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APRIL 19, 2018


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Perp walk Comrade Orange equates his problems, his dilemmas and his bulging portfolio of serial wrongdoings with our country’s best interests. As the judicial system slowly and deliberately tightens the noose around his zesty, bulbous neck, he cries, “This is a disgraceful situation” and an “attack on our country in a true sense.” Let’s not overlook Putin’s Pumpkin’s invocation of “witch hunt,” his go-to description of any effort to expose his seedy resume chronicling a lifetime of bad acts. Through rheumy eyes, all he sees is l’etat is under attack, substituting it for himself. What about the rest of us? What do we see? A wall of orange obscures our vision. On closer examination, we discover a 6-foot, 3-inch, 300-pound behemoth clad in an orange jump suit doing what we’ve all been waiting for: The infamous perp walk. L’etat c’est bien! H arry H erget Little Rock

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette printed two front-page education stories on April 9. One story told about a unique state program that helps prekindergarten children with behavior problems. A sig nificant picture went with the article showing the program’s diversity. The first-in-thenation program served three times as many children than expected. Such a successful plan should qualify it for added support. Considering econom ics, t he difference between the cost of a well adjusted, productive citizen and a criminal for society can run into the millions. When there are thousands of nonproductive citizens, the cost to society defies calculation. Scrolling through the mug shots tires you before getting to the last page, there are so many. The people in those shots were students at one time and, with help, could have avoided a life of crime. During my 42-year teaching career, I knew many children that behaved like the ones the new Arkansas program helps. Back then, no special help existed and, sadly, the newspaper recorded the crimes of those who did not make it. Felony convictions put many of these good people in prison, costing Arkansas millions each year. Intervention could have saved most of them. A part-time job during the summer APRIL 19, 2018

can bring about problems at any age. Problems thought solved might need more help later. Some knotty problems need many years of intervention. This is one of those things that spending money upfront saves many times the amount spent later. The problem is having the money to spend upfront. The other story was about Alice Walton’s charter school loans. She sees pumping a lot of money into charter schools as a bold solution to the problem of paying for charters schools. Obviously, the more charter schools

New Works by Arkansas Artists

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had me working in an Arkansas prison. I needed help moving some heavy equipment and was told to go out into the yard and pick four men. When I walked into the yard, I heard a chorus of voices calling my name. I picked four former students from the many who had passed through my classroom. I politely turned down their invitation to eat lunch with them. Early intervention is best but special help must be available for every age. New students at every level enroll during the school year. Circumstances



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started, the more money they need. It appears the Walton Family Foundation stands ready to give a lot of support to what they call “school choice.” A review of the literature does not justify the Walton Foundation’s charter school support. However, facts do not impact those who think they are right. It appears the Walton Foundation thinks that charter schools should replace public schools. Charters call themselves public schools and get public funds but are self-governing. The money given charter schools lessens the money for non-charter schools. Less money for non-charter schools concerns only the people who must use those schools. When there is an obvious need for more support of public schools and giving that help would save money and improve society, why is support lacking? Furthermore, why are extreme measures to change public education so heavily supported by a distinct segment of society? Cutting to the chase, one can say there is an overlap of charter school and Trump supporters. To simplify, those supporters will be called zealots. Zealots confer on themselves cheap grace that allows them to use whatever means they need to get what they want. For certain, zealots are free to own and use guns, to go to schools where they choose, to keep bad people from entering the United States, to protect “unborn children” from the moment of conception, and to provide their politicians with unlimited funding. The wealth of many zealots insulates them from the ravages of poverty and all the things associated with insufficiency. That Alice Walton shares magnificent art with the world shows how much she cares for people. Would Alice Walton consider helping Arkansas fund the new Behavior Help Response System at every grade level? One can hope for rejection of “cheap grace” and the Walton Intervention Plan Everywhere (WIPE) helps wipe away expulsions. R ichard Emmel Little Rock

From the web In response to Antwan Phillips’ April 12 guest column on his experience as a teenager of being stopped by police after a friend waved a BB gun in a car in which he was a passenger: As NR A-encouraged fear and paranoia increases the number of guns

in the hands of “bad guys,” cops more often assume everyone is armed. Bow ties are back in style In reading the opening sentences, I was worried where this was going. I was thinking to myself, “I’d call the cops, too!” and then “This isn’t going to end well!” Thank goodness a lesson was learned and there was professionalism and common sense used on the part of law enforcement. It’s a shame in this day and age we have to worry that those characteristics are not widespread. bwc76

Tragedies happen because stupid people do stupid things. This weak attempt to make it about race ignores the fact that anytime folks want to discuss the shootings of supposedly innocent, unarmed black men, they use the names of two men who were not innocent, nor unarmed. Trayvon Martin was shot in selfdefense while he was on top of George

by the many incidents of unarmed, complying people of all races being shot down by cops, but to make it a race issue is to forget the issue that the lies told by those pushing this narrative still cling. Why is it that these same activists do not bring up the name of Johnny Crawford, who was gunned down by police in a Walmart because some guy on the phone called in a false report of a man with a rifle threatening people? His name should be on that list, Trayvon and Brown should not.

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Very well written story, Antwan. Valid points. I think a key sentence is “In a manner of moments, they evaluated and de-escalated the situation.” Today, I see law enforcement (used to be called your neighborhood cop) being trained like they are combat soldiers ready to invade a foreign country. I think the recruitment process for law enforcement should involve more psychological tests to weed out applicants who may not have the right temperament to responsibly carry a gun. They need to practice more on how to shoot with better accuracy. There needs to be more training on how to evaluate a situation before you pull the trigger. Officers take their cue from their supervisors who take their cue from mayors and governors. If the attitude being passed down is shoot first, ask questions later, then that does not bode well for anyone, including law-abiding citizens. A jury is hesitant to convict a police officer for a questionable shooting. I see people’s attitudes changing and people do not trust policemen as much as they used to and I think we will see the attitudes of a jury change. In Arkansas, we have certain state legislators aggressively pushing guns into every part of everyone’s daily lives, and I think they are setting up an escalation of unnecessary shooting deaths. Why they would want to do this is beyond me. ShineOnLibby

Zimmerman. Trayvon was trying to murder Zimmerman. Michael Brown was shot attacking a police officer, reaching into the patrol car in an attempt to use his larger physique as a weapon to disarm a police officer. The boys in that car were very fortunate, indeed, that the person in the other car was not armed, or they would have rightfully been shot by the people in the other car. While there is plenty of room for improvements in training, as evidenced

Before we attempt to address any perceived issue, we at least need to start from an honest point of view, with the bare facts available. Steven E “The boys in that car were very fortunate, indeed, that the person in the other car was not armed, or they would have rightfully been shot by the people in the other car.” In one sentence you have the mentality of the American gun nut. In a nutshell you might say. Olphart From the web in response to the April 17 Arkansas Blog post “Hucthinson: ‘GIF money is history’: Just wait till all the mayors and city council members in the little towns start screaming about getting kicked off the teat paying for their community projects. Asa is likely to flip-flop like Donnie Little Fingers does on anything except Russia. Why don’t they just raise their own taxes to pay for these things? (Rhetorical, OK?) wannabee conservative

Hutchinson knew it was wrong in 2015, but was more concerned about having the money to dole out in the form of political favors. Now all of the sudden - again - it’s the wrong thing to do. Someone needs to ask him why he continued the practice when he clearly understood that the practice was tainted. Vanessa

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What will Jan Morgan cause Asa to say tomorrow? DeathbyInches Big Deal. Legislators will just find other ways to turn our tax dollars to their own benefit. They are probably working on doing so as I write this. K ate Baloney. GIF not dead. Asa just controls it. Screen name taken Lest everyone forget Jon Woods is the sole reason we now have some of the worst ethics rules, extended term limits, doubled salaries and much more garbage after the so-called ethics amendment was passed. Now he is going to prison. Speaks highly of our elected officials doesn’t it?


concernedinheber APRIL 19, 2018



Quote of the week “[Former State Rep. Micah] Neal said he became involved in the kickbacks because he was having financial trouble and asked [former State Sen. Jon] Woods how he made money. Neal said he asked Woods because he observed Woods had a nicely furnished Little Rock apartment with sports memorabilia such as a baseball bat signed by Pete Rose and a signed photograph of Michael Jordan.” — From Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporter Doug Thompson’s account of the federal corruption trial of Woods, who is accused of participating in a kickback scheme in which he directed General Improvement Funds to Ecclesia College in Springdale. Woods is on trial with consultant Randell Shelton, who the government says played a middleman role. Neal has already pleaded guilty for his role in the scheme and is cooperating with U.S. attorneys. Oren Paris III, the president of Ecclesia, recently resigned and pleaded guilty as well. The trial continues this week in Fayetteville.

Whistle-Blower Act deactivated In a 5-2 decision, the Arkansas Supreme Court did away with the Arkansas Whistle-Blower Act. The high court ruled that a former Arkansas Constitution. The decision Griffen from hearing cases involving employee of the Department of did not necessarily prevent the state the death penalty. Arkansas Community Corrections, from being successfully sued, but Griffen filed a federal civil rights who alleged she was fired for critics, including dissenting justices, lawsuit against the court in October protesting workplace discrimination predicted the impact would be far- 2017. The court removed him from and participating in an investigation reaching. hearing cases related to the death to uncover further discrimination, penalty and instituted disciplinary could not find relief in the Whistleproceedings against him because he Blower Act because of sovereign participated in a 2017 Good Friday immunity. U.S. District Judge James Moody demonstration outside the Governor’s In her dissent, ruled that Pulaski County Circuit Mansion that included a protest of Justice Jo Hart Judge Wendell Griffen’s lawsuit capital punishment. Griffen lay bound said the ruling against individual justices on on a cot. He said he was depicting “would effectively the Arkansas Supreme the crucifixion. Others saw it as strike down the Court could symbolic of an inmate prepared for AWBA, which lethal injection. His demonstration provides state came after he’d ruled earlier in the employees a cause day in favor of a drug marketer of action against that claimed the state their employers when had used dishonest those employees are means to obtain brave enough to speak out against its drugs for use unlawful or wasteful practices on the in executions. part of their employers and are then It wanted the subjected to adverse employment drugs back. It consequences for having done so.” was a property In January, the Supreme Court p r o c e e d . rights case, but ruled that the legislature could not Moody dismissed Griffen’s ruling had pass laws waiving the sovereign the state Supreme Court the effect of delaying immunity provision, or the state’s as a whole from the suit over executions. After he was protection against lawsuits, of the its order last year keeping removed and a new judge

Griffen can sue, judge says


APRIL 19, 2018


appointed, that judge made the same conclusion on the same facts. Justices on the court have racked up significant legal bills paying private lawyers to defend them against Griffen’s suit, we reported in February.

Street cleared The 600 block of Main Street has reopened, a joyful development for drivers on Main and businesses that face it, including the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Three Food Noodles and Dumpling Co., RAO Video, a new church and others. The reconfiguration and new paving of the block is part of a water quality demonstration project funded by a $1.072 million federal grant. The grant includes work on the 700 block, which will begin soon. For now, the new pavers extend as far as The Rep. The street work, which includes the 100 to 500 blocks of Main, includes the extension of the sidewalks in places to “calm” traffic. When the work is complete, rain gardens will catch and filter water.


Trump and Comey


n the Bizarro World of the Trump ing that Comey’s administration, it’s only fitting that bungling interthe president serves as publicity ventions into the director for James Comey’s big book 2016 campaign tour. (In the old Superman comics, Bi- did more to make zarro World was an upside-down reality Tr u m p p r e s i GENE where wickedness was virtue and vice dent than VladiLYONS versa.) Supposedly, Trump’s stomping mir Putin did, around the White House and various it’s tempting to wonder if he’s simply golf courses red-faced with anger, emit- returning the favor — a pro-wrestling ting smoke from his ears. fake feud to keep the Fox News audiSo what else is new? ence aroused. Meanwhile, Trump’s demands that However, judging by early reviews the former FBI director be jailed for and Comey’s TV appearances, I susthe crime of lese-majeste (defaming the pect a lot more people are going to buy emperor) have succeeded in making his the book than will actually read it. First, book “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and because bookshelves everywhere groan Leadership” Amazon’s No. 1 nonfiction with stultifying treatises on “leadership” bestseller. Trump’s just blowing smoke, — elaborate excuses for paying corporate as usual. bureaucrats like Stormy Daniels. Then, If people took Trump’s temper tan- too, Comey certainly hasn’t held much trums seriously, things could get danger- back on TV. ous. But nobody does. For a guy whose “I don’t buy this stuff about [Trump] greatest political talent is dishing it out being mentally incompetent or early — “Liddle Marco,” “Lyin’ Ted,” “Crooked stages of dementia,” he told ABC’s Hillary,” etc. — he’s extremely bad at George Stephanopoulos. “He strikes me taking it. as a person of above average intelligence Historically bad, in fact. Consider- who’s tracking conversations and knows

Week That Was


fter the wildest week of the wildest presidency in history, the clouded future suddenly unfolds more clearly and, yes, nearer. That includes the end of the Trump presidency. It was the period during which the president tweeted his exultant expectation that after trading insults and threatening annihilation for a year he would persuade the North Korean dictator this spring to give up his missiles and warheads; announced his plan to get out of Syria and leave Bashar al-Assad to run Syria as he likes but, after the quick humiliation of Assad’s chemical attacks on his own people, he arranged, obliquely through the Russians, a muted attack on three vacated Syrian chemical depots; condemned his friend Vladimir Putin by name for the first time and then begged for collaboration and friendship; and, finally, saw the Republican patronage in his own Justice Department once again place him and his presidency in mortal jeopardy by confiscating the records of his shady longtime consigliere, Michael Cohen. And it was the week that the presi-

dent’s old nemesis, former FBI Director James Comey, starting his book tour, called the president a serial liar who was morally unfit for ERNEST the presidency DUMAS and that Trump unleashed the nastiest personal attack on another citizen ever to leave the lips or pen of a president Let’s deal with the war issues first, for they offer a ray of sunshine, at least for the many Americans who have lived in fear of Armageddon since the campaigning Trump speculated about using the country’s nuclear stocks to solve hard diplomatic problems and encouraged Japan, South Korea and the Philippines to get their own nuclear arsenals. Trump’s poll numbers surged when he jumped on South Korean’s suggestion that he have a quick summit with Kim Jong-un in spite of his previous insistence that he would never do it until Kim first agreed to give up his bombs and missiles. The meeting is still doubtful but, no matter what happens, it will

what’s going on. I don’t think he’s medi- become the nation’s top law enforcecally unfit to be president. I think he’s ment officer and yet have no clue how morally unfit to be president. his ill-considered interventions into the “A person who sees moral equivalence 2016 presidential campaign affected the in Charlottesville, who talks about and race? treats women like they’re pieces of meat, Does Comey really not grasp how his who lies constantly about matters big comparing President Trump to a mob and small and insists the American peo- boss — however justified — might affect ple believe it — that person’s not fit to his usefulness as a witness in special be president of the United States, on counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe? moral grounds.” Comey appears blindsided by his So far so good, although I’d add that own moral vanity. Here’s what he told intelligence is one thing, ignorance quite Stephanopoulos about why, as FBI direcanother. Trump’s a terrific bluffer, mak- tor, he declined to sign an October 2016 ing up for his alarming lack of knowl- statement by the nation’s intelligence edge by reading people acutely. Alas, it’s agencies exposing Russian attempts to impossible to have a coherent Middle hijack the presidential election: “[T] East policy if you know nothing about here’s an important norm that I’ve lived Syria’s ethnic and religious stew and my whole government career obeying. If can’t find Iran on a map. Remember, this you can avoid it, you should not take any is a guy who went broke running casinos. action in the run-up to an election that Then they put him on reality TV, a could have an impact on the election.” faker’s paradise, and he’s gotten himself Why, perish the thought! Yet on Oct. in way over his head again. 28, Comey announced that potential new Compare author Comey, Dudley evidence compelled him to reopen the Do-Right in a G-Man suit: an honest, FBI’s probe of Hillary Clinton’s accursed hardworking lawman with a sterling emails — evidence that proved to be litreputation and the political acumen of erally nonexistent. The national media a fourth-grader. went crazy, Clinton’s poll numbers How can a man have the physical and plummeted, and that was that. moral courage to prosecute the Gambino No Comey, no Trump. It’s that crime family, scale the career ladder to simple. not lead to war, unless by accident and panic. Trump will learn what his predecessors did, that “denuclearization” in the North Korean lexicon means a long and indefinite timetable for giving up weaponry or testing in exchange for America’s folding its nuclear umbrella and military presence and easing sanctions — “phased, synchronized measures to achieve peace,” in the words of Chinese Premier Xi Jinping. The likeliest scenario is that, yielding to his advisers, Trump won’t agree to the North Korean deal and will fire off more recriminations, but that he, or at least the country, will learn to accept the status quo of a ninth nuclear nation. After the Week That Was, there also is a sort of permanence to the status quo on the eastern Mediterranean: The seven-year civil war in Syria is effectively over and Assad will rule shakily but unmolested by foreign powers until his death or the next coup. It has to be noted, pointlessly now, that President Obama asked the Republican Congress after a catastrophic chemical attack in 2013 to authorize use of American forces, but Congress refused. Trump, beginning his campaign for president, had tweeted days earlier that Obama had to seek congressional authorization. But it was the shocking raid on

Cohen’s financial records last week that exhumed the dismal past and prefigured doom. A month ago, I wondered here if Special Counsel Robert Mueller, like Kenneth Starr 20 years earlier, would follow the sex to get to Trump’s money. If he did, it would be over, as Trump himself had warned. It feels like it’s about over. It turns out that for some time federal investigators, whether owing to Trump’s indirect payoffs to his paramours or not, have been looking into Cohen’s financial dealings, and perhaps those involving Trump to silence negative news before his 2016 election. The president raged all week, not so much this time at Mueller but at the FBI and the whole U.S. Department of Justice. It was not Mueller who was looking at Trump’s syndicate, but federal prosecutors in the southern district of New York, where Trump had been very careful to see that good Republicans loyal to him were in charge. He had made Geoffrey S. Berman, who had given his campaign $2,700, the chief attorney. So Berman was forced to recuse and now another career prosecutor, though also a Republican, is in charge of Trump’s future. Trump’s future, and ours, depends upon whether the prosecutor subscribes to Comey’s vision of a “higher loyalty” or the president’s.

Follow Arkansas Blog on Twitter: @ArkansasBlog APRIL 19, 2018


Stormy shaming


an we talk about Stormy Dan- prosecutors and police immediately iels? More specifically, can we discredit them due to their work. I think talk about how we talk about we all know women and men who use Stormy Daniels? sex as currency. They just aren’t as brave Daniels, real name Stephanie Clif- as Daniels to admit it. I think the thing ford, first gained mainstream attention that put me over the top with my intolin 2009 when she considered running erance for the bashing of sex workers is against David Vitter, the Republican when I attended a senator from Louisiana who was caught convention in New up in the D.C. madam scandal. Now, Orleans for attorshe is back in the news after allega- neys. Also meeting tions that Michael Cohen, President at that same hotel Trump’s personal attorney and “fixer,” was the Desiree paid Daniels out of his own pocket to Alliance, “a coaliAUTUMN TOLBERT keep quiet about a sexual encounter she tion of sex workclaims to have had with Trump. With ers, health professionals, social scienthe recent FBI raid on Cohen’s office tists, professional sex educators and and the revelation that Sean Hannity their supporting networks working was one of Cohen’s few clients, it is safe together for an improved understandto say Daniels will probably be in the ing of the sex industry and its human, news cycle for a while. social and political impacts.” Male political pundits, columnists I was curious to see their itinerary. and commentators can rejoice that They had classes on harm reduction, they are guaranteed at least a few human trafficking, effective lobbying of more weeks to put their misogyny on local and state governments and access full display with more tired jokes and to health care, but what immediately snide remarks about Daniels’ enhanced stood out to me was that the Desiree appearance and her completely legal Alliance provided free on-site childwork as an adult film actress and dancer. care for all of the attendees. The attorAfter she gave a prime-time television ney conference, with a large amount of interview and took a lie detector test women attorneys present, did not. wearing what was a perfectly normal Why is this such a big deal? I work outfit, a chorus of men, including those as a criminal defense attorney. Over who claim to lean left, took the opportu- the years, I’ve represented men and nity to take as many shots at Daniels as women charged with terrible crimes possible. Calling her breasts “preposter- against children. I’m received scorn ous” and referring to them as “hooters” from friends and family members for and implying she will have sex with just doing something they see as immoral about anyone were some of the more and inconsistent with my role as a mom. tame, but still offensive, jokes. Sure, in Don’t understand? Look at the combetween the digs, a few compliment her ments about Melisa McNeill, the public here and there about how she is clever defender assigned to defend Parkland or articulate, but in the end, because of shooter Nikolas Cruz. Being a criminal her line of work, her blonde hair and defense attorney isn’t the same thing as large breasts, she is a punch line. A joke. being a sex worker, but like many of the Never mind that Daniels comes women attorneys who had to struggle to across one of the most sincere, intel- arrange childcare while we attended our ligent and human players in the whole conference, I felt a kind of kinship with Trump fiasco. She is a mother, a success these women who are maligned. That in her industry, and her sense of humor they supported each other enough to is far more sophisticated than those provide free childcare and to acknowlwho want to reduce her to body parts edge their roles as mothers and caregivand sex work. She also had the sense to ers forever endeared me to them. hire Michael Avenatti, who seems to be But back to Daniels. In her interthe sharpest and most competent attor- view she pointed out that she initially ney in this whole dang mess. took the money from Cohen because Before you call me a humorless scold, she knew she would be the subject of I’ll admit I’m guilty of having made light scorn and ridicule if the story got out. of sex workers in the past and laugh- She was right. In the end, the only thing ing at stripper jokes. No more. Over preposterous about Daniels is the idea the years, I’ve represented sex workers that her bra size and her career mean in various court proceedings and am she is fair game to be slut-shamed by always frustrated when a few judges, progressives and conservatives alike. 8

APRIL 19, 2018


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espite what national party orga- the party’s downnizations like the Democratic ballot officeholdCongressional Campaign Com- ers, but at least mittee and the National Republican as much blame — Campaign Committee say, conven- and likely much tional definitions of candidate quality more — belongs BILLY are not leading to progressive wins in with the party FLEMING 2018. Candidate recruitment typically staff, consultants Guest Columnist centers on finding people who either and officials who have previous experience in elected or failed over and over again to think appointed office or an ability to raise more creatively about how to define significant funds from already existing candidate quality in an era of dwinnetworks, or both. dling power within the formal party In an analysis made with John Ray apparatus. and Jesse Bacon, we find little evidence That’s already changing in Arkansas, that those factors are what’s behind the where the state’s Democratic Party is burgeoning blue wave in 2018. In fact, fielding a historically large, diverse and the latter measure — an ability to raise young slate of candidates. In Northwest money from existing networks — has Arkansas, Moms Demand Action and had almost no impact on state legisla- Ozark Indivisible are vetting candidates tive elections post-Trump. during their regular meetings. CandiAs we’ve posited for some time now, dates from Jared Henderson (goverthe force behind the Democratic wave nor) to Joshua Mahony (3rd District isn’t a slew of corporate lawyers, politi- Congress) and Nicole Clowney (state cal legacies and small-business own- District 86 representative) have gone in ers self-funding their campaigns. It’s search of support, rightfully recognizthe grassroots fire that ignited in the ing that the nexus of political power has, days and weeks after President Trump’s for better or worse, shifted from the election — a fire that hasn’t dimmed parties to the activists this year. This is a shade in nearly 18 months. Groups especially true in the case of Clowney, like Moms Demand Action, Indivis- who founded the Northwest Arkansas ible and Color of Change aren’t just chapter of Moms Demand Action and knocking on doors, making the calls often cites her experience in that group and raising the money that helps win as a motivation for her campaign. elections — they’re putting forward One thing wave elections often do candidates of their own, and they’re is accelerate political forces that are doing it everywhere. already in motion. For Republicans, This isn’t to say that money and the tea party wave of 2010-14 did just experience in politics are irrelevant. that for a long-simmering conservaClearly that isn’t true. Particularly on tive movement in Arkansas. The year the experience side, it’s vital that gov- 2018 can be the start of something simiernment be run by officials who both lar for Democrats in Arkansas and, as believe in its purpose and possess some our analysis shows, it may not require modicum of understanding for how it unprecedented fundraising dollars to can and should function. As President do it. As political giving has shifted Obama used to say, government is good away from parties and toward candiwhen the people in it are good — elected dates and outside organizations, the or appointed. nexus of political power has moved But we do believe that they’re vastly to its rightful place: the grassroots. If overrated, and that for too long too Arkansas Democrats hope to begin the many people with too much power have process of rebuilding their power in used their importance as an excuse to the state this year, they’ll do what their exclude activists and newcomers from counterparts in Virginia, Oklahoma both parties. Obama often gets blamed and elsewhere have done: Let their for presiding over a hollowing out of grassroots lead.

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ave Van Horn has had some fine variety, so this is a team that, with a few baseball squads in his tenure less miscues afield and a bit more abilas Arkansas’s head coach. He ity to deliver clutch hits, could easily took over for the well-regarded Norm be 14-1 in league play. DeBriyn in 2003, had his overachieving This is against bunch in Omaha the next spring, and the likes of, mind then took the Diamond Hogs back to y o u , K e n t u c k y, college baseball’s Valhalla three more Florida, Ole Miss, times over a seven-season span from Auburn and South BEAU 2009 to 2015. But what happened in Carolina. WILCOX 2016 might well have proved his genuine Collegiate basevalue to the athletic program at large. ball is a lot harder to project now than That squad, fleeced of its most expe- most sports because its unusual but rienced pitching from the tremendously effective draft eligibility rules have accomplished team the year before, allowed teams like Arkansas to bolster ended up under .500 overall and had themselves even after bad years like an unthinkably bad stretch to end the the one that happened in 2016. Among season. With the program’s first-ever the Hogs’ top hitters this season, you Golden Spikes winner, Andrew Ben- have the likes of Carson Shaddy (nine intendi, leaving for MLB riches after homers and a robust .368 average, both 2015, the offense had no catalyst and team-leading stats) and Luke Bonfield, the staff was bereft of depth. After beat- who suffered through that miserable ing second-ranked Texas A&M on the campaign and undoubtedly remember last day of April to open a pivotal con- what it felt like to watch the season ference series, the Hogs promptly lost slip away hopelessly in the final month. their final 12 games and not only fell Shaddy was also the leading hitter on out of contention for another NCAA that squad, and the Fayetteville native tourney berth, but posted the school’s has been a steady cog again for a lineup worst showing in SEC play (7-23) by a that now has considerably more depth long margin. At times in late May, with than it did even last fall. the whole campaign sort of drifting The Hogs’ undisputed ace on the away, the fielders got sloppy and lazy hill, Blaine Knight, was a wiry freshand the hitters looked very much like man on the 2016 team who made 18 they were checking out for summer appearances, but only seven starts. vacation. Despite all the woes, Knight was one It was startling to watch. And Van of the steadiest arms in the rotation by Horn, it seems, was appropriately the end of the year and ended up being angered by it all. the only Razorback pitcher with more The only losing, non-tourney team than 20 innings pitched to post a subof his entire 16-year tenure now seems 3.00 earned-run average. He has built like such a distant memory. In 101 off that trying season to amass a stergames since, Arkansas has posted 72 ling 14-4 record over the last season wins, the kind of clip that isn’t seen and a half, with a 6-0 mark this year often in the rough-and-tumble SEC. and eyes on being a high draftee come The 2017 team battled its way to the June. Behind Knight, Kacey Murphy conference tournament finals after a has been a stellar second starter, and stellar second-place finish in the West Isaiah Campbell recovered from two Division, and the 2018 team, proudly bad outings to throw shutout ball featuring a bunch of seasoned guys against the Gamecocks in the back who weathered that awful torrent from end of a Saturday doubleheader. Those two years ago, is trying to eclipse that two were holdovers from the hardsuccess. luck ’16 bunch, too, and have learned Halfway through an SEC slate that from that negative experience and is even nastier than usual — Arkansas’s parlayed it into weekend toughness first five conference foes included four this year. Top 15 teams and a South Carolina proThis is a great team with designs gram that is just a tick or two below on being genuinely special, cliches the talent level that the Gamecocks and hyperbole be damned. And it has have customarily had — the Hogs are its steady coach and a veteran core to a robust, division-leading 10-5. Most thank, because without the failures of impressively, four of those five SEC 2016, the successes of 2018 might not losses were of the agonizing one-run be within reach.


