ROTC Follies

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.

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Hey, it’s me, Rose, the Spirit of the Crimson Tide, again. I’ve had few distractions at the stadium since the football season is over. Of course, the annual A-Day game will take place in the Spring. But, for now, many of my thoughts involve memories of life on campus that have nothing to do with the gridiron.

The 55th anniversary of the Mỹ Lai massacre in Vietnam occurred on the sixteenth of March in 1968. That gruesome tragedy took place during my last year of life.

Images of the horrors that took place in South East Asia would likely be banned today from many social media outlets. Such things as the severed ears of Vietnamese enemy combatants that GIs collected and the naked little girl running down the road from her napalmed village may actually have paled in comparison to the dead bodies of children, women and elderly Vietnamese that Lieutenant William Calley Jr. killed in the Mỹ Lai massacre.

When I first arrived on campus it was compulsory for all male students to participate in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, either Army or Airforce.

I got to know the goofy white boy who I wrote about having once dated a black girl.  He told me about his experience with ROTC. Ironically he had such poor vision that ultimately he was disqualified for military service. You could be blind as a bat and probably have to march around on the Quad with a M1 rifle if you were a male student. He eventually dropped out of school anyway and burned his draft card.

The sole purpose of many male students for attending the University, aside from getting the elusive “meal ticket” in life, was to be deferred from being drafted. Instead of being classified as 1-A in the Vietnam Draft Lottery, as students, they were classified 1-S. I read that some people joined the National Guard, hoping that they wouldn’t be wading in the rice paddies of Vietnam.

The “nearly blind” guy told me about a situation that he’d stumbled into. Freshman Orientation in 1967, took place where Alabama Governor Wallace had “stood in the school house door” — in Foster Auditorium. He felt lost and overwhelmed until a friendly bunch of guys at a ROTC table, as he explained to me, “treated him like a real human being and not a computer punch card.” In those days the cardboard cards were de rigueur for anything involving a computer.

He was a real “freshman” for sure. He signed up for the University of Alabama Army ROTC’s “counter-guerrilla corp.” I’ve never found out if this ROTC unit was fully legit. Males who were in it wore special berets with lightning bolt crest emblems. As a demolition “specialist” he quickly rose to the rank of a sergeant.

The way he explained it to me was like this. The corp’s leader was the son of a regular Army general who commanded the University’s ROTC program. The son was somehow able to procure live ammunition and military rifles for the cadets to play with. Also he obtained dynamite, fuses and blasting caps.

On one of the special field trips the cadets blew up cliffs. The “demolition specialists” climbed up a hill but they had left blasting caps and fuses on the ground below. A farmer, who must have heard the noise that they were making, discovered the demolition equipment and looked up at the cadets who were perched on the hill. He must have been very puzzled.

He said that they once buried sticks of dynamite and bags of ammonium nitrate based fertilizer in the ground. Then they lay down and joined hands in a circle around where the explosives were buried. When the explosives were ignited he was tossed into the air. He got a face full of dirt, and dirt in his mouth and in his clothing but was not injured.

I can’t imagine that the Army would ever have sanctioned students running around with loaded high power rifles and explosives. On field trips the cadets wore a uniform — olive fatigues without any identification on them that could be tied to the ROTC or University. Of course they  also wore the black berets adorned with a cloth shield patch that had a black and red field divided diagonally by a white lightning bolt.

He started doing “independent research” on Vietnam and learned about the white phosphorus munitions, defoliants and napalm that were being used by the US in Vietnam. He became increasingly disaffected from the ROTC program and started arguing in class with the military instructors about the morality of the war. One instructor told him that he’d be court marshalled in three months time if he ever enlisted.

On one field trip that took place in sub-zero weather, he developed pleurisy and was hospitalized. The regular Army officer who was supervising the cadets told them to eat a lot of beans and sleep snuggled next to another cadet, so that they could provide “internal gas heating” for each other. He decided to sleep alone.

He told stories about cadets rappelling from the top of women’s dormitories and going on panty raids. But the story about the cadets who derailed a train topped the list of mishaps.

After drills on the Quad some of the cadets would invariably go to a their favorite local watering hole Nicks. I was told that one day, after becoming sufficiently inebriated, they went out on a long trestle railroad bridge over the Warrior River to jump off of it. They had done this sort of thing before but that day was particularly chilly. After the first student warrior leapt into the river, he realized how freezing cold the water was. He yelled up to his comrades not to jump. While they were trying to walk off the bridge a freight train came along forcing them to move to the side. Then the train stopped, stranding them on the bridge.

After what seemed to them an objectionably long wait for the train to move one of them got what must have seemed to be brilliant idea at the time. If they just uncoupled a car from the rest of the cars that were on a downward slope the cars would roll down the track to free the bridge so that they could walk back out on it. This brilliant scheme lost its luster after the decoupled cars rolled down the track with such a momentum that they derailed. In a panic the remaining two jumped into the icy river. They were eventually all accosted, dripping wet and chilled to the bone, on the river bank by the local police.

They were put in separate cells in the local jail and were interrogated by the FBI. The fact that their uniforms had no ROTC markings made them look very suspicious. A regular officer who was a ROTC instructor got them off the hook. To reward the officer the group of rowdy students took him to an out of town eatery The Cotton Patch. On the way back the students and the Army officer, who were all well fortified by celebratory imbibing, were caught driving way over the speed limit on the highway back to the University.

They were all jailed. An even higher ranking Army officer had to use his influence to free them all, so the story goes.

Although the University is no longer overshadowed by its ROTC program, it still pays obeisance to the armed services. Before every football game in the stadium there’s a ROTC color guard, often with a woman cadet included. A military flyover moments before kickoff is a proud tradition. U.S. Special Operations Command para-commandos, yelling “Roll Tide,”  float onto the field on some occasions.

Back when I first enrolled, the University’s President Frank Rose advised the US Army as a member of the Advisory Panel for ROTC Affairs. Rose was even Chairman of the Board of Visitors in 1968 for the United States Military Academy at West Point. He believed, that under President Lyndon Baines Johnson, America could have both “guns and butter” in The Great Society. As the Vietnam blunder crescendoed, Rose probably never lost faith in LBJ. Then, while I was still alive in 1968, LBJ announced that he had decided not to seek his party’s nomination for president. He would no longer lie about the disastrous war.

Vietnam was not the last military misadventure that has occurred during my time as the Spirit of the Crimson Tide. It seems to me that all US Presidents have wanted to be war-time Commander-In-Chiefs. Some have led the country into more dire straits than others. As far as I’m concerned, they’re all a bunch of war criminals.

One of the newest buildings at the Capstone — Hewson Hall — was named after the former CEO of Lockheed Martin, Marillyn Hewson. Lockheed Martin is the world’s biggest arms manufacturer, and world’s biggest exporter of arms. During America’s many military misadventures the company has done very well.

One of Lockheed Martin’s most profitable planes, the F-35, will not be likely be seen flying over Bryant-Denny Stadium though. The F-35 is considered to be one of the Pentagon’s most expensive boondoggles. It has been said that the F-35 will not have a ghost of a chance in combat. Although I certainly qualify as a ghost, I’m no expert in aerodynamics.

So much for the military and ROTC. Maybe there will soon be some stuff about football to think about. Until then I’ll be in Bryant Denny Stadium. Roll Tide Roll!


The Strip–A Fool’s Paradise?

It’s interesting that T-Town‘s Mayor Walt Maddox, when he recently spoke about gastropubs said that “You have a lot of places in Tuscaloosa, not just The Strip, that masquerade as a restaurant, but they’re really a bar.”

The Strip has been the site of much violence. The business license of the High Tide bar was revoked after a shooting in 2019, but a lot has occurred on the The Strip since then. And bars have continued to proliferate on The Strip.

1819 NewsErica Thomas wrote about the violence in Tuscaloosa. In an interview on Tuscaloosa’s 95.3 The Bear’s “Steve & DC Show,” Maddox said:

“So many times in these cases, it is absolutely unbelievable what provokes people to pull out a firearm or semi-automatic weapon and take someone else’s life,” Maddox said. “It’s senseless, it’s reckless and inhumane.”

