Nitty Gritty Magic City Reading Series

The Nitty Gritty Magic City Reading Series is a reading, writing, and performance event held at The Desert Island Supply Co. in Birmingham, Alabama. They generally feature at least one of Birmingham’s working writers. For the month of April, they are hosting three out-of-towners: Michael Robins, Adam Clay and Ada Limón.

All three are incredible poets. Lion’s latest book, Bright Dead Things, was recently a finalist for the National Book Award.

The event is happening Sunday, April 10th at 3:30 p.m. at Desert Island Supply Co. in Woodlawn. The address is: 5500 1st Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35212.

Fore more information:

Cajun Cook-off this Weekend at Railroad Park

Here it comes! The Sixth Annual Girls Inc. Cajun Cook-off is steaming down the tracks to Railroad Park, “Bringing the Big Easy to the Magic City” Saturday April 9 between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Hosted by The Committee of 25, which is the Girls Inc.’s Junior Board, and presented by Publix Super Market Charities, the cook-off will feature a family friendly atmosphere spiced with the Cajun aromas of foods such as jambalaya, gumbo, bread pudding, shrimp and grits, po’boys and more.

Twenty to 25 amateur cooks will prepare these dishes for the chance of taking home trophies from the taste-testing contest.

Live zydeco music by the Swamp Poppas will provide additional flavor to the day, accompanied by a silent auction, kids’ activities and a performance by Girls Inc. program participants.

Connie Hill, President and Chief Executive Officer for Girls Inc. said that the Cajun Cook-off, which is the organization’s largest annual fundraiser, expands each year in order to create a more “memorable and fun” experience for attenders.

“Through this year’s event participation and fundraising efforts,” Hill said, “Girls Inc. hopes to raise $80,000 to support our efforts to provide vital and innovative educational programs to school-age girls in Central Alabama.”

These programs are dedicated to “inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold.”

Tickets can be purchased at, $20 for adults and $5 for kids ages three to ten. Children under three years of age may attend for free.

Photo courtesy of Connie Hill



Happy April Fool’s Day

  1. The origins of the holiday are unknown, but England made April Fools’ Day in 1700, as a day for people to play pranks on each other. The tradition quickly gained popularity throughout the UK during the 18th century.
  2. No one knows exactly where, when or why April Fool’s Day began.
  3. April Fool’s Day is not an official holiday.
  4. April Fool’s Day was first known as “All Fool’s Day.”
  5. French children fool their friends by taping a paper fish to their friends’ backs.
  6. In Scotland, April Fools’ lasts two days.


Famous pranks:

In 1996, Taco Bell Corp rans a full-page ad in several major newspapers claiming it had purchased the Liberty Bell and was renaming it the “Taco Liberty Bell.”

In 2008 the BBC ran a video clip of flying penguins as part of a story for its series “Miracles of Evolution.” The presenter explains that the penguins escaped the cold, harsh Antarctic weather by flying to the tropical rainforests of South America.

And, every year since 1986, press releases for the non-existent, New York City April Fools’ Day Parade.


St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Five Points South – It’s rounding the corner once again! St. Patrick will be rolling out his green carpet into Birmingham on Saturday, March 12 with the city’s 32nd Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, presented by REV Birmingham and Five Points South.

Part-two of the much anticipated, weeklong The Five Points South St. Patrick’s Celebration, the parade will grace the streets of Five Points South from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., ending at Cobb Lane.

2016 Parade Marshall UAB Coach Bill Clark and the Ian Sturrock Memorial Pipe Band will lead the procession.

The 32nd Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, REV Birmingham District Manager James Little said, is a celebration that is speedily becoming “Birmingham’s own”.

Major cities across the United States are renowned for their parades, Little explained, and REV Birmingham and Five Points South are in a likewise manner striving to create their annual St. Patrick’s Day parade into a uniquely Birmingham experience.

And it has been a success.

“We’ve really added an element where the St. Patrick’s Celebration in Birmingham is very much becoming what you would see in other cities,” he said.

According to Little, much of the parade’s attraction has accumulated in recent years.

“It has grown and grown over the past five years,” he said, crediting much of this to the businesses of Five Points South.

“Five Points is Birmingham’s culinary district,” he said. Little explained that when St. Patrick’s Day arrives in Birmingham, these businesses provide St. Patrick’s Day themed menus and live music—several additional features that set Birmingham’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration apart from others.

Other festive features include new attractions such as Chick-fil-A’s Lucky Zone for Kids, as well as exhibits by the Birmingham Police and Fire Department. Non- parade festivities will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

REV Birmingham and Five Points South encourage the Birmingham community to come clad in green on Saturday to participate in this fun-filled, family friendly parade celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.


Happy Birthday 110th birthday Dr. Seuss!

