Favorite

The Observer Dec. 22 

The Observer was inspecting the neighborhood Christmas door decorations on a stroll with the dog the other night and the Christmas scheme on the front door of our childhood trudged its way to the surface of the old gray matter.

Our mother’s idea of decorating for Christmas was to replace the lamp over our doorstep with a wicker birdcage stuffed full of those big lights on insulated cords that were in use in the middle of the 20th century. We’re not sure what the connection was between bird and Christmas in her mind, but it was tradition.

The birdcage is gone. The Jingle Elf is not. It survives to this day in Jennifer Reed’s family.

The Jingle Elf is a product of the 1970s, a clown-like Christmas decoration with arms and legs covered in burgundy and gold sequins threaded with little bells. His head, Reed says, was “vaguely creepy. I always loved him.”

But her little sister was embarrassed by the Jingle Elf and when Christmas came around, there were fights about whether to put him on the tree. Her sister began hiding the elf when Reed went off to college, hoping she’d forget all about it during Christmas vacation. Reed found him one year in the piano bench.

Jingle Elf survives, though he’s lost half his sequins and looks scrawny, she says. He still jingles, and he’s still vaguely creepy. “And every year he’s front and center on my parents’ tree. So I guess I won.”



Headline on a story filed by an Arkansas News Bureau reporter on Weyerhaeuser plant closings: “Paper cuts hurt Arkansas.”



Reuters reported over the weekend that British police are looking for three men who stole an 11-foot long bronze sculpture by Henry Moore from the front of the Henry Moore Foundation in Hertfordshire last Thursday. The story didn’t mention how much it weighed, but 11 feet of bronze, even hollow, doesn’t sound easy to pocket.

Which makes us wonder about “Standing Figure: Knife Edge,” Little Rock’s Henry Moore, which now stands in front of Union Plaza at Capitol and Louisiana. Is our 11-foot-tall bronze in danger of being snatched away and sold, as British police fear in their case, as scrap?

The stolen Moore, “A Reclining Figure,” is worth an estimated $5.3 million — as a piece of art. As scrap bronze, it would be worth less, but easier to sell. Little Rock’s Moore, owned by the Metrocentre Improvement District, is valued at around $2 million.

We would expect Sol Alman not to turn a blind eye to someone trying to peddle a rather unwieldy piece of bronze in the form of an armless, headless goddess, melted down or no.

An art critic once described “Standing Figure” as “robust, earthy, dynamic, morphological, monumental, abrasive, heroic.” Let us hope it is too robust for someone to try to pinch.



Outside of the Times’ own Christmas party, we rarely hear live music at a Christmas party. Usually somebody might be spinning records of tried-and-true holiday songs, such as Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”

But the Observer wandered into a Christmas party last weekend and a jam session broke out, at Jerry and Didi Sallings’ South Little Rock home. Jerry is the brother of blues guitar great Mark Sallings and plays a mean, funky guitar as well. So does sister Joan, who was there with a well-preserved 1976 Fender Telecaster in hand. Brett Qualls, a public defender in Little Rock, brought along his keyboard. Lawyer Greg Jones pounded away at the drums. There was a sax player as well. The Christmas tree topper: John Davies, the bassist of the Cate Brothers.

The music went well past midnight. The Observer, rumored to have played some keyboards and guitar in bands some many years back, was invited to jam as well, and ended up having quite a time. Standard, classic three-chord blues tunes and funk tunes kept the crowd going. Impromptu blues singers took the mic. Occasionally the band settled into a ballad for some of the couples to get close.

The Sallingses’ teen-age daughter complained about the song selection. “Don’t you know something maybe from my era?” she asked the musicians. Somebody else hollered for some Dave Matthews. The jam band members just looked at each other with quizzical looks. The Allman Brothers were about as “new” as this crowd was going to get from us.




Favorite

Sign up for the Daily Update email

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • We have met the enemy: The open line

    The open line with a dose of Trump and other unhappy news.
    • Jul 15, 2018
  • Welcome to the United States, children

    Recommended reading: The New York Times' report on the conditions for the hundreds of children being held in detention since they arrived at U.S. borders seeking asylum. There are many rules and they included no touching of other children, not even a hug for a little brother or sister.
    • Jul 15, 2018
  • Bills arrive for petition campaigns, including term limits

    Filings are expected next week on the campaigns to put a minimum wage increase and casino gambling expansion on the November ballot. One other campaign reported financial information last week
    • Jul 15, 2018
  • More »

More by Arkansas Times Staff

Readers also liked…

  • The sweet hereafter

    This week, the Arkansas Times falls back on that oldest of old chestnuts: a recipe issue. Being who we are, of course, we had to put a twist on that; namely, the fact that most of the recipes you'll find in these pages are courtesy of people who have shuffled off to that great kitchen in the sky, where the Good Lord is always whipping up new things in his toque and apron, running the great mixers of genetics and time, maybe presenting the batter-dipped beaters and bowls to Jesus for a lick down.
    • Dec 8, 2016
  • On Walmart and state money

    No they don't need state help. Any conservative legislator who is true to their tea party principles will crow on about crony capitalism. I look forward to deafening silence.
    • Sep 21, 2017
  • On shitholes

    The Observer is at home today in our kitty cat socks, weathering a combination sick day and snow day. Way down in Stifft Station, we live at the top of a hill that slopes away in all directions. That's good in a flood, but piss poor other than for sledding during snow and ice, especially when you only have access to a two-wheel drive car.
    • Jan 18, 2018

Latest in The Observer

  • Cathode ode

    There's been an addition to the Observatory lately, one that's so old, it's new again to us — broadcast television.
    • Jul 12, 2018
  • After midnight

    For the past two years, The Observer has lain awake in bed at least one or two nights a week and wondered if I have failed to prepare my son, as my father prepared me, for what could reasonably be coming in this terrible new age.
    • Jul 5, 2018
  • Control

    The Observer is ancient enough to remember when there was some semblance of civility in politics — when you could talk about a subject in mixed company without devolving into tribalism, each member eventually backing away slowly with their respective knives unsheathed and at the ready, each resolving to let the other stay mired in his or her stupidity.
    • Jun 28, 2018
  • More »

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Paris pleads guilty

    • Twila Paris and family need to stop speaking out of both sides of their mouths…

    • on July 15, 2018
  • Re: Paris pleads guilty

    • Twila Paris and her family need to stop speaking out of both sides of their…

    • on July 15, 2018
  • Re: MAGA

    • The trade war started after NAFTA and the WTO were signed by Bill Clinton and…

    • on July 14, 2018
 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation