"Al" from Dadeville brings sports rivalries to a new low
February 17, 2011 8:10 AM   Subscribe

Lee County, Alabama officials arrested Harvey Updike, a retired State Trooper, in connection with the poisioning of historic 130 year old oak trees in Auburn's Toomer's Corner. How did they know that the trees were poisoned? Someone named "Al" from Dadeville called in to Paul Finebaum's Sports radio show and bragged about doing just that - ending the call with "Roll Tide". Is Harvey the "Al" from the show? Is "AL" in an AL jail? There's a live announcement at 10:30 CST today. Or you can watch Toomers Corner live.
posted by carlodio (77 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
My tummy don't feel so good about this story :(
And I love SEC football.
ugh.

Toomer's Corner poisoning should enrage all college football fans

posted by Bunsen Betty at 8:19 AM on February 17, 2011


What sort of douche poisons trees? Are you telling me this is a sporting rivalry?
posted by londonmark at 8:20 AM on February 17, 2011 [15 favorites]


That is appalling.

It reminds me of the 500 year old Treaty Oak here in Austin that some knucklehead poisoned. Heroic measures managed to save its life, but only barely. It is a shadow of its former self. I posted about it here a few years back.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:24 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


What a stupid, myopic douchebag. He should be made to plant at least the weight of those trees in saplings.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:24 AM on February 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


Previously in tree murdering: The Tree of Knowledge.
The tree said to be the birthplace of the centre-left Australian Labor Party, the Tree of Knowledge, in Barcaldine, Queensland has been pronounced dead by a tree doctor.

In May the 200-year-old tree was poisoned with up to 40 liters of Glyphosate, the main ingredient in the herbicide Roundup.
posted by zamboni at 8:25 AM on February 17, 2011


God, that audio clip is chilling.
posted by jbickers at 8:26 AM on February 17, 2011


He poisoned trees? Is he a goblin?
posted by The Whelk at 8:28 AM on February 17, 2011 [47 favorites]


It just goes to show, you don't have to show any sort of intelligence or civility to be a college football fan. Wait, what is it colleges are there for, again?
posted by mikeh at 8:31 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


In Vancouver, a woman who's view of English Bay was blocked by three trees, poisoned those trees, forcing the city to remove them. Her identity was revealed, and the Vancouver Sun dubbed her "The Tree Assassin". She had to move.
posted by fatbird at 8:33 AM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Another recent arboricide:

A historic tree of religious significance in Glastonbury, Somerset, has been cut down, prompting a police investigation.

The Holy Thorn tree on Wearyall Hill is thought to have been planted by Joseph of Arimathea nearly 2,000 years ago.

posted by battleshipkropotkin at 8:33 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Part of me wants to try to keep perspective. It's a tree. It's not like he was drowning puppies and killing kittens.

Another part of me wants to see this man buried alive under an acorn. Assuming he's guilty and all. Otherwise the acorn burial would be a bit creepy.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:34 AM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


So whenever anyone wants to call Kentucky basketball fans crazy after this, you can't, ok?

Alabama football just won the title of "worst fanbase" and "worst state" for forever. Debate over.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:35 AM on February 17, 2011


I want him to be forced, under supervision, to dig up and replace all the dirt around the roots... to monitor the sun shades and the misters to protect the trees from shock this summer... and to face questions and comments from passersby - perhaps by wearing some sort of sandwich board (Back: Ask me why I'm tending these trees. Front: I poisoned them! I'm a douche!)
posted by muddgirl at 8:37 AM on February 17, 2011 [19 favorites]




Part of me wants to try to keep perspective. It's a tree. It's not like he was drowning puppies and killing kittens.

Another part of me wants to see this man buried alive under an acorn. Assuming he's guilty and all. Otherwise the acorn burial would be a bit creepy.


That's sort of where I'm at. Living near a pulp mill and a lumber mill, you get some sense of the industrial scale this shit happens.

Yes this was sad and unnecessary, but the vigor and efficiency with which we defoliate is just insane. This one little entrepreneurial jackass isn't a blink of the eye compared to our industrial activities.

But hey, with that said, I'm sad about this like I'm sad about old buildings getting knocked over. Fucking stupid, unnecessary, and I'd gladly see the guy pay for it, even knowing that it can't make up for the damage already done.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:38 AM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Screw this or that old tree when you can go the Amazon and fuck over THE RAIN FOREST...now that is good fun.
posted by Postroad at 8:39 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


What sort of douche poisons trees?

