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TulaneLSU
TBD Fan
Member since Aug 2003
Member since Dec 2007
12296 posts

TulaneLSU's Top 10 signs of Birmingham and Clanton, AL
Dear Friends,

Image: https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/50645490162_7299eb3906_k.jpg


Now is not the time for words, as I must hurry to complete my Thanksgiving contributions. Turkey prices this year were average, without much shift from last year. On today’s agenda is making oyster dressing, which my dear friend, Tom Fitzmorris, has never really enjoyed. I too once did not enjoy oyster dressing, but I have become so nostalgic in recent years that the nostalgia of that dish alone is enough for me to love it. Is it the nostalgia or evolving taste buds? We may never know, but I do know that everyone at the table always raves about it and asks for my recipe. I simply give them Mr. Fitzmorris’s recipe, along with a formal oration on the proper technique for brining a turkey.

On our trip to Jasper Mall, we made a detour in Birmingham. As many of you know, I have never stopped in Birmingham, except a stop at the mall in Hoover many years ago. It reminded me of the Metairie Galleria. Birmingham was named for the glorious city in England, in which I have previously stayed, whose name derives from the Old English meaning “place of the Beorma,” which apparently is the name of a long lost Anglo Saxon tribe. Some English scholars have even argued that Beorma was an individual. How amazing it is to think that one person or small clan of illiterate hunters could have the honor of giving name to two enormous cities.

The first approach, even in the darkness, of this city is impressive due to its asperous surfaces. Looking at a topographic map of the city and its environs reveals little slivers of the southern Appalachia jutting southwestwardly. Birmingham is Appalachia’s last hoorah, the last chance those chunks of granite ore, shale, and sandstone rise to 1000 feet. Downtown sits in a relatively flat valley. I say relatively flat, for a person from New Orleans can note even a quick change in three feet of elevation. To me, downtown is still a very hilly place, but in relation to the mountains around it, it is flat.

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As you know, we approached recently from the south and I was in need of my DDT, my Diet Dr. Thunder. Road trips necessitate this liquid strength. I buy a two liter bottle for every day of my road trips and sip on it throughout the day. At approximately 75 cents, tax included, (and Alabama’s grocery tax is a ridiculous and whopping 10%), it is a great way to avoid the gas station tradition of filching your money. I am looking especially at that travesty known as Bucee’s, where cheap gas is more than subsidized by outrageously overpriced food and drink that are disgusting.

With my DDT safely secured, we passed quite the happening of places, Vestavia Bowl. As on all my travels, I had my respirator and goggles for just such an occasion. I have not bowled in ages, and this seemed just as good a time to start again.

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Cousin, though, had other plans. “Look, (Nephew’s) bedtime is fast approaching. We need to get settled in the hotel.” I think the real reason for declining was, ever since this summer, Cousin does not like closed public spaces.

Disappointed, yes, I was. Also disappointing was that Cousin did not want to stay in the hotel I had arranged -- the Birmingham Airport Holiday Inn. He worried that it was in a dangerous neighborhood and would not have the amenities of the Grand Bohemian, which had plenty of vacancies when we arrived. I hoped we would all stay in the Holiday Inn, something I have never done. I have always loved the name Holiday Inn, and it has always eluded me. But it would elude me no more, and with it, would come my childhood projections of what Holiday Inn is. I dreamed once of a Holiday Inn set in a snow, garland, and hot chocolate-filled Advent movie. We were all a family, frolicking in the calm of a post-blizzard world, snow crunching beneath our boots. It was a welcoming small town with a picturesque town center lined with marble churches and old brick hardware stores. Holiday Inn, why I think they could make a movie about it.

Uncle loaned me his car. He knows I do not like driving, especially at night, but there was no other way. I was not forgoing my chance to stay in Holiday Inn. I am proud to say I successfully navigated the night streets of Birmingham. After driving through some of the less than gilded streets, I arrived at Holiday Inn. The concercierge there was wonderful and the check-in process seamless. My room was high above the world with a stunning view of Interstate 20, the parking lot, and glimpses of the runway lights from Birmingham’s airport.

