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The Observer, Oct. 15

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The Observer was in awe Sunday night at just how many people turned out to hear a guy read. David Sedaris is a brilliant, funny guy, that's for sure, but, briefly, a blasphemous one — he ponders, would you love Jesus if he were fat, chinless and had hairy man tits? And he's gay to boot! So here's this full auditorium, on the Pulaski Academy campus for Pete's sake, giving him a standing ovation after screamingly funny tales about condoms and kookaburras and family and the overall weirdness of people in general.

What a breath of fresh air it was, out there on Hinson Road. Some 1,500 people — maybe 1,600 — laughing at the same stuff The Observer laughs at. Not a birther in the bunch, no one screaming about the imminent danger of socialism, no puffed-up spewing or pure meanness. Book-lovers, at $50 a pop, gathered for a good time and to support the Arkansas Literacy Festival.

Afterward, Sedaris sat at a table in the lobby of the Connor Performing Arts Center, eating Chinese food and signing books and making small talk with each and every person in line. We were only about a third back in one of two long lines and it took an hour for us to get to the author. We left at 10:45 p.m. Who knows how late Sedaris and his fans had to stay? Such was the devotion of readers to Sedaris, Sedaris to meeting people, a source of good material to come.

By the way. The author, who drove to Little Rock, noted that the two most common words on the highway between here and Memphis are “Jesus” and “catfish.”

 

We're not really sure what got into the Observer this weekend. Generally, we like to stay home watching football, eating potato chips and drinking the cheapest beer our stomach will tolerate. Not only did we get out to see David Sedaris, but we even left the friendly confines of the Natural State and crossed the river into Tennessee to see Wilco perform at the Orpheum in Memphis.

One thing that really gets under the Observer's skin is the sheer magnitude of concert-goers these days who find it necessary to talk on the phone, tweet their whereabouts, snag a video on their iPhone or text their buddies three rows back.  We understand the need to answer the occasional text, but come on, if you're at a show it can come off as downright rude. 

Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy obviously shares those sentiments. After playing through five or six songs, Tweedy, who has become quite infamous of late for lecturing audience members on the merits of not talking during Wilco shows, asked the audience very politely to stop taking video of the performance.

“You're forfeiting your memories for an imperfect medium that will not replace your real life,” he said. “You're letting go of something no one else can have just to show everybody that you were here, I assume.  But it's okay, you can just live your life. You don't have to document everything.”

We've been subjected to Tweedy's rants before. To some, it can come off as a little preachy, but at heart, we think he just wants everyone to have a good experience and not worry about framing up the perfect shot through the grainy lens of a cell phone. 

After a couple more songs though, a fan in the front row committed what Tweedy considered to be the ultimate offense — talking on her cell phone right in front of the band, mid-guitar solo.

Tweedy approached the front of the stage and yelled for the woman to get off the phone. After shaking his head in disbelief, he then asked her for the phone, chucked it over by the drum kit and continued playing. “I asked nicely,” he said, “but it's ours now.”

While some thought the gesture to be a bit much, we actually applauded, and loudly.  Not only does talking on the phone during a concert take you out of the experience, but it bothers those around you too.

Tweedy eventually apologized and gave the phone back. As for the girl in the front row, it was an experience she's unlikely to forget. We just wonder if someone got it on video. 

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