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The Observer March 16

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Ahhh, Midtown Billiards. Closed it down Friday night. As in, was there until 5 a.m., when the big bouncer politely moved the crowd along the bar and out the door.

The Observer spent the next hour in the parking lot across the street, chatting with one good friend and two new ones. We were interrupted occasionally by panhandlers, some more threatening than others. One of them goes by the nickname “peace and love,” according to one of our new friends, who was familiar with the street life in the area, so we weren’t too worried when he came along.

But we actually have a point to make here. When the first light began to break and the birds literally began chirping, the Observer apprised our situation in that parking lot. We love Midtown and everything it stands for: its late-night energy, its diverse clientele, its cheeseburgers, its grittiness.

Maybe the smoke-filled air there is part of that grittiness, but the Observer had a 6 a.m. revelation that Midtown would be just as good — better, in fact — without it.

The Observer realized we had just spent four hours breathing in what had to be a toxic mix of chemicals. We’ve become accustomed to the wretched stench on our clothes and in our hair after a night at Midtown. That’s never really troubled us. But all of a sudden we pictured what we had done to our lungs, and it was ugly. Then we thought of the people who work there, spending many more hours in those conditions than we do.

Many of the Observer’s friends who frequent Midtown will be upset with him. Some are smokers. Even if they’re not, they will likely take issue with him purely on philosophical grounds (freedom!) or aesthetic arguments (that’s what makes Midtown Midtown).

And yes, the Observer is committing the cardinal sin of making a political statement about ... a bar. But dammit, we’re for the smoking ban. It just makes sense, and it would make for one less thing to regret in the morning.



We have certain circadian rhythms in our family. When it gets cold we cook stew. When it gets warm we clean up the grill and roast the first chicken of the season. Saturday lunch in the warm season (which seems to have opened Saturday) is often a time for chicken salad.

But what do we do now? For four decades or more, chicken salad for us meant Cordell’s chicken salad. The same for potato salad. For a change of pace, maybe we’d get some of their cold roast beef. But what do we do now that Cordell’s is gone?

I can roast the beef. You buy a top sirloin roast. You sprinkle it liberally with salt and pepper. You roast it slowly, not past the pink-in-the-middle-stage. You trim off some burnt edges for the cook. Then you put it in the refrigerator and wait until it reaches slicing temperature. But all this takes time. Lots of time. It can’t be done on the spur of the moment.

And the chicken salad and potato salad? Forget it. We’ve tried it every way, but we never can get it exactly right. And we can never get it instantly, as we could when Cordell’s was at the bottom of Cantrell Hill.

Why hasn’t somebody figured out a way to get hold of these recipes? What do people do for bereavement offerings now that Cordell’s is no more?

These are important questions. We have no answers. Only a long string of spring Saturdays with no chicken salad.



Headline on a British news article reporting skepticism on the ivory-billed woodpecker’s resurrection in the Big Woods: “Twitchers in a flap over elusive pecker.”



The Observer emerged from the doctor’s office the other day and could see across the parking lot that a yellow sticky note had been placed on the rear windshield of our car.

Now, these little notes could say anything. Like, “Sorry, scratched your car, call me …” or “Is there a reason you need two parking spaces?” or “I can tell from the white paint on my car that you sideswiped me, have taken your license plate down, contact me at …” So it was with some trepidation that we drew near.

“Like your stickers!” said the note, referring to what we consider to be piercingly witty expressions pasted on bumper and back window.

Nice to know we’re not alone, because sometimes we feel that way. So, thanks!










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