During the check-in process, I asked the lovely concierge for a dinner recommendation. “What type of food do you enjoy?” she asked.

“My favorite restaurant is Impastato’s. It is in Metairie near Lakeside Shopping Center, which has an adequate food court. Because it is in Metairie, a lot of New Orleanians look down on it. I ignore such rabble because Impastato’s serves the best Italian, and specifically Creole Italian, food in America. I took a date to Impastato’s for prom.”

“Sir?” She interrupted me, I believe because she did not like that I had called it Creole Italian. “I meant do you like steak, fried chicken, or burgers? What about pizza?”

“Pizza! I love pizza. I have eaten in over 2000 pizzerias and restaurants in America and I am always trying to update my Top 40 pizzas of America list. But I forgot my pizza scale.”

“Pizza scale? Nevermind. Just five minutes from here is Post Office Pies. Last year USA Today named it one of the best 30 pizzas in the country.” She said it with a sense of local pride.

“Is that right?” I was a bit pompous, most likely, as I was thinking to myself top 30 pies in America, in Birmingham? “I need to look up this list.” So on the spot I found the list and read it. Sure enough, there it was, along with Rubirosa, Una, Joe’s (which I think is overrated), DeLorenzo’s, Tony’s (SF), Razza, Totonno’s, DiFara, Frank Pepe’s, and Apizza Scholls (also overrated). “That is impressive company. Where is this Post Office Pies?”
This post was edited on 11/26 at 6:31 am


TulaneLSU
TBD Fan
Member since Aug 2003
Member since Dec 2007
12296 posts

re: TulaneLSU's Top 10 signs of Birmingham and Clanton, AL
Quick and easy directions followed. I ordered for pickup and then drove around downtown while waiting. I do enjoy being in cities when they are quiet and calm, as they were on this night. Should any council members or city mayor read this letter, please work on synchronizing your traffic lights, or better yet, install motion detectors on them. The traffic lights are randomly red and green. You can easily spend 15 minutes at lights with no one moving on a single drive around downtown. Here were some pictures of Birmingham’s center:

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Upon arriving at Post Office Pies, I recognized that this was, at least at nighttime, a derelict community with hardly anything to give it life. There were several sets of train tracks that may have ruined Cousin’s shocks and lots of empty lots and a few parking lots with no cars. I did not see any people except for a family leaving the pizzeria.

The staff was a friendly one, and all diligently wore face coverings that did not slip below the nostrils. I am grateful for such places. There were two wood fired ovens. I tried to ascertain if they were Palazzo ovens, but from a distance it did not appear so. They looked like modified American versions of the Lamborghini of pizza ovens.

My pizzas were ready, and I told the cashier, “I hope this is good. The review is going on Tigerdroppings.”

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I went out to Cousin’s car boxes in hand, lamenting all the way that I had forgotten my pizza scale at home. Disappointingly, I estimated that the pizzas, one a Margherita and the other a pepperoni, weighed 19 and 20 ounces, respectively. I thought it odd that they did not put fresh basil on either pizza. Instead, they had whole leaves in little plastic ramekins. The eater is to apply, which I thought a very odd concept, as none of the NY greats, including Mr. DiFara, do it like that. So I do not forget, any great pizza list that does not have at least 70% representation from New York is a fraud. You want great Italian, go to New Orleans. You want great pizza, go to New York.

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Sitting in the half light of an abandoned parking lot in the middle of nowhere Birmingham, AL, I thought it the perfect location for a pizza epiphany. Perhaps I could add a pizza from the South in my Top 10 pizzas of America. So I began my pizza journey alone, in the dark, nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita. The Margherita was odd in that the tomatoes used were whole roasted cherry tomatoes. The mozzarella was not particularly rich or creamy. I could taste good ingredients throughout, but the dough was floppy and overly doughy. The base needed 30 seconds longer in the oven. The sauce was good to very good, with a pleasant acidity reminding me that San Marzanos or their equivalent should always be used for pizza sauce.

