The Observer strolled down to the River Market the other day with the Cuban band CruzWay, a great bunch of folks who — under the guidance of their pater familias, Dr. Anibal Cruz II — made a daring, musical, slow-motion evacuation from that Communist island nation, staying over in Mexico for a few years before winding up shipwrecked here in Arkansas with the rest of us yokels. You can read all about them in a story in this issue, written by long-suffering Arkansas Times reporter David Koon, who is, pound for pound, one of the most handsome young men The Observer has ever met — voice like a bluebird, constitution of solid iron, and a hollow leg in which to pour his beer and whiskey.

But enough about The Observer's mancrush. We'd walked down to the River Market last week with the six members of CruzWay for a photo, Times photographer Brian Chilson and art director Kai Caddy running the show. We were standing at the corner heading into the River Market when the drummer for CruzWay, a very nice and talented young man named Alex Cruz, found a perfectly good dollar bill on the sidewalk.

This was a wholly unexpected development. The River Market might be the most trod stretch of real-estate in Little Rock if not the state, tromped at all times both by those who need a buck and those who don't but will take it if somebody is dumb enough to give it away. That's likely a big part of the reason that The Observer, who has been in the River Market daily for 12 years, hasn't found doodley blue-black squat there in the way of anything valuable unless you count assorted buttons, a belt from a very nice raincoat, a waterlogged copy of "Catcher in the Rye" and a bedazzled brassier with a broken shoulder strap. Here, though, was this whippersnapper finding OUR DOLLAR. Hhhmph!

The urge to wrassle it away from him staunched, the Washington pocketed and the walk sign lit, The Observer, Brian, Kai and La Familia Cruz crossed the street in a pack, Brian and Kai making little picture frames with their fingers, looking for a suitable place for a family portrait. They settled on a bench in the River Market, and as CruzWay arranged themselves, what was found in the leaves there next to the curb but ANOTHER wad of money — this one a waterlogged fold of $20 bills, $60 in all. And the drummer got that one too! The Observer proceeded to tell him that he should run, not walk, to buy a lottery ticket, because it was clearly his lucky day.

In closing: A belated welcome to Little Rock, Cruz family. A shoddy ambassador are we, but The Observer means well, and we know where to find the cheap booze. Thanks for the music (CruzWay is really, really good, by the way. Get out and see them sometime), for your commitment to keeping your family together, and for your already-generous contributions to this city that we love. May your instruments always be in tune, your voices never hoarse, and the streets of Little Rock always paved with 20 dollar bills. That said: Brother, can you spare a dime?

The Observer doesn't know about you, Dear Reader, but we don't understand why the daily newspaper replaces perfectly fine comic strips with lousy ones. The latest example: "Get Fuzzy" was shoved aside to make room for "Wumo." "Get Fuzzy," about a sweet dog and an evil cat (sorry to be redundant), could be tiresome with its word-play, but when the cat recently strapped on dead bat wings and tried to fly, it wasn't bad. "Wumo," on the other hand, finds humor in bathroom jokes.

Last week, the joke was that a Tyrannosaurus Rex, with its little front legs, couldn't reach the toilet paper. The Observer doesn't understand why people think references to the use of the toilet are de facto funny. Arkansas once had a governor with the same sense of humor, and it made The Observer's skin crawl.

It's the latest outrage. First, the daily got rid of "Apartment 3G." Offended by women in bras, we suppose. Then "Mary Worth" got the heave-ho. Though they've been gone for lo these many years now, The Observer is still hot about it. None of the women in "3G" nor "Mary Worth" was ever shown on the pot. Maybe that's what the funnies editor at the daily found missing. Meanwhile, the newspaper replaced Sunday's "Doonesbury" cartoon with an old one, ostensibly because a character in the Sunday strip used the word "puke," and that violated the "breakfast rule." The rejected strip, by the way, made fun of critics of the president by likening them to Southerners in 1861. You'd think the mention of puke, normally done in a bathroom, would have tickled the editor's funny bone no end.


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