BFP Volume 5


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Murder Most Foul

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September, 2006

Ding Dong
Russ and Dee off the Radio

Long-time hate-mongers Russ and Dee Fine finally got the boot from Crawford Broadcasting's FM talk radio station 101.1 the Source. Why they were fired is still a mystery. Russ himself believes this is the work of the Illuminati or some crazy shit. It's kind of sad, but he seems to have lost his mind.

You see the theory is that Russ and Dee, while gallantly championing the rights of Black folk to join the ranks of the Alabama Freemasons, became the target of that very organization. A conspiracy that went all the way to the Whitehouse...if not farther. Here's what Russ said on his website:

"Could President Bush have possibly have known this about ‘Brother Riley’ (Alabama Governor Bob Riley, a 32 degree Freemason-BFP) before he came to Birmingham? Of course he knew. Now, assuming the President knew … and you know his advance people were made aware of the information on our site."

Aw man. Russ is an unimaginative paranoid. If you really piss off the powers that be you wake up next to a dead prostitute with sirens wailing in the background.

I did actually catch a bit of the Russ and Dee show the day they got fired. They were talking about how the illegal Mexican "insurgents" didn't wash there hands after they went "poo-poo." It was really beyond the pale. But that's pretty typical of how Russ and Dee have help vulgarize the discourse on Birmingham talk radio.

It might just have just been a business decision by the top brass at Crawford Broadcasting. After all, the fundamentalist cult that owns the station has to pay the electric bills. And it's always worth mentioning that they unapologetically believe the Jewish Russ and Dee are going to Hell.

So what are these two former talk show hosts going to do? It's possible another radio station might pick them up but I'm not sure if there are any left in town that haven't fired them.

I have an idea. Russ, buy the Birmingham Free Press. The branding is what's valuable. You could hire me to be your art director. I'm sure we could work something out.

Drop me a line.

Stephen Smith

It Was All Brent’s Fault

Brent at Mardi Gras mid to late 90's

Below I present my theory of everything being Brent’s fault. If history has taught us anything, it’s that Brent is so lazy and shiftless that he won’t even take time from his busy schedule of sleeping, drinking and watching television to defend himself.

But if Brent does choose to respond, his rebuttal will follow.

Who is Brent?

Brent’s not a bad person. He has good intentions. Unfortunately he has no intention of carrying out those good intentions.

If I had to sum Brent up in one short story it would be the time he was living in New Orleans and missed his flight back to Birmingham four times in a row. It was Southwest and they were pretty good about rescheduling him on the next available flight. I drove him to the airport for the fourth attempt to catch the plane, but he showed up late and we missed it. Southwest put him on another flight three hours later. Brent wanted me to drive him back to his apartment so he could get an hour of sleep and then bring him back to the airport. I left him there to sleep on a chair so he finally did make the next flight. That’s pretty typical Brent. It’s also worth noting that his last steady employment was at Arby’s for six months about 18 years ago.

I’ve known Brent since High School. When I published isms, an art journal, Brent wrote a lot of copy and even edited a few issues. That journal really reached it’s pinnacle when Brent, Lee Waites and I all worked together on it. One of the best introductions in isms was a short memorandum explaining that Brent never wrote the introduction he had promised.

Having learned nothing, years later I approached Brent about helping me with a website that was to be designed to look like a newspaper. This was the first volume of the Birmingham Free Press. Of course he never did help, but websites are cheap and that one’s still going strong today.

Time passed and eventually I decided it was time for a print version of the BFP. To do this I would have to borrow money. Any profit would go toward paying back the loan and then be split three ways between me, Lee and Brent based on how many hours we worked.

I know it sounds crazy, but at the time Brent appeared to have changed his ways. He was editor of the Southsider and being paid with free rent. The Southsider’s publisher was living above him and making sure he got out of bed and to work before noon. This was one of Brent’s most productive periods. He must have been accomplishing at least a quarter of what you’d expect from a average person.

After we started gathering editorial for the BFP and dealing with advertisers Brent quickly turned more and more manic. He started to get nasty and bark at everyone. He made appointments with important city leaders and made a lot of crazy promises. First we burned through the money I’d been putting away for a trip to Paris. Then I went out and borrowed more.

Brent arranged to get us a big write-up in the UAB student newspaper; but when the story came out it was all about him. Lee and I were listed as part of Brent’s staff.

A week or so before we were to go to press with the first issue Brent, as editor-in-chief, started turning in copy. I wasn’t surprised that most of it was god-awful, but it didn’t even seem to be spell checked. Brent had been acting so strange and aggressive we let him bully us into pretty much controlling all the editorial content. He also was the only person selling ads so we couldn’t afford to piss him off.

Then he just disappeared.

Brent showed up a few days later and his manic phase was over. Now we had to handle him with kid gloves to get any information about the people who promised to advertise. He had all the symptoms of a drug addict, but I never actually saw Brent take any drugs. He probably hid them from me thinking I’d ask him for some.

We had all agreed from the beginning that the very last thing to be written would be the cover story. That way the newspaper would be more current. Eric Robert Rudolph was about to go on trial for the bombing of an abortion clinic on southside. Brent claimed he knew a girl who had worked at the clinic and would write a cover story for us. All other ideas were abandoned and as the deadline approached she had yet to start. Lee finally tried to track her down and discovered that Brent had been calling her at her new job and she was getting annoyed. She had no idea that we were counting on her to write our first cover story.

Just before we were scheduled to get the paper to the printers Brent knocked out a back-up cover feature. It was about a monument that a community group was putting up to commemorate 9-11. It was safe. My dream of a yellow journal with true crime stories written in a Mickey Spillane style had become another Southsider.

The day before we went to press it finally dawn on me that not only had Brent not delivered on about half the things he promised, but he had no plan on how to get it done. I left work a noon to meet him and get it all sorted out. Brent meet me hours late. He showed up at 7 and dropped a bunch of scribbled notes that were the ads he was supposed to have built. Then he left. He had a thing.

It was the first all-nighter I’d pulled since college. I didn’t even get a chance to read Brent’s cover story. I was at Kinkos at 2 AM and dropped the pages off at Lee’s house before dawn so I could be at work by 7:30. Lee got it to the printers just as we promised.

Sure enough, after all that work, stress and money we got our first issue. And there it was. The first sentence of our first issue had one of the most horrible typos I’ve ever seen in my life.

Brent got the date of 9-11 wrong. The most famous date in American history after the fourth of July and we can’t be trusted to get it right. Lee lost a week of sleep, but I knew the subject matter of that story was so boring that nobody would read it anyway.

We took it in stride and trudged on, but the whole thing was cursed after that. Brent was demoted from co-owner to employee which lead to to the ironic situation of him actually being paid to do the same things he was doing before.

Eventually the editorial got better but it was a learning curve for me and Lee. I lost a good deal of money and by the time I was satisfied with the quality we ran out of energy...and cash. But I did make it to Paris.

So I guess the great lesson learned was that Brent shouldn’t be expected to deal with any more responsibility than feeding himself and avoiding oncoming cars.

Stephen Smith