‘Isle of Dogs’


he Observer is a big fan of the assholish eyeroll that says: “Oh, bother. director Wes Anderson, so there Who shall operate the can opener now?” was around zero-point-zero Not dogs, though. Dogs pine. Dogs chance of our missing his new flick “Isle believe that every time you leave the of Dogs” the weekend it opened. house, their Shining Light has evapoIt’s a stop-motion kinda thing, some- rated from the sky and cloaked them in thing like herky-jerky ol’ King Kong in darkness. Yeah, they chew up stuff and the movie of the same name, though get projectile diarrhea while you’re at in this case, all rendered so lovingly work, and dig up the flower beds of the and carefully that you could convince cranky old folks next door. But damn if yourself that the things on screen are it all ain’t worth it. The Observer hasn’t some kind of marionettes gone wire- been owned by a dog in 25 years, but we less, the Blue Fairy having granted their can tell you without question: You will wish to make them real boys, girls, dogs, never be loved as completely, as shameowls and dastardly politicians. It’s all lessly, as selflessly, as you are by a canine. set in Japan, a society that’s already so Now that Junior is about to head off weird that it’s like one of Wes Ander- to college, having seen his hard work in son’s movies to begin with, so we knew it high school rewarded with that sweet was gonna be good. Donaghey Scholars Which it was, of Dogs believe that every time Program cash at UA course. Gloriously, Little Rock (thanks, simply wonderful. you leave the house, their UALR! Sorry about A “run, don’t walk” all the bad stuff film, which The Shining Light has evaporated we’ve said over the Observer rarely says years about your about any flick in from the sky. architecture!) Yours this era of $13 movie Truly is thinking of tickets. There’s just so much more you joining the bedogged again. A beagle, and your honey could do with $26 plus maybe, or a bluetick. Maybe a long-faced two $7 Royal Crown Colas and a box bloodhound to while away the winter of Raisinettes that’ll set you back more nights on the rug by our feet and bay than the cost of a gatdamn bacon double fit to rattle the plates in the cabinets at cheeseburger. every knock on the door. Some clever But The Cheapskate digresses. mutt to worry us through our summer Not to spoil it too awful much, but colds and go bounding off after tennis “Isle of Dogs” is the story of a boy and balls. Junior will be just across town. But his dog — all about heroism and love the hole in his Old Man’s heart is sure and how dogs and 12-year-old boys have to be large without the comfort of that so much more in common than a Mom boy’s clicking keys in the next room. Can and Dad or sibling is going to have in a dog fill that space? common with that same kid. It got The We’ll have to think more on it. A dog is Observer thinking of the dogs we knew a big responsibility, what with the walkand loved as a boy: Silver One and Benjy, ing and baths, the trips to the vet and dog Silver Two and Muddy. We’ve been sadly park, the leashes and squeaky toys and dogless for most of our adulthood, too comfy beds to buy, the fat bags of doggie consumed with raising a kid and bring- treats to haul in and the tennis balls to ing home the bacon to be able to commit locate to replace those that have grown much quality time to a four-legged friend. too slick with slobber or rolled into the We have loved a few cats in that time, but bushes where even the good boys can’t have been, of course, unloved by them. retrieve them. Does The Observer still We’ve never been roommates with a cat have what it takes, gray as we are? And yet that we didn’t believe would respond after that, another question: How do we to news of our tragic death with a silent, break it to the cats?

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CONSERVATIVE VS. CONSERVATIVE: Sen. Bryan King is being challenged for his seat by state Rep. Bob Ballinger.

The firebrand vs. the happy warrior Ballinger, King square off for Senate District 5. BY JACOB KAUFFMAN


epublican primary voters in state rial contest. The race is one of two GOP duration of the legislative ride. Senate District 5 are in for a treat primaries pitting Hutchinson-leaning Differences are apparent on a few May 22. state representatives against incumbent policy issues, such as King’s opposition Incumbent Sen. Bryan King and his senators favorable to Hutchinson’s pri- to the Ballinger-backed constitutional challenger, state Rep. Bob Ballinger, are mary foe, Jan Morgan. amendment on the ballot this November both undeniably large personalities. By King’s animosity toward Hutchin- to limit the recovery of noneconomic any ranking, the two men are among the son is always bubbling to the surface. damages in litigation to $500,000 for most conservative members of an already King appears occasionally on “The Paul injury and neglect, as well as capping conservative Arkansas legislature. Harrell Program,” a radio show backed attorney fees. But much of the King/ Ballinger is a legislator who appears by Conduit for Action, a conservative Ballinger contest boils down to disagreeto relish the opportunities being a law- group that has been a thorn in the gov- ments over governing style. Is compromaker offers. His advocacy for conser- ernor’s side. In a September interview, mise allowable in the pursuit of a more vative Christian values has occasionally he referenced a letter from one of the conservative government? cast him onto a hostile national stage. But governor’s office administrative assisThe King/Ballinger election features Ballinger isn’t about fire and brimstone. tants, Doug Smith. It urged Mississippi the prerequisite Republican split over He describes himself as one of Ronald County Republicans not to let Morgan Medicaid expansion, some frank comReagan’s “happy warriors” and regularly speak at a function. The governor’s office ments about each other’s temperaments tells his opposition he respects them. says it was just Smith’s personal opinion. and the not-so-thrilling kitchen table King wants to portray himself as a The letter itself claims that as well. King issue of a new $18 fee to clean up a finanman who speaks truth to power. King’s sees it differently. cial mess at the Ozark Mountain Solid truth is that Governor Hutchinson, “Get ready for the Hutchinsons, Waste District. enabled by legislators like Ballinger, because they know to hold on to power The Senate district includes Berhas been feigning conservatism while they’ve got to do the most dirtiest politics ryville, Huntsville, West Fork, Alma allowing the state budget to grow and out there possible,” King told the “Har- and Mulberry. It borders Missouri on expanding Obamacare. rell” show audience. “They’re afraid of the north, a sliver of Oklahoma on the The primary election for this mostly Jan Morgan. They’re afraid of the truth.” west and sneaks over to the other side of rural district on the margins of NorthBallinger can usually be counted on the Arkansas River south of Lavaca. The west Arkansas fits nicely into the dom- to have Hutchinson’s back at the end of district’s senator also will represent the inant Republican primary drama this the day while exerting rightward pres- liberal bastion of Eureka Springs. election emanating from the gubernato- sure on the conservative governor for the The electoral matchup looked a lot


APRIL 19, 2018


different at the close of last year. Back in December, King told the Madison County Record he wouldn’t seek reelection. “I’m taking care of eight chicken houses and we have family deals,” King said at the time. “Primarily, it’s just gotten real trying to take care of that and do this on top of it. With Little Rock being far away and this being a big district, things are just kind of trying right now.” Ballinger, a resident of Berryville, declared his candidacy in June. At the time his likely competitor was state Rep. Charlotte Douglas (R-Alma). But Douglas ultimately never entered the race, and in late February, King unexpectedly declared he would seek re-election. Douglas threw her support behind King. King and Ballinger are both fundamentally opposed to the concept of extending Medicaid coverage to ablebodied adults. But their votes on the program, which has been rebranded Arkansas Works by Governor Hutchinson, are now on opposite ends. In 2013, former Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe and a bipartisan group of lawmakers voted to expand the state’s Medicaid program to adults earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The Affordable Care Act-enabled program helped Arkansas lead the nation in reducing its uninsured rate. But it’s also divided the GOP caucus ever since. King has always opposed Medicaid expansion. Up until recently, Ballinger did, too. But he’s made a tactical switch, deciding to support the program on the condition that leadership pursure new restrictive policies on Medicaid access for able-bodied people. King has not been shy about criticizing fellow Republicans. King told this reporter in 2016 after a floor debate, “I don’t want to go off like a pro wrestler but we all ran on stopping Obamacare and yet we are voting to expand Obamacare. It’s hypocritical and someone needs to call them out on it.” Ballinger is certainly not a Medicaid expansion fan, but he’s decided to deal with his minority position differently. At the creation of the program, Ballinger cast his vote as a no. In the years since he’s piled up no votes, tried to decouple the Medicaid expansion appro-

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priation from the overall state Department of Human Services budget and has offered unsuccessful legislation to phase out the program. Ballinger even voted against Hutchinson’s rebranding of the private option to Arkansas Works. But in March, in the 2018 fiscal session, Ballinger voted yes on the DHS/ Medicaid expansion funding bill. He decided to go down a different legislative road from King’s. “I realize that ending expansion to able-bodied working adults is not going to happen overnight. … As long as the trajectory is narrowing the program, then it makes it less prohibitive to support the DHS appropriation,” Ballinger said in a recent interview. (King declined to be interviewed.) Hutchinson inherited Medicaid expansion. Without it, he argues, the state’s budget would be imperiled, rural hospitals sent over the brink and hundreds of thousands of low-income people cast into uncertainty. But in his first term, Hutchinson has also acted to curtail enrollment. He’s secured a federal waiver from President Trump’s administration to add work-related requirements for some to continue coverage. Hutchinson’s long-term, state-controlled block grant funding vision for the program promises future moves to restrict coverage. He’s tried, but has thus far been unsuccessful, to scale back beneficiaries’ income eligibility from 138 percent of the federal poverty level to 100 percent. King sees these efforts as window dressing and avoidance of the hard task at hand — ending the Affordable Care Act in any form. He’s offered several pieces of legislation that have failed to clear committee that sought to end the program entirely. Ballinger sees King’s approach as a fatal flaw undermining his ability to be an effective legislator. “He’s butted his head against the wall a long time and it has frustrated him. His governing style is one of frustration.” Ballinger, a lawyer, is in his third term in the House and chairs the House State Agencies Committee. King, a farmer at Triple K Farms, served three terms in the House and is seeking a third in the Senate. The Republican primary winner will face Democrat Jim Wallace and Libertarian Lee Evans.

