The Observer was just 17 when the photograph of Bob Dylan accompanying this column was taken. But we didn’t get to see him in the now not so solid flesh until last week, when he and Willie Nelson gave a concert at Ray Winder Field. (Maybe Ray Winder has a future in rock and roll.)
We decided if those old guys, who’ve been playing music longer than most of the people in The Observer’s office have been alive, could stand up there for hours and give it their all, we could stand down on the field for hours and give them ours, even fight the crowd to get a closer look. So we did, stood there on the field at Ray Winder with you name it — the tattoed and ear-plugged, the polo-shirted and moccasin-shod, the bald and the hairy, hats cowboy and garden party, with the slender-bellied and hip-hugged and the muumuu’d middle-aged. We stood with our always ladylike childhood friend, danced with her 13-year-old son, and generally behaved the way we did in our pre-jowl and varicose vein days, to the embarrassment, no doubt, of some folks, and the delight, in one instance, of a 20-something who rose from her beer-can lined blanket to say, essentially, You go, geezer!
Dylan was tremendous, even if he does have to sing from some out-of-the way place in the back of his throat these days that allows but one cadence (da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-DA). We were thrilled to get so close (turns out beer drinkers don’t last long up front), wondered what it would have been like 40 years ago. But 40 years ago was all around us. A long-haired, bare-chested teen-aged boy with hips so slim his shorts threatened to fall off danced freestyle all by himself for the whole set, the son of Woodstock. A young woman in front of us had on a full-length Indian print skirt that had mirrors sewn into it; she could have gotten it out of our closet in 1968. The scent of patchouli oil and marijuana smoke filled the air. You know how we felt? Forever young, that’s how!
We saw one thing we wouldn’t have 40 years ago: In the middle of a raucous hard-rock riff, a guy squatted on the ground in front of us, amid hundreds of screaming people, with a finger stuck in one ear so he could hear in the other whoever he was conversing with on his cell phone. It beat all stupid cell phone sightings we’ve had to date. We wanted to ask, what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
The Observer bets everybody knows someone who’d love to be presented with these available avians, sighted in last week’s daily paper’s classifieds:
“Cock-A-Tiels, whistle Andy Griffith theme song, 1 gray male, 1 pied male, 1 lutino female, plus large wrought iron cage with dome top. $100 cash for all.”
There is drama in the classifieds, as well. We sometimes find ourselves tearing up as we read about missing pets. Fancy dogs, mutts, cats, the occasional ferret. We find ourselves wondering if they’ve been stolen, or met up with the wheels, so to speak, of misfortune. Do they ever come home again?
We didn’t know what to think, however, when we read in last week’s missing column that someone in North Pulaski County is minus one black and white cow. Has cattle rustling returned in these difficult times? Do they ever run off with a local bull? Would she, left to her own devices, take a long time coming home, hence the expression “till the cows come home?” How bad should The Observer feel?
The Observer notes that as the Declaration of Independence was read from the top of a fire truck at the end of our neighborhood’s Fourth of July parade, references to King George were booed with greater gusto than in the past. That stuff about perfidy and barbarous ages, plundering seas and ravaging coasts, about depriving folks of the benefits of trial by jury — seemed very fresh.
They've had a forum in Fayetteville today on Rep. Charlie Collins' fervent desire to force more pistol-packing people onto the campus at the University of Arkansas (and every other college in Arkansas.) He got an earful from opponents.
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.
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."
The Observer is an advocate of the A+ method of integrating the arts and using creativity to teach across the curriculum, an approach that the Thea Foundation, with help from the Windgate Charitable Foundation, is offering to schools across the state.
When President-elect Trump announced he would, in a few days, force Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance for everyone, poor or rich, that would provide better and cheaper care than they've ever gotten, you had to wonder whether this guy is a miracle worker or a fool.
When completed, the Ten Commandments monument on the state Capitol lawn will be the exact size, shape and weight of the vaguely humming black monolith that appeared at the foot of Conway Sen. Jason Rapert's bed in June 2010 and later elevated his consciousness from apelike semi-sentience to incrementally less apelike semi-sentience.
No more clinging to material things, unless those material things are life preservers tossed as I go down for the third and final time, the few remaining strands of my once-majestic locks, or the skids of the last helicopter out before the fall of Little Rock.