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The Observer, Nov. 4 

Those radical pinko ladies that Tim Griffin is so afraid of — you know, those crazies who support such wild ideas as "peace" and "nuclear disarmament" —held their own Rally to Restore Sanity in MacArthur Park on Saturday, where they foisted their radical pinko ideas off on the public. After a band played the "Internationale" of the WAND ilk — "Teach Your Children Well" — member Anncha Briggs read a bit of a book aloud in Swedish. She suggested that we learn one another's language — figuratively — for better understanding and more reasoned discourse. The folks there, whom Griffin would have you believe are terrorists thinly veiled as families and their dogs, smiled. A fiddler — whose earlier band did a rendition of that lefty goon tune "If I Had a Hammer" — also took the microphone to plead for the courteous communication of ideas. Freedom lovers, it was one scary event. It was also sparsely attended, to Griffin's relief, one imagines. Here's how it works: If you are mad as hell and you're not going to take it anymore — "it" being the tax cut you just got under Obama and the health care your children need — you're gonna be loud about it. If Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young are your messengers, you're not. Hence the problem the country faces now. Hotheads sell, and will rule.

The sustainable types are not doing much better than the peace crowd. The Observer dropped into the Mayor's Summit on Sustainability at the Robinson Center last week, where a "crowd" of about 35 people were scattered about a huge room set with big round tables (for rational discussion, probably), and roughly half were city employees or speakers. Four booths were set up — one by a newspaper, one an informative panel, one by Central Arkansas Water (touting biodegradable plastic glasses, a good thing but tenuously connected to the mission of CAW), and some folks selling insurance (?). The mayor soldiered on for half an hour, gamely addressing the tiny gathering as if it were hundreds strong, talking about new sidewalks and the idea for a new bike trail (through "Dillard's Gap," as he called it) and energy-saving light bulbs and such (defending cap and trade anti-pollution strategy along the way; good for him). We left after his welcoming talk, and were assured by the folks at the registration table that things were going to heat up later in the day. The Observer certainly hopes they did, though Tim Griffin et al probably think it's subversive to be green.


Desperate for a little pusholine, The Observer wheeled into the EZ Mart near Stifft Station one morning this week on our way to work. After filling up the mobile observation platform, we sauntered inside. Convenience stores, with their aisles of the most useless junk imaginable, are our weakness. Browsing the racks, we saw it: the Dime Cake rack.

The Observer wasn't always The Observer. Back ages ago, during the summers in high school and part-time through college, we worked as a roofer on a crew run by our father. He has been gone almost 10 years now. The Observer still dreams about him on a regular basis — we find ourselves chatting with him in some sunny place. At the moment we remember that he is dead and think to ask him about it, we always wake up.

The Dime Cake and pint of chocolate milk was Pa Observer's every-morning ritual, whether he could afford it or not. He'd stop, buy everybody a milk and a dime cake, and then we would stand around the hood of his clapped out truck in the coolness of the dawn and eat before heading to work. Dime Cakes aren't a dime anymore, of course, but that's what he called them so that's what we call them, even as the price of everything seems to creep ever upward to infinity.

What we wound up scoring at the EZ Mart that morning was his fave: a Suzy-Q — two slabs of chocolate cake, sandwiched over thick white filling — and a chocolate milk; the creamy, full-fat stuff that probably reduces your life by a few minutes.

Drinking and eating in our parked van on a side street, the flavor made the past come flooding back to us like the font of memories from Proust's madeleine.

The Observer thinks: How beautiful it was there in the morning sunshine. How simple and beautiful — the day before us, enjoying something sweet, with the unknowable future still to come.

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