Category Archives: Montgomery ephemera

Montgomery Advertiser: The Sunday Paper

Here is a look at the Sunday paper, taken out of its protective driveway condom and laid on the floor:

The Sunday Montgomery Advertiser

The Sunday Montgomery Advertiser

Looks like a newspaper, right?

Well, once you appreciate the heft of the thing, you start to unpack it. It’s a lot of news! The most important newspaper of the week! The heavy-hitting investigative journalism gets saved for the newspaper that costs the most, right? It’s the paper that has everything: news, opinions, sports, maybe some recipes, the all-important color Sunday comics, the obits, maybe a little booklet of some coupons.

Once you unpack the newspaper, this is what you get with all of the sections laid out individually:

Sunday paper deconstructed

Sunday paper deconstructed

Now, it is important to note that only the top 4 sections are actually content that counts as “news.” You’ve got two all-purpose “news” sections, a “Metro” news section, and a sports section. You could reasonably contend that the metro section is the most important because that’s the only section where you are getting local news that you couldn’t get from other sources. News about international relations? You can get those on, say, the Internet. Local reporting is only going to come from your local reporters.

The rest of this shit? Well, it turns out that the era of the coupon booklet has been replaced by the era of Store-Specific Advertising Circular. Not only do these not include discounts, they are not generally-applicable in the sense that manufacturers’ coupons are. They merely tell me about things happening in stores that I don’t shop at. And this is useless information destined directly for the recycle bin.

It is astonishing to strip the Sunday paper of all its advertising inserts. The reassuring heft and weight of the best newspaper of the week is reduced to an emaciated husk of a thing, a flimsy scrap for the cats to curl up on.

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Rumors – July 2013

Alienation has been one of the ongoing themes of Lost in Montgomery since it was launched in September of 2008. This was not because we were particularly anti-social folks or especially misanthropic, but simply a product of our efforts to figure out life in a new city. Montgomery was unique and mysterious, both of which are conditions that are bound to deteriorate inevitably with natural social and cultural adaptation. 215 posts later, we are much more plugged into our new city than we once were — although we often still find our home to be somewhat bewildering.

So instead of posts like “What’s the deal with this park?” we are now much more often to say, “Here’s what we are hearing…”

And since it’s the Internet, there’s got to be a time and place for scraps of information to be assembled into a larger speculative narrative. Here, in that vein, are some things that we (being only mildly “connected” to people who know things) have been hearing lately about things that matter:

Oak Park — We love Oak Park. It’s weird, but great. It’s obviously the crown jewel of the city park system, yet has been allowed to fall into a (somewhat exaggerated) state of disrepair. Back in 2011, there was a shooting there, which freaked people out, but could have happened anywhere crowds gather (it was at a family reunion). The park is not (as far as we can tell) and more unsafe than any other public space in Montgomery.

But the beloved park has been the source of some wagging tongues lately. First, the city has been talking about moving the park’s planetarium (which is owned by Troy State) downtown, likely to the Questplex at Court Square. That would take a big attraction out of the park, although we agree that the planetarium does need some upgrading to remain current and fun.

We also heard that two other entities were wanting to buy (or take?) large chunks of the park from the city. The rumor we heard was that Alabama State wanted part of it and Jackson Hospital had their eye on the land for expansion.

Obviously, the city would be foolish to give away or sell any part of its best park. They have been ringing the bell lately for us to all give our personal information to the Coca-Cola company in exchange for a chance to “vote” on winning some money for the park. Click click click to vote for corporate money, sure, but how about we don’t do that and just spend tax money to improve the park and make it an enjoyable resource … since that is what tax money is for. Parks are a community good. They should be protected, whether or not the corn syrup barons from Atlanta give Montgomery free money or not. Also: hands off, ASU and Jackson. Oak Park will rise again.

Anita Archie — So we wrote before about how major city leaders (Chad Emerson and Jeff Downes) were leaving for cities that (we guess) they like more than Montgomery. That’s cool. Good jobs for them or whatever.

Well, Mayor Strange has replaced those two with Anita Archie (who’ll become Strange’s “executive assistant,” which sounds too much like “secretary” for someone of her caliber) and Mac McLeod (who’ll be “director of retail and commercial development”).

Archie comes over from the Business Council of Alabama (BCA), where she was a top lobbyist for one of the most feared entities at the statehouse. Think Alabama enacts laws to cater to corporations? BCA is part of the reason why. You name it, and they have been involved in it — environmental stuff, labor stuff, tax policy, whatever. They are a main reason why Alabama is the way it is. And Archie was their “senior VP for intergovernmental affairs, advocacy and communications and legal advisor” and any other collection of titles that means “fixer” and “do not mess with.” She isn’t new to Montgomery politics because she was also ED of the Montgomery Public Housing Authority and the Riverfront Development Foundation. So she probably knows where some bodies are buried and how to get things done, even though we don’t have a ton of information about her vision for the city just yet.

McLeod solidifies the city government’s “intimate” relationship with Colonial, which is the real estate end of the company that once was akin to a sister company, Colonial Bank — which was the 6th largest bank failure in American history. I wrote a million billion words about Colonial Bank, its abandoned headquarters, its relationship to McLeod’s company, and the ties to the Hampstead Institute EAT South here. Really, it’s worth reading. It’s one of the better things I have put up on Lost in Montgomery. But if you don’t wanna, it will help you understand McLeod and the Lowders to read this article (which I link to in my post). A crooked bank! Auburn football boosters! A $1.95 million deal to buy land for a school!

Obviously none of this has been reported by the teenagers that cover local politics for The Montgomery Advertiser. They’re doing good to spell the press releases correctly. But they’re having a contest where you can send them photos of yourselves in 1980s clothes! Journalism!

the road construction on the way to Auburn – This is one where we don’t have any information. We really just want to know more. Have you seen the giant towering ramps that are being now fully constructed out on I-85 on the way to Auburn? They look like exits to take you to … what exactly? Mt. Meigs? Pike Road? Why are they building these huge loops of road? Is this what we need? More east-side sprawl? Who is paying for that? Why? I get that our fiscally conservative leaders are borrowing highway money hand-over-fist, but is this what it is building?

ASU bowl game vs. All-Star Game – Our brand new college football all-star game was really fun. We went. It was great. We hope it succeeds. But now ASU is talking about hosting some kind of bowl game in their new stadium? You know, the new stadium they inaugurated by failing to maintain one of their most important rivalries in the Turkey Day Classic? Ah, that’s some good athletic directing. Couldn’t move the game so Tuskegee could play in the playoffs. Had to just kill it.

So, the Legends Bowl? Maybe a low-rent Mountain West team versus some Sun Belt also rans? Can we support this plus our All-Star game? Who knows? The bet is that there is absolutely no limit to the appetite of people in Alabama for college football, no matter what it is. We can always look to the Papa John’s Bowl BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham for an indicator of how that might go. BBVA is pulling its sponsorship after next year? Oh. Maybe don’t look there.

New stadium ya’ll! And if the bowl game brings a parade, don’t expect to have a car waiting for you.

skate park – We have always thought that it was super cool that our city had a skate park downtown. But there is always talk in the media that it is going to be shut down. Not because the kids on skateboards are trouble-making bandits. That would be cool. No, they are always talking about shutting it down (or moving it) because it occupies some primo real estate.

To me, that’s part of what makes it great. It’s downtown and urban and a great location for people that like to skate. But first they wanted to put an apartment complex there. Rumor was, the developer pulled out because of the toxic underground pollution plume (known affectionately as “the downtown plume” or “Plumie, the shifting poison vapor trail you also mustn’t drink”). Yeah, it’s on the EPA’s radar. No, the development people don’t like you talking about it.

But what will happen to the skate park? Will the teens turn into Toxic Avengers? What about C.H.U.Ds?

Well, that’s enough for now. Leave all of your hottest new tips down in the comments section. We will either respond to them, ignore them or delete them. Love always,

Lost in Montgomery

Fakes and Frauds

We were handed this flyer recently in a local parking lot:

Advertising!

Advertising!

After we got a good laugh about the poor grammar (“stress out?”) we talked about how sad it is that people would pay for something like this. We speculated about whether these kinds of “businesses” increase during tough economic times. We wondered if psychics and mediums were one of Alabama’s hottest growth sectors and whether Dr. Bentley counted these jobs as evidence of his economic successes.

But we also talked about how the Montgomery Performing Arts Centre (no, really, they use the pretentious European spelling and everything) is really doing the same thing as Ms. Ray by bringing noted fraud psychic John Edward to town (and yes, MPAC spells his name wrong on their website, adding an extra “s” to his last name).

MPAC may not be able to bring top notch musicians to town very often, but that’s no excuse for importing a huckster who claims to be able to talk to dead people. We should be ashamed to have this charlatan in our city.

Then again, maybe the police can use Mr. Edward to interview some of the victims of our city’s exploding murder rate. Surely, he (and his magic powers) would be a useful tool in solving any unresolved criminal cases.

Picture(s) of the Week – 2/10/13-2/17/13

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The Santa on Display in the ABC liquor store on Decatur St.

