The Observer was out having a drink with a buddy last week at Ciao Bacci, enjoying the pleasant early evening weather and catching up, when we noticed that just on the other side of the porch sat Judge David Burnett, the now infamous gavel-slammer who presided at the West Memphis Three trial. Two young boys went to prison for life. Another, Damien Echols, was sentenced to death in the trial.
The judge was hobnobbing at what appeared to be a fundraiser for his state Senate campaign, a small event populated by a few older-than-middle-aged men, when a few unexpected guests arrived. Three members of Arkansans Take Action (ATA), a group dedicated to raising awareness for and working for the release of the three West Memphis boys, showed up in “Free the West Memphis Three” T-shirts and approached Burnett with video cameras in hand. They asked the judge if he would answer a few questions about the case. Burnett declined, looking a little flustered and uncomfortable.
He told the group they did not have permission to take his picture and asked that they put down the cameras. Now, The Observer is no judge, not even a lawyer, but we're still not sure why you need permission to take a photograph of an adult in a public place.
The ATA members then retired to their table for drinks. Later, one of Burnett's guests approached the group and thanked them for being so polite.
The Observer went to a wedding of an old friend over the weekend, a lovely lady we've known for most of a decade. We can distinctly remember her saying once — or at least we think we distinctly remember it, it all runs together after awhile — that she planned never to be a Mizzus. Ah, how things change. The lost find their way home, the damned find salvation, and those who thought they were content to be unhitched forever find themselves under an arch on a fine afternoon in May, reciting their vows. The world turns for us all.
We're proud to say that one of our creations was the centerpiece of the after-ceremony festivities. The Observer is a handy sort, and months ago, when our friend was planning her May 1 wedding, she asked us to whip her up a maypole — that old pagan symbol of spring and fertility. The Observer had always heard about folks dancing around the maypole, but we'd never seen that put into practice. The Internet knows all, however, and before long we were putting together a mixed assemblage of ribbon, plywood and PVC piping painted up nice, all surmounted by a flower-bedecked wreath from which gold and pink streamers flut-tered. It was pretty if we do say so ourself.
We were worried for awhile that the storms last Saturday would drive us inside before we got a chance to get our maypole on. But the Good Lord, in His infinite wisdom, saw fit to give us just enough of a break in the weather to get it set up and let the dancers dance. We adjourned to the grassy courtyard of the church, where the pole stood against a patched sky. With Vivaldi's “Spring” playing on a nearby CD player, the wedding party took their places, then smilingly revolved around and around, twisting the colors down, down, down toward the base of the pole, weaving everything together. The bride, looking on — herself just woven into the fabric of another — was pleased, and beautiful.
Currently, The Observer is getting his car ready for the Arkansas Times' annual Rock Candy 500, our all-ages pinewood derby race, which might be a memory by the time you read this (it's on Thursday, May 6, in the River Market). As with last year, our plan is to make our racer a swoopy mess of curves and angles; probably not very fast but at least eye catching — much like The Observer, in fact. Last year, we wound up building a flat black chunk we called The Flatster. It was decidedly cool, with fully-skirted fenders and a small dome at the back for a tiny driver. Problem was, we didn't figure in that we needed to add extra weight, so our car was seriously outclassed in the speed department. It didn't even make it to the end of the track, in fact. It started fine, running true. But as the other cars raced for the finish, ours came to a grinding halt about three feet after the slope of the track turned to flat, forcing us to take the walk of shame over to retrieve it. Better luck next time, Wile E. Coyote.