Birmingham was founded by absentee steel moguls from the East. The ruler of the town is Vulcan, a Greek-styled sculpture of a giant bearded man who now stands bare-buttocked on a pedestal, turning his back, variously, on parts of the city. He's turned around every few years by the city fathers to express current hopes or displeasure. I tried to locate his buttocks from downtown, but I didn't see what the locals call "the moon over Birmingham." Maybe he's a part-timer. It is said that the great Vulcan once had a light on his head that turned green every time someone died. Now he just holds an arrow in his hand, having at various times gripped a hammer, a suffragette, an ACLU lawyer, a tube of toothpaste and a corkscrew. Don't underestimate the arrow, though: Vulcan is no Cupid. That thing can hurt. And those buttocks! The latest absence from the city are the tablets of the Ten Commandments that were court-ordered out of town. I asked where they were now and was told that they were on the back of a truck being displayed in small towns all over the South. People in those towns were buying tickets to see the exiled words of Moses. On the other hand, everyone I met outside the deserted area was very nice and carried a full pail of syrup on one arm, just in case of sudden unpleasantness. Highly recommended weekend for Nietzschean melancholists and fans of the neutron bomb.