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The Observer, July 30

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The Observer was at Downtown Deli the other day, preparing to enjoy a chicken Caesar wrap, when we witnessed one of those moments that serves to refill the tank — perpetually on the razor edge of bone dry — that holds our meager reserve of faith in human kindness. Ahead of us in line was a fella with a hurt foot, hobbling along on crutches. He got his food from the counter, then maneuvered his way shakily, painfully, to the drink line. He put his food down, got his drink, and then stared at the tray, as if knowing there was no way he was going to get his salad and soda to a table without something getting spilt. Behind him was another man. The guy stood there, watching for a moment. Then he said: “Hey fella. I've been there. You need some help?” After a moment of thank yous, Guy No. 2 picked up Crutches' tray and followed him off to his table.

The Observer is rarely ashamed to be an observer, but we were that day. How easy would it have been for Yours Truly to step forward and do the same simple act of kindness for a fellow human being in need? 

The good news is: We owe you one, mankind. The next time we see someone in a pinch, we'll take care of it.  No questions asked. The Observer might not be rich, but we always pay our debts.

 

If there's one thing The Observer likes better than watching a good movie, it's helping make a movie — good, bad or ugly. We've worked on a few in the past couple of years, and though the process can be a bit tedious, we've found that we really, really dig it. At the level The Observer is working on, there are no assistants rushing out for lattes. We're talkin' low-buck cinema here; the kind of shoot where you get dinner if everybody pitches a dollar or two into the pot for pizza.

We're probably never gonna get wealthy making movies but we're dang sure gonna get happy. Weekend before last found The Observer and friends finding our bliss in a disused and un-air conditioned warehouse over off 12th street. In the middle of the floor was our hero, tied to a chair and menaced by thugs. The room was as hot as the hinges of Hell, with everybody sweating buckets.

We finished the shoot long after dark. The volunteer crew and our weary troupe of actors — heroes and villains all friends again — trudged off together to parts unknown. In the warehouse, Jeff, Gerry and The Observer shuffled the crates back to where we had found them, stowed our hero's chair of despair in the next room, rolled up our extension cords, then unplugged the lights, one by one. Slowly, our magical coach turned back into a plain old pumpkin.

The warehouse tidied and locked, we ended up in the alley behind the warehouse, next to the dumpsters. One friend produced a camera. The three of us clustered together, then he snapped a shot.

In the photo, we look like we've been soaked in pickle brine and liberally beaten with a phone book. The Observer's hair, in particular, looks like Muppet fur. But, we can assure you: there are smiles galore.

 

The Observer doesn't get to take too much time off from observing, but we do get the occasional break. Two weeks ago, we made the trip to Destin, Fla. (a.k.a. the Redneck Riviera). We go every year with our extended family, which is actually more fun than it sounds. We're Catholic, so there's no shortage of people to hang around (the final count this year was somewhere around 45). We learned early on that the most fun bunch to run with was the younger cousins. We all get along well and don't see each other much, so most of our nights were spent hanging out on the beach, catching up and telling tall tales, all while sipping on the occasional adult beverage.

All the revelry was nice, but we could have done without the hangovers. Plus, after sleeping off an all-nighter, there's not much time left for hanging out under the sun during the day. But in the end, who cares? We had a good time despite that one minor incident with the cops and we're already making even bigger plans for next summer.

The only problem is that once we got back to town, we realized we were absolutely wrecked from all the late nights and couldn't stand the thought of going to work the next day.

We need a vacation!

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