The Observer was headed into the Pulaski County courthouse the other day to pick up some paperwork when we got in line behind a young man at the metal detectors. It was a slow Monday after the holiday, and the guard at the desk — as he does with most everybody — asked the young feller to empty his pockets. He complied, and The Observer, always a nosy cuss, noticed that the only thing he seemingly had on his person was a new bar of soap and a boxed toothbrush. After the guy went through the detector and it beeped, the rather sleepy looking guard ran his metal-detecting wand over him. When the guard got to the guy's left jacket pocket, the wand gave a high-pitched whine. The guard's eyes darkened into a scowl, and he commanded the guy to empty the pocket. Slowly, the guy pulled out a knit cap with a noticeable bulge in it. “What you got in there?” the guard asked, the crease in his brow deepening to a furrow. With visions of a shootout and a brief, terrifying career as a hostage/human shield dancing in our head, The Observer suddenly got very observant of the possible exit routes. Young feller dipped his hand into the hat and came out with… a scented candle in a glass jar, the kind Granny Observer burns at Christmas to keep the house smelling nice. Crisis averted, the guard waved him on through.
Look, dude: It's OK. Don't hide who you are. You want your house to smell like warm cranberries with a hint of allspice, that's your business. It's the holidays. Go nuts.
The Observer wonders: Do they call it Black Friday because that's the day the retailers finally make a profit, or because of all the widows and orphans created by lunatics rushing around at 4 a.m., wired to the gills on coffee and adrenaline, trying to save $18 bucks on a microwave oven? We're thinking the latter.
The Observer and a native Arkansan visiting her former home over the Thanksgiving holidays burned off a few calories during the holiday's gorgeous blue-sky days with a walk along the River Trail in Little Rock and North Little Rock.
This trail, which makes it possible to stroll for hours under ancient cottonwoods, through riverside parks, up and over the Arkansas on walking bridges, lends the twin cities an identity sorely needed. We're the town with the bike trail. We're the town where you can skywalk across the river. We're the town where you can hoof it or pedal for miles and miles unmolested by cars, rewarded by views of the wide river and the bluffs on either side.
Once we were the place where the governor ringed the high school with troops to keep the black kids out. We'll always be that. But now we're also the place with the River Trail, our River Trail, used by all.
But exiting the Junction Bridge on the Little Rock side, we found ourselves having to explain to the visiting Arkie the unfinished and big muddy mess the city has left behind in its delayed project to turn the “little rock” into a park tourist attraction.
Excavation — around and under the walkway to the bridge — halted several months ago when city crews were diverted to build the sculpture garden in back of the Peabody Hotel in Riverfront Park. Perhaps the city lost heart when not even a soupcon of the petite roche could be found to remain on the river bank, no matter how deep workers dug. The project was promised to bring in the tourists to see our famous sandstone protuberance. They'll see one, soon as the city hauls in a chunk.
Meanwhile, city workers completed the sculpture garden. The less said about the works therein, perhaps, the better, except for this: If you're about 10 inches tall, the scale will be right.
More art downtown: In The Observer's ongoing quest for happenings of note, we came across the following communique from the ever present Graffitadors, scrawled on the wall of an alley just above a stenciled One Way sign: “I hear voices.”
You hear voices one way, we hear them another. Potato, Potahto.