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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My first All Hollows Eve 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.

Photo by Jamo Images on Pexels.com

During the Alabama/Mississippi State game on October 22nd I didn’t notice many fans wearing Halloween costumes. I guess because it was the Homecoming game and mums were the word? On the weekend before Halloween there was no game because the football team had an off-week.

One thing at the Homecoming game that jumped out at me wasn’t a skeleton. The Homecoming Queen’s escort during the halftime presentation of the Homecoming Court was another female. Maybe my eyes deceived me or have times have really changed since I was last alive in the stadium in 1968?

Of course I also got a reprieve from those Godawful red, flashing lights! For some reason the house lights remained blissfully white during most of the game. Don’t blame me. I haven’t figured out how to change the settings on the light board, even if I could.

After the Homecoming game there was this dude who was arrested for an assault with bodily fluids after he spit on these guys who he’d had an argument with. That makes me kinda glad I’m incorporeal!

I had been looking forward to, with my bird’s eye view from the stadium, checking out the sororities on Colonial Drive where Trick or Treat on Sorority Row had been scheduled. The event was cancelled due to the weather.

Participants had been told to not bring any props that resemble dangerous or deadly weapons.

But they were also asked to refrain from wearing masks! What’s a costume without a mask?

I got to thinking. Yeah, the kids would’ve still been cute in their costumes, particularly without any “dangerous or deadly weapons.”  But what was going on with the sorority members? How would the kids be protected?

Surely no bipolar girls would’ve been allowed to hand out candy. What about the state of mind of a girl who had just caught her boyfriend shagging her best friend at a swap? What about the serious alcoholics? They all must be alcoholics to some extent.  I don’t really understand the social dynamic, where most mixed events involve booze? For the Treat or Treat event were they going to screen out the girls who’ve recently had a traumatic personal experience? “Oh, honey, you’ve just had too hard a week to be handing out candy to a bunch of brats.”

Maybe I’m just too hard on the sorority girls? That’s my bad. I’m basically a loner. At least I was when I was still alive. Now I most certainly am. I wasn’t a joiner. I couldn’t even stay in any religious affiliation for long. To me sororities are like cults. They have their little secretive chants hand signs and rituals. They wear matching clothing. Yuk!

I was wondering if they would be handing out candy corn. As a kid. I once ate too much of the orange and yellow corn kernel shaped candy and was never able to eat it again. I always thought that the bevy of blonde sorority sisters kind of resembled the corn candy. Yellow on top.

There was a light fog on the morning of Halloween. Most of the rest of the day was fairly overcast. The skies cleared by the late afternoon but, during the morning in the dreary fog, I could imagine hearing the wailing of the Rolltards — as one person in the Founders Suites once had called them. Rolltards are the fans that find any loss by the team unbearable and are irreconcilably miserable when the Crimson Tide isn’t the national champion. But I’m sure any such voices were only the product of my imagination. I thought that Rolltards on Halloween might resemble pumpkins that had begun to deteriorate after being lit for too long.

Since there was nothing else to do on All Hallows Eve in the stadium, I just did my usual routine. I visited the Digital Media Center to see if there were any copies of the Crimson White lying around. I didn’t see a ton of Halloween decorations there. I looked down on Evergreen Cemetery just in case there were any spooks floating around. They must have all been resting in peace?

I don’t know what I was really expecting to see on Halloween. I guess I should be happy to have had another weekend without the stadium’s lightshow. No cheerleader was shouting, “Lights up, lights down!” I would imagine that, if there’d been a game on October 29th in the stadium, I would have seen all kinds of zombies and monsters dancing while “Dixieland Delight” was blared over the stadiums’ speakers. That’s vomit territory for sure.

In Tutwiler Hall girls always decorated for Halloween and wore cool costumes. I miss that part of Halloween. They had a ghost right in their midst and most didn’t know it. Some may have sensed my presence, but certainly not my best friend forever Estelle. While she was still in the residence hall, I kept track of her but she never seemed to be aware of me. If I had ever been the Homecoming Queen, Estelle would surely have been my escort.

Unlike any Trick or Treat ghost costumes, my appearance is always pretty normal, that is if you think that that the crimson velvet dress I wore on Christmas Day was normal. That was what I wore in my last moment in a corporeal state before the gun went off. I’ll always be haunted by the question of just why that happened.

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No Joy In T-Town

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To rephrase Lawrence Thayer‘s “Casey At The Bat”:

There is no joy in T-Town—mighty Bama has been beaten by the Vols.

In a game of arguably controversial officiating, the Crimson Tide football team on the “Third Saturday in October” lost a game against the University of Tennessee Volunteers for the first time in fifteen years. The final score was 52-49. At one point there was actually a heated dispute among the officials about which down was being played that led to a lengthy video review. There was a record of seventeen penalties for Bama. In the first quarter alone the Crimson Tide was penalized for fifty-four yards.

Many fans in T-Town, unable to travel to Knoxville, watched the CBS Game of the Week on their flat screen televisions. Coverage began with College Game Day. The pre-game show featured former Volunteer quarterback Peyton Manning leading the Pride of the Southland band’s rendition of “Rocky Top.” The song originated as a bluegrass Christmas tune in 1967. According to Wikipedia the song is about a “city dweller’s lamentation over the loss of a simpler and freer existence in the hills of Tennessee.”

As a taunt to Bama fans, the song Dixieland Delight, a staple at Alabama games, was played over the stadium’s loudspeakers after the Tennessee victory. Its lyrics contain: “Rollin’ down a backwoods, Tennessee byway…”

During the College Game Day broadcast before the game, there were a couple of scatological signs held by Tennessee fans. One said that Alabama Coach Saban sits on the toilet when he urinates. Another said that Bama fans wipe before they defecate. Tennessee fans are uniquely rabid and are infamous for pelting opposing teams with beer cans, mustard bottles and other projectiles. Some fans were dressed as mustard bottles during the Game Day show.

After the game Tennessee fans, either under the influence of alcohol or drunk with the joy of victory, stormed the field and tore down the goalposts. This resulted in a South Eastern Conference fine of $100,000 for “violating the league’s access to competition area.”

As enthusiastic as Bama fans are, it is very unlikely that they will ever tear down goalposts, hold scatological signs or pelt the field with cans and bottles. Leave that to fans from a “backwoods Tennessee byway.”

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Gimme that ole time religion!

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 Shelagh Murphy on Pexels.com

Hey, it’s me–Rose–from where my incorporeal form resides in Bryant Denny Stadium.

The Alabama Texas A&M game on the second weekend of October was a real nail biter. Alabama won by a mere four points with the final score being twenty-four to twenty.

The Crimson Tide‘s Heisman Trophy winning quarterback was unable to play. His replacement made some good plays but also plays that led to turnovers. And Texas A&M, without those turnovers, would doubtlessly have been far less competitive.

During the game I observed that, when fans at the stadium were worried, they’d clasp their sweaty hands as if they were praying. I bet there were more prayers said in the stadium on Saturday than in churches on the following Sunday.

Although Coach Saban and the team finally managed to find deliverance for the Crimson Tide, many fans ceased praying and began chanting the “Rammer Jammer” cheer.

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

Considering the fact that Alabama barely squeaked out a victory over the Aggies, I wondered if was legitimate for fans to claim that they beat the hell out of anyone?

Once more I felt that I was transported into a version of a surreal Fellini movie. Perhaps some fans will confess to a priest about their untoward pride in Bama‘s miracle victory?

Of course, I can imagine that all of the campus watering holes were doing a lot of business after the game. Maybe after a few drinks, some of the fans didn’t recall how sweaty their palms had become during the game?

I remember a professor once explaining the reason that many students had sweaty palms during exams. He said that eccrine sweat glands are highly concentrated in the hands. They’re connected to our sympathetic nervous system, which kicks in when we’re stressed. That’s what he said anyway.

By the end of the game a few Bama cheerleaders were perched on the shoulders of other cheerleaders. Female Bama cheerleaders are just the right size to be hoisted and are tossable. They aren’t top heavy.

Some Bama fans might seem to be “hoist with one’s own petard,” as the Bard wrote, when they make the claim that “We just beat the hell outta you!” Maybe they should just toss out the Rammer Jammer cheer?