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¡Viva el libro! The Arkansas Literary Festival is back.


or four short days next week, rockabilly royalty Wanda Jackson, “science advice goddess” Amy Alkon, comic book pioneer Trina Robbins and a slew of other authors and artists converge in Little Rock for the 2018 Arkansas Literary Festival. It’s your best bet for encountering some of your favorite (and future favorite) writers, and a fitting occasion for getting your head out of a book and celebrating the written word in real life, with other people. Here’s a snapshot of festival events to guide your weekend, along with a handful of conversations with creators appearing at this year’s lit fest: Anthony DeCurtis (“Lou Reed: A Life”), Michelle Kuo (“Reading with Patrick”), Monica Clark-Robinson (“Let the Children March”), Trina Robbins (“Last Girl Standing”), Hanna Al-Jibouri and Carmen Maria Machado (“Her Body and Other Parties”). For a full festival schedule, see

The many sides of Lou Reed Anthony DeCurtis’ biography of the rock hero goes beyond the myth. BY LINDSEY MILLAR


ou Reed famously held journalists in low esteem. But the renowned singer/songwriter, founder of The Velvet Underground and godfather of glam and punk, liked Anthony DeCurtis, longtime contributing editor to Rolling Stone. The two had friendly interactions for decades. After Reed died in 2013, DeCurtis went to work on the biography that would become “Lou Reed: A Life” with the goal of writing a “three-dimensional” portrait of the self-mythologizing artist. The result is a sympathetic portrait of a complicated man — a genius who wildly experimented with drugs and sex and had a history of domestic abuse; an outre song stylist who loved pop music and longed to make hit records; a provocateur who alienated most of the people who cared about him; a visionary who had more influence on the course of rock music than just about anyone in the last half century. There’s no question Reed would have hated the book, DeCurtis says. We talked to DeCurtis in advance of his Arkansas Literary Festival


APRIL 19, 2018


appearance, 11:30 a.m. April 28 in the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies. I knew the broad strokes of the Lou Reed myth before reading the book. In particular, that he’d had a middle class upbringing, but was forced into electro-shock treatments by his parents, which he saw as abusive and pivotal in his life. But you paint a more sympathetic and nuanced picture of his relationship with his parents. That was one of the early revelations of the book. That first came by way of Bettye [Kronstad], his first wife. My conception of Lou’s father was something that came by way of Lou, particularly in interviews he did back in the 1970s, when he would talk about personal things like that. He painted a pretty monstrous picture of who his father was. It was sort of amazing to hear over and over again that that wasn’t the case. His father was a very conventional guy, who would have liked nothing more than for his son to take over his

accounting business. He didn’t get that. As it happened, he was very much like Lou: He was very smart; he was stubborn. He was acting on the best advice he could get it, in a situation that was difficult for any parent: Lou, as a teenager, was using drugs and having wild mood swings, was sneaking out to gay bars, which certainly back then was wildly transgressive. There was nothing malevolent in the decision to give Lou the electroshock treatments. That was a pretty common prescription back in those days. The impact on Lou was horrendous, there’s no doubt about that, although Lou used it emotionally to kind of carve

out a persona for himself in opposition to that. But Lou would swing back and forth. When he quit The Velvet Underground in 1970, he went right back out to Long Island and moved into his old room [in his parents’ house]. … Like so many things regarding him, it was a much more complicated emotional relationship than it might have initially appeared. One consistent theme throughout your book is how often Reed changed

his mind about whether a song or an album or a collaborator of his was good. Lou was really fond of Edgar Allan Poe and there’s this idea of The Imp of the Perverse: that you long for things that are not good for you and you reject things that are good for you. There were plenty of things in Lou’s life that he wanted until he got them. Lou wanted to be a star; there’s no doubt about it. With The Velvet Underground, he invented a kind of underground rock where it was possible to be a “successful band” and not sell records. He didn’t go for that. He wanted to sell records. But once he did, he didn’t want to be a hit maker. He didn’t want to be perceived as Mr. “Walk on the Wild Side.” Then he would take some left turn. But once it seemed that his

audience truly was going to be alienated, then he would move back to the center. It was a real dynamic in him. There was a restlessness, you could say. He wasn’t comfortable staying in one spot, whether that was the idol of the underground or the godfather of punk or someone who sold a lot of records, which he did on several occasions. He wanted all of it. One of the things that was fascinating about that part of his personality was talking to Clive Davis. Clive’s whole career has rested on the ability to identify what it takes to make something a hit. When Lou signed with Arista in the late ’70s, he was kind of in desperate straits. He needed something. So when Clive sits there and listens to “I Believe in Love” or “Rock and Roll Heart,” and says to Lou, “I think I could get this on the radio, but we just need to

sweeten it up in spots. It’s a little spare the way it is.” And Lou says, “Absolutely not.” Talking to Clive, Clive said, “I get it. It’s like you’re the gallery owner and you’re talking to the painter, and you say, ‘If you put a little more blue in it, I could probably do better with it.’ But the guy says, ‘No, this is the painting.’ But the rest of the time the guy, he’s in your office telling you about how he wants to sell records.” That little anecdote tells a lot about Lou. He wanted it completely on his own terms. But there’s a reality to selling records. Certainly in those days, you had to get on the radio, and there were only certain things that were gonna do that. If you didn’t want to do those things, it wasn’t going to happen. Speaking of alienating his audience, how many times did you

listen to “Metal Machine Music,” Reed’s album of nothing but guitar noise? I listened to it straight through one time. In life, maybe like three times. I value that experience. You earn your stripes to a degree. I think one of the things Lou took great pleasure in was that among avant-garde classical composers and fans, it’s regarded as an important document. Like so many things in his life, he spoke about it in so many different ways that it’s really hard to know what his intention was when he made it, if he thought he was making an art object or if it just was a big “fuck you,” or both somehow. It turned out to be both. Nothing made Lou happier than something that came out and got vilified, but was glorified later. He loved that.

nonprofit organization. Describe your first Poetic Justice visit.

Poetic Justice A Q&A with Hanna Al-Jibouri. BY KATY HENRIKSEN


anna Al-Jibouri, 28, found Al-Jibouri said. poetic justice in an unlikely Then Al-Jibouri answered a place after moving back to her Facebook post from her high school hometown of Tulsa as a recent Hendrix English teacher, inquiring about College English grad. It wasn’t through volunteers for a new program that her job as an elementary school teacher, would teach writing to incarcerated fulfilling as that was. It wasn’t through women in Oklahoma, home to the attending open mic nights or getting highest incarceration rate per capita a chapbook published. In fact, “I’d in the United States. Al-Jibouri is three lost the sense of myself as a writer,” years in at Poetic Justice now, and she

has a lot of stories to tell about the transformative power of words, even for those who have been sentenced to life without parole. She also continues to teach elementary school in a state that’s making national headlines for the historic strike. For Al-Jibouri, literature, education, activism and advocacy all work in tandem, and resonate from her core. She and her colleague at Poetic Justice, Ellen Stackable, will speak at the Ron Robinson Theater at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, April 28, as part of the Arkansas Literary Festival. The discussion is accompanied by a screening — the first outside the state of Oklahoma — of “Grey Matter,” a 20-minute documentary on the

I was given brief guidelines to follow. I had to wear closed-toed shoes. I couldn’t wear orange. I had to leave everything in the car but my keys and my license. I was just going in with no expectations and also a whole myriad of expectations that I didn’t even realize I was having once I actually stepped into the classroom at Tulsa County Jail. It’s an interesting space. I’ll describe it. We’re in the pod where the women live, 100 per pod. To the side, they have their cells where their beds are, then a lobby with TV and chairs. Off to the side, there’s this really tiny classroom that fits 25 women. That was our capacity. The room was full, plus five of us. When you think about the 75 women not in the classroom making noise, just being there, it was a pretty chaotic and hardto-focus area. We realized we had to be super intentional on setting up a space where women were able to focus, to make sure that they were separated from that pod even if they were still in it. I don’t think we planned to do this, but we did a breathing exercise and a meditation. Now that’s become a norm. Poetic Justice credits literacy as a powerful transformative tool that can be lifesaving. Can you elaborate on that idea? We started with not knowing what we’re doing, but we had a lot of questions. One of the questions was: Can APRIL 19, 2018


writing save a life? … We went in with a predetermined answer, [but] seeing it play out in the jail was extraordinarily different. When you’re at the jail, you’re there for about three weeks — maybe a month — waiting for trial, waiting to be released. It’s a holding tank or a waiting room. At Tulsa County Jail, things are so out of order and disorderly, so there were women waiting a year or even two years for their sentencing. It’s a really depressing place if you think of it only in that regard. We knew that writing could save

these women’s lives, but it might not be as easy as it was to save my life. So we really had to establish that safe space. In the two hours that we were with them, observers who watch us are always remarking on the fact that we only write for 15 or 20 minutes. … What we are saying is that writing is more than simply the act of writing. Writing is a way to tell stories, a way to communicate and be in healthy relationships with others. We do a lot of that in class, aside from just the writing itself. We’ve now moved to prisons, and

I would say a big difference there is that we were meeting women who had received their sentences. A lot of women taking our class were never leaving the criminal justice system again. They’re sentenced to life, many without parole, so our question had to shift. It was no longer “Can writing save someone’s life?” but “Could writing save someone’s life even if they were going to spend the rest of their lives in prison?” So that question is one we’re still constantly exploring, and I feel like it absolutely can. Because if you can’t have a meaningful

life, regardless of where that life is, then what is your purpose? What is the point of being who you are? I think therapeutic writing has shown itself to me, and to the women, to give them a voice and let them be heard. More often than not these women are talked at — they’re not listened to. Because of this, we do a lot of listening, and I think it’s one of the rare times when they’re incarcerated that they get to be heard.

important to me to get it in there. I also knew I wanted to write a story about fatness, but I hadn’t figured out what it was, but it felt important for the project. And then eventually I put together “Eight Bites.” The book involves a lot of genreshifting, and at times can feel like a literary exercise to read. Especially in the story, “The Husband Stitch,” the reader is instructed to interact with the text.

It’ll be raining A Q&A with Carmen Maria Machado. BY RACHAEL BORNÉ


at the University of Pennsylvania and lives in Philadelphia with her wife. Machado will join her friend and author Bennett Sims for a conversation on “literature striding into genre” at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, April 28, at the Historic Arkansas Museum as part of this year’s Arkansas Literary Festival.

armen Maria Machado’s first 12 “Law & Order: SVU” seasons in short story collection, “Her “Especially Heinous.” She dares the Some of the stories in your book Body and Other Parties,” is a reader to explore the darkest spaces of have lived in other publications first. bewitching examination of the lives the heart and psyche, to dissect (using a Was it difficult for you to narrow of women, both lived and imagined. sharp scalpel) our understanding of sex down the stories you wanted to The world of Machado’s characters and queerness, our body expectations include in this book, and were any of feels harsh and unapologetic, yet and purchase on the material world. them written specifically with “Her magical and real. That world is Machado’s style ignores genre Body” in mind? revealed across eight stories, tales of classification to produce a work that desire and insecurity woven together is eerie and playful, suspenseful and I wanted the book to have this theme in sumptuous prose. “The Husband erotic, tactile and endlessly imaginative. of bodies and sex and queerness and Stitch” recalls tropes from classic It’s also quite funny. “Her Body and gender, and I wrote some that wouldn’t horror stories and urban legends, the Other Parties” was nominated for the fit into that category, so I didn’t include text peppered with parenthetical National Book Award in 2017. Her them. As I got toward the end of the instructions to the reader. A laundry fiction and criticism have appeared in process, when I had been working on list of a woman’s erotic exchanges is The New Yorker, The New York Times, “The Resident” for a really long time, detailed in “Inventory” and a violent Guernica and Tin House, among other I was having trouble finishing, but I drama unfolds in her retelling of places. She is the writer in residence knew that it fit in the book, so it was 16

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I very much like when fiction or any kind of writing implicates the reader in some way, and there’s lots of ways that that is done. I was really interested in that story, the way in which these commands of instructions or stage directions implicate the reader. It’s funny; there’s one [instruction] in that story that says, like, “Open the curtain, it’ll be raining I promise,” and I’m sure, if anyone actually does that, oftentimes it’s not raining, but I have definitely heard from like 10 people who said, “I did it, and it was raining!” Text itself is very metaphorical in that way: You read a piece of writing and you are engaging with the author, even if the author wasn’t thinking of you specifically, or might be dead or is not present, but you’re connecting with them in this way. It’s almost a more obvious way of playing with that. There is a sense of facing one’s fears in the book, and situating one’s everyday fears within a more fantastical world. Have readers been thankful for this fear-facing catharsis? Fear is definitely part of it. People tend to thank me for talking about sex and normalizing queer people. This quality of “Let’s face the metaphor of our lives and face these things pretty head-on,” I think people are grateful


for that. I myself am grateful when I read fiction where the author takes something that I’ve been thinking about for a long time and turns it on its side, and I’m like, “Oh, my God, you’re right!” I love the way you write about sex, especially queer sex, in this hyperrealistic way. Why do you think it’s important to complicate portrayals of sexual relationships in fiction? Sex is like a unit of measurement. It’s part of the human condition. We all have bodies; most people experience sexual desire as a matter of course. Desires change and shift throughout their lives. There is explicit sex in literary fiction, but it’s often written

by old white men and very reductive and sexist and women’s bodies are approached with this disgust or the alienness. I was really interested in thinking about female-centered sex, and queer sex in a way that is normalized. Women have desire, queer women have desire, it’s just part of the process. It’s not bad. There’s something really joyful and liberating about it. Sex scenes complicate the situation and encourage character development. You’re getting this other side, this other angle of a character or set of characters. Your forthcoming novel is a fulllength memoir, “House in Indiana.” Is that format new to you? What is

the book about?

way you are in the world of fiction?

It’s the first time I’ve written a bookOh, my god, so many. Last year length, personal-fiction writing project. was an amazing year for short story So, it’s definitely weird uncharted collections. Actually another writer territory. I’m excited and nervous and who will be at the Arkansas Literary having a lot of emotions about it. It’s Festival, Bennett Sims, is a friend of still in progress, so I’m thinking about mine and I’m a huge fan of his work. it a lot. Lesley Nneka Arimah, she had a It’s about domestic violence in same- collection come out last year called sex relationships. That’s sort of the “When a Man Falls from the Sky,” center of it, but it’s about a lot of other and it’s a gorgeous genre-shattering things, too. It’s hard to describe. The short story collection. Jenny Zhang’s primary focus is the hidden narrative collection “Sour Heart” is amazing. of domestic violence in same-sex Obviously people like Kelly Link and relationships. Karen Russell are doing really exciting things. I’m really interested in the Who are some writers that are short story form and what’s happening pushing the envelope in the same in the genre right now.

