Happy days are here again.

They didn’t play that old tune Saturday at the State Capitol — Fleetwood Mac and old soul standards were more the order of the afternoon. But a crowd estimated from 1,000 to 3,000 was in a New Deal mood before, during and after a Democratic Party rally featuring Illinois U.S. Sen. Barack Obama.

All of the Democratic candidates for statewide office got a moment before the microphone, but the crowd came for Obama, who gave a smooth but down-to-earth talk. He worked in at least one “y’all,” despite his Midwestern roots, and plugged Mike Beebe so enthusiastically you’d almost have thought he knew him.

He made a reference to the Little Rock Nine and quoted Martin Luther King in Selma, popular notes in a crowd that included many African-Americans, the Democratic Party base the rally was supposed to inspire. But Obama’s admirers came in all colors and avidly sought Obama shirts and campaign buttons. A good portion of the crowd departed when Obama’s remarks concluded, though gubernatorial candidate Mike Beebe still had closing remarks.

Democrats sense a tidal wave of victories in Arkansas this fall. Party chair Jason Willett, in rousing the faithful, spoke of “kicking butt” and being tired of Republican “b.s.” In the same breath, he promised the Beebes would return “class” to the Governor’s Mansion, no longer to be overseen by a woman he referred to as the skydiving “Jethrine.” Well, maybe the Beebes will at least be classier than Willett.

The Observer had intended to join a Razorback tailgate party at War Memorial, but found Obama too compelling to abandon. Good choice. The memory will linger over a Louisiana-Monroe conquest.

“The arc of the moral universe is long,” said Obama, quoting King, “but it bends toward justice.” For this crowd, the arc didn’t seem so long at all. Nov. 7 sounds about right.

As it happens, that parking around War Memorial Stadium was mostly a seller’s market. With the stadium raising its general parking fee to $20 (not to mention selling about 300 reserved tailgating spots on the golf course at $120 a pop for the two games here), folks with available space in their yards and driveways near the stadium were also asking for $20. We remember when the Subway (nee the Black Angus) started asking for $20 a few years back and we thought that was a bit much; we were scared to look Saturday at what they were asking.

Two weeks earlier, for the UAPB-Grambling game, the same folks with lots and driveways were charging $5 for a spot a few blocks away or $10 across from the stadium. (That game drew more than 30,000 people. Arkansas’s game pulled in 54,000 folks. With public transportation nearly non-existent, profitable parking gigs are guaranteed.)

We were invited to a tailgate party not at the stadium, but at a house near it on one of the north-south streets leading down to the venue. Just about anybody from Kavanaugh on down to Markham who could was charging something for parking. Nearly every free spot on a street without a game-day tow-away sign was taken — early. But, as luck would have it, we found a back street near all the action where there weren’t any tow-away signs or no-parking signs, and we slid right in to the one open spot for the duration. “Where is it?” you may ask. Are you kidding? We’re guarding that secret like war plans.

Speaking of war. As we drove east on Interstate 630 the evening of the game, we glanced to our left at War Memorial Golf Course. There, in the dark, the No. 5 green looked like a bivouac. Vehicles were lined up in rows all over the hole, all facing west. They were cornered; they looked as if they could never hope to get out. Smoke was rising from one of the cars; one soldier must have been up late writing home to his sweetheart.

That takes devotion to a cause, yes it does, to put your car in a place that guarantees you’ll be spending the night trying to find a way home. We didn’t know how different we were from the porcine pack until we saw those cars in that place. Never, never, never will we fight that good fight.


Sign up for the Daily Update email


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

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
  • The Grand Old Flag

    The Observer, like nearly everyone else with access to an internet connection, routinely sees our personal lighthouse battered by Hurricane Outrage, which — on a planet where billions of people struggle to find water and a crumb of daily bread — seems more like a tempest in a teapot inside a series of other, progressively larger teapots the longer we weather it.
    • Sep 1, 2016
  • 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

Latest in The Observer

  • 'Isle of Dogs'

    The Observer is a big fan of the director Wes Anderson, so there was around zero-point-zero chance of our missing his new flick "Isle of Dogs" the weekend it opened.
    • Apr 19, 2018
  • Home place

    Even though it up and sleeted April 7, a sight so odd that even Junior looked up from his phone for a second, this time of year gets The Observer thinking about the old home place out Congo way, that big white house with the red roof that dear Pa and Ma rebuilt from a leaning cracker box with their own hands.
    • Apr 12, 2018
  • Mansplainin'

    The Observer has always been partial to strong women. Strong people in general, of course, but strong women in particular.
    • Apr 5, 2018
  • More »

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: A Q&A with Hanna Al-Jibouri

    • So proud of you, Hanna, and the life- changing work you are doing for precious…

    • on April 19, 2018
  • Re: Kids leading

    • It's a shame that US still allows corporal punishments in school, it's an unacceptable act,…

    • on April 19, 2018
  • Re: Kids leading

    • Paddling in school is disgusting and it's a shame that US still allows that practice,…

    • on April 19, 2018

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