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The Observer first saw an alligator snapping turtle in the wild when we were about 5 — a massive old sumbitch one of our distant kinfolks had transferred from the Arkansas River to a 6-acre stock pond up near Quitman as a kind of joke a few years before John Kennedy was felled in Dallas.
I believe there is no better smell in all the world than old books, a lifelong addiction that keeps The Observer rifling through pages at pretty much every moment when we're not rifling through old bookstores and haunting book sales, even though our shelves back home in the parlor and study and specially constructed Reading Toilet of The Observatory are already groaning with enough tomes that I'll never get 'em all read unless I live to a well-seasoned 306.
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It's been 10 months since The Observer hung up our cleats after 15 years as a reporter and took a job with a little more pay, a little less stress and a lot better insurance to take care of our various health bugaboos.
If you're reading a paper copy of this esteemed publication right now, you're holding something special in your hands: the last weekly print edition of the Arkansas Times, the end of an unbroken chain that goes back and back, week by week, every week, to May 1992, when the Times became what the hep cats call an "alternative newsweekly."
The Observer, like a lot of folks, is drawn to the real places: barbecue joints and honky-tonks, seedy truck stops and greasy little diners where the waitresses and clerks still call you "Hun," used bookstores that have been there since Faulkner was still drinking mint juleps, bait shops hung with dusty-eyed bass pulled up from the deep when Eisenhower was in the White House.
For Halloween a few years ago, we 'fessed up in this space to a secret that would seem to run afoul of our aversion to flim-flam: Once upon a time, reeling from the untimely death of our father, The Observer and his brother spent five full years searching for evidence of the paranormal all over the state.
The Observer right now is, as the old timers used to say, "down in the back." Specifically, it's the lower back, which has us hobbling around The Observatory like the cranky, broken version of Charles Foster Kane after his off-key caged songbird flew the coop.
The Observer and Spouse got out to the Arkansas State Fair the other evening thanks to a couple of free tickets and a parking pass we'd scored, the latter helping us bypass the $10 parking fee they're now instituting just to get in the gate.
Remember when the world made something like sense, back in that long, dreaming summer of two years ago, before the coming of this walking, talking embodiment of the misshapen original sin America has held to her bosom since before Thomas Jefferson touched quill to parchment, manifested into a human being the way an idea might be hammered into a two-dimensional villain in the clumsiest of B-grade comic books?
The Observer, Junior and our young nephew from down in Lower Arkansas got down to Hot Springs for SpaCon over the weekend, the multiday geekfest that's one of the bigger pop culture conventions in the state.
The Observer is a person who always needs some new adventure out there on the horizon to look forward to. A trip booked a few months out, a class to teach or take at some point, even a new restaurant we'd like to get to and get thrown out of after they catch us filling up a Ziploc bag with free ketchup. So it goes.
The Observer, who knows a thing or three about anonymity, found our self nonetheless shocked by the recent New York Times op-ed by the anonymous King or Queen of the White House Molepeople, the person who appears to have responded to the Emperor having no clothes not by telling his Nekkid Excellency to put some damn pants on, but by getting buck nekkid, too, and calling his or her junk-out bit-waggling a sacrifice for a nation that oughta damn well be grateful for it.
September is here at long last, the doldrums of summer moving toward an end. This is the time of the year when we begin counting the seconds before we get to take our jacket down from the back of the door in the mornings. Knowing Arkansas, there's a fair chance that day won't arrive until mid-November.