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The Santa on display in the Governor’s Mansion’s gift shop.

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The Santa on display in front of a condo in Panama City Beach.

We’re a little late with this one, but that’s how things have been lately with Lost in Montgomery. But we have been saving this one, because it’s a Tale of Three Santas. And let’s keep that Christmas spirit going year ’round, yes?

Things that are closed on Mondays

It’s a Monday. That means that if you want to go out to a nice meal in this town you’re basically out of luck. Recently we had the opportunity to take someone dear to us out for a nice celebratory meal. We were looking for something good, with tablecloths and a wine offerings beyond simply “red or white” and a good vegetarian option, or at least some good seafood. Alas, it was a Monday. Evidently this means most good Montgomery restaurants are closed. We know, because we called them.

We started with Jubilee, because nothing says “Happy Birthday” like an amazing piece of fish served with overpriced rice pilaf. Closed. Then we thought: Michael’s Table! We’ve still never been, but this might be just the right time! Closed. The Olive Room, for spy-movie ambiance and martinis? Nope. The Chophouse, where we’ve been meaning to go when we get rich someday? No. Sure, Roux is open on Mondays in our part of town, but at what cost? We decided to look further afield.

We considered Garrett’s, which is basically in Shorter but has amazingly delicious flash fried oysters. Closed. The last time we had a nice dinner with our loved one, we went to Ham and High – enough to convince us we weren’t going back there, plus it’s at (shudder) Hampstead – nevertheless, the home of Montgomery’s worst fried green tomatoes was closed.

What were we left with? Capitol Oyster Bar is closed on Monday, and although the dining is fine there, it’s not exactly fine dining. There’s always El Rey, but we eat there so often with our loved ones that we feared it wouldn’t have the super special birthday feel we were hoping for – though we knew they would do us proud, we wanted to tablecloth it up and use cloth napkins (instead of the otherwise perfectly serviceable roll of paper towels at the table).

Then it came to us – the City Grill. It’s way out in the Hellscape, and we’d seen it before when we visited the simply atrocious East China years ago (our stomachs may still be recovering – if you haven’t been, spare yourself). A call confirmed our reservation, and we had a plan.

City Grill doesn’t have a website. They have a Facebook page where updated menus and announcements are posted, and it’s easy to find their contact info all over the Internets. We rolled in for a fairly early dinner and immediately found the place to be warm and inviting. The wine list was affordable and unpretentious, the bread was good, and even though we were sitting in a booth we found that the place met our tablecloth-y needs. Two of us got fish, and one got some mussels and their grilled Greek cheese salad. The latter had been highly recommended by a bunch of people on Yelp, which should have been taken as a warning rather than advice, given that the damaged online mob was basically the same group of food idiots who got us to East China in the first place via the Advertiser’s “Best of Montgomery” supplement. The fish was good. The salad was slippery, oily and weirdly sweet. But the fish sure was good, and the mussels were also delicious, like the dessert (creme brulee) we shared afterward. City Grill’s a find, for sure.

Unfortunately, we had to drive all the way across town to get there. What is the deal with the Monday night conspiracy, Montgomery?

We understand that many places are open on Saturdays and want to have a two day weekend for staff. But this doesn’t seem to bother restaurants in other cities. You just rotate staff. That seems like a reasonable solution. Or maybe some people want to work 7 days a week. Kind of like people enjoy eating 7 days a week.

Isn’t this a gaping hole in the market? Won’t some enterprising restaurant owner step up and say, “People of Montgomery! Feast at my table for a reasonable cost on a Monday night!”

The 3 Year Anniversary Special

We moved to Montgomery three years ago this past August. It was past midnight by the time we’d crammed our motley assortment of stuff into a beautiful old home surrounded by towering oak trees full of shrieking cicadas. We needed something to eat. Surely there would be a restaurant open past midnight? Off to the Waffle House! We got it to go and used plastic forks to shovel hashed browns in varying stages of dispersal and suffocation into our weary mouths.

Later, when we “got Internet” we were surprised to discover how little it offered interested and active Montgomery residents. There were a smattering of Look At My Charming Family-type blogs, the then-terrible (and now only slightly better) Montgomery Advertiser website, and not much else. We weren’t asking for much. We wanted to find a few thrift stores to furnish our house and a couple of restaurants to diversify our all-Tomatino’s diet. So we decided to make a record of our various finds.

Looking back, sometimes it is hard to separate the memory of our experiences from our blog posts. We had a great time at the Corn Maize and the Prattville Wilderness Park, even if those aren’t examples of our very best writing. We’ve been civic minded – we went to a gubernatorial debate! And we wrote about a million posts about recycling (and our city’s abandonment of helping us do it)! And we totally called the cold fusion trash plasma machine debacle, or whatever it was the mayor was trying to do instead of having curbside pickup recycling like a real American city.

We threw up some “pictures of the week” as a way to share our visions with you. We wrote a bunch of restaurant reviews, many for restaurants that are now closed. Our all time most popular post is the review of Young Barn Pub and Oyster Bar, if you can believe it (“Decor-wise, Young Barn Oyster Bar looks like a Banana Republic made sweet love to a Margaritaville but forgot to call in the morning.”)

Because we now embark on our fourth year of being Lost in Montgomery, we thought we’d pick out a few highlights from our back catalog. For the last year and a half, we’ve been writing for Midtown Montgomery Living, and while that site’s captured some of our “coming events” type ideas, we’d like to think that this site’s got a lot of life left in it, even as we become more and more integrated into the city we call home. There’s plenty to write about here in town, whether fully, or merely partially, alienated. And even though we sometimes get a rap as a negative website pointing out the ways in which our town’s economy continues to dissolve into blight, we’re actually also pretty unrelenting boosters of our fair city, our opinions about the Advertiser’s “Best of Montgomery” notwithstanding.

Below, a few things we think you might enjoy.

  • Ray the Freecycle auteur. When we finally unpacked, we got into Freecycle – first as a way to dispose of our moving boxes, but then as a crazy cultural phenomenon. We discovered some hilarious writing there.
  • Remember when we used to have Bruno’s? We went to the close-out sale at the Bruno’s that used to be on Perry Hill. It was sad, but we also got some good deals. And took pictures of funny grocery items.
  • Learn existentialism: Eat at Subway. One of our very favorite restaurant reviews, borne of too much education, too much spare time and not enough downtown lunch options.
  • Treacle. We tried it. It was so orange. We resolve to try more things for you this year, dear readers.
  • We remembered the anniversary of Zelda’s death. We found her recipe for “Breakfast.” We noted that there was a Krystal (gross) at the corner of Zelda and Scott now, even as we argued with readers about the provenance of Zelda Road’s name.
  • Better to be lost in Montgomery than buried? We visited Greenwood Cemetery, then turned the corner to find Lincoln Cemetery. We wrote both up just after Advertiser reporter Jill Nolin did her first piece in a series that’s finally prompted some major and extended action preserving and mapping Lincoln Cemetery.
  • Loud, fast and out of control. What’s more fun than venting about air shows? It’s seeing the post getting a hilarious comment over a year later.
  • Free magazine reviews that still make us laugh. One of our very favorite features here at Lost in Montgomery is the Free Magazine Review. Our feeling is if the “editors” think enough of themselves to put their writing in your hands, they deserve some feedback. And, well, you get what you pay for. Check out what we had to say about Montgomery Parents and Montgomery Living (now “River Region Parents” and “River Region Living,” for reasons so obvious and objectionable they aren’t even worth rehashing here).

Thanks to all our readers for hanging in there with us during our periods of frequent and infrequent (mostly infrequent) posting! Tell a friend. Or don’t. We’re here, we’re happy.

Davis Theater Explosion

Montgomery is home to a really cool theater.

Well, that is to say that Montgomery is home to a really old building — which is kind of cool if you are into historic preservation — and it functions as it once did in 1930 — as a theater. And that’s about the extent of the coolness.

The Davis Theater is inexplicably terrible.

It looks cool. But in three years of walking by it on a daily basis there has not once been a single thing that has even remotely piqued our interest. They have shows, of sorts, but it is the worst kind of stuff you can imagine: professional jugglers, gospel concerts, singer-songwriters you’ve never heard of, Michael Bolton, boys choirs, hysterically evil animal exploitation shows. Imagine a Grade D quality Branson, Missouri, with a rotating cast of touring acts that remind you just how deep the showbiz barrel really is.

It’s sad that this lovely-looking theater is being used to import a never-ending stream of performance waste. It’s good that it’s owned by a university so that it probably isn’t expected to turn any sort of profit.

Seriously, take a look at the calendar of events and see if anything on there looks less than terrible to you. It’s amazing when the graduation ceremonies for prison guards isn’t the least depressing thing on your event list. Historic preservation is good, but if you’re going to have someone book acts, maybe they shouldn’t be born in the year that the theater opened.

All of which is totally unnecessary preface as an excuse to show the following two photos that I took today:

Post Father's Day Gospel Explosion

Talent Explosion

How could anything that explodes so often be so little fun?