"History is always happening" at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
The Observer spotted it early last week, dangling from a beam just outside the River Market Hall: a mechanical monster that surely qualifies as one of the Seven Wonders of Greater Little Rock, along with La Petite Roche, The Chair Elvis Sat In at Cuz Fisher’s in NLR, and Wally Hall. Fifteen feet across, with a motor bigger than a Volvo’s, Little Rock’s Big Ass Fan could easily be mistaken for the business end of an Army surplus helicopter, or perhaps something a villain in a James Bond movie would slowly lower onto a temporarily-restrained 007 while cackling “No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die!” (And no, we’re not being a potty mouth, either. The label is affixed right on the hub of the blade: Big Ass Fans, Inc., alongside a cartoon of a mule. If you don’t believe us, go read it for yourself — if you don’t mind getting dizzy and falling down).
If you get down to the River Market, be sure to check it out — you pretty much can’t miss it. With summer coming on, standing under it to gawk ain’t a half-bad place to be.
The Observer spent Saturday putting socks on our heirloom tomatoes.
After two decades of being outsmarted by stinkbugs, hornworms and box turtles, The Observer is once again at the top of the food chain. For years we have tried to garden organically but the cost has been dear. The Observer had adopted the Huey P. Long “share the wealth” model of organic gardening whereby enough tomatoes, red bell peppers and Kentucky Wonders were planted each year to feed all the voracious insects, mammals and reptiles and still leave something for the gardener. But no more. Now the ’maters are wearing socks.
The idea came to us one afternoon while we watched a lady try on high heels at the shoe store. The clerk had given her a pair of nylon footies to wear. Now, five boxes of footies later, each thin skinned, precious Brandywine, Goldie and Marianne’s Peace tomato is wearing nylons. That’s pantyhose hell for tangle-footed stinkbugs.
It looks a bit silly. If tomato plants had the sensibilities of our hound, they would go hide. Each tomato looks like it’s wearing a nylon prophylactic with a droopy end. But that gives us lots of room for growth.
There was no shortage of Monday morning gardening advice here in the Times office. A co-worker reminded The Observer that the reason she no longer wore panty hose was that they made her sweat. Now we are worrying about sweaty tomatoes.
Still, The Observer is jubilant and, despite the skepticism of friends and lovers, we consider ourselves touched by genius.
The Observer’s record collection, 30 years in the making, now has some order.
The records record memories as well. They came from roommates, our folks, garage sales, friends. There are close to 200 of them. With a little time and cash, Alan Lomax will be jealous.
We organized them not only alphabetically but by subject: Country, Folk, Funk and Soul, Rock and Miscellany.
So now Loretta, Johnny, Kenny, Dolly, Tammy, Sonny, Buck, Hank, Willie and Waylon are nestled cozily, and don’t have to worry the Lovin’ Spoonful might show up in their bookcase Nashville.
Bob Dylan is put first in Folk. Respect goes before the ABCs.
Funkadelic’s “Uncle Jam Wants You” is next to Sly and the Family Stone, Sam and Dave, Leon Russell and the soundtrack to “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.” (We don’t throw away records. Period. Not even Chuck Mangione.)
We inherited our Mom’s Donna Summer’s records and we are not ashamed. Where to put her? Miscellany or Funk and Soul? Into Funk and Soul she went. Not next to the Village People.
Yes, we have quite a few disco albums.
We listened and listened. We had a solo listening party. We took our own requests. Danced by ourselves to the whole track of “Slave to the Rhythm” by Grace Jones. We alphabetized and prioritized and finally, our work was done. We filled a Mason jar with boxed white wine and ended our adventure in cataloging by looking proudly over our work. We felt good not only for getting the wax in order, but unleashing the memories held within.
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