The Community Pianist 

The Observer and Bride of Observer (henceforth known as BOO... because we said so, that's why) were motorvatin' through Stifft Station a while back, coming down Plateau Street, to be specific, when Boo spied a young man playing the piano on his front porch, surrounded by candles. That's not something you see every day, so we circled the block and came back, coasting slowly along with the windows down until we heard it, a rambling, jangly sound that's unmistakably piano. It was one of the first evenings after the summer's heat finally broke like a fever, and our Community Pianist was clearly reveling in the cooler air, leaning hard on the keys. As Boo had reported, he had had indeed surrounded himself with flickering flames, giving the whole scene a real "Elton John Plays 'Candle in the Wind' " air, even though this fella appeared to be playing something decidedly more honky-tonk. He had his back to the street, and didn't seem to pay us any mind. After we'd sat there a while idling, though, he turned and maybe smiled when we waved (it was dark, you see), but never let up beating the ivories. After a while, we motored on and left him to his melodies.

Thanks, Community Pianist. We've come to love our neighborhood down in Stifft Station over the years for all kinds of kooky reasons, but you might be our current favorite — up there with the sea of broken window glass behind Pizza D and the short-legged weinercat that roams the 100 block of Maple St. Here's hoping that as the winter comes on, you'll raise our chilly spirits with another impromptu recital. We'll definitely be back for the drive-thru concert if and when that happens. And for Vishnu's sake, do yourself a favor and put a tip jar on a stake out by the street, dude. The Observer is always ready to kick in some money for a little free entertainment.

The Observer works in a newspaper office, so we've learned to love the coffee pot over the past 10 years; nectar font of the scribbling gods, jump-starter of many a vapor-locked brain when it came time to squeeze out a final photo caption. That said, we've never particularly liked coffee. Even when it's good, it just seems bitter. Back in the old days before we started trying to do something about our equator, we used to spike our java with enough sugar to put a kindergartner in permanent time out. Once we swore off the cane, we substituted mass quantities of exotic manmade sweeteners. We're probably going to grow a claw-handed baby arm from the middle of our forehead at some point.

Recently, though, The Observer started thinking about tea. We loved iced sweet tea as a kid (a little too much, as our dentist can probably tell you), but hot teas always just seemed so ... British. The other day, though, our colleague Mr. Bell was having some, and offered us a classy little bag-o-leaf that turned out to be just a lovely experience. Later, another pal — seeing us looking forlornly at the ancient box of Decaf Lipton in the Arkansas Times breakroom and deciding that friends don't let friends drink ... — gave us a sachet from her secret stash of Darjeeling.

Suddenly, to our Manly Man shame, we were hooked. Over the weekend, we bought a whistling teakettle, and we've got four boxes of various teas at home right now. We even took a trip to Teavana, the tea store in the Park Plaza Mall, which we had previously avoided — along with Build-a-Bear Workshop — like it contained the last surviving vial of smallpox.

Call us a fancypants, because Lord knows we have called our self that over the past week or two, but there is just something so lovely about a cup of good tea. There's a calming little ritual to it, and The Observer needs all of the calming he can get: open the paper envelope, pull out the bag, unfurl the string with the flag on the end, plunk it into a cup, pour the hot water over the bag, then watch the water slowly go from honey to maple like some kind of magic trick. Add honey. Add milk. Add a little sugar if you're feeling frisky. While we know there are folks for whom this will be fighting words, The Observer never got that similar sense of wonder from a cuppa joe.

That makes us a teasnob now, we guess, though we're clearly on the lowest rung of the teasnob ladder. We didn't, for instance, buy one of those $100 cast iron teapots from the place in the mall (want one). We haven't even ventured into loose-leaf teas (yet). We've not even replaced our big, honkin' coffee mugs with dainty little teacups (that one we actually don't regret). We're getting there, though. As a matter of fact, we'll get a little further there right now. Cheers.



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Every secret thing

    The Observer came into the office on Tuesday morning, not quite bright-eyed or bushy tailed thanks to Daylight Savings Time jetlag, to find our colleague Benji Hardy conked out asleep in yet another colleague's office, Benji having pulled an all-nighter to bring you, Dear Reader, this week's cover story.
    • Mar 10, 2015
  • Casting out demons: why Justin Harris got rid of kids he applied pressure to adopt

    Rep. Justin Harris blames DHS for the fallout related to his adoption of three young girls, but sources familiar with the situation contradict his story and paint a troubling picture of the adoption process and the girls' time in the Harris household.
    • Mar 12, 2015
  • Addendum

    he Observer has our regrets, just like everybody else. For example: last week, Yours Truly published a cover story on the increasingly ugly fight over Eureka Springs' Ordinance 2223, which is designed to protect a bunch of groups — including LGBTQ people — from discrimination in housing, employment, accommodations, cake buying, browsing, drinking, gut stuffery, knickknack purchasing, general cavorting, funny postcard mailing and all the other stuff one tends to get up to in the weirdest, friendliest, most magical little town in the Ozarks.
    • Apr 30, 2015

Most Shared

  • Welfare for the wealthy: More reasons to VOTE NO on ISSUE 3

    Voices on the left and right are lifted against Issue 3, the corporate welfare amendment to send tax money to private business and corporate lobbyists.
  • Little Rock police kill man downtown

    Little Rock police responding to a disturbance call near Eighth and Sherman Streets about 12:40 a.m. killed a man with a long gun, Police Chief Kenton Buckner said in an early morning meeting with reporters.
  • From the mind of Sol LeWitt: Crystal Bridges 'Loopy Doopy': A correction

    Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is installing Sol Lewitt's 70-foot eye-crosser "Wall Drawing 880: Loopy Doopy," waves of complementary orange and green, on the outside of the Twentieth Century Gallery bridge. You can glimpse painters working on it from Eleven, the museum's restaurant, museum spokeswoman Beth Bobbitt said

Latest in The Observer

  • Playing catch-up

    What with the big, clear-the-decks Road Trip issue last week — which we're sure you stuffed immediately in your motorcar's glove box, turtle hull or catchall, for when you get a hankerin' to gallivant — The Observer has had two glorious weeks to Observe since the last time we conversed.
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • Old Gray Lady rides again

    There was a reunion of Arkansas Gazette employees last Saturday night, nearly 25 years to the day it was shut down.
    • Oct 6, 2016
  • Thrifty

    The Observer is a known and incorrigible haunter of thrift stores. Some weekends, with Spouse in tow, we'll make the rounds of every Goodwill store in three counties, driving them on a carefully pre-planned circuit so we can stop midway and get coffee at our favorite little place.
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Searching for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Searching for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park

A venture to this state park is on the must-do list for many, the park being the only spot in North America where you can dig for diamonds and other gemstones and keep your finds.

Event Calendar

« »


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 Recent Comments

  • Re: Road Trip Arkansas

    • Hunter . I see what you mean... Charles `s comment is unimaginable... I just got…

    • on October 25, 2016
  • Re: The Arkansas ale trail

    • just before I saw the draft that said $7003 , I didn't believe that...my... friend…

    • on October 25, 2016
  • Re: Youth movement

    • Best of luck. Will look forward to watching the results with high hopes for him.

    • on October 24, 2016

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