Maddox, as recounted in the Franklin Stove Blog (FSB) in April, 2021, had high hopes for the hybrid bar restaurant Twelve/25. It is now considered to be a gastropub. It was among other establishments outside of which large crowds gathered on the The Strip during an A-Day weekend.

In one area on The Strip there are three Gastropubs in a row, as was written about in the FSB in July, 2022. At a Council Administration and Policy Committee meeting in February, 2023, City Attorney Scott Holmes said that some gastropubs, have morphed from restaurants to, not just bars, but to “mega-bars,” with hundreds of patrons.

On February 28, 2023, the City Council amended the city code Sec. 7-33 – Revocation of license or privilege to obtain a license. If a business application “contains false or misleading information or an omission of a material fact,” then its license can be revoked. A proposal for a gastropub, for example, might not accurately depict the intended operation of the business in a way that is more like a lounge than a gastropub.

In August, 2022, the City Council approved a queuing ordinance, as reported by ABC 33/40‘s Valerie Bell. The ordinance was intended to reduce the congestion on the sidewalk. Hundreds of people, who are trying to get into bars, have packed the sidewalks on The Strip.

The Tuscaloosa Thread‘s Stephen Dethrage reported that the University of Alabama and the city of Tuscaloosa were opening a shared precinct on The Strip in the hopes that it will result in less violence. The University and Tuscaloosa had already been cooperating by dedicating police officers to a “Strip Detail.”

With Spring Break in progress at the University of Alabama, T-Town will doubtlessly see less action on The Strip. However, should its basketball team go to the Final Four and win a National Championship, the effectiveness of the new police precinct will likely be tested.


A Modest Proposal

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There’s a simple way to stop the violence and other alcohol related problems at bars in T-Town.

Raise the legal drinking age.

In 2017 Erin Brodwin and Skye Gould reported in The Business Insider that “the brain doesn’t fully mature until age 25.”

They wrote:

Some scientists say this could illuminate a potential factor behind a recent spate of acts of mass violence, almost all of which have been perpetrated by men between the ages of 20 and 30.

“The preponderance of young men engaging in these deadly, evil, and stupid acts of violence may be a result of brains that have yet to fully developed,” Howard Forman, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, told my colleague Chris Weller.

Detecting fake IDs, if the user is as old as 25, shouldn’t be as big a problem as the situation that now exists.

Footprints To Recovery‘s “Raising the Drinking Age to 25: What are the Pros and Cons” lists “Raises the Thrill of Underage Drinking” as one of the “cons”:

Critics of raising the drinking age argue that this change will just extend that “thrill” of asserting your independence against authority for a longer period given that we know that the brain continues developing well into the 20s.

One of “pros” listed in the article was “Protects Brain Development”:

Much research has shown the damaging effects of alcohol on brain development in teens and young adults. The brain is still undergoing crucial developments until age 25, and some scientists have found evidence that it keeps developing until as late as age 30.

Drinking by students at the University of Alabama was the subject of a post “The Greek God Pan at the U of A” by the Franklin Stove Blog (FSB) on April 21, 2022. The centrality of alcohol consumption in the University’s social life is not atypical:

Drinking during the pandemic may have led to more deaths than Covid-19. At colleges throughout the nation, in spite of any of the pandemic’s restrictions on “normal” college life, drinking remained a fixture of college living.

A post by FSB in 2022 “Booze & the Student Brain” concerned early life binge drinking.

Girl on The Strip

An actual image taken outside a gastropub on The Strip of police handling a violent, obviously intoxicated student accompanied the 2020 FSB post “Saturday Nights in T-Town.”

Drunken bar patron being restrained on The Strip

A 2022 FSB post “T-Town’s got litigation!” covered the lawsuits where alcohol use has been a factor.

A 2020 FSB post “Shot dead on The Strip” dealt with the tragic death of an out of town student. A wrongful death lawsuit has since been filed against the person who shot him and the bar that continued to “sell alcohol to the shooter even though he was visibly intoxicated.”

