Thursday, January 12, 2012

your weekly newspaper column: about Birmingham

We welcome you back to this week's newspaper column, with a piece about me cheering for Birmingham to come back. What can I say? I'm a sucker for rebounding. As always, you can visit the St. Clair Times, find me on Twitter, or just comment here.
Believing in Birmingham in new year

Every new year starts out with the promise of comebacks, and people believing that this is the year — no, seriously, this is the year.

Underdogs, after all, are the ones that are the most fun to cheer. That’s why we always attempt to make our team the underdog, even when it’s patently absurd (whichever team wins the Super Bowl, you can guarantee that those players will pretend they were overlooked all season).

The same goes for cities. Believe it or not, part of me is actually rooting for the city of Birmingham in 2012.

Believe me, I know it’s more than fashionable to poke fun at the Magic City these days. In my business, it’s more than fashionable; it’s almost a requirement.

And I can understand why — frankly, Birmingham makes it hard to root for it. Whether it’s seeing many influential leaders carted off to jail, or just ineptly bungling some sort of economic development project, the city often appears to have achieved that rare balance between corruption and complete ineptitude.

In a way, it’s so ugly it’s almost adorable.

Beyond that, it seems most of us around the city — particularly in the suburbs and even here at home in St. Clair County — have either lost faith that anything good can happen in Birmingham, or are openly rooting against anything good happening there. The reasons for this are myriad, of course — some of it’s probably based on old racial prejudices — but mostly it’s because we’ve watched the same movie way too many times.

Birmingham has chances. Birmingham can’t figure out how to exploit those chances. Birmingham stays where it is, while the rest of the world passes by.

Sports fans are often like this. Watching the famous documentary about Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series — when the star-crossed Chicago Cubs famously lost a two-run lead and eventually the entire season in the span of 30 minutes or so — you could tell how the long-suffering Cub fans approached the moment. “I’m celebrating now; I don’t believe we’re really going to win; now something bad has happened, and I know we’re going to lose. I hate myself for thinking we were going to win in the first place.”

Even so, these star-crossed franchises can’t stay down forever, right? The Red Sox did win the World Series in 2004, didn’t they? It’s not impossible, is it?

So I’m rooting for the city in 2012. I’m foolishly optimistic. I believe the city can solve its transportation woes; I believe some sports and entertainment can make downtown vibrant again; I think the populace can elect competent leaders who don’t rob the city blind and put a stain on everything good that’s happening there.

And I may be wrong about 2012. It might be business as usual in Birmingham. But the great thing about New Years: there’s always that chance that this is the year.

1 comment:

AmyP said...

Well, I mean, when THIS little lady gets there...who knows what will happen?