April 07, 2009
Judy Culbreth, Editorial Director (via MBM’s on-line contact form)
Mobile Bay Monthly
Your latest edition (April) the “women’s issue” continues to trouble me regarding the direction of Mobile Bay Monthly (MBM) under the leadership of Editorial Director Judy Culbreth. MBM has benefited greatly from the addition of Ms. Culbreth and her years of experience working for top magazines, like, Redbook, Seventeen, Ladies’ Home Journal and living in New York City (NYC). While MBM enjoys a fresh, clean look, the magazine’s outlook seems to be quite stale and a reflection of the values of Old Mobile.
MBM’s unconsciously enables, supports and fosters class envy in its coverage of the area’s elite and their soulless, talentless way of life where there’s only room for one king and one queen, for one prince and one princess to reign. Unfortunately, that’s just the way this high society lacking in authenticity, integrity, creativity and original thought wants it. This mind-set must be quite confining and suffocating, considering Ms. Culbreth’s exposure to NYC, and it’s so detrimental to all vibrant and healthy communities. With a Murphy High School diploma and a simple bachelor’s degree from USA, I question if Judy hasn’t forgotten her own humble roots. With Judy at the helm, the magazine’s stance towards present-day Mobile seems to be that “everything is just grand” while in reality the town is in shambles and is dying.
Mobile’s narrow worldview is so out of touch with the ever-changing events occurring in our backyard and around the world. It continues to suppress desperately needed new ideas and denies or cuts off oxygen to undeveloped and unsupported native talent, lacking in the right pedigree, which operates outside the city’s acceptable range. Evidence of this problem can be seen in the fact that not one of Mobile’s famous native sons, i.e. Jimmy Buffett, Hank Aaron (or daughters) or anyone else for that matter now calls the Port City home.
Mobile lacks a world-class attraction to showcase to tourists by, both, the plane and busload and even to its very own residents. Area hotels and restaurants survive absent of this group of regional, national and international globetrotters. Mobile isn’t a destination city nor is there any desire to turn it into one while New Orleans, Savannah, GA and Charleston, SC have many great venues and enjoy a steady flow of tourists. There seems to be no interest by this city’s mediocre leadership. Where’s your leadership?
Like Judy, young, new talent is often forced to leave home for greener pastures to discover one’s true gifts and to fully develop one’s potential or else suppress these smoldering embers inside one’s belly for a “safe” life in some reluctant capacity as another attorney, accountant, banker, minister, nurse, physician, sales rep., teacher… in order to call Mobile home. We are all getting cheated out of a free renewable resource and an evolving cultural experience that leads to emotional and spiritual growth for all. Instead, we are being held hostage to the same ol’ drunken debauchery every February while calling it a festival. Mardi Gras is past its prime, its history.
In February, Impact 2009 hosted by your magazine invited eighty-three professional women from around the bay to attend. As part of your morning program there was a Q&A session. MBM asked a series of planned questions to these ladies on a number of issues including– balancing family and work, attitude towards Alabama men, environmental concerns, educational challenges and successes, etc. MBM published the responses from a number of the attendees in your latest edition.
Not one young working mother, not one mother with older children nor was a single grandmother confronted with the reality of my concerns or did anyone choose to freely address this issue. Does your magazine or these women even recognize the problem of Mobile’s limited worldview and its harmful impact to their own children’s development, their quality of life, one’s values and talents? What is the value of getting a great education at the top private school, enjoying safe neighborhoods or a high standard of living when everyone’s thinking is polluted?
Instead, intoxicating comments were served up with the excitement of little girls about our economy’s growth with the construction of the steel mill, the addition of a new container facility and the possible construction of an aircraft plant at Brookley Field, in some “feel good” fest. All three projects (two of which involve foreign companies) are the ideas of area businessmen and political officials without much input from these moms’. They required a lot of time, money and effort to bring them home, to bring them into fruition and there was no guarantee of landing any of them.
The effort of each one of these projects was a major undertaking. [EADS/Airbus helped Mobile rightly earn its newest] claim of being the third aircraft manufacturing facility in the world. That’s quite an honor, if it materializes. Surely broadening the worldview of this magazine, of this city and its residents doesn’t require nearly the same level of investment for developing a culturally rich community to live in and that we can all feel proud of. This is an inside job that only the residents of Mobile can do for us. You can’t bring enough chemical plants and paper mills to town to find one’s heart and soul. We’ve already tried that and it didn’t work. It never will.
As a native son and writer, my line of thinking and my essays currently fall outside the beliefs of my extended family, childhood friends and old neighbors living in Mobile. I, too, have been forced to pick up and move to one of those greener pastures. The move wasn’t all that far, only twenty minutes or so, but it’s a world away.
Due to life events I’ve had to change, I’ve had to grow up as a person and stretch beyond my limits and this city’s. That’s something Mobile hasn’t and doesn’t seem interested in doing. We are all paying a high price for this Rigor, for this resistance – to the storms of life that come in every variety. In response, in 2007, I moved across the bay to begin my new life with no plans of ever returning home. It turns out that I have some talent, as a writer. I am not alone, either. I now subscribe to the belief that Mobile is covered up in this stuff, but on an individual basis it’s under such great pressure to conform to this town’s old wicked ways, to Old Mobile’s.
The well is dry and the city is dying of thirst, yet water is plentiful because it’s everywhere. MBM is writing light stories on all the wrong people (they’re dead) with the same old names, photographing their fancy old homes along with their fine china and their friendly black dogs. There’s no reason why Mobile can’t be a community of equals, where everyone has the same opportunities to make their début, where everyone can be free to live life to the fullest and to be the world’s newest heretic, where everyone is a prince or a princess. I will continue to do my part by writing, please do your part in setting sail for a new and exciting course for your magazine. Leave that old one behind – it’s dead.
My bio – www.tedburnettresume.blogspot.com
My blog – www.toxicnation.blogspot.com
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I am available for speaking, consulting and political advising. My other essays can be viewed at my blog @ http://www.toxicnation.blogspot.com/. I can be contacted via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2009. All Rights Reserved. “Mobile Bay Monthly -April issue- women’s issue — my feedback” by Ted Burnett.