Perhaps the recent case of a homocide that involved University of Alabama basketball players has most thoroughly captured the public’s attention. A FSB post “T-Town’s University Blvd–a Danger Zone?” dealt with fatal shootings in T-Town, including the one that resulted from a “minor argument” that occurred between the victims and suspects, where athletes were involved.

Murders that occurred in South Carolina unearthed a story of under age drinking and death. Several television series have been produced about the tragedy in The Palmetto State, including one on Netflix, “Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal.” The first episode provides a great amount of detail about the under age drinking that precipitated the boat death of a young lady. It also gives a look into the thought process of adolescents who are in toxic relationships.

The idea that the legal drinking age might be raised is a non-starter of course. There’s just too much money involved. Too much that the operators of bars take in. Too much that grocery stores and gas stations make from alcohol sales. Too much revenue that the city derives from alcohol sales. Much of the alcohol is consumed by under age drinkers. The whole Greek way of life that the University of Alabama is so proud of would be threatened.

So don’t expect much change even though T-Town‘s police department and the University’s have created a special police precinct on The Strip, as reported by ABC 33/42 News. As long as booze is sold to minors there will be blood.


Students Are Paying the Price for Booze

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It was likely that no one ever thought having booze at University of Alabama athletic facilities would affect the cost and quality of the food served.

An article “The price for a night out at Coleman Coliseum keeps adding up” by Nick Robbins in the campus newspaper The Crimson White deals with the high prices and poor quality of the food at athletic venues.

Robbins wrote that fans “can’t help but be disappointed with the quality and cost of the food and drinks at the eight vendors offered. Bryant-Denny Stadium, Coleman Coliseum and other UA sporting venues  have made massive changes to their food and drink options over the past couple of years — changes fans are not happy with.”

When Herbert Tesh, the representative for Levy Premium Foodservice, approached the City Council in February, 2022, most of the discussion about alcohol sales centered on legal liabilities.

Herbert Tesh

Robbins reported that;

The catalyst for these changes was the University’s partnership with food and concessions company Levy, which was announced in 2018. Before the company took over, concession prices had actually been lowered by $1-2 per item. But now a 16-ounce domestic beer costs $8.99 while a 20-ounce premium beer costs $9.99. The cost of beer reflects the prices in Bryant-Denny, but the rollout of alcohol sales has not been smooth, with some fans reporting being charged the premium price for a domestic beer.  

Some of the other prices that Robbins listed were:

Popcorn: $6.99

$14.49 for chicken tenders and fries

A German pretzel: $13.99

Nachos: $9.99

$7.49 for Dippin’ Dots

Robbins wrote that the University’s food and beverage prices don’t compare favorably to those of other venues at both colleges and professional events.‘s Ben Flanagan wrote a column about the $16 cheeseburger sold at Coleman Coliseum:

Flanagan opined:

So why charge a fan $16 for a cheeseburger? Or $14 for a pretzel ($20 with the side of cheese and tax)? Or $10 for a soda? What about fans buying tickets to individual games and then paying these exorbitant concession prices to create a memory for themselves and their families who love the Tide? Or what about students paying for tuition and the $4 side of beer cheese as they pack their section to the top of Coleman and attempt create one of the best home atmospheres in the SEC?

A University of Alabama athletics department statement this week said the venue’s concessionaire Levy Restaurants sets concession pricing based off concession offerings, product/overhead costs and market pricing. “Despite inflation’s impact on sports and entertainment venues across the country, a concerted effort is made to avoid annual price increases on concessions,” they said.

Since students are prohibited from alcohol purchases the excessive prices that they pay for beverages and sub-standard food must subsidize the sale of booze for other fans.

University of Alabama President Dr. Stuart Bell, has stated the sale of alcohol at University Athletic facilities is “a net positive for the school.” Many students must think otherwise in T-Town.


The Black Out Rage Gallon

Have students at the University of Alabama become part of the nationwide trend of partying with Black Out Rage Gallons (BORGs)?