What about now A Q&A with Michelle Kuo. BY MATT BAKER


t 22 years old, Michelle Kuo reveal that signed on with Teach for Amer- you felt like ica and ended up in Helena-West you didn’t do Helena. The daughter of Taiwanese all that much immigrants, raised in the suburban for Patrick, Midwest, with a mere five weeks of that just a litclassroom training under her belt, Kuo tle push, a little was by all definitions “unqualified” — attention, disand a complete outsider. She arrived cipline/boundin Helena-West Helena confident her aries seemed own love for the work of James Bald- to work so win and other African-American writ- well for him. I ers could be easily passed on. What she mean, is that all it takes in education? wasn’t prepared for was a school prin- Also, in the end, do you think Patrick cipal with her own attendance problem, was an exception; that even if we had poverty and familial dysfunction, and more Michelle Kuos and other dedithe realization that, in many ways, the cated teachers, the environmental/ African-American population in the social/economic problems are too Delta was left behind. Kuo’s first year overwhelming? of teaching was, by her own reporting, In the Delta, social and economic a disaster. She did, though, befriend problems tend to determine the outPatrick, a student she would later visit comes of students unless major interdaily, teaching him poetry and writing ventions occur. New scientific research while attempting to aid his legal defense shows what is common sense: It’s against a murder charge. “Reading with hard to learn when you’re hungry. It’s Patrick” tells that story — but also Kuo’s hard to process information if you’ve own life story, touching not only on experienced trauma. It’s hard to focus education but the criminal justice sys- when you’re worried about your dad tem, the destruction of the family and in prison and when he’s coming home. economic determinism. Kuo speaks at In education, major interventions 10 a.m. Saturday, April 28, at the Ron include regular access to quality menRobinson Theater as part of this year’s tal health counselors, an extraordiArkansas Literary Festival. nary school with a culture that expects I found a sadness in that you excellence and addresses trauma, and

a school district that attracts quality teachers and principals. Outside of education, we need to provide poor people with meaningful opportunities of wealth. We need programs to help adults own land and property, and meaningful education and job training. Patrick made extraordinary, indisputable gains in his literacy over seven short months. I don’t believe I did that much: I spent time with him daily, found him books, gave him space to write. But the key is that I was conscientious about spending time with him. He had nobody else in the county jail, just as he had no tutor and books when he was growing up. So as unique as my daily commitment appears during those seven months, the things I did are the bare minimum that middle and upper class families provide. Think about what they do without a second thought: buy books, hire

tutors, provide networks of informal consultants (e.g. their friends) on career and where to go to college, move to a school district with attentive teachers and guidance counselors, and provide uncrowded space in homes — not to mention quiet spots in the neighborhood, absent of the fear of violence, where they can think and play. Do you think there are a lot of people outside of the South who don’t realize just how bad the Delta and similar regions are in terms of overall quality of life, poor services — poor everything? Or have we just accepted it as a constant, something that’ll never change? That, sure, there’ll be a few successes here and there — Patrick, for one — but this is just the way it is. I think most people outside of the South are ignorant about the condiCONTINUED ON PAGE 18 APRIL 19, 2018


tions in the Delta. Rural black poverty just doesn’t live in the consciousness of people who live outside of the South. Most have no concept of it, no idea at all. If you talk about the Delta to young educated progressives who live outside of the South, they tend to mention one of two things: racism of violent white mobs or the civil rights movement. But these events, however important, took place two generations ago. What about now, what about poverty today? We have to travel there, live there, face it. Half the African-American children in the Delta are food insecure, meaning they are hungry. The per-capita income

is among the lowest in the country. We my parents were from Taiwan. Students their relatives, especially their elders, have to deal with it. — most had never left Helena — wanted and incorporated more oral history Do you think being Asian Ameri- to know how to get to Taiwan and do into the class. These are intimate concan helped you in Helena? That your you take a plane there and what lan- versations to have, and I would have seeming “outsider-ness” gave you an guage do they speak and what do they tried to establish trust by being more advantage, or was it a disadvantage? believe. In a classroom, this curiosity vulnerable when they brought up me I know you were disparaged directly is gold. being Asian American. At the time, I several times, but beyond that? If you could change one thing, in didn’t know enough about my parents Being Asian American in Helena all of the time you spent in Helena, and Taiwan, or about Asian-American meant that I was conspicuous — I before Patrick’s arrest or after, what history — exploring these issues came don’t think I knew more than five Asian would it have been?I would have had later in my life — and so I got defensive. Americans there. But it’s true that being more open conversations about race We could have had a deeper exchange an outsider is helpful in ways. In the in my classroom. I would have asked if I felt more comfortable being vulnerclassroom it gave me more leeway: them more questions about their expe- able. I carried less baggage than a white riences and their family’s experiences. teacher would. I explained to students I would have asked them to interview

On Yiddishkeit and fishnets A Q&A with Trina Robbins. BY STEPHANIE SMITTLE


rina Robbins has an easy laugh designed clothes for the likes of Mama and a Blossom Dearie lilt to her Cass and David Crosby, she co-founded voice, and she’s been using that the long-running Wimmin’s Comix voice to call out the comic book industry anthology and she is the “Trina” in on its patriarchal bullshit for decades. Joni Mitchell’s “Ladies of the Canyon”: Robbins was the first woman to draw “Trina wears her wampum beads/She “Wonder Woman,” she’s made and fills her drawing book with line/Sewing 18

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lace on widows’ weeds/And filigree on leaf and vine.” When I spoke to Robbins in advance of her appearance at the Arkansas Literary Festival (4 p.m. Saturday, April 28, at the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies), she was just wrapping up a sidewalk sale with some friends. Within minutes, she’d switched breathlessly from packing up boxes outdoors to calling out the mid-’60s underground comics world for depicting the mutilation of women under the guise of satire. Even women who are not all about comics or “Wonder Woman” minutia may know you as a feminist hero. What’s the next frontier, in terms of gender equality? It’s really amazing. First of all, I really and truly never dreamed that there would be so many women creating comics. All I ever wanted was just some women and, voila! I think when it comes to graphic novels, there

may be more women than men. And they’re all so good! And of course, the #metoo movement is wonderful. I mean, in the late ’60s and the early ’70s, I was objecting to underground comics that showed murder and mutilation and humiliation of women as something funny, and I was saying, “This isn’t funny!” And nobody else was saying that. So the guys could just say, “Well, you have no sense of humor.” And you know, the universal excuse for horrible things — for sexism and racism and homophobia — is satire. Bullshit! It isn’t satire. Now, we have this awareness. We have the #metoo movement. We have terms like rape culture, [terms] that did not exist. It’s wonderful how far we have come. And of course there are those who want us to go back. There are those who do not want us to have control over our own bodies. But they are not gonna win. We’re not goin’ back, ya know? It’s easy for women in their 30s like me, or younger, swept up in this moment of the #metoo movement and in fights for equal pay, to feel like this is new: “This is it!’ We’ve had enough!” We forget that some of this anger is ages old. Yeah. But now, we haven’t had enough. Obviously we haven’t had enough as long as there are people who brag about grabbing women’s genitals. Presidents. Exactly. Trump and his cohorts. We’re always gonna have to fight. I marched on the Women’s March in Washington in January 2017, and it was like, I can’t believe I still have to protest this stuff. I’ve been protesting it since the ’60s. CONTINUED ON PAGE 18




If you light it up, please don’t throw it down. Littering is illegal in Arkansas, and improperly discarded cigarette butts poison our environment. Do your part. Keep Arkansas Beautiful. Report Littering. 1-866-811-1222

Want to keep your community free of cigarette litter, and all litter? Text VOLUNTEER to 484848!



Cigarette butts are the most-littered item in Arkansas and around the world. More than 4 trillion are littered each year worldwide – including in our beautiful Natural State. There is only one source of cigarette litter – smokers – and 75 percent of them admit to flicking their butts to the ground. Those butts are full of toxic, non-biodegradable plastic (not cotton) fibers. As Earth Day approaches, Arkansans have an opportunity to join the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission in their local communities to make sure cigarettes don’t go from lit to litter. “If you light it up, don’t throw it down,” said Mark Camp, director of the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission. “It’s going to take all of us to keep Arkansas litter-free. Whether it’s an ashtray in the designated smoking area or a water bottle in your car, those butts can be disposed of properly and easily.” Do you want a litter-free community? It’s simpler than you think to do your part – as easy as a text message. The Great American Cleanup in Arkansas continues through May and invites Arkansans to join a community cleanup. You can quickly join by texting “VOLUNTEER” to 484848, or by visiting for more information on cleanup events. Get involved in your community to keep The Natural State clean and green during the Great American Cleanup in Arkansas. APRIL 19, 2018


You took up sewing at an early age, and made clothes for your friends for a long, long time, yes? Yes. Well, first I was making clothes for myself, but how many clothes can you have in your closet? So then I was making them and selling them at craft fairs. And because I was hanging out on the Sunset Strip, people noticed my clothes and wanted me to make clothes for them. Before I knew it, I was making clothes for rock stars. All my female friends had at least one outfit by me, it’s just the way it turned out. Can you talk about how that sensibility — about how clothes hang on a woman’s body — translated into your comics? I don’t think it translated into my work in comics, I think it paralleled my work in comics. I still love comics and I still love clothes. I think clothes are so much fun. I can certainly tell you the way in mainstream comics they’ve always drawn superheroines in costumes that absolutely would not work at all, that are ridiculous. It’s gotten a little better these days, but if you look at some of them — especially if you go back to the ’80s and ’90s — they have women running around in spike-heeled shoes, 5-, 6-inch heeled boots and little teeny tiny butt-baring outfits. I don’t really follow superheroes, but for the longest time, this character “Black Canary” wore fishnet tights. Running around and fighting criminals?! She’d go through a pair of fishnet tights every night! She’d go broke just keeping herself in fishnets. So, in addition to “Last Girl Standing,” you’ve got this project “A Minyan Yidn un Andere Zakhn: A Bunch of Jews and Other Stuff.” Essentially, it’s a bunch of stories translated to English from Yiddish, and which your father wrote in 1938. Yes. That’s what they are. In a weird way, it’s kind of like his memoir. Like I’ve taken his memoir and turned it into a graphic novel. The stories, maybe 85 percent of them, are about the people from his little tiny hometown in what is now Belarus. The other maybe 15 percent are stories about people in the 20s and 30s in Brooklyn and the Lower East Side when he came here. By here, I mean New York.


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I came across an interview in which you were talking about when you were young, and not thinking Yiddish was a particularly interesting or fashionable thing. Are you coming back around to it? Oh, yes! I’m totally coming back around. I’m taking Yiddish classes. The trouble is, I grew up in an ItalianIrish Catholic neighborhood and we were the only Jews. I didn’t want to be; I wanted to belong. I wanted to be like everybody else. Oh, I was so bitter when they would take their First Communion and dress up like little brides! I didn’t get to do that. So I had to grow up and get out into the world and discover that not everyone was IrishItalian Catholic. So yeah, I’m totally into Judaica and Yiddishkeit. Not the religion, of course! I mean, I cannot believe in some bearded guy in the sky. Do you remember any early influences, or things that you loved artistically as a kid? Not really, no. My mother was a second-grade schoolteacher. She taught me to read and write when I was 4. That influenced me enormously, because I totally got into books and reading, and into writing and making up stories.

2018 Arkansas Literary Festival Schedule THURSDAY 4/26 Main Library, Fri“Then and Now.” Art and illustration bourgh Room. by Frank Morrison. 5:30 p.m., Hearne Fine Art. “Let the Children March.” Author Monica Clark-Robinson and illustra“Bygone Badass Broads.” Mackenzi tor Frank Morrison. 10:30 a.m., Hillary Lee’s history of trailblazers. 6 p.m., Rodham Clinton Children’s Library. ESSE Purse Museum. “Poetic Justice.” Educators Ellen “The Queen of Rockabilly.” Wanda Stackable and Hannah Al-Jibouri. 11:30 Jackson in concert. 7 p.m., Ron Rob- a.m., Ron Robinson Theater. inson Theater, $20. “Story Stew.” Author Jason Gallaher. FRIDAY 4/27 11:30 a.m., Main Library, Youth Services. “Wanda Jackson Uncensored.” Moderated by Anthony DeCurtis. Noon, “Unf*ckology.” Author Amy Alkon. Main Library, Darragh Center. 11:30 a.m., Main Library, Darragh Center. “Puff Pastry, Sweet and Savory.” Martin Philip of King Arthur Flour. Noon, “Lou Reed: A Life.” Author Anthony Eggshells Kitchen Co., $15. DeCurtis. 11:30 a.m., Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, room 124. “Author! Author!” A fete in honor of the lit fest guests. 7 p.m., Main Library, “Rich and Thrilling.” Authors Julia Hea$25-$40. berlin and Nathaniel Rich. 11:30 a.m., River Market Books & Gifts. SATURDAY 4/28

The Kinders. A program of children’s “The Way Forward.” Authors Carmen music. 9:30 a.m., Hillary Rodham Clin- Maria Machado and Bennett Sims. ton Children’s Library. 11:30 a.m., Historic Arkansas Museum. “Wickedly Good Free Book Fair.” 9:30 “Provocative Territories.” Authors Ken a.m.-2:30 p.m., Hillary Rodham Clinton Ilgunas and Doug Mack. 11:30 a.m., Children’s Library. Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center. “Black American Voices.” Author and NBA All-Star Joe Barry Carroll. 10 a.m., “Fire Sermon.” Author Jamie Quatro. Main Library, Darragh Center. 11:30 a.m., Christ Episcopal Church. “I Literature and Language.” Authors Michelle Kuo and Kory Stamper. 10 “Race and Religion.” Authors Daisy a.m., Ron Robinson Theater. Khan and Ijeoma Oluo. 1 p.m., Ron Robinson Theater. “About Family.” Authors Anne Fadiman and David Giffels. 10 a.m., Butler “American Runway.” Fashion editor Center for Arkansas Studies, room 124. Booth Moore. 1 p.m., Main Library, Darragh Center. “Jump Girl: The Initiation and Art of a Spirit Speaker.” Medium and mem- “Southern Women.” Authors Julie oirist Salicrow. 10 a.m., River Market Cantrell, Liz Talley and Annie England Books & Gifts. Noblin. 1 p.m., Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, room 124. “Hillbilly/Cult.” Authors Blake Perkins and Debby Schriver. 10 a.m., Historic “Carnival of Now.” Authors Julia Arkansas Museum. Whicker and Anjali Sachdeva. 1 p.m., River Market Books & Gifts. “Fish Tales.” Authors Jennifer Case and Mark Spitzer. 10 a.m., Witt Stephens Jr. “America’s Excalibur.” Co-authors Bill Central Arkansas Nature Center. Worthen and Mark Zalesky. 1 p.m., Historic Arkansas Museum. “Ozarkian Gothic.” Authors Kelly J. Ford and Jarret Middleton. 10 a.m., “Poems for a New Communion.”