See yesterday's post about whale-killing being stopped. Look for comments about "whale being delicious."
posted by humannaire at 8:41 AM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


He should be required by law to, at the start of every Alabama game, take a crap in an Alabama helmet and then put it on. He then has to spend the entire game sitting on the sidelines, wearing the poop filled helmet, with his back to the action.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:42 AM on February 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Older southern police dude sports fan poisons historic tree for fun. Was he in a stereotype competition or something?
posted by DU at 8:42 AM on February 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


Ugh. Way to make us college football fans look even more like jackasses, jackass.

I'm reminded though of two famous tree deaths that didn't seem to be on purpose:

Drunk truck driver slams into and kills the only tree in a 400 kilometer radius in the Saraha.

Grad student cuts down oldest known non-clonal organism to study it, not realizing how old the tree was.
posted by kmz at 8:45 AM on February 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


The world would be a better place if NCAA men's football and basketball were nuked from high orbit.
posted by docgonzo at 8:47 AM on February 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Lately I've been thinking Paul Finebaum is worth an FPP on his own for being the nexus through which all of the SEC Football Crazy flows. Last week someone called his show, from the ER, while having a heart attack (n.b.: his fourth), because he said he might never get the chance again and wanted to get on at least once. I figured that would get topped but I didn't think it would happen so quickly.
posted by jackflaps at 8:48 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


The world would be a better place if NCAA men's football and basketball were nuked from high orbit.

Speaking of unreasonable responses...
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:51 AM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


According to local journalists I follow on Twitter, this guy has kids named "Bear" and "Crimson".

Christ.

I hope he does time and is banned from every stadium in the SEC.

What is particularly disheartening is the "well, THEY started it!" whining going around Twitter by certain hardcore Bama fans. Evidently some Auburn kids stuck Tiger stickers all over the campus in Tuscaloosa or something; a typical harmless college prank. So "Al from Dadeville" decides he's gonna poison some lovely old trees.

I'm usually the guy who tries to stand up for the good people of my fair state but having followed this story perhaps a bit too closely I'm just fucking disgusted by this guy, I'm dismayed that there are Alabama fans pooh-poohing and minimizing and blame-shifting, and I'm trying REALLY GODDAMN HARD not to see this as a symptom of a larger rot and I'm fucking failing.

This guy doesn't represent my state and he doesn't represent me and he doesn't represent the vast majority of people who root for the University of Alabama's athletic teams.

But I'm damn sure he'll be used like a bludgeon whenever someone needs to feel a little superior.

On preview:

worst state ever

oh look, it happened already.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:52 AM on February 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


Part of me wants to try to keep perspective. It's a tree. It's not like he was drowning puppies and killing kittens.

Not that I'm advocating the drowning of puppies and killing of kittens. But on a visceral level I find this equally disturbing, if not more so. There's something so tremendously tragic about killing a living thing that has been alive in the world for longer than any of us has been around, and could have kept on being a living thing in the world long after we're gone. What hubris.
posted by crackingdes at 8:53 AM on February 17, 2011 [11 favorites]


> Debate over.

Nonsense. People get killed in fights and riots after teams win. Don't be hyperbolic.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:55 AM on February 17, 2011


130 year old trees. Not some tree grown on a tree farm to be cut down and pulped.
posted by fixedgear at 8:56 AM on February 17, 2011


I think the most appropriate thing to do now would be to plant some trees in his lungs.
posted by otolith at 8:59 AM on February 17, 2011


To all of those outside Alabama, welcome to this insight into just how nuts this rivalry is.

The bigger concern is how widely this poison spreads and if it gets into the water supply right now. I'm not sure it's a reasonable concern but it's been raised.

It's a tree, but it's a symbol. It's never a great idea to destroy a symbol. People don't react so well.

worst state ever

yeah, a tree getting poisoned by a rabid fan really justifies saying that. hyperbolic much?
posted by dig_duggler at 9:02 AM on February 17, 2011


Alabama football just won the title of "worst fanbase" and "worst state" for forever. Debate over.

Bitter Old Punk said it better than I will, but why on earth should this one man's actions tar a state of nearly five million people? (Many of whom care not one whit about football?)

