Favorite

The Observer 

The Observer got a raise this month, so we decided to splurge. We bought a purple shower curtain and new bathroom rugs. We acquired a “Happy Home” candle and a big black rug for the apartment. We treated ourselves to a pair of fuzzy leopard-print mules and candy apple-flavored lip gloss.

“You've got good taste,” commented the check-out lady at Family Dollar.

And now, a word from our readers:

Becky Ragsdale offers a solution to the ticketing and congestion in the River Market district mentioned so disparagingly in this column last week: Park in North Little Rock.

There, Ragsdale writes, free parking is abundant. She advises, “Ride the much beloved trolley over. Or better yet, walk over. We Argentans do this often and we take pride in our beautiful, safe downtown area.”

There's no denying that the River Market district has earned a reputation of being rowdy — and, lately, unsafe, after a couple of carjackings. Let's hope the carjackings were an anomaly the police will keep from being repeated.

But, historians point out, rowdiness isn't new to the district. It is, in fact, tradition.

Something there is about a row of buildings along the river that invites merriment and petty crime. In the middle part of the 1800s, when boats unloaded at the docks on Water Street, just behind where the River Market is now, the area teemed with travelers and day laborers and con artists and women of, as Historic Arkansas Museum director Bill Worthen put it, “questionable virtue.” Businesses sprang up to serve the ruffians and workers, providing refreshments both liquid and, at the Ocean Wave saloon, of the flesh. Too much of the former and otherwise high spirits gave streets in the area nicknames — the block of Water Street fronting the docks was known as Battle Row and the alley between it Fighting Alley. The whole neighborhood was called, as so many places of tumult are, Hell's Half Acre. It's all written down, in Margaret Ross' records at the University of Arkansas, in a box labeled Little Rock Vice Index. Also in the box: Lewd Women A-Z. In one sense, the naughties have nothing on the nineteenth.

With the River Market and restaurants, food has replaced sex along Elm Street alley. A tiny bit of the cobbled street remains. It's behind Rumba — a name aptly, if inadvertently, reflecting the liveliness of the land the business stands on.

It's a little on the rough side south of the River Market as well, where last Friday night The Observer became the Observed. We were walking by the Albert Pike Residence Hotel, whistling and minding our own business, when we saw a car stopped at the intersection of Seventh and Scott streets. About 20 paces later, we heard the car door open and the sound of running footsteps, whereupon we looked over our shoulder to find an oversized youth hurtling toward us. We tried to move on at our normal pace, but the youth wasn't stopping. Nor did he stop until he had thrown a punch at The Observer, who ducked the blow and caught only a light glance on the right bicep and a strong whiff of body odor. The Observer stared at the youth, who backed off and muttered the phrase “You little bitch” several times, almost inaudibly. Then The Observer became The Observer again — we observed the slavering twerp flee back to the car.

Although The Observer has entertained fantasies of kicking the living shit out of thugs who attempt to assail us, we haven't been very good at carrying them out. This time we decided that the dark, abandoned street and the apparent presence of several of the youth's friends in the car did not put the fight in our favor. We did try to find out what the big idea was, but to no avail — our calls of “What do you want?” and “What is this all about?” went unanswered. The car sped away with the attacker in tow, leaving The Observer to puzzle over the motivation behind the pseudo-assault. Bias toward whistlers? Displeasure at The Observer's appearance? Youthful dare? Rite of initiation? Unorthodox sexual advance? It's a wild city out there, folks. Watch your backs.

Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Arkansas Times Staff

Readers also liked…

  • I'm sorry

    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.
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • Addendum

    he Observer has our regrets, just like everybody else. For example: last week, Yours Truly published a cover story on the increasingly ugly fight over Eureka Springs' Ordinance 2223, which is designed to protect a bunch of groups — including LGBTQ people — from discrimination in housing, employment, accommodations, cake buying, browsing, drinking, gut stuffery, knickknack purchasing, general cavorting, funny postcard mailing and all the other stuff one tends to get up to in the weirdest, friendliest, most magical little town in the Ozarks.
    • Apr 30, 2015
  • Snake stories

    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."
    • Aug 27, 2015

Most Shared

  • Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist resigns

    Bob Scoggin, 50, the Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist whose job it was to review the work of agencies, including DAH and the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, for possible impacts on historic properties, resigned from the agency on Monday. Multiple sources say Scoggin, whom they describe as an "exemplary" employee who the week before had completed an archeological project on DAH property, was told he would be fired if he did not resign.
  • Lessons from Standing Rock

    A Fayetteville resident joins the 'water protectors' allied against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
  • Child welfare too often about 'punishing parents,' DCFS consultant tells legislators

    Reforms promised by the Division of Children and Family Services are "absolutely necessary," the president of DCFS's independent consultant told a legislative committee this morning. But they still may not be enough to control the state's alarming growth in foster care cases.
  • Donald Trump taps Tom Price for HHS Secretary; Medicaid and Medicare cuts could be next

    The selection of Tom Price as HHS secretary could signal that the Trump administration will dismantle the current healthcare safety net, both Medicaid and Medicare.
  • Fake economics

    Fake news is a new phenomenon in the world of politics and policy, but hokey economic scholarship has been around as long as Form 1040 and is about as reliable as the news hoaxes that enlivened the presidential campaign.

Latest in The Observer

  • Writers blocked

    OK, back to basics, Observer. Get hold of yourself. Give the people what they want, which is escapism! If you don't, this column is eventually just going to devolve into The Prophecies of Hickstradamus at some point in the next four years: "The Orange Vulture perches in the fig tree. The great snake eats Moonpies and Royal Crown Cola by starlight ..." That kind of thing. Nobody likes that. Too much deciphering and such.
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • Cassandra

    The Observer's grandfather on our mother's side was a crackerjack fella. Grew up in the sandy hills north of Conway. County boy, through and through. During hog-killing time in December 1941, the story in our family goes, when word of Pearl Harbor reached his little community, he and his friends loaded into his T-model truck and made the rough journey to the first speck of civilization that included an Army recruiting office, where they all enlisted.
    • Nov 24, 2016
  • I'm sorry

    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.
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Central Arkansas venues have a full week of commemorative events planned

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Vive la resistance!

    • Isn't Asa Hutchinson up for re-election 2018?????? Maybe Donald will offer Asa a job in…

    • on December 4, 2016
  • Re: Lessons from Standing Rock

    • How I Was Rescued From Debt And a collapsing Business By Edward Jones.. {jonesloanfinance@yahoo.com}.. Good…

    • on December 3, 2016
  • Re: Ruth Coker Burks, the cemetery angel

    • Thank you, Ruth! Thank you.

    • on December 2, 2016
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation