The Observer set off for our first film in the Little Rock Film Festival on Friday afternoon at Riverdale 10, feeling pretty erudite and cool with that pass hanging around our neck. As it turned out, we were in a mob of the cool, standing in two lines stretching into the theater’s parking lot waiting to get in. Now we know people here like film, enough to stand in a line on hot asphalt just about the time, on other Fridays, they’d be unwinding with their first Cosmopolitan somewhere.

We were there for “Killer of Sheep,” a 1977 black-and-white film about hopelessness in the Watts neighborhood in L.A., whose screening here was one of the first it’s had. In it, the kids hang out in dusty lots and throw rocks and fight and boys and girls square off. The grown-ups hang out, fight, the men and women square off, and, in the case of the hero, herd sheep into slaughterhouse chutes from which they cannot escape. It’s a grim little student film shot angularly a la “Citizen Kane” with amateurs and music from Paul Roberson, William Grant Still, George Gershwin, Dinah Washington and Rachmaninoff to drive its points home. It made us wonder, how much has changed?

As it happened, that was the subject the following morning, when The Observer and colleague caught up with some of the Little Rock Nine at the NAACP convention. They were in town for the release of the commemorative coin that honors them for standing up to the ugly face of racism — on adults and teen-agers and teachers cowed by the vocal segs — that they found at Central High 50 years ago. Only their bobby-socked feet and legs show on the coin; theirs and the legs of a federalized National Guardsman, his weapon at his side.

The colleague, who graduated from Hall High three years ago, met Gloria Ray Karlmark, who, like most of the Nine, did not return to Arkansas after high school but became a patent lawyer in Europe. He was a little awestruck at meeting one of the Nine but not speechless, and so he answered her questions about the lingering racism she was hearing about at Central High, and the segregation in advanced classes. He told her about peer pressure not to take advanced classes, about the stigma of being a “nerd.” (He was a nerd, he told her. “I was too,” she said.)

Karlmark sat in real disbelief. “Why?” she asked, over and over again. People threw rocks at her 50 years ago. She expected more from today.

How many mimes are enough, The Observer has been asking ourselves, an inquiry prompted by our discovery on Saturday morning that two mimes are now working the Farmers Market. This seems quite a lot for a venue this size in a town like Little Rock, hardly the mime capital of the world. But The Observer remembers a few years back, when brigades of belly-dancers writhed at every public event in Central Arkansas. Perhaps mummery is the new belly-dancing.

Of the competitors in the mime game, the one with the longest tenure is a Michael Jackson look-alike who sets up near the western end of the market. Lately, another silent artiste has been doing his robotic moves at the eastern end.

We’d expect that the second mime has reduced the income of the first, two now splitting what used to belong to one. The Observer imagines one of them pursuing the other, both in slow motion, through the produce. Mime after mime, as it were. We thought of asking one or both “How’s business?” but decided that would be inappropriate.

Some commercial enterprises — restaurants, car dealerships — are said to prosper by having competitors nearby, the idea being that the proximate establishments draw more potential customers to the area than would come there otherwise. Mimes might be like that too.

A third mime, or a fourth, would seriously exceed demand, we expect. But the patrons of the Farmers Market need to keep at least one of the mimes in business. A mime adds flavor to the Market, just as the occasional musicians do. And whatever happened to the dog-adoption people? We always enjoyed seeing the pooches, always dropped a contribution into the box. We wouldn’t even object to a belly-dancer, as long as it wasn’t too early in the morning.



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

More by Arkansas Times Staff

Readers also liked…

  • Every secret thing

    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.
    • Mar 10, 2015
  • Live long and prosper

    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.
    • Mar 3, 2015
  • Casting out demons: why Justin Harris got rid of kids he applied pressure to adopt

    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.
    • Mar 12, 2015

Most Shared

Latest in The Observer

  • Playing catch-up

    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.
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • Old Gray Lady rides again

    There was a reunion of Arkansas Gazette employees last Saturday night, nearly 25 years to the day it was shut down.
    • Oct 6, 2016
  • Thrifty

    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.
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Logoly State Park dedicates new visitors center

Logoly State Park dedicates new visitors center

Arkansas’s first environmental education state park interprets the importance of the natural world and our place within it.

Event Calendar

« »


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


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