The Observer 

When the Observer goes to the ballpark he expects nothing more than a few peanuts, a few beers, and a leisurely game. So it was exciting to discover upon arrival at last Saturday's Travelers twin bill that he would be getting extra bang for his buck: a concert by Belvis the Black Elvis.

Belvis is not the first black Elvis — see Kool Keith's 1999 album “Black Elvis/Lost in Space” — but, as far as we can tell, he's the first to impersonate the King in Little Rock. Since he'd come up in office conversation recently, The Observer was keen to see what he could do. It was a performance that could only be given on a minor league baseball field.

Between games, Belvis strutted to home plate and tried to pump the crowd up. There was a bit of cheering and a lot of indifferent mulling about near the food stands. In The Observer's section there was also some confusion: “Wait, what's this guy's name?” (C'mon fella. He's dressed like Elvis. He's black. It's all about the “B.”)

After a few of minutes of futile cajoling, Belvis ripped into a rendition of “Jailhouse Rock.” (By rendition, we mean that he sang over a CD that the guys in the press box cued up.) Unable to stick to one persona, Belvis made a seamless transition to James Brown and belted out “Living in America.” Towards the end of that tune, though, the Wizard got caught behind his curtain: The CD started to skip, and Belvis had to make some quick improvisations to keep the show from grinding to a halt.

As he switched back to Elvis mode, Belvis was clearly miffed by the technical difficulties — “Let's go soundman, play the next tune,” he snapped — but he pressed forward with “Teddy Bear” and “Viva Las Vegas.” He even found room for some apparent jokes: “You know, they say Elvis was half black. From the waist down.”

As the grounds crew finished cleaning the field for the second game, Belvis' gig appeared to be up. But, as if to atone for the earlier stumbles, he insisted on extending the set with a bonus version of “Burnin.” Alas, the CD went haywire again before the song ended, and Belvis gracefully left the building.

The park saw fit also to hand out free loaves of Sara Lee bread to fans as they left the park. Belvis could have sung Stagger Lee at the same time. But he didn't.

A caller tells The Observer she got a kick out of last week's mention of a sprinkler spied on a rooftop. The caller and her husband put a sprinkler on their roof, too, for occasional use on hot days. They call it a “rain simulator.” They have a 40-year-old house that lacks insulation and found that cooling the roof measurably improves things inside, particularly on her husband's Monday night poker nights, when the players like a 68-degree temperature.

There is a lot of anger among Razorback fans these days, and it's not all about the same thing.

At the Farmer's Market, we saw a young woman wearing a T-shirt that said “Fire Nutt.” Later that same day, we came across a fellow whose T-shirt said “Bring Back Nolan.” And a couple of days later, while driving home, we saw a bumper sticker that said “Dump Wally.”

We didn't try to strike up a conversation with any of these malcontents. We're hoping that a winning season will dilute some of the waspishness.

Folks from a church were out Saturday giving away bottled water labeled with the name of their congregation to shoppers at a grocery store in the Heights. It was a way to show their love, they said. Cool water on a hot day.

Like the people in the Heights need cool water? How about showing some love where folks don't have air conditioning and might really be thirsty? Just saying.



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