The Birminghamster
For October 25, 2000 "Sometimes life can be fantastic!" - Vol. I No. XII published every two weeks



barbecue pollution

sign obscured by smoke - staff photo Lucy
Barbecue Pollution Pushes Birmingham into Purple Two Days in a Row
Downtown() The long awaited repeal of Alabama's barbecue pollution surtax will not come this legislative session if rampant violations in Birmingham and other parts of the barbecue belt continue. Last Saturday an early autumn treat of golden sunshine and football temperatures was ruined for some by the pall of ozone and other pollutants thickening the sky, reminding even the most politically ignorant of Birmingham's continued BBQ pollution problems. According to air quality tests, the cause of this late season pollution problem may be our own dependence on foreign pork for our fall tailgating and backyard socials.

Levels of pork fat particulates were extremely high in two recent tests conducted by the EPA in accordance with the Clean Air Act which Birmingham is violating with increasing frequency. This is especially disturbing news in view of the fact that the barbecue industry is already one of the most heavily taxed in Alabama. The first barbecue pollution surtax was applied to our favorite sandwich (chopped pork, half outside, half inside) in 1990 after EPA studies showed a definitive link between high levels of ozone in the air and high levels of sweet hickory smoke and charred pork particles. According to EPA Birmingham field office head Garner Bell, the succulently sweet layer of thick barbecue smoke acts as a blanket to keep ozone at ground level and promote its production through sunlight breakdown. "We typically see ozone levels fall this time of year due to a cooling of the air and ground which lessens the tendency towards inversion. But this barbecue pollution acts as an insulating blanket, keeping the heat in while refracting the sunlight at odd angles. Some studies even suggest that the wood smoke and burning fat may actually combine into a type of artificial ozone."

This comes as painful news to local barbecue vendors who had hoped that efforts in recent years to clean up their act would lead to a repeal of the pollution surtax. Part of this effort led Alabama's pork producers to design a genetically perfect pig that would not produce as much of the damaging phospho-lipids as traditional Poland China porkers. But higher local spot prices have caused a flight to cheap, unsafe, out of state pork. This in combination with the public's increasing appetite for 'outside meat', BBQ pollution's chief violator, means that the barbecue tax will not be going away soon. Already saddled with the highest barbecue prices in the nation, Alabama barbecue consumers have been forced to swallow a surtax of fifty cents on every portion sold since the 1990 tax law passed. The tax was a silent rider on a much larger highway construction bill full of federal government pork spending. State Representative Sonny Callahan remembers the bill as a good one but regrets the inclusion of the barbecue tax. "This tax hurts. It hurts the people. The hungry people."

Others have a different take on the pollution problem. "I like ribs as much as the next guy," says state Representative Earl Hilliard, "but when a by-product of their production causes breathing problems, something must be done." A solution may come in the form of more beef barbecue if the National Beef Council has anything to say about it. "Our product has been given a clean bill of health as far as pollution is concerned," said spokesman John Green. But as one local football fan said between bites of a fresh pork sandwich at Legion Field, "from my cold, dead hands, Mr. Green."

Presence of God Felt During Football Game as Vestavia Hills Trounces West End 41-7
Vestavia Hills() As God is present in all things great and small, he was so present to witness the 34 point smearing of the West End Lions by the morally superior Vestavia Hills Rebels last Thursday at Fair Park. Coming off an unholy 34-11 largely Protestant victory over Catholic underdogs John Carroll last week, the Rebels carry with them an unbeaten 8-0 record and most importantly junior tailback Dan Burks. Ranked 4th in 6A-rushing, Burks has garnered 1,004 yards and 12 touchdowns this season attracting the attention of God and college scouts from all over the country. The fact that God was on the Rebels' side was evident from the opening prayer given by special guest Judge "Rudy" Roy Moore. Moore winked at Vestavia head coach Buddy Anderson and hinted that this was to be a night dominated by the Holy Spirit.

The players and coaches agreed and would accept none of the credit for their handy win and gave all of the glory to God. "I praised God for giving me the ability to play good and to win," said tailback Dan Burks. "Just as God was forced to dispel the enemy [Satan] so he could create this world for us, he helped me dispel [West End Free Safety] Troy Benzinger and break loose in the secondary. Every time I took the ball into the end zone it was like I was bringing all my sins before Jesus so he could die for them."

Burks also believes that one play in particular bears the mark of the Almighty. "That touchdown pass in the third quarter when I broke free from the chaos and into the empty field was like God's own creation play."
creation play

representation of creation play
Coach Anderson agrees. "Dan Burks sometimes has God-like abilities that are so powerful I liken them only to the power of God during the Genesis chapter of the Holy Bible." Anderson, clearly in awe of the almighty Lord and Dan Burks, used this Biblical theme in his half-time speech. "God didn't create the world in six days people. It was six plays! We've got the ball, let's give it to Dan. He is our prophet. Let him be a prophet of doom for West End! Soap and water, RHUBARB!" Anderson then outlined a divine series of plays on his heavenly chalkboard explaining the manner in which God orchestrated a six play gridiron drive, with Jesus by his side, to defeat the enemy Lucifer and create the world. In closing, Anderson prophesized, "We thank the almighty Lord and Jesus Christ for making our record perfect and we look forward to next week's whipping of the eternally suffering Homewood Patriots."

the fines

Russ, Dee, and Larry
Larry to Join Russ and Dee on the Fine-Line
Southside() After years of lively banter (both on and off the air) Russ and Dee Fine have decided that it is time to add another voice to their outrageous right wing antics. That is why the voice of cousin Larry Fine will be heard alongside the two stalwarts beginning this Monday morning. According to Fine-Line producer Brian Harris, Larry is a natural fit for the show because of the existing chemistry he has with Russ and Dee. "This won't just be some high paid out of towner brought in to boost ratings. In fact both Russ and Dee suggested the addition of Larry to the show after his last impromptu appearance received so much positive response."

The appearance that Harris is referring to is the now infamous 'I'm Fine' sketch. This side splitting two minutes of comedy began when Dee asked Russ how he was doing. When Russ replied 'Fine,' Larry immediately asked 'What?' as if he were being addressed. The confusion continued until Russ had to put an end to the shenanigans in order to answer a call concerning the MAPS vote. "That's what Larry brings to the show," says Dee. "He elevates levity to an art form. Who else could elicit deep belly laughs over issues like abortion? Whether it be a two-sie to the eyeballs or a good old fashioned pie fight in the studio, Larry has a unique way of getting his point across and we're very lucky to have him."

Most listeners seem to agree, although there was one irate phone call on yesterday's show after the announcement was made. The caller went on a rant about how if he wanted childishness he could listen to Beaner and Ken or read The Birminghamster. One particularly delicious quote is that "the fondling [sic] fathers would be rolling over in their graves if they could hear how low the Fine-Line has sunk." Indeed. Russ Fine takes it all in stride as he prepares for another morning full of conservative wit and acerbic rhetoric. "We've been criticized in the past for being too abrasive. Well, we will still be abrasive, just abrasively funny." Join the Fines every weekday morning from 5-9 on WYDE 850 AM.

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