  1. His real name isn’t Dr. Seuss
    – it’s Theodor Geisel!
  1. He went to Dartmoth College
    There he worked on the school’s humor magazine, the Jack o Lantern, and was later kicked off for drinking in his dorm with friends. He then started submitting his works of writing under the pseudonym – Seuss.
  1. He isn’t really a Dr.
    He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Dartmouth began adding it to his pen name.
  1. He wrote 45 children’s books during his career!
  1. He was rejected a lot!
    His first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was rejected 27 times before being published in 1937.
  1. He won several major awards, including: two Academy Awards, two Emmy Awards, the Pulitzer Price, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award and a Peabody Award.
  1. He wrote Green Eggs and Ham on a dare.
    His publisher bet that he couldn’t write a book using only 50 different words.
  1. The cat in the hat was written to help children learn how to read after Life magazine wrote an article about illiteracy among school children
  1. Although he spent most of his life writing for children, he never had any of his own
  1. He died on September 14, 1991 from cancerseuss

Republican candidates are headed to Birmingham

Republican presidential candidates have been invited to participate in a forum at Samford University on Saturday Feb. 27 hosted by Yellowhammer News

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) are the only two candidates that have been confirmed so far. Other candidates are expected to announce if they will be participating in the next few days.

Each candidate will take the stage individually.  Cliff Sims, Chief Executive Officer of Yellowhammer will interview each participant during the forum.

The event will be held in Samford’s Wright Center. Tickets for the event sold out soon after it was announced. Doors will open at 1:30 p.m. and people must be at their seats by 2:30 p.m. The forum will begin at 3 p.m.

Superstation WYDE will broadcast the Forum live on radio station 101.1 FM.

Taking Flight

While many Birmingham residents are familiar with the Southern Museum of Flight, few have heard the tale of its beginning- the aviation adventures that initiated the museums ultimate take off. 

Take that ring off now, or I’ll take it off and throw it out the window!”

Mary Alice Gatling sat stiffly in her seat. Defiance danced in her eyes as silence settled in the stilled passenger car. The only motion that threatened to rock the tracks was the thundering voice that demanded the hand of the silent woman who had yet to speak a word.

Donald Croom Beatty steadied his gaze. He knew patience. But he was even better acquainted with the power of purpose.

When he had learned of Mary Alice’s engagement, he had wasted no time in jumping aboard his small plane and tracking down the train that was transporting his girl. Having found it, he landed in a nearby field and then halted the southbound train.

Now he refused to leave until the ring Mary Alice wore was replaced with the one he now held out to her.

Slowly the diamond ring began to twist from her slender fingers.

It was done.

“You’re my girl, and don’t you forget it!” Beatty boomed.

It would only be a matter of time before the hands of Mary Alice Beatty, more accustomed to frolicking across the piano keys at The Juilliard School, would take a bounding, daring leap and learn to soar across the heavens.

And he would teach her.

While many Birmingham residents are familiar with the Southern Museum of Flight, very few have heard the tale of its beginning—the aviation adventures that initiated the museum’s ultimate take off.

Since the moment it first revved up its engine for guests in 1983, the museum has been home to over 90 aircraft and numerous exhibitions and memorabilia, including more than 70 mounted biographical plaques documenting southern aviation history in the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame.

Behind these exhibitions are many exciting years of teetering upon makeshift runways and gliding above horizons glimmering with mystery and danger.

“Dad taught Mother how to fly when girls never learned how to fly,” Mary Alice Beatty Carmichael, daughter of Donald and Mary Alice Beatty, recalled. Besides being a businessman, Donald Beatty was an aviator, explorer and inventor.

Carmichael explained that because of society’s expectations for women at the time, her mother never mentioned her flying lessons during her tutorship.

According to Carmichael, Beatty learned to fly in the early 1920’s. At that time, “ladies didn’t throw their legs over anything, and the only way you can get in a plane is to climb on the wing, throw your leg over the cowling and drop down into the seat.”

Carmichael is the second of three living children to Donald and Mary Alice Beatty, both of whom have since passed. She serves on several of the museum boards, including the Foundation Board, the City Board and the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame Board.

Although well occupied in their early years of marriage with explorations and expeditions—one of which was sponsored by J.P. Morgan after the historic stock market crash of 1929—Donald and Mary Alice Beatty spent most of their lives in Birmingham, where they had been born and raised.

Donald left behind a legacy of inventions and aerial flight routes through the hearts of Central and South America that have marked history. While Mary Alice accompanied and assisted her husband in many of his endeavors, perhaps her most invaluable contribution to Alabama is the Southern Museum of Flight.

With her husband’s vast collection of artifacts, plane pieces and memorabilia from various expeditions, Mary Alice Beatty initiated its creation.

“They started a museum that was in the attic at Samford above the library,” Carmichael recalled. She described the museum’s initial take off first at the university, and then as its cargo grew, at the Birmingham Airport before its final landing in the Historic East Lake district, where it is nestled today.

Carmichael remembers her mother quipping, “I had to do something to get Daddy’s things out—Daddy’s junk out of the closet!”

Although its engine has gently cooled over the years, today the Southern Museum of Flight still serves visitors as a quiet wonder tucked snugly into the heart of the steel city.

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File written with PhotoPhilia 1.9.4,

Behind the Beats: Birmingham Mountain Radio

Birmingham Mountain Radio’s studio is tucked away in the halls of a the local music venue WorkPlay. Step into the station’s office and you will find walls covered in signed posters from bands like Alabama Shakes, Moon Taxi, St. Paul and the Broken Bones and other great musicians who originated in the heart of Birmingham.

Birmingham Mountain Radio is a locally run alternative music station that cultivates an authentic relationship between the listeners and the station by focusing on new artists as well as local advertisers – creating a movement that is bigger than they ever imagined.

The station got its start in 2011 after a few local radio stations that fell through and after the alternative 107.7 went off air. At that point, friends Jeff Clanton and Geno Pearson assumed there probably wasn’t going to be an alternative station to return to Birmingham.

“We sat on the idea of starting our own for a few months thinking that somebody else would pick up the gauntlet – they never did,” Clanton said.

Clanton and Geno decided that since they didn’t have the means or the know-how to run an FM station, they would start by creating an Internet-based radio station. In January of 2011 they launched the online version of BMR, and they were blown away by the response. Since then, BMR has paired with Summit Media Group and launched their FM station in June 2013.

“The community embraced us,” Geno said with joy as he looked out the window.

The BMR staff hopes to lift the community up through partnering with local vendors and advertisers. “We really want to be community driven,” said Scott.

“We want to lift people up who are doing great things in Birmingham. That’s what we hold near and dear – our community.”




Vulcans on Parade

For over 80 years the 50-ton Vulcan statue has sat on Red Mountain overlooking the city. He is now joined by two smaller and more colorful versions of himself in downtown Birmingham.

One, with its earthy colors and painted words describing the city, is situated outside of the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC). The other, located in Railroad Park, depicts the magic city at night with stars forming Orion and the Big Dipper, two constellations that are often found in the city’s night sky.

These statues are the first of the ongoing Vulcans on Parade project, a partnership between members of the Project Corporate Leadership (PCL) class of 2015 and Vulcan Park and the Museum.

The class of PCL was challenged to create a project that aims to change the negative perception that there is a lack of activities and entertainment in the Birmingham Metro area.

“The idea that we ended up on was to get permission to use the image of Vulcan, make the Vulcan statues and put the statues up at attractions,” Cox said. “We want to use Vulcan to bring attention to local attractions.”

After getting approval from Vulcan Park and Museum to use the Vulcan, the statues are made in Nebraska. Then they are sent back to Birmingham where local artists design and decorate them.

Project Corporate Leadership went through the Birmingham Museum of Art to find people who could design and paint the first two statues, and got Simmons Middle School art teacher Carrie McGrann and local artist Paul Cordes Wilm.

McGrann and Wilm had plain, white fiberglass statues delivered to their homes and several months to paint it.

Forging Ahead by Paul Cordes Wilm
Wilm’s statue, named “Forging Ahead,” is located in front of the BJCC. He wanted it to not only tell a story about how Birmingham has changed, but also to show the god of fire, Vulcan.

“It is an anatomical map of man, but instead of muscles I put strengths and things that Birmingham has achieved,” Wilm said. “I wanted it to be sort of a magical and spiritual map of Birmingham. This is what we have done and this is what we are striving to do.”

There are many elements on the statue that each have meaning. Words like “civil rights,” “industry,” “equality” and “dream” are written on it. Wilm said that these represent Birmingham’s story. A map of Birmingham has been included under Vulcan’s raised arm. Another map of the state of Alabama is on the block next to him with the words “Be Proud” painted above it.


Magic City Lights by Carrie McGrann
McGrann took a different spin on her statue, named “Magic City Lights,” which is located in Railroad Park.

“I really wanted to go with the theme of Birmingham being the Magic City,” McGrann said.

At the bottom of the statue she painted her perspective of driving into Birmingham at night and seeing all of the red and yellow car lights. Then, on the apron she depicted many downtown buildings at sunset. These colors blend into a night sky as they move up the painting.

“If you look on the chest, there are stars that map out Orion and on the back is the Big Dipper,” McGrann said. “Those are the two things that I learned how to find in the sky here.”

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McGrann and Wilm did not know exactly where their statues were going to go until their reveal in late August.

The group, including Wade Cox, Justin Drummond, Chris Cooper, Ashley Stuckey and Leslie Dobbs, plan to place 18 additional statues in the city by the end of 2016.