Inside Higher Ed‘s Johanna Alonso reported that:

The latest college drinking trend is as simple as it is potent: equal parts water and liquor, combined with some sort of sugary flavoring. And while some see the beverage as just another way to get drunk quickly, others consider the fad a safer alternative to drinking games of yore, such as Slap the Bag or Edward Fortyhands.

Called a borg—short for “blackout rage gallon”—the beverages have been around since at least early 2020, when the first recipes for the concoction were posted on the video-sharing app TikTok. But borgs have garnered increased attention in recent months as more and more TikTokers, often college students, post videos of themselves making or drinking them.

Alonzo wrote that Penn State‘s Ashley Linden-Carmichael warned against the beverage. She retweeted Inside Higher Ed‘s post:

Carmichael was quoted in the Inside Higher Ed story:

“If someone is having 16 drinks in one sitting, even if it’s mixed with water, that still counts as high-intensity or extreme drinking.”

She noted that binge drinking is defined for men as having five or more drinks in a sitting, and, for women, four or more.

WHIO TV/7 reported that in Dayton, Ohio, there have been “BORG-themed events.” The television station reported that “Doctors at Miami Valley Hospital have not had any BORG patients yet, but if the drinking trend continues, they will not be surprised when students start showing up at the emergency room.”

NBC NewsMorgan Sung reported that the BORG jugs are often given “punny names” such as “Soulja Borg” and “Our Borg and Savior.”

Writing for the University of Texas at Austin‘s Daily Texan, Aaron Sullivan quoted a student who believed that BORGs would allow her better to pace herself while drinking.‘s Eli Curwin wrote:

For college students across the country, the days of Jungle Juice and Faderade are over. Now, many party-goers are lugging around a new type of drink: borgs. And doctors are worried.

“In general, when a patient comes to the emergency department because of binge drinking, its because they are no longer able to function.” Dr. Gus Colangelo, an Emergency Medicine physician at Tufts Medical Center, told “And this is not uncommon with borgs, because people have this perception … that the additional contents of the borg are somehow going to protect them from the toxic effects of the alcohol.”

Sightings of BORGs in T-Town haven’t been reported by any media outlets as yet. The Borg in Star Trek proclaimed that “Resistance is futile.” Will partying students on campus or at the farm be able to resist the BORG?


The Greek Scorecard

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The University of Alabama‘s student newspaper The Crimson White reported on the latest Greek Scorecard. Jacob Ritondo wrote:

The University of Alabama found that several Interfraternity Council organizations and one United Greek Council fraternity violated the University’s hazing and alcohol guidelines last fall, according to the fall 2022 Greek Scorecard. One fraternity was suspended, a first since 2019.  

Every semester, the University’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life compiles a list, known as the “Greek Scorecard,” of every Greek organization that has violated rules pertaining to four categories: “hazing,” “alcohol,” “sexual misconduct,” or “other.”

Several organizations breached the University’s alcohol guidelines, which prohibits underage consumption of alcohol, serving alcohol to an underage student or knowingly allowing them to consume alcohol, using unlicensed common source or tap systems to hold alcohol, or participating in or possessing paraphernalia for drinking games.

Perhaps the Sober Nation concept hasn’t caught on in Greek Circles?


Off campus drinking may take up the slack if there is any curtailment of drinking at fraternity houses. Enforcement of drinking codes is entirely left up to the sponsoring organization for off-campus events. Both Kappa Kappa Gamma and Phi Beta Pi are planning farm parties.

The Greek God Dionysus, according to Wikipedia was called Bacchus by the Romans.

The Romans called him Bacchus for a frenzy he is said to induce called baccheia. As Dionysus Eleutherios (“the liberator”), his wine, music, and ecstatic dance free his followers from self-conscious fear and care, and subvert the oppressive restraints of the powerful.

Apparently there remain some “oppressive restraints” at the Capstone. But will there be any greater freedom in the pastures?

Walt Disney‘s 1940 masterpiece Fantasia featured an animated Bacchus.

Maybe where there’s a pasture… there’s a way in T-Town?


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.


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.‘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.


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.”


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

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 black man and a pregnant 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.