Army National Guard Maj. Paul Suskie, North Little Rock’s city attorney who’s now lawyering over in Kabul, Afghanistan, has been sending regular newsletters to his friends back home. The Observer doesn’t know what Suskie wrote last time out, but it must have been something about missing the Dallas Cowboys, or the sun, or both. In the return mail came 72 Dallas Cowboy hats, and a note that another 72 were on the way from Cowboy vice president of marketing Bill Priakos and Amanda Hines.
The Cowboy fans at the Kabul Compound of Combined Forces Command grabbed some, and the rest Suskie took to a local orphanage. Suskie writes that the hats were a “huge hit” with the kids, who, unlike every kid in Arkansas, have never owned gimme caps. He sent along a picture of the kids, and noted, “Maybe we have a future Dallas Cowboy, the NFL’s first Afghan, in one of these pictures.” Now there’s some forward progress! Kabul to kickoffs!
When the mail brought The Observer a toy catalogue specifically aimed at grandparents, we knew the marketers of the world had our number — our age, that is. What they didn’t know, and maybe the only thing, was that we started late and our child is but a teen-ager.
It’s like Megan Woodell. Megan was born in 1986 at a flea market in Louisville, Ky., but other than that her life has been uneventful. Marketers have tracked her and her parents through three address changes in three states: Diaper coupons at first, then toy catalogues, then the credit card companies came knocking. Did she need contact lenses? Insurance? Now, the mail has come full circle, and she’s getting the baby business again.
Their persistence has not paid off. Megan’s not much of a mail-order girl. She’s not even much of a girl. She doesn’t exist. She was created by Peggy and Tony Woodell, who, in trying to win a free vacation on one of their Sunday jaunts to the flea market, were asked to write down what name they’d give a child if they had one. That’s all it took.
The Woodells are happy to see Megan’s mail arrive. If you’re going to be hounded your life long by people wanting to sell you something, it’s nice to have the last laugh.
Advertising is everywhere, and we hate it — the fact that ads keep the lights on in the Observatory notwithstanding. We must admit, however, that a new species of this intellectual kudzu gave us a bit of a chuckle.
Tanking up on $2-a-gallon petrol the other day, we spotted a small placard, no bigger than a paperback book, attached to the hose that came out of the pump. “Advertise here!” the sign said. It gave us a smile, one of the few we’ve had at the gas station lately, thanks to the Mobile Observatory’s seemingly bottomless 20-gallon tank. Because on the flip side it asked “Need Extra Money?” It gave a toll-free number and instructed, “Ask for Charity.”
Talk about perfect placement. If go-juice gets any more dear, The Observer may soon be forced to take Charity up on the offer.
The Observer’s delight at a Southwest Airline gate attendant’s sense of humor drew a comment from reader Mary Waters. She wrote to say that when boarding began on her Southwest flight recently, the attendant announced: “Those travelers with children may board early ... [pause] ... of course, you must actually have the children with you in order to do that.” They’re a stitch, those Southwest folks.
A flurry of e-mails in the Times office debated the various merits of the city’s liquor dealers and showed us, in the fine tradition of newspaper staff everywhere, to have our opinions when it comes to spirits. The capper to the debate:
“I like Warehouse on Main. They have every fruit flavor of Cisco in existence and the fifths of Mad Dog 20/20 are the least expensive you’ll find.”
The Koch Industries PAC spread a lot of money around in September, including significant sums in state legislative races around the country. All politics is local when you have a big polluting industry to look after.
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.
Before we get started, a request: The Observer got a press release earlier this week that said the office of Gov. Asa Hutchinson is asking Arkansans to send in their photos that shout Arkansas! — anything from the great outdoors to festivals to picturesque town squares — for possible use on the gov's new website.
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.
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.
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.