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The Observer Sept. 15

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WRITING ON THE WALL: A campaign message.
  • WRITING ON THE WALL: A campaign message.
The brick exterior wall of The Observer’s office building now sports a dotted outline, in bright blue chalk paint, of two figures. From a distance, one might think it’s an unusual upright crime scene, or maybe graffiti. Closer inspection reveals that it is neither. A card by the just-smaller-than-life-size stencil on the Heritage West building explains. “Thanks to the United Way, Cindy Mac and Billy Thompson no longer have to hang out here after school, just for something to do.” As it turns out, the dotted blue figures are “guerilla marketing,” as Emily Pennel of the United Way of Pulaski County put it, conceived by young interns at Stone and Ward for the United Way’s 2005 campaign kickoff Sept. 14 in the River Market. Other outlines appear on brick buildings in the River Market area, including the Block Two apartments between Scott and Main streets just across the way from The Observer’s hangout. There, the message notes that “Tracey Hall and her daughter Melanie no longer have to spend the night here, just to avoid going back to an abusive home.” (The names on the cards are fictitious but represent real people, Pennel said.) An outline on the sidewalk in front of the Flying Saucer restaurant was to have been done, with a card saying that the figure had been provided a place to sleep. We looked for it, but saw instead misery in three dimensions — a woman sleeping on the pavement, River Market traffic passing by. The outline filled in. The outlines will be scrubbed off after the United Way event, which is too bad. They could serve as a reminder that there are people in need, and that any of us could find ourselves outlined in blue. A reader of The Observer who noted the item printed here a few weeks ago about Jennings Osborne’s neglect of the lights in his “God Bless President George W. Bush” yard art writes to say the entire sign is plumb out. All dark. Mr. Osborne has turned off the lights. Has he been turned off Mr. Bush? Is his neglect is the result of unhappiness over the president’s latest fiasco, his slow-to-get-it response over the country’s nightmare in New Orleans? Heck, if the Republican governor of Arkansas can fume over Mr. Bush’s feeble FEMA, to the point, he said, that he wanted to hurt someone, surely pulling the switch on our vacant oilman would be easy for Mr. Osborne, too. As easy as firing up the barbecue grill and feeding the masses. The Observer is in Mr. Huckabee’s corner. With the mother of our glassy-eyed and distant leader suggesting that the homeless and hungry hordes were better off in their luxurious digs on a Houston football field, and heartless ninnies like Pat Buchanan blaming the people themselves for being poor while shrugging off increases in the minimum wage, The Observer wants to say to the Washington elite (and their pearl-strung mothers): Off with your heads! Still trying to make sense of the Arkansas football team’s surprise 28-24 loss to Vanderbilt in Fayetteville, The Observer turned to the Vanderbilt website. We expected to find end-of-the-world coverage of the Commodores’ first two-game season-opening win streak since the Golden Age. But no. On the athletics home page Monday, there was a writeup of the Arkansas game, all right. But it was fifth on the list of the top five sports stories. Top story: “Women Golfers Third at Cougar Classic.” Second was the announcement of the women’s basketball schedule. Third was the football coach’s Monday press conference, much of it devoted to this week’s game with Ole Miss. There’s no time for dwelling unduly on past glories at Vandy. Fourth on the top-story list? About a female soccer player. What could such a wimpy school know about football?

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