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Five of the eight slices of Margherita and one liter of the DDT were gone before I switched to the pepperoni. By this time, I was not impressed and would rank Post Office around #350 of the pizzas I have tried. The crust on the pepperoni was a little better, but still, I thought the dough was too thick. The cheese and pepperoni were average. By the end of the entire pepperoni, I was disappointed in the entire experience. Like Pizza Delicious in New Orleans, Post Office serves decent pies, but they are not worthy of national acclaim. They are pretty good, a level just above a good Domino’s pizza.

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I returned to my room to find an adequately appointed room that had no frills, nor reminders of Christmas or any Christian holiday for that matter. When I looked in the night stand, I found no Bible either. It is a sad day when we can sleep in a place that bills itself Holiday and not have anything overtly holy within it. The back lit mirror in the background, though, offered lovely lighting. As I brushed my teeth, after Mother reminded me when we talked on the phone, I thought to myself, “TulaneLSU, you are looking more and more like Matthew McConaughey in that Lincoln advertisement.”

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The next morning I arose to explore downtown in the pre-traffic hours. The glorious eastern lighting made for a nice picture of my first stay in Holiday Inn. I only slept 90 minutes, partly because I missed being with family and in New Orleans, and partly because I-20’s traffic is unending, its noise perpetually penetrating the thin windows.

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Much of the eastern edge of the city is industrial, or was industrial, at some point. Where New Orleans has its ports and cranes for unloading cargo containers, Birmingham has vestiges of its past in iron production. Perhaps a native Birminghamian can inform us of its past and what has happened in the last thirty years.

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Like John Winthrop whose errand came from above, I moved westward, before returning to meet with Cousin for our journey to Jasper, which I have detailed in another letter. I attempted to tour Birmingham Southern College, but the security guard at the gate said no visitors were allowed. I bit my tongue because I wanted to tell him, “18 years ago this college flooded my mailbox with unsolicited scholarship offers and pamphlets.” I am glad I did not apply or much less consider going there. While in the neighborhood, I did find Legion Field where a distant cousin I met many years ago east of Destin played a football game when he played at UA.He has since died, so I thought he would have appreciated me stopping here to think of him. He also was the type of person I assume would have liked Arby’s, so when I saw this beautiful Arby’s sign, I again thought of him.

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This post was edited on 11/26 at 6:25 am


TulaneLSU
TBD Fan
Member since Aug 2003
Member since Dec 2007
12296 posts

re: TulaneLSU's Top 10 signs of Birmingham and Clanton, AL
Later in the day, though, we returned through Birmingham. We were all hungry, at Cousin’s suggestion, we found our way to a nice hamlet on the southern edge of town. It was quite a hilly neighborhood, but delightful too. Children played on their bikes and ate ice cream along a nice string of restaurants, which I thought it odd included a Ruby Slipper. I can recall my first adventure to the Ruby Slipper on Canal, perhaps in 2009. I waited over thirty minutes for breakfast and it tasted like a cook born near the Dead Sea has seasoned my eggs.

The BBQ spot was called Saw’s and it serves North Carolina BBQ, which is the superior form of a subpar style of cooking. The reason New Orleans has never had good BBQ is because we properly cook and we do meats the justice they deserve rather than throw them on a grill to slow cook in an outdoor crockpot. Cousin was recommended this spot as “one of America’s best BBQ restaurants.”

Image: https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/50641512727_4f1c9c83c4_k.jpg

As you know, I have never enjoyed BBQ, but I entered this experience hopeful that my negativity could be reversed. But even the best BBQ is still BBQ, and, while it was not bad, I cannot say I enjoyed it. The greens, though, were enjoyable.

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I quickly finished my meal, which hardly satiated me, giving me opportunity to explore the surrounding neighborhood. The churches in that area were splendid. I admired two in particular, Dawson Baptist and Trinity Methodist. Dawson had the nicer of the two campuses, but Trinity had a grandfather and his grandson constructing a Nativity and has a theological name. The edge, therefore, goes to Trinity. Churches, in my view, should always have either a theological or biblical name. Naming them after a beloved former pastor just seems self-centered. The juxtaposition of the two names highlights my point. Dawson Church sounds like it was named for a mechanic from Chicago.

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From there, we continued to see the nearby Vulcan. And then we headed south, but not before I was able to convince Cousin to make one more stop in Birmingham, this time at Slice Pizza, of no relation to the floundering Slice of New Orleans. I wanted Birmingham pizza to be redeemed. Although Slice’s cheese and crust were excellent, the sauce was abysmal. I wondered if they just threw canned Ragu on for the sauce. It had no vibrance or dance. The dough was good enough, though, that I finished the entire pie myself while also taking the last swig of my DDT. The verdict on Birmingham pizza is not a good one.

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Friends, I know you will be disappointed in this half-hearted attempt at exploring Birmingham. It calls itself "The Magic City," a rather boisterous title. But I do not believe in magic, and Birmingham did not speak deeply to me. I, like most of you, also probably will be offended by the city's mascot being a lude and lascivious imitation of public art. Please accept my apologies in advance. The show, however, must go on, so here are TulaneLSU’s Top 10 signs of Birmingham, AL:

10. Vulcan
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9. Alabama
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8. Dreamcakes
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7. Alabama Power
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6. Sloss
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5. Dixie Store Fixtures
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4. Legion Field Stadium
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3. Sweet Daddy’s From Rooter to Tooter
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2. Anonymous
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This post was edited on 11/26 at 6:27 am


TulaneLSU
TBD Fan
Member since Aug 2003
Member since Dec 2007
12296 posts

re: TulaneLSU's Top 10 signs of Birmingham and Clanton, AL
1. 16th Street Baptist Church
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This was the location where, in 1963, while families prepared to worship our Lord, terrorists preaching white supremacy and segregation let loose hatred and death. Four young Christians were murdered that day. The church thrives today and across the street is a lovely park with civil rights art on display, below of which are a few pictures:

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Faith, Hope, and Love,
TulaneLSU

P.S. Please accept this bonus Top 10 as an apology for the shoddy construction of this letter. TulaneLSU’s Top 10 signs of Clanton, AL:

10. The Old Country Barn Gift Shop
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9. Cakes by Sue

When Nephew saw the sign, that was it. We were going to stop, and he had no argument from me. Inside was a veritable factory abuzz with mostly Latino bakers, standing on beautiful 1980s tile, filling those last minute Thanksgiving orders. The bakery is attached to the sale floor. I had never had a caramel cake, and that is Sue’s claim to fame, so I left with one. I had intended to save it for Thanksgiving, but my usually tame sweet tooth got the better of me. I would like to think that our dear friend, Gnome, will appreciate the display case's decorations.

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8. Teel’s Antiques
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7. Mullin’s
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6. 6th Street Warehouse
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5. Rustique’s Relics
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4. Clanton’s Cleaners
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3. Chilton County High School
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Located adjacent to the Clanton Cemetery.

2.Clanton Peach water tower
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One day I will do a Top 10 water towers of the U.S.A. Clanton assuredly has a spot. I considered including some of the signs for peach stands just off the interstate, but these stands felt a bit too touristy for me. And I became annoyed when the Exxon station at which we stopped did not have a working pump. I do not like taking photographs when I am annoyed or angry, so I kept the camera in the holster.

1.Dari-Delite

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This place really reminded me of Goldwater, AL’s famed Unique Bar-B-Q Place, except that it is not open. A victim of covid-19? Are there any Clanton residents who can give us the goods?