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Old times they are not forgotten?

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A 2020 post in the Franklin Stove Blog (FSB) “Pride & Prejudice at Bama” included:

Lewis Bolling wrote an account of the celebration that took place after the University of Alabama football team’s 1926 victory at the Rose Bowl. He described how the Million Dollar Band marched down Greensboro Avenue. A speaker at the event bragged that the team was unbeatable when the band played “Dixie.”

The lyrics of Dixie (I Wish I Was in Dixie) contain:

I wish I was in the land of cotton,
Old times they are not forgotten;
Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land.
In Dixie Land where I was born,
Early on one frosty mornin,
Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land.

Then I wish I was in Dixie, hooray! hooray!
In Dixie Land I’ll take my stand to live and die in Dixie,
Away, away, away down South in Dixie,
Away, away, away down South in Dixie.

Sheila Gaffney wrote:

“Dixie” is a song with music and lyrics by the Northerner Daniel Decatur Emmett (included in the Artists, Movements and Ideas section of the Song of America database.) His song was first performed in a minstrel show in New York City in 1859, but it soon swept the South, and when Confederate President Jefferson Davis took the oath of office in 1861, the band played “Dixie.” Southern troops marched into battle singing the song, and it lifted the spirits of the pro-slavery South for all the years of the war. The composer, who supported the Union, is reported to have said, “If I had known to what use they were going to put my song, I’ll be damned if I’d have written it.”

The Crimson White‘s Raelee Sents wrote about an attempt by University students and faculty to remove the word “Dixie” from “Yea Alabama” fight song. Sents reported:

The Delete Dixie Initiative, a new campus coalition of students and faculty working to remove the word ‘Dixie’ from ‘Yea Alabama,’ unveiled their new website on Thursday.

Lyrics to to Yea Alabama proclaim that the Alabama team is “Dixie’s football pride.”

Al.com‘s Ben Flanagan wrote: “

Official campus organizations who endorse the initiative include the Black Faculty and Staff Association (BFSA) and Social Work Association for Cultural Awareness (SWACA).

It is unknown just how many players for the Crimson Tide are actually aware that their fight song refers to a Confederate anthem that extols the virtues of being in the “land of cotton.”

As recounted in a FSB post, Head Football Coach Nick Saban led “a march of Alabama athletes on August 31st, 2020 that put an exclamation mark on his previous statements on racial equality and justice. The March event was in response to a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin having shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back on August 23rd. Blake’s shooting inspired protests throughout the country that were similar to those that occurred after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25, 2020.”

It would be reasonable to assume that many players would welcome removing the word “Dixie” from the fight song.

The website for the Delete Dixie Initiative asks “How do we want to be remembered?”:

Throughout American history, the term “Dixie” has been used in a direct or indirect reference to the Confederacy and the institution of slavery. One of the most well-known uses of the term comes from the 1859 song, “Dixie”. The song was first performed by a minstrel group, a group of white performers dressed in blackface. The performance was intended to represent a freed Black slave longing to return to the plantation of his birth. Soon after, the song became wildly popular in the south and was used as a Confederate war song. In fact, after Jefferson Davis took his oath of office to serve as the president of the Confederacy, the band played “Dixie”. The term “dixie” grew in popularity between the 1860s-1900s, often used in tandem with the Confederate flag, Ku Klux Klan groups, and other racially insensitive iconography. This was only the beginning. 

It is because of these ties-to the Confederacy, to racial subjugation, to a time of slavery and racial violence-that we must make a change. The University of Alabama considers itself the place where legends are made. We must now decide the kind of legend we hope to leave behind. We are not the pride of “dixie”, or of the “Old South”, but instead, the pride of the state of Alabama.

The site contains a moving video that explains the initiative’s objectives.

At one point in time during a yearly event at the Kappa Alpha fraternity at the University a large Confederate national flag covered the front of its house on campus. A 2010 story by the Associated Press reporter Jay Reeves reported that the wearing Confederate uniforms to “Old South” parties and parades was banned by the The Virginia-based Kappa Alpha Order.

