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The Observer

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Has there ever been a bigger tailgate than the bash that sprawled over the War Memorial Park golf course before the Arkansas-LSU game?

The Observer shuttled attendees, making drop-offs and then pick-ups just before the game began. If you didn’t know, the tailgate crowd is swollen by party animals who retreat at kickoff to homes and bars. There, they watch the game with remote control conveniences, instant replay, private bathrooms, etc.

We were going to park and stay awhile, but parking places were hard to find and expensive. We heard later that the St. Vincent parking deck went for a bargain $10. Markham Street spots started at $20 and several were marked up to $30. We spotted one avaricious homeowner waving a sign for $40 parking on his lawn near Lee Avenue.

Our shuttling done, we joined a raucous crowd at Sticky Fingerz, where the accepted practice for positive Hog developments on the big-screen TV was to order a round of “Car Bombs.” These consist of an almost-full pint glass of Guinness into which the drinker drops a shot glass filled with equal parts Bailey’s Irish cream and Irish whiskey. It is drunk in one long gulp.

The crowd at Sticky’s wasn’t happy about the final score — LSU 31, Arkansas 26 — but most didn’t seem to feel any pain from the loss.

There are still a few rough edges on the River Market-Argenta shopping-eating experience on Saturdays, The Observer discovered last weekend. Rough not on us, because we are natives, and we know better. Rough on newcomers, we’re thinking.

The Observer and friends decided to make an inaugural visit to The Arts Scene Gallery and Market where Rye Furniture used to be, on Maple and Second streets in North Little Rock. Our purchases made, we then decided to find a little lunch.

We were disappointed in our effort to do so in Argenta, turning down a seat in an establishment that allows smoking and not having an expense account to cover a meal at the hotel. Night time is not only the right time but the only time when hunger strikes on Main.

Sticking with the let’s-do-things-differently plan, we then caught the River Rail trolley that goes from North Little Rock to downtown Little Rock. That was fine — it was packed to the gills, SRO, babies and grandparents and everything in between out for a post-Thanksgiving ride. The trolley driver was pointing out various restaurants and landmarks as he drove, assuming, we think rightly, that his passengers were new to the area.

All was good until we got off at the second of the two available eastward stops on Clinton Avenue — the one at the police substation across from the River Market. Now we were tempted to switch from promotion to apology, for there at that stop the departing crowd had to step into an overwhelming noseload of that unmistakable urban perfume, eau de bladder, a.k.a. l’air du Toms. The Observer wished we could somehow slam the trolley doors shut on them and wave the train away, or offer hundreds of hankies to the unsuspecting dismounts. Lo, it was awful.

As a point of departure, one can shake off the trolley stop experience, put it at the back of one’s mind, maybe forget it as one’s day progresses in and out of Clinton’s shops, galleries, bookstores, restaurants.

But we had to return to Argenta. Which meant that we had to return to the pissoir to catch a ride back over the bridge. We couldn’t wait at the actual stop, but had to move a distance off so we could breathe ammonia-free air.

Just for the heck of it, we went in the police substation and asked the officer on duty what she thought about the stink outside her door. “That’s where the police horses go,” she said. It’s just about the only grassy area along Clinton, fronting as it does on a parking lot rather than a building.

We wouldn’t swear on a stack of Bibles that we could tell horse from man, but we’d swear on our own experience in the streets of New York, New Orleans and Memphis that it wasn’t Officer Forelock who was the source of the problem. More likely an ass from one of the bars.

As it turns out, there are three Little Rock trolley passes to every one North Little Rock, so it took awhile to get back across the bridge. But the air of Argenta! So sweet!

Spotted hanging from a tree along Kavanaugh Blvd.: A bidet. Someone, apparently, lifted the seat.


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