black member of Kappa Delta is now APA’s president is truly outstanding. I mean she will definitely stand out among the other blonde and brunette APA officers. Only nine years ago APA was exclusively white. There was a Crimson White article in 2013 about how APA sororities had systemically excluded at least two black women during recruitment.

My BFF Estelle never joined a black sorority, and certainly never would’ve joined a mostly white one had that been possible in the Sixties. She had lived in Tutwiler Hall with me. After I became a ghost in 1968 she didn’t even know that I was around though.

Well, I guess progress slowly marches on at Bama? Still its past doubtlessly will continue to haunt it. I’ll make sure of that!

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T-Town’s got litigation!

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Throughout the nation there have been multiple lawsuits where alcohol use has been a factor on college campuses and in college towns. T-Town has had its share of lawsuits.

In T-Town, the wrongful death lawsuit against Terry J. Bunn Jr. over Alabama student Megan Rondini, which was settled in 2021, received a great deal of publicity. It had been alleged that the twenty year-old Rondini had been raped after being intoxicated or drugged. She reportedly had been picked up at a local bar by Bunn.

The mother of Schuyler Bradley filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Zachary Profozich and a Tuscaloosa bar, The Bear Trap, as reported by Al.com‘s Carol Robinson. Bradley was shot to death twenty-five minutes after Profozich had left the bar.. Allegedly the bar “continued to sell alcohol to Profozich even though he was visibly intoxicated.”

A recent lawsuit was reported by ABC 33/40‘s Ben Culpepper in which the Sigma Chi fraternity, Iota Iota and a current Alabama football player were named as the defendents. Culpepper wrote that a pledge Logan Herring had been given alcohol at a fratenity party even though he was underage at the time. Reputedly he was “negligently, wantonly, and recklessly kicked and punched [in] his head numerous times.”

Now, as reported by CBS 42‘s AJ Holliday, the Gray Lady bar is being sued by the parents of Garrett Walker for negligence and the wrongful death in the death of their son. Reputedly the bar had served Walker, even though he was underage, while he was intoxicated. Gray Lady employees reportedly even drank with him. Walker subsequently died from an accidental drowning in the Black Warrior River.

These lawsuits probably represent only the tip of the ice berg when it comes to alcohol related problems in T-Town. The enforcement of codes prohibiting the sale of alcohol to minors has been considered difficult, in part due to the availability of hard to detect fake IDs. While the vast majority of University of Alabama students are minors, that hasn’t affected the proliferation of bars and gastropubs in T-Town. There must be a large market for student drinkers. On Saturday game days large crowds also complicate code enforcement.

There is a significant drinking social culture that exists for fraternities. The City of Tuscaloosa approves a prodigious number of “special events retail licenses” for Greek events each year. Some of the events, such as the “Dazed and Confused Event” take place on farmland that is outside of the city’s police jurisdiction.

Lawsuits in T-Town won’t undo the damage that results from alcohol use and probably won’t even deter future tragedies.The sale of alcohol is just too lucrative a business.

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