Poets Lisa Zordal, Molly McCully-Brown SUNDAY 4/29 “Let Them Eat Pie.” A pie bake-off and and Jacob Shores-Arguelo. 1 p.m., Witt “An Evening With Sebastian Junger.” “Factor Man.” Author and crossword recipe swap. 4 p.m., The Root Cafe. Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature 7 p.m., Ron Robinson Theater, free, res- puzzle creator Matt Ginsberg. 1 p.m., Center. ervations on Eventbrite. Sturgis Hall, Clinton School of Public “Classic in Context: I Know Why Service. the Caged Bird Sings.” With Cher“Rescue Dogs.” Author Grace Vest and “Pub or Perish.” Fest guests, locals isse Jones-Branch. 5:30 p.m., Ron the Humane Society of Pulaski County. and open mic participants read from “Arkansas Beer.” Author Bryan Soren- Robinson Theater, free, reserve on 1:30 p.m., Hillary Rodham Clinton Chil- their work. 7 p.m., Stickyz Rock ’n’ Roll son. 1:30 p.m., Flyway Brewing. $5 beer/ Eventbrite. dren’s Library. Chicken Shack. Presented by the Arkan- flight, reserve on Eventbrite. sas Times. “Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise.” A “Devilish Family Crimes.” Authors Dor“Desegregation.” Authors Wayne A. screening of the 2016 documentary. othy Marcic and Charlotte Laws. 2:30 “Lou Reed Tribute.” Isaac Alexander, Wiegand and Laverne Bell-Tolliver. 3 6:30 p.m., Ron Robinson Theater, free, p.m., Ron Robinson Theater. DOT and Iron Tongue. 10:15 p.m., Four p.m., Main Library, Darragh Center. reserve at Eventbrite. Quarter Bar, $5. “Teen Poet Laureate.” A spoken word competition. 2:30 p.m., Main Library, Level 4. “You Play the Spinster.” Authors Carina Chocano and Daniel Mallory Ortberg. 2:30 p.m., Main Library, Darragh Center. “Peach Whiskey.” Authors Emma Glass and Leesa Cross-Smith. 2:30 p.m., Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, room 124. “Toys of Desperation.” Karen Fry, Karen Tricot Steward and George Jensen discuss a novel by the late Ben Fry. 2:30 p.m., River Market Books & Gifts. “Breaking Bread.” Baker, author and banjoist Martin Philip. 2:30 p.m. Historic Arkansas Museum. “Calling the Wild.” Author Mike Lewis on duck hunting. 2:30 p.m., Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center. “Fiction & Fact.” Writers Guy Choate, Monica Lewis, Taunya Kidd and John Lambert. 2:30 p.m., Main Library, Fribourgh Room. “Sun Kings.” Authors Gilbert King and Bryan Mealer. 4 p.m., Ron Robinson Theater. “Heavenly Scribes.” Authors Carmen Boullosa and Kevin Brockmeier. 4 p.m., Main Library, Darragh Center. “Cartoonists.” Artists Trina Robbins, Erin Nations and M.K. Czerwiec. 4 p.m., Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, room 124.

Unneeded, broken or obsolete. If it’s electronic, unplug it and drop it off. We’ll recycle it for FREE! Wednesday, April 25 and Thursday, April 26 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Verizon Arena VIP Parking Lot North Little Rock Do the right thing and bring the right stuff. For a list of acceptable electronics and counter-top appliances, go to:

“Beyond Borders.” Authors Ibi Zoboi and Shanthi Sekaran. 4 p.m., River Market Books & Gifts. “Timeless Trio.” Authors Lee Conell, Christine Schutt and Matthew Pitt. 4 p.m., Historic Arkansas Museum.

Electronics Recycling Unplugged is a FREE drop-off collection for individuals, residences, businesses, non-profits,churches, governments, and schools, living and doing business in Pulaski County. Electronics Recycling Unplugged is a public service of the Regional Recycling & Waste Reduction District in Pulaski County. 501-340-8787 • APRIL 19, 2018










7 p.m. CALS Ron Robinson Theater. $10-$25.

7:30 p.m. The Joint Theater & Coffeehouse. $25.

Here’s the thing about the in our country,” as this event’s press #metoo movement: Even if you’re not release reads, storytelling project The sure where you stand, even if you un- Yarn is partnering with ACASA — the derstand that Harvey Weinstein was Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual As100 percent a predatory monster but sault — for an evening of true sexual aren’t so sure how you feel about, say, assault stories and a show of support Aziz Ansari, even if you have your own for those brave enough to stand up story but aren’t sure where it fits into in front of a crowd and tell them. Get the “movement”: Listening is always tickets at, a good move. Always. To that end, and where you can choose between $10 in the spirit of giving “other survivors general admission or, if your pockthe courage to step forward and join etbook can swing a donation, a $25 us as we move to end sexual violence ticket. SS

In an oral history project for the not-for-profit National Association of Music Merchants, Ed Gerhard describes how, in Lansdale, Pa., in 1970, he’d followed the inspiration he felt seeing Andres Segovia on TV and sought out classical guitar lessons at a music store. There he was stuck with what he called “drudgery,” playing one note at a time, on “tunes that you would never hear outside of a music store.” Fortunately, he had the good sense to quit after three lessons and delight himself with “Alice’s Restaurant” and some Mississippi John Hurt, and now he’s widely considered one of the finest acoustic guitarists in the

world. The acoustic Weissenborn he strums — his long, silver hair hanging just above — looks like an instrument that’d be featured on the body of an ancient Greek amphora; wooden neck and body are one continuous form, and it’s played lap-steel style. Whether it’s because of his heralded tone, his approachable demeanor or his tendency to pull tricks like wrapping a rubber band around a 12-string at the bridge, Gerhard’s workshops sell out and his concerts fill rooms to the brim. This is a rare chance to see him in a snug little theater without paying an arm and a leg. SS

REEL RURAL: Cassidy Freeman stars in Cheryl Nichols’ “Cortez,” on the lineup at Ozark Foothills FilmFest this weekend and next.



Various times. Melba Theater, University of Arkansas Community College, Batesville. $3-$30.

Once a year, film nerds have ton’s “My Good Man’s Gone,” Artu- Arthur Conan Doyle’s paleontology a good reason to set their phone’s ro Perez Torres’ “The Drawer Boy” phase that pits humanoids against GPS to Independence County, and Jamie Sisley’s “Farewell Ferris dinosaurs in a remote part of the where for 17 years the folks at the Wheel,” all of which screen Satur- Amazon, will be screened opening Ozark Foothills FilmFest have been day and are introduced with a panel night in the historic (and now, beaubringing groundbreaking cinema discussion that morning with the tifully restored) Melba Theater. to Batesville, of all places. High- four filmmakers. To open the fes- Forty-five films will be screened lights include the “Reel Rural” fo- tival, the Lyon College Jazz Band overall, many of them Arkansas cus of the festival with screenings will play an original score to accom- premieres, and they’re scheduled in of films that depict small town life: pany the 1925 silent film “The Lost blocks with their genre fellows: ArCheryl Nichols’ “Cortez,” Nick Cit- World.” The film, a byproduct of Sir kansas shorts, documentary shorts,


APRIL 19, 2018


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international animation, etc. Even better, they’re priced by the block at $3-$7 with some free events mixed in, making this one of the more affordable film fests in the country ($30 gets you the “Red Eye” allmovie pass). Check it out at SS




Guitarist and songwriter Ian Moore returns to the White Water Tavern, 9 p.m., $10. Stoney LaRue takes the stage at the Rev Room, 8:30 p.m., $15-$20. The Arkansas Travelers face off against the Springfield Cardinals, 7:10 p.m. Thu.-Fri., 6:10 p.m. Sat., 2:10 p.m. Sun., Dickey-Stephens Ballpark, $7-$13. (Or catch them playing the Tulsa Drillers 7:10 p.m. Mon., 11 a.m. Tue., 7:10 p.m. Wed.-Thu.) Rita Coburn Whack, Genine Latrice Perez and the Celebrate! Maya Project honor the legacy of Maya Angelou with a luncheon in the Clinton Presidential Center’s Great Hall, 11:30 a.m., $90. “Disney on Ice: Reach for the Stars” kicks off at Verizon Arena, 7 p.m. Wed.-Sat., 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sat., 2 p.m. Sun., $16-$61. Comedian and actor Brian Scolaro goes for laughs at The Loony Bin, 7:30 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 10 p.m. Fri.-Sat., $8-$12. Hendrix College hosts Arkie Pub Trivia at Stone’s Throw Brewing, 6:30 p.m., free. Lance Daniels plays for happy hour at Cajun’s Wharf, 5:30 p.m., free, or come later for Roxy Roca, 9 p.m., $5.

FRIDAY 4/20 SOLDIER-TURNED-SINGER: The War and Treaty performs at South on Main Thursday night.



8 p.m. South on Main. $10.

See the naughty “Jeep Cherokee Laredo” for an idea of what spouses Michael Trotter and Tanya Blount-Trotter can do with just their voices, a tambourine and the heels of their shoes. Then, pair that with “Down to the River” to absorb the full force of Tanya’s voice with a backing band. (Think: Mahalia incarnate.)

Michael learned to play piano on an old upright in the basement of one of Saddam Hussein’s private palaces as a soldier in Iraq; he said in an interview, “You had to crawl over soot and rut and rock and rubble from the war to get to this piano.” Thereafter, Michael entertained his fellow soldiers on the regular, and claimed the title

of “Military Idol” in a competition in Baumholder, Germany. Channeling Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Sly and the Family Stone in the same breath, the couple keeps the arrangements sparse enough for delicious silence and big enough for both deep-seated voices to soar. SS



Various times. CALS Ron Robinson Theater, White Water Tavern, Historic Arkansas Museum. $10-$65.

My favorite line in “True Grit” is the one at the beginning where Mattie Ross is describing the circumstances leading her to pursue her father’s murderer, Tom Chaney. She says: “I will tell more about his face later.” In that sentence is all of Charles Portis’ celebrated pith and simplicity, telegraphing to us that not only has Mattie spent a deal of time scrutinizing this object

of her righteous anger, but that we’re to be fed this tale by the measured teaspoon, carefully and methodically. (So Mattie, right?) This weekend, all things Rooster Cogburn and Mattie Ross will go up on stage and screen in honor of the book’s 50th anniversary, and the Oxford American has recruited the likes of Roy Blount Jr., Harrison Scott Key, Graham Gordy, Kristi

McKim, Katrina Whalen, Iris Dement, Calvin Trillin and others to lead the party. There are screenings of the 1969 and 2010 versions of the film, a variety show, history nerd panels about the context of the book, an after-party at the White Water Tavern and more. Check out the full schedule at SS

Jamie Lou & The Hullabaloo, winners of the 2018 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase, perform at Blue Canoe Brewing Warehouse, 8 p.m., $5. Genine LaTrice Perez & The Sound present a concert, “You Ain’t Heard the B-Side Yet,” at South on Main, 10 p.m., $15-$20. Gear up for that by catching the jazz ensembles from local schools and colleges at the Riverfront Park pavilions for the Arkansas Jazz Festival, 4 p.m. Fri., 9 a.m. Sat., free. Catch Jet 420 on the band’s namesake day at Thirst N’ Howl Bar & Grill, 8:30 p.m., $5. I Was Afraid, Black Horse and Witchsister share a bill at Maxine’s, 9 p.m. Richie Johnson kicks off the weekend with a set at Cajun’s, 5:30 p.m., free, and later, Tragikly White takes the stage, 9 p.m., $5. Amy Garland Angel and Nick Devlin join Ten Penny Gypsy at Unity of Little Rock, 2610 Reservoir Rd., as part of the “Sounds of Unity” concert series, 7 p.m., $10. Four Quarter Bar celebrates 4/20 with a Lagunitas Party, 8 p.m., and music from Aaron Kamm & The One Drops, 10 p.m., $10. Heavy blues trio Greasy Tree shares a bill with Hoodoo Blues Revue at Stickyz, 7 p.m., $5. Steamboat Bandits take the stage at Kings Live Music in Conway, 8:30 p.m., $5.

SATURDAY 4/21 Kim Sanders of the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies gives a talk, “The American Dream Deferred: Japanese-American Incarceration in World War II Arkansas,” 2 p.m., CONTINUED ON PAGE 25

Follow Rock Candy on Twitter: @RockCandies APRIL 19, 2018









Noon. Capitol and Pulaski. Free.