Don't be a bigot.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:03 AM on February 17, 2011


Yeah, if you read some stories about soccer hooligans then you'll see that you are far wrong about "worst fanbase". Not even close.
posted by josher71 at 9:05 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I found it somewhat calming to express this person as a percentage of the total number of college football fans in the US, arriving at an estimated figure of perhaps 0.000006%.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:05 AM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yet another reason I wish Ents were still around to go all Middle Earth on this guy's neighborhood.

I like the acorn burial idea -- I bet it would come up all gnarled like a tree in a Tim Burton movie.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:06 AM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


He should be required by law to, at the start of every Alabama game, take a crap in an Alabama helmet and then put it on. He then has to spend the entire game sitting on the sidelines, wearing the poop filled helmet, with his back to the action.

Or maybe, just maybe, we could use this as a teachable moment about possibly starting to educate people on the merits of recognizing sports "rivalries" as something not as important as you think to give such a long-term shit about.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:07 AM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd rather see the poop helmet, though.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:15 AM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Poop helmet and teachable moment aren't mutually exclusive!
posted by Burhanistan at 9:17 AM on February 17, 2011 [11 favorites]


That guy is a big jerk who overreacted to a game. It's just a game folks, don't make it more than that.
posted by Daddy-O at 9:19 AM on February 17, 2011


Replace his wardrobe with Auburn apparel and force him to attend all Auburn games, sitting on the Auburn side, cheering for the Tigers under penalty of imprisonment. On bye weeks he attends Alabama games, sits on the opposing teams side, and cheers for them.
posted by Ian A.T. at 9:22 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tree poisonin' in AskMe!
posted by mkb at 9:25 AM on February 17, 2011


Here's another vote for poop helmet.
posted by NoMich at 9:26 AM on February 17, 2011


Amazing the things that people will do in the name of religion...
posted by sriracha at 9:33 AM on February 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


I hope we'll see University of Alabama students volunteering to help replant those trees.

And I'm kinda down with the poop helmet idea.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:38 AM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


That's sort of where I'm at. Living near a pulp mill and a lumber mill, you get some sense of the industrial scale this shit happens.

Yes this was sad and unnecessary, but the vigor and efficiency with which we defoliate is just insane. This one little entrepreneurial jackass isn't a blink of the eye compared to our industrial activities.


Not to shit in the thread (or in a helmet), this is only partly true.

I worked in the lumber industry for a long time. There are plenty of asshats in that industry, but there are also a lot of smart, dedicated foresters who care about the health of our forests. If you look at it seriously, trees are the ultimate renewable resource. It doesn't make any sense not to utilize them; it just has to be done responsibly and with an understanding of the difference between a tree farm and a forest.

(Responsible works like this: 1. Designate a tree farming area. 2. Determine a responsible and healthy growth rate for the trees you will harvest. If your trees will grow to maturity in 50 years, for example, you establish a fifty-year-cut; ideally you cut 1/50 of the area each year, and replace what you cut with saplings. 3. This is responsible, sane and sustainable. It is a tree farm, though - not a forest. 4. Establish enough farms that it's not as attractive to log real forests.)

Anyway, what this guy did is sad and sick. Carry on.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:47 AM on February 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


I hope this guy dies and comes back as a fleshlight.
posted by phaedon at 9:52 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


He should be required by law to, at the start of every Alabama game, take a crap in an Alabama helmet and then put it on.

No. At the start of every Alabama game, the team craps in the helmet.

Everything else you said is fine.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:52 AM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]




(Responsible works like this: 1. Designate a tree farming area. 2. Determine a responsible and healthy growth rate for the trees you will harvest. If your trees will grow to maturity in 50 years, for example, you establish a fifty-year-cut; ideally you cut 1/50 of the area each year, and replace what you cut with saplings. 3. This is responsible, sane and sustainable. It is a tree farm, though - not a forest. 4. Establish enough farms that it's not as attractive to log real forests.)


I'm not against the existence of a lumber industry. It's incredibly valuable to us. Unfortunately, while logging can be done sustainably, it frequently isn't.

That's about it, I realize that it's a nuanced issue, and that definitely wasn't a call to arms against the lumber industry. :) More of a call for perspective.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:54 AM on February 17, 2011


They've got a name for the winners in the world, and I've got a name for this loser.
posted by Songdog at 9:55 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


fixedgear: 130 year old trees. Not some tree grown on a tree farm to be cut down and pulped.

