The Observer in the Crescent City 

On Sunday morning, The Observer was walking in the French Quarter of the City that Care Forgot, aka the City Where Folks Forget It's Impolite to Puke on the Sidewalk. It's unfortunate when you are out and about before the people whose job it is to hose down the sidewalks. But that's the Quarter, and despite having to play vomit hopscotch down Chartres, there's still enough charm there to make one wish to return at some point.

On Monday morning, The Observer was walking in the River Market district of the City That Forgot to Care. For the second time in a month, we were taking what might be called the abattoir tour, where tourists and others get to pass by blood pooled on the pavement, dripping down the glass of the storefronts, clotting on the historic bricks and, sometimes, splotching off into the distance. It's sort of a mystery tour. Was it a stabbing? A broken bottle to the face? Did someone die on the spot or did they manage to stumble away? Are the stains one sees as we progress down the sidewalk toward the Clinton Presidential Center a hint that our victim was bleeding only sporadically after the main blow?

Such are the happy questions that will entertain visitors to our fair city who find themselves out for an early morning walk. Alas, no Cafe Du Monde awaits to wash away one's memory with chicory-laden coffee, fried beignets and piles of powdered sugar. The coffee's good in the River Market, but it's not strong enough to do the job.

The Observer has lived for the past eight years in one of those bungalow-style houses down in Capitol View: white clapboard, with a red door. The whole shootin' match is just over 1,000 square feet, including the laundry room and the phone-booth-sized bathroom and the back porch somebody walled off and made into a sorta-room years ago.

We've always been fine with our little house being so little; less to clean and keep and paint, we reasoned. To help out with space issues, The Observer has constructed built-ins over the years (the big bookcases and curved window-seat with basket storage underneath in the dining room; the little perfume-lined alcove in the bathroom) to make it seem bigger. While we thought we'd be OK living there for the rest of our days — without closet space, and with people tromping through the connecting bedrooms to get to the bathroom — having a perpetually-growing kid has made us rethink our life choices. Last week, Spouse and Yours Truly had our first real conversation about moving elsewhere. While we used to yearn for a quaint vintage home with character, we've had our This Old House adventure, full of sheetrock dust and clogged pipes and surly raccoons. Now we're just itching for something a little newer and more spacious. Yes, before you think it: it's a really crummy time to be trying to sell a house. Luckily, we got in before the Great Bubble, so we didn't pay a whole lot for it. There is, as with all things, an upside and a downside to it.

UPSIDE: Closets; maybe a garage for The Observer's woodworking goodies; insulation; plumbing that's not 60 years old; AC and heating ductwork that's not 20 years old; an extra bedroom for company; an extra bathroom for soon-to-be-teenaged kid to gunk up; bedrooms with one door in and one door out.

DOWNSIDE: Leaving all the memories behind. Leaving the porch. Leaving the bookcases empty. Leaving the spot on the wall where Junior scribbled his name. Leaving the English ivy on the steps. Leaving the garden gate and the fence we built in the backyard, drifted over with jasmine and roses.

Perhaps we're being a bit too hasty with all this talk of moving. Everywhere we look in our little house, there are ghosts, and most of them are smiling. May it be the same with your home, friends, and for as long as you call it that.

We don't know about the rest of you, but The Observer is amused by the hysteria about the coming opening of an Apple store in a Chenal Valley shopping center. And, one Twitterer breathlessly added, a Niketown may be coming. "This will really be big for Little Rock," goes the cheering.

Really? A couple of chain retailers FINALLY get to Little Rock and it will be transformative? We can now don black clothing and slide out to the Apple store with the other hipsters and noodle on the very same machines we've been buying online for, oh, 10 years or so?

OK. The staff is well-trained. You can get some ready tech assistance. These are good things. We still say Little Rock can't claim big league status until a Cheesecake Factory arrives.



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