The Observer, May 22 

At a local liquor store last week …

Spouse Observer places six-pack of pear cider and six-pack of microbrew on the counter, along with giant red reusable shopping bag.

Spouse: If you wouldn't mind, could you put everything in this bag?

Cashier, good-naturedly: Harrumph. You must be a Democrat.

Spouse: Why yes, yes I am.

Younger cashier at next register: [Silent celebratory fist-pump.]


At the Midtowne Mall last week

A giant banner on an empty building reads L.R. Mourning. The Observer and teen companion had a fine time wondering if that meant Little Rock Mourning, and would it be in the casket business? Wake catering? Hired grievers? We could have gone on and on.

(Moments later, the teen pointed out a group of young women overdressed in black walking through the parking lot. Without skipping a beat, she said, “They must work at L.R. Mourning.”)

The Observer, curious as to what the business might actually be, looked it up and discovered that it is not in the bereavement business but the building business. The owner happens to be a gentleman named Lloyd Randall Mourning. But even on the website, one would be forgiven for assuming the city was somehow involved in the Mourning business: The company logo is a stylized “LR” virtually identical to Little Rock's “LR” logo.

At last report, however, the city was shedding no tears over sharing its logo with the contracting company.


More fodder from the family.

The Observer bakes quite a bit — cookies, cakes, breads — so whenever we get a chance to visit one of the great Latino grocery stores in Southwest Little Rock, we take the opportunity to pick up one of the big, cheap bottles of Mexican vanilla they sell there. We had occasion to go to one of our favorite grocery/lunch spots the other day — La Regional, on Baseline Road — and so we ended up leaving with both a full tummy and a bottle of vanilla.

After work, The Observer swung by Junior's school and picked him up. Junior is 8, and full of questions. On the way home, he noticed the big bottle full of dark, mysterious liquid, and asked about it. Vanilla, we told him. Sitting at a red light, we spun the lid off and asked him if he wanted to smell it. He took the bottle, and then instead of sniffing, our lines of communication somehow crossed, proceeded to take a big swig.

When it hit his palate, he choked, and managed to sneeze the stuff — more alcohol than anything else — out his nose, which only made it worse. He dropped the bottle, which began gurgling its contents onto the carpet. Meanwhile, Junior was gagging, choking, snorting back tears, vigorously swabbing his tongue on the tail of his shirt and begging for water. The Observer had lost our breath too, by that time, and was trying to navigate traffic while laughing so hard we couldn't quite catch our breath.

The Mobile Observatory still smells like the world's biggest ice cream cone.


Now you cross it, now you don't: The Observer tried to bring you a report on the Junction Bridge, the 19th-century railroad span turned pedestrian bridge that was dedicated last week. The bridge, renovated for $5.9 million in federal and local funds, closed shortly after its Saturday dedication, thanks to the Riverfest closure of Riverfront Park.

If we don't cross that bridge during Riverfest, we may have to wait even longer to observe it, since park construction may require its closure again. Watch this space!


We could see, from behind the Riverfest fence this week, the big orange sculpture erected in Riverfront Park's new playground. Like virtually every single piece of public art in Little Rock, from the River Market to the airport to, now, War Memorial Stadium, it comes from the Columbine Gallery in Loveland, Colo. Columbine is the exclusive representative of members of the National Sculptors Guild. It apparently has an exclusive hold over all the public art business in Little Rock as well.



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