Let Me Tell You Something About Birmingham, Alabama

Apparently, some readers took issue with my recent characterization of Birmingham, Alabama, as a decrepit backwater devoid of all culture and sophistication. Wait, did I not say that? Because I should have.

All I really meant to imply with my original comment was that central (I guess?) Alabama is not a particularly hot tourist destination. I should have been more clear. The place is a blight on America. It serves no purpose other than to make people in Wyoming feel good about themselves.

One young fella named Tony wrote me this message:

You could go far in this town with a name like Dashiell.

Is that a threat? Because the last thing I want is to go far in Birmingham. Or short, for that matter!

Most people just assumed, because of my statement, that I have never been to Birmingham. They are, of course, correct. Why would I do that? To see the Vulcan statue? Oooh, neato. Someone needs to tell these people that Star Trek was just a TV show.

Someone else—who I assume works for the Tourism Board, if they even have one—sent me this lecture about the charms of the "Magic City." I re-post it here in full, because you wouldn't believe me otherwise.

As a native of Birmingham, I am led to comment about your recent post that was referenced by the Birmingham News article in today's edition titled "Papa John's Bowl fans express surprise at Birmingham's amenities."

It is sad that you probably had little information given to you about the city or the bowl. Have you spent any time in Birmingham to assess what the city has to offer? The most significant civil rights museum in the country is located in Birmingham, the Civil Rights Institute. More information can be located at: www.bcri.org. Both teams visited the Institute and found it very meaningful. Birmingham has consistently ranked as a top city for fine dining. Highlands Bar & Grill in Birmingham's Southside neighborhood was ranked by Gourmet Magazine as the #5 restaurant in America, October, 2001. Birmingham is full of culture and the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival was named one of "ten fantastic film festival vacations" along with New Orleans, Austin and San Diego, in Film Festival Today, Spring, 2003.

Maybe you are only interested in top-40 music and retail pop culture. If that is the case, then Birmingham may not be for you.

Lastly, it is not a bowl sponsored by a web site. Rather it is a bowl sponsored by an international company, Papa John's International, Inc. The title of the bowl game reflects the company's marketing strategy of driving customers to its web site to place an order. Surprisingly, you did not figure this out. As a disclaimer, I do not have any stock or have any connections to Papa John's, other than enjoying its pizza occasionally. As a note, the bowl game generated its largest crowd in its 3-year history, so I guess all of those football fans do not see Birmingham and the bowl game in the same uninformed light you do. After all, would so many Rutgers fan travel so far if the city and the bowl combined to make such a dismal offering, as you claim? Also, the great majority of the bowl games are not on a holiday, including the BCS championship. Your comments are silly, and reflect that you wrote the piece in about 5 minutes.

I realize you do not write for the Times or the Washington Post, but next time, do a little research. Go to Birmingham and check out Five-Points South, eat at Highlands or Bottega, and listen to some good independent music at Workplay. You will see the city in an informed light, and maybe appreciate it a bit more.

I think the only true statement in there is that I did write the post in about five minutes. I didn't do my research because I don't have to. On a windy day, I can smell Birmingham from my apartment. However, I do take issue with the claim that I know nothing about Papa John's pizza. I have eaten so much of that stuff my blood is 30% garlic butter. Nobody loves Papa John's more than me. I love it almost as much as I hate Birmingham.

Oh, and I got news for you. Those Rutgers fans were just looking for an excuse to get out of New Jersey. So don't flatter yourself.

Papa John's Bowl fans express surprise at Birmingham's amenities [Birmingham News]