Something that many involved in this project have in common is that they have all lived in Birmingham for many years. Wilm, Cox and McGrann all are enthusiastic about how this will bring attention to Birmingham and its many features.

“We are forging a new name for ourselves. We are an innovative, creative and a cool place to be. Come here and see us,” Wilm said.

Vulcan online 

To learn more, visit 

Bham Vulcans


Birmingham Track Club: Fueling Friendships

It’s a crisp, fall Saturday morning in the heart of the Magic City, and the elusive sun is far beyond the      horizon, not scheduled to rise for another hour.

As most residents lie asleep in the comfort of their own homes, a sizeable group of runners has converged at the Trak Shak’s downtown Homewood location. Alert and energetic at this young hour, they are ready to embark on lengthy treks that range in distance from seven to 22 miles.

While pounding the pavement at the crack of dawn may not be everybody’s cup of tea, especially on a brisk weekend morning, a dedicated and growing number of people      routinely congregate at the same time every Saturday to start their weekend in the most rewarding way they know.

For some, it begins with a leisurely one-hour trot. For others, it begins with an arduous three-hour grind. But regardless of their varying speeds and distances, all are united by a common factor. As members of the booming Birmingham Track Club (BTC), the runners enjoy a special bond of friendship as they passionately pursue healthy, active lifestyles.
“The Saturday morning group ends up becoming your buddies, your friends,” BTC President Alex Morrow said. “You start off running and then pretty soon, you’re going to movies with them, you’re having dinner, and they become lifelong friends. That’s why running’s so cool.”

The Saturday morning group run represents just one of many club-sponsored events that offer rich opportunities for both aerobic and relational development, providing members with the opportunity to fulfill the club’s original mission.
Founded in 1979 by Dr. Arthur Black, the BTC was launched with hopes of improving the overall health and wellness of Birmingham area residents through running.

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As underscored in the club’s mission statement, the BTC was created “to promote physical fitness throughout the membership and the community, specifically through systematic running and the promulgation of positive health habits.”
Although the club started with only a handful of people, it has grown steadily since its inception and currently boasts 1,300 members.

Much of that membership base, however, is newly acquired, added over the course of the club’s present revival that began just over seven years ago.

“I had always heard stories from the heyday of the Birmingham Track Club when they did all these amazing things and it used to be a big club,” Morrow said.  “When I got involved, there were maybe 500 to 600 runners and the club had dwindled off a little bit, and it just needed something exciting to happen.”

The spark that ignited the BTC’s resurgence, Morrow said, can be credited to former club president Jennifer Andress.

“Jennifer’s a big runner. She’s been featured in Runner’s World and she brought a lot of energy and life to the club, and it really sparked some fun,” Morrow said, “and running has to be fun for you to want to be involved.”

Largely thanks to the added element of fun, club membership has more than doubled since Morrow joined in 2008, making the BTC the largest Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) affiliate in Alabama.

“From her presidency to my presidency, the club’s just continued to grow,” Morrow said. “We’ve instituted more programs, we have more socials, we have more runs and bigger events, and I think people see the value for their dollars now.”

That much is evident.

From free coaching and reduced race fees to an intriguing retailer discount program that includes merchants like Taco Mama and Mountain High Outfitters, there are a number of perks that come with club membership.

Plus, joining the BTC won’t break the bank, as it offers a 50 percent discount to students, military and first responders on the already minimal $24 annual rate.

“That’s a bargain and a half. If you go back to the original guys, Dr. Black and everyone who started the club, you go back to the mission statement, their whole goal was just to get people moving,” Morrow said. “And yeah, we want to have enough money to make sure we can continue the programs we’re offering, but it’s about creating healthy lifestyles.”

One key way of doing that is through building a strong sense of community within the club’s membership. As any former or current runner can attest, there’s motivational power in accountability.

“It’s so much easier to run with a group than to run by yourself,” Mike Ballard, a four-year BTC member, said.
Ballard attends the weekly Saturday morning long runs and various club-sponsored running events throughout the year, noting the sense of community as his favorite club aspect.

“I think just being part of the running community and trying to live a healthy lifestyle with a bunch of other people that are trying to do the same thing,” Ballard said.

In addition to the weekly Saturday morning long runs, the BTC hosts an annual race series, collectively participates in a Triple Crown Half Marathon Challenge and puts on a number of socials throughout the year, including an End of the Year party and a night out at a Birmingham Barons game.

“There’s a lot of different things that take place to kind of foster that community sense,” Morrow said. “We’re doing those types of initiatives to kind of get everybody excited and get them involved.”

As evidenced by the swift pace of growth, coupled with an overwhelmingly positive response from club members, that approach appears to be working.

“It’s just such a great community,” BTC member Kevin Bokus said. “Everyone’s training for similar goals, and it’s just great to have that friendship and support throughout your training.”