The Observer availed our-selves of the national pastime not once but twice last weekend, taking in the second and third games of the Travs’ season at Ray Winder Field. We were happy to note a feeling of energy we didn’t pick up on last year. Lots of young folks. Walking-up-to-the-batter’s-box music for each Travs player. An organist named Frisbee whose style carries over from his primary gig entertaining the crowds at Ernie Biggs Piano Bar downtown. Even announcements over the P.A. system had a little more punch to them, like this one from Friday night’s game:
“If you’re the owner of a Jeep with Arkansas license plate [blah blah blah] that parked in Bill Valentine’s reserved parking space, you’d better move it quick. He’s about to slash the tires.”
It was too beautiful Friday to stay cooped up in the vault, so The Observer tiptoed over to the River Market for a spin in the sun. Rounding the corner of the east end of the market, we spied a bright yellow motor scooter, just like one we’d ridden at WordsWorth Bookstore a week ago (with the bookstore owner’s blessing), lined up with other scooters and bicycles, including a tandem bike, and rollerblades. A sign read “Famie’s Wheels for Fun.”
We were struck for a couple of reasons. One was that we loved the old baseball joke about the “beer that made Milt Famie walk us.” Another was the memory of “City Bikes.” Once, Little Rock’s trusting Parks Department wheeled to the River Market district free bicycles that, in a Utopian world, would have been borrowed by folks to get from point A to point B without consuming any petroleum products. The bike would be left at point B for another person who needed it for a quick trip. And so on. Within days, all the bikes disappeared.
Famie Gay’s got a different idea. She’s charging for use of the bikes, and, lest you’re tempted to just keep motoring, she keeps your driver’s license.
To back-pedal a bit, a little history on Gay: A native of Allport, which is down around Stuttgart, Famie Gay was a pioneer player on the Women’s Professional Basketball League, which didn’t last long (1978-81), but did take young women like Gay to places they’d never been before, like Amsterdam, besides the national circuit.
Gay’s real dream was to work in Los Angeles, and when she didn’t make the cut her second year, she moved to California, where just for fun she added an e to her last name to suggest kinship to Marvin. Now, she’s home, putting her love of sports together with a business.
Though we enjoy riding scooters, we were skeptical that at $10 a half hour, folks would flock to Famie’s Wheels for Fun. But after work, as we returned to the River Market to visit the galleries, we saw a woman zip by on a scooter.
The Observer has, some might say belatedly, taken on a sizable chunk of the trappings of full-on adulthood in the last couple of years. Marriage, mortgage, moving back home after more than a decade of gathering no moss. For the most part, it hasn’t hurt much — sitting at home on Saturday night doesn’t feel quite so pathetic at 33 as it did at 26.
But then we have this yard. Every last gasping shred of our youth tells us it’s there to play kickball on, left to run riot until the grass is so tall we can no longer tune out the nagging voice of Pa Observer telling us to get mowing if we want to go out with our friends later.
We don’t remember giving in, really we don’t, but at some point we started to Care. The Observer began designing a landscape plan. Mr. Observer took a scythe and a tub of Agent Orange to the weeds. We avoided looking each other in the eye.
And then, midway through what we at first thought was the hard, manual, grown-up labor of digging out a flowerbed where none had been before, The Observer stumbled across a saving truth: Our 2-year-old nephew would kill to be doing what we were doing. It was the lawn-care equivalent of kicking down a sandcastle or knocking over a tower of blocks. We were Godzilla, stomping through the earthworms’ Tokyo. Wreaking havoc. Getting filthy. Grinding dirt into our clothes, getting it under our fingernails, tracking it into the house.
And best of all, no one could yell at us for it.
It was all we could do after that not to turn on the water spigot and start making mud-pies. Don’t tell our mom, OK?
I'm sorry we stood by while your generation's hope was smothered by $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, just because you were trying to educate yourselves enough to avoid falling for the snake oil and big talk of a fascist.
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.
The Observer's boss, Uncle Alan, is something of a gentleman farmer on his spread up in Cabot, growing heirloom tomatoes and watermelons and crops of chiggers on property that looks like the perfect farmstead Lenny and George often fantasized about in "Of Mice and Men."
Next week a series of meetings on the use of technology to tackle global problems will be held in Little Rock by Club de Madrid — a coalition of more than 100 former democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world — and the P80 Group, a coalition of large public pension and sovereign wealth funds founded by Prince Charles to combat climate change. The conference will discuss deploying existing technologies to increase access to food, water, energy, clean environment, and medical care.
Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway) was on "Capitol View" on KARK, Channel 4, this morning, and among other things that will likely inspire you to yell at your computer screen, he said he expects someone in the legislature to file a bill to do ... something about changing the name of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.
So fed up was young Edgar Welch of Salisbury, N.C., that Hillary Clinton was getting away with running a child-sex ring that he grabbed a couple of guns last Sunday, drove 360 miles to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., where Clinton was supposed to be holding the kids as sex slaves, and fired his AR-15 into the floor to clear the joint of pizza cravers and conduct his own investigation of the pedophilia syndicate of the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
There is almost nothing real about "reality TV." All but the dullest viewers understand that the dramatic twists and turns on shows like "The Bachelor" or "Celebrity Apprentice" are scripted in advance. More or less like professional wrestling, Donald Trump's previous claim to fame.
This week, the Arkansas Times falls back on that oldest of old chestnuts: a recipe issue. Being who we are, of course, we had to put a twist on that; namely, the fact that most of the recipes you'll find in these pages are courtesy of people who have shuffled off to that great kitchen in the sky, where the Good Lord is always whipping up new things in his toque and apron, running the great mixers of genetics and time, maybe presenting the batter-dipped beaters and bowls to Jesus for a lick down.
OK, back to basics, Observer. Get hold of yourself. Give the people what they want, which is escapism! If you don't, this column is eventually just going to devolve into The Prophecies of Hickstradamus at some point in the next four years: "The Orange Vulture perches in the fig tree. The great snake eats Moonpies and Royal Crown Cola by starlight ..." That kind of thing. Nobody likes that. Too much deciphering and such.
The Observer's grandfather on our mother's side was a crackerjack fella. Grew up in the sandy hills north of Conway. County boy, through and through. During hog-killing time in December 1941, the story in our family goes, when word of Pearl Harbor reached his little community, he and his friends loaded into his T-model truck and made the rough journey to the first speck of civilization that included an Army recruiting office, where they all enlisted.
The Arkansas Dems can lead by doing the opposite of what the national Dems did when they reelected the same leadership in charge since the equally embarrassing losses as seen in Arkansas. Electing 75-plus-year-olds is no way to embrace the youth.