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The Observer, March 25

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The Observer doesn't get out of the office much, so we seized upon the opportunity bright and early on Monday morning to stroll across the street to see MSNBC anchor and former Air America radio host Rachel Maddow make an appearance at the Statehouse Convention Center as part of the Clinton School's speaker series.

The crowd, which most estimated to be between 800 and 1,000 people, arrived in droves for the unusually early 9 a.m. session. Before introducing Maddow, the dean of the Clinton School of Public Service, Skip Rutherford, mentioned that just a few hours before, historic health care reform legislation had passed the House of Representatives. Before Rutherford could even finish his sentence, the entire crowd stood up, cheering and whistling in applause. The Observer hid in the back and goose bumps dotted our skin as we watched so many express such joy at the mere mention of the health bill's passage. The ovation made an impression on Maddow, who mentioned it on her show that night. She did the show from a Little Rock studio.

During a question and answer session, the bespectacled cable news host talked about her high school experience, her early career in AIDS activism and her transition into the media world. She was, as you might expect from watching her show, thoughtful, sharp and funny. She had the audience in stitches on more than one occasion ? like when she told the audience she was a hobbyist bartender. “Which means I think of myself as a semi-pro drinker,” she added.

Speaking of Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Maddow said, “It's one thing to be a conservative Democrat. It's another thing to act like you don't want to be a Democrat at all.”

The audience erupted once again.


Strolling through the Fortress of Employment the other day, The Observer noticed a male co-toiler sporting a ponytail. It sure took us back.

As we soon told our colleagues ad nauseam that day, up until a few days before The Observer came in for his job interview with Ol' Uncle Max almost eight years back, we hadn't cut our hair in nine years. That's right. Nine. We don't know why we started growing it out, other than the fact that we never really liked the drudgework of getting a haircut. We still ? to this day ? get them as rarely as possible, and when we do we purposefully get it cut short so it'll be a loooong time between shearings.

But, as we were saying, up until the moment we got it cut so as to look presentable for our Big Boy Job Interview, it had been nearly a decade since scissors last touched our locks. By then, our hair had become positively Biblical ? Samsonesque; thick, deep; the rich auburn of our youth, which has since given over to sprigs of gray. When we braided it periodically while feeling in a particularly biker-esque mood, the resulting braid was as wide as three fingers at the top and 26 inches long. You don't even want to know what sticky horrors lurked in our tub drain, which Spouse would eventually have to fish out with a semi-straightened clothes hanger when it got clogged.

With grad school over, and long tresses on a dude long since out of fashion, the call for an interview with the Times was the excuse we needed to lose our long, beautiful hair. Two days before our date with destiny, we headed to the mall to get it cut ? we thought of going to a barber shop, but feared our mane had gotten long enough to get us mocked by the old-timers who frequent those establishments ? so as better to match our too-small suit coat and too-short tie, which had previously been donned only for weddings and funerals.

At the salon, a flouncy little man in designer jeans cooed over The Observer's hair and stroked it, fanned it out and ran a brush through it, marveled that he hadn't seen hair like that in years, untouched by the torture most females of the species subject tresses to: hot irons, product and color. When the hair-stylist-not-barber put it into a ponytail and put his scissors to the two-inch thick bundle it made, The Observer saw him in the mirror when he looked away, then started to cut. The Observer swears he was much more hurt by the surgery than we were.

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