Another letter to Mobile Bay Monthly Editor Judy Culbreth

August 11, 2008

Editor Judy Culbreth
Mobile Bay Monthly (MBM)
Mobile , AL

Dear Judy,

Recently, I picked up and scanned your August issue of the MBM and caught your story on Satchel Paige. Only weeks prior, in a local bookstore, I saw an ad for the latest book about him in a weekly news magazine. Satchel is one of many famous Mobilians who didn’t come from the right Mobile pedigree, but like Hank Aaron, Jimmy Buffett, Willie McCovey, Jake Peavy, Ozzie Smith, Billy Williams and more, all went on to find national fame. Only author Winston Groom, of Forrest Gump, attended the city’s top-private school, UMS Preparatory.

This town is full of talent, both, rich and poor, but you would never know it by this community’s beliefs, values and the city’s leadership – the same people always appearing in your magazine. It’s so entrenched in the past, with Mardi Gras and holding on to its money, power and prestige, like, a tree hugger holds on to an old-growth Redwood in a California forest. We laugh at the absurdity of environmentalist actions, but not at the greedy capitalist or any of his or her heirs.

This is a very stingy community that won’t even allow itself a chance to come up for air, for oxygen and to breathe. So many sons and son-in-laws, see few employment options, thus they join the prominent family business and abandon their dreams. Without the same passion, as their fathers, it rarely works out leaving them at a loss and feeling confused about their career and their place in life. Being of the right Mobile pedigree seems to actually be an impediment to enjoying real success, to breaking personal, family and social barriers, in order, to find one’s talents, to rise to one’s full potential and to reach one’s destiny. It sounds crazy, but it’s so true. The evidence is in and it’s overwhelming.

This community doesn’t believe in any of this – the city’s pool of talent – and therefore it refuses to cultivate at a loss to all, both, residents and visitors. We have literally cut-off our nose in spite of our face. What others think of us, family, friends and strangers is too often more important than what our own children think. This is a debilitating disease that snuffs out dreams, at an early age, and limits diversity and richness on a personal and at a community level. With all our famous Mobilians, there’s no real tourism in this town.

There’s not one famous resident, no homes are owned, no businesses, no restaurants, no concerts, not even a baseball museum. Why? There’s nothing to see or to hear that’s of world-class caliber in this port city, maybe elsewhere, but not here in my hometown. I am writing requesting that you write a feature article on up and coming talent from average stock quietly applying their trade around Mobile and elsewhere in the world. It’s in your magazine’s business interest to see Mobile develop and diversify beyond its current limitations. Is there no more room under the MBM’s spotlight to highlight the ordinary that’s so extraordinary? Do you believe, as so many do, that there’s only so much room at the top? I have come to believe that there’s plenty, but maybe that’s coming from a genius.

Please consider this idea. This town has an erection for industry, for religion, for high society gossip and its Mardi Gras “festival”, but not much else. It’s time to grow up.

Ted Burnett

Copyright © 2009, 2010. All Rights Reserved. “Another letter to Mobile Bay Monthly Editor Judy Culbreth” by Ted Burnett.

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