And last but not least are two churches we enjoyed in Clanton, the Episcopal and the Baptist:

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This post was edited on 11/25 at 2:07 pm


TDsngumbo
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re: TulaneLSU's Top 10 signs of Birmingham and Clanton, AL
(no message)
This post was edited on 11/25 at 1:46 pm


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OysterPoBoy
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re: TulaneLSU's Top 10 signs of Birmingham and Clanton, AL
Talk to me baw.


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HempHead
Alabama Fan
Appalachia
Member since Mar 2011
51840 posts

re: TulaneLSU's Top 10 signs of Birmingham and Clanton, AL
I know I shouldn't but saying GFD was an integral part of my raising.

You sneaky fricker.
This post was edited on 11/25 at 1:43 pm


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Vote4MikeAck504
Oral Roberts Fan
Go Cocks!
Member since Mar 2019
1653 posts

re: TulaneLSU's Top 10 signs of Birmingham and Clanton, AL
Friend,

I am sorry. I will do my best to mind my manners and language. I hope you, mother and the rest of your family have a happy, blessed and healthy Thanksgiving.

Yours,

Mike Ack


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21
AUriptide
US Space Force Fan
Member since Aug 2009
5370 posts

re: TulaneLSU's Top 10 signs of Birmingham and Clanton, AL
Friend,

I would be very careful, if you're staying at the Holiday Inn by the Birmingham Airport. We had to move all our visitors/guest to locations in Trussville due to a couple attacks on them in recent years.

In short, Birmingham is a shithole.

Yours,
AUriptide


Yellerhammer5
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Member since Oct 2012
8762 posts

re: TulaneLSU's Top 10 signs of Birmingham and Clanton, AL
Vulcan got it going on in the back.


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20
HempHead
Alabama Fan
Appalachia
Member since Mar 2011
51840 posts

re: TulaneLSU's Top 10 signs of Birmingham and Clanton, AL
quote:

I would be very careful, if you're staying at the Holiday Inn


Should have kept it at the Grand Bohemian. Nice little walk to the Botanical Gardens or English Village.


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50
fillmoregandt
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re: TulaneLSU's Top 10 signs of Birmingham and Clanton, AL
My hood.


GEAUXT
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re: TulaneLSU's Top 10 signs of Birmingham and Clanton, AL
quote:

As many of you know, I have never stopped in Birmingham




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kywildcatfanone
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re: TulaneLSU's Top 10 signs of Birmingham and Clanton, AL
You sure are traveling a lot during covid


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50
HempHead
Alabama Fan
Appalachia
Member since Mar 2011
51840 posts

re: TulaneLSU's Top 10 signs of Birmingham and Clanton, AL
quote:

My hood.



Just had a buddy move to the Bluff Park/Shades Crest area. Absolutely gorgeous. Had a nice burger with a fantastic view while helping him move his shite. Can't remember the name of the place, but it was very reasonable and extremely fast.


Hangover Haven
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re: TulaneLSU's Top 10 signs of Birmingham and Clanton, AL
That's it, I'm booking my room right now...


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dukke v
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re: TulaneLSU's Top 10 signs of Birmingham and Clanton, AL
You have serious issues. Seek help......


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512
tankyank13
USA Fan
NOLA
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6437 posts

re: TulaneLSU's Top 10 signs of Birmingham and Clanton, AL
Friend,

quote:

#350 of the pizza I have tried



Image: https://media4.giphy.com/media/iurIHLBxms7UQ/200.gif



Yours,

Tank


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Legion of Doom
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re: TulaneLSU's Top 10 signs of Birmingham and Clanton, AL
Now is not the time for words. Then writes 47,000 words. Good stuff.


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130
DoctorTechnical
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Member since Jul 2009
2427 posts

re: TulaneLSU's Top 10 signs of Birmingham and Clanton, AL
quote:

HempHead


Probably the Tip Top Grill.


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