Most lumber harvested in the big exporting countries - Canada, Brazil, Russia comes from old-growth forest on government-owned land. Tree farming practice isn't so widely used, though this is changing as more consumers demand fsc-certified lumber (and mono-cultured tree farms still wreck the biodiversity of the forest they replace).
posted by Popular Ethics at 9:58 AM on February 17, 2011


This is an absolutely beautiful part of nice little college town in Alabama. At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, I know for a fact that it's a sacred space to many who lived there and walked under those oaks every day.

I've got oaks on my block in New Orleans that are older than the city itself, and they are majestic monuments that have stayed the same as the world around them sped up and changed and fell down and stood back up, and they just stand there, moss waving lazily in the wind. They are beautiful trees and sometimes you just stop and stare at them, despite seeing them every day. This man should be ashamed, and punished as the law allows, even if there's no way it'll ever atone for what he did.

But this does not reflect on football fans, or the state of Alabama, or even Bama fans. It reflects on one redneck toolbag who thought he was going to make his peers proud. I hope and trust he'll be disowned by honest Alabamans soon enough. And I say that as an Ole Miss fan and a fan of trees in general.
posted by gordie at 10:01 AM on February 17, 2011


Can't Auburn replace these by paying a little cash to bring in some nice trees that have been planted at a Junior College in Texas or something?
posted by IanMorr at 10:12 AM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd like to see the poop helmet become a regular punishment for... well, things that deserve a poop helmet.
posted by vibrotronica at 10:17 AM on February 17, 2011


I hope his punishment is to plant 1 million new oak trees... with his bare hands.
posted by geeky at 10:25 AM on February 17, 2011


"Teachable moment" is the most incredibly condescending phrase in the English language.
posted by adamdschneider at 10:29 AM on February 17, 2011


"Teachable moment" is the most incredibly condescending phrase in the English language.

Well, bless your heart!
posted by hippybear at 10:31 AM on February 17, 2011 [12 favorites]


If I understand this correctly this lunatic poisoned some trees because his football team lost. This is, of course, totally despicable, criminal, and tragic. But it also makes me wonder about the environmental impact of our obsession with s...ports. Off the top of my head I think of the trees razed to make room for paling fields and stadiums, the resources consumed by attending sporting events, the resources consumed by team travel, the mansions and fuel-guzzling toys of professional athletes, the junk food consumed while watching sports, etc. etc. etc. Feel free to add to my list.

I confess, I do not like team sports. At my most cynical I see them, especially as they are foisted on young children, as an indoctrination in viewing another group of people as the other, the enemy to be defeated. As such, sports are great preparation for viewing larger groups this way, a prerequisite for bellicosity.
posted by mareli at 10:33 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


How about a "come to Jesus talk"?
posted by Burhanistan at 10:33 AM on February 17, 2011


Yes, it's sad what has been done to these old trees, but at least we got the concept of the poop helmet out of it.
posted by Mcable at 10:34 AM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Alabama football just won the title of "worst fanbase"

They got a'ways to go.
posted by yerfatma at 10:44 AM on February 17, 2011


If I understand this correctly this lunatic poisoned some trees because his football team lost.

No, he poisoned some trees because he's a lunatic. The football team part only determined his target.

trees razed to make room for paling fields and stadiums

Trees get razed to build universities and libraries too.
posted by IanMorr at 10:50 AM on February 17, 2011


So freaking sad. There was a disapproving comment in the Japan-Halts-Whaling thread yesterday about some people preferring animals to humans. Crap, sometimes I prefer plants to humans.
posted by dmvs at 10:58 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I haven't watched a single football game this year although I am at Auburn. I didn't participate in any of the post-championship celebrations except to buy a pint glass. Most of the time I'm so freaking sick of football and its fans that I walk away from conversations. But today I called my parents and sister to tell them what happened. I'm sorry Auburn. If you have a rally for the trees I will totally show up and wear orange and blue with pride!
posted by hydrobatidae at 11:12 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also if anyone is interested, you can buy Toomer's Corner oak seedlings from the AU Scool of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences.
posted by hydrobatidae at 11:14 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Look for comments about "whale being delicious."

I think it's possible to acknowledge the deliciousness of whale within the context of a country that has been eating whale meat for 500ish years and still be glad the hunt is off. Poisoning a tree out of spite over a football game on the other hand...I really don't see the comparison. He's the same kind of douche as people who you're assuming have eaten whale just to piss off Americans? Well I guess so, if such people exist, but this sounds like an outrage pissing contest.
posted by Hoopo at 11:28 AM on February 17, 2011


If you're not from Alabama, you'd be surprised how seriously folks take their football around here, and I'm not even talking about Alabama-Auburn. I remember a similar spat between local high schools which ended in one team sneaking onto the rival field in the middle of the night and salting the earth. That's, like, a Roman Empire-level hate-on. Though I don't think the Romans ever salted fields in the shape of a penis.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:37 AM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, Alabamians take football seriously, but everyone is pretty shocked about this. The football rivalries are usually a kind of play-acting; a fun us vs. them extended in-joke. If they were that serious, you wouldn't have "mixed marriages" (Auburn fan to Alabama fan) that are quite successful, even though things get mock-tense around Thanksgiving.

I've got a picture somewhere of my sister's husband wearing an Auburn cap and making a terribly pouty face while she kisses him gleefully; the result of a lost bet.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 11:45 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


(And high school kids need only the barest of excuses to draw penises in fields. Salted earth usually isn't permanent or irreversible in well irrigated systems.)
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 11:47 AM on February 17, 2011


Though I don't think the Romans ever salted fields in the shape of a penis.

I don't know about that. Have you seen Roman art?
posted by dirigibleman at 11:49 AM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't think the Romans ever salted fields in the shape of a penis.

The Romans never salted the earth at all that we know of; the claim thereof is a 19th century invention that's been hard to stomp out.
posted by Zed at 12:06 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


"The world would be a better place if NCAA men's football and basketball were nuked from high orbit."

"Speaking of unreasonable responses..."


Oh, come on, MCMike. It is the only way to be sure.
posted by steambadger at 12:13 PM on February 17, 2011


a 19th century invention that's been hard to stomp out.

Does this mean the Victorians invented the burning bag of dog shit?
posted by jamaro at 12:30 PM on February 17, 2011


I was born in Alabama and still live here. The day that some idiot poisons a tree at Auburn because Auburn's engineering school beat Alabama's engineering school at some kind of engineering contest or because Auburn's computer science department solves P=NP before Alabama's computer science deparment - that will be the best day Alabama has ever had. That will mean this state is starting to get its priorities straight, finally. But it is NEVER GONNA HAPPEN and if it did I would still be mightily pissed about the tree.
posted by loosemouth at 1:02 PM on February 17, 2011


...and they say Heavy Metal music and video games are bad for you.
posted by rhizome at 1:18 PM on February 17, 2011


You know what would be a cool "Teachable moment"? If his team took the opportunity to look awesome and cared for the trees themselves to spite him and others who would cause harm in their names.

But I truly don't understand how deep these rivalries go, so I have no idea if such a thing is imaginable.

It'd be cool though.
posted by quin at 3:14 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


quin, It would be cool, and I don't doubt that some Alabama students would be very willing to do that. But it probably will be better left to the professional plant surgeons anyway.

Heck, part of the fun of having a manufactured faction war is "overcoming your differences" to accomplish something good.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 4:56 PM on February 17, 2011


"Is he a GOBLIN?" is my new go-to for hilarious levels of evil. Thanks, whelk
posted by tehloki at 10:35 PM on February 17, 2011


Tree killing causes me problems of a mental nature. I kind of get sort of schizophrenic and shit. And angry. No, not angry. LOL! Hells-bells red-eye raging. It doesn't help that I just watched 4 old walnut trees, out my window, on the city border, killed. Just because it would be too tricky to build apartment buildings next to them. The entire border green belt is being built upon, except for the part they put fussball pitches upon.
posted by Goofyy at 7:08 AM on February 18, 2011


I live in Alabama.

EVERYONE is sick about this. 100% of the Auburn fans, and 100% of the U of Alabama fans (minus Harvey, and he may be wishing he hadn't done this by now).

It's nothing to do with the rivalry per se, as sickening as I sometimes find it (even though I watch some football).

99.9% of us have close friends, co-workers, spouses, etc. who pull for the other school, and most of us really don't take this stuff all that seriously. It's just another thing to yak about, to pose as a point of competition in blood drives, canned good drives, etc. It's typical of cross-state/cross-city rivalries all over the place.

This episode doesn't say anything about the rivalry, except that UA people are doing all kinds of things to express sympathy, and to do what they can. For ex:

http://www.facebook.com/TideforToomers

So you can please stop shitting on the state, at least where this matter is concerned.
posted by randomkeystrike at 2:21 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


quin: I think a better "teachable moment" would be for them to destroy their own mascot.
posted by rhizome at 7:12 PM on February 18, 2011


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