Favorite
click to enlarge THE SCARECROW
  • THE SCARECROW

Has anybody noticed the scarecrow hanging outside O.W. Pizza? It’s kind of hard to spot unless you’re looking for it, because it’s over on the left side, toward the back, and you can’t see it going east on Markham without craning your neck at a dangerous angle. I hadn’t seen it myself until a friend mentioned it to me a couple of days ago. This friend was concerned, and wanted to see if I would think it looks like what he and some other friends think it looks like.

I think it looks like a crucified black hobo. And so does pretty much everybody else I’ve talked to about it. It’s become a hot topic of speculation. Nobody wants to believe that it could really be meant to look like what it looks like. I’ve driven past it repeatedly in the past few days, trying to see it from another angle, thinking maybe I was too hasty in my assessment. But no. It looks like a black hobo. A crucified black hobo.

It has made me queasy every time I’ve gone by. What could they possibly be thinking? Why hadn’t anybody forced them to take it down? The restaurant was broken into a while back, and so was this a not-so-funny attempt to prevent it from happening again? I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the face was dark because they’d used a ski mask. That would make sense; a ski mask is sort of the universal symbol for burglar. I went in for a closer look. It’s not a ski mask. The face is made of dark brown plaid fabric. Maybe it was the only fabric available. Maybe it really is a scarecrow.

But I didn’t see how this thing could be expected to work in such a situation. It’s so far back in the corner that it couldn’t be noticed by anyone trying to enter any other part of the building. And it’s so high off the ground that nobody could mistake it for someone standing nearby to witness an attempted break-in. Also, when has a scarecrow ever been designed for a human audience (outside of a Halloween display, and even then they usually have these hokey and completely unscary gap-toothed grins)?

For whatever reason, I was only able to read it as a warning. As in: “Don’t break into this place, because this is what will happen to you.” In that light it’s really frightening, and I suppose it could even be effective if it weren’t so damn offensive. It’s so close to the Capitol building and the statue of the Little Rock Nine.

The gentleman I spoke with at O.W. Pizza could not have been nicer, especially for someone who’s been robbed repeatedly. When I told him I live down the street and had heard that they’d been broken into, and asked if he could tell me about it, he said, “Which time?” Most recently, the burglars came on a Saturday morning and broke the gumball machines, stealing all the gumballs, and some frozen beef, and leaving behind a couple of cigarettes and a shirt. They left the radio on the gospel station.

Before that, they came with guns, after hours but while employees were still there. Nobody was hurt; they took car keys and cell phones, and about $200. This incident led to the thinning out of the woods by the restaurant. People were sneaking under the cover of the trees. For whatever reason, the point of entry for break-ins has most often been the patio door. The scarecrow is hanging right next to the patio. I swallowed hard.

“Oh, that,” he said. “We’re trying to plant a little herb garden over there.” A couple of guys who work at OW are in a band, and they had made the scarecrow for their album cover. It had been down in the woods, where they were taking pictures of it. They moved it up to try to protect the seeds. And now they think, “Hey, this is kinda cool lookin’.”

Did he know that some people found it a little bit (cough) questionable, and that a few were worried that it might be (gulp) racially motivated? In fact, he had no idea. “That was just the shirt we found,” for the face, he said. He didn’t think anybody had even noticed it, much less been offended by or concerned about it. He reassured me that it had nothing to do with the break-ins, it was just a coincidence. “We’re planning a ninja scarecrow, too,” he added.

So now I must ask myself, and my friends, and you, this question: How did this happen? The racial sensitivity here is so pervasive that we mistook a humble scarecrow for a symbol of hate.

Favorite

Comments (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

More by Katherine Whitworth

  • Sand in our shoes

    It’s true that Arkansas is a landlocked state: The nearest access point to salt water is at least 400 miles away. It’s also true that no less than three state Parks and Tourism employees laughed at recent requests for information regarding the beaches of
    • May 4, 2007
  • The perfect summer drink

    Sangria, the unofficial national beverage of Spain, may very well be the perfect summer drink. More festive than beer, less punishing than a cocktail, and as companionable as iced tea or lemonade to summertime staples like barbecue and fried chicken, this
    • May 4, 2007
  • Who should parent?

    Let me tell you about a friend of mine. He’s a guy who is unequivocally regarded as a wonderful person by those who know him. He’s kind, and caring, and conscientious, and compassionate. He’s smart, funny, and generous. He seeks joy and peace and knowledg
    • Mar 29, 2007
  • More »

Most Shared

  • Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist resigns

    Bob Scoggin, 50, the Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist whose job it was to review the work of agencies, including DAH and the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, for possible impacts on historic properties, resigned from the agency on Monday. Multiple sources say Scoggin, whom they describe as an "exemplary" employee who the week before had completed an archeological project on DAH property, was told he would be fired if he did not resign.
  • Trump proposes an unconstitutional ban on flag burning, revoking citizenship

    Donald Trump, the president-elect of the United States, this morning made a public statement, via Twitter, that the flag burning should be disallowed by law: "there must be consequences — perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!"
  • Child welfare too often about 'punishing parents,' DCFS consultant tells legislators

    Reforms promised by the Division of Children and Family Services are "absolutely necessary," the president of DCFS's independent consultant told a legislative committee this morning. But they still may not be enough to control the state's alarming growth in foster care cases.
  • Donald Trump taps Tom Price for HHS Secretary; Medicaid and Medicare cuts could be next

    The selection of Tom Price as HHS secretary could signal that the Trump administration will dismantle the current healthcare safety net, both Medicaid and Medicare.
  • Fake economics

    Fake news is a new phenomenon in the world of politics and policy, but hokey economic scholarship has been around as long as Form 1040 and is about as reliable as the news hoaxes that enlivened the presidential campaign.

Latest in Katherine Whitworth

  • Who should parent?

    Let me tell you about a friend of mine. He’s a guy who is unequivocally regarded as a wonderful person by those who know him. He’s kind, and caring, and conscientious, and compassionate. He’s smart, funny, and generous. He seeks joy and peace and knowledg
    • Mar 29, 2007
  • Femininity vs. feminism

    Speaking of feminism, why is it that the Amy Vanderbilt Success Program for Women is so much better represented in the thrift and used-book stores of Arkansas than in those of any other state I’ve been to? I’ve been lazily collecting these slim volumes —
    • Mar 15, 2007
  • Frankenfood

    The Arkansas Plant Board voted last week to ban the planting of the second variety of rice found in Arkansas to contain traces of a genetically engineered variety of rice. With no disrespect to the farmers who protested the ruling and are now scrambling t
    • Mar 8, 2007
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Central Arkansas venues have a full week of commemorative events planned

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Viewed

  • Arkansas Democrats' rocky road forward

    No state political party in the modern era has had a more abrupt fall than Arkansas's Democrats
  • Fake economics

    Fake news is a new phenomenon in the world of politics and policy, but hokey economic scholarship has been around as long as Form 1040 and is about as reliable as the news hoaxes that enlivened the presidential campaign.

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation