Favorite

The Observer, Sept. 2, 2010 

The concert to raise awareness about the West Memphis 3 came on the eve of The Observer's child's 19th birthday.

That's not what we were thinking about when we went. We were thinking about those poor sons of bitches who were sent to prison based on testimony by a certified whackjob who claimed to be an expert in Satanism, feeding the jury crap about the coming full moon and its role in the devil killings.

Prior to the event, our only thought about our child was worry that our child might not forgive us for seeing Johnny Depp and Patti Smith live while she was otherwise engaged at college.

After the concert video — featuring Damien Echols speaking from prison and author Mara Leveritt talking about the case — we started thinking about our kid's life and those of the WM3. That those three teen-agers — Jessie Misskelley, Jason Baldwin and Echols — have been incarcerated for 17 years, nearly as long as she's been alive. That while she went to summer camp and the beach and abroad, realized a love of music of all kinds, read books and went to movies, met people, spent (too many) hours on a computer, filled an iPod, and went to college they turned from boys to men locked in cells smaller than her bedroom, one of them facing a death sentence.

The three little boys who were brutally killed that day in 1993 must be remembered. Have they gotten justice? Or were Misskelley, Baldwin and Echols themselves sacrificed, to a public that demanded swift action and retribution and were easy with blaming a kid named Damien who wore black T-shirts and his insignificant friends from insignificant families.

The Observer was struck by the passion with which the celebrities pleaded, to come on Arkansas, this happened here, learn about this case, do something. It was nearly impossible to believe that Eddie Vedder and Natalie Maines and Depp and Smith came to a stage at Robinson Auditorium to exhort Arkies to throw off their deadening familiarity with the case and, if they think the three should be free, do something.

The state Supreme Court has been provided the sworn affidavit of a prosecutor who reveals that the jury foreman provided information to his fellow jurors that had been inadmissible in court, about the confession by the feeble-minded Jessie Misskelley, a 16-year-old who had to be prompted to get the details right. A confession that had been recanted. Shortly, the court will decide whether that information and other forensic evidence should nullify the convictions. A hearing is set for Sept. 30.

As a postscript, it turns out the daughter wasn't too put out that her aged mother saw the incredibly sexy Depp (though some guys in the office don't see it) play guitar and swagger like Jack Sparrow and she didn't. But when she heard the old lady got to see Patti Smith, that was something different. Smith belted it out in that delicious low and sometimes furious voice, and controlled the stage. We know how old she is, because we saw her when we were young, and that was a long time ago. But she's defied age. Her lyrics, her voice — nothing about her is less powerful than it was 40 years ago. It was beautiful.

We will add one curmudgeonly complaint about Saturday night's show. Although the crowd brought an overwhelming sense of purpose and energy, they also brought something else: their phones.

We realize that seeing the likes of Depp, Maines, Vedder and Ben Harper share one stage is rare, but the glaring rectangle LCD screens hovered around the darkened theater like over-grown cancerous fireflies, distracting from the view. The smartphone screens seemed to entrance and hypnotize their owners as they stared directly at them the entire time, trying to get that perfect YouTube video.

Others were more concerned with sending out Tweets about the night's event or grabbing a perfect picture of themselves for their Facebook pages.

What's sad is that there really was something special happening on stage, a memory waiting to happen and something that's not likely to come to Little Rock again in the near future. The Observer wanted to tap the person sitting in front of us on the shoulder and say, "You know, you don't have to record this. It's going on right up there."

Favorite

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Arkansas Times Staff

  • Friday's headlines and your holiday open line

    What happened at the State Board of Education and what does it mean; Legislation filed for Hutchinson's government reorganization plan; Pediatric flu-related death in Arkansas reported; Suspect arrested in unsolved 2008 North Little Rock homicide.
    • Dec 21, 2018
  • New episode of Rock the Culture: "Juice In Your Own Life"

    In this week’s episode, Charles and Antwan provide perspective and conversation on the Little Rock Mayoral Election and State Board of Education’s consideration of the anticipated request to waive the Fair Teacher Dismissal Act. In addition, Charles and Antwan discuss all things happening in the Little Rock School District with Superintendent Michael Poore.
    • Dec 11, 2018
  • End of the week headlines and your open line

    Alderman candidate misses chance to cast deciding vote for himself in runoff election; Dem-Gaz to phase out print delivery in El Dorado, Camden and Magnolia; Rapert threatens UA Fort Smith over 'Drag Queen Story Time' event; The Van seeks to raise $35,000 in three weeks for new warehouse facility in South Little Rock.
    • Dec 7, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • 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
  • The job

    The Observer and Mr. Photographer were headed across town on our way to another press conference the other day when we got to talking about The Job. Newspaperin'.
    • Mar 15, 2018

Latest in The Observer

  • Phoenix

    If you're reading a paper copy of this esteemed publication right now, you're holding something special in your hands: the last weekly print edition of the Arkansas Times, the end of an unbroken chain that goes back and back, week by week, every week, to May 1992, when the Times became what the hep cats call an "alternative newsweekly."
    • Dec 20, 2018
  • Ramblin' Jack

    The Observer, like a lot of folks, is drawn to the real places: barbecue joints and honky-tonks, seedy truck stops and greasy little diners where the waitresses and clerks still call you "Hun," used bookstores that have been there since Faulkner was still drinking mint juleps, bait shops hung with dusty-eyed bass pulled up from the deep when Eisenhower was in the White House.
    • Dec 13, 2018
  • Phillips

    After many years of faithful service, it seems as if the transmission in Black Phillip — our trusty 2006 Honda CRV — is in the process of giving up the ghost.
    • Dec 6, 2018
  • More »

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2019 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation