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MEMORIES OF MILLENNIUMS PAST WRITTEN IN STONE LOST WORLDS: ALABAMA'S ANCIENT LIFE AND LANDSCAPES

By THOMAS SPENCER 
Birmingham News 
staff writer

December 27, 2000 

Trace the slanting rock layers of the Elton B. Stephens Expressway cutthrough skyward, far into the distant past, and imagine the mountain that might have stood here 300 million years ago, part of a chain of mountains as tall as the Alps.
Today's downtown skyscrapers sit on rock layers that would have been buried two miles beneath that mountain's peak.
Picture ocean waves crashing against a shoreline forested by tropical jungle near present-day Prattville 80 million years ago. In the sky above, giant flying reptiles, pterosaurs, glide over the seas that covered today's cotton fields and Capitol dome.
Look at the black coal dug from West Alabama mines and see the remains of a prehistoric tropical swamp, crawling with huge amphibians, giant cockroaches and dragonflies with 3-foot wingspans.
A new book, Lost Worlds in…
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FOLK ART PARADISE LOCALGALLERIES, INTERNETBRINGSECOND-TIER ARTISTS SHOT AT SPOTLIGHT
THOMAS SPENCER News staff writer


You have to love the thought of it.
Five hundred art patrons on a roadside in Pittsview, Alabama, a town that's not much more than a flashing yellow light south of Phenix City on U.S. 431. As trucks whiz by at 60 miles per hour, collectors from Atlanta peruse the latest offerings of housepaint-on-tin and scrap-metal-into-sculpture from local artists while they sip complementary Mad Dog 20/20 and nibble on hoop cheese and crackers.
Or maybe you're driving through Rockford, Ala., a slightly larger metropolis - one stoplight, population 500. On a bench on one side of the street is an 88-year-old retired roofing contractor in paint-speckled overalls, topped with a colorfully painted hat and backed by an array of brightly painted totems in the storefront behind him. Across the street, strumming on a blues guitar, his friendly rival, an artist and art dealer welcomes cu…

NO PLACE LIKE HOME AUBURN ARCHITECTURAL STUDENTS BUILD DISTINCTIVE HOUSES FOR POOR

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By THOMAS SPENCER
Birmimgham News staff writer
Publication Date: March 12, 2000

NEWBERN A battle with leukemia, now beaten into retreat, has drawn in Sambo Mockbee's once-full face. With his salt-and-pepper beard tumbling to his chest, he looks more like a Civil War general than an iconoclastic architect and educator.
Mockbee is easy to picture astride a steed, swinging a saber above his head and whooping, like his great-grandfather who rode with Nathan Bedford Forrest.
But Mockbee would be galloping in the other direction. Against tradition. For democracy.
Samuel "Sambo" Mockbee, a 55-year-old Auburn graduate, is a founder of Auburn's Rural Architectural Studio, a university outpost in Hale County from which Mockbee and his architecture-student troops are waging a house-by-house campaign of reconstruction.
With talent and sweat, the platoon designs and builds architecturally unique and inexpensive houses for the poor in one of the nation's poorest regions.
Tho…