Ahhhhh! Cold! Refreshing! Corporate!
Yes, who doesn’t enjoy a cold, fizzy soda pop on a hot summer day? From the Jack and Cokes we guzzle at The Nick to the cold Mountain Dews we down in Railroad Park, there’s no doubt our city – like almost every developed city/country in the world – is hopelessly addicted to sweet, sticky sodas. Hell, if health and surviving past the ripe old age of 50 weren’t concerns, I would mainline mounds of sugar via soda on a daily basis. And I’m considered a reserved soda drinker.
So, when the mammoth Pepsi sign atop the Two North Twenty building was quickly announced, installed and settled (according to local government entities, anyway) what right did we, Birmingham area residents, have to get mad? Sure, The Birmingham dot al dot News dot com newspaper website thingy reported eight months earlier that the Birmingham Design Review Committee had flat-out refused the idea more than once. Heck, they even called it a “glorified billboard.” Sick burn, dude!
Yet, like mammoth companies with tons of money and microns of community respect, concern or class commonly do, Pepsi worked and wiggled until their precious (and precocious) sign was “unstoppable.” Our slowly resurging downtown got a shiny new blue rectangle of cockamamie corporate propaganda. SUGAR GODS BE PRAISED! DEATH TO ALL PANCREAS!
I say, good work, city council and mayor! There’s now little doubt that various Birmingham structures are for sell if any impolite but persistent company shows up with enough scratch to keep our local politicians happy. As a concerned citizen (and a proud graduate of Birmingham City Schools), I wanted to do my part and throw out a few more genius advertising ideas.
How about slapping some Depends Undergarments on Vulcan? Imagine the revenue streams (ha…streams!) this could generate. With the aging Baby Boomer population, we need to throw this idea on the anvil and strike while the iron is hot. Let’s be honest, Vulcan’s high, round, firm buttocks have long been an embarrassment. This genius idea could actually kill two birds with one stone. It would protect Birmingham’s puritanical reputation and generate clouds of copious cash for local politicians. BUTTCHEEK BOOYAHH!
Next, let’s paint the exterior of the half-empty Cooper-Green Hospital bright blue and make it a museum. The Blue Cross/Blue Shield Museum presents – The Denied Coverage Hall of Fame! See patients suffer! Watch children weep! Track the history of financially decimated families! Yeah, pretty dark, I know. To boost attendance, they’d have to appeal to typical Alabama voters by adding on a special wing – The Horrors of Obamacare! See the death panels in action! Watch as your money is flushed down a toilet! See poor people who might have a different skin color than you receive medical care! OH NO, THE HUMANITY! They could offer a guarantee with admission: “We guarantee local visitors won’t sleep for a week!”
The possibilities are endless. Heck, these are just two ideas I thought up one Saturday morning with a hangover. Imagine the damage a motivated PR firm with pockets full of payoff cash could do to downtown Birmingham. Sell BET the Civil Rights Museum. Attach Larry the Cable Guy billboards to every downtown church. Tear down the Alabama Theater and build another Wal-Mart. Vivid Video presents: Lynn Park. Think of all that sweet revenue potential.
Seriously though, we have all got to wonder how much of Birmingham is for sale? After local leaders smiled and shook hands as these international money makers moved in with impunity, maybe we should all be a bit skeptical. What do local officials define as sacred? What would they turn down? There’s little doubt that downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods are on the verge of dynamite growth. Untouched and pretty much forgotten for many decades, the area now has the potential to become a unique, funky, fun and affordable area. Yet, only if the powers that be make decisions with their heads AND their hearts. For me and many others, Pepsi’s blue monstrosity appears to be the first troubling sign.
PHIL’S ALBUM OF THE WEEK
ASG – ‘Blood Drive’
Melodic, punchy rock that avoids all the embarrassing cliches. Having first caught ASG in all their glory opening up for Weedeater at the Bottletree, I didn’t immediately trust them. In the metal world, anyone singing at the top of their ability over catchy riffs is disturbing and suspicious. (Cut to me sipping a PBR: “What are these guys trying to do … become the next Nickelback?) Now, after having seen them live three times and following their last few releases, I get the feeling these guys are sincere. If they were looking for the cash grab, would they still be playing places like Zydeco?
Anyway, iTunes says “Avalanche” is my favorite track from this album, but I think “Day’s Work” is the jewel. Give it a listen:
EDITOR’S NOTE: Phil has been a huge part of our site since 2008. His unique perspective on all things Birmingham make him the perfect sounding board for a regular BHAMFM feature. Like what you’ve read? Send us a shout on Twitter (@bhamfmdotcom) and check back in a few days for more from Phil.