We war over information these to be made with the help of sound, days the way humans have histori- well-researched science. That’s how cally battled over geographic terri- we protect our environment, produce tory. For most of us, though (let us clean energy, grow healthy food and except, for the moment, the “politi- make advances in health care.” Becal environment where basic facts ginning at the intersection of Capiare disputed” James Comey spoke of tol Avenue and Pulaski Street and earlier this week) the world is round, proceeding to the state Capitol steps, the Earth is 4.5 billion years old and the second annual Arkansas March climate change is a Real Thing. There for Science puts students and educahas probably never been a better time tors at the forefront. Chemist Derek for nonscientists to get science-y with Brooks, emergency medicine RN our methods of verifying the informa- Derya Bracy, neurobiologist/biochemtion we absorb — or, at the very least, ist Rachel Hendrix, Russellville High to look to scientists for a stronghold School teacher Jazz Johnston, Jonesof verifiable facts. “Science isn’t about boro High School student Izzy Jones politics, and doesn’t honor political and physics/robotics educator Katina parties,” Arkansas Sierra Club Direc- White will speak at the Capitol on the tor Glen Hooks said in a press release importance of science and the ways in announcing the march. “Science is which our lives benefit from relying about the search for truth and facts. on it when we make policy. SS We want our public policy decisions


11 a.m.-6 p.m. Fri., 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat. Ozark Folk Center, 1032 Park Ave., Mountain View.

Mountain View on Folk Festival weekend is a bustling sight. The Ozark Folk Center kicks off its evening concerts, and every square foot of lawn on the Courthouse Square is occupied with contra dancers, picnic blankets, barbecue stands, lawnchairs, quilt vendors and a constellation of tiny jamboree circles, formed by oldsters and young people alike wielding banjos, dulcimers, fiddles and upright basses. Jams spill out onto the steps of storefronts and park gazebos, and dozens of people wander through the white picket fence that borders Mountain View Music, quizzically picking up bodhrans, admiring Chromaharps and listening to the old tyme supersquad on the

shop’s covered front porch. Other than the Saturday parade at 10 a.m. and a contra dance performance on the Courthouse Square at 6:30 p.m. Friday, you won’t find much in the way of a formal schedule (“the music stops when all the people leave,” the schedule of events reads), so just go and wander. Take the free shuttle to get back and forth between the Ozark Folk Center and the Square and wander through the Artisans Market downtown, where you’ll find things like stoneware pottery, goat’s milk soaps, hand-stitched leather bags and, as a press release tells us, an “instrument maker who calls himself Rotten Roger [who] brings cigar box or toilet seat stringed instruments.” SS

‘LIMBS: EARTH AND SEA’: That’s the name of an exhibition of collaborative works by ceramicist Chris Swasta and two-dimensional artist Matthew Castellano at Argenta Gallery, which will be open 5-8 p.m. Friday, April 20, for the North Little Rock after-hours art walk.



5-8 p.m., downtown North Little Rock.

Greg Thompson Fine Art, 429 Library’s Argenta Branch (420 Main St., opens his annual “South- Main) is exhibiting photographs by ern Abstraction” exhibition fea- Jasmine Greer; and the Thea Founturing work by Arkansans Dolores dation (401 Main) hosts its Youth Justus, Robyn Horn and Sammy Poster Contest Exhibition and RePeters as well as regional figures ception. Up Main Street, impresPinkney Herbert and Philip Mors- sionist Barry Thomas will demonberger for North Little Rock’s strate his technique at his studio monthly after-hours celebration of and gallery (711 Main St.) and side the arts. Other galleries are hang- street destinations include Ruth ing new shows to coincide with the Pasquine Fine Art Studio (600 N. cultural stroll and you don’t even Olive St.); the House of Art, which have to leave the 400 block to see will have “Verses and Jokes with most of them: Argenta Gallery (413 Playa Mook” (108 E. Fourth St.); Main) will feature “Limbs: Earth and the Arkansas Innovation Hub and Sea,” collaborative works by (201 E. Broadway), which is hostceramicist Chris Swasta and mini- ing a reception for its after-school malist Matthew Castellano; Laman youth artists. LNP


APRIL 19, 2018


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A BERNSTEIN CENTENNIAL: Violinist and Arkansas Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Drew Irvin joins pianist Julie Cheek for a “West Side Story” suite as part of St. Luke’s Episcopal’s “Festival of the Senses.”



7 p.m. St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. Free.

Leonard Bernstein would be 100 this year, and his “West Side Story” is so prevalent that it’s worked its way not only into popular adoration, but into music rooms everywhere as choristers see a tritone approaching in upcoming bars and quietly hum “Mari-a” to themselves as a memory aid. A suite of the musical’s greatest hits have been woven into a duet arrangement by Brazilian composer/ instrumentalist Raimundo Penaforte, to be performed here, as part of St. Luke’s “Festival of the Senses” series by ARMusica: violinist and ASO concertmaster Drew Irvin and pianist Julie Cheek. Then, violinist Er-Gene Kahng — a concertmaster for both the Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra and the Fort Smith Symphony who’s garnered acclaim this year for her interpretations and revival of Arkansas native Florence Price’s music — steps in with ARMusica to perform Telemann’s “Intrada Suite for Two Violins,” a dance suite inspired by Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels”; Darius Milhaud’s “Sonata for Two Violins and Piano”; and Igor Frolov’s “Divertimento for Two Violins and Piano.” If your Tuesday dance card is light, here’s a chance to hear some thrilling repertoire from some topnotch musicians for free. SS

Faulkner County Library, Conway. Drag queen and cannabis activist Laganga Estranga lands at Sway, 9 p.m. Folk duo Native Harrow channels Laurel Canyon with a set at South on Main, 9 p.m., $10. Low Key Arts in Hot Springs hosts the Altercation Punk Comedy Tour, 8 p.m., $10. Love and A Revolver takes the stage at Four Quarter Bar, 10 p.m., $7. Intruders play Thirst N’ Howl, 8:30 p.m., $5. Listen Sister, Collin vs. Adam and Polly’s Pockets share a bill at White Water Tavern, 9 p.m. Over at the Rev Room, Corey Smith performs, with an opening set from George Shingleton, 8:30 p.m., $20-$25. Rustenhaven performs at Cajun’s, 9 p.m., $5. The Big Catch, a community fishing event, kicks off at 9 a.m. at MacArthur Park, free, register at Acclaimed pianist Lee Tomboulian gives a concert at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 7 p.m., $15. Ronnie Heart, North X North and Landrest share a bill at Maxine’s, 9 p.m.

SUNDAY 4/22 Folk icon and Arkansas native Iris Dement follows up her appearance at Oxford American’s “True Grit” festivities with a performance at South on Main, 7 p.m. The Loony Bin hosts “Just Jokes,” a special Sunday show with Steve Brown, Moufpiece and J. Jones, 6 p.m., $29-$39.

MONDAY 4/23 The Kaleidoscope Film Festival hosts dinner, rooftop drinks and a show for its annual fundraiser, “An Evening with Paul Sand,” 7 p.m. The Joint, $100. Songwriter, performer and “recovering attorney” Lucas Jack gives an intimate concert at Heights Corner Market, 7 p.m.

TUESDAY 4/24 Riverdale 10 Cinema screens the Coen brothers’ cult classic “The Big Lebowski,” 7 p.m., $9. Pair that with a show from Jerry Redd and Adam Faucett at the White Water Tavern and you’ve got yourself an evening, 9 p.m.

WEDNESDAY 4/25 Saxophonist Marquis Hunt plays for Jazz in the Park at the History Pavilion in Riverfront Park, 6 p.m. Bonnie Montgomery covers Bonnie Raitt as part of South on Main’s “Sessions” series, 8 p.m., $10. Austin-based “instru-metal” band Eagle Claw takes the stage at Stickyz, 8:30 p.m., $7. The entertainers of Luxotica Lounge Cabaret strut on the stage at the Rev Room, with Foul Play Cabaret, 9 p.m., $10-$20.

Follow Rock Candy on Twitter: @RockCandies APRIL 19, 2018



WE DO GREEK; we do Jewish; we do Indian. So it’s about time that Arkansas held a citywide festival celebrating all things Italian. Starting at 4 p.m. Friday, April 20, the first Arkansas Italian Food & Cultural Festival will bring food, Baggo and bocce tournaments (for cash prizes!), food, a grape stomp challenge, food, an Italian car exhibition, food, and live entertainment to the North Shore Riverwalk Park in North Little Rock. The event, which benefits the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Arkansas, actually kicks off Thursday night, April 19, with a double feature of romantic movie “Moonstruck” and documentary “I sopravvissuti (Survivors),” at the Clinton School of Public Service. Southern Table will cater; tickets are $25 (reserve at if not sold out). There will also be soccer tournaments, a sauce and gravy competition and music by DJ Nick Hud, David Adam Byrnes, Nerd Eye Blind, Jersey Boys and the Big Dam Horns. The festival continues 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $5; kids 5 and under get in free. FANS OF THE CURED and fresh meats of Brandon Brown of the late great Hillcrest Artisan Meats, will be happy to hear he’ll be on board with a new restaurant coming to Kavanaugh Boulevard and Beechwood Street in late fall. The familyfriendly eatery, to be operated by restaurateur Daniel Bryant, got the blessing of the Hillcrest Residents Association last week to demolish a four-plex at 703 Beechwood to make way for parking and a “pocket park” that will be open to the neighborhood as well as the restaurant’s customers. A new structure will include a bar that seats 18 and eight tables and will be connected by a breezeway to the Helmich garage, which will be renovated to house a soda fountain, kitchen and bathrooms. The menu will feature “good old American burgers,” Bryant said, as well as sandwiches like those served at H.A.M. and ice cream. A NEW PURPLE COW opening in fall in North Little Rock will feature beers on tap, including local brews, a new offering for the Arkansas chain, and a signature cocktail, co-owner Ken Vaughan says.The restaurant, to be located on the Dillard’s Department Store parking lot at 4201 Warden Road, will be the fifth in the chain and the first in North Little Rock. It will seat around “150 to 175,” Vaughan says, and will feature an extended counter where people can “have a beer and a burger or a purple milkshake” and watch a sporting event on TV. A patio will have 10 tables. At some point, will create a link to a cocktail sweepstakes, where folks can suggest recipes. The drink will, natch, have to be purple. 26

APRIL 19, 2018


THE MOLCAJETE SPECIAL: One of the options on Cinco de Mayo’s entree menu.

Mex for the people Cantina Cinco de Mayo hits the right notes in downtown LR.


o how as a nation can we sit around and eat Mexican food, and drink beer and make friends? That’s the question. If we can do that on a broader scale, I think we’ll come out of it all right. — Sandra Day O’Connor “I’m convinced that anyone who doesn’t like Mexican food is a psychopath.” — Jim Gaffigan We live in polarized times, a nation divided. Red vs. Blue. Resisters vs. Trumpers. Fox News vs MSNBC. In an age of bitter division, is there anything that can unify this once-great nation? I mean, besides Mexican food, of course? Seriously, who doesn’t have their head on a damned swivel when that hot fajita plate sizzles somewhere in their sensory ZIP code? As a people, we

Follow Eat Arkansas on Twitter: @EatArkansas

have made “Taco Tuesday” into what’s practically a weekly national celebration. Oh, I’m exaggerating about the universal popularity of Mexican food? Ask yourself, honestly: Have you ever in your life turned down a nacho? I’ll hang up and listen. I’m firmly of the opinion that food brings people together, and that Mexican food brings people together quickly. Little Rock is home to a number of decent Mexican restaurants, and the downtown area just gained another one with the recent opening of Cantina Cinco de Mayo No. 3 (joining two other branches in Little Rock and one in Benton). A dining partner and I ducked in for a quick lunch on a recent weekday. The place was packed and buzzing, decorated with colorful flags and

murals, and the efficient staff had us seated with drink orders taken before we’d even settled in — a great thing for downtown workers with limited lunch breaks. Speed matters (even if it sometimes results in getting accidentally served water instead of tea). Cantina Cinco De Mayo has an extensive (19 choices) lunch menu, each under $8. My lunch partner ordered the Chile Relleno and Enchilada plate ($6.99, served with rice and beans). She pronounced the relleno to be very tasty, but unfortunately was given a somewhat lackluster beef enchilada instead of the cheese enchilada she’d requested. We also ordered the Gizo Mexicano ($7.95) with diced steak, serrano, onions and tomatoes served with either corn or flour tortillas. The Gizo was hot, flavorful and filling. We returned two days later for a Saturday dinner, accompanied by two young parents and their child. Cantina Cinco De Mayo has a full bar (happy hour 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and all day Sunday) featur-


Check out the Times’ food blog, Eat Arkansas

Cantina Cinco De Mayo No. 3 521 Center St. 400-8194 Quick bite

Fast service, full bar, happy hour every day except Friday — including all day on Sunday.


11 a.m. until 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. Sunday.

serving better than bar food all night long


20 - Lagunitas 420 Party w/ Aaron Kamm and the One Drops 21 - Love and a Revolver 27 - Kadela 28 - AR Literary Festival - A Tribute to Lou Reedw/ DOT, Iron Tongue, and Isaac Alexander 29 - Dance Monkey Dance (7pm - free show)


4 - Hoodoo Blues Revue 5 - Cinco de Mayo Partyw/ Cadillac Jackson

Open until 2am every night!