The Yea Alabama fight song is just another reminder of the University of Alabama’s lamentable past. The names of many buildings on campus that bore the names of notoriously racist figures have been changed. WVUA‘s Keli Stiglich covered the renaming of Graves Hall. Former Governor Bibb Graves had been elected with the help of the Ku Klux Klan in his first successful gubernatorial bid in 1926. The building was renamed Autherine Lucy Hall. Hall was the first black student on campus.

While the Delete Dixie Initiative wants the Yea Alabama fight song changed, for some reason, it has no objections to the hokey, country song “Dixieland Delight” being featured at Alabama games, where cheerleaders have mimicked a cowboy whirling a rope and the team’s mascot Big Al has led a frenzied student crowd during a pulsating light show.

Any mention of Dixie — the “land of cotton”– should be considered an affront to contemporary moral values and an insult to both black and white athletes. But only so much progress can be expected at the University of Alabama.

After all, Home Sweet Alabama is a staple tune that is played at Alabama sports events. The song was written in response to Neil Young‘s 1970 song “Southern Man.” The song was about Lily Belle, who had golden brown hair and a black boyfriend. The song lyrics were:

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

Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” lyrics are:

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

Maybe, at the University of Alabama, those crosses aren’t burning fast enough?


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Punk Ass Frat Boys Rumble

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A rumble between members of the Lambda Chi Alpha house and its neighbor Sigma Phi Epsilon house at the University of Alabama was reported by the Tuscaloosa Thread‘s Stephen Dethrage.

One of the frat boys was arrested “after he allegedly stomped on another student’s head” during the fight.

The incident likely only made the news because of the arrest. Fighting among frat boys on campus is a University tradition. As recounted in the Franklin Stove Blog, here was an illegal duel in 1877 between members of Sigma Chi (ΣΧ) and Delta Kappa Epsilon (ΔKE) fraternities where the ΔKE member lost his life. Subsequently all fraternities on campus were disbanded for a period of time.

The use of alcohol has fueled such violence. Binge drinking by under-aged males is commonplace at fraternities. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) in its report on college drinking addressed the problem of binge drinking. The NIAAA also reported that in 2004 “696,000 students ages 18 to 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that “excessive alcohol consumption increases aggression and may increase the risk of physically assaulting another person.”

MH magazine’s Derek Melnyk in 2018 wrote an article about the maturity of adult males in which he referenced a study by Dr. Sandra Aamodt. Aamodt opined that men “do not reach full maturity until age 25,” when the brain is fully developed.

The National Library of Medicine published a 2013 study on adolescent brain maturation. It said:

The development and maturation of the prefrontal cortex occurs primarily during adolescence and is fully accomplished at the age of 25 years. The development of the prefrontal cortex is very important for complex behavioral performance, as this region of the brain helps accomplish executive brain functions.

The study discussed behavioral problems associated with adolescents, including risk-taking behavior, the management of emotions and the effect of alcohol abuse on brain maturation.

The use of alcohol by immature students and the practice of “hazing” go hand in hand. A 2019 USA Today article by Max Cohen and Chris Quintana reported that there have been 250 hazing deaths at schools in America since the 1800s according to the Hank Nuwer Unofficial Hazing Clearinghouse.

The University of Alabama‘s student newspaper The Crimson White has an archive on hazing issues. The archive is likely not up to date. The 2015 hazing incident that involved the second and third degree burns of pledges who were ordered to submerge their feet into an ice filled cooler was better described by Al.com‘s Jeremy Gray.

The University of Alabama has a policy on alcohol use:

Individuals under 21 years of age are not permitted to consume alcohol or be in possession of alcohol. Alcohol paraphernalia (which includes but is not limited to: empty beer cans or bottles, shot glasses, etc.) are prohibited and considered a violation of policy. Individuals over the age of 21 may consume alcohol in designated areas on campus in a safe and responsible manner.

But no one seriously believes that there is no alcohol use on campus by students who are under 21 years of age. In fact, much of the social fabric of Greek life is predicated on alcohol use.

In all probability the rumble in which a student had his head stomped on involved frat boys under the age of 21 who were drinking. It is also very likely that if the University actually enforced its policy on alcohol use that the institution would no longer be able to brag that its “fraternity and sorority community is one of the largest and most vibrant in the United States.”

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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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