Sunday, February 20, 2011

20 FEB 11: Friends and Buds

Columbus had a record high temperature Saturday of 80 degrees F. It was SO WARM that Al Gore decided it was safe to come out of hiding and talk about global warming again.

Trees are starting to bud across Columbus - and trees certainly are on many people's minds this weekend. In fact, a man in the church congregation I attend sells timber for a living. So of course, I reminded them a couple of large oak trees are about to become available in Auburn....

Plans for a "Toomer's Tree Hug" Saturday in Auburn were hindered a bit by the university. Visitors found metal barricades around the two historic oaks, and signs telling people NOT to roll the trees. At least that beat wrapping the area in "crime scene" tape.

Yet hundreds of people gathered at Toomer's Corner to mourn the poisoning of the Auburn landmark. Some put messages on cardboard signs. Others sang Auburn songs. And a few even realized the men's basketball team was playing a game on campus.

Auburn University officials now advise people against rolling Toomer's Corner, because the toilet paper might harm the effort to save the trees. So save the paper for something more important. For instance, Alabama's Governor could order major cuts in higher education funding....

Richard Hyatt's website even noticed a street preacher at Toomer's Corner, trying to quote from the Old Testament. Some cynics think that minister should have read from the book of Romans - a verse about worshiping the creation more than the Creator.

While I can understand the deep feelings some Auburn students and alumni have about Toomer's Corner, some of the things I've seen in recent days have seemed a bit over-the-top. For instance, someone played a cello next to the trees Friday. That Twitter feed claiming to be written by the oak trees is a parody, you know.

Meanwhile, the Al-leged presumed "Al from Dadeville" is free on $50,000 bond. Reporters didn't find Harvey Updyke at his Lake Martin home Saturday. They might have had more success searching fraternity houses in Tuscaloosa.

In what may be his most startling editorial ever, Auburn graduate and WTVM General Manager Lee Brantley called for the Alabama-Auburn football game to be suspended in the wake of the tree poisoning. He apparently fears next November, fans will show up in Auburn for the "Iron Bowl" carrying real irons.

The Iron Bowl game was suspended for several years in the last century, because the rivalry became too intense for Alabama leaders. But when I mentioned Lee Brantley's idea to several people Saturday, they doubted it would happen. All of them said too much money is at stake in modern college football - and I really don't think CBS wants to show Troy-Auburn on Thanksgiving Friday.

A very different event in Columbus Saturday focused on trees. Members of Trees Columbus planted pine seedlings in Lakebottom Park, to mark Georgia Arbor Day. They apparently planted seedlings because there were no trucks to move the trees chopped down along Veterans Parkway downtown.

WRBL's Bob Jeswald promoted Saturday's event during the Friday evening news, by hugging a pine seedling in Lakebottom Park. All the efforts to gain conservative viewers with "Remember When" items about Fort Benning and Ronald Reagan were lost in one fell swoop.

The Sunday Soapbox is silent again this weekend - so let's see what else is making news:

+ The Challenger Space Science Center held an "Astronomy Night," while the Trade Center next door hosted a gun show. What a wonderful opportunity to shoot the moon.

+ WVRK-FM morning stars "John Boy and Billy" appeared in person at the RiverCenter -- and people paid tickets to see them. How many Columbus radio personalities could try that and succeed? Bear O'Brian might draw a crowd if he gives away Piggly Wiggly gift certificates, but otherwise....

(Here's hoping John Boy and Billy did their fans a favor, and sold grilling sauce in the lobby at half-price.)

+ Columbus State split a baseball doubleheader with Barton College. WTVM caught two students in the Ragsdale Field stands wearing costumes -- one dressed as a hot dog, the other a bottle of mustard. I wondered what happened to the Jeff Francoeur fans, after he was traded away from Atlanta.

+ Roundball Saturday Night (tm) saw Alabama's men clinch the Southeastern Conference Western Division title by parking Arkansas 69-56. Coach Anthony Grant seems to have rebuilt the program quickly. Now all he has to do is buy a couple of plaid sportcoats, to make the resurrection complete.

SCHEDULED MONDAY: I mark a personal milestone.... but I may have to change the way I write....

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