415 Main St North Little Rock • (501) 313-4704 •

Other info Full bar.

ing 10 different margarita offerings. We opted for the house margarita ($4.75 for 12 ounces), and it was fairly standard. Of note: the margaritas also come in 24 ounces, 36 ounces and pitchersized servings, so plan accordingly. Our table also ordered what turned out to be a somewhat ordinary queso and a large bowl of fresh, tasty guacamole that appeared to have been made to order. Cantina Cinco De Mayo has a lengthy list of entrees, even by the standards of Mexican restaurants. Diners will enjoy selecting from multiple varieties of burritos, quesadillas, enchilada plates, vegetarian options, seafood dishes, taco offerings and specialty meals. Our table spent a fair amount of time exploring options before ordering a manageable sampling. The entrees arrived soon after, and the undisputed belle of this particular ball was the Molcajete Special ($14.49 with chicken or steak, $16.99 with shrimp). The Molcajete, served in a visibly steaming stone bowl, is a savory pile of grilled steak sauteed with onions and tomatoes, poblano peppers, ranchero chipotle sauce, topped with Chihuahua cheese and garnished with cambry onions and cactus leaves. If that sounds like a lot, it was — and it came with tortillas and beans. Our table enjoyed this dish very much and ended up with leftovers. Another highlight of dinner was the Shrimp Al Mojo De Ajo ($11.95). This entree was a generous serving of buttery, garlicky shrimp, accompanied by particularly good and fluffy rice, lettuce,

tomatoes, onions and guacamole. Our youngest tablemate quickly abandoned her Kids Burrito ($4.99) in favor of sharing shrimp and rice with her seatmate. The remaining entrees included an ordinary, but good, beef fajitas offering ($11.49) and the Burrito Manuel ($9.49). The latter was filled with chicken, chorizo and — surprise — sauteed pineapple. The sweetness of the pineapple served as a nice counter to the spiciness of the chorizo. Despite slight but unconvincing protests, we investigated the dessert menu and shared two selections. The Churros Con Nieve ($4.25) was a serving of four standard-sized and delicious cinnamon churros suspended in a goblet of vanilla ice cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce. Also making an appearance: the Chocolate Chimichangas ($3.95), four delicate tortillas filled with melted chocolate, also drizzled with chocolate, and served with ice cream. Our biggest complaint, if one can call it a complaint, was that the chocolate was almost certainly Hershey’s instead of a more authentically Mexican choice. The dessert menu was rounded out nicely by cheesecake, sopaipillas, flan and fried ice cream options. In sum: Cantina Cinco De Mayo is a solid choice for those seeking a long and varied list of menu options, quick service, frequent happy hours and a few surprisingly good options that aren’t standard fare. Give them a try if you’re hungry or just seeking desperately to find something that will unite your family’s own warring factions.

Seafood Boils and Catering! Book your event today! 1619 REBSAMEN PARK RD. 501.838.3888


to accelerate your body’s internal processes. JP FITNESS AND RECOVERY exists to help willing individuals activate the potential that is present inside of them. Our neurologically-based system is designed to help you achieve greater levels of neurological activation and control in order to heal faster, get fitter, and perform better.

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Fitness and Recovery


APPOINTMENT ONLY! • Call or text 501-952-5735 or email APRIL 19, 2018





ur nation’s most notorious assassins gather on stage to violently pursue a twisted American Dream. By developing the characters of historic assassins out of the slim biographical information found, “Assassins” prompts us to consider their motivation, confronts pain in order to cauterize the decay and heal the sicknesses which lurk at the core of our society.

APRIL 6,7,8,13,14,15,20,21,22, 2018

DIRECTED BY ANDY HALL AND JAMIE SCOTT BLAKEY MUSIC DIRECTION BY JEANNIE SCOTT CROSS $20 ADULTS • $16 STUDENTS & SENIORS FRIDAY AND SATURDAY NIGHT CURTAIN TIME IS 7:30 PM. SUNDAY AFTERNOON CURTAIN TIME IS 2:30 PM. Please arrive promptly. There will be no late admission. The House opens 30 minutes prior to curtain. Box office opens one hour before curtain time. For more information contact us at 501.374.3761 or OUR 25TH SEASON IS SPONSORED BY PIANO KRAFT to purchase tickets and flex passes.

1001 W. 7th St. • Little Rock, AR 72201 • 501-374-3761 28

APRIL 19, 2018


‘Hell of a night’ Brad Paisley & Co. at Verizon Arena. BY BILL PADDACK


rad Paisley switches guitars more than his friend and perennial Country Music Association awards co-host Carrie Underwood changes outfits during a concert. Maybe twice as much. And that’s, um, saying a lot. We stopped counting somewhere around 20 times. No problem, though. When you can play a guitar with the finesse he does,

go for it. He is almost as well known for his picking as for his singing. And fortunately for the 5,665 fans in attendance for the Central Arkansas stop of his “Weekend Warrior” World Tour on April 12 at Verizon Arena, he did a lot of both. The show, which also featured Dustin Lynch, Chase Bryant and Lindsay Ell, provided a great time and terrific music. Paisley has so many songs that can

WEEKEND WARRIOR: Brad Paisley, Dustin Lynch, Chase Bryant and Lindsay Ell played to a crowd of 5,665 at Verizon Arena last week.

put you in a good mood, it’s really room for “Alcohol,” which he used kind of hard to pick a favorite. But as his encore. Like so many of his hits, the clever “I’m Gonna Miss Her (The it contains more than a little truth Fishin’ Song)” has to be up near the as well as plenty of funny lines. The top. I smile every time I hear it, and rousing version Thursday night with I think that was true of most of the Lynch, Bryant and Ell was a fitting end concertgoers, almost all of whom sang to a grand, good-time show. along to that one. It’s classic Paisley. Paisley’s playlist is so big and so “Mud on the Tires,” “Ticks,” “Celeb- recognizable that he can’t work everyrity,” “Online” and “I’m Still a Guy” thing in. We were expecting “Whiskey all have to be near the top of the list Lullaby,” but he didn’t include it this as well. They’re songs he’ll probably time around. We consider that heartneed to always include in concerts no breaker to be one of the best counmatter how many more years he per- try songs ever, but leaving it out of forms. He brought Lynch out to sing this show still didn’t leave us feeling along on “I’m Still a Guy,” and the let down. This was maybe the fourth two of them hammed it up on the hit time we’ve seen him in concert, and about ladies trying to make their men we’ve come to realize that he never more respectable. Likewise, he teamed disappoints. Paisley is witty and clever with Bryant on a revved-up “Ameri- and self-deprecating, but he’s also an can Saturday Night,” the song that accomplished, skillful entertainer. celebrates the American melting pot. That was all evident Thursday evening. And he didn’t leave Ell out, bringing Lynch, who can give Luke Bryan her out for a guitar-playing showdown a run for his money in the tight-fitas he finished “She’s Everything.” tin’ jeans category, gave a pretty good He’s had a lot of songs featuring clue about his engaging nine-song set outstanding lyrics, but he’s also happy when he started out with “Hell of a to let his guitar do the talking — flaw- Night.” In a performance that was over lessly — amid many of his songs with all too soon, he also delighted with some incredible note-bending action “Small Town Boy,” “Seein’ Red” and on one of his many colorful guitars. the heartfelt “Cowboys and Angels” — And as energetically as ever. inspired by his grandparents — with Because we prefer our country lines like “I’ve got boots and she’s got music to sound like country music, wings, I’m hell on wheels and she’s it’s a pleasure to hear the fiddle and heavenly.” steel guitar during Paisley’s shows, Bryant’s big, powerful voice serves and it’s appropriate that one of his him well, outshining even his hip hairnumbers is “This Is Country Music.” style for which he took some goodAlong the way, he teased the crowd natured ribbing from Paisley. “Litwith a number of Razorback-related tle Bit of You” should probably have lines. “It’s great to be with all you been an even bigger hit than it was fightin’ pigs,” he told the crowd. “This back in 2015, and he also satisfied is the only state I can say that in and with “Change Your Name,” “Take It not make people really mad.” And, On Back” and “Pink Houses.” We’re after bragging on some great barbecue looking forward to hearing more from he’d had the last time he played Cen- both him and Lynch as their careers tral Arkansas, “You’re probably the progress. Ell opened the show with only college team that eats its mascot.” her rock-heavy version of country, Even in a long, impressive set of highlighted by her first Top 20 hit, hits, you know Paisley’s gonna save “Criminal.”

An Evening With...PAUL Monday, April 23


The night will also feature great music by Drew Jansen and Jimmy Martin! Doors Open at 6:00 PM Show Starts at 7:00 PM



Lagunitas 420 Party w/ Aaron Kamm and the One Drops Apr 20, 2018 at 8:00 PM

Aaron Kamm and the One Drops will be throwin’ down onstage for Lagunitas annual 420 Party featuring a tapping of Waldo’s Special Ale!!

Go to to purchase these tickets - and more!

$20 Early Bird Tickets available up to May 11, tickets are $30 beginning on May 12 for Tour on Saturday, May 12 from 1-4 and Tour on Sunday, May 13 from 1-5.

Get Tickets Today!

Mother’s Day Brunch, Sunday, May 13, is 11-1 at Curran Hall ($50 ticket includes tour ticket). Candlelight Tour, Saturday, May 12, ($150 per ticket) is 5-7, followed by dinner at 7:30 at Philander Smith.

Open until 2am every night!

415 Main St North Little Rock • (501) 313-4704 •

Get tickets at

LETTUCE GROW QQA_2018_Spring_Tour_Poster_PR.indd 1

2/27/18 8:46 AM

feature concert



FRIDAY, MAY 4TH • 6:30-9:30 P.M. On the grounds of historic ST. JOSEPH CENTER OF ARKANSAS


Bonnie Montgomery kicks off the Ozark Folk Center Feature Concert Series with a sound


that hearkens back to the era of Patsy Cline and Loretta

Libations, Craft Beer, Live Music, Silent Auction, Farm Stand

For more information 501.993.4560 or Tickets available at

APRIL 19, 2018



singer, and outlaw country artist

Boards and Bites by Chef Margie Raimondo

$50 Per Person in Advance $65 at the Door


Native Arkansan, songwriter,

6800 Camp Robinson Road • North Little Rock


Lynn with a unique drive and attitude all her own. Tickets available at:




Request for Proposals Application Packet RFP # 2018-1S

Request for Proposals Application Packet



Release Date April 16, 2018 Estimated Total Program Funding $500,000.00 Award Period October 1, 2018 – September 30, 2019 Contact Information For assistance with the requirements of this solicitation, contact

RFP # VOCA 2018-1


Release Date April 17, 2018


Award Period October 1, 2018 – September 30, 2019 Estimated Total Program Funding $ 15,000,000.00


Contact Information For assistance with the requirements of this Request for Proposals, contact APPLICATION DEADLINE: Applications must be submitted via IGS Connect by 11:59 p.m. on June 1, 2018 IGS Connect website:

Email: APPLICATION DEADLINE: Applications must be submitted via IGS Connect by 11:59 p.m. on June 1, 2018 REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS AVAILABILITY OF FUNDS ANNOUNCEMENT OVERVIEW The State of Arkansas, Department of Finance and Administration, Office of Intergovernmental Services (DFA-IGS) is pleased to announce the availability of grant funds from the STOP VAWA formula grant program to support new victim services for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities and/ or underserved populations. The proposed services should adhere to Goal 1.2 in the DFA 2017-2020 STOP Implementation Plan. Projects addressing STOP priorities 1-5 and purpose areas 2, 3, 5, 6, 9 and 11 will be given priority. Goal 1.2: Expand services for targeted populations: culturally specific and underserved populations. These include African American, Hispanic, Marshallese, LGBTQI, persons with disabilities, the elderly, and geographically isolated populations. AWARD PERIOD Awards will be made for a twelve (12) month period from October 1, 2018 through September 30, 2019. APPLICATION DEADLINE Applications must be received via IGS Connect by 11:59 p.m. on June 1, 2018. FORMAT: Applicants can access IGS Connect at An agency may submit as many applications as it wishes; however, only one application is permitted per proposed project. The application is subject to public review by state executive order 12372; therefore, applicants must complete SF-424 and submit it with the application. For information about how to access IGS Connect, please review the Grant Application Instruction section of the Request For Proposal (RFP). Please direct all inquiries concerning this Request For Proposal to Email:


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OVERVIEW The State of Arkansas, Department of Finance and Administration, Office of Intergovernmental Services (DFA-IGS) is pleased to announce the availability of grant funds from the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) program. These programs will be funded from the Department of Justice federal formula VOCA grant. The total amount available is $15,000,000.00. Projects that seek to expand services for victims of crime for targeted populations will be given preference. The VOCA application process is competitive. Applications submitted in response to this RFP will need to address Arkansas State goal 1.2 by providing trauma informed, evidence based, victim-centered services to primary crime victims. Goal 1.2: Expand services for targeted populations: culturally specific and underserved populations. These include African American, Hispanic, Marshallese, LGBTQI, persons with disabilities, the elderly, and geographically isolated populations. Applicants are encouraged to read the entire Application Packet thoroughly before preparing and applying. The Request for Proposals is open to all meeting eligibility requirements (see Eligibility section). AWARD PERIOD Awards will be made for a twelve (12) month period from October 1, 2018 through September 30, 2019. A continuation of awards is contingent upon available funding and grant performance. APPLICATION DEADLINE Applications must be received via IGS Connect by 11:59 p.m., June 1, 2018. FORMAT: Applicants can access IGS Connect at An agency may submit as many applications as it wishes; however, only one application is permitted per proposed project. The application is subject to public review by state executive order 12372; therefore, applicants must complete SF-424 and submit it with the application.


For information about how to access IGS Connect, please review the Grant Application Instruction section of the Request For Proposals. • 501-681-5855

Please direct all inquiries concerning this Request For Proposals to: APRIL 19, 2018



APRIL 19, 2018


Arkansas Times - April 19, 2018  

Lit Up - A Preview of the 2018 Arkansas Literary Festival

Arkansas Times - April 19, 2018  

Lit Up - A Preview of the 2018 Arkansas Literary Festival