BIG STICK: Rollie Remmel sends a custom walking stick to Jermain Taylor.
It is not just mad dogs and Englishmen who go out in the midday sun. Arkansans do it too, for Jermain Taylor.
The Observer was one of them, and it takes a lot to get The Observer to stand out in the late-July sun of Little Rock at noon, believe you him. The occasion was a parade through downtown Little Rock honoring the new undisputed middleweight champion of the world. People lined the parade route, from the Capitol to the River Market, the smart ones stationing themselves under awnings.
The crowd was the sort you sometimes see during Riverfest, and at few other times in Little Rock. That is, thoroughly mixed by race and walk of life, with an occasional familiar face standing out. Near where The Observer was standing on President Clinton Avenue, people called to and shook hands with Steve Sullivan, the KATV sports guy, as he strode by. At the amphitheater, Skip Rutherford, who has become a sort of unofficial mayor of the River Market area, looked on with a seemingly proprietary interest.
Entrepreneurs worked the crowd, selling posters and “ice cold [bottled] water.” Some people wore T-shirts with appropriate slogans, like “Bad Intentions,” Taylor’s nickname. One couple had matching T’s:
Despite the heat, when Jermain rode by in a convertible, he was wearing a jacket, shaking his fist in the air, pointing out people in the crowd. The expected roar went up.
At the amphitheater, the talking started, and for awhile, it appeared it wouldn’t stop. There were too many people with speaking parts, and one after another of them said “I know it’s hot out there,” and then plunged ahead with remarks longer than appropriate for the circumstances. Bless her heart, the First Lady was probably the worst offender. While she was going on and on about what a wonderful person Jermain Taylor was and what a wonderful friendship they shared and how he’d be on stage himself shortly, people around The Observer were muttering “Ya’ll shut up and let him come on,” and “I’ve had enough.”
Finally Taylor did come on, to chants of “J.T., J.T.” He thanked a whole lot of people by name, and some of the crowd began drifting away at that point, before he thanked the people of Little Rock and Arkansas — for their support before and during the big fight, for coming out today for his parade. When he said he loved Little Rock, he sounded sincere. Let us sincerely hope so. Little Rock certainly loves him.
An item in The Observer’s June 2 column mentioned the Promise Keepers, a Christian men’s group that advises guys on how to be good husbands and fathers. It prompted a note from a friend of ours: “I know a fellow who took his mistress to D.C. for a big Promise Keepers gathering.”
Well, if he’d promised to take her …