Columns » Max Brantley

Spring fever

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Maybe it’s the season. Or maybe it’s just that a mind is a terrible thing to lose. Whatever, deadline day finds me even more incoherent than usual. Some thoughts, good and bad, plucked from the spring air, in no particular order: Bill Shelton died Sunday at 85. He put me to work at the Arkansas Gazette in 1973. He out-Bogarted Bogart as the real-life version of the hard-bitten city editor in “Deadline USA.” He also had a sense of humor, most often exhibited outside work. But he’d occasionally break into “Am I Blue” in the newsroom. He loved art. He explained works by John Kenneth Galbraith and Jerzy Kosinski to me. (Don’t quiz me now.) He loved golf and a good martini. And, by God, you’d better not take the copy of the Sunday New York Times addressed to him. He was smiling when I saw him last a few days ago, back briefly in the sunny living room of his Hillcrest home, surrounded by Dixie Shelton’s watercolors. Thanks for everything, Bill. On our street, the honeysuckle blooms in early May. I welcome the humidity when this happens, because it seems to trap and intensify the perfume. Aromatique, where are you? Have the Arkansas strawberries ever been better? Maybe it’s the cool weather, which reportedly has bedeviled the row crop farmers. This year’s fruits not only taste like real strawberries they’re also sweet. I paid $5 for a quart of organic strawberries at Boulevard Bread last Saturday. I ate a few in the parking lot. They were so good I rushed back in and bought another quart. It was a bargain luxury, a lot of pleasure for five bucks. Speaking of cheap thrills: There are few better than the $5.50 lunch my wife and I split while waiting to have her car washed last Saturday at Best Car Wash on Bowman Road. Our meal came from Alicia’s Mexicana Luncheria, a van that sets up daily on a small patch of lawn next to the car wash. I suspect they cater to the Latino workers at the car wash, but all are welcome for the likes of quesadillas, tacos, tortas, guacamole and queso fundido. You’ll have to eat in your car, or on a car wash bench. No way can you wait until you get home. The huge $4 burrito, stuffed with beans, rice, lettuce, tomato, onion and, in our case, rich chunks of pork known as carnitas, is as good as it gets, with either the fresh green or red salsas, both fiery. Gov. Mike Huckabee’s new book reminds me of my own sure-fire weight-control plan, but I’ll give you mine free. Eat three well-balanced meals a day, long on vegetables, short on fat. Eat small portions. Avoid desserts. Eat a lot of fruit. Drink plenty of water. Don’t drink alcoholic beverages. Don’t keep candy or ice cream in the house. Walk 45 minutes to an hour six days a week. Take the stairs. Don’t starve yourself. Stick with the plan for at least a year. You’ll lose a lot of weight. You’ll feel great. Trust me. It’s worked for me — six or seven times, at least. The Bush administration has 44 months to run.

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