Favorite

The Observer Aug. 11 

Standing on the corner of Second and LaHarpe the other day, waiting for the red hand to turn into the little man so we could walk, The Observer saw a junk trailer go by. They’re pretty common down in these parts, what with our proximity to Sol Alman’s scrap metal business on East Ninth Street. The trailer, tugged along by a wheezing old pickup, looked like it didn’t have many more miles before its own meeting with the pile at Sol’s. It was weighted down with enough junk to keep a bad sculptor busy for weeks: hot water heaters, bike frames, what looked like the nose cone from a jet. What caught The Observer’s eye, however, was at the top of the heap: an old typewriter. It was one of the good ’uns: huge, sturdy, with keys that looked as big as half-dollars (albeit some of them missing), its sheet-steel body painted hearse black. Inside, we knew, was the deliciously complicated gadgetry that we used to love to watch work as a kid, the letter blocks wonking up and down, somehow managing to strike next to the place of the one before. Though The Observer is a member of the generation that mostly saw the manual typewriter as an antique instead of an option, being po’ as a youngster made sure we started writing on a model close to the one borne to glory on that trailer: a Smith-Corona, with its own black travel case. A word processor soon followed, and another, all the way down to this one we’re tapping at now. But our first love will always be that old Smithy. When you opened the case, we remember, it smelled like paper and ink, maybe sweat — maybe whiskey, elephants walking in tall grass, jet fuel, blood, fresh sheets, dust, and drying paint. Maybe arsenic and old lace. It smelled, we remember, like poetry. It was an old chest of drawers, rather than a typewriter, that sent The Observer on a wild goose chase to antique stores over the weekend. Our pursuit of a chest (no snickers please) took us over to Brinkley, where the once antique but now restored to contemporary life woodpecker has taken over. We couldn’t find what we wanted in the Main Street antique stores and flea markets so we decided to abandon both our hunt and the blistering heat and head to Gene’s Barbecue. Temperatures have not returned to normal when it comes to the town’s love affair with the ivory-billed woodpecker. The waitress at Gene’s said the latest interest is in getting a picture of the bird. The million dollar picture is what they all call it. The Observer decided it was about as likely as finding a chest of drawers we liked, getting that a million dollar picture, so we headed to the Highway 17 bridge, the entry to the ivory-bill “hot spot,” the area of the most sightings in the past couple of years, with a camera. We sat and waited on the bank. Zillions of yellow butterflies flew up out of the weeds, but no ivory-bill. At the Dagmar Wildlife Management Area our luck took a turn for the better, in the form of a wildlife officer for Game and Fish who offered us a bottle of cold water. Our hero. He started talking about the bird without even saying its name, said he figures he’s seen it before without really knowing it. Said there were kayakers on the Robe Bayou that day, looking for the bird. We laughed in that knowing, superior way of woodsmen and women about kayaking in a slough in 100 degree heat, about finding the bird, and about the million dollar picture. And then, almost in the same moment, he held up his camera and we held up ours. Doesn’t hurt to be prepared. Our West Little Rock correspondent tells The Observer that she’s watched with interest as the lighted American flags in front of Jennings Osborne’s houses on Cantrell Road have changed since the invasion of Iraq began. For those who don’t pass that way often, two huge American flags done in lights make up Osborne’s current light display. One of the flags has the image of an eagle flying over it. The other flag has the words “God Bless America and George W.” over it. At times a few stripes on the flags have gone out for a week or so, and then been replaced. Lately, our correspondent notes, the lights on the “eagle” flag are all working, but every star and most of the stripes (all except four) on the “George W.” flag have gone out. She sees a parallel in how the American people feel about this war — they support the troops, but the war is losing its luster. Draw your own conclusions.
Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Sunday and another open line

    Got anything for the open line?
    • Jul 23, 2017
  • But what about the Clintons? Last refuge of Trump, New York Times

    Trying to compare Donald Trump's reaction to the Russia investigation with Bill Clinton's dealings with Kenneth Starr should be a non-starter if the facts mattered. But these days — and to the New York Times — it ain't necessarily so.
    • Jul 23, 2017
  • Football is king, Bentonville edition

    Good analysis in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette of an unannounced Bentonville School Board vote last week to put $2 million into a football stadium for West High School despite board assurances in last May's tax election that no money would go to a football stadium.
    • Jul 23, 2017
  • More »

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
  • Show and tell

    The Observer is an advocate of the A+ method of integrating the arts and using creativity to teach across the curriculum, an approach that the Thea Foundation, with help from the Windgate Charitable Foundation, is offering to schools across the state.
    • Feb 25, 2016
  • Yawp

    The Observer has been in a funk lately for a number of reasons: revulsions and slights, both foreign and domestic. We get that way most years as the winter drags on, once the tinsel and colored lights of Christmas drop into the rearview, soon after we come off the New Year's Day hangover.
    • Mar 24, 2016

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in The Observer

  • Dumb and smart, at the same time

    The Observer spent the week at a bar and thought a lot about a joke and its writer.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • -30-

    A newspaper died up in Atkins a few weeks back, not with a bang or a whimper, but with the sound of change jingling in a pocket, just too little of it to keep the printing presses rolling.
    • Jul 13, 2017
  • Does she know?

    Did Kim Walker-Smith, when recording "Throne Room" for her new record "On My Side," truly understand the power of her music? Does she now know that her song was the one that played on the radio as Michael Reed thumped into the Ten Commandments monument on the state Capitol grounds and brought it on down?
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

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

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation